While genealogies may seem tedious, for people in many cultures (including Luke’s), genealogies are important and meaningful because they give a sense of identity and history. Luke places Jesus in the mainstream of biblical history, connected to King David, Abraham, Noah, and Adam. By connecting Jesus with Adam, and ultimately with God, Luke shows how Jesus is connected to and relevant for all people, and he may also be suggesting that in Jesus God is launching a new humanity, with Jesus as the new Adam. Unlike the first Adam, though, Jesus will be completely faithful to God, as the next episode makes clear. Perhaps echoing Adam and Eve being tempted by the serpent in the garden (Genesis 3:1–7), Luke moves from the stories of Jesus’ beginnings to His temptation.
4 When Jesus returned from the Jordan River, He was full of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit led Him away from the cities and towns and out into the desert.
2 For 40 days, the Spirit led Him from place to place in the desert, and while there, the devil tempted Jesus. Jesus was fasting, eating nothing during this time, and at the end, He was terribly hungry. 3 At that point, the devil came to Him.
Devil: Since You’re the Son of God, You don’t need to be hungry. Just tell this stone to transform itself into bread.
Jesus: 4 It is written in the Hebrew Scriptures, “People need more than bread to live.”[a]
5 Then the devil gave Jesus a vision. It was as if He traveled around the world in an instant and saw all the kingdoms of the world at once.
Devil: 6 All these kingdoms, all their glory, I’ll give to You. They’re mine to give because this whole world has been handed over to me. 7 If You just worship me, then everything You see will all be Yours. All Yours!
9 Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem, and he transported Jesus to stand upon the pinnacle of the temple.
Devil: Since You’re the Son of God, just jump. Just throw Yourself into the air. 10 You keep quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. They themselves say,
He will put His heavenly messengers in charge of You,
to keep You safe in every way.
They will hold You up in their hands
so that You do not smash Your foot against a stone.[d]
Jesus: 12 Yes, but the Hebrew Scriptures also say, “You will not presume on God; you will not test the Lord, the one True God.”[e]
13 The devil had no more temptations to offer that day, so he left Jesus, preparing to return at some other opportune time.
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit, and soon people across the region had heard news of Him. 15 He would regularly go into their synagogues and teach. His teaching earned Him the respect and admiration of everyone who heard Him.
16 He eventually came to His hometown, Nazareth, and did there what He had done elsewhere in Galilee—entered the synagogue and stood up to read from the Hebrew Scriptures.
17 The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words:
18 The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.
Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.
Luke’s audience doesn’t divide the world into sacred vs. secular or religious vs. political. For them, life is integrated. And for them, these “religious” words from Isaiah have a powerful and “political” meaning: because they see themselves as oppressed by the Roman occupation, Jesus’ words suggest that His “good news” describes a powerful change about to come—a change that will rescue the people from their oppression. His fellow Jews have long been waiting for a savior to free them from Roman oppression. Jesus tells them their hopes are about to be fulfilled. But then, just as people speak well of Jesus, He lets them know their expectations aren’t in line with God’s plans. He tells them not to expect God to fit into their boxes and suggests the unthinkable: that God cares for the Gentiles, the very people who are oppressing them! They aren’t too pleased by this.
He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free,
and to tell the blind that they can now see.
He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
19 In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time;
this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace.[f]
20 Jesus rolled up the scroll and returned it to the synagogue attendant. Then He sat down, as a teacher would do, and all in the synagogue focused their attention on Jesus, waiting for Him to speak. 21 He told them that these words from the Hebrew Scriptures were being fulfilled then and there, in their hearing.
22 At first everyone was deeply impressed with the gracious words that poured from Jesus’ lips. Everyone spoke well of Him and was amazed that He could say these things.
Everyone: Wait. This is only the son of Joseph, right?
Jesus: 23 You’re about to quote the old proverb to Me, “Doctor, heal yourself!” Then you’re going to ask Me to prove Myself to you by doing the same miracles I did in Capernaum. 24 But face the truth: hometowns always reject their homegrown prophets.
25 Think back to the prophet Elijah. There were many needy Jewish widows in his homeland, Israel, when a terrible famine persisted there for three and a half years. 26 Yet the only widow God sent Elijah to help was an outsider from Zarephath in Sidon.[g]
27 It was the same with the prophet Elisha. There were many Jewish lepers in his homeland, but the only one he healed—Naaman—was an outsider from Syria.[h]
28 The people in the synagogue became furious when He said these things. 29 They seized Jesus, took Him to the edge of town, and pushed Him right to the edge of the cliff on which the city was built. They would have pushed Him off and killed Him, 30 but He passed through the crowd and went on His way.
31-33 Next He went to Capernaum, another Galilean city. Again He was in the synagogue teaching on the Sabbath, and as before, the people were enthralled by His words. He had a way of saying things—a special authority, a unique power.
In attendance that day was a man with a demonic spirit.
Demon-Possessed Man (screaming at Jesus): 34 Get out of here! Leave us alone! What’s Your agenda, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are: You’re the Holy One, the One sent by God!
Jesus (firmly rebuking the demon): 35 Be quiet. Get out of that man!
Then the demonic spirit immediately threw the man into a fit, and he collapsed right there in the middle of the synagogue. It was clear the demon had come out, and the man was completely fine after that. 36 Everyone was shocked to see this, and they couldn’t help but talk about it.
Synagogue Members: What’s this about? What’s the meaning of this message? Jesus speaks with authority, and He has power to command demonic spirits to go away.
The essential message of Jesus can be summed up this way: the kingdom of God is available to everyone, starting now. When Jesus refers to the kingdom of God, He doesn’t mean something that happens after death, far off in heaven; He equates the kingdom of God with God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. So the kingdom of God is life as God intends it to be—life to the full, life in peace and justice, life in abundance and love. Individuals enter the Kingdom when they enter into a relationship with Jesus, when they trust Him enough to follow His ways. But make no mistake, the Kingdom is about more than individual lives; it is about the transformation and renewal of all God has created. It may start with individual responses, but it doesn’t stop there.
Jesus describes His purpose as proclaiming this message. But Jesus not only expresses His message of the kingdom of God in words, He also dramatizes it in deeds. Luke calls these amazing deeds “signs and wonders,” suggesting that these actions have symbolic meaning, which is significant, and are wonderful, which means they fill people with awe and wonder. In the coming chapters, the wonder that the original eyewitnesses feel is palpable, and Jesus’ actions are significant signs of the kingdom of God.
37 The excitement about Jesus spread into every corner of the surrounding region.
38 Picture this:
Jesus then leaves that synagogue and goes over to Simon’s place. Simon’s mother-in-law is there. She is sick with a high fever. Simon’s family asks Jesus to help her.
39 Jesus stands over her, and just as He had rebuked the demon, He rebukes the fever, and the woman’s temperature returns to normal. She feels so much better that she gets right up and cooks them all a big meal.
40 By this time, it’s just before nightfall, and as the sun sets, groups of families, friends, and bystanders come until a huge crowd has gathered. Each group has brought along family members or friends who are sick with any number of diseases. One by one, Jesus lays His hands on them and heals them. 41 On several occasions, demonic spirits are expelled from these people, after shouting at Jesus, “You are the Son of God!”
Jesus always rebukes them and tells them to be quiet. They know He is the Anointed One, but He doesn’t want to be acclaimed in this way.
42 The next morning, Jesus sneaks away. He finds a place away from the crowds, but soon they find Him. The crowd tries their best to keep Him from leaving.
Jesus: 43 No, I cannot stay. I need to preach the kingdom of God to other cities too. This is the purpose I was sent to fulfill.
44 So He proceeds from synagogue to synagogue across Judea,[i] preaching His message of the kingdom of God.