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Refections on the Gospel, Week before February 17, 2013

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where 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. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And 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. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 9Then 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, 10for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

What I am Learning:We have often thought of it as a temptation text - mostly due to our focus on individual salvation. We have said that while we fall short of perfection, Jesus was able to refrain from sinning.
Malina and Rohrbaugh change my understanding of this text. In Luke's gospel, Jesus is named the Son of God - but everyone knows that he is the carpenter's son. As a carpenter's son he has low or almost no status. But if he is the Son of God, then he has the highest status. This kind of status change must be tested.

Luke recounts his ancestors to establish his status and later in his hometown he will be rejected as a person of high status. In this story, his status or honor rating is affirmed.

The origin of the word "satan" was a Persian secret service agent. These agents would pretend to be regular people who tried to test people's allegiance to the king by trickery.

Jesus' allegiance to God is being tested in this passage.

Jesus responds with quotes from the scripture and in each case maintains his allegiance to God.

Bread - putting God above his short term needs.

All the kingdoms of the world - remaining faithful to God not only in his goal to heal the world but how he would seek that healing.

Throw yourself off the temple - not testing God.

Luke is saying that Jesus is worth following because his allegiance is to God. He is not the the Son of God in name only, but he acts as God would. When we see Jesus, we see God.

Of course, the God we see in Jesus is the one who forgives all, loves all, challenges all and serves all. It is that God whose presence fills and guides us.