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The first of the three temptations mentioned by the evangelist, was grafted on the keen sensation of hunger, with which Jesus was pressed after his forty days fast. For as no such thing had happened either to Moses or Elias after their fasts, the devil might think it argued weakness in Jesus, and on that account might suspect him to be no more than an ordinary man. To
expressly, Heb. ii. 17, 18. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. See also chap. iv. 15. 2. That his example might be a complete pattern of all the virtues, Jesus, like a wise and valiant general, underwent himself all the hardships attending his service, that we his soldiers might be animated to sustain them together with him. He has gone before us not only in poverty, and reproach, and contempt of sensual pleasure, but was given up to be tempted of the devil, that his people might not be dismayed by such dispensations of Providence, but be taught to expect them, especially after having had proofs of the divine love, and manifestations of his presence. Also that we might know both what sort of an enemy we have to encounter, and the kind of temptations he will assault us with; particularly, that there is no impiety or wickedness so gross, but he will tempt even the best of men to commit it. Farther, it was designed to shew us, that the devil, though a strong enemy, may be overcome; and by what means; and to stir us up to constant watchfulness. Hence this conflict, though managed in the presence of God and the angels only, was in due time made public for the instruction of mankind. 3. That our Lord might with the greater advantage begin and carry on his ministry, in the course of which he was to accomplish the salvation of men, it was necessary that he should first of all vanquish the strongest temptations of the old serpent, who had formerly brought ruin on mankind. His sustaining the temptations of the devil, therefore, when he entered on his ministry, teaches us, that no man is so rightly qualified to preach the gospel, as he who by temptation has been fortified against luxury, ambition, pride, lust, covetousness, and such like passions, with which the devil overthrows the simple.
On the other hand, the motives which induced the devil to undertake this temptation might be, 1. His general desire of seducing men to sin. 2. Some particular end which he proposed to accomplish thereby. It is reasonable to believe, that God's gracious intention to save the world by his Son, was not entirely concealed from the evil spirits. If so, they might be led by the prophecies to conjecture, that this was the period fixed in the decrees of heaven, for the advent of God's Son. That the devils are acquainted with the Scriptures, is evident from the citation which we find the tempter making out of the psalms on this occasion. Besides, they might be confirmed in their opinion by the general expectation of the Messiah, with which all the East was now filled. If, therefore, they had any how received intelligence of the wonderful things which accompanied the birth of Christ; or if, having been witnesses to the descent of the Spirit upon him at his baptism, some of them had heard the voice from heaven declaring him the Son of God, they could not but have a great curiosity to know whether he was really the grand personage so long expected by men. The resolution of this point, was undoubtedly of the greatest moment to them; because the part they were afterwards to act, in carrying on their own projects for destroying the human race, depended in a great measure upon it. Wherefore, all the time Jesus was in the wilderness, the
put him therefore to the trial, he came and said to him, If thou be the Son of God, why dost thou suffer thyself to be thus afflicted with hunger? thou mayest immediately provide food for thyself by miracle, and so thou shouldest have the satisfaction to know the truth of what was declared concerning thee at thy baptism. Matt. iv 2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered. 3. And when the tempter came to him, he said, (Luke, the devil said unto him) If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones (Luke, this stone) be made bread. In this temptation, Jesus was solicited to doubt the evidence of his mission, that had lately been given in the presence of the multitude, and to distrust the Divine power, which the devil would have had him think was not sufficient to sustain him without food; sins which were the more heinous, as the voice at his baptism had been so uttered, that none could justly doubt its being from heaven. Moreover, Jesus having been directed by the Spirit to undertake this fast, a promise of sustentation during the continuance of it had virtually been given him; just as a promise of sustenance had been made to the Israelites, when God commanded them to go into the wilderness.-Hence our Lord fitly repelled this temptation, by citing the words of Moses, Deut. viii. 3. who told the Israelites, that God had fed them forty years with manna, a light kind of food, which dropped down upon them from the air, yet gave their bodies as much vigour, as they had ever had from the bread, and flesh, and onions of Egypt; to make them know, that man does not live by bread only, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God; or, to vary the expression, that they might be possessed with a lively sense of this great truth, that God's commandment expressing his will, is itself sufficient to keep a man alive without any means whatever; and, therefore, that it is not so necessary to provide food for the preservation of life, as to maintain a rational and religious trust in the exuberant good. ness of God. 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, (Luke, every word of God).
This repulse was vigorous, yet it did not make the devil desist, for he renewed his attack by carrying him to Jerusalem, and setting him on a pinnacle of the temple, and urging him to throw himself down. Matt. iv. 5. Then the devil taketh him up (Tagaλaubares AUTOV, taketh him along with him, see Matt. i. 20, 24. (παραλαμβάνει αυτού,
chief of the evil spirits, as being best qualified for the undertaking, beset him with a multitude of temptations, in order, if possible, to discover who he was. The form in which two of his temptations run, seems to favour this conjecture: If thou be the Son of God, command that this stone be made bread. If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence. Besides, unJess the tempter had been in doubt as to the character of Jesus, it is not to be imagined that he should have attempted to seduce him at all.
also ii. 14. 20. where is used in this sense) into the holy city, (so Jerusalem is called, Neh. xi. 1. Dan. ix. 24. be-. cause it was honoured with the temple and worship of God; and because anciently the Schechinah, or visible symbol of the divine presence, rested between the cherubims in the temple: accordingly in Luke it is, And he brought him to Jerusalem) * and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, † cast thyself down (Luke, from hence):
* Ver. 5. And setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple.] imi vo wriguyon Te Igs, upon the battlement of the temple. In Judea, the houses being flat roofed, the Jews were commanded by the law, Deut. xxii. 8. to make battlements round their roofs, lest people walking on them might fall over. The temple itself was called vas, and was that part of the building where the holy places were. But the cloisters round the court were called gov It was therefore from the battlement of one of the cloisters,' that the devil desired Jesus to throw himself down. And though it is said in the text, that the devil set him on the pinnacle, he did not do it by flying through the air with him, as some inattentive readers are apt to imagine, but by going up with him to the roof of one of the cloisters where the people were at liberty to walk, and by assisting him in getting up upon the battlement thereof. This explication preserves the proper force of the word esne. Probably Jesus stood on the battlement of the cloister of the mens court, perhaps the outside battlement which fronted the womens court below, where was always the greatest number of people. See the note on Sect. 122.
+ Ver. 6. Cast thyself down.] The Jews were undoubtedly right in thinking that Messiah is spoken of by Daniel, chap vii. 13, 14. Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. But they fell into a gross mistake, when, interpreting this passage literally, they believed Messiah would actually come in the clouds of heaven, and wrest the kingdom from the Romans; see Matt. xxiv. 30. 123. The Pharisees, however, had the destruction of the Romins, and the miraculous erection of a temporal empire in view, when they required our Lord to shew them a sign from heaven, Matt. xvi. 1. § 68 And the people in general were so strongly impressed with the belief of it, that they overlooked all the proper proofs of Christ's mission, and rejected him because he did not confirm it by that sign, John vii. 27. Howbeit ave know this man suhence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is; no man knoweth from what particular place he shall first come. For the doctors taught, that though Messiah was to be norn in Bethlehem, he was immediately to be conveyed thence, and concealed, till Elijah the Thishite came from heaven, and prepared matters for his reception; after which he was to be manifested in a miraculous manner. And as they expected that Messiah was to come in the clouds of heaven, they thought his first appearance was to be in the temple, because it is said, Mal. in. 1. Behold I will send my messenger, and be shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant. Also, because it is said of the Messiah, Psal. oz. 2. He shall send the rod of his strength out of Sion: And, Isa. ii. 3. Out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. The second temptation, considered in the light of this popular error, had considerable strength in it. For the tempter's meaning was, Since thou art the Son of God, thou shouldst cast thyself VOL. 1. 3 D
for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, (Luke, over thee to keep thee) and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. In the former temptation, the devil had endeavoured to make our Lord distrust God's promise and providence, but in this he attempted to make him presume too much upon them; thinking he should have had an agreeable solution of his doubts, if, in making the experiment, Jesus dashed himself in pieces. Had Jesus complied with the former temptation, it would have shewed great distrust in God. Had he complied with this latter, it would have been presumption. And both would have argued a disbelief of the voice which had declared him the Son of God, or at least would have been a vain-glorious ostentation of his power; sins which the devil would have gladly persuaded him to be guilty of. But he was disappointed, for Jesus easily repelled this temptation likewise. 7. Jesus said unto him, (Luke, And Jesus answering said unto him), It is written also (so a signifies here elegantly, in opposition to the quotation which the tempter had made. It is written also, Deut. vi. 10.) Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not provoke the Lord, either by acting otherwise than he has appointed, or by requiring proofs of his power and veracity, after such as are sufficient have already been given.
The third temptation comes next to be considered, the scene of which lay probably in the wilderness, on the eastern side of Jordan, (vide § 14.) For after all was over, we find Jesus a second time with the Baptist at Bethabara, beyond that river. The history of it runs thus: Matt. viii. Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, * and sheweth him all the
down from hence over the courts below, where the numerous worshippers, seeing thee borne up by angels, will immediately acknowledge thee as Messiah coming to them in the clouds of heaven; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hunds they shall bear thee up. Had not this been the devil's meaning, there was not the least reason for carrying Jesus to Jerusalem, and setting him on a pinnacle of the temple. He might as well have bidden him cast himself down from any precipice in the wilderness, or from the turret of any neighbouring town, where the interposition of angels in his preservation, would have been as conspicuous a proof to him of his Messiahiship, as in the city of Jerusalem. It may be objected, indeed, that the text cited, by no means promises a visible interposition of ministering spirits for the preservation of the Messiah, as this sense of the temptation seems to require. But the answer is, that there was nothing to hinder the father of lies from putting an artful gloss upon a text of scripture, in order to delude; as if he had said. Since God has promised that his angels shall bear good men up in their hands, Messiah may well expect the same favour, especially when it is necessary to the erecting of his kingdom. Withal, the tempter's argument would have more weight, if, as is probable, he was now transformed into an angel of light, and feigned a willingness to assist Jesus in his undertaking.
* Ver. 8. And sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world] That this temp
kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, Luke iv. 5. in a moment of time. 6. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7. If thou therefore wilt worship me, (Matt. fall down and worship me) all shall be thine.
tation was founded on a real, not an imaginary sight or vision of the kingdoms of the world, is evident from the devil's carrying our Lord up into an exceeding high mountain to view them. For had it been either a delineation of the kingdoins in a map, or a visible representation of them in the air, or a vision of them in an extasy, or a sight of them in a dream, or a view of them by being carried round the globe in a moment of time, that is meant, it might have been done any where as well as on an high mountain. Nevertheless, a real sight of all the kingdoms of the world from any high mountain whatsoever, may seem impossible, and therefore must be considered particularly. It is said, Deut. xxxiv. 1,—3. And Moses cvent up from the plains of Moab, unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho; and the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead unto Dan. Gilead was the country beyond Jordan, and Dan was the boundary thereof northward. Moses therefore on the top of Nebo, saw it to its utmost limits on every hand. And all Naphthuli, and the land of Ephraim, and all the land of Judah unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. Naphthali was the most northern part of the land of Israel on this side Jordan; Ephraim was the middle region; Judah was the southermost tribe; the utmost sea was the Mediterranean; the south was the country between Palestine and Egypt, and the plain of the valley of Jericho unto Zoar was that which extended from Jericho to Zoar, encompassing the Asphaltite lake, on the southern shore of which Zoar stood. From the top of Nebo, therefore, Moses saw not only the country beyond Jordan, but the whole region on this side of the river, from north to south, and westward as far as the Mediterranean Sea. This mountain of Nebo, over against Jericho, whence Moses had the prospect of the whole land, may have been that from which the devil shewed our Lord all the kingdoms of the world, that is to say, the whole land of promise, for so the word is used in the literal sense, at least of Rom." iv. 13. The promise that he should be the beirof the WORLD was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. The land of promise, in its largest signification, reached from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, east and west, and from Egypt on the south, to beyond Sidon northwards, Deut. xi. 24. In Joshua's time, that extent of country contained thirty distinct principalities, besides the Philistines and the Sidonians, as Spanheim observes. And even in our Lord's time, it comprehended several kingdoms, some of which are mentioned, Luke iii. 1. All these the devil pointed out to Jesus in the temptation, taking particular notice of their glory, that is, their great and opulent cities, their rich fields, their hils covered with woods and cattle, their rivers rolling through fertile valleys, and washing the cities as they passed along; and promised to put him in possession of the whole instantly, if he would fall down and worship him. By confining this prospect to the land of promise, the third temptation will appear to have had a peculiar force. The devil, that he might know whether Jesus was Messiah, offered to give him all the king. doms of the land, to which Messiah had an undoubted right; see Psal. ii. 8. lxvii. 8. He hoped thus to have enticed him to commit idolatry; thinking if he was not Messiah he would eagerly embrace this, as the speediest way of accomplishing his designs.
Before this subject is dismissed, it may not be improper to take notice, 3 D 2