Wilderness Temptations


 SOON after our Lord's baptism, he was tempted of Satan. It seems to have been necessary that he should suffer the severest temptations that could ever come upon mankind, in order to show that such temptations can be resisted. He had to meet these temptations just as men do, without any help from God more than men may have. 

He did not use his divine power to protect himself or to relieve his own wants. 

He prayed to his Father just as we may do, and received the same help that we may receive, if we will be obedient, and pray in faith.

In speaking of this temptation, St. Luke says, "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing."

What wilderness he was led into is not certainly known, but it is supposed to have been the one where John preached. In this wild and lonely place Jesus suffered, not because he needed the experience, but to teach us a lesson.

Just at the close of the forty days of fasting, when Jesus was faint and famishing, Satan brought his strongest temptations upon him. He said, ''If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." But Jesus would not work a miracle to save himself, for that would be doing what man could not do; and the example would be of no use to us. 

He answered Satan by repeating scripture, just as we may do when he tempts us. 

He said, "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." This should teach us that the word of God is more precious than food, and that we should obey it even at the risk of life.

The words that the Saviour here quoted were spoken by Moses, almost fifteen hundred years before, as he was urging the people to keep the commandments of God. 

If you will read the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, you will see that Moses reminded the people of God's care for them, asking them to remember that for forty years God had fed all that great multitude with bread from heaven, and that during all that time their garments had not waxed old, neither had their feet swelled with so much marching. Since the Lord had provided for them under such circumstances, they might safely trust him to provide for them under any circumstances; and our Lord by quoting the words of Moses means to teach us the same lesson.

"And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 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. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," Just so Satan has always tempted people, and so he will tempt us, by trying to make us believe that, if we live the life of a humble Christian, obeying all the word of God, we cannot prosper in the things of this world. Our only safety lies in answering such temptations just as our Saviour did.

Then Satan proceeded with the Saviour just as he does with people now. When he finds that they are determined to trust in God for the comforts of life and all needful success, he tries to make them believe that God will protect them in taking risks that are unnecessary and even wrong. So "He brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge 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, And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season."