Then the devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
I. THE APPEAL THAT WAS MADE TO OUR LORD, and the corresponding attack that is made on ourselves. Christ was tempted to seize "power and glory" for himself by an act of unholy submission. These were the prize which the worldly minded Jews of his age imagined to be within reach of their Messiah. To one of his humble circumstances but limitless capacity, and also of rightful and honorable ambition, there might very easily be presented a most powerful temptation to aim at a great and glorious supremacy - a throne like that of the Caesar himself, on which imperial power might be exercised and human glory at its topmost height be enjoyed. And the force of this temptation would be very greatly intensified by the fact that such a throne as this would be gained by very different measures from those Jesus had been contemplating in his solitude. The collecting of multitudes by appealing to their national passions, the leading of armies and gaining of victories, the command of great bodies of men, the excitements of political strife, - all this is full of enjoyment to the ambitious soul. A vastly different experience this (and to all that was human in the mind of Jesus Christ immensely more attractive) from that of speaking unappreciated truth, living a life too noble to be understood, suffering from keen and malignant persecution, dying in the pangs and shame of martyrdom! The price to be paid for surrendering the higher for the lower aim, and the distressing for the delightful means, was "worshipping" Satan; in other words, declining the course which he most disliked, and adopting the course which he most desired. The attack which is now made on us, corresponding to this, is the suggestion that we should turn aside from the higher aspiration (whatever it may be) to the lower ambition. It may come to the Christian minister in his study, to the statesman in his cabinet, to the doctor in his consultingroom, to the author or editor at his table: it is a suggestion to leave the straight line of duty, of faithfulness, of service, of truth, of loyalty to conviction, of moral and spiritual integrity, and take the lower path of popularity, of honor, of temporal success. To do this is to take a course which we may dignify by some fair name, but which, in Scripture language, is worshipping the devil.
II. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH IT WAS REPELLED BY HIM, and in which it should be defeated by us. This was one of holy indignation: "Get thee behind me," etc. Our Lord indignantly refused to entertain a suggestion so utterly opposed to his spirit of consecration, so subversive of all his high purposes and lofty hopes. He met it by the quotation of a word which demanded entire obedience to the will of God and full devotedness to his service. In this spirit of holy indignation let us repel the first advances of a temptation to leave the higher and the heavenly road of truth and service for the lower and the earthly one of mere temporal success. To take that lower course would be to play into the hands of the evil one; to lose the commendation of our conscience and to live under the shadow of its rebuke; to lower ourselves and to degrade our life in the estimate of all the true and wise on earth and in heaven; to lose our true and high reward; to break the word and depart from the will of the Lord our God. - C.
And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.1. The importunity of Satan: he is upon our Saviour again: "Again the devil taketh Him up."
2. The variety of his shifts: from the pinacle of the Temple "he taketh Him up to an exceeding high mountain."
3. Note by what gate or passage he would enter his temptation: by the eye; he shows a goodly object unto Him.
4. The dignity of the object: he shows Him kingdoms.
5. For the amplitude and generality: "All the kingdoms of the world."
6. In their most amiable and desirable shape he showed them in their glory.
7. Satan showed himself to be an arch juggler, or prestidigitator, as artists call it, for St. Luke adds, that he showed all this "in a moment of time." A close solicitor, and a diligence worthy to be commended, if it had been in a good cause; but they that are in a wrong way are most zealous in their course, and negotiate for hell more urgently than we do for heaven.
(Bishop Hacker.)Isaiah 39:2), as he was told by the prophet; it stirred up such coals of desire in them that saw them, as could not be quenched till they had fetched away all that he had, and all that his ancestors had laid up, even till that day. It is the wisdom that is used nowadays, when men would have one thing for another, to show the thing they would so exchange; as the buyer showeth his money, and the seller his wares in the best manner that he can, each to entice the ether (by the eye) to the desire of the heart.
(D. Dyke.)Genesis 3., "Then were their eyes opened."
(A. B. Grosart.)
(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)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.)
(G. S. Barrett, B. A. .)1. The vision was a splendid one, well fitted to appeal even to a mind that was actuated by no vulgar ambition.
2. The desire for power here appealed to is one of which the noblest natures are susceptible.
3. It was not a wrong thing, nor at variance with His mission, that Christ should contemplate the prospect of becoming universal King.
4. The prospect held out to Him was well-fitted to stir the loftiest and holiest ambition.
5. It may well, then, foster our reverence for His character, while it teaches us lessons of the greatest practical importance, that although His universal dominion would lead to such blessed results, He would not procure or hasten it by entering into compromise with, or doing the slightest homage to, wrong.
6. Paying homage to evil with a view to the easier and speedier accomplishment of good is a sin to which the Church has always been powerfully tempted.
7. Christ's kingdom is not of this world. It is neither formed on worldly principles nor furthered by worldly measures.
(W. Landels, D. D.)Deuteronomy 34:1-4). Now Satan takes Christ to the point where Moses stood to view the Promised Land which he was not to enter. And here again we notice a covert sneer. "O Thou Prophet of the Most High, like unto Moses, who comest to lead the people of God out of bondage into liberty, to restore again the kingdom to Israel! Thou wilt, may be, do what Thou undertakest. But what will be the result to Thyself?. Wilt Thou profit in any way by it? God gave to Moses a hard forty years in the wilderness, and instead of rewarding him with rest at the end, let him see the Promised Land from afar, even from this spot, and let him die without allowing him to set foot on it. That is how God deals with His prophets, and that is how He will deal with Thee! "And as he spake may be the eye of the Son of Man rested on far-off Calvary, which is visible from this spot. Then Satan went on with the contrast: But! — I reward my servants at once. Come, bend the knee to me, and I will give Thee glory, and power, and dominion in the present." And there rose a mirage of the desert, and in that mirage was a vision of palaces and palm trees, and glittering sheets of water, on which gay barges sailed, apparently very real, but it was only a phantom scene painted in the unwholesome vapours that rose from the Dead Sea, and from the hot bituminous desert sands and rocks. A phantom splendour over desolation and death. That was what Satan offered. And observe likewise the difference between his offers and those of God, offers which he makes quite unabashed, and emphasizes. God gives present pain and future glory; Satan gives present satisfaction and future wretchedness. Only note how he pitches on one half of each offer, and contrasts only the present, say. ing nothing of the future. God gives present sadness, Satan present satisfaction; and he utters not a word about the future. The vision was but for a moment. Satan "showed unto Him, in a moment of time, all the kingdoms of the world"; the desert mirage does not last long, but while it lasts it is thoroughly deceptive. So it is with the gifts of Satan; they are but for a moment, and then they vanish away, and leave dust, and ashes, and barrenness, and death behind.
(S. Baring. Gould, M. A.)
(S. Baring. Gould, M. A. .)
(Newman Hall, LL.B.)
(G. Matheson, M. A. , D. D.)
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