27 March 2020

Luke 4:1-13 The Testing of Jesus

4:1 Jesus is "full of the Holy Spirit," is a phrase that indicates that he is being led by God and is empowered to achieve God's purpose.

4:2 In the wilderness, Jesus is to be tested for forty days. Different Bibles will translate this word differently as "tempted" or "tested." Its meaning can vastly change the reading of the passage. It is important to consider the context. Jesus has just received the Holy Spirit, become the Son of God, and is about to start his work as a teacher and as the Messiah. Is he being tempted? To what purpose? Is he being tested? For what role? The other important note about this verse is that Jesus is tested for 40 days. In Hebrew numerology, "40" means "until a task is complete." It is typically an indeterminate amount of time, not to be taken literally, but rather to indicate that at the end, the task was completed. What is Jesus's task in the wilderness? What must be completed before he can leave?

Luke tells us that when the forty days were completed, Jesus was hungry. Because of the symbolism, we can conclude that he was completely hungry, desperately so: he was starving. Religious fasting is a common practice. The deprivation of food brings us to a place that is closer to God. This is because there is no pain quite like hunger. And it is a pain with a quick and obvious resolution. Jesus is driven to a level of desperation that truly tests him. He cannot think clearly, his body slows, and his mind continually turns only to a single thought: food. This is not a fair test. When the devil comes in verse 3, he has a clear advantage.

4:3 The devil chooses the low hanging fruit: food. Jesus is starving, there is nothing he wants more. It is well within his power, a power which God gave him. All he has to do is command a stone to become bread. What could be wrong with that? In the first chapter of Genesis, God brings order to the chaos of the world. He names all things and gives them purpose. Jesus could do the same thing here, take a purposeless stone and give it purpose.

4:4 However, Jesus only uses his divine gifts to help others. He chooses to accept his purpose in God's plan and reminds the devil of his purpose.

4:5-7 The devil tells Jesus that the world does not have to operate by God's plan. It can operate by Jesus's plan instead. All the devil requires for this transfer of power is for Jesus to worship him.

4:8 Jesus again quotes the scripture and affirms God's plan.

4:9-12 The devil shows that he too can quote scripture. He reminds Jesus that God will protect him always. Jesus replies with scripture, showing that while the devil can be technically right, he can still come to the wrong conclusion simply by emphasizing the wrong passages of scripture.

How might you apply this passage to your life? For me, I think that I may be lonely or suffering, but God has a plan for me. God is leading me by the presence of the Holy Spirit. In time, that plan may be revealed. When it is, I will be ready with the Holy Spirit in my heart, divine purpose at my back, and the scripture tempering me through times of trouble and abundance alike.

Peace be with you.

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