Today’s reading: Luke 4:1-30
Today we read Luke’s account of the Temptation of Jesus. It’s a good opportunity to remind ourselves of some of the key lessons of the event. First, recall that the first temptation is for Jesus, who has fasted for forty days, was to turn stones into bread. What always strikes me so profoundly about this temptation is its relationship to Jesus repeated references to bread throughout his ministry. We’ll see later Jesus multiply loaves a bread to feed the 5,000, so certainly making a stone turn into bread is within his power. Notice also, the Devil doesn’t seek Jesus to turn the stone into a symbol of bread; he challenges Jesus to turn it into actual bread. This is another clue that when Jesus took bread and said, “this is my body” that he meant what he said.
Luke arranges the temptations in a different order than Mark recounting the temptation over all the material world as the second temptation. Notice here that the devil says that authority over the world was given to him. That actually shows the devil does not have power of his own. He only has authority in the world because it was given to him. We can see from this that the devil is not the equal of God but a creation, infinitely less powerful than God.
The final temptation in Luke’s account is for Jesus to throw himself off the parapet of the Temple to be rescued by angels and prove that he is the son. What always strikes me about this passage is the devil quotes scripture to Jesus. This is a clear example to us that seemingly plain language in scripture can be twisted and used against us. Jesus’ answer is a telling example of how to properly interpret scripture. Jesus quotes a relevant verse back to the devil:
And Jesus answered him, “It is said, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Luke 4:12
In doing so harmonizes all the verses being quoted. He doesn’t say that the verses the devil quoted to him aren’t true but shows they are being used out of context. No one verse trumps another all are given their fair meaning. The verse of not putting God to the test provides the right context for the verses cited by the devil.
Tomorrow: Luke 4:31-44