Read Luke 4 here or click on the speaker icon to listen to it.
Fresh off of His baptism, with the Holy Spirit descending on Him and God speaking from heaven, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Forty days of fasting. The devil appears knowing Jesus must be hungry and tempts Him to command stones to turn to bread. He is tempting Jesus to perform. Jesus responds with Scripture. The Word of God has power. The devil steps it up a notch and takes Jesus up to show Him all of the kingdoms of the world and says he will give Jesus all authority and glory if Jesus will just worship him. Jesus again responds with Scripture. The devil tries again, this time taking Jesus to Jerusalem on the pinnacle of the temple and tells Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple for angles to save Him as is written in Scripture. He wants Jesus to prove who He is, even though they both already know. Again Jesus responds with Scripture. The devil, having exhausted his toolkit, departs from Jesus. Since the first temptation with Eve in the garden, the devil has used the same tricks…tempting us with things pleasing to the eye we desire and covet that aren’t ours to have, things that will give us glory and make much of ourselves over God, and things to make us question God and His goodness.
Overcoming the time in the wilderness and temptation from the devil, Jesus begins His ministry.
One day He walks into a Synagogue. It’s one He has been to countless times, listening to the religious leaders and traveling teachers preach from the Scriptures. This time He is the traveling teacher. The crowds settle in after singing a few hymns, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah is handed to Him. He takes it is His calloused hands from years of carpentry work. He slowly and carefully unrolls the scrolls. He knows exactly where He is going – Isaiah 61 – and He begins to read….
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
There is nothing unusual at this point for the gathering families. He rolls the scroll back up and hands it to the attendant. As He sits down, a hush comes over the room, all eyes fixed on him. “How will He explain this?” they wait to hear.
A nine-word sermon: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus declares Himself the Messiah; the long-awaited Anointed One; the Christ. He gives a peek into His earthly ministry, a taste of what the Messiah will ultimately accomplish, reversing and renewing the damage brought about by sin.
The watching crowds speak well of Him and marvel at the words He is speaking. Until…they remember He is the Jesus they know; the Jesus they grew up with; Joseph’s son. They question how He could be anything of any significance. Jesus tells them no prophet is acceptable in His hometown. Familiarity breeds contempt. They just can’t see Jesus for who He is. They miss Him, and rather than experiencing miracles, they drive Him out of town, even attempting to throw Him down a cliff.
Leaving Nazareth, Jesus heads to Capernaum. While He is teaching on the Sabbath, a man with the spirt of an unclean demon cries out to Him, “What have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” Those in Jesus’s hometown couldn’t see who He was, but the demons knew exactly who He is. Jesus casts the demon out of the man, and all who witnessed it were amazed.
Reports about Jesus spread to every place in the surrounding region. As He traveled, He healed all who came to Him and taught, saying, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…for I was sent for this purpose.”
Think about the temptation of the devil with Jesus. How are these the tactics the devil uses on us today?
Why do you think those closest to Jesus – those in His hometown – had the hardest time accepting who He was?
What do you think about the fact that demons recognized Jesus and knew exactly who He was and what He could do to them?