George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Temptations of Calvary
In all points tempted like as we are--Heb 4:15
Christ's Temptations Were Real
That our Lord's temptations were intensely real is the accepted faith of Christendom. He was tempted in all points like as we are. Unless He was really and cruelly tempted and knew the full meaning of resistance, He can never, in any helpful way, be the brother of tempted men and women. And if He be not Brother then He is not Savior, for a Savior, whatever else he be, must be vitally identified with man. Our Lord's sinlessness was not endowment. It was rather an unparalleled achievement. It was not a gift bestowed on Him by heaven. It was a moral and spiritual victory. It was wrought out, moment after moment, by a will sustained in perfect poise with God, instantly and unswervingly obedient. Now always, where the heart is, there is the sorest onset of temptation. Temptation has always its eye upon the citadel, though it may seem to be leveled at the outworks. And that is why, right through the Gospel story, the bitterest temptations of our Lord are to be found converging on the cross. How, then, was our Lord tempted in regard to the great experience of Calvary? To what suggestions, winging from the darkness, had He to offer victorious resistance? Let us reverently give our thought to that.
Tempted to Avoid the Cross
We see Him first, and we see Him often, tempted to avoid the cross. That sore temptation never left Him. At the very outset of His ministry, such was the suggestion of the devil. It runs like some dark thread of hell through all the encounters of the wilderness. Let Him with all His brilliant gifts ally Himself with worldly policies and what need would there be of the bloody way of Calvary? It smote Him again after many days and this time through the lips of Simon Peter. Was not our Lord recalling the scene out in the wilderness when He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Mat 16:23)? And near the end when the Greeks came craving an interview with Christ, was that not the old temptation back again? Why, in that thrilling hour, did our Lord say "Now is my soul troubled" (Joh 12:27)? Why did He not rejoice in spirit when the "other sheep" were coming to His feet? Surely it was because these Greeks were envoys offering an open door to the big world without the imminent agonies of Calvary. It is notable that in the Gospel of St. John there is no mention whatever of Gethsemane. To St. John that offer of the Grecian world was the spiritual equivalent of Gethsemane. It was the temptation to achieve the kingship on which His kingly heart was set by some way other than the cross. He was tempted to avoid the cross, to shun it, to take some other road. Have we not all been tempted just like that? And does it not bring the Master very near us in a brotherhood intensely real to remember that He was victorious just there?
Tempted to Hasten on the Cross
Once again our Savior was tempted to hasten on the cross. He was tempted to antedate the hour of God. We read, for instance, that when the sisters sent for Him, He abode two days still in the same place where He was (Joh 11:6). For One who was the Good Physician that was an extraordinary thing to do. If we summoned our doctor to a dear one and if for two days he never came, we should find it very hard to call him good. Was He waiting to augment the miracle? But then Lazarus was already dead (Joh 11:39). Was He waiting to test the sisters' faith? But is that how Jesus deals with loving friends? He was waiting because He saw so clearly that the raising of Lazarus would seal His doom (Joh 11:53), and He dreaded to antedate the hour of God. Human love was calling Him to Bethany. Affection for His friends was calling Him. Going, He signed His death-warrant--but was it His Father's will that He should die yet? And so, though drawn by the cords of love to go, He waited in quiet fellowship with Heaven until the will of God was perfectly revealed. How often had He said "Mine hour is not yet come." With what profound conviction did He know that God had His appointed hour for Calvary. Might not these drawings of love be but the devil's stratagem to interfere with the ordered times of heaven?--and He abode two days still in the same place where He was. Once more does not that bring Him very near us? Have we not ail been tempted to hurry on God's hour? There are few things more difficult in life, sometimes, than just to wait patiently for God. And He was tempted in all points like as we are.
The Temptation to Come Down from the Cross
Lastly our Lord was tempted to come down from the cross. "Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him" (Mat 27:42). When these voices broke upon His ear, were they not fraught with terrible temptation? Think of the agony He was enduring in His so sensitive and sinless frame. Think how the very passion of His heart was that these men and women should believe in Him. And as these cries rang upon His ear did they not carry with them the suggestion that in one instant He might escape His torture, and doing it win the allegiance of His own? Tempted in every prospect of the cross, our Lord was tempted on the cross itself. By one swift action might He not end His agony and win the great ambition of His life? And the wonderful thing is that on the cross as in the desert at the opening of His ministry, He steeled Himself against these tempting voices. They said "Come down, and we will believe in you." We believe, because He did not come down. To us the glory is in His hanging there till He cried in a loud voice "It is finished." And when we are tempted, as we so often are, to release ourselves when "crucified with Christ," what a comfort that we can quietly say, "He was tempted in all points like as we are."
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