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The Story of Jesus



Chapter 8

The Temptation

AFTER His baptism, Christ was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil.

In going into the wilderness, Christ was led by the Spirit of God. He did not invite temptation. He wanted to be alone, that he might contemplate His mission and work.

By prayer and fasting He was to brace Himself for the bloodstained path He must travel. But Satan knew where the Saviour had gone; so he went there to tempt Him.

As Christ left the Jordan, His face was lighted with the glory of God. But after He entered the wilderness, this glory disappeared.

The sins of the world were upon Him, and His face showed such sorrow and anguish as man had never felt. He was suffering for sinners.

Adam and Eve in Eden had disobeyed God by eating of the forbidden fruit. Their disobedience had brought sin and sorrow and death into the world.

Christ came to give an example of obedience. In the

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wilderness, after fasting forty days, He would not, even to obtain food, depart from the will of His Father.

One of the temptations that overcame our first parents was the temptation to indulge appetite. By this long fast Christ was to show that appetite can be brought under control.

Satan tempts men to indulgence, because this weakens the body and beclouds the mind. Then he knows that he can the more easily deceive and destroy them.

But Christ's example teaches that every wrong desire must be overcome. Our appetites are not to rule us; we must rule them.

When Satan first appeared to Christ, he looked like an angel of light. He claimed to be a messenger from Heaven.

He told Jesus that it was not the will of His Father that He should endure this suffering; He was to show only a willingness to suffer.

When Jesus was struggling against the keenest pangs of hunger, Satan said to Him:

"If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."

But since the Saviour had come to live as our example, He must endure suffering as we have to endure it; He must not work a miracle for His own good. His miracles were all to be for the good of others. To the demand of Satan He answered:

"It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Thus He showed that it is far less important to provide ourselves with food than that we should obey the word of God. Those who obey God's word have the promise of all

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things needed for the present life, and they have also the promise of future life.

Satan had failed to overcome Christ in the first great temptation; he next carried Him to a pinnacle of the temple at Jerusalem, and said:

"If thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone."

Satan here followed Christ's example in quoting Scripture. But this promise is not for those who willfully venture into danger. God had not told Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple. Jesus would not do it to please Satan. He said: "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

We should trust in the care of our heavenly Father; but we must not go where He does not send us. We must not do what He has forbidden.

Because God is merciful, and ready to forgive, there are those who say that it is safe to disobey Him. But this is presumption. God will forgive all who seek pardon and turn away from sin. But those who choose to disobey Him He can not bless.

Satan now appeared what he really was--the prince of the powers of darkness. He took Jesus to the top of a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world.

The sunlight lay on splendid cities, marble palaces, fruitful fields, and vineyards. Satan said:

"All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me."

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For a moment Christ looked upon the scene. Then He turned away. Satan had presented the world to Him in the most attractive light; but the Saviour looked beneath the outward beauty.

He saw the world in its wretchedness and sin, apart from God. All this misery was the result of man's turning away from God to worship Satan.

Christ was filled with longing to redeem that which was lost. He longed to restore the world to more than its Eden beauty. He wanted to place men on vantage ground with God.

For sinful man He was withstanding temptation. He was to be an overcomer, that they might overcome, that they might be equal with the angels, and be worthy to be acknowledged as sons of God.

To Satan's demand for worship, Christ answered:

"Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Matthew 4:3-10.

The love of the world, the lust for power, and the pride of life--everything that draws man away from the worship of God--was embraced in this great temptation of Christ.

Satan offered Christ the world and its riches if He would pay homage to the principles of evil. So Satan presents to us the advantages to be gained by wrongdoing.

He whispers to us, "In order to succeed in this world, you must serve me. Do not be too particular about truth and honesty. Obey my counsel, and I will give you riches, honor, and happiness."

In obeying this counsel we are worshiping Satan instead of God. It will bring us only misery and ruin.

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Christ has shown us what we should do when tempted.

When He said to Satan, "Get thee hence," the tempter could not resist the command. He was compelled to go.

Writhing with baffled hate and rage, the rebel chief left the presence of the world's Redeemer.

The contest was ended for the time. Christ's victory was as complete as had been the failure of Adam.

So we may resist temptation, and overcome Satan. The Lord says to us, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." James 4:7,8.

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