Christ's Temptations. His Preaching in the Synagogue. He casteth out a Devil, and cureth many that were sick.
(1) And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, (2) Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. (3) And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. (4) And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (5) And the devil taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) 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. (7) If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. (8) 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. (9) And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: (10) For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee: (11) And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (12) And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (13) And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
It was one part of the covenant of redemption, that the human
nature of Christ should be anointed to the arduous work, which the Son of God, when taking into union with himself that holy portion of our nature, for this vast purpose, engaged to do. Hence those scriptures: Isaiah 11:1-2; Psalms 89:19-24; Hebrews 1:8-9. with Psalms 45:6-7. And what makes this subject most blessed is, that the spirit of Jehovah not only rested upon Christ, but was in Christ. Holy men of old, and the Prophets of God, spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The influence given to them was limited at certain times, and greater or less as occasion required; but God gave not the spirit by measure unto Christ. He always spake the words of God. So that in every other person, the Holy Ghost was as in a vessel, but in Christ as a fountain. In Jesus, full, overflowing. To everyone of us, saith the Apostle, is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 2 Peter 1:21; John 3:34; Ephesians 4:7.
We shall do well, in our entrance upon the subject of Christ's temptations to observe, how immediately after his baptism, temptations began. And we shall do well also to observe, how everything tended to heighten those temptations with the Lord Jesus, in long and severe fasting; and in a wilderness uninhabited but with wild beasts. Reader! it is one of the most endeared views of Jesus, which the Holy Ghost hath given us, when we behold him going through the same exercises, and being assaulted with the same fiery trials his people are made acquainted with; inasmuch as these things carry with them a palpable evidence, that he knoweth all our feelings by his own. All the angels of light cannot give us that assistance, neither can they enter into our feelings, because their nature is not human. But Jesus's affections are like our own, only infinitely heightened, both from the greatness and holiness of his nature, and his own personal experience in his humanity. It was a precious love-token of our Lord, and, if I do not greatly mistake, intended to act in this way, when after his resurrection, in appearing to them, he saw and felt for their fright, and comforted their minds into this assurance, from fellow-feeling. A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have. Luke 24:39. It will be well both for the Writer and Reader in all their temptations, while reading those of the Lord Jesus Christ, to keep this thought in view.
The limits I must observe in a work of this kind, will not allow me to lead the Reader through all the several particulars which might otherwise be noticed in our Lord's temptations. It will be sufficient to observe, that under three great branches are included all sorts of sin, to which the devil tempted Christ in our nature, and which John calls the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. 1 John 2:16. If the Reader will examine the several different artifices of Satan, here used by the accursed enemy to seduce Christ, he will find that all may be classed under one or other of these. But I am more concerned that both myself and Reader may have suitable apprehensions of the cause of those temptations of the Lord Jesus, when acting as our surety and representative, than to attempt exploring what human intellect, in the present unripe state of things, can never arrive at, and in a subject so deep and mysterious as the temptations of Jesus.
And we shall at once get into very precious and blessed discoveries of this most interesting subject, such as the temptations of Christ are, when, under the Holy Ghost's teaching, we behold Christ as sustaining those attacks from Satan on our account. By the fall of man, our whole nature was become the lawful captive of the devil. See Isaiah 49:24-26. Here then Jesus enters the field in our behalf, and goes into the very territories of Satan, to rescue our nature from his dominion. And when the devil had discharged the whole of his artillery, he departed for a season. We find his renewed attacks in the garden of Gethsemane, the particulars of which are related to us, Lu 22. to which I refer the Reader. But in this part of his temptations in the wilderness, we behold him giving out, and Christ victorious.
Let not the Reader however, even for the present, dismiss the subject, before that he hath first, under the Holy Ghost's teaching, taken with him one or two improvements arising from the same, which may the Lord make profitable.
And first, let it be remembered, it is said of Christ, that though H e were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. Hebrews 5:8. From hence we may safely conclude, that it was in our nature Christ sustained the attacks of Satan; and therefore his personal knowledge and fellow-feeling of our nature, give his redeemed an interest in that knowledge and fellow-feeling, upon every occasion of trial. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he knoweth how to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:18.
Secondly. To this should be added, that though Jesus is now in glory, yet is He the same Jesus still. It is not his nature that is changed, but his state. And He is now in glory, as the head of his body the Church, and consequently as an head, he knows and feels what everyone of his members feel. Every attack of Satan, on the humblest of his people, Jesus is perfectly acquainted with. And if Jesus, in the days of his flesh, offered up strong crying and tears, and was heard in that he feared, how sure, how very sure is it, that he will hear and answer all the cries of his redeemed!
And thirdly, to add no more, and what according to my view of things, becomes as sweet a thought as any, all that mercy, help, compassion, and the like, which Jesus will impart to the tempted state of his members below, will be his Jesus-love, that is, his God - man love, made everlastingly secure and full, to all the unnumbered wants of his whole tried family upon earth, by virtue of his Godhead; but at the same time no less most graciously suited, to be communicable to them by virtue of his manhood, in flowing in one and the same nature from his heart to theirs, in an endless succession of love and kindness.
(14) And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. (15) And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. (16) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. (17) And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (19) To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (20) And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. (21) And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (22) And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
We shall enter into some of the very blessed things contained in this scripture, (but ah! how small a part,) if we do as we are commanded, while waiting on the Holy Ghost's teaching, compare spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:13. By turning to the writings of the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 61:1, etc. we are taught to expect Christ as there represented. And here we behold Christ exactly answering to the description. Jesus reads the passage, confirms thereby the character of Him that was to come into the world; and then appeals to their own senses for the application to himself.
It were to do little short of going over the life of Christ, to follow Jesus in all the parts of this most precious Sermon. Indeed it may be considered but as an abridgement of his whole Gospel. Sweet as it would be, and the most interesting discourse capable of being offered, yet that pleasure I must suppress, while remembering the limits suited to a Poor Man's Commentary. But though constrained to pass over all observations on Christ's Sermon, yet I do very earnestly beg the Reader not to overlook the decided testimony the people gave, in consequence thereof, to the truth of his divine character. For it is said, that all bare him witness. There seemed to be for the moment, one general common consent, that He was the Christ. I beg the Reader not to lose sight of this; and the more so, from what follows in a few verses after.
(23) And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. (24) And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. (25) But I tell you of a truth, Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; (26) But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. (27) And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian. (28) And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, (29) And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. (30) But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way, (31) And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. (32) And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
And here we find how the tone of their sentiments is changed. All they in the synagogue were now filled with wrath, and endeavoured to push him on to the brow of the hill of their city, in order to destroy him. Reader! when you have duly pondered the subject, and marked the great change, I beseech you to pause, and if it be possible, find out the cause. It was at one and the same meeting this vast alteration of conduct in the people took place. There could have been no one circumstance of a change in Christ, either in his person or behaviour. And what was it, think you, filled the minds of this people with wrath, which before had borne witness at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth? Are you able to discover the cause? surely nothing can be plainer. The simple reason was, in the former, Jesus preached his Gospel in the general features of it. In the latter, Jesus preached the same Gospel in the special and particular application of it. In the one, he held forth the glories of his person, in his offices, character, and relations. In the latter, the personal interest his people alone have in it. In a word, Christ preached in the close of what he had before delivered, that doctrine, which ever hath, and ever must, and ever will give disgust to all carnal men; and which, though Christ himself be the preacher, (as we here see fully proved,) will never cease to be odious; even the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in opposition to the pride of the free will of man; and hence Christ shall experience what all his servants, in all ages of the Church have experienced, the most bitter resentment instantly arising against it. But, Reader! while making due observation on those striking passages, in explaining the cause of that change of behaviour towards the Lord Jesus Christ, do not fail at the same time to mark down in suitable characters, what a blessed testimony the Son of God hath here given, in proof of that fundamental, glorious, and incontrovertible doctrine of God. See Matthew 11:25-26; John 17:2-3; Joh_17:9; Romans 9:6 to the end.
(33) And in the synagogue there was a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil; and cried out with a loud voice, (34) Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. (35) And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. (36) And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. (37) And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
We have the relation of this miracle, in very nearly the same words, Mark 1:23, etc. I refer therefore to the observations on it there offered.
(38) And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house, and Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. (39) And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them. (40) Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on everyone of them, and healed them. (41) And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. (42) And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. (43) And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. (44) And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
We have the record of these things, Matthew 8:14. etc. I refer the Reader thither.
Reader! let it be our wisdom, in all our meditations on the sufferings and exercises of Christ, to connect with them the cause. He was wounded for our transgressions: he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed! And while we think of those things, let us in all our lesser exercises bless God, when at any time called to the fellowship in suffering of his Son Jesus Christ. My brethren (saith James) count it all joy, when ye fall into divers temptations. And, no doubt, when the strength of Christ is made perfect in our weakness, there is great cause of joy, to glory even in our infirmities, when the power of Christ doth rest upon us.
Reader! think what a sermon Christ's first sermon was, as recorded here, which he preached after his ordination by the unction of the Holy Ghost, in the Jewish synagogue? Oh! that all preachers of the word of God were to follow Christ's example, and thereby prove that the spirit of the Lord, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, was upon them. Might we not hope, that from the same blessed cause, as by the master, so by his servants, gracious effects would follow; and the Lord's cause would be glorified in the earth. But let all such not fail to do as Christ did. However offensive to carnal reason, and to the free will of men, let the sovereignty of God be proclaimed. Many widows, and many lepers there may be in Israel now, as of old; but until God sends his word, there will be no commission to heal. Oh! do thou, blessed Jesus, who in the days of thy flesh didst heal all the diseases of thy people, now in the day of thy power manifest the sovereignty of thy grace and salvation, and preach by thy blessed spirit, as then in the synagogues of Galilee. Amen.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany