Red Letter Year: 6/28

Luke 4:14-30

14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

22 Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

23 Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’ — meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ 24 But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. 25 Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”

28 When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. 29 Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, 30 but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.


There was one more difference in the temptation accounts that I saved for today. Both Mark and Matthew describe angels ministering to Jesus after the devil departs, but Luke leaves this out. Instead, the very next thing Luke tells us is that Jesus returned from that struggle full of the Holy Spirit, entered his hometown synagogue, and taught there. Mark and Matthew give an account of that visit too, though they place it later in their accounts, after Jesus has gone out and done some teaching and healing ministry in other places. Here in Luke, Jesus has yet to perform any miracles, which makes his statement in v.23 seem a little odd, referencing miracles that haven’t happened (in this telling) yet.

But Luke wanted to begin his account of Jesus’ public ministry in a dramatic, theme-setting way. Luke alone shares the content of that synagogue teaching, which amounts to a reading of Isa. 61 and the singular, boldly simple claim that the prophecy has been fulfilled that very moment. Luke gives us a summary statement, a programmatic statement of Jesus’ ministry as it is beginning. This is Jesus’ mission statement if you like.  His mission will be carried out in the Spirit’s power and anointing. His mission will focus on the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, and the oppressed. His mission is to bring in the long delayed Jubilee Year, the economic and social leveling both Mary and Zechariah prophesied about before.

The remainder of Luke’s Gospel (and to a large extent his second book – Acts – as well) may be best understood as an unpacking of verses 18 and 19 above. From Luke’s perspective, this comprises the very heart of the Gospel and should be our mission statement as much as it was for Jesus and the early church.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 6/27

Luke 4:1-13

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. 11 And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.


Luke makes a few of changes to Matthew’s temptation account. He reverses the second and third temptation, placing more emphasis on kingdoms of the world than on Jerusalem. Here the devil claims to have jurisdiction over these kingdoms. Matthew does not have this and Jesus gives no direct comment on it here, so it might be a false claim or the devil might be giving accurate information. Impossible to tell from the context. Luke also concludes the scene with an open ended statement, as though the devil and Jesus have unfinished business. Together these alterations might indicate that Luke was working with a different atonement theory, more of a Christus victor than a satisfaction model.

After reading Matthew, it is also interesting how little Jesus has said so far. Other than asking his parents why they were looking anywhere besides the Temple, this is the first thing Jesus has said – and here he is only quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. We will see tomorrow that the next thing Luke has Jesus speak is a reading of Scripture in the synagogue. So only after quoting Scripture four times does Jesus begin to teach in Luke and even then the ratio of speech to action is much closer to Mark than Matthew. Luke borrows material from Matthew, but he borrows order from Mark or he sets his own.

In this passage, Luke lets us know what Jesus did not come to do. He did not come to feed himself. He did not come to bring glory to himself. He did not come to impress people or make a spectacle for its own sake, or for his benefit. In tomorrow’s reading, Jesus will tell us what he came to do and then Luke will describe him doing that. Don’t be surprised if it sounds a lot like Mary’s song and quite the opposite of what the devil was offering here.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.