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 any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.”
When Satan quoted the promise, “He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee,” he omitted the words, “to keep thee in all Thy ways;” that is, in all the ways of God’s choosing, Jesus refused to go outside the path of obedience. While manifesting perfect trust in His Father, He would not place Himself unbidden in a position that would necessitate the interposition of His Father to save Him from death. He would not force Providence to come to His rescue, and thus fail of giving man an example of trust and submission.
Jesus declared to Satan, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God.” These words were spoken to the children of Israel when they thirsted in the desert, and demanded that Moses should give them water, exclaiming, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” God had wrought marvelously for them, yet in trouble they doubted Him, and demanded evidence that He was with them. In their unbelief they sought to put Him to the test. And Satan was urging Christ to do the same thing. God had already testified that Jesus was His Son; and now to ask for proof that He was the Son of God would be putting God’s Word to the test,–tempting Him. And the same would be true of asking for that which God had not promised. It would be to manifest distrust, and would be really tempting, or proving, Him. We should not present our petitions to God in order to prove whether He will fulfil His word, but because He will fulfil it; not to prove that He loves us, but because He loves us. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him; for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
“Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth 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.”
This was Satan’s crowning effort. Into this effort he threw all His beguiling power. It was the charm of the serpent. He exerted the power of his fascination upon Christ, striving to make Him yield His will to him.
In His weakness, Christ laid hold of God. Divinity flashed through humanity. Christ stood revealed as the commander of heaven, and His words were the words of One who has all power. “Get thee hence, Satan,” He said, “for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord Thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”
Satan had questioned whether Jesus was the Son of God. In his summary dismissal he had proof that he could not gainsay. He had no power to resist the command. Writhing with humiliation and rage, he was forced to withdraw from the presence of the world’s Redeemer. Christ’s victory was as complete as had been the failure of Adam.
Christ knew of the long years of conflict to be waged between man and his subtle foe. He is the refuge of all who, beset by temptation, call upon Him. Temptation and trial will come to us all, but we need never be worsted by the enemy. Our Saviour has conquered in our behalf. Satan is not invincible. Day by day he meets those who are on trial, striving by his wiles to gain the mastery over them. But they have a Helper who was tempted in all points like as they are, and who knows how to succor them. Temptation is not sin; the sin lies in yielding. To the soul that trusts in Jesus, temptation means victory and greater strength.
Christ is ready to pardon all who come Him confessing their sins. To the tried, struggling soul is spoken the word, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” Thank God, we have a High Priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; for He was in all points tempted like as we are.
– The Signs of the Times, December 10, 1902