The words for “Holy Spirit” here do not have the article “the” in front of them, so we identify this verse as speaking of spirit power, not the Person of the Spirit. We have trouble grasping what exactly this fact of being filled with the Holy Spirit meant. Many will define things like feeling excited in church as “being filled with the Spirit.” Yet this was a very meaningful thing. The Lord Jesus here was filled with the things of the Spirit. Our Lord was ever full of the things of God, and ever controlled by the Spirit. The significance here is not that He was filled by the Spirit at this time, but that it was the Spirit Who led Him to be tempted. This was all part of God’s plan.
The word for “led” here is the simple Greek word ago, yet just because it is short and not very complex, we should not overlook its significance. A study of the various occurrences of this word would show that it is more often than not used of the leading of prisoners. It is usually used when a prisoner is being led somewhere to be presented before someone, as in a trial. It can also be used for the leading of animals, again with the idea of presenting them before someone for his use, or for the leading of people at another’s request or under another’s authority. It is sometimes translated “brought,” and also carries the meaning of “presented,” as that is often the purpose for the bringing. The idea here is that the power of God that filled Him was almost forcibly compelling Him to go into the wilderness to present Him before the devil for His time of temptation.
2. Being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
The word for “tempted” here is really the word for testing, although it is often in a negative sense, as it is here. Notice that it says He was tempted for forty days, not just on the fortieth day. No doubt the temptations listed here and in Matthew were only the climax of what had been a long and grueling five weeks and five days of temptation.
The Lord ate nothing for forty days, and we read that afterward, only when those days were ended, He was hungry. We would get hungry long before forty days had passed! Yet remember that the Lord did not have sin and death working in His body, as we do. It could be that His body was more efficient than ours, and so He would not need nearly as much food as we do. However, such things are always difficult to determine for certain when you are talking about the Lord. He was also filled with the power of the Spirit during these forty days, and it could be that the Spirit’s empowerment was what kept Him from becoming hungry. Realistically, we will only know how our new bodies are going to work once we get them.
3. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
The devil attempts to lead Christ astray with “the lust of the flesh” (I John 2:16,) preying on His weakened state and natural desire for food. The devil loves to tempt us with wrong when we are weak, or in need. At such times, it can be hard indeed to stand up to him, even when he tempts us to do things that we would never consider doing under better circumstances.
According to the Companion Bible, the construction of the Greek here, with the Greek ei with the Indicative, assumes the fact that He was the Son of God. The devil was not questioning the fact that Christ was the Son of God here, but rather urging Him to do this because He was. “Since You are the Son of God” is how we would put it. There is no doubt that the devil would question this to others, but he did not to the Lord Himself. Instead, he used this fact to urge Him to do the wrong thing. The devil can use even a truth to urge us to come to the wrong conclusion.
Notice that here in Luke it is “this stone,” not “these stones” as in Matthew. The temptations recorded here in Luke actually took place before those listed in Matthew. The temptations in Matthew are intensified, and are the last of the devil’s arsenal against the Lord. Often in our lives the devil will use the same temptations over and over again, hoping to chip away at our defenses and eventually make us fall. Often this strategy works, just as dripping water can wear away rock if it continues long enough and steady enough. It didn’t matter how many times the devil tempted the Lord, however. He was prepared for any temptation the devil could bring against Him.
4. But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”
Christ does not try to outsmart the devil, though He certainly could have done it, but rather answers with a quotation straight from Scripture. By quoting this verse from Deuteronomy 8:3, He points out to the devil that it is not just food that is necessary for life, but also faith in the word of God. Christ well knew that it was not His Father’s will for Him to work such a miracle at this time. Thus making bread, though it might sustain physical life, would in the end result bring death and separation from God.
The Lord’s statement here, quoted from Deuteronomy, is one that is very interesting, and one of which His people should take most careful note. Eventually, this will be the law in God’s kingdom, and all must feed on the Word, or they will not be able to continue to live. When the Kingdom is here, it would actually be possible to die of starvation from not feeding on the word of God.
Yet even now we need to take heed to this, for this principle is not just for the kingdom. Many today who claim the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior are trying to live their day-to-day lives without feeding on that bread which the Lord said is necessary for life, the word of God. Then, they often wonder why their lives seem no more fulfilled, no more meaningful, no better than the lives of those around them who do not know the Lord at all. How can they know what it is to truly live if they do not partake of that element which is needed to sustain life? Without feeding on God’s Word, His people can end up feeling and living no more alive than those who do not have the Lord. Why do God’s people often act like they are still dead in sin? Perhaps because they are not feeding on that which sustains life. We must feed on the Word, for only the Word brings true life.
5. Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
The devil now shows Him from on this high mountain all the kingdoms of the inhabited world in a moment of time. A kingdom is a government, and what the devil showed Him was all the governments that were at that time ruling over the world. This was a great miracle, and shows the devil’s power. All the power he has, however, is power that originally came from God, which was given to him by God in the beginning before he fell. Now he uses his power against the One Who gave it to him, but in this case he was doomed to failure.
6. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
The devil offers the Lord Jesus authority over all the kingdoms of the world. He had developed such influence over these bodies that he claims they have been delivered to him, and that he has the ability to give them to whomever he wishes. This is an interesting and rather frightening thought to think of, as even today we cannot doubt but that the devil has control over much of what goes on in the human governments of this world. Many in our day look to government as being a possible way they can be delivered from the problems in their lives. In light of who we see has authority over these governments, this does not seem like a very wise thing to do. Our own country in the United States was founded on a distrust of government, and I think that was a healthy thing. Of course, what this world needs more than anything is God’s government to take over and make this world His Own.
7. “Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
The devil attempts to lead Christ astray with “the lust of the eyes” (I John 2:16) and the desire for the easy way out. He was basically offering Him the kingdoms of this world without having to go through the long, hard road God had set out for Him. If He would only worship before the devil He could have the kingdoms of the world for His own without having to go through God’s plan and the cross. Yet Christ knew that giving place to the devil would not solve the world’s problems at all.
Notice that here Satan only demands that Christ “worship before me,” whereas in Matthew he asks Him to “fall down and worship me.” Again the devil intensified his temptation in Matthew, whereas here he was trying to belittle the sin of what Christ would be doing if He accepted his offer. But Christ well knew what worshipping before Satan would mean.
8. And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
The Lord here quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 to counter the devil’s offer. It did not matter whether He worshiped him specifically or simply worshiped before him, it would still be disloyalty to the only One Who should be worshiped and served.
Notice that here Christ tells Satan to “get behind me,” whereas in Matthew He tells him “Away with you, Satan!” His proclamation in Matthew was a dismissal, and we read that the devil left him then. Here, however, He only used this as a rebuke, and the devil was allowed to keep right on tempting Him. This is yet another proof of how important it is to note the differences between passages so that we will not create our own contradictions and then not know what to do with them. If we assume these temptations are the same rather than two separate sets of three, we are left with insurmountable problems, not the least of which is why Satan did not obey Christ’s command here.
On a side note, we see here the terms “the devil” and “Satan” used interchangeably. I talked to a gentleman once who claimed that there was nowhere in Scripture that states that the devil and Satan are the same being. This passage, however, is our proof that they are one and the same, and not two different rebellious beings. We can be thankful for that, for I would hate to think that there are two of them! We still need to prove that both the devil and Satan are the same as Lucifer. I think this is a fairly good assumption, however. The devil, interestingly, is a phrase only used in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, only “Satan” is used.
9. Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.
The devil brings the Lord to Jerusalem, and takes Him up on a pinnacle of the temple. The temple was not just a single building, but rather was a whole complex, what we might call a campus. It had many pinnacles, and it is on a tall one of these, perhaps the tallest in the temple, that Satan sets Him down. Then, the devil attempts to lead Christ astray with “the pride of life” (I John 2:16.) The temple during the day would have been teeming with Israelites there to worship God. The devil suggests that Christ show off His power for all the world to see. It would have brought great recognition and prestige to Christ to have just stepped off this pinnacle and floated down to the ground in the sight of all. The multitudes gathered there would have seen this, and it would have caused a great sensation and made it much easier for Him to get their attention and support. Yet Christ knew that this was not God’s way.
10. “For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’
Now the devil uses Scripture himself to try to confound Christ. We would do well to take note of this. Not all who come to us quoting the Word of God need necessarily be people of God. Many of them might be agents of the Evil One. We recognize here that when the devil uses Scripture, he loves to twist it to his own ends. He not only twists its purpose, but he also twists its words. Notice how he has altered the text here. In Psalm 91:11 it says,
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
Notice, though, that when Satan quotes it, he alters the passage by omitting “in all your ways.” This is important because it diverts the attention from what your ways are to be…that is, the ways of God. The point was not that God would keep you no matter what thing you might decide in your own heart to do. Rather, He would keep you as you walked in His ways. This is something that is important for us to understand and remember today. Some in our day will make up their minds to do things that are risky or somewhat foolish, and say they think God is telling them to do these things. Then, they claim they are taking a “step of faith” or things like this, and claim that God will catch them if they fall. Even our Lord was unwilling to presume upon God in this way. God keeps us in all His ways, not in ours. Many today still listen to the devil, and step off the pinnacle of the temple. They usually end up broken at the bottom.
Psalm 90 is a Psalm by Moses. Psalm 91 does not have an author listed, but if we assume that it was also written by Moses, then the entire interchange between the Lord and Satan here was based off of the writings of Moses, the man of God. There is good internal evidence as well that this ninety-first psalm was probably by Moses.
11. “and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Satan continues his quotation. He uses the little word “and” to make up for what he had left out at the end of the last verse. Perhaps he was hoping Christ wouldn’t notice the missing words. Yet Psalm 91:12 actually reads as follows.
“They shall bear you up in their hands,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Satan takes advantage of a colorful addition that was unfortunately put in the Septuagint Version, the phrase “at any time.” He does not have to misquote Scripture if it has already been mistranslated! This is important because it gives the impression that Christ could do whatever He wanted at any time and get away with it. Notice, however, that it was not that He would be kept no matter what He did, but that He would be kept as He followed the ways of God. This addition, culled from the Septuagint Version, changes the meaning of the passage and makes it say something that it did not originally say. (Note: some busybody translators have noticed the misquotation and corrected it according to the Hebrew text! They no doubt thought they were doing God a favor, but instead they erased the importance of the perversion of Satan’s quotation. It’s never wise to try to “fix” Scripture. The old King James retains the misquotation.)
12. And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”
Christ quotes Deuteronomy 6:16, reminding Satan that He was God and it was not the devil’s place to tempt Him with fame. This also has a double meaning, for as a Man, Christ should not put God to the test either. The Lord refused to test God, and yet many today think to test Him by stepping off their own pinnacles and calling upon Him to catch them. We need to take our queue from Christ here, and not do things to test God to see if He will act in ways we have devised for Him.
13. Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
This “opportune time” came soon afterwards and is recorded in the book of Matthew. Notice that after the temptations in Matthew were completed Christ dismissed Satan for good, whereas here Satan departed of his own will to return later. Moreover, in Matthew angels came and ministered to Him when His temptations were completed, whereas here, since He had yet to complete His testing, no such visit is recorded.
14. Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.
The Lord Jesus returns from the wilderness just as He had gone, in the power of the Spirit. Notice that news of Him spreads through all the surrounding region. The Lord was famous in His time. He was not ignored by the world of Israel around Him.
15. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Everyone was greatly excited about the start of Christ’s ministry. He entered into their synagogues, the common meeting places of the Israelites, and He was not only allowed to teach, but everyone was glorifying Him. They were impressed by Him, His teaching, and all He stood for. How well everything went at first!