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Satan bound. Luke 4.9-13

Luke 4: Part 1 (3)

Pray Psalm 97.1-3, 9.
The LORD reigns;
Let the earth rejoice;
Let the multitude of isles be glad!
Clouds and darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
A fire goes before Him,
And burns up His enemies round about…
For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.

Sing Psalm 97.1-3, 9.
(Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord is King)
Rejoice, the Lord is King! O earth, lift up your voice;
Be glad, you islands, shout and sing: Rejoice! Rejoice!
Refrain v. 9
Beyond, above all gods and nations be exalted, God of love!

His just and righteous throne ‘mid clouds and darkness stands;
His fiery wrath consumes His foes in every land.

Read Luke 4.1-13; meditate on verses 9-13.

1. How did Satan try to tempt Jesus here?

2. How did Jesus respond?

The temptation here was to test the faithfulness of God, not for some immediate need or guidance, for which God welcomes our “trying” Him, but merely to see whether He would keep His Word. What Satan proposed originated from doubt and disdain, not faith. Satan throws the Word of God in Jesus’ face: Let’s see if He really believes this Word as much as He claims.

This temptation drives right to the heart of the character of God. Satan has no love for God. He also has no common sense. He’s a blockhead. Did he really think Jesus would fall for this? Jesus, Who is the Word of God?

No way. Satan tried to twist the Scriptures to move Jesus to cast doubt on God. Jesus simply appealed to Scripture to rebuke the devil and remind us that yanking a verse or two out of the context of all Scripture is never a good idea. We need to draw on the Word from the treasury of both Testaments to make sure we’re not missing the point or distorting the message of a text. The Holy Spirit teaches us as we compare spiritual truths from one part of Scripture with spiritual truths from the rest (1 Cor. 2.12, 13).

These temptations were the devil’s best shot at gaining the throne of God. Not only did he not make a first down against Jesus, he lost yardage with every subsequent ploy. He didn’t just lose this game. He lost it all.

Jesus, everything; devil, nothing.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Jesus was confronted by the devil on every level of the Law, and He overcame without sin (Lk. 4.1-12).

For this temptation they left the desert and went to Jerusalem where, Jesus knew, He would have His last encounter with the enemy. It would finally be, what Satan thought, was the “opportune time” (Lk. 4.13) for his final attack. This foray was merely a foretaste of what was to come—Satan’s final loss and Christ’s greatest victory (Rom. 6.9; Is. 25.8; Rev. 21.4, 5). “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15.54).

However this encounter’s heinousness was in its instructive tone for those who like to misconstrue the Scriptures for their own misguided and evil purposes. It was reminiscent of Satan’s work with Adam and Eve: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said…?’” (Gen. 3.1). In other words, Did God really say that? Is that what you think God really meant? Maybe He was merely suggesting that you don’t eat that?

Wisdom is available to us at any moment of the day to learn how to live God’s way, within His parameters (Jms. 1.5)—within the boundaries of His creation, according to His laws, both natural and written. For instance, God has created the earth with gravitational force. The upside to gravity is that it keeps all the planets in their beautiful orbit. On the other hand, we understand that on most occasions, what goes up must come down. So, if we choose to jump off the pinnacle of a temple, let’s just say, we will most likely fall to the ground with great force that potentially is deadly in nature. We, hopefully, would not tempt the Lord by praying that this feat could be accomplished without the usual aftermath. But this is exactly what Satan wanted Jesus to try out, to “test” God’s powers. After all, didn’t He say that He would give angels to have charge over us, to keep us? (Lk. 4.10) The devil, as per usual, took something beautiful and smeared it with dirt and lies. This, though, is his forte and he does it well. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him” (Jn. 8.44).

We will do well, as Jesus did as He lived on earth, to ignore the devil’s lies, send him away with God’s Word as our protection, and “stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless” us (Jude 21). And in that way, with God, “we will do valiantly” (Ps. 60.12).

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
for still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

(Luther, 1529)

For reflection

1. You will be tempted to sin every day. How should you prepare for this?

2. God calls us to “try” His faithfulness, but not to “test” Him. What’s the difference?

3. What’s the main lesson to take away from Jesus’ victory over the devil?

Let not any abuse of Scripture by Satan or by men abate our esteem, or cause us to abandon its use; but let us study it still, seek to know it, and seek our defense from it in all kinds of assaults. Let this word dwell richly in us, for it is our life. Our victorious Redeemer conquered, not for himself only, but for us also. The devil ended all the temptation. Christ let him try all his force, and defeated him. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 4.9-13

Pray Psalm 97.6-12.
Praise the Lord for His radiant beauty and greatness. Praise Him for His exalted rule on high. Call on Him to empower you to hate evil and to be filled with His Spirit to serve Him throughout this day.

Sing Psalm 97.6-10.
Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord is King)
The heav’ns above declare His glorious righteousness.
And tribes and peoples everywhere; His Name confess.
Refrain v. 9
Beyond, above all gods and nations be exalted, God of love!

While Zion gladly sings, let all be brought to shame
who to vain idols worship bring and scorn His Name.

All you who love the Lord, despise sin’s wicked ways!
Praise Him Who guides us by His Word through all our days.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

The implications of Satan’s temptations are far-reaching. Our book, Satan Bound: A Theology of Evil, explains why these temptations were so important to Jesus’ work. Order a free copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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