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And the purpose of this preparation was equally decreed. He “was led up into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil."
We naturally ask, what made this trial neces
Our Lord was now entering upon his ministry ; that ministry which should fulfil the original prophecy, and “bruise the serpent's head.” The dominion of Satan had too long prevailed; he had earned the title of “god of this world," " prince of this world;" men were led captive by him at his will. “The Son of God was manifested,” that he might break this sway; might“ destroy the works of the devil.” But Satan, we must believe, was aware of this great purpose. Without doubt he would endeavour to counteract it. He knew that the “ Word was made flesh, and was dwelling among" men, “in form and fashion as a man." And as he had heretofore prevailed over flesh and blood, even though made“ in the likeness of God, after his image;" so he might hope to prevail again, and retain the world in his own power. Blessed be God, greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world ! Jesus showed himself incapable of sin, and invincible by Satan : and so began his ministry as the Saviour of mankind, by proving his superiority over the destroyer of mankind.
Another reason made this temptation necessary. Jesus had taken our nature upon him, not only that he might be able in that nature to offer a satisfaction for our sins; but that having belonged to our nature, and been subject to our trials, he might become a fit and proper example to his followers of complete and
victorious virtue. Now these, his followers, are ex
, posed to the arts and seductions of Satan. He is, emphatically, “our adversary:" "going to and fro upon the earth, seeking whom he may devour.”9 We contend not, in our exertion for heaven,
against flesh and blood alone, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."1 Temptation “is common to man.” Therefore was the “ Captain of our salvation made perfect,” not without temptation. And having been so tried, and having proved victorious in the conflict, he has left us an example, to “resist the devil, and he will flee from us :"? though still an enemy, he is a conquered enemy; Christ has defeated and disarmed him; and now encourages us with the comfortable reflection, that “we have not an High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are ; so that inasmuch as he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”3
May the Lord enable us to go forth against the enemy of our souls, encouraged by his example, and strengthened by his power.
9 Job i. 6; 1 Pet. v. 8.
1 Eph. vi. 12.
MINISTRY OF JESUS.
MATT. iv. 12-25.
12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee ;
13. And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim ;
14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet,1 saying,
15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles ;?
16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Were these heathen, who are thus described as sitting in darkness and the shadow of death? On the contrary, they were part of that people which
1 Is. ix. 1.
2 i. e. bordering on the country of the Gentiles; and on that account perhaps more corrupt, more truly a land of darkness, than other parts of Judea.
God had chosen for himself, who had “ much advantage every way;" for “unto them were committed the oracles of God.” But those who professed to
g be their teachers, neglected or deceived them : their own corrupt hearts “ loved to have it so :” and they were sunk in ignorance and irreligion. And this is represented as darkness: as the region and shadow of death. They are on the verge of destruction; its very cloud overhangs them; yet this danger is concealed from their eyes, till a light shines upon them, the light of the gospel; bids them repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; bids them review their ways, and directs them to “the day star from
, on high,” which God has appointed “to light every man that cometh into the world.” 4
18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20. And they straightway left their nets and followed him.
21. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them
22. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
3 Rom, üii. 2.
4 John i. 9.
24. And his fame went throughout all Syria : and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
Multitudes, it appears, followed Jesus, attracted by his miracles and his discourses. Out of this crowd he selected, as his disciples, those whom he saw most fit for his purpose.
“ He called them." And such
” power of the Holy Ghost accompanied his call, that they immediately obeyed. When the Lord said, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men, an inward impulse must have attended the outward invitation, without which Simon and Andrew would not have left their nets, or James and John the ship and their father, to enter upon a new and untried vocation.
We must not, however, suppose, that in this call there was anything so peculiar, as to make it inapplicable to ourselves. We are not indeed invited, we should not commonly be permitted, to relinquish our respective stations.
But with this exception, the same call is made to every one of us. To us the Gospel speaks in the same tone of authority, as that in which Jesus addressed these men of Galilee; and there he himself commands us, “ Follow me.” Believe in me, as the true Messiah; receive me, as sent of God to redeem your souls ; yield yourselves up to me as your Lord; obey my commandments, and tread in my steps. Let no present interests delay you; come, leave all, and follow me. If there is anything sinful