And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. — Luke 4:1-2
Located twenty miles from the Atlantic Coast in New Bern, North Carolina, the four-span Neuse River Bridge opened to traffic in the fall of 1999. Construction of the massive superstructure required 49,000,000 pounds of steel, nearly 200,000 cubic yards of reinforced concrete, and 40 miles of pilings/drilled shafts. However, the amount of material used was not what made this project newsworthy. The Neuse River Bridge was unique because it was built with high-performance concrete and thus utilized significantly fewer support beams than previous designs.
After work on the bridge was completed, it became the subject of a first-of-its-kind test. A dump truck carrying a forty-ton load pulled up to the bridge, which had been wired to sensors under the bridge. The sensors were designed to feed stress data into computers, and engineers stood by to analyze the results. Slowly the heavy truck moved forward over the bridge, stopping at designated test points so data could be transmitted and evaluated. The test was not designed to break the bridge, but rather to prove that the bridge would not break.
“We’re trying to learn from the bridge so that we can apply it to all the other bridges in the state,” engineer Tom Koch said. “There are 18,000 bridges in our state that need to be replaced or repaired at some point.”1 Once proof was provided that this type of bridge was sound, the same principles of construction were applied to other spans.
Just as engineers performed tests on the Neuse River Bridge to prove its structural integrity, God allowed His Son to be tested to prove His spiritual integrity. The point was not to see if Jesus would sin, but to prove that He would not.
Two factors lead to that conclusion. First, our focus verse tells us that Jesus was “led by the Spirit” into the wilderness, where He was tempted by the devil. Since we know God does not entice anyone to sin (see James 1:13), He clearly had another purpose in view. Second, the word translated tempted in this verse comes from the Greek word peirazo, which in early Greek literature had the meaning of “to test, try, or prove.” Satan desired to entice Jesus to evil and hoped that He would fall. However, God knew that His Son would triumph, and by so doing would show us how to triumph as well.
Temptation is part of the human experience, and in order for Jesus to experience humanity completely, He had to face temptation just as we do. In today’s text, Luke describes three specific levels on which Satan made attacks: the physical (tempting Jesus to create food), the intellectual (tempting Him to do something sensational), and the spiritual (tempting Him to worship Satan rather than God). The adversary still tempts people on these levels, and the method Jesus used to withstand temptation can still be used in our lives as well: He countered each attack with the Word of God. Scripture is still an effective spiritual weapon, and one that we must learn to utilize.
Knowing that Jesus was tried in the same ways we are and yet triumphed is an encouragement to us when temptation comes our way. He withstood the attempts of Satan, and by the grace of God, so can we!
Chapter 3 of Luke covers two significant events which preceded Christ’s public ministry: the emergence and teaching of John the Baptist (verses 1-20), and the baptism of Jesus by John (verses 20-22). The chapter ends with a description of the lineage of Jesus (verses 23-38).
The Gospels of Matthew and Mark also describe the ministry of John the Baptist, which took place in the barren wilderness between the hill country and the Jordan River. However, only Luke provided details which date the beginning of John’s ministry (verses 1-2). Possibly he identified the evil secular and religious leaders to show the darkened civil, moral, and religious condition of the Jews at that point in history.
Verses 4-6 quote from Isaiah chapter 40. The imagery relates to those who would travel ahead of a king to prepare the way over which he would travel. John’s role was to prepare the way for the Messiah, warning the people to make their lives ready so the Lord could come to them.
Luke records nothing about John’s attire or food, but goes immediately to the prophet’s message of repentance, which is summarized in verses 7-14. John insisted that true repentance would be manifested by a change in the manner of living. Baptism attested to the reality of that repentance. John was fearless in delivery and vehemently rebuked some, calling them a “generation of vipers,” possibly because they wanted to be baptized though giving no indication of sorrow for sins.
In verses 15-18, John’s message of repentance transitioned to one reflecting his divine appointment as the herald of the King. When the people wondered if John himself were the Messiah, he pointed ahead to the One who would baptize them “with the Holy Ghost and fire.” (Jesus quoted this prediction in Acts 1:5, just before His ascension.) Fire is frequently used in both the Old and New Testaments to portray the purging, vitalizing, transforming energy of the Holy Spirit.
Verses 18-20 conclude Luke’s description of John as the preacher and martyr of righteousness. This passage is non-sequential, but it effectively ends the account of John and transitions to Luke’s focus upon Jesus. Luke did not describe the death of John, though he knew of it (see Luke 9:7-9).
Luke’s description of the baptism of Jesus (verses 21-22) is briefer than that of Matthew and Mark. Only Luke relates that Jesus prayed following His baptism, prior to the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove. Most of the Biblical record of Christ’s prayers occurs in the Gospel of Luke.
The chapter concludes with a tracing of Jesus’ lineage back to Adam. Matthew’s record only goes back to Abraham; Luke’s extended genealogy may have reflected his purpose not only to present Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews (who looked to Abraham as their father), but also as the Savior of the world.
Verses 1-13 of chapter 4 record the temptation of Jesus by the devil. Matthew 4:1 says Jesus was “led up,” indicating that Jesus probably climbed from the Jordan Valley, which is over a thousand feet below sea level, to the craggy heights of the wilderness area of Judea. The spot traditionally identified as the place of Jesus’ temptation is northwest of Jericho.
Verse 2 indicates that Jesus fasted during this period of forty days, as part of the spiritual preparation for the ministry He was about to begin. Mark identified His tempter as “Satan,” but Luke referred to him only as “the devil,” using the Greek word diabolos which means “slanderer” or “false accuser.”
Jesus endured temptation in part to fully identify with mankind (see Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15), but also to undo Adam’s work (see Romans 5:12-19). When Adam succumbed to temptation, he passed sin on to the whole human race. When Jesus triumphed over temptation and sin, He opened the way to victory for all of Adam’s descendants.
Jesus used the Word of God to withstand the devil’s attacks. In each of the three recorded temptations, He quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy. The verb tense of the phrase “It is written” (verses 4 and 8) indicates not only completed action but also continuing action. It could be translated, “It has been written, and still stands written,” thus emphasizing the eternal nature of God’s Word.
The fact that the devil departed from Jesus “for a season” (verse 13) indicates that he assailed Christ in other times and ways as His ministry on earth proceeded. Matthew and Mark both record that angels ministered to Jesus at the end of this temptation.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The preparation of the Son of Man (3:1 — 4:13)
A. The forerunner of the Son of Man (3:1-20)
1. The time of John’s ministry (3:1-2)
2. The content of John’s ministry (3:3-17)
a. The emergence of John (3:3-6)
b. The message of John (3:7-17)
(1) Concerning wrath (3:7-14)
(2) Concerning Christ (3:15-17)
3. The rejection of John (3:18-20)
B. The baptism of the Son of Man (3:21-22)
1. The submission of the Son (3:21)
2. The anointing of the Spirit and authentication of the Father (3:22)
C. The genealogy of the Son of Man (3:23-38)
D. The temptation of the Son of Man (4:1-13)
1. Summary (4:1-2)
2. The first temptation (4:3-4)
3. The second temptation (4:5-8)
4. The third temptation (4:9-12)
5. Conclusion (4:13)
The devil tried to entice Jesus to succumb to temptation, but failed. When we face temptations, we can find both encouragement to prevail and a strategy for victory in the example of our Lord.
1 wral.com, “DOT Engineers Get Creative to Test Strength of Bridge,” (June10, 2003), Capital Broadcasting Company, http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/105594/.