DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FIRST AND THE LAST
With regard to THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TEMPTATION, again refer to the three narratives. Matthew writes, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit;" (Matt 4:1) Mark expresses it, "The Spirit driveth Him," (Mark 1:12) while Luke declares He "was led by the Spirit." (Luke 4:1) Jesus as the Man was led by God. This was not Jesus idea or Satan’s but God’s. The one fact announced in these varied ways is of utmost importance to keep in mind, if the true significance of this temptation is to be understood. A Divine plan was being wrought out. It did not—to use a common expression—"happen" that Jesus met Satan and was tried. Neither is it true to say that the devil arranged the temptation. Temptation here is in the Divine plan and purpose (one part and an important one of His trip to earth). Jesus went into the wilderness under the guidance of the God the Holy Spirit to find the devil. My own conviction is that if the devil could have escaped that day, he would have done so. It is a very popular fallacy that the enemy drove Christ into a corner and tempted Him. But the whole Divine story reveals that the facts were quite otherwise. God's perfect Man, led by the Spirit, of as Mark in his own characteristic and forceful way expresses it, driven by the Spirit, passes down into the wilderness, and compels the adversary to stand out clear from all secondary causes, and to enter into direct combat. Use all of your methods Satan, but in the open; this was not the devils method. He ever puts something between himself and the man he would tempt. He hides his own personality wherever possible. To our first parents he did not suggest that they should serve him, but that they should please themselves, and all the while a servant of his. Jesus dragged him from behind everything, and put him in front, that for once, not through the subtlety of a second cause, but directly, he might do his worst against a pure soul.
Nothing can be clearer than the simple and full statement. Matthew does not assert that being led of the Spirit into the wilderness He was tempted of the devil; but that He was "led up into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Mark adds some further light, by declaring, He was "in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan;” (Mark 1:13) while Luke declares the same thing with even greater detail, "He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness during forty days, being tempted of the devil." (Luke 4:1-2) Let all these details enrichen and enlighten our minds and hearts.
To gather up these different side lights, the case thus be stated. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He was tempted of the devil during forty days, during the whole of which period He was still led by the Spirit. The Spirit took Him to the place of temptation, and was with Him through the process of temptation. Not in His Deity did He resist, but in His perfect Manhood. Manhood is however never able to successfully resist temptations of the devil except when fulfilling a first Divine intention, that, namely, of depending upon God, and thus being guided by the Spirit of God. Here let us take note. Thus the Man Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and was led by the Spirit through all the process of temptation.
Herein lay the deep significance of this temptation. The second Man, acting under the guidance of the Spirit (letting God determine His next task for His will to accomplish), passes into the wilderness, and by His coming challenged evil, and, acting simply under the guidance of that Spirit, overcame.
In conclusion, the significance of the temptation may be seen by placing the whole of the facts in contrast with the account of the temptation of Adam. The devil challenged the first man. The second Man challenged the devil. The devil ruined the first Adam. The last Adam spoiled the devil. The first Adam involved the race in his defeat. The last Adam included the race in His victory. The first Adam stood as the head of the race, and falling, dragged the race down with him. The last Adam stood as the Head of the new race, and being victorious, lifted that race with Him.
This is not a picture of the last Adam doing merely what the first Adam did, going into the place of passive life, and then when temptation came, and resisting it. The second Man had not only to resist temptation when it assailed Him for His own sake, but He had to lay hold of the tempter, and defeat him and punish him for the wrong he did in the ruin of the first man.