The Force of This Temptation
Luke 4:5-8
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.…

Could it be other than a temptation to think that He might, if He would, lay a righteous grasp upon the reins of government, leap into the chariot of power, and ride forth conquering and to conquer? Glad visions arose before Him of the prisoner breaking jubilant from the cell of injustice; of the widow lifting up the bowed head before the devouring Pharisee; of weeping children bursting into shouts at the sound of the wheels of the chariot before which oppression and wrong shrunk and withered, behind which sprung the fir-tree instead of the thorn, and the myrtle instead of the briar. Could He not mould the people at His will? Could He not, transfigured in snowy garments, call aloud in the streets of Jerusalem, "Behold your King"? And the fierce warriors of His nation would start at the sound; the ploughshare would be beaten into the sword, and the pruning-hook into the spear. Ah, but when were His garments white as snow? Not when He looked to such a conquest; but when, on a moment like this, He "spake of the decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem." But how would He, thus conquering, be a servant of Satan: I will not inquire whether such an enterprise could be accomplished without the worship of Satan. But I will ask whether to know better and do not so well, is not a serving of Satan? whether to lead men on in the name of God as towards the best, when the end is not the best, is not a serving of Satan? whether to flatter their pride by making them conquerors of the enemies of their nation instead of their own evils, is not a serving of Satan? Nothing but the obedience of the Son, the obedience unto death, the absolute doing of the will of God because it was the truth, could redeem the prisoner, the widow, the orphan. But it would redeem them by redeeming the conquest-ridden conqueror too, the strife-giving jailor, the unjust judge, the devouring Pharisee. He would not pluck the spreading branches of the tree; He would lay the axe to its root. It would take time; but the tree would be dead at last — dead, and cast into the lake of fire. It would take time; but His Father had time enough and to spare. It would take courage and strength and self-denial and endurance; but His Father could give Him all. The will of God should be done. Man should be free — not merely man as he thinks of himself, but man as God thinks of him. He shall grow into the likeness of the Divine thought, free not in his own fancy, but in absolute Divine fact of being, as in God's idea. The great and beautiful and perfect will of God must be done.

(George Macdonald, LL. D.)This was a temptation which every worker for God, weary with the slow progress of goodness, must often feel, and to which even good and earnest men have sometimes given way — to begin at the outside instead of within, to get first a great shell of external conformity to religion, and afterwards fill it with the reality. It was the temptation to which Mahomet yielded when he used the sword to subdue those whom he was afterwards to make religious, and to which the Jesuits yielded when they baptized the heathen first, and evangelized them afterwards.

(J. Stalker, M. A.)This was of all the temptations the most awful and searching. It was the only one of the three in which Satan suggests no doubt of the Divine Sonship and Divine glory of Christ. Could a Divine Son rightly refuse the houour and glory of a son? Could it be anything but a sin to turn His back on the only way that seemed to lead straight up to His throne? Was not this a "tempting" of God? How solemn and heart-searching are the lessons it may teach all those who profess to be servants of God among men; lessons which, perhaps, were never more needed than in the present day.

1. The conversion to Christ of the unconverted, and the evangelization of the masses, absorb the energies and the efforts of the Church. But the intensity of this passion for saving men may itself become a peril to the Church. In its zeal to save souls it may become indifferent to the means by which they are saved.

2. To resort to worldly and carnal methods for the extension of Christ's kingdom; to lose faith in the power of the gospel of Christ to do its own work, and to win its own way in the world is treason to Christ and to God; it is the worship of the devil.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

WEB: The devil, leading him up on a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

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