Verse 4 “And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven”
THE FORMING INTO CAKES
We come now to the section of our chapter where the same ingredients that were brought in their holy simplicity to God, are now used to make cakes and wafers. This was done, not by means of the fire which burned on Israel’s altar, but by the fire the offerer kindled. Privately the offering was prepared, and the man himself felt the heat of the fire by which he cooked a meal for God.
Note the words that begin the section- “and if thou”. This portion is unique amongst the chapters on the offerings in using this expression. It serves to give an intensely personal aspect to the paragraph. The Israelite who sought to comply with these requirements did so with a deep sense of personal commitment. In so doing, he was foreshadowing in a very faint way the utter devotion of Christ to His Father’s interests, which He was determined to further in every way. The Lord Jesus did not come to delegate responsibility to others, but to personally undertake to satisfy the demands of God upon Him. Significantly, Luke begins his account of the Lord’s ministry after His baptism with the words “Jesus Himself”, Luke 3:23. He ends his account with a double use of the expression on the road to Emmaus and in the upper room, Luke 24:15, 36. Luke wants to assure us that the one that emerged triumphant from His conflict with the Devil in the wilderness, is the selfsame one that emerged from the final conflict at Calvary having gained the ultimate victory. All that He was in His holy life has been carried over into resurrection conditions, and indeed into heaven itself, for the epistle to the Hebrews has a seven-fold mention of the name Jesus, the one who was here with us, who is now in heaven for us.
“I HAVE NOT A CAKE”
In 1 Kings 17 the prophet Elijah was sent to Zarephath to live with a widow woman there. When he met her at the gate of the city he asked her for a morsel of bread. Her confession was “I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die”. How like many of us she was! Flour and oil, but no cake. Content to know that Jesus has lived on the earth and died upon the cross for our sins. Content to know that He is Christ, the anointed one, the long-promised Messiah. But not interested in progressing further, to see and feel what being on the earth amidst the unbelief of men entailed for Him. The apostle Paul called this fellow-feeling with Christ the fellowship of His sufferings, Philippians 3:10, and filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, Colossians 1:24. The apostle Peter wrote to urge his readers not to think it strange that fiery trials were their experience, but rather to rejoice, because they thereby were partakers of Christ’s sufferings, 1 Peter 4:12,13. The apostle John told his readers not to marvel if the world hated them, 1 John 3:13. No doubt as he wrote this the words of the Lord Jesus came to his mind, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you”, John 15:18. These are not experiences that other believers can have for us, for they are intensely personal, as the “if thou” has reminded us. May the Lord grant that we increasingly desire to be identified with the rejected Man of Sorrows, that we may know His sufferings not just in an academic, theoretical sense, but in felt reality.
Of course it goes without saying that we cannot share the penal sufferings of Christ, when He suffered for sins, the Just One on behalf of the unjust ones, in order that He might bring us to God, 1 Peter 3:18. Peter knew this full well, for he had vowed to follow the Lord Jesus into death, and was told that he could not follow Him then, but he would follow afterwards, John 13:36. In other words, he could not share in the unique sufferings of the cross, but he would, like James, share in Christ’s martyr sufferings.
The fire that cooked the cakes, then, represent those sufferings and trials which came upon Christ as a sinless man oppressed by all that was contrary to His holy nature, and aggressively attacked by those who hated Him in Israel, and by Satan himself.
THE VARIED WAYS OF COOKING
There are three ways in which the cakes were cooked. First there is the meal offering baken in the oven. Now we must not think of the oven as a piece of equipment as with us today. The Lord Jesus spoke of the “grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven”, Matthew 6:30. He was referring to the oven of the traveller, which consisted simply of a hole in the ground lined with clay. This would be filled with dry grass, which was then set alight to burn with a fierce heat, making the clay lining very hot. The cake mixture would then be placed in this hot environment, a lid placed over it, and, out of sight, the cakes would be left to slowly cook.
Then there was the meal offering baken in a pan, or as the margin renders it, on a flat plate. This was completely open to view, and represents those sufferings that were inflicted on the Lord Jesus publicly. Luke records that “the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him”, Luke 4:20. The third variation was a meat offering baken in a a fryingpan. When the Jewish translators of the Hebrew Old Testament came to render the phrase “baken in the fryingpan”, they wrote “from the hearth”, indicating they thought it was especially a domestic situation. Just as a fryingpan is at one and the same time open to view, but also partly enclosed, so we have presented to us here situations where the Lord was within four walls, but still open to view to those within.
It is suggested therefore that we have here in these three methods of cooking, three ways in which the Lord Jesus was caused to suffer during His public ministry. There was the traveller’s oven, suggesting His sufferings on His own in the wilderness as the Devil attacked him. There was the public sufferings, open for all to see, representing the sufferings endured in the synagogues. Then the sufferings that were partly hidden, partly open, “on the hearth”, in the homes of various ones in Israel. A large part of Luke’s gospel is taken up with these aspects.
“It shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.”
BAKEN IN THE OVEN
As soon as He emerged from the waters of baptism, the Lord Jesus met with the full force of the Devil’s onslaughts in the wilderness. Yet as a result of this fiery trial, there is produced that which is typified by the cakes and wafers baken in the oven. We need to examine the details a little, however, before we think of the Lord’s temptation.
We notice that the cakes and wafers are both unleavened; that the cakes are mingled with oil, whereas the wafers are anointed; that the cakes are pierced cakes, (such is the literal rendering), no doubt something like crumpets, whereas the word wafer is the word empty, suggesting that more air has been incorporated into the dough to make a flaky pastry. These things surely must have significance, or otherwise why are the details given?
Five things become evident about the Lord Jesus as a result of His wilderness temptation:
First, that He is totally without sin, for leaven always signifies sin.
Second, that His holy nature and the person of the Holy Spirit are perfectly in harmony, for the flour is mingled with the oil.
Third, that the temptation caused Him real suffering, for the cakes are pierced cakes.
Fourth, that the wafers are empty, telling us of one who made Himself of no reputation.
Fifth, that the wafers are anointed, reminding us that He is the Messiah.
As we consider the temptation of the Lord Jesus as Luke records it, these truths will become evident. We first of all notice that Luke inserts the genealogy of the Lord Jesus in between the baptism of Christ and His temptation. He is not emphasising in His gospel that the Lord Jesus has the sole right to the throne of Israel. That is Matthew’s object when he puts the genealogy of Christ first in his record, immediately after stating that Jesus Christ is the son of Abraham and son of David. Luke is underlining the true manhood of the Saviour, and therefore before He embarks upon His public ministry among men, that must be made clear. But it must also be made clear before He is tempted, too, so that we realise that it is a real man that is being tempted, or as the writer to the Hebrews puts it, “He was in all points tempted as we are”, Hebrews 4:15. So it is that Luke records the three temptations at the end of the forty days in the order in which they affect body, soul, spirit, the constituent parts of man. He also ends his account with the temple-scene, for Luke prepares us in his gospel for the priestly ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and as such is in marked contrast to the priests in the earthly temple who sought advancement and prestige before all else.
Luke also records the genealogy of Christ in the reverse order to Matthew. He starts with Christ and ends with Adam as son of God; that is, as one whose humanity was the result of God’s intervention, for Adam had been directly created by God, and this is true of no other man. This also serves to enhance in our minds the dignity of Adam fresh from the hand of God, with no sin marring his communion with God, nor spoiling his ability to represent God to the rest of creation. Yet he failed; can another man succeed?
With these ideas in our minds of man’s original dignity, and his special place in the plan of God as His representative, we are introduced to the temptation of the “second man”, the “Last Adam”, the Lord Jesus. Will He succumb to temptation as the first man did? If He does, then He will show Himself unfit to die on the cross for other’s sins- that is the tremendous issue that is involved here. He will show Himself unfit also to be called the Last Adam, the final head of men, for a sin-prone man cannot bring in finality.
THE CHARACTER OF TEMPTATION
But what is temptation? The word translated temptation in itself has no moral connotations. It is a word taken from the world of the metal refiner. He applies the trial of the fire to the metal in his crucible in order to allow the dross to rise to the surface, and then be skimmed off. When the refiner can see his own face reflected in the surface of the molten metal, with no distortion caused by the presence of impurities, he knows that his work is done, and he now possesses metal that is wholly pure. Let us suppose a refiner has done this, but then is contacted by one of his most critical customers wishing to buy his metal. To assure his client of the purity of the metal he has for sale, the refiner arranges to heat up the metal again, this time in the presence of the merchant. He is able to demonstrate conclusively that the metal is indeed pure. Heat it as much as he is able, there arises no dross to the surface. The proof is in the testing by fire.
So it was with the temptation of the Lord Jesus. Let the fire be heated as hot as it can be, no dross rises to the surface, for the manhood of Christ is wholly pure.
A FALSE VIEW OF TEMPTATION
We must not think that is necessary for Christ to be able to sin before He can be genuinely tempted. This misconception arises because of a faulty idea of temptation. Because too often we fall when tempted, we tend automatically to associate temptation with sinning. But as we have seen, the word has no moral import of itself; it simply means to test.
The nature of Christ as a man is real, but is of a different order to Adam’s. He is a “different sort of man”, Acts 8:34 margin. When asked about such a man, the evangelist Philip spoke of Jesus, Acts 8:35. It is not only that He could not sin because He is God manifest in flesh. It is also that He cannot sin because the nature He possesses as man cannot sin. It is impossible for Deity to combine with Itself anything that is capable of sinning.
It is sometimes objected that if the Lord Jesus was unable to sin, He is also unable to sympathise with His people when they are tempted to sin. Again, this arises because of a misconception. There are two passages in the epistle to the Hebrews which bear upon this. In Hebrews 2:18 the writer assures us that “in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted”. Note there is nothing here about sympathising with those tempted, only that He is able to succour (come to the aid of) them that are in the process of being tempted. Just as when the woman of Canaan said “Lord, help me”, in Matthew 15:25, so believers may cry to their Heavenly Priest for His help, for the word help is the same as succour. He does not need to be able to sin to provide this help. He does know, however, the pressure that temptation brings, for He suffered, being tempted, and He can help accordingly. If we could imagine pressure being brought to bear upon an object that had infinite capacity to withstand the pressure, we would not say that the object felt no pressure because it did not give way. Rather, we would say that because it did not give way, the object has passed through infinite testing. So it is with Christ. He had infinite capacity to withstand temptation, and therefore has felt infinite pressure, and therefore knows the lesser pressure His people are under.
The second passage is in Hebrews 4:15 which reads “For we have not a High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”. The words “which cannot be touched with the feeling of” may be translated “unable to sympathise with”, the idea being to be affected similarly, to have compassion upon. Note again that the reference is to infirmities that are sympathised with. As the Lord Jesus moved amongst men, He was full of compassion for them in their distress, and He “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses”, Matthew 8:17. He took upon Himself sympathetically the load of grief that others carried because of their infirmities. In this way He was touched with the feeling of their infirmities when down here. He has taken that sympathetic attitude to heaven, however, for He is the same today, as He was “yesterday”, Hebrews 13:8. So it is that He is still touched by the feelings associated with infirmities, even though He had none.
TEMPTED, BUT SINLESS
What of the reference to being in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin? Thinking of the first phrase first, this simply indicates that when the Lord Jesus was tempted it was by means of the same temptations that come upon the rest of men; they were not temptations unique to Himself. Moreover, He was tempted in every area, in all points; He was not exempt from some kinds of temptation because He is the Son of God, and therefore cannot sympathise in that department.
The phrase “yet without sin” has led some to suggest that there was a possibility of Christ sinning, yet in the event it did not happen. This is a wholly wrong interpretation, encouraged by the insertion of the word yet in the Authorised Version, which is not found in the Textus Receptus. The expression is parallel to that of Hebrews 9:28, which speaks of the Lord Jesus appearing the second time “without sin unto salvation”. Just as the work of dealing with sin has been wholly done by Christ at His first coming, so that when He comes again it will not be to reopen that question, so the temptation of Christ showed that He had no association with sin; it held no attraction for Him at all. He does not sympathise with His people’s sin, because He cannot, but He does sympathise with their infirmities, (which the Devil may use to tempt us to sin), because He has passed through this world feeling for people as no-one else could. When it is a question of God’s people actually sinning under temptation, then the remedy is the advocacy of Christ, on the basis of His work of propitiation at Calvary, 1 John 2:1,2.
TEMPTATION IN THE WILDERNESS
We now return to Luke’s record of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, with its five results. Luke is writing his gospel so that we may realise that the Lord Jesus is a real, genuine man, a kinsman redeemer who has come to rescue us from our bondage and bankruptcy. Accordingly, he introduces the temptation scene by telling us that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit”, and that He was “led of the Spirit” into the wilderness. Both these phrases may be applied to believers as well, as indeed they are in Ephesians 5:18; Romans 8:14. We see in this the way in which the Lord Jesus was fully in harmony with the Spirit of God, or in the language of the meal offering, the flour is mingled with the oil. His footsteps were constantly guided by the Spirit in ways which pleased the Father, and His life was wholly given over to the control of the Spirit. The influences of the world around Him found no place in His heart. The murmuring, self-seeking, and provoking of God which marks humanity, is alien to Him. No wonder the Tempter was baffled, and left the scene defeated, for a new sort of man had been introduced into the world, who was heavenly-minded, and for whom the things that men strive for had no attraction. In this He is the pattern for God’s people, who have “put off the old man”, (likeness of character to Adam the sinner) and have “put on the new man, (likeness to Christ the man after God’s own heart), “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”, Ephesians 4:22,23. The measure in which this is true in practice is the measure in which we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, as we allow the Spirit of God to affect our attitudes, Romans 12:1,2.
TEMPTATION TO DISSATISFACTION
The first of the three temptations brought to bear upon the Lord at the end of the forty days in the wilderness was to do with an everyday, ordinary thing, the need for food. This is basic to man, and God from the beginning made provision for man on the earth to be supplied with food, “filling our hearts with food and gladness”, Acts 14:17. Despite this provision, however, Adam had sinned against God in connection with the fruit of the trees of the garden, so that what should have been cause for thanksgiving, became cause for sinning.
Not so the second man, however, despite being destitute of food. Despite, too, the fact that in a wilderness experience Israel had been supplied for forty years, (not forty days), with food, yet He, the Son of God, was hungry, yet there was no complaint in His heart or on His lips. With devilishly impeccable timing the Tempter comes at this point of extreme hunger, and suggests that if His claim to Sonship is genuine He will be able to turn stones into bread. How subtle the enemy is. There is no doubt that the Son of God who soon will turn water into wine, can turn stones into bread. But He will only do it in obedience to His Father. If there is no word proceeding out of the mouth of God to that effect, then He will not do it. Like Job He could say “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food”, Job 23:12.
Note that the Lord Jesus prefaces His quotation of Scripture with “It is written”, not “Verily I say unto you”. He deals with the Devil in the same way that every believer may, by recourse to the authority and guidance of the Scriptures, coming as they do direct from God with ever-living power and relevance. Written, but still the spoken words of God, their value undiminished despite the passage of time. His was no secret weapon, only available to Himself, but the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which all believers are exhorted to receive for their use, Ephesians 6:17.
Thus the very tactic which succeeded with the first man, (for the question “Hath God said”, was an attack upon the word of God), and caused him to sin, utterly fails with the second man, and shows that the meal offering is wholly unleavened, leaven being a symbol of sin in its evil working.
Now in all these things the Lord Jesus is the supreme example for His people, so that with settled confidence in God’s word written, and giving it priority over all else, they may repel the attacks of the enemy, who still comes with his evil suggestions, seeking to divert the believer from the path of obedience to God’s word.
TEMPTATION TO DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS
Having miserably failed to find any dissatisfaction in the heart of Christ, the Devil now seeks to find double-mindedness. If He is Son of God, then He is heir of all things, including the kingdoms of the world. The Old Testament makes it clear, however, that sufferings precede the glories, 1 Peter 1:11. Why not bypass the sufferings? After all, Adam, a son of God, was given universal dominion without suffering beforehand, why cannot the Son of God likewise? The reasons why He cannot are several, but the major one here is that the price is too high for Him to pay. The Lord Jesus will only receive universal dominion direct from His Father. The kingdoms that Satan is offering Him are the past and present kingdoms of this world, full of corruption, intrigue, and self-seeking. No matter how splendid a show the Devil puts on, as with devilish skill he causes even past kingdoms to come into view, (the reference to “a moment of time” suggests this, as well as the fact that at that time there was only one “kingdom of the world”, the Roman Empire, Luke 2:1), Christ is not interested. The dazzling splendours of all the world-kingdoms that have ever been, did they hold any attraction for Him? Not at all. His kingdom is based on righteousness and holiness, and He will be exalted to the highest place in that kingdom because He humbled Himself, Luke 14:11. Humbled Himself, moreover, in obedience to His Father, not by bowing to the Devil!
The wafers are empty! Yet He who is empty of all the self-seeking which marks men as they strive for power and position in the world, has been anointed as God’s Messiah. And He will yet declare to men the decree that has already been issued concerning Him, “Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”, Psalm 2:7,8.
With a powerful display of His authority as He disdains the Devil’s offer, Christ says “Get thee behind Me, Satan”. Far from worshipping before the Devil, the Lord Jesus banishes him to a place behind, ensuring that he does not stand between Himself and the God He worships.
Here is yet another reminder of the real manhood of the Lord Jesus, for He is a worshipper of God, as well as being equal with God! Both of those statements may be supported by Scripture, which never contradicts itself, but we with finite minds are unable to reconcile them, but simply and humbly accept them. The Lord Jesus could speak to the woman of Samaria of worship, assuring her that an hour was coming when true worshippers would worship the Father, John 4:23. Yet He adds “And now is”, thus indicating that as He had sat on the well-side, true worship had ascended from Him to His Father.
As He is brought into the “heat of the oven” in this way, the temptation only serves to bring out the fact that the Lord Jesus is the true Messiah, heir to the kingdoms of the world- the cakes are anointed with oil. In fact whereas the word for pour in Leviticus 2:1,6 is the word used for the anointing of Aaron as priest, the word anoint in verse 4 is used of the anointing of David as king.
The one who will do what Christ here refuses to do, is called the Antichrist, the one whose anointing is false. He will be prepared to worship the Devil in order to gain his dominion, see Daniel 11:36-39; Revelation 13:2.
TEMPTATION TO DOUBT
The Devil is not finished yet, for now he brings the Lord to Jerusalem. Has He spoken of worship? then He shall be taken to the Temple! Has He quoted Scripture to refute him? then the Devil will arm himself with a Messianic psalm, and seek to support his suggestions thereby. Had not God given a promise to the Messiah that the angels would protect Him, even to extent of preventing Him from dashing His foot against a stone? Why not glorify His Father by showing that His promise could be relied on? Had not the prophet spoken of the Lord coming suddenly to His temple, Malachi 3:1?
These temptations found no response in Christ, for as He Himself quotes, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”, Deuteronomy 6:16, and this statement was not simply a text the Lord Jesus knew, but a word from His God to be obeyed. The word of God is to be trusted wholly; anything less than this is equivalent to putting God on trial, to test His integrity and trustworthiness. This the Lord Jesus refuses to do. Everything God says in His word is true because He said it. It does not need to be put to the test to be proved true, for that is the same as putting God to the test, since He has magnified His word above all His name, Psalm 138:2.
Luke has reserved the temple temptation as a climax, presenting us with a contrast to the corrupt Levitical priesthood, seeing his gospel introduces us to one who is perfectly fitted to minister in the heavenly sanctuary. He will not enter there by any dramatic display, but rather by going to the cross, having chosen not to avail Himself of angelic intervention, Matthew 26:53.
We must not underestimate the pressure that Christ was under in these temptations, for “He suffered, being tempted”, Hebrews 2:18. The cakes are pierced cakes, telling of that which is hurtful and penetrating.
Think of Joseph in the prison. The word of God had come to him in a dream that he would have dominion, yet he was in a dungeon! The psalmist says “Whose feet they hurt with fetters: He was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: The word of the Lord tried him”, Psalm 105:18,19. The word concerning greatness severely tried him, until the moment of his release. Meanwhile, as the marginal rendering is, “The iron entered his soul”.
Think of Mary at the foot of the cross. Over thirty years before it had been prophesied that a sword would pierce through her own soul also, Luke 2:35. And so it came to pass, as she saw her Son in the agonies of crucifixion.
So also with the Lord Jesus, but in the most intense way. Israel, God’s son-nation, fed for forty years, whereas He, God’s Only-begotten Son, hungry! Dependant on God for thirty years, yet now the suggestion is that He needs to act for Himself to supply His need- as if His Father cannot be relied on! The very idea that He would contemplate worshipping the Devil! That He would even think of putting God to the test! All these things were iron in His soul.
Traumatic as the wilderness experience was for the Lord Jesus, He emerged victorious, having routed the enemy, who departed from him for a season, or “until a season”, meaning that time when He would again attack at the cross, when the prince of this world would come, and have nothing in Him to rejoice in, John 15:30.
THE CAKES FROM THE OVEN
Luke has now shown us the five aspects of the oven cakes and wafers we listed at the outset. There is no sin in Christ- the flour is unleavened. Temptation causes Him suffering- the cakes are pierced cakes. He is totally free of self-seeking- the wafers are empty. He retains His integrity as God’s Messiah- the wafers are anointed with oil. His life is lived in perfect harmony with the Spirit of God- the fine flour is mingled with oil. He who was full of the Spirit as He returned from Jordan to undergo the temptation experience, returns from that experience in the power of the Spirit. He has withstood in the evil day, and having done all, still stands, Ephesians 6:13.
Verse 5 “And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour, mingled with oil. Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering.”
TEMPTATION IN THE PUBLIC PLACE
The pan was a flat plate or griddle, on which dough could be placed and heated in full view. The word used for pan indicates that it was a thin plate, thus telling us that the heat felt by the dough was very intense. This would remind us of the way Luke presents to us the Lord Jesus tried by the circumstances He found prevailing in the synagogues into which He went. We read that in the synagogue at Nazareth, “the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him”. And in Luke 6:7 “the scribes and Pharisees watched Him” in the synagogue. In other words, He was in a “flat plate” situation, in full view, and under intense scrutiny.
NAZARETH, WHERE HE WAS BROUGHT UP
He had come to Nazareth “where He was brought up”, Luke 4:16. We have been told previously by Luke that in Nazareth He increased in favour with God and man, Luke 2:52. Accordingly, He was asked to teach in the synagogue, for they not only knew Him as a person, but He had been teaching for several months with great crowds following. Where He was brought up reminds us of the unleavened flour of the lowly manhood of Christ as He grew up in the town. They rejected Him after His discourse in the synagogue, not because of who He was, but because of what He said. No character-flaw had manifested itself during His years amongst them. It was not that He had hidden Himself away, for He was the village carpenter- everyone knew Him. Luke has already told us in verse 14 that Jesus had returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. This return is not from the wilderness temptation, but rather is a return to the preaching in Galilee which John records in John 1:43-12 and also 4:43-54. His every move was in the power of the Spirit, or in the language of Leviticus 2, “mingled with oil”. There was no part of Christ’s life that was not in harmony with the Spirit of God. No wonder the apostle Paul calls the Spirit of God the Spirit of Christ in Romans 8:9.
The cakes were to be parted in pieces, and this is what is happening in Luke 4:14,15, as through all the region of Galilee there goes out a fame of Him, and as He teaches in their synagogues. He is making Himself available, distributing the blessing of His presence amongst the people, the cakes are “being parted in pieces”, with the expectation that the people would “pour oil upon them” or, in other words, receive His Messiahship. Alas, it was in Galilee, (where most of His mighty works were done), that He was rejected, despite the fact that they recognised that His word was with power, 4:32. And this applied to Nazareth too, for instead of owning Him as Messiah, they tried to kill Him. They took Him to the brow of the hill whereon “their” city was built, to cast Him down headlong, but He passing through the midst of them went “His” way, for He was confident not only of His Messiahship, but also that He was destined to die in only one place. He had refused to put God to the test by flinging Himself off the temple buildings, He would again refuse the temptation to demonstrate that His Father could save Him from death at the foot of their hill. It might be their city, even though He had lived there for thirty years, but He would go away from it His way. The cake was formed for the altar, and at no other place would Christ die except at Calvary.
THE SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM
There was further upset in the synagogue at Capernaum, but this time from a demon-possessed man. The words he uses show that he is under the control of a demon, for he uses the words “us” and “we”. Here is a direct confrontation with Satanic powers. How Christ’s spirit must have shrank from the presence of such evil! Uncleanness in the presence of unleavened bread”! The power of Satan confronting the power of the Spirit in Christ! He shows Himself the Anointed One, however, as He demonstrates that His claim to be able to deliver the captives is genuine.
How this incident must have tried Christ, as Satan’s emissaries were active even in a synagogue. In the place where the voice of God should be heard, the voice of a demon is heard. How low Israel must have sunk that such a thing should happen, and that one of their number should be enslaved by demonic forces. How sad for Him that man, who had been made in the image and likeness of God to represent and reproduce Him, is now in the grip of the enemy and doing his bidding.
THE MAN WITH THE WITHERED HAND
In Luke 6:6 we find Luke detailing another synagogue incident. Again, Christ is under intense scrutiny, (the cake is being heated on a flat plate), for “the scribes and Pharisees watched Him”. There He finds a man with his hand withered. Luke alone tells us it is his right hand, for as a doctor he would be interested in such things. It was king Jereboam who had sought to put forth his hand to lay hold of the man of God who prophesied against him, 1 Kings 13:4. His hand had been withered as a result, showing what God does to those to those who seek to oppose those who represent Him.
How much more severe is the penalty of opposing the Son of God, which is what the scribes and Pharisees were doing that day. The man was a visible token of their condition before God. That this is so is seen in the fact that these wicked men went out from the synagogue and plotted Christ’s overthrow. It is at this point that Matthew in his account inserts the words of Isaiah 42, opening with the words, “Behold My servant whom I uphold, Mine elect in whom My soul delighteth”. Men were seeking to drag Him down, His God was upholding Him. Men were voting Him down, whereas God describes Him as His elect. “I have put My Spirit upon Him” says God, so the cakes are anointed with oil; but it is God that has done it, not men.
THE WOMAN BOWED DOWN
The fourth synagogue encounter Luke details is found in 13:10-17. A woman with a spirit of infirmity was there, having suffered for eighteen years. This spirit does not seem to be an evil spirit possessing her, since there is no mention of the casting out of a demon, simply a healing of infirmity. Possibly the idea is that just as her body was bowed down, so her spirit was depressed too, for who would not be cast down in such a situation? It is true that Christ describes her as one whom Satan had bound, but this is true of all illness, for it comes about as a result of the fall, instigated by Satan. Paul describes the current condition of creation as one of bondage, Romans 8:21. Christ shows His power is superior to the Devil’s, for He is come to destroy (undo) the works of the Devil, 1 John 3:8.
In this incident we have the heat of direct confrontation, because although the ruler of the synagogue is said to be “answering”, he is responding to the Lord’s action. He does not dispute His power to heal, for the woman was standing before them all with straightened back, but objects to it being done on the sabbath day. The implication being that if Christ was acting by the Spirit of God He would not have done the miracle that day.
Christ’s reply to him is unanswerable. If a godly Israelite was free to loose his animal on the sabbath day so that the care of animals which the law of God required might be shown, how was it evil to unloose the poor woman from her bondage? Moreover, the animal had been bound for only a few hours, this woman had been bound for eighteen long years. Also, no man other that Christ could loose the woman, whereas anyone could loose an animal.
No doubt the woman is a illustration of the condition of Israel, (as the man with the withered hand had been), for she was not able to look into the face of the Saviour, and Israel had hid as it were their faces from Him, Isaiah 53:3. The previous paragraph in Luke has told us of the nation of Israel as a fig tree, cultivated by Christ, but yielding no fruit for God. Instead of cutting it down, the owner is persuaded to give it more time, which corresponds to the offer of the gospel to Israel in the book of Acts. Interestingly, eighteen years from Luke 13 brings us to Acts 15, and the conference in Jerusalem arranged because the Judaisers wanted to cling to the law, and an earthly covenant; in other words to ignore the consequences of Christ’s return to heaven.
Christ would soon be ascended, and it would only be as the nation, like Saul of Tarsus, was obedient to “the heavenly vision”, Acts 26:19, that they would be loosed from their long infirmity.
Verse 7 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.
TEMPTATION IN THE DOMESTIC SPHERE
We now come to that aspect of the meal-offering which presents to us the trials and sufferings experienced by the Lord Jesus in the homes to which He went. The Jewish translators of the Hebrew Old Testament rendered the phrase “baken in the fryingpan”, as “from the hearth”, indicating they thought it was especially a domestic situation that was in view. Just as a fryingpan is at one and the same time open to view but also partly enclosed, so here we have presented to us situations where the Lord was within four walls, but still open to view to those within.
We must remember that whereas “an Englishman’s home is his castle”, and he tends to resent intrusion, in the east it was not so. Passers-by were free to enter the home and sit on seats around the outside walls “uninvited but unchallenged”, as Edersheim puts it. This explains how, for instance, the un-named woman of Luke 7 could enter the house of Simon the Pharisee.
There are seven instances in Luke’s gospel where the Lord Jesus is found in the homes of others. In each case there was a situation which caused Him grief, (the fire of the hearth), but in each case, also, there was the “oil”, of the Holy Spirit’s power working through Him, and also some feature of His nature as a man, (the fine flour). Whereas the experiences caused pain to the Lord as He passed through them, they served to “form” Him into a suitable offering for presentation to God in sacrifice, and in so doing bring pleasure to His Father. They are not sufferings designed to discipline Him, for He was ever in harmony with the Father’s will, and never needed adjustment.
IN SIMON PETER’S HOUSE
We turn first to Luke 4:38,39, where the Lord arises out of the synagogue where He had rebuked an unclean demon and enters into Simon’s house. There He found Simon’s wife’s mother held in the grip of a fever which Dr. Luke describes with the medical term of his day as a great fever, in contrast to a little fever. Clearly she had been unable to go to the synagogue to serve God, nor was she able to serve the household, for she was held prisoner by her illness.
Now these things would weigh heavily on Christ’s sensitive spirit, not least because He would see in the fever the evidence of the way in which all of creation had been brought into the bondage of corruption because of the fall, Romans 8:16-23. This would be especially hurtful considering that when they had come from His hand at the beginning, all was “very good”. Whilst believers are a new creation in Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:17, nevertheless they are not exempt from the bondage of corruption, for they are still in the body, their last link with a fallen creation, and as such are hindered from serving God to their full capacity. This situation will be remedied when the Lord Jesus emerges from heaven in His Saviour character, to change their bodies so that they become like His own, free from all restriction, Philippians 3:20,21. The power by which He will do this is the same power by which He will yet exert to subdue all things unto Himself. The use of the word subdue reminding us that an opposing force is at work in creation now.
All these things would be in the mind of the Lord Jesus, and He gives a foretaste of His subduing power when He stands over the patient in a superior position and rebukes the fever, just as He had previously that day rebuked an unclean spirit. Immediately she was delivered from what held her, and ministered to the household in freedom. As the Second Man, the Last Adam, Christ has the ability and the right to deliver creation from bondage, that it may be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, Romans 8:21.
Romans 8:17 speaks, in the context of a groaning creation, of suffering with Him. So not only did the condition of things cause suffering to Christ when He was here, but also those who are linked to Him share these sufferings. As the man, or his wife, prepared the meal offering on the hearth at home prior to bringing it to the altar, he would feel the heat of the fire too. So the apostle speaks of believers suffering with Christ as they see all around them the effects that the fall has had upon a once-fair creation, and they suffer with Him in this respect.
There is another cause of suffering here for the Saviour, however, for He dealt with the sicknesses of men and women by taking them upon Himself. Isaiah prophesied that Jehovah’s Servant would bear our griefs and carry our sicknesses, Isaiah 53:4, and Matthew applies this to the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus, Matthew 8:18. He did so in terms, however, which leave room for the full realisation of the meaning of the words at Calvary.
Thus it was that as virtue went out from Christ to heal, there was also the transfer onto Himself of the suffering and pain the patient was experiencing. One of Luke’s aims is to present to us one who is perfectly qualified for His present priestly ministry by His sufferings down here. We may rest assured that He who took the burden of grief upon Himself when down here, is fully qualified to sympathise with His suffering people still.
IN THE HOUSE OF LEVI
Next Luke takes us to the house of Levi, otherwise known as Matthew, Luke 5:27-39. Matthew modestly does not tell us where the feast was, nor that it was a great one, but Luke does. What causes the Lord Jesus suffering here? Three things, all based on the people’s misunderstanding of Christianity as contrasted with Judaism. First, the murmuring of the Pharisees because of His concern for sinners. The emphasis in the Lord’s answer to their complaint is on His coming; it was expressly to call sinners in grace, but not at the expense of truth, for it was a call to repentance. Second, the failure to realise the great change that His arrival involved, as great a difference as there is between fasting and feasting. What joy should have filled men’s hearts when He was here, and how sad they should have been at His departure! Sadly, only a few rejoiced at His coming and lamented His departure, and this weighed heavily on the Saviour’s heart, as is demonstrated when He wept over Jerusalem. Even the mention of being taken from them in verse 35 would speak to Christ of the sorrows of His eventual rejection by the nation.
Third, the failure to appreciate that Christianity involves entirely new things; it is not a fresh patch on an old garment, which can never be a success, but rather a new creation altogether. The new wine of New Covenant blessings cannot be poured into an old wineskin, an unchanged, legal sinner. Nor will the natural man appreciate the new things Christ came to bring within reach, but will prefer to remain under law, rather than repent and then enter into Christian joy.
These attitudes caused great sorrow of heart to the Lord Jesus, especially after all He had taught and done in their midst, but as in the first instance in Peter’s house, the “flour” of a new sort of man is seen, with those who believe possessing a new nature in harmony with His. The “oil” too, is seen, as those changes which only the power of the Spirit can bring are spoken of. Only by the Spirit can true joy be known, and new vessels produced.
IN THE HOUSE OF SIMON THE PHARISEE
Next we are brought into the house of Simon the Pharisee, Luke 7:36-50. The Lord must have been greatly cheered by the actions of the un-named woman in this house, as she gave to Him the appreciation of a forgiven heart. What grief for the Saviour, however, when the common courtesies of the day are withheld by His host. Does Simon not know that what will be true of Jerusalem in a coming day, was true of his house there and then, for the Lord is there, Ezekiel 48:35?
Yet this was but an illustration of the response of the mass of the nation to His coming. They professed to be longing for Him to come, but when He did, there was no refreshment for His feet after the long journey from heaven, no welcoming kiss of affection, no anointing with oil because they recognised His Messiahship. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not”, John 1:11.
How different was the attitude of this un-named woman, who was not content to simply anoint Him with oil, but goes further, and breaks her alabaster box of precious ointment, as if to add the frankincense to the oil. She has captured somewhat of the pleasure which the Father has in Christ, and her fragrant oil reflects this. The Hebrew word for perfume box means literally, “house of the soul”, see Isaiah 3:20, margin. What the woman did has told what was in her soul. On the other hand, what Simon did not do has told us what was in his soul.
Despite this treatment from Simon, the “fine flour” is in evidence, as Christ pictures Himself as a creditor, with no obligation to discharge to sin. The “oil” is there too, as He assures the woman of the forgiveness of her sins, and her right to go in peace, with her past cleared from God’s memory. This assurance comes to believers now through the testimony of the Spirit, as Hebrews 10:15-17 indicates.
IN THE HOUSE OF JAIRUS
In Jairus’ house, He was laughed to scorn by the professional mourners when He declared that the maid only slept, Luke 8:41,42, 49-56. As far as they were concerned, the child was dead. But to Him, she only slept, and raising her from the dead was as easy to Him as awaking a child from sleep. How hurtful to His soul to doubt His ability to raise the dead, especially as He had done it more than once before, Luke 7:11-17; 7:22, for the word “dead” in the latter passage is in the plural. This is nothing less than an attack upon His Deity, for He had said previously that as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so He does the same, John 5:21. Any slight against His relationship with His Father is deeply felt by the Lord Jesus.
IN THE HOUSE OF MARTHA
We might think that in the house of Martha and Mary there would be no suffering for Him, Luke 10:38-42. Alas! there was, for Martha, over-occupied and over-anxious, gave vent to her annoyance that Mary was sitting down whilst she was busy. She went so far as to suggest that He did not care about her welfare. He who is kindness and love personified does not care? Does not Luke give this account straight after the story of the Good Samaritan, who had compassion, who gave up his beast for the man, took him to an inn, took care of him, and then paid for another to do the same. The final words of the parable were “Go thou and do likewise”, and then Luke says Martha received Him into her house- she was “doing likewise”. How sad that she should spoil her ministry by her complaint. And if we find it sad, how much more the Lord!
There was manifest, nonetheless, the fine flour of Christ’s holy manhood, as He refused to criticise Mary, but rather, commended her spiritual insight shown by the choice she had made.
IN THE HOUSE OF A PHARISEE
It is less surprising that He should meet with criticism in the house of a Pharisee, Luke 11:37-54. At first the man simply marvelled at the Lord’s behaviour, but at the end of the incident we find the scribes and Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things, laying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth, that they might accuse Him. And why are they so angry? Because the Lord, with authority, has pronounced woes on their hypocrisy. This anger will culminate in His arrest and trial, and thus we may be sure there is sorrow of heart for the Lord as He is exposed to their hatred.
IN THE HOUSE OF A CHIEF PHARISEE
Their cunning seems to reach new depths in the last incident, Luke 14:1-24. The house is that of a chief Pharisee, and it is the Sabbath day. The Pharisees are watching Him, like wild beasts ready to pounce on their victim. Moreover, there is a certain man “before Him” who has the dropsy, a condition that would be obvious to all at a glance. Has he been deliberately positioned opposite the Lord? Significantly, Luke says “Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees”. They have said nothing, but their attitude, their piercing eyes, the presence of the sick man opposite the Lord at the table all spoke volumes, and received its answer from Christ who showed Himself master of the situation, as ever.
Verses 8-10 And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the Lord: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar. And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire.
As with the simple ingredients of verses 1-3, the cakes are presented to the Lord. The cakes had felt the heat of the fire to form them into an acceptable offering, and now they are ready to be burnt on the altar. We see in this the way in which the sufferings and temptations of the Lord Jesus were preparation for that supreme act of submission and surrender to God expressed at Calvary. The body prepared becomes the body offered at Calvary, Hebrews 10:5,10. The other details mentioned here are very similar to verses 2 and 3, and serve to remind us that despite going through the most intense trials during His life, the Lord Jesus was fit for the altar at the end.