Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Translation: And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led in the Spirit in the wilderness, being tempted forty days by the devil, and he ate absolutely nothing in those days, and when they were brought together to an end, he was hungry.
And the devil said to him, "If you are Son of God, command this stone so that it might become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It has been written: "The human being will not live from bread alone."
And bringing him up, he showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited world in a moment of time, and the devil said to him, "I will give you all this authority, and their glory, because it has been given over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. If you, then, would worship before me, it will all be yours."
And Jesus answered. He said to him, "It has been written: 'You will worship the Lord your God and him only will you serve.'"
And he brought him into Jerusalem, and he stood on the pinnacle of the Temple, and he said to him, "If you are Son of God, throw yourself down from that place, for it has been written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' and 'On hands, they will take you up, lest you might stumble your foot to a stone.'"
And Jesus answered. He said to him, "It has been said, 'You will not tempt the Lord your God.'" And when the devil brought to an end all temptation, he drew away from him until a special time.
Background and situation: Luke is going to great pains to establish Jesus' identity before his public ministry. Luke has an expansive birth narrative (1:1-2:52), John the Baptist pointing to Jesus (3:1-20), the baptism of Jesus and God's declaration of Jesus as "beloved Son" (3:21-22), and Jesus' geneology (3:23-28). The final step before the inauguration his public ministry will be an encounter with the devil himself.
The story is often called the "temptation of Jesus," but the Greek word pairazo may mean "test" as well as "tempt." Great heroes quite often undergo a period of testing. From the Greek hero, Ulysses, on down to the star of the last movie you've seen, the hero of the story is tested with a time of trial. (The lection is based in Mark (1:12-13) which both Matthew and Luke have expanded considerably.)
The Spirit and the wilderness: As is characteristic for Luke, Jesus is "full of the Holy Spirit." Luke likes this phrase. It appears over a dozen times in Luke/Acts, but not at all in Matthew, Mark, or John. For Luke, mention of the Holy Spirit usually marks a time of great spiritual intensity.
Moreover, Jesus is "led" by the Spirit in the wilderness. (In Mark, the Spirit "throws" Jesus into the wilderness.) The wilderness is a place of uncharted territory--you can get lost in it--but Jesus is "full of" and "led by" the Spirit as he encounters diabolos.
The wilderness, of course, recalls the sojourn of the Israelites after being led out of slavery in Egypt. Likewise, Jesus being in the wilderness for 40 days recalls the 40 years of the Israelites' wanderings. Like the Israelites, Jesus will be hungry. Luke pointedly tells us that he did not eat during those 40 days--"he ate absolutely nothing"--after which, he was, not surprisingly, hungry. (NRSV's "famished" here seems natural enough, but the Greek word simply means "hungry.")
The test: Jesus is recapitulating the history of Israel. God, however, had given the Israelites at least something to eat. Jesus has nothing. The devil, trying to play God's role, suggests Jesus turn a stone into bread and feed himself--if he is the Son of God, that is. The mockers at the cross will frame their pleas similarly, e.g. "if you are King of the Jews" (23:37).
The "bread"--artos--is singular. The devil tempts Jesus to turn a single stone into a single artos (bread, loaf). Such a proposal would have some surface appeal. Jesus is hungry, after all, and God had given manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. Not only that, but Jesus himself will also supply bread for the people (9:12-17).
That situation, however, is different. In this case, Jesus would not be feeding others, but rather himself. Thus, the devil is not tempting Jesus to do an unabashedly good thing, such as feed a hungry world. He is tempting Jesus to do an unabashedly individualistic thing, which is to feed his hungry self.
In another link with the Israelites in the wilderness, Jesus quotes from the book of Deuteronomy: "It has been written: 'The human being will not live from bread alone." The verse in Deuteronomy (8:3) also says that God "humbled" the Israelites by letting them hunger, then fed them with manna so that they would understand that "one does not live by bread alone."
In responding in this way, the hungry Jesus identifies with the hunger of the Israelites in the wilderness. He doesn't transcend his hunger. He embraces it.
The second temptation is one of worldly power. "And bringing him up, he (the devil) showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited world in a moment of time"--en stigme xronou. Stigme refers to a particular point in time, a particular "instant."
The devil shows Jesus all the worldly powers--those of the past, present, and future--and says that they belong to him to give to whomever he wishes. (Keep in mind: The devil is a liar. The world does not belong to the devil, but to God. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" Ps. 24:1.)
Note that the devil does not use the word kosmos to speak of the world, but rather oikomene. Oikomene refers to "the inhabited world." It is the term used by Greeks, then Romans, to describe their political hegemony. They ruled the oikomene, the inhabited world, while the barbarians were left with the dregs.
One wonders: Is Luke slamming the Romans? Jesus might have seen all the kingdoms ever, but the current ruler of "all the world" is Caesar Augustus (2:1). Is Luke saying that the current ruler of the oikomene is under the power of the devil?
Luke has other subtle ways of depreciating the kingdoms of the world. Jesus sees them en stigme xronou, that is, according to every day, chronological time, and not kairos, which is "special time."
In other words, the kingdoms of the world are nothing special. They are mere xronos. Moreover, where Matthew has political power as the last temptation--the final and most difficult one--Luke places it second, as if dealing with earthly powers was secondary to dealing with religious power, which will appear next.
The devil's offer, one might note, is also rather windy. He goes on at some length telling Jesus how powerful he is, and dangling "all their glory" of the worldly kingdoms in front of him. Jesus responds by a summarization of Deuteronomy 6: 12-14: "You will worship the Lord your God and him only will you serve." It's nine words in Greek. Where the devil is loquacious, Jesus is dismissive. He's not there to negotiate.
The final temptation is one of religious display, or religious power. The devil brought him to Jerusalem, "and he stood on the pinnacle of the Temple." The devil opens (again) with a conditional clause, "If you are Son of God." If you are, the devil says, take a dive off the Temple.
This time, trying a new tack, the devil quotes scripture himself: "For it has been written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' and 'On hands, they will take you up, lest you might stumble your foot to a stone.'" (Psalm 91:11-12.)
The devil appears to be a bit of a fundamentalist. He expects Jesus to jump off the Temple and have angels take him up. Jesus responds again with scripture--'You will not tempt the Lord your God" (Dt. 6:12)--but Luke phrases Jesus' quotation differently than before. Rather than say "it has been written," now Luke has Jesus say, "it has been said." The meaning is the same, of course, but that way of putting it has a less formal ring and seems a step back from "it has been written." If the devil is going to quote scripture, Jesus is not going to dignify his approach by responding at the same level.
"And when the devil brought to an end all temptation, he drew away from him until a special time." Luke uses the word suntelesas twice in this text. Literally, it means "brought together to the end." First, Jesus' period of hunger had been brought to an end, and now, so have the devil's temptations.
Earlier, Luke had referred to the kingdoms of the world according to xronos time. In a final comment in this lection, Luke will use the word kairos, which is not chronological time, but "special time." The exact phrase is axri kairou. Most translations have "until an opportune moment," which is an appropriate translation, but misses the use of the word kairos.
The devil will indeed return at the kairotic moment, the moment of special import--"God's time." In 22:3, Satan will enter into Judas, setting in motion the final phases of the passion story.
Image: Juan Flandes, Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness