Luke 4:1–39 Jesus Under Temptation and Assault.
Key Notes: Tempted by Satan, He defended with Deuteronomy. He quoted part of Isaiah 61. Nazareth responded to His preaching with the pain of judgment.
4:1–2 Fresh from the exaltation of His Baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for 40 days. During that time He had nothing to eat.
The situation is mind-boggling. God allowed Himself to be put into the hands of the Enemy of souls and then to put Himself on the edge physically and emotionally. He was in the desert, where howling winds, "dust-devils" and mirages confuse the mind. There are none of the distractions of daily life to keep temptation away and temptations multiply. After forty days of starvation the body is weak to exhaustion, the mind slowed, the speech slurred and there is virtually nothing left to fight with, humanly speaking.
All three temptations were expressions of His legitimate needs:
•He must stay alive. "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." (4:3)
•He must win the world to the Kingdom. "To you I will give all this authority and their glory...." (4:6)
•He must gather a following by some sort of demonstration or display. "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here." (4:9).
The Devil shows that He can quote Scripture to his own advantage and He challenges Jesus' deity with his "if".
The responses were decisive. In all three challenges, Jesus quoted Scripture--Deuteronomy, in the narrow section of chapters 6–8 where Moses described Israel's experience with God in the wilderness.
The first response "It is written 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'" comes from Deut.8:5 where God reminded Israel that during the wilderness wandering, " He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna...that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but...by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
God provided them with food plus discipline. He made them dependent on Him for their physical and spiritual existence. Similarly, Jesus said He was dependent on the Father for His physical and spiritual existence. Although He was starving, He was confident that God would not let Him die and He would not lift His hand to use divine power for His own benefit.
The second response was straight-forward. In the response to Satan’s proposition that Jesus worship him in exchange for the kingdoms of the world, He said, "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve." (Deut.6:13). One of our repeated temptations is to take the easy way out and Jesus refused to consider it.
The third temptation was to create a dramatic display and win the attention of the nation. His response can be understood in two ways: "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." (Deut.6:16). Did Jesus mean that He would not tempt God by making such a move, or that Satan must not tempt Jesus to make such a move? Both are probably right.
In summary, Jesus, at the extremity of human endurance, was tested in three areas most important to His life and ministry. Heb.4:15 goes further and says that He was tempted in all points as we are yet without sin. We must learn Scripture and be prepared to use it as a weapon against Satan as Jesus did. "It is written" is our defense, too. The difference between His temptations and ours, is that He never broke. We simply give in, so that our temptations are not usually stressful.
We note that Satan was soundly defeated. The situation is reminiscent of Job, who was also sorely tested with the intent of defeating Satan.
After this victory, Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, and His teaching was applauded everywhere. Then he came to His own people in Nazareth on Sabbath and was given the opportunity to preach. He read from Isa.61:1–2, establishing a number of important truths:
•He was filled with the Holy Spirit.
•He was God's anointed, that is, the Messiah (Hebrew), the Christ (Greek).
•He will preach the Gospel to the poor, proclaim release to captives, give sight to the blind, and liberate the oppressed.
•He will proclaim the year of God's favor.
•The prophecy was fulfilled in their ears.
Why did He stop? "He stopped short of the phrase "...and the day of vengeance of our God". The day of judgment was not yet.
The rest of Isa. 61 is full of good news for Israel: beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, rebuilding ruins, aliens feeding your flocks, everlasting joy, a people whom the Lord has blessed. What an opportunity to tell His people that great blessing is coming from the hand of God! If they would work with Him they may be part of God's plan. Instead, He implied that their material expectations as seen in Isa.61 were not to be fulfilled now either.
He went on to say that what was done in Capernaum could not be done in Nazareth. [Jesus had healed the child of a rich official in Capernaum. Jn.4:46]. He was a prophet without honor in his own country. Then He reminded them that during the time of Israel's judgment under Elijah, when the people were starving, that the prophet went out of Israel to feed a widow of Sidon. And under Elisha's ministry, the only leper healed was Naaman the Syrian, the general of the army that was ravaging Israel. Why did the prophets not care for their own people? Why would Jesus not make a display that they could applaud? Israel was still under the judgment of God.
They reacted with a roar of pain and drove Him out to kill Him. Why? He is telling Nazareth that "the ax is laid at the root of the trees" by reminding them of the judgment of Israel in the past and that the time of their liberation had not come. But unlike the selected group who went out to John the Baptist and were ready to repent, Nazareth was a cross-section of Israel and could not accept the message that Messiah was not to be their political leader. The message was more gentle than John's but plainly they were not ready to hear, not ready for the Gospel.
What would Nazareth be talking about the next day? Some would be shocked at their sudden violence. They would think and recognize their sin. Most would return to their sullen, disappointed lives. But the countryside would be alive with talk of a new and strange Messiah.