Luke 4:9-12 - Homilies By W. Clarkson
Temptation to guilty haste.
One more attempt is made by the evil one on the integrity of our Lord's faithfulness. We note—
I. THE EVIL SUGGESTION . The idea conveyed to the mind of Jesus, now on the point of commencing his ministry, was this (as I understand it): "Here is a glorious opportunity to make a most successful beginning; alighting from this height among the assembled worshippers below, who are all ready to welcome the Messiah, you will gain such a prestige from so brilliant a miracle that the battle of conviction will be almost won by a single blow. There need be no fear; the angels will sustain you," etc. But to act in this way would be to proceed along a line totally unsuited to the kind of work which Jesus came to do. It would be very gratifying, very stimulating, very agreeable to human feeling, but it would not be the right course to pursue. Christ came to build up a vast spiritual empire, and he was to lay its foundations carefully and steadily, and therefore deliberately and slowly, in the minds of men. This victory was not one to be snatched by a sudden impetuous charge; there must be a long and a hard campaign. Everything could not be done by a brilliant stroke, appealing to the imagination; there must be a long, laborious process, by which the judgment and the conscience of mankind would be convinced. There would be fatal folly in an endeavor to force an issue. There would be Divine wisdom in "beginning at the beginning," in gradually working onwards, in toiling upwards amid fatigues and sorrows until the height was reached. Such are the victories before us now—triumphs over ignorance, over vice, over unbelief, over superstition, over indifference, over indecision, over spiritual languor. We should like to be working faster, to be winning the battle at a greater pace. Then cometh the evil one, and he says, "Leave these slow processes; mix a little error with the truth you preach; be more careful to produce an effect than to deliver the Divine message; sacrifice purity to power; introduce into the method's of the kingdom of Christ the principles and the weapons of the kingdom of the world; hasten to the goal and snatch the crown of success, instead of working so hard and waiting so long."
II. THE FIRM REFUSAL . Christ declined to adopt the suggestion; he said that to do so would be "tempting the Lord his God." It would be expecting God to work a miracle in order to gratify his unholy eagerness. We must not try to precipitate the cause of righteousness by an unholy impatience, which is a practical distrust of God's Word. To expect God to bless means which he has not sanctioned, to own and honor methods which are not in accord with the principles he has revealed,—this is to lose his favor and to draw down his condemnation; it is to invite discomfiture. " He that believeth shall not make haste ." "Our wisdom as well as our duty, as "workmen together with God," is to
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