Luke 4:1-13 – The Temptation of Jesus

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Luke 4:1

  1. The Holy Spirit is a person and part of the Trinity.
    1. When the Son was born as a man, he renounced his divine attributes, with the result that he could do nothing in himself, in his own divinity (Phil 2:6-8). Thus, he became dependent on his Father to know what to do (John 5:19) and he became dependent on the Holy Spirit to do what the Father commanded (Acts 10:38).
      1. Jesus did this to fully share our human condition and to lead the way. We are Jesus’ disciples when we imitate Jesus, listen to the Father and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  2. God can lead us through periods of desert as well as periods of green and budding. We cannot decide how God chooses to lead us, but we must be faithful and trust that God knows what he is doing and that he never tests us beyond our ability (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Luke 4:2

  1. The Devil is described in the Bible as an evil fallen angel, who does everything he can to control people, deceive and tempt them (Ezek 35-36, Eph 2:2, 1 Tim 3:7, Acts 10:38, 1 Peter 5:8, John 13:2).
    1. However, everyone who believes in Jesus has the ability to resist the devil’s cunning attacks and cause him to flee (Ephesians 6:11, James 4:7).
  2. The parallels to the Old Testament are many
    1. Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days without eating or drinking (Exodus 34:28).
    2. Elijah walked 40 days after a meal (1 Kings 19:8).
    3. Goliath mocked Israel for 40 days (1 Sam 17:16).
  3. Temptation is a concept in the Bible (peirazo and peirasmos in Greek) that is used in a few different ways.
    1. Satan can tempt us and make us fall into our own desires (1 Corinthians 7:5, James 1:13-14).
    2. We can tempt God (Acts 5:9, 1 Corinthians 10:9).
    3. God can test us so that we grow in our faith (James 1:2-3, Hebrews 11:17, 1 Peter 1:6).
  4. God allows Satan to tempt Jesus so that we can learn that we too can resist the devil.
  5. Satan tempts Jesus with the same temptations that Eve fell to, the difference is that Jesus resists.
  6. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. In his humanity, Jesus was tempted, but in his divinity he did not sin. Even though Jesus is God, he can still “sympathize with our weaknesses” because he “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15).

Luke 4:3-4

  1. The author Luke, who is also a physician (Colossians 4:14), mentions that Jesus became hungry when the fasting days were over. Obviously, Jesus has felt some form of hunger before, so this hunger probably indicates that Jesus has now reached the physical capacity of his body and is close to dying of starvation.
    1. Some people can survive 70 days without food, while others die after 17 days. However, the average human life span is 40 days.
  2. The devil does not question whether Jesus is the Son of God or not, but instead tempts him to break his focus on God and focus selfishly on himself.
    1. Jesus may be hungry, but he is full of the Spirit of God. Worse would be, as it may be for many of us, if Jesus were full and satisfied, but lacking the Spirit of God.
  3. The devil tempted Adam and Eve with food and they fell to temptation (Genesis 3:1-7).
    1. Paul writes of Jesus, “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45).
    2. Adam, as a representative of all men, sinned when tempted by the devil, and thus sin entered the world and destroyed man’s relationship with God.
    3. Jesus resists the temptations of the devil and does not sin. In this way, all who believe in Jesus can share in Jesus’ freedom from sin and have the opportunity for a restored relationship with God.
  4. Jesus answered the devil’s temptation with a Bible verse (Deuteronomy 8:3).
    1. Satan’s temptation was not in itself wrong. It is not wrong to eat bread. But it is better to put God’s word above our own needs.
    2. Paul teaches us that in the battle against the devil, our weapon is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
    3. Since Jesus is the Son of God, he could easily have commanded Satan to leave him alone and Satan would immediately have had to obey. But here Jesus enters under our human condition and shows us a way to fight Satan that all of us believers can do.
    4. Like Jesus, we can resist the devil’s temptations by being well versed in God’s Word and thus figuring out that the seemingly reasonable suggestion to eat some bread was really a temptation. But if we are not well versed in the Bible, we may not even notice that the devil is deceiving and tempting us.
  5. What does this mean for us today?
    1. Jesus teaches us that there is more to life than worldly things. It is important to eat food and worry about such things, but it is even more important to eat our fill of God’s word (Matthew 4:4).
      1. Jesus teaches us to prioritise God, the Bible, the church, at least as much as all worldly concerns.

Luke 4:5-8

  1. According to 1 John 5:19, “the whole world is under the power of the evil one” and according to John 12:31, “the prince of this world will be cast out” and the prophetic account of the future in the Book of Revelation says that “the dominion of the world now belongs to our Lord and to his Anointed, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Rev 11:15).
    1. Originally, God gave mankind the task of ruling and managing the earth (Genesis 1:28), but somewhere along the way, the devil has increasingly taken over the world by tricking mankind into handing over power.
    2. When Jesus came to earth, the devil had the whole world under his power, but with the coming of Jesus, the kingdom of God is spreading more and more on earth and in the future Jesus will totally rule the whole world.
    3. With Jesus’ death on the cross, the devil is defeated (Colossians 2:15), but there is still fighting.
      1. This is often compared to D-Day during World War II. When the Allies landed in Normandy, everyone knew that the Allies had won the war, yet fighting went on for over a year more.
  2. The devil knows that Jesus will somehow defeat him and become Lord of the whole world and therefore tries to trick Jesus into taking the quick way and becoming Lord without dying on the cross.
    1. The devil offered his dominion over the earth to Jesus if he would only bow down to the devil and worship him.
    2. Jesus knows that he will be Lord of the whole world, but that the way to get there is through the cross. If Jesus had accepted this offer, we would never have been forgiven of our sins.
  3. Jesus again takes his answer from the Bible (Genesis 6:13, Exodus 34:14) and replies that one should only serve and worship God.
    1. In the New Testament, several people worship Jesus, which is one of all the biblical proofs that Jesus is God (Matt 2:11, Matt 14:33, Matt 28:9, Matt 28:17, John 9:38, Heb 1:6).
    2. It is the same Greek word “proskyneo” (worship in English) in all these Bible words. Jesus says that one should only worship God at the same time as he himself receives worship.
  4. In a similar way, the devil tempted Eve to gain power and “become like God” if she would only do what the devil said (Genesis 3:5).
  5. What does this mean for us today?
    1. The only one we as Christians fully bow to is the Lord God.

Luke 4:9-12

  1. There was a Jewish tradition that the Messiah would appear to Israel standing on the Temple of Jerusalem.
  2. The devil himself could not physically push Jesus off the temple wall and therefore had to try to trick Jesus.
  3. Here the devil quotes the Bible (Psalm 91:11-12).
    1. With this in mind, we understand that it is not enough for someone to quote the Bible for what is said to be true. Just because someone knows the Bible by heart does not mean that person has the right interpretation.
      1. By getting to know God and reading the Bible with Jesus at the centre, the chances of understanding the Bible correctly increase.
  4. Jesus again answers the devil with a Bible word (Deuteronomy 6:16).
    1. It is not enough to simply rattle off a bunch of Bible words to get a proper understanding of “the whole will and plan of God” (Acts 20:27). Jesus knew how to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and therefore is not fooled by the devil’s distorted interpretation of the Bible.
  5. The devil tried to trick Jesus into forcing God to perform a spectacular miracle.
    1. We can never force God to perform a miracle, because that would be “tempting the Lord your God”.
  6. In a similar way, the devil tried to trick Eve into not dying (Genesis 3:3). Eve fell for the temptation, but Jesus resisted.
  7. What does this mean for us today?
    1. We should believe and trust that God wants to work miracles in our midst. But we must remember who is God and who is man. We must accept what God does with us and we cannot force God to do anything.

Luke 4:13

  1. Just as it says in James 4:7, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Jesus stood against the devil which led to his eventual departure from Jesus.
    1. In the same way, today we can resist the devil when he tries to trick us into going against God’s will. If you never resist the devil’s temptations, he will only continue to tempt.
  2. Jesus was “filled with the Holy Spirit”, while being well versed in the Word of God.
    1. To be filled with the Holy Spirit alone, without being familiar with the Word of God, makes it easy to drift away in one’s spirituality.
    2. Being familiar only with God’s Word without being filled with the Holy Spirit can lead to treating the Bible as a book of facts or fairy tales without any grounding in reality.
    3. To be, like Jesus, both filled with the Holy Spirit and well versed in the Word of God is an unbeatable combination that is to be recommended to all who want to be disciples of Jesus.
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