Luke-Acts: Luke 4

Immediately after the Baptism of Jesus, He is led by the Holy Spirit (who, remember, had been seen to descend on Him in bodily fashion like a dove) out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. In Jesus, we have victory over the devil's lies and temptations towards us, which Adam and Eve succumbed to (Gen. 3). In that time period of 40 days, He also stood on the Word of God, which the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years didn't (for example, Exodus 17).

And after defeating the devil's schemes, Jesus returns to Galilee, His home region, and began His public ministry. Again we hear that it is the Spirit's work that fills and leads Jesus—a mysterious yet wonderful working of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! The Spirit's work is a another theme of Luke's, as he makes it clear to us that the Spirit is an active Person of the Godhead, who continues working in the Christian Church in union with Jesus even after His ascension, which we'll see as we move into the books of Acts later on.

In Jesus' ministry, we see three important activities: preaching/proclaiming, healing, and casting out demons. Jesus' preaching is always centred on the fact that He is the Messiah, the fulfillment of God's promises in His Word to the people of old (what we know as the Old Testament). His healing is a sign of His power over all creation, and a glimpse of the complete and eternal healing that will occur in the new heavens and the new earth. His casting out of demons demonstrates His authority and power not only over the physical creation, but all spiritual forces as well.

A few textual notes:

  • 4:3 and 4:9 Notice that the temptation of the devil doesn't just attack Jesus' sense of physical need and power, but goes to His very identity (the devil says "if you are the Son of God..."). Remember that Jesus has just heard the Word of the Father at His Baptism: "You are My beloved Son". The devil's attacks on us are similar. The spiritual forces of evil don't simply tempt us to commit sin; they question our very identity as children of God.
  • 4:10 The devil tries to tempt Jesus even with Scripture! But of course, the devil twists Psalm 91 to his own purposes, something that we always need to be on guard against.
  • 4:4 and 4:8 and 4:12 Notice that the response of Jesus in each instance is to quote the Word of God. We would do well to do the same in the face of temptation! This is a wonderful encouragement to know the Bible well, so that the Word of God is in our hearts, not just a reference textbook.
  • 4:34 and 4:41 The demons know who Jesus truly is. But their acknowledgement of Him as the Son of God doesn't come from faith, because they don't love Him.
  • 4:43 Again we hear the sense of mission Jesus has; He says "I must preach...". If we were to translate it more literally we might use the phrase "it is necessary". That's captured by the little Greek word dei, which shows up in Luke's Gospel account over 40 times, which is almost half of all the uses in the New Testament.
  • 4:43 In the original Greek, "the other towns" comes first in the phrase, which is a way that Greek makes something into an emphasis. So Jesus is emphasizing that He cannot stay in Capernaum. It is necessary that He and His Good News travels. That's still true today!