"I've also seen the effect of the devil's work in the lives of broken and destroyed people, and as we see in Luke 4:1-13, the devil was attempting to destroy Jesus..." Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in his reflection titled "Deliver Us from Evil" in his book The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story. As you may know I am blogging through this book. I am on passage reading number 37 of the 100 passages.
I want to focus on the first four verses of this passage.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'People do not live on bread alone.' (Luke 4:1-4)The question is did the devil know who Jesus was when he said "If you are the Son of God..."?
In Context of the Whole of ScriptureOne thing that I have found to be very helpful when studying Scripture is to put the verse or passage that you are focusing on into the context of the whole of the Word of God. This is not easy and I often fail and this is one reason I find the need to continue to study the Bible. The ideal is to somehow keep all the knowledge you have learned from Scripture in your mind while you read each verse. I am not sure it is really even completely possible for any human, but there are those who do it very well. One can compensate some for an inability to do this with an in depth Bible study. Study a verse or passage for an extended period of time, referencing the rest of the Bible, and putting it into the context of the whole of Scripture. This approach is well worth the effort.
After some study I found some verses that show very precisely that evil spirits acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God (Mark3:11). In Mark Chapter 5 we read an account of Jesus restoring a demon-possessed man where the legion of demons cried out through this man "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" (Mark 5:7) Evil spirits and demons are all under the command of the devil. If they knew who Jesus was the devil certainly knew. There are other clues in Scripture that would also prove that the devil knew that Jesus was the Son of God.
Sarcastic TauntFor whatever reason, before this study, when I read what the devil said to Jesus here I read it as if the devil was honestly attempting to find out if Jesus was in fact the Son of God. Almost all Bible versions translate it this way "If you are the Son of God..." At first I read that as Satan not really knowing and wanting to find out. But after spending some time in thought and study of other passages in the Bible I now read this more as a sarcastic taunt. It seems pretty clear from a study of Scripture that Satan knows exactly who Jesus is.
Here is how David Guzik puts the devil's sarcastic taunt. "Since You're the Messiah, why are You so deprived? Do a little something for Yourself."
Derail & DistractSatan had one goal, one focus: maintain the separation between humans and God. A separation Satan in the form of a serpent had instigated in the Garden of Eden. The evil one knew that the the work of Jesus had to be derailed. So here we are right out of the gate and Satan tries to distract Jesus. Tries to have Jesus take his focus of the will of his Father and his plans and focus on his own flesh.
Satan wanted Jesus to use his power as God to satisfy his own human hunger. Satan wanted Jesus to perform a miracle for the sole purpose of satisfying his hunger and proving his deity. From what I know of Scripture Jesus did not use his ultimate power as God to satisfy his earthly needs. He only performed miracles for the benefit of other people. Benefit in the sense of both a physical healing and giving a glimpse of who he was really. Miracles helped many "say wait a minute this is not a carpenter, this is not a teacher, this is the Messiah, this is the very Son of God."
Not Fully HumanI think Satan also wanted to get Jesus to use his power as God for his own benefit to be able to in a way show that Jesus was not like us. He had it easy, he has all the power to make his life comfortable, with no trouble, and without suffering. Perhaps Satan wanted to create a gap between him and us. In a twisted way I think Satan wanted to be able to announce that Jesus was not fully human that Jesus was not like us humans in every way except sin, he had power to make his life easy and he would use it.
Do a Little Something For YourselfDavid Guzik goes on to point out that just as Jesus was tempted with a sarcastic taunt the devil comes to us saying "If you're a child of God, why are things so tough? Do a little something for yourself."
Let me tell you I have tried to "do a little something" for myself. I have spent way to much of my life doing a little something for myself. I have tried to use the power I have to make my life more comfortable. I have forced things just to get my way, just to make me happy and frankly looking back, it wasn't worth it. In fact I am embarrassed. I have been selfish and self-centered. I have spent way too much of my time focusing on my flesh. I know I am not alone in this.
Not Only About Our FleshI desire to have the focus Jesus did here. A focus on the will of his Father that is so strong, so complete, food is of little value to him as he confronts the devil, one on one. He resists the devil's sarcastic taunt with the simple truth that our lives are more than just about our flesh and being comfortable. Our lives are sustained by the very words of God, in fact, every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Jesus responds to Satan with Scripture. He quotes Scripture that I am sure the devil was familiar with in Deuteronomy.
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that people do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
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