Luke 4

This amazing chapter takes us to the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. In previous posts I have covered content from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark similar to what is found here. But this chapter is our only chance to deal with the temptation of Jesus, so that will be the focus of this post.

Did you notice that Jesus was “led by the Spirit…to be tempted by the devil”? God the Father put God the Son to the test — not to see if He was ready for His mission, but to show that He was ready. He was tempted so that everyone would know that Jesus Christ is the Conqueror! Because of His victory we, too, can have victory over the devil and temptation.

Jesus’ extreme fasting over a period of forty days set up the devil’s first round of temptation. It was a physical temptation (v.3-4), playing on Jesus’ hunger. Jesus blocked the attack with the truth of Deuteronomy 8:3, which affirmed that spiritual things are more important than physical things and God’s Word is more important than our appetites.

The second round was a psychological temptation (v.5-7). Jesus would not perform a miracle in the first round, so the devil tempted Him to demand a miracle from God — to catch Him before he hit the ground. Jesus threw the Scripture back at him and refused to sinfully put God to a test. Jesus knew His Father was a promise-keeper, and He didn’t have to prove it.

The third round (v.8-11) was a spiritual temptation: would Jesus bow down and worship the devil? The offer was for Jesus to take what was already His (the right to rule all kingdoms), but on corrupt terms. Jesus wouldn’t do it. For a third time, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy, sending the devil slinking away in defeat.

You and I face the same battle. We are tempted by the same tempter with the same temptations. And we have the same choice that Jesus had: Will we trust God’s will or take shortcuts? Will you please God or please yourself? God’s way or my way? Will I do what is easy or what is right? With God’s help, we can conquer temptation by choosing God’s way.

We can have the same victory Jesus had when we face temptation because we have the same weapon Jesus used to defeat it — the Word of God. Ephesians 6:17 says it is “the sword of the Spirit.” A general knowledge of the Bible is not enough. We need a good grip on the Sword of the Spirit so we can swing it to attack temptation.

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” That’s what it takes…and that’s what you are doing right now. Keep hiding it in your heart!

Luke 2

This chapter, which spans twelve years, begins with the beautifully simple story of the birth of Jesus. Having made their way to Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph did not find a desirable place for their special baby to be born. If we are careful not to romanticize their situation, we will conclude that Jesus was likely born in a dirty place, He was laid in a trough where livestock ate, and His first breath burned with the odor of animal waste. Fitting, wasn’t it? Because Jesus came to a messed-up, hurting world to make things better.

No baby ever had a birth announcement like Jesus. First one, then a multitude of shining extraterrestrials told a group of shepherds where to find Him, then shouted their praise to God. When the shepherds found the baby Jesus, they couldn’t contain their excitement. They told everyone about Him. Oh, how I wish we could recapture that evangelistic enthusiasm!

Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer the prescribed sacrifices for a first-born son. While in the Temple, they met two godly senior adults who both had a special interest in Jesus.

Simeon had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the Messiah with his own eyes. When he saw Jesus, he immediately knew His true identity. Scooping the baby up in his arms, Simeon pronounced a beautiful blessing, and then turned to Mary and prophesied the opposition Jesus would face — and how her own heart would be broken by His suffering.

Anna, a godly widow who had devoted her life to serving the Lord, also recognized that Mary’s baby was “the redemption of Jerusalem,” a Messianic title drawn from Isaiah 52:9.

The little family returned to Nazareth, “their own town” (v.39). Verse 40 gives us the only information we have about the next dozen years of Jesus’ life. He learned to walk and talk and play. In many ways Jesus was a typical child, but He had no sin nature and no character flaws (imagine that, parents!). And He certainly had uncommon wisdom for His age.

This was evident when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to His first Passover in Jerusalem. When they could not find Jesus on the trip back to Nazareth, they returned to Jerusalem and found Him in the Temple. At only twelve years old, Jesus was holding His own with the great rabbis of Judaism, amazing them with His wisdom.

An exasperated Mary asked Jesus to explain His behavior, and His answer went completely over their heads (v.50). He was in His Father’s house — God’s house. Jesus knew who He was and why He was born, even at the age of twelve. And that is the last thing we hear from Jesus for the next 18 years. We pick up there tomorrow.

Mary “treasured up all these things in her heart” (v.51). She did not completely understand her Son, but she tried to process it all. One day it would all be clear. One day her Son would become her Savior.

Luke 1

This extremely important chapter of the Bible is made up entirely of Holy Spirit-inspired content that is exclusive to Luke. It covers several events that occurred before the birth of Jesus, all carrying the authenticity of eyewitness testimony (v.2-4). About half of the chapter focuses on the announcement of John’s birth and the balance focuses on Jesus.

Zechariah and Elizabeth are introduced as exemplary believers with righteous hearts and blameless behavior (v.6). Like their ancestors Abraham and Sarah, they were elderly and childless, though they had prayed for a son.

As a priest, it was Zechariah’s turn to be stationed in Jerusalem for a round of Temple service. While he was burning incense in the Holy Place (probably a once-in-a-lifetime privilege), the angel Gabriel appeared to announce that Elizabeth would have a son. The angel explained that the boy would be named John and that he would be an extra-special man with an extra-special purpose: John would be a prophet (like Elijah, v.17) and would lead a revival in Israel.

This was too much for old Zechariah. Face-to-face with an angel, he voiced his doubts that it could happen. Because of his unbelief, Zechariah would not voice anything else for nine months.

Zechariah learned a lot in his silence. When John was born and he was able to talk again, his first words were an eloquent expression of faith and praise. Unbelief had closed his mouth, faith opened it again. The prophetic section in verses 76-79 is beautiful and hopeful. It is clear that Zechariah believed his newborn son was the prophet of the Messiah, and that the yet-to-be-born Jesus was that Messiah.

Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy Gabriel made another birth announcement, this time to a virgin young woman named Mary. The angel’s message was shocking: Mary would become pregnant without the participation of a sexual partner, which is scientifically impossible — but “nothing will be impossible with God” (v.37)!

Gabriel used unmistakably Messianic language in reference to Mary’s miracle son: Son of the Most High, King, Son of David, Son of God. In spite of the impossibility of the angel’s announcement and the unlikely choice of a “humble servant” (v.48) to give birth to a King, Mary believed (v.45). Her simple statement of faith is a timeless example of surrender: “Let it be to me according to Your word” (v.38).

Mary’s song of praise in verses 46-55, traditionally called the Magnificat, is beautiful and full of hope. Mary recognized the significance of what was happening in her: God was fulfilling the promise He had made to Abraham many years before (v.55). God was sending His mercy to the world (v.50)! Thank God for His mercy expressed in His Son, Jesus!

Before you continue your day, take a moment to re-read Luke 1:79 and pray your response to God — your own Magnificat.