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.