1st Sunday in Lent
February 14, 2016
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
Epistle: Rom 10:8b-13
Lesson: Deut 26:1-11
Psalm: Psalm 91:1-13
From the New International Commentary on the New Testament: by Norval Geldenhuys
Because Christ Jesus came as our Redeemer, “it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God , to make propitiation of the sins of the people. for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted” (Heb. ii. 17, 18).
As real Man, Jesus could really be tempted, and from His childhood days until the end of His earthly career He was exposed to all the temptations that every human being has to contend with–except, however, those temptations that come from within as a result of the inward original taint or of the influence of former sins. Owing to His intrinsic spotlessness, temptations in His case could only come from the outside. Plummer rightly observes in this connection that “the fact that the solicitations came wholly from without, and were not born from within, does not prevent that which was offered to Him being regarded as desirable. The force of a temptation depends, not upon the sin involved in what is proposed, but upon the advantage connected with it. And a righteous man, whose will never falters for a moment, may feel the attractiveness of the advantage more keenly than the weak man who succumbed; for the latter probably gave way before he recognized the whole of the attractiveness; or his nature may be less capable of such recognition. In this way the sinlessness of Jesus augments His capacity for sympathy: for in every case He felt the full force of temptation.” And Westcott remarks at Hebrews ii. 18: “Sympathy with the sinner in his trial does not depend on the experience of sin, but on the experience of the strength of the temptation to sin, which only the sinless can know in its full intensity. He who falls yields before the last strain.”
If we bear these considerations in mind we shall realize that the Savior experienced the violence of the attacks of temptation as no other human being ever did, because all others are sinful and therefore not able to remain standing until the temptations have exhausted all their terrible violence in assailing them.
Now the Lord Jesus did not have to endure temptations only during the forty days in the wilderness and the few other times referred to in the Gospels. For in Hebrews iv. 15 it is expressly stated that He “was in all points tempted like as we are.” Therefore He was tempted as Child, as Youth, and as full-grown Man just like every ordinary human being–except for temptations from within. To Adam also, the first man, the opportunity was given to choose between good and evil while his inward nature was still intact. In his case also, the temptation came from without. And yet he fell, with all the fatal results of that Fall. Christ, however, who had come as Head of the new humanity, was victorious over all the attacks of the powers of darkness. Throughout His earthly life He triumphed over all temptations, although they came upon Him with incomparable ruthlessness. Accordingly the temptations during the forty days in the wilderness and His triumph over them are merely an example of what He experienced and attained throughout His life on earth.