God Saves Gentiles! Luke Has Good News!
A study of the NT book of Luke
by Pastor Frank Rice
Credentials, you’ll need them if you plan to go anywhere in life. References are also vital assets. Then, let’s see what you can do. There needs to be a probationary period, a time of testing to see if you can stand up under the stresses and strains of the upcoming task. Then you’re ready! Luke has carefully documented Jesus’ credentials to qualify Him as God’s Messiah. Now it’s time for the final testing to see whether He can survive the grueling ministry assignment laid out before Him!
I. Jesus Displays Constant Dependence on the Spirit (Vv. 1-2)!
❖ “Luke 3:21-38 was in its own way integral to the demonstration of His competence, indicating His possession of the requisite credentials, power, and authority to set forth on His mission. But these are not enough. They must be matched with Jesus’ positive response to God’s purpose.” (Green)
❖ Prior to Jesus’ upcoming test, Luke records the Spirit’s intimate involvement in Jesus’ preparation for ministry.
- He had been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (1:35).
- He had been welcomed by Simeon thru the Holy Spirit (2:26).
- He had been identified, anointed, and empowered by the Holy Spirit at His baptism (3:22).
- He had also received approval by the Father and credentialed by a genealogy that identified Him with the first man (3:38)!
❖ All of this means nothing if He fails the test of integrity (vv. 1-2).
- Again, it is the Holy Spirit who ushers Him into the place of testing immediately after His anointing and approval (v. 1a)! He wasn’t dragged into the desert by the devil, He was led by the Spirit.
- The stated purpose for His being there is to be tested or tempted by the arch-enemy of God, the devil. [He is real! He’s an angry dog on a long chain!] “Luke assumed the existence of this supernatural adversary of God and saw no need to convince his readers of the devil’s existence.” (Stein)
- The devil, true to form, approaches his Adversary at the time of His greatest vulnerability. (This may indicate the culmination of forty days of constant testing.)
II. Jesus Demonstrates His Unimpeachable Integrity (Vv. 3-13)!
❖ Jesus is tempted to use His powers to satisfy or gratify His own “felt-needs” (vv. 3-4)! The Son was fully reliant on the Father. (There is a definite pattern; a temptation, a reply, and a quote from Deuteronomy.)
- Was the devil eavesdropping on Jesus’ baptism? This could accurately be translated, “Since You are the Son of God.” “The temptation incident is only the second time in Scripture in which a human comes face-to-face with the devil.” (Garland)
- Jesus is the Son of God. The devil knew it! So why should He suffer deprivation?! “Satisfy your appetite. You can do it.” He was tempted to use his power as God’s Son for His own ends thus exhibiting a lack of trust on His part.- (Stein)
- Jesus’ response is short, sweet, significant, and scriptural! He didn’t argue, or dialogue, or ask for time to think about it! He refused to act independently of the Father. (I sure hope you’re applying this text as we examine it!)
❖ Jesus is tempted to take a short-cut to glory (vv. 5-8).
- Somehow, from an undisclosed location, the devil was able to display momentarily the kingdoms of the earth! Luke is more concerned with what happened than where it happened. “What is clear is that Jesus had a view of all the inhabited earth and that all earthly power was presented to Jesus.” (Bock)
- Somehow, the devil had the audacity to offer dominion over these kingdoms if given the appropriate worship. (Is he telling the truth? Not exactly! Don’t be surprised!)
- Jesus again recalls and quotes the words of scripture and rebuffs the devil’s assault. He refuses to violate His integrity or loyalty to the Father.
- “Jesus’ reply,.. is a rejection of the devil’s pretensions to absolute sovereignty and a reaffirmation of His uncompromising fidelity to God.” (Green)
❖ Jesus is tempted to distrust the Father (vv. 9-13).
- The devil escorts Jesus to the place where God dwells and quotes scripture which emphasizes the protection God has promised His people. [“Jesus can quote scripture, so can I.”] The mere use of biblical words and phrases does not insure God’s will! “The demanding of miraculous protection, where it is not needed, is not faith or loyalty. It is sin.” (Bock)
- Jesus recognized the temptation for what it was, and it didn’t take Him long to respond! He rejected the devil’s offer! BTW, there is no audience for any of these encounters! (Interestingly & significantly, quotes are from Deuteronomy.)
- The devil conceded temporary defeat… he’ll be back later! “Satan was active during all of Jesus ministry… a direct confrontation with the devil does not occur again until the arrest, trial, and crucifixion.” (Stein)
❖ Oh, to be like Him with His unimpeachable credentials!
- Physical survival depends on what you feed your mouth & stomach. Spiritual survival depends on what you feed your mind & soul.
- What you serve, is what you worship. What controls your decision-making? Money, self-advancement, or God?
- Do you trust God’s Word unreservedly or use it to further your own personal agenda? Do you cherry-pick, twist, misappropriate, or misapply Scripture?
- “Faithfulness to God involves trusting Him, worshipping Him only, And refusing to create a test of His goodness.” (Bock)
❖ Jesus has succeeded masterfully where others failed miserably.
- The first man Adam failed his test under perfect conditions! He surrendered to self-gratification, listened to the devil, and failed to trust the Father’s word.
- The nation of Israel failed their test in the wilderness under less extreme conditions, yielding to self-gratification, idol worship, and testing God rather than trusting Him.
- God allowed His people to hunger to learn that man doesn’t live merely by physical food (Deut 8:3). They were told to worship the one and only God and not multiple gods (Deut 6: 5, 13). They were commanded not to put their God to the test (Deut 6:16). They were to bring light to the Gentiles! And they failed on each count. Jesus does not fail!
III. Jesus Embarks on His First Ministry Assignment (Vv. 14-15)!
❖ Luke emphasizes that Jesus operated continually by the Holy Spirit’s power (v. 14)! His trek north drew widespread attention.
❖ Luke mentions the crowd’s initial reaction to His teaching (v. 15). In the synagogues, it wasn’t miracles, but His teaching that made a significant impression, and they glorified/ honored Him!
Jesus is being fully equipped for ministry with impeccable credentials (Heb 5:9)!