Matthew 4:3

In this and two later homilies the several temptations are to be more precisely treated. The four homilies will be suggestive of a series of sermons on the "Lord's temptation." The temptation must be closely associated with the baptism. The one thing necessary to the understanding of it is our apprehension of the fact, that Jesus had become suddenly conscious of the trust of miraculous powers; and he had to fix the principle on which alone he would use those powers. The first question to decide was - Would he use them to supply his own necessities? Meeting the deepest sense of bodily hunger, a passionate craving for food after a prolonged fast, came the consciousness of possessing miraculous power. He heard, as if in the depths of his soul, a cry saying, "Why do you suffer? Make the stones bread. You can do it." The force of the temptation lay on one side in the cravings of bodily appetite, and on the other side in this new sense of power.

I. HUMAN TEMPTATION THROUGH BODILY CRAVINGS. It is the first form that human temptation took. Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was pleasant, and good for food. It is the universal form of temptation, but it is the lowest; it belongs to man as an animal. Beneath the temptation of bodily appetite, the glutton, the drunkard, and the sensualist have fallen in all the ages. The first sphere of conflict for the spiritual being man is that animal nature in which he is set in order to sustain earthly relations. That bodily organization ought to be his servant; it is ever striving to be his master, and seeks to secure its end by subtleties of craving and allurement. Easily men have been led to think that the body itself is evil. But the wrong lies in the unbalanced will, which fails to restrain and control bodily appetite.

II. THE LAW OF TRIUMPH OVER TEMPTATION COMING THROUGH BODILY CRAVINGS. The soul is of more value than the body. A man is not a body; all that is true is that he has a body. A man's life is not the material thing, eating and drinking; that only sustains the animal nature. A man's real life consists in obedience to the will of God, as he may come to know it; and if that means starving the body, the body must be starved. - R.T.

Command that these stones.
1. That it is an easy thing — say the word.

2. That it is now fit; here is an object ready, here be stones, these stones.

3. That it is harmless, only a proof of the power of the Son of God.

4. That it is a necessary thing; is it not necessary for a man that is ready to starve to eat and procure bread?

5. That it is a glorious thing to command stones.

6. That it is a work of special use, not only for the use of Thyself in this want, but to satisfy me.

7. That it is not unreasonable; to command a few stones to be made bread will be no hurt to any man.

8. The Son of God should demean Himself as the Son of such a Father, therefore by this action manifest that which Thy estate doth not.

(Dr. Taylor.)

wful means: — What is the safeguard against this peril?

1. Not by denying the legitimacy of the desires of the bodily organization.

2. By showing that man's present life was not the gratification of a bodily need, but the satisfaction of the hunger of the spirit in God.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)Let us beware of acting the devil's part by discouraging those whom God has afflicted.

(L. H. Wiseman.)


1. He would have by that act placed an impassable gulf between Himself and His brethren.

2. It was important that Christ's miracles should be free from suspicion, that they were not for the gratification of His own wants.

3. The motive constitutes an action good or evil, the circumstances in this case would have determined it wrong.

4. It would have been inconsistent with the whole recorded life of Jesus.

(L. H. Wiseman.)

1. He skilfully chooses his time.

2. He suggests nothing which appears to be a great sin.

3. He presents this to Christ as an act of necessity.

4. The plea he employs is one which Jesus could not reject.

5. In the proposal there was no appearance of pampering the body, but only of providing for absolute need.

1. In this answer Satan is left unsatisfied. Uneducated disciples are not bound to answer all Satan's questions.

2. The snare was avoided.

3. Patience in enduring hunger till God send Him a supply.

4. When we have bread we must still live by the Word of the Lord.

5. When we appear to be without bread the Word of the Lord can sustain us.

(L. H. Wiseman.)

I. The VISIBILITY of the tempter. The Evangelists seem to imply that the tempter presented himself before the eyes of Christ. It is objected to this view: —

1. That while good angels are permitted to address men under visible forms, evil angels are not recorded to have done so.

2. That Satan by undisguised appearance would have no prospect of success. But he addressed our first parents under a visible form. The second objection assumes that the visible form of Satan is necessarily unsightly.

II. SATAN'S KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. Satan was not certain about Christ's Divine Sonship; hence he sought to find out if Christ could create or change substances.

III. The LIMITS of the temptation.

1. It has been said that Christ's temptation differs from ours in that His were only external, and ours internal also; that Christ had no susceptibility to temptation, but simply heard what Satan had to say without any inward excitement of desire. This takes from it its essence and removes it from us. We would not limit the temptation to an external trial.

2. We would not reduce it to the general idea of suffering, on account of contact with the tempter. We maintain that each temptation appealed to a desire in the heart of Christ, which His will restrained and refused to gratify.The true limits of the mystery: —

1. Christ was absolutely sinless.

2. Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, no taint of the Fall was permitted to intermingle with the foundation of His human life. There was a certain impossibility of His sinning; but this must not be so explained as to destroy the faculty of free will, which is a constituent element of human nature. We must not so interpret impossibility to sin as not to permit susceptibility of temptation to co-exist with it. Upon the exercise of free will in Christ depends His merits, the reality of His temptation, the force of His example.

IV. The REALITY of the temptation. If we subject temptation to analysis we find five ingredients.



(3)Opposition between desire and law;


(5)Free will.Desire may be simply natural, the movement of pure nature; or when some morbid quality has been imported into it, which gives it a wrong direction. The former was in Christ; but not the latter. There are two kinds of laws — positive and moral — the natural desires may be restrained by the former, the corrupt desires by the latter. The craving, whatever it be, must come into collision with the law. In the case of a pure creature the clash must be with a positive law; with a corrupt creature it will be also with the moral law. Now in Christ the desire of the body was in opposition to the Divine will; the pure desire of nature was contrary to what He knew to be the Father's will. In this sense His was inward and real temptation. Several truths must be taken into calculation in, comparing Christ's temptation with ours.

1. That the desires which are original and form part of our nature are, in the long run, the more intense.

2. The finer sensibilities of His uncorrupt nature.

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

1. If every good Christian were satisfied at all times with temporal blessings we should appear to serve God for our profit.

2. God does net always give bread to him that is his son, that he may loathe this world and look for reward in heaven.

3. The good man shall fill his bosom with better fruits.


The struggle, as far as possible, was the same as in us. The lifeboat must brave the same storm, and plough through the same foaming billows, which threaten to engulph her, as the wrecked vessel to which she bears relief; and though so constructed as to be able to bear up against the fury of the waves, she needs the careful steerage, persevering efforts, ay, and courage, of those who venture forth to save the sinking ship.

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

Andrew, Isaiah, James, Jesus, John, Naphtali, Nephthalim, Peter, Simon, Zabdi, Zabulon, Zebedee, Zebulun
Capernaum, Decapolis, Galilee, High Mountain, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Judea, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Syria, Wilderness of Judea
Bread, Command, Evil, Loaves, Speak, Stones, Tempter, Turn
1. Jesus, fasting forty days,
3. is tempted by the devil and ministered unto by angels.
12. He dwells in Capernaum;
17. begins to preach;
18. calls Peter and Andrew,
21. James and John;
23. teaches and heals all the diseased.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 4:3

     2218   Christ, Son of God
     5738   sons
     6241   seduction
     8770   idolatry, in NT

Matthew 4:1-3

     5564   suffering, of Christ

Matthew 4:1-4

     4438   eating

Matthew 4:1-10

     6252   temptation, and Christ

Matthew 4:1-11

     2078   Christ, sonship of
     4122   Satan, tempter
     5214   attack
     5598   victory, over spiritual forces
     5804   charm
     6022   sin, causes of
     8729   enemies, of Christ

Matthew 4:2-3

     5341   hunger

Matthew 4:2-4

     2075   Christ, sinless

Matthew 4:2-11

     2575   Christ, temptation

Matthew 4:3-4

     4418   bread

Eversley, 1872. Chester Cathedral, 1872. St Matt. iv. 3. "And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Let me say a few words to-day about a solemn subject, namely, Temptation. I do not mean the temptations of the flesh--the temptations which all men have to yield to the low animal nature in them, and behave like brutes. I mean those deeper and more terrible temptations, which our Lord conquered in that great struggle with
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

The victory of the King
'Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred. 3. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4. But 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. 5. Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Springing of the Great Light
'Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; 13. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Early Welcome and the First Ministers of the King
'From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him. 21. And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Interpretation of Holy Scripture. --Inspired Interpretation. --The Bible is not to be Interpreted Like any Other Book. --God, (Not Man,) the Real Author of the Bible.
It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. IT is impossible to preserve exact method in Sermons like these, uncertain in number, and delivered at irregular intervals. It shall only be stated that, having already spoken at considerable length, of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture;--not, one part more, one part less, but every part equally inspired throughout; not general, (whatever the exact notion may be of a book generally inspired,)
John William Burgon—Inspiration and Interpretation

July the Thirteenth Plain Glass
"They were fishers." --MATTHEW iv. 12-22. And so our Lord went first to the fishing-boats and not to the schools. Learning is apt to be proud and aggressive, and hostile to the simplicities of the Spirit. There is nothing like plain glass for letting in the light! And our Lord wanted transparent media, and so He went to the simple fishermen on the beach. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world." And by choosing labouring men our Master glorified labour. He Himself had worn the workman's
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Light for those who Sit in Darkness
From the text it appears that some are in greater darkness than others; and that, secondly, for such there is a hope of light; but that, thirdly, the light which will come to them lies all in Christ; and, fourthly (joyful news!) that light is already sprung up all around them: they have but to open their eyes to delight in it. I. SOME SOULS ARE IN GREATER DARKNESS THAN OTHERS. It appears from the text that it was so in Christ's days, and certainly it is so now. Divine sovereignty runs through all
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

How to Become Fishers of Men
Note, next, that we are not made all that we shall be, nor all that we ought to desire to be, when we are ourselves fished for and caught. This is what the grace of God does for us at first; but it is not all. We are like the fishes, making sin to be our element; and the good Lord comes, and with the gospel net he takes us, and he delivers us from the life and love of sin. But he has not wrought for us all that he can do, nor all that we should wish him to do, when he has done this; for it is another
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 32: 1886

Christ's First and Last Subject
IT SEEMS from these two texts that repentance was the first subject upon which the Redeemer dwelt, and that it was the last, which, with his departing breath, he commended to the earnestness of his disciples. He begins his mission crying, "Repent," he ends it by saying to his successors the apostles, "Preach repentance and remission of sins among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." This seems to me to be a very interesting fact, and not simply interesting, but instructive. Jesus Christ opens his
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 6: 1860

Twenty-Fourth Day. Firmness in Temptation.
"Jesus saith unto him, Get thee hence, Satan."--Matt. iv. 10. There is an awful intensity of meaning in the words, as applied to Jesus, "He suffered, being tempted!" Though incapable of sin, there was, in the refined sensibilities of His holy nature, that which made temptation unspeakably fearful. What must it have been to confront the Arch-traitor?--to stand face to face with the foe of His throne, and His universe? But the "prince of this world" came, and found "nothing in Him." Billow after
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Eighth Day. Submission to God's Word.
"Jesus said unto him, It is written."--Matt. iv. 7. We can not fail to be struck, in the course of the Saviour's public teaching, with His constant appeal to the word of God. While, at times, He utters, in His own name, the authoritative behest, "Verily, verily, I say unto you," He as often thus introduces some mighty work, or gives intimation of some impending event in His own momentous life, "These things must come to pass, that the Scriptures be fulfilled, which saith." He commands His people
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Knox -- the First Temptation of Christ
John Knox, the great Scottish reformer, was born at Giffordgate, four miles from Haddington, Scotland, in 1505. He first made his appearance as a preacher in Edinburgh, where he thundered against popery, but was imprisoned and sent to the galleys in 1546. In 1547 Edward VI secured his release and made him a royal chaplain, when he acquired the friendship of Cranmer and other reformers. On the accession of Mary (1553) he took refuge on the Continent. In 1556 he accepted the charge of a church in Geneva,
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Volume I

The Temptation in the Wilderness.
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But 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. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
George MacDonald—Unspoken Sermons

Thoughts Upon the Appearance of Christ the Sun of Righteousness, or the Beatifick vision.
SO long as we are in the Body, we are apt to be governed wholly by its senses, seldom or never minding any thing but what comes to us through one or other of them. Though we are all able to abstract our Thoughts when we please from matter, and fix them upon things that are purely spiritual; there are but few that ever do it. But few, even among those also that have such things revealed to them by God himself, and so have infinitely more and firmer ground to believe them, than any one, or all their
William Beveridge—Private Thoughts Upon a Christian Life

Christ, the Great Teacher
Scripture references: Matthew 4:23; 5:1,2; 7:29; 13:54; 26:55; 28:19,20; Mark 1:21,22; 4:1,2; 6:6; Luke 5:3; 11:1; 19:47; John 6:59; 7:14; 8:28. THE FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY The heart of the Christian religion is found in Jesus Christ. If we desire to know what Christianity is and of what elements it is composed we must look to Him and His teachings. He is the great source of our knowledge of what God, man, sin, righteousness, duty and salvation are. Our interest in the books of the Old Testament
Henry T. Sell—Studies in the Life of the Christian

Jesus Sets Out from Judæa for Galilee.
Subdivision A. Reasons for Retiring to Galilee. ^A Matt. IV. 12; ^B Mark I. 14; ^C Luke III. 19, 20; ^D John IV. 1-4. ^c 19 but Herod the tetrarch [son of Herod the Great, and tetrarch, or governor, of Galilee], being reproved by him [that is, by John the Baptist] for Herodias his brother's wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done [A full account of the sin of Herod and persecution of John will be found at Matt. xiv. 1-12 and Mark vi. 14-29. John had spoken the truth to Herod as fearlessly
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

General Account of Jesus' Teaching.
^A Matt. IV. 17; ^B Mark I. 14, 15; ^C Luke IV. 14, 15. ^a 17 From that time Jesus began to preach [The time here indicated is that of John the Baptist's imprisonment and Jesus' return to Galilee. This time marked a new period in the public ministry of Jesus. Hitherto he had taught, but he now began to preach. When the voice of his messenger, John, was silenced, the King became his own herald. Paul quoted the Greeks as saying that preaching was "foolishness," but following the example here set by
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness.
^A Matt. IV. 1-11; ^B Mark I. 12, 13; ^C Luke IV. 1-13. ^c 1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, ^b 12 And straightway the Spirit driveth him forth ^c and ^a 1 Then [Just after his baptism, with the glow of the descended Spirit still upon him, and the commending voice of the Father still ringing in his ears, Jesus is rushed into the suffering of temptation. Thus abrupt and violent are the changes of life. The spiritually exalted may expect these sharp contrasts. After being
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus' Temporary Residence at Capernaum.
^A Matt. IV. 13-16. ^a 13 And leaving Nazareth [This expression means that Jesus now ceased to make Nazareth his home. For description of Nazareth, see page 60], he came and dwelt in Capernaum [See page 119. Capernaum means city of Nahum, or village of consolation. Its modern name, "Tel-Hum," means hill of Nahum. The word "dwelt" means that Jesus made this town his headquarters. He owned no house there (Matt. viii. 20). He may have dwelt with some of his disciples--for instance, Simon Peter--Matt.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Calls Four Fishermen to Follow Him.
(Sea of Galilee, Near Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IV. 18-22; ^B Mark I. 16-20; ^C Luke V. 1-11. ^a 18 And walking ^b 16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee [This lake is a pear-shaped body of water, about twelve and a half miles long and about seven miles across at its widest place. It is 682 feet below sea level; its waters are fresh, clear and abounding in fish, and it is surrounded by hills and mountains, which rise from 600 to 1,000 feet above it. Its greatest depth is about 165 feet], he [Jesus]
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Makes a Preaching Tour through Galilee.
^A Matt. IV. 23-25; ^B Mark I. 35-39; ^C Luke IV. 42-44. ^b 35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose up went out [i. e., from the house of Simon Peter], and departed into a desert place, and there prayed. [Though Palestine was densely populated, its people were all gathered into towns, so that it was usually easy to find solitude outside the city limits. A ravine near Capernaum, called the Vale of Doves, would afford such solitude. Jesus taught (Matt. vi. 6) and practiced solitary
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Second visit to Cana - Cure of the Nobleman's' Son at Capernaum.
THE brief harvest in Samaria was, as Jesus had indicated to His disciples, in another sense also the beginning of sowing-time, or at least that when the green blade first appeared above ground. It formed the introduction to that Galilean ministry, when the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the Feast.' [2013] Nay, in some respects, it was the real beginning of His Work also, which, viewed as separate and distinct, commenced when the Baptist was cast into
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Second Journey through Galilee - the Healing of the Leper.
A DAY and an evening such as of that Sabbath of healing in Capernaum must, with reverence be it written, have been followed by what opens the next section. [2299] To the thoughtful observer there is such unbroken harmony in the Life of Jesus, such accord of the inward and outward, as to carry instinctive conviction of the truth of its record. It was, so to speak, an inward necessity that the God-Man, when brought into contact with disease and misery, whether from physical or supernatural causes,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Temptation of Jesus
The proclamation and inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven' at such a time, and under such circumstances, was one of the great antitheses of history. With reverence be it said, it is only God Who would thus begin His Kingdom. A similar, even greater antithesis, was the commencement of the Ministry of Christ. From the Jordan to the wilderness with its wild Beasts; from the devout acknowledgment of the Baptist, the consecration and filial prayer of Jesus, the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the heard
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

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