Thursday, February 08, 2018

Reading Through the Gospel of Luke #9 (19.45-21.38)

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 19.45 begins the final section of the Gospel. Luke's concern here is to show that Jesus' resurrection vindicated Him as the righteous sufferer, the rightful authority over the nation as the Davidic Messiah, and the One who would bring all of God's kingdom promises for 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. 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 conclusion to the Gospel begins with a discussion of Jesus' authority over the nation. When Jesus cleanses the temple he brings to a head His claim to be speaking with God's authority as a prophet and to  be the promised Messianic King, as acknowledged in His entry into Jerusalem, with authority over the Temple. The Jewish leaders challenge this claim. Jesus responds with His question about the source of John the Baptist's authority. His point is that the source of John's authority and Jesus' is the same: God, and God has already vindicated this authority by what has happened in both of their ministries. Then the leaders try to trap and discredit Jesus. The hypocritical question about Caesar tries to place Jesus at odds with Roman power. Jesus fails to take the bait because He does not see the solution as being political. Rome is not the key. The most important thing is to respond to God's authority, which these leaders were failing to do. The Sadducee's question about resurrection is an attempt to make Jesus look stupid. His answer shows that He understands scripture far better than the Sadducees. The kingdom of God requires resurrection and immortality which only God can provide. Jesus' resurrection will be the final and greatest indication that His authority comes from God. The leadership's rejection of God's authority fulfills the pattern of rejection of God's authority seen in Israel's history and illustrated in the parable of the wicked farmers.  

Jesus is the issue, and the subject is properly honoring God. Israel thinks God is honored at the temple. Jesus claims the exact opposite. The nation is divided; choices are required. They cannot both represent God’s will. The warning also illustrates the danger of combining religiosity and commercialism at the expense of true worship—a danger to which we also must be sensitive today. Luke 19:45-48

The psalm (118) uses the symbolism of the foundation stone that is crucial to a building. Jesus is the foundation stone of God’s plan. Though some may reject him, God will make him the centerpiece of his plan. Rejection by the Jewish nation is not the end of the plan. There is no replacing this precious and chosen stone. Luke 20:1-19

God’s promises live on for the patriarchs because they still live. In fact, life is in his sovereign hands, and all live for him...Death is not the end, only a beginning. The question is, the beginning of what? Only one’s response to Jesus determines the answer to that question. Childless levirate wives need not worry which man is their husband. All should worry whether they are a child of God. Luke 20:20-40

Jesus now takes control of the discussion and asks a question to the Jewish leaders about Messiah's authority. How can a human Son of David be David's Lord? The point is that Jesus shares the authority of the Father, reigning with Him as the Son of Man. The leaders are not just rejecting a human messiah, they are rejecting the authority of the Father as well. This is illustrated by their use of the temple and the Old Testament system. They use it to enhance their own honor and wealth, rather than its intended purpose: to worship God and serve His people. The faithful widow who sacrificially gives is an example of the good people the leaders were defrauding. Religion can easily become a means to selfish ambition rather than a conduit to God and a way to serve God's needy people.

The Son of David exercises divine prerogatives from the side of the Father in heaven. His authority is shared heavenly authority. To understand who the Son of David is, one must understand that he shares authority with the Father. As Acts 2 shows, authority over salvation comes from the Father through the Messiah, who sits at the Father’s side functioning in “coregent” fashion. Thus the Lord Jesus reigns at the Father’s side. Jesus does not make this explicit point here. But Luke 22:69 and Acts 2 show that ultimately this is the answer to the question. Luke 20:41-44

Sometimes little gifts cost a great deal more than big gifts do, and their merit is in the sacrifice they represent. In fact, real giving happens when one gives sacrificially...In contrast to the scribes’ pride and hypocrisy stands this woman who has sacrificed out of her life to honor God. So Jesus says, “Beware of the scribes, but follow this widow.” When God measures the life of service, he does not just count, he weighs. Luke 20:45-21:4

So, Jesus closes the section with a prophecy of judgment. In 21.5-38 Jesus combines a prediction of the judgment of destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD with the judgment that is coming at the 2nd coming. The two events have commonalities, but will not be the same in all the details and should be kept separate. Jesus predicts the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, the coming persecution of the church and the time gap between the two events. In both events God is in charge and believers should remain patient and faithful, even in persecution, knowing that they have eternal life. Every generation should live in expectation of Jesus' return, not engaged in fruitless speculation about specific times, but by faithful service and hopeful prayer.

We must be careful not to get more specific than Scripture does about the events of the future. Luke 2:5-38

Here is why Jesus has revealed the plan—to call disciples to be on the alert. Heeding, watching and praying lead to endurance. Heeding really means following in obedience. Watching means that our eyes are expectant and looking for the Lord’s return, focused on the fact that he will bring us to himself. Praying means we are dependent, looking to him to give us the strength to walk in faithfulness. No matter how tough things get, we can know as we look to God that he cares for us. Luke 21:25-38

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