Then the devil led Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. "If You are the Son of God," he said, "throw Yourself down from here.
I. THE EVIL SUGGESTION. The idea conveyed to the mind of Jesus, now on the point of commencing his ministry, was this (as I understand it): "Here is a glorious opportunity to make a most successful beginning; alighting from this height among the assembled worshippers below, who are all ready to welcome the Messiah, you will gain such a prestige from so brilliant a miracle that the battle of conviction will be almost won by a single blow. There need be no fear; the angels will sustain you," etc. But to act in this way would be to proceed along a line totally unsuited to the kind of work which Jesus came to do. It would be very gratifying, very stimulating, very agreeable to human feeling, but it would not be the right course to pursue. Christ came to build up a vast spiritual empire, and he was to lay its foundations carefully and steadily, and therefore deliberately and slowly, in the minds of men. This victory was not one to be snatched by a sudden impetuous charge; there must be a long and a hard campaign. Everything could not be done by a brilliant stroke, appealing to the imagination; there must be a long, laborious process, by which the judgment and the conscience of mankind would be convinced. There would be fatal folly in an endeavor to force an issue. There would be Divine wisdom in "beginning at the beginning," in gradually working onwards, in toiling upwards amid fatigues and sorrows until the height was reached. Such are the victories before us now - triumphs over ignorance, over vice, over unbelief, over superstition, over indifference, over indecision, over spiritual languor. We should like to be working faster, to be winning the battle at a greater pace. Then cometh the evil one, and he says, "Leave these slow processes; mix a little error with the truth you preach; be more careful to produce an effect than to deliver the Divine message; sacrifice purity to power; introduce into the method's of the kingdom of Christ the principles and the weapons of the kingdom of the world; hasten to the goal and snatch the crown of success, instead of working so hard and waiting so long."
II. THE FIRM REFUSAL. Christ declined to adopt the suggestion; he said that to do so would be "tempting the Lord his God." It would be expecting God to work a miracle in order to gratify his unholy eagerness. We must not try to precipitate the cause of righteousness by an unholy impatience, which is a practical distrust of God's Word. To expect God to bless means which he has not sanctioned, to own and honor methods which are not in accord with the principles he has revealed, - this is to lose his favor and to draw down his condemnation; it is to invite discomfiture. "He that believeth shall not make haste." "Our wisdom as well as our duty, as "workmen together with God," is to
(1) adopt God-given methods;
(2) ask for the Divine help and inspiration;
(3) confidently await the Divine blessing in God's own chosen time and way. - C.
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.
1. The avoiding of one extreme gives the soul such a swing, if care be not used to prevent it, that they are cast more than half way upon the other.
2. While men avoid one extreme by running into another, they carry with them such strong impressions of the evil they would avoid, and such fierce prejudices, that it is not an ordinary conviction will bring them right, but they are apt to be confident of the goodness of the way they take, and so are the more bold and fixed in their miscarriage. That as distrust on the one hand, so presumption on the other, is one of his grand designs.Show what presumption is. It is in the general a confidence without a ground.
1. It is made up of audacity — which is a bold and daring undertaking of a thing — and security.
2. The ground of it is an error of judgment. A blind or a misled judgment doth always nourish it.
3. In its way of working it is directly opposite to distrust, and is a kind of excessive though irregular hope.
1. Then it is presumption, when from external or subordinate means men expect that for which they were never designed nor appointed of God.
2. When men do expect those fruits and effects from anything unto which it is appointed, in neglect or opposition to the supreme cause, without whose concurrent influence they cannot reach their proper ends — that is, our hopes are wholly centred upon means, when in the meantime our eye is not upon God.
3. It is a presumption to expect things above the reach of our present state and condition.
4. When men expect things contrary to the rules that God hath set for His dispensations of mercy, they boldly presume upon His will.
5. It is also a presumption to expect any mercy, though common and usual, without the ordinary means by which God in providence hath settled the usual dispensations of such favours.
6. When ordinary or extraordinary mercies are expected for an unlawful end.Having thus proved that presumption is one of the great things he aims at, I shall next discover the reasons of his earnestness and industry in his design, which are these —
1. It is a sin very natural, in which he hath the advantage of our own readiness and inclination.
2. As it is easy for Satan's attempt, so it is remote from conviction, and not rooted out without great difficulty.
3. The greatness of the sin when it is committed, is another reason of his diligence in the pursuit of it.
4. The dangerous issues and consequences of this way of tinning, do not a little animate Satan to tempt to it. It was no small piece of Satan's craft to take this advantage, while the impression of trust in the want of outward means was warm upon the heart of Christ. He hoped thereby the more easily to draw Him to an excess. For he knows that a zealous earnestness to avoid a sin, and to keep to a duty, doth often too much incline us to an extreme, and he well hoped that when Christ had declared Himself so positively to depend upon God, he might have prevailed to have stretched that dependence beyond its due bounds, taking the opportunity of His sway that way, which, as a ship before wind and tide, might soon be over-driven.
(R. Gilpin.)2 Peter 2:8) in Sodom, had no fit time or place to be presumptuous; but when he dwelt in the mountain in security, then he committed incest with his daughters, being made drunk by them. David, so long as he was persecuted by Saul, tossed up and down from post to pillar, had no leisure to be presumptuous; but in the top of his turret, when he was at rest in his palace.
1. When any prelate is so puffed up that he thinks himself too great to be a doorkeeper in God's house, but will be higher than all the Church, and set on the top of the pinnacle, who, sitting in the Temple of God, exalts himself above all that is called God.
2. The temple is defiled by setting up idols in the courts of our heavenly King, even in the midst of thee, O thou sanctuary of the Lord.
3. By offering up unclean sacrifice, either false doctrine, or impious prayers, or superstitious worship, or corrupted sacraments.
4. When men set their foot within the sacred tabernacle with carnal thoughts, with worldly imaginations, with no zeal or attention.
5. To bring any profane work, any secular business within those walls which are consecrated to the name of the Lord.
(Bishop Andrewes.)Genesis 32:26). But it is not so here with the devil. For when he saw that his first temptation would not prevail he trieth another.
1. It is a favourite snare of the tempter to "take " men, ay, Christian men, to "pinnacles."
2. It is to "tempt" God, to do anything wrong on the plea of imagined or intended good to others.
3. Too many make the same mis-use of the Bible that the devil did.
4. The believer must appropriate to himself the Bible promises and commandments.
5. Obedience must be kept abidingly in mind.
6. We must never sunder means from ends.
7. Let the tempted realize the great protecting hands.
(A. B. Grosart.)Josephus thus describes it. "It was an astonishing work of art, the like of which was nowhere else to be seen, for the valley was so deep, that when any one standing on the top looked down into it, he lost his head. Above this, Herod erected a portico of four storeys of pillars, of such extraordinary height, that when any one ascended to the parapet, so as to look down from the roof on the entire depth of building and natural precipice, he stood a chance of becoming giddy before his eyes reached the bottom of the abyss." The parapet here, no doubt, formed a low pediment, such as is common to the gables of Grecian temples. On the top of this pediment stood Jesus, with Satan by Him. A great commotion, and, indeed, a riot was caused in Jerusalem, by the erection of a golden Roman eagle, on the Temple gate, as crowning the pediment, by Herod the Great, about The eagle was torn down and broken in pieces by the rioters. It was a symbol both of Roman power and of Jupiter, the king of the gods. Now — perhaps in covert reference to this incident-Satan plants the Lord on the apex of the pediment of Herod's great four-storied hall, or, possibly on the entrance gate, on the very pedestal from which the golden eagle had been thrown down.
(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)"
(A. B. Grosart, D. D.)
1. The tempter comes a second time with an "if." Doubt is to potent a thing to be lightly or readily abandoned.
2. The tempter goes from extreme to extreme. This seems to be a favourite device of the evil one.
3. The tempter is very successful in tempting professing Christians with his "If [ = since] son thou be of God, cast Thyself beneath." Everyday observation will satisfy that there are two classes who fall before this snare. There is first of all the man who has newly proved the power of the "gift" of "faith" to produce absolute trust. Strong in that trust, there is the danger of thinking of and relying more upon the gift than the Giver; and of acting upon the grace in possession as semi-independent, instead of looking to Him who holds all grace in His own hands. Presumption inevitably comes out of that; self-confidence, rashness, "high thoughts," and all under the guise of an unquestioning faith. My dear friends, search and see if you are not liable to presume upon your Christian character, and to run risks such as you should else shrink from.
4. The tempter seeks first to lead into sin, and then to justify the sin by Scripture.
5. The tempter can only persuade, never compel. "Satan can tempt and persuade us, but he cannot force us to sin, or he cannot cast thee down unless thou ' cast thyself down.'"
(A. B. Grosart, D. D.)
1. In the first aspect it meant that God should be forced to do for Him what He had before refused to do for Himself — make Him an object of supernatural care, exempted from obedience to natural law, a child of miracle, exceptional in His very physical relations to God and Nature.
2. In the second aspect it meant that He was to be a Son of wonder, clothed with marvels, living a life that struck the senses and dazzled the fancies of the poor vulgar crowd. In the one case it had been fatal to Himself, in the other, to His mission. Special as were His relations to God, He did not presume on these, but, with Divine self-command, lived, though the supernatural Son, like the natural child of the Eternal Father. His human life was as real as it was ideal. The Divine did not supersede the human, nor seek to transcend its limits, physical and spiritual. And His fidelity to our nature has been its pre-eminent blessing. No man who knows the spirit of Christ will presume either on the providence or the mercy of God, because certain that there remains, even in their highest achievements, the dutiful servants of Divine wisdom and righteousness. He who came to show us the Father, showed Him not as a visible guardian, not as an arbitrary, mechanical providence, but as an invisible presence about our spirits, about our ways, source of our holiest thoughts, our tenderest feelings, our wisest actions. The Only-begotten lived as one of many brethren, though as the only one conscious of His Sonship. And, perhaps, His self-sacrifice reached here its sublimest point. He would not, and He did not, tempt the Lord His God, but lived His beautiful and perfect life within the terms of the human, yet penetrated and possessed by the Divine.
(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)
(George Macdonald, LL. D.)I. THE ATTACK.
1. It was a temptation to presumption.
2. The object o! this presumption was display.
3. The temptation was presented with an excuse in Scripture.
II. THE REPULSE.
1. Our Lord again quotes Scripture, partly(a) for the same reason as formerly, for that which is good when rightly handled must not be abandoned because evil persons abuse it; and partly(b) because Scripture is best interpreted and balanced by Scripture.
2. The words quoted by our Lord show that He regarded the act of presumption suggested by Satan as an insult to God.
(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)
Macaulay's History of England.Walker was treated less respectfully. William thought him a busybody, who had been properly punished for running into danger without any call of duty, and expressed that feeling, with characteristic bluntness on the field of battle. "Sir," said an attendant, "the Bishop of Derry has been killed by a shot at the ford." "What took him there?" growled the king.
(Macaulay's History of England.)Wellington, of an officer killed: "What business had he lurking there? Shall not mention him in my despatch."
(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)
Cast Thyself down from hence.
(Bishop Andrewes.)Daniel 6.) in the law of his God, in the graces of God's Spirit, and therefore he dyes his bad clothes in good colours, and paints the foul faces of sin with the colours of graces and virtues to deceive us; as here he presents presumption to Christ under the colour and in the habit of faith; and so now covetousness, of frugality and good husbandry; drunkenness and carousing of healths, of good fellowship; sottish sloth, of quietness (Ecclesiastes 4:3), unlawful sports both in regard of the nature of the games, as dice. What need have we not to be carried away with everything that hath a show of goodness, or of indifferency, but to bring these painted strumpets of the devil to the light, yea, and to the heat of the Word of God, and then their painting shall melt away, and we shall see their beauty came only out of the devil's box?
For it is written, He shall give His angels charge over thee.
1. He useth this artifice to beget and propagate erroneous doctrines. Hence no opinion is so vile, but pretends to Scripture as its patron.
2. He makes abused Scripture to encourage sinful actions.
3. By this imitation of the commands and promises of God, he doth strangely engage such as he can thus delude unto desperate undertakings.
4. He sometimes procures groundless peace and assurance in the hearts of careless ones by Scripture misapplied. Lastly: This way of Satan's setting home scriptures proves sadly effectual to beget or heighten the inward distresses and fears of the children of God. It is a wonder to hear some dispute against themselves, so nimble they be to object a scripture against their peace, above their reading or ability, that you would easily conclude there is one at hand that prompts them, and suggests these things to their own prejudice. And sometime a scripture will be set so cross or edgeway to their good and comfort, that many pleadings, much time, prayers, and discourses cannot remove it. I have known some that have seriously professed scriptures have been thrown into their hearts like arrows, and have with such violence fixed a false apprehension upon their minds, as that God had cut them off, that they were reprobate, damned, &c., that they have borne the tedious, restless affrightments of it for many days, and yet the thing itself, as well as the issue of it, doth declare that this was not the fruit of the Spirit of God, which is a spirit of truth, and cannot suggest a falsehood, but of Satan, who hath been a liar from the beginning.
1. Almighty God is the very truth itself, and it is no more possible for Him to utter what is false than for the glorious and blessed sun to shoot forth darkness instead of light.
2. He is all-powerful, as well as all true, and therefore, if He be bent upon executing His will, whatever it be, it is impossible to resist it.
3. He is all good, and gracious, and loving, and hath poured the riches of His mercy into the book which He has given unto us; and so far from dreading these perfections of His nature, which make all that He has said unchangeable, and grieving that it cannot be blotted out — herein is our joy, as sons of God by adoption and grace, that "it is written" that heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one tittle of that blessed writing! And now, only turn for a moment to what it is in this temptation of Satan of which our Lord affirmed that it was the Word of God, and found strength whereby, in the hour of His great need, to vanquish the tempter, and bring down angels out of heaven to minister to Him! For you may be sure, that the sinless Lamb of God, who took our nature upon Him, that we might be raised to the purity of His, seeing that He was flesh and blood in all things, sin only excepted, hath recorded His own temptations, because He knew full well, by the wisdom that was in Him, that the very same would assault us!Look well, dear brethren, to this!
1. Though it be true, that we must all labour in the" station to which God has called us, and by the sweat of our brow must eat bread, yet that is not the first thing; that is not the great, the one thing needful. "The kingdom of God is not meat, or drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." "My meat," saith our Lord, and therefore ours, "is to do the will of My Father which is in heaven!" "Thou shalt not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." "Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow I they toil not, neither do they spin I and yet your heavenly Father clotheth them I Shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" In one word, "It is written," and it cannot be changed. Again — look at this: Do you never tempt the Lord your God? that is, presume upon His aiding and protecting you, where He has not promised to do so, but the contrary, and so bring a curse upon the soul, and not a blessing I But, you may say, can we trust God too much P or throw our whole souls with too unreserved a love and confidence upon His fatherly care? But to presume on His love when our heart is elsewhere, and when we refuse to obey His evident commandments, is death to us! Again, it is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Thirdly: Do we fall down and worship Satan? "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve!" Finally: Before we part, let me once more impress upon you, that all this, and much more of the like import, is written, and that to tell you so is the same thing as to tell you that it will all come to pass, as sure as man is sinful and ignorant, and God wise, holy, and true. And in more than one sense it is thus written: for first of all — you find it in the holy book! There it is, and fire cannot burn it out, nor water wash it out, nor all the wishes and struggles of ungodly men make it less, even by a single letter. It is written, therefore, not only in a book, but in the eternal counsels of God, out of the depths of which, in the fulness of time, it hath all issued forth to us. It has been written from everlasting to everlasting, that thus it shall be. But there is one more book, dear brethren, in which this blessed, and eternal, and unchangeable word must be written, if we would be the better or the more blessed for it. In our own hearts — in our souls, in the fleshly tablets within us, and not on stone tables, or paper books, must the Word of God be engraven by the Spirit. So long as it remains an outward thing, merely spoken or merely written, it is only condemnation; it hath a sword in its hand, and killeth.
(J. Garbett, M. A.)
"The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose;
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the core."
Such is Antonio's stricture on Shylock's appeal to Jacob's practice; and there is a parallel passage to it in the next act, where Bassanio is the speaker: —
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it, with a text
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament."
Shakespeare embodies in Richard of Gloucester a type of the political intriguer; as where the usurper thus answers the gulled associates who urge him to be avenged on the opposite faction: —
"But then I sigh, and with a piece of Scripture
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil.
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends, stolen forth of holy writ;
And seem a saint when most I play the devil."
An unmitigated scoundrel in one of Mr. Dickens's books is represented as openly grudging his old father the scant remnant of his days (on the ground that "Three-score and ten's the Bible-mark"); whereupon the author interposes this parenthetical comment: "Is any one surprised at Mr. Jonas making such a reference to such a book for such a purpose? Does any one doubt the old saw that the devil quotes Scripture for his own ends? If he will take the trouble to look about him, he may find a greater number of confirmations of the fact in the occurrences of a single day than the steam-gun can discharge balls in a minute."
(F. Jacox.)— "But what is this I see? Satan himself with a Bible under his arm, with a text in his mouth? No devil is so dangerous as the religious devil." So writes Bishop Hall, speaking of the temptation of Christ. There are two classes of devils, the religious and the irreligious — both in reality irreligious — and the former more so than the latter; but these make no show or pretence of religion, whereas those do. St. Paul had to contend with them. Speaking of false apostles, he wrote: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," &c. The religious devil has often been enthroned as the head of the Church on earth; he has at one time or another enjoyed the emoluments of every bishopric in Europe; there is scarcely a monastery of which he has not been abbot; there are not many pulpits from which he has not preached, for he is to be found in every denomination. A religious devil has been known to join a Church, and go from one Church to another, from one denomination to another, in order to secure customers in the congregation.
(H. S. Brown.)
And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
(G. S. Barrett, B.A.)He finds in them a truth which belongs to His high calling as well as to His life of lowliness.
1. We must see to it that all the passages brought together have a real bearing on the subject in hand.
2. We must see to it that we give to each passage its own legitimate weight — no more, no less.
3. We must see to it that our induction of passages is complete.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
2. The Lord is tempted when we will not believe Him, unless we see signs and wonders, and provoke Him to let us see some print of His omnipotence, or we will fall out, and trust Him no more.
3. There is another crooked branch, much like unto the former, growing out of the same root; not simply by declining natural means, but by declining all means; having no calling, using no labour, cashiering all providence, and yet expecting to live and thrive as well as they that eat the bread of carefulness by the sweat of their brows.
4. Then they shall stand for the fourth, that make holy vows, and bind themselves in a perpetual obligation, where God hath given no promise of assistance, that they shall be able to perform them.
5. Fifthly, to use such things again, which either always or for the most part have been unto us an occasion of sinning, is to tempt the Lord, whether He will let those things prevail against our souls which so often have proved unto us an occasion of falling.
6. And sixthly, this smells of a most audacious spirit, provoking wrath, and urging, the patient God to indignation, when you make slight of all the terrors and miacies in the law, as if they were high words; but do what you will they shall never fall upon you. This was the first imposture that Satan put upon our first parents.
I. The text tells us, if it tells us anything, THAT WE OUGHT NOT, NEEDLESSLY, TO GO IN THE WAY OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE. Well, there are some people who, if they would not fail of their duty, must just trust in God's providence, and run that risk. This is part of their vocation; to this they are called of God. To them the promise is, that His angels will keep them; for here is their way, the way God has set them; and in that way God has said He will protect His people, heartily doing their appointed work. The doctor, fulfilling his noble calling; the nurse; the minister. It is no tempting of Providence if such as have been named be near the sick, even where sickness is most malignant. But there it ends. To go, when you are not needed; when you can do no good; when you may carry away fatal infection to others: that is doing what Christ in my text forbids.
II. There is another familiar instance in which my text is disregarded, which one constantly hears named as a singular folly and eccentricity, but which, in the light of the word of our Master, looks something more serious than folly. There are many men, as we all know, whose business, and daily work, lies upon the sea, fishermen and sailors; and there are others also who are many times called to be upon the sea. Now, God has made us so, and made the waters so, that if we fall into deep water and sink beneath its surface, we must soon die; two minutes, and, as a rule, life is gone. But God has made us so, and made the waters so, that in two or three weeks we may each acquire a simple art, that needs no machinery, .no tools, nothing but the limbs God gave us, and skill to use them, and courage got in their use; and then, this simple art acquired, we may fall into deep water, and be just as safe and as much at our ease as on dry land. Now, strange to say, a great many of those men whose work is on the waters will not take the trouble of learning this simple art, the knowledge of which, the exercise of which for five or six minutes, may some day just decide the question, Whether or not their poor children shall or shall not be left fatherless little paupers.
III. And now let us think of a third case in which the warning in my text should be laid to heart by all of us. THIS IS AS CONCERNS THOUGHT AND FORESIGHT IN THE MATTER OF OUR WORLDLY MEANS; the laying by in prosperous times against the rainy day which may come; the provision to be diligently made by the head of every family, while health and strength last, for the support of wife and children after he is taken away. The Savings Bank and the Life Insurance Company are sacred institutions as much as any institutions can be. It is tempting Providence when a working-man, earning large wages, does not try to lay by something which may be a stay should sickness come, or work fail. He ought to go to the Savings Bank as regularly as he goes to the church. Then it is tempting Providence, in another walk of life, when a professional man, earning a considerable income, spends it all, though knowing it must cease with his life, never caring what is to become of his wife and children if he dies.
IV. Surely it is a tempting of God's providence IF WE NO NOT TAKE EVERY MEANS TO PREVENT THE CHOLERA FROM COMING, AND TO PREPARE FOR IT SHOULD IT COME. He has put within our reach means that conduce to the health of the community. We know that impure air, and impure water, and filthy dwellings, and drunkenness, are direct invitations to the cholera; and though no authority, however stringent and searching, can compel individuals to be clean and sober, yet an enlightened, efficient magistracy has great power. We know that it is tempting Providence to pray without working, and yet that all our work will go for nothing without God's blessing sought by prayer. All through my discourse I have been pointing out to you what you are bound, as reasonable creatures, to do for yourselves. Do it; but after all is done you must still pray for God's blessing on it; you must still trust in His providence. True faith in Him will do its own best as though it could do all; and then remember that without His blessing it can do nothing. That is our way, and by God's grace we shall go on in it. By God's grace.
(A. H. K. Boyd, D. D.)1. In a way of distrust.(1) Some will not believe the gospel except they see a miracle or hear an oracle. Christ representeth their thoughts (Luke 16:30).(2) Some will not believe God's providence, but make question of His power and goodness, and care over us and our welfare, when He hath given us sufficient proof thereof.(3) Some will not be satisfied as to their spiritual estate without some sensible proof or such kind of assurance as God usually vouchsafeth not to His people.
2. In a way of presumption; so we tempt God when, without any warrant, we presume of God's power and providence.(1) When without call we rush into any danger, or throw ourselves into it, with an expectation God will fetch us off again.(2) When we undertake things for which we are not fitted and prepared, either habitually or actually, as to speak largely without meditation.The heinousness of the sin.
1. Because it is a great arrogancy when we seek thus to subject the Lord to our direction, will, and carnal affections.
2. It is great unbelief, or a calling into question God's power, mercy, and goodness to us.
3. It looseneth the bonds of all obedience, because we set up new laws of commerce between God and us; for when we suspect God's fidelity to us, unless He do such things as we fancy, we suspect our fidelity to Him.
4. It is wantonness, rather than want, puts us upon tempting of God.
5. It argues impatiency — "They soon forgat His works; they waited not for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert" (Psalm 106:13, 14).
6. The greatness of the sin is seen by the punishments of it. One is mentioned — "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents" (1 Corinthians 10:9).
(T. Manton, D. D.)
He departed from Him for a season.
(Bishop Hacket.)Luke 11. And what the unclean spirit said, "I will return into my house from whence I came."
1. The first of these renewed assaults occurs in John 6:15. The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand had just taken place and had made a profound impression on the multitude. They resolved at once to proclaim Jesus as their Messianic King. Once more the former temptation was repeated. How did Christ meet it? Withdrew into a mountain to pray.
2. A little later on a still more remarkable repetition of the same temptation in which the tempter was none other than one of Christ's own disciples, is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Christ had been unfolding to His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things, &c. (Matthew 16:21, &c.). Simon Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord. In these words another than Peter had spoken to Christ. Satan had come again. The Lord turned and said unto Peter, almost repeating the very words He had spoken to Satan, "Get thee behind Me, Satan," &e. And then follow the words, so solemn and piercing, which told the disciples that the only way to the kingdom of God on earth is the way of the cross: "Whosoever would save his life," &c.
3. The third recurrence of this temptation took place nearly at the close of Christ's earthly life, and just before the anguish of Gethsemane. Multitude crying Hosanna (Mark 11:9, 10). Once more the earthly crown seemed within our Lord's grasp. The conflict, however, did not fully begin until the day but one after this triumphal entry. Certain Greeks had desired to see Jesus. In them Christ sees the first fruits of His redeeming work among the Gentiles. "The hour is come," He says, "that the Son of Man should be glorified." But the mention of His own glorification at once suggests the dark and sorrowful way through which alone it could be reached. For one moment there was a human shrinking from the cup. "Father," He cried, "save Me from this hour." The next words check the natural shrinking — "But for this cause came I unto this hour." And the answer quickly came. Voice from heaven spake of which we only read at the great crises of His life. The victory was once more won, and with new and triumphant joy Jesus cries, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out," &c.
4. One final crisis in the life of Jesus is recorded in the Gospels. Hitherto each successive assault had been beaten back, and now the time of conflict was drawing to a close. Gethsemane still intervened between the struggle in the upper room and the crucifixion, and it is in Gethsemane that the last conflict takes place. The last damning act of ingratitude is consummated in the traitor's kiss, but as Jesus is betrayed into the hands of men, the last words He utters in the garden disclose the presence of a vaster hostility than even the hatred of the son of perdition: "This is your hour, and the power of darkness," &c. (Luke 22:53).
5. Possibly during the crucifixion there was a recurrence of another of these three wilderness temptations. The very words that Satan used challenging Christ to prove His Divine Sonship by a miracle, are again heard in the scornful mockery of the crowd beneath the cross, "If Thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matthew 27:42). But Christ's triumph in the wilderness over Satan was only augmented in the voluntary obedience of the eternal Son to death, even the death of the cross. He had come to save others, and Himself He would not save.
6. It is impossible to believe that the instances of temptations which we have been considering were all the temptations which Christ endured subsequently to His temptation in the wilderness. His life, from first to last, was a tempted life. Was there no temptation to our Lord
(1) (2) (3) 7. The life of temptation was also a life of uninterrupted victory. It is in this light that the sinlessness of Jesus becomes amazing. It is idle to imagine that it is possible to get rid of the supernatural in the Gospels by blotting out the miracles wrought by Jesus. The miracle of Jesus remains — the miracle of a will ceaselessly assaulted, but as ceaselessly victorious; the miracle of a goodness touching, like the sunlight, the darkest and most festering pollutions of this world and remaining as untainted as the sunlight by contact with impurity. (G. S. Barrett, B. A.)
(2) (3) 7. The life of temptation was also a life of uninterrupted victory. It is in this light that the sinlessness of Jesus becomes amazing. It is idle to imagine that it is possible to get rid of the supernatural in the Gospels by blotting out the miracles wrought by Jesus. The miracle of Jesus remains — the miracle of a will ceaselessly assaulted, but as ceaselessly victorious; the miracle of a goodness touching, like the sunlight, the darkest and most festering pollutions of this world and remaining as untainted as the sunlight by contact with impurity. (G. S. Barrett, B. A.)
(3) 7. The life of temptation was also a life of uninterrupted victory. It is in this light that the sinlessness of Jesus becomes amazing. It is idle to imagine that it is possible to get rid of the supernatural in the Gospels by blotting out the miracles wrought by Jesus. The miracle of Jesus remains — the miracle of a will ceaselessly assaulted, but as ceaselessly victorious; the miracle of a goodness touching, like the sunlight, the darkest and most festering pollutions of this world and remaining as untainted as the sunlight by contact with impurity. (G. S. Barrett, B. A.)
(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)— In his charge to the newly-ordained ministers Dr. Pope, when ex-President, referred to a certain teacher of the Church who, on one occasion, asked his pupils by what means they sought to vanquish the temptation to worldly lusts, One answered "By prayer I" Another, "By endeavouring to realize what the punishment of transgression will be!" The third, however, replied, "When the tempter comes I simply say, The place is occupied pass on!" "The best way to keep tares out of a bushel," says an old writer, "is to fill it with wheat."