Saturday, August 20, 2011

Comments on Luke 4:1-13

Commentary on Luke 4:1-13

It amazes me that Jesus, who is God of the Universe, would even come to this earth clothed in the frailty of flesh and subject Himself to the same temptations and heartaches the rest of us face as human beings.  He didn’t have to do this.  We are the ones who rebelled against Him through Adam and Eve and you and I rebel against Him everyday.  Why would He leave His throne in the perfect company of God the Father by the Perfect Spirit of love?  He was perfectly fulfilled and did not need us in any way.  Why would He allow the devil to test Him like this?  He could crush the devil with one thought.  I cannot say I understand it.  But it is comforting to me that Jesus has walked through the kinds of things I walk through.  It is humbling to me and it makes me feel loved to think that He stooped to my place to show me how to live and to enable me to live differently.  It encourages me that I don’t serve a King who has asked me to do something that He has been unwilling to do Himself.  It gives me peace to know that I can go to a God who truly understands what it is to face human trials—to suffer, to be tempted, to feel lonely, to feel weak, to know pain, hunger and thirst.  This fact only makes me further believe that all the suffering in this world is somehow worth it—that God does have a plan and wants us to know that we will survive this by holding His hand and that this necessary suffering is bringing us to something that one day make the suffering of the world simply pale in comparison… just like the birth of a precious child makes the pain of childbirth worth it to an enamored mother.

I also see God’s sovereignty in this account of Jesus’ temptation.  Notice that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.  This was no accident.  God did not accidentally find Himself in the place of trial.  The devil did not have the power to somehow trick or lure God into this place of trial.  In willingly allowing Himself to be in the wilderness, God had a plan here—for you and for me!  The devil serves a purpose—ultimately God’s purpose.  As John Piper would say, “the devil is a lackey!”  He is on a short lease to serve a purpose, but he will be crushed once and for all. 

This account also demonstrates to me the ways in which Jesus resists the devil’s attack.  Although He is hungry and probably tired and weak and maybe even lonely, Jesus resists the devil with the truth of God’s Word.  Jesus clearly knows God’s Word well, so that He can recall it in this time of stress.  Jesus is discerning—He knows what the devil is getting at and He knows that the devil is a liar and a cheat.  Jesus is on guard against the lying subtleties and trickeries of the devil.  Jesus has His eyes on the things that are unseen—the calling that He has been given by His Father, the Kingdom of God, the future, the hope of glory.  Presumably, in keeping the “unseen” in the forefront of His thoughts and motives, Jesus does not allow Himself to be distracted by what is seen—the food that would temporarily satisfy at the cost of disobedience; the possession that would make Him feel like a somebody in an instantly gratifying way; and the power that would vindicate Himself in a cheap way that would doom mankind who needed His humble sacrifice at the cross. 

It is also notable that Jesus has nothing to prove to the devil.  The devil keeps wanting to trap Jesus into feeling like He has something to prove.  But Jesus has a quiet confidence in what He knows is true no matter what--Biblical truth, or “the unseen”.    This confidence—this faith—makes Him firm against the devil’s advances and the fruit dangled in front of Him by the devil—fruit that is pleasing to the eye but lethally poisonous.  

This whole story is one of redemption—unlike our predecessors, Adam and Eve, Jesus did not take the fruit.  He is creating a new path for us!   (For the story of Adam and Eve, check out the first couple chapters of Genesis—the first book of the Bible—available here: )

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