From Luke 4-5
In today’s passage Jesus rejects three methods of inaugurating the kingdom of God. He is tempted by the devil and in every case he refutes the devils temptation by using scripture.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The temptation of Jesus is also described in Matthew. The accounts provide different accounts of the temptation. Fairly amazing things happen to Jesus when he is tempted.
Some question whether it happened at all.
“What, now, was the temptation? Did the evil one appear to Jesus actually in a bodily form? Did his feet really press some elevation, such as the summit of snowy Hermon, or the still more inaccessible peak of Ararat? and did the far-reaching prospect of sea and land, mountain and valley, bathed in the noonday glory of an Eastern sun, represent to him the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them? Did he in very truth stand on the summit of the great temple-roof, and from that dizzy height gaze on the crowds below, crawling like ants across the sacred court, or toiling along the Jerusalem streets?” (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Luke (Vol. 1, p. 85). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
We can only read the text and see what it has for us.
Jesus was just baptised in the Jordan by John the Baptist (Lk 3.21-22).
4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ ” (Lk 4.1-4)
Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. These are the first of several allusions to the Exodus story where Israel, God’s firstborn son (Ex 4.22) was delivered out of Egypt and was led through the wilderness towards the promised land. The presence of the LORD filled the tabernacle (Ex 40.34-35) and led them through the wilderness for forty years (Ex 40.36-38; Num 9.15-23). During that time the depended on the LORD to feed them bread from heaven. Manna.
Where Israel failed and succumbed to temptation and sin. Jesus will succeed and resist. He is the true and faithful Israel. It’s promised Christ.
Jesus was tempted by the devil over those forty days. What form the devil took we cannot be sure. Was he a spirit? In bodily form? An inward voice only Jesus could hear? Perhaps human tempters? We don’t know. The devils repeatedly tempts him to prove he is the Son of God in different ways.
The Son of God in this instance is a title closely associated with the Christ. The King and ruler of Israel. The King of God’s kingdom. In this first instance Jesus is asked to prove his identity by making bread. He has been fasting for forty days and he is hungry. Drawing on Deuteronomy (Dt 8.3) Jesus rejects the devil. The rest of the passage focuses on what God provides through his word. After forty days of fasting, Jesus must have been relying on God already to be sustained for so long.
5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ” (Lk 4.5-8)
The devil shows him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
Think about it and you will see this is quite miraculous.
Luke is short on historical detail in this passage. In all probability the ‘world’ is assumed to be the nations surrounding Israel, perhaps Rome and Egypt. The text doesn’t say. How Jesus have been taken up? The text doesn’t say. Listeners of the gospel are simply expected to believe.
The devil offers Jesus’ the authority and glory of these nations. The devil currently has these, but Jesus’ will contest them.
Jesus’ will fight for them on the cross.
Jesus’ will eventually gain these kingdoms for himself and give them to the Father (1 Cor 15.24). The devil offers him an easy way to do it. If only he will turn his back on God and worship the devil. Jesus’ prefers to worship The LORD and die, rather than worship the devil for an easy victory.
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’
“ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Lk 4.9-12)
The devil moves Jesus to another location. The top of the temple, supposedly above all the people worshipping there.
He asks Jesus again to prove he is the Son of God. This time by throwing himself down to the ground. Normally if someone did this they would die. But the devil assures him that if he is the Son of God, he will be delivered. Does Jesus trust his father enough to rescue him from death.
Perhaps this is an early taste of the trust Jesus will have to exercise when he goes to the cross.
Jesus refuses to put the LORD to the test.
13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Lk 4.13)
At this present moment the devil has no more temptations. So he leaves. The text looks forward to other moments when Jesus will be tempted.
Many others have succumbed to the evil ones temptations. Jesus however is faithful. We should be encouraged our Lord and saviour has not sinned. He is someone we can put our trust in.
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. (Lk 4.14-15)
The Spirit is still with Jesus. He resisted every temptation and returned in power. The temptations in the wilderness prepared him for his upcoming ministry.
Jesus was tempted repeatedly by the devil.
Forty days of no food would have made him hungry, but he depended on the LORD to sustain him. Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world. But he trusted that the cross would win them for his father. Jesus could have gained more assurance his father would protect him from death. But he waited until the cross, where he entrusted his Spirit to God who would raise him from the dead.
After all these temptations Jesus returned in power. Empowered by the Spirit to do his good work.
Perhaps the same applies to us. The LORD allows us to be tempted and stretched. If we prove faithful, this testing and the Spirit will empower us for fruitful ministry.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.