III. DURING THE TEMPTATION
When the Lord came out of the water after His baptism, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. Later He was led by the Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for forty days and nights. In the end, Satan himself appeared to Him and tempted Him saying, "If You are the Son of God, speak that these stones may become loaves of bread" (Matt. 4:3). When the stomach is hungry, it is not a sin to eat. But the Lord rejected the offer. The main goal of Satan’s temptation was for the Lord to do one thing according to His own will. He wanted the Lord to resort to His own way to satisfy His hunger. But the Lord said, "It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God" (v. 4). He was willing to suffer hunger, and He was able to suffer hunger. I am presenting one thing before all of you today: if we want to live like the Lord, we must daily receive in a hidden way the butter and honey from heaven. The Lord was able to turn the stones into loaves. But He did not do it because He already had the butter and honey.
Perhaps a little joy, a little glory, or a little comfort is already lying at your fingertips. Once you say something, you will have it. Or you may not need to say anything at all and you will have it. It may be within your power of reach, and you may be able to get it without exerting any effort of your own. What will you do? The Lord would not turn the stones into loaves. But we would much rather do it. We would not only turn the stones into loaves, we would wish we could turn all the stones into loaves. We wish we could do our best to serve ourselves. The reason we do this is that we have not tasted of the heavenly butter and honey. If we have the butter and honey, we would be willing to give up everything that is ours and everything that lies at our fingertips. There is only one kind of person in this world who will consecrate himself to God; it is one who knows His love. There is only one kind of person in this world who is qualified to sacrifice his own joy; it is one who knows God’s grace.
The Lord was not tempted in only one thing. Satan said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down." How marvelous it would be to fly down from heaven. Will not men recognize such as the Messiah? He could have received His glory with simpler ways. But He would not do this. Satan told the Lord, "All these will I give You if You will fall down and worship me." Is it not good to receive all the kingdoms of the world and their glory when all one has to do is to secretly worship him a little? The kingdoms of the world are good. But our Lord was able to give them up and decline them because behind Him there was a power. He knew God as no one else did. He was filled with the Holy Spirit as no one was. He tasted of the riches of grace and the sweetness of love as no one else did. This is why He could do it. This is why He was able to give these things up.
IV. THE LORD REBUKING PETER
Peter had heard two to three times from the Lord that He must go up to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed. And on the third day He would be raised. Peter felt bad about this; he pitied the Lord and said to Him, "God be merciful to You." We may think that the Lord would have comforted Peter a little and would have told Peter, "It is good that you love Me. But I have to go to Jerusalem. I have to die." Instead, the Lord said, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men." Here the Lord made a clear choice—He chose death.
If there is anyone in this world who has ever chosen the cross and the narrow way, this person must have first tasted the riches of God’s grace and the sweetness of His love. Recently, News Magazine published the martyrdom of Miss Han and Miss Nien, two Western lady missionaries in Fukien. These two British women were working in Fukien and were kidnapped by bandits. First Miss Nien’s fingers were cut off by the bandits. A month ago both were killed. How could they suffer this? Both of them were old and were deep in the Lord. Before she died, Miss Han wrote a poem called "The Martyrs," in which one of the lines says, "The faces of the martyrs are the faces of angels! The hearts of the martyrs are the hearts of lions." The faces of the angels are beautiful, and the hearts of the lions are bold. How amazing it is that a martyr could write such a song of martyrdom! Before she died, she wrote to one of her friends, "God’s grace is sufficient for me. The circumstance tells us that we are in danger and in difficulties. But I have never in my life been as close to God as I am now."
There was one missionary of the China Inland Mission who was kidnapped. Later he was released and some friends asked him of his experience. He said that since his regeneration, he had never experienced a day when he was as full of peace and joy as the night he heard the bullets ringing around him and the ways of escape were cut off from him.
There must be a reason and power behind the actions of martyrs. Do not think that God gives weak ones like us a poor wage and asks us to bear great burdens. Our God has given us butter and honey. By these we can sacrifice and suffer martyrdom. This is not a pretense; it is not a matter of words only. I know this as a fact, and many people know this also. The reason anyone can give something up, deny himself, or choose the difficult things is that, behind him, there is a great power. The reason the Lord Jesus was able to reject the evil and choose the good was that there was a power behind Him.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 12, by Watchman Nee)