Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungry.…
There is a difficulty connected with our Lord's temptation, which has, I suppose, more or less clearly presented itself to every one who has sought at all to enter into the deeper significance of this mysterious transaction. The difficulty and dilemma may be stated thus: Either there was that in Christ which more or less responded to the temptation — how then was He without sin, seeing that sin moves and lives in the region of desires quite as really as in that of external acts? or there was nothing in Him that responded to the suggestions of the tempter — where then was the reality of the temptation, or what was the significance of that victory which in the wilderness He won? The secret of the difficulty which these alternatives present to our minds, so that sometimes it appears to us impossible that Christ's temptation should have had anything real in it, leaving Him as it did wholly unscathed, lies in the mournful experience which we in our own spiritual life, have made, namely, that almost all of our temptations involve more or less of sin, that the serpent leaves something of his trail and slime even there where he is not allowed to nestle and make his home. Conquerors though we may be, yet we seldom issue from the conflict without a scratch — a hurt it may be which soon heals, but which has left its cicatrice behind it. The saint, if he shine as a diamond at last, yet it is still as a diamond which has been polished in its own dust. For we may take up arms against the evil thought, we may rally the higher powers of our souls, and call in the might of a Mightier to put the evil and its author to flight, yet this we seldom do till it has already found some place within us. Our acquiescence may have been but momentary yet even the moment during which the evil was not abhorred and loathed is irreconcilable with the idea of an absolute holiness, which is as a mirror whose perfect brightness no lightest breath has ever troubled or tarnished for an instant. The reconciliation of an entire sinlessness in Christ with the reality of the temptations to which He was exposed lies in this, that there was never in Him this momentary delectation; even as there need not be in us; and would not be, if we always were, and had always in time past been, upon our highest guard.
(Arch. bishop Trench.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.