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XXV

RETURNING IN POWER

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.”—Luke iv. 14.

OUR Master had been at the familiar place in life where there are many roads but only one right one. And the wrong roads were decked with all sorts of shining allurements. And the allurements were all the more perilous because they had a suggestion of religion and piety about them. The wrong road was made to look as though it led up to a church. There was a sound of church bells, as though a subtle temptation had been wedded to a call to worship. That is the most insidious trial in life, when the church bells are ringing on the broad road that leadeth to destruction.

But our Master knew the broad road, even though it was carpeted with flowers. He 96knew the egotism which lay concealed under seeming homage. He knew the difference between faith and presumption. He knew the infinite contrast between a swelling imperialism and the holy Kingdom which He had come to found in sacrificial blood. And so with all His might He fought the tempter and overthrew him, and with richly invigorated strength He went forth to His work in Galilee.

Our Master had been in the wilderness of temptation, and He returned with a vaster equipment for His holy service. The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; but here the thief had been robbed, and the despoiler had been spoiled. The tempter had been made to strengthen the tempted. The very temptation had been coerced into a minister of increased resources. The Lord Jesus emerged in power! The wilderness had become a school, a gymnasium, a scene of combat and wrestling; and, so far from being spiritually destroyed, the Master put on strength and victory like a robe. As Samuel Rutherford quaintly says, in one of his letters to Marian McNaught: “God can make a stepping-stone 97of the devil himself for setting forward His work!”

And all this teaches me how I must think about my temptations. I must look upon temptation as opportunity. I must regard it, not as something to be feared, but as something to be spoiled. It is like some frowning, bristling city which I am to overthrow and sack. The bigger the temptation the richer the booty! The harder the conflict the more robust shall be my strength. And so it is that the Apostle counsels us to count it all joy when we fall among temptations! They are often full of menace, but splendid wealth hides behind the guns! Refuse to yield and the wealth is yours! Our manifold temptations are just the threatening side of manifold treasures. If we overcome the tempter we shall return in power.

And so it is that we are never so near great riches as when we are sorely tried. That is surely very heartening. In great temptations we are being favoured with a shining opportunity, and we are to count it all joy. We must fix our minds upon the rich possibilities, and with all the strength of our being resolve that they shall be realised. Let 98us maintain a positive attitude to our foe. Let us fight the good fight of faith, assured that every victory will make us nobler soldiers. And let us fight in the holy fellowship of the Captain of our Salvation, who, Himself being tempted, turned His wilderness into a place of springs, and who will so strengthen His disciples that their wilderness and solitary place shall be glad, and their desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.

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