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Wednesday Bible Study
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
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Jesus and the Devil

Luke 4:1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

There was never a time in our Lord’s life when He was not full of the Holy Spirit, but it is specifically mentioned here in connection with His temptation. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be completely yielded to Him and to be completely obedient to every word of God. A person who is filled with the Spirit is emptied of known sin and of self and is richly indwelt by the Word of God.

As Jesus was returning from the Jordan, where He had been baptized, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness—probably the Wilderness of Judea, along the west coast of the Dead Sea.

Luke 4:2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. :3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

There He was tempted for forty days by the devil—days in which our Lord ate nothing. At the end of the forty days came the threefold temptation with which we are more familiar. Actually they took place in three different places—the wilderness, a mountain, and the temple in Jerusalem.

The true humanity of Jesus is reflected by the words He was hungry. This was the target of the first temptation. Satan suggested that the Lord should use His divine power to satisfy bodily hunger. The subtlety of the temptation was that the act in itself was perfectly legitimate. But it would have been wrong for Jesus to do it in obedience to Satan; He must act in accordance with the will of His Father.

Luke 4:4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”

Jesus resisted the temptation by quoting Scripture (Deut. 8:3). More important than the satisfaction of physical appetite is obedience to God’s word.

He did not argue. Darby said, “A single text silences when used in the power of the Spirit. The whole secret of strength in conflict is using the word of God in the right way.”

Luke 4:5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. :6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. :7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

In the second temptation, the devil … showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. It doesn’t take long for Satan to show all he has to offer. It was not the world itself but the kingdoms of this world he offered. There is a sense in which he does have authority over the kingdoms of this world. Because of man’s sin, Satan has become “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11, “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).

God has purposed that “the kingdoms of this world” will one day “become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15). So Satan was offering to Christ what would eventually be His anyway.

But there could be no short cut to the throne. The cross had to come first. In the counsels of God, the Lord Jesus had to suffer before He could enter into His glory. He could not achieve a legitimate end by a wrong means. Under no circumstances would He worship the devil, no matter what the prize might be.

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Therefore, the Lord quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 to show that as a Man He should worship and serve God alone.

Luke 4:9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. :10 For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ :11 and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

In the third temptation, Satan took Jesus to Jerusalem, to the pinnacle of the temple, and suggested that He throw Himself down. Had not God promised in Psalm 91:11, 12 that He would preserve the Messiah? Perhaps Satan was tempting Jesus to present Himself as Messiah by performing a sensational stunt. Malachi had predicted that the Messiah would suddenly come to His temple (Mal. 3:1). Here then was Jesus’ opportunity to obtain fame and notoriety as the promised Deliverer without going to Calvary.

Luke 4:12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”

For the third time, Jesus resisted temptation by quoting from the Bible. Deuteronomy 6:16 forbade putting God to the test.

Luke 4:13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

Repulsed by the sword of the Spirit, the devil left Jesus until an opportune time. Temptations usually come in spasms rather than in streams.

Several additional points should be mentioned in connection with the temptation:

1.  The order in Luke differs from that in Matthew. The second and third temptations are reversed; the reason for this is not clear.

2. In all three cases, the end held out was right enough, but the means of obtaining it was wrong. It is always wrong to obey Satan, to worship him or any other created being. It is wrong to tempt God.

3. The first temptation concerned the body, the second the soul, the third the spirit. They appealed respectively to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

4. The three temptations revolve around three of the strongest drives of human existence—physical appetite, desire for power and possessions, and desire for public recognition. How often disciples are tempted to choose a pathway of comfort and ease, to seek a prominent place in the world, and to gain a high position in the church.

5. In all three temptations, Satan used religious language and thus clothed the temptations with a garb of outward respectability. He even quoted Scripture (vv. 10, 11).

As James Stewart so aptly points out: The study of the temptation narrative illuminates two important points. On the one hand, it proves that temptation is not necessarily sin.

On the other hand, the narrative illuminates the great saying of a later disciple: “In that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

It is sometimes suggested that the temptation would have been meaningless if Jesus was not able to sin. The fact is that Jesus is God, and God cannot sin. The Lord Jesus never relinquished any of the attributes of deity. His deity was veiled during His life on earth but it was not and could not be laid aside. Some say that as God He could not sin but as Man He could sin. But He is still both God and Man, and it is unthinkable that He could sin today. The purpose of the temptation was not to see if He would sin but to prove that He could not sin. Only a holy, sinless Man could be our Redeemer.

Luke 4:14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. :15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Between verses 13 and 14 there is a gap of about one year. During this time the Lord ministered in Judea. The only record of this ministry is in John 2–5.

When Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee to begin the second, year of His public ministry, His fame spread through all the surrounding region. As He taught in the Jewish synagogues, He was widely acclaimed.

Luke 4:16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 


Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson