Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reflections on Luke 4

My reading in Luke's Gospel has brought me to chapter 4. Obviously I could be reading it a lot quicker, but I'm listening to a sermon series on it as a supplement, too (and I don't necessarily want to listen to as many sermons as it takes to cover three or four chapters every day!).

Luke 4 shows, among other things, what Jesus came to do - obey His Father, proclaim His Father's Word, and heal some of the sick (not all). Several things jumped out at me from this chapter.

First, Jesus Christ perfectly obeyed His Father.
In verses 1-13, we have the account of Satan's temptation of Jesus. The Lord Jesus, unlike Adam, resisted temptation and obeyed His Father. By doing so, Jesus is known as the "Second Adam" or the "Last Adam." Adam was the federal head (or representative) of all mankind - he represented each and every one of us in the garden of Eden. Christ is the federal head (or representative) of His people - He represents each and every person who will ever repent of their sins and trust Him alone for their salvation.

Just as Satan tempted Adam, he also tempted Christ. (By the way, I'm not forgetting about Eve. She was tempted, too, but Adam was the responsible party in God's economy.) The most important difference is the result - Adam disobeyed, failed the test, and was banished from the garden. Jesus, on the other hand, obeyed, passed the test, and restored paradise lost.

This episode points to the fact that Jesus perfectly obeyed His Father for every moment of His life. Perfection is what God demands from us because He is righteous, and none of us - "no not one" - can give it to Him. We fall dreadfully short of God's standard. But here's the good news - the Lord Jesus Christ has obeyed in our place! He has satisfied the Father's demand for perfection and lived the life we can't live - all because of His grace, mercy, and love. Then, when we believe in Christ, that perfect righteousness of His is imputed to us.

Second, Jesus Christ was faithful in attendance at worship.
"And He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day" (verse 16). Did you catch it? The little phrase "as was His custom" jumped out at me several years ago. The point being made is that Jesus was a regular synagogue attender. He attended worship services on a consistent basis because he was a faithful Jew. He didn't "forsake assembling together" with the people of God. When the Sabbath came, He was there.

Think about that! The synagogues of Jesus' time weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. They were full of sinful people, many of whom had the same attitudes and actions that the Lord condemned in the Gospels. I'm certain that none of the synagogues did things exactly the way Jesus knew they should. Their doctrine wasn't perfect. They had misunderstandings about the personality and the role of the Messiah in Israel's history. Not only that, but the synagogue system wasn't commanded in the Old Testament - it developed during the periods when the Jews were exiled away from Israel.

So why did He go every week? Because that's what people who are faithful to God do. They regularly gather together with other believers in order to sing, pray, give, read and obey Scripture, and minister to one another. He went every week because He perfectly obeyed His Father (see verses 1-13).

There's a great lesson in that little phrase "as was His custom." Everything said about the synagogue of Jesus' day applies to the church of today. Why should we go every week? Because God commands it and it's what people faithful to God do. If "as was His custom" was good enough for Christ, it should be good enough for us, too.

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