Sermon by St. Gregory the Pope
Some are wont to question as to what spirit it was of which Jesus was led up into the wilderness, on account of the words a little farther on: Then the devil taketh him up into the holy City. And again: The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain. But verily, and without question, we must take this passage to mean that it was the Holy Spirit who led him up into the wilderness. His own Spirit led him where the evil spirit might find him to tempt him. But behold, when it is said that the God-Man was taken up by the devil either into an exceeding high mountain, or into the holy City, the mind shrinketh from believing, and the ears of man shudder at hearing it. Yet these things are not incredible, when we consider certain other things concerning him.
Verily, the devil is the head of all the wicked, and every wicked man is a member of the body of wickedness, of which the devil is the head. Was not Pilate a limb of Satan? Were not the Jews that persecuted Christ, and the soldiers that crucified him, likewise limbs of Satan? Is it then strange that he should allow himself to be led up into a mountain by the head, when he allowed himself to be crucified by the members thereof? Wherefore it is not unworthy of our Redeemer, who came to be slain, that he was willing to be tempted. Rather, it was meet that he should overcome our temptations by his own temptations, even as he came to conquer our death by his own death.
But we ought to keep in mind that temptation beareth us onward by three steps. There is, first, the suggestion; then the delectation; lastly, the consent. When we are tempted, we oft-times give way to delectation, and even to consent, because in the sinful flesh of which we are begotten, we carry in ourselves matter to favour the attack of sin. But God, when he took flesh in the womb of the Virgin, and came into the world without sin, did so without having in himself anything of this contradiction. It was possible therefore for him to be tempted in the first stage, namely suggestion; but delectation could find nothing in his soul wherein to fix its teeth. Wherefore all the temptation which he endured from the devil was without, for none was within him.