Lectionary Reflection for the First Sunday in Lent – plus a giveaway

LukeThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 4:1-13:

Scripture narrative presents three direct temptations by Satan; these, in canonical order, are the temptation of Adam and Eve, the temptation of Job, and the temptation of Jesus here in Luke’s Gospel. Unsurprisingly, these three episodes have been connected by Christian exegetes down through the centuries in various ways, but especially by seeing the resistance of temptation by Jesus as a paradigmatic reversal of the yielding of Even and Adam in the garden of Eden.

That this connection is invited by Luke, arranging and concluding his genealogy of Jesus as he does with Jesus as “the son of Adam, the song of God” (3:38), has seemed to much of Christian tradition an obvious element of his narrative design. Thus, Ambrose speaks for many: “There is here an Adam typology and a Genesis background to this story: as Adam is cast out of paradise into the wilderness, so Christ, the new Adam, goes into the wilderness on our behalf, then to come forth from that temptation to lead us back to paradise” (Exposition of Luke 4.7). . . .

What seems to emerge in these Lukan passages is a strong reminder that in biblical narrative in general there is a cosmic agōn or struggle taking place for the human soul (Calvin 1972: 1.135). In the temptation of Jesus, most fully recounted by Matthew and Luke (Mark mentions it only briefly and John not at all), it is as though the fundamental antagonist to God and his creation has been exposed in a face-to-face encounter with the now revealed protagonist of salvation history, the Redeemer, toward whom all the other narratives and prophecies of scripture had long been pointing.

This too is a part of the reader’s growing sense of the “fullness of time” now appearing. That this confrontation was not an accidental encounter but rather a deliberate showdown willed by the divine author of salvation history is indicated by Luke’s beginning his narrative of this event by specifying that Jesus, newly signified from heaven as God’s anointed, was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and that it was the Spirit who “led [him] . . . into the wilderness” (4:1). . . .

For the church historically spiritual conflict with the adversary has made Jesus’s example of defense by a deep sense of scripture an important principle. For Luke himself, it is the distinctive question of Jesus’s identity that takes precedence, however. Luke wants us to see that the baptized Chris, divinely ordained to his ministry of preaching the salvation of God, is uniquely, unequivocally God’s Anointed One.

Jesus, though echoing the prophets, is not their equivalent. He is rather the Son of God who alone overcame by the word of his power. When the archtempter offered just such temptations as those to which we ourselves fall heir, Jesus answered Satan in each case with a definitive word of God, citing, as in the third instance (which is a summary of Deut. 6:16), just the pertinent divine word to answer a distorted citation of that word.


©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


Cross-Shattered ChristFor your Lenten reading, we recommend Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Stanley Hauerwas.

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas offers a moving reflection on Jesus’s final words from the cross. This small and powerful volume is theologically poignant and steeped in humility. Hauerwas’s pithy discussion opens our ears to the language of Scripture while opening our hearts to a truer vision of God. Touching in original and surprising ways on subjects such as praying the Psalms and our need to be remembered by Jesus, Hauerwas emphasizes Christ’s humanity as well as the sheer “differentness” of God.

Ideal for personal devotion during Lent and throughout the year, Cross-Shattered Christ offers a transformative reading of Jesus’s words that goes directly to the heart of the gospel. Now in paperback.

We are giving away 5 copies of this book.


  1. George Mearns says:

    Sounds like an interesting book.