Revolutionary Adventures in the Gospel of Luke
Luke Chapter 4 (Luke 4:1-44)
by Brad Duncan
Join me on this adventure through the Gospel of Luke as I explore the revolution of God's grace poured out to us, and how it can lead to our fulfilling God's greatest plan to build his kingdom on Earth.
Outline of Luke 4:1-44:
- Wilderness near Jordan river: The temptation of Jesus
- 40 days of fasting
- Temptation to turn stone into bread
- Temptation to rule the kingdoms of the world
- Temptation to test God and his angels (jump off a pinnacle so they would have to save him)
- Victory of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit he left the desert and went to Nazareth in Galilee
- Nazareth in Galilee: Reading in the temple
- He taught throughout the synagogues of Galilee and went to his hometown of Nazareth
- Here he read the famous passage of Isaiah 61 about the coming Messiah
- Some people were amazed, but others tried to kill him. He chastised their lack of faith
- Capernaum in Galilee
- Teaching in synagogues
- Jesus carried the message of Isaiah 61 to Capernaum
- Casting out demons in Capernaum
- Home of Simon, healing of Simon's mother in law. Jesus spoke with authority to heal her
- The deserted place. The people begged him to stay
- All throughout Judea. Jesus spread his message to all the cities of the area.
In Luke 4, the Revolution begins! As we learned in Luke 3, the revolution that Jesus brought was centered in the work of the Holy Spirit among people whose hearts were turned toward God. In Luke 4, we learn that like most revolutions, this one is also about battles and a war for freedom!
After being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus went into the wilderness where he confronted both himself as a man (through fasting, hunger and temptations), and the devil. The interchange between Jesus and the devil is the first battle of the revolution. The story both reveals the Incarnation (showing who Jesus is) and reveals the nature of the revolution (what this war is about). Jesus never said the devil was lying, so we can guess that the devil's words were actually true. The devil's words further revealed the identity of Jesus and the nature of the conflict between good and evil. He called Jesus "God's Son". He indicated that Jesus could do miracles and had the power over this world (transform stone into bread). He had the command of the host of angels because he was God's Son. He could be the ruler over all the kingdoms of the Earth, because of his authority.
The devil further revealed that the kingdoms of man were in fact entrusted to him (the devil) or placed under his authority. Though the kingdoms of the world consider themselves free, they are in fact enslaved to the devil's rule. By the nature of the devil's temptations (food, power, glory), we see that our systems of feeding our own needs and selfish desires plays right into the devil's hand and keeps us in bondage to him. When everyone is "free" to further their own interests at the expense of others, the result is anarchy, corruption, injustice, exploitation, and great pain caused by one person against another.
What Jesus stood for was counter to this. He stood for freedom that comes from placing our own needs and desires secondary to the needs of others and to loving our Father in heaven. Jesus saw that if the kingdoms of the world would follow him to unselfish behavior and turn their hearts toward God, they would be free! This would lead to his statement of the greatest commandments as being to "Love God, and Love One Another." With this interchange between Jesus and the devil, the battleground is set: Jesus on the side of freedom coming from placing others above ourselves, and the devil standing for the enslavement of man through the chains of their own selfish desires and lack of consideration for others. The revolution is toward a kingdom guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus wins the first of many battles against the devil's kingdom in this passage. After this encounter he left the desert on a high note - full of the Holy Spirit and ready to take his message of freedom to others.
Do we see that the kingdom of God is here today? Certainly -- we see everywhere the power of unselfishness and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring people into harmony with God. However, do we still see the kingdoms of man ruled by selfish desires, with people causing harm to one another? Of course -- so this means that the war still rages. The kingdom of God is growing, powerful and victorious, but the war is not over. The kingdom must continue to grow to bring freedom to all people.
Revolution in the Temple
Jesus began his public ministry with a visit to his hometown of Nazareth in Galilee. He taught in the synagogues and began spreading his message of freedom. The reading of the passage from Isaiah 61 is an amazing declaration of Jesus' purpose and authority. It was a prophecy that was clearly only able to be fulfilled by the Messiah, Christ the Lord. It was a prophecy that claimed the reversal of the system of slavery that the people of Israel experienced every day: poor people would receive good news, prisoners would be liberated, the blind would see, and the oppressed would be liberated! The Lord's favor would come at a certain time to people that were previously downtrodden. After reading this prophecy, Jesus said very clearly that this certain time was NOW and that he was the Messiah, the fulfillment of this passage. Jesus indicated that (in my own words) "Yes, I am the Messiah as the angels declared, and Yes, I am here to free the captives!. Yes, the revolution is upon you!" The people were amazed at Jesus, they "were impressed by his gracious words" (v22). The people understood the significance and began to feel the excitement about the liberation Jesus was speaking about.
Yet others were incensed! They couldn't accept that such an amazing message was coming from a hometown commoner. Jesus addressed these folks directly, and confronted them that they were denying God's miracles that were right before their eyes because of their own shortsighted view of God and lack of faith in God. They confirmed this point by turning on Jesus and attempting to kill him publicly! Jesus in turn miraculously walked through their midst - perhaps the host of angels indicated in v10 really were protecting Jesus from any harm. This was the second round of the war of freedom -- again won by Jesus. In this moment he publicly claimed his intent to overthrow the current system of slavery and bring a new era of freedom!
Revolution in Capernaum
We can imagine that Jesus carried this same message to everyone that would listen. He spoke next in the synagogues throughout the city of Capernaum, also in Galilee. Verse 32 says the people were amazed because he taught with such authority. Skipping to verses 42 and 43, the people were so engaged with his teaching and the amazing miracles he did, they didn't want him to leave their town. But Jesus explained that he needed to preach the same good news to other cities as well, and then he continued his preaching through out Judea. Jesus took the message of freedom to every city, telling them that Isaiah's prophecy was now happening, and that they were no longer captives but free in a new era of God's kingdom.
Interestingly we hear in this chapter from another set of witnesses about the Incarnation. Apparently there were people in Capernaum (and throughout Jesus's ministry) that were literally enslaved to demons. When he healed them, the demons declared who Jesus was, echoing the words of the devil in verse 3 that Jesus was God's Son. One demon said that Jesus was the holy one from God, come to destroy them (the demons). The battles against demons and the ease with which he defeated them was clear evidence to back up Jesus' claim. He literally freed the captives that he encountered. He healed many that were sick, speaking with the same authority to a fever that he used speaking to a demon. The people in Galilee were hearing and seeing the birth of the kingdom of God, with Jesus on the throne. Round three - again won by Jesus in Capernaum.
|A synagogue to Capernaum|