Jesus in the Battle

The gospel of Luke begins by showing us how the Son entered into life on earth. Mary conceived through the Holy Spirit and Jesus was born. He entered into a family led by Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth. The Savior grew up in that town, and people saw Him and knew Him and liked Him.

Then we read of how Jesus entered into ministry as Prophet and Priest. He began to reveal Himself as being about the Father’s business.

In Luke 4, we see the next phase:  the Son entered into active spiritual warfare and went on the offense against the world system. He advanced to battle with the prince of darkness, whom He was born to defeat.

Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit. From the water of His baptism, the Son went to the dry region of the desert. He fasted and fought the devil for 40 days.

At the river Jordan with John, Jesus offered Himself to His place as the High Priest. He went into the water and demonstrated a testimony before the Baptizer and the others there. It was public and open and clarified. The Voice from Heaven was heard. The Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove.  These represented obvious witnesses to who He was and is.

The next step in Jesus’ entrance into the fullness of His ministry was hidden from people, but it was most visible to the supernatural realm. The season of temptation and testing happened as a declaration to the angelic atmosphere.

The Son of Man exposed Himself to the forces of Hell, according the will of the Lord. And He did this in weakness and hunger, by Himself.

This was not at all like what happened in Eden. In Genesis 3, the serpent used subterfuge and deceptive language to trick Adam and Eve into eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Let’s remember that the defeat of Adam came in a perfect venue, the paradise of God given to the man to dress and to cultivate. The place was in order and populated with all manner of trees that were fruitful and available for the man and the woman.

Still, there was that one tree reckoned as off limits. It was to this tree that the devil called attention and stimulated what proved to be a toxic fixation.  It was the sly twisting of simple truth that precipitated the Fall and brought death and the fear of death to bear on the human race.

The contest in the wilderness was of another order.

Hungry and Alone

Jesus marched to that battlefield. He went soon after His baptism. As God the Son, He was aware of what He was to face. As the Son of Man, He prepared for what would come at Him.

Don’t think that this made it any easier for Him. The careful obedience of the Son of God represents the ultimate expression of humility. He had to walk under the sun, as one of us in our demon-charged atmosphere, according to the limitations incumbent on human beings.

It was the greatest challenge in all of history. The success of His work on earth determined the fate of the world and everyone in it.

It was the greatest challenge in all of history. The success of His work on earth determined the fate of the world and everyone in it. Click To Tweet

All things were made by Him and by Him all things are held together (see Colossians 1:16-17).  Jesus came into His Creation to experience all of the reality that it presented.

And the devil remains a part of it all.

So here in Luke 4 we read of Him, hungry and alone before Satan. The prince of pride and the father of lies threw all manner of tricks and treats at Jesus. The Greek text with its unique verb tenses indicates that these days were days of constant pressure for the Savior.

The passage here provides us with what may have been the climactic moments of this duel in the desert. See that the wicked one displayed power, quite sure that his wiles would trip up this Son of Man as they had tripped up the others of the race.

Notice how Satan attempted to play the vanity card with the Son. ““If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3).

Only a piece of the conversation is provided for us. I imagine that the devil did a lot of talking, trash talking for sure, in his push to get Jesus to act in discord with the Father’s will and design. I can see the enemy bringing up the manna in the wilderness story from the Exodus account in his attack.

“Do the easy thing, Jesus. Satisfy Your hunger. Use Your power and eat up.” I can see the devil muttering such things. “And Jesus answered him, It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’” (see Luke 4:4).

A simple truth was His answer and it turned away the sophisticated assault on His humanity. Man was made for more than his appetites, Jesus proclaimed.

The Reality of the Devil

Next, in the Luke account, the devil made an appeal of possession and privilege. A parade of sorts came before Jesus. All the kingdoms of the world were shown in a hurried, rapid fire presentation.

These worldly realms were under the control of this prince and power of the air.  Let’s make a deal was Hell’s mode of operation here. Not surprising to me, for the devil continually tries to peddle his merchandise as we read in Ezekiel 28:16 – he offers a myriad of things trying to get us to sell out to him.

Satan’s aim was to get the Son of Man to bow before him, if only for a moment:  “Worship me and all will be Yours.” Consider that this was a constant lust of Satan. He wanted to be as the most High and sought to be glorified in himself (see Isaiah 14:14).

Adam No. 1 fell under the snake’s spell; would this last Adam do the same? “And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” (Luke 4:8).

The devil wanted to talk about worship. The Son said fine and then pointed out the whole Truth about the Lord and His glory.

Jesus made a statement that struck right at the heart of the pride that rules Satan. It is something of a prophecy. The Son tells the devil that he shall worship God because God is his God, too, and even in his rebellion he is servant to his Maker.

This reality is something that should comfort us. The devil cannot escape the fact of his origins. Like us, he was made by God and he must operate according to Heaven’s designs.

Truth Wins Every Time

Undeterred, Satan churned out one more temptation that we read about. He swept up Jesus and carried Him to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem. There, he extended a dare to the Savior:  “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you’” (Luke 4:9-10).

This pitch targeted the ego of the Son. Satan’s taunt went something this I think:  “Make a show, a fantastic display will get all the attention. People will be talking, especially since it will happen right here in Jerusalem.” I also sense a bit of mockery from the devil directed toward the elect angels who abide in service of the Lord and His chosen ones.

Take note of how Jesus contested Hell and how He gave Hell full sway of His human form in this case.

Jesus refused to take the bait and poked a hole in this scheme as well.  “And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Luke 4:12).

Satan heard once more that the Lord is God of all. Devil, “your” God is the One you are trying to test. This contest was over. 

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

There would be even more ferocious fights ahead for Jesus. We read ahead and see that He will ultimately win the war. Sin will be paid for and death shall be defeated, the devil dismissed and cast away.

Always remember the End of the Scripture story. Christ triumphs.

For our days, let us walk as Jesus did in the midst of the challenges. The Word of God is quick and powerful. We can learn the Bible and become wise in our salvation. We can use holy sentences just as the Son used them.

Think on this promise from the Savior:  “And you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).

Steve Andrulonis
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