PROMISE: "'Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.' 'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.' Then the angel left her."
One of the interesting things in these first 2 Chapters of Luke is the appearance of Gabriel and other angels, and the reactions people had to angels. Gabriel appears first to Zechariah, who would be the father of John the Baptist. "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God." On this day, Zechariah had been the priest chosen to offer incense alone before the Lord as the people prayed outside. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and gripped with terror. (1:12) As a sign to all concerned, when the priest came back outside from burning incense, Zechariah could not speak. He had doubted the angel's words. After his temple service time was over, he returned home. Soon his previously barren wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She went into seclusion, knowing that the Lord had done a great thing for, and in, her.
When Elizabeth had been in seclusion six months, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary. (1:26 - 28) Mary was greatly troubled by his words. He said she was highly favored by the Lord. He also said she would have a baby not by her finance but by the power of the Most High. He told her that her childless older relative Elizabeth was pregnant. He said, "Nothing is impossible with God." (1:37) Mary accepted, taking him at his word.
Gripped with terror. Troubled. Terrified. These visions and messages by angels shook up people not only because they were rare, but because they announced unique and difficult things to happen from the Lord. They told of the birth of John the Baptist (about whom Jesus said was the greatest man born of a woman) and Jesus, the Messiah.
Believing what the Lord had told her would happen, Mary went off to stay awhile with Elizabeth, and both women were given unusual insight from the Holy Spirit about the two baby boys coming. People would scorn her and the explanations she believed, yet the Lord had called her blessed.
These chapters also show that upon later reflection, both Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Zechariah, the father of John, burst forth with songs of praise for the Lord and for His plans. In the beginning of Maryís song she says, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior...". The scriptures say Zechariah's song came as he was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied over his 8 day old son, atypically named John. Anticipating the Lord's salvation of Israel from their enemies, Zechariah praised Him and acknowledged John's assignment of preparation. Zechariah didn't know all the details, but he believed the Lord was in the process of fulfilling old scriptural promises.
The last reaction to the appearance of an angel is shown by the shepherds, after Jesus' birth. "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified."
The birth of John and Jesus set the stage for what is to follow in Luke.
PROMISE: "Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.'"
(2:34-35)John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father." For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.'"
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, the baby was named Jesus. Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. In Jerusalem there was a man called Simeon to whom the Holy Spirit had revealed he would not die before he had seen the Lordís Christ. Simeon took Jesus into his arms and said, "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people."
In the temple at that moment was a prophetess named Anna. Coming up to them, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all others who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. During this same time, the scriptures say that John the Baptist grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
When Jesus was 12 he came to the temple for Passover. He spent time sitting with the teachers, and everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding of Scripure and how he answered questions.
John the Baptist began preparing the Way by going into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He told the people who came out to him, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
AUTHORITY: "Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, 'Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier - to say "Your sins are forgiven," or to say "Get up and walk?" But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...' He said to the paralyzed man, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat, and go home. Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God."
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert where he was tempted by the devil. When the devil had used the full extent of his authority to tempt Jesus, he left him until an later opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; and news about him spread through the whole countryside. People in his hometown were quickly offended, so Jesus moved on, drove out an evil spirit, and healed many.
Jesus borrows Peterís boat to stand in while teaching the crowd. Afterwards, Jesus tells Simon Peter to fish in a certain spot, and there is a tremendous catch. Peter is astonished at the size of the catch and is afraid of Jesus. Jesus tells him, "Donít be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So Jesus' power, limited by hometown doubt, extends to physical situations beyond healing as people do what he says. The news about him spreads even more, so that crowds of people come to hear him and to be healed of their sickness. Calling himself the Son of Man (see Ezekiel), Jesus says he has authority on earth to heal by forgiving sins. Who can forgive sins but God alone? And Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
On one of the Sabbaths Jesus and his disciples pick some grain to eat. Viciously attacked by the Pharisees, Jesus declares himself to be Lord of the Sabbath. After one of those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray. When morning came he called his many disciples to him and chose twelve of them, designating them to be apostles.
INSTRUCTIONS:"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
By this time, people were trying to get close enough to touch Jesus because the power to heal was obviously coming from him. (See Hosea 11:3b) But focusing on all his disciples, Jesus listed unusual reasons why they were blessed. He talked to them about how to respond to life situations. Jesus said, "But I tell you who hear me: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given you." Besides teaching and healing, Jesus also explained scripture with parables. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brotherís eye and ignore the plank in your own eye?" Floods will come; do the Word.
When Jesus heals a centurionís child, he is amazed by the manís faith. "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Soon after, he called a widow's only son back to life.
Struggling in jail, John the Baptist sent men to ask Jesus, "Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?" Jesus tells them to report back to John that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. (See why he said that in Isaiah 29:18, 35:3-6, 42:7,16.) Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Jesus. (see Hosea 11:3b-4)
Some Jewish people had not gone earlier to John for baptism. They were not impressed with Jesus, and began rejecting the Lord's purpose for his people. (7:30) Jesus said, "To what then can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine and you say, 'He has a demon'. The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you say 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners'. But wisdom is proved right by all her children." (7:31-35) Some people began listing mistakes they thought Jesus was making, like letting sinners touch him. Would a prophet allow that? Jesus dealt with rejection by demonstrating the work of God in relating forgiveness, love, and repentance.
INSTRUCTIONS: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told the parable of the sower. When asked by his disciples what the parable meant, He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables so that, though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand." Jesus said that no one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar.
Later Jesus calms a storm which provoked the disciples to ask, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him." Jesus heals a demon possessed man. He heals a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. He raises Jariusí daughter by simply speaking to her. He then feeds the five thousand.
Once when Jesus was praying in private he asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God." Warning them to keep this private, Jesus said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and on the third day be raised to life."
"At this time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (10:21a)
"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him to a high mountain. While Jesus was praying, the appearance of his face changed, his clothes became bright, and he was talking with Moses and Elijah. A voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.
The next day, while people were marveling at the healing of a boy from a demon, Jesus told his disciples, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." This didn't make sense to them, but they were afraid to ask questions. Instead, some began arguing about which of the disciples would be greatest, and Jesus reveals several things about being a disciple. Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and doesn't resent the Lord's rebukes. (See Proverbs 3:11-13)
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." Jesus said to them, "Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Then Jesus publicly thanked the Lord of heaven and earth for His unique plan and how He reveals it to some people but not others. Later, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, analyzing different positions on personal property, and tells us to treat our neighbors in such a way. Then he and the disciples spent some time with friends.
Later, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. He teaches them the Lordís prayer, and to be bold and persistent with the Father for needs and desires. He says to them, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."
WARNING: "Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Jesus drove a demon out of a man, and was accused of driving out demons by using the power of Beelzebub. He answered them by saying, "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?" Jesus called this group a wicked generation always looking for a miraculous sign. Invited to a meal with the Pharisees, Jesus tells them, "this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that had been shed from the beginning of the world."
Jesus told his disciples to constantly be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. He told them that everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Jesus teaches about the parable of the rich fool, concluding by saying that this is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. "And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well." (12:29-30)
WARNING: "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
The suffering and death of people killed during worship doesn't prove they are worse sinners than others. Those killed by the collapsing tower weren't more guilty than others who survived. But listen! Unless you repent, you too will all perish. (More on repentance)
Jesus is outraged at the response to his healing a woman on the Sabbath. Calling one of the synagogue rulers a hypocrite, the Bible says Jesus's opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
One Sabbath, while visiting the house of a prominent Pharisee, Jesus asked, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" They remained silent, so he took hold of a man and healed him. He then talked about the Parable of the Great Banquet. Talking about the cost of being a disciple, Jesus said, "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."
Jesus then tells the parable of the Lost Son. In this we see the story of loss and salvation. The loving father should forever remind us of the love of God who will receive us "when we come to our senses". We also need to look at the older son, whose lack of love can be so typical of many of us who serve the Lord. We need to remember the fatherís statement: "My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." It is the love of God that keeps us all together.
WARNING: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
Many of the parables of Christ are listed in Luke. Chapter 16 begins with the parable of the Shrewd Manager. Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." The Pharisees who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. Jesus said to them, "What is highly valued among men is detestable in Godís sight." The story of the rich man and Lazarus follows.
Jesus warns against causing people to sin. He heals ten people of leprosy and comments unfavorably when only one returns to thank him. Jesus then talks about what the coming of the Kingdom of God will be like. Jesus says, "For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightening, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation."
He told the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector. "I tell you that this man (tax collector) rather than the other (Pharisee) went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Being justified before God is a wonderful place to be.
FACT: "But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord 'the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." (20:37-38)
Almost immediately we see a tax collector justified before God. Zacchaeus, the tax collector, is converted. Zacchaeus repents from the heart and Jesus says, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
While they were still listening, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He explains why they need to continue to use their gifts and talents for the kingdom of God. A controversial and unpopular nobleman goes to a distant country to be appointed king, but he plans to return. So he gives some of his wealth to some of his servants, telling them to invest the money until he comes back. His subjects send a delegation to the distant land, asking that he not be made king, but he is crowned - according to plan. When he returns to his homeland, he called the chosen servants for an accounting. One had doubled the amount. Trustworthy in a small matter, this servant is to take charge of 10 cities. The second servant had increased the investment by 50%. Trustworthy in a small matter, this servant is to take charge of 5 cities. Another servant feared the harshness of the master and had just kept the original amount without investing it at all. The master questioned why he didn't at least lend the amount out with interest. Taking the investment money back, the master gave it to the servant who had doubled his. "To everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away." And then the king has the enemies who opposed him becoming king killed, defending his house. (see Zechariah 9:8)
After this, Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph according to Zechariah 9:9. He lamented their spiritual blindness to peace, and spent much time teaching in the temple courts. After telling the parable of the murderous tenants, Jesus asked the people, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone'? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." (Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14-15)
When questioned about taxes, he said, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesarís, and to God what is Godís." When questioned about marriage and the resurrection, Jesus showed how Moses proved that the dead rise. Then Jesus asked the teachers of the law how the Messiah could be the son of King David when David called this son "Lord".
INSTRUCTIONS: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."
Jesus comments on the widowís offering saying, "These people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on." Jesus then talks about the signs of the end of the age. Jesus says to watch out that you are not deceived. Many will come in his name, claiming even to be him and saying that the time is near. Do not be deceived to follow such talkers. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Count on Christians - you - being persecuted. There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."
Judas agrees to betray Jesus and watches for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd is present. Jesus and his disciples have their last supper together. He confers a kingdom on them, "so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." They then go to the Mount of Olives to pray, and Jesus is arrested. Peter disowns Jesus.
Jesus is then brought before Pilate. They all ask him, "If you are the Christ, tell us." Jesus answered, "If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God .... You are right in saying I am."
FACT: "For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (23:31)
PRAYER: "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' And they divided up his clothes by casting lots."
Jesus was then taken to Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. He was then sent to Herod. The chief priests and teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Herod then sent him back to Pilate. With loud shouts the Jews insistently demanded that he be crucified and their shouts prevailed. Jesus was led out to the place called the Skull, where they crucified him, along with the criminals -- one on his right, the other on his left. As Jesus died he said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." He was then quickly buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, before Preparation Day was over and the Sabbath began.
On the first day of the week Jesus rose from the dead. He appeared to two disciples walking from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. Not recognizing him, they told him about Jesus and how hopeful they had been that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. They didn't recognize him even while he explained the scriptures in the Old Testament - from Moses through the Prophets - with the requirements that the Messiah would have to suffer a specific kind of death plus resurrection before other things could happen. It wasn't until He ate with them in Emmaus that they saw their guest was Jesus. When he disappeared from their sight, they hurried back to Jerusalem to report to the eleven apostles that they had just seen Jesus.
For several weeks, Jesus would appear occasionally to various disciples. Some times he would eat with them. During this time, he insisted that "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms." (24:44b) Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. The Messiah would suffer. The Messiah would rise from the dead on the third day. Repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in Jesus' name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. They focused on these scriptures with instructions to stay put until Jesus would send the Father's promise of power to them.
When Jesus had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.