Monday, January 08, 2018

Reading Through the Gospel of Luke #4 (Chapters 8-9)

Bock LukeThis post continues my reading through the Gospel of Luke accompanied by Luke, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Darrell L. Bock. Chapters 8-9 close this major section of Luke by summarizing the message of the kingdom, the word of Jesus, that God has visited His people in the person of Jesus and the proper response is to acknowledge who He is and hear and obey His words as the word of God. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue. Again, I am not sure why the page numbers in the IVP series do not come up in Logos, but I will reference the quotes with the corresponding scripture reference.

The section continues with the parable of the sower, or four soils, which shows that the only proper response to Jesus' word is to hear it, reflect on it and live a lifestyle of obedience to it. His word is also a light that one must use to go the right way. Those that respond to it are in a relationship with God that is closer than a physical bond. Jesus then does 4 miracles that demonstrate who He is to claim this authority. He has authority over the wind and chaotic sea as YHWH is pictured in the OT. He has authority over the forces of evil and can reverse evil's effects in people. Finally, He has authority over disease and death. The proper response is faith and trust that Jesus can take care of us and handle the most deep and troubling obstacles we face in life.

This parable is not about a response to the word at any given moment. It sums up the different ways the word is received over a lifetime of exposure. It takes time to fall away from an initial attraction to the word. Only over time do the pleasures of life erode the seed’s effectiveness. The parable calls for reflection. We need to cling to the word in patient faith. If we desire to be fruitful, especially given that the obstacles to fruitfulness are so varied, then we must hold fast to God and his message of hope. We focus either on God’s promise or on our circumstances. Which we choose makes a difference: one leads to fruitfulness, the other to barrenness. Luke 8:4-21

Authority for Jesus is not a matter of a raw exercise of power; rather, it is a natural resource that is put to positive use as he shows compassion to those with all kinds of needs...The miracles all raise one question. That question cannot be any more clearly stated than it is at the end of this first miracle where Jesus calms the storm: “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:22-25

Jesus possesses authority so great that he can reverse the effects of evil. Some are transformed by that power—turned from a path of uncleanliness, destruction and death to life and testimony. But others fear it and want God’s presence to be distant from them. They fear what involvement with God’s power might entail. Luke 8:26-39

Jesus has taught a major lesson: faith means understanding that Jesus has the power to deliver life and that his timing and sovereignty can be respected. All Jairus’s earlier pain and frustration have been transformed into a new perspective that weds faith with Jesus’ authority. In fact, this is the lesson of all four miracles of Luke 8:22–56: God’s power is absolute. Death is not the chief end of persons. Trusting and knowing God is. Luke 8:40-56

The second major section of the Gospel of Luke comes to a conclusion in chapter 9 with the end of the Galilean ministry. Jesus now sends the disciples out with His delegated authority to heal and announce the good news of the kingdom, even though they do not yet fully understand who He is. This issue is dealt with in the rest of the chapter as this preaching mission of Jesus' and His disciples stirs up questions about who He is. Clearly God is working in a new way through Jesus, but the point Luke will make here is that Jesus is much more than a prophet like Elijah or Moses. The feeding of the 5000 demonstrates this graphically as Jesus shows Himself to be the Messiah who can provide for His people. Peter gets this part of the identification as he confesses Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God. However, Peter still does not fully get it yet, as he rebukes Jesus for bringing up the necessity of suffering and the cross. The rest of the chapter reveals to the disciples that Jesus' path involves suffering, rejection and death before glory and those who choose to follow Him must walk that same path.

The picture is of a Messiah who provides and makes full...the disciples learn that Jesus is the source of provision for their own ministry. They are to model Jesus’ style of ministry as they depend on what he can give them (22:24–27). They are to provide the food for the crowd, and through Jesus they do so. He supplies with abundance, and they are the vessels bearing the provision. Luke 9:1-17

Prophets have abounded through the centuries, but only one is called the Christ, God’s anointed. Peter’s answer highlights Jesus’ uniqueness...Jesus’ uniqueness goes beyond prophetic-teaching categories. Jesus is not the messenger; he is the message. The burden of the rest of Jesus’ ministry is to show how that message will be delivered and who the message bearer is. Luke 9:18-20

Two summary commands are issued: deny oneself and take up the cross (aorist imperatives). These are basic orientations of the disciple. Then the disciple can continually follow (present imperative) Jesus...Someone whose life and reputation in the public sphere were primary would never want to come to Jesus. But if they gave up a life of popular acclaim and acceptance to come to Jesus, they would gain deliverance. Jesus understood that trusting in God means nontrust in self and nonreliance on the security the world offers: Whoever loses his life for me will save it. Luke 9:21-27

This section ends at verse 50 with a confirmation of who Jesus is from the Father Himself at the transfiguration and a command that should be the basic guiding command for all disciples, "Listen to Jesus!" The transfiguration announces that Jesus is the fulfillment of what the Old Testament is saying, but He is also the bringer of a new and better approach to God. The only way to know and do what God wants in this new age is to listen to and follow Jesus. The disciples failure to exorcise the young boy and failure to understand Jesus' prediction of betrayal illustrate this. The disciples also fail to understand that following and serving Jesus is not about gaining status or honor or collecting power and authority. Jesus' kingdom will be inclusive and cooperative and will reach out to those who have no status (children) or official position.

The transfiguration was confirming testimony to the glory of Christ, and the resurrection was the crowning endorsement. Revealed in light, he is the light. With the “exodus” came understanding—but only after much listening. When we are with Jesus, we experience the cloud of glory, if we have ears to hear. Luke 9:28-36

The transfiguration called the disciples to listen to Jesus. The miracle that follows explains why this call was issued. The disciples’ failure to heal a possessed boy indicates their failure to trust. The contrast between Jesus’ glorious power and the disciples’ impotence is significant. Jesus’ authority can be trusted, but disciples acting on their own are useless...Instincts fail the disciples; they must listen to Jesus. Luke 9:37-45

Jesus defines greatness without using explicit comparison to anyone else, as people often measure greatness. Greatness is found in an attitude, humility; it does not require someone else’s lack of greatness. All relative scales are removed. Greatness has only one mirror, the reflective eyes of God. He sees greatness in those who do not need to be great to have stature. Luke 9:46-50

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