4:1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit3 in4 the wilderness,5 4:2 where for forty days he endured temptations6 from the devil. He ate nothing8 during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished. 4:3 The devil said to him, “If10 you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4:4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man12 does not live by bread alone.’”13
4:5 Then the devil led him up16 to a high place17 and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world. 4:6 And he18 said to him, “To you19 I will grant this whole realm20 – and the glory that goes along with it,21 for it has been relinquished22 to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. 4:7 So then, if23 you will worship24 me, all this will be25 yours.” 4:8 Jesus answered him,27 “It is written, ‘You are to worship28 the Lord29 your God and serve only him.’”30
4:9 Then the devil brought him to Jerusalem, had him stand34 on the highest point of the temple,35 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 4:10 for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’37 4:11 and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”38 4:12 Jesus answered him,40 “It is said, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’”41 4:13 So when the devil43 had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.44
The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee
4:14 Then Jesus, in the power of the Spirit,46 returned to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the surrounding countryside. 4:15 He began to teach in their synagogues51 and was praised52 by all.
Quote on suffering
“To be a follower of the Crucified Christ means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss. – Elisabeth Elliot
Is it a Sacrifice?
People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply acknowledging a great debt we owe to our God which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny? It is emphatically no sacrifice. Rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, danger, foregoing the common conveniences of this life—these may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing compared with the glory which shall later be revealed in and through us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us. – David Livingstone
Some times the Spirit will lead us into the desert. Life is not always going to be filled with roses and problem free. It is our understanding of why these hard events happen to us that are of significant importance to us to understand, any such understanding will help us to be equipped in how best to deal with them.
- Often people will start doubting God’s love for them when confronted with problems, but as with the natural process of growing in our understanding when looking at a small child and then examining his attitude once he is fully grown up, they will tell us from their experience of hardship that it was good for them. That unless they encounter some difficulties in their lives they would be ill prepared and would not know how best to learn to overcome problems and they will most certainly never learn the meaning of growing up in wisdom.
- When I broke my thigh bone, I had to work hard to strengthen it which involved many tears and much frustration. But the whole process including the accident has taught me a great lesson. We should therefore embrace the problems, not avoid them. I was told before that one of the reasons that the Church does not engage the world is simply because it is too much trouble, and we in church prefer to live lives full of joy and peace and will by all means do our utmost to avoid any problems.
Removal of some necessities may cause us a great deal of disturbance.
- We accept psychological assertions – It is not surprising to find where our church standards seem to come from today. Our church ideas of our wellbeing are not in accordance with the Bible. After all don’t we say that according to psychological theories (that which modern church has so readily embraced) we should prioritise our needs. According to “Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs” first we start from physiological needs that consist of hunger, thirst, sex (relationships) and sleep and if any of those are displaced in our lives it would cause any individual to be tested severely. God on the other hand is challenging this assertion in this text by saying there are other more important things, “Man does not live by bread alone”.
- We pay therefore our dues to teachings that are not Biblical; Francis Schaeffer in his book “How should we then live” mentions this idea of Personal Peace and Affluence that seem to be our main preoccupation. By this he means as long as we today don’t lack anything and we live in a peaceful environment we are not concerned with anything else that may be going on that may have troubled Jesus, but today we will not consider this to be our problem. In fact we see this clearly demonstrated by our actions. Our actions today which may cause hardship for the next generation that follows us and this irreparable damage to our environment will possibly have permanent negative effects on their environment and may as a result leave our next generations in a dire situation. When the big picture is taken into account this may change our willingness to accept hard work and hard times. They become worthwhile goals when we start to look outside of ourselves and when serving is more important and more rewarding then being served.
Problems come when you least need them.
- Be aware and be prepared: A fact of life is that often when you are least able to deal with difficulties, problems will come. This may have several effects on us. It is therefore important to be prepared.
- First it may draw you closer to God and make you understand that without him you would be lost.
- Secondly this understanding will give you some extra warning time before things get completely out of control so get on your knees and pray, asking God for his strength. When you are relying on your own resources you will quickly find that you are not able to cope any more.
- One of the biggest problems we have today is our rigid desire to be self reliant. This needs to be understood. One of the great Christian principles we should be aware of is the fact that we are called to support one another i.e. be joyful with those who rejoice and cry with those who are in pain. This will mean developing a deep relationship with each other. However, in this text we find that the main objective is to bring our attention to our dependence on God.
- Jesus was taken willingly to this place of testing. It is one thing for us to be in trouble and say we cope well because we have God on our side but it is completely different when you and I go to great deal of trouble because we feel lead to go there by God. Think of many missionaries who have left their comfortable lives in the prosperous west to go to places of poverty and insecurity due to wars, places like India and Africa and many other places where Christians are not welcomed. What motivates them is their love for humanity that is God given to all who are born of Christ.
There are several categories that the Devil will attack and you should be aware of these. Let’s look at the problems that Jesus had to deal with and then we will separate them and try and see how he responded to them. This will be useful to all of us as we do indeed learn from the master.
“Full of the Holy Spirit”
- If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
- “To you I will grant this whole realm – and the glory that goes along with it, for it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. 4:7 So then, if you will worship me, all this will be yours.”
- 4:9 Then the devil brought him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 4:10 for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 4:11 and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
What you see is the following:
- The Devil will tackle your pride and question your status in the world. He will use this in order to misdirect your actions. Note that how you deal with the problems that you face will reflect how you deal with most other issues. Do we simply close our eyes and hope for the best? Are we avoiding difficult issues or are we happy to learn and then pass that knowledge to the next generation of worriers who will need our help?
Four Brothers Killed by the lion they created
In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen retells a tale from ancient India: Four royal brothers decided each to master a special ability. Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned.
“I have mastered a science,” said the first, “by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it.” “I,” said the second, “know how to grow that creature’s skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones.” The third said, “I am able to create its limbs if I have the flesh, the skin, and the hair.” “And I,” concluded the fourth, “know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete.” Thereupon the brothers went into the jungle to find a bone so they could demonstrate their specialties. As fate would have it, the bone they found was a lion’s. One added flesh to the bone, the second grew hide and hair, the third completed it with matching limbs, and the fourth gave the lion life. Shaking its mane, the ferocious beast arose and jumped on his creators. He killed them all and vanished contentedly into the jungle. We too have the capacity to create what can devour us. Goals and dreams can consume us. Possessions and property can turn and destroy us—unless we first seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.
- You will be tempted to accept the easy way out. Satan will offer you escape by trying to deceive you that he has the easy way out which he does not. Lying that he has glory and authority which he does not. Remember that this was lost with his fall. So don’t buy into the lie!
- There will be times when the devil will tell you to test God and your faith in his word will be questioned. Note that all temptations use Biblical references out of context and your responsibility to discern will be needed in order to overcome these temptations. Questions will be raised such as “If you are a Christian why do you suffer?” etc. Or “Should you not be healed and be prosperous” as per the doctrine preached by the Prosperity Gospel teachers.
And now let’s look at the answers that Jesus Gives. Let’s look to the good book
- “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone.’” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
- “It is written, ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (Deuteronomy 6:13-14)
- “It is said, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’ (Deuteronomy 6:16)
Jesus uses the Bible to correct the deliberate misuse of the Biblical text given to him by the Devil. (See Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13-14, and 6:16) If anyone needed to draw any parallels here just look at what is happening with “Educated” modern day Pharisees also known as Liberal Theologians. These are the very people who will try to take the Bible out of your hands and give you their interpretation. Now I don’t suggest that we should forget that there are parts of the scripture that will need some interpretation. And neither am I saying that only liberal theologians are educated, but note that there persists this lie, that only well informed people will disagree with Biblical truths is so prevalent amongst radical opposition that it is worth taking note of their tactics.
However what we find from the Bible is that when any possibility of confusion is encountered (through the use of parabolas) in the Bible, then the Bible explains itself, often within the very next paragraph of the text in question. Any cultural references and geographical illuminations to the text will only serve to enhance the text, not reduce its glory.
Your basic needs are known
If you ever doubted that God was interested in you and your situation then may I remind you that God constantly looks after us and is constantly encouraging us to trust in his Word. This does not mean that we will be problem free, but it does mean that you will have someone strong holding your hand as you go through the valley of the shadow of death.
Psalm 23: 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me;
Jesus knows what you and I need. Just look at how Jesus expands on this by reading
Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?
This is not to say that we should ignore our needs. What is clear is that God wants you to do your best and then leave the rest to him. We are not told to be ignorant of our physical needs as the Bible clearly states that “he that does not work should not eat” but our priorities should be set and we should act accordingly.
What do you worship?
Today we are bombarded with many sources of information, and misinformation with the media truly being multi media. With TV, Radio, Internet and use of mobile technology we are surrounded 24 hours a day with adverts and external influences upon our lives. We have moved on from the age of optimism and the age of reason in our philosophical views to the views of despair which are separation of reason and faith. Today many will tell us that if you believe something you do not need to understand it.
Examples of reasonable faith can be found in very simple situations e.g. when you are waiting for the bus: Note that our faith is reasonable even when the world tries to persuade us that we should separate our faith and reason. I’m always reminded of the good example of what constitutes Christian faith. Faith can sometimes mean putting our trust in the unseen, but this is not true of anything and everything we do, if you wait for a bus at the bus stop you know that it will come as your previous experiences and your understanding both contribute to cognitively understand that the bus will come. Perhaps you have a timetable and you know that with great regularity it will turn up. Therefore your faith is not illogical as it is based on reason. With a modern move away from reason to modern art and music we have witnessed despair and a fragility of the human mind.
Eventually in our 21st century world we live in a world that is preoccupied with the here and now. We want instant gratification; we want this pleasure as all other meaning to our life is lost; we have rejected God and any positive meaning that the Bible may bring to us today. Our music and art has become less complicated and our philosophical world view has changed. As long as we are living in peace and have enough worldly goods with the latest gadgets filling our houses we are happy.
We need this in order to suppress all the problems that we may face elsewhere. With many work uncertainties and a significant proportion of countries that have suffered great economic turmoil in the early 21st century, people are looking for their personal safety. All this is accompanied with questionable actions of some superpowers and our feeble attempts at achieving peace around the world through questionable methodology. Often the only reason we get involved is because we are either affected economically or because disturbance to our state security is shattered. This was one of the main objections by many millions of demonstrators in the UK when the war in Iraq was announced.
Things to notice as we go through same events:
- Preparation is the key to success: Jesus was at the very beginning of this story full of the Holy Spirit (Jesus often prayed in solitude). Having adequate knowledge and understanding comes from time spent on our knees and in front of the Word of God. The Apostle James was known to have rough knees like a camel due to many hours of prayer. Martin Luther used to say that he was going to be very busy tomorrow and that he had to get up extra early to spend more time not less in prayer.
- Obedience to the calling: Jesus was led to temptation and was forced to endure temptation from the Devil not God. This was a voluntary action often forgotten by many Christians. How many times did you hear how someone has left the church because they felt that had allowed a calamity to come upon their family.
- Total dependence on God: Jesus didn’t have even the most basic of needs met and no help was available to him which forced him to look beyond his visible needs and run towards God to satisfy his inner desire to find God. In other words, this world often masks our real needs with peripheral needs which are already provided for us whenever we obey God’s law. There is only so much we can do and the rest is inevitably up to God. It is our reluctance to let go that leads us to a false sense of self dependency and self reliance. All the available resources we have today are gifts to us and should never be taken for granted.
- Satan tempted Jesus to satisfy his basic needs by breaking God’s law, but if we are agreeing to such an act Jesus would have been wrong as it would have been contrary to the way God has ordained this process to unravel in our lives. We should not make choices that will clearly be breaking God’s law. In order to stay righteous we need to understand God’s law. The easy way out that is not going to cost us anything is often riddled with lies and self obsession.
- Respites will come after our tests: When you have victories you will not be free from attack forever as the Devil will be back “until a more opportune time” as the Bible says but it is nevertheless part of our life strategy that during a time of calm we should continue to be equipping ourselves with the armoury provided by God.
- Training before Power: Before you have the Power of the Holy Spirit you will have to go through a training programme. Please note that at the beginning of this story Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and by the end of it and the beginning of his ministry we find him in the Power of the Holy Spirit. To go from fullness to the power we will just have to accept that the process of strengthening will involve some fire. I am reminded of the workmanship that goes into building the Samurai sword: soft metal is mixed with hard metal and over many hours they are moulded in the fire until the mixture is complete. What you are left with at the end of this process is not a brittle sword but a flexible and very strong weapon.
- Your faith has a price: it’s free to receive everlasting life but it will cost you everything to follow God. I am reminded of this every time I am ridiculed for my faith in him, but the reward is incredible and worth every little bit of irritation we may come across.
- 8. God will send his angels to look after our needs. We are not neglected as all the basics will be covered by God. If we look at the same story recorded in the Gospel of Matthew we find that God continues to be Christ’s provider. Matthew 4:11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and began ministering to his needs.
- Don’t worry, trust in God as his Holy Spirit will guide you in times of need. We need to have a good grounding but once we do our part God will not let us battle on without his help. Luke 12:11 But when they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you should make your defense or what you should say, 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you must say.”
The price of following Jesus
Mark 8:34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
3 sn The double mention of the Spirit in this verse makes it clear that the temptation was neither the fault of Jesus nor an accident.
4 tc Most mss (A Θ Ξ Ψ 0102 f1, 13 33 M lat) read εἰς τὴν ἔρημον (eis tēn erēmon, “into the wilderness”), apparently motivated by the parallel in Matt 4:1. However, the reading behind the translation (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, en tē ejrēmō) is found in overall better witnesses (P4vid,7, 75vid א B D L W 579 892 1241 pc it).
5 tn Or “desert.”
6 tn Grk “in the desert, for forty days being tempted.” The participle πειραζόμενος (peirazomenos) has been translated as an adverbial clause in English to avoid a run-on sentence with a second “and.” Here the present participle suggests a period of forty days of testing. Three samples of the end of the testing are given in the following verses.
8 sn The reference to Jesus eating nothing could well be an idiom meaning that he ate only what the desert provided; see Exod 34:28. A desert fast simply meant eating only what one could obtain in the desert. The parallel in Matt 4:2 speaks only of Jesus fasting.
10 tn This is a first class condition: “If (and let’s assume that you are) the Son of God…”
12 tn Or “a person.” The Greek word ὁ ἄνθρωπος (ho anthrōpos) is used generically for humanity. The translation “man” is used because the emphasis in Jesus’ response seems to be on his dependence on God as a man.
13 tc Most mss (A [D] Θ Ψ  f1, 13 33 M latt) complete the citation with ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι θεοῦ (ajll’ ejpi panti rhēmati theou, “but by every word from God”), an assimilation to Matt 4:4 (which is a quotation of Deut 8:3). The shorter reading is found in א B L W 1241 pc sa. There is no good reason why scribes would omit the rest of the quotation here. The shorter reading, on both internal and external grounds, should be considered the original wording in Luke.
sn A quotation from Deut 8:3. Jesus will live by doing God’s will, and will take no shortcuts.
16 tc Most mss (א1 A [D W] Θ Ψ 0102 f1,  33 700 2542 M it) refer to Jesus being taken up “to a high mountain” (with many of these also explicitly adding “the devil”) here in parallel with Matt 4:8, but both scribal harmonization to that text and the pedigree of the witnesses for the shorter reading (א* B L 1241 pc) is the reason it should be omitted from Luke.
17 tn “A high place” is not in the Greek text but has been supplied for clarity.
18 tn Grk “And the devil.”
19 sn In Greek, this phrase is in an emphatic position. In effect, the devil is tempting Jesus by saying, “Look what you can have!”
20 tn Or “authority.” BDAG 353 s.v. ἐξουσία 6 suggests, concerning this passage, that the term means “the sphere in which the power is exercised, domain.” Cf. also Luke 22:53; 23:7; Acts 26:18; Eph 2:2.
21 tn The addendum referring to the glory of the kingdoms of the world forms something of an afterthought, as the following pronoun (“it”) makes clear, for the singular refers to the realm itself.
22 tn For the translation of παραδέδοται (paradedotai) see L&N 57.77. The devil is erroneously implying that God has given him such authority with the additional capability of sharing the honor.
23 tn This is a third class condition: “If you worship me (and I am not saying whether you will or will not)…”
24 tn Or “will prostrate yourself in worship before…” The verb προσκυνέω (proskuneō) can allude not only to the act of worship but the position of the worshiper. See L&N 53.56.
25 tn One could translate this phrase “it will all be yours.” The sense is the same, but the translation given is a touch more emphatic and more likely to catch the force of the offer.
27 tc Most mss, especially the later ones (A Θ Ψ 0102 f13 M it), have “Get behind me, Satan!” at the beginning of the quotation. This roughly parallels Matt 4:10 (though the Lukan mss add ὀπίσω μου to read ὕπαγε ὀπίσω μου, σατανᾶ [hupage opisō mou, satana]); for this reason the words are suspect as a later addition to make the two accounts agree more precisely. A similar situation occurred in v. 5.
28 tn Or “You will prostrate yourself in worship before…” The verb προσκυνέω (proskuneō) can allude not only to the act of worship but the position of the worshiper. See L&N 53.56.
29 tc Most later mss (A Θ 0102 M) alter the word order by moving the verb forward in the quotation. This alteration removes the emphasis from “the Lord your God” as the one to receive worship (as opposed to Satan) by moving it away from the beginning of the quotation.
sn In the form of the quotation in the Greek text found in the best mss, it is the unique sovereignty of the Lord that has the emphatic position.
30 sn A quotation from Deut 6:13. The word “only” is an interpretive expansion not found in either the Hebrew or Greek (LXX) text of the OT.
34 tn Grk “and stood him.”
35 sn The reference to the highest point of the temple probably refers to the one point on the temple’s southeast corner where the site looms directly over a cliff some 450 feet (135 m) high. However, some have suggested the reference could be to the temple’s high gate.
37 sn A quotation from Ps 91:11 by the devil. This was not so much an incorrect citation as a use in a wrong context (a misapplication of the passage).
38 sn A quotation from Ps 91:12.
40 tn Grk “Jesus, answering, said to him.” This is redundant in English and has been simplified to “Jesus answered him.”
41 sn A quotation from Deut 6:16 used by Jesus in reply to the devil. The point is that God’s faithfulness should not be put to the test, but is rather a given.
43 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the devil) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
44 tn Grk “until a favorable time.”
sn Until a more opportune time. Though some have argued that the devil disappears until Luke 22:3, this is unlikely since the cosmic battle with Satan and all the evil angels is consistently mentioned throughout Luke (8:26–39; 11:14–23).
46 sn Once again Jesus is directed by the Spirit. Luke makes a point about Jesus’ association with the Spirit early in his ministry (3:22, 4:1 [2x]; 4:18).
51 sn The next incident in Luke 4:16–30 is probably to be seen as an example of this ministry of teaching in their synagogues in Galilee. Synagogues were places for Jewish prayer and worship, with recognized leadership (cf. Luke 8:41). Though the origin of the synagogue is not entirely clear, it seems to have arisen in the postexilic community during the intertestamental period. A town could establish a synagogue if there were at least ten men. In normative Judaism of the NT period, the OT scripture was read and discussed in the synagogue by the men who were present (see the Mishnah, m. Megillah 3–4; m. Berakhot 2).
52 tn Grk “being glorified.” The participle δοξαζόμενος (doxazomenos) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. This is the only place Luke uses the verb δοξάζω (doxazō) of Jesus.