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The Temptation of Jesus

 4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.


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Mt 4:1-11. Temptation of Christ. ( = Mr 1:12, 13; Lu 4:1-13).

1. Then—an indefinite note of sequence. But Mark's word (Mr 1:12) fixes what we should have presumed was meant, that it was "immediately" after His baptism; and with this agrees the statement of Luke (Lu 4:1).

was Jesus led up—that is, from the low Jordan valley to some more elevated spot.

of the Spirit—that blessed Spirit immediately before spoken of as descending upon Him at His baptism, and abiding upon Him. Luke, connecting these two scenes, as if the one were but the sequel of the other, says, "Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led," &c. Mark's expression has a startling sharpness about it—"Immediately the Spirit driveth Him" (Mr 1:12), "putteth," or "hurrieth Him forth," or "impelleth Him." (See the same word in Mr 1:43; 5:40; Mt 9:25; 13:52; Joh 10:4). The thought thus strongly expressed is the mighty constraining impulse of the Spirit under which He went; while Matthew's more gentle expression, "was led up," intimates how purely voluntary on His own part this action was.

into the wilderness—probably the wild Judean desert. The particular spot which tradition has fixed upon has hence got the name of Quarantana or Quarantaria, from the forty days—"an almost perpendicular wall of rock twelve or fifteen hundred feet above the plain" [Robinson, Palestine]. The supposition of those who incline to place the temptation amongst the mountains of Moab is, we think, very improbable.

to be tempted—The Greek word (peirazein) means simply to try or make proof of; and when ascribed to God in His dealings with men, it means, and can mean no more than this. Thus, Ge 22:1, "It came to pass that God did tempt Abraham," or put his faith to a severe proof. (See De 8:2). But for the most part in Scripture the word is used in a bad sense, and means to entice, solicit, or provoke to sin. Hence the name here given to the wicked one—"the tempter" (Mt 4:3). Accordingly "to be tempted" here is to be understood both ways. The Spirit conducted Him into the wilderness simply to have His faith tried; but as the agent in this trial was to be the wicked one, whose whole object would be to seduce Him from His allegiance to God, it was a temptation in the bad sense of the term. The unworthy inference which some would draw from this is energetically repelled by an apostle (Jas 1:13-17).

of the devil—The word signifies a slanderer—one who casts imputations upon another. Hence that other name given him (Re 12:10), "The accuser of the brethren, who accuseth them before our God day and night." Mark (Mr 1:13) says, "He was forty days tempted of Satan," a word signifying an adversary, one who lies in wait for, or sets himself in opposition to another. These and other names of the same fallen spirit point to different features in his character or operations. What was the high design of this? First, as we judge, to give our Lord a taste of what lay before Him in the work He had undertaken; next, to make trial of the glorious equipment for it which He had just received; further, to give Him encouragement, by the victory now to be won, to go forward spoiling principalities and powers, until at length He should make a show of them openly, triumphing over them in His cross: that the tempter, too, might get a taste, at the very outset, of the new kind of material in man which he would find he had here to deal with; finally, that He might acquire experimental ability "to succor them that are tempted" (Heb 2:18). The temptation evidently embraced two stages: the one continuing throughout the forty days' fast; the other, at the conclusion of that period.




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