Each week we will post the coming week's sermon text along with a set of questions that will help you prepare for Sunday.
4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”
5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ”
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11 and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Lk 4:1–13.
Specific Discussion Questions:
Read the text aloud. Then, read the text to yourself quietly. Read it slowly, as if you were very unfamiliar with the story.
- Luke makes a point to tell us that Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit when he is led into the wilderness. Why do you think this point is important for Luke?
- Luke draws some parallels between Jesus’ experience here and Israel’s history. What episode from Israel’s history sounds similar to this? How does Israel fare in that story?
- The devil, literally, the wicked one or the adversary, tempts Jesus three times. What do you notice about each of the devil’s temptations? What common theme runs through them all?
- Why would it be wrong for Jesus to turn a rock into bread? In response to this temptation, Jesus quotes a part of Deuteronomy 8:3. Read Deuteronomy 8:1-3 to better understand why Jesus quotes it. Who is Jesus saying will provide for him?
- What kind of good could be done if Jesus went around turning stones into bread? Who would benefit from such actions?
- Jesus, by virtue of who he is as the Son of God, already has the authority of all that has been made. Why then does the devil think he can offer it to Jesus?
- In the final temptation, Jesus is told to cast himself off the roof of the Temple and God’s angels will catch him. Why would the devil tempt him to do so? How many followers would Jesus gain if he had done a stunt like that? Why would it be wrong for Jesus to do something like this?
- These three temptations are about Jesus misusing his power as the Son of God to further his own glory rather than God’s glory. The temptations aren’t really bad or immoral in themselves. What kind of temptations might you and I be exposed to that aren’t really bad or immoral in themselves but yet bring glory to ourselves instead of God?