Luke 4:1-13

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The story of Jesus' temptation is assigned out of chronological order in Luke's story because it is traditionally associated with Lent, with temptation, testing and Lenten disciplines. Not eating for forty days was Jesus' test. For people who undertake Lenten disciplines, sometimes it's not meat or giving up something that is of importance to them for the forty days of Lent. It is a time of prayer and spiritual discipline in some form.

Mark's version of the temptation of Jesus is very brief. Jesus was driven out into the wilderness for forty days where he was tested by Satan, with wild beasts, and ministered to by angels. Both Matthew and Luke have expanded stories of the temptation. The keyword in them is the Greek word peirazo which means "to tempt or test." That word occurs in several places in the gospel tradition including the Lord's prayer: "Lead us not into the time of temptation," which also means the time of testing. This story is supremely the story of being tested by Satan.

The source of Jesus' power to resist Satan's temptations is directly related to knowing the scriptures by heart. In this time of supreme testing, it is what Jesus knows by heart from Deuteronomy that is his greatest source of strength in resisting temptation and passing the test. The most striking thing about Jesus is his spiritual strength, which comes from his mastery of Scripture.

In telling the story the most difficult character to depict is Satan. What kind of voice to give Satan will be your first major decision as the teller of this story. Is he seductive like a snake, oily like a used car salesman, a divine figure with a sense of authority but somewhat off? You might listen to audio readings of The Screwtape Letters by C.S.Lewis to hear one dramatic interpretation of the voice of Satan.

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