Sunday 17 February 2013

Bible Book:

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (v. 1)

Luke 4:1-13 Sunday 17 February 2013


Just before this passage, Jesus has been baptized (Luke3:21-22), the Holy Spirit has descended upon him, and he hasheard, "You are my Son, the Beloved;  with youI am well pleased". The phrase "Son of God" was used for thoseanointed by God and particularly for the Messiah. Jesus has nowgone into the desert alone for a period of fasting, prayer andpreparation. This echoes Moses fasting for 40 days and nightsbefore receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus34:28).

Jesus, in his humanity, is tempted to doubt his calling by therepeated, "If you are the Son of God…" (vv. 3, 9). The unspokentaunt is 'Let's see you do the great deeds Moses and Elijah did, ifthe power of the Spirit of God is truly with you'. The secondtemptation recalls what Psalm2:7-8 says about the one God anoints: "You are my son; today Ihave begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations yourheritage, and the ends of the earth your possession."

Jesus is also tempted to use easier ways to carry out hismission. He could have relieved hunger and poverty, and won forhimself all the followers he wanted. Through political and militarypower he could have forced people to accept his message. He couldhave convinced people by spectacular miracles. But such approacheswould have distorted the relationship between humanity and God.

Christian history has seen these approaches fail. 'RiceChristians' remained 'converted' as long as there was food from themissionaries, while forced conversions and the mediaeval use ofrelics and 'miracles' undermined Christianity. Today there arestill those who seek to win converts by promising prosperity, somewho become millionaire TV stars on the back of 'miracle' working,and Christian factions who seek to gain political power so thatthey can impose their interpretation of biblical teaching. Jesus,however, opted for the more difficult and dangerous, but ultimatelythe most effective, way of love and self-sacrifice.

To Ponder

  • Have you ever been tempted to doubt your calling? How did youwork through this?
  • It is easy to feel self-righteous because we don't succumb totemptations that trap others - perhaps because we don't have theopportunity or the daring to do them or they just don't appeal tous. What are the temptations that really challenge you?
  • What can you learn from the passage about the best way ofcarrying out God's mission in your community?

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