The Temptations (Luke 4:1-13)

Straight after Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan (by John the Baptist) he was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, and fasted for forty days. Whilst in the wilderness, he was tempted by the devil:

Firstly, the devil encouraged him to turn a stone into bread in order to satisfy his hunger, but Jesus replied that scripture said man did not live on bread alone.

Secondly, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and promised Jesus power and authority over them in return for worshipping him, but Christ replied that scripture said that one must worship the Lord God, and serve only him.

Thirdly, the devil tried to persuade Jesus to throw himself off the highest pinnacle of the temple so that angels would come to his rescue (as it said in scripture), but Jesus replied that one must not tempt God.


Themes

  • Wilderness, fasting and temptation - Jesus is preparing himself for his forthcoming mission by spending time in the wilderness fasting, praying to God and focusing his mind.
  • Hunger - bread can satisfy human hunger, but Jesus came to relieve more than mere human cravings. You need more than simply bread in order to survive - what about the spiritual side of life? Jesus is using a metaphor.
  • Power - Jesus knows that, as God, he already has power over all - the devil couldn't offer him anything that he didn't have already.
  • Scripture - Jesus refers to Old Testament scripture in his responses in order to back himself up. Also note 40 days in the wilderness (Moses spent 40 years) and reference to the Temple.
  • Temple - to jump off this and survive would have been an impressive feat, but Jesus was not going to submit to the devil and prove this. Later on, the temple in Jerusalem was huge: the platform on which it was built was the size of twenty football pitches, and the height upwards from its foundations was around fifty metres. It took forty years to build, and at the end of this time 38,000 workers were made redundant. It had ten bronze-clad gates, each of which required twenty men in order to be opened or closed. It was a massive, magnificent building, and represented Jewish power and authority.
  • Jesus did not give in - giving in would have been an easy (and more comfortable) "way out" for Jesus. However, he didn't do so because he knew that he had such an important role ahead of him - his life must be dictated by God, not by the devil. All humans get tempted (and give in); to resist the devil's temptations shows that Jesus was divine.

Contemporary Issues

  • Temptation in the world, and in school.
  • Is it right to boast or show off if you have great skills in a particular area?

 

Revision


Who led Jesus, and where was he led?




For how long was Jesus tempted, and what did he eat during that time?

 



Why did Jesus rely on and refer to the scripture to help him through the temptations?

 

 

What do you think the temptations story, and Jesus overcoming them, tells the reader about his life and the way he understood his work?

 
 


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