Recently I preached a Sermon based on Luke 4.19-30 and the visit of Jesus to the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth (synagogue video).
“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:28–30 NIV11)
Where did his bravery come from? In Luke chapters 3 and 4 I can see four sources of his bravery. If we can understand them, they can help us with our growth in spiritual courage. The first one is God’s approval, the second is:
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1–13 NIV11)
Jesus is taken to the same place where John heard the word – the desert. For John this was the place of hearing the word of God, for Jesus it is the place where he hears the words of the devil! His convictions are being tested in the most brutal of conditions and while he is in a weakened state.
“The Christian discipline of fighting temptation is not about self-hatred, or rejecting parts of our God-given humanity. It is about celebrating God’s gift of full humanity and, like someone learning a musical instrument, discovering how to tune it and play it to its best possibility.” Wright, N.T. Luke for Everyone. 4. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.
We are refined in order to create the greatest beauty for God. Accept his refining and you will see greater beauty in your life and thus greater courage.
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God bless, Malcolm
PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John