UNDERSTANDING CHRIST: A Look through The Book of Luke - Luke 4

Luke 4 opened with the temptation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is one Luke gospel that I have read over and again and there is so much to learn from Christ here, but let us remember where we ended our studies in Luke 3. The baptism of Christ came with a spiritual endorsement from heaven that he now has the power to reign and rule as the son of God. This was followed by his genealogy which establishes for us his right to reign by reason of his historical lineage. He was the Son of David as he was also the Son of Adam! Now in Luke 4, the victory of Christ over the temptations that came his way is that he has the character to rule and reign as the son of God!

Christ's temptation was the necessary test before his announcement! Because in Luke 4:18, Christ announced himself and his mission to the world, but before that announcement came there was a temptation to be overcome! Luke 4 is, therefore, the book of temptation and manifestation. As soon as Jesus' temptation was over the Bible tells us what happen next, the Son of the man returned in the power of the Spirit and began his ministry!

Luke 4:14 gave a summary of all that will begin to happen from here forward,

"And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about."

Immediately his temptation was over his manifestation began. It seems to be the experience of the Lord in Luke 4 was summarised by these words in the book of Job

"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10).

Immediately the master was tried, his glorious destiny began to emerge! There is also a new testament parallel for this scripture found in James 1:12, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him"

Christ received his crown as soon as the temptation was over and began to reign as King. He began to enter into the fullness God's plan and purpose for His life! Could it then be said that every temptation in whatever shade they come is a distraction from our mission? For as soon as this initial temptation was over Jesus begin to step into his ministry. Summarily, whatever distracts us from God's plan and purpose for our lives is a temptation in itself! It's the reason why the Lord's prayer becomes more all-important, "and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil". Let's pause here and read Luke 4:1-3

"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it is made bread"

WHAT IS TEMPTATION?

The temptation took place in the wilderness. The Spirit led him into the wilderness. The scripture before asks us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation". By this point, it should be obvious to you where this is going? Why did God lead his Son into temptation when the Son said we should pray not to be led into temptation? To answer this it will be good to define generally what temptation is or should I say to define temptation from both Satan and God's perspective because from scriptures both sides seem to hold a different view.

The temptation is, on the one hand, a solicitation to sin, to do that which is contrary to the will and the word of God. The temptation is an attempt to cause a person to sin. Satan’s efforts at temptation always fall into this category. But “temptation” when viewed from God’s point of view is a “test,” an opportunity for one to be proven righteous. Thus, in the case of Job ( especially chapters 1 and 2) Satan sought to bring Job to the point of forsaking his faith, to the point of sinning, but God’s purpose was to deepen Job’s faith, as well as to demonstrate to Satan that Job’s love for God was not based upon the material blessings which God bestowed upon him

Job 1:8 said

"And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?"

What God did here with Job was the same thing God did with his son in Luke 4, it was more an act of 'consideration'. It was like God saying to Satan 'have you considered my Son Jesus?'. With this temptation, God has one thing in my mind about his Son, the validation of his Sonship and his readiness to pursue the ultimate plan that has been put in place from the foundation of the world to put Satan in his place!

But Satan too has an agenda with this temptation, his was to undermine the sonship credentials of Jesus, while God's plan was to underline the sonship credentials of his son and in the process show to the world the readiness of his son to save the world, hence the reason why this temptation was allowed! You will see all of Satan's temptation has an undertone of trying to push Jesus to prove 'if he is the Son of God' albeit in a way that is rash and violates the word of God.

In this Luke 4 I will focus majorly on the temptation that the Lord faced, the manifestation takes care of itself when the temptations are overcome. Hence we will look at what temptations are by looking at the .examples of Jesus because every temptation by nature is subtle. Look at all the temptations the Lord faced here, they are subtle, cunning and wrap with scriptures. They are not really a temptation to sin in the true sense of the way we see the word sin. These temptations are a distraction, a call to rashness, a call to abandon God's plan and purpose, a call to find another way to arrive at the desired destination. Truth is many of us face temptations that we are not aware of because they are not a temptation to sin but a temptation to abandon ship, and jettisoned God's plan and purpose for our lives.

MAKE NO OCCASION FOR TEMPTATION

Can I take a little detour again before unveiling the definitions and natures of these temptations? Permit me please, I need to point this out that even though Jesus faced temptation he was not tempted. I know that scripture that says he was tempted in every way that we are, yes, it means the savior has faced every kind of temptation we could face and so could relate to us in what we go through. But each time he faced this temptation was he tempted? Tempted as in considering 'maybe I should try this too'? Well, I don't know for all the other temptations that were not stated in scriptures, but for this particular temptation in Luke 4, Jesus faced temptation but was never tempted.

Jesus was tempted in the garden of Gethsemane, at the final moment before he went to the cross. The son of man was having doubts about his assignment. At that point, there was some struggle. But read Luke 4 and see the response of Jesus to Satan, there were no hesitations in his answers, as Satan was launching his attack, Christ counter-attack from scriptures was as swift, if not swifter than the original attack! He never thought about certain propositions in any way.

When temptation comes it leads to the enticement, at this point, it is still okay. This is the point we consider and question all that we believe in God. At this point of enticement our faith, values, and beliefs are on trial, we are considering whether to stick by them or embrace the pleasure of our temptations. It is okay. However the moment we are drawn away by this enticement and we embrace this is the point at which we fall into sin.

James 1:14 paints a better picture: "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death"

Temptation grows in stages as we see here: from ENTICEMENT to 'CONCEIVEMENT' to SIN and to DEATH. The moment we conceive evil is the moment evil is born! This is when temptation overcomes us! It's the reason why Jesus said the moment you can picture in your heart sleeping with that woman, you have already done it, it's just a matter of time!

I could say the reason the master faced temptation and was not tempted was that there was no inclination in him to sin! The inclination to sin is best explained by reading Romans 7&8. There is an ongoing war in our flesh! As long as there is war in our flesh there will always be an inclination to sin! This is what Jesus is free of, remember he said the prince of the world came to me but have none of his in me.

There are areas we face temptation but are not tempted or have the inclination to sin. Whereas there are some other areas of our lives that even before temptation comes we are already tempted Why? In that area of life, we have not yet mortified the deeds of the flesh! There are those who by the inclination of their flesh look for temptation on their own! The inclination to steal, the inclination to cheat, the inclination to be full of pride, the inclination to lust after other women, all kinds of inclination can draw us into self afflicted temptation, this is the case of tempting the tempter!

Whatever is your inclination, the rule is to not provide an occasion for such that might lead to temptations. This is what Paul said when he exhorts that we should not give occasion to the flesh that might lead us on to the path of sin!

The temptation that tempts us can lead us into perdition! Therefore we must not make an occasion for this kind of temptation. What are the occasions to avoid in your life in order to avoid temptations? You must strive to identify and flee from such an occasions. This doesn't guarantee that there won't be a temptation. There will always be a temptation. But it does guarantee that you give less opportunity for the devil to take advantage of you!

DIFFERENT SHADES OF TEMPTATION

From the temptations of Jesus that were recorded in Luke 4, we see the different shades that temptations come through so that when we see them we know what is lurking behind the corners. I will just list them and leave us to personal meditation on these.

Temptation is proposing any act which is inconsistent with the plans and purposes of God for that person. All three of Satan’s temptations were diversions from Messiah’s calling and ministry. Our Lord recognized them as such and thus refused them. And this is why anyone who gives us options other than God's plan for our lives is at that moment a mouthpiece for Satan. It's why Jesus rebuked Peter as Satan. His idea was considerate and nice but ultimately against God's plan for Jesus

Temptation may prompt an action that has the appearance of godliness and righteousness and may even seem to have a biblical basis. Satan’s final temptation in Luke’s account was one that was “biblically based,” at least in Satan’s mind. The temptations were all wrapped in scriptures.

Temptation appeals to man to satisfy a need or a desire, but in a way that is displeasing to God. Satan appealed to our Lord’s hunger, hoping that He would satisfy it in a way that would be sinful. So, too, it would seem, in the second temptation, he appealed to our Lord’s “need” as Messiah to have a kingdom.

The temptation is an appeal to act independently of God and to pursue self-interest above God’s will. Commanding stone to become bread would have been an independent act on the part of our Lord, for the purpose of satisfying his own needs, but independently of God. God eventually sent Angel to strengthen Jesus. God who led him to the wilderness hungry has his plans to take care of him.

Temptation often seeks to motivate disobedience by creating doubt about God’s goodness or power, thus prompting one to act on his own behalf. The goodness of God is questioned by the challenge of Satan that our Lord make stone into bread, or to leap from the pinnacle of the temple.

The temptation is an enticement to pursue God’s will and calling, but by motives or means which are inconsistent with that calling. Ostensibly, Satan was encouraging our Lord to pursue His calling and destiny as the “Son of God.” In reality, Satan was challenging our Lord to establish His kingdom by jumping from the pinnacle of the temple, to force God’s hand and to modify God’s timing. Satan would have our Lord attain His kingdom by worshipping him, rather than by worshipping and obeying God.

Temptation proposes a short-cut, an easier way to reach our goals. Satan’s temptations propose some way in which man can meet his needs or goals, but with a lower price tag, with less pain and self-sacrifice. Temptation always seems to offer a big prize for a small price, a kingdom for a mere bowing of the knee, but there is always a higher, hidden cost. Temptation offers future rewards now; it trades the future for the present, pleasure for pain, and the seen for the unseen.

We must always guard the loins of our mind not to fall victim to Satan's way because he is always devising new ways to make sin and distraction appealing to us! However no matter the temptation that comes our way we have this assurance from God that there is no temptation that is taken us that is not common to man, but God will with the same temptation make a way of escape. When our hearts are focused on God there is always a way of escape for us! Amen

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