Saturday, January 13, 2018

Reading Through the Gospel of Luke #5 (9:51-11:54)

Bock LukeThis post continues my reading through the Gospel of Luke accompanied by Luke, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Darrell L. Bock. Luke 9.51 begins the next major section of Luke (9.51-19.44). Jesus "sets his face to go to Jerusalem" to face rejection and death and accomplish his saving kingdom mission. This section highlights the growing rejection of Jesus and Jesus' teaching of His disciples to prepare them for the next step of God's kingdom plan. 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.

Luke 9.51-10.24 introduces this next major section by showing the widespread rejection of Jesus as he is rejected even in Samaria (9.51-56), explaining the main demand of discipleship: absolute devotion to Jesus and His mission, and describing the sending out of a group of 72 to announce the kingdom with the delegated authority of Jesus. The Samaritan rejection illustrates the calling of disciples to announce the kingdom and benefits of Jesus. It is not yet a time of judgment, but opportunity. If rejected they are to move on. Judgment will come from God later. 9.56-62 shows the high demand of a disciple of Jesus. Being part of Jesus' kingdom mission is a higher priority than personal comfort or well-being, family, or any other responsibility one may have. Finally the 72 are sent out with Jesus' message and authority to announce His kingdom benefits. They are to bring both good news and healing. In doing so, they defeat the forces of evil. Their audience will be judged by God based on how their message is received.

Knowing God is a blessing and life’s highest priority. But that blessing is not automatic for every individual; it must be consciously entered into by embracing the hope the disciples offer. This period is so special that kings and prophets have longed to share in the blessings that the disciples get to experience through Jesus. To minister with power is exciting, but to know God and his grace is even better. Luke 9:51-10.24

Disciples cannot back off from the task. Discipleship is not a second job, a moonlighting task, an ice-cream social or a hobby. It is the product of God’s calling and should be pursued with appropriate seriousness. Luke 9:57-62

Proclamation and healing form a verbal, pictorial union of word and deed that evidence the truth of the disciples’ message. Such a mixture of word and deed is also a powerful testimony today, even when the deed is an act of compassion rather than a miracle. When we proclaim God’s love and show God’s compassion concretely, the word takes on a dimension it otherwise might lack. Luke 10:1-24

The next section (10.25-11.13) contains Jesus' basic teaching about relationships for disciples. Following Him is all about relationship with God through Jesus and loving the people who God brings into our lives, made in God's image, by meeting their needs. All the commands of the Bible can be summed up in "love God" and "love your neighbor." The rest of the Bible tells us what we need to know to do that. Relationships demand more than just keeping rules. The lawyer, who knows scripture well, is not willing to love the "Samaritans" in his life which betrays the fact that he does not really love God either. The Mary and Martha account also shows Jesus receiving women as disciples (not done in Jesus' culture) and highlights Mary's correct choice of prioritizing relationship. Finally, the "communal prayer" that Jesus gives to the disciples shows that the key issue is recognizing and deepening that relationship with God and each other. Disciples can boldly approach God with their basic needs and for power to live out the kingdom in this world. We can be real with God and with each other because God has placed us in this relationship.

When Jesus says, “Do this and you will live,” he is saying that relationship to God is what gives life. The chief end of humankind is to love God wholly. We were designed to love; but to love well, we must love the right person. Here is the definition of life that brings life. And the product of our love for God will be a regard for others made in his image, those whom God has placed next to us as neighbors. Luke 10:25-42

The prayer does not use an individualized checklist of specific wants and needs as we often hear at prayer meetings. The prayer is focused like a laser beam on expressing a dependent approach to God, on the quality of the community’s life with him. It expresses a desire for holiness, for God’s ruling presence, for a life of forgiveness, and it recognizes that provision and spiritual protection come from God. It asks God to work on the heart and seeks to be submissive to his will. Luke 11:1-13

The next section is about the purpose of Jesus' miracles and warnings about the need for proper response. Jesus' opponents do not deny His miracles, but attribute them to Satan. They are looking for an excuse not to follow Him. Jesus responds that the miracles show that He is the Messiah bringing God's kingdom to them and they will be held accountable for their response. Jesus' teachings and miracles are enough evidence that God and His kingdom are in their midst and the time is urgent for them to make a choice about what will be the center and foundation of their lives. The section closes with Jesus pronouncing condemnation on the practice of the Jewish leadership. In their pursuit of "holiness" they emphasized human rules and outward focused religion rather than love for God and meeting the needs of their fellow humans. Thus, when God appeared in their midst, they missed it, and opposed and killed the very person they claimed to serve. Unless we humbly take care to keep our hearts right before God we can make the same mistake.

Here is the ultimate cosmic war. Jesus and Satan stand toe to toe in battle. The miracles are an audiovisual that Satan’s cause is ultimately lost. He can do great damage, as any enemy can; but the die is cast. He will lose. The picture of the “stronger one” alludes back to 3:15–16. The stronger one is the promised Messiah who brings fire and the Spirit. The dividing of the spoil recalls the imagery of Isaiah 53:12 (see also Is 49:25–26). Jesus’ work means that Satan is no longer in control of the palace. Luke 11:14-23

We want to avoid offending others in a culture that is diverse. But neutrality is not always a good thing, and neither is polite disengagement. Some issues are important enough to require our considered choices. That is Jesus’ premise in this passage...Jesus calls us to consider what directs our lives. Luke 11:24-36

Luke is showing not only how the opposition grew but also how they failed to heed Jesus’ earlier call to repent (11:29–32). Luke also reveals what piety does not look like. The way to God is not that of the Jewish leadership. The way to God is not in a piety of pride and rules without care and compassion. The God-lover should not point the finger but lend a helping hand. Luke 11:37-54

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