13 The Crucible of God

FOR THIRTY LONG years had Jehovah's Elect Servant been trained for His service; the sword had been sharpened, the shaft polished. At Jordan's banks the last finishing touches had been given, and the Divine Instrument was ready for the appointed task. Yet one thing remained. The final examination must be made lest any hidden flaw should be there, only to appear at some later stage and cause disaster. There must be no question of failure when the salvation of the world was at stake.

The Holy Ghost therefore drove Christ out into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. John the Baptist had roused all Israel to meet Messiah: the crowds were gathered by the banks of Jordan to hear His voice and do His bidding. The young men spoke of a successful revolt against the Romans; the old men remembered the valour of the Maccabees, and dreamt of David.

But the Spirit of God took Jesus out of all this human excitement that there, in the silence of the desert, His Father might see the secrets of His Son's heart laid bare before Him under the knife of the great Adversary. He who had watched the struggles of Job, Joseph. Jeremiah and Ezekiel must now Himself be tried to the uttermost that in all things He might have the pre-eminence, even in severe temptation.