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17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
CHAPTER IV. i Christ fasteth, and is tempted. 11 The angels minister unto him. 13 He dwelleth
in Capernaum, 17 beginneth to preach, 18 calleth Peter, and Andrew, 21 James, and John, 23 and healeth all the diseased.
1 Then was a Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
a Mark i. 12 ; Luke iv. 1.
whether this view be taken, or, which is at the spirit of prophecy : “ Behold my serleast equally probable, that the effulgence vant, whom I have chosen ; My Beloved, which broke from the heavens, had the in whom I am well pleased. I will put similitude of a dove, the conclusion is the my Spirit upon him.” This was Christ's same; for, whether by the shape or the solemn inauguration into his prophetic peculiarity of the motion, the idea of a office. dove was strongly and INTENTIONALLY excited in the mind of John; the reason CHAPTER IV. Verse 1. Then was of which is justly and beautifully con- Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness. ceived by Archbishop Leighton : “ The —Tote appears here to have the sense of Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles afterwards ; for in John i. 35, 48, ii. 1, in the shape of fire; there was some- there is an account of the transactions of thing to be purged in them; but on Christ three days immediately following the bapas a dove, because there was no need of tism of Christ; on one of which he atcleansing or purging anything. That, tended the marriage in Cana of Galilee. therefore, was a symbol of the spotless On the completion of these he was led up purity of his nature.”
of the Spirit, that is, he was led up from Verse 17. And lo a voice from heaven, the plain to the mountainous parts of the &c.—Some absurdly render own, thunder, desert. This mode of speaking plainly as though thunder ever uttered articulate shows that the transaction was not in sounds. It was a voice uttering the vision. He was impelled by a strong inwords which follow, the voice of the fluence of the Spirit, from one place to eternal Father, accrediting to his high another. Any place would have been offices his eternal Son, now incarnate: equally suitable for the purpose of proThis is my beloved Son, in whom I am well ducing an impression upon the imaginapleased. Here the articles are most em- tion during sleep, or in a trance; but phatic, OUTOS EOTIV O VIOS JOU o ayanntos, here a solitary, wild, and secluded region This is that Son of mine, that beloved Son, is chosen, that during his forty days' BY Y EVÕOKTOа, in whom I am well pleased. trial he should be subject to no intrusion, The aorist, too, is here emphatic also, and and that he might have no relief from is used, after the manner of Greek writers, food at that distance from the habitations as including the past, present, and future of men. The Spirit here mentioned is time; that beloved Son, in whom I have the Holy Spirit, which had just descended been, am, and shall be well pleased ; or, in upon him; and as that Spirit exerted an brief, in whom I am ALWAYS well pleased. extraordinary power upon the animal Here is the strongest testimony from the frame of some of the prophets, impelling highest and most glorious authority. This them to various places, and signally susvoice of God repeated on this occasion taining them under great exertions and what it had before solemnly proclaimed by fasts, so this was a sensible proof that the
same mighty prophetic Spirit, though in of the devil, and resolve therefore the him “ without measure,” had been re- whole of this account of our Lord's conceived by him. St. Mark uses the strong flict partly into vision and partly into phrase, To Iveoma autov ex Ballet, “ the personification. It may, however, be Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” affirmed, that on philosophic grounds the The place is generally supposed to be the existence of such malignant spirits as are wilderness of Judea, a sterile, rocky, and employed in the work of tempting men desolate region, “ of savage aspect,” says involves no absurdity, and accords with Maundrell; and which a more modern analogies among men which cannot be traveller describes as having “ the rudest denied, because they are obvious facts. appearance ; not a blade of verdure is to If man, a rational being, is often seen be seen over all the surface, and not the to hate all good, and delighting only in sound of a living creature is to be heard evil, superior intelligences may possess over all the extent.” It is, however, de- the same characters. If we see in many bated whether this wilderness, which ran men a maturity of vice which expels all southward along the Dead Sea, or some the better feelings, and an anxiety in such part of the mountainous region near the depraved persons to corrupt others, and to lake of Tiberias, and which in many places glory in the miseries they thus inflict, what is equally wild and solitary, was the scene have we in these cases but visible portraits of the temptation. A third opinion places of what Satan himself is, and exemplifica. the transaction in the desert of Quaranto. tions of the work in which he is emnia, which extends from Jericho, by the ployed? And, finally, if it enters into mountain of Bethel, two miles and a half our state of probation to be tempted to from Jerusalem, which also was desert and cvil; that such temptations should not uncultivated. This is maintained by arise as well from the influence of evil Wetstein, Rosenmuller, and Koinoel. It spirits as from the effect produced upon had its modern name from the forty days the imaginations, passions, and appetites during which the temptation continued. by visible external things, no good reason
To be tempted of the devil. — The word can be given. There is nothing in this answers to the Hebrew Satan, “ an adver- case which is contrary to any principle sary.” Wickliffe, in his translation, has clearly laid down in the word of God, rendered it, the feende, a word derived who maintains our free-agency, in these from the German feind, which also signi- circumstances of our state of trial, by the fies an enemy. This temptation was part succours of his grace. On the other hand, of our Lord's humiliation. His holy soul the denial of the doctrine of temptation was to be subject, through this long period from the influence of invisible beings of forty days and forty nights, to the foul upon the soul of man must force us either suggestions of evil ; it was also appointed to reject the scriptures altogether, or to that he should be made, in this respect, adopt those modes of violent interpretaas in all others, like unto his brethren, tion which are wholly inconsistent with “ for that he himself both suffered, being the simplicity of their historical narratives, tempted, he is able to succour them that and which would render their meaning are tempted ;” of which ability his victory in all cases so uncertain, as to destroy is the indubitable proof. By this, too, their character as a revelation of truth he was to show forth his power over from God. Nor less objectionable is the Satan, by whose guile the first Adam had principle advocated by the neological been seduced ; and to begin to justify his critics of Germany, and applied to this and title to be that seed of the woman, whose other cases, namely, that our Lord and office it was to bruise the serpent's head. his apostles often adopted the erroneous Our modern rationalists, as they would be theological opinions and modes of speaking esteemed, but who have a much better current among the Jews, just as they emtitle to be considered as the Sadducees of ployed the philosophic language and allu. the Christian church, deny the existence sions of the age in which they lived, with2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. out intending to give their sanction to any the connexion of man, and the events and system of human science. For it remains history of our world, with invisible worlds to be proved, that either our Lord or his and beings, and thus isolate our earth as apostles in any case do ever speak accord- the theatre on which these great displays ing to an erroneous philosophy of the of the wisdom, power, and mercy of God day; and, if they do, it is only allusively take place, from those innumerable other in cases where the current notions of the beings which take an interest in them, day would serve the moral purpose they and for whose instruction and advantage, intended just as well as the more cor- or discomfiture and punishment, they are rect mode of speaking now used, if, also permitted. A large portion of the indeed, we are nearer to philosophic truth grandeur of the great scheme of human on such subjects than the ancients. But redemption is thus at once annihilated by an error in what may be called pneuma- these petty and minifying systems. As to tological divinity stands on a very different the notion, that the temptation of our ground. If there be no Satan, there is no Lord was transacted in vision, it is conHoly Ghost ; for each may be resolved tradicted by the simple narrative form into personification : if there be no spirit- which is used by the evangelists. It is in ual evil influence, we have no reason to the same style that they record this event, conclude from the same scriptures that and those which the objectors themselves there is any supernatural good influence. acknowledged to be real; and with quite Further: if there were no true demoniacal as much reason might the history of the possessions, then were the persons re- crucifixion be resolved into the phantasms puted to be so possessed mere lunatics of a dream as the account before us. and epileptics; and the casting them out Thus viewed, too, the temptation could was a deceptive assumption of pretended no longer be one of the circumstances of power, fatal to the character of our Lord, our Lord's humiliation; and the great and the honesty of his disciples : and if moral use which St. Paul draws from it, there be no disembodied spirits, then as affording an assurance to the followers were the disciples deceived, and that by of Christ, that in all temptations they our Lord himself; and the hope of con- might rely upon his sympathy as having scious existence immediately after the been“ in all points tempted like unto us, death of the body, so cheering to them yet without sin,” is lost; seeing that we and to all good men since, is without any are tempted to evil, not in vision, but in foundation in truth. Finally, not to push reality. Finally : it is sufficient to settle these consequences any further, it follows, this whole question entirely, to remark in direct opposition to our Saviour's own that if the temptation of our Lord words, that, although Jehovah is called were a dream or visionary representhe God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, tation, the usual exercise of the reason he is the God of the DEAD, and not of the and the senses being suspended, it was LIVING. All these consequences may, in- no temptation at all; for there could deed, be hazarded by bold men, who treat have been no sin, if in a dream or a the scriptures with little deference; but vision, in which all free-agency would be their crime is not lessened by their teme- suspended, our Lord had either comrity; for they profanely represent the in- manded the stones to be made bread, or spired writers as teaching popularly what had cast himself down from the pinnacle is not true, on some of the most serious of the temple, or had even done homage subjects which can influence human feel- to Satan himself. ings and human conduct. They change, Verse 2. Fasted forty days and forty too, the whole economy of Christianity, nights.—Thus Moses and Elijah fasted, which presents us with a grand view of being like our Lord sustained by “the
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
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.
b Deut. viii. 3.
Preserver of men." The nights are men- this is one of those respects in which “no tioned as well as the days, because the man knoweth the Son, but the Father.” Jews used to eat in the night during their Being therefore in necessary ignorance of common fasts; and, indeed, according to the mode and degree in which the human Maimonides, they might eat and drink nature of our Lord was sustained by the after sunset during all the fasts, except the divine, he could not ascertain how far month of Abib. Throughout the whole of our Lord AS A MAN was capable of sinthis period, however, our Saviour felt no ning. He might therefore hope to prehunger; for it is added, “ AFTERWARDS vail against the inferior nature, and, by he hungered.”
defiling that, to render, at least, that incarVerse 3. And when the tempter came to nation of a Redeemer void. him.—This probably was the first visible And said, If thou be the Son of God, appearance of Satan during the tempta- command that these stones be made bread. tion; though, as it was the sole object of — The temptation here is suitable to the our Lord's being led up into the wilder- circumstances : evil and good each derive ness to be tempted by the devil, we must force from their seasonableness; a point conclude, that a series of temptations, which a tempter so long practised and arising from that secret, invisible influ- subtle as Satan well understands; and ence which the tempter was permitted to hence, our Lord being oppressed with exercise upon his thoughts had troubled hunger, he suggests to him to command his spirit through the whole of that pain- the stones near them to be made bread, ful season; and so, indeed, it is stated by to answer the double purpose of supplythe other evangelists. Now, however, ing his own wants, and giving to a preSatan appears in a human form, as it tended inquirer as to the truth of his would seem, for no other is intimated. mission, which was the character he apIt has been asked whether it is likely that pears to have assumed, a miraculous proof Satan knew the dignity of our Lord's per- of his dignity and office. Satan evidently son; and, if so, what hope of success alludes to the baptism of Christ, in which could he have in tempting him? The he had been declared to be the Son of question is more curious than useful; and God. This very allusion shows that the perhaps is not capable of an answer en- absence of the article before vios does not tirely satisfactory. We may, however, lower its sense. This is true also where remark, that Satan could not be ignorant the article is wanting both before vios and that the Messiah was promised and ex- Ocov, as is proved by Matt. xxvii. 43. pected, nor of the high and divine charac- Verse 4. But he answered and said, It is ter assigned to him in the writings of the written, 8c.--Our Lord puts honour upon Jewish prophets; and as perhaps he was the writen word of God, by making use a better interpreter of scripture than the of it in repelling every temptation. He in Jews, he would not be thrown into any whom were treasured up the riches of doubts as to the Messiahship of Jesus by wisdom and knowledge, could have given the humility of his advent, and his then such answers as had not previously been apparent indigent circumstances. But of “ written ;” but he thus teaches us the the mystery of the personal union of the sufficiency of God's revelations for every divine and human natures in Christ he condition of man; and that we are to rely could have no adequate conception; for upon the wisdom of God, as revealed in
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
his word, with which we ought to have inquirer been a real man, it is not allowed our memory richly furnished, rather than to man to prescribe on what signs or eviupon our own. Another important lesson dences he will consent to admit a message is, that whatever is settled by the word of or revelation from God. Yet how many God admits of no appeal; and therefore, ask for different or stronger evidences of that we are not to dispute, but promptly, the truth of Christianity, or its separate and without hesitation, to act upon it. doctrines ? Let such persons stand reHe who lives in this habit soonest escapes proved by this history. “ It is an evil from the entanglements of temptation. and adulterous generation which seeketh “He keepeth himself, and that wicked after a sign;" such signs as they think one toucheth him not.” Our Lord's quo- fitting, and neglect those with which ditation is from Deut. viii. 3. “God suf. vine wisdom has been pleased to stamp fered thee to hunger, and fed thee with his own authority upon his own truth. manna; that he might make thee know Verse 5. Then the devil taketh him up that man doth not live by bread only into the holy city, &c.—The holy city was but by every word that proceedeth out of the name by which Jerusalem was always the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” called by the Jews; and the inscription The Israelites, when they hungered, were on their shekel was, “ Jerusalem the not sustained by bread, but by manna, Holy.” That our Lord was taken up by a new substance created and “rained Satan, and transported through the air, from heaven” by “the word” of the as the Holy Spirit carried away Philip to Lord. It is that word which gives effi- Azotus, Acts viii. 39, is a mere conjecture; cacy to the ordinary food of man; or it nor is it indicated in the word used, can provide him with new and extraordi. which signifies to take along with one as a nary means of subsistence; or it can sus companion is taken. And if Satan aptain him by its own almighty power, peared, as is likely, in the form of a man, without the intervention of means at all, personating, as stated above, an inquirer as it had done Christ, and Moses, and after truth, it is not probable that he Elijah in their fasts. It is therefore never would, by such an act of supernatural necessary to do wrong in order to supply power, reveal at once his real character. our wants. Our only concern is to please This was reserved to the last temptation, God, who has a thousand means of relieve when other means had failed. We may ing the wants of those who need his inter conclude, therefore, that he proposed it to position, and put their trust in him. But our Lord to accompany him to Jerusalem, what evil would there have been in our and that he yielded, as well knowing his Lord commanding the stones to be made character and purpose, yet meekly subbread? The answer is, that it would have mitting to the whole process of the trial betrayed impatience under the suffering of appointed by God. hunger, which he was to sustain until God And setteth him on a pinnacle of the temsent him supplies, which was therefore ple.—Grotius takes atePuylov to have been done at the best time by the ministry of a battlement on the temple; but the angels. Our Lord would not shorten the courts, and all the buildings connected assigned duration of his trial by taking with the temple, may be included, and the his cause out of the hands of God. Be battlement of the royal portico, built by side this, our Lord knew who the tempter Herod, which was at the outer court, was, though under the guise of a man was probably the place; especially as this inquiring after the truth ; and thus taught was raised upon the verge of a precipice us that we are not to do the devil's bid- so deep, that, according to Josephus, it ding to relieve ourselves from inconveni- made persons dizzy to look down from it. ence or calamity Even had the pretended To the roof of this portico there was easy