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Reviews | The Temptations of Jesus

The Temptations of Jesus

Vic Aucott

Paperback or e-book (ePub)

240 pages

The Temptations of Jesus

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The Christadelphian review (from June 2014)

The Temptations of Jesus

THIS latest book from the CMPA, containing seventeen chapters on the temptations of Jesus, is both interesting and readable. The author’s comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the subject provides much useful, exhortational writing.

The nature of temptation

He lays a foundation in the early chapters, expounding the nature of temptation, rooted in the human condition, and showing how Christ shared that condition, being “made sin for us, who knew no sin”. The author takes us back to the Garden of Eden, analysing the three elements of the temptation there – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. This provides the prototype for the temptations of others, including Shechem and Dinah, Achan, David and the Lord himself.

We focus on the Lord Jesus Christ first through his baptism and the reasons for it, and his consequent forty days in the wilderness. We are provided with quite a long digression on what John the Baptist ate in the wilderness (locust insects or locust beans), and wonder at this point whether the author is going to suggest that Jesus ate locust beans despite being described as fasting – but it becomes clear that the author believes that Jesus fasted fully.

Christ’s almost intuitive knowledge of the word of God is emphasised, especially focusing on the book of Deuteronomy and drawing out practical principles, which is a feature throughout the work. For example in chapter five, “The teaching of Jesus about temptation”, lessons are drawn which relate to our handling of failings in people today.

In his exposition of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, Brother Vic refers to the view that the tempter was external but comes down on the side of those who believe it was from within. The exposition of the temptation regarding the pinnacle of the temple draws well on the significance of Jerusalem and the temple in the Old Testament. Frequently the Psalms are referred to, giving further insight into the mind of Christ. Links back to Moses and Elijah are made with good effect – and often to the archetypal temptation in the Garden of Eden. In this regard we are shown how the enemies of the Lord in his own day reflected the mind of the serpent. From this flows some helpful exposition of a number of encounters in the life of Christ which highlight his ongoing struggle against “the devil”. The case is well made that the temptations in the wilderness occurred throughout the ministry of the Lord, accompanying him even to the cross.

There are a number of charts which visually display analyses of situations and scriptural links. For example, there is an excellent chart starting on page 162 showing how the Psalms are reflected in the Gospel records of the crucifixion.

Many other testing situations with which the Lord coped are described and analysed within the focus of the book – for example, the test at Caesarea Philippi, the transfiguration, the tribute money and the final trials before the Jewish and Roman authorities.

“His arm brought salvation”

In a chapter entitled, “Lead me not into temptation”, we are asked to think how it was that Jesus found the strength of character to overcome sin so successfully, including the import of Psalm 80:17, “The son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself”. As the BASF explains (clause 9), it was necessary for God to intervene because He saw that there was no ordinary man that could bring about salvation (cf. Isaiah 59:16). At the same time, the point is also made that the Lord’s divine inheritance added to the temptations he experienced. There is a useful chapter that analyses the ‘precepts, visions, teaching and practice’ that strengthened the Lord’s resolve.

The final chapter focuses on “the baptism to be baptized with”, pointing out that the stresses of the Lord’s experiences were the root of his compassion. Then we are taken to the Upper Room and to the fulfilled “desire” that resulted in the outworking of the Lord’s baptismal vow “to fulfil all righteousness”.

This is a very workmanlike treatise, with plenty of good scriptural analysis and exposition. It deals with the life of Christ from an unusual but very important aspect and reinforces our understanding of the nature of Christ and of the salvation that he accomplished. Good use is made of Biblical links, echoes and patterns. There are plenty of practical lessons drawn from the material and the writing is reasonably accessible to the average reader. The book contains a great deal of worthwhile material and is one that will be of benefit to the brotherhood.

Michael Owen

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