There is a progression in Luke chapter 4 that I never noticed before. The chapter begins with:
THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADING JESUS INTO THE WILDERNESS (1A)
to be tempted by the devil. One of the devils temptations was that:
JESUS SHOULD THROW HIMSELF OFF THE PINNACLE OF THE TEMPLE. (2A)
In other words, the devil is encouraging Jesus to commit suicide. He thought that Jesus would see it as a great opportunity for the Father to catch Him and save Him. The devil wanted Jesus to rely on His heavenly Daddy for help to get Him out of a sticky situation. Jesus, of course, refused. It should be noted here that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness but NOT into temptation. Temptation of Jesus was all the devil’s idea. What was he after?
THE DEVIL WANTED JESUS TO PERFORM (miracles) FOR HIM. (3A)
The devil wanted Jesus to show off what He could do. He wanted Jesus to brag or boast. He was looking to trap Jesus in sin just like the devil did to Eve in the Garden of Eden when he tempted her. If Jesus had performed miracles for another’s amusement, it would have been a sin. Jesus would have been performing miracles where no other human on this earth benefited from the miracle. After all, Jesus came to bring people to salvation not demonstrate the power of God to one who can never be saved.
But, Jesus refused that as well as the temptation to make bread out of a stone because:
AGAIN, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SELF SERVING, JESUS WOULD HAVE USED HIS OWN POWER TO GET HIMSELF OUT OF A JAM. (4A)
While Jesus IS the Bread of Heaven, He is not bread unto Himself. He is Bread to everyone else but Jesus received food from the Father. It was the Bread Jesus obtained from the scriptures that sustained Him. The truth, the life and the relationship Jesus had with the Father that fed Him.
Then came the 3rd temptation. The devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would just bow down and worship him. The devil was offering Jesus any woman in the world, as many women as Jesus wanted. He was offering sex, fame, power, money, gold and any kingdom Jesus wanted. The devil wanted Jesus to leave the Father and take sides with the devil. If Jesus had done that all of heaven would have fallen. Jesus would have been using His power as the Son of God against the Father.
JESUS QUOTED SCRIPTURES TO THE DEVIL RATHER THAN ARGUE. (5A)
We (humans) would rather argue. We’d rather stand up for ourselves and defend ourselves by turning the tables on another and pointing out all of their faults. Jesus would have none of that. That’s because Jesus didn’t need to defend Himself against the devil to His Father. The Father knew Who was right here. The Father knew Who had God-given authority here and it sure wasn’t the devil. The devil portrays himself as owning all that he shows to Jesus but Jesus isn’t fooled, Jesus knows the devil doesn’t own any of it and that his promises are empty.
THE HOLY SPIRIT LEAD JESUS TO NAZARETH. (1B)
Jesus goes into the Temple on the Sabbath and is chosen to read the section of the Torah for that day. He reads from Isaiah but stops in the middle of a verse, rolls the Torah scroll back up and sits down. The people can immediately sense the power, authority and full grasp of the scriptures that Jesus has.
He begins teaching here in the Synagogue in Nazareth but what He is teaching is not what they want to hear. They all are amazed that this is Joseph’s son. He’s the little guy who used to run around here with all the other kids when they were young. It is my guess that since Jesus performed miracles for others in other cities that He might perform a similar miracle. My guess is that when Jesus refused it was because the miracle would have been self-serving. I believe it was possibly in relation to doing something for Joseph, Jesus’ father. I think it may be that they were wondering why Jesus didn’t raise Joseph back to life again. Mary may have been a widow at this point and may have been one for a while. But, to raise Joseph from the dead would have been:
FOR SELFISH, SELF SERVING REASONS. (4B)
They become angry with Him because:
HE WON’T PERFORM (miracles) FOR THEM. (3B)
To do so would have been self-serving. Jesus would have been using His power as God to serve His own interests first. Pure love always thinks of others’ needs above their own. Also, it’s the way Jesus declined to perform the same miracles He’s performed in Capernaum.
Once again, Jesus would have been using His power to perform miracles out of a feeling that He wanted to amuse the crowd. But, here again Jesus didn’t need to prove Himself to anyone. He certainly didn’t need to prove Himself to the people of the town of His childhood. But, instead of quoting scriptures to the angry crowd in Nazareth,
JESUS SPOKE OF THE LIVES OF OTHERS IN THE SCRIPTURES. (5B)
So, the Jews in the Temple became very angry. They must have thought they had the golden ticket, meaning since Jesus was from their hometown they could cash in on His power. They thought that since Jesus was raised there that they owned Him. They thought they got first dibs on His power. But, when Jesus refused them they grabbed Him, kicked Him out of their city and led Jesus to the crest of the hill which Nazareth was built upon and were about to:
THROW HIM OFF A HIGH CLIFF IN ORDER TO KILL HIM. (2B)
This time, it wasn’t a suggestive statement of temptation by the devil. This time the people were actively going to kill Him.
THE DEVIL COULDN’T GET JESUS TO COMMIT SUICIDE SO HE STIRRED UP ANGER WITHIN PEOPLE TO MURDER HIM.
This time, however, Jesus merely let the confusion of the moment give Him a chance to quietly walk away. Because, Jesus knew that with the rage-filled focus of the crowd also came chaos and inattentiveness.
Jesus was all to well acquainted with the
DEMONIC FORCES (6A)
that these Jewish neighbors, friends and acquaintances were influenced by. He’d grown up with them.
So, what did Jesus do next?
Jesus went back to Capernaum, the city that the people of Nazareth had just mentioned to Him. This was the city where Jesus had done many miracles. The people of Nazareth felt disgraced. Jesus was seen as one of them not one of the people of Capernaum. Why was Jesus doing all these miracles for them and not for us, His own people? But, leaving the angry mob, Jesus went back to Capernaum and:
DELIVERED A MAN OF A DEMON. (6b)
When these two different scenes are matched up, similar moment to similar moment, they read like this:
1A: The Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 1B: The Holy Spirit lead Jesus into His home town of Nazareth who were spiritually far from His teachings (in a type of wilderness). He was tempted to return to familiar childhood family, friends, sights, sounds, smells, city, etc. In essence, this was Jesus’ fourth temptation. The temptation to return to the comfort of home.
2A: The devil was tempting Jesus to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple (by committing suicide and in believing it really wasn’t suicide). 2B: The devil was tempting the Jewish people whom Jesus had grown up with to throw Him off the face of a hill so as to murder Him.
3A: The devil wanted Jesus to perform miracles for him. 3B: The Jewish people in Nazareth wanted Jesus to perform miracles.
4A: The devil was trying to get Jesus to be self serving and use His power to save Himself. 4B: The Jewish leaders in Nazareth were trying to get Jesus to use His power to fulfill their self serving agenda.
5A: Jesus quoted scripture to the devil and refusing to get into an argument. 5B: Jesus loosely quoted examples in scripture to the Jewish people in the Temple in support of His stance on not being miraculous to entertain or prove Himself.
6A: The very miracles Jesus didn’t perform, which they obviously needed the most, Jesus refused to do in Nazareth. 6B: So, Jesus went to Capernaum, a place where the Jewish people of Nazareth knew He’d performed miracles in the past and Jesus did the miracle there that they so desperately needed in their own city. That miracle was deliverance from evil. It was the very evil that would eventually lead to Jesus’ death on the cross. It was a product of uncontrolled rage. It was the unclean spirit of murder that was at work within them. The very first Jews to be enraged by Jesus were those He grew up with. They were the ones who taught Jesus in the Synagogue. So, while Jesus’ ministry grew so did the rage and desire to murder Jesus.
It is interesting to me that the first story is of the devil (the temptation story). The second is the story of Jesus being around family and friends (in what should be a relaxing and familiar place) but nearly gets killed by a mob that are riled up by demons. The third story is of Jesus delivering a man of a demon.
So, the fourth temptation is the one of the cozy, familiar, relaxing moments, caught off guard, relying on old friendships temptation.
I CALL THIS THE TEMPTATION OF THE FAMILIAR. It comes when the opposite of the first three temptations occurs. This is when everyone wants to celebrate you in order to get something for themselves.
The fruit Eve ate may have been an apple at the Temptation in Genesis chapter 3, but here in Luke 4 Jesus had four apples of temptation to deal with. The first three apples were from the temptation and the fourth came after Jesus should have thought that the temptation by the devil was over. That was the temptation that crops up behind you when you are the most relaxed. It comes at you so subtly when you are around those with whom you can let your hair down and be yourself with. It is the temptation to get caught up in other people’s agendas and feel pressured into putting aside your own. It is the temptation that says to you that since these people know you the best and accept you for all your faults, quirks and grating personality traits that you want to tread lightly and not ruffle any feathers. But, that’s not exactly what Jesus did. Jesus stayed true to His own agenda. Jesus stayed true to His course and expected His family, friends and fellow Rabbi’s to follow Him and not acquiesse to them.
Be on guard and watch for the devil looks for an opportunity to hook you into his agenda when you feel the most secure and the most at peace. That’s when you let your guard down.
“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. Luke 4:22b
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