The Gospel of Luke
A Bible Study
Luke gives us the fullest life-story of Jesus that we might possess. The Gospel is part of a two-part history of Christian beginnings-Luke Acts. Both parts are dedicated to the same man a Roman by the name of Theophilus, and both are written with the same purpose.
The Gospel is carefully compiled from reliable, first-hand sources, those who were eye-witnesses of the events Luke will write. 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' life-time.
Luke's Gospel shows Jesus as the Savior of all mankind; His coming, a world-event. He lets us see Jesus the man. His selection of stories reflects his own warm interest in people, especially the sick and helpless, the poor, women, children the social outcasts.
Luke the writer
The Gospel does not mention the author's name, but all the evidence points to Luke the doctor, Paul's companion on his missionary journeys. The precise way diseases are described in the Gospel fits in well with this.
From the Gospel itself it is clear the writer is an educated man, with a wide vocabulary, and capable of marshalling and selecting material. He is an artist with words. He is at home with both Greek and Jewish backgrounds--although he writes for non-Jews, using Greek titles and quoting from the Greek version of the Old Testament.
Modern archaeology has proved Luke to be an accurate historian. Luke worked with Mark and knew him well (Colossians 4:10, 14; Philemon 24).
I. 1:5--2:52 The Birth and Childhood of John & Jesus
II. 3:1--4:13 John the Baptist & Jesus
III. 4:14--9:50 Teaching & Healing in Galilee
IV. 9:51--19:27 On the Move Towards Jerusalem
V. 19:28--21:38 Jesus in Jerusalem
VI. 22:1--24:52 Jesus' Last Hours: The Cross & Resurrection
Verse 3 Theophilus, an otherwise unknown Roman, who had at least some interest in Christianity. "Most excellent" may be his title as a high-ranking official.
I. The Birth And Childhood of John & Jesus 1:5--2:52
Only Matthew and Luke take their accounts as far back as Jesus' birth. The two accounts supplement one another. Luke's is fuller. Much of his information must surely have come from Mary herself.
1. 1:5--25 The angel's message to Zechariah
God Himself was in the events which led up to the birth of Christ. John's conception is in itself inexplicable on a purely human level (as with Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, Samson).
Zechariah was in Jerusalem for his annual two week spell of duty as a priest. This year came the honor of a lifetime. He was chosen to offer the incense alone in the temple.
At that moment God sends to tell him that the long years of prayer for a son are over. He will remove the stigma of childlessness--but more than that.
As he answers the deep inner longing of this couple God at the same time fulfils far wider purposes--for the nation, and for the world. John will be the link between the Old Testament and the New. He will be the new Elijah ( 17; Malachi 4:5), herald of the long promised, long awaited Messiah.
Verse 15 Compare Samson's dedication to God, Judges 13:4-5; and the Nazirite rules in Numbers 6.
2. 1:26-38 The angel's message to Mary
Six months later the Messiah's birth is announced--this time to the young woman chosen to be His mother, and without the agency of a human father.
John Simpson writes the following regarding the virgin birth...
Both Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (1:30-35) state that Jesus Christ was conceived by an action of the Holy Spirit without the intervention of a human father, and thus born of a virgin. We call this event the virgin birth or, more accurately, the virginal conception of Jesus.
In both Matthew and Luke the emphasis lies on the power and activity of the Holy Spirit in the birth of Jesus. It is this, not the absence of a human father, nor even the co-operation of the virgin mother, which is the important point. From His mother, Jesus was born as a man, but by the creative act of the Spirit, His is a new humanity, the starting-point of a new race.
The biblical evidence points to this miracle as the means which God employed in order to bring His Son into the world. We are not told anything about the physiology of the incarnation, but simply that it was through the activity of the Spirit that Mary became pregnant.
That is indeed all that can be said, since we are concerned here with the entry of the infinite God into His own creation, and this is something that cannot be described, any more than the act of creation itself can be described. Nor can the virgin birth be rejected simply because it is a miracle. The supreme miracle is the incarnation itself, and if we can accept that miracle, there should be no difficulty about accepting the means by which God chose to effect it.
The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 that a virgin should conceive and bear a son called "Immanuel" (God with us) was seen to have a deeper meaning after the birth of Jesus. (cf. Matthew 1:22-23)
In Mark 6:3 the people of Nazareth call Jesus "son of Mary", a phrase that may well have been an insult base on the rumor that Joseph was not His father. John 8:41 contains a similar slander.
Paul makes reference to the virgin birth in Galatians 4:4 where he says that God "sent forth His Son, born of woman" and again when he spoke of Jesus as the "second Adam," the first of the new race in 1 Corinthians 15:45-47.
Mary's quiet acceptance of a situation bound to cause scandal, and possibly the breaking of her marriage contract, shows something of the kind of woman through whom God chose to fulfill His purposes.
3. 1:39-56 Mary visits Elizabeth
Having heard the news, Mary sets straight out on the four- or five-day journey south. It is a meeting of special joy and significance for the two women who have much to share. Their thoughts and feelings are crystallized in Elizabeth’s benediction and Mary's hymn of praise.
The hymn is full of Old Testament phrases which Mary must have known and loved from childhood (see especially Hannah's song, 1 Samuel 2:1-10)
Matthew 1:18-25 tells us what happened after Mary went home.
4. 1:57-80 The birth of John
The child's strange name, Zechariah's sudden recovery of speech and the outburst of prophecy as his pent-up thoughts find voice, make a deep impression on the people around. They expect great things of John.
"In the desert" Other people at the time also withdrew, world-weary, from
ordinary life and people. For instance, the Essene community at Qumran
flourished in John's day in the same area. John, but contrast, had a message for his nation.
With the coming of John, the new age has begun. John the Baptist is the voice which Isaiah had predicted, crying out from the desert, urging the nation to make ready for God's coming. Jesus is the Messiah--the one whose coming John is to announce.
For other Old Testament references see: Exodus 23:20; Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3
5. 2:1-20 The birth of Jesus
Bethlehem--6 miles south of Jerusalem, 70 miles south of Nazareth--had a long history. It was the home of Ruth and Boaz, birthplace of King David. But for Jesus there was no room; just an outhouse, a cradle shared with the animals. And the only ones to be told that the King of glory has come are some humble shepherds. "He became poor" Paul's phrase was the literal truth.
Verse 2 We know Quirinius governed Syria-Cilicia AD 6-9, but Luke's census is at least nine years earlier. It may be that Quirinius served an earlier term as governor. There are some authors which argue for the name Saturninus but Luke has proven to be such a reliable historian elsewhere that it is difficult to think he would make such a factual blunder.
Verse 7 The "inn" may equally well be the guestroom of a house (see Matthew 2:11) The animals were probably stabled in a cave beneath the house.
Verse 14 "His peace for men on who His favor rests" God's peace does not come to men because they deserve it. This is grace at work. We have peace because of Jesus, the prince of peace, and what He has done for us.
6. 2:21-40 The presentation of Jesus in the temple; Simeon and Anna
Leviticus 12 gives the Jewish background. Forty days after Jesus; birth His parents present Him to the priest in the temple. They are poor people who cannot afford to sacrifice a lamb. It is all routine procedure-until Simeon and Anna see the child. They recognize Jesus to be their Messiah.
Verse 39 Matthew 2 supplies the other events which took place before the family settled in the town of Nazareth.
7. 2:41-52 Jesus astonishes the teachers in the temple
When he was twelve, a Jewish boy underwent preparation for adult status in the religious community. This visit to Jerusalem is therefore a special one for Jesus. Visitors flocked into Jerusalem for Passover travelling in large parties for safety. Jesus' parents had no reason to suspect He was missing till the evening halt. The next day they retraced their steps, and on the following morning found Him in the temple. This is the first indication we have that Jesus realized His special relationship to the Father.
The next 18 years are passed over in total silence.
II. John The Baptist & Jesus 3:1--4:13
1. 3:1-20 The preaching of John
Luke's historical detail make it possible to date John's ministry (and the beginning of Jesus' ministry a few months later) somewhere between AD 26 and 29.
Verses 10-14 These verses occur only in Luke. Genuine repentance shows itself in daily life--in kindness, generosity, honesty. The soldiers are told, "No bullying; no blackmail; make do with your pay!" [New English Bible]
Verses 19-20 [See also Mark 6:14-29] Guilt and superstition make Herod think Jesus is John come back to life again. Herod had divorced his own wife to marry Herodias, wife of his half-brother Philip.
John had denounced this as incest (Leviticus 18:16; 20:21) and been imprisoned for his pains.
According to a Jewish historian Josephus, John's prison was the fortress of Machaerus in the far south, east of the Dead Sea. But Herodias wanted to still the preacher's tongue permanently.
2. 3:21-22 Jesus'
The "washing" of baptism is the radical cleaning up of a Christian's life--the wiping the slate clean of all sin.
This was not necessary in Jesus' case. He was the holy Son of God. He was baptized, not in order to be forgiven, but to identify Himself completely with men. When He stepped into the Jordan, it was taking personal responsibility for the sin of the world. In His baptism Jesus was accepting His destiny with all that that involved.
God's words found in Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1 proclaim Jesus as His Son, the Messiah, the Servant who would suffer for His people.
3. 3:23-38 Jesus' family tree
[See also Matthew 1:1-17] Luke traces the line beyond Abraham to Adam emphasizing Jesus' work for all mankind, as well as establishing His claim to be the Messiah descended from David.
4. 4:1-13 The temptation
In the temptations that follow His 40 day fast Jesus faces up to all He will have to go through in His ministry.
He now has power--power to feed the hungry, heal the sick, raise the dead. How will He use it? To satisfy His own needs? To try God out? To compel a following? When it comes to it, will He use His power to save Himself, or will He trust Himself entirely to God and t read the path to the cross?
Jesus replies to Satan's test questions in words from Deuteronomy (8:3; 6:16; 6:13)-key passages from Israel's 40 years in the desert, when God tested their obedience to Him (Deuteronomy 8:2)
Luke reverses the order of the second and third temptations. The real target of attack is Jesus’ relationship to His Father.
Satan's attempts to undermine Jesus' relationship to the Father and sow doubts are not so different from his methods in Genesis 3..."Did God say?" This time, Satan does not succeed!
III. Teaching & Healing In Galilee 4:14--9:50
Galilee was the Roman province, under Herod's jurisdiction, lay to the west of the Sea of Galilee. We tend to think of it as a remote country district.
In Jesus' day the region was prosperous and densely populated, criss-crossed by Roman military roads and ancient trade routes--north, south, east, and west. The fresh-water Sea of Galilee--13 miles long, 7 miles wide, sunk in the deep trough of the Jordan rift valley over 600 feet below sea-level is the focal point in Jesus' travels.
It divided Herod's territory from that of his half-brother Philip, to the east. Most of the apostles came from the towns around the lakeshore which enjoyed a sub-tropical climate. Capernaum was Jesus' base. Tiberias, 10 miles away, was a spa town famous for its hot baths. Many of the sick people Jesus healed must have come to the area for the mineral waters at Tiberias. On the hill behind the town was Herod's splendid summer palace. The lake is ringed round with hills brown and barren on the east; in those days green, fertile, wooded on the west. Over the tops, and funnelling down through them, races the wind that can whip the lake into a sudden fury of storm. North, the snowcapped summit of Mt. Hermon, the mount of the transfiguration, dominates the skyline.
In Jesus' day, palms, olives, figs and vines grew on the hillsides round the lake. And the little towns and villages on its western shore were thriving centers of industry--fish pickled for export; boat-building; dyeworks; potteries.
John the Baptist lived an ascetic life in the desert. By contrast, Jesus chose to be in the thick of things, in Galilee, one of the busiest, most cosmopolitan regions of Palestine.
1. 4:14-30 In Nazareth
Luke chooses to start here, although this was not the first event in Jesus' ministry. Astonishment at Jesus' teaching quickly changes to hostility. And at the implication that because of their disbelief the gospel will be offered to nonJews, the people are all set to lynch Him.
In Jesus' home town it is not a case of "local boy makes good," but rather "Who does this jumped-up carpenter think he is!?" It was not in line with Jesus purpose to make a display of His powers in order to convince skeptics. Jesus true to His form remains the humble servant of the Father.
Verses 16-17 "the synagogue"; Anyone might be invited to take part in the service of prayers, readings, and sermon. The leader stood to pray and read from the scrolls, sat down to preach.
Verses 26-27 See 1 Kings 17:8-16; 2 Kings 5:1-14
2. 4:31-44 Capernaum
From now on Capernaum is Jesus' headquarters. His teaching in the synagogue and His handling of the sick and the possessed convey His extraordinary power and authority.
Verse 44 "Judea" The term is used here of Palestine generally, not the south in particular. Jesus went there later.
3. 5:1-11 The catch of fish; Peter and his partners follow Jesus
Luke fills in the details omitted in the gospels of Matthew (3:18-22) and Mark (1:16-20). The decision to follow Christ was based on more than casual contact.
Verse 1 "Gennesaret" Is another name for Galilee.
4. 4:12-16 Jesus heals a leper
To the Jews lepers were unclean, untouchable. Jesus could have healed the man with a look, or a word - instead he reached-out and touched him. [For leprosy regulations see Leviticus 13-14]
5. 5:17-26 The paralytic walks
It is easy enough simply to tell a man his sin is forgiven. But by healing him Jesus visibly demonstrates His power in both physical and spiritual realms. When He says the Word, something happens.
The house would have an outside staircase leading to a flat roof, giving extra living space. The roof would be made of tiles or lath and plaster--not difficult to break through.
Ordinary people slept on the floor on a mat or bedding which could be rolled up in the daytime.
6. 5:27-39 Levi (Matthew) becomes a disciple; questions about fasting
The tax collector is called "Levi" in Mark and Luke. It is clear that the feast is held at his house. "Matthew" may have been Levi's "Christian" name, as "Peter" was Simon's.
Jesus' presence is such company scandalizes the religious Pharisees. John's followers are also puzzled. Who does Jesus feast whereas John fasted?
Luke gives the answer of Jesus most clearly. His radically new teaching cannot be squeezed into the mould of the old legalism. It must find new forms of expression--or else the old will be destroyed and the new spoil.
Verse 39 This is a perceptive comment on human nature--the conservatism which mistrusts anything new.
7. 6:1-11 Controversy over the Sabbath
Jewish interpretation of the third commandment (Exodus 20:8-11; 34:21) had hedged it about with so many petty rules and restrictions that its primary purpose was lost. The day or rest was intended for man's physical and spiritual good, not to deny him food and help. It is a day for doing good--and not only in an emergency.
The loaves David took were those the priests placed each week on the altar. [See-1 Samuel 21:1-6]
8. 6:12-16 Jesus chooses the Twelve
Only Luke tells us of Jesus' night of prayer. He tells us more about Jesus as a man of prayer than any other Gospel writer.
Jesus chose an inner circle of 12 disciples who became members of the new kingdom--the counterparts of Jacob's 12 sons, who gave their names to the tribes of Israel.
Three--Peter, James and John were specially close to Him. Four of the Twelve, all from Galilee, were partners in a fishing business (Peter and his brother Andrew; James and his brother John) One (Matthew/ Levi, who may have been the brother of James son of Alphaeus) was a tax collector, serving the Romans. Simon, at the other end of the political scale, belonged to an extremist guerilla group (the Zealots) working to overthrow the occupation. We know very little about the others.
The "Thaddaeus" of Matthew 10:2-4 and Mark 3:7-19 seems to be the same as "Judas son of James" (Acts 1:13).
Bartholomew is often identified with the Nathanael of John 1. They were certainly a very mixed bunch of men.
9. 6:17-49 Jesus teaches His disciples
This is most probably a shorter version of the sermon recorded min Matthew 5-7. Jesus must have taught these truths on many different occasions.
Having chosen the twelve, Jesus comes some distance down the mountainside to a level area. Here He sits down to teach with the apostles as they gather around Him. His words are for His followers--those who realize their poverty in God's sight, who have an appetite for spiritual truth, who grieve at the evil they find in their own hearts. This is not a question of material poverty or riches.
Verses 20-23 This is a picture of Jesus' disciplesmen who seem pitiable now, but who have a great future.
Verses 24-26 The dreadful predicament of those who enjoy all life offers now, and fail to look beyond it.
Verses 27-36 The command to treat others as God treats us--even in the face of injustice; even - those who put us down.
10. 7:1-10 The centurion's slave
Jesus' mission is to Israel, but nowhere among His own people has He found faith to equal that of the Roman officer who recognized authority when He saw it.
11. 7:11-17 Jesus brings the widow's son back to life
We have no other record of this incident. It is a further example of Luke's concern for the underprivileged. The widow's son is her only means of support. Once again Jesus shows Himself Lord of life and death.
Verse 11 Nain is a village south of Nazareth.
Verse 13 Luke is the only Gospel writer to refer to Jesus as "the Lord" a term probably not much used during His lifetime.
12. 7:18-35 Messengers from John the Baptist
Herod Antipas had married the daughter of Aretas IV of Arabia, but divorced her to marry his own niece, Herodias, who was already his brother’s (Herod Philip's) wife. [See Matthew 14:3 and Mark 6:17] Because of John's public address to this sin, Herod Antipas imprisoned John.
John is puzzled by reports of Jesus. He expected the Messiah to come in judgement. Jesus' reply reminds him of the other aspect of Messiah's work (predicted in Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1), which He is fulfilling.
John is the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets--the latter-day Elijah predicted by Malachi (4:5). Jesus thinks no less of John for his doubts but the humblest Christian enjoys far greater privileges.
Like sulky children, Jesus' contemporaries refuse to "play weddings" with Him or
to "play funerals" with John. They will listen neither to good
news nor to warnings.
Verse 35 "God's wisdom, however, is shown to be true by all who accept it". People turned to God in response to the preaching of both John and Jesus. The only way for us today to bring people to faith is through the use of God's Word; the law and the gospel.
13. 7:36-50 In the Pharisee's house
Simon shows Jesus no special courtesy. But a common prostitute, to whom He has opened up the possibility of forgiveness, pours out her gratitude in lavish love--not caring what anyone thinks. Her love does not earn forgiveness (vs.47) it follows it.
14. 8:1-21 "If you have ears...then hear"; Jesus teaches in parables
Only Luke tells us the part the women played in Jesus' mission. Susanna is not
mentioned again. Mary Magdalene stood watching at the crucifixion, and she and
Joanna were at the tomb and saw the Lord on the resurrection morning. Their
love, and that of many other women who followed Him
from Galilee, never wavered. Was Mary the woman of 7:36ff? Some believe yes while others say no. We can see that there was a real battle in her heart before she became a believer.
Jesus made many of His points by means of parables-stories that could be taken
at two levels; the superficial or the more perceptive. They were
a means of sorting out His followers; discovering who had come just because of the miracles, and who really wanted to understand His teaching. The former were happy to listen to stories; the latter were prepared to look for the deeper meaning and ask Him to explain. There was so much misunderstanding--even among the disciples about the nature of the kingdom that he needed to straighten them out one point at a time.
Verses 1-15 The parable of the sower. The seeds and the soils picture the varied response His message will bring.
Verses 16-18 The lampstand. The light of the Gospel penetrates the darkness of sin; likewise the Christian is changed as Christ comes to him in the Word. The disciples are to make this message known in all the world.
Verses 19-21 Presumably the younger children of Mary and Joseph. It is usually thought that Joseph was dead by this time. All who come to faith in Christ are brought into the family of God; the family of believers. Your church home is a family affair.
15. 8:22-39 The stormy crossing; the man possessed by demons
Sudden storms sometimes whip the Sea of Galilee into a fury. Jesus has power to control the elements.
The man possessed by demons is in a pitiful mess. A fragmented personality at the mercy of a hundred conflicting impulses; totally incapable of a normal life. Is any greater contrast imaginable than the description given here of his life under the influence of these demons?
Jesus has power not only over nature but also over human nature; and not only over human nature but over the spiritual forces of evil.
16. 8:40-56 Jairus' daughter; the woman with a hemorrhage
The woman tries not to advertise her presence because the hemorrhage makes her polluted and untouchable to her fellow Jews. There is no magic about Jesus' clothes. He knows the difference between the casual contact of the crowd and someone reaching out in need.
The incident must have encouraged Jairus. The fact that he came to Jesus shows that not all religious leaders were against Him.
This was not just a coma--the child was really dead. Everyone knew it. Jesus' words describe death as God sees it--a sleep from which we will wake to a new day.
17. 9:1-17 The Twelve sent out; Herod is puzzled; 5,000 fed
The choice and training of the twelve was a vital part of Jesus' mission. The task of spreading the good news about eternal life would rest with them after His death.
Now He sends them out for the first time, with power to heal. He gives them instructions and warns them of the kind of reception they are likely to get, both now and in the future. They are to expect hardship; trust in God's care; and fear no one.
Verses 7-9 Luke seems to have a special source of information about Herod, perhaps through Joanna (8:3).
John's death casts a shadow. Jesus is desperately tired and hard pressed. Yet
instead of being annoyed or irritable with the pursuing crowds,
His heart goes out to them.
Needless to say the disciples did not have the kind of money needed for buy food. The denarius was a working man's wage for the day--this would be over six month's wages.
Some have believed that the crowd could have been over 5,000 as only men were counted. If you would count women and children it could have been up to 15,000. Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana seats close to 17,000 people. According to the concessions manager the following items were sold at the IU vs Wisconsin game, Saturday, March 12, 1994...400 1bs of hot dogs, 3,000 popcorn boxes, 8,200 cokes (1,000 gallons) 684 candy bars, 436 nachos, 284 boxes of caramel corn, 917 soft pretzels, 247 polish sausages, 100 sandwiches, 179 bags of peanuts, 50 muffins, 160 cups of coffee.
When we pray "give us this day our daily bread" we can know that the Savior will supply us with all that we need to support our body and life!
18. 9:18-27 "Who do you say I am?" Jesus speaks of His suffering
Luke has a shorter version then Matthew and Mark.
Simon Peter speaks for all the apostles in asserting his belief that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus sees in him the man of rock (Peter) he will become after the shattering experience of denial and forgiveness. It is Peter the natural spokesman who will be responsible, more than any other, for the formation of the church at Pentecost (Acts 2-5).
19. 9:28-36 Jesus is Transfigured
The disciples are sure now that Jesus is the Messiah. This special glimpse of His glory, given to the inner three, must have been tremendously reassuring through all that lay ahead.
Moses (Israel's great lawgiver) and Elijah (the first great prophet) converse with Jesus about His coming death.
The mountain is believed to be 9,000 foot Mt. Hermon as it is only 12 miles north-east of Caesarea Philippi. The tradition that it was Mt. Tabor does not fit the geography so will.
Peter wants to prolong the moment. Perhaps Moses and Elijah will stay if they make shelters for them, like the tent (tabernacle) where God was present in the days of old before the temple was built. The glory of all he saw that day imprinted itself indelibly on Peter's memory (2 Peter 1:16-18)
20. 9:37-50 The epileptic boy; "Who is the greatest?"
The disciples fail because of their lack of faith (cf. Matthew 17:19-20) Yet
Jesus will accept this opportunity to tell of His coming suffering and
Verses 46-48 No one who is preoccupied with selfish ambition can become a "great" Christian. It has to be other people first, self last. Today we lay great stress on self-fulfillment, and the full development of personality. Jesus puts this in perspective. It is better deliberately to limit that fulfillment, to handicap ourselves in this life then to miss God's kingdom altogether.
IV. On The Move Towards Jerusalem: Teaching & Healing 9:51--19:27
In this section Luke groups incidents and teaching from various periods of Christ's ministry on the general theme of discipleship. He may have had several journeys to Jerusalem in mind. Much of what is recorded in these chapters is unique to Luke.
1. 9:51-56 The Samaritan village
Jesus' insistence on going to Jerusalem was a red rag to a bull to the Samaritans. See 10:29
Verse 54 No wonder Jesus nicknamed these two brothers the "sons of thunder"!
2. 9:57-62 Urgency of Christ’s work
A disciple wants to wait till after his father's funeral before joining Jesus. This need not mean his father is dead. "I must first bury my father" is a colloquial way of saying, "I will follow you sometime--when my father is dead and I am free to go." Jesus' reply stresses the urgency of His work. It calls for a response now, not some time in the future.
3. 10:1-24 Jesus sends out the seventy
Compare this with Jesus' instructions to the Twelve in Matthew 10:5-15. Those entrusted with Gods good news are entitled to support from the people they go to. But they are not to look for luxury (the going from house to house is with a view to a better living). Time is too precious to waste on endless social formalities. (v.4)
There is work to be done, a message to be made known. And God Himself will judge those who reject it. The seventy are overjoyed at their new power. But greater cause for joy is the certainty of eternal life. (v.20)
Verse 18 "I saw Satan fall..." Their ability to exorcise evil spirits is a sign that Satan's power is broken. The preaching of the new age means that the power of evil is to be defeated at last. Jesus rejoices in this fulfillment of His ministry.
4. 10:25-37 A test question; the good Samaritan
Only Luke tells this story. Jesus gives a textbook answer to the question. The lawyer, chagrined, in an attempt to save face asks another. Instead of answering directly, Jesus replies with a parable. There was a long history of hatred between Jew and Samaritan. The Samaritans were regarded as scum-untouchables. Yet Jesus shows this one carrying out the law whereas the injured man's fellow Jews-- even the religious leaders-fail. A real "neighbor" is one who gives help wherever it is needed, even to someone who yesterday, so to speak, kicked him in the teeth.
Verse 30 The road which winds its way down from Jerusalem to Jericho (dropping 3,300 feet in 17 miles) passes through lonely, desolate, rocky terrain--ideal brigand country.
5. 10:38-42 Martha and Mary
The two sisters and their brother Lazarus lived at Bethany, near Jerusalem. Martha gets into a state slaving to prepare an elaborate meal. She would have done better to keep the menu simple and leave time to listen to Jesus.
6. 11:1-13 Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray
Matthew 6:9-13 gives the longer form of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus is not supplying just a form of words. His prayer provides us with a pattern. It teaches us to come to God simply, talking to Him as we would our own father, both sharing His concerns and confidently telling Him of our own needs. We are not to be discouraged if time goes by and we see no answer. Persistence will in the end win over even the most reluctant friend--and there is no reluctance to answer on God's part.
Verse 7 A poor family slept all together on thin mattresses on a raised section of the one all-purpose room.
Verses 11-12 Fish and serpents look alike, so do eggs and rolled-up scorpions.
7. 11:14-36 Opposition: Jesus slates His contemporaries
Verses 14-23 The Pharisees see Jesus as the devil's agent despite the transparent goodness of His work. If they were right, Satan would be set on a suicide course--as are all who, like the Pharisees, call good evil. They are stubbornly denying the Holy Spirit's work, and making their own forgiveness impossible.
Verses 24-26 The story is a warning to those who have repented as a result of what they have seen and heard. Unless they take the further step of whole-hearted commitment, they are in grave danger.
After all Jesus' miracles of healing the lawyers and Pharisees have the
effrontery to demand a spectacular sign. Only one such sign will be given--
Jesus' resurrection from the dead--the incontrovertible proof that He is who He claims to be.
Verses 34-36 The eyes were thought to be windows, letting light into the body.
8. 11:37-54 Jesus' rebuke infuriates the Pharisees
Verses 37-41 Jesus was in constant conflict with the Pharisees because He questioned their traditions for tradition's sake. For them tradition (the oral teaching of the rabbis which supplemented and interpreted Scripture) was binding. Jesus taught against tradition whenever it watered down or undermined the Scriptures. Thus His attack at some of their traditions is directed at their laws, which did not keep the love of God first and foremost.
Verses 42-52 Jesus could not stomach the religious sham, the self-righteous pride, the hair-splitting pedantry of the Pharisees. Proud and selfish hearts still lurk beneath such "proper" exteriors. How He must hate to see Pharisaic hypocrisy in His own followers.
9. 12:1-13:9 Warning and reassurance; be ready
This section is a collection of Jesus' teaching about the future, and the way future events should affect life here and now. The consequences of following a short sighted materialist philosophy will in the end prove disastrous. Much of this section is paralleled in Matthew's gospel.
Verses 1-12 See Matthew 10:26ff
Verses 13-21 The parable of the rich fool--unique to Luke
Verses 22-34 See Matthew 6:9-34
Verses 35-48 See Matthew 24:42-51
Verses 13:1-9 Roman troops had slaughtered some Galilean pilgrims in the temple at Passover. People assumed the victims of the two disasters must have been specially wicked--but that was not true. The whole nation is ripe for judgment and will meet an equally horrible fate if present opportunities for a change of heart are let slip.
Verses 12:35 For freedom of movement at work the long tunic was drawn up through a belt.
Verses 12:49-50 The good news of the gospel will run through the earth like fire. But first Jesus must plumb the depths of suffering.
10. 13:10-17 The woman with arthritis
Only Luke records this story. It is one of numerous clashes with the Pharisees over healing on the Sabbath.
Verse 16 Satan bears ultimate responsibility for bringing suffering into the world along with sin.
11. 13:18-21 Pictures of what God's kingdom will be (See also Matthew 13)
12. 13:22-35 The narrow door
Verses 22-30 Speculation over how many will be saved is futile. The important thing is for each individual to make sure of his own place. It is not enough merely to recognize Christ. He requires response--and there is a time limit.
Verses 31-35 Jesus is not bothered by Herod's threats. He knows what lies ahead, and grieves at the fate of the city that will destroy Him.
13. 14:1-24 Jesus dines out; two parables
Verses 1-6 Another Sabbath healing. Human life is cheap, livestock precious! Dropsy (v.2) fluid collecting in parts of the body and causing swelling and pain.
Verses 7-11 Guests were carefully seated according to rank and status (as at a formal banquet today) but everyone wants a seat at the head table. Jesus is commending a genuinely humble spirit, not false modesty.
Verses 12-14 Real generosity does not look for returns.
Verses 15-24 The story illustrates how people react to the invitation God makes through Jesus. Many reply with a snub. It is not really a case of ''I cannot come" but "I will not come". The "reasons" are no more than excuses.
14. 14:25-35 Counting the cost of discipleship
The guests in the story had their priorities all wrong. Jesus' claim must take precedence over all others. No one can follow Him unless He is prepared for all that this means. Too many people start to build in fine style and then run out of funds.
Verse 26 Jesus teaches us to love even our enemies. He is not telling us to hate our family! He means we must love Him more than anyone or anything else (v.33). The black and white contrast was a figure of speech.
15. 15:1-31 The lost sheep; the lost coin; the drop-out son
These three stories contrast strongly with the severity of chapter 14. God cares for those who have gone wrong in life. He is always ready to forgive any who turn to him. The men of religion (vv.1-2) like the elder son in the story, show neither love nor pity for those who fail to meet their standards. But God rejoices at their rescue.
Verse 8 The silver coins were probably the woman's dowry, worn round her neck or on her headdress.
16. 16:1-31 The dishonest manager; the danger of being taken up with money
Verses 1-13 Jesus commends the manager's astuteness, not his dishonesty. He knows how to make money work for him.
Verse 9 The New English Bible gives a plausible rendering of a difficult verse. Friends bought by money cannot get us to heaven. But the way we use our money now may affect our eternal destiny. It is a test of how we could handle wealth of a different kind. Is go, or money, our master?
Verses 16-17 Compare Matthew 11;12-13. The emphasis here is different.
Verse 18 See Matthew 19:1-15
Verses 19-31 The rich man and Lazarus. Jesus uses popular picture language (Abraham's bosom, the great chasm, etc). But the story makes it clear that if we will not respond to the message God has already clearly given in the Bible, we will not respond at all. No amount of miracle working would make any difference. Our future is determined by our present response, or lack of it.
17. 17:1-10 Forgiveness; faith; duty
18. 17:11-19 The ten lepers
The men are sent to the priests in order to be declared fit to return to normal society. By going, they demonstrate their faith in Jesus' word. All are cured, but only one takes the trouble to say thank you.
19. 17:20-37 Teaching about Jesus' return
See also Matthew 24. No amount of calculation can fix the time of Jesus' return (vv.20-21). We can not determine the place of Christ's return in judgment (v.37). The world will be caught unprepared, as it was by the flood.
20. 18:1-14 More about prayer
Two parables which appear only in Luke. Like all Jesus' parables, these are stories from life.
Verses 1-8 God is no unjust judge. If a woman could persist with her plea against such odds surely we can pray on if the answer does not come at once.
The Pharisee "prays" simply to give himself a pat on the back. It is the tax
collector, who can find nothing in himself to be proud of, whom God
21. 18:15-17 Jesus and the children
See also Matthew 19:13-15; and Mark 10:13-16. To the disciples, the children were a nuisance. But Jesus loved them. Verse 17 makes the same point as the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Admission to God's kingdom is never denied to those who are welcomed by the Savior by His mercy and grace.
22. 18:18-34 The rich ruler's question; Jesus again predicts His death
For this section see Matthew 19:16-30; 20:17-19; and Mark 10:17-34
23. 18:35-43 At Jericho; the blind beggar
This is found in Matthew 20:29-34 (where there are two men) and also in Mark 10:46-52. Only Mark tells us the beggar's name which is Bartimaeus as he afterwards joined the company of Jesus' followers, Peter presumably came to know him.
24. 19:1-10 Zacchaeus
Zacchaeus, like Matthew, was a social outcast because of his job, collecting taxes for the Romans. He made himself a fat living by fleecing his own people of money to pay the Roman taxes. But when Jesus chose to stay at his home, Zacchaeus became a new man.
25. 19:11-27 The parable of the pounds
This story is similar to the parable of the talents in Matthew. Verse 11 is the key. Herod's son, Archelaus, did just what the nobleman in Jesus' story did--went to Rome to be given his title to the kingdom of Judea.
He was followed by a delegation of Jews opposed to his rule. Jesus is no despot, like Herod, but He too is about to leave His people for a time. In his absence they must faithfully carry out the work given them to do. For he will return with authority to judge every man.
Verse 13 "The pound" is the Greek mina.
V. Jesus In Jerusalem 19:28--21:38
1. 19:28-48 The triumphant ride into the city; Jesus in the temple
Jesus rode in on an ass (Zechariah 9:9) not a war-horse. He came on a peace mission. But Jerusalem would have none of it, choosing instead the violent course which led to total destruction at the hands of the Romans in AD 70.
Verse 28 Bethphage and Bethany were villages east of the Mount of Olives, two miles from Jerusalem.
Verse 38 Luke paraphrases for his non-Jewish readers.
Verse 45 See also Matthew 21:12-17. Luke, like Matthew compresses the events; compare Mark 11:11 and 15ff.
2. 20:1-18 On whose authority...?
See Matthew 21:23-46; and Mark 11:27 - 12:12
3. 20:19-21:4 Jesus' enemies set traps
4. 21:5-38 Jesus talks about the destruction of the temple and the end of the world
This section is found also in Matthew 24 and Mark 13
Verses 8-11 Signs of the end
Verses 12-19 Suffering and witness of the disciples
Verses 20-24 The fall of Jerusalem: phase one of the end
Cosmic upheaval and Jesus' return. This is phase two of the end.
Verses 29-33 The certainty of these events. "All" (v.32) must refer to the warning signs, including the fall of Jerusalem. All the indications are that Christ's coming is near; yet God still delays, giving time for the good news to be made known throughout the world. The fig-tree is the first to come into leaf in Palestine.
Verses 34-36 The need to be ready.
VI. Jesus last hours: the cross & resurrection 22-24
1. 22:1-38 Judas turns traitor; the Last Supper
See Matthew 26:14-29. See also Mark 14:12-25; John 13 - 14.
Verse 10 It was usually the woman's job to carry water, so this man would have been conspicuous.
2. 22:39-53 On the Mount of Olives; the arrest See also Matthew 26:30-56; Mark 14:26-52
3. 22:54-65 Peter denies Christ; the mockery of the soldiers
Only Peter and one other disciple had the courage to keep within sight of Jesus. But with nothing to do but wait, courage oozes away and fear takes control. Three times Peter says what he swore he would never say (22:33; Mark 14:29-31). Even Peter, leader of the disciples, denies Him. Afterwards one look from Jesus is enough to break the big fisherman's heart.
4. 22:66-23:12 Jesus before the Sanhedrin; before Pilate; before Herod
Blasphemy is a capital charge under Jewish law. But the accusation and charge is rephrased for Pilate in order to get Jesus convicted of treason. The Roman governor is not interested in offences against Jewish religious law.
Herod was in Jerusalem for the Passover. If Pilate was attempting to pass the buck by sending his prisoner to Herod, it did not work. It is strange that the exchange over Jesus should have brought these two old enemies together.
Verse 3 The answer is non-committal. What Jesus would mean by the title, and what Pilate would understand, are two very different things. See the fuller record in John 18:33-38
5. 23:13-31 Sentenced to death
Although acquitted by both Herod and Pilate, Jesus is condemned to death--because Pilate dare not risk another unfavorable report reaching the emperor (John 19:12). So a convicted murderer is freed, and an innocent man scourged and crucified.
6. 23:32-39 On the cross; the two criminals; Jesus' last words
Only Luke tells us that one of the mocking robbers repented and was forgiven.
Verse 45 The curtain divided the sanctuary from the body of the temple. Only once a year could the high priest pass through and intercede for the people (Hebrews 9:7). Now no intermediary is needed-all may have access to God (Hebrews 10:19-33)
7. 24 Christ is Risen!
In the stillness of that Easter morning the extraordinary news gradually broke, the light dawned. The tomb was empty. Jesus was alive! The details given in the four accounts of what took place on that morning are difficult to harmonize.
That fact that it happened is clear, and has stood up to the most searching examination. Like reports of any major event, it is difficult to piece together the information of a number of independent witnesses. A rough sequence of events is set out in this last chapter.
The disciples were weak, shadow-men. When Jesus died the group became a body with the heart wrenched out. They were terribly afraid. They were without hope. They did not expect a sequel to the story. Peter, the natural leader, was crushed beyond bearing by the knowledge that he had denied Christ. The two on the Emmaus road were typical of the rest.
Yet within twelve hours everything is changed! Not only is the tomb empty--Jesus Himself has been seen on at least five different occasions, by more then 15 of His followers.
They recognized him. They saw the crucifixion scars. He ate with them. Peter is a new man. Despondency and mourning are things of the past. Fear is gone and in its place, indescribable joy. On the concrete certainty of the resurrection rests the whole of subsequent Christian history. Nothing else can account for the facts.
+ + +