Biblical References: Luke 3-4:13
When he was about 30, Jesus began his public ministry. This was inaugurated by his baptism and 40 days of solitude in the wilderness, during which he was tempted by Satan. Only after this did he return home and begin to preach.
1. Why do you suppose so little is said about the first 30 years of Jesus’ life? Were these years unimportant? Does it seem a waste of time for Jesus (Immanuel, “God With Us”) to spend the vast majority of his life as a carpenter in an otherwise obscure town in Galilee?
2. John was preaching a baptism of repentance. If Jesus was without sin, why would he come to John to be baptized?
3. Jesus (the Greek form of the name Joshua) was baptized in the Jordan, after which he spent a period of 40 days in the wilderness. Why do you suppose Luke highlights these parallels with the Old Testament story of Joshua, Israel, the Jordan river and the 40 years in the wilderness?
4. Of all the animals that could have been used, why did the Holy Spirit descend in bodily form as a dove? In my culture, a dove symbolizes peace. Think Biblically, however. What was the significance of a dove in Jewish culture at the time of Jesus? How does this enrich the story?
5. During the ministry of Jesus on earth, what were the occasions when God the Father spoke from heaven? How do you think Jesus felt when he heard the Father speak? If God were to speak from heaven to us today, what do you think he would say to us?
6. John preached a stern message of repentance and even rebuke. How is it that he was able to attract a crowd? How does one name sin so directly and yet not drive people away?
7. What seems to be the issue that Satan is most interested in when he tempts Jesus? How were Jesus’ temptations different from our temptations? How were they similar? Do you think Jesus was at all tempted by the common vices that seem to plague so many of us today?
8. I have frequently heard people stress the fact that Jesus quoted scripture as he resisted Satan’s temptations. Less frequently mentioned is the fact that Jesus was also fasting! Why do we talk so little of fasting, given that it is so frequently modeled in the Bible? Does fasting from food help us to resist temptation? If not, why did Moses, David, Jesus, Paul, and so many others in the Bible fast?
9. What is the main lesson we ought to learn from the story of Jesus’ temptations?