LUKE 4: A NEAR-DEATH ESCAPE!
When our only son died – our beloved son whom we loved, in him we were well pleased – there wasn’t a message on the planet that would console us, except the Creator God’s Good News of Great Joy for all people. If it would be possible to escape death completely, and not just escape death caused by accident, conflict or sickness, I want to know about it!
But if you’ve been following my Breadcrumbs and think that this epic storyline is about the Jews and their God, then I’ve not done my job right. Please be assured, what’s happening in today chapter, is an unraveling of history that goes right back to Genesis – in the beginning – so that through HIStory, the Creator can save us from everything that’s gone wrong, in the past, the present, and in our future – destroying death itself.
As the curtains draw back on today’s scene in this epic storyline, where He’s being tested in the desert [v1-13], Jesus rewrites – restores – the Garden of Eden “wrongs”. In the Beginning, satan tempted humankind. This is normal and natural, since the Creator God gave us brains and choice. It goes with the territory. It’s expected. However, instead of them turning back to their Maker to ask for more information and clarification over the information they had, they trusted the apparent logic in the lies, and their own judgement.[a]
Now Jesus is alone, with satan twisting the Creator’s words once more. But unlike the failures of the past, Jesus corrects what’s wrong. He trusts then repeats what the Creator has previously said and written into His Handbook for LIFE. But if you think that fighting off a powerful dark force (who’s personified in this person called “satan”), is far too scary and hard to achieve – don’t, because it’s not hard at all! For one thing, we’re created in the image of the Living God Himself, specifically designed to be like Him.[b] Satan, on the other hand, is a fallen angel who masquerades as a snake – a created animal over which we were originally given full authority to rule.[c] In addition, what he’s offering is either flawed, or else Father God has already given it…
In today’s chapter, for example, Jesus was offered dry bread in a desert. [v3-4] But that would have stuck in His throat. He didn’t need bread, He needed water! Satan then offers Him all the kingdoms of the earth. [v5-8] But, seriously, who wants all that trouble! It’s bad enough trying to rule one country. HIStory had already shown that rulers of whole empires are dead men walking! Then satan tried to get Him to jump off a building. [v9-12] This is now getting ridiculous! If you’re going on a suicide mission, wouldn’t you put your life in the hands of the Top Person Himself, not His workers. If the angels take their orders (to save or not to save) from the Creator God, isn’t it better to trust your life to the One calling the shots?!
There’s several more important things behind this scene than making satan’s second-hand offers look ridiculous. I talk about these in my 04 March Breadcrumb. For now, satan’s tactic is the same that he used on Eve in the Garden of Eden – doubting the Creator God’s Word: “Did God really say…”, “…If you really are the Son of God…” Doubting the Creator’s words (now compiled into His Handbook for LIFE) is still our No. 1 issue today. Our second issue is also the thing that satan tried on both Eve and on Jesus – a temptation to obtain elsewhere, and by other means, what our Maker has destined to give us Himself.
Jesus was the personified “bread of LIFE”.[d] The government was already on His shoulders.[e] And, there was a suicide mission ahead, where the Creator God would have to “raise Him up” if He was indeed the Son of God.[f] When the devil left Him, it was until “an opportune time”. [v13] In other words, from that time on, Jesus was at risk and needed to be on His guard.[g] It shouldn’t at all come as a surprise then, that Jesus encounters a near-death experience in the very next scene.
When we left our storyline yesterday, Jesus had just been baptised – ceremonially washed. That moment is part of Levitical Law of the priesthood who are washed and commissioned by a Priest above him – a sort of line-manager. In Jesus case, His “priestly commission” – authorization to cause the falling and rising of many and to be a sign that would be spoken against[h] – came directly from His Father in Heaven.[i]
Still, it’s hard to understand how such a life-threatening moment on a cliff top [v28-30] could come from such a blessed statement available to all:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives; recovery of sight to the blind; to set free those who are oppressed and to proclaim the Year of the Lord’s Favour.” [v18-19]
The “straw” that seemed to “break the camel’s back” almost certainly came from Jesus’ inclusion of other nationalities who’ll receive God’s Grace – even if this had to be ahead of His own people. [v25-28] And so, the roller-coaster 3-year journey began. While some spoke well of Jesus and “wondered” about His words, others thought He was a nobody. [v22] But from the outset, Jesus knew that they’d mock His ability to help anyone, let alone Himself[j]; they’d want more proof[k] and that, ultimately, He’d be rejected [v23-24] both in His hometown of Nazareth but also His “home” town, where His House was, in Jerusalem.[l]
Some time back, our daughter told me, “Dad doesn’t know why you’re writing the Breadcrumbs. He thinks that no-one will read them.” Whether she was misquoting him or not, it feels strange to write to you again today. But when I read these ancient words above – that Jesus used from Isaiah[m] – and then look back over my own life-journey, I can’t help but feel called to follow in the footsteps of John: to prepare the way for the LORD. I’m not sure what results I expect. Every day I write, I’m writing about “a sign to be opposed”. And still I write. And still I pray: release for the spiritual captives; sight for the spiritually blind; freedom for the spiritually oppressed and… “May this year, Father God, be the Year of the Lord’s Favour.”
The rest of today’s chapter is proof that Jesus’ words were right, Isaiah’s prophecy was indeed fulfilled in their hearing. [v31-44] Although Jesus’ life story is covered in my Breadcrumbs during March and April, it can be summed up in Isaiah’s prophecy. The Creator’s “good news” was indeed preached to the poor.[n] A proclamation for eternal release to captives has gone out.[o] People who are spiritually blind are now able to see the Creator’s Global Masterplan.[p] Evil’s oppressive grip on the planet has been broken.[q] And the ultimate HOPE of the world (where humanity’s given a “near-death escape” by finally finding favour with the Lord of LIFE), has now come.[r]
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[a] Genesis 3:1-7
[b] Genesis 1:26
[c] Genesis 1:27-28
[d] John 6:26-40
[e] Isaiah 9:6-7
[f] Acts 17:30-31
[g] 1 Peter 5:8
[h] Luke 2:34
[i] Luke 3:22
[j] Matthew 27:40
[k] Matthew 16:4
[l] Malachi 3:1
[m] Isaiah 61:1-2
[n] Matthew 5:3
[o] Ephesians 4:7-8
[p] 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
[q] Hebrews 2:14-15
[r] Romans 5:12-15; 6:23
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