Matthew 4:3
In this and two later homilies the several temptations are to be more precisely treated. The four homilies will be suggestive of a series of sermons on the "Lord's temptation." The temptation must be closely associated with the baptism. The one thing necessary to the understanding of it is our apprehension of the fact, that Jesus had become suddenly conscious of the trust of miraculous powers; and he had to fix the principle on which alone he would use those powers. The first question to decide was - Would he use them to supply his own necessities? Meeting the deepest sense of bodily hunger, a passionate craving for food after a prolonged fast, came the consciousness of possessing miraculous power. He heard, as if in the depths of his soul, a cry saying, "Why do you suffer? Make the stones bread. You can do it." The force of the temptation lay on one side in the cravings of bodily appetite, and on the other side in this new sense of power.

I. HUMAN TEMPTATION THROUGH BODILY CRAVINGS. It is the first form that human temptation took. Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was pleasant, and good for food. It is the universal form of temptation, but it is the lowest; it belongs to man as an animal. Beneath the temptation of bodily appetite, the glutton, the drunkard, and the sensualist have fallen in all the ages. The first sphere of conflict for the spiritual being man is that animal nature in which he is set in order to sustain earthly relations. That bodily organization ought to be his servant; it is ever striving to be his master, and seeks to secure its end by subtleties of craving and allurement. Easily men have been led to think that the body itself is evil. But the wrong lies in the unbalanced will, which fails to restrain and control bodily appetite.

II. THE LAW OF TRIUMPH OVER TEMPTATION COMING THROUGH BODILY CRAVINGS. The soul is of more value than the body. A man is not a body; all that is true is that he has a body. A man's life is not the material thing, eating and drinking; that only sustains the animal nature. A man's real life consists in obedience to the will of God, as he may come to know it; and if that means starving the body, the body must be starved. - R.T.

Command that these stones.
1. That it is an easy thing — say the word.

2. That it is now fit; here is an object ready, here be stones, these stones.

3. That it is harmless, only a proof of the power of the Son of God.

4. That it is a necessary thing; is it not necessary for a man that is ready to starve to eat and procure bread?

5. That it is a glorious thing to command stones.

6. That it is a work of special use, not only for the use of Thyself in this want, but to satisfy me.

7. That it is not unreasonable; to command a few stones to be made bread will be no hurt to any man.

8. The Son of God should demean Himself as the Son of such a Father, therefore by this action manifest that which Thy estate doth not.

(Dr. Taylor.)

wful means: — What is the safeguard against this peril?

1. Not by denying the legitimacy of the desires of the bodily organization.

2. By showing that man's present life was not the gratification of a bodily need, but the satisfaction of the hunger of the spirit in God.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)Let us beware of acting the devil's part by discouraging those whom God has afflicted.

(L. H. Wiseman.)


1. He would have by that act placed an impassable gulf between Himself and His brethren.

2. It was important that Christ's miracles should be free from suspicion, that they were not for the gratification of His own wants.

3. The motive constitutes an action good or evil, the circumstances in this case would have determined it wrong.

4. It would have been inconsistent with the whole recorded life of Jesus.

(L. H. Wiseman.)

1. He skilfully chooses his time.

2. He suggests nothing which appears to be a great sin.

3. He presents this to Christ as an act of necessity.

4. The plea he employs is one which Jesus could not reject.

5. In the proposal there was no appearance of pampering the body, but only of providing for absolute need.

1. In this answer Satan is left unsatisfied. Uneducated disciples are not bound to answer all Satan's questions.

2. The snare was avoided.

3. Patience in enduring hunger till God send Him a supply.

4. When we have bread we must still live by the Word of the Lord.

5. When we appear to be without bread the Word of the Lord can sustain us.

(L. H. Wiseman.)

I. The VISIBILITY of the tempter. The Evangelists seem to imply that the tempter presented himself before the eyes of Christ. It is objected to this view: —

1. That while good angels are permitted to address men under visible forms, evil angels are not recorded to have done so.

2. That Satan by undisguised appearance would have no prospect of success. But he addressed our first parents under a visible form. The second objection assumes that the visible form of Satan is necessarily unsightly.

II. SATAN'S KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. Satan was not certain about Christ's Divine Sonship; hence he sought to find out if Christ could create or change substances.

III. The LIMITS of the temptation.

1. It has been said that Christ's temptation differs from ours in that His were only external, and ours internal also; that Christ had no susceptibility to temptation, but simply heard what Satan had to say without any inward excitement of desire. This takes from it its essence and removes it from us. We would not limit the temptation to an external trial.

2. We would not reduce it to the general idea of suffering, on account of contact with the tempter. We maintain that each temptation appealed to a desire in the heart of Christ, which His will restrained and refused to gratify.The true limits of the mystery: —

1. Christ was absolutely sinless.

2. Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, no taint of the Fall was permitted to intermingle with the foundation of His human life. There was a certain impossibility of His sinning; but this must not be so explained as to destroy the faculty of free will, which is a constituent element of human nature. We must not so interpret impossibility to sin as not to permit susceptibility of temptation to co-exist with it. Upon the exercise of free will in Christ depends His merits, the reality of His temptation, the force of His example.

IV. The REALITY of the temptation. If we subject temptation to analysis we find five ingredients.



(3)Opposition between desire and law;


(5)Free will.Desire may be simply natural, the movement of pure nature; or when some morbid quality has been imported into it, which gives it a wrong direction. The former was in Christ; but not the latter. There are two kinds of laws — positive and moral — the natural desires may be restrained by the former, the corrupt desires by the latter. The craving, whatever it be, must come into collision with the law. In the case of a pure creature the clash must be with a positive law; with a corrupt creature it will be also with the moral law. Now in Christ the desire of the body was in opposition to the Divine will; the pure desire of nature was contrary to what He knew to be the Father's will. In this sense His was inward and real temptation. Several truths must be taken into calculation in, comparing Christ's temptation with ours.

1. That the desires which are original and form part of our nature are, in the long run, the more intense.

2. The finer sensibilities of His uncorrupt nature.

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

1. If every good Christian were satisfied at all times with temporal blessings we should appear to serve God for our profit.

2. God does net always give bread to him that is his son, that he may loathe this world and look for reward in heaven.

3. The good man shall fill his bosom with better fruits.


The struggle, as far as possible, was the same as in us. The lifeboat must brave the same storm, and plough through the same foaming billows, which threaten to engulph her, as the wrecked vessel to which she bears relief; and though so constructed as to be able to bear up against the fury of the waves, she needs the careful steerage, persevering efforts, ay, and courage, of those who venture forth to save the sinking ship.

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

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