Jesus launches his ministry the hard way
Devil of a Temptation1 Jesus left the Jordan River Valley. The Holy Spirit, which had filled him, now led him into the Judean Badlands. 2 He spent 40 days there, with the devil tempting him. Jesus fasted during that time, eating absolutely nothing. By the end of that long stretch, Jesus was famished. 3 The devil said, “Hey you. So, you call yourself the Son of God. Prove it. Order this stone to turn into bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “The Bible says:
‘It takes more than bread to keep people alive.’”5 The devil took Jesus somewhere high. There, in a single moment, Jesus saw every kingdom on the planet. 6 The devil told him, “Look at this. I’ll give it all to you—all the authority and glory that goes with it. You will be in charge. All of this has been given to me. I can give it to anyone I want. I want you. 7 Worship me, and it’s all yours.” 8 Jesus said, “It’s in the Bible:
‘You’ll worship the LORD your God. You won’t serve anyone but him.’”9 The devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, set him on top of the highest structure in the Temple, and said, “If you are Son of God, jump. 10 It’s in the Bible:
‘God will order his angels to protect you.
‘Don’t mess around with God by trying to test him.’”13 After the devil finished tempting Jesus, he left and waited for another opportunity.
Jesus’ neighbors try to toss him off a cliff14 Jesus, compelled by the Spirit, went back home to the territory of Galilee. Stories about him had spread all over the countryside. 15 He started teaching people in synagogues throughout the area, and people had nothing but good things to say about him. 16 He eventually made it to Nazareth, his hometown. Just as he had done in other villages, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. When it came time for him to stand up and read, 17 He opened the scroll, found this passage, and read:
“The LORD’s Spirit is in me.
The LORD has given me a sacred task. I’m here to deliver good news to the poor.
He sent me here with this announcement: Captives will be freed. The blind will see.
And people treated like dirt will be treated with respect.
20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it to the worship assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was staring at him. 21 He said, “The prophecy you have just heard me read has been fulfilled today.”
22 The people started complementing him, amazed at the wonderful news he had just given them. They asked each other, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
23 Jesus said, “No doubt you’ll quote me that old wisecrack: ‘Doctor, heal yourself.’ And you’ll insist that the miracles I did in Capernaum I need to do here in my hometown, too.” 24 He said, “Here’s a fact for you: No prophet is treated like a prophet in his hometown. 25 Listen to me, back in Elijah’s day there were plenty of widows in Israel when a drought scorched the land for 3½ years. 26 But was Elijah sent to help any of them? No he was not. Instead he was sent clear out of the country to a widow in the village of Zarephath in the territory of Sidon. 27 And in the time of the prophet Elisha there were a lot of people in Israel with leprosy. But the only leper Elisha healed was Naaman—from Syria.”
28 The crowd couldn’t take that. They were furious with Jesus. 29 They got up, grabbed Jesus, and escorted him out of town. They took him to the edge of the ridge on which the city was built. They were going to toss him over the cliff. 30 But he got away, slipping through the crowd.
Jesus moves on to a fishing village31 He left and went down to Capernaum, another city in the area of Galilee. He taught there on the Sabbath, as well. 32 They were astonished at what he said—and the authority with which he said it. 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of a demon. The man screamed with a voice like a megaphone.
34 “Hey! Jesus of Nazareth! What are you going to do to us? Have you come to put an end to us? I know who you are. You are God’s Devoted." 35 Jesus scorched him with words: “Shut up and come out of this man!” The man collapsed, unharmed as the demon left him.
36 This astonished everyone. They said to each other, “What’s going on with this teacher? He has the authority and the power to tell evil spirits exactly where they can go. He tells them to leave, and they leave.” 37 Word spread all over the area, from one town to another.
38 After Jesus left the synagogue, he went to the home of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was burning up with fever. So they asked Jesus about her. 39 He walked over to her and ordered the fever to chill out. The woman got right up and started to play hostess, waiting on them.
40 As sundown approached, so did all the sick folks in the area. Anyone with a sick person in their household brought that person to Jesus—lots of different kinds of diseases. Jesus put his hand on each patient, healing every one of them. 41 There were exorcisms, too. Demons came out screaming, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus ordered them to shut up. He did that because they knew he was Christ, the Messiah.
42 At daybreak, Jesus left the village and went to a place where there weren’t any people. But the folks started looking for him, found him, and tried to talk him into staying with them. 43 He said, “Sorry, but I have to go and tell people in other cities the good news about God’s kingdom. That’s why I was sent here. It’s my purpose in life.” 44 He left for Judea and preached in their synagogues.
In what is now the country of Lebanon.
The Greek word for leprosy could refer to a lot of different skin disorders, most of which are far less critical than leprosy, known today as Hansen’s disease.
Cliffs on the south edge of Nazareth drop from Mount Precipice, about 100 yards (meters) into the Jezreel Valley below.
Literally “loud voice,” which in Greek – interestingly enough – is megas phone.
Literally “Holy.” The description is often translated “Holy One of God.”
Jesus later renamed him Peter (John 1:42). In Capernaum, ruins of the foundation of a first-century synagogue lie just a few yards (meters) from the ruins of a church built over what was once a first-century house – which many say was the home of Peter.
Sundown on Saturday is when the Sabbath ends. That’s when Jews were allowed to resume work and travel. It’s when doctors and other healers, like Jesus, were approved by Jewish leaders to treat the sick again.
Jesus apparently wasn’t ready for people to know who he was. When Jewish leaders later saw that a lot of Jews considered Jesus the Messiah, they started plotting his death (John 11:48).
Judea is a region in what is now southern Israel and the West Bank.
What do you think Luke meant when he said the Holy Spirit had filled Jesus?
Luke says the Holy Spirit “led him into the Judean Badlands” (4:1). How do you think the Holy Spirit does that kind of thing? Physical manifestation? Inside the head? Suggestion by John the Baptist?
Luke says Jesus fasted for 40 days. An article in the 1997 issue of the British Medical Journal, by Michael Peele, says there are well-documented studies of people surviving hunger strikes for up to 40 days. A skinny Mahatma Gandhi at age 74 survived 21 days of complete starvation, drinking only sips of water. Do you think Luke literally meant 40 days, or was he using a round number to mean it was a long time—as in a couple of weeks or more?
In his hometown of Nazareth, Jews listening to Jesus in the synagogue got royally ticked when he reminded them of Bible stories about Jewish prophets who helped foreigners instead of fellow Jews. They got so angry they were going to “toss him over the cliff” (4:29). Luke doesn’t say why they got so mad. What do you think got them this furious?
Why do you think Jesus told the demons who were calling him the “Son of God” (4:41) to shut up?
LIFE APPLICATION. The devil told Jesus to test God by taking one of God’s promises that was expressed in a metaphor and see if God would honor it literally. Jesus is to jump to his death and God’s angels will catch him. Jesus said, “Don’t mess around with God by trying to test him” (4:12). Have you known of people who tried to mess around with God in this way—putting him to the test or taking a Bible promise written as poetry and expecting God to honor it literally?
LIFE APPLICATION. It seems interesting to many people that Jesus had a Bible verse to fight off every temptation that came to him. Do you think that would be helpful for us today? For example, if we find ourselves tempted with one particular behavior, could we latch onto Bible passages to help us overcome the temptation whenever it surfaces?
LIFE APPLICATION. If the mission of Jesus was “to deliver good news to the poor” (4:18; also 4:43), what’s our mission?
LIFE APPLICATION. Luke says the devil came to Jesus and communicated with him in some way, perhaps talking out loud or maybe putting thoughts in the head of Jesus. Do you think Satan does this to people today? Or are we more likely to blame Satan for temptations that grow out of bad decisions we make on our own?