James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,Luke 3:1-4:15
PREPARATION FOR PUBLIC MINISTRY
MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
John the Baptist’s ministry is the first event here (Luke 3:1-22). Also he quotes more fully from Isaiah 40 than the preceding evangelists, and for the purpose of giving the words, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” The quotation is from the Septuagint, and is in harmony with Luke’s objective towards the verses, as he distinctively shows that the grace of God in Christ is for all people who will accept it, and not for Israel only. We have met with John’s preaching in the other evangelists, but not with the allusion to the different classes (Luke 3:10-14). The baptism of Jesus by Luke and its significance, have been spoken of in Matthew 3, but Luke alone tells us that the Lord was “praying” as heaven was opened unto Him (Luke 3:21). Was He supplicating His Father with reference to Isaiah 62, now about to be fulfilled?
GENEALOGY OF MARY (Luke 3:23-38)
We say “Mary” because that is the generally accepted view of the differences between this list of names and that in Matthew. The latter gives us the genealogy of Joseph saying, “Jacob begat” him (Matthew 1:16). In what sense, therefore, can Luke call him “the son of Heli” (Luke 3:23)? The answer of some is, that inasmuch as the latter does not say Heli begat Joseph the inference is that he was as husband of Mary the son-in-law of Heli, who was, like himself, a descendant of David. That he should in such a case be called “of Heli” is in accordance with Jewish usage (1 Samuel 24:16).
THE TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (Luke 4:1-13) is dealt with in Matthew as the supreme testing through which He, as man, must pass in preparation for His great work. The moral order of the temptations as Luke presents them is observable, “corresponding to those by which Eve was seduced” (Genesis 3:6), and which, according to
1 John 2:16, is a kind of general principle with Satan in dealing with humanity. Christ resisted the temptations in obedience to the Word of God. Our first parents knew the Word of God and quoted it, but did not obey it. What a contrast! “Had they kept the Word it would have kept them” (Psalm 17:4).
Stuart referring to the moral order of the temptations as Luke gives them, calls attention to the fact that it was not the actual order in which Satan presented them and which is given by Matthew, who says the temptation on the pinnacle was the second and not the third. Of course there was a Divine reason for these differing records, and we have here evidence of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the writing of the four Gospels. Stuart also suggests that the temptation illustrates how much may go on in the world without man’s knowledge. Who saw our Lord on the pinnacle of the temple, and Satan with Him, and yet how momentous to the world was the event!
RETURN TO GALILEE (Luke 4:14-15) is notable from the fact that he did so “in the power of the Spirit.” The reference is to the Holy Spirit of which He was “full,” and by Whom, as we see in the next lesson, He was now anointed. It is instructive that all Jesus is said to have done after this anointing, was done not in the power of His natural spirit, but the Holy Spirit. What a lesson for His disciples! If he were anointed, may not we, and if He required it for service, how much more we?
1. What are the leading events in this lesson?
2. What is the significance of Luke’s quotation from Isaiah?
3. What special feature is mentioned by Luke in connection with the baptism of Jesus?
4. How is the genealogy in Luke explained in comparison with Matthew?
5. What distinction is mentioned as to the order of the temptations in Matthew and Luke?
6. Can you quote Psalm 17:4 from memory?
7. What practical truth is taught in the closing verses of this lesson?