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Disc. Luke 4:1-13


Leader Guide

Participant Guide

Luke 4:1-13 –The Temptation of Jesus

Lesson Focus:

As we move toward Holy Week, temptation comes, not in the pull to do great evil, but to serve ourselves rather than God’s mission.

Lesson Outcomes:

Through this lesson students should:

Understand that Jesus is tempted to misuse his power as God’s Son.

Understand that temptation comes, not as a pull to do great evil, but to serve ourselves above God and others.

Contemplate the temptations that they suffer and how they might withstand those temptations.

Catching up on the story:

Jesus has just been baptized by John the Baptist. His public ministry hasn’t yet started but we have already become acquainted with Jesus, his origins and, to a certain extent, his destiny. Luke has given us an extensive birth narrative, has recorded for us his genealogy and has let us listen in to the voice of God proclaiming that Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus’ public ministry is about to begin.

It will become clear, in the weeks that follow, that much preparation must be done before Jesus and his disciples (us too!) are ready for the events of Holy Week. In this, the first passage we will examine in Lent, Jesus is the one being prepared for his journey toward the cross. What is certain is that there will be many temptations along this journey. Along with Christ, we will have to rely on the power of God’s Holy Spirit to show us the way to resist temptation so that we might be ready for what God is doing.

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”

5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,

and serve only him.’ ”

9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,

to protect you,’

11 and

‘On their hands they will bear you up,

so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

The Text:

Jesus is about to begin his public ministry. He is now fully grown and has received public confirmation that he is God’s Son at his baptism. Not only was Jesus confirmed publicly as God’s Son, he also received the Holy Spirit. We will notice that, at the beginning of the temptation narrative and at other important events in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus does great deeds with the power of the Spirit.

Also, it will be important to note that this entire exchange is deeply situated in Jewish thought and scripture. Both the devil and Jesus use scripture to make their points. The devil uses scripture to entice Jesus to serve himself, and Jesus uses scripture to note that serving himself is antithetical to his mission in life.

Finally, this passage sets the stage for the rest of the narrative movement in Luke’s gospel. Jesus, in refusing to exercise messiahship in the ways that would elevate himself at the expense of God’s mission of salvation, defines for us the true nature of God. It also lays out the way in which we are to see our selves in relation to God’s mission.