Redemption Or The First Advent Of Christ With His Life And Ministry

Chapter 3—The Temptation of Christ

After the baptism of Jesus in Jordan, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. The Holy Spirit had fitted him for that special scene of fierce temptations. Forty days he was tempted of the devil, and in those days he ate nothing. Everything around Jesus was unpleasant, from which human nature would be led to shrink. He was with the wild beasts, and the devil, in a desolate, lonely place. The Son of God was pale and emaciated through fasting and suffering. But his course was marked out, and he must fulfill the work he came to do. 1Red 45.1

Satan took advantage of the sufferings of the Son of God, and prepared to beset him with manifold temptations, hoping he should obtain the victory over him, because he had humbled himself as a man. Satan came with this temptation: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. He tempted Jesus to condescend to him, and give him proof of his being the Messiah, by exercising his divine power. Jesus mildly answered him, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Satan was seeking a dispute with Jesus concerning his being the Son of God. He referred to his weak, suffering condition, and boastingly affirmed that he was stronger than Jesus. But the word spoken from Heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased,” was sufficient to sustain Jesus through all his sufferings. In all his mission he had nothing to do in convincing Satan of his power, and of his being the Saviour of the world. Satan had sufficient evidence of his exalted station and authority. His unwillingness to yield to Jesus’ authority, shut him out of Heaven. 1Red 46.1

It was not any part of the mission of Christ to exercise his divine power for his own benefit, to relieve himself of suffering. This he had volunteered to take upon himself. He had condescended to take man's nature, and he was to suffer the inconveniences, and ills, and afflictions, of the human family. He was not to perform miracles upon his own account. He came to save others. The object of his mission was to bring blessings, and hope, and life, to the afflicted and oppressed. He was to bear the burdens and griefs of suffering humanity. When Satan stirred up men to fury against him, so that they sought to kill him, angels were sent to rescue him, and preserve his life. His power was not called into exercise to save himself in a single instance. 1Red 46.2

Satan had been at war with the government of God, since he first rebelled. His success in tempting Adam and Eve in Eden, and introducing sin into the world, had emboldened this arch foe, and he had proudly boasted to the heavenly angels, that when Christ should appear, taking man's nature, he would be weaker than himself, and he would overcome him by his power. He boasted that Adam and Eve in Eden could not resist his insinuations when he appealed to their appetite. The inhabitants of the old world he overcame in the same manner, through the indulgence of lustful appetite and corrupt passions. Through the gratification of appetite he had overthrown the Israelites. He boasted that the Son of God himself was not able to resist his power, and lead the favored people of his choice to Canaan; for nearly all who left Egypt died in the wilderness. 1Red 47.1

Also the meek man, Moses, he had tempted to take to himself glory which God claimed. David and Solomon, who had been especially favored of God, he had induced, through gratification of lustful passions, to incur God's displeasure. And he boasted that he could yet succeed in thwarting the purpose of God in the salvation of man through Jesus Christ. According to Satan's arrangement, he beset Christ with manifold temptations. Christ was without food forty days, as many days as the children of Israel wandered years. Moses had, on especial occasions, been thus long without food. But he felt not the pangs of hunger. He was not harassed and tormented by a vile yet powerful foe. Moses was elevated above the human, and was enshrouded in the glory of God, and was especially sustained of God. The excellent glory inclosed him. 1Red 47.2

Christ was humbled by taking humanity, and, for a time, during the period of this fearful trial with Satan, he was left alone to cope with the terrible foe. Christ's human nature endured the pangs of hunger. While emaciated and suffering, Satan came to him with a covering of light, as one of the bright angels from glory, hoping to deceive and insnare the Son of God, whom he regarded as his rival. Satan reasoned with Christ thus: If the words spoken after his baptism were indeed the words of God, that he was the Son of God, he need not bear the sensations of hunger; he could give him proofs of his divinity by showing his power in changing the stones of that barren wilderness into bread: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Satan declared that if he would do this, he would no longer resist his authority; but leave him to the undisputed right to govern the world. Christ meets Scripture with Scripture, by citing the words of Moses, “Man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” He told Satan that in order to prolong life, obedience to God's requirements was more essential than temporal food. To pursue a course of deviation from the purposes of God, in the smallest degree, would be more grievous than hunger or death. Being defeated here, Satan tries another device. To manifest his strength, he carried Jesus to Jerusalem, and set him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and again tempted him, that if he was the Son of God, to give him evidence of it by casting himself down from the dizzy height upon which he had placed him. Satan came with the words of inspiration: “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. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” 1Red 48.1

Satan, by an insulting taunt, urged Christ to prove his mission by casting himself down from the high eminence whereon he had placed him, declaring that God had promised that angels should bear him up. And if he were indeed what he claimed to be, he had nothing to fear. Again Jesus met the assault of Satan with Scripture: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Satan wished to cause Jesus to presume upon the mercy of his Father, and risk his life before the fulfillment of his mission. He had hoped that the plan of salvation would fail; but the plan was laid too deep to be thus overthrown by Satan. 1Red 49.1

Christ is the example for all Christians when tempted, or their rights disputed. They should bear it patiently. They should not feel that they have a right to call upon God to display his power, that they may obtain a victory over their enemies, unless there is a special object in view, that God can be directly honored and glorified by it. If Jesus had cast himself from the pinnacle, it would not have glorified his Father; for none would witness the act but Satan and the angels of God. And it would be tempting the Lord to display his power to his bitterest foe. It would have been condescending to the one whom Jesus came to conquer. 1Red 49.2

“And the devil taking him up into a 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.” 1Red 50.1

This presumptuous blasphemy, and insult to Jehovah, excited the indignation of Christ, and led him to exercise his divine authority, and command Satan in an authoritative, dignified manner to desist. Here Satan, in his pride and arrogance, declared himself to be the rightful and permanent ruler of the world, the possessor of all its glory, as though he had created the world and all the riches and glory contained in it. He endeavored to make a special contract with Christ, to make over to him at once the whole of his claim, if he would worship him. 1Red 50.2

Here Satan showed Jesus the kingdoms of the world. They were presented in the most attractive light. He offered them to Jesus if he would there worship him. He told Jesus that he would relinquish his claims of the possessions of earth. Satan knew that his power must be limited, and finally taken away, if the plan of salvation should be carried out. He knew that if Jesus should die to redeem man, his power would end after a season, and he would be destroyed. Therefore it was his studied plan to prevent, if possible, the completion of the great work which had been commenced by the Son of God. If the plan of man's redemption should fail, he would retain the kingdom which he then claimed. And if he should succeed, he flattered himself that he would reign in opposition to the God of Heaven. 1Red 50.3

Satan exulted when Jesus left Heaven, and left his power and glory there. He thought that the Son of God was placed in his power. The temptation took so easily with the holy pair in Eden, that he hoped he could with his satanic cunning and power overthrow even the Son of God, and thereby save his life and kingdom. If he could tempt Jesus to depart from the will of his Father, then his object would be gained. Jesus bade Satan get behind him. He was to bow only to his Father. The time was to come when Jesus should redeem the possessions of Satan by his own life, and, after a season, all in Heaven and earth should submit to him. Satan claimed the kingdoms of earth as his, and he insinuated to Jesus that all his sufferings might be saved. He need not die to obtain the kingdoms of this world. But he might have the entire possessions of the earth, and the glory of reigning over them, if he would worship him. Jesus was steadfast. He chose his life of suffering, his dreadful death, and, in the way appointed by his Father, to become a lawful heir to the kingdoms of the earth, and have them given into his hands as an everlasting possession. Satan also will be given into his hands to be destroyed by death, never more to annoy Jesus, nor the saints in glory. 1Red 51.1