When and Where Did the Temptation Take Place?

G. Campbell Morgan

In dealing with the time of the temptation there are three significant words. Matthew opens the story with the word "then" Mark uses in this connection a characteristic word of the Gospel, "straightway." Luke opens with the word "and." These words "Then," "Straightway," "And" show the connection of the temptation with what had preceded it, and thus mark with great distinctness its time. "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit." When? Immediately after the baptism, with its Divine attestation of satisfaction. "And straightway the Spirit drove Him forth." Here the emphasis is yet greater upon the fact that the temptation followed immediately upon the baptism. "And Jesus . . . was led by the Spirit in the wilderness during forty days." The "and" here marks continuity. Thus, the first act of the new phase of service was that of the testing of the Servant, and His perfect victory over the foe, Satan. God had sealed, as approved, the first phase of the work. The anointing Spirit had indicated His preparedness for the future. His forerunner, John the Baptist, had recognized in Him the King of Whose coming he had spoken to the gathered crowds, on the banks of the river. The whole circumstances of the baptism must have been full of satisfaction to the heart of Christ, and now in the conscious strength of victory already achieved, He passes into the gloom and loneliness of the wilderness, that He may be tested, and through the testing prove His strength.

Then as to the place of the temptation, again notice the threefold description. Matthew says, "Into the wilderness;" Mark, "forth into the wilderness; " Luke says, "In the wilderness." The common thought is that the temptation was experienced in the wilderness. The meaning of this in relation to the mission of Christ deserves special attention. Jesus now stands as the second Man, the last Adam. Here let this Scriptural statement be specially noted and remembered. Too often He is spoken of as the second Adam. Scripture does not use the expression. It speaks of the "last Adam." The first Adam was the head of a race. The last Adam is the Head of a race, and He is the last, because there will be no new departure, no other federal headship, and no other race. The last Adam, then, passing into temptation, went to the wilderness, into single and lonely combat with the enemy. No foe other than the captain of the hosts of evil is opposed to Him there, and no friend other than the God in Whose hand His breath is, and Whose are all His ways, is with Him. The wilderness is the place of immediate dealing with evil. All secondary things are swept aside.

Adapted from The Crises of the Christ, Book III, Chapter X, by G. Campbell Morgan.

Originally published September 13, 2010.

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