Devotional of the week: Led by the Spirit (1 in Luke 4 series)

Time for a new devotional series! I’ve loved reading Dallas Willard’s books, and also one that came out shortly after he died, Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard’s Teaching on Faith and Formation. Dallas stressed the importance of memorizing Scripture and of rereading the gospels, pondering them and chewing them over so that we would become more like our Master, Jesus. Here’s a series on Luke 4:1-13, to help us in that quest.

1Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

3Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

4But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

5Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6“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. 7I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

8Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. 11And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

12Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

13When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.

"Brooklyn Museum - Jesus Ministered to by Angels (Jésus assisté par les anges) - James Tissot - Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum

“Brooklyn Museum – Jesus Ministered to by Angels (Jésus assisté par les anges) – James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum

[Jesus] was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil… Luke 4:1-2

Ever heard the adage, “I can resist anything but temptation”? We might smile wryly but then nod, thinking of the secret indiscretions we allow ourselves – the extra chocolate truffle, the bitterness we cling to, the envious glance at our neighbor. Or if we give in to temptation, we might eschew responsibility: “The devil made me do it!”

But Jesus shows us a better way. In the passage we are looking at during this series, we see him resist Satan; instead he follows God’s commands for right living. Jesus was fully man and could have fallen prey to Satan’s whispers. But he doesn’t. Filled with the Holy Spirit and recounting the word of God, he speaks truth to Satan’s lies, showing them to be flimsy and empty.

And look at the highlighted words in this week’s text – God actually leads Jesus into this temptation. God not only allowed the devil to tempt Jesus, but seems to have set up the meeting. For Jesus in avoiding sin becomes the new Adam, the One through whom we may enjoy life abundant. The first Adam, when he and Eve gave into Satan’s temptations and ate the forbidden fruit, brought about death. But Jesus through his sacrifice on the cross brings life. As we become alive in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:22), we receive the power and self-control even to resist Satan. Now that’s good news for today!

Prayer: Father God, please endow me with the fruits of your Spirit. Help me to praise you with my lips and in my life. Amen.

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