the First Week of Lent
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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“He received from God the Father honour and glory.”
As the priests commenced their service at thirty, it was probably at that age that John began publicly to teach. He commenced with a message most appropriate to the coming of the Saviour.
He was dressed as Elijah had been, and lived a self-denying, ascetic life, in keeping with the ministry of repentance.
Matthew 3:5 , Matthew 3:6
All ranks and classes came to him; he stirred the whole south of Palestine with his energetic ministry. To all men he addressed suitable words of rebuke and warning.
He bade them lay aside their boastings, and seriously give themselves up to repentance. This bold address would be sure to make them very angry, but John, like Elias, feared them not.
There was to be an end of all pretence and hypocrisy. For many years formalists and boastful professors had been great in Israel; the new dispensation would destroy all this, and require truth in the inward parts.
Matthew 3:11 , Matthew 3:12
Thus the forerunner pointed to the Coming One, and bade the people look for one who in the power of the Spirit would scatter to the winds all the vainglory of learned Sadducees and boastful Pharisees, by proclaiming a spiritual religion in which repentance and faith would far outweigh external religiousness.
Perhaps six months after John had commenced, when Jesus would be himself thirty years of age. Our Lord came after the people had been baptized, and offered himself for baptism.
Matthew 3:14 , Matthew 3:15
Jesus would set an example to all his disciples, and would in a figure set forth his own sufferings, death, burial, and resurrection, in which all righteousness is comprehended.
Matthew 3:16 , Matthew 3:17
Thus while in the act of prayer, and while yielding obedience to his Father’s will, the Lord received his first great public attestation from above, and the anointing with which he should discharge his work. Let no believer neglect the ordinance which his Lord so highly honoured, lest he lose some special sealing and anointing.
Didst thou the great example lead,
In Jordan’s swelling flood?
And shall my pride disdain the deed
That’s worthy of my God?
Hast thou for me the cross endured,
And all the shame despised?
And shall I be ashamed, O Lord,
With thee to be baptized?
“He was tempted in all points.”
After the blessing of the Spirit comes trial. When the soul is enriched with grace, Satan bestirs himself to rob it of its treasure; While our Lord was hidden, the evil one might be still; now that he comes forth to his life’s battle, he finds his foe awaiting him. Now was the seed of the woman to commence his combat with the old serpent.
And while thus suffering, the tempter thought he had him at an advantage, and might assail him through his bodily needs. The arch-enemy avails himself of every weakness of our body, hoping thereby to overcome us.
He urged him to unbelief to mistrust of his Father, and so to the use of unfit means to obtain food. Jesus had come to obey, not to command. How often, when we have been in need, has Satan tempted us to help ourselves, because God did not seem to help us! Mark that word, “ If,” that cruel doubt of his sonship. It could not wound the Perfect One, but it may sorely injure us if it be allowed a lodgment. Beware of this shaft of hell.
He would not doubt. What if bread was lacking? God can sustain life without it, he is not dependent upon secondary causes. It was a grand blow which our champion here struck at his crafty antagonist.
Matthew 4:5 , Matthew 4:6
The enemy here went to the opposite pole, and tempted the Lord to presume. Because the promise guaranteed security, therefore he was to leap from the pinnacle. This presuming upon the promise is a common temptation, and Scripture, perverted and misquoted, is brought to back it
May we have grace to see through the snare, and never become vain confident.
The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, here made another glorious and conquering cut at the enemy. How grandly our Lord defeated the foe! Let us learn never to tempt the Lord by wickedly presuming upon his mercy, or his faithfulness.
In this case the deceiver laboured to inflame the Saviour with ambition, and made him a tempting but blasphemous offer. Alas! how many have idolized evil for the sake of power, and so have ruined their own souls! There was no vulnerable place in the Redeemer: this third arrow, like the former two, glanced harmlessly from him, and he smote a third most telling blow at his adversary.
A well-chosen passage, and worthy to be always before our eyes. Are we living wholly unto God? This is the only safeguard against self-worship, mammon-worship, and other forms of idolatry.
After the devil the angels. Only let us be steadfast, and, like our Lord, we shall receive celestial consolations. O thou who wast tempted for us, help us in temptation. Amen.
Jesus, more than conqueror
O’er the thrice-embattled foe,
Fill’d with thine own Spirit’s power,
Thou wilt power on us bestow.
By thy conquering Spirit led,
We shall put the fiend to flight;
Bruise again the serpent’s head,
Triumph in Messiah’s might.