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and one which raised Jesus to an equality with the wonder-working prophets of old, even the two chief, viz. Moses and Elijah, who had each been sustained this exact time without food by the power of God.
Though Jesus had had no distinct testimony that he was the Messiah, he yet had been acknowledged greater than John, the Messiah's forerunner. The heavens, also had been opened to him in attestation of his possessing the peculiar favour of God; and now the divine power was displayed in his behalf, as it had been to the greatest prophets, and to them only. Was he not then himself the Messiah,the Anointed One of God-to whom all the prophets bare witness, and, therefore, not only equal to Moses and Elijah, but superior to them both? This question seems now to have occurred to him, and, along with it, a desire to put it to the test.
But Jesus remembers that always of old it was God who gave the word, and that it rather became him to wait on God, since he who had kept him hitherto "by the word of his power” could still do so, or by the same word could send him manna from heaven, as he did to the Israelites in the desert. He therefore resists the temptation, resolving to be led only by the Spirit of God.
Still, the desire to know whether he really is this Son of God (the Messiah) remains, and the devil takes advantage of it by proposing another test. Was it not written of the Messiah that he should be the peculiar care of angels, and should be borne up on
their hands when in danger of falling on the stones ? Having reminded Jesus of this text of Scripture, the tempter suggests to him that he should put it to the proof by throwing himself off some high place, as the pinnacle of the temple. But Jesus recalls another Scripture to repel the temptation, where it is expressly forbidden to make experiments for the purpose of trying whether the power of God is with us or not (Exod. xvii. 7 ; Deut. vi. 16). He is thus strengthened in his resolve to wait on God.
But, letting miracle alone, what if, taking advantage of the popular enthusiastic expectation, he were to boldly announce himself as Messiah, and, arming the multitudes, were to lead them to victory like the Macabees; and, having freed the land from foreign domination, were then, like David, to subjugate the surrounding heathen, until, repeated conquests adding to his power, he might at length be able to overcome Rome herself, and, reducing to subjection the mistress of the world, would have even the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.
According to the literal reading, Satan takes Jesus to a mountain, and showing him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory, offers to give them all to him, on condition of his falling down and worshipping himself. As there does not exist any mountain from the summit of which we can with our bodily eyes see all the world, we need not here take the literal sense.
We may, therefore, conclude that Jesus reflected on the means by which the subjugation of the world could be effected, and it seemed to him it could only be done by unscrupulous falsehood and cruelty. To determine on attempting it by these means would be deliberately to serve the devil, whereas men must worship and serve God only, seeking first the establishment of his kingdom and righteousness, not their own personal aggrandisement.
This, then, is the grand work to which Jesus will devote himself—he will assist John to bring in the reign of righteousness, the kingdom of heaven, or else will wait till he receives direct instruction from on high. The devil has done his worst with him, and behold, angels come and supply his wants (Matt. iv. 1-11)
If Jesus was now in any perplexity as to what course he should pursue, this did not long continue. He finds that John's career has been suddenly cut short by Herod, who has thrown him into prison. Here, then, is a call to take up John's work, to begin preaching repentance (if not to baptize), and to spread the good tidings that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He does not, however, affect the austerity of his predecessor, but leaves the desert for his native Galilee, to live, not with his mother at Nazareth, but at Capernaum, on the lake. *
At Capernaum he taught in the synagogue on the
“Now when he heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee ; and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum.
From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand ” (Matt. iv. 12, 13, 17; also see Mark i. 14, 15, 21).
Sabbath, perhaps working for his bodily sustenance during the week (Mark i. 21).*
He now wished, as it were, to multiply himself, the harvest being so plenteous, and the labourers so few, and induces four fishermen, Simon, and his brother Andrew, and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, to leave their avocations, and to come with him that he might instruct them with a view to their also preaching the good tidings (Matt. iv. 18-22 ; Mark i. 16-20).
While at Capernaum (according to Luke, before the call of the disciples, which, indeed, seems perhaps most probable), a man possessed by an evil spirit was freed by Jesus, whose fame soon spread over all Syria (Mark i. 23–28; Luke iv. 33-37; Matt. iv. 24).
There were probably by this time a great many who helped to maintain Jesus and his four disciples (Luke viii. 3); he therefore went with them about all Galilee, and found he had power to heal all diseases, which power he freely used, so that wherever he went he attracted vast numbers.
It would seem that the crowds who came to hear him were too great for the synagogues, so that he had to preach, like John, in the open air, on the sides of a mountain, or by the sea-shore.
* The record is very meagre as to this part of his history. We may, perhaps, assume that by degrees he extended his mission to the neighbouring towns on the lake, and the villages adjacent, as continued meditation and practice in speaking made him more efficient, and that when some of his hearers contributed to his support, he abandoned himself entirely to the work of preaching the gospel of the kingdom.
He explained to his disciples the nature of the kingdom that was coming—that is, who would be its most worthy subjects—and, avoiding altogether its external aspects (of which we may presume he knew nothing, and that his trial herein consisted), he saw clearly that God reigned in every soul that was conformed to His righteousness.
There was, therefore, something to be done by each person. Each should seek the kingdom, and enter, as Jesus had done, individually therein, leaving the rest in God's hands, To explain the nature of the kingdom was, therefore, to explain the nature of true righteousness. Having searched the Scriptures, and having meditated thereon, he was soon able to expound them as they had never been expounded before. Beginning with repentance, the gate of the kingdom, he had Scriptural warrant for pronouncing its blessings on such as, overwhelmed by a sense of their own guilt and insufficiency, were humbled in spirit before God. In such souls would God specially dwell (Isa. lvii. 15; lxvi. 2).
Thus the gospel of the kingdom, as preached by Jesus, was truly good tidings to all those who were mourning because of their sins, who were contrite and broken in heart before God. He felt that he entered fully into the most spiritual sense of the psalmists and prophets, and that therefore the Spirit of God was with him, anointing him to preach comfort to such mourners ; to heal the broken in heart, and to bind up their wounds;" yea, to proclaim the glad