The Gospel according to Luke
Luke 1:14 Thou Shalt Have Joy and Gladness
We open this gospel account with great anticipation for we are impressed by Dr. Luke’s opening statement affirming his eyewitness of our Lord’s short life and ministry in our “vale of tears.” Hopefully it will bless your heart as I know it will mine spending as we will this choice time together in this book.
There is so much to write about in these opening chapters that one wonders where to begin and the idea occurs to my mind that eventually one might start around again with new thoughts on these New Testament books. (Not having proceeded in order in our attempt to have a brief devotional thought on each chapter, at this point in time we have only this book and Revelation to complete the N.T. series I. Will there ever be a series II? At 75 years old, I doubt it, but we shall see what the Lord has.)
Immediately at the outset of our present chapter we confront a most interesting story, that of the background of John the Baptist. Let us try to imagine the excitement of Zacharias and Elizabeth as the day approached for him to execute the lot which fell to him to burn incense in the temple which had been restored by Herod to replace the one desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 B.C. A far cry from the ornate magnitude of the earlier model built by Solomon, it, nonetheless, contained the basics for the outward worship of Jehovah.
We are told by certain authorities that by this time there were so many priests that the various lots would be performed only once in a lifetime. While this may or may not be the case, it was a red letter day for old Zach no matter how you slice it! The main reason for that was the fact that he and Lizzy had their own personal agenda, at least in his mind for the prayer burden for a son had long pressed hard upon his heart and, whether expressed in words or not, was carried into that Holy Place as he went about his duties that day.
Two more things to think about before we reluctantly close today’s fare. The fact that the people gathered “without” waiting to sniff the fragrance of the rare incense of prayer that lingered on Zacharias’ clothing may make us think how privileged we are to attend prayer meeting in our local church. Finally, since we are “insiders” in this age of grace and since the veil is gone we, coming boldly, may confront personally the Divine Inhabitant of that blessed throne room, instead of an angel! Sing, “Into the Holy of Holies with God, now I would enter by Jesus’ own blood” etc.
Luke 2:25 A Man Whose Name was Simeon
There is probably no other story of history so well known as that of the birth of Jesus
because it is told over and over again at Christmas. I personally think it is unfortunate that the gala festivities associated with our American Christmas celebration eclipse the beautiful account of the Nativity. One way to solve this problem would be to separate the two by celebrating the latter on a later date, say Jan.6th. This is being done by some groups. This would get the childish enthusiasm for receiving gifts over with, so that attention may be focused on what is really important. Since we know that the December 25 date for Jesus’ birth is completely arbitrary there can be no spiritual reason why a different date could not be observed except for the fact that traditional church services are sometimes held on the aforementioned date. Just an idea.
Now, from this chapter let us meditate on a couple of very interesting characters. First there is Simeon. What a good man he was! If he had lived long enough he surely would have been among those devout souls present at the glorious birthday of the church (Acts 2). He shows us, however, that the Holy Spirit was actively involved in the lives of the Old Testament saints though, of course, they were not yet baptized by Him into the body of Christ (note John 7:39, 16:7 and 1 Cor.12:13). He had not yet been “given”, that is, sent to do His office work. Interestingly, however, note that the Spirit was “upon” Simeon, was revealing truth to him and leading him (vv.25-27). Under the inspiration of the Spirit he gave Mary the message of her personal cross (v.35)
Then there is that blessed old mother in Israel, Anna. No nursing home for her at 91 plus whatever age she married. Think of being a widow of 84 years! She was probably thought of as that old crazy woman that haunts the temple but she was just one more faithful soul who had been looking for her Redeemer. They were not many as we later find out (John 1:12), but there was a remnant.
Finally, I will throw out a problem to you. As a perfect sinless young man, how was it that the Lord Jesus could spend three days in the temple while His parents hunted high and low for their lost child? Just one of the questions I may ask when I get home.
Luke 3:12 What Shall We Do?
Where is the meat in this chapter? Perhaps it is in what Isaiah the prophet wrote in anticipation of John’s coming as the fore-runner of our Lord Jesus. We might call him John the bulldozer as he sought to prepare the way for the Lord. Can’t you see him cutting a wide swath through the Judaistic swamp? With the law of Moses as the surveyor’s instrument anything below par must be brought up to grade level, those above the law humbled, crooks brought to justice and character flaws exposed to the cutting edge of the blade of truth. We would do well to ask the question of the day “what shall we do then?”
The answer comes back to us in the call for repentance which means a change is in order. Whatever it takes to straighten out our thinking, for that is essentially what is meant by the word repentance. It involves a word that we usually don’t like to hear..change. But we are saved, we don’t need to listen to John. Not necessarily true! Israel’s voice in the wilderness has its counterpart for the church, the Holy Spirit. He it is who calls us to repentance to change our minds concerning sin. The evidence that we have responded to the Spirit by receiving the One who baptizes us into the body of Christ (I Cor.12:13) lest we be among those cast into unquenchable fire is the attitude of being willing to change and keep on changing as the Sword of the Spirit does its necessary work.
Are we sure we don’t have a few low places in our thinking that are below grade level when it comes to holiness, perhaps a hill or two of pride that needs knocking down? Lord, expose my crooked ideas and smooth out my character until I think and act like You.
Luke 4:18 By His Spirit
How many times have we heard it, read it? Take time to be in the Word. We make sure we get our three square meals each day and thank the Lord if we have the appetite and powers of digestion, but what about the word of God? You may be tempted to only read my words but I implore you, do not fail to read the Scripture. The Lord Jesus met every attack with the Word. Are we that conversant with it that it comes readily to mind when needed? Oh, beloved, let us not neglect to hide it in our hearts so it is ready and loose in the scabbard to be drawn out at a moment’s notice.
If the Lord is in us let us expect that He will want to take us into some of the same types of circumstances as those into which He was led by the Spirit in the days of His flesh. We note in this chapter the many references to the Holy Spirit. Christ was led by Him into the wilderness where He experienced testing in the several temptations by the devil. See Him coming into Galilee in the “power of the Spirit” where He had opportunity to teach (v.15). The Scripture is constantly being fulfilled (v.21) as we carry the Treasure of His life into all the world.
In the synagogue, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not” yet there were those Gentiles who did receive Him and I am one of them. What anger boiled up in these wicked hearts as they sought to kill Him before the time.
I love it when it says that He wouldn’t allow the demons to speak for they “knew he was Christ.” He does not want to be known as the One the demons praise but He desires that we give Him His due and if devils speak of Him should not we?
In another place Jesus said, “as the Father hath sent me even so send I you” (John 20:21). Oh Lord having been sent let me know the power of your Spirit in my life today.
Luke 5:26 Strange Things
Have you heard the news? There is a stranger in Galilee and some mighty strange things are going on there. They say that some fishermen were told by Him to fish in a certain spot where they knew from experience there were no fish and they caught so many and were so impressed that they have given up their jobs and left home to follow this Man. Furthermore a large number of leaders were gathered ata Capernaum resort where a real strange thing happened. They saw with their own eyes a man who had to be carried on a stretcher by four of his friends rise from that bed and carry it home but what was really strange is what this Stranger said to him, “thy sins be forgiven thee.” Can you beat that!
Yes, it is indeed strange to hear about men going fishing for other men. Don’t they have responsibilities? What can they be thinking of to take off on such a tangent? Oh reader, look at your sons and daughters, your grandchildren and pray right now that they will hear the call of this Stranger and will forsake all for His sake. Read Mark 10:28-30 and see that you can wish no better thing for them. Do we really believe it? Then do it!
Note, if you will, the emphasis in verse 17. Why this group happened to be here on this “certain day” Luke does not tell us, but what an opportunity! Don’t miss the words, “the power of the Lord was present...” and remember, wherever we go this same power is present or else the great commission must be a lie (Matt.28:19 & 20) “all power...go ye.”
Next to verse 26 in our chapter today I have written, “I guess, and keep your eyes open, you will see more strange things yet!” Our fathers would indeed think it strange that a computer could be used to help reach the multitudes but it is being done. Praise God! P.S. I wish you could have heard Carleton Booth sing, The Stranger of Galilee. He is “singing up in heaven” now.
Luke 6:46 Lord, Lord
“who is a wise man and endured with knowledge, let him show out of a good conversation...” James 3:13.
The wise man in Jesus’ parable built his house on bed rock and probably most of my readers today see themselves among that number who did so in contrast to the foolish man who had no foundation. To build on the rock means to be saved, right? Wrong! Read it again and be sure you get the story from the Scriptures instead of the little gospel chorus.
Jesus said that the wise man was the one who heard his sayings and did them. He said this right after He asked the question “why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?”
There was this Christian brother who was being sued by a neighbor who unjustly claimed a piece of land that belonged to the Christian. The Christian also hired a lawyer. Good enough you say, if you do not stand up for your rights people will walk all over you. Oh, but I didn’t tell you the reason he hired the lawyer. He just wanted it to be legal when he sent a deed to the one suing him giving him the parcel with a little extra for good measure. On the deed he wrote “Please receive this in Jesus’ name, I will be going to heaven soon and won’t need it, enjoy.”
Ridiculous? But did you read the whole chapter? Verses 27 - 38. “But I say unto you which hear...” The question is, do we really do the things which He says? If not we are not wise but foolish.
Oh yes, and this chapter also tells us that we should jump up and down for joy when we get word that someone has really cut us down in front of friends or loved ones, (vv. 22- 23) because we are Christians.
Luke 7:49 Who is this?
What a wonderful Savior is Jesus our Lord! Let us come to these gospel accounts of the
ministry of our Lord Jesus with holy awe as we watch God moving among men. It seems He cannot confront any aberration of His perfection without using His power in dispensing His cures. “Tell John,” He says, and it is not so much the various expressions of His Messiahship as it is the reality that Someone is doing something about the exceeding horrors of depravity. Can He be any other than God in the flesh? The I Am is here at last and He is the answer to every man’s need as He preaches the Glad Tidings of the Kingdom of God (8:1).
Offended? Oh wondrous One, we would be at your feet like the sinner-woman we would acknowledge your mighty power like the centurion, yea we would stand in awe by the death bed of the only son of the widow, our hearts bursting with joy to see her face alight with gratitude and praise. Offended? Oh how could it be that any mortal man would take offense at thee?
Someone may say, “but it doesn’t seem fair that only great sinners like the woman with the alabaster box should have the greater measure of love for the Lord Jesus. Are those who are more moral than she to be denied that privilege?” Ah, we must go a bit further in our thinking. He said “to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” It was the woman’s awareness of her exceeding sinfulness that had brought her weeping to His feet. David had spoken of a contrite heart inescapably catching God’s attention (Ps.51:17). Is that not something that any one of us might cultivate? It is certainly not that we are not great enough sinners that we cannot merit an extensive bestowment of God’s forgiveness. It is rather that we are not sufficiently aware of how great sinners we really are! It is even a hideous sense of pride that would deceive any one of us into thinking ourselves better that others. “Some men’s sins are open (v.39) going before to judgement; and some men they follow after.” (I Tim.5:24). Help us cultivate a contrite heart, O Lord.
Luke 8:1 Glad Tidings
There may be a tendency in this enlightened age to think that demons were a figment of our Lord’s imagination. Now before you jump all over me for even suggesting such an unorthodox sentiment, answer this. When was the last time you gave any thought to the possibility that someone you know has a problem that might be demon related? If we have relegated the subject to the dark ages then, in effect, we must believe either that what was attributed to them in Jesus’ day was mistaken diagnosis or else the demons have given up on America because we have become more enlightened. While the later conclusion might be the most appealing, one cannot help but wonder if we have not been led down this garden path by the prince of demons himself.
Frankly, I had never really noticed the fact that it was not only Mary Magdalene out of whom demons were cast but that the construction here would imply that Joanna and Susanna had also been delivered of evil spirits. Think of how many other times such references occur. (Matt.9:32; 12:22; Mark 3:11; Luke 9:42; 13:16, etc.)
Obviously not all cases were as serious as that of the poor nameless Gadarene who, compared to Mary, was infested with these gross alien beings cast upon our planet from another world, apparently along with their inglorious leader (10:17 & 18). Further along in this chapter we are treated to a beautiful spectacle as we see this once wild creature sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. Oh how we would like to see our unsaved friends and loved ones seated there with him.
One final thought. Though our Lord Jesus would not allow the demons to give Him lip service (4:41), He commissioned this redeemed devotee to render heartfelt service. And the “whole city” heard the “glad tidings” (v.39)!
Luke 9:23 Daily
When we get to the fourteenth chapter we will take a more in-depth look at the various occasions when our Lord Jesus taught about the cross. There were four separate times when He did this and then there are repeats of these as the same subject matter is being handled by the other synoptic writers. In Matthew’s account of what transpired when Jesus asked the question (v.18) “whom say the people that I am?” there is a more lengthy treatment of His conversation with Peter (Matt.16:13 - 23). Mark’s account is found in 8:27- 33 but it is notable that Luke does not include our Lord’s rebuke of Peter. There is, however, another minor difference in this passage before us. It is the fact that our Lord said we should take up the cross daily and follow Him. The word “daily” does not appear in any other references to the cross by our Lord Jesus in the KJV.
Perhaps we should be reminded here of the need for being constantly responsive to our Master. Who knows when a need may arrive that He wants to address through us. It was a reasonable thing for the disciples to suggest sending the multitude away but our Lord saw an opportunity to use this occasion to show His power to meet this massive need. He is the bread of life!
Again, the disciples didn’t even have their “crew chiefs” around when they were confronted with an overwhelming need. Here was another opportunity for God’s “mighty power” to be demonstrated. Do we have faith to expect Him to work through us?
Our daily commitment may be tested as was that of certain “would be” disciples at the end of this chapter. Can we take such a hard line approach as our Lord recommended? Just think, He called those relatives “dead” and Paul hadn’t even written Eph. 2:1 yet! How much do our dead (while they live) relatives affect our thinking and action, and perhaps keep us from ploughing a straight furrow? No looking back! “Remember Lot’s wife!”
Luke 10:3 Lambs?
A few years ago as I was touring Maine with my truck camper looking for used books for our Evangel Bible Training Institute library, I found myself in a small church on a Sunday morning.
The pastor, a graduate from a well-known Christian university, was expounding on the passage that appears here at the beginning of our chapter. His main emphasis was to try to stir up the believers to go out into the community to witness. Many of his people were relatively new believers themselves, but from this text he challenged them with the verse “I send you forth as lambs among wolves,” making the emphasis that since his people were young converts they were like lambs and God said lambs not sheep!
I said that this pastor was “expounding,” I should have said that he was rather lifting out of the passage a text to attempt to prove his point. This is a classic case of how speakers will take a text out of the context and use it as a pretext. That was many years ago and one can only hope that this young pastor learned to do better. I cite it because I think it is a good example to use in pointing out the importance of expository preaching.
There are some forty to fifty churches represented in the Meateaters family. I urge you all to pray for your pastor that he will truly expound the word. Be satisfied with nothing less. I chuckle to think of how our young preacher would have applied the end of verse seven!
While on the subject of praying for our churches, there is a clear injunction here in verse two that we shouldn’t overlook. Let each of us select at least one person from our assembly and begin to pray for that one, or perhaps that couple that the Lord would thrust them out into His harvest field. I do this, and I urge you to do it too!
Luke 11:14 “O What a Wonder”
In studying to write on this chapter it seemed that an effort should be made to comment on our Lord’s teaching following a certain reaction to His casting out the so-called dumb spirit. The reading of some 10 to 12 commentaries has been little help, so let us see where this goes.
We see that there was an apparent difference between His success and that of the Jewish exorcists or otherwise there would have been no basis on which to accuse Him. He indicated that the powerful “finger of God” accomplished the work He did and that its effectiveness lay in the fact that a stronger man had invaded Satan’s stronghold and spoiled his goods. The difference between His work and that of the less effective exorcists was that the demons He casts out stay out while the danger of their limited treatment of the problem is that the unclean spirit after being cast out might return with a complete horde of their ilk to make the last state of the victim worse than the first. One cannot help wondering if the poor Gadarene was one of their “jobbies.” Such half way measures only tend to exacerbate the problem for, as the Lord put it, if you don’t do it His way you are in the way of it being done right (free translation of verse 23). We might also think of the woman who for years sought the unsuccessful help of many physicians and was made worse by their inept skills. And so, we fear, it often goes today. The commentators say that this was all a condemnation of Judaism which was healing the ills of the people “slightly” (Jer.6:14) and thus making their condition even worse.
One thing we can be certain of and that is that whenever the Lord heals a sin sick soul today, He not only cleans the house but moves in to live there as a permanent Resident. So when a roving demon decides to return he meets at the door slightly more than he bargained for!
Bless the heart of the dear lady who caught the impact of our Lord’s wonderful teaching and couldn’t restrain her thoughts of how wonderful it would have been to be His mom. (Mary also thought so and predicted such) (1:48). Jesus did not rebuke her He just gave Rome something to think about.
Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock:”
Even though we generally make the story of the rich farmer who built larger barns applicable to the unsaved; the context seems to indicate that it was said to the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Note in verse one and again in verse twenty-two that He seems primarily to be addressing them. The theme is quite consistent from verse 13 to verse 40. Don’t be covetous, life is more than possessions, more than food and raiment, so be seeking first His kingdom and everything else will take care of itself. The Lord is coming at any moment and the servant who does so will be ready at His coming.
It is certainly true that believers may play the fool if they put too much emphasis on things. If ever there was a time and a place to sound this warning it is here and now. But I tell you this dear friends with weeping in my heart for to be honest we know it will do little good. We are too far gone into materialism and thinking ourselves to be rich are rather “ wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked:” (Rev.3:17)
Alas then, is there nothing we can do? I think that as we read what our Lord said to the disciples after he told this story we should plead with Him to show us how we can live in our society and manage appropriate behavior. After all, He tells His little flock to fear not for is His Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. But why does He say “Fear not” in such a context?
Let us try to see it as He saw it. He was facing death as an overwhelming baptism (v.50) and already it was paining Him greatly. He also knew that such teaching as He was giving would cause pain and division among His hearers as well, verse 51 through 53. (Compare Matt. 10:32-39)
Be not afraid no matter what it costs. Anything is better than knowing God’s will and not doing it. (Ver.47 with ver.5) Believing in security does not diminish the force of these verses.
Luke 13:32 That Fox
Whether the concern of the Pharisees for the welfare of our Lord Jesus was genuine or not
we might have cause to wonder. At least it provided an opportunity for a really great response from Him which we cannot help but enjoy. “Go tell that fox...” etc. Let him know that I am walking right into his trap with both eyes wide open - and I am making it easy for him, I am coming to Jerusalem so he can spring it, for after all isn’t that where all important prophets go to get murdered.
It is interesting that our Lord uses the expression, “the third day” for being used here as it is lets us know that the words have a prophetic and typical meaning. (See the following: Gen.22:4; Esther 5:1; Hos.6:2; John 2:1 and Luke 24:46). Obviously the words are not to be taken here in a literal sense as it would be yet some little time before Christ would be “perfected”. In the future, watch for this expression and note the emphasis on resurrection, (for example, Isaac and Esther would be delivered on that day from the penalty of death that hung over their heads). You figure out John two!
Today He would straighten out men’s superstitious reasoning regarding cause and effect by reminding them that the cause of all problems is that men are sinners and that all disasters should remind us of the need to repent. Stupid people continue to reason thus. (I use the word stupid in its correct sense).
Today we must give a little time for Israel to repent (fig tree) and a few more evidences that should cause her to do so. Who else could unbend the poor soul and thus loose her from Satan’s twofold bondage? Only Jesus! And someday you Jews will say “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Right now you Jews think you are really something but you are nothing but loaves swelled with the leaven of hypocrisy (12:1), a tree full of strange birds (8:5) and very few of you will be saved (v.23) but will find yourselves outside when the door of opportunity closes (v.34). Oh, if only we had known Who it was walked among us! In the meantime, the fox is your man of the hour instead of the Lion of the tribe of Judah!
Acts 14:27 Cannot??!!
As promise earlier, I would like to take this opportunity to wrap up some thoughts on what is probably the most important teaching in the synoptic gospels. Earlier we confronted the situation where our Lord Jesus taught about the sword that must often come to those who become His disciples. I refer to Matthew 10:38. It is here our Lord taught very clearly that to love any relation more than Him made one unworthy of being His disciple. There is more here than just declaring ones love for Him to be greater, for in most cases that would not alienate a relative. What this is telling us is that we must consider ourselves dead to all human relationships (even with Him, II Cor.5:16). Of course in many cultures today, to become a Christian is to automatically cut off all ties and some Jewish traditions actually have a funeral for the convert. Thankfully we don’t all face such, but we all should come into our new relationship with Christ with the same abandon. I call this the SWORD PASSAGE.
Next in order there is the PETER PASSAGE where he is being dealt with by our Lord and at which occasion we are taught (v.24) to deny ourselves in taking up the cross. The third time the cross is mentioned in a separate setting is found in Mark 10:21 where, as an interesting fact, the writer makes reference to the cross, not mentioned by Matthew (19:16) or Luke (18:18). It is, however, extremely significant that our Lord did say it for it makes this story an excellent example of the complete abandonment He requires of His disciples. Let us not attempt to lessen the meaning here! I call this the RICH YOUNG RULER PASSAGE.
Finally we come to the TOWER AND BATTLE PASSAGE in our text. Here twice our Lord says that one cannot be His disciple without complete abandonment. First in verse 27 and then in verse 33. Do not be mistaken, the Lord is not here giving us a choice. He expects every convert to make such a commitment and the gospel should be presented in such a way as to attempt to make that clear. There is however, a cost involved that we should all be willing to make. He has purchased us by His blood and we are not our own (I Cor.6:19 &20). In conclusion let us remember that for Christ, the cross was the place of death. He bids us to take it up and follow Him, this is the call to death to self which, in effect is our position when we receive Him and (John 5:24) pass from death to life in Him. It is summed up in John 12:24 -26 in the CORN OF WHEAT PASSAGE where though the word “cross” is not found the concept is certainly implied. Study and apply.
Luke 15:10 The Angel - Song
Luke, who does not pretend to be chronological, comes to a portion of his record which is unique in its parabolic structure for he has assembled three examples with a similar theme and assembled to hear them is the exact audience that needs to hear what the Master has to say. Let us draw near and lend an ear to hear these beautiful stories.
A lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. That the lost sheep found is a repentant sinner, our Lord makes very clear and we love to hear the words “joy shall be in heaven” for we can picture the angels watching every detail of the rescue operation with anticipation and delight. In both of the first two stories the emphasis is on repentance, so we are not surprised to find that this too is the theme of the third. Oh, but such a personal picture here. Not a lost sheep slung over the Shepherd’s shoulder as He picks His way through the brambles and hikes over the tumbling hills, not an impersonal coin, though valuable to the owner, but a son, just think, a son! Yes, perhaps dear reader, your son!
Was there ever Scriptures written that inspires more hope to those who watch toward the distant horizon for the form of a dear one coming home? And be sure from this story, that the angels watch with you.
Just yesterday I was speaking with a father who has welcomed home a daughter who has been gone from home for several years, many of which were absorbed in a false cult that had brain-washed a sweet and dedicated young person and captured her soul for a season. How this father rejoices to have her back! And how the angels rejoice with both dad and mom as they embrace one who was worse than dead.
But, these same parents long now to recover an adopted son who wanders, much as the Prodigal, into far off sinful pig pens. Let us pray for the return of this one who, living in pleasure, is “dead while he liveth,” and for all of our brethren who too look to the far horizon and long to join the angel-song.
Luke 16:28 Place of Torment
I remember to this day the occasion about fifty-five years ago when a group of students from Providence Bible Institute stood on the Federal Building steps on the mall in the city across from the trolley station, holding forth the Word of Life. Led by Ben Saint, brother of Nate, the pilot who lost his life in the effort to reach a South American jungle tribe, we often gathered here to pass out tracts and preach. Towering over us and leading in singing with his talented trombone playing, Ben was the “spark plug” for these excursions and it was where I preached for the very first time. Scary, yes, but the blessing far outweighs the trepidation.
I bring up the story now because it was at that time that I first shared with an unsaved person the story of the rich man in hades. He had paused to listen as I spoke and now asked where it was found. As I turned to Luke16 I was thankful that I knew exactly where to find it. Dear reader, be likewise ready with this passage for it is a powerful tool in witness. What a story! Remember, it is a true story! The Lord Jesus told it, and named a person (Lazarus) in it so it is totally different from a parable. Notice I used the word hades, rather than hell. The term refers to, and corresponds with the O.T. references to the grave or place of departed dead. Jewish writers conceived of this as a place with two compartments, one for the wicked dead and one called Paradise or Abraham’s bosom which was the abode of the righteous.
When Jesus arose, he led the saints out of Paradise and into heaven to be with Him leaving the wicked dead in hades, a temporary place of torment, to await the final judgement and their being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14 - hell [KJV] is literally hades).
Let us be thankful that we will never see this place! But for the grace of God we would surely end up there, wouldn’t we?
Luke 17:10 “All those things...”
With what profound patience and humility we should approach our responsibilities as servants of God. To be void of offense let us measure our responses to those around us and especially to God with utmost concern. How precious are those “little ones,”all God’s children, I would assume. There will be offenses, but we had better be certain that we are not the cause. As we bend over backwards to forgive those who trespass against us ( in the local assembly, for instance) may we follow the example of our Father who is being so very patient with injustice and myriads of trespasses upon His holy Person every minute of every hour of every day. We cannot forget also the answer of Jesus to Peter on the same subject (Matt. 18:22) nor the searching parable He taught on that occasion.
The apostles’ reaction to our Lord’s teaching requesting an increase of faith was met with a mild rebuke on His part as He told them that their faith was minuscule, yea almost non-existent. Faith as a grain of mustard seed could produce unheard of miracles – why do you even think you have any to start with?
The Lord’s probing parable about servant-hood must have been designed to deal with the condition of heart He saw in His disciples. If only we really knew what an honor it is to serve the living and true God there would not be an attitude of “well Lord, that’s a pretty hard thing you are asking us to do and if you are going to expect that kind of service you had better equip us for it.”
The punch line of this section, ver.1-10, is found in the last verse. It is a direct word of admonition to these disciples “so likewise ye.” And what is the admonition? Do all things that you are commanded to do and don’t congratulate yourselves for doing so, but, rather, in absolute humility, acknowledge that you have but done your duty as a bond servant.
How privileged we are to be in the employ of the Sovereign God of the universe! What rewards await our faithful service! Let us jump to obey every N.T. command especially those that have to do with our membership in the Body of Christ. Rom.12:3 - 21. (Think on these things.)
Luke 18:26 Who Can Be Saved?
When the Lord Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “why callest thou me good” etc, obviously He was making an important point that the man would have to face in looking to Him for the answer to his question. Coming as he did to Jesus for an answer he clearly was not prepared for what he heard. In order to prepare him, the Lord Jesus wanted to make it clear that this was not just the response of some wise man whose advice we might accept or reject and move on. Thus He seized upon the man’s own words to shock him into the realization that the answer he would receive was coming from God Himself and was not being given so he could vote on it but as an absolute choice with eternal implications. Serious business, this, and it required the gaining of his steadfast attention.
“None good except God!” Since the fall of Adam, such has been the case. Yet there is One Whose presence among us must be recognized as “God with us.” Immanuel is here and He is good like His Father and everything He tells us is as absolutely good as He is (I am). He has come to show us the Father and it should suffice us, that is, He should but speak the word and we should immediately obey.
The test that revealed the fact that this young man was not really prepared to acknowledge Christ’s authority concerned his riches. You cannot serve two masters, we read in Matthew 6:24. In loving the one you will hate the other and here is the example. Unless at a later date this benighted soul learned the error of his way, his money bags dragged him to eternal hell where not one moment’s comfort could be purchased.
Who of us can be saved? Only those predestined, called, justified and glorified (Rom.8:29). “By grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” There but for the grace of God, go I.
Luke 19:7 “They all murmured”
One cannot help but wonder about Zacchaeus. “If I have taken anything etc.” He says this as if nothing could be further from the truth. Either he was an unusual publican who had gotten rich some other way (v.2) or he was about to divide some of his riches with the poor with 400% interest. That his change of heart was genuine we cannot question for the Lord Jesus knows what is in man and He apparently gave Zacchaeus a hearty thumbs up (v.9).
We note that the proverbial they didn’t think much of their local Jewish tax collector who was not only short of stature but also short of friends. One can only imagine the scuttlebutt as the crowds murmured against the Lord Jesus. “See who He hobnobs with!” “Fancy Him coming to our house, we’re not good enough.” “Doesn’t He know what a scoundrel this man is, milking his own people?” “Notice, He knew his name, they are probably in cahoots.” Shakespeare was right when he said, “things are not always what they seem.” We hope that they (the critics) were convinced otherwise when they saw first hand the results of Jesus’ visit as the testimony of Zacchaeus spread through the community.
Finally one more commercial note before we leave this chapter. Moving from the first story to the last, we read about the cleansing of the temple. Now, they really have something to talk about. “You should have been there, money changers cast out, their tables overturned – we have never seen Him like this!” It indeed must have been a shock to everyone, especially the disciples, to see the meek and lowly One explode into a stormy protest. His Father’s house, the temple, a house of prayer, made a den of thieves. We might make the connection that our bodies, His temple, are primarily to be houses of prayer and we had better not be using them just for our own advantage. Also, a thief is a robber and those who fail to tithe were classified as such by Malachi (3:8). Move over Zacchaeus.
Luke 20:33 “In the Resurrection”
I, for one, am glad that the Sadducees raised the hypothetical question based on the law of
levirate marriage as found in Deut.25:5f. Though our Lord states (as recorded in both Mt.22 and Mk.12) that these men were ignorant of the (O.T.) Scripture, there is nothing in the Bible that so clearly states the fact that marriage is for this life only. I am also glad that in these same occurrences of this subject, He also makes reference to the “power of God” seemingly as pertaining to the subject of relationships in the “resurrection.”
Those of us who enjoy a really great relationship with our spouse may find the Lord’s words on this subject somewhat disconcerting. We certainly are thankful that God’s power will be in charge of the situation. Again, if it were not for the subject being raised here, how many of us would ever imagine that these human relationships would not continue right on into eternity? We can only speculate as to what the conditions will be like. If we will not be living together in our heavenly mansions (John 14:2) as family units then it would seem that the alternative would be either living communally or singly neither of which strikes us as being as improvement over what we now have. (Only wondering, not questioning.)
Of course, whatever the case we can be thankful that the Sadducees were wrong! Even this part of the episode amazes us because we would never think of using the argument that our Lord Jesus used. It certainly shows how we should pay attention to words. Jehovah is not the God of the dead but of the living. How much is packed into His closing statement “for all live unto him”(v.38)!
Luke 21:19 Be Patient
For those who use the KJV exclusively, the words at the end of verse nine translated “by and by” will present a definite problem. The word in the Greek is translated in other places 35 times by the word immediately. If we say not immediately then we approach the sense in which we use the phrase by and by, but when we say not by and by, as the KJV has it, we think the very opposite of what is being said here. If it is not “by and by” then it must be going to happen right away, which is exactly the opposite of what Jesus was teaching, viz. “the end is not immediate for these things must happen first.” Interestingly, not one of the dozen commentaries that I consulted on this verse mention this as a problem, they just translate the word “immediately” for the most part, so I suggest you write that word in your KJV next to these words.
The things that our Lord tells the disciples is the following several verses are those which they are about to experience.
I get a kick out of verse 18! Coming, as it does, after verse 16 where it is said that some of them would be put to death. There’s one for the world to figure out! One commentator says that this is the key to the right interpretation of Psalm 91. In view of the fact that many believers have been called upon to experience a martyr’s death, the only way we can look at it is that, as Paul says, “ to die is gain,” (even for our hair-do)!
Luke 22:19 “This is My Body”
Those who read these devotionals consecutively will find this subject being addressed again, but I cannot resist the temptation to speak of it here. I refer particularly to verse 19 where our Lord breaks the bread and says “This is my body which is given for you.” Comparing Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22 one may see that in each case it is the bread that is broken and no reference is made to the body being broken (as is often done by pastors while serving at the Lord’s table). Of course, it is inferred from the communion passage most often read, (11:24) which says “And when he had given thanks, he brake it and said, take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you” etc. All one need do is recognize that He was saying “that I am breaking for you.”
The body of Jesus was not broken (John 20:33-36) though there are some who are so anxious to hold on to their traditions that they will say- “yes, but his skin was broken.”
The point is, if we will only try to see it, that the loaf on the table (unleavened) was a unit and probably represented the church (His body) in its oneness. (1 Cor. 10:16 & 17). It had to be broken in order to be distributed.
The emphasis in the passage usually read at communion is on the subject of discipline not fellowship with the Lord. We can fellowship with the Lord every day, and should, but it behooves each believer to examine himself at the table lest he be a leavening influence upon the assembly ( 1 Cor.5:6).
Luke 23:31 The Green Tree
Our Lord Jesus, the green tree, is the vine full of life which He so willingly shared with all who touched Him or were touched by Him while He walked among men, and we, the branches, who now share His life and fullness rejoice to see this day. Standing, as it were, in the wings of this stage of God’s eternal purpose we watch to see what will be done. Will Pilate succeed in his effort to free the Lord since, as he says, he “found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him.” No, for, as difficult as it may be for us to comprehend it, He is “being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Wicked hands must crucify Him. Of wickedness there is no lack here.
We rejoice because we are in a position to know the outcome and the fact is that God Himself is taking pleasure at what is happening for as these rulers (now become friends) “ take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed” (Ps.2:2). “He that sitteth in the heavens” is laughing (v.4) for these men are, in spite of Satan’s fiendish schemes falling right into God’s plan to, in fact, set His Son on the holy hill on Zion with the heathen as His inheritance and the uttermost part of the earth as His possession (v.9). Isaiah likewise foresees this day of God’s pleasure, (53:10) when He caused the very wrath of men to praise Him (Ps.76:10). The Lord Jesus said that Abraham rejoiced to see His day.
The Green Tree would not burn in spite of the fire of men’s hatred and rage (Ps.2:1). Cut down, it soon sprang back to life with ever vernal branches bearing “much fruit” (John 15:8) glorifying the Father.
Yes, this day of the terrible cross was a necessary part of God’s eternal purpose. And so it should be for us. Mark 8:34-38.
The dry branches, Judaism, will suffer great destruction. Men will burn them as they do to branches that have been cut off. Rom.11:17 and John 15:6. The day will come when the daughters of Jerusalem will be among those who will call for the mountains to cover them from God’s wrath. It is that day for which they should weep.
Luke 24:32 Heavenly Heartburn
Here in this last chapter of Luke, and only here, do we have this sweet and sacred story of the “Emmaus disciples.” Though not among the 12 disciples, and only one of the two, Cleopas being named, yet they were a part of the inner circle so to speak. Verse 22 indicates their presence earlier when the women coming from the tomb made their amazing report.
I think that what is so exciting about this encounter was the fact that our Lord, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets ...expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (v.27). Do you ever sigh in perplexity at some of the wild flourishes of the so-called “minor prophets”? Do we think we are sometimes stretching things a bit when we see Jesus in the story of Ruth or the Holy Spirit in the saga of Esther? In reality, dear reader, we should lament that our eyes too are “holden” (v.16) for surely we have failed to see Him in all the Scripture. Oh, Lord, open our eyes as you did this favored pair (v.31) on that glorious third day, the day of Your resurrection!
Later as He broke His fast (ate breakfast) with the disciples He again assured them that all things must be fulfilled “which were written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the Psalms concerning me” (v.44). Here our Lord supernaturally “opened their understanding that they might understand the Scripture.”
From this I suppose that we might be wise when we open the Book to be asking Him to open the eyes of our understanding as well.