The Temptation in the Wilderness

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 afterward an hungered. 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 any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God. 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. 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.

— Matthew 4:1-11 

Let us look at the individual temptations represented in the parable. First, he was hungry, and the devil said, Make bread of this stone. Let no one think to glorify the Lord’s fast by calling it miraculous. Wonderful such fasts are on record on the part of holy men; and inasmuch as the Lord was more of a man than his brethren, insomuch might he be farther withdrawn in the depths of his spiritual humanity from the outer region of his physical nature. At the end of forty days, it was not hunger alone that made food tempting to him, but that exhaustion of the whole system, wasting itself all the time it was forgotten, which, reacting on the mind when the mind was already worn out with its own tension, must have deadened it so, that (speaking after the experiences of his brethren, which alone will explain his) it could for a time see or feel nothing of the spiritual, and could only believe in the unfelt, the unseen. What a temptation was here, knowing that to eat would restore the lost vision of the eternal! But it was God’s business to take care of him, his to do what the Father told him to do. In nothing was he to be beyond his brethren, save in faith. No refuge for him, any more than for them, save in the love and care of the Father. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Yea, even by the word which made that stone a stone. Everything is all right. It was life indeed for him to leave alone that which the Father had made, rather than alter one word that he had spoken.

Commentary

by Leah Bond

I'm grateful that MacDonald would give so much time to this most amazing of passages, one I have mulled over for years. It first struck me a few years ago, in the Temptation of our Lord, of his humanness (in perfect form), and therefore his compassionate humility, the intimacy of the bridge he builds from the divine to the child mind in us.

On the alter to his father Lord Christ lays all his power.

To bring himself to the utter limits of physical weakness, empty the flesh so completely of its strength, not for himself but to to be for us a beacon of light, of the absolute Truth of the Sustaining Power of the Spirit in us! Christ becomes in us the cornerstone, the sufficiency of the Spirit for our life. Everything we must know of our relationship to God as Father, Christ submitted himself to, to make a way for us.

This parable knits into our Consciousness the Christ in our heart, who leads us to be filled with the Spirit and so to endure temptation, to battle in the spiritual realms, to defeat the lies and face the attacks of our great enemy on each front and so save our lives.

Satan comes to Christ with this offer: use your power to escape dependence of the Father. (Sound familiar?) Prove you are of God by taking dominion of the physical kingdom in such a way as to reject trust In God's will.  Satan tempts Christ to doubt God in the deepest of his suffering and pain, and to take back what Christ had willingly given up, his power over nature, over the entire kingdom of the spiritual world, the Angels and more, and finally the Earthly kingdoms.

Satan's great lie is always this, there is another way than through the death and resurrection from flesh into full life in oneness with the Father.

Christ was to make his way back into perfect union with the father, and in so doing, lead us to the same.