Text: Luke 4:1-13
The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand and hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
You may recognize these words from one of the greatest epic poems in all of literature. They are the concluding lines of Paradise Lost by John Milton. In his earlier poems, Milton had run variations on the theme of temptation, but in Paradise Lost he made it his central theme. He set forth two sets of successful temptations in Paradise Lost, Satan’s temptation of the angels and Satan’s temptation of Eve. As the poem progresses, Milton presents a God who sees providentially that the Seed, who is also the Son, or Jesus Christ, will ultimately be the one to resist all temptation. In a later work, Paradise Regain’d, Milton would attempt to answer Thomas Ellwood’s question, “Thou hast said much here on paradise lost, but what hast thou to say of paradise found?” Indeed, the first work focused on temptation, the second on resisting temptation. Like Milton, other poets, philosophers, novelists, theologians, and psychologists have explored the theme of temptation and the human experience. And rightly so, for who among us hasn’t dealt with life’s temptations and struggled with how to resist them?