Saturday, February 27, 2010

Luke 4:1-30

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'People do not live on bread alone.'"
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours."
8 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
12 Jesus answered, "It is said: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself!' And you will tell me, 'Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "
24 "Truly I tell you," he continued, "prophets are not accepted in their hometowns. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian."
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Points of Interest:

• ‘led by the Spirit’—Jesus himself is guided by the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t send Jesus the Holy Spirit at the baptism just for the sake of a cool visual effect. God gives Jesus the Holy Spirit because Jesus will need power and wisdom from the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill his mission.

• ‘for forty days he was tempted by the devil’—just like Adam and Eve in the garden, Jesus faces temptation from the devil. The devil is an evil spiritual being, the enemy of God; and his primary weapons throughout the Bible are lies, accusations, and temptation. In the garden with Adam and Eve, he succeeds in making an incredibly destructive choice look like the most logical, most attractive thing to do. Here he tries the same strategy, but this time he fails.
The temptation lasts a full forty days, but Luke only tells us about the grand finale. In this finale, the devil tempts Jesus with three things that sound pretty good, but are really only cheap imitations of what Jesus really wants. Jesus sees through the deceptions, and decides to wait for God to give him the real thing, rather than trying to grab the copy for himself now.

• ‘People do not live on bread alone’—Jesus is quoting Moses, who goes on to say, ‘but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus is, in fact, choosing to live here by God’s word, rather than by bread.

• ‘it has been given to me’—this isn’t quite true. It’s more like he’s stolen it, from Adam and Eve who were supposed to have dominion over the whole earth, but lost it when they succumbed to the devil’s temptation

• ‘For it is written’—the devil is clever. Since Jesus has been turning to the Bible for his answers, the devil decides to try to use the Bible for his temptation.

• ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit’—having withstood the attack of his strongest enemy, Jesus is now emboldened to go on the offensive, beginning his active ministry.

• ‘teaching in their synagogues’—the synagogues were—and still are—local congregations where the people would gather on a weekly basis to praise God, pray together, and be taught from the Bible.

• ‘the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him’—an attendant chose what scroll to read from, and the reader then chose what passage to read.

• ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’—John’s teaching was all about what was coming—in the near future, but still in the future. Jesus’ teaching is about today. There’s no longer any need to wait. What they’ve been waiting for is now here, right in front of them.
John’s job description was to go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for his coming. Jesus’ job description is to bring good news, freedom, healing, and favor to anyone who needs them.

• ‘prophets are not accepted in their hometowns’—from Jesus’ reaction, you get the sense that they’re being patronizing. They’re amazed, but their amazement is amusement and disbelief that Joseph’s son could speak so well. It’s not amazement at the wonderful thing that is being offered to them, or amazement that prophecy is coming true right in front of their eyes. They are too familiar with Jesus to treat him seriously. Jesus seems to go so far as to say that a total stranger, a foreigner even, might have a better chance of clearly seeing who he is than these people who think they know him so well.

• ‘But he walked right through the crowd’—either the anger of the crowd disperses quickly, or Jesus has an aura about him that keeps them from actually doing him harm.

Taking it home:

For you and your family: The devil will try to fool you sometime today into accepting less than God wants to give you. He’s clever, and what he offers can often seem pretty good. Ask God to give you the eyes to see through the devil’s deception.

For your friends: Jesus has good news, freedom, healing, and favor available today for whoever needs them. Pray that your friends would get at least tastes of each of these things today.

For our city: The people of Nazareth get themselves into a bit of trouble today when they start to compare themselves enviously with the other towns around them. Pray that our city would be free from envy, and better able to see the resources that exist here and the way in which our community is growing and expanding.