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17. Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)
Immediately after being appointed to his messianic ministry, Jesus was tempted by Satan to use his messianic powers in the wrong way. (For the identification of the devil with Satan see Revelation 20:2.) Satan’s aim was to make Jesus act according to his own will instead of in obedience to his Father.
Jesus had gone many weeks without eating and was obviously very hungry. Satan therefore used Jesus’ natural desire for food to suggest that he should use his supernatural powers to create food and eat it. Jesus knew that food was necessary for a person’s physical needs, but he also knew that obedience to God was more important. God alone would decide when and how his fast would end (Matthew 4:1-4).
Living in a world of unbelievers, Jesus could be very frustrated at their refusal to accept him. He was therefore tempted to perform some spectacular feat that would prove once and for all that he was the Son of God. For instance, he could jump from the top of the temple in front of the people, asking God to keep him from being hurt. But to call upon God to save him from an act of suicide would be sin. It would be putting God to the test by demanding that he act in a certain way merely to satisfy an individual’s selfish desire (Matthew 4:5-7).
Then came the temptation to gain worldwide rule through compromising with Satan and using his methods to gain power. As the Messiah, Jesus had been promised a worldwide kingdom, but the way to that kingdom was through laying down his life in sacrifice. God wants people to enter his kingdom because they have a willing desire to serve him, not because they are the helpless subjects of force or cunning (Matthew 4:8-10).
In each case Jesus answered the temptations by quoting principles taken directly from the Scriptures. All the references were to the experiences of Israel in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 6:13,Deuteronomy 6:16; Deuteronomy 8:3), suggesting again the identification that the Messiah felt with his people in their varied experiences.
These were not Satan’s only temptations (Luke 4:13). Jesus continued to be tempted with suggestions to put his physical needs before his Father’s will (see John 4:31-34), to prove his messiahship to unbelievers by performing miracles (see Matthew 16:1-4) and to gain a kingdom through any way but the cross (see Matthew 16:21-23; John 6:15).
EARLY WORK IN GALILEE
24. Changing situations (Matthew 4:12-17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 3:18-20; Luke 4:14-15; John 4:43-45)
Somewhere about this time John the Baptist was imprisoned. (Concerning his imprisonment see notes on Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9.) Jesus meanwhile continued north into Galilee, where the people’s enthusiastic welcome was in sharp contrast to the suspicion of the people in Judea (Matthew 4:12-16; John 4:43-45). He pointed out, however, that the kingdom he announced was not for those seeking political or material benefits. It was only for those who humbly and wholeheartedly turned from their sins (Matthew 4:17).
26. The synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30)
Soon after returning to Galilee, Jesus visited his home town of Nazareth. Being a genuine God-fearing Israelite, he went on the Sabbath to join with other Jews in worshipping God at the synagogue. In keeping with the synagogue custom of standing to read and sitting to preach, Jesus stood and read Isaiah 61:1-2, then sat down and explained how the passage applied to him. He was the Messiah who brought God’s salvation to a world oppressed by sin (Luke 4:16-21).
The people were surprised that the one they previously knew only as the carpenter’s son could preach so well. But before they would accept him as the Messiah, they wanted him to do miracles in Nazareth as he had done in other places. Jesus refused. He knew they did not believe in him but were interested only in seeing some spectacular performance (Luke 4:22-23).
Jesus quoted a proverb to show that God’s messengers are often not appreciated by those among whom they live, but are welcomed by people elsewhere. He gave two illustrations from the Old Testament. Elijah was unpopular in Israel but was welcomed by a woman in Phoenicia. Elisha was rejected by Israelites, but was sought by a soldier from Syria. When Israelites rejected God’s servants, God sent his blessings to people of other countries (Luke 4:24-27; cf. 1 Kings 17:9-16; 2 Kings 5:1-14; 2 Kings 5:1-14). The lesson for the people of Jesus’ home town was that if they did not want God’s blessing, it would be sent to others, even to the despised Gentiles, and they would receive it.
The people of Nazareth understood what Jesus was saying and burst into anger. Their actions showed that Jesus had read the condition of their hearts correctly, for instead of believing they tried to murder him. But Jesus escaped unharmed (Luke 4:28-30).
28. Man with an evil spirit healed (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37)
While in Capernaum Jesus preached in the local synagogue. People noticed that his teaching was very much different from that of the Jewish religious teachers. Instead of arguing about small points of the law he taught the truth of God plainly. All who heard had no doubt that this was God’s message taught with his authority (Mark 1:21-22).
On this occasion, however, Jesus’ teaching was violently opposed by evil satanic powers that had taken control of a man in the audience. Such demons opposed Jesus throughout his ministry, but they were never victorious over him. News of Jesus’ authority over evil spirits spread quickly throughout northern Palestine (Mark 1:23-28).
29. Many sick people healed (Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-39; Luke 4:38-44)
Further examples of the ministry of Jesus show the presence and power of the kingdom of God in healing those afflicted by Satan (Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 1:29-34). (For the significance of the kingdom of God see earlier section, ‘Jesus and the Kingdom’.) On one occasion when Jesus was staying in Capernaum, he went outside the town to find a quiet place to pray to his Father. Peter thought he was losing valuable opportunities, as the town was full of people looking for him. Jesus replied that no matter how many needy people were in Capernaum, he could not stay there all the time. He had to work and preach in other towns as well (Mark 1:35-39).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany