THE GOSPEL OF SAINT LUKE
According to the Church historian Eusebius St Luke was born in Antioch, Syria. He was a gentile by birth and a physician by profession. He was well educated in Greek culture. According to a legend of the sixth century he was also a painter. He was one of the earliest converts to the faith and later became the missionary companion of St Paul whom he accompanied on part of the second and third missionary journeys and attended during the Caesarean and Roman captivities. The Gospel is therefore an account of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of St Paul. The Gospel was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, 70A.D., for it does not refer to the fulfilment of Christ’s prophecy. Since the Acts of the Apostles, also attributed to Luke, closes its narrative with the year 63 or 64A.D., the Gospel of St Luke, his first book, must have been written prior to 63A.D.
Luke, of all the Gospels, gives us the fullest life-story of Jesus. The Gospel is part one of a two-part history of Christian beginnings: Luke/Acts. Both parts are dedicated to the same man, the Roman Theophilus and both are written for the same reason, to show God working out his purpose in the life and work of Jesus and his followers. The Gospel is carefully compiled from reliable, first-hand sources. Luke is not simply a biographer. His overriding concern is to get at the truth of what happened in Palestine in the critical years of Jesus’ lifetime. His Gospel shows Jesus as the Saviour of all: his coming, a world event. In Luke we have the clearest picture of Jesus the human being. His selection of stories reflects his own warm interest in people, especially the sick and helpless, the poor, women, children, the social outcasts. The Gospel is full of joy, as the love of God transforms human lives. Whereas Matthew was writing for the Jews and Mark was writing on behalf of St Peter, Luke is writing on behalf of St Paul. His style is that of a cultured, educated man with a wide vocabulary. He writes from an historical basis, naming kings, emperors and officials. Luke worked with Mark and knew him well. He uses 65 per cent of the same material, reproducing some of it almost word for word but, in addition, he draws on eye-witness accounts and spoken reports of actual events. He also uses material found in Matthew but not in Mark.
1. As the number of Jesus’ followers grew, and Christian groups sprang up in many places after Jesus’ death, it soon became apparent that the stories and teaching of Jesus which were circulating by word of mouth must be written
down. Luke commences his Gospel using language similar to classical Greek. He states his purpose and the sources of his information. ‘…things that have been fulfilled among us,’ refers to Old Testament prophecies now fully accomplished. Luke 1:1.
2. ‘…handed down to us….’ In Luke’s case handed down mainly by St Paul though he would almost certainly have had contact with others who had eye-witness contact with Jesus. Luke 1:2.
3. ‘……carefully investigated….’ Luke’s account is exact in historical detail. It has an orderly arrangement that is generally chronological. Luke states his purpose ‘….so that your Excellency (Theophilus) may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.’ (Theophilus, whose name means ‘one who loves God’, is thought to have been Luke’s patron and probably a Roman official or at least of high position and wealth.) Luke 1:4.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold.
4. Luke’s detailed explanation leading to the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus make us wonder whether, at some point, Luke met and talked with Mary who would have been able to give him accurate information. Luke 1:5‑7.
5. Zechariah was of the priestly line of Abijah (1 Chronicles 24:10.) His wife Elizabeth was from the line of Aaron (1 Chronicles 6:49.). They were childless which in Jewish society was considered a disgrace – as if it were directly caused by God. The priests did duty by rota and on this occasion when it was Zechariah’s duty he was drawn by lot to enter the most Holy Place and burn incense. (Entering the Holy Place was a great privilege. Because it was ‘by lot’ some might never obtain the privilege.) As he was in the Holy Place the Angel Gabriel, the same who was to appear to Mary, appeared to him to tell him that his wife is to bear a son who must be named ‘John’ which means ‘Yahweh is gracious’. Luke tells us that Zechariah was ‘overcome with fear.’ (Luke often mentions religious ‘fear’ and ‘awe.’).
Zechariah’s disbelief is understandable. He and Elizabeth are both elderly and past the time for having children. Moreover Zechariah is told that their son “will be great in the sight of the Lord.” From the words of the Angel Gabriel it seems that their son will live as a Nazirite (Numbers 6:1-21.) As a priest Zechariah should have had great faith, but he doubts. So he is struck dumb. Luke 1:8-22.
6. Despite being dumb we read that ‘When his time of service was completed he returned home.’ His disability was not a cause for him to abandon his duty. Elizabeth becomes pregnant and ‘for five months remained in seclusion’. (Some readings tell us that this ‘seclusion’ was ‘in joy, devotion and gratitude that the Lord had taken away her childlessness’. But also, by relating to the words of Gabriel to Mary Verse 36 ‘Even Elizabeth your relative………….is in her sixth month’, it connects the timing of the two appearances of Gabriel to Elizabeth and Mary. Here we find an example of Luke’s care in the information contained in his Gospel.) Luke 1:23-25.
7. Six months after Elizabeth’s conception the Angel Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary. Luke gives the most complete and beautiful account of the Annunciation. Gabriel greets Mary: “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you.” The Angel Gabriel continues “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you must name him Jesus.” Mary’s reply “How will this come about since I have no knowledge of man?” indicates her perpetual virginity. If she and Joseph were intending to have children then the question was unnecessary. After Gabriel’s answer to Mary’s question we almost feel the tension as the whole of creation awaits Mary’s response. When it comes it fulfils all that was expected: “You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.” (Also see Page 5 Paragraph 4). Luke 1:26 ‑38.
The Visitation and Magnificat.
8. Gabriel had told Mary of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Mary hurries to be with Elizabeth. Knowing her relative’s age she knew that she would need help with her pregnancy and with preparation for the birth. At their meeting the two women are joined by the Holy Spirit who makes clear to Elizabeth that Mary is the answer to the prophecy ‘the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son…..’ (Isaiah 7:14). Elizabeth greets Mary with the words: “Blessed art thou among women” and continues “and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” Luke has four songs in his Gospel and the first one is Mary’s ‘Magnificat’. (The word Magnificat comes from the Vulgate translation where the first word is Magnificat which means ‘glorifies’. Mary’s Magnificat bears a resemblance to Hannah’s prayer [1 Samuel 2:1-10]. Mary would know the Old Testament and probably based her prayer of ‘glory’ on that of Hannah which is known as the ‘Magnificat of the Old Testament.’ Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth was “in her sixth month” and the Bible tells us ‘Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months.’ We are not specifically told that Mary was with Elizabeth at the birth of her baby but it would seem unlikely that Mary would leave until the birth had taken place.) Luke 1:39-56.
The Baptist’s Circumcision and Zechariah’s Song.
9. Eight days after Elizabeth has given birth the baby is to be circumcised as prescribed by the law (Genesis 17:12) and given a name. Relatives and neighbours expect the baby to be named after his father which was the custom. But Zechariah must have already communicated to Elizabeth that the angel had told him to name the baby ‘John’ (The name, derived from the Hebrew, means ‘The Lord is gracious.’) Elizabeth tells everyone that the baby will be named John. Unbelieving, they get Zechariah to agree which he does and immediately his tongue is loosened and, filled with the Holy Spirit, he speaks the prophecy (the second of Luke’s songs ‘Praise Be’ which translate in the Latin Vulgate as Benedictus. Whereas Mary’s Magnificat is a Psalm, the Benedictus is a prophecy.) Luke 1:57-79.
10. John’s parents probably died when he was young so he went into the desert and lived an austere life there hence preparing himself for his ministry. Luke 1:80.
The Birth of Jesus.
11. Of the three synoptic Gospels Luke’s gives the most complete story of the birth of Jesus: the reason for the journey to Bethlehem, the inability to find lodgings, the stable, the manger, the cloths, the shepherds. (All the more reason for thinking that Luke must, at some time, have talked to Mary who would have conveyed this detailed knowledge to him. Matthew’s Gospel shows us the genealogy of Christ which, ‘of the House of David’ necessitated the journey to Bethlehem. [See Page 4 Paragraph 1]. Mary was also of the house of David. We do not know whether women also had to register under Caesar Augustus’ decree but women 12 years and older were required to pay poll tax so therefore we can assume that they also had to register.) Even if this were not the case Mary would have been aware of the Old Testament prophecy (Michah 5:2) and that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, so she would have travelled there with Joseph. The word ‘firstborn’ was used to designate the first child and it does not mean or presume other children. (See Page 5 Paragraph 4). Luke 2:1-12.
The Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
12. Luke’s third ‘song’ is that of the angels who have told the shepherds of the birth of Jesus. (The words ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’ are taken from the Latin Vulgate for ‘Glory to God in the Highest Heaven.’) Luke 2:13-14.
The Visit of the Shepherds.
13. Luke recording the visit of the shepherds and the fact that Mary ‘treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ are surely more reasons for believing that Mary and Luke must have met and talked. Luke 2:15-20.
14. On the eighth day the baby is circumcised and named Jesus, (which is the Greek form of Joshua which means ‘The Lord Saves’). Luke 2:21.
The Presentation In the Temple and Nunc Dimittis.
15. Once more Joseph and Mary conform to the law of Moses by taking Jesus to the Temple for the time of purification (See Leviticus 12:2-8). Jesus is consecrated to the Lord and a sacrifice is offered. (The sacrifice should be a ‘year old lamb’ and ‘a young pigeon or dove.’ But provision is made for those who cannot afford a lamb in which case they must offer two pigeons or two doves. If the child was the first male of the family then he belonged to Yahweh [which is the Hebrew name for God in the Old Testament], and his parents had to buy him back by paying five shekels to the Temple.) In the Temple they are met by Simeon (whose name means ‘God has heard’) which leads to Luke’s fourth song, the ‘Nunc Dimittis’. (The words come from the Latin Vulgate translation of ‘…….now dismiss’.) The words ‘…in the sight of the nations’, verse 31 – emphasise the truth that salvation was for gentiles as well as Jews. As a gentile himself Luke was anxious to make the point! Luke 2:22-32.
“A Sword Will Pierce Your Soul.”
16. Simeon blesses Mary and Joseph and prophesies that Jesus “is destined to cause the falling and rising of many…..” (Christ will raise up those who believe in him but will be a stumbling block for those who disbelieve). Simeon says “and a sword will pierce your soul too”. (The word ‘too’ indicates that Mary, as well as Jesus, would suffer deep anguish – the first reference in the Gospel to Christ’s suffering and death.) Luke 2:33-35.
The Prophetess, Anna.
17. The elderly prophetess, Anna (whose names means ‘Grace – Favour’) praises God for the baby Jesus: as in the Old Testament Hannah had praised God for the baby Samuel (That is the Old Testament Magnificat. 1 Samuel 2:1-10). ‘…..deliverance of Jerusalem’ – that is from where Jesus’ salvation will spread. Luke 2:36-38.
The Visit of the Magi.
18. Luke’s Gospel does not tell us about Magi or of the flight into Egypt but tells us that the Holy Family returned to Nazareth where Jesus ‘became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.’ Luke 2:39-40.
The Finding in the Temple.
19. The Finding in the Temple: (Annual attendance by adult males of the three feasts: Passover, Pentecost/Weeks and Tabernacles was commanded by law. [See Deuteronomy 16:16]. Distance prevented many from attending all three, but most Jews tried to attend the Passover. At the age of twelve Jewish boys underwent preparation for adult status. This visit to Jerusalem was therefore a special one for Jesus. Joseph and Mary had travelled a full day before missing Jesus. The three days: one day travelling from Jerusalem, one day travelling back and a day searching. Perhaps the ‘three days’ also prefigure the events of Easter.) Luke’s writing leads up to the first of Jesus’ words “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Jesus affirms, in Joseph’s presence that God is his Father. Jesus’ relationship to God takes precedence over his relationship to Joseph and Mary. The verse concludes ‘Jesus went to Nazareth….was obedient to them……….and grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and men.’ Luke 2:41-52.
The Proclamation of John the Baptist.
20. Luke takes care in describing exactly who was in power when John the Baptist commenced his ministry. He gives six names, four Roman and two Hebrew. Then a quotation from the Old Testament: Isaiah 40:3-5 ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ ‘all mankind’, God’s salvation was to be made known to both Jews and gentiles – a major theme of Luke’s Gospel. Luke 3:1-6.
21. Luke records the Baptist’s words as Matthew had done – “you brood of vipers. Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (This is probably a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem and the final judgement.) Luke continues ‘…every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire’, a symbol of final judgement. Luke 3:7-9.
22. Of the three synoptic gospels only Luke records the conversation between the Baptist and those who questioned him. The people obviously had a high regard for the Baptist’s advice which is to be echoed in the words of Jesus during his ministry. “A man with two tunics ……share with him who has none, the same with food. Tax collectors must not collect more than they are required to. Soldiers should not extort money or accuse people falsely and should be content with their pay.” (From the Baptist’s words we can determine those things which were the most common faults among the people, tax collectors and soldiers.) Luke 3:10-14.
23. The people were anxiously awaiting the coming of the one who would save them. They thought that John the Baptist may be the Messiah. (Their expectation of the long awaited Messiah was someone who, like Judas Machabees, would take up the sword and rid Israel of its Roman oppressors.) Although the Baptist didn’t come up to their expectations in that regard they nevertheless thought he might be the Messiah due to his exceptional holiness and baptising. Luke 3:15.
24. John corrects their misconception and tells them that there is one following him “whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Fulfilled at Pentecost and with Judgement.) Luke 3:16.
25. John continues: “His winnowing fork is in his hand…….” Many Jews thought that only the pagans would be judged and punished when the Messiah came. John declares that judgement will come on all who do not repent – including Jews. Luke 3:17-18.
26. John was not afraid to tell the truth and he spoke out against the illegal marriage of Herod Antipas to his brother’s wife, Herodias. (Leviticus 18:16). Herod has John arrested and locked up. Luke 3:19-20.
The Baptism of Jesus.
27. Luke records Jesus’ Baptism by John after the arrest which has to be chronologically incorrect. But only Luke mentions that while he was being baptised‘ [Jesus] was praying’. (Jesus in prayer is one of the special themes of Luke’s Gospel.) All three synoptic Gospels declare that ‘The heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended [on Jesus] and a voice came from heaven’ Luke 3:21-22.
The Ancestry of Jesus.
28. Luke’s gospel now commences on Jesus’ ministry and starts with his genealogy. There are several differences between Luke’s list and that of Matthew. (Matthew 1:1-17). Matthew begins with Abraham (the father of the
Jewish people) while Luke traces the line in the reverse order and goes back to Adam, showing Jesus relationship with the whole human race. From Abraham to David the genealogies of Matthew and Luke are almost the same, but from David on they are different. Some scholars suggest that this is because Matthew traces the legal descent of the house of David using only heirs to the throne, while Luke traces the complete line of Joseph to David. A more likely explanation, however, is that Matthew follows the line of Joseph (Jesus’ legal father), while Luke emphasises that of Mary (Jesus’ blood relative.) Although tracing a genealogy through the mother’s side was unusual, so was the virgin birth. Luke’s words that Jesus was the son of Joseph ‘as it was thought’ brings to mind his explicit virgin birth statement (Luke 1:34-35), and suggests the importance of Mary in Jesus’ genealogy. Luke 3:23-38.
The Temptation in the Desert.
29. As Jesus goes into the desert to commence his fast he is ‘full of the Holy Spirit’. It is the Spirit which will be his sustaining power during his fast and temptation. Luke has the temptations in a different order and has different descriptions from Matthew. Luke mentions only one stone to turn into bread – Jesus answer is taken from Deuteronomy 8:3 ‘…man does not live by bread alone’. When Jesus is shown all the kingdoms of the world he quotes from Deuteronomy 6:13 ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ Jesus is taken to Jerusalem and the devil, in suggesting that Jesus ‘throw himself down’, quotes from Psalm 91:11-12. ‘For he will command his angels…..so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ In response Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:16 ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Luke 4:1 ‑12.
Jesus Defeats the Devil.
30. ‘……the devil………left him until an opportune time.’ (Time was always opportune with the devil and it is certain that he never missed a chance. We know of the occasion when Jesus had to reprimand Peter with the words “get thee behind me, Satan!” But surely, from the devil’s point of view, the most ‘opportune time’ was when Judas Iscariot succumbed to the temptation to betray Jesus.) Luke 4-13.
Jesus Commences His Ministry.
31. The news about Jesus spreads and he teaches in the synagogues and ‘everyone glorified him.’ (This is a favourite theme of Luke, the people admiring and praising Jesus.) In Nazareth, the town where he had been brought up, he taught in the synagogue. He quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me…..to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ After he had finished reading he told the people “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” “This is Joseph’s son surely?” they said and their admiration turns to one of animosity. Then Jesus quoted two occasions when God’s help was given to non-Israelites. (1 Kings 17:1-15; 2 Kings 5:1-14.) Telling these stories reflects Luke’s special concern for gentiles. Jesus’ point is that when Israel rejected God’s messenger of redemption, God sent him to the gentiles – and so it will be again if they refuse to accept Jesus. Luke 4:14-27.
Jesus at Nazareth.
32. The people were furious at Jesus’ words and made to throw him down a cliff ‘but he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.’ (Perhaps it was a miraculous escape based on the fact that ’his time had not yet come’. Because the people thought that they knew Jesus, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”, they did not have faith. Without their faith Jesus could not heal.) Luke 4:28 ‑30.
The Cure of Demoniac.
33. In contrast to Nazareth Jesus goes to Capernaum and heals many. The people were amazed by both his teaching and his authority. An evil spirit shouts at Jesus “…….…...I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” All the people were amazed. Luke 4:31-37.
34. Up to this point in Luke’s Gospel none of the Apostles have been named. But Luke now mentions Jesus going to Peter’s house and healing his mother-in-law who ‘got up at once and began to wait on them’. (Being a physician Luke tells us that Peter’s mother-in-law had a ‘high fever’. But, mentioning this occurrence before introducing Peter as an apostle, makes it apparent that Luke is not necessarily presenting us with a chronological order of events.) Luke 4:38-39.
35. ‘When the sun was setting.’ The reason for those words is that the Sabbath finished at sunset, 6.00p.m. According to the tradition of the elders, Jews could not travel more than a third of a mile or carry a burden. So, on the Sabbath, it was as ‘….the sun was setting’ that people would be able to come to Jesus. All are healed ‘who had various kinds of sickness,…..’. Demons came out of people shouting “You are the Son of God!” ‘But [Jesus] rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.’ Luke 4:40-41.
36. Jesus was always going to solitary places where he could pray. Eventually his apostles and the people got to know of his favourite places and they would go and find him. They want him to stay but he tells them “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:42-44.
The First Apostles are Chosen.
37. Now Luke introduces the Apostles. (Matthew’s and Mark’s name for the stretch of water is ‘the Sea of Galilee.’ John sometimes calls it ‘the Sea of Tiberias.’ Luke calls it ‘the lake of Gennesaret.’) It is by this lake that Jesus meets ‘the fishermen.’ He gets into Simon’s boat, pulls out a little from the shore, ‘sat down’ and taught the people. ‘Sitting down’ was the usual position for teaching. Hence Luke mentions it specifically. (Recording a period of
teaching and miracles before the call of the first disciples was to make their unhesitating response less surprising.) Luke 5:1-3.
Peter is Chosen.
38. At Jesus’ suggestion Peter lets down his nets and catches such a large number of fish that they have to call their partners in another boat to help them. Peter realises the miracle which has taken place and says “Go away from me, Lord: I am a sinful man!” He does not feel worthy to be near Jesus. Peter and his partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were astonished by the catch they had made. But Jesus tells Peter “…..from now on you will catch men.” ‘So they pulled their boats up on shore and followed him.’ Luke 5:4-11.
The Cure of a Leper.
39. A man with a skin-disease pleads with Jesus for healing. Jesus did the ‘unthinkable’: he touched the man (Leviticus 13:2-3 & Numbers 5:1-3) ‘immediately the leprosy left him.’ Jesus told him to tell no-one but go and show himself to the priest and offer the sacrifice Moses commanded (Leviticus 14:2-23). Jesus is always telling those he heals to “tell no-one.” (Out of compassion he wanted to heal everyone but he didn’t want the healing to cover up his verbal teachings which were the most important part of his three year ministry. He was also worried that his healing would encourage the people to come and take him by force and make him their king. That was not why he had come on earth and he must not allow it to happen. Nevertheless the more he asked people not to tell of their healing the more they shouted with joy that their faith had been rewarded.) Luke 5:12-14.
Healing and Prayer.
40. News of the leper’s healing soon spread and more people come and are ‘healed of their sicknesses.’ Again Luke tells that Jesus ‘often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.’ (Can we doubt that the prayer and the healing are an integral part of each other? Without the ‘prayer’ the ‘healing’ could not take place.) Luke 5:15-16.
41. Now, for the first time, Luke mentions the Pharisees. They had heard of Jesus and had come ‘from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem’ to see for themselves. (They were teachers in the synagogues and, in the eyes of the people, were self appointed guardians of the law. They considered the interpretation and regulations handed down by tradition to be virtually as authoritative as scripture. This included the Corban [See Page 48 Paragraph 46] and the six hundred and thirteen precepts which virtually controlled the lives of the people. Jesus had no time for these self-imposed laws and was continually clashing with the Pharisees.) Jesus is teaching and Luke mentions ‘and the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.’ The room where Jesus was teaching was crowded so a paralytic is lowered down through the roof. Jesus recognises the faith of the
paralytic and says, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” The Pharisees take offence at this. They say “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knows their thoughts and, to show that he had the power to both heal and forgive, he said to the man, “….take your mat and go home.” The man got up and went home ‘praising God.’ Luke 5:17-26.
The Call of Levi.
42. Jesus saw Levi at his tax collecting booth and said “Follow me.” This man is Matthew as mentioned in Matthew’s own Gospel (Matthew 9:9) and as mentioned in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 2:14-17). Tax collectors who collected for the Romans, were especially detested for helping the pagan conqueror and for frequently defrauding their own people. Levi was probably his real name and Matthew his apostolic name. (That Jesus should choose such a person was feeding into the hands of his detractors. It gave them every excuse to denounce him to the people who would certainly be mystified by such a choice. But Jesus could see through into people’s hearts and souls and he knew the real worth of Matthew.) Luke 5:27-28.
Jesus Eats with Sinners in Levi’s House.
43. To add fuel to the fire Jesus attends a great banquet arranged by Matthew attended by a large crowd of tax collectors. We can imagine the delight of the Pharisees seeing Jesus mixing with such a crowd. It would surely bring his downfall. But when they question Jesus he has a ready answer. He has not come to treat the healthy but to treat the sick: not to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance. Luke 5:29-32.
Discussion of Fasting.
44. The Pharisees question him further. They compare the Baptist’s disciples who fast and pray with Jesus’ disciples who eat and drink. Jesus’ answer is that his disciples do not fast while he, ‘the bridegroom’, is with them. But when he is taken from them, then they will fast. Luke 5:33-35.
‘New Patch – New Wine.’
45. The ‘new patch’ and the ‘new wine’ are represented by Jesus who cannot be confined in the old forms. But by the words ‘………nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new,’ “The old is good”. Jesus was indicating the reluctance of some people to change from their traditional religious ways. Luke 5:36-39.
Picking Corn on the Sabbath.
46. The Pharisees continue to shadow Jesus watching for anything which they can use against him and his teachings. Their moment came when they saw the disciples pick ears of corn on a Sabbath and rub them to get at the grain.(There was nothing wrong in what they did: See Deuteronomy 23:25.) But to the Pharisees it was a violation of the Sabbath because ‘reaping’ was one of the thirty-nine categories of work prohibited on the Sabbath. They confront Jesus with this misdemeanour. Jesus reminds them that King David,
when he felt hungry, entered the tabernacle of Yahweh with his companions and they ate the ‘bread of the Presence’ (1 Samuel 21:6 see also Exodus 25:30). Jesus told them “The Son of Man is master of the Sabbath.” Or, in other words, Jesus has authority to overrule laws concerning the Sabbath, particularly as interpreted by the Pharisees. Luke 6:1-5.
Curing a Man with a Withered Hand on the Sabbath.
47. But the Pharisees were too jealous of their Sabbath to let Jesus get away with that answer. Their chance to try again came when Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath and a man approached him with a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see whether he would effect a cure on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts and he told the man to stand up in front of all the assembled. Then, looking around, he asked them, “I put it to you, is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil: to save life, or to destroy it?” No-one answered, so Jesus cured the man’s hand. Despite their silence at Jesus’ question the Pharisees were furious because Jesus had broken their Sabbath laws. So they started to plan what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:6-11.
The Twelve are Chosen.
48. After spending the night on a mountain in prayer Jesus chooses his Apostles. (To Jews and Greeks the word ‘apostle’ meant ‘someone sent’. The word was later translated by Christians to mean ‘missionaries’.) By now a group of men were following Jesus and listening to his ministry. One day Jesus brought them all together and chose twelve who he called ‘Apostles’. They were: 1 Simon (also named Peter), 2 Peter’s brother Andrew, 3 James, 4 John, 5 Philip, 6 Bartholomew, 7 Matthew, 8 Thomas, 9 James the son of Alphaeus, 10 Simon who was called the Zealot, 11 Judas son of James and 12 Judas Iscariot. Luke 6:12-16.
The Crowds Follow Jesus.
49. Luke’s explanation of Jesus stopped ‘at a piece of level ground’ might mean on a plateau which will then agree with Matthew who says ‘he went up on a mountainside.’ Crowds of people had come to be healed. Some people only need to touch him ‘because power was coming from him………’ Luke 6:17-19.
The Sermon of the Mount.
50. The chosen apostles and the disciples would have seen Jesus healing and heard his teachings but, in order to be able to respond to the challenges of the Pharisees, they needed to have a greater understanding of who was to benefit from Jesus’ teachings. So, Luke’s record of the Sermon on the Mount commences with the words ‘Fixing his eyes on his disciples, he said………….’ Luke’s record of ‘The Sermon’ is much shorter than Matthew’s but Mark doesn’t mention it at all, though both Luke and Mark use other opportunities in their Gospels to quote the words spoken on that occasion. (Luke leaves out material about the Law which would not interest non-Jewish readers.) But only Luke gives the point-by-point negative answers to the Beatitudes. Hence ‘Blessed are you who are poor’ (Luke 6:20) is countered by: ‘But alas to you who are rich’ (Luke 6:24) and likewise with the other Beatitudes. Luke 6:20-26.
Love Your Enemies.
51. Jesus rejects the Old Testament teaching of ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ (Exodus 21:24) and instead teaches ‘Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you……..’ There is no credit to be had from loving those who love you. ‘Even sinners do that.’ ‘….lend to [your enemies] without any hope of return. You will have a great reward……...’ Luke 6:27-36.
Take the Splinter Out of Your Own Eye.
52. We must not judge, we must not condemn. “Take the log out of our own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:37-42.
Warning Against False Prophets.
53. The discourse on trees and their fruits is a warning against false prophets. By their fruits you will know them. Luke 6:43-45.
The True Disciple.
54. If we hear the word of God and act on it we will have a firm foundation and our faith will not be shaken. But it we do not listen and our faith is weak then any disturbance will find us unready for the spiritual battle and we will be lost. Luke 6:46-49.
Cure of the Centurion’s Servant. “Lord I Am Not Worthy…….”
55. The Sermon on the Mount is over and Jesus returns to Capernaum. He is met by some elders of the Jews who, on behalf of a Roman Centurion, tell Jesus that a valued servant of the Centurion is sick and about to die. They ask Jesus to go with them to heal the servant. (This story tells us that Jesus’ fame must have spread far and wide. It also tells us that not all the Jewish elders were against Jesus.) As they approach the Centurion’s house he sends friends to say the words which we repeat before receiving the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy………….” Jesus was ‘amazed’. “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith as great as this.” The Centurion’s ‘great faith’ is rewarded and his servant is healed. Luke 7:1-10.
The Widow’s Son is Restored to Life.
56. Jesus’ next healing is carried out because of his great compassion for a widow who is burying her only son. (Even today the village of Nain is very small and probably hasn’t altered much since the time of Jesus.) The whole village would have turned out to support the widow. Jesus said to the woman “Don’t cry.” He then touched the coffin and said “Young man, I say to you, get up!” (The coffin would have been an open one as was the Jewish custom.) ‘The dead boy sat up……..and Jesus gave him back to his mother.’ This was
the first of three occasions when Jesus raised someone from the dead, the others being Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44). Luke 7:11-17.
The Baptist’s Question.
57. John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus “Are you the one who is to come…….? (Perhaps the men were expecting a straight “Yes”. But Jesus was always reluctant to state the truth of that claim. He knew that if he did so then the people would take him by force and make him king. That was not the way which God the Father wanted His Son to perform his ministry.) Jesus tells the men to go back and tell John what they have seen……‘the blind see again, the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the good news is proclaimed to the poor…’.. (It could be that John already knew that Jesus was the Christ and he sent his disciples so that they could find out for themselves and transfer their allegiance to Jesus.) Luke 7:18-22.
58. The words of verse 23 ‘and blessed is anyone who does not find me a cause of falling’, are referring to the cures which Jesus had performed. These cures might challenge our ideas of how God works. John the Baptist’s preconceived idea might have been of a vengeful God whereas Jesus’ God is one of mercy. Luke 7:23.
Christ’s Witness Concerning John.
59. Jesus tells the crowd that the Baptist is the answer to the prophecy:- ‘Look I am going to send my messenger in front of you, to prepare your way before you.’ Malachi 3:1 ‘the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’ This can be explained by fact that the humble child, though the least, is regarded by God as even greater than John the Baptist. Luke 7:24-28.
60. John’s baptism must have been widely accepted. The people, even tax collectors, accept Jesus’ words: because they had been baptised by John they accepted that Jesus’ words came from God. The Pharisees had not accepted John’s baptism, neither did they accept Jesus’ word. Luke 7:29-30.
61. Jesus compares the people to the words:- ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; ‘We sang a dirge and you did not cry.’ Flutes were played at weddings. That refers to Jesus. Dirges were played at funerals. That refers to John the Baptist. Luke 7:31-32.
62. The Baptist came fasting and they said he was a demon. Jesus came eating and drinking and they said he was a glutton and a drunkard. But the wise would see that both John and Jesus were godly despite their differences. Luke 7:33-35.
The Penitent Woman.
63. The Pharisees would try anything to catch Jesus out and one of them invited him to a dinner. During the meal a woman of ill-repute comes into the room and covers Jesus’ feet with perfume and kisses. The Pharisees said to
themselves, “If he was a prophet he would know what kind of woman she is.” Jesus knew their thoughts and asked them which of two men whose debts were cancelled would love the most. They answered “The one who had the bigger debt cancelled.” Jesus tells them that the woman, by her actions, had loved much, therefore her sins are forgiven. (Jesus’ forgiveness was not because of her actions or even because of her love but due to her faith.) Luke 7:36-50.
The Women Accompany Jesus.
64. Jesus sets off with the twelve going from village to village ’proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.’ Several holy women went with them to support them. These included Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza who was the manager of Herod Antipas’ household, Susanna (of whom nothing more is known) and many others. These would be women who had private means and would be able to supply Jesus and the apostles and disciples with food and other living requirements. (One wonders how Joanna came to follow Jesus. His fame must have spread far and wide. Both she and Mary Magdalene were to be at the tomb on the morning of the resurrection. Also amongst the crowds following Jesus were the Pharisees, always looking for a way to trap Jesus: to catch him out in something he might say. It is surprising that they never seemed to come to realise that Jesus was always able to read their thoughts. He knew, before they spoke, the traps they were setting for him.) Luke 8:1-3.
The Parable of the Sower.
65. Now Jesus starts to use parables. The parable of the seed which fell on pathways, rock, among thorns or on good soil is explained to the disciples by Jesus. That which fell on good soil represents those ‘who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.’ Luke 8:4-15.
Parable of the Lamp.
66. The story of the lamp is to instruct the disciples that the truths of salvation which he has privately explained to them, must be made known to the whole world. Hearing without understanding the word leads to total loss of hearing. Luke 8:16-18.
Jesus and His Brethren.
67. “Your mother and brothers are standing outside wanting to see you.” Jesus’ reply was meant to shock! “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Jesus was using the opportunity to emphasise that everyone must listen to his teaching. The bond between those who respond to God is stronger even than family ties. (The word ‘brother’ was used to indicate cousins of the same family. Mary was ever a virgin. See Page 5 Paragraph 4.) Luke 8:19-21.
Jesus Calms the Storm.
68. Crossing the lake Jesus sleeps while a storm almost overwhelms the boat. (That he can sleep under such conditions shows his complete ‘faith and trust’ in his Father.) When the disciples wake him he chides them for their lack of faith. But when the storm obeys him the disciples are in a state of awe. (Jesus must have wanted to leave the disciples in no doubt as to who he was – The Messiah.) Luke 8:22-25.
The Gerasene Demoniac.
69. On stepping ashore Jesus is met by a demoniac. (Matthew mentions two demoniacs. Mark and Luke mention only one. Differences such as this indicate a possible misunderstanding when the story has been conveyed. They also indicate a lack of collusion when writing their Gospels. Also see Page 12 Paragraph 34.) The Demons would rather be sent into the pigs than be returned to their rightful abode, Hell. Afterwards the man who had been possessed was found to be sitting at the feet of Jesus like a disciple. Rather than being awed by the healing the local people are frightened and ask Jesus to leave, though the man who had been healed wanted to stay with Jesus. But Jesus told him to return home and tell how much God had done for him. (This is contrary to Jesus’ words to others he had healed: ‘Tell no-one’. The answer to this apparent anomaly is that as pigs were involved this was not a Jewish district, so there was no danger of interference with Jesus’ ministry.) Luke 8:26-37
The Woman with a Haemorrhage and Jairus’ Daughter.
70. Jesus returns across the lake and is approached by Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. (The rulers were responsible for conducting services, selecting participants and maintaining order.) He obviously had a great faith and trusted Jesus’ ability to heal. His twelve year old daughter is at the point of death. He pleads with Jesus for help. Luke 8:38-42.
“Who Touched Me?”
71. As they make their way to Jairus’ house Jesus asks “Who touched me?” Peter couldn’t understand the question as the people were crowding around and pressing against Jesus. But Jesus answered, “Someone touched me; I felt that power had gone out from me.” A woman suffering from a haemorrhage had touched Jesus and her faith had been rewarded. Now she came forward trembling with fear. But Jesus speaks to her and calls her “Daughter”. (This tender address is used no-where else in Jesus’ recorded words.) Luke 8:43-48.
“Give Her Something to Eat.”
72. Before they reach Jairus’ house someone comes saying that his daughter has died. But Jesus tells Jarius not to be afraid but believe, and she will be healed. In all his healings, belief - ‘faith’ – was always necessary or the healing could not take place. In this case the father’s faith was needed. As they enter Jarius’ house the mourners and musicians were wailing and lamenting. It might seem impossible for these traditional mourners to have gathered so quickly but we do not know how long Jarius had been searching for Jesus or how far they had to travel to get to the house. Jesus is laughed to scorn when he says that the child only sleeps but when he took her by the hand ‘her spirit returned’ and she stood up. In a practical gesture Jesus tells them to give the girl something to eat. Jesus asks the parents ‘not to tell anyone what had happened’. Luke 8:49-56.
The Twelve are Sent Out.
73. The twelve are sent out with the gifts to ‘drive out demons’, ‘cure diseases’ and ‘preach the kingdom of God.’ They were to forgo the usual extra tunic or provisions which would only be an encumbrance. Instead they were to rely on whatever hospitality they were offered. Luke 9:1-4.
“Shake the Dust Off our Feet.”
74. If they were not made welcome they must ‘shake the dust off their feet’, a sign of repudiation for their rejection of God’s message. Luke 9:5-6.
Herod and Jesus.
75. Luke’s Gospel does not give details of John the Baptist’s death but mentions Herod being confused into thinking that Jesus is the Baptist come back from the dead. Herod obviously had a high regard for the Baptist and, after the beheading, may have spent many sleepless nights worrying. Now Herod hears of Jesus and the many miracle cures. He wonders whether Jesus is John come back from the dead. ‘And he tried to see him.’ (He did eventually get to see him – on Good Friday when Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to him.) Luke 9:7-9.
The Return of the Apostles. The Feeding Of the Five Thousand.
76. The apostles return from their healing and preaching. No doubt they wanted to tell Jesus all that had happened. So they withdrew to a place which they thought would be quiet. But the crowds were not to be outdone and soon discovered the ‘quiet place’. By the afternoon the apostles became concerned that the large crowd needed feeding and asked Jesus to send them away to obtain food. (Luke tells us that ‘About five thousand men were there.’) But Jesus had other plans. From five loaves and two fish Jesus miraculously feeds them all and afterwards twelve baskets full of scraps are collected. (Bread was regarded by Jews as a gift from God, and it was required that scraps be picked up. Apart from Jesus’ Resurrection this is the only miracle contained in all four Gospels.) Luke 9:10-17.
“Who Do You Say I Am?”
77. When Jesus asks his disciples “Who do the crowds say I am?” the reply he receives is the same which Herod also believed: that he was John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets come back to life. Then Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” and Peter answers on behalf of all the disciples, “The Christ of God.” Once again Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone. (It was necessary that Jesus complete his teaching. If the people knew he was the long awaited Messiah his crucial schedule would be interrupted by premature reactions.) Luke 9:18-21.
First Prophecy of the Passion. “Get Thee Behind Me Satan!”
78. Jesus also chose this moment to tell his disciples of his suffering and death, but also of his rising from the dead on the third day. (Luke doesn’t record Peter’s outburst to which Jesus replied, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Perhaps, Paul, who was Luke’s source of information, felt that Peter had already paid a high price for that and other indiscretions.) Jesus continues to tell the disciples that to follow him they must be prepared to “take up their cross daily.” (Those from Galilee knew what ‘the cross’ meant, for hundreds of men had been executed by that means in their region.) Luke 9:22-23.
The Condition of Following Christ.
79. Jesus continues: “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it…” (This saying of Jesus is found in all four gospels and in two Gospels more than once: Matthew 10:38-39 & 16:24-25. Mark 8:35. Luke 14:26-27 & 17:33 and, in a slightly different form in John 12:25. No other saying of Jesus is given such emphasis.) “What benefit is it to anyone to win the whole world and forfeit or lose his very self?” Luke 9:24-25.
80. Jesus continues: “If anyone is ashamed of me or my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him.” (A person who is more concerned about his own adulterous and sinful way of life than about following and pleasing Christ will have no part in God’s kingdom.) Luke 9:26.
81. For an interpretation of 9:27 “I tell you the truth………………….before they see the kingdom of God.” see Page 21 Paragraph 82. Luke 9:27.
82. The ‘Transfiguration’ enabled Peter, James and John to see Jesus glorified. (The mountain is not named in the Gospels but has always been assumed to have been Mount Tabor. A much more likely mountain is Mount Hermon which is much nearer to Caesarea Philippi where the last scene took place.) Moses’ work had been completed by Joshua, Elijah’s by Elisha [which is another form of Joshua]. They now speak to Jesus [whose Hebrew name was Joshua] about the ‘exodus’ he was about to accomplish by which he would deliver his people from the bondage of sin and bring to fulfilment the work of both Moses and Elijah. Peter’s usual exuberance is evident. The occasion demands silence but Peter speaks out: ‘He did not know what he what saying’. Luke 9:28-33.
“This is My Son the Chosen One.”
83. The three apostles hear a voice proclaiming, “This is my son, the Chosen One, listen to him.” (Matthew’s and Mark’s version say that Jesus told the three disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen.) Luke’s version states, ‘The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no-one at that time what they
had seen.’ (We might question why, on this and other occasions, Jesus chose certain apostles to witness events. Perhaps the ones he chose were the ones he could trust ‘not to tell anyone’ and that was important to enable him to complete his ministry.) Luke 9:34-36.
The Epileptic Demoniac.
84. Down from the mountain a large crowd greets them and a man pleads with Jesus to help his son who is possessed by a spirit. The disciples had tried to drive it out but had failed. Jesus rebukes the demon and it leaves the boy. (For the reason why the disciples could not drive out the demon see Page 51 Paragraph 62.) Luke 9:37-42.
Second Prophecy of the Passion.
85. Once again Jesus tells of his betrayal and death. ‘But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.’ Luke 9:43-45.
Who is the Greatest?
86. The disciples argue as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus teaches them to be like little children: “he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.” (A person will become great as he sincerely and unpretentiously looks away from self to revere God.) Luke 9:46-48.
On Using the Name of Jesus.
87. John tells Jesus that they have stopped a man who was driving out demons in the name of Jesus. John is told: “You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:49-50.
Jesus Sets Out For Jerusalem.
88. Luke records that “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Whilst this was not the visit which would result in his death it was the start of his final ministry which would ultimately lead to his death and Luke emphasises this. Luke 9:51.
The Inhospitable Samaritan Village.
89. To ease the journey Jesus sends ahead to a Samaritan village ‘to get things ready’. But the Samaritans, knowing that Jesus and his followers were on their way to Jerusalem, were not prepared to welcome them. (The Samaritans were descendants of foreign settlers imported into that region by the Assyrians towards the end of the eighth century B.C. and gradually fused with the Israelite peasants left there. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and to them Gerizim was the legitimate place for worship, not Jerusalem). James and John, who were known as ‘the Sons of Thunder’, ask Jesus to “call down fire from heaven” to destroy the Samaritans [as Elijah had done. See 2 Kings 1:9-16] but Jesus, ever full of love, rebukes James and John and they ‘went to another village.’ Luke 9:52-56.
Hardships of Apostolic Calling.
90. A man (Matthew calls him ‘A teacher of the law’) tells Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus’ words “foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” indicate to the man the risky, unsettled, itinerant way of life which will be expected of him if he follows Jesus. Jesus tells another man “Follow me.” The man asks to first go and bury his father. (Jesus’ reply, suggesting that the man should follow without returning to bury his father, stresses the radical demands of his discipleship, since the Jews placed great importance on the duty of children to bury their parents. But, in this instance, it is possible that the man’s father was not dead, or the man would have been already occupied with the burial. The man is therefore wanting to wait until his father’s death, which could be years away, before following Jesus.) Another wants to go and say goodbye to his family. Jesus refers to the ploughman who must not look back or the new furrow becomes twisted. Luke 9:57-62.
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two.
91. Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples as he had done with the twelve. (Luke 9:1-5.) They were sent out ‘two by two’ (only Mark records that the twelve were also sent out ‘two by two’). Jesus’ instructions indicate an urgency. They must not be encumbered with money-bags, luggage of extra sandals. They must not waste time by stopping and greeting people on the way (exchanging lengthy greetings was customary). They must not waste time moving around trying to improve their lodgings. Luke 10:1-7.
Advice to the Seventy-Two.
92. The seventy-two are told to ‘heal the sick’ and how to treat towns which do not make them welcome. ‘…it will be more bearable on that day (Judgement Day) for Sodom than for that town.’ (Although Sodom was so sinful that God destroyed it [Genesis 19:24-28] the people who heard the message of Jesus and his disciples were even more accountable, because they had the gospel of the kingdom preached to them.) Luke 10:8-12.
Praise and Woe.
93. Jesus praises Tyre and Sidon for having accepted his teachings. But woe to Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum who did not accept. Anyone who rejects Jesus rejects the Father who sent him. Luke 10:13-16.
The Seventy-Two Return.
94. The seventy-two return to tell Jesus “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Jesus tells them “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but that your names are written in heaven.” (Man’s salvation is more important than the power to overcome the evil one.) Luke 10:17-20.
The Privilege of the Disciples.
95. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, praises the Father and tells the disciples that they are blessed, for prophets and kings wanted to see and hear what they are seeing and hearing. Luke 10:21-24.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan.
96. Jesus’ answer to a teacher of the law (someone well versed in scripture) who asked the question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” leads to the beautiful story of the Good Samaritan. (Jews viewed Samaritans as half-breeds, both physically and spiritually. Jews and Samaritans practised open hostility to each other. Which makes Jesus parable the more poignant. Love must transcend any natural inclinations.) The end of the parable left the teacher with only one answer as to who had been a ‘neighbour’ to the man who had fallen into the hands of robbers. “Go and do the same yourself.” is Jesus’ command. Luke 10:25-37.
Martha and Mary.
97. Jesus has to lovingly reprimand Martha who wants her sister Mary to help her with preparations for the meal. Mary is sitting at Jesus feet listening to his every word. Jesus defends her pointing out that “Mary has chosen what is better.” (Surely Martha is a figurehead for all of us who get our priorities wrong.) Luke 10:38-42.
The Our Father.
98. Jesus teaches the disciples the ‘Our Father.’ (The prayer is similar to Matthew 6:9-13 where it is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Six petitions are included in the prayer as given in the Sermon on the Mount by Matthew [combining the last two into one], whereas five appear in the prayer of Luke.) Luke 11:1-4.
Persistence in Prayer.
99. Verses 5 to 13 encourage us to continue to ask, even when it seems that our prayers of petition have been ignored. We must be bold and persistent in our prayers. Luke 11:5-13.
Jesus and Beelzelbul.
100. Jesus had just driven out a demon when some in the crowd ask ‘for a sign’. The sign had just been shown to them but they would not recognise it. Once again ‘Jesus knew their thoughts…..’ and replied accordingly. Luke 11:14-23.
101. For an explanation of Luke 11:24-26 see Page 17 Paragraph 63. Luke 11:24.26.
The Truly Blessed.
102. Jesus always encourages his listeners to hear the word of God rather than any other alternative. Even when a woman refers to his mother, Mary. Luke 11:27-28.
The Sign of Jonah
103. Jesus’ mention of Jonah is a reference to himself being three days in the grave before his resurrection. He draws a comparison between himself and the Queen of Sheba and Jonah. If the Queen of Sheba responded positively to the wisdom of Solomon and the men of Nineveh to the preaching of Jonah, how much more should the people of Jesus’ day have responded to the ministry of Jesus, who is infinitely greater than Solomon or Jonah. Luke 11:29-32.
104. Jesus’ words about ‘a lamp put in a place where it will be hidden’ is a reference to his preaching. He had publicly exhibited the light of the gospel
for all to see, but the Jews requested more spectacular signs. Luke 11:33-36.
Jesus Verbally Attacks Pharisees and Lawyers During a Meal.
105. Jesus is invited to eat with Pharisees. They undoubtedly wanted to hear what he had to say and he certainly didn’t disappoint them. He pronounces on the ‘six woes’. 1. ‘Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth (Leviticus 27:30) of your mint, rue and all other kinds of herbs but you neglect justice and the love of God.’ 2. ‘Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats…….’ 3. ‘Woe to you because you are like unmarked graves which men walk over without knowing it.’ (The Jews whitewashed their tombs so that no one would accidentally touch them and be defiled [Numbers 19:16]. Just as touching a grave resulted in ceremonial uncleanness, so listening to the Pharisees’ false teachings could lead to moral uncleanness.) 4. ‘Woe to you because you load people with burdens……..’ (They made extra burdens for the people to follow whilst inventing ways for themselves to circumvent them.) 5. ‘Woe to you because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them.’ (Outwardly the Jews appeared to honour the prophets………..but inwardly they rejected the Christ the prophets had announced.) 6. ‘Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge.’ (The very persons who should have opened the people’s minds obscured their understanding by faulty interpretation and an erroneous system of theology.) Luke 11:37-54.
Open and Fearless Speech.
106. Luke describes the large crowd: ‘many thousands had gathered, so much that they were trampling on one another’. Jesus speaks to his disciples and refers to ‘the yeast of the Pharisees,’ (See Page 49 Paragraph 54.) Jesus also said ‘Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell.’ (The Greek word for Hell is ‘Gehenna’ not to be confused with ‘Hades’ which is the general name for the place of the dead.) Jesus continues, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?” (In Roman money two pennies would be two assarius, a very small sum of money.) “Yet not one
of them is forgotten by God.” (This mention of ‘birds and God’ is comforting to those who love animals and is a warning to those who show cruelty to animals.) Luke 12:1-7.
Blaspheming Against the Holy Spirit.
107. “………..anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (See Page 16 Paragraph 60.) Luke 12:8-12.
On Hoarding Possessions.
108. A man asks Jesus to tell his brother to divide his inheritance with him. (Deuteronomy 21:17 gave the general rule that an elder son received double a younger one’s portion. Disputes were normally settled by rabbis.) The man making the request is being selfish and materialistic and had not been listening to Jesus’ words. Luke 12:13-15.
Parable of the Man who Builds Bigger Barns.
109. To emphasise the dangers of materialism Jesus tells the parable of the rich man who built large barns to store his grain but that very night his life will be demanded of him. We must be ‘rich towards God.’ Luke 12:16-21.
“Do Not Worry.”
110. “Do not worry.” [See Page 11 Paragraph 28.] (In Matthew this is part of The Sermon on the Mount. But in Luke it appears that Jesus is speaking only to the disciples.) Luke 12:22-34.
On Being Ready.
111. Luke tells the story of ‘watchfulness’ but without mentioning the ‘virgins’ which was Matthew’s way of telling the story. The message remains ‘You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect him.’ Luke 12:35-40.
Peter asks “What about Us?”
112. Usually Jesus spoke in parables for the people but used a more direct approach or the disciples. Peter asks whether the parable of the ‘watchfulness’ was only intended for the disciples. Jesus’ explanation indicates that the apostles represent the steward but the lesson of the parable is for everyone. Luke 12:41-48.
Jesus and His Passion.
113. Jesus mentions ‘bringing fire on the earth’. The fire he is referring to is the ‘fire’ of ‘judgement’ and ‘division’. The ‘baptism’ he refers to is his suffering on the cross. Luke 12:49-50.
114. (For an explanation of Chapter 12 verses 51-53 see Page 14 Paragraph 46.) Luke 12:51-53.
On Reading the Signs of the Times.
115. Jesus compares the ability of the people to recognise the changing weather with their inability to recognise their spiritual crisis. Luke 12:54-56.
Do Not Rely on the Pharisees.
116. Jesus tells the people to make their own judgements and not rely on the Pharisees. They must reconcile themselves to God before it is too late. Otherwise retribution will have to be made. The words, “I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” refer to purgatory. Luke 12:57-59.
An Incident Involving Galileans Who Were Killed.
117. An incident, otherwise unknown, had taken place in the Temple. Some Galileans must have seriously contravened a Roman regulation and Pilate had had them killed and their blood would have mixed with the blood for sacrifices. Jesus points out that those who were slain are no worse than everyone else who will not repent. Jesus also refers to a tragedy when a tower had collapsed and killed eighteen people. Those killed were no more guilty than all others in Jerusalem who will not repent. (In those days when a calamity happened it was considered that those killed must have been very sinful. Jesus refutes that theory.) Luke 13:1-5.
The Parable of the Fig Tree.
118. The Fig Tree in the parable is probably symbolic of the Jewish nation. ‘Three years’ being an ample time to get things right. Luke 13:6-9.
Jesus Cures a Woman on the Sabbath.
119. Jesus is criticised for curing a woman on the Sabbath. He defends his action; “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day……?” His opponents were humiliated. Luke 13:10-17.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed.
120. The parable of the Mustard Seed can be interpreted as the kingdom of God having small beginnings with Jesus and his twelve apostles but it will grow to come to its true greatness and power. Luke 13:18-19.
The Parable of the Yeast.
121. The kingdom of God will work its way through the world as will the yeast worked into the dough. Luke 13:20-21.
“Many Will Leave it Too Late.”
122. Jesus travels around teaching as he goes. He is asked whether only a few will be saved. His answer suggests that many will leave it too late. Luke 13:22-30.
Herod the Fox.
123. Jesus is in Parea which was under Herod’s jurisdiction. Some Pharisees tell Jesus to “leave this place” as Herod is wanting to kill him. Their aim was to get Jesus out of their district. Jesus’ reply indicates that he had no fear. He knows that it will be in Jerusalem where he will die. He continues with a lament over Jerusalem. Luke 13:31-35.
Taking the Lowest Place.
124. Jesus is attending a meal at the house of a Pharisee. He would have been invited as an apparent act of courtesy but to try and find something to use against him. Once again he deals with the problem of ‘healing on the Sabbath’. The Pharisees have no answer to Jesus’ sensible approach to Sabbath healing. At the same event he notices that some have picked the best places at table and speaks the parable of ‘taking the lowest place’. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:1-11.
Invite the Poor. They Cannot Repay You.
125. Jesus’ approach to ‘invitations’ is very true! You invite someone and they invite you back……… But if you invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, you will be blessed. They cannot repay you but you will be repaid at the resurrection. Luke 14:12-14.
Invited Guests Make Excuses.
126. Associating ‘the Kingdom to Come’ with a large banquet was a common idea. So Jesus’ parable of the banquet where guests made excuses for not attending would have been understood in that way. Eventually, in order to fill his banquet with guests, the sick, the poor, the crippled and the lame are brought in. But none of those who were originally invited would taste the banquet. Luke 14:15-24.
Renouncing All That One Holds Dear.
127. If we are to follow Jesus we must love him more than our immediate family. We must love him more than we love ourselves. To follow Jesus we must be prepared to accept the crosses which come our way and not complain at them or try to rid ourselves of them. Luke 14:25-27.
128. When following Jesus we must not make a blind naïve commitment but one which, like the man building the tower, estimates the cost, or, in the case of Jesus, considers what is expected to be a follower. Luke 14:28-30.
129. To follow Jesus we must be prepared to ‘give up everything’. Luke 14:31-33.
On Loss of Enthusiasm in a Disciple.
130. The distinctive mark of discipleship typified by pure salt is allegiance to Jesus and the Gospel. (Impure salt could lose its taste.) Luke 14:34-35.
The Shepherd and the Lost Sheep.
131. As tax collectors and sinners surrounded Jesus to hear his words, again the Pharisees criticise Jesus: “This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.” Jesus, knowing their thoughts told the story of the shepherd and the lost sheep. The parable showed the love of Jesus for sinners as opposed to the exclusiveness of the Pharisees. Luke 15:1-7.
Parables of The Lost Coin, The Prodigal Son and The Shrewd Manager.
132. Luke’s Gospel used more of Jesus’ parables than Matthew and Mark. The Lost Coin, the Prodigal Son and the Shrewd Manager are three such parables. The first two are a further lesson in caring for that which has been lost and for never giving up on love. The third is more complex. In discounting the debts the manager was making the debtors under obligation to himself. But it was not necessarily stealing from his master. The manager may have been reducing the interest payments to what they should have been before he previously enhanced them in order to make his commission (an acceptable way of making his salary). By so doing he would both satisfy his master, please the debtors and gain their good favour. All-in-all very shrewd! But it is the manager’s astuteness which is being commended not his possible dishonesty. Luke 15:8-32 & 16:1-8.
The Right Use of Money.
133. After the parable of the Shrewd Manager Jesus continues his discourse saying that whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much. Faithfulness is not determined by the amount entrusted but by the character of the person who uses it. The Pharisees who heard this sneered at Jesus who, knowing their hearts, said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men. For what is highly esteemed in human eyes is loathsome in the sight of God.” Luke 16:9-15.
The Kingdom Stored.
134. Since John the Baptist the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached and ‘everyone is forcing their way into it.’ (The real meaning of this
statement is unknown but it may refer to the earnestness with which people were responding to Jesus’ teachings.) Luke 16:16.
The Law Remains.
135. The law, which Jesus is teaching, is less likely to disappear than for heaven and earth to disappear. Luke 16:17.
136. Luke’s statement on divorce compares with Mark’s version. (To compare all three synoptic versions see this verse of Luke: Matthew Page 10 Paragraph 25: and Mark Page 52 Paragraph 70.) Luke 16:18.
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
137. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is the only one where Jesus gave a name to one of the characters. The words, “they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” might have been Jesus’ way of foretelling the raising of Lazarus, hence the use of the name, or of his own resurrection. Luke 16:19-31.
On Leading Others Astray.
138. Sin will always be with us but it is worse if we lead others into sin. Especially if the ‘others’ are ‘little ones’. (By ‘little ones’ can be meant either young in faith or young in age.) Luke 17:1-2.
139. We must be ever watchful against sin. But we must also be ever forgiving of others who sin. When Jesus told the apostles that they must forgive their brother seven times a day and then, if necessary, seven times more they said “[Lord], increase our faith.” Jesus told them that if they had true faith as small as a mustard seed they would be able to tell a mulberry tree to uproot itself and plant itself in the sea and it would obey. Like 17:3-6.
140. Jesus explains to the apostles that they must be like servants who work all day and then prepare their master’s meal before feeding themselves. Luke 17:7-10.
Jesus Cures Ten Lepers.
141. Jesus cures ten lepers but only one returns to thank him and he was a Samaritan, a foreigner to the Jews. Jesus’ words to the Samaritan “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” may indicate that he had received salvation in addition to the physical healing which all ten had received. Luke 17:11-19.
The coming of the Kingdom of God.
142. The Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God will come. Jesus tells them that no amount of calculation can fix the time of Christ’s return in judgement. When it comes it will be plain for all to see – it will not be a secret. Before this can happen Jesus must suffer and be rejected. But when it happens the world will be caught unprepared as it was by the flood. Or as it was in Sodom when the people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building when fire and sulphur rained down and destroyed them all. Jesus is asked, “Where will this happen?” Jesus answers that these things will take place wherever there are people to whom the event pertains. (Also see Matthew Pages 30 & 31 Paragraphs 121, 122, 123, 124, 125 & 126.) Luke 17:20-37.
The Unscrupulous judge and the Importunate Widow.
143. The parable of the persistent widow tells us all that we must persist in prayer. Like the seemingly ‘uncaring judge’ God will bring about justice for those who cry out to him day and night. But Jesus finishes his remarks with a word of warning. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (This warning gives the definite impression that there will be a period of spiritual decline and persecution – a time that will require perseverance such as the widow demonstrated.) Luke 18:1-8.
The Pharisee and Tax Collector.
144. The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is a clear lesson of pride and humility. The Pharisee gives himself away by declaring, “I give a tenth of all I get” when he is meant to give a tenth of what he ‘earns’! A typical Pharisee of the time, he was cheating the tithe by giving of what he ‘acquired’ and not of what he earned. Luke 18:9-14.
“Let the Children Come to Me.”
145. The disciples were probably being solicitous towards Jesus when they tried to stop mothers bringing the children to him. But Jesus uses the occasion to teach that to reach the Kingdom of God we must be like little children. Luke 18:15-17.
Th Rich Aristocrat.
146. (For an explanation of the story of the Rich Ruler, the Eye of the Needle and Peter’s plea see Page 53 Paragraphs 73, 74, 75 & 76). Luke 18:18 ‑ 30.
Third Prophecy of the Passion.
147. Jesus speaks privately to the apostles and tells them that they are going to Jerusalem and of all that will happen to him. They did not understand. It was as if Jesus’ words were hidden from their minds. Luke 18:31-34.
Entering Jericho and Bartimaeus the Blind Man.
148. A blind man, named by Mark as Bartimaeus, shouts to Jesus asking to be cured. (Matthew mentions two blind men. See page 25 paragraph 104). Those around him rebuke him for shouting but Jesus asks for the man to be brought to him. The man is healed and is told “…your faith has saved you.” The man follows Jesus praising God. Luke 18:35-43.
149. Once again Jesus risks the scorn of the Pharisees by staying at the house of the tax collector, Zacchaeus. In fact Jesus had insisted that he stay there: “I must stay at your house.” Zacchaeus is moved by the courtesy shown to him and repents saying that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and if he has cheated anyone will pay back four times. (That is a most extreme payment required under the law in the case of theft. Exodus 22:1. 2 Samuel 12:6.) Luke 19:1-10.
Parable of the Ten Talents.
150. The Parable of the Ten Minas is similar to Matthew’s parable of the Ten Talents except that in Matthew’s version the servants are given different amounts whereas in Luke they are all given the same amount. The amount given to each servant would be about three months’ wages. The lesson is that those who seek spiritual gain for themselves and others will become richer in faith. Those who squander what is given to them will become impoverished, losing even what they have. “…those enemies who did not want me for their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.” may be a reference to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70A.D. Luke 19:11-27.
The Messiah Enters Jerusalem.
151. Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem fully aware of all that is ahead of him. He sends two disciples to fetch a colt/donkey. He rides the donkey thereby creating a similar situation to when Solomon was taken to be anointed as king. (1 Kings 1:33.) Jesus is therefore following the kingship to sit on David’s throne. The prophecy of (Zechariah 9:9 ) is also fulfilled. Luke 19:28-36.
Jesus Defends his Disciples for Acclaiming Him.
152. The disciples shout out in joy:
“Blessed is he who is coming
as King in name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:26.)
“Peace in heaven and glory in the
highest heavens!” (Ezekiel 3:12))
at which some Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke them. Jesus replies, “I tell
you, if these keep silence, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:37-40.
Lament Over Jerusalem.
153. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and prophesies the destruction of the city.
“…..your enemies will build an embankment…” In 70 A.D. the Romans
built an embankment to besiege the city. Jesus’ final words regarding
the destruction are “……because you did not recognise the time of
God’s coming to you.” (God came to the Jews in the name of Jesus; if
they had recognised him, the awful happenings of 70A.D. would have
been avoided.) Luke 19:41‑44.
Jesus Clears the Temple of Traders.
154. Luke has Jesus driving the traders out of the Temple on the same day he entered the city. Mark states that this happened the day after the Triumphal Entry. (See Page 56/57 Paragraphs 87 & 88.) Luke 19:45-48.
“By What Authority Do you Do These Things?”
155. The chief priests and teachers of the law question Jesus about where his authority comes from for his teaching. Jesus asks his own question (See Page 26 Paragraph 109). Luke 20-1-8.
The Parable of the Tenants.
156. The Parable of the Tenants, where eventually the owner’s son is killed by the tenants is a clear representation of Jesus Christ. God the Father sends his Son and we, the tenants, by our sins, kill him. The people who heard the parable said, “May this never be!” Luke 20:9-16.
The Stone the Builders Rejected has become the corner stone.
157. Jesus quotes from Psalm 118:22: “The stone the builders rejected has become the corner stone,” and then from Isaiah 8:14-15: “a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock which makes them fall: Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken.” The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest Jesus. They knew he was speaking against them. Luke 20:17-19.
Paying Tribute to Caesar.
158. The Pharisees and the Herodians, who would not normally have much time for each other, join forces to try and trap Jesus. They will ask Jesus whether it is correct to pay taxes to Caesar. If he answers “Yes” then the people will disown him for disloyalty. If he says “No” then the Herodians will denounce him to Pilate. It is a trap which cannot fail! But Jesus knows the evil of their intent and asks to see a denarius. “Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” he asks. “Caesar’s” they reply. Jesus says “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” They had been unable to trap him and, astonished by his answer, they became silent. Luke 20:20-26.
The Resurrection of the Dead.
159. It was the Sadducees’ turn to try and trap Jesus. They don’t believe in the resurrection and try to make their point by asking about supposedly impossible relationships. Jesus tells them that at the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage: “They will be like angels”. There is a resurrection: to a life where there is no sexual union or procreation because there is no death. After this no-one dared ask him any more questions. Luke 20:27-40.
Christ Son of David and Lord of David.
160. Jesus refers to the saying that ‘the Christ is the Son of David.’ David had declared:
“The Lord declared to my Lord:
take your seat at my right hand
till I have made your enemies
your footstool.” Psalm 110:1.
David calls him ‘Lord’. How then can he be his son? Luke 20:41-44.
The Scribes Condemned by Jesus.
161. Jesus didn’t speak behind people’s backs. ‘While all the people were listening’ he berated the teachers of the law for walking around in flowing robes, having the most important places in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets. (They took advantage of defenceless groups by fraud and schemes for selfish gain.) They will be severely punished. (The higher the esteem of men the more severe the demands of true justice.) Luke 20:45 ‑47.
The Widow’s Mite.
162. Jesus could see everything – into the hearts of people and into their poverty. So he could tell that the woman giving a few small coins to the temple treasury was more charitable than those who gave from the abundance of their wealth. Luke 21:1-4.
Discourse on the Destruction of Jerusalem.
163. For an explanation of Chapter 21 Verses 5-28 see Page 60 Paragraph 104. Luke 21:5-36.
Be On the Alert.
164. Jesus continues to teach in the temple during the daytime and go to the Mount of Olives to spend the night. (There is no report of Jesus ever having spent the night in Jerusalem.) Luke 21:37-38.
Satan Entered Into Judas.
165. Luke tells us that ‘Satan entered into Judas’. (This expression is used twice – once before Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus and secondly during the last supper. Thus the Gospel depicts Satan’s
control over Judas. Why? Perhaps Judas was expecting a ‘Saviour’ who would be like the Machabees and who would ‘take up the sword’ to rid the Jewish nation of their Roman invaders. But Jesus was a man of peace. Judas seemed to have been unable to recognise that.) The chief priests’ problem was that they dare not arrest Jesus when he was surrounded by crowds as they would rebel and cause a scene. Judas agreed to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. Luke 22:1-6.
Preparation for the Passover.
166. The circumstances leading up to the Passover meal are in themselves strange. Firstly Jesus and his apostles appear to have celebrated the Passover a day before everyone else. The answer is that the Pharisees and Sadducees had different ways of working out when the Passover should be held. In that particular year the Pharisees held the Passover on the Thursday as did Jesus and his apostles. But in that same year the Sadducees, who made up most of the Sanhedrin, who pronounced the death penalty on Jesus, celebrated the Passover the next day. So we read in John, ‘to avoid uncleanness they did not enter the palace.’ (John 18:28) Those who ‘did not enter’ would be Sadducees. Jesus sent Peter and John to ‘make preparations for….the Passover’. He tells them that “they will meet a man carrying a jar of water.” (That, in itself, would have been unusual as carrying water was normally women’s work.) But why this secrecy? Why didn’t he announce to everyone where the Passover would be held? Perhaps because, knowing Judas’ intention, and the ‘upper room’ being a convenient place for Jesus to be apprehended, Jesus did not want the peace of the first Eucharist to be disturbed. Luke 22:7-13.
The Passover and Institution of The Eucharist.
167. The Passover is celebrated and Jesus institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus mentions his betrayal and the apostles discuss among themselves which of them it might be. At this point, in Luke’s Gospel, comes the dispute amongst the apostles as to which of them is the greatest. (In Mark’s Gospel this happens much earlier in Jesus’ ministry. Mark 9:34). Peter affirms his loyalty to Jesus: “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus tells him of his soon to come denial: “Before the cock crows…………” Luke 22:14-34.
A Time of Crisis.
168. Jesus explains to the apostles that a new time is coming for them. Previously, he had sent them out, vulnerable, without purse, bag or sandals (Luke 9:3). But now they will have to be prepared to defend themselves. Luke 22:35-38.
The Garden of Gethsemane.
169. Jesus and the apostles leave the upper room and make their way to the Mount of Olives. Jesus would often go to pray there and Judas was aware of it. Jesus tells the apostles to pray that they may not fall into temptation. Then
commences his agony in the garden – ‘An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.’ Luke 22:39-43.
His Sweat was Like Drops of Blood.
170. ‘…….and his sweat was like drops of blood falling on the ground.’ (Haematidrosis, the actual mingling of blood and sweat in cases of extreme
anguish.) Jesus finds his apostles asleep. (The wine of the Passover meal would have made them very sleepy and when Jesus needed them most, they were not able to stay awake.) Luke 22:44-46.
The Kiss of Judas.
171. Judas leads the crowd who have come to arrest Jesus. As he approaches to kiss Jesus the apostles’ immediate reaction is to fight. The high priest’s servant has his ear cut off but Jesus heals it and declares, “That is enough!” Jesus asks why they have come to arrest him with swords and clubs when he was in the Temple every day and they did not lay a hand on him. Then he says, “But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.” The darkness is when ‘the power of evil’ will do its worst to defeat God’s plan. Luke 22:47-53.
Jesus Taken to Annas.
172. Luke’s Gospel doesn’t mention the apostles deserting Jesus but tells of Peter following at a distance. Jesus is taken to the house of the high priest. This position was often passed down from father to son and at that time the high priest was Caiaphas. But his father-in-law, Annas, still had a lot of power and it was to him that Jesus was first taken. Luke 22:54.
Peter Thrice Denial and the Cock Crows.
173. Peter denies Jesus three times and then the cock crows. ‘And he went out and wept bitterly.’ (One wonders why, even at that point, he didn’t own up to being one of Jesus’ followers. But it was too late. He had disowned the man he knew was the Son of God. It would take time and Jesus’ forgiveness to heal the deep wound which he had inflicted on himself. The same wounds which we inflict on ourselves when we sin.) Jesus is beaten, blindfolded and insulted. Luke 22:55-65.
Jesus Asked “Are You the Christ?” He Replies “I am.”
174. Early the next morning Jesus is taken before the council of the elders, the Sanhedrin. They ask him, “If you are the Christ…..tell us.” Jesus tells the truth: “You are right in saying I am.” The Sanhedrin take this true statement to be Jesus’ death warrant. Luke 22:66-71.
Jesus Before Pilate.
175. Jesus is taken to Pilate.The Sanhedrin lie to him firstly by saying that Jesus is subverting the nation and secondly by saying that Jesus opposes paying taxes to Caesar. Pilate questions Jesus and tells the chief priests that he can find no fault in him. The Sanhedrin insist that Jesus is stirring up trouble and mention that he comes from Galilee. This suits Pilate who sends Jesus to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Galilee comes under Herod’s jurisdiction and Pilate hoped to get rid of the problem and let Herod deal with it. Herod had heard of Jesus and was hoping to see him perform a miracle. But he was to be disappointed. Jesus was silent and made no response to anything which was said to him. So after Herod and his soldiers had mocked Jesus he was sent back to Pilate. Luke 23:1-12.
176. Pilate was probably not pleased to have the problem back for him to deal with, though from that day he and Herod became friends whereas previously they had been enemies. Pilate continues to defend Jesus saying that he can find no basis for the charges against him. He offers to punish Jesus and release him. (Punish him when he could find no fault in him? Those were the brutal times they lived in.) Luke 23:13-17.
177. The chief priests will have none of it and encourage the crowd to cry out “Crucify him.” And they asked for the release of Barabbas who was in prison for the serious crime of insurrection and murder. Luke 23:18-21.
Pilate Grants the Wishes of the Crowd.
178. Pilate is not happy with the way things are going. He can see that the chief priests are exciting the crowd and encouraging them and he is well aware that Jesus has been brought to him out of envy. Once again he tries to obtain Jesus’ release but the crowds continue to shout “Crucify him”, so he decided to grant their demand. Luke 23:22-25.
Jesus Carries His Cross.
179. Jesus carries his cross to Calvary but becomes so weak that Simon from Cyrene is bullied into helping him. (This gives us an insight into living under the occupation of the Romans.) Jesus speaks to the women who are ‘wailing for him’. His words predict the terrible suffering to befall Jerusalem in only forty years’ time when the Romans besiege it and completely destroy the temple. Jesus quotes from Hosea:
“they will say to the mountains, “Fall
and to the hills “Cover us!” Hosea 10:8.
Jesus’ words: “For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” can be interpreted as: ‘If they treat the Messiah this way, what will be their plight when he is withdrawn from them? When he was being crucified Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” What Jesus meant was, “They do not know who they are doing this to.” Then they cast lots for his clothing (Psalm 22:18).
Luke 3:26 -34.
Jesus is Mocked.
180. Those watching sneered at him and the soldiers mocked him and offered him wine vinegar. Over his cross was written, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ One of the criminals crucified with him said “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Matthew and Mark say that both criminals berated Jesus.) But Luke tells us that one of the criminals asked for Jesus’ help which Jesus mercifully gave. A possible answer is that initially both criminals berated Jesus, but, as death drew nearer, one of them saw the majesty of Jesus’ crucifixion and realised that this was a holy man. The possible thoughts of the criminals need considering. The eve of the Feast of the Passover seems an unlikely time for crucifixion, but to get rid of Jesus it was considered necessary. Were the two criminals not due to be crucified till later and resented Jesus having brought their time forward? They probably both envied Barabbas. Why hadn’t they been the one chosen to be freed? Luke 23:35-43.
181. Luke describes the moment when Jesus died – darkness – the sun stopped shining - the veil of the temple was rent in two (an earthquake?) – an awful scene. Jesus called out with a loud voice. That in itself was miraculous. The weight of the body pressing on the lungs made breathing very difficult. To ‘cry out in a loud voice’ was almost impossible. Jesus died. (How long was Jesus on the cross? For an explanation see Page 65 Paragraph 120. Also see Page 125 Paragraph 89 regarding crucifixion versus stoning.) Luke 23:44-46.
“Truly This Was an Upright Man.”
182. The Roman Centurion who had witnessed Jesus’ death ‘…..praised God and said, “Truly, this was an upright man.” (Matthew and Mark report the Centurion’s words as, “In truth this man was the Son of God.”) Luke 23:47.
The Crowds Went Away Beating Their Breasts.
183. Those who had gone along to watch ‘beat their breasts and went away.’ ‘But those who knew him………………stood at a distance watching these things.’ Luke 23:48-49.
184. Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus and places it in a rock tomb. All was done so that resting on the Sabbath could be obeyed. Luke 23:50:56.
The Empty Tomb.
185. ‘On the first day of the week…....’ (Sunday, the first day of the Jewish week, began at sunset on Saturday) ‘……..the women took spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.’ The stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. Two angels appear and the women, though frightened, realise that this is something supernatural and bow their faces to the ground. They are told “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” The angel repeats Jesus’ words that he must suffer, die and, on the third day, rise again. The women remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8.
Peter at the Tomb.
186. They go back to tell the others but they are all ‘doubting Thomas’ and refuse to believe ‘because their words seemed like nonsense.’ Peter went to the tomb and found all as the women had said ‘and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.’ Luke 24:9-12.
On the Road to Emmaus.
187. The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is wonderful. I only wish we had the full text of all that Jesus said to Cleopas and his companion! All we know is: ‘And beginning with Moses and the prophets he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.’ As he broke the bread their eyes were opened, they recognised him, ‘and he disappeared from their sight.’ They return to Jerusalem and as they are telling their story to the disciples Jesus appears among them and says, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:13-36.
Jesus Appears to the Apostles.
188. They are all frightened. They think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus shows them his hands and his feet and, to prove that he is human and not a ghost, asks for something to eat. He opened their minds, as he had done to
the disciples on the road to Emmaus, so that they could understand the scriptures and continued ‘…….repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in Christ’s name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’ Luke 24:37 ‑48.
Last Instruction to the Apostles.
189. Jesus tells the apostles to “stay in the city” and promises to send what his Father had promised so they may be clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:49.
190. Jesus leads them to the vicinity of Bethany and, having blessed them, ‘was taken up into heaven.’ The apostles worship him and return to Jerusalem where ‘they stayed continually in the temple, praising God.’ Luke 24:50-53.