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17 And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.



HEN was Jesus led up of the
Spirit into the wilderness to

whose ministry was designed not to God; that he was one with him, meandestroy but to save. Heb. vii. 26;ing to express not oneness of nature or John iii. 17. Lighting on him. personality, but oneness of purpose and Had not this visible manifestation of love; that he was peculiarly, more than the divine spirit fixed itself upon Jesus, any other being that ever existed, the it would have been impossible for the Son of God, inasmuch as he attained to spectators to determine whether he perfect love and holiness, and made the was the individual on whose behalf it purposes of his Father his own. God appeared. But by its thus lighting on gave not the spirit by measure unto him, they were enabled to understand him. Thus he ever pleased God. that he was the subject of this heav- Thus his disciples, inhaling his filial enly vision. And when they heard the spirit, may, in some humble measure, testimony from heaven, which accom- please both him and his Father."panied what they saw, they could not Livermore. Such was the attestation doubt that it referred to the same indi- of God, both visible and audible, to his vidual. Him they might justly regard Son Jesus Christ, whom he appointed as a chosen messenger from heaven, as our Teacher and Saviour. May we when they both saw and heard the acknowledge his divine mission, obey divine attestation. his precepts, rejoice in his promises, cherish his spirit, and imitate his conduct, until, in God's time, we attain "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Eph. iv. 13.

17. A voice from heaven. Probably the voice was understood; else the multitude would have derived less information from the testimony. This voice was heard at other times, during our Lord's ministry, when it was evidently understood by some, at least, of the bystanders; and Jesus declares that it was uttered, not for his exclusive encouragement, but for the sake of others. Matt. xvii. 5; John xii. 28; 2 Pet. i. 17, 18. We may believe that it was also heard and understood, on this occasion. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Or, with whom I am well pleased. "The title of child or son was used frequently among the Jews, not in the sense of precise relationship, but in the more extended signification of unity of affection and purpose. This mode of speech was used of men of different characters. Thus, the wicked were called the sons or children of Belial, and the devil, John viii. 44; the good, the children of God, Matt. v. 9. In accordance with this form of speech, Jesus Christ was denominated the Son of God; and to show the unparalleled excellence of his character, and his entire conformity to the divine will in the office he bore, he was called the well-beloved, the only-begotten, John i. 18, the dear, Son of God. This term of endearment implies that Jesus had the full and constant approbation of


1-11. In the commencement of this chapter, is recorded the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Mark and Luke record the same transactions, with slight variations. Mark i. 12, 13; Luke iv. 1-13. In regard to the

tempter," much diversity of opinion has been expressed by commentators. A large majority have supposed the word to indicate a fallen spirit, wicked and malicious, generally called the "devil." A few have supposed the tempter to be a human being, perhaps a priest of the Jews, or possibly the high-priest himself. Of this opinion are Rosenmüller and others. Some have understood the whole account as the relation of a nocturnal vision, or of an ecstatic trance; and some, as a fabulous relation entirely. See Universalist Expositor, vol. i., pp. 370–377. Others, with apparently better reason, suppose the historians to relate, in the highly figurative style of the Orientals, what passed in the mind of our Lord, while he dwelt in solitude. temptations they understand to be the suggestions or impulses of his own mind, which presented themselves unbidden, and were at once and effect


be tempted of the devil.

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2 And when he had fasted forty tions which others endured, John xi. 35; he was exceedingly sorrowful on his own account, Matt. xxvi. 37, 38; he felt the emotion of compassion, and even the sensation of anger, Matt. ix. 36; Mark iii. 5. Thus was he liable, through the weaknesses and emotions of humanity, to be "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," Heb. iv. 15. The difference, in this respect, between him and others is, that others are frequently overcome by temptation, while he uniformly resisted and triumphed over it. (3.) He had a clear foresight of the trials and sufferings which awaited him, in the prosecution of the work committed to his charge. Of this, I need mention no other evidence than the fact that he repeatedly and particularly foretold those sufferings, when conversing with his disciples, and directly referred to them, when communing with his heavenly Father in prayer. (4.) He had a peculiar dread of those sufferings. However firmly resolved in spirit to be faithful, even unto the end, yet humanity recoiled and shuddered at the prospect of tortures to be endured. Of this, we find evidence in his own language on various occasions: "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" Luke xii. 50. "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour." John xii. 27. A more remarkable instance of this exquisite sensibility, I shall have occasion to notice hereafter. There can be no doubt, that the contemplation of his approaching sufferings filled him with anguish, and caused him to shrink back with dread; and these emotions were not overcome without a violent and painful struggle. I believe these characteristics of our Lord will fully account for his temptations in the wilderness, without the excitement of his vanity, or ambition, or any similar passion.

ually repressed and condemned. In regard to the character of the temptation, or rather the temptations, there is a general agreement in opinion; though even this is somewhat diversified. Temptation, if it make the slightest impression, (and it cannot otherwise be properly called temptation,) must be addressed to some weakness, frailty, or imperfection, in the person tempted. It is commonly supposed that our Lord was assaulted in his bodily appetites, his vanity, and his ambition. "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," John ii. 16, are supposed to have been excited. On this point there is a general agreement between them who do, and them who do not, believe that a personal devil was concerned in the temptation. For example: Lightfoot says the devil attempted "to ensnare Christ by the lust of the flesh,-' command that these stones be made bread;' by the lust of the eye, all these things will I give thee, and the glory of them;' by the pride of life, throw thyself down, and fly in the air, and be held up by angels." Livermore, who denies the agency of a personal devil, says,— "Three great classes of enticements from duty are grouped together in this history of Jesus' temptations; those of appetite, or the sensual nature; those of vanity, or the gratification of selfconsequence; those of ambition, the love of fame and dominion." Such, substantially, but with some diversity in detail, is the general opinion concerning the weaknesses, frailties, or imperfections, in our Lord's character, which were assailed, on this occasion. With deference to the opinions of others, I offer an interpretation, which I consider more correct, and more consistent with the character of our Lord. That I may be distinctly understood, let me mention a few facts in regard to our Lord's character. (1.) He was a partaker of flesh and blood; his body was mortal, and subject to the wants and imperfections of mortality. Hence he hungered and thirsted. Hence, also, 1. Then. That is, shortly after he he was subject to bodily pain; and had received baptism, and the spirit had there is abundant evidence that he descended upon him. T Led up of the endured it. (2.) He manifested the spirit. He was prompted, or strongly keenest sensibility, and the most lively moved, by the spirit, to depart from the human emotions. He rejoiced, Luke multitude, and to tarry for some time x. 21; he wept on account of the afflic-in a solitary place, where his medita

days and forty nights, he was after- | wards a hungered.

tions should be undisturbed. Mark tations would avail nothing; and that uses a still stronger expression; "the if he was not, there was no need of spirit driveth him into the wilderness." temptation; for, supposing him to be Mark i. 12. Into the wilderness. an impostor, there was nothing to be Probably, a portion of the same wilder- dreaded, if he stood, nor anything to be ness where John preached and baptized, gained, by causing him to fall before Matt. iii. 1; but, doubtless, one of its his time. It is not consistent, theremost wild and inhospitable regions; for fore, with the wisdom and subtlety supit was the haunt of "wild beasts," posed to belong to the devil, that he who instinctively avoid proximity to should engage in such a hopeless enterman. Mark i. 13. To be tempted. prise. It should be remembered that We are not to understand that he went the term, or name, devil, is variously into the wilderness to court temptation; used in the New Testament. It is for he instructed his disciples to pray, sometimes applied to men, 2 Tim. iii. "Lead us not into temptation." Matt. 3, and translated false accusers; somevi. 13. The meaning is, he went into times, to women, Titus ii. 3, having the the wilderness, and was tempted. The same translation; and 1 Tim. iii. 11, temptation was one of the consequences translated slanderers. Satan, the name of his retirement. The word here by which Jesus addresses the tempter, translated tempt sometimes signifies to verse 10, he applies in like manner to endeavor, to attempt, Acts xvi. 7, where Peter, Matt. xvi. 23; in which place, it it is translated assayed; sometimes, to is remarkable that he uses precisely the try, or examine, to ascertain the quality, same form of speech to Peter, as to the 2 Cor. xiii. 5, where it is rendered tempter, according to the record of examine; see, also, Heb. xi. 17, tried; Luke; "Get thee behind me, Satan." but, generally, it signifies to endeavor Luke iv. 8. The form is the same also to draw one away from virtue, by sug-in the original. Griesbach, it is true, gesting incentives to vice; and such is doubtless its meaning here. The apostle evidently so understood it. Heb. ii. 18; iv. 15. ¶ Of the devil. Or, by the devil. Whether or not there be a great fallen spirit, such as some believe to be indicated by this name, it is scarcely credible that such a being was the tempter on the present occasion. If he be as wise as is generally represented by those who believe in him, he must have known, beforehand, that Jesus either was the Christ, or was not. He must have known, also, that if Jesus was the Christ, all his temp-xii. 7; 1 Thess. ii. 18." Under such

*It is observable, that the first action of our Lord, on record, after the descent of the spirit upon him, is strongly indicative of his honesty of purpose. The Jews expected their Messiah would immediately appear, and that he would be a powerful temporal prince; they were anxiously awaiting his appearance that they might make him a king, and be conducted by him to the height of national prosperity and grandeur. The preaching of John had increased their excitement, so that they rushed in multitudes to the place where they hoped to meet the Messiah. Jesus approached, also; and at his baptism there was, or, if unbelievers choose, there appeared to be, a heavenly attestation that he was the one "that should come." Matt. xi. 3. Had Jesus been an

rejects these words from the passage in Luke; but he inserts them in Matthew; and they are also inserted by a multitude of the best Mss., Versions, and Fathers. To this, may be added the testimony of Rosenmüller, a believer in the personal existence of the devil. After saying that this being is called emphatically Satan, or the Devil, he adds: "It is common, also, with the sacred writers, to say that Satan has spoken or done what was actually spoken or done by wicked, crafty, diabolical men. 1 Pet. v. 8; 2 Cor.

impostor, one who designed to take advan
tage of the expectations of the people, and to
induce them to receive him as the Messiah,
would he not have embraced this oppor
tunity, so peculiarly suited to his purpose?
What was there to hinder a triumphal march
to Jerusalem, and a general rallying of the
whole nation? Instead of this, he did what
no impostor ever did under like circum-
He withdrew himself from the
people, until the unusual excitement should
pass away, and they be in a situation to
judge more calmly and accurately of his pre-
tensions to the Messiahship. I consider it
impossible to give any rational account of
his motives and conduct, on this occasion,
unless his perfect honesty be admitted.

3 And when the tempter came | be made bread.

to him, he said, If thou be the Son 4 But he answered and said, It

of God, command that these stones

circumstances, we need not suppose a personal devil to have been concerned in this temptation in the wilderness, if the events connected with it can be explained in any other manner, less liable to objection.

2. Fasted. Perhaps abstained from food entirely; and perhaps ate very sparingly of the roots and herbs which might be found in the wilderness. The declaration of Luke, that "he did eat nothing," Luke iv. 2, is consistent with either supposition, as may be seen, by comparing Matt. xi. 18, with iii. 4; where Jesus represents John as "neither eating nor drinking," because he lived abstemiously, subsisting on "locusts and wild honey." ¶ Forty days. It is recorded of Moses and Elijah, that each fasted the same number of days. Exod. xxxiv. 28; Deut. ix. 9, 18; 1 Kings xix. 8. It is probable that this was the precise duration of the fasting of Jesus; though it should be observed that the Jews were accustomed to use certain numbers, seven, and forty, for example, not in a strict sense, but merely to express about so many, or so much. A hungered. Or, hungry; an obsolete form of expression.

is written, Man shall not live by

could be no necessity to endure the pangs of hunger. He had only to exercise the miraculous power he possessed, and he might convert into food the stones which cumbered the ground. "Command that these stones be made bread." This was the distinct form of the temptation; and it was addressed to his bodily weakness or appetite.

But he recollected the divine testimony, that life should be sustained, not by bread alone, but by other substances of God's appointment. He determined to trust in his Father's care, and subsist yet longer, if necessary, on the meagre productions of the desert, rather than desecrate the holy gift bestowed on him, by using it, for the first time, for the supply of his personal wants. His first temptation was thus overcome.

3. The tempter. Or, the devil, or Satan.

See note on verse 1. ¶ If thou be the Son of God. If you are truly a divine messenger, and possess miraculous power. Command that these stones, &c. Exert your power, and provide food to appease your hunger and sustain life.

Still preserving

4. He answered. 3, 4. In these verses, the first temp- the form of a conversation, the temptation is recorded. It appears, that, tation having been described, the spirit immediately after his baptism, and the of resistance is represented as an anheavenly annunciation that he was the swer to the tempter. It is written. Son of God, Jesus retired to the wilder- The passage quoted is Deut. viii. 3. ness. Here he fasted forty days. Of¶ Man shall not live by bread alone, &c. the manner in which his mind was employed during this time, we have no definite account. But, as he was now about to commence the public ministry to which he had been consecrated, it may be confidently assumed, that he meditated much and earnestly upon its nature and its results, proximate as well as final. Exhausted by long-continued mentalexcitement and abstinence from needful sustenance, he became hungry. His appetite was urgent for food; but there was none at hand. How the cravings of hunger should be satisfied, became an important and interesting question. Here was presented the first temptation. The idea seems to have occurred to him, that, if he were truly the Son of God, according to the testimony of heaven, there

The language of Moses, here quoted, was addressed to the Jews, when reminding them of the wonders performed on their behalf, in the wilderness. He tells them that God humbled them, and allowed them to suffer the pain of hunger, and then fed them with manna, an unusual kind of food, that they might understand and know that life did not depend entirely upon bread. ¶ By every word. Or, by every thing. "The term word, used in this place, means very often, in Hebrew, thing, and clearly in this place has that meaning, Neither Moses nor our Saviour had any reference to spiritual food, or to the doctrines necessary to support the faith of believers; but they simply meant that God could support life by other things than bread; that man was

bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

to live, not by that only, but by every other thing which proceeded out of his mouth; that is, which he chose to command men to eat."-Barnes.

5-7. The second temptation was of a different character, and addressed to a different weakness or infirmity. As my opinion concerning this temptation and the next does not entirely coincide with that which is generally entertained, I may be allowed to be the more particular in its statement. To understand the true character and full force of this temptation, we must remember that, at the time when Jesus commenced his ministry, the Jews were anxiously expecting the advent of the promised Messiah; and there is good reason to believe they were ready to hail his appearance with joy. But they expected his approach would be announced by some marvellous sign, some signal display of divine authority. When Jesus appeared to act in the character of the Messiah, in the temple, the Jews questioned him, saying, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?" John ii. 18. And when he had been reproving the Jews for their ungodliness, as one having authority to rebuke, "certain of the Scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign," &c. Matt. xii. 38, 39. Their expectation of a sign, and their unwillingness to receive the Messiah without this token of his authority, our Lord perfectly understood. When he meditated, in solitude, upon the great work which he was about to commence, and distinctly foresaw the opposition, persecution, and distress, and the ignominious and excruciating death, which awaited him, his feelings were strongly moved. He shuddered at the prospect of the approaching trial, as on other occasions; and most earnestly desired a deliverance from the impending evil. In this state of apprehension and anxiety, it occurred to him, that he might avoid much, if not all, of this distress, by giving the Jews a sign of his Messiahship, which should correspond

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,


with their expectations. If he would ascend the pinnacle of the temple, and cast himself down from that dizzy height, the people, witnessing his miraculous preservation, would at once receive him as the Messiah, and study to promote his happiness, instead of persecuting and afflicting him. increase the power of the temptation, he recollected a divine promise, which seemed to assure him of protection, even in a case of so much peril. Thus he might enter upon his ministry under favorable circumstances, and accomplish its objects at a less expense of toil and suffering. Moreover, his miraculous power was designed to afford proof of his Messiahship; and the use of it, in this manner, might seem but a slight departure from the prescribed line of duty, very slight, compared with the magnitude of the anticipated benefit. It was merely preventing an evil, instead of mitigating it after its occurrence. Such was the temptation.

But he recollected another divine testimony, which prohibited the execution of the contemplated experiment: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." This, as some understand it, forbade him to presume too far on a promise of divine protection, by voluntarily putting his life in peril; or, as others understand it, forbade him to doubt the divine goodness, which he might seem to do, by shrinking from an exact performance of his duty, in the manner prescribed. In either case, he perceived the prohibition; and he did not disregard it. Notwithstanding his exquisite sensibility to pain, and his nervous shrinking from it, he resolved to follow the path of duty, at whatever hazard. Trusting in God for assistance and support, he would bare his head to the pitiless storm of persecution, endure the cross, and despise the shame.

5. Then the devil taketh him, &c. This transportation, doubtless, was only ideal. There is no evidence that Jesus left the wilderness, until all these temptations had been encountered and overcome. If there be a personal devil, it is absurd to suppose that God would allow him to transport his beloved Son, from place to place, through the air or

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