For the full text of Luke 4, click here.
Jesus was baptized in the last chapter by John the Baptist and it’s now time for his temptation in the desert. This is mentioned briefly in Mark 1, but also detailed in the Matthew 4. First is the temptation of the bread after being hungry for over a month. The reply that Jesus gives is a little shorter here, but the first line is the same. The second temptation is switched with the third between Matthew and Luke. Here it is to rule over all the kingdoms. The wording with the devil is a little different but the sentiment reads the same. Worship the devil and he’ll give Jesus everything. The response is identical. The third temptation here, second in Matthew, is to throw Himself down and let the angels save Him, but Jesus responds the same again, that God shall not be put to the test.
The end of this story is a little different, though. In Matthew, it just sounds like the devil left and Jesus was attended to by the angels after that. In Luke, it says this:
13And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.Luke 4:13
Until an opportune time? That’s ominous.
As with the others, Luke has Jesus going to Galilee. The wording is a little different and this time there is no mention of John’s arrest, I would think because it was mentioned already in Luke 3. Luke also mentions that Jesus was going around teaching and such, but doesn’t specify the message the way that Mark and Matthew do.
He gets to Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, and starts to teach there too, even reading one of the Isaiah prophecies from a scroll:
18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”Luke 4:18-19
1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;a
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;b
2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,Isaiah 61:1-2
He stops right there even though the prophecy itself goes on a bit longer. It goes on to discuss what happens in the year of the Lord’s favor but Jesus stops there and sits down. They watch Him go and He basically announces that prophecy as fulfilled. Though they “spoke well of him” and whatnot, they still mentioned that He was Joseph’s son and marveled. This seems to upset Jesus, as it had in Mark 6 when Jesus said that a prophet doesn’t have honor in only his hometown. Here, the story has a little more depth.
Jesus says more about it:
“Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” 24And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27And there were many lepersa in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”Luke 4:23-27
There are two things about this that I find interesting. The first one is that Jesus didn’t wait for them to really start talking to contradict them and the second is the actual point that He’s making. I may be reading a bit into it but I think we all know people and have seen the times when someone says something that can sound reasonable or complimentary when saying the words but is really an insult or some other kind of jab. That’s how their reaction to Jesus’ being the son of Joseph comes off to me here. They had barely got started trying to lower Him down to normal human levels when Jesus was not going to have it. Also, the point is that they were doing that because they didn’t believe in Him the way the other towns did.
When it comes to the point and Elijah with the widow, we have to take a look back at that story a moment too. That story is in 1 Kings 17, where Elijah asks her to make some food and even though she doesn’t seem sure about it, she believes him and does as he asks with what little resource she has. When her son dies shortly after, she even calls Elijah back and he heals him. Then again in 2 Kings 5, there’s Naaman who doesn’t initially believe that what Elisha tells him to do will result in anything but is convinced and healed. These aren’t the only people in their time with their problems, but they are the ones recorded who were willing to step out on faith. Jesus sights them here it seems, because the people of His own hometown aren’t willing to do that for the boy next door.
They even try to throw Him off a cliff after saying this. I understand why they would be upset, but at the same time, this lack of faith in who Jesus was proves the point. They have to have faith in Him to be healed. He gets away by getting lost in the shuffle.
Again, the sequence of stories gets a little mixed up between Mark and Luke. The next story in Luke is Jesus commanding the spirit out of a man in Capernum. This story is in Mark 1, shortly after Jesus first begins teaching but well before He reaches Nazareth in chapter 6. A man is heckling Jesus as He is teaching Jesus simply commands the demon to “be silent and come out of him”.
Then there’s healing Simon’s mother-in-law. In Luke and Mark, this is Simon’s mother-in-law but Matthew has it as Peter’s. But we know that Simon is also Peter’s name, which would be confusing at this point if we hadn’t seen it in Matthew 4:18 when Jesus calls up Simon/Peter as a disciple. Here in Luke, this hasn’t happened yet.
This healing is followed by Jesus healing everyone else that was brought to Him after that, also casting out demons. The first two gospels simply say that He cast those demons out, Luke provides a little more detail. Luke includes that the demons that were cast out knew that He was the Christ and some even said so before being silenced. Matthew includes that this was prophesied, but nothing about these demons recognizing Jesus for who He was.
Jesus spends the night and then goes out to be alone for a little while in the morning. The “people” come looking for Him and tried to get Him to stay, but He insisted on going on to preach in the other towns. These are the towns of Judea according to Luke and Galilee according to Mark.