THE WILDERNESS TEMPTATION
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The Wilderness Temptation
(From the Revised Version)
9And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in the Jordan. 10And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens rent asunder, and the Spirit as a dove descending upon him: 11And a voice came out of the heavens, Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased. 12And straightway the Spirit driveth him forth into the wilderness. 13And he was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward hungered. 3And the tempter came and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. 4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5Then the devil taketh him into the holy city; and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6and saith unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: And on their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7Jesus said unto him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8Again, the devil taketh him unto an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9and he said unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11Then the devil leaveth him; and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2during forty days, being tempted of the devil. And he did eat nothing in those days: and when they were completed, he hungered. 3And the devil said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread. 4And Jesus answered unto him, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone. 5And he led him up, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6And the devil said unto him, To thee will I give all this authority, and the glory of them: for it hath been delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7If thou therefore wilt worship before me, it shall all be thine. 8And Jesus answered and said unto him, It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 9And he led him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to guard thee: 11and, On their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13And when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him for a season.
The character of Jesus was the character of the Deity
- a mirror in which was reflected the moral attributes peculiar to him, the Word, before manifestation in flesh.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
The probation of the Lord Jesus is an interesting and important study, especially that part of it styled, the Temptation of Satan. Paul, speaking of Him as the High Priest under the New Constitution, says, "He was put to the proof in all things according to our likeness, without transgression" (Heb. 4:15); that is, "having taken hold of the seed of Abraham," "being found in fashion as a man," the infirmities of human nature were thus laid upon Him.
He could sympathize with them experimentally; being, by the feelings excited within Him when enticed, well acquainted with all its weak points. By examining the narrative of His trial in the wilderness, we shall find that He was proved in all the assailable points of human nature. As soon as He was filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1) at His baptism in the Jordan, it immediately drove Him (Mark 1:12) into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matt. 4:1).
This was very remarkable. The Spirit led Him there that He might be put to the proof; but not to tempt Him; for, says the apostle, "let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man" (James 1:13). God, then, did not tempt Jesus; though His Spirit conducted Him thither to be tempted, and that, too, "by the devil," or the enemy.
This enemy within the human nature is the mind of the flesh, which is enmity against God; it is not subject to His law, neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:7). The commandment of God, which is "holy, just and good," being so restrictive of the propensities, which in purely animal men display themselves with uncontrolled violence, makes them appear in their true colours. These turbulent propensities the apostle styles "sin in the flesh," of which it is full; hence, he also terms it "sinful flesh."
This is human nature; and the evil in it, made so apparent by the law of God, he personifies as "pre-eminently A SINNER, (Rom. 7:12, 13, 17, 18). This is the accuser, adversary, and calumniator of God, whose strong hold is the flesh. It is the devil and Satan within the human nature; so that "when a man is tempted, he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
If a man examine himself, he will perceive within him something at work, craving after things which the law of God forbids. The best of men are conscious of this enemy within them. It troubled the apostle so much that he exclaimed, "O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death," (ver. 24) or this mortal body? He thanked God that the Lord Jesus Christ would do it; that is, as He had Himself been delivered from it, by God raising Him from the dead by His Spirit (Rom. 8:11).
Human nature, or "sinful flesh," has three principal channels through which it displays its waywardness against the law of God. These are expressed by "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." All that is in the world stands related to these points of our nature; and there is no temptation that can be devised, but what assails it in one, or more, of these three particulars.
The world without is the seducer, which finds in all animal men, unsubdued by the law and testimony of God, a sympathizing and friendly principle, ready at all times to eat of its forbidden fruit. This sinful nature we inherit. It is our misfortune, not our crime, that we possess it. We are only blameworthy when, being supplied with the power of subduing it, we permit it to reign over us.
This power resides in "the testimony of God" believed; so that we "are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1 Peter 1-5). This testimony ought to dwell in us as it dwelt in the Lord Jesus; so that, as with the shield of faith, the fiery assaults of the world may be quenched (Ephes. 6:16) by a "thus it is written," and a "thus saith the Lord."
Jesus was prepared by the exhaustion of a long fast, for an appeal to the desire of His flesh for food. Hunger, it is said, will break through stone walls. "He was hungry." At this crisis, "the tempter came to Him." Who he was does not appear. Perhaps Paul refers to him, saying, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light " (2 Cor. 11:14). Some one came to Him who was His adversary, and who desired His ruin; or, at least, acted the part of one on the same principle that the adversary was permitted to put the fidelity of Job to the proof.
The trial of this eminent son of God was perhaps recorded as an illustration of the temptation of the Son of God, even Jesus, to whom "there was none like in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feared God, and eschewed evil " (Job 1:8). From His birth to His baptism in the Jordan, He was faultless.
But in the words of Satan concerning Job, "did Jesus fear God for nought? Had not God made a hedge about Him?" Yes; God was His defence; and "in keeping His testimony there is great reward." But the adversary calumniated Jesus, in suggesting that His obedience to God had been prompted by mercenary motives. He "feared " (Heb. 5:7), not simply for what He should get, but because of His love for His Father's character as revealed in the divine testimonies.
The adversary affected to disbelieve this; and to suppose that, if God would just leave him in the position of any other man, He would distrust Him and eat of the world's forbidden fruit, by embracing all it would afford him. Thus, the adversary may be supposed to have moved the Lord to permit him to put the fidelity of Jesus to the test. God, therefore, allowed the experiment to be tried; and by His Spirit sent Him into the wilderness for the purpose. So the adversary went forth from the presence of the Lord, and came to Him there.
Having arrived at the crisis when Jesus was suffering from the keenest hunger, the adversary assumed the character of an angel, or messenger of light to Him. Being acquainted with "the law and the testimony," for which he knew Jesus had a profound regard, he adduced it in support of His suggestions. He invited Him to gratify the cravings of the flesh by helping Himself. He was God's Son; but then His Father seemed to have abandoned Him; why not therefore use the power He possessed, whose presence in Him was of itself a proof of God's approval of its exercise, and "command that the stones be made bread?" But Jesus disregarded the reasoning; and set it aside by "it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Deut. 8:3)
Failing in this, the scene of the temptation was then removed to the pinnacle of the temple;" and, as Jesus fortified Himself by the word, the adversary determined to be even with Him; and in appealing to the pride of life, so strong in the nature laid upon Him, to strengthen himself with the testimony likewise. "If Thou be the Son of God, as Thou proudly assumest to be, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and they shall bear Thee up in their hands, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone" (Psa. 91:11, 12). But Jesus met him with "Again, it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Deut. 6:16).
Lastly, the scene was shifted to a lofty mountain. From this position, by the power granted him, he showed Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world," visible from that elevation, "and the glory of them." He knew that Jesus was destined to possess them all, but that He was also to obtain them through suffering. Jesus knew this, too. Now, as the flesh dislikes suffering, the tempter proposed to gratify the desire of His eyes by giving Him all He saw on the easy condition of doing homage to him as the god of the world. "All this power," said he, "will I give Thee and the glory of them; for that is delivered to me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou, therefore, will worship me, all shall be thine" (Luke 4:6, 7). But Jesus resisted the enticement; and said, "Get thee hence adversary: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."
"Having ended all the temptation he departed from Him for a season." "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee." In this manner, then, was He put to the proof in all things according to the likeness of His nature to ours, but without transgression. He believed not this angel of light (Gal. 1:8), and power, and would have none of his favours. He preferred the grace of God with suffering, to the gratification of His flesh with all the pomp and pageantry of this vain and transitory world. Its "glory" is indeed delivered to the adversary of God, His people, and His truth; and to whomsoever he wills he gives it.
The knowledge of this truth ought to deter every righteous man from seeking after it, or even accepting it, when offered upon conditions derogatory to the truth of God. And, if those who possess it, such as kings, priests, nobles, &c., were what they pretend to be, they would follow Jesus' and Paul's examples, and renounce them all. Christianity in high places, is Christ falling down before the adversary, and doing homage to him for honour, riches and power of the world. What fellowship hath Christ with Belial? Certainly none.
If the principles upon which the temptation of the Lord Jesus was permitted, be understood, the necessity of putting the first Adam to the proof will be readily perceived, Would he retain his integrity, if placed in a situation of trial? Or, would he disbelieve God and die?
The Lord God well knew what the result would be; and had made all necessary provision for the altered circumstances, which He foresaw would arise. His knowledge, however, of what would be, did not necessitate it. He had placed all things in a provisional state. If the man maintained his integrity, there was the Tree of Lives as the germ of a superior order of things; but, if he transgressed, then the natural and animal system would continue unchanged, and the spiritualization of the earth and its population, be deferred to a future period.
God's knowledge of what a man's character will be, does not cause Him to exempt him from trial. He rewards and punishes none upon foregone conclusions. He does not say to this man, "I know you are certain to turn out a reprobate, therefore I will punish you for what you would do; " nor does He say to another, "I know thee that thou wouldst do well all the days of thy life; therefore, I will promote thee to glory and honour, without subjecting thee to the tribulation of the world."
His principle is to recompense men according to what they have done, not for what they would do. Thus He dealt with the Two Adams, and with Israel, to whom Moses says, "the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldst keep His commandments, or no" (Deut. 8:2).
And thus also the Lord Jesus treated Judas. He knew he was a thief, and would betray Him; yet He trusted him with the bag, and made no difference between him and the rest, until his character was revealed. The Lord knew what was in the heart of Israel, and whether they would obey him; but He subjected them to such a trial as would cause them to reveal themselves in their true character, and thereby justify Him in His conduct towards them.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 11.
After his baptism, Jesus was impelled by the Spirit into a neighbouring wilderness -- one of the many wild and untilled spots with which the mountainous country of Judea abounded. We are not informed which of them it was. It matters nothing at all which; but curiosity has naturally speculated, and is probably not far wrong in fixing on the precipitous bluffs standing in the midst of scorched and arid desolation to the south west of Jericho, overlooking the Dead Sea.
This is a little to the south of the spot where John's baptismal operations are believed to have been conducted, and would be a fitting locality for the purpose of Christ's spirit-enforced seclusion.
The purpose was that he might be "tempted of the devil." Paul says "he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. iv. 15). His temptation in the wilderness must, therefore, come into the category of our experiences. This at once excludes the popular idea that it was the supernatural personal devil of popular theology that tempted Jesus. No man is ever tempted in this way, but always by the incitements of the flesh, either operating spontaneously within, or presented to us in an objective manner by the suggestions of a person external to ourselves.
The whole narrative of the temptation shows it was a temptation of the latter sort -- a temptation brought to bear by an external tempter -- a person -- but not the popular Satan, who exists only in the Papalised imaginations of such as derive their theological ideas from inherited tradition, and not from the study of the scriptures. The Bible devil and the pulpit devil are two different things.
The Bible devil, with many shapes, has a common derivation -- the insubordination of flesh and blood to divine law. This devil exists in his largest form in the present political constitution of things upon the earth. In detail, he presents himself in our own feelings, and in the persons of those who, on any pretext whatsoever, would draw us away from divine ways and thoughts. Who he specifically was in the case of Jesus, we are not informed, and do not know: but his generic identity is unquestionable.
It is an idle question that has been raised by theologians, whether Christ was "peccable" or "impeccable," in view of the fact that he was driven into the wilderness expressly for the purpose of being tempted of the devil. If he was not capable of sinning, he was not capable of being tempted.
A popular writer has well said: "Some, in a zeal, at once intemperate and ignorant, have claimed for him (Christ), not only an actual sinlessness, but a nature to which sin was divinely and miraculously impossible. What then? If his great conflict were a mere deceptive phantasmagoria, how can the narrative of it profit us? If we have to fight the battle, clad in that armour of human free will which has been hacked and riven about the bosom of our forefathers by so many a cruel blow, what comfort is it to us if our great captain fought not only victoriously, but without real danger? not only uninjured, but without even the possibility of wound?"
It is facts, and not the metaphysical theories of facts, that wise men concern themselves with. Metaphysics land a man in the inconceivable. We have no faculty for dealing with the abstract. We cannot follow God, as it were, in the process by which He has concreted His eternal spirit into the forms and functions of created life. It is the practical relations of the latter that concern us.
On this principle, it is sufficient to note that Christ was tempted, without enquiring whether or not it was possible he could yield to temptation. The speculation only becomes material, and that in a bad sense, when it is made to interfere with that free volition of Christ, which was essential to the righteousness he came to fulfil, the very nature of which consists in the willing and witting subordination of the human will to the divine: ("not my will but thine be done").
The time at which the temptation occurred is suggestive in several ways. It was just when Jesus had been openly acknowledged by the Father as His beloved Son, and when the Spirit of the Father had visibly, and without measure, come upon him, with that endowment of power and wisdom which qualified him to perform those works and speak those words beyond the power of man, which, for three-and a-half subsequent years, filled Judea and Galilee with his fame. Why, at such a time, and not before, or later in his career, was he "driven of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil?"
Jesus himself afterwards proclaimed it as a principle of divine action, that to whom much is given, of them much is required. This seems to supply the answer. Jesus, endowed with a special measure of the Father's favour, was sent forth to be put to a proof equal to the new greatness conferred upon him. He had been, during a thirty years' private life at Nazareth, subjected to the temptations common to men. Anointed now "with the Holy Spirit and with power," it was meet he should be subjected to a correspondingly increased test of faithfulness before going forth in the plenitude of this power to bear the Father's name before Israel.
He was tempted in three particulars only, but it will be found that they comprise, in principle, all the temptations to which we can be exposed.
First, there was the proposal that Jesus should illegitimately minister to his own need in the matter of food. The temptation on this point was made as keen as it was possible to be. It was not brought to bear when Christ had eaten. It would have been no temptation had the proposal not coincided with a strong desire in the direction proposed.
It came to him after a fast of forty days; when the Spirit having sustained him all that time with a supply of the vital energy ordinarily derived from the alimentive process, permitted him to hunger. As the proverb has it, "Hunger will break through stone walls." Even lawlessness committed from the force of hunger is leniently viewed by men in general, as it is written, "Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry." The hunger of Christ, therefore, made the temptation a very strong one. But the temptation was made still stronger by the way the tempter put it: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."
This was as much as to say that the proof of his Messiahship required him to do what was proposed, and that if he failed to do it, he would give his tempter ground for doubting the proclamation that had just been made on the banks of the Jordan. Thus Christ's desire to testify the truth was cunningly brought to the help of his hunger to incline him to provide himself with food. But the power to make bread at will, which Christ possessed, as afterwards shown by his feeding a multitude with five loaves and two fishes, was not given to him to provide his own natural wants, but to exhibit his Father's name to Israel.
Consequently, though he had the power which the tempter challenged, he was not at liberty to put it forth at the time and for the purpose proposed. It would have been sin in him to comply with the suggestion. He repelled the suggestion by a quotation from the Scriptures, which involved the assertion of those facts: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
The power of this rejoinder may not at first sight be manifest; because, so far as appearance went, the proposal was not to discard the Word of God, but merely to provide the bread which the answer recognised as an element, though not alone, in the process of living. If we understood, however, that the proposed mode of providing it was wrong, the strength of it appears. "Bread alone" will finally land a man in the grave, because bread cannot bestow immortality. Bread, with the Word of God believed and obeyed, will be a stepping-stone to life that will never end (and it is in this sense that the Scriptures speak of men "living"). In fact, in this connection, bread becomes part of the pathway to eternal life, for without the bread first to develope and sustain the natural man, the Word of God could not have the ground to work on which leads to everlasting life (first that which is natural, afterward that which is spiritual).
But bread, with the word of God disobeyed, is "bread alone," so far as life-giving power is concerned; for the word of God confers no everlasting life on the disobedient. Consequently for a man to obtain bread on terms that involve his non submission to the word of God (and this was the tempter's proposal) is to take his stand on "bread alone." To such a case, the Scripture quoted by Jesus has obviously a most forcible application. The rejoinder was unanswerable.
"Then the devil taketh him up 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 thy foot against a stone."
Here we have a different class of temptation. In the first, he was invited, for two powerful reasons, to make a forbidden use of power entrusted to his hands. In this the tempter goes to the other extreme, and invites Jesus to throw himself ostentatiously on the promises of God. This, perhaps, was more difficult to meet than the other. It was as if the tempter said, "Thou art the Messiah, art thou not?" -- "Yes." "It is written, is it not, that He shall give His angels charge concerning thee, and they shall bear thee up?" -- "It is so written." "Cast thyself down, then; how canst thou expect me to believe if thou dost not?"
How was this to be met? By the assertion of a principle ignored in the tempter's application of scripture -- a principle which all divine promises pre-suppose, and which would have been violated by compliance with the tempter's challenge; viz., that there must be no familiarity or presumption towards God: that we must make a wise and full use of all that He has put in our power, and that divine help is only for the need that remains after there has been a humble, wise, and loving employment of the means already in our hand.
This principle Jesus asserted by quoting Scripture: "Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God." Had he thrown himself down, as the tempter proposed, he would have done what the Scriptures thus forbid, and would have forfeited his claim to the promise to which the tempter so sophistically appealed. The protection promised in that promise was protection from evil beyond control, and not from evil rashly and presumptiously incurred.
"Again, the devil taketh him up to an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me."
Here the temptation takes a different direction. Having failed to induce Jesus to illegitimately gratify the cravings of the flesh or to transgress in the direction of presumption towards God, the tempter tries the effect of present honour, wealth and exaltation offered on the simple condition of doing homage to the offerer, as the kings and governors of the Roman earth were in the habit of doing to Cesar for their position and dignities. Jesus utterly repels the suggestion, reminding the tempter that the Scriptures command one service only.
"Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."
The temptation of Christ is a remarkable episode in a remarkable history. It deserves more attention than it receives, as regards the lessons it conveys. There is no temptation that can come to us but what was in principle involved in the specific temptation to which he was subjected in the wilderness after his baptism. The consideration of his resistance to the suggestions of the tempter, will help us in all our exposures to similar trial.
Is it proposed to us to gratify some craving of the flesh in a forbidden direction? to make a vain-glorious or presumptuous use of spiritual privileges? to obtain temporal advantage by paying court to the enemies of God in any form? Let us cast our eyes to the wilderness of Judea, and remember the principles asserted by the Lord in Scripture quotations, in answer to similar proposals.
It is also a remarkable feature of the temptation of Christ, that he employed the Scriptures in repelling the suggestions of the tempter. This is a feature worth noting in a day like ours, when the universal tendency is to give the Scriptures a less and less commanding place. With Christ, the fact of a thing being "written" was a sufficent reason for making it a rule of conduct, which is becoming less and less the case in a day when more and more the theory finds favour that the Scriptures are partly or wholly the product of human thought, and subject to human judgment and conscience as to the obligation of its precepts.
The implication is obvious that we only stand with Christ fully when we recognize that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," and therefore, as he said, "cannot be broken" in its truth or authority. Corollary to this line of thought is the view which the temptation affords of Christ's acquaintance with the Scriptures. His ready responses to the tempter show both acquaintance with them, and that memory of their practical instructions that was able to apply them in the hour of need...
Jesus was in the wilderness forty days, at the end of which the temptation occurred. We are not informed in what manner the Lord was occupied during that time, or for what purpose he was so long a time secluded "with the wild beasts." We can scarcely escape the thought that it was for preparation. He had come straight from the home associations of Nazareth to John's baptism, and it would scarcely have been fitting that he should at once have passed from those associations into the wide public work which he had to accomplish before his death.
We all know the need for pause in changing from one occupation to another. How much more must he have felt it who stepped from a carpenter's bench to the position of a nation's instructor with the power of God upon him, and the work before him of "taking away the sin of the world." Doubtless, he had a strength in himself that made such a transition easier for him than for ordinary men. Still, as "touched with the feeling of our infirmity," he must have felt the effects of village life sufficiently to make it needful that he should have a season of majestic and heart-enlarging solitude before entering upon his journey through the multitudes of Israel as the name-bearer of Yahweh.
The length of the period brings to mind many similar periods in the work of God. In years, we have Moses in exile forty years; Israel in the wilderness forty years; the land in frequent rest from affliction forty years; David's reign forty years; Solomon's reign forty years, &c., &c. In days, we have the flood descending forty days, Moses in Mount Sinai forty days, the spies searching the land, forty days; the Philistine defied Israel forty days; Elijah in the wilderness forty days; Jesus forty days with his disciples after his resurrection. The recurrence of this number suggests that it enters into the plan upon which the purpose of God with the earth is being worked out. Forty days were at all events a sufficiently long time to prepare the heart of Jesus for the work upon which he was about to enter.
When the temptation was ended, Jesus "came into Galilee." The enemies of the Bible make a great deal of the apparent discrepancy on this point between John and the other gospel narrators. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all speak of the temptation as occurring immediately after Christ's baptism in the Jordan, while John not only omits the temptation altogether, but appears to represent Jesus as remaining in the neighbourhood of the Jordan several days after his baptism, and departing thence to Galilee.
The explanation of this is to be found in the nature of John's account as distinguished from the others. It is not a chronological biography, but a report of special sayings and discourses of Christ, for which there is only so much of circumstantial narrative introduced as is needful for a frame-work. There is no doubt some truth in the tradition that John's gospel was written last, and, not only last, but long after the others had been in circulation among believers. Its existence is doubtless due to the perception which John had of the necessity there was for a fuller exhibition of the sayings of Christ, in confutation of the erroneous ideas about him that had sprung into activity with the course of time.
So much as was already well known, he would naturally think it superflous to write (and the Spirit was with him to guide and direct). Therefore, the temptation (three times already recorded) he would omit, equally with the particulars of his birth. But, says the caviller, "he ought not to have contradicted the other accounts. He ought not to have represented Christ as in the neighbourhood of the Jordan, and departing to Galilee during the forty days he was in the wilderness."
The answer is, John does not do so. He only appears to do so on a rough reading. He does not record the baptism of Jesus. He only records the Baptist's remarks about it, and these remarks were made some time after it had occurred, for they are descriptive of its having occurred. How long after, does not appear. It may have been some weeks. It may have been long enough to give time for Christ's forty days' absence in the wilderness. True, it speaks of Jesus coming to John the same day; but may not this have been after the return of Jesus from the wilderness?
If the place of temptation were, as believed, to the south of the place of baptism, it would be natural that Jesus on his way to Galilee, which lay to the north, should repass the scene of his baptism where the Baptist was still at work with the multitude; and what more natural in that case than that the Baptist, on seeing him again, should say (as John represents him saying), "Behold the Lamb of God.... I saw the Spirit descending from heaven, and it abode upon him?" It is evident that Christ's baptism had happened some time before: in which case, there is no discrepancy at all between John and the other recorders, but merely a different order of narrative.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come
I remark that in the case of Jesus, diabolos and satan were both concerned.
When he was filled with the holy spirit he was led, Mark says 'driven' by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, or properly, to be put to the proof under sin - hypo tou diabolou. There nature was his nature; for the 'children of God being partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same'. Hence he was sent forth 'in a form of sin's flesh' en homoiomati sarkas harmartias; and thus God made him sin, (that is flesh and blood) for us, and on account of sin, gave judgement against sin in the flesh of Jesus.
The testimonies show that Jesus was 'under sin' as a man under a burden. He groaned under it in painful travail. While among the wild beasts of the wilderness (a similar situation to the first Adam) he felt the danger and desolation of his situation, and the cravings of a long protracted fast. He ate nothing all this time, his life being sustained by the spirit: and at the end became very hungry.
Luke terms this, 'being forty days put to the proof under diabolos', or sin; that is, in his case, under the perturbation of weakened flesh and blood. This was before the adversary came to him. His nature was severely tried during this period and it remained to be seen, whether his flesh thus weakened would stand in the truth; or like Adam's seek present gratification by transgressing the divine law. The end of the forty days appears to have been the prepared crisis of the trial.
At this junction, one came to test him. Jesus styles him, as he termed Peter, 'Satan' that is, adversary. This individual, probably, was an angel; for angels were concerned in the matter, as appears from the testimony; and Paul says, 'the very adversary (Satan) transforms himself into an angel of light', or Knowledge. Christ's visitor was evidently a person of scriptural information; and as he appeared as a tester at a time especially prepared for the trial, I have no doubt he was sent by the same Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness there to be put to the proof. I conclude then, that he was 'an angel of light.' not shining with brightness; but appearing as a friendly man, well instructed in the word.
Now Luke attributes what this concealed adversary suggested to diabolos, or one causing to transgress, but in this case without success; for they were suggestions to Jesus under the workings of sin's flesh, seeing that 'he was in all things put to the proof according to the likeness without offence.' The visitor, though styled 'devil,' was not diabolos within as in our case, but an excitant thereof; in 'the likeness,' or sin's flesh; therefore his sayings are recorded as those of diabolos. Jesus being begotten of God, as was Adam the first likewise, and not of the will of sin's flesh, the promptings to transgression did not proceed from within.
In this form of sin's flesh he assumed, differed from the form we possess. The promptings in our case do often proceed from within. In the two Adams they came from without - from the serpent in the one case; and from the angel of light in the other. These occupied for the time the position of the then as yet unbegotten diabolos relatively to their flesh, till the lust they might excite should by the strength thereof bring forth sin, when their personal missions would be terminated, and sin enthroned as the conceived diabolos of the form, or likeness of sin's flesh.
In the second Adam's case the testing adversary failed to move him from the stand he had taken of absolute obedience to the will of God, whatever might ensue. He appealed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, but all without effect. The law of the spirit of life was too strong within him for these appeals. He extinguished their effect by the word of faith, which was his shield, and emerged from the trial undefiled. The tester of his allegiance then left him; and whatever perturbations may have been excited, it subsided into the peacefulness of a conscience void of offence towards God.
In studying Christ's trial it is important not to forget what I have intimated above about his nature; because it was the point of difference in the nature of the two Adams from ours that caused the ordeals they were subjected to, to assume the forms narrated. No one has ever been put to the proof through a speaking reptile since Adam's fall; nor has anyone been tried by an angel of light since Jesus successfully resisted his suggestions.
Paul's phrase 'in the likeness of sinful flesh' - en homoiomati sarkos hamartias - I have rendered more literally 'in a form of sin's flesh'. Sinful is an adjective expressive of the quality of the 'flesh,' and signifies flesh full of sin. This is a form of flesh common to all mankind, and indicated by Paul in the words, 'in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing'. But Adam's flesh before his fall, and the Christ's flesh, were forms of flesh and blood to which the English word 'sinful' is inapplicable. They were not full of sin.
The first Adam's was a form in which there was no sin at all, but only a physical weakness inseparable from flesh and blood. Luke styles him 'Son of God' because he was begotten by his Spirit from mother earth. Having transgressed, his weakness was defiled, and became sin, and his flesh sin's flesh - sarz hamartias - a form afterwards inherited by Abraham in common with all mankind. But Christ's was still another form of sin's flesh than either Abraham's or Adam's before his fall.
The homoiomal difference of his flesh from Adam's consisted in its maternity. Adam's came directly from the dust of the ground: Christ's from that form of sin's flesh styled 'the seed of Abraham'. It differed from this, however, in its paternity. Abraham's daughter, Mary, was 'begotten of blood, of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man,' but her son Jesus, of the will of God by his creative power, which constituted him a peculiar form of sin's flesh; and hence the propriety of my more literal rendering of en homoiomati sarkas hamartias - a form of sin's flesh - even the third form under which flesh and blood has been manifested since the creation week.
In Hebrews iv.15 the phrase 'form of sin's flesh' is expressed by the single word homoiotes, 'likeness, resemblance or similitude'; as, kata panta kath, homoioteta, 'in all things according to the likeness.' One thing may resemble another without being identical in every particular. This was the case with Christ's flesh. It was sin's flesh as far as the maternity was concerned, but not as to its fatherhood.
In this he differed from the Jews, who had sin's flesh for their parentage on both sides, which they illustrated in their persecution of their maternal brother, who was 'born after the spirit;' thereby proving that they were the children and slaves of their father, sin, or diabolos. Still Christ's paternity did not destroy the physical likeness of his flesh to Abraham's seed; it only removed from it the reigning principle hereditarily transmitted by the will of man, called diabolos, or'devil'. This flesh, however, was still reduced in strength below that of Adam's original nature, because of its maternal defilement.
Hence, to place it on a par with the first Adam's, that their might
be equality of strength, Jesus was anointed, or Christened,
by which he became 'full of the holy spirit'.
This filling did not destroy the homoiotes or likeness to sin's flesh. It was still possible for Christ to feel the full force and influence of sophistical appeals to the lusts of sin's flesh with which he was burdened 'as with a loathesome disease.' Hence says the apostle, 'he was put to the proof in all things or according to the likeness,' or resemblance of his flesh to his brethren's in its susceptibilities, 'without offence'.
There being no reigning diabolos, 'devil', or sin, transmitted by the will of man in Adam or Christ, as in the flesh of all mankind, that causing not to stand in the truth, or diabolos, is in their cases, and in their's alone, to be referred to the Serpent, and the Angel of light.
Comment: As son of Yahweh and mirror image of his unblemished character, the bias of his will being in harmony with his heavenly father, the law of the Spirit of Life in him was the reigning principle - yet he still felt the cravings of the flesh. And under the protracted and severe trial of his faith...'' when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared''. (Heb 5:7)
'I have overcome the world'. (Jhn 16:33)
Some think the devil in the case was Christ's own inclinations; but this is untenable in view of the statement that "When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season"(Luke iv, 13). It is also untenable in view of the harmony that existed between the mind of Christ and the will of the Father (John viii, 29)'.
To speculate upon the lawfulness of compliance is partly to give consent.
There must be no reasoning upon the harmlessness of conforming to the world.
Elpis Israel 1.2.
James Chapter 1 +
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
The Lord as a bearer of sin's flesh was burdened by its motions (propensities/ inclinations and incitements - the lusts of the flesh.
The rebellious thought to sin in his case originated from external agents. Peter the apostle is an example 'Get thee behind me satan'.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
To think the evil thought is the conception of sin, which bring forth evil deeds unto death. Evil thoughts are actual transgression (Matt 15:18-20). The Lord was not defiled by evil thoughts.
1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
The more we learn about temptation, the better equipped we are to combat it. In our reading today is the most important temptation that has ever occurred -- the typical temptation, the typical defense, the typical victory -- that of our great Forerunner and Example.
We must realize its reality -- the realness of its effort, its attraction and appeal. The more we can see the basic principles and significance of this temptation, the better we shall be able to cope with all temptation...these forty terrible days in the wilderness stand out with his crucifixion as the beginning and ending of his sufferings for men, two great crises of struggle and affliction... these forty terrible days in the wilderness stand out with his crucifixion as the beginning and ending of his sufferings for men, two great crises of struggle and affliction.
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
'And WHEN the tempter CAME TO HIM, he SAID' (Matt 4:3)
Tempted of the devil (diabolos).
"Jesus groaned within himself, and was troubled." (Jhn 11:33)
Jesus was a real man, subject to human weakness, and not a "coequal" part of an omnipotent divinity, as the doctrine of the "Trinity" teaches.
It is the very essence of the Truth that Jesus suffered under the burden of the same defiled nature, the same law of sin in his members, the same pulling of the flesh, as his brethren.
...Jesus, a mortal man, a man subject to all the natural weakness of mortal flesh, had been entrusted with the Spirit without measure. He had to be perfectly clear in his mind and in his determination as to the use of this power. Carrying the burden and responsibility of this awful power, he had to work out his salvation with fear and trembling. He had to see the picture with perfect clearness and not deviate from it to the right hand or the left.
He had to clearly discern the motions of sin and the deceptions of the diabolos in all their dark variety and confusion. He had to discern right down to the finest points the distinction between right and wrong -- thou shalt and thou shalt not.
We are, in all this, being taught the absolute necessity of as much knowledge and comprehension and discernment of the Word of God as we can possibly acquire within the limits of our capacity and opportunity. Jesus, the Head, required this discernment to the utmost degree for the work he had to do.
3. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
We must endeavour to fully realize the reality, the extremity, the intensity of the temptations -- not just as bald and obvious invitations to disobedience, but subtle, disguised enticements to deviate from the narrow path of faith and obedience and seek right ends by wrong means.
Jesus was the Son of God, of quick understanding, yet these temptations were real and powerful. What then of ourselves, in our own waste, howling wilderness filled with all the pitfalls of the dark deceptiveness of the mind of the flesh? What safety or hope is there in any course short of constant prayer and study?
Hunger was a constant, gnawing pressure upon him, and he knew he had at his fingertips unlimited power to satisfy it -- he possessed without measure the power that sustains the universe. Only a moment's effortless willing would have produced bread before him.
One small loaf of bread. Was he being wise or foolish, reasonable or unreasonable, to just do nothing for himself, and leave everything to God? Hadn't God given him the means of sustenance? Shouldn't he use it at least just to the extent of bare necessity -- just a little plain bread? Why all this fuss, this pantomime of self-denial about such a simple little thing?
So the temptation would be presented -- "You are being stubborn, you are being foolish, you are being 'holier-than-thou' about trifles. You need the bread to do God's work. The Spirit was given for this work. If you follow this course, you'll be hurting and restricting the very work you were given the Spirit to do."
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
We note that there was no prolonged or complicated argument -- just the clear, simple and ideally appropriate quotation from the Word of God. One passage of Scripture is worth more than all human writing of all ages combined....
.....Only as simple children can we find the simple, childish way of life. Worldly wisdom and knowledge and learning and education are a tremendous -- almost an insuperable -- obstacle in the discernment of the narrow, simple way of Iife....
.There is a great lesson here in dealing with temptation. The closer we can get to the simplicity of the Word, the closer we are to the way of Christ and the mind of the Spirit. We are clearly warned that --
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9)
If we give the flesh any scope to twist and argue and confuse the issue, we are lost. There is Scripture for every occasion. It is our wisdom and our life to devote ourselves intensely to seeking these and knowing them as a shield against all temptation.
....We find that Jesus is quoting from the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 8:2-3, and we note throughout how perfectly it applies to Jesus' circumstances, and the purpose of them. In fact, it helps to explain them. These two portions are providentially related as type and antitype --
"Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart."
"He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live."
And verse 5 --
"Thou shalt also consider in thine heart that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee."
"He learned obedience by the things that he suffered."
Wasn't he obedient before? Did he have to learn obedience? He was never disobedient, but he had to learn by trial and testing and experience the full and beautiful depths of faithful, trusting obedience under tribulation and suffering.
How -- in the face of this clear picture of the loving purpose and operation of God -- how could Jesus presume to make bread on his own by the Spirit-power, and spoil the whole arrangement of God's operation?
This whole chapter 8 of Deuteronomy is so much to the point. See verse 18:
"Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is He that giveth thee power."
Jesus must never forget that the power he had was of direct divine gift, and for divine use only. Dare he then use it to sustain himself directly, and thus cut himself off from the sweet dependence upon God that he shared with all his brethren?
"It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful"
-- and Jesus was the steward of an infinitely greater treasure than any man has ever held. How careful, then, must we be, as faithful stewards, to "Render to God that which is God's."
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
What a jump from a loaf of bread to all the glory and authority of the kingdoms of the world! What a vast range temptation covers! The first was the desire of the flesh in its simplest and most harmless -- seeming form. This is the pride of life in its fullest and highest possible attainment.
The first was plausible, but we may wonder how this offer of the kingdoms of the world could in any way be a temptation to him who knew the mind and purpose of God so well.
Let us fully realize that there is much we do not understand, much we shall never understand during this day of weakness and of "seeing through a glass darkly." But this does not bar us from getting the practical guidance and instruction and comfort and warning and mental transformation that these things are designed to give us. Even Paul said:
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do -- I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Let us extract the utmost value we can from the vast amount that is revealed, and not speculate or be troubled about what is not revealed. There is always danger and division in hazy speculation in the secondary areas, where the light shines only dimly. Let us keep our minds out in the safe bright middle of the beam.
6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
The tempter suggested an easier way of establishing the kingdom -- of beginning Christ's reign on earth. The essence of the temptation seems to be the questioning the necessity, yea, questioning the rightness and justice of the struggle and sorrow and suffering involved in God's appointed way. Why must this terrible suffering be?
Let us not forget that even three years later in Gethsemane, on the eve of his crucifixion, he pleaded --
"My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me."
These things are recorded to show us the terrible reality of the struggle and the glorious magnitude of the victory and sacrifice.
7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
And the devil said unto him...
The "diabolos" is sin-in-the-flesh, in all its forms and manifestations -- from within, from without, personal, social, national, political.
The particular identity of the diabolos -- tempter -- deceiver -- in Jesus' case is not revealed, as it is not in the very similar case of Job. Therefore, it is not important that we know. The value of the record for us lies in other aspects of the matter, and God leaves out the unimportant parts that our attention may not be distracted from that which is important.
Bro. Thomas and Bro. Roberts were both firmly convinced that there was an external, personal tempter, whoever he may have been. We believe that the more we study the matter scripturally, the more we will be convinced that this is the soundest and safest view.
When God's purpose requires it, He can make sure that the necessary adversary is in the right place, as in the case of Adam, and Moses, and Job, and so many others.
We know Jesus had to battle and overcome the diabolos in himself. This was the whole essence and power and meaning of his victory. Bro. Roberts points out that the mere impulse to do something God had prohibited is not in itself transgression. But the slightest entertaining of, or giving in to, that impulse -- even only in thought -- is transgression.
And Jesus was absolutely sinless in thought, word, and deed. That basic fact we must preserve inviolate, and no interpretation can be entertained which even hints at undermining it.
The idea is abhorrent that Jesus would ever voluntarily entertain, or toy with, or soliloquize within himself upon a course of sin, even for a moment. To his pure mind all sin was repugnant and hateful, immediately upon recognition.
He had to examine all suggestions and desires and impulses in the light of God's Word, immediately rejecting them without thought of compromise, as soon as their unscripturalness was perceived --
"Get thee behind me Satan for thou savorest not of the things of God, but of men."
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
Cast thyself down.
"The Jews require a sign..."
The Jews wanted something spectacular to glorify their nation, and lead them to triumph. They laid down the course that God should follow, instead of humbly seeking God's way. They wanted to put God to their test.
This casting himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple would be just the kind of thing that would have appealed to them and impressed them. Should he use some means like this of gaining notoriety and favour? It would be so easy!
10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
"It is written." Here was a new and subtle approach -- "It is written." We can always find Scripture to justify anything that the flesh wants to do.
"Shall we call down fire from heaven as Elias did?" (Lk. 9:54).
"We have a law, and by our law he ought to die" (Jn. 19:7).
They quoted God's law to condemn God's Own Son.
11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Thou shalt not tempt Yahweh thy elohim.
What is the lesson for us? Do we tempt God? Put Him to the test? Question anything He does? Presume to force His hand? Set conditions for Him to meet? This is a common presumption, rooted in the pride of life, as if He were our private God, bound to do our private bidding.
How common it is for men to question His ways, and set their own standards to measure Him by! Judge Him on the basis of what they think He should do!
V 5-12. The order of the two temptations v 5-12 is different in Matthew and Luke. There must be a reason. We know that God does not make mistakes. We know He does nothing without a reason, and we know that this is the Word of God.
It has been suggested that this variation of order is to indicate that there was a doubling of the temptation series, and that actually there were six -- first the three recorded by Luke, then the three by Matthew. This is not unreasonable, for we know the whole forty days was a period of temptation.
And there is a certain fitness in this suggestion, for doubling is a significant aspect of important divine things, to signify certainty and establishment. It would lay, at this vital crisis in Jesus' ministry, a broader basis to his victory, showing that he was unmoved and unshaken by repeated assault. It would introduce, too, the very fitting symbol of six.
13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
"In the days of his flesh he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears" (Heb. 5:7).
The whole meaning and value of his work and victory was his real, complete, perfect, continuous unfailing overcoming.
He never sinned. He never failed. Truly he was strengthened and helped for the tremendous work he had to do -- the work of completely -- perfectly -- without one flaw or failure -- resisting and overcoming and crushing, by the power of the Word of God, every moment-to-moment tendency of the flesh during every moment of his responsible lifetime.
Truly he was strengthened; because what he accomplished is -- as are all other things -- in the ultimate, the work of God. Jesus said himself, "I of mine own self can do nothing."
• In regard to the wilderness temptation of the Lord, we agree with Brethren J.Thomas, R. Roberts and H. P. Mansfield in believing that the description of the Devil/Satan must relate to a personal tempter who confronted the Master after the forty days, and who played on the Lord's circumstances for his (and his associates) wicked designs.
Those who suggest that the Devil/Satan was the actual mind of the Lord
by which he tempted himself to sin, must claim that Jesus developed the carnal mind of the flesh, which is declared to be at moral enmity against God (Rom. 8:6). If we enjoy the mental temptations to sin, is that not sin? Even the very thought of foolishness is sin (Pro. 24:9).
Further, a simple reading of the accounts indicates that the tempter "came"
and "left". This indicates an experience in which someone known as the Devil/Satan came to speak to the Lord, and left "for a season" (a period), and those periods are indicated in the Gospel records, when they again "tempted him" from time to time. When it says that the Devil/Satan was to return at a later season it cannot refer to the mind of a person, which is always part of his
About the same time, leaders from Jerusalem came to John Baptist (Jn. 1:19),
when the "Lamb of God" appeared out of the wilderness, and John is specific about the events of the first, second, third day, etc. If the representative of the Jewish leaders said to the Lord:
"Submit your power to us, and we will give you the kingdoms of the world, as prophesied in the Hebrew prophets"
he could have pressed the prophetic intent that Messiah would have the kingdoms of the world. They were anxious that the Messiah would co-operate
with them to remove the Roman oppression and obtain the kingdoms of the world at that time. The only alternative would be to claim that Jesus said (in effect): "If I bow down to myself, I will give myself the kingdoms of the world."
But if he already had that power (in order to give it to himself), it would be
a curious temptation indeed. If he did not have the power, it was a mere impossibility, a mere verbal debate.
Matthew 26 does not indicate that the Lord desired to frustrate the divine purpose
of sacrifice in order to avoid offering himself as a sacrifice for sin - for the Scriptures clearly required such an offering from the beginning of the creation. Certainly he had available the legions of angels, with which he will come the second time, but stating a fact does not indicate that this was his will to call upon the angels in order to avoid the one great offering he was required to perform. To refuse the sacrifice on the tree would have been a sin of great moment by
which the blessing of Abraham would never be obtained (Gal. 3:13-14).
Surely, this is his determination: "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say?
Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour". Would we say, "Father, I do not wish to be baptised; save me from the moment of baptism"?
Would we say, "we do not wish to be a living sacrifice"? Such would be wicked,
and if Jesus wanted to avoid his one great offering, it would have been a wicked
thought, and the "thought of foolishness is sin."
Instead he declared: "But I have a baptism to be baptised with; and how am I
straitened till it be accomplished!"
Without doubt, the Lord, so aware of the fulfilment of every type and shadow since the days of creation, and knowing he was the "Lamb to be slain from the foundation of the world" "set his face to go to Jerusalem" knowing what would befall him there. And he was a willing offering, surely.
If Jesus knew that what he requested would mean that the scripture would be
broken, unfulfilled, what a wicked request that would be! Why should he pray three times for the Father to permit him to avoid his responsibility. Would we dare pray the Father even once, that we might be allowed to avoid our responsibility in baptism and true service?
A better declaration is: "Father take this cup from me" (which means he was
already drinking of it, and had been typically drinking since he shared the wine with his disciples a few hours earlier as a token of his sacrifice), but he was prepared to complete the drinking of the cup (the sacrificial cup of suffering) for as long as the Father determined: "not my will but Thine be done"! But because the Father always heard His Son, He answered His Son, whose distress was terminated earlier - and strangely so - earlier than what might have been expected (John 19:33).
In death the cup was taken, and the symbolic blood wine pouring out completed.
Surely this is the cup we drink in memorial. If we were to say, "Father I do not wish to eat the bread or drink the wine, nor to be a living sacrifice... as it is
inconvenient" would this not be a sin?
Finally, since the Lord did not possess the carnal mind, and therefore, unlike us,
was not "double-minded", to suggest that he willingly tempted himself to sin, only
so that he could refuse himself in a verbal exchange, does not seem to fit the terms of
"Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2).
If the mind of Christ was that of a Devil/Satan, as the tempter in the wilderness is described, then surely that is not the "mind of Christ" Paul urges us to
possess, for we already possess the carnal mind, and wish to be rid of it as soon as possible. As Yahshua was the "Word made flesh," that Word dominated him always, so let this mind be in us also. - Editor
From the Logos Magazine Sept 2017
(Reprinted with Permission)
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
Christ tempted, Christ suffering, Christ mocked, and rejected, Christ crucified -- the power of God, and the wisdom of God, and the love of God, and the righteousness of God, and the salvation of God!
Immediately after his typical sacrifice in the baptism of Jordan, the Lord Yahshua was "led by the Spirit into the wilderness" (v. 1). It is significant that this should occur, for we recently read together Leviticus 16:7 concerning the law of atonement.
There was both death and life in the two animals provided for the atonement of the holy place, and for the priesthood. This was to achieve the "reconciliation" (Heb. kaphar, covering) of the holy place, tabernacle and altar (v. 18) = all typical of the Lord Yahshua. One of the goats was killed; the other was led into the wilderness, completing the law established by Yahweh. This was obviously understood by both John the Baptist and the Lord Yahshua. The Master submitted himself for baptism (symbolising death), and then immediately went into a place not inhabited, as the live scapegoat (teaching life beyond death).
So the examination of the Lord's spiritual understanding was undertaken in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), and he proved that, by the power of the Spirit, he was the master of his own soul. Faced by the wicked suggestions of one called "diabolos" (vv. 2, 3, 5, 6) that were entirely opposed to the divine declaration in law and prophets, the Master perfectly resisted the evil and ungodly propositions that would have brought him into the association of the apostate leaders of Judea at the time.
John Baptist understood what was occurring, for after the forty days, he saw the Master returning from the wilderness and announced: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
The sin-principle (for the word is in the singular) had been challenged and overcome, and John recognised that had occurred in the wilderness experience of the Lord Yahshua, as the basis for the "sin (hamartia) of the kosmos." No wonder that the Master "returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee" (Lk. 4:14), and went forward to present the gospel of salvation first to his own in Nazareth, where "he had been brought up," and then throughout the country.
Bro Graeham Mansfield - Logos
Tempted in All Points - exhortation
"Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil" (Lk. 4:1-2).
The details of this terrible forty days we do not know, except as Mark records (1:13), he was "with the wild beasts." Forty days of danger, privation and exposure, waiting and enduring patiently until God should open the way further.
"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me" (Psa. 23:4).
How could he find comfort in the rod of God? James says (1:2-4)-
"Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience-let patience have her perfect work."
When the apostles were beaten by the council of the Jews, they "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for his name" (Acts 5:40-41). To the mind of the flesh, this is madness.
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned"
(1 Cor. 2:14).
The wisdom of the world would regard rejoicing at trouble as a perverted and psychopathic condition. Let us not turn to them for help and guidance in our problems. Let us turn to the word of God. The record of the temptation of Jesus is a demonstration, for our learning, of the great contrast between the natural mind of the flesh and the divine mind of the Spirit-how, if life is to be gained, the one must be subdued by the other.
"If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread" (Lk. 4:3).
That was reasonable enough. Jesus had a great work to do. He was given the power of the Spirit to enable him to accomplish it. He could not live without food. Surely then there was no wickedness in using this power to create a little plain bread for himself. Did not the Law clearly say, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn?" (Deut. 25:4)
But Jesus, through the discerning eyes of the Spirit, saw further and deeper than that. Many things look reasonable and harmless to the flesh, but what was God's view of the matter? There is the safe line of thought.
For forty days Jesus had not eaten. Prolonged fasting reduces all the physical and mental powers. It reduces self-control and resistance and balanced thought, and greatly intensifies the tendency to impatience and irritability. He was hungry and exhausted. The previous forty days must have seemed endless. How much longer would be required to sustain this struggle?
Seeking strength and guidance, his mind went back two thousand years to a very similar occasion, and to the inspired words spoken at that time. Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 8:2-3-
"Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, and to know what was in thine heart. He suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord."
The great lesson - by the word of God alone is life. Had God, the Giver of this power, directed him to use it to justify his own desires? No. Then he would not betray his stewardship. God was proving him, to know what was in his heart. He would wait for God to provide, as He had provided for Israel. He would wait for, and live by, the words of God.
"And the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and said, 'All this power will I give thee, if thou wilt worship me'" (vs. 5-7).
Again the reply, "It is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (v. 8).
"Him ONLY shalt thou serve"-that is the point. Serve God - not even just primarily but exclusively. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" (Matt. 6:24). Whenever there was any temptation to serve and gratify the flesh, Jesus answered, "Get thee behind me Satan. It is written, thou shalt only serve the Lord thy God." We are not offered all the kingdoms of the world. It isn't necessary.
Much less temptation is plenty to strain our weak faith. But the diabolos continually offers us pleasant and tempting things on the condition that instead of a completely dedicated service to God, we turn in part to the service of the flesh. These two calls, the flesh and the spirit, are always present, seeking our attention. Temptation is a continuous process. Every action is a yielding to either one or the other - either the flesh toward death, or the spirit toward life.
When we read of Jesus' reaction to temptations, we well realize what Paul meant when he said to Timothy, "The Scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation" (2 Tim. 3:15). Jesus met them all with, "It is written." We must sincerely try to do the same.
God's law is not a matter of burden or restriction or imposition. Jesus looked upon it as a light, a help, a deliverance and guide through the perils of darkness.
"I delight to do Thy will, O God" (Psa. 40:8).
"Thy testimonies are my delight and my counsellors" (Psa. 119:24).
"Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage" (v. 54).
Without this frame of mind, there is no hope of life, because this is the Word of God, and it is only by being filled with the Word of God that men can live. Let us learn who are our enemies and who are our allies. When God wishes to destroy a people, He sets every man's sword against his brother. Instead of fighting the enemy, they blindly fight their friends.
Jesus said, "The enemy is the devil," the flesh, with all its natural thinking, motions and desires. Let us keep that clear. When we fight, let us be sure that alone is what we are fighting. We have a host of allies. They are the testimonies of God's law. Every one is a true and powerful friend, although often in our wilfulness they do not seem so. Sometimes, like the Gadarenes, we impatiently require them to depart from our coasts, because we fear that while they are destroying our evil spirit, they will at the same time destroy our swine.
But they are our real friends and defenders. Jesus called three of them to his aid in resisting the subtle enticements of the devil, the devil of lust, greed and pride. Let us not make the fatal mistake of defending and justifying this enemy, just because it happens to be within ourselves, and of turning against our God-given helpers just because they happen to prick us in the process of coming to our aid.
"If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge concerning thee' " (vs. 9-10).
How quickly the devil learns to use our own weapons against us! Twice Jesus had said, "It is written," and the theme of his defence was dependence on, and allegiance to, God. So the third temptation was, "Give evidence of your faith - it is written. He will keep thee from harm." This was a clever attack from the opposite direction, and required to be met with a great balance and self-control.
The first two attacks had caused Jesus to bring forward the forces of his faith and dependence to the limit. The third was a trap to provoke him, in the heat of zeal and enthusiasm, to go just one step too far. This third attack, while apparently a Scripture-backed appeal to faith, was actually an appeal to pride and self-glory. There is no more subtle temptation possible than to give a man an excuse to parade his pride under the guise of virtue. Only from God can we get the discernment to steer a straight, safe course through the wiles of the devil.
And let us doubly beware when the mind of the flesh comes quoting Scripture.
"And the devil departed from him for a season" (Lk. 4:13). "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jam. 4:7). The devil will never depart until he is courageously resisted. There is no peace in appeasement.
"All the rivers run into the sea, and yet the sea is not full. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing" (Ecc. 1:7-8).
"Hell and destruction are never full - so the eyes of man are never satisfied" (Prov. 27:20).
It is impossible to satisfy the desires of the flesh. To attempt to find satisfaction and happiness in that direction is merely a weary shovelling into a bottomless pit, and finally we drop into the pit ourselves-unsatisfied.
"Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple" (Psa. 65:4).
Inside the temple of God alone is satisfaction and peace. "In Thy presence is fulness of joy" (Psa. 16:11). How could it possibly be any other way? Is there anything good outside of God?
Concerning temptation, Paul says (1 Cor. 10:13)-
"God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
The Spirit declares that, in God's love, no child of His is ever tempted beyond his power to withstand. If we are wise, we will humbly accept the verdict of Scripture, and not attempt to evade the responsibility for our shortcomings. We will not shift the blame to some other person, as Adam did; or to a supernatural devil, as Christendom does; or to God, as we unconsciously do when we say we just can't help sinning because we are made that way.
What Adam said was perfectly true, "The woman Thou gavest me gave to me, and I did eat." But the woman was simply part of the circumstances in which God placed Adam, and the divine principle stated by Paul holds true-the man could have held firm if he had sought aid and guidance in the right place. Otherwise what a mockery his punishment would be!
Refuge is sometimes taken in a mistaken application of the words of Paul in Romans 7:17, "It is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth in me." Those who reason so fail to follow Paul's exposition through to the end. He is here simply laying the foundation of facts. He goes on in the following verses telling how, through the power of God, those facts must be faced and handled in order to gain life. The first thirteen verses of chapter 8 emphasize the vital necessity of the law of God in the mind overcoming the law of sin in the members, reaching its climax in verse 13-
"If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye by the Spirit do mortify (R. V.: put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
By the Spirit-that is the secret. Chapter 7 shows the hopelessness of his natural evil condition, desiring to do good but unable to. Chapter 8 shows the power by which this is overcome, and must be overcome-"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit on my throne." The same Paul said-
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).
"I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:26-27).
Paul clearly recognized that if he did not, by the freely offered and unlimited power of Christ, overcome the law of sin in his members, he would be a castaway. James says: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God" (Jam. 1:13).
This is a serious warning. This is what Adam said, in effect, when he said, "The woman Thou gavest me." God commands, "Thou shalt not." Man replies, "I cannot help it-it is the way You made me, the circumstances You placed me in."
"Do not err, my beloved brethren, lust brings sin, and sin brings death-you must overcome-every good and perfect gift is from above-let him ask God in faith for wisdom and power to walk worthily and it shall be given him" (Jam. 1:5-6,15-17).
What did God say to Cain? "Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? if thou doest well, shalt not thou be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door" (Gen. 4:6-7). Whose door? Cain's door. Do not err, my beloved brethren. The command is there. The power is there. The responsibility is there. It can be done, and it must be done.
There will be failures, but let us not blame anyone for them but ourselves. They are danger signals-flaws that show up in testing. The failures show that we have failed to prepare ourselves-failed to apply our heart aright-failed to draw upon the great reservoir of power and wisdom offered through the Scriptures and the Spirit of God. Let us humbly recognize our failures, and assume full responsibility for them. Then, and then only, is there any hope of overcoming. In whatever circumstances we are placed, let us remember that God is trying us to prove what is in our hearts.
Temptation can be met as Jesus met it-with a simple, powerful, "It is written." An impregnable armor, if we will make the effort required to put it on. And it is effort-long hours of effort and application as long as life continues. Paul told Timothy that the Scriptures were able to make him wise unto salvation. They were able to provide him with a ready "It is written" to each of the endless problems, trials and temptation that fill the probationary period. But Paul also made it clear that Timothy must "Meditate upon these things, and give himself wholly to them" (1 Tim. 4:15).
In the 119th Psalm which we finished yesterday, the law of God is referred to in each verse-176 times. Why? Clearly to impress-to impress indelibly with its vital importance-its value, beauty, blessing, protection, pleasures and the glorious eternal purpose it was given to accomplish. The mind expressed throughout this Psalm is the mind of Christ which David was inspired to record.
Jesus "magnified the law and made it honorable" (Isa.42:21). He showed its power and value, for by it he quenched the fiery darts of the adversary, and achieved eternal life for himself and all who should follow in his steps. We often point out in our lectures the importance of understanding that Jesus was a representative and not a substitute. This truth is equally important in our exhortations. His obedience and faithful overcoming is no substitute for ours. He opened the way-we must walk in it.
Paul says, as he enjoins the solemn ordinance we are about to partake-
"Be ye followers (RV: imitators) of me, even as I am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
"I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done" (Jn. 13:15).
And Peter records-
"He left us an example, that we should follow in his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).
The 119th Psalm shows whence he drew his strength. It shows how he "increased in wisdom and in favor with God." He did not do this automatically. He increased in wisdom-
"Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than my enemies. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged (RV), because I keep Thy precepts" (Psa. 119:98-100).
He increased in favor with God. God's own son increased in favor with Him. How? Verse 58 of this Psalm-
"I entreated Thy favour with my whole heart."-"Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, and it shall be given him" (Jam. 1:5-6).
"How much more shall your heavenly Father give good gifts to them that ask Him" (Matt. 7:11).
As we partake of this ordinance, we bear testimony that "man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We partake, in faith, of him who was the Word of God, the spiritual bread, who perfectly manifested in his own life the life-giving power of that divine Word.
And we declare in symbol, as we partake, our recognition that unless we faithfully identify ourselves with him in heart and soul, and follow the pattern that he has given, we cannot have life. In the seven promises to the seven ecclesias, it is each time only "To him that overcometh. To him that overcometh, even as I overcame" (Rev. 3:21).
"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" (Rom. 11:22).
"I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove-show, demonstrate, illustrate-what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom.12:1-2).
The Devil that Tempted Christ
No man can say positively who the devil was that tempted Jesus. The great point is that it was not the orthodox devil, because there is no such being. There need be no special effort to identify the particular form of Bible diabolism that was at work. It cannot successfully be done.
The Bible word "devil," which is an untranslated Greek word in an Anglicised dress, does not tell us. It has its moral equivalent in the word Deceiver; but there are many deceivers. Sin is a deceiver, but so also is a man, as in the case of Judas (Jno. 6:70); or the world, as in the case of "the god of this world," of whom Paul speaks, blinding the eyes of its devotees (2 Cor. 4:4); or the authorities, as in the case of the devil at Smyrna, who should cast some of Christ's friends into prison (Rev. 2:10); or the power of sin's flesh organised in the states and kingdoms of Europe (Rev. 12:9; 20:2).
Because "devil" has this wide significance in the Scriptures - (morally identical, but in form various)-no wise man will dogmatise on the particular form the generic devil assumed in the temptation of Christ. He may form an opinion; he may speculate; but that is a different thing.
That it was an external tempter (as the analogy of the two Adams requires, and also the complete subjection of the mind of Christ to the Father) does not interfere with the internal susceptibility of the Lord's nature to evil suggestion.
No external temptation can be a temptation if there is no internal response to temptation, as in the case of the Lord's hunger in the case of the suggestion that he should illegitimately make bread. Nor does the existence of internal susceptibility dispense with the need for external suggestion; rather the reverse.
Latent tendency to evil does not, in the case of moderately-balanced minds, stir till it is appealed to from without. The Lord's mind was more than moderately balanced. He did "always" those things that pleased the Father (Jno. 8:29). He was "about his Father's business" at 12 (Luke 2:49). It was his meat and his drink to do the will of the Father (Jno. 4:34).
Such a strength of mind in divine directions required unusual power of external temptation. The devil that tempted the Lord "departed from him for a season," which cannot be affirmed of his nature. If a man think it was all subjected (all in his own mind and nothing outside) let him think so, but he will not insist on others thinking so if he is wise.
We must bear with him. His opinion does not injuriously affect any first principle, unless he make out the Lord to have been the worst instead of the best of men.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1898