The Temptation

Matthew 4:1‑11  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
" 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, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
The first thing suggested to the mind in reading this wonderful scene might be, How exceedingly unlike are we to Jesus. He was the only Man who ever trod this earth in whom Satan had nothing. How much he has in us; and if we know it not, it is because of the darkness of our minds. Jesus was tried in many ways, but always found perfect; as here, when tried by Satan; also when tried by man in the case of the scribes and Pharisees coming to Him to entangle Him in His talk; and last and worst, when tried by God in the last scene on the cross! Not one failure is in Him. Satan's temptation was of a threefold character, like as it was in the garden of Eden: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. But how differently is it met 1 Satan knew, if this was the Messiah, be was both God and man, so he puts his temptation accordingly, so as to place the Lord in a dilemma; He must deny one of the truths, either His power as God, or His subjection as man. Eve was tempted to disobedience in the midst of surrounding abundance, but the Lord Jesus was faithful when in the urgency of nature's wants He was only pressed to use convenient food. The Lord answers him meekly, and takes His place amongst the failed family of Israel by quoting from Deuteronomy, the book of the failure. The second temptation partakes of the character of the lust of the eye, which includes more than the desire of the objects of beauty, to gratify the eye, which are in the world. It goes farther, it cannot trust God's word, it wants a sign. The Holy Spirit is not known by the world because it seeth Him not. And here the devil tempts Christ to prove by a sign whether He was the Christ or not. But though he comes with God's own promise to Christ in the Psalms, he finds no particle of this lust of the eye in Jesus. He would not tempt the Lord His God to give him a sign that He was with Him. He believed, be knew He was. He again took his place among the failed ones. But when the devil comes with the last temptation, the Lord answers Him quite differently. He calls him Satan, which means adversary. The other two temptations had been as the accuser, " I do not know whether you are the Christ?" But this last, " If you will fall down and worship me," proclaimed him God's enemy, aiming to possess what alone belonged to God; and immediately the Lord's indignation rose, and He answered, " Get thee hence, Satan."