Savior of the World

Posted: December 6, 2015 in Luke, Route 66

Route 66: Luke, “Savior of the World”

Is salvation offered only to some?  Can only certain people in the world be saved?  Obviously all Bible-believing Christians affirm that only those who have faith in Jesus Christ are saved, but to who is God’s salvation offered?  Those are pretty important questions.  After all, it wouldn’t do any good for someone to repent and place his/her faith in Christ, if Jesus wasn’t offering that person salvation in the first place.  Salvation must first be offered before it can be received.

To some people, they would argue that God’s offer of salvation is limited to only a few.  Be it the “elect,” or only those within a certain denomination – or even (from the standpoint of the 1st century) only to the Jews.  Although the Old Testament is filled with examples of God’s intent to reach all the world through His promised Messiah, the common thought among Jews of the day was that God intended only to save the Jews & that the Gentiles were created solely to fuel the fires of hell.  That same kind of thought exists today.  As if Jesus came only to save people from certain nations or races – of as if Jesus came only for the rich or the “good” or the “deserving.”  It’s thought that those people have the opportunity to be saved, whereas everyone else is just out of luck.

The gospel according to Luke stands in contrast to that idea.  Luke’s gospel shows that Jesus did not come only for the few, the proud, the Hebrews…but rather Jesus was sent as the Savior for the entire world.  He didn’t come for the good people in the world, because there are no good people in the world.  Jesus came for sinners of all stripes, of all colors, of all cultures, of all nations.  Jesus came for you & me.  In fact, Luke records Jesus saying as much in His own words.  Regarding the sinner Zacchaeus: Luke 19:9–10, "(9) And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; (10) for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”"  All people are lost, so all people have the opportunity to be saved, if they but turn to Jesus in faith.

Of course, that’s the message of all the gospels, but it especially comes out in Luke.  For Matthew, Jesus is the King of the Jews who is also the King of the world.  For Mark, Jesus is the Suffering Servant who came to save.  For Luke, Jesus is the Savior sent by God from the creation of the world to all the world: Jew & Gentile alike.  Jesus is the Son of Adam who rights what Adam made wrong.  Jesus is the Savior of the world.

There is little debate that Luke is the author of the gospel that bears his name.  Acts 1:1-3 makes it clear that the book of Acts is the sequel to an earlier work addressed to the same audience, and the writing styles of the books are virtually identical.  From internal evidence within Acts, it’s clear that one of Paul’s travelling associates was the writer of the book, and simple deduction whittles the most likely possibility down to Luke, the Gentile physician among the missionary party.

What is more debated is the date of Luke’s writing.  Liberal scholars adamantly argue for a late date of writing, perhaps in the early-80’s, primarily due to the specificity of Luke’s description of the destruction of Jerusalem during Jesus’ Olivet Discourse.  However, liberals automatically discount the possibility of predictive prophecy, so they betray their bias upfront.  The evidence for an earlier date weighs heavily on the side of conservative scholars.  Because the books of Luke & Acts are clearly a part 1/part 2 writing, we can date Luke’s gospel based on what we see in Acts.  The book of Acts ends with Paul alive in Rome, preaching the gospel while under house arrest.  From Paul’s writings, we know that he was released at least one time, ministered among more churches, and was later arrested, sent back to Rome, and eventually executed in the mid-60’s.  For Luke to omit Paul’s release (and especially his execution) would be highly unlikely, which leaves the conclusion that Acts was written during Paul’s initial imprisonment.  That means the gospel of Luke had to be written prior to Acts, or at least at the same time as Acts, dating in the early 60’s at the very latest (if not late 50’s).  Thus this was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.  (This also provides further evidence for the early dating of Mark, as Luke’s gospel relied heavily upon Mark, as did Matthew’s.)

The question of dates has come up often in our overview of the gospel accounts (and will come up even more with the epistles).  What’s the big deal?  Simply this: it addresses the truthfulness of our faith.  Christianity is a faith based in history; not myth.  Liberals would have people believe that myths about Jesus developed over time, being perpetuated by the apostles, or at least due to misunderstanding the apostles.  They believe that the tales of Jesus are based in a grain of history, but took own a life of their own through oral retelling of the stories, to the point that they were highly distorted or even redacted by the time the New Testament authors finally wrote them down.  To put it bluntly: that idea is absolutely ludicrous & ignorant of the facts.  The evidence is clear that the New Testament was almost entirely penned within 20-30 years after Jesus’ resurrection (with the exceptions being from the apostle John).  These were not myths developed over time, because there was not time for myths to develop.  There were too many living witnesses who could have contradicted anything & everything written by the apostles, but no contradictions were made.  They saw these things with their own eyes, heard it with their own ears, and they could verify that the things that were written were true.  Thus our faith is historical.  It is factual.  We certainly believe it with our hearts, but we have every reason to believe it with our minds as well.

It is history that the author Luke works so diligently to promote in his writings.  Luke, being a doctor, valued intelligent facts, and this becomes evident as we read his books.  He goes to great lengths to record the reigns of the governing officials, plainly marking the point in time these events took place.  He goes beyond the gospel accounts he had already read to evidently conduct personal interviews of his own, and he’s able to include information surrounding Jesus’ birth & childhood that is completely absent from the other books.  History was important to Luke, as he understood it was important to his audience.

Luke not only pays attention to the historical facts, but he also shines further light on Jesus’ outreach to the Gentiles.  To this point, there were two other gospels written to the Jews: Matthew (which had a distinctly Jewish flavor), and Mark (which was perhaps initially written to Jews living in Rome).  Obviously Jesus is the Jewish King, who proclaimed the kingdom of God & is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jews for a Savior.  But Jesus did not come only for the Jews.  He came for the Gentiles as well.  Luke, being a Gentile, is keenly aware of that & ensures that Jesus’ ministry among the Gentiles is pronounced.  This Savior of the Jews is also the Savior of the world – One who needs to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth.

As always, there are many ways to break up the book – but as with the other Synoptic Gospels, there is a general flow to Jesus’ ministry.  After a brief beginning, Jesus is shown primarily in Galilee, and then proceeds to Jerusalem with a distinct focus upon the cross.

  • Jesus’ Childhood (1-2)
  • Galilean Ministry (3:1-9:50)
  • Journey to Jerusalem (9:51-21:38)
  • Passion & Resurrection (22-24)

Because Luke is the 3rd of the Synoptic Gospels, we won’t re-cover everything we’ve already overviewed from the life of Jesus in Matthew & Mark.  Instead, our overview will concentrate on the areas that are more unique to Luke.

Jesus’ Childhood
Introduction (1:1-4)
Right from the get-go we find Luke to be unique in that he’s the only Synoptic writer to include any prologue at all.  Luke states up-front why he wrote the book & to whom he wrote it.  He addresses the book to “Theophilus,” (lover of God) which some interpret to be all lovers-of-God alive at the time, but is more likely an actual person to whom Luke wanted to give an accounting of the Christian faith.  Some believe that perhaps Luke was giving a defense of Paul, and that the gospel was only the prelude to the book of Acts – but that seems unlikely in view of the sheer length of the gospel book.  Perhaps Luke was giving a defense of the Christian faith in general, which certainly would have tied in to any defense he provided on Paul’s behalf.  In any case, Luke wanted Theophilus to know the truth about Jesus.  Although Luke was aware of other writings (1:2), he wanted to provide his own “orderly account,” (1:3) to set forth a firm historical timeline for these things.

  • Again, we have a historical faith & Luke shows himself to be a historian of the 1st order.  Through the years, Luke has been questioned by academic historians, only to be proven correct time & time again through archaeological discovery.  What he wrote is trustworthy!  (Exactly as we would expect from someone writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit!)

Birth announcements of John & Jesus (1:5-38)
Whereas the previous two gospel accounts assume the life & ministry of John the Baptist, Luke is the first writer to actually record the miraculous circumstances surrounding John’s own birth, as well as the family relationship between John & Jesus.  John’s father & Jesus’ mother each have similar encounters with the angel Gabriel, yet they have vastly different responses to the news given them.  Zacharias questioned the news, greeting it with doubt; Mary also questioned the news, but greeted it with faith.  Their response to the word of God made a huge difference over the next 9 months for each of them.  Zacharias (the fully mature priest) was struck silent, while Mary (the virgin girl) was blessed & praised.

  • How do you respond to the word of God?  Do you question in doubt, or do you believe?  God’s word/will is going to be accomplished one way or the other – but our response to it goes a long way in determining what we go through as it’s being done.  Sometimes we might find ourselves like Paul, kicking against the goads – we’re just hurting ourselves.  God has something so much better in mind for us!  Far better to submit to God & follow Him in faith!

Mary visits Zacharias & Elizabeth (1:39-56)
That Mary was pregnant with the Son of God was evident from the very beginning.  All Elizabeth needed to do was have Mary approach her, for her unborn son John to jump in her womb.  (Already John was preaching Jesus!)  This was no normal pregnancy – no normal child.  He was specially marked out by God from conception-onward.

  • BTW – He was a fully human child from conception-onward.  Nowhere does the Bible relegate the unborn Jesus to being a mere fetus or something less-than-human.  Mary may not yet have even been physically showing signs of pregnancy when Elizabeth acknowledged her as “the mother of my Lord,” (1:43).  Abortion advocates who claim that unborn babies are anything less than babies are downright wrong, and Scripture shows them to be so.
  • Question: was Mary blessed?  Yes!  Absolutely!  Both Gabriel & Elizabeth said that Mary was blessed among women.  Mary could sing her song of magnification because she understood her blessing.  Yet nowhere is Mary shown to be the Savior of the world; that role is given to her Child alone.  Mary had the blessed privilege to be the mother of the Incarnate Jesus – and that blessing is enough.  We do not need to treat her as being equal to Christ.  She was just as much a sinner in need of the grace of God as any of us.

John’s birth (1:57-80)
Although it’s not often mentioned, John’s own birth was accompanied by at least one miracle: the silence of Zacharias was lifted.  In the midst of well-meaning family & friends arguing about the name to be given to the boy, Zacharias had faith in God’s earlier word given to him, and gave him the name that God desired be given.  As a result, Zacharias could speak once more, and once he did he used his tongue to give God praise and glory.  In his own song to God is the gospel: Luke 1:68–75, "(68) “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, (69) And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, (70) As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, (71) That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, (72) To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, (73) The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: (74) To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, (75) In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life."

  • Is that not the gospel of Christ in a nutshell?  God fulfilled His promise by sending a Savior, who delivers us from the enemy of sin & death, that we might forever live in the presence of God.  This is the good news of Jesus.  This was the news to be proclaimed by John the Baptist, but it’s the same news that we proclaim today!  Praise God for the horn of salvation in Jesus Christ!

Jesus’ birth (2:1-20)
Herein is the famous Christmas story.  Luke isn’t the only gospel writer to include a birth narrative of Jesus – Matthew did as well.  Yet Luke does provide a different perspective.  Whereas Matthew wrote of Joseph’s point-of-view, Luke writes of Mary’s.  That was evident in the birth announcement, and here as well.  Although Luke never mentions it directly, he also provides subtle evidence for the fulfillment of Micah 5:2.  Micah 5:2, "(2) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”" Matthew’s account stated that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem (Mt 2:1), but never gave the reason why.  Luke gives the historical reasoning why the carpenter Joseph would embark on a costly and dangerous trip with his pregnant wife to Bethlehem in the first place.

In any case, all the familiar elements are here.  Joseph & Mary arrive in Bethlehem because of the census – there is no room for them at the inn – Jesus is born and laid in a manger (a feeding trough) – shepherds are the first to receive the news via an angelic chorus – they rush to Bethlehem & bore witness to Jesus’ humble birth.  And to quote Linus VanPelt, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” J  It’s about the glorious humiliation of the Son of God, as He came to earth as a Man to seek and save the lost.  It’s about Jesus, who makes it possible for men to be at peace with God.

Jesus’ circumcision & dedication (2:21-38)
The birth narrative actually continues past the manger itself to the next week when Jesus was circumcised & dedicated.  The poverty of His earthly parents is displayed as they offer a sacrifice of two birds, and while Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were at the temple, they encountered two people who gave further witness to Jesus’ identity as the Savior of the world.  Both were elderly.  The first was a man who proclaimed Jesus to be the Savior for “all peoples…Gentiles and…Israel,” (2:31-32).  The 2nd was an elderly widow who testified of Jesus as the one who offered “redemption,” (2:38). 

  • Already Luke is pointing to people outside of the “normal” or “expected” religious circles.  Shepherds were despised – Simeon was devout but nearing his deathbed – Anna was a widow of 84 years.  Yet all of these were shown Jesus, and proclaimed Him to be the Savior.  Truly He is the Savior sent for ALL people, everywhere.

Jesus as a boy (1:39-52)
Although not much is said about Jesus’ childhood, Luke isn’t completely silent (as is Mark).  As a boy, Jesus “grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.” (2:40).  How He came to knew He is the Son of God isn’t directly said, but it seems that He gradually came to the knowledge of it.  By the time He was 12, He already knew His Father is God & that His Father had business for Him to do.  Even religious scholars were (understandably) amazed by Him, and He grew “in favor with God and men.” (2:52)

Galilean Ministry
At this point, Luke begins to follow along with Mark’s account of Jesus.  Although Luke provides a few details of his own, his account begins to look very similar to Matthew’s & Mark’s – with a few notable exceptions.

John’s ministry (3:1-22)
Luke provides more of the historical details about the Roman leadership in charge at the time, but otherwise writes of John the Baptist much like the other gospel writers.  Luke gives a few more details of John’s preaching, showing practical examples of what a lifestyle of repentance would look like.  Eventually Jesus comes to John, and receives baptism, being testified to by both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ genealogy (3:23-38)
Although genealogies are often skipped, the list in Luke is very interesting – especially in comparison with the list given in Matthew 1.  Matthew went to great lengths to show Jesus as the legitimate heir to the throne of David, being David’s son (through His adoption by Joseph).  Luke has a different theological purpose in mind & takes Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam.  Luke isn’t so much interested in claiming the Kingdom of Israel for Jesus as he is claiming the promise in the Garden of Eden for Him.  Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."  Luke shows Jesus to be that Seed of the woman; the Son of Adam – sent by God to reverse the curse and redeem the entire world.

  • BTW – understanding the different purposes of Matthew & Luke also accounts for the differences between their lists.  Matthew shows Jesus’ lineage through Joseph to David, whereas Luke shows Jesus’ lineage through Mary to Adam (by way of David).  Thus the two lists do not contradict at all; they just recount different ancestries.

Jesus’ temptation (4:1-13)
The account here is very similar to that of Matthew, other than the emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus.  Jesus was filled with the Spirit, and led by the Spirit into the wilderness (4:1).  Luke, more than any other Synoptic writers, emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit.  He shows the Spirit not to be less than God, nor the forgotten-member of the Trinity (as if He were the 5th Beatle).  Luke consistently shows the Holy Spirit to be active, fully God, and fully involved in the work of salvation.  In any case, Jesus was prepared by the Spirit, and was fully able to stare down Satan after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness.  Whatever the devil threw at Him, Jesus was able to counter with the word of God.  (And we can do the same!)

The ministry begins (4:14-30)
The formal launch of Jesus’ ministry is shown by Luke occurring in Nazareth, where Jesus attended a synagogue service on the Sabbath & proclaimed Himself the fulfillment of Isaiah 49.  Luke 4:18–19, "(18) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; (19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”" This is what Jesus had come to do, what the Spirit equipped Him for, and what the Father had planned out for Him from before the foundations of the world.  To look at Jesus was to see the fulfillment of that Scripture – something that the people of Nazareth were unwilling to do at the time.  They rejected Him…so much so that they were ready to kill Him on the charge of blasphemy.  Yet they were unable to overcome the will and plan of God.

  • This is still our Jesus!  We are the poor in spirit, and He preaches to us good news.  We are the brokenhearted over our sin, and He heals us.  We were slaves & captives to death, and Jesus frees us.  Right now is still the acceptable year of the Lord, as the gospel of Christ is still available to all who turn to Him in faith.  (If you haven’t believed, tonight believe!)

Initial miracles, teaching, and disciples (4:31-6:19)
As Jesus travels to Capernaum, He carries out the ministry that was written about in the other Synoptic Gospels.  His day of ministry on the Sabbath is recounted (casting out a demon, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, etc.).  His call to Peter, Andrew, James, and John is shown in detail, with Peter finally unable to refuse the call of Jesus as Jesus extended grace to a sinful man such as he (4:8,10).  Various miracles are listed, such as the cleansing of the leper (5:13), His forgiveness & healing of a paralytic man who had been brought to Him (5:23-24), His Sabbath day healing of the man with the withered hand (6:10), and more.  In addition, Matthew’s calling (who is listed as Levi – 5:27)), as well as all the remaining 12 disciples (6:12-16) is recorded.

Sermon on the Plain (6:20-49)
Much of what Jesus teaches here is extremely similar to the more famous Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5-7.  However, there are some differences.  The location is different (6:17 – “a level place,” as opposed to a mountain.  Some of the wording in the Beatitudes & other teaching is different.  And of course the sermon is far shorter.  Are these contradictions?  No.  It’s simply an indication that Jesus taught the same thing more than once.  Remember that Jesus did not teach in the same synagogue from week-to-week.  He was an itinerate preacher, and thus it’s only natural to expect Him to repeat basically the same message from time-to-time.  To have minor details differ in the messages isn’t an indication of error in the Bible; it’s actually an indication that the writers were truthful in what they recorded.  It’s a real-life sort of snapshot of what Jesus’ ministry looked life in the real day.

Ministry among Jews, Gentiles & sinners (7:1-8:56)
Again, some of the same material from the other gospels is recorded, with some unique events along the way.  One example is the first resurrection recorded in Luke’s gospel, in regards to the widow’s son in the town of Nain.  Without fanfare or a big to-do, Jesus simply touched the open coffin of the boy, spoke to him to arise, and the boy rose from the dead (7:13-15).  Although the townspeople identified Jesus as a prophet (7:16), it’s evident that Luke is showing Jesus to be fully invested with all of the power of God.  He isn’t some ordinary miracle-worker (if miracle-workers can be called “ordinary”); He is someone who can and does exercise the full power of God whenever He so chooses.

And Jesus does so for all kinds of people.  He did not do it just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles, such as the servant of the Roman centurion (7:9-10).  Jesus didn’t offer forgiveness only for the devout, but also for the undeniably sinful, such as the woman who showed up at the house of Simon the Pharisee to anoint the feet of Jesus (7:50).  Jesus was willing to teach any who came to Him, telling them the parables of the kingdom of God (8:10).  He continued to exercise His power in incredible ways: calming the sea (8:24), casting legions of demons out of a man (8:32-33), and performing other healings & miracles.

  • Again, the point is that Jesus’ offer to save is wide-open to the world.  He is free with His grace.  Not everyone receives it because not everyone is willing to humble themselves before Jesus in faith.  But anyone who does can receive!

Jesus preached & proclaimed as Christ (9:1-36)
The first major missionary event takes place as Jesus sends the 12 out to preach the gospel of the kingdom (9:1-6), and upon their return, Jesus continues preaching & performing miracles.  He feeds the 5000 (9:16-17), is proclaimed by Peter as being the Christ (9:20), and is transfigured to reveal all of His glory as God (9:28-36).  Ultimately, the Galilean ministry draws to a close with more displays of power, and teaching of what it truly means to be a disciple of Christ.

Journey to Jerusalem
At this point, there’s a distinct change in focus for Luke.  It’s not that Jesus does not continue ministering among those He encounters, but the reason for Jesus’ very being now comes into view.  Luke 9:51, "(51) Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,"  Several times in the following chapters, Luke is going to remind his readers that Jesus is headed to Jerusalem.  The whole point of Jesus’ incarnation was to go to the cross, and the time had come for Him to be singularly focused on doing so.

Discipleship (9:51-10:24)
The disciples are shown in their good times & bad.  First, the tempers of James & John are on display as they ask to send fire down upon the Samaritans for their rejection of Jesus.  Jesus reminded them that they didn’t know what they were talking about, and proceeded to go so far as to talk other people out of discipleship, who weren’t willing to count the cost (9:57-62).  Following Jesus isn’t about getting what we want; it’s about surrendering everything to our Lord & Savior.  He surely blesses us spiritually speaking more than we can imagine, but we come to Him in humility & faith; not self-centered arrogance.

The missionary outreach of the kingdom expands as a new journey is undertaken by 70, as opposed to 12 (10:1-20).  Those willing to follow Jesus would soon shrink again, but the need never decreases.  God still needs laborers to be willing to enter the harvest (10:2).  If we’re willing to go, we can be sure that God will be with us, and Jesus will rejoice over us just as He rejoiced over the 70 (10:21).  We are blessed simply to know God through Christ; how much more is God’s blessing to those who spread the good news!

Later teaching (11:1-19:27)
In this long section, much of what we’ve read elsewhere in other gospels is recorded, but there are teachings unique to Luke.  There’s the parable of the Good Samaritan (ironically, the people that James & John recently wanted to destroy! – 10:25-37).  There’s the parable of the rich fool (12:13-21) showing the brevity of life & how important it is to make the things of God our priority.  There’s the exhortation to repent simply because we are all sinners; not because we deserve tragedy to fall on us, like the tower in Siloam (13:1-5).  There’s the whole account of Ch. 15, in which Jesus teaches of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.  In each case, there was a Master who rejoiced when that which was lost was found, just as our Heavenly Father rejoices over us when we humble ourselves before Him in faith.

Luke also includes such teachings as the story of the rich man & Lazarus, perhaps even recounting a true story of a poor man who died & went to paradise, and a rich man who died and went to hell (16:19-31).  The rich man & all his brothers had received all the warnings necessary in the Scripture, and they ignored it all at their own peril.  What pleases God is not riches, nor pride; it’s humility and brokenness, as was on display between the Pharisee & tax collector (18:10-14).  One justified himself, whereas the other confessed his sin & begged for mercy, and was justified by God.

This was all exampled when Jesus encountered the actual tax collector Zacchaeus (19:1-10).  This is a man who would have been written off by Jewish society as being doomed to hell.  Yet he was a man who received the salvation of God as he humbled himself before Jesus, surrendering his life to God.  That’s the heart that God desires from all of us!  That’s the kind of faith that saves.  It’s not a matter of simply muttering a prayer; it’s a matter of surrendering yourself.  When a lost person truly gives him/herself over to Jesus in faith, they can be sure that Jesus has sought them out and saved them.

Arrival in Jerusalem (19:28-48)
The major teaching (apart from the Olivet Discourse) comes to an end, as does most of the material unique to Luke.  The familiar narrative is once again picked up with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and a brief account of His cleansing of the temple.

Confrontation with Jewish leaders (20)
The cleansing leads right into His confrontation with Pharisees, priests, and scribes.  Some of the material is listed in a different order than Matthew or Mark, but the essential elements are the same.  The priests, etc., refuse to acknowledge the authority of John the Baptist (and thus that of Jesus) – the parable of the wicked vinedressers is given directly to them as those who rejected the Son of God – the tests of the Pharisees & Sadducees are given & rebuffed by Jesus – and Jesus finally shuts them all down with His question of whom David addressed as Lord.  Overall the idea is that the Jewish leadership had come to a point of no-return with Jesus, fully rejecting Him as the Messiah & thus rejecting their own opportunity at salvation.

Olivet Discourse (21)
Luke is fairly faithful to the earlier narratives of Mark & Matthew at this point, although it’s arguable that Luke has a bit more focus on the near destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.  Luke does show Jesus talking about the Great Tribulation & 2nd Coming, but not to the extent of the other gospels.  Again, Luke had a different purpose in writing.  The warnings of the Great Tribulation are primarily given to those in Israel who eventually come to faith in Jesus; it only makes sense that the Gentile Luke would concentrate his account on the things that apply more to Gentiles.  The events of 70AD would serve as a powerful testimony to the accuracy of Jesus’ words, giving Gentiles everywhere reason to come to faith.  (That’s still the purpose of fulfilled prophecy today!)

Passion & Resurrection
Once more, these are familiar events.  The Passion itself is fairly standard to the other gospels; it is the post-resurrection account that is truly unique.

Passover & prayer (22:1-46).  Judas’ betrayal is shown, as is the institution of the Last Supper, the prediction of Peter’s denial, and Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jewish trials (22:47-71).  Upon Jesus’ arrest, Peter actually does deny Jesus.  In the meantime, Jesus faces the kangaroo court of the Sanhedrin, who find Jesus guilty of the charge of blasphemy.

Gentile trials (23:1-25).  Luke actually does provide a few more details here, not only recording the trial in front of Pilate, but also the trial in front of Herod who wanted Jesus to perform like a trained monkey. 

Crucifixion (23:26-56). 
The road to the cross is slightly different, with Jesus taking time to speak to the women who wept over Him just prior to the crucifixion itself.  Luke also is unique in recording the conversation with the thief next to Jesus, promising the man that he would be with Jesus in paradise that very day (23:43).  By the 9th hour of the day (3pm), Jesus committed His spirit to God and died.  A Roman centurion seems to come to faith, and Joseph of Arimathea comes out publicly with faith of his own as he oversees Jesus’ burial.

Resurrection (24:1-12). 
Sunday morning Jesus is risen from the dead, and two angels attest to the fact of the empty tomb.  Some of these details are admittedly different than the other gospels, but they are not contradictory.  We would expect different people to write with different points-of-view, and that’s really the only issue here.  The basic elements are the same: Jesus is risen, the women are first to know, and the disciples were immediately told the news.

Witnesses (24:13-49)
It’s at this point that Luke includes events none of the other gospels address.  The first is an encounter with the Risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  Two unnamed believers (who don’t seem to be part of the 11) come alongside Jesus while on the road, but they don’t recognize Him.  Through conversation, Jesus shows them how all of these events were fulfillment of prophecy & after inviting Him to dinner, only then did they recognize Him…and immediately He vanished.  The other disciples are told, and only then did Jesus appear to the 11, giving them the opportunity to come to faith.

Ascension (24:50-53)
Luke’s gospel is only one to give any details about Jesus’ ascension…and even here, Luke doesn’t say much.  He leaves that account for the opening of volume 2: the book of Acts.  The stage has been set: Jesus is victorious over death – the promise of the Holy Spirit was soon coming to the church – the disciples are getting ready to preach the gospel & they are rejoicing in the work of God. (And to which they were preparing, we can participate!)

Jesus IS the Savior of the world, and praise God that He is!  How terrible it would be for the Savior to be sent only for a select few.  Imagine not even having the hope of being able to receive the grace of God.  But that’s not happened.  God sent His Son for Jews AND Gentiles.  God sent His Son for you & for me.  Now WE can be saved, and we can rejoice in the work of God just as the original disciples.

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