Debating Bible Basics Duncan Heaster  


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”.

Popular Interpretation

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 4.

- 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 Jews:


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 (Jn. 6:31)

Satan invites him to make miraculous bread

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.

Suggested Explanations

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 (Matt. 28:18).

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. 89: 32.

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 you?" .

- 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).