Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Gospel of Luke

Here's the last of our December reposts of Rachael Connor's thoughts on the Gospel of Luke. I hope that they have been helpful in the midst of this busy season. In January we will  be reviewing Steve Morrison's "Born This Way" which has some helpful ideas on how we can look at science, the Bible and same sex attraction.

In Jerusalem: and he was numbered with the transgressors (Luke 20:1-24:53)

Now we turn to the final chapters of Luke’s gospel where a heavy, dramatic atmosphere prevails. There is a showdown in the temple, talk of the destruction of Jerusalem; anguished prayer. They are exhausted from sorrow. Darkness. He is betrayed. There are swords and clubs. They weep bitterly, and mock and beat and shout and mourn and wail. Darkness. And he breathes his last and there is beating of breasts. There are perfumes, spices and… rest, and then, finally, joy.

The narrative speeds up but time slows down. The Passover is approaching, then the ‘day’ arrives, and the ‘hour’ comes; it is the sixth hour, then the ninth hour. From the time Jesus arrives in Jerusalem to the end of the book, only roughly a week passes; only a week, but the week towards which all time has been marching.

A major theme in this section is the different expectations of the Christ. Jesus's understanding of the Christ is so much 
greater than theirs, and yet, he must suffer, which is the last thing they expect of the Christ. Indeed, his disciples struggle to understand how he could suffer if he were the Christ. Luke’s answer is clear. He suffered because it was written. He suffered because it is God’s triumphant plan for the salvation of his people.

We may believe with certainty that Jesus is God’s anointed one even though he suffered and was killed. We may believe with certainty that Jesus is God’s anointed one because he suffered and was killed, because that is what was written; and because he was raised to life again, just as it was written. Luke finishes his book with these words,
“He told them, ‘this is what was written, The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. And repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’” (Luke 24:46-47)
We have seen in Luke’s gospel that Jesus is the Christ. He suffered and he rose from the dead. Repentance and forgiveness of sins has been preached in his name. But not ‘to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’. Not yet. That’s another story for another time!

Rejected? (Luke 20-24)

I identify with the people in Luke’s gospel. They have flocked to Jesus from all over Galilee and Judea, to hear and to be healed. They have traveled with him to Jerusalem and he has been teaching them in the temple. They come early, listening, hanging on his words. His enemies cannot touch him for fear of them… until Judas provides a time and a place away from them and He is arrested. What will the people do? They, who hung on his every word? They cry out, ‘AWAY WITH HIM!’ They shout, ‘CRUCIFY HIM!’

One day they marvel, the next they mock. Sunday morning worship becomes Monday morning weariness. Can you see yourself in the crowd? What can we learn from them?

1. The Christ must be rejected. Satan could not tempt him from this path; Judas could not force his hand; Peter could not protect him; and the people cannot fight for him. First, 
Jesus must suffer; for it is written. It is God’s plan for the salvation of his people. Second, he must sufferblood must be shed. There is no other way to bring forgiveness. Third, he must suffer because only he is able to do this work. No one else and nothing else can be the sacrifice before God that will atone for sin and bring forgiveness.

2. We also would reject him but for the work of the Spirit in our lives. The work and worth of the cross is 
spiritually discerned. Unless God shines his light into our hearts, filling us with his Spirit of wisdom, we also are one of that crowd. We also would desert him, deny him, betray him, mock him.

3. We also will be rejected if we follow him. In inviting people to follow him He said, 
‘bear your own cross’ and ‘count the cost’. He warns, ‘You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death (Luke 22:16).’ This is not a word only to the apostles, but also to us, as ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Timothy 3:12).

4. We will be rejected if we do not follow him. If fear of men and their swords keeps us from following Christ, Jesus warns that 
He will reject us on the day of Judgement.

Will you fear the crowd, or will you fear God?

About this month's contributor, Rachael Connor
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I was saved, by the grace of God, through children's ministry. This began in a family which knew God and served him. We went to a Sunday School where my teachers faithfully taught God's word and genuinely loved us with the love of Christ. I remember heeding Christ's call to follow him and submitting my life to him at a Girl's Brigade Camp when I was ten.

What book(s) has helped you most in growing in your knowledge of God?
I have a confession to make. I don't read theological books very well. I have begun many and finished few. So in my case, the answer is, indisputably, the Bible.

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