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The Temptation of Jesus Christ.
tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and
the same great truth.This is
my account is general; Luke is more beloved Son, in whom I am well particular, and corresponds with pleased, i. e. with whom I am Matthew, except in the order of the well pleased. The title of child or temptations. Tbis account of our son was used frequently among the Lord's temptation has been variousJews, not in the sense of precisely interpreted. Some suppose it to natural relationship, but in the be a parable, designed for the inmore extended signification of unity struction of his disciples. Some of affection and purpose. This regard it as the description of a mode of speech was used of men vision or dream. Some underof different characters. Thus, the stand the tempter to have been a wicked were called the sons or wicked man, or a Jewish priest. children of Belial, Satan, and the Most conceive him to have been Devil. John viii. 44; the good, literally the Devil, or Satan, as the the children of God. Mat. v. 9. popular terms are. But these views In accordance with this form of are all more or less burdened with speech, Jesus Christ was denomi fatal inconsistencies and difficulties. nated the Son of God; and to show. We are rather to construe this pasthe unparalleled excellence of his sage as a figurative narration of a character, and his entire conformity real transaction, a series of real to the divine will in the office he temptations in the mind of Jesus. bore, he was called the well belov The incidents were actual occured, the only begotten, John i. 18, rences; but, in relating them to his the dear, Son of God. This term disciples, Jesus employed the popuof endearment implies that Jesus lar oriental imagery. Force and had the full and constant appro- spirit is given to the circurnstances, bation of God, that he was one by throwing them into the form of with him, meaning to express not a dialogue. The thoughts and feeloneness of nature or personality, ings of the mind are introduced as but , oneness of purpose and love, interlocutors, speaking and quoting that he was peculiarly, more than from the Bible. Jesus prefigured any other being that ever existed, to himself the misemployment that the Son of God, inasmuch as he might be made of his special gifts, attained to perfect love and holi but resisted the allurements to ness, and made the purposes of his make such an abuse of them. Father his own. God gave not the He was faithful to his high trust. spirit by measure unto him. Thus He told the spiritual experience to he ever pleased God. Thus his his followers, in order to instruct disciples, inhaling his filial spirit, them in the use of their miraculous may, in some humble_measure, powers, in a manner fitted to ime please both him and his Father. press the memory, and left it as a
legacy of warning and encourageCHAP. IV.
ment to the world. 1–11. Parallel passages, Mark 1. Then. After the baptism of i. 12, 13. Luke iv. 1-13. Mark's Jesus, and the descent of the holy
forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter 3 came to him, he said: If thou be the Son of God, coinmand that spirit. “The water of baptism is most unconsciously, while under succeeded by the fire of tempta the workings of his high contemtion.”—Led up of the spirit into the plations, and the mighty promptwilderness. Mark uses the strong ings of God's spirit, farther and language, “ And immediately the farther from men, into the deep spirit driveth him into the wilder fastnesses of the desert, mountainness.” Under the powerful influ ous country. There came the ence of the divine spirit, which temptation, which was the effect, had just been poured upon him not the cause of his withdrawal. “ without measure," he leaves the The words Satan and devil mean crowd, and withdraws to a wild adversary and accuser. Human region, away from the haunts of beings are called by these names. men, to the most sequestered parts Matt. xvi. 23. John vi. 70. Tit. ii. of the desert or thinly peopled 3. In the last case, the words false country, which were frequented by accusers are translated elsewhere wild beasts. Mark i. 13. It was devils. Where no person is alluded probably the desert of Jericho, ly to by these terms, they are used as ing not far from Bethabara, where a personification of temptation, evil. he was baptized. The soul of Je James iv. 7. This rhetorical figure sus was full of the great consecra is frequent in the Old and New tion of himself to the work of God, Testament. Solomon personifies and the solemn duties pertaining Wisdom, Paul personifies Charity. to it. His mind dilated and kin 2. Fasted. We are not to underdled with the grandeur of his mis stand by this that he absolutely sion. He retired to meditate on its went without food during this long toils and trials, its responsibilities period; but that he had no regular and joys. He was now to leave supply. He lived sparingly. He the humble shop of the carpenter, had no sustenance except the scanty to assume the highest office ever products of the desert, consisting, known in the world. What won perhaps, of wild berries, fruits, and der that he repaired to the deepest roots. Luke, iv. 2, says, indeed, that solitudes, to engage in the exercises “ he did eat nothing," but that is a of fasting, prayer, and self-com- general expression, which is probamunion? What wonder that there, bly to be taken with some limitatoo, he should be subject to the as tion. So Jesus says, Matt. xi. 18, sault of temptations?--To be tempt- that “ John came neither eating nor ed of the devil, i. e. by the devil. drinking,” when we are told that In the Bible,“ certain and inevitable “his meat was locusts and wild consequences are very often repre- honey.”
honey.” Matt. iii. 4.-Forty days. sented as the results specially in Moses, the Founder, and Elijah, the tended.” Jesus went not into the Restorer of the Jewish system, desert in order to be tempted. It fasted the same length of time. would have been a practical viola Exod. xxxiv. 28. Deut. ix. 9, 18. tion of his prayer, “Lead us not 1 Kings xix. 8. This is probably into temptation.” His object was merely an undesigned coincidence. to fast, to pray, and to meditate. -An hungered, i. e. hungry. The Or, rather, perhaps he had no meagre food of the desert was not specified plan. He wandered al sufficient. His body was worn
4 these stones be made bread. But he answered and said : It is writ
down by fasting. If, as some sup- Jesus was thus tempted, or tried, pose, he had been during all this or put to a moral proof. If it was time miraculously supported, and in any different way, then he is no had literally tasted nothing, we may example for us in temptation ; we rationally ask, Why should that aid can derive no strength, courage, or be suddenly withdrawn? It would hope, from his signal victory. But throw him into that conflict with if he “was tempted in all points temptation, into which we are told like as we are,” then “he is able to God directly leads no man. James succor them that are tempted.” He, i. 13. Miracles are not to be un as well as we, had at times to resist necessarily supposed. The facts in intruding thoughts of evil, whispers, this account do not demand a mir- and imaginings of wrong. But he aculous interposition, but are more resisted at once and entirely, and naturally explained without it. “no spot or blame” was left behind,
3. When the tempter came to him. any more than by the shadow of a What tempter?. A being in bodily cloud flying over the landscape. shape, of horrid aspect, or a design- He was without sin.--He said: if ing man, or a wily Jewish priest? thou be the Son of God. This was This is inconceivable ; for their per- the specious, plausible air, the tempsonal appearance, and known de- tation wore. "]f,” as he thought sigo, would have completely broken with himself, “ I am indeed the bethe spell of the temptation. What loved Son of God, as I have been came was the tempting thought, just declared to be by a voice from the evil suggestion, that rose up in heaven, then why endure this wearithe mind, in his state of hunger ness and painful hunger ? Why and weariness. We are told in the may not my wonderful power be Epistle to the Hebrews, that Jesus exerted for so important an end as was “tempted in all points like as my own comfort and self-preservawe are, yet without sin.” And that tion?" To his pure nature bad “ being tempted he is able to succor thoughts were foreign; but this them that are tempted.” And that tempting idea came in a robe of " he learned obedience by the things light.-Command that these stones be he suffered." How then are we made bread. Or, more correctly, that tempted? For when that question these stones be inade loaves. Here is answered, we can understand is an opportunity to try my power, how Jesus was tempted. We are and determine whether I am really tempted by the concurrence of some the Son of God. The stones I see external object with our inward lying around me in the desert cav, desire, or by some spontaneous by a word, be turned into loaves of
agining, leading us, if followed, bread, to relieve my pressing hunor even indulged, into sin. The ger.” Thus Jesus was tempted by wrong consists not in the thought, the nature of the circumstances in or imagination, but in its being cher- wbich he was placed, as we are ished, kept before the mind's eye, every day of our lives. He was and acted out. Milton says truly,– tempted to use his power of work
ing miracles in order to change May come and go, so unapproved, and leave stones into loaves, and thus silence No spot or blame behind."
« Evil into the mind of God or man
ten: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Then the devil taketh him up 5
the sharp cravings of hunger. The pondent to gifts so great and rare. first temptation was that of appe. They have not been bestowed on tite.-Blessed be Heaven, we have me merely to support this perishing not in our Saviour a “high priest clay, and to exercise them for an that cannot be touched with the object comparatively so worthless feeling of our infirmities; but was would be sacrilege. The life of in all points tempted like as we are, the Son of God is not in the life of yet without sin." Heb. iv. 15. the body, but in the life of the god
4. He answered. His good prin- like soul, and that is sustained by ciples, his holy spirit, shrank from the consciousness of being true to the idea with abhorrence. The the Divine Will, the word written words of Scripture rose to his lips: on the heart. No, I will not deseIt is written, in Deut. viii. 3, crate my power by putting it to a Man shall not live by bread alone, but
Better were it for me by every word that proceedeth out of to perish than to forget my true the mouth of God. Man's life, in- destiny. My dependence is not on cluding reason, will, affection, and bread alone, or principally, but on hope, is sustained by all the diversi- the consciousness of being true to fied manifestations of God, by what- God.'—How often do we see men, ever he appoints. For word, thing who possess powers fitting them to might be properly substituted. be the reforiners and benefactors of These words refer to the case of thousands, sacrificing every thing the Israelites, who were supported, for bread, or for the wealth and not by bread, or any ordinary food, place which will secure bread but by manna miraculously sent. enough and to spare!” Jesus could As applied by Jesus to himself, change water into wine for others, their sense is this : “ Life may be to promote the innocent hilarity sustained by any means God shall of a wedding, but he would not think
proper. I will not therefore change stones into bread for himdistrust him so far as to undertake self, though it were to quell hunger, to supply my own wants by the use and relieve faintness. He performof those gifts allotted me by Him ed no miracle specially for himself. for the most important moral end." He did not resist in the Garden, The tempting thought fled. The though a cloud of angels were quotation had also a spiritual import; ready to come at his bidding. He Wisd. of Solomon xvi. 26; as is did not descend from the Cross beautifully set forth in a late author, of shame and agony, though his Furness. “If so,' we may suppose enemies scornfully challenged him the blessed Saviour to have com to do it. Glorious being! His muned with himself-'if I am the heart beat with a Love superior to Son of God, then a mere animal any selfish consideration. life is not the end of my being, to 5. Then the devil taketh him. which I am to devote my powers. There was no transportation except The divine faculties and gifts of the in his own thoughts. His tempting Son of God are destined not for imagination flew with him to Jeruprivate and finite uses, but for vast salem, and seated him on the top of and comprehensive purposes corres- the Temple. It is thus our thoughts
6 into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple; and
saith unto him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written: “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and
in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thay 7 foot against a stone.” Jesus said unto him: It is written again : “Thou and imaginations tempt us, carrying tuous.-Angels mean any kind of us hither and thither, to and fro, messengers or instruments employon the earth, to the cities of pleased to effect the purposes of God. ure and the mountains of pow. They shall bear thee up. Kuinoel er and pride.- Holy city, Jerusalem remarks that this metaphor is taken was so called because the temple of from parents, who, in travelling God was situated there. The in- over rough ways,
carry scription on coins was “ Jerusalem their children over the stones in the Holy.”—Pinnacle of the temple. their path, lest they should trip and A wing, turret, or battlement of stumble upon them.-Dash thy foot that edifice. The top of the porch against a stone. A proverbial exis perhaps here meant, called the pression, in both Greek and HeKing's Portico, which towered per- brew, to denote any danger or mispendicularly 750 feet above the bot- fortune. tom of a deep valley at its side. 7. The pure, discriminating eye Josephus refers to it. “ This clois- of Jesus saw that the idea was not ter deserves to be mentioned better to be entertained. And as Scripthan any other under the sun; for ture language occurred to his mind while the valley was very deep, this in its justification, so a passage did farther vastly higher elevation of also in its condemnation. It is the cloister stood upon that height, written, Deut. vi. 16, again. This insomuch that, if any one looked adverb, according to Campbell, down from the top of the battle- ought to qualify said, and not writments, he would be giddy."
ten, and the sentence read thus: 6. If thou be the Son of God. Jesus again said unto him: It is writThis idea perpetually occurred to ten: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy the mind of Jesus. In it was lodged God. Tempt here signifies to try, much of the force of the tempta- to assay, to put to the proof. It is tion.-Cast thyself down. Thus not used in the sense in which it is employing his miraculous powers in verse 2 of this chap., of alluring to strike the multitudes of Jerusa- to evil, but of making trial whether lem with awe and wonder. Such a God would support one who should
sign” would substantiate in their "thus presumptuously cast himself eyes his claim to the Messiahship. upon his Providence.
If we exThey were expecting some such pose ourselves to needless dangers, striking display of power, rather we cannot reasonably expect to be than the beneficent miracles he saved. A wanton and voluntary actually wrought. The temptation periling of life or health cannot was that of vanity. The language be right. We cannot promise ourof the Psalmist seemed to encour- selves the protection of Heaven, if age such an act. Ps. xci. 11, 12. we rashly presume upon it, and The passage, however, expresses rush into difficulties without cause. the protection of Divine Providence The manner in which he resisted over the righteous, not the presump- this temptation was a type of his