Jesus’ Second Temptation

28 Aug
Temptation - 2

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I have been discussing Jesus’ three temptations found in Luke 4:1-12. They are the same temptations found in Matthew 4:1-10, but Luke reverses Matthew’s second and third temptations. Nevertheless, in Luke 4:16 to Luke 6:49 Luke discusses Jesus’ temptations in the order in which Matthew places them. I have been discussing these temptations with the understanding that the wilderness into which the Spirit led Jesus (Luke 4:1), is not a desert or an uninhabited place. Rather, it was a wilderness of people (Ezekiel 20:35), that is, people who are absolutely devoid of the kind of spiritual understanding that would lead them to God.

Luke begins his analysis of Jesus’ third temptation with an account of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand (Luke 6:6-11). One senses a trap set for Jesus in the fact that the scribes and Pharisees looked for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath. They sought to accuse him of wrongdoing (Luke 6:7), revealing the fact that they no longer wanted to understand what Jesus said. This Sabbath, in which the trap was set, was of particular importance, however. If one aligns the Sabbaths in Luke 4-6 with the 7th month of the Jewish calendar, the Sabbath mentioned when Jesus healed the man with the withered hand falls on the Sabbath that is the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the season that recalls the peoples wandering in the wilderness!

When Jesus asked the opinion of the rabbis and Pharisees, they remained silent (Luke 6:9). Nevertheless, had they replied truthfully, they would have had to admit they were wrong about Jesus. Their refusal to offer a reply angered Jesus, and he healed the man in his wrath over their hard hearts (Luke 6:10; cf. Mark 3:5). The Pharisees in turn were enraged and spoke with the Herodians about how they might destroy Jesus (Luke 6:11; cf. Mark 3:6). The idea, that the Pharisees sought help from the politically oriented Herodians, suggests positioning for war (Luke 4:5-8). No longer are they seeking to understand; their minds are closed, because the old is good enough (cf. Luke 5:39). In other words, Jesus must do as they say or bear the consequences as their enemy (cf. Luke 4:7). Of course, Jesus would never bow to their demands, so he healed the man out of anger (Luke 6:10) and drew the proverbial line in the sand.

With the line in the sand drawn, Jesus went up to a mountain “in those days” (i.e. during the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles) and prayed all night, and in the morning he chose for himself twelve men whom he would call his Apostles (Luke 6:12-17). In each one of his trials (temptations) Jesus chose men to follow him (Luke 5:10-11, 27; and 6:13-16). Luke positions Jesus’ choice of disciples who left all to follow him in contrast with those who had rejected him in order to cling to their traditions.

Jesus came down from the mountain and healed the diseases of the multitude and cast out the demons of those possessed (Luke 6:17-19). The common people seemed ready to believe Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Matthew 12:23), which is placed in context with Jesus healing of the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14; cf. Luke 6:6-11). Nevertheless, when the scribes and Pharisees heard the people’s conclusion, they immediately began denouncing Jesus as one who cast out demons (or healed) by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24). The context of the challenge of Jesus’ power comes before Luke 6:20-49, because these sayings were delivered by Jesus either at the same time as his Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7 or immediately following that sermon, when he came down the mount to teach and heal the people on the plane (Luke 6:17). The timing is understood in the fact that in the context of Jesus choosing his disciples came before he delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 10:1-5 etc.; cf. Luke 6:12-16). Jesus mentioned in Matthew that he was already referred to as Beelzebub (Matthew 10:25; cf. Luke 6:40), showing that Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6:20-49 came after the incident described in Matthew 12:24.[1]

With (spiritual) warfare in the air, bloodshed would be the inevitable result. Jesus chastised the Jewish leadership, saying their charge would not be forgiven them (Matthew 12:31). When the leaders asked for a sign (Matthew 12:38), Jesus told them the only sign that would be given would be written in Jesus’ own blood—just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, so the Jesus would be in the grave for the same amount of time (Matthew 12:39-40). Thus, Luke ends his description of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness tempted of the Devil—in the persons of the people and the Jewish leaders (the wilderness of people – Ezekiel 20:35). He presented himself as their Messiah (Luke 4:16-21), but they claimed he would not rule over them, unless he bowed before their wishes (cf. Luke 4:7).


[1] Matthew’s Gospel has only a general chronology from Jesus’ birth to death. Jesus’ sermons and miracles are arranged according to subject matter for teaching purposes. Luke’s record is a better account when considering chronology of events.

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Posted by on August 28, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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