It’s important to know that Jesus is your champion. When the world seems out of control, and you see bad things happening all over the place, you want someone to rise above it all and lead you out.
Jesus is that champion.
Luke started his gospel saying that he’d give us an orderly, accurate account.
- He spent two chapters on John the Baptist and Jesus showing how John preceded Jesus as foretold.
- They fulfilled specific prophecy (John as a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord, the messiah).
- They fulfilled general pattern (like Moses & Joshua, like Elijah and Elisha) – all culminating in Jesus, Messiah.
But we’re yet to see Jesus actually start his ministry. Before you we get to that, Luke has one more thing to put in place. And it’s a big one. Get hold of these verse correctly, and you’ll not only understand the rest of Luke better – you’ll understand your own life more clearly.
This is about the Son of God, Satan, and you.
Jesus is the Son of God
We’re going to make our way through the sections understanding what it says about Jesus and what he came to do. Read Luke 3:21-22.
These two verses are packed out with important things to know!
- There’s the small (but important) point that Luke puts in over and over: Jesus was praying.
- Throughout Luke and Acts, major points in the life of Christ and his church are linked with prayer.
- But more, the Holy Spirit descended on him.
- Not necessarily dove-shaped, but at least moved and descended “like a dove”.
- This is his anointing by the Holy Spirit. This is him being seen and known as the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. Anointed by God.
- More still, the voice of God the Father says “You are my dearly loved Son” – an echo of Psalm 2, the Son of God who will rule the nations.
- “…and you bring me great joy” – an echo of Isaiah 42 and 61, the Servant who pleases God, who is anointed by the Spirit, and who will give his life to save God’s people.
This is a public display of the trinity coming together for humanity to witness: One God, Father Son and Holy Spirit in One. Something massive is happening.
Jesus was baptised, but not a baptism of repentance.
Commission & Identity
This is an act of commission: The Son of God is identifying with his people, and he’s foreshadowing his own death and resurrection.
- He’s foreshadowing what happens to you when you come to faith in Christ:
- You die to self; the old sinful you is dead and buried, sin and guilt washed away.
- You’re raised to life in Christ, blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and adopted by the Father!
- Jesus is eternally the Son and in fellowship with the Spirit.
- As you come to faith in Christ you are adopted by the same Father and indwelt by the same Holy Spirit.
So his baptism identifies Jesus as Son of God, and gives a moment of expectation that something massive is happening.
Genealogy with a surprise
We then get the genealogy.
- It’s obviously different from Matthew’s genealogy.
- No-one really knows why, though if you’ve ever tried to map your ancestry you’ll know you don’t get straight lines.
- Certainly, Luke very much wants to go all the way back to Adam. He has a message of Good News to all humanity.
- The surprise in the genealogy comes at the end: “Adam was the son of God.” Another one?
We’re all born children of Adam, and Adam was a created son of God.
So the big question Luke is forcing on you is this: Will Jesus (the ‘second’ Son of God) do better than Adam (the ‘first’ son).
The answer is in the wilderness.
Facing down the devil
Read Luke 4:1-2.
Jesus was clearly tempted (tested) by the devil throughout the 40 days, and the three temptations listed are a kind of summary. They’re in a different order from Matthew’s gospel, as each writer arranges his material to make different points.
- Again, that’s not a problem. It’s the ancient style, different from our more chronological style.
- Luke’s 3 temptations finishes in Jerusalem because that’s a directional theme in Luke-Acts.
The basis of the temptation is Jesus as son of God. Jesus is tempted with food (stones to become bread).
- But he will only do as the Father wills. He won’t use his status as Son of God for his own benefit.
- Jesus will deny his own self, even to take up his own cross
He’s tempted with glory:
- The devil really does have the ability to grant kingdoms and authorities (though only because that’s been give to him).
- And Jesus will indeed rule over all the earth, but he is to do that by the way of the cross – not the lazy shortcut on offer.
He’s tempted with protection based on God’s word:
- The devil mis-applies Psalm 91 in a way that would cause Jesus to try to manipulate God’s grace.
In each case, Jesus refutes Satan to his face by quoting Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, 6:16).
Would Adam have done any better? He actually faced the same temptations:
- He saw the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He saw it, was tempted, and ate it.
- He was told he’d become like God. Tempted by power.
- And it wasn’t Psalm 91 that Satan twisted, Adam had heard direct from God. So Satan asked, “Did God really say…?”
Adam fell into sin, and brought sin and death to us all.
Now Jesus is another Son of God – the Son of God from eternity – and he has come to bring forgiveness and life to all who will receive it!
Satan departed for a while (Luke 4:13) but Jesus then began his ministry “filled with the Holy Spirit’s power” (Luke 4:14). Jesus is God’s Son, come to do what Adam completely failed to.
But what’s the big thing Luke wants you to see?
Jesus is your Champion
You need to see what’s going on here. Jesus isn’t passively taken to the desert to see how he gets on, like a team’s new star signing. He is the Son of God, newly commissioned as the Anointed Messiah, Servant, Saviour.
When he goes into the wilderness, he’s led into enemy territory by the Holy Spirit.
- As Sinclair Ferguson puts it, “Temptation does not merely ‘come’ to him; he goes to it. He attacks it.”
(Some Pastors & Teachers, p471.)
Jesus, sent by the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, has entered enemy territory to take on the devil himself.
- 1 John 3:8 (CSB) “…the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works.”
Have you ever wondered why there are so many demon-possessed people in the gospels, when it’s far less prevalent today? It’s like stamping on an ant’s nest – the whole nest is awakened into action! And Jesus has gone straight to the core, to Satan himself, and shaken the foundations of all his evil realm.
What power does Satan have?
- He tempted Adam to sin which brought death to us all.
- Satan’s a liar and will keep you from truth – to keep you from Jesus wherever he can, and to lead you to sin.
- He’ll accuse you, and pile on your guilt, and if he can consign you to eternity away from God, he will.
But Jesus has come “to destroy the devil’s works.”
His ministry started in the wilderness, taking Satan on head-on. It continued (and continues) with every individual he helped, healed, freed, taught.
The decisive blow
The decisive blow was dealt at the cross.
- When Satan was first struck, the overflow was mass demon activity.
- When Jesus died and rose again, the overflow was dead being raised from their tombs!
In Christ, death is conquered. He is the firstfruits of the resurrection of us all! Jesus has paid the penalty of sin for all who believe: There’s no condemnation for Christ’s people. Satan has no accusation that will stand – the price is paid.
Satan’s reign is reduced – he’s still active, he’s more livid than ever, but he’s bound, like a mad dog on a lead.
- That’s why there’s still war, flood, drought, disease, pandemic, cancer, death.
- But the decisive blow has already struck.
- Satan and all evil will, one day, be gone.
- That day is the day Jesus returns from heaven to earth.
- All his own people will be raised to eternal life with him; everyone else will be raised to a second death in the lake of fire.
In this broken world, dominated by wickedness, selfishness, and brokenness, Jesus is your Champion.
He has already taken on Satan. It’s why he came. He came to destroy the devil’s works.
And he’s done it. You can be free in Christ. Live in him. So:
Jesus is your helper
So it’s clear from everything we’ve seen that spiritual conflict is a real thing.
- Satan is real and active, even if he is bound and limited.
- He will work to prevent people becoming Christians.
- That’s one reason why there are so many religions – we have worship programmed in us, but the devil will work to substitute true worship of the living God with anything else
In many western cultures, his scheme is to keep a lower profile so that “sensible, scientific people” don’t believe in “all this supernatural stuff.” He’s a liar.
Satan’s eternity is a lake a fire. Without Christ, yours is too.
Christ came into the world to take on Satan and free you. He came to seek and save the lost: That’s you.
Jesus came for you, because without him you’re lost to hell. Which means for Christians that all our hope and assurance is Jesus. He alone is your Champion, and he’s your helper too.
When you’re tempted to sin (and you will be), remember that the Tempter’s power is limited, and the Accuser’s power is cut off. You have the Spirit of power, of love, and of self-control at work in you.
When temptation comes
If you’re worried about food, petrol, gas and electricity, or about work, your future, or things in this life
- Make sure you’re worried in the right way. You do have responsibilities, and you need to pay your bills.
- But they’re not the ultimate realities in your life. You don’t live by your mobile phone alone. Trust in God and make him your happiness and security.
When you’re tempted to make a name for yourself and be the centre of things (in church, at work, in life)
- Remember that your name is written in the book of life.
- Jesus knows your name, and will one day give you a new name.
- So stoop down to help; take up your cross.
- And remember that Christ is the prize.
If you’re tempted to try to justify your sin by wonky use of conscience, or even the Bible (e.g. “I’ve thought and prayed about this a lot and this is what I’ve decided…”)
- Use the sword of the Spirit (the Bible) well, in truth.
- And use the sword to attack, to do good in the world, bringing the kingdom of light into darkness.
So in your weakness, remember that Christ is in you.
1 John 4:4 (CSB) …the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Need help? Christ is in you.
Need wisdom? He will give it.
Need strength? Lean on him.
Need comfort and consolation? He is gracious and gives in abundance.
Feel lonely? He will never leave or forsake you.
Feel weary? He will care for you.
Feel far from him? He’s the shade at your right hand.