Luke 3:23 – 4:15: Satan tempts Jesus
In our culture family trees are very popular. The Bible uses genealogies a lot. They were very important to the Jews; even in the time of Jesus, Salvation was thought to be dependent on being a Jew.
The temptation of Christ, as well as His baptism, are very important aspects of the gospels, being recorded in three of the synoptic gospels.. Luke alone inserts this genealogy between the baptism of Jesus and His temptation. Luke wants to make the point that Adam was the son of God. He did not have biological parents, therefore we can genuinely think of him as a son of God. Jesus is referred to as the last Adam, ‘And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 15:45-56 NKJV). We see both Adam and Jesus were tempted by Satan. Jesus overcomes but Adam fell.
At the beginning of Luke 4 Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads Jesus in His ministry, not into temptation. The Holy Spirit is present with Jesus during the temptations. It comes immediately after His baptism, where the Spirit is also present. There is a parallel in our own lives; we have a spiritual feeling that uplifts us. Satan attacks but the Holy Spirit is always present to help us.
The temptations are recorded in a different order in Matthew and Luke, but this is not important. What is important in both gospel records have the same details, are upheld and complement each other.
‘Being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.’ (Luke 4:2). 40 days is the practical limit for human endurance to go without food. Jesus responds with scripture to all of the temptations. He specifically quotes from Deuteronomy (the repetition of the law, used to explain laws to the lay men).
‘And the devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”’ (Luke 4:3). At first glance the temptation is about food, but it’s really about trust. Adam was tempted by food, this also was really about trust. Jesus’ trust is in the Father is being tested here, “If you are the Son of God.” Jesus, of course, responds with scripture, But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ (Luke 4:4). In the Garden of Eden, Eve did not quote exactly what God said, she didn’t fully trust in God but listened to Satan. Jesus’ response allowed no manoeuvre for Satan. Jesus was never really alone, neither are we.
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountHolyain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”’ (Luke 4:5-7). Satan offers Jesus authority over all the kingdoms of the world. At the start of Job, notice that Satan cannot act until God allows him to. Satan opposes God. He is a powerful being – don’t underestimate him but don’t overate him. Satan offers Jesus absolute political and military authority. Many of Israel would have been happy with this but it would elevate Satan above God. Jesus rebukes Satan before quoting scripture. He will not only trust God the Father, but all the glory goes to the Father. ‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ (Luke 4:8). The coming of Jesus has changed the balance of power forever. Jesus gave power and authority to His disciples. We too can submit to God, in the name of Jesus, and have power over Satan. ‘Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.’ (James 4:7).
In Revelation 20 we read a long description of Satan’s efforts to rally against God, but it is all over in 2 verses (Revelation 20:9-10). Satan is so easily dealt with. For us, as believers, worshipping anything but God doesn’t make sense. To serve God is to be absolutely committed to Him and Him alone. Anything else is spiritual adultery.
‘Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. For it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’ (Luke 4:9-11). Satan’s final attempt – he offered Jesus a good reputation. He wants Jesus to put Himself first, even finding the nerve to quote a scripture. Satan quotes from Psalm 92: 11-12 ‘For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ However, when quoting, Satan deliberately leaves out the words, ‘In all ways.’ This changes the context of what he is quoting. Psalm 91 speaks of walking along a path, being supported as a friend would, giving you a shoulder to lean on. This psalm actually speaks of God’s care and attention, abiding in God’s will and not seeking our own way. We should seek for what God wants us to do.
God makes clear the sanctity of life. We do not deserve certain things. ‘Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of every man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever shed’s man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”’ (Genesis 9:5-6). Pride leads to destruction. ‘By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.’ (Proverbs 13:10). Strife comes because of our pride.
The word ‘tempt’ could also be translated as ‘test.’ Jesus rejects the temptation, ‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”’ (Luke 4:12). Jesus will not test His Father. Satan then retreats but seeks an opportune time to return again, ‘Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.’ (Luke 4:13). When we are tempted we too are to turn to the scriptures, to God. He provides His own way. We may also have opportunities to receive accolades and awards, but He alone is worthy to receive honour. Give glory to God. It is also good to have a good reputation but we ought to take care less we become proud.
Our original father, Adam, failed at the first temptation. We are all sinners because Adam sinned first. But Jesus resisted every temptation. He did so by using things which are available for us to use – He used the scriptures. Praise His Name.