Thursday, February 15, 2018

Reading Through the Gospel of Luke #10 (22-24)

Bock LukeThis post concludes my reading through the Gospel of Luke accompanied by Luke, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Darrell L. Bock. Chapters 22-24 are Luke’s account of the Passion events including the arrest, trials, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He concludes with the risen Jesus commissioning the disciples to take His kingdom to all the nations.  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.

Chapter 22 begins Luke's account of the Passion events. As Jerusalem prepares for Passover, their event of national liberation, the nation's leadership prepares to murder the one who came to them to complete God's plan of liberation. Jesus celebrates the Passover with His disciples in a way that would teach them how they were to prepare for the complete liberation that would be provided in God's final kingdom when He returns. The disciples still do not understand and get in another argument about who is the greatest, so Jesus again teaches them that greatness is about service, humility and faithfulness to God. Those who are faithful now will rule with Jesus in His kingdom because of the sacrifice Jesus has made. This is what the Lord's Supper is all about

Jesus’ final moments with his disciples involve a farewell meal. As he celebrates the Passover and adds his own new elements to it, Jesus reveals that his work is modeled after that sacrifice. His humility is to mark the disciples’ own efforts to serve others. Their service will occur in the face of rejection, but service is still the disciple’s calling. Luke 22:1-38

The Jewish celebration of national salvation becomes the occasion for a plot to arrest and convict Jesus. Once again, irony abounds. The leadership steers a course of murder in the name of righteousness. Sin always distorts reality. In addition, a cosmic chess match comes to its crucial moment. Satan will put Jesus in check, but Jesus will make the final move that means checkmate. Luke 22:1-6

Peter will be able to strengthen fellow believers after his fall because he will understand how easy it is to fall. He can call on them to embrace God’s mercy, be prepared to suffer and be ready to give a defense because he will have experienced all of these opportunities himself—some with failure and others with success...Even disciples who fail in a moment of weakness can experience the success of God’s work. The lesson is an important one not only for Peter but also for all the disciples he represents. Luke 22:7-38

Humility, dependence, promise of authority and reward, warnings about opposition and the pursuit of faithfulness are the topics of Jesus’ final testament meal. Luke assumes that disciples will engage the larger world and face a great cosmic battle. But they are not to withdraw or be afraid. Rather, with humility and looking to God, they can face suffering and the world bravely and effectively. Luke 22:7-38

After the supper Jesus leads the disciples to the Mount of Olives. He prepares for His ordeal with prayer. Even though he dreads what He is about to go through, He gives Himself over to the will of the Father and receives spiritual care, strength and encouragement to be ready for what is coming. The betrayal by Judas and arrest of Jesus immediately follow. Luke emphasizes the cowardice and hypocrisy of Judas and the Jewish leadership as they arrest Jesus in away from the public and in the dark. He also contrasts Jesus' response to act graciously and heal the high priest's servant with the disciples decision to defend Jesus with violence. This is a battle between darkness and light. Jesus will win the battle with the weapons of faith and trust in God and give Himself over to His enemies to be vindicated by God and completely defeat the darkness.

Our mortality is a frightening thing. Jesus faces it by doing what he always did: he took his concerns to God in prayer...Like many who face death, Jesus would like to avoid dying now. If he were considering only his personal preference, he would rather not experience the pain of mortality and the horror of paying for sin. But Jesus has a more fundamental concern: “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Here Jesus submits to God’s plan and will. Luke 22:39-46

Sometimes disciples believe they must take matters into their own hands to defend Jesus. But here Jesus stops the attempt to defend him with violence. His path takes a different direction. The healed servant pictures the opportunity that exists to experience God’s grace. Here is a man who rejects Jesus and participates in the arrest leading to Jesus’ death. Yet the avowed enemy is not beyond Jesus’ healing touch. A severed ear can always be restored, if one will listen to him. Luke 22:47-53

Jesus then receives six different hearings before Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod and finally Pilate brings Him before the people. In all of them Luke portrays Jesus as the innocent sufferer. Jesus is convicted by the Jews as a blasphemer, a charge which is ultimately refuted as God the Father will validate Jesus' claim to be the Son of Man at the resurrection. The accusations before Pilate were clearly false and Pilate pronounces Jesus to be innocent. Through the rest of the trials Jesus remains silent. The irony in the trial is that the people demand, and Pilate gives them what they want, the release of a murderer and the crucifixion of an innocent man. This substitution is a picture of what Jesus will do for all sinners; die in their place as the "lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Jesus argues that from now on whatever happens at the trial is irrelevant. His rule from God’s side will follow. People may think they have the right to make a judgment about Jesus, but the judgment that counts is the one made by the resurrected Son of God. In sum, Jesus makes himself and his authority the issue. The leaders are astute enough to see the claim...They sense the depth of what Jesus is claiming—that Jesus uniquely shares God’s rule and power. Luke 22:54-71

Jesus is the substitute for the sinner. Barabbas’s release and Jesus’ death make up a portrait of the exchange God engages in to save sinners from the penalty of their ways (Rom 5:5–9). This sacrifice at the altar of injustice is the ultimate expression of God’s love. Amazingly, in the midst of a monstrous injustice God can design a means of victory. Jesus’ death means the possibility of life for another. No matter how severe the sin, release is made possible through Jesus’ death. Luke 23:1-25

The crucifixion quickly follows the death sentence. Luke is concerned to emphasize Jesus as the innocent sufferer. His death was an injustice and He was who he claimed to be. The thief on the cross and the Roman centurion both testify to this. Even nature (darkness) and God the Father (the torn curtain in the temple) testify to the righteousness of Jesus and the coming judgment on the nation for their rejection of Jesus. Ironically, even the official charges posted by the Romans testify to who Jesus was. Even in the face of such terrible injustice, Jesus responds with compassion and forgiveness. As he dies he reiterates His absolute trust in God. The scene ends with the burial of Jesus. "Jesus has been laid to rest in honor. But things will not remain quiet for long."

Jesus prays for those who will kill him. He asks that his executors be forgiven, since they have acted in ignorance. Jesus’ intercession lays the basis for God’s offer of forgiveness. National consequences will follow from Jesus’ rejection, but God’s love expressed here shows that the rejection need not be permanent, neither for an individual nor for a nation. Luke 23:26-49

The criminal anticipates the restoration and resurrection. He asks to be included. His depth of perception stands in contrast to the blindness of those who taunt. This man, despite a life full of sin, comes to Jesus and seeks forgiveness in his last mortal moments. He confesses his guilt and casts himself on Jesus’ mercy and saving power. Luke could not have painted a clearer portrait of God’s grace. Luke 23:26-49

Devout figures surround Jesus at his birth and death. Those who are righteous and seek God respond to Jesus and look forward to what he will bring. Luke 23:50-56

Luke closes his Gospel with his account of the resurrection of Jesus and commissioning of His followers for the task of telling His story and spreading His kingdom message to all the world. A theme that runs through the resurrection account is that the disciples were surprised by the event. The women, the couple going to Emmaus, the group of disciples all had to be convinced of the reality of the resurrection by seeing Jesus. This happened as they had intimate table fellowship with Him. Jesus then prepares the disciples for the coming task of building and spreading His church, a story which will be continued by Luke in the book of Acts. Jesus then returns to heaven from where He will intercede for His people, send the Spirit to equip them for the task and draw them into intimate fellowship with the Trinity.

Though the church proclaims the resurrection confidently today, the original witnesses had to be convinced that it had occurred. Resurrection had been promised by Scripture and by Jesus, but only slowly, grudgingly and methodically did the disciples come to see that it had come to pass. Luke 24:1-12

Here is the major lesson of the Emmaus Road experience. Though resurrection is hard to believe, be assured that it took place. Its reality means that Jesus’ claims are true. He was more than a teacher and more than a prophet. He was the promised, anointed one of God. A host of skeptics saw that this was so, and they believed. Do not be skeptical as these men were. Remember what God required of his Messiah: suffering, then vindication in exaltation. Luke 24:13-35

The church’s task will be difficult; special ability will be needed to accomplish it. It is not to be carried out in mere human strength. Just as Jesus’ presence at the table has shown, God’s intimate, indwelling presence is necessary to make it work. Luke 24:36-53

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