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§ 46. Fundamental Idea.

THE whole temptation taken together presents us one idea; a contrast, namely, between the founding of God’s kingdom as pure, spiritual, and tried by many forms of self-denial in the slow developement ordained for it by its head; and the sudden establishment of that kingdom before men, as visible and earthly. This contrast forms the central point of the whole. All the temptations have regard to the created will as such; the victory presupposes that self-sacrifice of a will given up to God which determines the whole life. And as this self-sacrifice of the created will in Christ had to be tested in his lifelong struggles with the Spirit of the world, which ever strove to obscure the idea of the kingdom of God and bring it down to its own level; so the free and conscious decision manifested in these three temptations, fully contrasting, as they did, the true and the false Messiahship, the unworldly and the secularized Theocracy, was made before his public ministry, which itself was but a continuation of the strife and the triumph.

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