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

We now come to the second attempt of the Enemy. “Then if God is to be so trusted, try him. Here is the word itself for it: he shall give his angels charge concerning thee; take him at his word. Throw thyself down, and strike the conviction in to me that thou art the Son of God. For thou knowest thou dost not look like what thou sayest thou art.” Satan quotes Scripture as a verbal authority; our Lord meets him with a Scripture by the truth which governs his conduct. His answer contains the same principle as before, namely, that to the Son of God the will of God is Life. It was a temptation to show the powers of the world that he was the Son of God, above the laws of Nature, and thus stop the raging of the heathen and the vain imaginations of the people. It would be but to show them the truth. But he was the Son of God: what was his Father’s will? Such was not the divine way of convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, of judgment. If the Father told him to cast himself down, that moment the pinnacle pointed naked to the sky. If the devil threw him down, let God send his angels; or, if better, allow him to be dashed to pieces in the valley below. But never will he forestall the divine will. The Father shall order what comes next. The Son will obey. In the path of his work he will turn aside for no stone. There let the angels bear him in their hands if need be. But he will not choose the path because there is a stone in it. He will not choose at all. He will go where the Spirit leads him.

Commentary

by James House

It seems to be part of our human nature to be zealously willing to do grand or showy things as a result of our faith.  This is true even when there is honestly no intent to seek approbation from others - only the desire to do grand things for "goodness' sake".

For instance, how many of us have thought, like Peter, something to the effect of "I would gladly lose my life defending Christ's purposes"?   How many of us have thought, "I would love to go spend a year or two in humanitarian work in a far-off land helping poor people"?

Yet, how often we fail to meet the ever-present opportunities to serve our neighbors and local communities in small but needful ways!

In "The Seaboard Parish", George MacDonald produced the following dialog between daughter and father:

"But I don't want to stop at home and lead an easy, comfortable life, when there are so many to help everywhere in the world."

"Is there anything better in doing something where God has not placed you, than in doing it where he has placed you?"   

"No, papa."  

f course it is not wrong to do big humanitarian service in far off places; but it is wrong to be out of alignment with God's will for us; it is wrong to fail to meet the duties we have right about us.  When the Enemy tempted Jesus to create a great show of God's power, and of his own Sonship, Jesus did not fail to remember that following God's will is paramount - even though there was the argument that doing otherwise could have (seemingly) positive results, such as causing others to believe in him.  

Let us all likewise remember that in everything we do, God's will can be fulfilled if we do just what He wants us to do.  Let us not have our own false ideas of goodness make the way for difficult for ourselves or others.  Let us find our duty where God has duty for us.  Let us earnestly seek to recognize his will (through prayer and exercise of faith), that our daily interactions with our brothers and sisters may bring about more of His Kingdom on earth.

"The common transactions of life are the most sacred channels for the spread of the heavenly leaven. There was ten times more of the divine in selling her that gown as you did, in the name of God, than in taking her into your pew and singing out of the same hymn-book with her."  - from  Thomas Wingfold, Curate.