Luke 4

 

Reading Luke and Acts in 2020

Week 4  |  Luke 4



Luke 4 Reflections and Questions


By Rev. Dr. Phil Schroeder
 
Let's read Chapter 4 together this week!

Wednesday, January 22
Consider reading Luke 4 aloud today. Reading aloud can help you to hear new things in the scriptures. Ponder anew God’s Word for you today in this passage. Notice, there are three main sections of Luke 4, Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, Jesus’ visit to his hometown synagogue often called the Nazareth Inaugural, and a series of healing stories. Listen for the work of the Holy Spirit which undergirds Jesus’ life and ministry as seen already in Luke 1:15, 1:35, 1:41, 2:25, 2:26, 3:16 and 3:22.
 
Fresh from the waters of baptism and full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus returns from the Jordan and is led by the spirit in the wilderness. Many of us have faced times that we would call “wilderness times” in our lives, but how often would we see those episodes as having been led by the spirit there?

Jim Rohn once said, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Temptation invites us to choose the pain of regret. I have been waking up every morning in recent months, asking myself the question, am I going to choose discipline or regret? What I have found is that if I prepare for discipline the night before, like setting out my gym clothes, I choose discipline. If I have not prepared in advance, choosing regret becomes much easier. One woman wanted to run every morning, so she started sleeping in her running clothes to form a new habit! If you always reach for your phone first thing when you wake up, try putting your Bible or morning devotional material on top of your phone before you go to bed. Perhaps this cue will help you form a new habit if you need one, so you are more prepared to face the temptations of the day.  
 
How might we prepare ourselves to face temptation? Hints of Jesus' preparation come through in the midst of his temptations and the rest of Luke 4. Jesus was deeply immersed in the Hebrew scriptures, relying on the words he had memorized to respond to temptation. Jesus' custom of going to the synagogue for worship also undergirded his ability to not let his own appetites get the best of him.
 
One of my temptations is to skim over things as I am reading. Over the years, I have always resorted to the discipline of writing out the text I was studying that day in order for it to become more fully a part of me. When you not only read the text, but also write the text out by hand, you begin to see more deeply into God’s Word as we all seek to answer the question for ourselves, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”
 
Thursday, January 23rd
Take some time write out this first section of the Luke 4:1-13, the temptation of Jesus. It seems to me that the only way we would have this story of Jesus’ temptation is for Jesus to have recounted these travails himself, sharing his struggles with us. I wonder how long it took for him to really process what had happened to him during those forty days without food? When was the last time you fasted for any length of time? Would you be willing to fast one day this week to strengthen your discipline and grow more aware of God’s work in your life? If your health does not allow you to fast from food, might you consider fasting from something else in your life? Here's some what The United Methodist Church says about fasting: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/what-does-the-united-methodist-church-say-about-fasting
 
Although the Greek implies the accusation as being, "since you are the Son of God," many English translations have the devil beginning a statement in each temptation with the word “If”.
A word designed to foster doubt.
If you are the Son of God
If you then, will worship me, it will all be yours
If you are the Son of God.
 
How often do we let self-doubt creep into our thoughts? If, If, If . . .

Jesus has just been told by a voice from heaven at his Baptism, “You are my Son, the Beloved child, with you I am well pleased.” The echo of that was still ringing in his ears as he received his identity from those words. Those words of affirmation gave him strength for the journey. Yet, we often let our identity not proceed from how God thinks of us but from how others think of us or our own struggles with ourselves.
 
Jesus responds to the first temptation that appeals to his physical hunger with scripture, from Deuteronomy 8:3, one does not live by bread alone. I am thankful for scriptures that I have memorized over the years. So many mornings begin with Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 
Again, in the second temptation in which the devil lies about a power he does not have, Jesus responds with scripture echoing Deuteronomy 6:13 and I Samuel 7:3, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him."
 
Finally in the third temptation, Jesus responds to the devil’s use of scripture with Deuteronomy 6:16. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
 
The Wesley Study Bible reminds us that John Wesley recognized “the most dangerous temptations are often subtle appeals to spiritual pride cloaked in poor interpretations of scripture like the one the devil used here.”
 
How prepared are you today to face temptation? What might you do this evening to better prepare for the temptations that tomorrow may bring?
 
Friday, January 24th
Write down Luke 4:14-30.
 
Jesus stands up in his hometown synagogue and is handed a scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He reads what is written on the scroll, from what we call Isaiah 61, but stops with the phrase the year of the Lord’s favor. He seems to skip the next line, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” I have often wondered if that is what made the people angry enough to try and throw him off the cliff. We want the year of the Lord’s favor for ourselves but like to see others get their comeuppance.

As I wrote out the text by hand this time, it seems like the hometown crowd is still pleased by his reading and interpretation of these verses from Isaiah as being fulfilled in their hearing. Then Jesus goes on to further explain that the day of the Lord’s favor is even for the Gentiles like Naaman the Syrian. Jesus’s good news, the year of the Lord’s favor is for all, including the most marginalized members of society, the poor, the prisoner, the blind and the oppressed.
 
As John Wesley began to apply these verses closely to his life he began a deliberate program of visiting prisons, the sick and the poor in 1730 at the age of 26.
 
How might we respond to these verses as our lives seek to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor so these words might be fulfilled in our doing and not just our hearing.
 
Saturday, January 25th
Write down Luke 4:38-44

Years ago, Dr. Wes Allen, from the Perkins School of Theology, was serving in our Annual Conference. He led a study on healing stories and asked questions about the process of healing.
  1. How did the ill person approach healing?
  2. How does Jesus heal?
  3. What did Jesus heal?
  4. How did the healed person respond?
In this section we see a demon-possessed man who seems reluctant to be healed, Simon’s mother-in-law who others bring to Jesus’ attention, and others who brought those who were sick to Jesus. Jesus heals with a word of rebuke and with the laying on of hands.
 
Lift a prayer today for those who need healing, bringing them to Jesus to be healed.

All of us are in need of healing in some form or fashion. I am thankful for others who have lifted my need for healing to Jesus.
 
Sunday, January 26th
Enjoy a day of rest and worship.

Consider choosing a verse from the scripture read at church that morning and seek to make it a memory verse of the rest of the week.
 
Monday, January 27th
Today let's read the whole of Luke 4 again in a different translation. A different translation can help us see the scripture in new ways. What word stands out as different to you? What remained the same?
 
Tuesday, January 28th
As you review Luke 4, consider writing out one verse that you would like to have echo in your mind for the days ahead.

Give thanks that Jesus of Nazareth does have something to do with us!

Rev. Dr. Phil Schroeder is Director of the North Georgia Conference Center for Congregational Excellence.

 


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