Harry Whittaker
Studies in the Gospels

18. “Tempted of the Devil’’ (Matt. 4: 11; Mark 1: 12,13; Luke 4: 1-13

The baptism of Jesus was followed immediately by his temptation: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Mt. 4:11). Here was the immediate inevitable clash between the two natures in the Son of God. The phrases “led of the Spirit” and “tempted of the devil” use the same preposition, as though emphasizing these two natures in him.

Difficult as the idea may seem, this was the first conscious guidance the Holy Spirit provided. Mark’s word is very strong: “Immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” It may perhaps imply some reluctance on the part of Jesus (as in Gethsemane), because he knew already how strenuous the test would prove to be.

Following baptism every other child of God faces a similar, though less exacting, challenge. There comes at such a time the need to take a long cool look at the future and decide attitudes to life, if there is to be a full and complete self-dedication to the service of the Lord. It is only from this point of view that the records of the temptation of Jesus make sense.

Not to be taken literally

Superficial reading of the gospels has led many to the conclusion that the Satan confronting Jesus was a personal superhuman Devil, the primeval rebel against the supremacy of God. A more careful examination of the details provides no less than eight reasons for rejecting a literal interpretation or the temptation records:

  1. “The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Mt. 4:8). Is there any mountain from which literally all the kingdoms of the world can be seen? The phrase “and the glory of them” intensifies the difficulty. The glory of no kingdom can be seen from the top of a mountain. And Luke’s additional expression: “in a moment of time” only adds to the problem of literal interpretation.
  2. The devil challenged: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” This is in flat contradiction with the Bible’s constant insistence that the entire world is under the unfailing control of the Almighty: “God rules in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whomsoever He will.”
  3. A little reflection makes perfectly clear that if a superhuman Satan were to appear undisguised to Jesus, there would be no special potency about the temptation. In such a situation any reader of these words would find it comparatively easy to repel such a Tempter, because the temptation would be vitiated by its very obviousness. So for Jesus it would have been a test with little to it. The strength of temptation, as all must recognize, lies in its subtlety: “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust (his desire to do that which is evil), and enticed” (Jas. 1:14). Even a Trinitarian has to argue for a non-literal Devil here: “The appearance of the Devil in person would have taken all force from the Temptation, for the Son of God would know him at once” (de Wette). Another Trinitarian (Olshausen) gets into this tangle: “To the Saviour we must ascribe the possibility of falling, as viewed from without. To God, made man, we must ascribe the impossibility of falling. The union of the two is a mystery”. (Indeed, yes!)
  4. Hebrews 4:15 is explicit that “Jesus was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” This operates in reverse also. Since no one has experienced being tempted by the actual appearance of a personal superhuman Satan, clearly the same must be true regarding Jesus.
  5. “When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him for a season” (Lk. 4:13). The clear implication behind these words is that at some time (or times) later on, the devil returned to resume his evil attempts. Yet throughout the copious records of the four gospels no hint of this is given. On the other hand (as will be seen later) once the subjective character of these temptations is recognized, the renewal of them can be traced right through the gospels.
  6. Mark 1:13 should be pondered carefully: “And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan.” But if the Matthew and Luke records are taken literally, only one out of the three temptations actually took place in the wilderness. The other two were located in Jerusalem and at the summit of a mountain.
  7. Mark 1:13, taken literally, makes the temptation last for forty days. Yet the three temptations detailed by Matthew and Luke could have been over and done with in forty minutes. Indeed Matthew 4:2 is explicit that the first temptation took place at the end of the forty days’ fast. Thus the three records, read literally, are in contradiction.
  8. A further example of contradiction is the difference in the order of the temptations. If Matthew’s order is a,b,c, then Luke’s is a,c,b. The literal interpretation can only stand at the expense of the accuracy and inspiration of the record.
Subjective Temptation – Problems disappear

These considerations lead to the conclusion that Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts describe in symbolic form a complex of temptations, which were essentially subjective. There was no need for Jesus to be literally on a pinnacle of the temple. He could transport himself there in imagination and mentally could envisage the whole problem whilst still in the wilderness. Similarly, in a moment of time it was easily possible for him to contemplate all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. In other words Mark is literally correct when he says that the temptations took place in the wilderness.

Also, from this point of view, the different orders given by Matthew and Luke are of no consequence since these major temptations of Christ would recur in his mind over and over again during and offer the forty days, not necessarily always in the same order. This is normal human experience, and Jesus was “in all points tempted as we are.”

No Human Adversary

The view, sometimes propounded, that the Satan tempter was some human adversary of the Lord is altogether inadequate and must be let go. Quite apart from the fact that such a suggestion is ineffective in dealing with several of the difficulties listed earlier, it is hardly possible to suggest any individual who could adequately fill the role of tempter. Even the high priest could not set Jesus on a pinnacle of the temple. Even the Roman emperor could not offer him all the kingdoms of the world. And why either of these gentlemen should think it worth their while to tempt an obscure peasant from Galilee and with these explicit seductions has never been explained. Those who advance ideas of this kind should be asked to carry their interpretation through to cover all the details of the narrative. The weaknesses would soon be apparent.

If an external tempter is to be insisted on, then the only possible solution is Dr. Thomas’s (Eur. 3.65): an angel from heaven. Certain details chime in well enough with this suggestion:

Then how resolve the apparent contradiction between these opposing interpretations?

The fact has to be faced that whilst most temptations have an external provocative agent (e.g. an advertisement for whisky may be full of allurement to a man with a weakness for liquor), no temptation is of real force unless it makes real appeal to a man’s own personal inclinations: i.e. “when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed” (Jas. 1: 14). In other words, the external and the subjective element are usually both necessary before a temptation has power to bear down a man’s defences.

The problem of angelic temptation is not easy of solution, but the suggestions to be made in Study 30 about “angels of evil” may help.

Christ’s Human Nature

The interpretation suggested here requires acceptance also of the view that the temptations either originated or found an answering strain in the marred human nature which Jesus inherited. This apparently drastic conclusion is entirely in harmony with all that Scripture teaches regarding human nature and, more particularly, regarding the nature of Jesus. He shared fully the fallen human nature, which he came to redeem.

The best possible test of soundness of any teacher, says the apostle John, is whether he teaches truth concerning the nature of Christ: “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (that is, truly sharing the stricken nature and propensities of the Adamic race), is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1 Jn. 4: 2,3). There could be no better illustration of the truth of this doctrine about Jesus than the temptations in the wilderness and in Gethsemane.

Temptation is not Sin

It is important to distinguish clearly between the possibility that thoughts of evil may have arisen in the Lord’s mind (this did happen because of his human nature), and giving welcome and encouragement to such ideas (this never happened; every inclination to evil was strangled at its birth).

There are those who dislike or even resent this assessment of Christ. Such reaction is mostly through lack of careful thinking about the problem. Let the first temptation be considered as an illustration: “You are acutely hungry. Isn’t self-preservation one of the basic laws of human nature? Then turn these stones (Moses’ two tables of stone?) into bread, and satisfy your need. You have the power to do it. How are you to accomplish any good for men if you enfeeble yourself to this extent?” Even if it were some external tempter addressing this proposition to Jesus, it would be no temptation at all if the suggestion did not chime in with the inclination of his own nature. In other words, it became a temptation because he wanted to do this. At this point the temptation became subjective, as every temptation must, according to James 1: 14. But, much more strongly, Jesus wanted to honour the will of his heavenly Father.

This clash of inclinations was resolved by clear recognition of a moral principle expressed in Holy Scripture. If, instead, Jesus had feasted his imagination on the delights of satisfying his own appetite, then — on the principles of his own sermon on the mount (that hatred is murder, and lustful intention is adultery) -- he would have been found a sinner before God.

Essentially, temptation is no temptation until it finds a responsive chord in the soul of the individual, and then there must be decision either to encourage and enjoy the idea (whether it issues in action or not), and this is sin; or to strangle it each time it comes into the mind, and this emphatically is not sin. The first of these was not true of Jesus. The second was.

And since “in all points he was tempted like as we are”, and normal human experience is far more often subjective than otherwise, it follows that many a time in his life, if not on these occasions in the wilderness, Jesus must have had to deal drastically with seductive thoughts of evil. So even if an external agent be insisted on for the wilderness temptations, the problem still exists much more considerably in the rest of the Lord’s human experience. Those who would go so far as to say that Jesus never had to cope with a subjective temptation deny not only the plain facts of the gospels but also the essential truth that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.”

The Meaning of the Temptations

From the point of view just argued for it is not difficult to see how the three temptations described by Matthew and Luke represent three major policy decisions, which Jesus would have to make governing the aims and methods of his ministry.

The first, in a nutshell, was the problem: You have this remarkable endowment of divine power; why not use it for your personal comfort and satisfaction?

It needs only a moment’s reflection to realise that any other human being with such endowments would be sorely tempted to use them selfishly. Jesus settled the issue once and for all. Throughout his ministry his miracles were never used for his own personal benefit. There is one partial exception to this rule, and once the meaning behind the coin in the fish’s mouth is understood, the propriety of that exception is seen immediately (Mt. 17: 24-27; Study 113).

The second problem was the temptation to make an irresistible impact on the Jewish nation by employing the powers of God’s Holy Spirit in the most sensational methods possible. Instead Jesus rejected the methods of modern advertising in favour of the directive of policy supplied by inspired prophecy about himself: “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets” (Is. 42: 2; Mt.12: 16-21). In later days, there came circumstances, which called for what seemed to be a dramatic reversal of this role, but until the last few months this was the policy to which Jesus restricted himself. He said “No” to all forms of human vainglory.

The strongest pull of all would be towards establishing the heavenly kingdom immediately. Jesus knew full well from the Old Testament that the one born King of the Jews must also be the Suffering Servant of the Lord. The temptation must have been great indeed to leave the path which involved rejection and suffering, and instead take the short cut which would quickly give him the throne of the world. If such ignoble men as Tiberius could become emperor of Rome, then for certain within a few years Jesus-had he so chosen-could have brought himself to a position of absolute political authority over all the civilised world. The prospect of being able to “judge the poor of the people and save the children of the needy” by purely political methods must have been very alluring to Jesus because of his strong human sympathies and his deep compassion for those in trouble. This problem also he would encounter over and over again. His attitude towards it was settled, again once and for all, in the wilderness. In the earlier temptations he had decided against his ministry being selfish or spectacular. Now he also resolved that it should not be secular.

At mount Carmel Elijah had attempted a spectacular appeal to his wayward people, but after his forty days he was shown in the wilderness that greater good lay in a ministry of the “still small voice” amongst the seven thousand of the Lord’s faithful remnant (1 Kgs. 19: 8,11,12,18). Moses in his fortieth year in the wilderness came to a climax of failure by attempting a secular leadership over Israel: “Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?” (Num. 20: 10). The Son of God was resolved to learn from their experience.

Three times this temptation record demonstrates the power of Holy Scripture; and in his last prayer for his disciples, the Lord Jesus three times asked that the same power might be recognized and relied upon by them also: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (Jn. 17: 17,8,14).

Most probably in the course of those forty days many other problems and temptations presented themselves to the mind of Jesus as he considered the years ahead. The familiar record is not to be regarded as full and complete. Luke intimates as much: “when the devil had completed every temptation...” (4: 13 RV). That word “every” surely implies more than three.

The Source of the Record

It is hardly a waste of time to enquire the source of the gospel writers’ information regarding this solitary temptation of Christ. How could Matthew and Luke have access to the facts they describe?

It cannot be ruled out that the gospel writers were the subjects of direct inspiration from heaven. However, all other considerations point to the probability that, as Luke himself asserts (Lk. 1: 2), this also was the fruit of assiduous compilation, under divine influence and direction.

In that case Jesus himself must have been the source of it, probably during those pregnant forty days after the resurrection, when he companied with his disciples and did so much to further their spiritual education. But how could he impart to them any adequate or worthwhile idea of the mental conflict he had faced at the beginning of his ministry, except by couching it in the parabolic form, which he had so often found marvellously useful? Such a conclusion can hardly be regarded as certain, but it has much to recommend it.

Biblical Background

The Biblical associations of this temptation experience of Christ are very copious, and all of them enlightening. The “forty” days recalls how Israel also faced the temptations of the wilderness for forty years after being baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. It was at the end of that forty years that Moses forfeited his own immediate inheritance of the Land through the implications of his rash speech at Meribah-Kadesh (Num. 20: 12). It was at the end of forty days that Elijah’s morale collapsed in the wilderness (1 Kgs. 19: 8). But it was also after the invincible Enemy had presented his challenge for forty days that he was slain by the valiant David using only one of the five smooth stones he had ready (1 Sam. 17: 40).

The detail, found only in Mark, that Jesus was “with the wild beasts” has symbolic force. Here was the second Adam fulfilling the divine commission to “have dominion over every living thing that moveth” (Gen. 1: 28), the lower creation which the descendants of the first Adam have so brutalized. Here was foreshadowed the fulfilment of the Messianic prophecy about the second Adam: “Thou modest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands ... all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field” (Ps. 8: 6,7).

This experience in the wilderness was only a token fulfilment of these Scriptures and also of the Lord’s victory over the wild untamed thinking of ungenerate human nature. It was also the literal fulfilment of a prophecy with a profound symbolic significance behind it: “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder: the young lion and the serpent shalt thou trample under feet” (Ps. 91: 13). In the days of his royal majesty, and even now in the days of his flesh, Messiah is more than sufficient to cope with human pride, human cunning, human deceit. It was a contest, which never ceased during the strenuous years of his ministry.

There was no lack of subtlety in the insinuation of the devil’s opening gambit: “lf thou be the Son of God...” Jesus had come straight from Jordan. The heavenly voice was still ringing in his ears: “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” In Eden the doubt had been: “Yea, hath God said...?” Here no doubt was possible. Instead, the implication was: “You are the Son of God, then why not...?” The subtle self-justification would be, of course: “The salvation of all depends on me, so surely I am justified in turning a stone into food to keep myself alive!”

The contrast with the first Adam is striking. He, son of God (Lk. 3: 38), living in a delightsome garden, with abundance of everything, took the one food that was forbidden. Jesus, Son of God (Mt. 3: 17), in the wilderness and desperately hungry, said “No” to what might well seem to be an altogether legitimate satisfying of personal need. “Christ’s fast cures Adam’s greed” was the quaint succinct comment of one eighteenth century expositor.

The First Temptation misread

The Lord’s rebuttal of the first temptation is very commonly misunderstood. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” is often taken to mean: “Not material food, but the spiritual nourishment of the Bible.” A careful look at the context of this quotation from Deuteronomy 8: 3 shows that there should be a different emphasis: “And the Lord thy God humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna (angel’s food: Ps. 78: 25), which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”

Here to read the last expression as a reference to inspired Scripture is to provide a perfect non sequitur. The meaning required is: “God’s commands to His angels.” In the wilderness God said to these immortal ministers: “Feed my people”, and the angels proceeded to provide manna six days out of seven for forty years. Thus Israel learned to abandon self-sufficiency and to depend on every word of Divine command to the angels, trusting, that is, on God’s providence.

So by this quotation Jesus declared his firm intention to live by faith in God’s care and guidance, as in all ages other men of God have lived. (Cp. the spirit of Mt. 7: 9-11). In this concise Biblical way it became a settled principle of his public life that he would not rely on the superhuman powers of the Holy Spirit either to make the way easy or to resolve difficulties, which his followers would have to face without such help.

A Logical Sequence

Confirmation of the interpretation just suggested comes from the details of the next temptation: “Cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up...” Paraphrased this says, in effect: “You declare that you are determined to depend only on God’s commands to His angels to provide and care for you? Here in Psalm 91 is a Scripture, which gives the angels explicit instructions for your benefit. Then make use of it! You said you would!”

The subtlety and cleverness of this prompt continuation from the first temptation is almost incredible. Out of the entire Old Testament what other Scripture would have provided so telling a rejoinder? All this might be read as supplying an additional proof of the subjective character of the temptation. What other mind besides that of Jesus himself could have made the point so Biblically and so forcefully?

Why then did Jesus turn emphatically away from an act, which had apparently such clear sanction in the Word of God? The answer lies in one word-context. It requires only a cursory glance through Psalm 91 to recognize that the heavenly help promised there is for a servant of the Lord in time of need, not for aggressive self-advertisement. The “tempter” may be acquitted of the charge, often levelled, of misquoting Scripture. True, the phrase “in all thy ways” was omitted. But its inclusion would have strengthened, and not weakened, the tempter’s argument. The mishandling of this Scripture lay in the wrong spirit in which it was quoted and the motive behind its use.

The Temptation to misuse Scripture

In this example there is a warning of much solemnity against the misappropriation of Bible texts and against the danger of insistence on the letter of Scripture, whilst at the same time perverting the spirit of the passage. Hardly a month goes by but one encounters examples of this kind of thing in the speech and writings of those who profess better and should know better.

To one as intimate with Scripture as Jesus was, to one with a mind as alert and quick as his, the temptation to use the Bible in a slightly unscrupulous way, to satisfy or justify his own personal inclinations, must have been a constant danger, a harassing besetting test. But again he laid down the principle that was to be one of his major guide lines: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” In Egypt Israel had witnessed such a series of divine hammer-blows against the might and religion of that country as would last for a lifetime in the memory of any who saw them. Crossing the Red Sea, they had experienced the providence of heaven in protection and judgement which no one of them could ever nave anticipated. Yet within a few weeks these people were querulously complaining: “Is the Lord among us, or not?” That occasion lived in Moses’ memory. Forty years later he warned the sons of these sinners: “Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” By quoting these words Jesus underlined his resolve not to put God’s goodness to the test. He already had ample evidence of it in his experience hitherto.

The Third Temptation

The third test was a temptation to respond to the tug of personal inclination, leaving aside the humble role of preacher of righteousness, evading the self-sacrifice of the cross, and (with a fine mixture of good and bad motives) seeking power over the nations. Such a policy, with its many allurements, could only be pursued by letting go the complete self-dedication to the will of God, which his recent baptism had proclaimed. Here, palpably, was the temptation of Eden over again-to cast off divine constraints and follow the inclination of self, with the desirable outcome dangled enticingly before the eyes: “Ye shall be as gods.”

To all this Jesus returned an almost violent negative: “Get thee hence, Satan.” Once again he saw a marked parallel between his own temptation and that of Israel in the wilderness. Exodus 23: 29-33 details one of the most blunt exhortations addressed to the people through Moses. They must resist all inclination to ensure, their inheritance of the Land of Promise through alliance with the debased nations already there: “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods... Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods...”

Instead, let them depend on every word of God to the angels of His power: “Mine angels shall go before thee, and bring thee in... and I will cut them off.” Forty years later, with allusion to this, the exhortation was renewed, this time a emphasising the danger of material progress and prosperity: “And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantest not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and him shalt thou serve and shalt swear by his name” (Dt. 6: 10-13). With these words from the Book of his strength, Jesus drove this temptation away.

The Temptations renewed

But in later days back it came again: “the devil departed from him for a season.” How many times Jesus was assailed with such allurements during his ministry, it is impossible to say, but a number of instances are clearly traceable in the gospel records.

John’s gospel gives no explicit record of the Lord’s temptations, yet all three are plainly traceable there.

He turned a few loaves and fishes into abundant food, but not for himself. At the word of his mother he turned water into wine, but in doing so, he manifested his glory only to the six disciples he had so far gathered round him (see Study 21)

At his last Feast of Tabernacles, his own brothers somewhat scornfully urged him to “manifest himself to the (Jewish) world” by doing wonderful works before the crowds in Jerusalem.

And after the feeding of the five thousand, the third temptation was pointedly renewed when “they sought to take him by force, and make him a king” (6: 15). For the sake of the people Jesus would dearly have liked to accept this greatness. But instead he went up into a mountain, not to contemplate the kingdom he might have, and its glory, but to seek in prayer strength to thrust the temptation away.

The second temptation assailed Jesus fiercely both at the beginning and the end of his ministry. When the men of Nazareth would have cast him headlong over a cliff, he could have let them do it and have alighted unharmed on the rocks below, thus turning their bitterness to awe. Instead he quietly evaded them and got away (Lk. 4: 29,30).

In Gethsemane (Mt. 26: 53,54) his word about twelve legions of angels, alert to save him from his enemies, was no rhetorical flourish, but literal truth. But this calling on the divine providence would have frustrated the divine purpose-strange paradox!-so he meekly suffered himself to be bound.

And on the cross he had to listen to the taunts and jeers of men not fit to live, as they mocked him with the challenge: “If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Mt. 27: 42,43). Did it dawn on these evil men that Jesus could have done what they said? Yet had he come down from the cross he would have saved nobody, not even himself.

Matthew 16 is specially interesting because it appears to repeat all three temptations. The constant pressure from the Lord’s critics to “show a sign from heaven” (v. 1-4) was all the more insistent and repetitious because they were now apparently aware of his determination to avoid the sensationalism of the second temptation. So Jesus set his disciples an example by turning away from the challenge: “he left them, and departed.”

Then, in the boat, the twelve misunderstood his warning against “the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” “It is because we have taken no bread”, they said. Jesus could have produced bread there and then, thus reassuring them and at the same time vindicating himself against his adversaries. But this repeat of the first temptation was similarly put aside. Instead he fell back on unspectacular, simple, patient reasoning with them, as with children.

Next came Peter’s heart — warming confession of faith in him as the promised Messiah. But when this was coupled with that disciple’s persuasions to leave out all thought of rejection and suffering, and to ensure for himself the crown which was his by right, Jesus was quick to see the danger of this repeated third temptation, and he reacted in the same abrupt emphatic fashion: “Get thee behind me, Satan.” And he went on to say, very poignantly: “What is a man (himself!) profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

A chapter such as this emphasizes very much the loneliness of Jesus at times when temptation was strongest. His disciples appear to have been little or no help to him. Yet this cannot always have been the case, for in the end of his ministry he thanked them for their support: “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations” (Lk. 22: 28). By their tenacious, though often uncomprehending loyalty, when there seemed reasons enough for deserting him, they had been a greater help than they knew.

At this first crucial temptation in the wilderness” there was no moral support of even half-enlightened disciples. There was, if Jesus only knew it (and perhaps he did), the eager tense concern of unseen angels. What Paul wrote of himself and his fellow workers in the gospel must have been much more true regarding Jesus: “We are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels, and to men” (1 Cor. 4: 9). With what gladness did those angels come to minister to Jesus when the strife was o’er! (Lk. 22: 43).

How they ministered is a matter for conjecture. The Greek word is used mostly of serving food. If this is the meaning here, Jesus also was provided with manna in the wilderness. But doubtless the angels ministered to him in other ways also. Did they remind him of cherubim and the flashing fire of the Shekinah Glory by which the Almighty had kept open the way to the tree of life and its heavenly food?

A Summary of the Sequence in the Temptation of Jesus:

Use the powers of the Holy Spirit to look after yourself,
No. I will depend on God’s commands to His angels (Num. 8:3).

You insist on that? Very well, here is one of God’s commands to his angels: Ps. 91:11. So throw yourself down.
I must not put my God on trial, asking (as Israel did): “Is the Lord among us or not?” I know already that He is with me.

Yes, but the Lord said He would be with Moses (Ex. 33:14), yet all He gave him was a sight of the kingdom-then death. Here is a sight of your Kingdom. Since you refuse to await the help of angels, take it for yourself now.
No, I must not usurp God’s authority. Moses died for doing just that. Besides, the kingdoms of the world are the Lord’s (Ps. 95:3-5). I must worship Him (v.6), and not tempt Him in the wilderness (v. 8-11).

Notes: Matthew 4:1 -11

Forty days. When Moses was first in the mount fasting forty days he learned how the new sanctuary of God was to be fashioned. And the second forty days he was pleading for the forgiveness of his people. Jesus? It has been suggested that forty is the number specially associated with some new development in the work of God: Gen. 7: 4; the three forties in the life of Moses; the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon; A.D. 30-70; Dt. 9: 9,18,25; Ex. 34: 28;Jon.3: 4;Acts 1: 3.
If thou be the Son of God is neatly answered by: ‘This I am. But I am also man’— “Man shall not live by bread alone...”
Not by bread alone. Cp. Jer. 15: 16; Job 23: 10-12; Jn. 4: 32-34.
Then. This word, and “Get thee hence” (v. 10) together indicate that Matthew’s gospel gives the correct sequence. Note the argument developed at the end of the chapter.

Pinnacle. Is there here the subtle overtone of allusion to Dan. 9:27 RVm? — as who should say: ‘Proclaim yourself the one who will make this temple desolate.’

His angels. At work in Lk. 4: 29 (but how?).
An exceeding high mountain. Rev. 21: 10, Ez. 40: 2 (and Dt. 34: 1-4) might suggest that Christ was shown a vision of the Messianic Kingdom.
Will I give thee. But had not Jesus just been declared to be the Heir? 3: 17 (= Ps. 2: 7,8); Rev. 11: 15. His Scriptures taught him, however, that it is the meek, and not the self-assertive, who inherit the earth. Ps.22: 27; ls.53: 11.
Him only. This is the reading in Dt. 6: 13 LXX. Here is a clear indication (a) that Jesus used the Gk. Bible; (b) that Mt. wrote in Gk. and not in Heb., as is often asserted.
Behold, angels. Their presence, as in Lk. 22: 43, measures the severity of the stress on this occasion. This is the experience of those in Christ also (Heb. 1: 14).

Luke 4:1 -13

Returned from Jordan, as though intending an immediate return to Nazareth, but the Spirit directed otherwise. “Returned” may mean that the Temptation took place in the hills near Nazareth; see Mk. 1: 9.

Led of the Spirit. So the temptation was by divine intention; cp. Gen.22: 1. So also 1 Cor. 10: 13.
He did eat nothing. Some would interpret this as meaning an absolute minimum; Mt. 11: 18.
In a moment of time. Hinting at the transitory nature of human kingdoms? The same word comes only in Is. 29: 5 LXX.
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. This was an explicit commandment. Ps.91: 11 was not.
Set him on the pinnacle of the temple. A repeat of Ezekiel’s experience? Ez. 8: 13. It was here (according to Hegesippus) that just before the Roman war, James, the Lord’s brother, addressed the crowd and then was thrown down and clubbed to death.
Departed from him for a season. Paul’s three-fold effort to be quite rid of his adversary- angel came to naught (2 Cor. 12: 8 sw). Nor was Jesus successful in this.

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