“The Scriptures Say”

“The Scriptures Say” January 4, 2023


Genesis, chapters 9-11; Luke, chapter 4

Luke 4:1-13 (NLT):

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.  Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”  But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”  When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.


“The Scriptures Say”

I’ve spend a lot of time on this passage over the years. It’s found in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, which means that we read it six times every year. I’ve also preached through Matthew and Luke over the last several years, so I’ve also addressed it in that context. But whenever I read a passage that I’ve read so often, and God gives some new insight, I’m reminded that God’s Word is indeed living and active!

The key phrase in this passage, as I view it today, is “The Scriptures say.”  Each time that the devil tempts Jesus, Jesus responds by quoting Scripture. That reminds us yet again how important it is for us to stay grounded in Scripture, because Scripture is the primary way that God speaks to us. We should not sit back and wait for some new revelation from God when he has given us his written Word, which has been proven true over the centuries.

Two other thoughts come to my mind as I read this passage. First, Jesus is not the only one who quotes Scripture; Satan also does. In the last temptation, Satan reminds Jesus that the Scriptures say that God would order his angels to guard and protect you.  This reminds us that it is not enough to just know what the Scriptures say; we must allow God to apply them to our lives. Satan knew what Scripture said; Jesus knew what it meant.

The Kingdoms of the World

The other thought relates to a different subject – the kingdoms of the world. Satan took Jesus up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world, and then he said: “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them, because they are mine to give to anyone I please.”  Notice that Jesus does not dispute this! The kingdoms of this world do belong to the devil – for this time. He is the prince of this world – for this time. The response is not that the kingdoms do not belong to him; the response is that we put God first.


“The Scriptures Say”

The easy application relates to what the Scriptures say. We need to spend time in the Word each day, allowing God to speak to us and guide us through the truth of his Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit. This application is much more a reminder than a revelation. This is why I continue to emphasize the importance of daily reading and reflecting on Scripture.

The Kingdoms of the World

The application with regard to the second point is much tougher, because it goes against much of what we hear from “the Church” today. If the kingdoms of the world belong to Satan, and they are his to give to whomever he wants, why do we place so much emphasis on the political process and electing the “right” candidates? More importantly, when our preferred candidate wins, why are we so quick to declare that God has ordained this?

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t vote. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seek to transform our society according to the Gospel. But I do believe that we should be much more hesitant to declare that “God has done this” when we are still living in the time in which Satan is the “prince of this world.”

God’s ways are not our ways. His “foolishness” is wiser than all of our wisdom. We should focus our attention on him, not on the ways of the world. And that means that we don’t need to wring our hands at what is going on. God is still on his throne, and he will bring his plans to completion in his time!


Father, thank you for reminding us that we are living “in-between” – between the beginning of your kingdom’s work in this world and its fulfillment. Help us not to be deceived into thinking that we can bring your kingdom by adopting the world’s methods and priorities. Remind us each day to stay grounded in your Word. Help us to not simply know the Word, but to do it. To be able to do what your Word says, we need to understand your purposes. Most of all, we need to hear you speak to us. Guide us each day in your ways, that we might bring glory and honor to you. Amen.


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