Reading through the Bible together

Friday, December 19, 2014

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As you read through Luke, notice how ideas are developed.  In Luke 4:1, the Holy Spirit which descended on Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:22), now leads Him into the wilderness.  After conquering Satan and his temptations, Jesus “returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14).  When He stood up on Sabbath in Nazareth’s synagogue, He read from Isaiah:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel . . .” (Luke 4:18).   In Capernaum, Jesus cast out many unclean spirits and “did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ” (Luke 4:41).

Why did the Holy Spirit take Jesus into the wilderness?  Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “do not lead us into temptation (Luke 11:4),” but the Holy Spirit led Jesus into temptation and forty days of fasting.  In Jesus’ responses to these temptations, we find answers. 

Knowing where to fight a battle is essential.  Jesus fought on His ground, God’s Word. The devil always tempts us to doubt who we are:  “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3).  Jesus didn’t give Satan’s doubt of His divinity the dignity of a personal reply.  Instead, Jesus used the best weapon against every temptation:  “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God “(Deut 8:3).   

We prove to Satan and to ourselves that we are children of God, not by our good works, but by God’s promises and His providence in our lives.  Jesus quoted from the story of Moses speaking to the children of Israel:  “Remember that the Lord your God led you into the wilderness, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deut. 8:2). 

Then Moses gave them the reason for the wilderness experiences:  “So [God] humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3). 

Jesus conquered Satan by trusting God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s leading.  When Satan tempts you, respond in the power of the Spirit with the promises and commands of God.  As you worship and serve God (Luke 4:8), allow God’s Word and Spirit to be your bread, your strength, and your security. 

Douglas Jacob, D.Min.

Professor of Church Ministry and Homiletics

School of Religion, Southern Adventist University