Lukeby Mike Raiter
Sandwiched between the inauguration of His ministry in His Spirit-anointed baptism (3:21–23) and His temptation in the wilderness (4:1–13), is a reminder of who Jesus is. Besides portraying Jesus as the legitimate descendant of David, Luke’s genealogy (3:23–38) highlights the fact that all of Israel’s history has been directed by God to bring about the birth of His Son. Furthermore, Jesus traces His lineage back to God’s first son, Adam (3:38) but, as we’ll see in a moment, where the first Adam was tempted and failed, the second and true Adam remained faithful.
Jesus is thrust out into the desert. It is the Spirit of God himself who leads Jesus to the place of testing (4:1). In each of the three temptations, Jesus’ dependence on God is tested. When He is famished, will He rely on God to meet all His needs (4:2–4)? When offered a shortcut to honour and glory that avoids the cross, will He worship Satan or trust His Father to give Him all the kingdoms of the world as a reward for His obedient service (4:5–8)? And will He test God’s protection by demanding some flashy display of miraculous, saving power (4:9–12)?
Of course, we too face temptations in life, but it is important to remember that Luke’s gospel is the story of Jesus, and His temptations were unique. He is the one and only beloved Son of God, and so Satan puts this special relationship with His Father to the test. Where Adam, God’s son, failed in Eden, and where Israel, God’s firstborn, failed in the wilderness, the true, incarnate Son of God was completely obedient.
Like the ones that Jesus faced, our temptations come to us from the father of lies, who promises us things he has no authority to give. He promises us life and prosperity when all he wants is our misery and death. Ultimately, temptation comes down to whose words you choose to believe: the lies of the devil, or the true and living word of the Father.
Why do you think God led Jesus in the wilderness to be tested (4:1)? What was at stake in this cosmic battle between Satan and Jesus?
What was it about Satan’s temptations that made them so dangerous and insidious? What does this teach us about the nature of temptation?