Tempted Just as We Verses 1-13
After the baptism of Jesus He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted and was tempted by Satan. Both Matthew and Luke record the virgin birth of Jesus but neither ties the sinlessness of Jesus to the virgin birth. Jesus was sinless because He resisted the temptations of Satan. The writer of Hebrews testifies to this. (Hebrews 4:15)
The Temptations of Jesus were real as ours are. The temptations of Jesus were unique in His experience with them in two ways. One is He only resisted the temptation and did not sin. Jesus met His temptation on the spiritual battleground and emerged as the victor. As we go through our lives we will at some point in time fall into temptation. The questions become who knows more about temptation, the one who yields to it or the one who endures? Surely it would be the one who endures. It is Jesus who knows the full weight and fury of temptation. It is only Jesus that has successfully endured all of the power of Satan and resisted his temptations.
The temptations of Jesus are unique in another way as well. Jesus is the Son of God and committed to the role of the suffering servant. Only Jesus could be tempted to compromise His mission. We can be tempted to fail to fulfill God’s mission for us but only Jesus could be tempted to misuse His power for His own selfish gains rather than for God’s glory and the salvation of mankind.
Here is the clue to understanding these passages. Jesus was committed to a mission of self-giving service that would ultimately lead to the cross. There were many throughout His ministry that would proclaim Him as the Messiah if He would be the Messiah that they wanted Him to be. Even His closest followers misunderstood the mission to which He had been called.
Before beginning His ministry Jesus would have to go through a forty day period of testing. Jesus was led by the Spirit into this time of testing. This time of testing would strengthen Him and give Him the resolve for the task that lay before Him. Satan would use this time to offer his subtle temptations to cause Him to yield and abort His mission.
The first temptation was a physical temptation. Jesus had been fasting for forty days and surely hungry. But it was more than to feed Himself miraculously. It was a temptation to go on a feeding ministry to feed hungry people. God had fed the Israelites with manna during the Exodus from Egypt to the Promise Land. Jesus’ hunger must have brought to mind the pang of hunger that many in the world were suffering. His compassion towards people must have caused this to be a powerful temptation.
Jesus resisted by quoting the scripture of Deuteronomy 8:3. As painful as hunger is people have a greater need than food and that is to be in communion and obedience with God.
The second temptation was that of power, the power of a world ruler. The subtle attraction to this temptation was that it matched the expectations that the people has of the coming Messiah. Many of Jesus’ day were looking for a king to expand the glory of King David’s Kingdom. The Messiah that they were hoping for would defeat all of Israel’s enemies and make Israel a world power.
The twist of this temptation was the element of truth that was in it. Jesus was the Messiah, He was the son of David and heir to the universal kingdom. However, Jesus knew the difference between His Kingdom and the kingdom that His country men wanted. In the Gospel of John we read how Jesus refused to be such a king as the people wanted. (John 6:15) Jesus also when confronted by Pilate tried to explain His Kingdom to him. (John 18:36)
Most people who follow Satan do not pray to him or follow him in some dark rite. If Jesus was to worship Satan He would have had to lay claim to all that He could without regard to the Will of His Heavily Father and of the needs of humanity.
As before Jesus resisted the temptation of Satan with Scripture that is found in Deuteronomy 6:13. To serve the Lord God we have to have a wholehearted devotion. As worshiping Satan meant selfish grasp for power, worshiping God means a commitment to God’s mission of self-giving service to Him and others.
The third and last temptation was to perform a miracle on the pinnacle of the Temple. The people were waiting for a Messiah that could perform signs and wonders. There was no better place for Jesus to do this than at the center of Jewish culture. This would have brought Him instant notoriety.
Sense Jesus had used the Word of God to combat Satan in the previous temptations Satan used the Scripture within the final temptation. Satan used scripture from Psalm 91:11-12. If Jesus was the Son of God, then God would not allow Him to suffer harm by casting Himself down from the Pinnacle. Again Jesus used Scripture to combat that temptation from Deuteronomy 6:16. We are to have faith and trust in God’s Word not presumptuous grandstanding.
Jesus won a crucial victory but Satan found many other opportunities to temp Jesus with many of the same temptations. In the last days of Jesus’ ministry Satan tempted Jesus with great fury. (22:3, 31) Jesus was tempted on many occasions during His earthly ministry. At the Last Supper Jesus said. “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials.” (Luke 22:28)
Ministry in Galilee
The ministry of Jesus in Galilee is recorded from Luke 4:14 to 9:50. A lot of the events that took place here are also found in the Gospel of Mark and many of Jesus’ teachings from this section are found in the Gospel of Matthew. In these chapters many subjects are dealt with but there are three main themes that run through this part of the ministry of Jesus. Each theme will tie in later in Luke and in the Book of Acts.
The uniqueness of Jesus in His ministry was that His life was Spirit led in His service to the people. It is implicit that the kind of ministry Jesus was conducting was the way of the cross, and it became explicit near the end of this part of His life. (Luke 9:22-23)
The response to His ministry was handled differently by the people. At first Jesus was very popular amongst the people but soon gave way to misunderstanding and opposition. This set the stage for His ultimate rejection and crucifixion.
In these chapters Jesus called and began to train His disciples and most of them were from Galilee. These men continued with Jesus throughout His ministry. After the death and resurrection of Jesus these disciple became the core witnesses of His work. (Acts 1:11, 13, 21-22)
Ministry in Miniature
From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry Luke recorded an incident which has all the characteristics of His later ministry. This includes both His personal ministry in Luke and continues in Acts as He works through His followers. Jesus went to His hometown synagogue as the Spirit led Servant that the Prophet Isaiah spoke of. At first the people were amazing by Him but it turned to skepticism and a demand for signs. Jesus then compared Himself to the prophets Elijah and Elisha who God had sent to the Gentiles. The people of Nazareth had a violent reaction to this statement of mission to help the Gentiles and Jesus went on to do His work.
Starting Good 14-15
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry we see three facts that characterized His ministry. He ministered to the people in the power of the Spirit, He taught in their synagogues, and He was highly praised. In verse 14 we see that Jesus was moving in the power of the Spirit and this pertains to what preceded and what followed.
In His early ministry Jesus centered upon the synagogues of Galilee. The synagogue was the central meeting place for the people to worship and receive religious instruction. But even in His early days Jesus was not confined to the synagogues but as the opposition grew we read less of Him teaching in the synagogues. There is in the ministry of Jesus a visible contrast between His popularity and the open hostility that developed. (4:28-29; 6:11)
People are the Mission 4:16-21
In verse 16 we see another bit of information about the childhood of Jesus and His youth. While growing up it had become the custom of Jesus to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. In the Gospel of Matthew (13:54-58) and the Gospel of Mark (6:1-6) the visit of Jesus to the synagogue in Nazareth are recorded. They both place this visit at a later time in His ministry. Because of this Bible students believe that Luke recorded a different visit than Matthew and Mark. But it is probably the same visit in all three gospels. Luke writes the longest Gospel account but they tell the same basic story with the same general outcome. All three of these Synoptic Gospels quote the proverb that a prophet is not accepted in his home country. (Mark 6:4; Matthew 13:57; Luke 4:24)
The explanation for this may be that Luke promised an orderly account and is not chronological. Luke was inspired to start the ministry of Jesus in His hometown synagogue. Another example would be that Luke told of John the Baptist imprisonment (3:19-20) before he told of the baptism of Jesus. (3:21-22)
A Servant of the Lord 17-21
We also find here an early record of the proceedings that took place in the synagogue service. Here Jesus speaks from the words of the Prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 61:1-2; Isaiah 58:6) It may have been the passage for the day or Jesus may have chosen these passages.
The next two verses are among the most important in the gospel. Only in Luke do we find the understanding of Jesus giving a statement of His mission. At Jesus’ baptism we heard a voice from heaven which used language from Isaiah 42:1. Whatever these servants passages meant to the early readers the Christians followed Jesus seeing Him as the ultimate servant.
Jesus was the Servant anointed by the Spirit to help the people. His was a proclamation of a mission of liberation. He came to help the poor, the blind, and the oppressed. Later John the Baptist questioned Jesus and He answered him describing His ministry in similar terms. (7:22)
It was the custom to stand when reading the Scripture and then to sit while teaching the Scripture. Verse 21 is the beginning of His teaching. Only Jesus could have begun to teach in such a way. Jesus proclaimed to be the fulfillment of the prophet’s words and He claimed that it was a present reality.
Skeptical Listeners 22-24
At first the reaction to what Jesus was saying was favorable. They were impressed by the way in which He spoke. In verse 21 we saw only the beginning of His lesson and by verse 22 we begin to see the changing emotion as they listened. At first they were impressed but then they began to have questions come into their minds. They could not see the discrepancy between the message and the man. These people of Nazareth knew Jesus, they knew His father Joseph. They could not connect that He was the Servant that Isaiah had promised. Jesus knowing there skepticism used two proverbs to illustrate their feelings. “Physician, heal yourself” would have meant that a physician that could heal others would not be able to heal himself. By saying this it meant that Jesus had healed elsewhere and so why could He not heal in Nazareth? It was expected by Jesus that they would have wanted proof and that He would have to perform a miracle as He had done in Capernaum. The other proverb was “No prophet is acceptable in his own country.”
A Servant to Help Others 25-27
Jesus reminded them of two prophets from the Old Testament. During the famine of Elijah’s day there were many widows but Elijah was sent to a woman that lived in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel but the prophet healed Naaman the Syrian. Both the widow and Naaman were Gentiles.
This story of the Prophet Elijah was in answer to their want of a miracle. The ministry of Jesus was a broad ministry because of the great human need. His ministry could not be confined to His home town or even to His own nation. When these verses are taken along with verse 24 we see that this event is twofold. As Israel had many times before refused their prophets so they too would reject Jesus. Elijah and Elisha had ministered to Gentiles and so would Jesus.
Worshipers to a Mob 28-29
Their reaction to what Jesus had said made them so mad that they ran Him out of town and tried to kill Him. Why did these worshipers become a bloodthirsty mob? Jesus had told them how two of their revered prophets had gone to the Gentiles rather than to their own people. We see this scene play out again several times in the Book of Acts. (Acts 22:21-22) The Apostle Paul had been speaking in Jerusalem. They listened to him until he told them that he had been commissioned to preach to the Gentiles. They became very angry with him.
Going His Way 30
This verse is a foreshadow of future events. It is epitomizing of the outcome of a gospel for all people. Jesus passed through the angry mob and went on His way to complete His heaven sent mission. Jesus would not always be able to escape His enemies but the purpose of God would not be thwarted. After His death came His resurrection. Beyond the rejection of His people was His mission to all people. In a way then verse 30 foreshadows the rest of the Gospel of Luke and Acts.
The Word and its Mighty Works
Luke 4:18-19 describes the ministry that Jesus had embarked upon. In Luke 4:31 to 5:16 we see some of the early miracles of Jesus. They were acts of compassion toward persons who had various kinds of desperate needs. These miracles were also signs of the good news of the Kingdom of God. Most of the miracles were done by His word and others by His touch.
The people responded to His early miracles in a superficial way. Jesus was popular. Many saw Him as a miracle worker and they followed Him to seek cures. Because of His popularity with the people there were conflicts with the religious leaders and they are found in Luke 5:17 through 6:11 and are absent from Luke 4:31 to 5:16. The people did not oppose Jesus but they were not committed to Him either. Simon Peter was the exception whose response in 5:1-11 marks a crucial step not only in his life but in the history of Christianity.
What is the World 31-37
Capernaum was located on the Sea of Galilee and provided a base for Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Luke 4:31-44 is centered in and around Capernaum. In verses 31-37 the events took place in a synagogue. Jesus taught there in much the same way as 4:16-21 describes His teaching at the synagogue of Nazareth. The people were amazed at His authority. There were many teachers of the law in Galilee but Jesus was very different. Jesus did not site others for reference to what He was teaching. Jesus spoke on His own authority.
In the synagogue Jesus came upon a man with an unclean spirit. The demon addressed Jesus by name and begged Him not to destroy him. The demon also knew that Jesus was the “Holy One of God. Jesus commanded the demon to come out of the man.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus He encountered demon possessed people. Jesus saw them as possessed by evil spirits over which they had no control. The demons were of satanic power and is destructive to the human welfare. It was a purpose of Jesus to break the power of demonic forces over people. Jesus’ miracles of driving the demons out are signs of the greater battle against Satan.
A Larger Ministry 38-44
On that same Sabbath Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever. Before the sunset had set Simon’s house and the street outside was crowded with people. People with all kinds of illnesses had heard of Jesus’ miracles and had come seeking healing. It had been a long and tiring day but Jesus laid His hands upon them and healed them.
The next day Jesus went to a lonely place, Mark 1:35 says that He went there to pray. But the people followed Him and tried to keep Him from leaving. Jesus gave them a very important answer. “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”
Jesus would not allow His ministry to be dictated by others and would not allow His work to be limited to only one area. Jesus intended to go to all of the Jewish territory and minister to the people. At a later time His followers were told to go into all the world with the good news.
We also see here that Jesus did not want to be known only as a miracle worker. He was performing some miracles as an act of compassion and others as signs of the kingdom. But Jesus had come to preach and make the good news real about God’s grace and presence.
The Suffering Prophet
Jesus is described by many titles in the gospels, including Messiah, Son of David, Son of Man, Son of God, and Lord. In Luke a key title is Prophet. Jesus was the prophet that Moses had predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15.
As a prophet Jesus preached God’s word and performed miracles like those of the great Old Testament prophets. When Jesus raised the widow’s son, the People cried out, “A mighty prophet has risen amongst us.” (7:16) The disciples on the Emmaus road identified Him as a prophet who did powerful miracles, and He was a mighty teacher. (24:19)
Like other prophets, Jesus suffered for His testimony. While the people linked Jesus’ prophetic office to His miracles and teaching, Jesus connected it especially to His suffering. At Nazareth, He affirmed that “no prophet is accepted in his own hometown, (4:24) and He later accused Israel of murdering its prophets. (11:47-52) As He journeyed to Jerusalem, He exclaimed, It wouldn’t do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem! (13:33)
In the Old Testament, when Israel did not heed God’s prophets, divine judgment followed. Similarly, God’s people had to listen to Jesus or face judgment.
Just as the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah confirms that He is the Savior for all people, so His role as prophet confirms that His message comes from God, and His words are the authentic words of God, which must be heard and obeyed.