Study Notes: Luke 4:1-13
4:1 Led into the Wilderness by the Spirit
Notice the two circumstances of Jesus - He's in the Spirit, but He's in the wilderness. The Spirit led Him into the wilderness. And many times the Spirit leads us into the wilderness. Times of dryness, times of trials. Why? Well, the Israelites for example couldn't get to the Promised Land without first going through the wilderness. Sometimes our spirit must be strengthened, our flesh must be weakened, before we can go on to bigger and better things with the Lord.
Led into the Wilderness by the flesh
But that is not to say that every time in the wilderness is led by the Spirit. Remember in Acts 21, Paul was arrested in the temple. When he asked the Roman commander if he could speak to the crowd, the commander said:
Acts 21:37-38 "Do you know Greek? Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?"
The commander had mistaken Paul for Bell-Jud. In 54AD, this Egyptian false prophet led a huge revolt intending to overpower the Roman garrison and make himself the dictator of Jerusalem. Were these men led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness? No, they were led by Bell-Jud with the promise of victory, of power - appealing to their fleshly desires. Many times a time in the wilderness is of our own doing - when we've followed our own fleshly desires.
Seek the Lord in the Wilderness
But regardless, whichever way you ended up there, seek the Lord in the wilderness times. We saw last week that the word of the Lord came to John the Baptist in the wilderness. The word of the Lord came to Moses in the wilderness. The gospel of Matthew tells us that after Jesus resisted the devil, angels came and ministered to Him there in the wilderness.
John the Baptist was in the wilderness with the message of repentance. Jesus is in the wilderness showing us the example of resistance. Now it doesn't say that the devil tried to tempt Him. It says in verse 2 that the devil tempted Him. It says in verse 13 that the devil tried every temptation on Him.
As we go through them, keep in mind that the three things we're going to look at are in fact temptations to Jesus. If they weren't, they wouldn't be tempting. The book of Hebrews tells us that:
Hebr. 2:18 ...Since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Hebr. 4:15 ...We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
He can relate to our own temptations, and yet He didn't sin when He Himself was tempted. As we study this section of Scripture, we will be able to draw strength from His victory, from His sinless.
4:3-4 Stone to bread
Back in the 1980's, dozens of rock stars got together to raise money to feed the hungry. They sang the song "We are the World", and the proceeds went to buy food for starving nations. In the song, Willie Nelson sang "God turned the stone into bread". I'm not sure where he read that, but the glory of Jesus Christ is the fact that He didn't turn the stone to bread.
Was He not able to? Certainly He was. Twice He fed thousands of people by multiplying a small amount of bread to massive amounts. But the devil was tempting Him to sin. In that region there are millions of round limestone rocks that look just like small loaves of bread. How would it have been sin to turn one stone into bread? The answer is in Jesus' answer:
Deut. 8:2-3 "...Remember (that) the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna... that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
The time of hunger in the wilderness was for the Israelites, for Jesus, and for us, to test us - to know what is in our hearts. Let's not live for food and drink, money and prestige, bigger and better... Let's live by the Word of God.
4:5-8 Take the easy way out
Now the devil leads Him up, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and says, "I'll give You all the kingdoms - They're mine and I can give them to whomever I wish". Remember, this is a temptation to Jesus.
Have you ever stopped to consider that Jesus didn't deny Satan's claim of authority or ownership? The devil is saying, "Hey Jesus, take the easy way out. They're gonna be yours eventually. This way You can have them without having to go through the torture and crucifixion".
Three years from this point, Jesus will find himself in the garden/Gethsemane, in great duress, pleading in prayer three times,
Matt. 26:39 ..."My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me..."
But there was no other way to redeem us. How many times have we struggled with taking the easy way out? Why do people cheat? Why do people steal? Why do people gamble? They want something without working for it. The devil offering Jesus the easy way out is a tremendous temptation, for it would be so easy to... But no, Jesus answers back quickly and with authority:
Luke 4:8 ..."It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only."
4:9-12 Is God really there?
So finally, the devil says, "Okay Mr. Spiritual. Life doesn't mean anything to You... and You're set on going to Your death... So throw Yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple. You really don't need to worry about it... Psalm 91 says that the angels will protect you."
Testing God to see if He's really there. About 5 years ago, I knew a guy that was really unstable in his life and in his relationship to the Lord. One day he told me that the night before, he needed to know that God was there. To know that God was watching out for him. So he had played "Russian Roulette" - putting one bullet in a six chamber gun, spinning it, aiming it at his temple, and pulling the trigger.
Some Christians go to churches where they handle deadly poisonous snakes during the worship service to prove that God is protecting them. Some of them drink poison. But Jesus answers the devil and says:
Luke 4:12 ..."you shall not put the Lord your God to the test."
At least not in any way but one. He tells us in the book of Malachi:
Mal. 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
If you really want to know that the Lord is real, if you really want to know that He's there, and you really want to put God to the test, don't play Russian Roulette - test Him in the way He challenged you to. Give a full tenth of your income to the work of God, and watch Him come through with so much blessing that you don't have room for it.
Hey, I'm not asking you for money - I'm asking you to throw out everything that you believe about God and about Christianity that is not directly from the Bible. I'm challenging you to re-learn and renew your faith.
4:13 Resistance is better than repentance
Last week, we talked of how we need to repent - to turn from your sin. But how can we resist it, how can we avoid it in the first place? Resistance is better than repentance. James wrote:
James 4:7 Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
And it's true: Jesus was victorious. Jesus resisted the devil, and the devil left. How can we resist the devil? How can we fight him? What armor do we have? Ephesians 6 says that we have five defensive weapons:
Eph. 6:14-17 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation...
Truth, Righteousness, Preparation, Faith, and Salvation. Are you prepared with a good defense? Is your life marked by truth? Is your life marked by Righteousness? Are you prepared with the gospel for when you're attacked? Are you a man or woman of great faith? Or are you so exposed to the enemy that all you have on is the helmet of salvation?
Now, we've been told in sports and wars that the best defense is a good offense. Have we been given any offensive weapons? Just one:
Eph. 6:17 ...The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Not only did Jesus have His armor on - Truth, Righteousness, Preparation, Faith, and Salvation - He was also prepared to battle offensively. And He did. Handling the sword like a musketeer. The devil attacked with a temptation: Wham! Jesus instantly deflected it with the Sword of the Spirit: the Word of God.
Hebr. 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword...
We are weaponless without the Word.
The Word used against you
After the first two temptations, the devil saw that Jesus was using the Sword of the Spirit. So he decided to use it too. And Satan is very good at it: He's been using it for 6,000 years. He will misread it, misquote it, misrepresent it, and misapply it. He will cause you to question its meaning or truth. After all, what did he say to Eve in the Garden of Eden?
Gen. 3:1 "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"
And Satan is still doing it today - people come to your door on Saturday mornings. Misreading the Word. Misquoting the Word. Misrepresenting the Word. Misapplying the Word. Do you handle that sword well enough to withstand an attack like that? If not, you'd better start preparing, or you'll end up disoriented, deceived, or dead.
People, I will teach you to handle the Word of God like a true swordsman, because the Bible tells us to:
2Tim. 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
If you have the desire for it, I'll teach the New Testament books Sunday Mornings, the Prophetic books Sunday nights, The Poetic books Tuesday nights and the historical books Thursday nights. I'll teach fencing with the Sword of the Spirit as much as you want me to. Because I came to Cheyenne for just two reasons: to get people saved, and to get people prepared.
But if I know the Word, that doesn't make you prepared. If your wife knows the Word, that doesn't make you prepared. When David was about to go out to battle, he thought that he could just use Saul's sword:
1Sam. 17:38-39 Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. And David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them ." And David took them off.
Saul's sword was useless to David. He'd never used it before. You've got to be reading the Word - You've got to be studying the Word. You've got to be learning the Word. Jesus resisted the temptations, the attacks of the devil with one weapon: The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Psalm 119 says:
Ps. 119:11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.
The power for victory, the power to resist temptation is right here.
©2006 Ron Daniel - Any distribution not for profit is permitted
All Scripture (unless otherwise indicated) taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE
©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.