“Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4:1)
It is a consolatory reflection to the child of God that, since the temptations of Satan constitute so severe, yet so essential a part of his spiritual training for glory, Jesus, his Surety-head, was himself subjected to a like discipline, equally as essential, yet infinitely more severe, to the completeness of his mediatorial character as the High Priest “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” My soul, devoutly consider your Jesus in this interesting point of light, and with faith’s lowly hand pluck a rich cluster of refreshing fruit from him, your living, life-giving, and life-sustaining Vine. Never forget that, through electing love, and most free and sovereign grace, you are an engrafted branch of that Vine; and that all the fruit that grows upon, and that all the fruitfulness that springs from it (Hos. 14:8), belongs to you. “He that abides in me, the same brings forth much fruit.”
Of whom was our Jesus tempted? “Of the devil.” The “heel of the woman’s seed” was now bruised of the “serpent.” And oh, what a bruising! Forty days and forty nights enclosed with the devil in the wilderness, and during that period subjected to every form of fierce assault, until, exhausting his quiver, Satan defeated, retired from the conflict for a season. Such, O my soul, is your great accuser and tempter.
Emancipated from his captivity, you are not yet entirely exempt from his fiery darts. Think it not a strange thing that you should be his target. All the saints of God, more or less, are subjected to a like discipline. He incited David to number the people, smote Job with great boils, sifted Peter as wheat, hindered Paul again and again; and, selecting the most shining mark of all, hurled his darts, thick and flaming, at the Lord himself. Cheer up, then! Your great adversary is wounded, deadly wounded; you have to do with a conquered foe, ever under the control of the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” and you yourself shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
And what were some of the darts hurled by Satan at Jesus? The devil tempted him to distrust God, to commit self-destruction, to yield to the splendor, riches, and possessions of the world, to pay him religious homage. Such was the fiery ordeal through which the Son of God passed. And such are some of the darts by which the devil seeks to wound your conscience and disturb your peace. In need, you are tempted to distrust God; in despondency, to self-violence; in ambition, to grasp the world; and in the idolatrous propensities of your nature, to love and worship the creature more than the Creator. O my soul! count it a great honor to be tempted by the same tempter and with the same temptations as your blessed Jesus, through whom you shall get the victory.
Jesus was now being made like unto his brethren. It was necessary, in order to his perfect sympathy with us, that he should be in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15) Fly to him, then, O tempted one! He is not a High Priest who can be indifferent to your present assault, since he was pierced by Satan, and in a measure is still pierced by the fiery darts which now pierce you. Accept your present temptation as sent to make you better acquainted with his preciousness, his sympathy, his grace, his changeless love. Regard it, also, as a part of that spiritual discipline that is to teach your hands to war, and your fingers to fight in the present with the world, the flesh, and the devil; and to prepare you to take your place among the palm-bearing conquerors of heaven, who overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, who shout the victor’s song, and cast their crowns at Jesus’s feet. “Take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Eph. 6:16)