Luke Chapter 4
This study takes in in depth look at the battle between Christ and Satan. Most Christians today call that Jesus’ trail or refer to that battle as Satan’s temptation of Christ in the wilderness. If you are Christian, I’m sure you heard that story told many times and you still have a lot of unanswered questions about what that meeting really represents. Let’s take a look at that story in Luke’s Gospel and see how the Bible explains what that meeting represented. After reviewing the story as a whole, you will never look at the Bible the same. You may even question the people you have been learning from. In fact you should question them. The Bible shows us how Christ viewed scripture, and how Satan tried to twist scripture. Once you learn how Christ and Satan use God’s written word, you will see what Satan has been trying to cover up for generations. You will also see why some of the most respected religious teachers of our time try to cover up simple facts in scripture. Then you can judge for yourself. Are they following Jesus’ way of respecting scripture, or Satan’s methods to cover up and conceal vital information?
Luke 4:1-44 NLTse Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, (2) where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. (3) Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.” (4) But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.'” (5) Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. (7) I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” (8) Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'” (9) Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! (10) For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. (11) And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'” (12) Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.'” (13) When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. (14) Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. (15) He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. (16) When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. (17) The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: (18) “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, (19) and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” (20) He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. (21) Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (22) Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” (23) Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’–meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ (24) But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. (25) “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. (26) Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner–a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. (27) And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.” (28) When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. (29) Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, (30) but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way. (31) Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day. (32) There, too, the people were amazed at his teaching, for he spoke with authority. (33) Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon–an evil spirit–began shouting at Jesus, (34) “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One sent from God!” (35) Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further. (36) Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” (37) The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region. (38) After leaving the synagogue that day, Jesus went to Simon’s home, where he found Simon’s mother-in-law very sick with a high fever. “Please heal her,” everyone begged. (39) Standing at her bedside, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. And she got up at once and prepared a meal for them. (40) As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one. (41) Many were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But because they knew he was the Messiah, he rebuked them and refused to let them speak. (42) Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. (43) But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” (44) So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.
This may be one of the most important chapters in the Bible. I would say, it is the most over looked chapter in the Bible because it is one chapter that proves beyond any shadow of a doubt God wrote the Bible.
While writing another book, Prophecies Fulfilled: Genesis to Deuteronomy, I followed the basic rules of context and found Jesus answered all of Satan’s questions by quoting scripture to answer Satan’s first temptation. This showed how Jesus spent His time preparing for that confrontation in the wilderness.
Prophecies Fulfilled: Genesis to Deuteronomy,available as an eBook download at:
That study is also available on my web site at: https://adventbiblestudy.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/deuteronomy-83-not-by-bread-alone/
You can review that study in its entirety to see how God arranged His word to address all of Satan’s accusations and overcome those temptation before Satan had a chance to introduce them. The answers Jesus responded with are scattered over the Old Testament, but the main answer is found in Deuteronomy 8.
One of the first details, not mentioned in this story, but widely accepted in the Christian world, is Satan’s ability to interpret God’s Word. People claim, and some even go as far as preaching that Satan has a total understanding of God’s Word, particularly prophecies. I’d like to point out how much the Bible, in particular, the gospels, point out that understanding comes only through a close personal relationship with God’s Spirit. An advantage Satan lacks. As we see in Revelation, Satan was cast down to this world and removed from any contact with Heaven.
Lucifer was one of the covering cherubim in Heaven. That was until God and His Son went off alone to discuss the plan of salvation. Lucifer had already been questioning God’s law and ultimate rule of Heaven and the universe. Satan didn’t take the secrecy well. He fancied himself equal to God, Why would God want to make any decision without his input? To Lucifer, that was the ultimate sign of disrespect.
Satan never knew anything about God’s plan of salvation, because he was the cause of those plans. What little Satan could understand about the God’s Word, the Tabernacle, and everything those symbols pointed to, he distorted. He turned everything back to a personal view of himself. That’s where the list of endless sacrifices and the universal belief among Jewish factions that the Messiah was a destroying angel came from.
Another fallacy about Satan centers on his ability to tell the future. Where is the evidence for that? Some people point to Saul’s encounter with the witch that told him, “the LORD will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The LORD will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.” (1 Samuel 28:19 NLTse). But when we stick to basic rules of Bible study to find out how the author led to that event, we see Saul was possessed by a demon. Satan had direct access to Saul and knew everything about him. It wasn’t much to look at the situation and see, once Saul decided to attack, it was all over for him. Satan couldn’t loose. His goal was to keep Saul separated from God. If Saul attacked, only a miracle would save him. Satan couldn’t do a thing about that. If God wanted him that bad, let Him have Saul. If Saul backed down and fled the battlefield, Satan would either take credit himself, or place it on the woman who claimed to be a medium. There was a very good chance Saul would go into battle and die. Satan saw how Saul’s army was leaving him. After all, Satan was the one behind their fear. Satan had a 2 out of 3 chance of gaining an advantage. And he liked the odds.
There is one strange detail about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry we should all see. Luke told us, “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. (Luke 3:23 NLTse). You’ll notice Luke recorded this in the preceding chapter. He did that for a reason. Luke also recorded Jesus’ family line to give us an idea of what was at stake. Then of course Luke pointed out how Jesus began His ministry alone. How can one of the nicest, if not, the most trusted man in the world set out on such an important mission alone? Where were Jesus’ friends and family? Where was His support?
Since Luke established the pattern of looking back, let’s look back at some details about John’s training in another book. John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4 NLTse). John was trained in the wilderness and baptized in the wilderness. God always made sure John had enough to eat.
A lot of people like to place Jesus in a dry, barren wilderness full of sand, dust, and of course rocks and stones. We see it in all the movies and children’s cartoons. This makes it look like Jesus had no choice but to wander endlessly around looking for food. They present Jesus as a man trapped and controlled by his surroundings. But is that true?
Jesus was led by God’s Spirit into the wilderness. Would God’s Spirit lead His Son into a barren, hot, desolate wilderness to add heat stroke and thirst to His fast? I don’t think so. Jesus went off alone to defeat temptation and fear, which is what drove Saul to seek advice from a medium. Fear eventually killed Saul,his sons, and army.
Jesus over came the earthly fear of being alone. Isn’t that a fear most people have? Their afraid of being alone, so they marry the wrong person. They follow the wrong crowd to socialize and be accepted. That fear of being alone forces more people into more mistakes than we can imagine. But Jesus wasn’t alone. As soon as Satan left, God’s angels prepared a meal for Him.
Jesus also showed His ultimate dedication to God by deciding not to eat. Food was available. Remember another story about honey? But Jonathan had not heard his father’s command, and he dipped the end of his stick into a piece of honeycomb and ate the honey. After he had eaten it, he felt refreshed. (1 Samuel 14:27 NLTse). Jesus could have eaten a bit of honey any time He chose. But He decided to wait until His Father said it was time. Everything in Jesus’ ministry was based on timing.
The fact John ate honey, tells us there were of course two elements in and around God’s classroom in the wilderness, bees and flowers. If there were flowers, there was a host of other vegetation, and animals. If there was vegetation, there was water, a basic element of life. That was all Jesus needed. God’s Spirit and the basic element of life.
Jesus Led By God’s Spirit
Luke 4:1-2 NLTse Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, (2) where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
The first thing I noticed about this introduction is how it related to Luke’s previous introductions. In chapter 4, Luke introduced the key word devil. In chapters 2 and 3, Luke used key words like emperor, governor, and ruler. Is there a connection? We shall see as we progress through this chapter.
Once again, I compared the introduction to the summation. Once again Luke recorded a contrast, introducing the devil at the beginning, and at the end he summed up the main theme of Jesus’ ministry. “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” So we can expect to see lessons taught with contrasts in this chapter.
Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit and is led by the Spirit in the wilderness. The first question we have to ask is, how did Jesus know He was being led by God’s Spirit? Oh, we can assume a few minor details we learned from stories and fables, but do those reach deep enough into scripture to pull out the important lessons taught by a few lines in scripture?
Looking ahead a few verses, we see Jesus quoted scripture. Did those just come to mind at the right time? Was Jesus relying on His memory to combat the devil? Certainly not! Luke introduced the fact, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit. If we want to stay within context, we have to look at each and every verse in that context, which will lead us to other important information leading us up to this event.
The first point to consider is Jesus’ use of scripture. Where did we see Jesus using scripture before? Didn’t Luke tell us, “Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:46-47 NLTse). Would those teachers be impressed with opinions from a child, or His mastery of scripture?
Now we have to ask the question, where did Jesus learn about scripture? Did Joseph and Mary enroll Jesus in a seminary or school? Did He learn it at an evangelist seminar? The choices are slim. When we look at other accounts of Jesus’ birth, we find a group of wise men giving Jesus’ parents gifts. “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10-11 NLTse). Later Joseph received a dream. Following instructions, Joseph took his family to Egypt.
Where did they go in Egypt? If they settled near Alexandria, Egypt, they would have found copies of scripture readily available. The city was build by Alexander the Great, the leader of the third world empire. Greeks philosophers flocked to the city and established some of the worlds most respected schools of philosophy. Study of Hebrew scripture was one of their main interests. Over the years, Greek philosophers dove into scripture, tore it apart, and explained how it supported some of their beliefs in the planets and elements. They knew it carried symbols with hidden meanings and wanted to be the first to interpret them. Of course the Greeks in Helena wanted to beat them to the punch. And of course the two schools of learning didn’t agree on a lot points. Hebrew scholars couldn’t let those Greeks have all the fun. So they established their own institutions and scholars to pump out interpretations as fast as they could. To make a long story short, this explosion of interest in scripture was the result of Greek copies of scripture widely circulated throughout the civilized world. This was especially true near institutions of higher learning. Among those Greek copies of scripture were a few, valuable copies in Hebrew. Which of course were much more accurate and were circulated by Rabbis interpreting scripture and writing manuscripts to straighten out those Greeks. For a detailed account of the events, you can read The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim. The advent and circulation of early copies of scripture is located in the first book of the series.
It should not surprise people, and we cannot discount the fact, copies of both Greek and Hebrew scripture were available at local markets in and around Alexandria, Egypt. Joseph had the funds to purchase a much more expensive Hebrew copy. Based on the fact, Jesus impressed those teachers in the temple at a very young age shows His education started early.
Luke intentionally jumped from Jesus as a small boy at the temple to Jesus battling with the devil for a reason. On the surface it may appear Luke left that time, the better part of thirty years, up to interpretation. But the question is, how are you going to interpret that time span? Luke gave a couple of book marks so to say. Each is a mirror of the other. Jesus knew scripture. How Jesus acquired a copy of scripture may not be clear, but how Jesus learned scripture is plain. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit. This explained more than volumes.
Jesus may not have eaten anything for over a month, but based on previous chapters and other accounts of John, we can see, there was food available in the wilderness. Jesus made the choice to enter this battle of temptation by over coming the fear of being alone, and making the decision to exhibit self control by not eating.
This also taught important aspects of Bible Study. It requires discipline and sacrifice. Bible study can and should be done in groups, but you’ll find the best results come when you spend time alone with your Bible and God’s Spirit.
As we can see, the study of scripture was an important part of Jesus’ life. So what do you think He did over those forty days? He went over the finer points of scripture, preparing for His next step in His ministry. There is another point from a previous story we have to consider. Simeon gave Mary a glimpse into the future. Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” (Luke 2:34-35 NLTse).
Mary didn’t know what it meant. Either did Simeon. He couldn’t explain it to her. Fast froward to Jesus on the cross and Mary at His feet. No one seemed to understand why Jesus was on that cross. Can you imagine Jesus and Mary going over those scriptures about Him? Did Jesus understand them before He began His ministry? We can’t be sure when Jesus began to understand all those prophecies and put the story together. We know Jesus tried explaining them to His disciples before He was arrested. They found one excuse after another not to listen. We can see, Jesus didn’t explain those prophecies to Mary. Not one word is mentioned about Mary trying to tell those disciples and her family how her son would fulfill over three hundred prophecies. The fact Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand those prophecies and couldn’t come up with their interpretations on their own showed, it takes more than group study to learn from scripture. It takes one on one time with God’s Spirit.
Make That Stone Into Bread
Luke 4:3-4 NLTse Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.” (4) But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.'”
I think we need to look at those temptations one at a time. Especially those where verses are quoted. As we’ve already seen, it is important to look up the chapter of each Old Testament text quoted in the New Testament.
Here we have a simple temptation. The devil made a simple request. But look how Satan introduced the temptation. “If you are the Son of God.” That, “if,” is a huge word in this context. Before his name was changed to Satan, Lucifer knew Christ in Heaven for who knows how long. Satan knew who Jesus was. What is with that, “if?”
That little two letter word was meant to get to Jesus. It was meant to think Satan forgot about the time they spent together in Heaven. It was also meant to lure Jesus into a conversation. It worked with Eve. Why wouldn’t it work with Jesus?
Of course Jesus knew what Satan was up to. He just spent 40 days alone with God’s Spirit who prepared Jesus. So Jesus stuck to what He know best, scripture. When we look up that scripture, we find some interesting facts.
Deuteronomy 8:1-3 NLTse (1) “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors. (2) Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. (3) Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
We need to take a look at the entire introduction to check the context. It doesn’t seem to fit into Satan’s plans. If we looked ahead, we’d see Satan claims he owns everything and promised to give it to Jesus, with a few strings attached. This is a strange offer considering Satan’s main complaint was that God had a few conditions. People had to obey all the commands. That may not seem so much when you think of it. This world is filled with conditions.
Did you ever read your mortgage contract? It is filled with conditions. The bank just doesn’t call them commandments. If you rent, you’ll also have pages of details you agree to follow. The same is true with God. Keep His commandments and He is willing to give you land. Landlords are willing to allow you to live in a property as long as you pay rent to support them. Banks will charge you what really amounts to unbelievable interest rates. They break it down to an annual interest rate so it appears small, but actually costs you 150% to 200% interest or more.
Verse 2 contains some interesting words. Remember is one. Is this reaching out to Jesus when He needed encouragement? It also contains the words forty years. Kind of a close relationship to the forty days Jesus went without food. Then the promise. God fed them with manna. It doesn’t really matter if Jesus was in a dry barren desert or spent time in an orchard in the woods someplace. All Jesus had to do is ask for food, and God could have supplied everything He wanted. What we want to do now is look at the summation.
Deuteronomy 8:18-20 NLTse (18) Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath. (19) “But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. (20) Just as the LORD has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the LORD your God.
Here we have it. If Satan would have known scripture like Jesus did, he never would have tried the temptations he used. He never would have offered the things he offered Jesus. This time the word remember is pointed, or shot, straight at Satan. “Remember the LORD your God.” This wiped out Satan’s little, “if.” Satan had no authority to give anyone anything. Jesus knew all of this scripture. God’s Spirit guided Him to it at the right time. These two chapters prove beyond any shadow of doubt, God is God, He wrote the Bible, and Jesus is the Messiah. It also proved, Satan didn’t stand a chance. As long as Jesus continued to rely on God, and yes, follow those commandments, Satan was going to be destroyed.
Satan Tries to Buy Jesus
Luke 4:5-8 NLTse Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. (7) I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” (8) Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'”
Now we see how well Satan knows scripture and how much he understands. If Satan would have gone back to the scripture Jesus pointed him to, he would have never asked that question. Why tempt someone with something he already provided an answer to? That’s Satan’s way of doing business. After all those of years of existence, that is all he knew.
Of course we owe it to ourselves to look at the original texts Jesus quoted. Otherwise we’re doing nothing but making the same mistake Satan did. And not too many of us want to go in that direction.
Deuteronomy 6:13-16 NLTse (13) You must fear the LORD your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name. (14) “You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, (15) for the LORD your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth. (16) You must not test the LORD your God as you did when you complained at Massah.
Once again, Jesus pointed Satan to texts about worshiping God and also warned about worshiping other god’s. Satan insisted he wasn’t sure Jesus was God’s Son. This texts tells us, God lives among us. Then we see something just as amazing as the first scripture Jesus quoted. “ You must not test the LORD your God.” Jesus answered another temptation Satan hadn’t tried yet.
Deuteronomy 6:1-6 NLTse (1) “These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, (2) and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the LORD your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. (3) Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. (4) “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. (5) And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. (6) And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.
Looking at the introduction to Deuteronomy 6, we see another emphasis on God’s laws and commandments. This time Moses tells Israel not only to know them, but to be ready to teach them. Reading them isn’t enough. Knowing them isn’t enough. Following God’s commandments isn’t enough. You have to know them well enough to teach them.
Satan knew God’s commandments and followed them for who knows how long. Satan my have even taught some of the laws. But something went wrong. Something changed. Lucifer no longer loved God. Fact of the matter is, Satan still knows God’s laws, but now his teaching and temptations are contrary to God’s laws and commandments.
Deuteronomy 6:21-25 NLTse (21) “Then you must tell them, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand. (22) The LORD did miraculous signs and wonders before our eyes, dealing terrifying blows against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his people. (23) He brought us out of Egypt so he could give us this land he had sworn to give our ancestors. (24) And the LORD our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day. (25) For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’
Deuteronomy 6 closed with a reminder of Egypt and the slavery they imposed on not only Jews, but every nation they conquered. Remember, Joseph was brought in Egypt as a slave a few generations before those Jews were enslaved. We’re also reminded of the miracles God preformed to free them. This is another reminder of God’s power. How He could have fed Jesus at anytime. Given Him anything He wanted. And of course, dwelt with Satan anytime He chose.
The Devil Took Jesus to the Temple
Luke 4:9-13 NLTse Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! (10) For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. (11) And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'” (12) Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.'” (13) When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
We can’t help but see, Luke repeated the word scriptures. When we see such an important word repeated, we may want to ask why. The last time the devil tempted Jesus, he tried his hand at bribing Him. Money didn’t work, so Satan turned to scripture. This gives us one of the few recorded instances where the devil quoted scripture. It’s not by chance it is found in a set of verses where Jesus also quoted scripture. There’s no doubt this is a war of words. This is a chance to see who has the most effective weapons and how they use them. We’ll look at these in order after we first look at how Satan used scripture.
Psalms 91:11-12 NLTse For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. (12) They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
This is the small section of texts Satan quoted. Now it wouldn’t be fair to accept the few verses Satan quoted without checking the context. After all we put Jesus on trial. Well it really wasn’t a trial. We were looking for more information on the subject. And of course, we found it. What do you think we’ll find when we look at the chapter Satan quoted from?
Psalms 91:8-16 NLTse Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. (9) If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, (10) no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. (11) For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. (12) They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. (13) You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! (14) The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. (15) When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. (16) I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Amazing how a few verses before the one Satan quoted, it says, “Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.” What is even more amazing is how that punishment is described immediately after the verses Satan quoted. “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!”
We can see, without a doubt, Satan has no understanding of scripture. What we really see is one of the few examples in the Bible showing the use of proof texts. That is where a person will search for particular texts to use to support the idea they want to prove. The problem is, the study rules for proof texts ignore the basic rules of context.
Unfortunately, proof texts is the most popular method of Bible Study in the world today. The sad part is, most people study so little, they have no idea where this method came from, or that their following Satan’s instructions when they use it. Of course, you can look at how people use Bible texts to see if they are using it to prove their own ideas. And of course, if we want to obey the general rules of context, we have to check the introduction.
Psalms 91:1-7 NLTse Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (2) This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. (3) For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. (4) He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (5) Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. (6) Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. (7) Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.
The context of this chapter centers on God’s protection. It just happens to be the same context Satan used the texts he quoted. He wanted Jesus to prove He had God’s protection. So we can see, even when scripture is used within context according to the introduction, the summation must always be checked. God has a way with his word beyond our imagination. Here we have nothing less than an example showing how God goes much further than protecting us, and His Son, Jesus. God also provided a way to protect His Word way before Satan tried to abuse it.
Jesus proved He is way ahead of Satan’s understanding of scripture by quoting another portion of the same texts He quoted before. This may pass the attention of most people, but when you learn to allow God’s Spirit to guide your studies, you’ll be amazed at how many of these details He is waiting to show you.
Deuteronomy 6:13-16 NLTse (13) You must fear the LORD your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name. (14) “You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, (15) for the LORD your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth. (16) You must not test the LORD your God as you did when you complained at Massah.
We just compared how Jesus used scripture and how Satan abused it. When we read a few extra
verses, we see Jesus’ answer to Satan’s next temptation. When we read a few extra verses from the texts Satan quoted, we see what He didn’t want us to see. We see exactly what will happen to Satan. We see his destruction.
To understand Bible Study we have to review the introduction to this chapter where we see Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. This is the key to understanding. Jesus answered all of Satan’s temptations with a single chapter. It was a short term prophecy so to speak.
Satan was able to make it appear as if Jesus was somehow transported to the top of the temple Herod built. Satan tried to create a scene of an empty courtyard. But when Jesus looked down, He saw people wondering around. In Jesus’ view, that courtyard was packed with people beyond capacity. And so were the pens of sheep and goats destined for certain death. Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.”
After Jesus was baptized, He immediately proceeded on the journey He was destined to travel. He walked for days over the roads of western Jerusalem. Along those roads, Jesus looked at farmers preparing their fields. After a while, those fields turned to carpets of wild flowers. Jesus gazed upon the colors of hope and promise God provided.
Jesus sat down as evening drew near. Before the sun began to set, He stared at a bud waiting to open. As Jesus looked at the small, unassuming green bud supported by a single stem, He realized how the rounded shape at the bottom and point at the top resembled the bottom half of an hour glass. Jesus thought to Himself, how strange it appeared to have such a tiny opening at the top to capture those sands of time. Jesus looked at other flowers around the bud that were already open. They had large yellow cups in the center surrounded by larger platter shaped pedals below. Now this is how a person should be shaped to catch the sands of eternity. Shaped so nothing escapes.
Jesus knew there were two cups offered in this world. The cup of indignation, sin, greed, the search for power, and control, and that cup He came to offer them. When fully opened, the cup of indignation lets little escape. But the cup Jesus was about to open offered a much sweeter nectar.
Jesus traveled a few more days. Houses and people were far and few between. Finally Jesus climbed a small mountain not far from the Jordan River. Jesus sat by Himself thinking about what happened so far, and what He knew would happen, based on the scripture He knew. Jesus looked down at the river looking like a red ribbon as the setting sun turned the sky red, giving everything a warm, brilliant hue.
Jesus did what He loved to do best. Jesus thought about scripture and reviewed details with God’s Spirit. The more Jesus prayed about scripture and His role in the plan of salvation, the more He could see and understand. Jesus may have physically been in this world, but spiritually He was in Heaven at His Father’s throne going over details. Jesus not only had to prove it is possible to live without sin, but it was also possible to learn details about scripture through God’s Spirit. Jesus showed how the two worked together.
Suddenly, Jesus knew He wasn’t alone. Like a cold winter breeze covering His entire body, Jesus felt the presence of someone He had not seen in a while. Satan himself came to tempt Jesus. Satan’s agents knew something was up when Jesus left Galilee and traveled to the Jordan River alone. They tried their best to discourage and stop Jesus. But their attempts were about as effective as a gnat trying to stop a ox plowing a field.
Demons also witnessed Jesus’ baptism and saw God’s presence. Years of restriction on earth didn’t dull their perception of God. They knew something was up and reported what they saw. Satan knew something was about to happen and decided he needed to take full control of the situation before it got out of hand. But Satan couldn’t get close to Jesus as long as He was in direct contact with God.
Finally, after their meeting was over, Satan immediately stepped in. Jesus recognized the devil, but he pretended he didn’t know Jesus. Satan wanted to give Jesus the impression he’d forgotten their life in Heaven. Satan had been personally watching Jesus from a distance. He knew Jesus had not eaten in days. Satan looked around for an opening. “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.” Satan wanted to test Jesus to see if He was 100% human, or if He came to this world in the form of a spirit. Satan was smart. He knew he had to probe his enemy to find Jesus’ strengths and weaknesses. Still, Satan didn’t know much about God’s plan of salvation and understood less.
Jesus knew exactly what Satan was up to. God knew what he was up to and told Jesus how to combat it. Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.'” Jesus pointed out the answer came from scripture. But Satan had no idea the power scripture held, or how to use it. Satan knew scripture existed. He used it to create a few twists in his own religions. He copied sections of it and taught people to follow some parts to see what their reaction would be. But Satan had no idea scripture had the power to lead people to God and protect them.
Satan also had no idea Jesus answered his first claim of not knowing who Jesus was, when suggesting to make bread, and his next temptation before he had a chance to conjure it up. Somehow Satan was able to give Jesus an image of some of the world’s kingdoms and armies. Jesus almost laughed at Satan’s vision, as He knew most of those armies were from the past. Satan showed visions of armies who were successful at one time, but eventually defeated. Jesus knew, Satan showed visions of Babylon’s armies and kingdom during its glory days. Also visions of Cyrus’ and Alexander’s armies and kingdoms. Then of course Egypt’s armies and finally the Roman empire. Not only didn’t Satan have power to give those things to anyone, most of them didn’t exist anymore.
“I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” Jesus didn’t have to think much over. Jesus recognized the armies and leaders. Knowing most were in the grave for a long time, and Satan never had any power to raise them, Jesus’ answer was simple. “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'”
This upset Satan. He had no idea what to do next. All Satan knew was Jesus spent a lot of time in scripture. Satan thought he should test Jesus on this subject. Satan didn’t look at scripture as a battle field, or a weapon, because he had no way of knowing how to use it, or how Jesus would use it. But Satan being the devil, convinced himself it was easy and there was no reason why he couldn’t use scripture against Jesus and win.
But Satan was at a disadvantage. Satan enjoyed taking little bits and pieces of scripture from here and there, and distorting them. For years Satan saw how easy it was to trick and mislead people. His years of success with those Greeks gave him immense pleasure. They were easy compared to some of the other religions in the world. Some were so steeped in the first impressions Satan gave them, it was nearly impossible for them to change. But eventually he worked his people into the right place and made the changes he thought were necessary. But the Rabbis were a different story. Some details were easy,others more different. Satan couldn’t get them where he wanted them, but he got them far enough away to serve his purpose. It seemed the Jews, more than anyone else, had a mind of their own.
Then Satan put the two together to come up with the best plan he could at the moment. Satan put religion and scripture together to offer something more important to Jesus then those kingdoms and power. The devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'”
Satan knew the Hebrews were God’s chosen people. Satan remembered that much. So there had to be a way of using it against Jesus. After all, Satan had been using friends against friends and family against family. He was certain he found one of Jesus’ weaknesses. But he didn’t. Satan played right into Jesus’ strongest arena. Satan proved, he had little regard or use for God’s Word. Satan used two lines from scripture that he thought would trick Jesus. The devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'”
Satan couldn’t figure out why Jesus was smiling. Then His face turned sad. Satan tried getting Jesus caught up in a vision of a glorious temple with an empty court. A courtyard Satan could help him to fill. But Jesus knew what God’s Word said next. “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!” Jesus knew it was placed there to encourage Him. But more than anything, Jesus wanted Satan to turn away from his plans and pride. Jesus wanted the angel He spent all that time with in Heaven to turn back to God. So Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.'”
That was it for Satan for a while. There weren’t anymore ideas for the time being. So Satan left. But he was far from giving up. The only lesson he learned was, not to put himself in jeopardy when pride was at stake.
Jesus Returned To His Hometown
Luke 14-30 NLTse Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. (15) He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. (16) When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. (17) The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: (18) “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, (19) and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” (20) He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. (21) Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (22) Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” (23) Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’–meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ (24) But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. (25) “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. (26) Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner–a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. (27) And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.” (28) When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. (29) Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, (30) but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
When a king achieves a major victory, they usually expect to return to a triumphant victory parade. Not so with Jesus. No one knew about His victory over Satan. To Jesus, the battle here on earth still had a long way to go. This wasn’t the beginning and it certainly wasn’t the end.
Jesus received His praise in synagogues, not the streets and royal palaces of kings. A synagogue is different than the temple. In the temple, the priests loosely followed the ordinances written by Moses. In synagogues, priests, Levites, and other people, known as common Jews, followed a series of man made customs. To get a better idea of those customs, you can read, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” by Alfred Edersheim, Book III. Jordan to the Mount of Transfiguration, Chapter 10 The Synagogue at Nazareth, and Chapter 11 The First Galilean Ministry. This will give you a basic idea of some of those traditions and insight to some of the traditions practiced today in many Christian churches.
Few, if any of those customs are actually based on the Bible. Those traditions are of course designed to provide a resemblance of worship, but are they true worship in a form and manner described in the Bible?
There is something still hidden in scripture. Of course information concerning worship is scattered throughout the Bible. And much of it does have a physical and spiritual meaning. Take for instance Exodus 29. Some of those key words include priest and son. The original priests were Aaron’s sons. And of course, Aaron was the first high priest of the Tabernacle. There are two major factors concerning the relationship of the priesthood of Aaron and his sons which evolved to become the priesthood in Jesus time. The first is, high priests and other priests were responsible for arresting, putting Jesus on trial, and His execution. The second lies in the fact, God choose the Levites as His firstborn sons. “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the LORD.” (Numbers 3:12-13 NLTse).
Later the Bible tells us, we are all heirs through Christ, and all sons and daughters of God. For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. (Romans 8:16-18 NLTse). There is much more behind those spiritual meanings that we have room to cover here. On the surface we can see God’s chosen firstborn killed His Son. Hence the parable of the landlord and unfaithful tenants and other parables related to servants who either didn’t understand or accept their roles is made clear.
You’ll notice, before Jesus faced Satan, He was full of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus faced Satan He was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. There must be a difference, otherwise Luke would not have recorded it this way. When we check out the original Greek we see verse 1 refereed to being covered. Verse 14 referred to a force, a miraculous force pertaining to miracles.
Jesus didn’t gain His fame like other kings. People heard about Him based on what He taught in their synagogues. Luke didn’t record anything about what Jesus taught in those other synagogues. But he recorded a detailed summary of what Jesus taught in the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home.
Once again we’re faced with the task of locating the original scripture, and of course examining the chapter. Once we do, we’ll be able to see what Jesus led them to and wanted them to understand.
Isaiah 61:1-2 NLTse The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. (2) He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
Looking at what Jesus pointed them to, we can easily see, the original scripture contained more information than what Jesus provided. Why did Jesus stop short of reading more? One of the most important things Jesus came to do is, show us how to have a direct relationship with God’s Spirit. That ain’t gonna happen if someone takes His place by telling people the whole story. Look at the original texts and think of how it has a personal bearing only you can understand. First we’ll look at the introduction.
Isaiah 61:3-6 NLTse To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. (4) They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. (5) Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards. (6) You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches.
First of all, this prophecy is pointed to all who mourn. People who aren’t mourning have no idea what’s going on. We have to be like Jesus and feel the pain of the world before we can hope to understand it. If we think everything is going well and we are in control of our own destiny, we are never going to see the spiritual side any of this prophecy, or any other. But when we do mourn, God will provide, beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. The most import part of this whole prophecy is, God will make us His priests. What does that say to you? Is part of being a priest running off to someone every time you have a question? Where does a priest go for answers? Directly to God. We are not going to cover the entire chapter here. That would defeat the purpose of having you review a section of it on your own. But to follow the rules of context we know we have to look at the summation.
Isaiah 61:10-11 NLTse I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. (11) The Sovereign LORD will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.
Of course God is going to list advantages of following Him. These are some of those details Jesus didn’t mention because He wanted people to look for themselves and spend a little one on one time with God’s Spirit.
How do you envision an overwhelming joy in the LORD my God? Come on now. If that isn’t personal, I don’t know what is. I am in the middle of a major crisis on a project I’ve been working on for months and I am not worried about it. As a matter of fact, I am rejoicing in the lessons I’ve learned over the past 24 hours.
Yesterday we went over to look at a house a buyer was scheduled to close on a few hours ago today. Instead of closing, I’ve spent 3-4 hours emailing people about problems and another 3-4 hours on the phone. We went to the house to find, this government owned home had a contractor stop by to add a clear coat to the hardwood floors. What should have been a light sanding, clean up, and new clear coat for the buyer has now turned into a major nightmare. The contractor came over and sprayed on a clear coat over parts of the floor. They didn’t sand, sweep, or clean the floors, which were filthy. They put a permanent clear coat over all that dirt and grime. The coating was nothing close to level or smooth. There were giant globs of clear coat, air bubbles, they missed larger sections, and it even had foot prints in the clear coat.
That was only half the problem. According to the lender, they needed a copy of the appraisal by the government agency selling the property. One government agency imposed new fines on lenders who did not keep a copy of that appraisal in their records. The government agency selling the property adopted new rules saying they will not share an appraisal with anyone. We are at a stand still. A face off between one government agency and another which also involves the lender for the buyer, and the buyer himself.
As far as I’m concerned, all of that is in God’s hands. All I can do is put the parties in contact with one another to let them solve the problem. And of course pray. But that does not mean God doesn’t have other plans. That doesn’t mean God didn’t try to warn me, but I wasn’t listening.
I know what it’s like not to listen to God. I learned my lesson well and it was an expensive lesson to learn. I married a woman. I thought she was a good Christian woman. She went to church and was active in church. Before we married, we prayed together and of course studied the Bible together. That all changed after marriage. But I didn’t let that bother me. I was in love.
I thought I married the most beautiful, most understanding woman in the world. Even though she gave a lot of money to her sons, and it cost a lot of money to drive them to school and work, and all over the place, I was in love and nothing seemed like a sacrifice.
Well eventually funds ran out. The ex-wife finished her masters degree and got a job out of state. All that time I was planning on selling the house and moving to be with her. That’s when it all happened. She moved in with a new sugar daddy and filed for divorce.
I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do, or what I did wrong. I prayed about it for weeks before I was in the right state to listen. Then God spoke. The first thing He did was reminded me about all the warnings He sent me. God reminded me of the fact, when we studied the Bible together, the ex-wife never had an idea or opinion to share. She never could say what a single verse meant to her.
The main warning came in the form of the marriage license. I went to see her a month before the marriage. We got the marriage license and everything set for the wedding. We got married, took the license completed by the pastor down to city hall where we were told it was not valid. It expired the day before the wedding. When we applied for the license we told the clerk the marriage date and she said everything was in order. Well it seems in that state, the marriage license is good the day it is issued and that is the day the clock begins ticking. So we paid for a new license, got it signed by the pastor, and turned it in the next day. No ceremony, nothing. So in fact, we were not legally married. But I never worried about that. I was in love.
While we were waiting for the license I saw something strange in the waiting room. An odd looking couple sat next to us. They were dressed all in black with pitch black hair dye, strange hair styles, body piercings all over the place, and other Gothic features. The woman was obviously a few months pregnant. They must have been all of 18 years old. A clerk came out and told them an judge was available to marry them on the spot.
Not to judge anyone. I had no idea who they were. But it seemed, they thought getting married would somehow make that pregnancy okay. I’m not sure how that worked out, but maybe I had the same motive. Now I see how other people treat marriage like it’s some kind of social band aide
Did I try to use marriage as a band aide? Was I like so many other couples who think they can change the other person’s religious outlook after marriage? I didn’t think so. But looking back, I did try to get her interested in reading the Bible more.
I have to admit. When God reviewed all those warnings, all of them made perfect sense after events unfolded. Then the unexpected happened. The ex told me, she never intended to remain married. She claimed the culture she came from believes it is perfectly acceptable for her to take advantage of American men. It was sort of like following tradition. I had to admit, that had already been confirmed by some of her family members.
Then came the realization. I asked myself how I could have been so blind. I had to admit, I married to make myself happy. And I was for the entire marriage, until the day she dropped that bomb. All those years I thought I was the happiest man in the world. I had a beautiful wife, a home, we ate good, we had enough money for a time. We were able to spend time together. More than most couples. We never had a fight or disagreement. I thought, “this is what the perfect marriage should be.” The most difficult thing to accept was the fact, it was all nothing more than a masquerade Nothing was ever real. Love was a one way street and all that time, she was planning to break away and crush me in every way she could think of. She contrived the most gruesome way of letting me know, she found someone else, and together they planned to crush the life out of me. It would have worked if I had not gone to Jesus for help.
That was the penalty I had to pay for not listening to God. John had to pay with his life. Jesus, well He saw what happened to John’s momentary loose of communication with God. The rest of us – if your honest and look back, you’ll see a few things. If you really want to see the truth and you ask Jesus to show it to you, be prepared for a brutally honest conversation.
Jesus delivered His message in front of His hometown synagogue. It didn’t matter if He was standing up, sitting down, or laying down when He delivered that message. I’ve heard so many preachers talking about that sermon Jesus delivered. Sure we have a whole bunch of preachers trying to impress people with their knowledge about Jewish tradition. The fact of the matter is, most of those preachers never read a book about Jewish tradition. They are doing nothing more than repeating what they’ve been told to say. They are like puppets on a string with no feelings, emotions, or insight into what was happening on the spiritual side of the event.
I’ve seen a lot of preachers, teachers, and elders giving sermons and talks about other churches and religions like they were the right hand man to people in charge for half their lives. They give the impression they were privileged to information at the highest levels. They spin their own webs of deceit as if every other religion in the world has a planned conspiracy to deceive the world.
Baptists can’t stand Lutherans, who don’t trust Catholics, who want to take over the world. The list goes on and on. Adventists spread their own fabricated lies about any religion they claim to be charismatic. Almost every religion seems to claim they are some kind of chosen church with special powers and the only way to be saved is to join their club.
They are all nothing but puppets on strings being controlled by forces they know nothing about. They all missed the lessons Jesus tried to teach. To see just a small part of those indescribable forces, we need to look back and review Jesus’ ministry up to that point.
Jesus begins a new chapter, or shall we say Testament in His life. Jesus goes to the Jordan River to be baptized by His cousin John. Sounds simple enough. Sounds as if things are going to plan. But wait. Opposing forces were working hard in the back ground already. Even before Jesus was baptized. Thinking he is doing the best he can, John tried telling Jesus, He didn’t think he should baptize Jesus. John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. (Matthew 3:14-15 NLTse). Why did John try rewriting the plan of salvation? Why did John suggest such a change?
Obviously John was not fully in touch with God’s Spirit. It may have been a momentary lapse of concentration. John thought he was trying to do something good, but what John did was introduce Jesus to a temptation before He was baptized.
After Jesus was baptized, God’s Spirit led Him away from people to be alone for a while. God had some details to go over with His Son. There were devils around trying to interfere with that line of communication. They couldn’t succeed, so Satan himself stepped in. That’s when Satan tried to introduce the thought, he didn’t remember anything about Heaven, or the time he spent with Jesus. Satan tried to make Jesus think, no matter how hard He tried, no one was going to remember anything for too long. Satan was trying to discourage Jesus on different levels at the same time.
Then Satan tested Jesus determination. If Jesus was fasting, Satan was going to suggest a better way, a different plan. That didn’t work. So Satan made a bunch of promises he couldn’t possibly keep. Let’s stop for a moment and see what Jesus promised during that sermon in His hometown synagogue. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Let’s examine Jesus’ claims that day. He is going to deliver Good News. Did He promise anything? Quoting scripture, Jesus said, “He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” The scriptures said, “that captives WILL be released.” Did Jesus say He already released them? No! Did Jesus promise anything He didn’t later deliver? No! Jesus fulfilled what He told them. As we look back at other parts of Isaiah 61, we see Jesus didn’t promise half of what was in that prophecy. Why? Part of the answer is in the Good News. Jesus came to lead them back to scripture, back to God’s promises.
At that point, there was only so much Jesus could deliver. Jesus had not yet earned the right or authority to fulfill all of the promises in God’s plan of salvation. But first, Jesus had no choice but to follow orders and do His best to stay in direct contact with God through His Spirit. Jesus had to follow the plan and follow it step by step.
Jesus followed God’s plan, but the people He was talking to couldn’t understand it. Or didn’t want to understand it. Luke recorded two completely different views of the subject in a single verse. Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” It seems people were split on the decision. Should we believe Jesus or not? How many of them looked at what we know as Isaiah 61 to make a decision?
Jesus came up with somewhat of a solution. “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’–meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner–a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
Jesus gave them all something to think about. In each case, those stories Jesus quoted from scripture are rather long. There is no reason to copy and paste them here. The question is, are you going to rely on your own selective memory on the subject, or are you going to review the circumstances and how they relate to, “ Physician, heal yourself.” Jesus gave them a choice.
Could they heal themselves? Of course a widow in trouble looks for help from anywhere she can find it. Elijah showed up and at the moment was her only way out of a desperate situation. So she fed God’s prophet and what happened. That widow was blessed beyond imagination. She didn’t live in the lap of luxury, but she survived. That was her prayer, and God answered.
One of the points Jesus was making in His hometown was, God helps people most of us don’t expect to see God to help. We have to look beyond our impression of God. The same was true with Naaman, the Syrian. The questions Jesus posed to those people in His hometown was, how many of you plan on being blessed by a prophet, and how many of you could heal yourself or a leper? “Physician, heal yourself.” Jesus told them, that was what was on their mind. He knew they wanted to see Jesus perform a whole bunch of miracles to prove that prophecy was being fulfilled. But why would they ask that? Wasn’t Jesus’ life enough of a testimony? They knew who His mother and father were, but did they really know Jesus?
After Jesus faced Satan and turned down all those promises he couldn’t fulfill, He was faced with a mob of people asking Him to prove He could fulfill a few of those promises in that prophecy. How many of them looked at the promises Jesus didn’t mention? At any rate, those people who should have supported Jesus, tried throwing Him off a cliff. How is that for gratitude? This didn’t seem to be the best way to begin a ministry to save the world.
I don’t know about you, but I have to ask, why did Jesus continue? What pushed Him on? Obviously, He knew enough about the plan of salvation to ignore the world’s view and take the next step. Jesus followed orders. Some times that’s all we have – orders to follow. And the choice to follow or ignore them. What are we going to be like? Are we going to ask for a few miracles before we take a step?
Then we have the other side of the coin. Do we make our own decisions based on our feelings and what we think is best for us? Like my marriage. There were dozens of warnings. But I wanted to assure God, I was doing what I thought would make me happy. It did for a time. I’m sure if Jesus accepted Satan’s offer of power, riches, and authority, He would have been happy for a while. I hope that young couple in the waiting room who married that day made the right decision. But we never know. We don’t know the future and no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves it looks like the right decision – only time will tell.
A quick update on the closing. The buyer accepted the property as-is after some correspondence with the government agency. I ran some comps to find out market values increased in the area higher than expected over the past two months. The lender ordered a new appraisal to cover themselves but charged the buyer. Overall, it cost the buyer $650 more than expected and now he has to throw more money and time into the property than expected. As for me – after the closing I came home praising the Lord. As soon as I got home I heard that distinctive voice ask, “do you think all that worrying was worth it?”
Jesus Went to Capernaum
Luke 31-37 NLTse Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day. (32) There, too, the people were amazed at his teaching, for he spoke with authority. (33) Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon–an evil spirit–began shouting at Jesus, (34) “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One sent from God!” (35) Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further. (36) Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” (37) The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region.
It may seem as if Jesus abandoned His hometown. Did He really? Lets review a few simple details. Satan asked Jesus to perform a miracle. After Jesus triumphed over the devil, He went home and preached in the local synagogue. Those people there also asked for a miracle. Why did Jesus refuse? They already witnessed one of the world’s greatest miracles. They saw Jesus grow up sinless.
What happens to people who are very good? I mean good enough to get noticed and develop a reputation for being good? A lot people people pick on them. Some people look at them as an easy target and take advantage of them. Did that ever happen to you? If it did, you have the ability to look at a part of Jesus’ life not explained in detail in the Bible. This is part of the personal side of the Bible. Which is nothing more than finding something in common with Jesus. Something you can share. It is an intricate part of being a Christian, receiving, and understanding the message.
Let’s look at that story of Jesus leaving His hometown from an different aspect. Luke also pointed out another important fact. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. That was on His way to His Nazareth. News precluded His arrival. Not only did those people see Jesus grow up, they also heard about what He preached before He got there.
After Jesus left Nazareth, He began healing people. News about Him didn’t stop at Nazareth. Once Jesus’ fame began spreading, what do you think happened? What happens when a person becomes famous today? People normally drift to their home town. Wouldn’t it make sense the same thing happened with Jesus, the greatest religious movement in the world, was still alive? Nazareth must still be one of the top ten tourist attractions today.
Jesus didn’t abandon them. He knew people would soon be flocking to Nazareth to see where He grew up. Jesus knew they would all be asking questions. When Jesus walked through the crowd that tried to throw Him off the cliff, He looked into their faces and knew which people would soon be bragging they personally knew the prophet from Nazareth.
People are fickle. Why would anyone try to throw someone off a cliff one day then turn around and claim they are best friends the next? Who can figure out the human mind? But it’s easy. It all centers around self.
People in Nazareth are not any different than many other people. In church, people’s first reaction is to defend tradition. They will resist change at any cost. But after someone, or an idea becomes popular, they look for a connection. If they have any type of connection with a popular aspect of religion, people want to use that relationship to make themselves look important. They want to appear as important as the person introducing the new aspect, or as important as the concept itself.
That wasn’t the type of movement Jesus wanted to start. That wasn’t part of God’s plan. Jesus wanted to reach them. That may be something you have in common with Jesus. Sometimes we have to walk away from the people we love to help them. Sometimes they have to find their own way into God’s arms. Sometimes our presence inhibits the ability of God’s Spirit to reach them. Let’s face it. Sometimes people grasp onto someone who leads a good life. Someone who is a good Christian, because the think they can coast into Heaven on their coattails as the old saying goes. Maybe you know what Jesus felt when He walked through that crowd, away from that cliff, and away from home.
Jesus didn’t give up. The beginning of His ministry was bumpy to say the least. But He kept pushing on, taking directions, and fulfilling His ministry. When Jesus went to Capernaum, He stayed with the same routine. He went to the Synagogue to teach. Things were beginning to seem like an unbroken pattern and beginning to look promising, until the day a man possessed by a demon–an evil spirit–began shouting at Jesus.
This was something new to contend with. Something no one was expecting or knew how to deal with. The demon shouted, “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One sent from God!”
Why would a demon announce Jesus’ position as God’s Son? Obviously the demon had a reason to put Jesus on the spot. The demon knew how Jesus defeated his boss. Was there a sense of revenge pushing the demon into making a poor decision? Was that demon trying to make a name for himself?
What about the man the demon controlled? What did the man do to let that demon in? Many people claim Mary, who had seven demons, was a prostitute. People normally associate demons with sin. I’m not sure the Bible specifically tells us, we need to sin to allow demons to control us. But let’s look at a few examples.
Eve was the first example of demon possession. Not the way people often teach, but Eve was controlled and manipulated by the devil. How come? For one thing, she entered into a conversation with the demon and allowed him to offer suggestions. Let’s compare that to Jesus’ encounter with Satan in this chapter.
Eve met the devil at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She was there trying to figure out how a tree could possess those types of powers. On that tree was a serpent. The devil disguised himself. Look at the devil when he met Jesus. What disguise did he use then? There was no way Jesus was going to be fooled, so the devil used a different disguise. This time he tried to appear as a stranger. Remember, the main role of a disguise is to enter into a conversation. With Jesus, the devil disguised himself as a stranger. He wanted to take Jesus off His game plan onto the devil’s own playing field. Jesus didn’t stray away by relying on His own knowledge about Satan. Jesus didn’t try to remind Satan of all the time they spent together. Jesus stuck to scripture. And we’ve already seen how scripture was designed to answer that question. Granted, Eve didn’t have any written word to refer to, but she had the choice to consult directly with God on the situation, or at least her husband before making a life changing decision.
King Saul is another example. Samuel anointed Saul Israel’s first king at God’s command. Saul immediately received the gift of prophecy. Saul had a direct line open to God. Saul was made Samuel’s equal in power, but not experience. Saul messed up by allowing pride and envy to run his life. Not that much different than Eve and much the same trick the devil tried on Jesus.
There are connections between Saul’s temptations and those Satan tried with Jesus. They are more or less contrasts. God gave Saul a kingdom. Satan offered Jesus a lot of kingdoms. God never showed Saul a vision of power and glory. Satan showed Jesus visions of armies with countless solders in orderly columns wearing brightly colored, dress uniforms. The scene was designed to impress, but only showed a small portion of what an army is used for. Satan hid more than he showed.
You’ll have to go over Saul’s story on your own, but let me give you a hint. Look at how little Samuel prepared Saul for his role as king. Samuel told Saul, he will become a prophet. Samuel stepped back to let God deal directly with Saul. After a while you’ll see how Samuel introduced one lesson at a time and how Saul perceived them. That story shows an example of one man who was given direct access to God’s throne, but refused to accept the responsibility.
Jesus on the other hand relied on direct access to God’s throne all the time. Jesus didn’t enter into a conversation with that demon in the synagogue. When that demon shouted, Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further. Jesus had no reason to brag about His victory over Satan, or talk to that demon. What was Jesus going to learn from a demon anyway? Eve was tricked into thinking she could learn something from a serpent. Jesus was not about to repeat the same mistake. Jesus told that demon to shut up. The demon had no choice but to obey.
Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region. And we can be sure some of that news made its way to Nazareth. What do you think went through their minds in Nazareth? Do you think any of them took the lesson to heart, and looked at those demons in their lives?
Jesus Healed Simon’s Mother-In-Law
Luke 38-41 NLTse After leaving the synagogue that day, Jesus went to Simon’s home, where he found Simon’s mother-in-law very sick with a high fever. “Please heal her,” everyone begged. (39) Standing at her bedside, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. And she got up at once and prepared a meal for them. (40) As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one. (41) Many were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But because they knew he was the Messiah, he rebuked them and refused to let them speak.
What happened to the story about Jesus meeting Simon and his brother Andrew. And what happened with John and James? Luke left out a lot of details. Why? Luke is teaching us sequence, which is one of the most important rules of Bible Study. We need to learn to look back at scripture, which is as important as looking back at our own lives. How could we have done things differently?
We see the need to compare other gospels to get the full story. We also see, each gospel follows a different sequence. Why? Each inspired writer is drawing attention to different aspects in Jesus’ ministry.
Luke showed us, Jesus faced Satan. Then He went home where He was rejected. Then Jesus traveled to other towns preaching and teaching. In this section of chapter 4, we see a sequence of key words strategically placed.
After Jesus left Nazareth, He cast a demon out of a man in Galilee. What is the spiritual implication of a demon in a synagogue? It shows, demons have been in synagogues and are in churches today. No one in that synagogue knew a demon walked among them and worshiped next to them.
Then Jesus traveled to Simon’s house. The scene transitions from a demon in a synagogue to a sick mother-in-law in her home. Jesus healed her. She got up and served Jesus and the other disciples. Luke kept the emphasis on Jesus up to this point. From that, we can see, Jesus healed her, then she got up to serve Jesus.
Key words sick, fever, diseases, and demons draw attention to some of the problems people faced and Jesus solved. This showed a sequence in Jesus’ ministry. You’ll notice the unbelief came before Jesus was led into the healing phase of His ministry. That unbelief occurred in Jesus’ home town where people saw Him grow up. A place where people should have known Him. Now we can understand why Jesus began His ministry alone.
After Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law at her home, the whole town showed up with their sick, injured, and possessed friends and family members. No one inside the house told those people. They may have heard about Jesus casting the demon out at the synagogue, but something told those people, Jesus also had the power to heal.
There are two aspects necessary for that event to happen. Because those people had no way of knowing Jesus could also heal, they must have had what people refer to as faith. Which is a subject, or detail in the Bible few people are able to explain. Ask someone to explain faith. They will most likely tell you something along the lines of, “faith is believing in something you can’t see.” Is that what faith is? Does God want and expect us to believe in something we can’t see nor understand? I doubt it.
Let’s look at this from the aspect of what led into the event. Jesus didn’t do any miracles in Nazareth because they had little or no faith. But in Simon’s home, people came in droves and Jesus healed them. What’s the difference? Those people saw or heard about Jesus casting out a demon. Something gave them the idea Jesus could also heal people. What was that something? How was that message delivered?
Time to go back a few chapters. How did Zechariah learn the message destined for him to hear? From Gabriel, who also visited Mary. And there was Elizabeth, who wasn’t visited by an angel, but knew more about what was going on then anyone else involved in those stories. Elizabeth knew God’s Spirit, who also told those people to bring their sick to Jesus. Luke is leaving it up to us to look back and figure out details it only appears he omitted. With the aid of God’s Spirit we clearly see those details – which is the main lesson in Luke’s style of writing up to this point.
Compare the introduction and summation for proof. The first sentences are: Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. The last sentence reads: So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.
How does that apply to ministry today? Aren’t we all tempted by the devil? The forty days Jesus spend in the wilderness reflect upon those forty years Israel wandered through the wilderness on their way to the promised land. How many people made it?
Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit in the introduction and preached in synagogues in the summation. The two have to go together. This is the theme Luke is teaching. Guided by God’s Spirit when it was written. And of course, we need God’s Spirit to understand the message.
Preach the Good News
Luke 42-44 NLTse Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. (43) But he replied, “I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” (44) So he continued to travel around, preaching in synagogues throughout Judea.
Preaching is the main key word in the summation for chapter 4. Everything written in this chapter showed how Jesus was prepared to preach. He had to defeat Satan. With the help of God’s Spirit of course. Jesus had to face disappointment. Jesus had to turn His back on the people He grew up with. They were of course still in God’s hands. Jesus had to show faith in God’s Spirit. Jesus had to show a close relationship with God’s Spirit and faith in His ability to cast out demons. Cast them out without joining into a controversy with them. No dialog was allowed with evil spirits. Jesus had to show His love and concern for individuals. He first healed in a home, away from the crowds, fame and glory. That’s when the people came. All of those details are an explanation showing how God’s Spirit prepared Jesus step by step. The most important detail is to learn God’s plan and follow it by waiting for orders. Then acting as commanded.