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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-12)

I suppose a question that often comes to mind is, ‘What may happen to us after we have had a significant spiritual experience?’ Jesus had recently had a wonderful experience at his baptism when he was empowered by the Spirit for engaging in his public ministry. Moreover, he had received an amazing personal endorsement and expression of appreciation from the heavenly Father. We may want to ask, if we did not know the story, ‘What would happen next?’

The apostle John wrote many years later that the reason why the Son of God came was to destroy the works of the devil. There is more than one way to destroy a person’s power. We can do so by using our power if it happens to be greater and prevent them attacking us; we could prevent any help coming to our opponents and isolate them; or we could let them use their strongest weapons and show that they are ineffective against us.

An obvious feature of the onset of the period of temptation is that Jesus was led to go there by the Holy Spirit. Mark even says that ‘The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness’, which points to a powerful persuasion and desire to participate in the engagement. There was a strong determination in the heart of Jesus to go and deal with the devil. Moreover, the Spirit also led him in the wilderness for forty days as well as into the wilderness initially.

Why would he want to deal with the devil? One answer is that Jesus gave a clear indication of what his public ministry would involve. During it he was going to deal with various activities connected to the enemy of our souls. This explains why Jesus chose to deal with people who were obviously under the influence of demon possession. Individuals like Mary Magdalene and the deranged man from Gadara who were indwelt by numerous demons were delivered by Jesus. So we could say that Luke here is telling his readers to expect episodes of spiritual warfare until the campaign of Jesus comes to a close.

Another answer to the question about why Jesus wanted to deal with the devil is that he was determined to defeat the devil because of what he had done to the human race in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of earthly history. We know from the Book of Genesis that the devil had found it very easy to tempt our first parents and cause them to depart from God’s requirements. The devil did this in an environment that would have helped Adam and Eve to resist the temptation. After all, they were living amid the beauty and the bounty that the Lord had given to them.

Of course, it is not possible on earth to find such an environment now. Instead, the earth is enduring the consequences of the curse placed on it at the beginning. So the engagement had to take place in a location that showed the effects of the devil’s defeat of Adam and Eve. This is why it is taking place in a desert, which was not like the garden of Eden; this is why, as Mark says, Jesus was with wild animals, which was not like the garden of Eden; this is why Jesus found himself in a place with no provision, which was not like the garden of Eden.

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