• Tony Birkhead

RED LETTERS Week-1

Updated: Apr 28, 2019



Avoid the Short-Cuts that leads to a Dead-End!

INTRODUCTION

What kind of journey did you expect when you committed your life to Jesus?


What unexpected places has your journey with the Master taken you?


What have you learned along the way on your journey with the Master?


At a wedding ceremony, the bride and groom pledge to cling to each other for better or worse. On the wedding day, the couple can’t see fully what such a promise means. They aren’t able to see the hardship they will face, the challenges they will need to overcome, or even the joyful times they will have together. Still, the couple commits to one another, no matter where the journey leads. The same is true in following Jesus. We have no way of knowing where life with Him will lead. However, we can be certain that He will be with us, no matter what challenges we face. In today’s passage, we will see how Jesus himself faced temptation and the way He recalled the truth of Scripture to remain faithful to God in this testing.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Luke 4:1-14

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 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.The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 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. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”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.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

READ Luke 4:1-4.

Who was responsible for Jesus’ temptations?


Jesus was fully human, so he needed to eat. What would have been wrong with Him turning a stone into bread?


What did Jesus mean by His response to the devil?


We might find it unexpected when our journey with the Master leads us to a point of temptation, thinking only bad people or insincere Christians face temptation. But notice that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” and that he was “led by the Spirit … to be tempted by the devil.” Following Jesus does not make us immune to temptation. Sometimes it makes us subject to more intense temptation as the devil tries to interrupt the journey and get us off course.


A journey with the Master means trusting what God provides, when He provides it. There’s nothing wrong with food, of course. And Jesus later made a few loaves of bread into enough bread to feed a huge crowd. But when it came to trusting God’s knowledge of what Jesus needed versus the devil’s implications, Jesus trusted God to provide what He needed, when He needed it. This is made clearer in Matthew’s account of the temptation when he added Jesus’ words, “but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (See Deut. 8:3.) He wasn’t as concerned about having His needs met as about maintaining fellowship with the Father.


READ Luke 4:5-8.

In the second temptation, the devil sought to get Jesus to worship him. What payoff did the devil offer Jesus in exchange for His worship?


Don’t “splendor,” “authority,” and “the kingdoms of the world” ultimately belong to Jesus anyway? What was the devil thinking? If Jesus was going to get all this sooner or later, why was this a bad deal?


A journey with the Master follows God’s will rather than seeking shortcuts. The path the Father had laid out for Jesus to acquire what the devil was offering went through the agony of the cross. The devil tried to entice Jesus with a shortcut, a way to get the kingdoms of the world, without the suffering of the cross. Jesus wasn’t fooled. Heeding the devil never results in good, no matter how much of a shortcut he offers. Giving to the devil what belongs only to God (see Deut. 6:13) is always a poor plan. When we follow the devil’s proposal and ignore the Father’s roadmap, we have chosen to worship the deceiver.


READ Luke 4:9-13.

What do you make of the fact that the devil quoted Scripture (Ps. 91:11-12)? Why do you think he did?


The devil quoted Scripture to Jesus, but there is no historical evidence the Jews understood Psalm 91 to apply to the coming Messiah. Thus, while the devil quoted Scripture, he tried to use it in a situation to which it did not apply—he misused Scripture.


Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 in verse 12. How could Jesus’ quote be understood as a command for the devil to cease? How could it be understood as a reminder of a command for Jesus to follow?


A journey with the master goes to the place of submitting to God rather than trying to dictate when and how He must act. The devil attempted to persuade Jesus to utilize God’s Word to manipulate God into action. But Jesus clearly stated, “Do not test the Lord your God.” God is God and we are not. Even Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity did not attempt by His actions to dictate to God when and how He must work.


What significance do you find in verse 13? What examples do you find in the New Testament of the devil’s subsequent confrontations with Jesus?


Though Jesus had endured and triumphed over this round of the devil’s temptations, there would be more encounters. He was active throughout Jesus’ ministry, as seen in the demonic confrontations Jesus had, the devil’s entering into Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:3), and his desire to “sift” Peter (v. 31). As followers of Christ, we can be certain that the devil will seek to lead us astray in many ways. We should seek to avoid Him by trusting in God and always be on guard for his next attack.

MOVING FORWARD

  • In what area might the devil be tempting you to doubt whether God is adequately providing for you? What kind of “bread” is he tempting you to seek on your own?

  • What shortcut has the devil proposed you take on your journey with the Master? What will it cost you if you take that shortcut?

PRAY TOGETHER

Thank God for the opportunity to journey with the Master. Ask Him to help you journey to the place of trusting what God provides when He provides it, to the place of following God’s will rather than seeking shortcuts, and to the place of submitting to God rather than trying to dictate when and how He must act.

COMMENTARY

Luke 4:1-14

4:1-2 When Jesus returned from being baptized by John, He was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit to His encounter with the Devil in the wilderness. The role of the Holy Spirit here is significant for at least three reasons: (1) the Spirit’s role in driving Jesus to the wilderness shows Jesus’ face-off with the Devil was ordained by God; (2) the Spirit’s activity is a repeated emphasis in Luke’s Gospel; (3) the Spirit’s involvement in Jesus’ life highlights Jesus’ genuine humanity. The filling (Eph 5:18) and leading of the Spirit (Gal 5:18) are key aspects of empowerment for the Christian life. The wilderness is where Israel failed its test of faith before God (Num 14). Jesus would pass the wilderness test that Israel could not. Also, Jesus was being tested as “the last Adam” (1Co 15:45), the One who would succeed where the first Adam failed. The Greek word translated tempted ( peirazo) is more commonly rendered “tested.”

4:3-4 Satan tested Jesus at the point of His physical weakness—hunger (“tell this stone to become bread,” v. 2). The phrase if you are the Son of God expresses no doubt that Jesus is God, and is best understood as, “ Since you are the Son of God.” The Devil tried to bait Jesus into satisfying His extreme hunger by exercising His divine powers. Jesus’ duty, however, was to suffer and patiently endure hardship as a perfectly obedient human who waited for God’s deliverance and empowerment (v. 1). Jesus answered by citing the written Word of God (Dt 8:3). The context of this citation deals with Israel’s needs being met in the wilderness for 40 years, physically through the manna and spiritually by the presence and Word of God.

4:5-12 The order of the second and third tests is reversed in Lk 4 from Mt 4. The obvious reason would be that the wider structure of the Gospel of Luke depicted Jesus moving toward Jerusalem, with the final test in Luke taking place on the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem.

4:5-8 As Messiah, Jesus will rule over all the kingdoms of the world at the end of the age (see Rev 11:15). The Devil tried to entice Jesus with a shortcut to that kind of world-wide authority. Even though Satan is called “the ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31), his claim that the world was given over to him and that he can give it to anyone he wants is untrue. The Devil is a usurper of God’s realm. It is no surprise that he did not tell the truth here, for he is “a liar and the father of liars” (Jn 8:44). Jesus quoted Dt 6:13 to make clear that only God is worthy of worship, a point that echoes the first of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:3).

4:9-12 After two failed tests (vv. 3-8), the Devil attempted to catch Jesus off balance by quoting Scripture. In challenging Jesus to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple (from which the fall may have been over 100 feet), the Devil referred to Ps 91:11-12, claiming that angels would rush to the rescue if Jesus jumped. Jesus did not deny the truth of the Scripture the Devil quoted, just the application he gave it. In clear contrast, He cited Dt 6:16, which recalls the tragedy of Israel’s complaining and testing God at Meribah and Massah (Ex 17:1-7).

4:13 Only three tests are recorded in Mt 4 and Lk 4, but the wording every temptation may imply that there were more. The Devil was thwarted this time, but he departed from Jesus only to wait for the right time (Gk kairos; “time”—as an occasion or opportunity) to try again.

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