Mr 1:12, 13;
1. Then--an indefinite note of sequence. But Mark's word
fixes what we should have presumed was meant, that it was "immediately"
after His baptism; and with this agrees the statement of Luke
was Jesus led up--that is, from the low Jordan valley to some more
of the Spirit--that blessed Spirit immediately before spoken of as
descending upon Him at His baptism, and abiding upon Him. Luke,
connecting these two scenes, as if the one were but the sequel of the
other, says, "Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan,
and was led," &c. Mark's expression has a startling sharpness about
it--"Immediately the Spirit driveth Him"
"putteth," or "hurrieth Him forth," or "impelleth Him." (See the same
Mr 1:43; 5:40;
Mt 9:25; 13:52;
The thought thus strongly expressed is the mighty constraining impulse
of the Spirit under which He went; while Matthew's more gentle
expression, "was led up," intimates how purely voluntary on His own
part this action was.
into the wilderness--probably the wild Judean desert. The particular
spot which tradition has fixed upon has hence got the name of
Quarantana or Quarantaria, from the forty days--"an almost
perpendicular wall of rock twelve or fifteen hundred feet above the
plain" [ROBINSON, Palestine]. The supposition of those who incline
to place the temptation amongst the mountains of Moab is, we think, very
to be tempted--The Greek word (peirazein) means simply to
try or make proof of; and when ascribed to God in His dealings with
men, it means, and can mean no more than this. Thus,
"It came to pass that God did tempt Abraham," or put his faith to a
severe proof. (See
But for the most part in Scripture the word is used in a bad sense, and
means to entice, solicit, or provoke to sin. Hence the name here given
to the wicked one--"the tempter"
Accordingly "to be tempted" here is to be understood both ways. The
Spirit conducted Him into the wilderness simply to have His faith
tried; but as the agent in this trial was to be the wicked one, whose
whole object would be to seduce Him from His allegiance to God, it was a
temptation in the bad sense of the term. The unworthy inference which
some would draw from this is energetically repelled by an apostle
of the devil--The word signifies a slanderer--one who casts
imputations upon another. Hence that other name given him
"The accuser of the brethren, who accuseth them before our God day and
says, "He was forty days tempted of Satan," a word signifying an
adversary, one who lies in wait for, or sets himself in
opposition to another. These and other names of the same fallen spirit
point to different features in his character or operations. What was
the high design of this? First, as we judge, to give our Lord a taste
of what lay before Him in the work He had undertaken; next, to make
trial of the glorious equipment for it which He had just received;
further, to give Him encouragement, by the victory now to be won, to go
forward spoiling principalities and powers, until at length He should
make a show of them openly, triumphing over them in His cross: that the
tempter, too, might get a taste, at the very outset, of the new kind of
material in man which he would find he had here to deal with;
finally, that He might acquire experimental ability "to succor them
that are tempted"
The temptation evidently embraced two stages: the one continuing
throughout the forty days' fast; the other, at the conclusion of that
2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights--Luke says
"When they were quite ended"
he was afterward an hungered--evidently implying that the sensation
of hunger was unfelt during all the forty days; coming on only at their
close. So it was apparently with Moses
for the same period. A supernatural power of endurance was of course
imparted to the body, but this probably operated through a natural
law--the absorption of the Redeemer's Spirit in the dread conflict with
the tempter. (See on
Had we only this Gospel, we should suppose the temptation did not begin
till after this. But it is clear, from Mark's statement, that "He was
in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan"
and Luke's, "being forty days tempted of the devil"
that there was a forty days' temptation before the three
specific temptations afterwards recorded. And this is what we have
called the First Stage. What the precise nature and object of the forty
days' temptation were is not recorded. But two things seem plain
enough. First, the tempter had utterly failed of his object, else it
had not been renewed; and the terms in which he opens his second attack
imply as much. But further, the tempter's whole object during the forty
days evidently was to get Him to distrust the heavenly testimony borne
to Him at His baptism as
GOD--to persuade Him to regard it as but a splendid
illusion--and, generally, to dislodge from His breast the consciousness
of His Sonship. With what plausibility the events of His previous
history from the beginning would be urged upon Him in support of this
temptation it is easy to imagine. And it makes much in support of this
view of the forty days' temptation that the particulars of it are not
recorded; for how the details of such a purely internal struggle could
be recorded it is hard to see. If this be correct, how naturally does
STAGE of the temptation open! In Mark's brief notice of the
temptation there is one expressive particular not given either by
Matthew or by Luke--that "He was with the wild beasts"
no doubt to add terror to solitude, and aggravate the horrors of the
3. And when the tempter came to him--Evidently we have here a new
he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made
bread--rather, "loaves," answering to "stones" in the plural; whereas
Luke, having said, "Command this stone," in the singular, adds, "that it
be made bread," in the singular
The sensation of hunger, unfelt during all the forty days, seems now to
have come on in all its keenness--no doubt to open a door to the
tempter, of which he is not slow to avail himself; "Thou still clingest
to that vainglorious confidence that Thou art the Son of God, carried
away by those illusory scenes at the Jordan. Thou wast born in a
stable; but Thou art the Son of God! hurried off to Egypt for fear of
Herod's wrath; but Thou art the Son of God! a carpenter's roof supplied
Thee with a home, and in the obscurity of a despicable town of Galilee
Thou hast spent thirty years, yet still Thou art the Son of God! and a
voice from heaven, it seems, proclaimed it in Thine ears at the Jordan!
Be it so; but after that, surely Thy days of obscurity and trial
should have an end. Why linger for weeks in this desert, wandering
among the wild beasts and craggy rocks, unhonored, unattended,
unpitied, ready to starve for want of the necessaries of life? Is this
befitting "the Son of God?" At the bidding of "the Son of God" surely
those stones shall all be turned into loaves, and in a moment present
an abundant repast."
4. But he answered and said, It is written--
Man shall not live by bread alone--more emphatically, as in the
Greek, "Not by bread alone shall man live."
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God--Of all
passages in Old Testament Scripture, none could have been pitched upon
more apposite, perhaps not one so apposite, to our Lord's purpose. "The
Lord . . . led thee (said Moses to Israel, at the close of their
journeyings) these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to
prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep
His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to
hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy
fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by
bread only," &c., "Now, if Israel spent, not forty days, but forty
years in a waste, howling wilderness, where there were no means of human
subsistence, not starving, but divinely provided for, on purpose to
prove to every age that human support depends not upon bread, but upon
God's unfailing word of promise and pledge of all needful providential
care, am I, distrusting this word of God, and despairing of relief, to
take the law into My own hand? True, the Son of God is able enough to
turn stones into bread: but what the Son of God is able to do is not the
present question, but what is man's duty under want of the
necessaries of life. And as Israel's condition in the wilderness did not
justify their unbelieving murmurings and frequent desperation, so
neither would Mine warrant the exercise of the power of the Son of God
in snatching despairingly at unwarranted relief. As man, therefore, I
will await divine supply, nothing doubting that at the fitting time it
will arrive." The second temptation in this Gospel is in Luke's the
third. That Matthew's order is the right one will appear, we think,
quite clearly in the sequel.
5. Then the devil taketh him up--rather, "conducteth Him."
into the holy city--so called (as in
from its being "the city of the Great King," the seat of the temple,
the metropolis of all Jewish worship.
and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple--rather, "the pinnacle"--a
certain well-known projection. Whether this refers to the highest
summit of the temple, which bristled with golden spikes
[JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 5.5,6]; or whether it refers to another peak,
on Herod's royal portico, overhanging the ravine of Kedron, at the
valley of Hinnom--an immense tower built on the very edge of this
precipice, from the top of which dizzy height
JOSEPHUS says one could
not look to the bottom [Antiquities, 15.11,5]--is not certain; but
the latter is probably meant.
6. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God--As this temptation
starts with the same point as the first--our Lord's determination not to
be disputed out of His Sonship--it seems to us clear that the one came
directly after the other; and as the remaining temptation shows that the
hope of carrying that point was abandoned, and all was staked upon a
desperate venture, we think that remaining temptation is thus shown to
be the last; as will appear still more when we come to it.
cast thyself down--"from hence"
for it is written--
(Ps 91:11, 12).
"But what is this I see?" exclaims stately BISHOP
HALL. "Satan himself with a Bible under his arm
and a text in his mouth!" Doubtless the tempter, having felt the power
of God's Word in the former temptation, was eager to try the effect of
it from his own mouth
He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands--rather, "on their hands."
they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a
stone--The quotation is, precisely as it stands in the Hebrew and
the Septuagint, save that after the first clause the words, "to keep
thee in all thy ways," are here omitted. Not a few good expositors have
thought that this omission was intentional, to conceal the fact that
this would not have been one of "His ways," that is, of duty. But as
our Lord's reply makes no allusion to this, but seizes on the great
principle involved in the promise quoted, so when we look at the promise
itself, it is plain that the sense of it is precisely the same whether
the clause in question be inserted or not.
7. Jesus said unto him, It is written again--
as if he should say, "True, it is so written, and on that promise I
implicitly rely; but in using it there is another Scripture which must
not be forgotten."
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God--"Preservation in danger is
divinely pledged: shall I then create danger, either to put the
promised security skeptically to the proof, or wantonly to demand a
display of it? That were 'to tempt the Lord my God,' which, being
expressly forbidden, would forfeit the right to expect preservation."
8. Again, the devil taketh him up--"conducteth him," as before.
an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the
world, and the glory of them--Luke
adds the important clause, "in a moment of time"; a clause which seems
to furnish a key to the true meaning. That a scene was presented to our
Lord's natural eye seems plainly expressed. But to limit this to the
most extensive scene which the natural eye could take in, is to give a
sense to the expression, "all the kingdoms of the world," quite
violent. It remains, then, to gather from the expression, "in a moment
of time"-- which manifestly is intended to intimate some supernatural
operation--that it was permitted to the tempter to extend
preternaturally for a moment our Lord's range of vision, and throw a
"glory" or glitter over the scene of vision: a thing not inconsistent
with the analogy of other scriptural statements regarding the permitted
operations of the wicked one. In this case, the "exceeding height" of
the "mountain" from which this sight was beheld would favor the effect
to be produced.
9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee--"and the
glory of them," adds Luke
But Matthew having already said that this was "showed Him," did not
need to repeat it here. Luke
adds these other very important clauses, here omitted--"for that is,"
or "has been," "delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it."