The Temptation Of Jesus (ch. 4:1 - 13)
Luke tells us that Jesus left the Jordan River "full of the
Holy Spirit". I have said earlier that when we see the term
"full of the Holy Spirit" in the N. T. most of the time it is in
reference to a special outpouring of the Spirit on someone in order to do
the work of the Lord. This instance is one of those times where this does
not apply. I believe that Jesus was full of the Spirit all of the time. I
donít see special occasions when the Holy Spirit fell on Him to do a
specific task. Jesus was always full of the Spirit. Everyday was Pentecost
From the Jordan Jesus "was led by the Spirit" to go into
the desert. You might wonder, if Jesus was actually God in human flesh,
why would He have to be led by the Spirit to do anything"? Could He
not decide on His own? We must remember that Jesus was both God and man.
He was just as much man as He was God. Thus the Holy Spirit had to lead
Jesus in His humanity. Jesus had to overcome all types of human
temptation, just like the rest of us because He was human. He had to
experience life as a human being, and overcome all of the human frailties
that bother us all in order to bring salvation to us.
The first thing that Jesus had to overcome was found in the desert,
and that was the devil. Luke says that for 40 days He was tempted by the
devil. I would suggest that the accounts the gospel writers give us about
these 40 days is just an overview. What we read in the N. T. is pretty
brief, and to me would not take 40 days. Luke 4:2 clearly tells us that
Jesus was tempted for all of these 40 days by the devil. What we read
would not have taken up all 40 days. But the 3 temptations that follow did
come at the end of the 40 days as can be seen clearly in Mathewís
account. (Mat. 4:2) It was after Jesus had fasted that He was hungry and
at this point the devil tempted Him with the first temptation of record.
Then we will see later that once the devil had finished these 3
temptations, he left Jesus alone.
This was no chance meeting between Jesus and the devil. If Jesus was
led by the Spirit to the desert, it is clear that God His Father wanted
Him to have this session with the devil. Right off the bat, the devil
needed to know who he was dealing with when it came to Jesus. For whose
benefit was this 40 day session for, Jesus, or the devil? I think most of
us have often thought that this meeting was for Jesus, for Him to be
tested, and for Him to overcome. Yet let me suggest that this meeting was
also for the devil. He needed to know who He was dealing with when He
tried to interfere in the things of the Kingdom. The devil tried to win
Jesus over, just as he won Adam and Eve over to his side, but this time it
did not work. How frustrating this must have been to the devil. This was
the first blow that Jesus gave the devil. So these 40 days in the desert
was just as much directed towards the devil as it was to Jesus.
Luke says that Jesus ate nothing during these 40 days. Somehow I
think that this was a training period for Jesus. He had His test with the
devil, with His humanness, which would have included eating. Was Jesus
physically weak at the end of these 40 days? Most likely He was. Did His
weakness hinder Him from being victorious. No, not in the least.
In verse 3 the devil asks Jesus a question that is supposed to
produce doubt in Jesusí mind. A similar question, with the same purpose
was asked of Adam and Eve. The devil asks, "if you are the Son of
God, tell this stone to become bread". The word "if" is
meant to make Jesus doubt that He is the Son of God.
Would it have been wrong for Jesus to have eaten something? Probably
not. Would it have been wrong for Jesus to turn a stone into a piece of
bread? I donít think so. But it would have been wrong for Jesus to
submit Himself to the devil and to do as he says. If Jesus had of said yes
to the devil and turned a stone into bread, then in one sense of the word,
He would have been obeying the devil.
Besides obeying the devil, Jesus did not have to prove that He was
the Son of God. Jesus was not insecure. He did not have to prove anything
to anyone. This was seen very clearly when Jesus appeared before Pilate.
He could have easily demonstrated the fact that He was the Son of God in
many ways to Pilate, and have escaped death, but He didnít.
The devil knew that Jesus was Godís Son. Jesus knew that He was
Godís son, so why prove it to the devil.
Yet besides having to prove who He was, Jesusí answer in verse 4
is this, "it is written, man does not live by bread alone". The
devil was questioning Jesusí Sonship. Jesusí answer had nothing to do
with Him being the Son of God. Both He and the devil knew who He was. He
simply quoted from Scripture and told the devil that there was more to
life than food. As a matter of fact, later in His ministry Jesus calls
Himself the "Bread of Life".
The first temptation fails, so the devil tries another one. He took
Jesus up to some high place to see the nations of the world and said,
"I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been
given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me,
it will all be yours. " (ch. 4:6-7)
Satan is trying to buy Jesus as he bought Eve in the garden. He told
Eve that sheíd be like God. The devil tells Jesus that He will be king
of the world if He bows and worships (meaning give His life to) him. This
temptation is meant to appeal to the humanity of Jesus. Worship the devil
now, get to be King of the world now, instead of later, after going
through the cross. This would be an easy way to being a King/Messiah.
Yet the question needs to be asked, "does the devil have the
authority to actually do what he says"? Has the kingdoms of this
world actually been handed over to the devil? I donít think so. The
devil was making a false claim. He could not do as he said. If Jesus had
bowed down and worshiped satan, He would not have gotten the nations, and
He would have lost His Sonship with God. Could you imagine what bad shape
Jesus would have been in. I think it is not imaginable.
Jesus speaks of the devil being the prince of this world.(John
12:31, 14:30, 16:11) What does this mean? Does it mean that he does have
authority over the world as he has just claims? What does Jesus mean when
He uses the phrase "prince of this world" as it relates to satan?
Once again because of creation God is Lord of all things, including
this world and the world system. I have always said that satan may be a
prince, but Jesus is a King. Anyway, Jesus does describe satan as
"the prince of this world" system. He is prince because people
have given their lives to him whether knowingly or unknowingly. This does
not make him have the destiny of nations under his power. It is God that
can raise up national leaders or throw them down.
Jesus, in John 14:30 says that the prince of this world is coming.
In context He is saying that satan, who is within Judas is coming for Him.
Satan thinks that he will be victorious over Jesus when Judas kisses Him
and He is arrested.
In John 12:31 Jesus says, "now is the time for judgement on
this world, now the prince of this world will be driven out". The
"now" that Jesus refers to is not that exact second in time. The
"now" is the cross. At the cross, and the resurrection the world
is judged and the devil is thrown out. And you thought that the world will
be judged at the end, and then the devil thrown into hell. Well, in one
sense of the word the world was judged at the cross.
Jesus, in John 3:17 says that unbelievers are condemned already
because of their unbelief. Yes, final condemnation comes at the end of
this age, but people who do not believe are as good as condemned already
because of their unbelief. So the world is as good as condemned already,
and by the same token the devil is as good as thrown out already, even
though the full condemnation of the world and the driving out of satan
will be totally realized at the final judgment.
All this relates to how one views the cross. The cross of Jesus was
final. Sins were forgiven, eternal life provided for, the devil defeated,
and so on. Yet the cross is not the end. It is the beginning of the end.
The crossís final implications will come at the end. The cross will be
totally realized at the end of this age. At that moment, we will
experience the result of the cross.
So the devil is a prince of sorts, but only to those who allow him
to be prince. He is not Lord. He has no control over nations as he
claimed. He was struck a real blow at the cross. He was judged and
defeated. The final realization of this judgment and defeat will be seen
at the end of this age.
Getting back to our text. In verse 8 Jesus answers satan with
another quote. He says, "it is written, worship the Lord your God and
serve Him only". Jesus knew who God was, and He wasnít the devil.
By His answer you can tell that Jesus did not believe that satan had the
power over nations as he claimed. Jesus was to worship and serve God
because He was the only one who had the authority that satan claimed to
have. God, as in God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, had, has, and
always will have the final authority over all things. He had, has, and
will have the last word.
In verse 9 satan takes Jesus to a high point on the Temple. Some
suggest that this was a vision, and that Jesus and satan really werenít
at the Temple. But I donít think this is so. Satan tells Jesus to jump
off because "as it was written", (the devil now gets into
quoting Scripture) that angels will protect Jesus.
In verse 12 Jesus answers, "it is written, do not put the Lord
God to the test". Yes, if Jesus had fallen off the temple, angels
would have looked after Him. The same could apply to us. Yet Jesus said
that if He had of jumped, that would have been testing God. In modern
words, that would have been daring God, or putting Him to an unnecessary
challenge. We should never dare God to do anything.
Verse 13 tells us that satan left Jesus, only to return at a more
"opportune time". The devil returned to Jesus in many ways over
the course of his ministry, of course culminating in Judasí kiss of
Jesus Rejected At Nazareth (ch. 4:14 -
Verse 14 tells us that "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power
of the Spirit". Since His baptism their was a special anointing of
power on His life that most likely was not evident before.
It is interesting that Jesus returned to Galilee where He was
raised. He did not go to Jerusalem where the religious elite lived.
You might think that by Lukeís record that Jesus went straight
from the desert back to Nazareth to the event that he speaks about in this
chapter. But according to John we see that a few more things happened
between the temptation and Jesus reading from Isaiah, as Luke records here
in chapter 4.
Luke tells us in verse 15 that Jesus preached in synagogues in
Galilee. Depending on the ruler of the specific synagogue, he would let
certain people speak or teach. Jesus must have showed Himself very
knowledgeable in order to be able to teach in these synagogues. Luke tells
us that everyone praised Jesus for the things He was speaking about. As
yet, although early in His ministry, there was no opposition to Him.
Luke records one certain occasion for us of Jesusí teaching in
these early days. Verse 16 tells us that He returned to Nazareth where He
had been brought up. As was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the
Sabbath. In the morning meeting there was usually two readings of
Scripture that any man was allowed to read. The first reading was from the
Law of Moses. The second reading was from the Prophets. The person reading
from the Prophets could also speak a few words concerning what he had just
read. This is what Jesus did on this occasion. When it came time to read
from the Prophets He was allowed to read. It is quite possible that He was
asked to read since by this time His popularity was well known.
Jesus read from Isa. 61:1-2. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me
to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for
the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the
oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lordís favour".
When Jesus quotes the words, "the Spirit of the Lord is on me
because He has anointed me" He is obviously referring to Himself,
although it is possible that those listening did not yet understand this
to be the case at that moment.
The Spirit of God came on Jesus and anointed Him at His baptism.
From that point on His life changed drastically. Prior to this He was a
carpenter, most likely looking after His widowed mother and brothers and
You might ask yourself, when Jesus read from Isaiah concerning
"preaching to the poor, freedom to prisoners, opening blind eyes, and
releasing the oppressed", was He thinking spiritually or physically?
I believe we can take these words to be first interpreted spiritually, but
it is clear from Jesusí ministry that He accomplished these things on a
physical level as well.
Jesus opened both blind spiritual eyes as well as physical eyes. He
preached to the poor, both in a monetary sense and a spiritual sense. You
might remember Jesus saying, "blessed are the poor in spirit".
(Mat. 5:3) He also led captives free, that is, those captive to sin.
Jesus ends this quote with the words "to proclaim the year of
the Lordís favour". The year of the Lordís favour was beginning
with His ministry. The year is in fact a whole age. We are in what
theologians call the age of grace, where we can easily find Godís favour.
But this will not always be the case.
Jesus stops quoting from Isaiah at this point but the quote goes on
to speak of the coming wrath of God. Jesus decided not to read this part,
probably because He wanted to stress the idea that Godís grace has now
come to man. He would speak about the coming of Godís wrath at a later
Although these 2 thoughts, the year of Godís favour, and His
coming wrath are all part of the same verse, separated only by a
punctuation mark, there is a vast span of time in history between the
beginning of the time of grace and the coming of the wrath of God.
After reading from Isaiah Jesus goes back to his seat and sits down.
Did He plan on making further comments, or did He intend to just read the
Scripture? Those in attendance clearly wanted to hear Him say something
about what He had just read. They "fastenedí their eyes on Him as
he sat down, as if to say, "talk to us about this. Why are you just
Jesus glances around the room and understood what the stares meant,
and so He simply made just one simple comment, as He often does. So often
Jesus does not have to say a lot in order to make a dramatic statement. In
answer to the stares He says, "today this Scripture is fulfilled in
your hearing". This is one short sentence which has far reaching and
dramatic implications. I have a number of favourite sentences in the Bible
and this is one of them. Everyone in that room knew what Jesus meant by
His words. Everyone knew that Jesus was saying that these verses from
Isaiah were referring to Him. I can only imagine the mouths dropped,
hearts sank, and brains began to work overtime.
Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah that had been long awaited for.
This occasion brought the end of Jesusí popularity among many people.
All in that room were amazed at the words that came from His lips. They
were amazed because they all knew Jesus. They saw Him grow up. They new
Him to be a carpenter. He had most likely done work for many who were
sitting in that room. They could accept Jesus as being a possible prophet,
but He was claiming to be the Messiah, and that was a whole different
In verse 23 Jesus responds to their amazement. He says, "surely
you will quote this proverb to me, Ďphysician heal yourself! Do here in
your hometown what we have heard what you did in Capernaun".
The words "physician heal yourself" remind me of what His
accusers said while Jesus was on the cross. They said, "He saved
others, but He is unable to save Himself".
Jesus, in these early days spent much time in Capernaum, doing many
miracles along with His teaching. The people in His home town of Nazareth
would have heard of these miracles, possibly some had seen them. They were
demanding that He do works of power in their town as well. It might be
that some, if not many, did not believe what they heard, so they wanted
proof. These people were demanding. Being demanding is not how you
approach the Lord. As an example, the "name it and claim
teaching" is borderline on demanding from God.
Jesus was not at all interested in the idea to have to prove Himself
to anyone by doing miracles. Mark tells us that He did a few miracles in
Nazareth, but not enough to satisfy the people obviously.
Verse 24 begins with, "I tell you the truth". These are
words of authority. The things that Jesus is saying are not simple
suggestions. They are the truth and everyone hearing the truth should
respond accordingly. It is now clear that conflict is beginning to present
itself to Jesus. Sad to say, that the conflict is originated in His home
The truth that Jesus tells these people is that "no prophet is
acceptable in His home town". Once again, these people know Jesus to
be a carpenter, not a miracle worker or a prophet, let alone the Messiah.
They really are struggling with the idea of the Deity of Christ, as people
Jesus gives 2 examples of how Israel did not accept their prophets
in Old Testament time. The prophets are Elijah and Elisha. These 2 miracle
working prophets were hindered by the unbelief of their own people.
Verse 28 gives us the first indication of the hatred that was
directed towards Jesus, and once again, it began in His home town, among
His friends. Luke says that "they were furious when they heard
this". They were so upset with Jesus that they drove Him out of the
synagogue, took Him to the edge of a hill and tried to throw Him off a
cliff. I am sure that this was a mob mentality as we see so often in the
book of Acts. It would have taken many people to do this.
Yet it was not Jesusí time to die. Luke tells us in verse 30 that
"Jesus walked through the crowd and went on His way". This is
significant. Remember, this is a very angry mob of people who wanted to
kill Jesus. I donít think that a man could simply walk away, walk
"through the crowd" and get away. This was a miracle. He simply
calmly passed through the crowd and "went on His way", and we
have no record of Jesus ever returning to Nazareth, His home town.
I wonder as well if satan was behind this event. He failed in
getting Jesus to jump off a high place, so now he tries to get the people
to push him off a high cliff.
Jesus Drives Out An Evil Spirit (ch. 4:31
Verse 31 tells us that Jesus "went down to Capernaum",
which was a city in Galilee. Luke uses the word "down" not
because it was south of where Jesus came from, but it was literally down
in elevation. Capernaum was 600 feet below sea level.
Jesus went into the local synagogue and began to teach. This would
have been normal because this is where people would have gone to in order
to hear religious messages. It is clear that the first apostles followed
Jesus in this respect. We constantly see Paul and others enter a city and
go to the synagogue to preach.
Not only did He go to the synagogue, but He went on the Sabbath, the
normal practice of all good Jews. Jesus would have been asked to teach by
the synagogue ruler. Therefore, at least in this instance, the ruler of
the synagogue was in favour of having Jesus teach the people. This would
not always be the case.
Luke tells us that the people "were amazed at His teaching
because His message had authority". Jesus wasnít simply teaching a
new philosophy that one could take or leave. What He was saying, He
claimed as the truth. He obviously spoke with deep conviction, and meant
every word that He spoke. He did not say, "I believe this to be the
case", or "as far as I am concerned". He spoke such
statements as, "you must be born again", "follow me",
"believe and be saved". This is what speaking with authority
There is another aspect to speaking with authority and that is the
demonstration of power that came along with the words of Jesus. In this
particular case there was a man possessed by a demon in the congregation.
In verse 33 Luke tells us that this man "was possessed by a
demon, an evil spirit". A demon and an evil spirit are the same
thing. It is thus possible that if there are evil spirits, there are also
The word "demythologize" is a word coined in the 1800ís
Those who "demythologize" the Bible take all of the supernatural
aspects out of the text and explain them away in natural terms. Many have
thus concluded that this man, and others like him, did not really have a
demon. They were only tormented with some kind of mental disability.
This cannot be so. If this was true, then we have a major problem
with Jesus Himself. Jesus recognized that this man had a demon within him.
If it wasnít a real demon, then Jesus was wrong, and how can Jesus be
wrong. If He is wrong on this point, then He can be wrong on other points.
One might say that the people of the day, whether religious or not,
believed in the existence of demons. This was their way of explaining
unnatural behaviour of a person. These people would say that Jesus was
merely going along with the prevalent thinking of the day. If this were
true, then Jesus is being misleading, and following an inaccurate way of
thinking. Once again, if Jesus was doing this, how can we trust anything
else He said.
If we believe Jesus to be who He claimed to be, then what He says is
absolutely correct, and therefore, in this case, this man was possessed by
Much can be said concerning the subject of demons which I wonít
discuss at this time. We do need to understand that demons are real.
Within the church there are varying view points on this subject. Some say
a Christian can have a demon, while others say a Christian canít have a
demon. Some say that demons donít exist in cultured nations such as
ours. Some find demons everywhere. This is a subject for another time.
This particular demon spoke through the man that he possessed. He
knew who Jesus was. He cried out in a loud voice, "Ha! What do you
want with us Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us" I know
who you are - the Holy One of God". "Ha" suggests mocking,
arrogance, and possibly laughter.
The demon speaks directly to Jesus and uses His name. He calls Him
"Jesus of Nazareth". He also recognizes that Jesus is the
"Holy One of God". He certainly knows who he is speaking too.
The demon is speaking on behalf of more demons than just himself.
"What do you want with Ďusí", he asks, "have you come
to destroy us"? These demons knew much more than the people Jesus was
teaching. They knew very well that Jesus was coming to destroy them.
When satan left Jesus in the desert Luke says that he left Him for
"an opportune time". The devil himself did not come to interfere
with Jesusí ministry at this time, but he sent his helpers instead.
Jesus did not bother answering the demonís questions, and why
should He? He simply and sternly said, "be quiet, and come out of
him". Jesus merely said the word and the demons obeyed. He left the
man and as he left he threw the man to the ground. Though the man was
thrown violently to the ground, he was not hurt. We might possibly have 2
miracles here. One was the manís deliverance. The other might possibly
be looking after the man as the demon tried to hurt him on his way out.
At this point everyone who saw what had happened was amazed. They
said, "What is this teaching? With authority and power He gives
orders to evil spirits and they come out". We note here that Jesus
has both "authority and power". He spoke with authority as we
have already stated, and He backed up this authority with power to cast
Once this happened the news of Jesus spread all over the
Jesus Heals Many (ch. 4:38-44)
Verse 38 tells us that Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home
of Simon Peter, where Peterís mother-in-law was sick with a bad fever.
We learn a few things here. We learn that Peter lived in Capernaum, and
that he was married, since he had a mother-in-law.
Luke says that "they asked Jesus to help her". Just what
kind of help they were thinking of is not known for sure. We can speculate
with some certainty that they were at least hoping that Jesus would make
her feel better, and that He did, Luke tells us that "he
rebuked" the fever. He did not pray for her. What words He said, we
do not know, but Jesus may have said something like, "I rebuke you
fever. Leave this lady".
I have said before that there is no real formula to healing.
Sometimes there is a prayer associated with a healing. Sometimes a simple
command or rebuke, as in this case, or sometimes Jesus had the person
being healed do something, like putting mud on a manís eyes. No one can
claim from Scripture one particular way in which a person can be healed.
The lady was immediately healed and Luke tells us that She got up
right away and started waiting on the people who were present in the
house. Thereís a good chance she helped with the evening meal.
In verse 40 Luke tells Theophilus that when the evening came, people
from all over brought the sick to Jesus. Jesus "laid His hands on
them", and they were all healed. No one was turned away. Did these
sick people have faith to be healed? We donít know. My guess is that
some, if not many were like the crippled man in Acts chapter 3, who did
not appear to have faith. It was the faith of Peter and John in Acts 3
that caused the man to leap and dance.
More than healings took place. Jesus cast demons out of many people
as well. Jesus would not allow the demons to speak. This is interesting in
light of some of the deliverance teachings in the 1970ís that suggested
that you ask demons questions, like, "what is your name", and
"why are you there"? Jesus did not want to carry on a
conversation with the enemy. They knew who He was, that is, the Christ and
that was sufficient for Him.
The demons yelled out that "Jesus is the Son of God",
because they "knew that He was the Christ". (ch. 4:41) Jesus
silenced these demons because of what they were saying. Just why He did
not want these demons to shout out the truth is not really known. The
demons were saying 2 distinct things here. One thing was their
acknowledgement that Jesus was the Son of God, that is the deity of Jesus.
The other thing was that Jesus was the Christ. These are 2 separate and
distinct points. Jesus being the Son of God speaks to who He is, Jesus
being the Christ speaks to His ministry, and what He does.
Jesus obviously spent the night at Peterís house because Luke
tells us that He left at daybreak to a solitary place in order to pray.
Either Jesus did not sleep at all that night because of the ministry to
sick people, or else He had a little bit of sleep. Whatever the case, as
soon as the sun rose, He was up and out the door. Even Jesus needed to
find a quiet place to be alone in prayer.
His quietness did not last long. The crowd found out where He was
"and tried to keep Him from leaving". But Jesus told them that
He must "preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to other towns
also, because that is why He was sent". So Jesus kept on preaching in
Here we see the phrase "the Kingdom of God". Luke uses
this phrase while Mathew uses the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven".
Both are the same Kingdom. This is how I understand the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is that place where God reigns supreme. In fact God has
made Jesus King of this Kingdom. At present this Kingdom is a spiritual
and invisible Kingdom, although it is very real. It exists in the
spiritual world. The Day of Pentecost opened the door for us to enter this
spiritual Kingdom. When we give our lives to Jesus in complete trust and
repentance, we receive His Holy Spirit which brings us into this Divine
Kingdom where Jesus is Lord and King. At some future date, when Jesus
returns, this spiritual Kingdom will become material and earthly. The
Kingdom of God will then be on earth, as it is in Heaven.
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