Jesus’ First Temptation

23 Aug
Bread and Stone

from google Images

I have been arguing that Luke offers us a record of how Jesus was tempted or tested during his 40 days in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-2). Rather than being in the desert (wilderness) of Judea, I have argued that Jesus was in Galilee in the wilderness of people (cf. Ezekiel 20:35), people completely devoid of God’s Spirit and correct spiritual understanding, where even Jesus’ disciples were slow to understand (Luke 24:25; Mark 7:18; 8:17-18).

Luke shows a number of Sabbaths taking place between Luke 4:16 and Luke 6:49 that overlays nicely with the Sabbath days of the 7th month in the Jewish calendar, or from the Feast of Trumpets (the 1st day of the 7th month) to the Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles (22nd of the month). This would put at least 22 days of the 40 day test period in the 7th month (Luke 4:1, 14). The fourth Gospel doesn’t leave much time between Jesus’ baptism (John 1:29) and when Jesus entered Galilee (John 1:35, 43; 2:1). Within three days after Jesus’ baptism, he is found in Galilee, offering no time for a 40 day temptation in the wilderness in Judea. Therefore the remaining 18 days of Jesus’ temptation must continue to about the 10th day of the 8th month of the Jewish calendar.

In Luke 4:16-44 we find recorded several events that can be compared with Jesus’ first temptation, satisfying the needs of the people upon demand, or we might call them the name-it-and-claim-it folks of the first century AD (Luke 4:3-4). They understood that the Messiah was supposed to be a worker of miracles, so “If you are the Son of God…” provide this or that great work for us. First we find Jesus offering himself as Messiah to his hometown in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30).[1] He offered himself as the Bread of Life (Luke 4:18-21), but, when the people with their leaders objected (Luke 4:22), Jesus warned that the gentiles would receive the Jew’s portion, if they showed themselves not ready (Luke 4:23-27), and for this they sought to kill him (Luke 4:28-29).

In the remaining verses of Luke 4 we find Jesus showing his power over evil by casting out demons (Luke 4:31-37) and healing everyone’s diseases—all who came to him (Luke 4:38-41), but in the final analysis, all men wanted to see was another miracle (Luke 4:42), but Jesus came not for miracles but to preach the good news (Luke 4:43-44).

In contrast to these things Luke records in Luke 5:1-11 that Jesus went into Simon’s boat in order to preach to a great many people on shore, because the multitude pressed him toward the sea, and he had no room (Luke 5:1).[2] Afterward, Jesus told Simon to go out into the deeper waters (signifying deeper principles) and let down the nets. Simon did so, but the catch began to break his net, insomuch that he and all who were with him were astonished. Jesus told them to follow him, and they forsook all (i.e. the fishing business) and went with Jesus.

In the Scripture above Luke shows us that those who were broken by what Jesus said and did were very different from those who were merely impressed with what Jesus said and did. Jesus tells us through Luke that he has come for those who are broken (Luke 4:18), not necessarily for those who are merely astonished with his power and authority but remain unmoved in spirit and won’t follow him—i.e. they won’t obey him, or receive him as Lord (Messiah).

The true disciples of Jesus are those who become convicted in the face of what Jesus has said and done. While others may be astonished over Jesus words and deeds, and want to name this and claim that (Luke 4:36), they remain unchanged in their hearts and, rather, seek Jesus (Luke 4:42) in order to merely see another miracle—another ‘stone’ changed into bread, another desire met by an astonishing deed of the Son of God (Luke 4:3).

Luke finished his account of Jesus’ first temptation with healing one full of leprosy (contrast Jesus being full of the Spirit – Luke 4:1) and healing many of the crowds of their diseases (Luke 5:12-15). Nevertheless, Jesus sought the quietness of an uninhabited place or a wilderness away from the crowd—the wilderness of people. There, in that wilderness of nature, he was able to pray and be alone with his Father, preparing for the next temptation or trial (Luke 5:16).


[1] This took place on a Sabbath (cf. Mark 6:2). I argue in my study of Luke that Jesus’ preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30) took place on the Feast of Trumpets (cir. 27 AD).

[2] See Robertson’s Word pictures on this verse and Mark 4:1.

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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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