Luke 4:1. And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness
“Full of the Holy Ghost” ¾and then led “into the wilderness” to be tempted. You would not expect that. Yet it is a sadder thing to be led into a wilderness when you are not filled with the Spirit, and a sadder thing to be tempted when the Spirit of God is not resting upon you. The temptation of our Lord was not one to which he wantonly exposed himself, he “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” The Spirit of God may lead us where we shall have to endure trial. If he does so, we are safe; and we shall come off conquerors even as our Master did.
Luke 4:2. Being forty days tempted of the devil.
Six weeks of temptation. We read the story of the temptation, perhaps, in six minutes; but it lasted for nearly six weeks Forty days tempted of the devil.”
Luke 4:2. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
It does not appear, therefore, that Jesus hungered while he was fasting. He was miraculously sustained during that period. After fasting, one looks for deeper spiritual feeling, and more holy joy; but the most prominent fact here is that “he afterward hungered,” Think not that you have lost the benefit of your devout exercises when you do not at once feel it. Perhaps the very best thing that can happen to you, after much prayer, is a holy hunger; I mean not a natural hunger, as it was with our Lord; but a blessed hungering after divine things. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Luke 4:3. And the devil said unto him, “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.”
Satan met the hungry Man, and suited his temptation to his present pangs, to his special weakness at that moment: “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” The devil suspected, and I think he knew that Jesus was the Son of God; but he began his temptation with an “if.” He hissed that into the Saviour’s ear: “If thou be the Son of God.” If you, believer, can be led to doubt your sonship, and to fear that you are not a son of God, Satan will have begun to win the battle. So he begins to storm the fort royal of faith: “If thou be the Son of God.” Our Lord was the Son of God, but he was then suffering as our Substitute; and in that condition he was a lone and humble man; what if I call him “a common soldier in the ranks”? Satan invites him to work a miracle of an improper kind on his own behalf; but Jesus wrought no miracle for himself. Now, it may be, that the devil is trying some of you tonight. You are very poor, or business is going very awkwardly, and Satan suggests that you should help yourself in an improper manner. He tells you that you can get out of your trouble very easily by some action which, although it may not be strictly right, may not be so very wrong after all. He said to Jesus, “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.”
Luke 4:4. And Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written,”
That is Christ’s sword. See how swiftly he drew it out of its sheath. What a sharp two-edged sword is this to be used against Satan! You also, believer, have this powerful weapon in your hand; let no man take it from you. Believe in the inspiration of Scripture. Just now there is a fierce attack upon the Book of Deuteronomy. It is a very curious thing that all the texts Christ used during the temptation were taken out of Deuteronomy, as if that was to be the very armoury out of which he would select this true Jerusalem blade, with which he should overcome the tempter, “It is written,” “It is written,” “It is said.”
Luke 4:4. That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
“God can sustain me without my turning the stone into bread. God can bring me through my trouble without my saying or doing anything wrong I am not dependent upon the outward and visible.” If you can feel like that, if you can appropriate the promise of God, and quote it to Satan, saying, “It is written,” Using it as Christ did, you will come off conqueror in the time of temptation even as he did.
Luke 4:5. And the devil,
Now he tries him again. There is wave upon wave trying to wash the Son of man off his feet.
Luke 4:5. Taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
Sceptics have asked how that could be done. Well, they had better ask him who did it. He knows more about them, and they know more about him, than I do; but be did it: I am sure, for here it is written, that he “shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.”
Luke 4:6. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me and to whomsoever I will I give it.
Does not be talk proudly in the, presence of his Lord and Master? What an audacious dog he must have been thus to howl in the presence of him who could have destroyed him by a look or a word, if he had wished to do so!
Luke 4:7-8. If thou therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan:
The temptation annoyed him, it was so foreign to his holy nature, it vexed his gracious spirit, so he cried out indignantly to the tempter: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”
Luke 4:8. For it is written,
Here flashed forth the sword again.
Luke 4:8. Thou, shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Then let us pay no reverence, no worship, to any but God. Consciences and minds are made for God alone; before him let us bow; but if all the world were proffered us for a moment’s idolatry, let us not fall into the snare of the tempter.
Luke 4:9. And he brought him to Jerusalem,
Satan now takes Christ to holy ground. Temptations are generally more severe there.
Luke 4:9. And set him on a pinnacle of the temple,
The highest point of all; elevated high above the earth.
Luke 4:9-11. And said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, test at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Now Satan tries to quote Scripture, as he can do when it answers his purpose; but he never quotes it correctly. You young brethren who go out preaching, mind that you do not imitate the devil by quoting part of a text, or quoting Scripture incorrectly. He did it, however, with a purpose; not by misadventure or from forgetfulness; he left out the very necessary words, “In all thy ways.” “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Satan left out those last four words, for it was not the way of a child of God to come down from a pinnacle of the temple headlong into the gulf beneath.
Luke 4:12. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Do nothing presumptuously. Do nothing which would lead the Lord to act otherwise than according to his settled laws, which are always right and good.
Luke 4:13-14. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee:
He had not lost anything by the temptation, the power of the Spirit was still upon him.
Luke 4:14-15. And there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
He became popular; the people resorted to him, and were glad to hear him. He who has had secret temptation and private conflict is prepared to bear open success without being elevated by it. Hast thou stood foot to foot with Satan? Thou wilt think little of the applause or of the attacks of thy fellow-men.
Luke 4:14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee:
Ah, dear brethren, if our Lord Jesus needed “the power of the Spirit”, how much more do you and I need it! We have no power of our own, but he was the Son of God. He was a divine Teacher, and yet, when he went to his work, it was “in the power of the Spirit.” Tarry, brother, till you have that power; it is of no use for you to go without it.
Luke 4:14-15. And there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
There was a wondrous power about his teaching: “Never man spake like this man.” Perhaps his hearers did not understand what the power was; but they glorified the new Teacher who had come into their midst.
Luke 4:16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up:
It is always a difficult thing for a young man to begin preaching in His own native town. A prophet is not without honour save in his own country, yet Jesus “came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.”
Luke 4:16. And, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
It was the custom to read parts of Holy Writ in the synagogue, and then to say a few words by way of exposition; and this the Saviour did.
Luke 4:17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah.
And when he had opened the book, that is, unrolled the parchment containing Isaiah’s prophecy, —
Luke 4:17. He found the place where it was written,
You will find the passage in the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah.
Luke 4:18-19. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
There he stopped; it was all of the passage that then seemed suitable.
Luke 4:20. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.
In those days, the preacher sat down, and those who listened stood up, I daresay that practice tended to keep the hearers awake, and it was all the easier for the speaker. Well might the Saviour sit down, weighted as he was with a burden of holy instruction that he was about to impart to the people; or, perhaps, sitting down as if himself at rest, he appeared the more ready to give rest to them also.
Luke 4:20. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
The young Nazarene, who had quitted them for a while, and had come home again, was the centre of his fellow-townsmen’s attention.
Luke 4:21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
He thus declared that he was the anointed Messiah.
Luke 4:22. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious word which proceeded out of his mouth.
They did not at first cavil at or deny what Jesus said; his doctrine was pleasing and comforting; and they were ready to accept it.
Luke 4:22. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
Now they began to question: “Is not this the son of the carpenter?”
Luke 4:23. And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me the proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
“You have been doing great things over yonder at Capernaum, do the same at Nazareth. You should not leave your own native town without working miracles here.” Now there was an opportunity for Jesus to ingratiate himself with the people, and win their good word. If he would only perform miracles among them, he should be highly exalted in their esteem.
Luke 4:24-25. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the day, of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
Many husbands died, and many widows in Israel were left desolate in those terrible days of trial.
Luke 4:26. But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
This was as much as to say, “It is not because I lived here that I shall work miracles in this place. There were many widows round about Elijah, but he was not sent to one of them, he was sent to a widow in Sarepta, a city of Sidon, a heathen woman in another country.” Mark the sovereignty of God; he bestows his mercy where he wills, according to his declaration to Moses, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” We dare not ask God why he does this, “for he giveth not account of any of his matters.” He acts wisely; but he acts according to the good pleasure of his own will.
Luke 4:27. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman; the Syrian.
He, too, was a heathen from a distant country. Healing came unto him, but unto none of the lepers of Israel. God will do as he pleases with his own mercy and grace. The question that he asks is, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? “This doctrine of divine sovereignty was not according to the taste of these people, they did not like it, and some of you, I fear, do not like it. They grew very angry, they began to gnash their teeth, and to say, “This young man must be silenced; we will not listen to such doctrine as this from him.”
Luke 4:28. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
They did not mind hearing the first part of his teaching; but now that he exalts the sovereignty of God, and lays the sinner low, he speaks too plainly for them: “They were filled with wrath.”
Luke 4:29-30. And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
They could not destroy him at that time. His work was not done, and he was immortal till it was fully accomplished.
Luke 4:31-32. And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath day. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
God grant that his Word may be with power tonight! Amen.
We will read, from the Revised Version, two passages which record attempts made to kill our Lord before his time had come. You will see, from the sermon, why we read them.
Luke 4:16-21. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: he hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, Today hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.
Alas, not in their hearts. They had heard Christ read the prophecy that related to himself, but they had not accepted its message.
Luke 4:22-27. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the words of grace which proceeded out of his mouth: and they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Doubtless ye will say unto me this parable, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in thine own country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is acceptable in his own country. But of a truth I say unto you, There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.
Thus the Saviour taught God’s absolute right to deal out his mercies as he pleases. To that great doctrine of divine sovereignty, Christ’s hearers would not submit, even as many in the present day will not yield.
Luke 4:28. And they were all filled with wrath in the synagogue,—
They admired Christ’s style of speech, but when he came to that man-humbling and God-glorifying doctrine, they were filled with wrath,—
Luke 4:28-30. As they heard these things; and they rose up, and cast him forth out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.
We are going to read the inspired records of several of our Saviour’s Sabbath cures, for they are very instructive.
Luke 4:33-36. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! For with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out, This was a very remarkable cure wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ on the Sabbath-day. Now let us turn to another, which is recorded in the sixth chapter of this same Gospel. (See Luke 6:6-11)
We are going to read some verses in the fourth and fifth chapters of Luke’s Gospel, — hospital chapters, I may call them, for they record many marvellous cures which were wrought by the great Physician, the Lord Jesus Christ. We shall begin at the 33rd verse of the fourth chapter.
Luke 4:33-34. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?
There are many people, at the present day, who have this evil spirit in them and they also say, “Let us alone.” They do not want to have their consciences disturbed; they would rather sleep on until they wake up in another world where their awaking will be too late to avail for their repentance.
Luke 4:34. Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
That is an old trick of the devil, to acknowledge the excellence of the Preacher that he may avoid the personal application of the sermon; and there are many people, who are quite satisfied when they have said concerning the Word which they have heard, “Yes, it was all true, and it was very well put.” But that is not the purpose of a true minister of the gospel, — simply to win the compliment of your approbation; he wants to see the devil cast out of you, and to stir up your hearts so that you will no longer let religion alone, but will flee to Christ to save you.
Luke 4:35-36. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
Ah, dear friends! when we see what the gospel can do, — how it can re-claim the thief, how it can make chaste the harlot, how it can lift up the very vilest of men from the lowest depths of degradation, — we may well say, “What a Word is this!” The power of the gospel does not lie in the preacher, but in the truth which he proclaims. What a Word is this, which not only knocks at the door of the human heart, but which carries on its girdle the key with which it can open that door? It does not simply invite the sinner to trust the Saviour, but there is a power, which goes with it, which sweetly woos the heart until the unwilling become willing, and those who have hitherto despised God and his great salvation, cheerfully yield themselves to him. Christ not only comes to those who seek him; but, in the splendour of his grace, he is often found of them that sought him not; yea, those who cried “Let us alone,” are not let alone, for grace brings them beneath her blessed sway.
Luke 4:37-39. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about. And he arose out of the synagogue and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
Here is a type of another form of the disease of sin. This time it is a hot and burning fever, and there are many men who have the fever of pride, or the fever of ambition, and some who have the fever of impetuous lust. Yet we have never read of such a cure as this in the lives of the doctors of ancient or modern times. They have wrought remarkable cures by long dosing the patient with various drugs, but Christ just stood over Peter’s wife’s mother, and rebuked the fever, and instantly it fled.
Luke 4:40. Now when the sun was setting,
Ah, it is setting with some of you! Those grey hairs are like the streaks of light upon the horizon as the sun goes down; but blessed be God, he who heals the spiritually sick in the early morning, by bringing children to himself, does not cease to work until the sun goes down.
Luke 4:40. All they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
Oh, that he would do that just now! Still is he mighty to save; oh, that he would now display his ancient power, and lay his healing hands on every one of you! What fame he would get if he would do so! What joy there would be if all of you should now be turned to God! And why should it not be? Christ is able to do this; then, let us ask it of him in earnest believing prayer
Luke 4:41. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and, saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
Perhaps they thought that their testimony would tend to blacken his character. We are, in a sense, pleased when bad men find fault with us, for that is really the best commendation that they can give us; but when they begin to praise us, we feel suspicious that there is something wrong. We think of how Christ acted when the devils said to him, “ Thou art Christ, the Son of God,” and we would fain have them hold their tongues. What a vile thing sin is, for it makes even good words to be evil when they come out of sinful lips!