The Temptation Of Jesus
Matthew 4: 1-11: “Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty
days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungred. And when the
tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command
that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is
written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
proceedeth out of the mouth of God. “Then the devil taketh him up
into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
And saith unto him, 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 anytime thou
dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written
again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. “Again, the devil
taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all
the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto
him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and
worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for
it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only
shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels
came and ministered unto him”.
This passage is read as meaning that a being called the “devil”
tempted Jesus to sin by suggesting certain things to Him and leading
Him into tempting situations.
1. Jesus “was in all points tempted, like as we are” (Heb. 4: 15),
and: “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust,
and enticed” (James 1:14). We are tempted by the “devil” of our
own lusts or evil desires, and so was Jesus. We are not tempted
by an evil being suddenly standing next to us and prompting us to
sin - sin and temptation come “from within, out of the heart of
man” (Mk. 7: 21). They “proceed” out of the heart, as if to stress
that the heart really is their source.
2. The temptations evidently cannot be taken literally:-
- Matthew 4: 8 implies that Jesus was led up into a high mountain
to see all the kingdoms of the world in their future glory, “In
a moment of time”. There is no mountain high enough to see all the
world. And why would the height of the mountain enable Jesus to
see what the world would be like in the future? The earth, being
a sphere, there is no point on its surface from which one can see
all the parts of the world at one time.
- A comparison of Matthew 4 and Luke 4 shows
that the temptations are described in a different order. Mark 11:13
says that Jesus was “in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan”,
whilst Matthew 4 : 2-3 says that “when he had fasted forty days...the
tempter (Satan) came to Him...”. Because Scripture cannot contradict
itself, we can conclude that these same temptations kept repeating
themselves. The temptation to turn stones into bread is an obvious
example. This would fit nicely if these temptations occurred within
the mind of Jesus. Being of our nature, the lack of food would have
affected him mentally as well as physically, and thus his mind would
have easily begun to imagine things. Just going a few days without
food can lead to delirium for some (cp. 1 Sam. 30:12 ). The similarity
between rolls of bread and stones is mentioned by Jesus in Matthew
7: 9, and doubtless those images often merged in his tortured mind
- although always to be brought into swift control by his recollection
of the Word
- Jesus probably told the Gospel writers the record of His temptations,
and to bring home in words the intensity of what He underwent, He
could have used the figurative approach seen in Matthew 4 and Luke
- It seems unlikely that several times the devil led Jesus through
the wilderness and streets of Jerusalem and then scaled a pinnacle
of the temple together, all in view of the inquisitive Jews. Josephus
makes no record of anything like this happening - presumably it
would have caused a major stir. Similarly, if these temptations
occurred several times within the forty days as well as at the end
of that period (which they did at least twice, seeing that Matthew
and Luke have them in different order), how would Jesus have had
time to walk (n.b. the devil “led” Jesus there) to the nearest high
mountain (which could have been Hermon in the far north of Israel),
climb to the top and back down again, return to the wilderness and
then repeat the exercise? His temptations all occurred in the wilderness
- He was there for forty days, tempted all the time by the devil
(he only departed at the end - Matt. 4:11). If Jesus was tempted
by the devil each day, and the temptations occurred only in the
wilderness, then it follows that Jesus could not have left the wilderness
to go to Jerusalem or travel to a high mountain. These things therefore
could not have literally happened.
- If the devil is a physical person who has no respect for God’s
Word and is interested in making people sin, then why would Jesus
quote Scripture to overcome him? According to the popular view,
this would not send the devil away. Notice that Jesus quoted a Bible
passage each time. If the devil was the evil desires within Jesus’
heart, then it is understandable that by His having the Word in
His heart and reminding Himself of it, He could overcome those bad
desires. Psalm 119:11 is so relevant that perhaps it is specifically
prophesying Christ’s experience in the wilderness: “Thy word have
I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee”.
3. The devil left him “for a season” to return later. Yet there
is no record of a creature literally approaching the Lord later
in His ministry. And yet the essence of the three temptations did
indeed return to Him later, and the three of them found their quintessence
in the experiences of the cross. Thus “cast thyself down” was matched
by the Jews [again associating things Jewish with the devil] tempting
Jesus to come down from the cross. The following parallels between
the wilderness temptations and the Lord’s experience as recorded
in Jn. 6 indicate how the ‘devil’ of temptation returned to the
Lord Jesus- and note in passing how the equivalent of ‘satan’ is
The wilderness temptations
The Jewish crowd wanted to make
him king (Jn. 6:15)
Satan offers him the kingship of
the [Jewish?] world
The Jews ask for miraculous bread
Satan invites him to make miraculous
The [Jewish] disciples want Jesus
to go to Jerusalem to show His power (Jn. 7:3)
Satan takes Jesus to Jerusalem
and tempts Him to show His power.
4. In Lk. 11:21,22, the Lord Jesus speaks of how He has already
overcome ‘Satan’ and is now sharing Satan’s goods
with His disciples. Now this may be prophetic of the Lord’s
faith in victory over ‘satan’ in the cross. But it could
also be a reference back to His successful struggle with ‘satan’
in the wilderness. If this is the case, then He is reflecting how
He understood ‘satan’ not as a literal strong man who
guards his house, for Jesus didn’t fight with such a person
in the wilderness, but rather to the symbolic power of sin with
which He had fought and overcome(1).
(1) This is actually the view of Joachim Jeremias, New Testament
Theology (New York: Scribners, 1971) p. 73.
1. When Jesus was baptized in Jordan by John, He received the power
of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16). As soon as He came out of the water,
He was driven into the wilderness to be tempted. Knowing that He
had the power of the spirit to turn stones into bread, jump off
buildings unharmed etc., these temptations must have raged within
His mind. If a person was suggesting these things to Jesus and Jesus
knew that person to be sinful, then the temptations were a lot less
subtle than if they came from within Jesus’ own mind.
2. The temptation to take the kingdoms to Himself would have been
far more powerful if it came from within Christ. Jesus’ mind would
have been full of Scripture, and in His afflicted state of mind,
caused by His fasting, it would be tempting to misinterpret passages
to enable Him to use them to justify taking the easy way out of
the situation He was in.
Standing on a high mountain recalls Ezekiel being shown what the
Kingdom would be like from a high mountain (Ez. 40:2), and John,
seeing “the holy Jerusalem” from “a great and high mountain” (Rev.
21:10). Jesus saw the world’s kingdoms as they would be in the future
(Lk. 4: 5), i.e. in the Kingdom, when “the kingdoms of this world
are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15).
Maybe He would have thought of Moses at the end of 40 years’ wilderness
wandering (cp. His forty days) looking out at the Promised Land
(the Kingdom) from Mount Nebo. It is emphasized in Daniel ( 4:17,
25, 32; 5:21) that “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men,
and giveth it to whomsoever he will”; Jesus would have known that
only God, not anyone else, could give Him the kingdom. Therefore
it would not have been much of a temptation if an evil monster claimed
to be able to give Jesus the kingdom, when He knew only God had
the power. However, Jesus knew that it was His (the Father’s) good
pleasure to give Jesus the kingdom, and it must have been suggested
by the “devil” within Jesus that He could take that kingdom immediately.
After all, He could have reasoned, God has delegated all authority
to me in prospect (Jn. 5:26-27), to the extent that He had power
to both give His life and take it again (Jn. 10:18), although ultimately
all power was given unto Him only after His death and resurrection
3. With His familiarity with Scripture, Christ would have seen
the similarities between Himself and Elijah, whose morale collapsed
after 40 days in the wilderness (1 Kgs. 19: 8) and Moses, who forfeited
his immediate inheritance of the land at the end of 40 years in
the wilderness. Jesus at the end of 40 days, was in a similar position
to them - faced with a real possibility of failure. Moses and Elijah
failed because of human weakness - not because of a person called
“the devil”. It was this same human weakness, the “satan’ , or adversary,
that was tempting Jesus.
4. “And the devil said unto Him, If thou be the Son of God...”
(Lk. 4: 3). It must have been a constant temptation within the mind
of Christ to question whether He really was the Son of God, seeing
that everyone else thought He was the son of Joseph (Lk. 3:23; Jn.
6:42) or illegitimate (so Jn. 9:29 implies), and that the official
temple records described him as the son of Joseph (Matt. 1:1,16;
Lk. 3:23, where “supposed” means ‘reckoned by law’). He was the
only human being not to have a human father. Philippians 2: 8 implies
that Jesus came to appreciate that He really was a man like us,
inferring it was tempting for Him to disbelieve He was the Son of
God, or to misunderstand His own nature.
5. The temptations were controlled by God for Christ’s spiritual
education. The passages quoted by Jesus to strengthen Himself against
His desires(“devil”) are all from the same part of Deuteronomy,
regarding Israel’s experience in the wilderness. Jesus clearly saw
a parallel between His experiences and theirs:-
Deuteronomy 8:2 “The Lord thy God
led thee 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 (word), or no.”
Matthew 4 / Luke 4 “Jesus led up
of the spirit” “forty days” “in the wilder- ness”. Jesus
was proved by the temp- tations. Jesus overcame by quoting
the Scriptures that were in His heart (Ps. 119:11), thus
showing it was the Scriptures that were in His heart.
Deuteronomy 8:3. “And he humbled
thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna...
that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread
only, but by every word...of the Lord...”
“He was afterward an hungred”.
In John 6 manna is interpreted by Jesus as representing
the Word of God, which Jesus lived by in the wilderness.
Jesus learnt that spiritually He lived by the Word of God.
“He answered...it is written, Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word ...of God”.,
Deuteronomy 8:5 “Thou shalt also
consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son,
so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee”
Jesus no doubt reflected on His
experiences. God chastened His Son, Jesus-2 Sam. 7:12; Ps.
Thus Jesus showed us how to read and study the Word - He thought
Himself into the position of Israel in the wilderness, and therefore
took the lessons that can be learnt from their experiences to Himself
in His wilderness trials. The description of the Lord Jesus as being
in the wilderness with beasts and Angels (Mk. 1:13) is another connection
with Israel’s experience in the wilderness- they were plagued
there by “wild beasts” because of their disobedience
(Dt. 32:19-24 and context).
6. It may well be argued that the language of the wilderness temptations
implies there was physical movement going on, e.g. the tempter came
to Jesus and led Him away. We now consider how such language is
relevant to our evil desires inside our mind:
“And when the tempter came to Him...”
The records of the temptations of our Lord seem to indicate that
the ‘devil’ which tempted Him was His internal nature rather than
an external tempter. However, some have found problems with this
view - not least because the tempter is described as “coming to”
Jesus and leading Him. The purpose of this study is to show that
temptation and desire are often described in terms of physical movement,
thus enabling us to analyze them in a way which is easier to visualize
than to describe them in purely abstract terms.
We know that our Lord “was tempted in every point like as we are”
(Heb. 4:15); and “every man is tempted when he is drawn away of
his own lusts (desires) and enticed” (James 1:14). For Jesus to
be tempted like us, He had to go through the same process of temptation
as we do. So to some extent He also was “drawn away” by the evil
desires - the ‘devil’ - which He had within Him. This would explain
why the devil is described as taking Jesus into Jerusalem and into
a mountain; this “taking” is the same as being “drawn away” in James
1. This association of our evil desires with the idea of physical
movement is picked up frequently in the New Testament. “Lead us
not into temptation” (Matt. 6:13) is a case in point. We are led
by our evil desires, as Jesus was to a small extent in the wilderness;
and yet God is expressed here as ultimately in control of these
things. He is greater than our evil desires, and is able to stop
them leading us, to “keep us from falling” (note the connection
of temptation and physical movement again). The world generally
makes no resistance to being led by the devil - thus “silly women”
are “led captive...led away with divers lusts...led away with the
error of the wicked” (2 Tim. 3: 6; 2 Pet. 3:17). Jesus was not led
by the devil - His lusts which He shared with us - as much as these
people. But nevertheless, the same basic idea of sin leading us
in order to tempt us was true of Him. The Greek word translated
“taketh” in Matthew 4 in relation to Jesus being taken by the devil
is used both figuratively and literally (Strong). The following
examples show its figurative use:
“..customs they have received to hold” (Mk. 7:4)
“His own received Him not” (Jn. 1:11)
“Ye have received Christ” (Col. 2:6)
Similarly, the devil ‘coming’ to Jesus can also be subjective;
again ,Strong says the Greek word for ‘coming’ can be used either
figuratively or literally - it is translated ‘consent’ in 1 Timothy
6: 3 - some “consent” not to wholesome words”. Hebrews 12:1,
describes “the sin that doth so easily beset us”, as if sin - the
devil - comes up to us and besets us. The language of Revelation
20 regarding the devil and satan being loosed and going out throughout
the world now falls into place, once it is appreciated that the
diabolism - our evil desires - are likened to coming to people.
We often stress how Jesus answered each temptation by quoting Scripture,
as if the whole experience was a living demonstration of Psalm 119:11:
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against
Thee”. Although Jesus had the word in His heart, He had our lusts,
and for a brief moment it was possible that “ the lusts of other
things entering in” (Mk. 4:19 ) could try to choke that word,
even in His heart. For them to try to enter in, they must come to
us; and thus the devil - those lusts - came to Jesus. The parable
of the sower equates all the various reasons for failure to produce
fruit, seeing they all have the same effect. Satan coming
to take away the word from the new convert is parallel, therefore,
to “the lusts of other things entering in (choking) the word” (Mk.
4: 15 & 19). These lusts originate from our nature - their entering
in to the heart from our nature is the same as satan coming.
There are other examples of our internal lust being described as
physically moving in to us:
- Nathan’s parable about David’s sin with Bathsheba blamed the
act on a traveller coming to David asking to be satisfied. The traveller
of the parable represented David’s lusts which led to adultery and
murder (2 Sam.12: 4), although both these come “from within, out
of the heart of man” (Mk. 7:20-23).
- “He that is begotten of God (by the word - 1 Pet.1:23) keepeth
himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” - the Word in our
hearts stops the advances of our internal devil from touching us.
To the present writer, Luke 4:13, when properly translated, provides
the greatest support for the ‘internal tempter’ idea. The devil
“departed from Him”. The Greek word also means ‘to restrain’ - so
the phrase seems to mean that the devil restrained himself from
Jesus, it was something the devil did to himself; and thus by implication
Jesus also restrained Himself from the devil. In any case, the devil
departing for a season from Jesus shows His sharing of the experience
of every Christian - that sometimes the devil seems stronger than
others, some days or weeks can slip by in which we appear to be
on top of our desires, whilst in others, for all our trying harder,
the devil seems so much stronger. The main conclusion from this
is that Jesus was far nearer failure than we perhaps realize. The
Diaglott translates James 1: 14 “each one is tempted by his own
inordinate desire, being drawn out and entrapped”. This is the language
of hunting animals - drawing them out and trapping them. 1 Timothy
3: 7 talks of the “snare of the devil” - our inordinate desires.
Thus for Jesus to be tempted He had to be drawn out of the tremendous
shell of His own spirituality, like a mouse is attracted out of
a hole towards cheese set in a trap; and then having the self control
and self possession to withdraw back again.
The Wilderness Temptations: Further Analysis
We have shown that our Lord's experiences were similar to those
of Israel in the wilderness, and that they revealed his great degree
of assimilation of the word, as well as the nature of his relationship
with the Angels. The following are additional comments which give
greater insight into our Lord's temptations:
- The Lord realized he was in a similar position to Israel in another
wilderness, and therefore personalized Scripture in Deuteronomy
concerning their experience there to apply to himself. A similar
example is in his quoting Mal. 3:1 " He shall prepare the way
before me" as " My messenger...which shall prepare thy
way before thee" (Mt. 11:10).
- The personification of the sinful tendencies in the Lord's heart
as a person called 'the devil' shows how clearly his mind was divided
between flesh and spirit- without the hazy overlap so characteristic
of our semi-spirituality. It was probably with this in mind that
he deftly broke the bread representing his body into two at the
Communion- to show that clear division within himself (Mt. 26:26).
1 Cor. 1:13 highlights the division into flesh and spirit which
was so manifest on the cross by paralleling the ideas of division
and crucifixion: " Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for
- His quotation of Dt. 6:13 " Thou shalt fear the Lord thy
God (alone)" was probably made with Dt. 6:14 in mind "
Ye shall not go after other gods" , implying that he interpreted
the pagan idols as the evil thoughts of his heart. Earlier Dt. 6:7,8
had warned that not repeating the Law would result in idol worship-
and Christ saw that his neglect of the word would result in his
serving his evil desires. Thus the purpose of the temptations was
to prove whether Christ would really keep and apply the word in
his heart (Dt.8:2), as it was for Israel in their wilderness.
- God alone has the power to give the Kingdom (Dan.4:32). That
Jesus was tempted to take if for himself (Mt.4:9) indicates he was
tempted to make himself equal to God. Phil.2:6 comments on this,
that although he had the same perfect mind as God, he did not consider
equality with Him a thing to be even considered. This shows (again)
how conscious Christ was of his sinless mind, and how this tempted
him to proudly assume equality with God. This was probably in the
back of his mind as he argued in Jn.10:34-36 that men in the Old
Testament had been called God, but he was not taking that title
to himself as he could have done, but only calling himself the Son
of God. His appreciation of the many passages which called him Yahweh
would have tempted him to use the name in his own right because
of his ultimate manifestation of God. Christ reflected that to whomsoever
he wanted he could give the Kingdom (Lk.4:6)- and he thought of
giving it to himself. But later he promised to give the cities of
the Kingdom to us, implying his awareness of his own righteousness
tempted him not to share the Kingdom with us sinners.
- The same temptation underlies his fleshly mind quoting Ps.91:11,12
to him (Mt.4:6) :" He shall give His Angels charge over thee"
. This psalm has primary reference to Joshua being protected by
the Angel during the wilderness wanderings when the apostate Israelites
were consumed by the destroyer Angel. The specific reason for this
protection is given in Ps.91:1; because he had remained in the tabernacle,
no doubt from the motive of wanting to hear as much as possible
of God's word spoken by the Angel to his master Moses (Ex.33:11).
Our Lord was in a similar position- dedicated to the word, the rest
of Israel apostate. It would have been tempting to abuse the subsequent
Angelic power which his spirituality had made available to him.
- There is the implication that it took the Lord 40 days to overcome
the devil, at which point the devil departed. This is more easily
understandable in terms of an internal battle, than a literal struggle
against a supernatural being. And the fact it took 40 days shows
how hard was the struggle for the Lord.
- The Lord standing on a high mountain beholding the coming Kingdom
of God (1) points forward to an identical scene in Rev.21:10. There
are other connections with Revelation- " The kingdoms of the
world" = Rev.11:15; v.9,10= Rev.22:8,9; v.5= Rev.21:"
. It is almost as if our Lord in giving Revelation was looking back
to his wilderness trials, rejoicing that what he had been tempted
to have then was now his and ours legitimately. The wilderness temptation
was to take the Kingdom and rule it for himself rather than for
God; i.e. not to manifest God, even if externally there would not
be any evident difference between whether he was manifesting God
in an acceptable spirit or not. For these temptations to be real,
it must have been possible that God would have allowed Christ to
take the Kingdom; as He would have allowed the Lord to use the Angels
to rescue him from his ordeal in the garden. That God was willing
to accept a second best, to allow His plan for salvation to go as
far as Christ's freewill effort allowed it to, would have been a
tremendous temptation and yet stimulation to Jesus. Hence God's
supreme delight inn the totality of Christ's effort and victory,
as described, e.g., in Is.49:5-9.
- There can be little doubt that standing on a mountain looking
out over God's Kingdom would have reminded Christ of Moses on Nebo,
who for one slip was denied it all. And that must have sobered him
(Dt.34:1). And having quoted Dt.8:3 to himself about living on the
bread/word of God, his mind would have gone on to Dt.8:9 with its
description of eating bread without scarceness in the Kingdom- i.e.
feeding fully on spiritual things, in the allegory.
" Tempted in all points"
If this were true of our Lord, it follows that in every way each
of us are tempted, so was our Lord; so that each of us personally
can look to and imagine his example for encouragement. This means
a vast variety of temptations. A nice example is in Ps.71:9,18,
where Christ on the cross is described as feeling worn out, despised
and old. This should more than console the lonely old brother who
wonders how his Lord knows what he feels like, seeing Christ died
at only 33. Previously we have commented on the implications that
Christ was particularly tempted to have an illicit relationship
with Mary Magdalene. This becomes all the more likely once it is
realized that Christ must have had a weakness for women, if he suffered
from all the temptations his brethren do.
Waving To The Crowds
The incessant pressure of the crowds must have been another factor-
impatience, especially with their 'loaves and fishes' mentality,
resentfulness, a desire to put personal physical and spiritual needs
above their clamour for teaching, would all have built up. But his
love for humanity prevailed- although he converted so few to the
extent of feeling that his mission had failed (Is.49:6), yet he
never ceased to be moved by the crowds; despite their evidently
questionable motives. Contrast this with our quick despair at our
audiences today, be they open air crowds, mass replies to adverts
in African newspapers, or people reached by leaflet distribution.
So often we delight in probing their motives- which our Lord could
not have done, given his supreme enthusiasm for preaching. The single
word " But when he saw the multitude, he was moved with compassion"
(Mt.9:36) speaks volumes. The context gives no reason for the "
but" - the reader is left to imagine the tiredness, the teeming
temptations to walk away from that crowd. So many times he was tempted
to turn his back on his responsibilities, be they to preaching or
suffering: thus at the end of his life he could triumphantly meditate
" The Lord God (Angels? Yahweh Elohim) hath opened mine ear,
and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back" (Is.50:5),
implying he had been sore tempted to do so.
His relationship with the Jews must have been a major stumbling
block to the Lord. His love of all things Jewish would have tempted
him to establish the Kingdom immediately and rid the people of Roman
domination; although his own perfection and grasp of the spirit
of the Law would have tempted him to flout its letter. Thus Is.56:2
encourages " the son of man (Jesus) to keep the sabbath"
, even though he was Lord of it. To come down from the cross to
prove that he really was their King (Mt.27:42), to do mighty miracles
in Nazareth and before his own dear brothers (Jn.7:5) would have
been real temptations, seeing it appeared superficially that such
signs might lead to genuine conversion. His feelings towards the
Jews are clearly expressed in Ps.109:4 " For my love they are
my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer" - for their
repentance? Yet his even greater zeal for God's glory would have
tempted him to give way to bitterness with the Jews beyond righteous
anger. His full blooded denunciation of the Pharisees in Lk.11:42-52
would no doubt have got his adrenaline really pumping- and it was
only his totality of self control that enabled him to overcome the
Jews' subsequent urging " him vehemently, and to provoke him
to speak of many things: laying wait for him, and seeking to catch
something out of his mouth" (Lk.11:53,54). His earlier exasperated
exclamation " How long shall I be with you, and suffer you?"
(Lk.9:41) may well imply 'How long before you make me spiritually
slip up through exasperation by your slowness to perceive?'.
One of the Lord's greatest temptations, conscious as he was that
just one slip would deny the world salvation, would have been to
put his own personal spiritual protection above the needs of those
around him. We almost feel he would have been justified in staying
in Nazareth concentrating on the perfection of his own character,
and then to have gone up to his death at Jerusalem at the end, and
thus avoid all the additional pressures of the 3 year public ministry.
But he willingly took that extra risk because of his compelling
love for his fellow man that constantly welled up within him. Reflection
on some of the unspoken details of the Lord's parables often reveal
extra meaning that he surely intended to be teased out. Thus the
good Samaritan put himself at far greater personal risk as he walked
rather than rode the dangerous road, and with his vulnerable burden
making attack the more likely. The good, despised Samaritan who
did for stricken man what the Law (the Priest, Levite etc.) was
unable to do was clearly Christ. Or think of the shepherd going
off alone through the night in search of the lost sheep, climbing
onto the loneliest, most isolated crags in his search, at great
risk of breaking a leg, with all the natural fear of the dark upon
him, chosen by him in preference to a well earned rest by the fireside
with the obedient sheep that night.
In similar vein to this is Jn. 10:12 " An hireling...seeth
the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth" because
he is not the good shepherd. There is an element of unreality in
this parable, as in many others, which highlights meaning. A shepherd
would not flee because of a mere wolf (why didn't Christ use the
more obvious figure of a lion?). But the sly characteristics of
the wolf invite comparison with the devil of human nature, from
which our Lord was tempted to flee to personal safety, leaving us
to our fate.
Finally, the purpose of our Lord enduring temptation must not be
missed. Heb. 2:17 says that Christ was made like us by his enduring
temptation. The passage implies he was in one form and then became
like us, which obviously does not refer to his nature. Heb. 2:18
stresses that it was by reason of his temptations rather than just
technically sharing our nature that he is a suitable High Priest.
This being made like his brethren by temptation began in earnest
with the onset of his public ministry.
(1) Christ seeing " all the kingdoms of the
world in a moment of time" (Lk.4:5) surely refers to the Kingdom-
all the kingdoms as they would be in the future (cp. Rev.11:15).