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Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
CHRIST's temptations. The call of his Apostles. His Preaching and Miracles.
I detain the Reader at this verse but for the moment, to observe, that there is a peculiar emphasis in the word then. When JESUS had thus received the anointings for his ministry, then more eminently the powers of darkness made a more furious attack upon him. Reader! as it was with the glorious Head, so is it with his members. The devil certainly doth not know GOD's children until they are awakened and regenerated by the HOLY GHOST. But no sooner is a work of grace wrought in their hearts, but all hell is up in arms.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
It is remarkable in the Old Testament Scripture, of those that were types of CHRIST, concerning fasting, that they observed such seasons: Moses, Exodus 34:1 . What a sweet thought is it, that the LORD JESUS was in all points as his people are, yet without sin! Precious LORD! was it not intended to prompt thy redeemed to come to thee with more confidence from fellow feeling?
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
The subject of CHRIST'S temptations, is a subject attended with much difficulty thoroughly to explain. One of the great causes for which the SON of God was manifested, was, that he might destroy the works of the Devil. 1 John 3:8 . And if we take the whole purport of scripture on this point, one mass of particulars, we shall be led to conclude, that the quarrel between CHRIST and the devil was personal Jude 1:6 ; Revelation 12:7-9 . Now when CHRIST came upon earth, the conflict was with this accursed enemy. Hence CHRIST combated personally with Satan; when he began his temptations, and afterwards at the cross. Hebrews 2:14 . He doth this also, when in his people he enables his redeemed to resist him, and at length brings Satan under their feet. James 4:7 ; Romans 16:20 . And there is another triumph, scripture seems to intimate, which the Son of God will have over Satan, before the day of judgment; namely, when Satan is to be shut up, and restrained from his cursed temptations over the LORD'S people. Revelation 20:1-3 . And, lastly, at the great day of all, then the devil will be brought forth for final judgment, and eternal punishment, before the whole world. Revelation 20:10 , etc.
I do not think, it necessary to go minutely over the several temptations with which the devil assaulted Christ. The whole was necessary, no doubt, that CHRIST should fulfil all righteousness. But it was necessary also, on the account of his redeemed. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:18 . Few have taken into their soul's comfort the whole blessedness of this account of JESUS. It is not meant simply to say that as GOD and as man, in one person, he knoweth what temptations are; but it is meant to say, that from his personal knowledge of them, and his own exercises in those seasons, he knoweth both what his people feel under temptations, and how to administer the very succour which will exactly suit their case and circumstances. And nothing can give equal relief as this assurance to every tempted Child of GOD?
Moreover, it should be added, that in those temptations, wherewith JESUS was assaulted, the believer ought to draw comfort, if at any time his exercises are the same. In those temptations in the wilderness CHRIST was assaulted with the sin of distrust; unbelief; to worship the devil; and to self-murder. And if the tempter thus dared to attack the LORD of life and glory, is it a wonder that he should his members? Oh! for grace upon all occasions, when assaulted with the fiery darts of Satan, to look unto JESUS and to take the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of GOD. JESUS will make all his redeemed more than conquerors, through his grace enabling them. And in due season, that song will be heard by every soul which John heard; Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of' our GOD , and the power of his CHRIST : for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our GOD day and night. Revelation 12:10 . And as in the instance of the glorious Head, so all his members, when temptations cease, the ministering services of angels are enjoyed. Hebrews 1:14
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
These are sweet views of JESUS in his humbleness of character. And what a blessed proof they become in proof of his mission. Isaiah 9:1-2 .
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
It is observable that Mark records the same words of CHRIST'S Sermon!
And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
I pray the Reader not to overlook the sovereignty of the LORD's call. What a marvellous light, and what a marvellous power must have accompanied his words! And I pray the Reader to keep also in remembrance, what the HOLY GHOST hath said of those effectual calls of grace, by his servants, Romans 8:29-30 ; 2Ti 1:9 ; 2 Peter 1:10 .
And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
What a lovely picture is here drawn of the SON of GOD! Behold him thus going about preaching the kingdom, and healing everywhere. And, Reader! do not fail to connect with this view, that he is still the same, JESUS CHRIST, yesterday, and today, and forever! What diseases of his people doth he not know? And what sicknesses are there, that JESUS cannot cure? Read, I beseech you, what was said of him ages before his birth. Isaiah 63:7-9 . Call to mind what is said of him in the days of his flesh. John 13:1 . And follow him by faith to glory. Revelation 7:17 , and behold him feeding the church, where all tears are wiped away from all faces. And then ask, will he forget you; Oh, ye of little faith! Precious LORD JESUS! wherefore was it that it behoved thee to be made like unto thy brethren? Was it not that thou mightest be both a merciful and a faithful High Priest in things pertaining to GOD? And art thou not all this, and more, that thy redeemed might come at all times boldly unto thy throne of grace, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in all times of need?
READER! Let you and I pause over the view of CHRIST'S temptations, and ponder well the wonderful subject. And was it needful that CHRIST should be thus exercised? Yes! The HOLY GHOST has said; that in all things it behoveth him to be made like unto his brethren. For as much as the Children are partakers of. flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. The destruction of the devil was folded up in this. And the deliverance of his people from the power of hell was accomplished in the same. Hence therefore, in the victory of CHRIST in his seasons of temptations, the children of CHRIST discover their victory in their seasons and temptations in and by Him. And during the exercise, they know how JESUS, from fellow-feeling can, and will, minister to them every suited relief. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. The issue therefore is never doubtful. The children may be tempted, as Jesus was, to unbelief, to a distrust of GOD, yea, to self-murder. Perhaps there never was a child of GOD but what, more or less, hath been so tempted. Yea, it should seem to be a sweet testimony of our fellowship with Jesus, as members with the Head. Blessed is the man, saith the HOLY GHOST by James, That endureth temptation. But the issue is never doubtful. As CHRIST overcame every assault of Satan, so Christ's redeemed must also in him. Reader let you and I carry all our trials and temptations to Jesus. He knows them all before. But by our taking them to Him, we testify that we are looking wholly for strength from Him, and engaging CHRIST on our behalf. And, oh! the blessedness having JESUS for our strength. The devil will leave us as he did Him, and the LORD of angels himself will come and minister every suited relief to our necessity!
Behold Reader! on the close of this chapter, how He, who in the opening of it, is said to have been assaulted by hell, is here manifesting forth his sovereignty as God. Oh! That that dear LORD, who thus in the days of his flesh, went about preaching his gospel, and healing the bodies of the deceased, would now, in the day of his Almighty power, come forth in a preached gospel, and heal the souls of his redeemed. Precious LORD JESUS! behold the diseased state of thy church, and in compassion to Zion take the glorious cause into thine own Almighty hand. And as then, so now, LORD, cause the multitudes of thy people to come to thy standard, until thou shalt have brought all thy blood-bought children home to thy church, and all the blessed purposes of thy temptations and ministry be abundantly answered in the salvation of thy chosen. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany