Regarding the authorship and date of Luke-Acts, see “Introduction to Acts.”
Luke’s gospel has several unique features that set it apart from the other three:
First, Luke is the only gospel with a sequel (i.e. the book of Acts).
Second, Luke is the longest gospel. While Luke only has 24 chapters, it has the most amount of verses. Mark contains 678 verses, John contains 869 verses; Matthew contain 1071 verses; but Luke has the most verses at 1151.
Third, Luke connects the life of Jesus with the birth of the early Church. It answers the question of how Jesus could be the Jewish Messiah, when many Jewish people rejected him.
Fourth, Luke mentions women 43 times.
(1:1) The Greek in the opening of this book is sophisticated Greek, likely because Luke addressed this to a high official. However, the rest of the book uses standard koine Greek, so it could be easily read by the people. Liefeld writes, “The introduction to Luke is a long, carefully constructed sentence in the tradition of the finest historical works in Greek literature… The classical literary style of the preface contrasts with the remainder of the Gospel, in which Semitisms abound.” Luke may be “flexing” a little bit in his prologue to show that he is educated, but he doesn’t write in this style throughout the book, because this would lose his audience.
(1:2) He is probably thinking primarily of the apostles, when he refers to the “eyewitnesses.” Though, others are surely in view.
(1:3) Luke gives more detail and coverage than any of the other gospels. His gospel is the longest. The book of Acts is the sequel to this book, where he also mentions Theophilus (Acts 1:1).
“Orderly” doesn’t necessarily mean chronological: “We cannot determine from this preface alone whether Luke is referring to a chronological or to a thematic order. He does not specifically claim to have aimed at chronological sequence.” It makes sense thematically and geographically.
(1:4) Who was Theophilus? While we don’t know for sure, he was probably a Gentile, judging from his name. He may have been asking himself, “What am I as a Gentile doing in a Jewish movement?” Luke wants to assure Theophilus of his new faith. Liefeld writes, “Theophilus was, however, a proper name, and ‘most excellent’ naturally suggests an actual person of some distinction. He may have been Luke’s literary patron or publisher, after the custom of the times.” Other references that use the terms “most excellent” refer to government officials. For example, Luke uses this language for Felix (Acts 23:26) and Festus (Acts 26:25).
(1:5) Luke compares John the Baptist with Jesus in order to show that Jesus is not just another prophet. Luke sets the scene in view of the OT. Zacharias and Elizabeth were both from the priestly line.
(1:6-7) We see the repeated theme of God moving through barrenness in the OT. Apparently, this old couple had been praying for a child for many years (v.13).
(1:8-9) Zacharias would go up to the Temple to minister twice a year for a week. He would help with the incense for the Temple—a privilege according to the Mishnah. Lots were cast to get this honor. He was one out of 18,000 men to be chosen. So, this was a great day for Zacharias. Liefeld writes, “Each of the twenty-four divisions served in the temple for one week, twice a year, as well as at the major festivals. An individual priest however, could offer the incense at the daily sacrifice only once in his lifetime (v. 9), since there were so many priests. Therefore this was the climactic moment of Zechariah’s priestly career, perhaps the most dramatic.”
(1:10) A huge multitude (18,000 people?) stood outside the Temple. This would be like getting the honor to light the torch at the Olympics: everyone would be excited in anticipation. Zacharias was having a good day, but little did he know, this would be the most defining day of his entire life. Zacharias had been serving God through the Temple, but now God wants to take him to the next level.
(1:11-12) Even though Zacharias would be anticipating a great experience, we doubt he would’ve expected for an angel to show up at the altar. Imagine being so excited to light the incense, and then you look over, and an angel is standing there!
(1:12) Apparently, this caused him to jump in his shoes. The term “troubled” (tarasso) means “to cause movement by shaking or stirring, shake together, stir up” or “to cause inward turmoil, stir up, disturb, unsettle, throw into confusion” (BDAG). Maybe Zacharias thought he was in trouble.
(1:13) The angel announces that God would give Zacharias and Elizabeth a son: John the Baptist. What was Zacharias’ petition? It was probably for a child, but God gives more than he could even imagine (Eph. 3:20). Zacharias asked for a Toyota Corolla, and he got a Porsche instead!
(1:15) John the Baptist is “great in the sight of the Lord.” But Jesus is described as simply “great” (v.32). Full stop. John recognized that Jesus was greater than him (Lk. 3:16).
This miraculous child fits into the pattern of Samson’s birth (Judg. 13:7) and Samuel’s birth (1 Sam. 1:15).
(1:16-17) John the Baptist wasn’t Elijah, but he was coming in the “spirit and power” of Elijah. The two were similar to one another. This is why Luke records Malachi 4:6, which in context refers to Elijah (Mal. 4:5).
(1:18) What was so wrong with Zacharias’ question? Well, don’t forget that he was talking to an angel! In fact, this is how Gabriel answers him (v.19). To paraphrase, the angel says, “Dude, I’m a freakin’ angel! I stand in the very presence of God!”
(1:20) Compare Zacharias’ reaction and Mary’s reaction. He wanted a sign (Lk. 11:29). Gabriel was angry with him, because he did not “believe” his words.
(1:22) This is where we got the game of “Charades” from (just kidding!).
(1:23-25) God wanted to move Zacharias into a new and major role in his plan; yet Zacharias wanted to remain in his comfortable and familiar service for God. He was an older man, and he might’ve been content to stay in a comfortable relationship with God.
In this section, we see Mary’s attitude of faith—even in difficult circumstances. Some argue that Luke took his concept of the virgin birth from Paganism, but this is patently false (see Matthew 1:23 and “Was Christianity Copied from Pagan Myths?”). In addition to the evidence, notice that Luke never cites Isaiah 7:14, as Matthew does. This seems to show that these are independent accounts of the virgin birth.
(1:26) Nazareth was a small town (Jn. 1:46).
(1:27) Betrothal (or “engagement”) was much more serious in this time. Morris writes, “Mary was betrothed, a state much more binding among the Jews of that day than is an engagement with us. It was a solemn undertaking to marry, so that divorce was necessary to break it.” Bock writes, “At this point the bride legally became the groom’s and could be called his wife. About a year later the actual marriage followed, and the husband took his wife home. In the first century betrothal could take place starting at the age of twelve.” Liefeld writes, “Since betrothal often took place soon after puberty, Mary may have just entered her teens. This relationship was legally binding, but intercourse was not permitted until marriage. Only divorce or death could sever betrothal; and in the latter event the girl, though unmarried, would be considered a widow.”
(1:29) Mary was just an ordinary woman. She must have been thinking, “Why would God send an angel to speak with ‘little old me’?” God never seems to break into our lives when we expect it. He also seems to enjoy reaching ordinary and average people in order to produce eternal ramifications (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
(1:30) It isn’t that Mary was “full of grace.” The Greek states that she found grace from God. The term heures means “to come upon something either through purposeful search or accidentally, find” (BDAG).
(1:34) Mary isn’t punished for asking God a question.
(1:36) To answer Mary’s honest question, Gabriel gives Mary evidence of God’s power. He tells her that her relative Elizabeth (an elderly woman beyond child-bearing years) is already six months pregnant.
(1:37) He concludes his response by noting that God is all-powerful. Mary has been confronted by God with his will. How will she respond? She may have been wondering:
“What will I say to Joseph?” As it turned out, Joseph did not initially respond well to the news. Matthew tells us that he was thinking of divorcing her (Mt. 1:19).
“What will I say to my parents?” This would be hard for a teenage girl today, let alone back then.
“What will the neighbors think?” Jesus was later persecuted for this (Jn. 8:41).
“I could be prosecuted!” The Jewish law stated that adultery was grounds for capital punishment (Deut. 22:23).
“I’m not ready for this!” When God calls us, it never feels like it’s the right timing.
Mary could have simply refused, harbored bitterness with God, or engaged in outward compliance. Instead, God wanted her to make a decision of faith. She could have urged Joseph to bump up the wedding and sleep with him (like Abraham with Hagar). But this would’ve been legalism—using moral self-effort to get to God’s goals. Instead, God wants us to trust him to produce the miracle.
(1:38) Despite her fears, Mary made herself available to God. She later had to watch her son tortured and killed.
We are free to follow God’s will, or to deny it. Following God’s will is risky and costly, but it’s worth it. Also, the alternative is not risky, but certain to fail!
God doesn’t always speak to us through an angel, but God still does speak. Maybe he’s speaking to you right now. Will you have the reaction that Mary had? Or will you resist Him?
Both Zacharias and Mary were afraid about following God’s will into this difficult arena, but Mary exercised faith, while Zacharias didn’t. Mary had more excuses than Zacharias, but she still chose to follow God’s will despite this.
(1:39-40) Mary rushes back to talk with Elizabeth. She had just heard that Elizabeth was pregnant, and she probably wanted to see this for herself.
(1:41-45) When Elizabeth heard Mary, the baby leaped in her womb, she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she realized that Mary would carry God’s Son (“the mother of my Lord”).
Imagine what this would feel like to be these two women. No one else knows what they know about God’s plan. Imagine having God bless both of you, and you’re both in the same family. There would be a mixture of excitement and fear for what the future held, but at least, they were going through this together.
(1:46-55) Mary bursts into a wonderful prayer. She may have been ruminating over God’s work in Hannah’s life in 1 Samuel 2, as she made her four day trek to Judah to see her family. It’s interesting that Mary prays that God has “exalted those who were humble” (Lk. 1:52). This becomes one of Jesus’ most repeated teachings. He may have heard this from his mom.
(1:56) Mary stayed through her first trimester, and then returned home. She would’ve been coming home to Joseph with a tiny “bump” in her stomach. I wonder if the neighbors would’ve been questioning her, where she’d been, and why she was now pregnant. Though, most likely, they wouldn’t have been to see her pregnant belly beneath all of her clothing yet. Remember, this was a time of much more modesty than today, and a woman in her first trimester hardly shows anyhow.
(1:57-58) The neighbors gathered around Elizabeth to celebrate her pregnancy and the birth of John the Baptist.
(1:59-64) It was custom to name a male heir after the father or someone in the family line. Yet they decide to call him John. When Zacharias agrees with God on this, he regains his voice.
(1:62) They “made signs” to Zacharias, who must have been thinking, “I’m mute, not deaf.”
(1:64) Zacharias learned from this divine discipline. He had been resisting God up until this point, but now, he decided to trust God.
(1:65-66) The entire community started wondering what John would grow up to be.
(1:67-79) Zacharias praises God for his miraculous work in his life and in the nation of Israel. He affirms the Abrahamic Covenant (v.73), the prophetic identity of his son, John (v.76), John’s role to prepare the way for the Messiah, citing Malachi 3:1 (v.76), and the coming of the Messiah, citing Isaiah 9:2 (v.79).
(1:80) This verse leaves us with a cliffhanger. What will his appearance be like? What will his service look like? How will he prepare the way for Mary’s special Child? John probably didn’t have his aged parents for very long to raise him. This may be why he lived out in the desert.
The story of Jesus’ birth is so familiar to us that we often lose the meaning.
(2:1) Augustus (“the revered one”) was Julius Caesar’s nephew, who died in AD 14. Because of the pax romana, many Romans considered Caesar Augustus to be a “savior” of the human race.
Consider the Priene Inscription—an inscription about Caesar Augustus—which dates to 9 BC:
“Since Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set in most perfect order by giving us Augustus, whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as a savior [sôtêr], both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war and arrange all things, and since he, Caesar, by his appearance [phanein] (excelled even our anticipations), surpassing all previous benefactors, and not even leaving to posterity any hope of surpassing what he has done, and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings [euangeliôn] for the world that came by reason of him,’ which Asia resolved in Smyrna…”
Luke records that Caesar made a decree; yet the true Savior and true King was providentially coming into the world.
Critics argue that Luke invented this census, so that Jesus would be able to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2 (“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity”). Yet this criticism is unwarranted for an obvious reason: Luke mentions the census, but never mentions the prophecy! If he was inventing the census to make sense of the prophecy, then he would’ve at least cited it. Instead, Matthew cites the prophecy, but doesn’t cite the census (Mt. 2:6).
(2:6) If you’ve read your OT up until this point, you’d be anticipating a powerful entrance for the Messiah! Where was the birth of the Son of God—the Savior and King of humanity??
(2:7) Jesus was in his own town: the “city of Bethlehem” (v.4). Yet, even though he was the King in his kingdom of Bethlehem, he was born in the barn “because there was no room for them in the inn.” His cradle was a “manger” or “feeding trough” (see NASB footnote). Liefeld writes, “It may have been a cave, as tradition suggests, or some part of a house or inn. Even today in many places around the world farm animals and their fodder are often kept in the same building as the family quarters.” Justin Martyr tells of a tradition that Jesus was born in a cave (Dialogue with Trypho, 78).
When I was growing up, I would leave the door open and let the heat out of the house. My dad would say, “Close the door! Were you born in a barn?” If you had asked Jesus this question, he would’ve said, “Yeah…”
Imagine the people in the inn that night. They carried on eating, drinking, laughing, and sleeping, while the Son of God was outside entering the world. Is this a subtle metaphor for humanity? While we are focusing on the decrees of the powerful players of humanity (Lk. 2:1) and carry on in life (Lk. 2:7), God’s will is unfolding unnoticed.
He was placed in a “manger” (phatne), which is a “feeding trough” (see NASB footnote). Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
The incarnation of Christ is mysterious (see “Defending the Deity of Christ”). Paul writes, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16).
(2:8-14) An angel appears to some shepherds nearby. The angel announces the birth of Christ. Specifically, the angel called him three titles: (1) Savior, (2) Christ, and (3) Lord.
(2:15-16) The shepherds decide to look into the birth of the Messiah. They showed urgency (“came in a hurry”) to find him.
(2:17-18) Why did God send shepherds to fill in the information about Jesus being the Messiah? Why didn’t he send someone else? Morris writes, “As a class shepherds had a bad reputation. The nature of their calling kept them from observing the ceremonial law which meant so much to religious people. More regrettable was their unfortunate habit of confusing ‘mine’ with ‘thine’ as they moved about the country. They were considered unreliable and were not allowed to give testimony in the law-courts (Talmud, Sanhedrin 25b).” Shepherds were strange people. No one wanted to be a shepherd. This wasn’t the job that you would try to gain; it was the job you got stuck with.
(2:19-20) While everyone was out exclaiming with joy, Mary was sitting back, reflecting on what she had heard. Like the reader, Mary was trying to figure out everything that was happening.
(2:21) As a good Jewish boy born “under the Law” (Gal. 4:4), Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day. Mary called him Jesus, as Gabriel had instructed (Lk. 1:31). Jesus’ name means, “Yahweh saves” (cf. Mt. 1:21).
(2:22-24) The parents paid to offer their son to the Lord (Num. 18:15ff). Because this couple was poor, they offered two turtledoves instead of a lamb (Lev. 5:11; 12:6-13).
(2:25-32) Simeon was an old man who was following God. It doesn’t say that he was a priest, but he turns out to be a prophet. God directed him to show up to the Temple (v.27), and God had revealed that he would not die until he met the Messiah (v.26). Looking at the infant Jesus was to look at God’s salvation (v.30). They are one and the same.
(2:33) Joseph and Mary were “amazed” at these things. It isn’t that Mary had amnesia from the earlier announcements. Instead, she’s amazed that another prophecy was occurring.
(2:34-35) Simeon predicted the ministry of Jesus to Mary (v.34), as well as giving a mysterious prophecy of Mary’s own pain (v.35). This surely predicts Mary seeing her son crucified.
(2:36-40) Anna—an 84 year old prophetess—also shows up to praise Jesus. Jesus continued to grow in his humanity (v.40).
(2:41) The parents made the annual trip to Jerusalem. Morris writes, “All male Jews were required to attend at the temple three times in the year, at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Exod. 23:14-17).”
(2:42) Twelve years pass, and Jesus is a preteen. This portion of Luke only exists in this gospel, giving a brief window into Jesus’ childhood.
(2:43-44) How did they lose their son? For one, Jesus was older at this point. At age 12, boys could be betrothed, so kids grew up quicker back then. Also, Joseph and Mary travelled in a “caravan” (v.44). Most likely, they had a large group of their family to travel with, and Jesus must have been lost in the mix.
(2:45-46) They returned to find Jesus—probably in a state of panic. This was before cell phones, Police, or children services. There were several hundred thousand people in Jerusalem, and they needed to find just one of them: their son. It took three days to find him! (v.46) Imagine the fear and panic these parents felt.
(2:47) Jesus both asked questions and answered questions to the religious teachers. Yet he was only twelve years old. They were all amazed at his wisdom.
(2:49) Jesus assumed that his parents would know that he would be in the Temple.
(2:50) They were wondering, “What does he mean by ‘My Father?’”
(2:51-52) We might think that Jesus was being impertinent by leaving his parents. Yet Luke records that he continued to subject himself to their leadership. Jesus didn’t run away to commit vandalism or get into trouble. He stayed where he was to learn more about God. Could you really be angry with your kid if he ran away in order to read the Bible and learn from good Bible teachers?
Mary continued to “treasure” (diatēreō) these things in her heart (cf. Lk. 2:19). This term means “to keep something mentally with implication of duration, keep” (BDAG). She was still trying to put the pieces together as to who this young man was.
After one thousand years of Israel’s history, the final prophet (Malachi) predicted the coming of the Messiah. He famously wrote, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming” (Mal. 3:1). Before this event, Malachi predicted that Elijah would return to pave the way for the Messiah: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).
And then, God went silent! As my friend Scott Risley puts it, this would be like waiting for the next season of Netflix show—only to wait for 400 years! What happens after this cliffhanger? When will God release the next stage in his plan?
Theologians refer to these four centuries as “the silent years,” because there were no prophets and not even prophetic pretenders. Reflecting on this period, later Jewish rabbis wrote, “After the latter prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi had died, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel, but they still availed themselves of the bath qôl [the divine voice? The word of God?].” The Jewish people regularly heard from prophets, even in their times of rebellion. Now they hadn’t heard from a prophet for 400 years! Imagine the anticipation! What an epic cliffhanger!
It is in this context that we discover a man, preaching out in the wilderness: John the Baptist. He is the final prophet of the old covenant.
(3:1-2) All of these figures have been attested in extra-biblical sources:
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…” If we date this from the death of Augustus in August 19th, AD 14, then this would be somewhere between AD 28 or AD 29, depending on the Roman reckoning.
“Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea…” He was the governor from AD 26-36.
“Herod was tetrarch of Galilee…” He was the son of Herod the Great, who tried to kill the infant Jesus (Mt. 2). He “ruled Galilee and Perea 4 B.C.-A.D. 39.”
“His brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis…” He was also the son of Herod the Great. He “ruled a group of territories to the northeast of Palestine Iturea and Traconitis (4 B.C.-A.D. 33/34).”
“Annas and Caiaphas…” Annas was high priest from AD 6-15. Caiaphas was his son-in-law, who was high priest from AD 18-36/37. Joel Green writes, “The continuing presence of Annas throughout this period must have been ominous. His near-dynastic control of the office would have signified his overpowering influence, and this would explain Luke’s usage here.”
(3:3) While John was in the desert baptizing people, he apparently found areas where there was enough water to baptize: “Aenon near Salim” (Jn. 3:23).
In Jewish culture at this time, the Gentile “sinners” needed to be baptized to convert to Judaism—not religious Jews. The Gentiles had to wash off their filth. John scandalously performs baptism on Jewish people, which would’ve been shocking.
(3:4-6) Luke cites Isaiah 40:3-5 to show God’s prediction of John the Baptist. In the Hebrew, Isaiah 40 uses the term “Yahweh” for the “Lord.” Thus Luke is associating Jesus with “Yahweh.”
John the Baptist
“He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins” (2 Kings 1:8)
“John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Mt. 3:4).
Persecuted and lived in the wilderness
|Lived in the desert||Preached from the wilderness|
|King Ahab and his wife Jezebel||Confronted the wicked king||
King Herod Antipas
They hunted him and tried to kill him
|Persecuted by the king||
Herod beheaded John. John condemned the fact that Herod had married his half-sister Herodias
(3:7) Luke references the “crowds,” but Matthew specifies the “Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mt. 3:7). This is most likely because Luke was writing to the Gentiles—not simply the Jews. In Matthew, Jesus also called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” (Mt. 23:33).
Whenever there is a major religious movement, some “join the crowd,” following a fad. John the Baptist must’ve discerned this, and he was revealing their phony faith.
(3:8-9) We see several keys of what it looks like to come to faith in God:
(1) Inner heart change. We need to see that the root of repentance is different from the fruit of repentance. We don’t do good works to repent; we repentance for good works to follow.
(2) Not based on family heritage. Many believe that if they grow up in a Christian home, then they automatically become Christians. Almost all Jews believed the same thing. But John disagrees with this view.
(3) Urgency. If we don’t change our attitude toward God, we will have to pay for our own sins. The time is short!
(3:10-14) Luke is the only author to include practical steps from John on how to repent. He addresses (1) people, (2) tax collectors, and (3) soldiers. At the center of his picture of repentance is honesty, fairness, and financial contentment.
(3:15) John was so famous and influential that many believed that he was the Messiah!
(3:16) John flatly denied that he was the Messiah. While John placed people into water, the Messiah would place them into the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13) or into fire (i.e. hell).
(3:17) Ancient farmers would stomp the pods of grain. The shells would break (i.e. the “chaff”) and the “wheat” would come out. Then the farmer would throw the wheat and the chaff into the air. The heavy pieces would fall to the ground, and the light chaff would float away with the wind. The wheat was gathered for harvest, and the chaff was burned.
(3:19-20) Herod locked up John in prison and later had him decapitated (Mt. 14). This was because John didn’t approve of Herod marrying his half-sister, Herodias. The Jewish and Roman historian Josephus agrees with the biblical account:
Now some of the Jews thought that it was God who had destroyed Herod’s army, and that it was a very just punishment to avenge John, surnamed the Baptist. John had been put to death by Herod, although he was a good man, who exhorted the Jews to practice virtue, to be just one to another and pious towards God and to come together by baptism. Baptism, he taught, was acceptable to God provided that… the soul had already been purified by righteousness. Because of this suspicion on Herod’s part, John was sent in chains to the fortress of Machaerus… and there put to death.
This passage comes on the heels of Jesus’ ancestry back to Adam—the first human (Lk. 3:28). Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeds. Jesus also quotes from Deuteronomy 6-8, which recounts Israel’s failure in their 40 year wilderness wandering. Where Israel failed and grumbling against God for 40 years, Jesus succeeded.
(4:1-2) Mark’s account uses more forceful language. Mark records that the Holy Spirit “impelled Him to go out into the wilderness” (Mk. 1:12).
Even though Jesus was physically empty (“hungry”), he was spiritually full (“filled with the Spirit”).
“Devil” (diabolos) literally means “slanderer.” We see him slandering and distorting the character of God and the word of God. Satan attacks three essentials to God’s character: (1) the provision of God, (2) the priority of God, and (3) the protection of God. He we get a window into the spiritual realm, wherein there is a spiritual battle beyond our field of vision.
What does Satan get out of this temptation? He wants to show that everyone else is really just faking God’s way, but they’re really out for selfish gain, like him.
Satan first attacks the PROVISION of God
(4:3) It would have been easy for Jesus to conclude that his needs were legitimate: After all, is it wrong to want food? But then, he remembers that the Holy Spirit led him out into this desert. If God wanted him to eat, then God would provide.
The reference to bread reminds us of the provision of manna in the wilderness. The Jewish people grumbled against God for better food. Jesus thinks of this event, and rebuts Satan’s claim from Scripture.
Jesus didn’t want to do anything himself: “I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (Jn. 5:19). He also said, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (Jn. 8:28).
(4:4) Jesus refutes Satan by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. In a sense, he argues that our spiritual provision trumps our material provision.
Jesus cites Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16, 6:13.Why does Jesus cite these OT passages? (see comments on Matthew 4:4-10)
DISCUSSION: What do we gain by waiting on God’s provision?
(4:5) Matthew records that this event occurred on the top of a “high mountain” (Mt. 4:8).
Satan next attacks the PRIORITY of God
(4:6-7) This probably felt tempting because it was a half-truth: As the Messiah, he would rightfully rule the world. Bock writes, “As Satan makes the offer in verse 6, he places you (soi) in the emphatic position as if to say, ‘Look what can be yours!’”
It’s sometimes easy to justify an ungodly method to achieve God’s overarching goals. As goal oriented people, it’s easy to feel tempted by this. Yet Morris comments, “It is not difficult to see how such a vision might be regarded as a legitimate aim. It would mean government concerned only with the genuine welfare of the people and the way would be opened for much good. But it meant compromise. It meant using the world’s methods. It meant casting out devils by Beelzebub. For Jesus it meant turning his back on his calling. His kingdom was of a very different kind (John 18:36f.). He had already identified himself with the sinners he had come to save (3:21). That meant the lowly path, not that of earthly glory. It meant a cross, not a crown. To look for earthly sovereignty was to worship wickedness and Jesus decisively renounced it.”
Satan told Jesus, “[All the kingdoms of the world have] been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (v.6). Jesus doesn’t dispute this claim. This is because (currently) the entire world lies in the power of the evil one (1 Jn. 5:19).
(4:8) He cites Deuteronomy 6:13.
DISCUSSION: How might a Christian be tempted to use the method of “the ends justify the means” in regards to doing Christian work?
Satan attacks the PROTECTION of God.
(4:9) The peak of the Temple was probably the royal porch. Bock writes, “The exact location at the temple is uncertain; two locales are possible. Some suggest the high temple gate, but more likely is the ‘royal porch’ on the temple’s southeast corner, since it loomed over a cliff and the Kidron Valley, some 450 feet below (Josephus Antiquities 15.11.5 §§410-12).” Some rabbis believed that the Messiah would appear on the top of the Temple.
Satan is limited in his power. He cannot throw Jesus from the safety of the pinnacle. He merely suggests Jesus to throw himself. Since Jesus is so set on quoting Scripture, Satan quotes Scripture… from memory! Much like false teachers today, Satan knows God’s word, and he twists it for his own purposes! Liefeld comments, “notice that the mere use of Bible words does not necessarily convey the will of God.”
(4:10-11) Satan carefully omits a portion of Psalm 91:11. He omits the words “in all your ways.” A godly person wouldn’t do such a rash act.
(4:12) Jesus cites Deuteronomy 6:16.
DISCUSSION: How might a Christian use this method of inappropriately banking on God’s protection to justify their own way of life?
(4:13) Satan isn’t all-powerful. He has limited resources, and he realized that this wasn’t going anywhere. So he waited for a more “opportune time.” He enters the scene again through the use of various demons, and ultimately, by manipulating Judas (Jn. 13).
Will we operate out of the flesh (our own resources) or out of the Spirit? We need to learn to depend on God to meet our needs.
God will bring us into times of testing and even pain.
DISCUSSION: What do we learn about Satan’s strategies from this passage?
- Satan can quote Scripture from memory.
- Satan uses half-truths to tempt people.
- Satan twists Scripture to tempt people.
- Satan can bring a proof text to mind in order to justify our own sinful decisions and fulfill our own sinful desires.
DISCUSSION: What do we learn about Jesus from this passage?
Jesus didn’t depend on his own resources, but God’s word.
(4:14) Jesus doesn’t leave this suffering beaten and battered down. He comes out of it stronger than ever!—full of the Holy Spirit.
(4:15) The crowds sided with Jesus. His fame spread to the surrounding regions. Of course, he is still in rural Galilee in the north. The powerful rabbis were located in southern Judea.
(4:16) In his hometown of Nazareth, he makes an audacious act. He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2. However, he stops his reading halfway through a verse, and in fact, halfway through a Hebrew strophe! The rest of the verse states, “…And the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2b). This part wouldn’t be fulfilled until Jesus’ Second Coming. This is concrete evidence for the hermeneutical principle of “gap prophecies.” Jesus saw (at least) a 2,000 year gap in the middle of an OT verse.
(4:20-21) It’s no wonder that the crowd was astonished. You probably could’ve heard a pin drop. People would’ve been waiting for Jesus to finish the verse, but instead, he says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The rest of the passage wouldn’t be fulfilled for more than 2,000 years.
(4:22) The people had a mixed opinion. On the one hand, Jesus’ teaching struck them like a dagger to the heart. They had never heard grace-teaching like this before. However, on the other hand, the people were surprised that such wisdom and knowledge could come from the son of a carpenter.
(4:23-24) Jesus says that the people will quote this proverb in the future. This could happen at Jesus’ trial or his torment on the Cross, when they tell him to “save himself.” It could also refer to the people taunting him to perform more miracles in his hometown. This is why Jesus states that his hometown is the last place that people would believe him (cf. Mt. 13:57; Mk. 6:4; Jn. 4:44).
(4:25-27) Jesus points out that God does not give out an abundance of miracles. After all, by definition, miracles are rare occurrences. He notes that God only used Elijah to heal one widow’s son (1 Kin. 17:9), and Elisha only healed one leper (2 Kin. 5:1-14). Similarly, Jesus was under no obligation to perform miracles to these people.
(4:28-29) The people went from praising Jesus to persecuting him. They loved his message earlier, but now they were offended to the point of attempted murder!
(4:30) Jesus was slippery. Somehow (surely by the protection of God), Jesus alluded the violent crowd.
(4:31-32) In the OT, the prophets said, “Thus says the Lord…” roughly 500 times. Jesus would say, “Truly, truly, I say to you…” This is likely the “authority” to which Luke refers. It could also refer to the results of Jesus’ message (see v.46).
(4:33-34) This is a singular man (“a man”) with a singular spirit (“an unclean demon”), who speaks in the first person plural (“Let us alone! What business do we have…?”). This shows that multiple demons can possess a single person.
(4:35) Jesus’ simple and terse words had power over demons.
(4:36-37) The people had never encountered power like this. Who else could simply speak and boss demons around?
(4:38) Peter was married. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have had a mother-in-law.
(4:39) Jesus could not only command demons to leave a person, but also physical viruses. He had authority over all forms of sickness—whether physical or spiritual.
(4:40) Why would the people wait until after the sun set to bring their sick relatives to Jesus? This little comment makes sense when we discover that it was the Sabbath (v.31), and so, they couldn’t travel and carry their relatives to Jesus.
(4:41) This fits with the idea of the messianic secret. Jesus kept his identity hidden until the right time.
(4:42) Jesus may have wanted to get time alone to pray (Mk. 1:35).
(4:43-44) Jesus continues to teach through the cities of Judea.
Jesus begins to call his disciples.
(5:1) This is another term for the sea of Galilee. Liefeld writes, “This is the only place where it is called Gennesaret, the usual name being Galilee (Chinneroth in the Old Testament; Tiberias twice in John).”
(5:2-3) Jesus asked Simon Peter to take him out to sea a little bit. This was most likely so his teaching could have an amphitheater effect. Remember, this is not the first time Peter has encountered Jesus. He met him earlier in his life, according to John 1:40-42. Peter sat in the boat as Jesus taught, listening to everything that he said.
(5:4-5) The fish would most likely feed at night. This is the middle of the day, so Peter is skeptical that they’ll catch anything.
(5:6-7) These fishing boats were extremely tiny. In 1986, we discovered a first-century fishing boat, which is called “The Sea of Galilee Boat.” It is only 27 feet long and 7 feet wide.
(5:8-9) It’s scary to come into God’s presence (cf. Isa. 6:1ff).
Peter had met Jesus before (Jn. 1:40-42), but this encounter was up close and personal! Maybe he had been considering whether to follow Christ or not. He must have thought that he was too sinful, and a great rabbi like Jesus wouldn’t want anything to do with him. In Peter’s mind, it would be better to come clean and tell Jesus just how sinful he was.
(5:10) Jesus puts Peter at ease. He knows that Peter is sinful, but he still wants him as one of his followers anyhow. Christ calls Peter, James, and John as a unit. These men were business partners and friends, and Jesus called them to work together for his kingdom.
(5:11) This was quite a bit to leave behind. These boats were probably handmade and pretty expensive. Also, they must have left the big catch of fish behind. Then again, looking back, do you think these three regret leaving their boat and fish behind?
Based on verse 8: Isn’t this sort of a strange reaction? Why do you think Peter would have this reaction to meeting God?
Based on verse 10: Why does Jesus compare evangelism with fishing? In what ways is sharing our faith similar to fishing? In what ways is it different?
Based on verse 10: Do you think it’s intolerant to share your faith with other people?
(5:12) Lepers were considered freaks of nature. Hansen’s disease is fatal, and people were paranoid of being infected. The ancient Jews would simply quarantine lepers to keep the bacteria from spreading. Even today in Africa and India, we still see leper colonies.
This leper knew that Jesus had the power to heal him, but was Jesus willing? Was Jesus not only powerful, but also good?
(5:13) The term for “touched” is really better translated “grasped.” In Jesus’ thinking, there are no “untouchable people.” This is why Christianity has spread across the lower castes of Hinduism in India—among people called the “untouchables.”
(5:14) Why does Jesus send him to the priests? In Leviticus 14:2, the priests would judge if the person was really changed (maybe from having psoriasis or eczema).
(5:15-16) In ministry, we often feel the pressure of the work, and won’t stop to pray and read the word, because we’re “too busy.” This is having more of a messianic complex than Jesus! Christ felt the need to access God’s power and direction.
Healing the paralytic
(5:17) Jesus depended on the power of Holy Spirit to perform miracles. He didn’t rely on his own power.
(5:18-19) These men wouldn’t be dissuaded! God didn’t open a door or a window, as the Christian trope states. So, they burrowed through the ceiling!
(5:20) Why does he forgive the man’s sins, rather than healing his paralysis? This must be because there is something worse in life than being paralyzed—namely, being under the judgment of God.
(5:21) They throw the gauntlet, asking him about his divine identity.
(5:22-26) These first-century Jews believed that people were punished with sickness for their sin, or maybe their parents’ sins (cf. Jn. 9:1-3; Lk. 13:1-5). According to ancient rabbinic teaching, sin was a result of divine retribution. Jesus meets them on their own terms. If sin was divine retribution, then healing could only be because of divine healing and forgiveness.
“Which is easier to say…?” This question is infused with irony. Technically, it’s easier to say that a person is forgiven, because we can’t see this. However, forgiveness is far more difficult to get, because it cost Jesus his very life!
Levi (Matthew) the tax collector
(5:27) We might not like taxes today, but these are at least for a purpose. In this day, the taxes were purely evil. The Jews were under foreign occupation from a tyrannical empire. These taxes were not for any government aid, roads, etc. These were given to the Roman Empire to build more weapons, soldiers, etc.
Taxes collectors would bid to collect more and more taxes for each province. “Good” tax collectors would outbid the others, claiming that they could collect more money from each province. Armed guards would protect them as they extorted people. There was no court of appeals to protect the people from being overtaxed. Jewish society fought back by ostracizing tax collectors (e.g. tax collectors couldn’t testify in court, their money was considered unclean, etc.). The Romans and Jews didn’t like the tax collectors, because the Romans viewed them as traitors too. Most rabbis taught they had passed the point of repentance and forgiveness. They were totally sinful and totally alienated from their society. No one would take this job, unless they were already a low-life, criminal, or loser.
Jesus hires this lowlife to be one of his twelve disciples! It’s hard to compare this to someone today. It would be like Billy Graham hiring a man from a Colombian drug cartel. Matthew (his Greek name) was also called Levi (his Jewish name). He goes on to write the gospel according to Matthew.
(5:28-29) Matthew threw a big party, inviting a lot of his friends who were also lowlifes! It’s interesting that when Matthew was thinking about who to invite to his party that he thought of Jesus. Jesus was fun to have at parties, and people wanted him to attend. How different is Jesus from many Christians today!
(5:30-32) The Pharisees (“the separated ones”) held that they should be detached from culture, much like “fortress theology” today. Jesus felt that these people were far from God because they couldn’t admit their own sin; in fact, the tax collectors would come to God first (Mt. 21:31). In this account, the only people that weren’t healed or called were… the Pharisees!
Wine and wineskins
(5:33) The Pharisees and scribes started comparing his ministry with John the Baptist and the other rabbis who were Pharisees.
(5:34-35) These religious leaders were creating practices (e.g. rampant fasting) by human authority—even though God never taught this (see comments on Matthew 6:16-19).
(5:36-39) When these old wineskins expanded, they would tear. These old creaky wineskins were spilling the wine, and Jesus’ point was that these old wineskins need to be replaced.
- Old wine: This refers to the old covenant under Moses.
- Old wineskin: Rabbinic teaching served as the human embodiment of the covenant.
- New wineskin: This refers to the new covenant.
- New wineskin: When the new covenant arrives, we will need new changing wineskins to accommodate it.
Jesus’ point here is that he isn’t trying to give the old wineskins a tune-up or a makeover. Jesus isn’t a revisionist, but a revolutionary!
Luke records two events that Jesus performed on the Sabbath. Remember, the Pharisees held that we should not do any work on the Sabbath, so they were trying to catch Jesus in breaking the law. It seems that they didn’t understand Jesus’ teaching about the wine and wineskins from earlier. These religious laws were not the “wine” (i.e. God’s truth), but rather “wineskins” (i.e. additional rules to carry out God’s truth). Jesus was breaking the latter, but not the former.
Eating on the Sabbath
(6:1-2) They were allowed to take some grain and eat it like this (Deut. 23:25). But the Pharisees were upset that they were “harvesting” on the Sabbath. The Pharisees had declared 39 types of work that were illegal on the Sabbath. These wineskins were elaborations on the Law, and Jesus is refuting it.
(6:3-4) This event occurred in 1 Samuel 21. David’s men were starving, and he violated the ceremonial law. Jesus defended David for doing this (Mt. 12:7). Mercy is more important than ritual sacrifices (see “Prioritized Ethics”).
(6:5) Since God created the Sabbath, Jesus was making an outrageous claim here.
Healing on the Sabbath
(6:6-7) This physically handicapped man had a serious problem. In this day, his handicap would make it virtually impossible to get a decent job. This is a crying need in front of Jesus and everyone else. But the scribes and Pharisees were more concerned about the wineskins (the extra laws), than they were about helping this poor man.
Mark states that God created the Sabbath for humans—not for himself (Mk. 2:27). God created it as a humanitarian law so that people wouldn’t work themselves to death.
(6:8) Jesus could read minds! He goes out of his way to heal this man to break the man-made rules.
(6:9-10) Apparently, Jesus’ question was met with silence. Since they didn’t have anything to say, Jesus went ahead and healed the man.
(6:11) These religious teachers couldn’t stand this. Religious legalism collides with the person of Christ.
Church language. The terms repent, getting saved, sanctification, holiness, ordination, worship, and church. All of these words have lost meaning in our culture. Like Francis Schaeffer used to do, we should constantly use synonyms and language that can connect to our culture.
Church music. When we create a Christian music subculture, 99% of people we talk to don’t listen to music like this. This would include singing hymns from the 1800’s, organs, choirs, etc. Why would create music like this for people to listen to? This isn’t from Scripture, so why do Christians do it?
Church clothing. When we wear robes or vestments, this is actually reverting to the old covenant—not the new covenant.
Church architecture. Cathedrals, stained glass, pews, altars, pulpits, or steeples are all staples of church culture today. But why should churches look different from other buildings? Why choose these wineskins? They aren’t biblical, and they aren’t helpful.
Meeting times. Why do we need to meet on Sunday morning?
Taboos and rules. Some Christians add to biblical teaching by saying we can’t go trick-or-treating on Halloween, can’t go into a bar, can’t dance, can’t go rock concerts, can’t watch certain movies from Hollywood, and can’t drink alcohol. While a person may have an individual issue of conscience on any of these issues (see 1 Cor. 8; Rom. 14), we should not mandate our personal issue of conscience for all Christians.
How big of a problem are these wineskins? It’s a huge problem considering the fact that people are grossed out by Christianity because of these wineskins. The criterion for a good wineskin is if it is flexible enough to not spill the wine. We cannot change the wine (i.e. the unchanging truths of Scripture), but we should periodically review the wineskins (i.e. the methods we use transmit God’s truth).
Calling the disciples
(6:12) Jesus knew that the Pharisees would eventually hand him over to be killed. Faced with this fact, he began to pray. This is where God led him to choosing his disciples. Do you spend the “whole night in prayer” before choosing who to disciple?
(6:13) The twelve disciples (i.e. learners) were also apostles (i.e. “sent ones”). They not only would learn from Jesus, but they would go out and speak for Jesus.
(6:14-16) In Matthew’s account, we see that the twelve disciples were paired: Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew, James and Thomas, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot (Mt. 10-2-4). However, Mark just lists the Twelve without any pairings between them (Mk. 3:16-19). Is there any significance to these pairings? Yes! Mark explains that Jesus sent the twelve disciples out “two by two” (Mk. 6:7). Matthew doesn’t mention the “two by two” sending, but Mark does. Thus both gospels mention pairings, but in different ways, complementary to one another.
The context for Jesus’ lecture (“The Sermon on the Plain”) was that the Pharisees “were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus” (Lk. 6:11). This is similar content to “The Sermon on the Mount” (Mt. 5-7), but we would contend that this is a different sermon. The “differences are many,” and this is given on a “level place” (Lk. 6:19), not a mountain. Furthermore, it is much shorter in length.
(6:17) These cities (Tyre, Sidon, Jerusalem, etc.) were 60-80 miles away. Thousands were coming here to learn from Christ.
(6:18-19) Jesus could apparently feel God’s power go out of him when he healed him.
(6:20) Our interpretation should focus on the fact that Jesus was speaking to “His disciples.” Unlike Matthew, Luke simply states, “Blessed are you who are poor,” rather than “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Mt. 5:3).
(6:21) In God’s kingdom, all of our pain will be turned to joy. All of the psychological pain we carry will be lifted in this great day.
(6:22-23) This blessing is conditional on being hated “for the sake of the Son of Man.” We shouldn’t expect any blessing when we are filled with egotism or pride, living for ourselves. When everyone is happy with us, it’s very possible that we’re compromising our principles.
This happiness seems to be available to us now—not in heaven. We should “be glad in that day.” This seems to refer to the same day that “men hate you.” Though, it could refer to being in heaven (see also, v.26).
(6:24) God has an unlimited source of happiness and joy. Money does bring some happiness, but it is a cheap substitute for the joy of the Lord.
(6:25) In this day and age, being fat was a staple of social prosperity, because food was so scarce. Similarly, in other cultures, it is considered unpopular to be tan, because this shows that you are blue collar and need to work outside.
Being put down
|Pharisees claimed that these qualities made you unfavorable in the eyes of God.||
Pharisees claimed that these were signs of God’s blessing.
The disciples were making a conscious decision to be rejected or impoverished because of their commitment to Christ—not because they were unable to make money.
Is Jesus against laughter? This can’t be the case, because being “blessed” (makarios) refers to being “happy, fortunate, fulfilled” (BDAG). Morris rightly comments, “Obviously Jesus is not objecting to laughter as such. His whole ministry was a protest against the killjoy attitude. He enjoyed life and must have laughed often. So with his disciples. But there is a laughter that is the expression of superficiality (‘the carefree expression of contentment with the success of the present’, Fitzmyer). It is this shallow merriment that will give way to mourning and weeping.”
(6:26) See comments on verses 22-23.
(6:27-28) With so many people despising the Christian, it would be easy to retreat into an embittered state (see Matthew 5:44).
(6:29) This is different than Matthew, who records being “slapped” on the cheek (Mt. 5:39). Morris writes, “Jesus is speaking of a punch to the side of the jaw rather than a light slap in the face.” Jesus rebuked the man who struck him (Jn. 18:22), so this likely referred to an “attitude” that we must “not seek revenge.”
(6:30) If this is absolute command, then this would mean that Christians would be morally obligated to give to drug dealers, criminals, and anyone else! This must refer to giving to those who are truly in need. It refers to “a readiness among [Jesus’] followers to give and give and give.”
(6:31) This is the famous Golden Rule. While other religions have a similar commandment, they are not the same as Jesus’ wisdom. Consider each of these examples below:
Rabbinic Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a).
Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you” (Mahabharata, 5:5157).
Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udana-Varga, 5:18).
These are similar, but not the same. For instance, you might satisfy this moral call by doing nothing. Jesus says that we need to actively love someone—not just passively do nothing. This is a much higher moral imperative.
(6:32-33) This is similar to Matthew 5:46. Jesus is calling for a much higher form of love. Not just love that is comfortable, but love given to those we don’t particularly like. This is love where we don’t get anything in return.
(6:34) This seems to be a similar idea as verses 30, 32-33. We should give to those in need. This is love that doesn’t seek anything in return.
(6:35) The object of our love is more important than our decision to love. Thank God that he loves ungrateful people like us!
(6:36) This refers to not giving people what they deserve.
(6:37) This reciprocal attitude of being judged in return could refer to God’s judgment, but it could also refer to others being harsh in their judgment of us in return. Morris adds, “When God accepts people God’s grace changes them. A forgiving spirit is evidence that the person has been forgiven.”
(6:38) He isn’t saying that if you give to others that they will give back to you. He’s saying that God will give back to you. The picture is that we’re taking as much as we can carry—and more! You’re pouring the grain into your bag, stamping it down, and using your shirt to carry the overflow.
Will you base your life on taking care of yourself, or will you entrust your needs to God and live for others?
(6:39-40) Water cannot flow higher than its source. Similarly, we cannot learn from our own wisdom. This shows our need to learn from a source higher than ourselves—in this case, Jesus himself. Ten years ago, you probably thought that you knew it all, but now, you look back at that person as foolish and making major mistakes all over the place. Similarly, in ten years, we will likely look at our current selves in much the same way! We need a source of wisdom outside of ourselves. We need God’s wisdom.
(6:41-42) This is parallel to Matthew 7:3-5. This shows our human tendency to see the faults of others, while minimizing or missing the problems that we contribute. We need to address our sin “first” before we are able to address another person’s faults.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: How does addressing our own problems make us more equipped to enter into a conflict with someone else? What might happen if we skip this crucial step?
(6:43-45) Jesus is saying that doing comes out of being. If you are prickly thorn bush, then you’ll produce thorns. It isn’t enough to clean up our behavior on the outside, when our souls are fundamentally sick.
(6:46) This is similar to Matthew 7:21. It isn’t enough to hear Jesus’s words; we need to act on his teaching and build our lives around it. We don’t truly know the wisdom of God’s word until we act on it (Jas. 1:22-25).
(6:47-49) Jesus claims that his teaching is and should be the foundation of our lives—the teaching around which everything else is built.
Healing the Roman centurion’s slave
(7:1-5) This Roman centurion seems to be a godly man. He cares for his servant (v.2), he loved the nation of Israel (v.5), financially supported the synagogue (v.5), and garnered the love and support of the Jewish elders. Furthermore, he was seeking after Jesus. Perhaps, as a Roman centurion, he knew that he couldn’t approach a rabbi like Jesus himself, so he sent the Jewish elders to request Jesus’ help (v.7).
(7:6-7) This is different than what the Jewish elders stated in verse 4: “He is worthy.” This man (a Gentile) understood his unworthiness before Jesus.
(7:8) As a Roman centurion, this man was powerful and had military authority over Israel as a subjugated state. He knew authority—both being under it and having others under his own authority. He knew that his own words had the power to get soldiers to move (“Go!” “Come!”). From this, he inferred that Jesus had even greater authority with His powerful words. Like the centurion commanding people to visit Jesus (v.3), he knew that Jesus could heal the servant without even needing to enter the house.
(7:9) This is a powerful statement from Jesus! This Gentile—a Roman centurion, no less—had a greater faith than any Jewish person Jesus had encountered!
(7:10) We don’t see Jesus give any kind of command here. Instead, the people return to find the slave healed.
Raising the widow’s son from the dead
(7:11-12) The fact that this was the woman’s “only son” would imply that she would become destitute, and without an heir.
(7:13-15) Jesus healed this man out of “compassion” for the mother and her situation.
(7:16-17) The people attributed Jesus’ healing to “God” visiting the people.
John the Baptist
(7:18-19) John the Baptist was a great man of God, and he had great faith in Jesus (Jn. 1:29). However, here we see him questioning Jesus. This isn’t some sort of rebellious unbelief, but it does seem like “faith seeking understanding” or ever doubt on John’s behalf.
(7:20-21) As John’s disciples are asking the question, Jesus is in the middle of miraculously healing “many people.” We can imagine Jesus saying, “Wait one second… I’ll answer your question about whether or not I’m the Messiah after I miraculously heal this mass of sick, demon-possessed, or blind people.”
(7:22-23) Jesus’ isn’t upset with John the Baptist’s question. In fact, Jesus gives John the Baptist more evidence from miraculous reports to messianic prophecy (citing Isa. 35). God wants to answer your doubts and questions too.
(7:24-26) Jesus uses this opportunity to show that John the Baptist was a prophet pointing to him. People were going en masse to hear John talk about the coming King and his kingdom—not to see reeds blowing in the wind or a well-dressed, wealthy man!
(7:27) Jesus cites Malachi 3:1 which originally referred to Yahweh.
(7:28) Again, Jesus wasn’t upset with John the Baptist’s questions. In fact, he calls John greater than any who came before him. But the Christian is greater than John—not because of our own righteousness but because of Jesus’ imputed righteousness.
(7:29-30) The lowlifes came closer, while the self-righteous moved farther away.
(7:31-34) The point of the illustration is that the Pharisees wouldn’t be moved by anything that John or Jesus did. In fact, they turned on John, calling him demon-possessed (v.33). They called Jesus a drunkard (v.34) and a “friend of… sinner” (v.34), which is surely ironic because Jesus is a friend of sinners!
(7:35) This cryptic statement seems to mean that the wisdom of Jesus and John will be shown by the effect it has on people.
The woman with the alabaster vile
(7:36) One of the Pharisees apparently didn’t agree with his colleagues’ views of Jesus. He wanted to have Jesus over for dinner.
(7:37) This “woman in the city” is most likely a prostitute. These two characters (i.e. the Pharisee and the prostitute) couldn’t be further apart!
(7:38) She began cleaning Jesus’ feet with her tears and her precious perfume.
(7:39) The Pharisee wanted to know Jesus more, but his self-righteousness got in the way. He couldn’t come to Jesus on his Jesus’ own terms.
(7:40-43) Jesus gives this illustration to show that forgiveness leads to love.
(7:44-46) In each case, the woman outdid Simon the Pharisee. She went above and beyond the normal culture custom, and still, Simon the Pharisee was criticizing her!
(7:47) Jesus connects the dots: a person who is forgiven much loves a lot more than the person who sees little need for forgiveness.
(7:48) Jesus didn’t agree with this woman’s lifestyle as a prostitute. She still needed forgiveness. He loved her without agreeing with her actions.
(7:49) Good question!
(7:50) Jesus connects forgiveness with faith—not works. The account leaves off on a cliffhanger: How did Simon the Pharisee respond? We don’t know. How will you respond?
(8:1-3) Jesus had a cadre of followers with him as he travelled around the cities of Israel. Luke points out that women were specifically with him—even “undesirables” who had been formerly possessed by demons.
The parable of the soils
(8:4-10) Read the parallel passage in Matthew 13:10-15 which describes the problem with parables. When God speaks to us, it is actually painful when we don’t respond. We were designed to listen to God, and it hurts to push him away. We build a callous around our hearts. When guitarists play for years on end, they build up calloused tissue on their fingers so that they won’t hurt their fingers. Jesus tells us that this can happen to our hearts. This leads to God leaving us alone until our need for him increases (Hos. 4:17; Amos 8:11-12).
(8:11) In each case, the seed is the same and the sower is the same. The difference is the soil. Therefore, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over our performance in sharing Christ.
Soil #1: Beside the road
(8:12) How might Satan move to snatch the word from people’s hearts? He doesn’t do this by force. How might he do this? This could be through distraction, intimidation, misdirection, misinterpretation, confusion, etc.
Soil #2: Rocky soil
(8:13) This refers to a superficial faith. It might refer to pleasure seekers, foxhole religion, or perhaps nominalism.
Soil #3: Thorns
(8:14) Matthew adds more detail, stating this refers to the kosmos or “world-system” (Mt. 13:22).
Soil #4: Good soil
(8:15) These are not supernatural men or women. Instead, these are just people who are honest with what God communicated to them.
We aren’t fated to be a type of soil. These are attitudes that we choose. Which soil do you want to be?
(8:16-18) Our role is to listen and respond to God’s word. Dennis McCallum gives the illustration of a child who wants to eat a succulent steak. After you fix him one, he doesn’t eat it, but he asks for another one. Not only will you not give him a second steak, but you’ll also take away the first steak! The same is true with God’s word: If you don’t respond to what you’ve already heard, then God won’t give you more.
(8:19-21) This would be a radical statement. After all, the family unit was much stronger in the first-century than it is today. In this context, Jesus says that anyone who follows his teachings will be his family.
Luke records a number of Jesus’ miracles in this section.
Miracles over nature
(8:22-24) Mark states that this event occurred at night, which makes sense of Jesus falling asleep. The boats in the sea of Galilee were very small (see “The Sea of Galilee Boat”), and waves in the Sea of Galilee can get up to seven feet tall! It’s no wonder that the men were afraid. It’s amazing that the things that stressed out the disciples were so small from Jesus’ perspective that he could sleep through them.
(8:25) Their lack of faith comes in the statement, “We are perishing!” What sort of power were they dealing with? In the OT, God himself was the one who could control nature as its Creator.
Miracles over the demonic
(8:26-33) What do we learn about demonology from this section?
- Satan exists, and he has other supernatural agents that follow him.
- Demons have supernatural knowledge (v.28).
- Demons are afraid of Jesus’ power and judgment (v.28). Just hearing Jesus’ command was tormenting to the demon (v.29, 31).
- Demons can come and go. The man was “seized many times” (v.29). This could imply that people can go through waves of demonic oppression that may wax and wane.
- Demons can give people supernatural strength—even breaking “shackles” (v.29).
- Multiple demons can enter a single person (v.30). Perhaps, once one gets a foothold, others are invited in.
- Demons can enter animals—not just humans (v.33). The fact that Jesus sent them into the “swine” symbolizes that these demons were “unclean” spirits.
(8:34-39) Why did the people send Jesus away? They may have been afraid (v.37) of a superior power to a demon. That is, if the demon was powerful and scary, then who were they dealing with now? They also may have been afraid of losing any more of their livestock. Notice that it was the “herdsmen” who tattled on Jesus (v.34). This could’ve been fear of losing more money. Sadly, under this view, they were upset about their pigs, rather than celebrating with this healed man!
When people go into the occult seeking a healing, they haven’t carefully vetted the source of the power. If you’re lucky, nothing will happen. At worst, you could be influenced, oppressed, or even possessed. This is what we see here. See our earlier article “The Occult.”
Miracles over disease: Jairus’ daughter and the hemorrhaging woman
(8:40-42) This account opens with Jairus’ daughter being sick, but it gets distracted with the story of a hurting woman. The little girl is only a preteen (v.12), and this was Jairus’ only daughter (v.42). Only a parent can grasp the pain of seeing a child wasting away like this.
Interruption: hemorrhaging woman
(8:43-44) Mark notes that she had visited every doctor, but couldn’t find any help (Mk. 5:26). Mark also notes that the woman planned this event.
(8:45) Peter seems incredulous of Jesus’ remark. There were so many people that this would be like someone asking who touched them in the middle of a mosh pit!
(8:46) Jesus healed people by the power of the Holy Spirit. He could apparently feel this power moving through him.
(8:47-48) The woman confessed her plan to get healed. Jesus didn’t mind this at all. In fact, he viewed her tenacity as an act of faith. While the previous people kicked Jesus out of their town for healing a possessed man, this woman was seeking to cling to Jesus for help. There is nothing to apologize for here!
(8:49) We get back to Jairus again. Because of this distraction from the hemorrhaging woman, Jairus’ daughter dies!
(8:50) Jairus’ fear had likely tied him up in knots. The solution to fear is faith.
(8:51) Jesus took his closest disciples with him: Peter, James, and John. The parents were invited to see the miracle also. This was likely a small room, so others probably couldn’t fit inside anyway.
(8:52-53) The people went from “lamenting” at death (v.52) to “laughing” at Jesus (v.53).
(8:54-55) The girl must have been dead because her “spirit returned” to her. Jesus must have been saying that she wouldn’t be permanently dead, but only asleep.
(8:56) This fits with the messianic secret.
Interruptions don’t stop Jesus from accomplishing what he wants to do. He has more resources than we can possibly imagine. So, he has plenty to give to anyone who has need. This is why he could heal the hemorrhaging woman in the middle of a 911 call to Jairus’ house.
God works on a different timeline than we do. To Jairus, this timeline probably seemed too slow, but at the end of the narrative, we see that Jesus showed his power over death itself—not just sickness. The end of the story shows that Jesus is far more glorious than we see him.
In chapters 9-19, 30% of the material is unique to Luke.
(9:1-2) Jesus was bringing the disciples close to himself before sending them out to serve God.
(9:3-5) The idea was to travel light and trust that God would provide through the people they taught (v.3). Jesus was giving them a realistic picture, however. Some people would reject the disciples (v.5).
(9:6) They had a “word” and “service” combination in their ministry.
(9:7-9) Herod Antipas is the son of Herod the Great—the king who tried to kill Jesus as an infant (Mt. 2). Luke doesn’t record a narrative describing the death of John the Baptist, but Matthew and Mark do. The ministry of Jesus and the disciples was so similar to John the Baptist that rumors circulated that John had risen from the dead.
Feeding of the 5,000
(9:10) The disciples were impressed with themselves. Jesus continued to teach them after their ministry tour, and he did ministry in front of them.
(9:11-12) This crowd was so massive that the disciples told them to go home to eat. They were impressed with their ministry so far, but Jesus takes them to the next level in this encounter.
(9:13) In Greek, the “you” is emphatic. The disciples realized that they couldn’t feed this many people. The need was too big, and their supply was too small.
(9:14-15) Jesus told the disciples to organize the people into groups of 50. He also told them to sit down. This was probably so there wouldn’t be a mob when the food started coming out.
(9:16) Jesus fed all of these people through prayer. Of course, Jesus could’ve done a miracle where the food appeared in front of each person. But he chose to use human agency instead. In John, we see that this was an object lesson for how Jesus would spread his message to all people (Jn. 6:35).
(9:17) The disciples must have been tired after feeding this many people. It must’ve been difficult to see everyone else eat first, while they were passing out the food. But in the end, they had more food than they could eat—a basket full! The same is true of Christian ministry. When we put others first, we wonder who will fill us up. The answer, of course, is that God himself will!
Consider how even small decisions have an effect on your life in large ways. When you started a friendship at age 6, you didn’t realize how much this would form your personality, sense of humor, etc. In this chapter, Jesus calls on us to make two decisions: (1) trust our afterlife to him and (2) trust this life to him. Some call this the “first decision” and the “second decision.”
Decision #1: Trust Christ for the next life
(9:18) Why was Jesus praying right before he asked this question? Was he praying that God would reveal his nature to them? Matthew records that God gave this revelation to Peter (Mt. 16:17). Revelation was needed. After all, Herod was aware of the public opinion surrounding Jesus, but he still didn’t grasp his identity (Lk. 9:7-9).
Where did this event take place? Morris writes, “Matthew and Mark locate this incident in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi, near the foot of Mount Hermon. This was heathen territory, the worship of the great god Pan being especially prominent.”
(9:19) Why did they confuse Jesus with John the Baptist? Both began their ministry with the statement: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is here.”
Why did they confuse him with Elijah? Or just one of the prophets? Matthew adds that the people confused him with Jeremiah (Mt. 16:14). According to 2 Esdras the Lord promised: “I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah” (2:18). Later on the Mount of Transfiguration about eight days later, Elijah shows up to demonstrate that Jesus is far greater than a mere prophet (Lk. 9:28-36).
(9:20) In all three Synoptic gospels the “you” is emphatic and it’s also plural (“you guys” or “y’all”). Jesus was saying, “The people believe all sorts of things about me, but what do you think?” If you’ve been reading along so far, you realize that this is an important question. Jesus has taught better than any teacher of the day and with more authority. He performed nature miracles. He has authority over the demonic realm. Who is this guy? Just another prophet?
People are very uneasy to outright accept Christ, but they’re often just as hesitant to reject him. Some people make it through their entire lives without ever making this decision.
Not Peter! Peter was the one at the Bible study who spoke first, and thought about his statement second. Peter had a “Ready, fire, aim!” mentality, and in this case, he’s right. Peter’s answer was a mixture of clarity and also confusion. He gets the title right, but he doesn’t fully realize what this means. Like many Christians today, Peter called Jesus “the Christ,” but didn’t understand all of the implications.
Peter thought Jesus was merely a religious-political king. Later in the gospel, just hours before Jesus’ death, Peter was pulling out a sword to defend “the Christ” (see Lk. 22:50; Jn. 18:10). Later in the chapter, Jesus said, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it” (Lk. 9:44-45). The reason that they couldn’t grasp it was because they were focusing on being one of the greatest (9:46).
No one expected that God would come to die on the Cross. In Mark’s and Matthew’s accounts, Peter quickly rebukes Jesus for predicting his death and resurrection (Mk. 8:31-33; Mt. 16:22). Later he grasps this deep truth in his preaching to the Jewish leaders after Pentecost (Acts 3:17-18).
(9:21) Because the people had a different concept for what the Messiah was, he wants to be quiet about it. The people were so caught up with kingship and triumphalism that it would’ve clouded the subject even more (cf. Jn. 6:15).
(9:22) This is Jesus’ first prediction about his death and resurrection—a turning point in the gospel. After this point, Jesus was “determined to go to Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:51), and we see “Jerusalem” and the raw terror of the Cross looming over everything in the rest of the gospel. The center of Jesus’ life was not to teach, but to die. He was on a “search and rescue” mission.
Up until now, Jesus has been like a larger-than-life superhero—healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and calming storms. Now that he has vindicated his nature (the Messiah), he teaches them that he needs to die. It’s right at the height of his popularity that Jesus announces his death. Jesus says that this “must” happen.
The people who were religious were the ones who rejected Christ (“suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes”). Similarly, today, people who are religious are offended by the death of Christ (1 Cor. 1:23).
What do you believe about Jesus? Are you ready to accept him on his own terms?
Decision #2: Trust Christ for this life
You might think that these two decisions are one and the same, but they are not. The first decision is separate from the second.
(9:23) Jesus has his Cross, and we have ours. Morris writes, “The disciples’ recognition that Jesus is the Messiah is followed immediately by the teaching that this means a cross for him, and a cross, too, for them.” Jesus already taught, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Lk. 6:40).
In the Roman era, victims of crucifixion carried their crosses to their death. Edwards, Gabel, and Hosmer write, “Since the weight of the entire cross was probably well over 300 lb (136 kg), only the crossbar was carried. The patibulum, weighing 75 to 125 lb. (34 to 57 kg), was placed across the nape of the victim’s neck and balanced along both shoulders. Usually, the outstretched arms then were tied to the crossbar.” Historians estimate the crossbar at roughly 80 lbs. Even though the crossbar was only 80 lbs, Jesus was unable to make the trek because of his injuries, which was only 600 yards away (Mt. 27:32; Mk. 15:21; Lk. 23:27).
Is Jesus calling for martyrdom? Possibly. But notice that he says that this is a daily endeavor. God wants “living and holy sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1), not dead sacrifices. While we might be called to die for Christ, we shouldn’t minimize living for Christ each and every day.
Should we carry a literal Cross? A man named Arthur Blesset thought it was his Christian service to carry a literal Cross around the world. But surely this is not a literal Cross, because Luke adds that this is to be done “daily.” If it was literal, it would only happen once. Paul wrote, “I die daily (1 Cor. 15:31). Luke is the only one of the gospels to mention that this is “daily.” Nolland writes, “Taking up the cross refers to the Roman custom of requiring the condemned criminal to carry to the place of execution the cross-bar to be used in the execution (cf. Plutarch, de sera num. vind. 9.554b: ‘Every criminal who is executed carries his own cross.’” We might modernize this to mean that we need to “put our neck on the chopping block” or “put the noose around our neck.”
(9:24) “Saving your life” stands in contrast to “taking up your cross.” Christ comes to give us abundant life (Jn. 10:10). The term for “life” (psuche) is used for physical life in Luke 6:9 (“Is it lawful… to save a life or destroy it?”). Earlier Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God… But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full” (Lk. 6:20, 24).
(9:25) Here is a good reason to give up your life to Christ. There is no pursuit and no pleasure that could compensate us for losing our precious lives. We get only one life, and we lose 24 hours every day. How will you spend this quickly depreciating time?
The urgency of the decision
(9:57-62) We shouldn’t wait around to make this decision. The author of Hebrews writes, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me” (Heb. 3:15).
At this point, the disciples have been on a spiritual high, moving from miracle to miracle. It’s here that Jesus begins to tell them about what it costs to truly follow him to the Cross (Lk. 9:51).
Luke has the much longer account of the Transfiguration. At the same time, it is important to appeal to the other gospels for further details.
(9:26) Our future hangs on our response to Jesus’ words.
(9:28) Why does Luke say it was eight days later, when Matthew and Mark say it was only six days later? (Mt. 17:1; Mk. 9:2) Luke might be marking his time from the point of this teaching, adding “after these sayings.” Whereas Matthew and Mark might start the timeframe from a later date. Maybe Luke adds the hike up the mountain, whereas Matthew and Mark skip retelling this. Craig Evans writes, “According to Lev. 23:36 there are to be offerings for seven days and then on the eighth day there is to be ‘a holy convocation’ or gathering. During this time the people are to dwell in booths (tents or tabernacles) (Lev. 23:42), the purpose of which is to remind the people of the exodus long ago (Lev. 23:43)… Luke begins his episode on the eighth day, the day on which a ‘holy convocation’ was to take place (Lev. 23:36, 42). Undoubtedly, in the evangelist’s mind there could be no holier convocation than the meeting of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus; God’s Law-giver, Prophet, and Son.”
Liefeld argues that this would fall under the notion of approximate figures, which is accounted for by the CSBI: “It is obviously an alternative way of indicating the passage of approximately one week.”
Which mountain is this? Luke just calls it “the mountain.” Matthew and Mark call it simply “a high mountain.” Lemke writes, “Tradition names Mt. Tabor as the scene of the Transfiguration, but that is debatable because the summit of Tabor was occupied by a fortress. It was more likely Mt. Hermon, a snow-capped mountain near Caesarea Philippi.”
This event was an encouragement to these three men for hearing all about the difficulty of following Christ. It’s similar to Paul being taken up to the third heaven to be encouraged. The last time that Luke records Jesus going up on a mountain to pray, Jesus was picking his disciples (Lk. 6:12). Now he reveals himself to them.
Why just Peter, James, and John? These were Jesus’ “inner three” disciples, whom he focused on more than the others (Lk. 8:51; Mk. 14:33; Acts 1:13).
(9:29) Mark adds “as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (Mk. 9:3). Matthew goes even further saying that his face was like the sun, and his clothing was beaming with light (Mt. 17:2).
Luke omits the term “transfigured,” but Matthew and Mark both mention it (Mt. 17:2; Mk. 9:2). The word means “a change in appearance that comes from within,” and it gives us the English word metamorphosis. To see the disguise taken away would be an incredible sight. Paul couldn’t see for three days after his encounter with Christ. John passed out cold after he saw Jesus.
It isn’t that Jesus became the King here; it’s that he was revealed as the King here. I recently watched a YouTube video of a professional athlete who dressed as an elderly man in disguise. Makeup artists used cosmetics and haggard clothing to make him look 80 years old. Yet beneath the veneer he was a pro athlete in his prime! As he took to the court, the men’s eyes lit up as the athlete ran circles around them. Finally, at the end of the game, the athlete pulled off the disguise, revealing his true identity.
(9:30) Luke uses this expression (“behold, two men…”) at the resurrection to refer to the two angels (Lk. 24:4) and at the ascension to refer to the two angels (Acts 1:10).
How would these Jewish men have reacted to seeing Moses and Elijah? It would be like meeting Michael Jordan and Lebron James, and having them tell you you’re your basketball coach was better than they were!
Why does God send Moses and Elijah? Luke could be showing us that Jesus is God, and this is a theophany. After all, both Moses and Elijah met with God on a mountain: Mount Sinai (Ex. 24) and Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19). Both Moses and Elijah were taken into heaven. Elijah was taken before death (2 Kings 2:11) and Moses was taken after death (Deut. 34:5; Jude 9). God himself buried Moses (Deut. 34:6). In Moses’ interaction with God on Mount Sinai, we read, “The skin of his face shone” (Ex. 34:30). Both Moses (Ex. 33) and Elijah (1 Kin. 19:11) saw God revealed partially. These could all be allusions to theophany, where Luke is picturing Jesus as God being revealed in human flesh.
Moses and Elijah are both mentioned before the coming of God to Earth. Malachi calls attention to both Moses and Elijah before the day of the Lord (Mal. 4:4-5).
Moses and Elijah could represent the Law and the Prophets (i.e. the OT witness of Jesus). Later, Jesus makes it clear that the “law and the prophets” testified to him (Lk. 24:27, 44). We could be seeing this acted out here at the Transfiguration.
If you remember the end of Moses’ life, he wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land. Here at the Transfiguration, he finally enters it. He only does so because he is with Jesus!
(9:31) The Greek word for “departure” (exodus) could be an allusion to Moses’ day. The Passover imagery could also be in view.
(9:32) Did this event happen at night? This would make sense of the disciples being asleep. This would be an incredible scene if it was a night. After all, Jesus would be brighter than the sun in the middle of the night!
Luke is the only author to mention Jesus’ “glory.”
(9:33) Peter is the type of person that doesn’t know what he’s thinking until he hears himself saying it. Peter must have wanted to celebrate by reenacting the Festival of the Booths (“Tents”). Evans writes, “To commemorate the exodus Jews celebrated the Feast of Booths by living in small booths or huts (‘shelters,’ NIV) for seven days (Lev. 23:42-44; Neh. 8:14-17).”
Yet if Jesus listened to Peter’s request, it would’ve meant that he would have avoided the Cross. In order to get the glory of the transfiguration permanently, Christ had to make his path to Jerusalem (Lk. 9:51).
God didn’t want to return to tents; instead, he had put on a “tent” in the person of Christ (Jn. 1:14).
(9:34) God spoke from the cloud in the OT (Deut. 5:22). This is different than the OT, where Moses was chased out of the Tabernacle when the cloud descended (Ex. 40:35), because the disciples entered the cloud! (i.e. God’s presence) Remember, the Jewish people were afraid of God’s cloud and voice as well (Ex. 20:19-20; 34:30).
(9:35) God is specifically identifying Jesus as his unique Son and Messiah. When Isaiah came into God’s presence, he needed to confess his sins and experienced forgiveness. We see nothing like this from Jesus.
The only other two times we hear from God the Father is in Matthew 3:17 and John 12:28. This is similar to Jesus’ baptism, but Luke adds “listen to him!” With his final breath, Moses predicted an even greater prophet, and we should “listen to him” (Deut. 18:15). Notice that the voice doesn’t tell us to listen to Moses and Elijah (though this is assumed), but it places Jesus on a much higher level altogether. Remember, this scene comes on the heels of the people thinking that Jesus was just another prophet (Lk. 9:18-19). There is later irony at the Cross when the people taunt Jesus for being the “Chosen One” of God (Lk. 23:35).
God does his role in speaking, but will we listen?
(9:36) They really don’t grasp what they saw until after the resurrection (Lk. 24:44ff).
Luke shows three examples of how Jesus taught about ministry.
Episode #1: Lack of prayer and faith
(9:37-39) While Jesus and the three disciples were up on the mountain, people still had pressing needs. The remaining disciples couldn’t heal this man’s son, who was afflicted with an evil spirit. In Mark’s account, we discover that this little boy was being terrorized like this since childhood (Mk. 9:21).
(9:40) This man went “over the head” of the disciples and went straight to the source. The disciples may have been embarrassed that they couldn’t heal this little boy.
Why couldn’t the disciples heal the boy? Remember, Jesus already “gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases” (Lk. 9:1). They had the authority, but they lacked faith and prayer.
Lack of prayer. In Mark’s account, the disciples asked why they couldn’t drive out the demon. Jesus said it was because they didn’t pray (Mk. 9:29). Were they waving their hands? Were they using meaningless phrases? Were they speaking to the demon without speaking to God first?
Lack of faith. In Matthew’s account, the disciples asked why they couldn’t drive out the demon. Jesus said it was because of their lack of faith (Mt. 17:20).
Jesus makes clear that it isn’t the amount of faith, but the object of our faith. The father of the boy was torn—only having a little bit of faith. But this was good enough for Jesus (Mk. 9:22-24). In the parallel account, Jesus tells his disciples, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (Mt. 17:20).
In Matthew and Mark, we understand that the disciples didn’t exercise prayer or faith in their ministry. Maybe the disciples prayed the same magic words that they always prayed, but it didn’t work. Maybe they were filled with cynicism, short-arming it, or filled with past successes.
(9:41) Jesus gets really frustrated with this. He doesn’t get frustrated with our inability or ineptitude, but our lack of faith.
(9:42) Jesus doesn’t strain or sweat to heal the boy; he simply gives commands in faith. Christ gives this authority to believers.
(9:43) While the people were amazed at the miracles, Jesus redirected his disciples’ focus back to the Cross.
(9:45) Luke gives a four-fold emphasis on how the disciples didn’t perceive this: they lacked understanding, its meaning was concealed, they lacked perception, and they declined to discuss this subject further. They couldn’t understand the Cross because they were too focused on who was the greatest (v.46).
Application: God has his role in Christian work, but we have ours: faith and prayer. We shouldn’t resort to self-effort to do the supernatural. Otherwise, we are doomed to failure! Rather, God wants us to actively trust him instead.
Episode #2: Obsession with greatness
(9:46-48) The disciples were expecting a powerful kingdom in Israel, and they were probably arguing about who would gain the prominent political offices in this kingdom. It sounds stupid to argue over who is the greatest like this, but when we carefully reflect on our experience, we find that much of our time is spent thinking about ourselves in this way!
Ancient view of children
To disrupt their thinking about greatness, Jesus turns to a little kid. We know the kid must’ve been relatively little, because in Mark’s account, Jesus scoops him up and places him in his lap (cf. Mk. 9:36). This was odd for Jesus to do, because the ancient world didn’t have a high view of children. Lemke writes, “A child in the ancient world had no real status, so to use a child as an example of the humility one must have was a powerful illustration. To welcome a child was to welcome someone with no status, and yet Jesus gave that child a status equal to His own. In this way, the least are to be seen as great.”
In the ancient world, children were not viewed as significant. For instance, m. ‘Abot 3:10 reads, “Morning sleep, mid-day wine, chattering with children and tarrying in places where men of common people assemble, destroy a man.” Joel Green writes, “Children were the weakest, most vulnerable among the population. They had little implicit value as human beings, a reality that is related to the likelihood that they would not survive into adulthood. Even if women procured their place in the household by bearing children, especially sons, children themselves were of the lowest status.”
In Matthew’s account, he records additional words of Christ to make another point: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3-4). See “From Slaves to Sons” for application on this topic.
Episode #3: Competition
(9:49-50) This is how John “answered” this object lesson about the child!
The disciples had just failed at healing the young boy of demon possession. Now the disciples discover that a rogue Jewish exorcist has been casting out demons, and he wasn’t even a disciple of Christ! These men were so focused on ladder climbing (cf. v.46) that they were jealous of this other man.
This doesn’t contradict Jesus’ later statement: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters” (Lk. 11:23). Here Jesus refers to being against “you” (the disciples), but in Luke 11, he refers to being against “Me” (Jesus).
Application: We can have fellowship with other Christians who agree on the essentials: Salvation by grace (Gal. 1:6ff), Jesus is both God and human, (1 Jn. 4:1-2), and Jesus rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:12ff). We can debate and argue with other Christians, but not repress them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we need to join their fellowship. After all, Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to go join this man, but merely to “leave him alone.”
As a result, we have freedom to disagree, criticize, and refute other Christians who are in error. But we don’t have freedom to be territorial, narrow, or repressive to other Christians.
Episode #4: Hatred and anger
(9:51) Soldiers often report that the worst part is not the war itself—but the night before. It’s the waiting that eats you up inside. Jesus didn’t just haphazardly fall into the Cross; he resolutely planned to face the raw terror of taking on the judgment of God for humanity. When I’m preparing for a scary situation, I’m normally pretty irritable or anxious. Yet Jesus’ mind was clear for this entire period—even though he knew what he would face.
(9:52-53) The Samaritans had a sordid history, and the Jews hated these people on the whole (see “History of the Samaritans”).
(9:54-56) Now we see why these guys were called the “sons of thunder”! (Mk. 3:17) Later, Peter and John go to Samaria to see them receive the gospel (Acts 8). They go from wanting to see God judge the Samaritans to seeing God forgive the Samaritans.
What do you learn about ministry from this section? God must be looking at you and me asking, “Why is he so self-reliant? Why is he trying to be great, and make himself such a big deal? Why is he always comparing himself to other people? Why does he think that he’s the only one who knows how to do it right? Why is he so angry at other people?”
Instead of self-effort, self-aggrandizement, or competition, God wants us to focus on him, and the power and identity he gives to us.
Luke has already recorded that Jesus had set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem (Lk. 9:51). In preparation for this final visitation, he send his disciples ahead of him to prepare the way (similar to 9:1-6). Luke is the only gospel to record the sending of the 70.
Jesus explains their (1) mission, (2) message, and (3) motivation.
(10:1) How many were sent out? 70 or 72? Morris calls this “one of the most difficult textual problems in the New Testament.” We’re not sure. Regardless, it was common to send the disciples out in pairs like this (Mark 6:7; Luke 7:18-19; Acts 13:2; 15:27, 39-40; 17:14; 19:22).
Jesus called his disciples with two purposes: (1) to come to him and (2) to go out from him (Mk. 3:14; cf. Mt. 11:28). Those who only go out become weary, but those who never go out grow stale.
What are the names of the people whom God is sending you to speak to and serve? Do you believe that God has people you’re uniquely suited to reach?
(10:2) The beginning of our service for Christ starts with prayer. After all, serving Christ is far beyond our own ability or best efforts. When we think of being sent by Christ into his mission, is prayer the first thing we think of?
“Few” in what sense? Few in comparison to the total population in the world? Few in comparison to the amount that need reached? Few in comparison to the church itself?
(10:3) This isn’t going to be easy. Lambs don’t stand a chance when they’re surrounded by a pack of wolves. This shows that they needed to be totally dependent on the Good Shepherd.
(10:4) The disciples needed dependence. The lack of sandals probably refers to a second set of sandals. In a different mission, Jesus told his disciples not to carry two coats, sandals, or staffs (Mt. 10:9-10). Moreover, in the earlier sending of the Twelve, Jesus says to take “nothing,” but then says “do not even have two tunics apiece” (Lk. 9:3). Later Jesus tells them, “‘When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ They said, ‘No, nothing.’ And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one’” (Lk. 22:35-36).
“Greet no one on the way…” This doesn’t mean that they should be impolite. It means that they shouldn’t waste time dilly-dallying on the road. Morris notes, “Eastern salutations can be elaborate and time-consuming.” Like a soldier in active duty (2 Tim. 2:4), their mission was so urgent, that they didn’t have time to sit and talk (cf. Lk. 9:60).
Part of the blessing for the people is that they get to host the disciples in their houses.
(10:7-8) The disciples needed to learn contentment with whatever was set before them (Phil. 4:12). They shouldn’t feel guilty for receiving food, drink, and a roof over their head. But they also shouldn’t look to make a profit either (“do not keep moving from house to house”).
(10:9) Verses 9 and 11 explain that they have something to share with the people. From this passage we learn a number of key aspects to sharing the message:
- This is supposed to be done in a gentle way (v.3), like lambs and not like wolves.
- It is supposed to be done for the good of all people (v.9).
- We should never dilute or compromise the message (v.11). We don’t have the authority to adjust the message.
(10:10-11) We can’t force people to come to Christ. If the disciples were rejected in the houses, then they were to take to the streets and publicly announce judgment.
“Shaking off the dust from your feet” refers to a Jewish practice (cf. Acts 13:51). Morris writes, “There was a rabbinic idea that the dust of Gentile lands carried defilement, and strict Jews are said to have removed it from their shoes whenever they returned to Palestine from abroad. The disciples’ shaking of the dust from their feet was a testimony against them. It declared in symbol that Israelites who rejected the kingdom were no better than the Gentiles. They did not belong to the people of God.”
Their rejection of the message shouldn’t lead them to change or compromise the message.
(10:12) It’s one thing to reject God’s general revelation in Sodom. It’s another to reject his specific revelation.
(10:13) These “woes” are not calls for vengeance, but lament. Morris writes, “Woe is not a call for vengeance, but an expression of deep regret, ‘Alas.’” We know very little about these towns. In fact, we only know of Chorazin from this passage and Matthew’s parallel account.
(10:14) Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities that were judged by God (Ezek. 26; Isa. 23).
(10:16) When people rejected the disciples, they were really rejecting Christ and God himself (Mt. 10:40; Jn. 13:20).
(10:17) Apparently, the disciples didn’t find a bunch of rejection on their trip. They seem to be focusing on their success, rather than Jesus’ power. True, they add the word “in your name,” but the focus seems to be on them (“us”).
(10:18) This could refer to (1) Satan being defeated as a result of the disciples’ work or (2) Satan falling eons before. If it refers to the latter, then it would be a reason not to be proud in ministry (v.17), because Satan had already fallen. It wasn’t that their efforts made Satan fall in the first place. It was the almighty power of God. Likewise, they shouldn’t take pride in having power over demons, because this was also the power of God.
(10:19) The “serpents and scorpions” must be figurative. These are connected with “all the power of the enemy.” The “serpents and scorpions” are similar to the pests out in the wilderness (Deut. 8:15). More likely, this concept is being lifted from Psalm 91:1-3.
(10:20) The disciples’ names “are written” (perfect tense) showing permanence.
Jesus isn’t saying that we can never rejoice (Jn. 4:35; 13:17; Acts 20:35). His point is that they should prioritize giving thanks for their salvation over anything else. If you wrestle with this temptation, this is actually a good sign. It shows that you are active in service. It would be a bad sign if you didn’t wrestle with this. That could imply (1) that you aren’t actively serving or (2) that you are blind to your own pride and arrogance.
(10:21) The disciples had a high view of themselves, but Jesus calls them “infants.”
(10:22) The only reason the disciples were even able to know Christ was the fact that he initiated with them first.
(10:23-24) The disciples didn’t control how much revelation they received. This would be a humbling message to show them the privilege of knowing Christ—not the pride of knowing him.
The key to properly interpreting these passages is the questions in verses 25 and 29. This religious leader is putting Jesus to the test, and he’s trying to justify himself. He sees no need for Christ or his forgiveness. This must have been a reoccurring topic, because Jesus answers this on other occasions (Mt. 22:34-40; Mk. 12:28-31; Lk. 18:18ff).
(10:25) This man’s act is akin to standing up in the classroom and challenging the professor. “Test” (ekpeirazon) means “to subject to test or proof, tempt” or “to entrap someone into giving information that will jeopardize the person, entrap” or “to entice to do wrong by offering attractive benefits, tempt” (BDAG). He is in stark contrast to the “infants” that Jesus mentioned in verse 21.
The focus of the man’s question summarizes religion today: What should I do? As Watchmen Nee stated, Christianity doesn’t start with a do but with a done. Modern Christians ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” But how often do they reflect on what Jesus has done for them?
(10:26) Jesus met this man on his own ground: the law.
(10:27) The lawyer combines Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. The former passage (the Shema) was recited twice daily. He knew the proper interpretation, but not the proper application. Jewish traditions greatly varied from Jesus’ view.
(10:28) He says his answer is “orthodox,” using the word orthos (“right”). But it’s one thing to answer correctly, and quite another to do this (citing Lev. 18:5).
(10:29) This implies that there is such a person as a non-neighbor. Bock comments, “Jesus refuses to turn people into a subspecies or into things that can be ignored.” This religious lawyer was looking for an “exception clause” in the law.
This parable should not be read separately from the context of Jesus answering this religious attorney. Jesus gives this parable to show the man what the definition of “neighbor” is.
(10:30) This route from Jerusalem to Jericho was dangerous territory. Bock writes, “[The road] was about seventeen miles in length. It was a rocky thoroughfare winding through the desert and surrounded by caves, which made good hideouts for robbers who laid in wait. Even centuries after Christ’s time, robbers continued to exploit travelers on this road.” Nolland adds, “The location is suitable for robbers and for traveling priests and Levites, quite a number of whom lived in Jericho and traveled up to Jerusalem for their periodic responsibilities at the Temple (Str-B H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 4 vols. (Munich: Beck’sche, 1926-28), 2:66, 180).”
The man would’ve been coming back from his religious duties when this happens. The robbers stripped him of his nice clothes, much like gangs have been known to kill people over their Starter jackets or shoes.
(10:31) The priest shows up “by chance.” What luck! If you’re going to be found in this state, at least you’re discovered by a priest! But the priest may have had many motives for ignoring this man’s plight:
- Perhaps he didn’t want to touch a dead body? OT priests weren’t supposed to touch cadavers (Lev. 21:1-3; Num. 5:2; 19:2-13; Ezek. 44:25-27). Morris writes, “Since the man was ‘half dead’ the priest would probably not have been able to be certain whether he was dead or not without touching him. But if he touched him and the man was in fact dead, then he would have incurred the ceremonial defilement that the Law forbade (Lev. 21:1ff.).”
- Perhaps he didn’t want to help a “sinner”? Rabbinic teaching stated, “If you do good, know to whom you do it… and do not help the sinner” (Sirach 12:1-4). The Essenes wrote, “Love the sons of light… and hate all the sons of darkness” (Manual of Discipline, 1:9-10).
- Perhaps he was scared of also being robbed? Whoever beat and robbed this man could be waiting in the caves nearby.
Whatever the reason, the priest ignored this man’s suffering. When we fall into ommissive sin, we always have a “good excuse,” but it doesn’t matter in the end. This man is so concerned with committing a sin that he’s willing to let a man die! Under this legalistic mindset, he would’ve thought it was spiritual to pass to the other side of the road!
(10:32) The same is true for the Levite—another godly line in Jerusalem.
(10:33) In Greek, the order of words shows emphasis. This verse begins with “Samaritan.” It’s as if Jesus is saying, “But a Samaritan… came upon him.” This would show the emphasis that a “dirty Samaritan” would be willing to help. We use the expression “good Samaritan” to describe a loving person, and rightfully so. However, this would’ve been a shock to the original audience, because Samaritans were considered enemies of the Jews (see “History of the Samaritans” for more historical background).
The term “felt compassion” literally meant that he felt for him in his gut. Instead of having good intention, the Samaritan did something. Bock writes, “Jesus may not only be instructing the lawyer but also his disciples about how they had responded to the Samaritans (Luke 9:51-56).”
(10:34) The Samaritan had to walk, so that this man could ride.
Why does he use oil for the man’s wounds? Burdick writes, “It is a well-documented fact that oil was one of the most common medicines of biblical times… Josephus (Antiq. XVII, 172 [vi. 5]) reports that during his last illness Herod the Great was given a bath in oil in hopes of effecting a cure. The papyri, Philo, Pliny, and the physician Galen all refer to the medicinal use of oil. Galen described it as “the best of all remedies for paralysis” (De Simplicium Medicamentorum Temperamentis 2.10ff).”
Bock writes, “In some Jewish circles, to receive oil or wine from a Samaritan was not allowed.”
(10:35) Bock writes, “Such innkeepers were not noted for their care, and so the man’s choosing to stay and offering his money ‘up front’ insures that the man will be treated until he recovers.” Morris writes, “According to the historian Polybius, a man could secure accommodation in inns in Italy in his time (c. 150 bc) for half an as a day, i.e. 1/32 of a denarius. If rates in Palestine at this period were at all comparable, the Samaritan was paying for about two months’ board. J. Jeremias brings forward evidence that a day’s rations cost a twelfth of a denarius at this time. If this be accepted the period for which the Samaritan was paying is correspondingly reduced. But it was still a worth-while period.” Bock adds, “The money was enough to take care of the man’s room and board for twenty-four days, since the daily rate for a poor man was about one-twelfth of a denarius (SB 1:291).”
The Greek here is emphatic: “I will repay—not the man!”
(10:36) The “good terrorist” would be similar. Liefeld writes, “To a Jew there was no such person as a ‘good’ Samaritan.”
(10:37) Notice that the lawyer cannot bring himself to even use the word “Samaritan.” Liefeld writes, “The ‘expert’ cannot avoid the thrust of the parable, though he apparently finds it impossible to say the word ‘Samaritan’ in his reply.”
(10:38) Martha invited Jesus into her home, but she was too busy to sit and talk with him.
(10:39) It’s incredibly odd for a Jewish rabbi to have a woman disciple like this! Luke continues to show Jesus’ love for all people—even women who were treated as second-class citizens at this time.
(10:40) Martha has several problems:
- She thinks that Mary isn’t doing anything. In fact, Mary is doing the most important thing: learning from Christ! Do you ever feel guilty for making time for the word?
- Martha felt “alone.” She was the only one doing the serving.
- Martha was “distracted.”
- Martha turns to manipulating Jesus and bossing Jesus around.
- Marth accuses Jesus and asks if he is not “concerned” (melei) for her.
(10:41) The double vocative (“Martha, Martha…”) shows emotion. In reality, there are always many things that can distract, worry, or bother us. In this case, the thing that’s taking the place of listening to Christ is Martha’s ministry—a good thing.
(10:42) Jesus said that Mary “chose” the good portion. It’s a choice to turn to Christ, rather than being distracted.
From all we can tell about her, it seems that Martha was a good and godly woman (Jn. 11:5). In the gospel of Luke, she exercises her gift of hospitality, inviting Jesus and his friends to stay at her home (Lk. 10:38). This wasn’t the only time that she would serve the disciples in this way (Jn. 12:2), and she probably made a habit of it. But Luke tells us of a major contrast between Martha and her sister Mary. Mary was “seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations” (Lk. 10:39-40).
Surely many Christian workers can relate to Martha. She was probably an active temperament. And like most active temperaments, she was judging the inactivity of the people around her. She was probably thinking to herself: “Why can’t everyone be as hardworking as me?” But unlike the rest of us who just think this without saying it, Martha was bold enough to speak up! She careened into the living room, saying to Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me!” (Lk. 10:40)
Martha’s service wasn’t wrong, but there was something wrong with it: She was obsessed with working without resting. We need both to find rest (Mt. 11:28-30), but Martha focused on the one at the expense of the other. Martha was operating out of self-effort, and it shouldn’t surprise us that anxiety filled her. Thus we find Jesus correcting her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10:41-42). Jesus certainly believed that serving him was incredibly important (Jn. 4:34; 13:17; Acts 20:35; Mt. 22:37-39). But he says that drawing strength from him is “necessary” in order to do this. If we don’t listen to Jesus on this point, anxiety will surely fill us.
Many workers and leaders for Christ have still never learned this simple but profound lesson. They are plagued with ministry anxiety. They haven’t learned that the most spiritual thing they can do for those around them is to sit quietly in front of the word of God. They haven’t learned that what their people need the most is a leader that has been transformed by Christ’s word (Jn. 17:17), who is full of faith (Rom. 10:17), who has the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and who has let the word of Christ richly dwell within them (Col. 3:16). Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:30). The “yoke” does imply serving alongside Christ. But if we are fraught with constant ministry anxiety, then we are not in the yoke with Christ. We are pulling away from him and wearing ourselves thin. Like Martha, we are operating out of self-effort. Pastor Chuck Smith writes,
What I mean by devotional life is that private time the pastor spends with God. The time that is essential for feeding your own soul; that time of drawing close to God in personal worship. Not that time of sermon preparation or prayer for the ministry, but rather that time of personal study and intimate communion with God. What makes this so difficult for the pastor is his lack of time and the demands of the congregation. You will be tempted to feel that you should be attending to more urgent matters. You may even feel guilty that you take this time for yourself when others need you so badly. The usual approach is to begin to combine your devotional time with your sermon study time, and this is easy to justify because you are in the word. This temptation must be resisted! The pastor’s devotional time must become the greatest priority of his life. You must recognize the importance of this! You must make the necessary time! If you neglect this important discipline, you will begin to personally dry up spiritually, and that will begin to affect your ministry! You must resist the temptation to lessen its importance! You must resist the tyranny of the urgent and seek the eternal! This is what will make you the most effective person for God in the long run!
Christ doesn’t merely want us to do the right things; he wants to change us into the right people. As Francis Schaeffer writes, we need to do “the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way.”
Jesus was a model for prayer and faith. Luke earlier recorded, “Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Lk. 5:16). He also wrote, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God” (Lk. 6:12; cf. 22:41; 23:34, 46).
According to a recent Pew Study, prayer is still an active part in people’s lives: “More than half (55%) of Americans said they pray every day, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, while 23% said they pray weekly or monthly and 21% said they seldom or never pray.” Yet, according to Jesus, there are ways of praying that are helpful, and ways that are not. We would be wise to listen to Jesus to learn how to pray well.
(11:1) Prayer is not necessarily intuitive. Like other aspects of the Christian life, we need to learn how to pray and grow in our prayer lives. After hearing Jesus pray, the disciples immediately realized this. This is why they asked Jesus to “teach” them how to pray.
(11:2) In Matthew’s version, we read that Jesus began with “Our Father.” This implies corporate prayer, where we pray with one another and think of each other—not just ourselves. The mention of “Father” implies that God is personal. He is someone with whom we can relate. Abba is how Jesus addressed God in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mk. 14:36), which was unique to Jesus. This is where Paul probably picked up the term on how to relate with God (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).
“Hallowed be Your name…” God is both imminent (“Our Father”) and transcendent (“Hallowed”). To “hallow” something is to make something your supreme and ultimate thing in your life.
Matthew’s account shows that we need to pray like this in secret. Our quiet life, when no one is around, shows what we adore the most. Jesus lived this out in the Garden of Gethsemane.
(11:3) This refers to petitionary prayer. Once we have our minds and hearts focused on God… ask away! We have real needs that need met, and it is an act of humility to pray for these. Notice that this is something we do “daily,” which implies constant dependence on God’s provision, each and every day.
(11:4) “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Jesus paid for our sins on the Cross. He was preparing his disciples to make their forgiveness a central part of their prayer lives. Later, Paul can write that we have already been forgiven (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13), because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.
“Lead us not into temptation.” It isn’t that God would lead us normally into temptation (Jas. 1:13), but we might wander into it! This is praying that God would lead us in a way that we can avoid temptation. This would fit with Paul’s imperatives to “flee” from sexual immorality, materialism, and idolatry. We don’t stand up to these things; we flee from them.
The historical context helps to inform this parable. Food was a scarce commodity. Bock writes, “In first-century Palestine, food was not as readily available as it is today. There were no evening shops, and bread was baked each day to meet the day’s needs.”
Hospitality was so customary that it was a virtual law in the ancient Near East. If someone came and asked for help, you were obligated to answer. In our society, we might give someone directions or tell them the time if asked, but we wouldn’t give them a meal and a place to stay.
(11:5-6) This man wouldn’t have food prepared at midnight. Remember, he couldn’t just reach into his refrigerator and pull out a frozen pizza! In order to serve his guest, he goes and knocks on another man’s door.
Therefore, the context here is not praying for ourselves, but for others. The context refers to Christian ministry. For those involved in serving Christ, we identify deeply with this hypothetical man in the story. We often say, “I don’t have much more to give” or “I’m too burned out to give to others.” Jesus anticipates these very real feelings. In reality, we don’t have the energy or power to give! We need to depend on a transcendent source.
(11:7) In this culture, the family would all sleep in one room and in one bed. If you’re a parent, you know what a pain it is to have your kids woken up. It isn’t that the neighbor is unable to help, but that he’s unwilling.
(11:8) The man will answer the door, because it would be more of a nuisance not to answer. If a selfish, grumpy friend will even answer this man’s request, then how much more will a generous God?
The word “persistence” (anaideian) is used only here in the NT. It could be translated as “shameless audacity” or “nerve.” What kind of person would go and ring a neighbor’s doorbell in the middle of the night? In our context, how on Earth could we approach God with “shameless audacity” (NIV)?
This is based on our new identity in Christ. We are his sons and daughters, and he welcomes us into his presence—needs and all. It’s actually audacious to not approach God in this way, because the alternative is self-effort. We can come to him in every situation (Phil. 4:6). Instead of letting the worry pile up, you just slowly take your needs to God. We realize that there is nothing too big to ask for (Eph. 3:12).
Does this mean that God is so bothered that he needs to give in to our prayers?
This is what is called an a fortiori argument (Latin: “For a stronger reason”). After the Enlightenment, analogical reasoning became popular. But a fortiori arguments are much older, being very popular in rabbinic literature. Here it isn’t the similarity that is being compared, but the difference between the two. God isn’t like the begrudging neighbor, as we see in verses 9-10.
(11:9-10) We need all of these: ask, seek, and knock.
- Ask: We’re willing to speak up.
- Seek: We want God’s will—not ours.
- Knock: Take a step of faith.
(11:11) “Daddy, can I have a fish?” a child asks.
The father responds, “Okay, close your eyes and open your hands.” And he throws a snake at the little boy! This is ridiculous, right? Jesus is leveraging this bizarre picture.
(11:12) A father asks, “What do you want for breakfast?”
The daughter replies, “Can I have some eggs?”
“Sure!” the father says, and he gives her a plate full of scorpions! Ridiculous, huh? Of course! Again, Jesus is trading on this idea to show how bizarre it would be for a father to act like that.
But, if God is our heavenly father, how much more will he be willing to give us good things?
(11:13) It’s interesting how Jesus just throws this comment right in the middle of his argument: “If you being evil…” Even evil fathers know how to love their children better than this. If this is true, then how much more does our loving Father? (v.2)
Notice that the “gifts” are plural (Mt. 7:11). This primarily refers to filling (or repeated fillings) of the Spirit in order to serve others. However, because of the plural, this could refer to any and every gift given by God (Jas. 1:17). For more on the subject of prayer, see our earlier article “Prayer.”
(11:14-15) Note that even the enemies of Jesus didn’t deny his ability to perform miracles. The Mishnah (the “Tannaitic” literature) dates from the first century to roughly AD 200. The Amoraic period wrote commentaries called the Gemara on the Mishnah: one in Palestine and one (larger, more important) in Babylon. The Mishnah and the Gemara later became the Talmud. This excerpt comes from this later literature. It confirms what the NT teaches regarding the antagonistic view of Jesus’ miracles.
On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!
What does Beelzebul mean? It can be rendered “Lord of the flies” or “Lord of dung” (Baalzebul). Morris writes, “Our best understanding of the evidence seems to be that the Jews took this name of a heathen god and understood it in terms of the similar sounding Hebrew, ‘lord of dung’. They applied it to a prominent demon, perhaps to Satan himself. Jesus clearly understood it to refer to Satan.” It’s used of the god of Ekron in 2 Kings 1:2-6, 16.
(11:16) The people were asking for a sign, but Jesus already gave them a sign, and they were explaining it away.
(11:17) Satan is unified with his demons.
(11:18-19) This shows that their argument is not only illogical, but also self-incriminating. It also seems that the next generation (“your sons”) has an active faith in Yahweh, but they do not.
(11:20) In the book of Exodus, the non-believing Egyptian magicians could even recognize the truth of God through miracles, saying that they were done by “the finger of God” (Ex. 8:19). Perhaps Jesus uses this expression (“the finger of God”) as a subtle accusation against them.
(11:21) In context, the “strong man” is none other than Satan. Jesus teaches that Satan is powerful. But there’s good news: Jesus can pin down this strong man!
(11:22) Jesus (by virtue of the fact that he’s casting out demons) is the “stronger” man here. He is moving on the offensive, and he is pulling away the “armor” of Satan.
(11:23) There is no compromise expressed here. You need to pick your side (e.g. Switzerland in World War II).
(11:24-26) This doesn’t say that it was exorcised, but it could’ve left voluntarily to seek out someone else. You better have the stronger man in your heart, or you’re vulnerable (Eph. 3:17; 1 Jn. 4:4).
The “waterless places” don’t give the demon “rest” because there was likely no one to possess. Therefore, the demon returns to the original host.
(11:27-28) Obedience to Jesus is more important than lineage to Jesus.
(11:29-32) Returning to one of their original arguments (“give us a sign,” v.16), Jesus says that the only sign they will get is the resurrection.
(11:33) It’s like taking a picture with the lens cap on, or having a projector with the cap on. Jesus used this illustration in several different contexts (Mk. 4:12; Mt. 5:15).
(11:34) He seems to be saying that if you take in his teaching (i.e. “light”), then you will be enlightened (Lk. 1:78-79; 2:32; Jn. 1:4; 3:19-21; 9:39-41; Acts 26:18). Bock writes, “The implication is that if one has good eyes one will see the light Jesus offers, but if one’s vision is clouded by evil one will miss the light.”
(11:35-36) Jesus is concerned that the people will reject his teaching (cf. 11:31-32). His point is that you’re spiritually healthy if you receive Christ’s light.
(11:37-38) The Pharisee must have felt like he already had the light. Yet instead of focusing on Jesus’ message, he focuses on ritual and ceremonial washings. Multiple people (namely Pharisees) were invited (v.45). The Mishnah Yadayim (1:1-5) explains some of these ritual washings:
A quarter [of a log, a specific unit of volume] of water is to be poured onto the hands, for [the ritual washing of the hands for] one person, and even for two. Half of a log [is to be poured from] for three or four. And from [a vessel containing] one log [of water], five or ten or even one hundred [people may wash their hands]. Rabbi Yose says: but only provided there not be less than a quarter [of a log remaining] for the last one of them [to wash]. One may add [water, by pouring it onto the hands past where it had fallen] on the second [pouring of water; i.e. on a third pouring, one can pour past where the waters fell on the second pouring]. But one may not add on the first [pouring; i.e. on the second pouring, one may not pour past where the waters fell on the first pouring]. 2 One may pour [water for washing] onto the hands from all [kinds of] vessels, even from vessels of bovine dung, from vessels of stone, or from earthen vessels. One may not pour [water for washing] onto the hands out of the sides of vessels [i.e. from vessel fragments], nor using the [broken off] bottom of a large jug, nor using the bung of a cask, nor may one pour [water] onto [the hands of] his fellow out of the hollow of his [own] hand, since one may only fill, sanctify, or sprinkle the chatat waters [the waters containing the ashes of the red heifer, used as part of the purification ritual] with a vessel, nor may one take them into one’s hands. And nothing can be preserved [from being rendered impure, in cases of an impurity caused by being overshadowed by an enclosed area containing an Origin of impurity] by means of a tight seal [which can sometimes protect against an overshadowing impurity], unless it is [contained within] a [whole] vessel. And something can only be preserved from [being rendered impure by an impure object contained beside it within] an earthenware vessel if it is itself a vessel. 3 Regarding waters which have become unfit for animals to drink, if they are in [any kind of] vessels, they are invalid [for washing one’s hands]; and if they are in the ground [i.e. in a ditch], they are valid [for washing with them, by immersing one’s hands in them]. If ink, sap, or metallic dye fall into them and change their appearance, they are invalid [i.e. the waters are invalid for washing]. If they had been used for any occupation, or if one soaked one’s bread in them, they are invalid. Shimon, the Teimani said: even if one intended to soak [one’s bread] in these [waters], and it fell into those [waters instead], they are valid [for washing]. 4 If one rinsed vessels in them, or if one cleaned out measuring vessels with them, they [i.e. the waters used] are invalid. If one rinsed out [already] rinsed or new vessels, they are valid [i.e. the waters are valid to be used for washing]. Rabbi Yose invalidates [the waters] regarding new ones. 5 Waters into which the baker has dipped [unbaked] rolls are invalid. And when he [instead] rinses his hands in them [and then splashes the rolls with water from his hands], they are valid [i.e. the waters in which he rinsed his hands]. Anyone is valid to pour onto the hands [of another person, in order to wash them], even a deaf-mute, shoteh, or a minor. A man may place a cask between his knees to pour [the water over his hands, to wash them], or tip a barrel onto its side and pour [onto his hands]. An ape may pour [water for washing] onto one’s hands. Rabbi Yose considers these two [i.e. tipping a barrel or using an ape] to be invalid.
These ceremonial laws had nothing to do with hygiene. Notice that this text states, “One may pour [water for washing] onto the hands from all [kinds of] vessels, even from vessels of bovine dung, from vessels of stone, or from earthen vessels” (Mishnah Yadayim, 1:2). Morris rightly states, “This had nothing to do with hygiene, but was a rule made in the interests of ceremonial purity. Before eating anything, scrupulous Jews had water poured over their hands to remove the defilement contracted by their contact with a sinful world. The quantity of water and the manner of washing are prescribed in minute detail in the Mishnah (Yadaim 1:1ff.).”
Likewise, the Babylonian Talmud states, “Whoever eats bread without previously washing the hands is as though he had intercourse with a harlot.” It also states, “When he washes his hands he should say: ‘Blessed is He who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the washing of hands.’”
Jesus completely rejected this teaching (Mk. 7:15-23). The problem here is in the fact that “when people concentrate on the trivial they are apt to overlook the important.” This is a red flag for our discernment. When people focus on minutiae like this, it should warn us that they have fallen into legalism.
(11:39-40) Hypocrites try to present themselves on the outside in a way that is different from the inside. If I had to pick, I’d rather have the inside of the coffee cup cleaned—not the outside. The inside is so filthy that the hypocrite tries to cover it up. But there’s no use looking clean on the outside, when our hearts are filled with filth.
(11:41) Luke later records that “the Pharisees… were lovers of money” (Lk. 16:14). Why is financial giving such a contrast to hypocrisy? When we give, no one sees it—only God. This is probably why God took such a strong stance on this hypocrisy in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira. You might feel more righteous than these flagrant hypocrites, but do you financial give? If not, then this is a major point of hypocrisy!
(11:42) Jesus isn’t against tithing (Lev. 27:30). Instead he’s against focusing on such minor issues. It isn’t what they’re doing, but what they’re not doing that bothers Jesus (Mt. 23:23-24).
|Slander and division|
|Non-Christian music, books, movies||
Love for God and others
Pride and hypocrisy
|Tattoos & piercings||
(11:43) Hypocrisy likes attention. Bock writes, “The greeting in the public place is not so much a quick hello as an involved salutation of respect. In the Talmud, such elaborate greetings were compulsory for teachers of the law (Luke 20:46; Jerusalem (Palestinian) Talmud, Berakot, 4b [2.1] [= Neusner et al. 1982-93: 1.66]; SB 1:382; Windisch, TDNT 1:498; Manson 1949: 99; Marshall 1978: 498-99).” In Jesus’ other attack of the Pharisees, he said, “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long” (Mt. 23:5 NIV).
(11:44) In Jewish culture, if you touched a dead body, you became ritually unclean for a week (Num. 19:16; Lev. 21:1-4, 11). By being near an “unmarked grave” (NIV), people would become unclean and not realize it. What’s Jesus’ point? He’s saying that the Pharisees were leading ignorant and unknowing people into spiritual death.
(11:45) One of the religious lawyers says, “Jesus, excuse me, I think you’re insulting me too!” Jesus responds, “Yeah… you! I almost forgot about you scribes too!” Jesus unloads both barrels on this crowd full of hypocrites.
(11:46) It’s likely that the scribes knew all of the legal “loop holes” in these added laws. So they could get around God’s teaching, while the uneducated could not. Legalism and hypocrisy won’t get its hands dirty in the lives of others. It piles on the imperatives, but doesn’t give the person help. The scribes’ teaching was crushing people and making God’s way seem laborious (Mt. 11:28-30). Morris writes, “The Mishnah lays it down that it is more important to observe the scribal interpretations than the Law itself (Sanhedrin 11:3).”
(11:47-48) You’d rather love dead people than living people. The religious hypocrites of the day probably thought, “If only we were there for Isaiah, we’d protect them…” But even as they thought this, they were scheming to kill the son of God. As one commentator wrote, “The only prophet you honor is a dead prophet!”
(11:49) Jesus isn’t quoting a source. He’s quoting God’s plan in general.
(11:50-51) Abel was the first prophet (Gen. 4), and Zechariah was the last one (2 Chron. 24:20-25).
(11:52) Morris writes, “They turned the Bible into a book of obscurities, a bundle of riddles which only the experts could understand.” Hypocrites hate it when people actually appeal to Scripture.
(11:53-54) With that, Jesus left. Afterwards, the religious leaders followed him, trying to corner him in a theological trap so that they could kill him. Morris writes, “The word rendered catch is thēreusai, which is used of hunting wild beasts. It is a vivid word for intense opposition.” They learned nothing from Jesus’ rebuke. It only made them double-down and want to kill Jesus more.
(12:1) Jesus just confronted the religious establishment. This would be like a person chewing out Congress, the Senate, and even the President. As we would expect, this gained the attention of thousands of people. There were so many people that “they were stepping on one another.” This sounds like a mosh pit or a riot!
Why does Jesus compare hypocrisy to yeast? Hypocrisy is contagious, puffs up, and spreads silently—just like hypocrisy. By saying “beware,” Jesus is warning the disciples that even they could fall into the same trap. The same is true of the believer today. We too can fall into hypocrisy—often without knowing it.
(12:2-3) In the end, everything will be exposed (1 Cor. 4:5; Rom. 2:16). All of us have fallen prey to hypocrisy in one way or another:
- Have you ever given a half-confession?
- Have you felt bad that someone else received more recognition than you?
- Do you act differently around your Christian friends?
- Have you ever been defensive about personal failure?
Hypocrisy is exhausting. It renders friendships fake and phony. It makes spiritual growth impossible. Most importantly, it excludes the grace of God, because we cover up our problems rather than applying God’s forgiveness and acceptance.
(12:4-5) The cure for hypocrisy is getting our focus off of humans (v.4), and onto God (v.5).
(12:6-7) God takes notice of common and cheap birds. How much more will he care for humans?
(12:8-10) This seems to refer to conversion (Rom. 10:9-11).
(12:11-12) The issue is not working on what we are going to say, but on worrying about what we are going to say. We have our role, but God has his. We shouldn’t usurp God’s role when it comes to apologetics. We aren’t moving into a scary situation alone, because the Holy Spirit is with us, guiding us.
(12:13-14) Notice how the topic of greed comes up. When life circumstances change and life transitions occur, it uncovers the love of money that was there the whole time. This guy wants to use Jesus as Judge Judy to give him a portion of the estate. Instead of adjudicating this specific case, Jesus gives us broader principles.
(12:15) The term “beware” means “positive action to ward off a foe.” Consider road signs that tell us to “beware.” This usually implies that the threat is (1) more dangerous than we think and (2) more unexpected than we think. Similarly, greed is both of these!
What is a successful life? When someone says, “He is really successful,” What do they usually mean? Often they are referring to the person being financially successful. But Jesus doesn’t measure success in this way. He says, “For not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
(12:16-19) “My” appears four times in verses 17-19, and “I” occurs eight times. The rich fool can only think of “me, myself, and I.”
He doesn’t just build additional barns, but he tears down the old barns to build the new ones. He wasn’t living simply; otherwise, he would’ve used the existing barns.
He also talks to himself—not to God (v.19). God isn’t even in the picture to this rich man.
(12:20) He was in control of so much that he thought he could be in control of his future (Jas. 4:14). Jesus’ rhetorical question (“Who will own what you have prepared?”) implies that this man wasted his life. All of his earning disappeared in a second. Could he have seen this coming? Can’t we see this coming?
(12:21) God isn’t against storing up treasure. He’s against storing up treasure for ourselves and storing it up on Earth. He wants us to be “rich” in heavenly rewards.
(12:22) Anxiety is what drives much materialism. Can you prepare without being worried? There is such a practice as responsible saving, but greed and anxiety exaggerate this. We want to make sure we’re saving—not hoarding.
(12:23) “Food” and “clothing” are not wrong, but there is “more” to life, like God, relationships, and the cause of Christ.
(12:24) Ravens were unclean animals in ancient Israel (Lev. 11:15). If God takes care of unclean animals, how much more will he take care of his image-bearers.
(12:25-26) The term “life span” (hēlikia) can refer to age (Jn. 9:21) or height (Lk. 19:3). The context favors time—not height. Worry never solves any actual problems. It only creates problems in our own minds, which poison us and paralyze us from wise decision making and contentment.
(12:27-28) Jesus continues to get their focus off of themselves, their money, and their worry; he continues to get their focus onto God and the world around them. This is a proven technique for helping anxiety, which is called redirection. Even secular counselors use this today.
(12:29) The term “seek” (zeteo) means “to seek information, investigate, examine, consider, deliberate.” The Bible uses this word to describe the way Jesus would “seek” to save sinners (Lk. 19:10), or how Herod’s men “sought” to kill Jesus as an infant (Mt. 2:20).
(12:30) People that don’t know God seek these things. There’s nothing wrong with them, but our anxiety inflates our need into greed.
The context is the foolishness of living for wealth—when all that you earn will be taken away in a moment.
(12:31) Instead of seeking materialism (v.29), we should “seek” (zeteo) God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. This isn’t asceticism. We realize that we can utilize these resources to further God’s kingdom.
(12:32) “Little flock” is only used here. For an explanation of selling our possessions, see Luke 14:33. Eternal rewards aren’t selfish. For one, God wants to give these to us. He has an over-abundance of good things, and he enjoys giving these out. Also, if we are pursuing these with selfish motives, God won’t reward us (cf. 1 Cor. 4:5). Truly it would be prideful to refuse rewards that God wants to give to us.
(12:33) This doesn’t mean that we sell all of our possessions. We buy material goods, but we aren’t attached to them (1 Cor. 7:30-31). Zacchaeus sold half of his goods (Lk. 19:8), and Christ was pleased with this.
This isn’t viewed as fear-threat motivation. It’s an opportunity.
(12:34) This sort of investment will change your life.
(12:35-36) Like the “rich fool” mentioned earlier, at any moment, we could die and stand before God, or Jesus could return and stand before us. That door could be opened at any moment. Consider a professor who proctors the final exam, and leaves to go get a cup of coffee. People begin to cheat in his absence, but you know that he’ll open that door at any moment. Likewise, he’ll see which students are being honest and which are cheating.
(12:37) This fits with Jesus’ other statement (Lk. 22:27). This is an outrageous statement: Jesus—the Ultimate Servant—claims that he will serve us in heaven. This would be utterly blasphemy and egotism if we didn’t read this plainly in God’s word.
(12:38-40) We know that this event is going to come, but we just don’t know when. So the best posture is to be ready at all times.
What does it look like to be ready?
- It means not being in a materialistic stupor.
- It means not just working “when the Boss is watching.”
- It means developing personal convictions on Jesus’ teaching.
- It means cultivating a lifestyle of serving.
- It means ceasing to procrastinate and become alert.
(12:41-44) You get promoted if you’re a good worker. In heaven, we will have delegated leadership from Jesus. Passivity leaves us losing our reward. Again, it’s not just that we’re going to go to heaven, but we get eternal rewards as well.
Compare this with 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. In an ancient city, the temples and expensive political buildings were constructed with stone and inlaid with precious metals. The houses of the poor were built with wood thatch and mud. When a fire passed through the city, only the stone buildings would remain.
The “wood, hay, straw” refer to works done by impure motives or even sins (cf. 1 Cor. 4:5).
(12:45-46) Again, the problem with the greedy is that they really don’t trust Jesus’ message about the Second Coming or his message about life after death. If they focused on this, their lives would change.
(12:47-48) We will be judged for what we know—not for what we don’t know. This shows that hell will have different degrees of punishment, depending on how we unjustly hurt others.
(12:49-50) The fire refers to God’s judgment (v.49). Thankfully, Jesus will take our judgment before this happens.
(12:51-53) It’s peace in one sense, but not peace in another. It’s a war of ideology—not force. Morris writes, “When people do not rise to this challenge they not uncommonly become critical of those who do. The divisions that thus arise may run through families (cf. Mic. 7:6).”
(12:54-57) These people were able to recognize and interpret the weather patterns, but they were unable to do this with regard to Jesus.
(12:58-59) We should try and settle in court before we get before the judge. God knows we’re going to court, but he has paid the price. That’s a pretty fair argument, and in fact, it’s extremely generous. Morris writes, “They should spare no effort accordingly to get right with God. When he finally condemns anyone the penalty will be inflicted to the uttermost (copper = lepton, the smallest coin in use).”
This section is unique to Luke’s gospel.
(13:1) Pilate was an anti-Semite, and this fits with his character. Morris writes, “Some Galileans had evidently gone up to Jerusalem to worship and had been put to death by the governor as they were in the act of offering sacrifice. That their blood had mingled with that of their sacrifices was a particularly horrible detail. It is difficult to see what could justify an execution at such a moment.”
(13:2-3) This is what philosophers refer to as moral evil. Pilate committed a free will decision to kill these people. They thought evil was a punishment for sin (Jn. 9:2). Jesus is saying, “You think this is a tragedy, but there’s a greater tragedy coming! People being separated from God!” The fact that they thought this was a punishment for sin implies that they weren’t sinners. Jesus disagrees directly, telling them to repent.
(13:4-5) This is what philosophers refer to as natural evil. The evil was not necessarily anyone’s fault—just the result of being in a cause and effect world. Bock writes, “Siloam, a reservoir for Jerusalem, was located near the intersection of the south and east walls of the city (Isa. 8:6).”
What is Jesus’ answer to the problem of moral and natural evil? He doesn’t answer this philosophically. Instead, he states that evil and death should wake us up to how temporary life is. Can’t we see that death is coming for all of us—whether in a major disaster or in the quiet of our home in old age? Jesus tells us that death should rouse us to realize that we should get right with God. After all, death could come to us at any time.
(13:6-9) The vinedresser was patient. The main point is that they’re getting one final chance. God hasn’t brought his moral will on the world… yet.
(13:10) Jesus healed this poor woman on the Sabbath. We might wonder how the religious authorities will react…
(13:14) This man was making a compromised position. He didn’t say it was wrong for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath, but people should not come to be healed on the other six days of the week. After all, there are plenty of other days to be healed.
(13:15-16) Jesus’ response is uncompromising. His logic is that these religious leaders treat their animals better than they would a fellow human being. By healing her on the Sabbath, Jesus was giving this woman “rest” like she hadn’t experienced for 18 years.
(13:17) The religious leaders were publicly refuted and humiliated. However, if they didn’t want to be publicly humiliated, then they never should have been publicly teaching such cruelty in the first place.
(13:18) The Jewish people were expecting a literal kingdom, where the Messiah would overthrow the world instantaneously. Jesus breaks these expectations, and tells them about the spiritual kingdom of the Church that would precede his Millennial Kingdom.
What does it look like? (vv.18-21)
(13:19) Luke doesn’t mention the size of the seed, but the result. Morris writes, “The precise plant in mind is not known for certain.”
(13:20-21) Only a small amount of leaven is needed to make a large quantity of dough to rise. Similarly, God worked through a small contingent of disciples.
It’s small. It won’t grow immediately. Look at the ground after a seed is planted or immediately after the dough gets the yeast. It is identical. But over time, the seed takes root growing a huge plant. The seed is growing and the yeast is spreading—even if you can’t see it. Our role is as important as it is small. Our role is to be patient—even when we can’t see the growth.
Who gets in? (vv.22-30)
The Jewish expectation was that the Jewish people would all get into the kingdom when it came. Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1 states, “All Jews have a share in the World to Come.” Jesus upset this expectation.
(13:22-23) How will Jesus answer this complicated question? Will he give a percentage of people? An exact figure? No, instead, Jesus tells the person, “Wrong question! Don’t worry about that… Just make sure that you make it in yourself!”
(13:24) Morris writes, “Strive is a word denoting whole-hearted action. It is a technical term for competing in the Games, and from it we get our word ‘agonize’.”
Jesus said that all who seek will find (Mt. 7:7), but we need to authentically seek. Earlier in Luke, we read, “As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, ‘This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah’” (Lk. 11:29).
Paul said, “I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4 For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God” (Rom. 10:2-4 NLT).
(13:25) There will be a time when time is up.
(13:26) This must refer to nominal Christianity. They were so close, but also so far from Christ.
(13:27) Conformity leads directly into hell.
(13:28-29) Nationality is irrelevant. God welcomes all people, regardless of race.
(13:30) This would be double-mortification for Jesus’ religious audience: They’re out, and Gentiles are in. Does God want someone like you? There isn’t a single thing God wouldn’t want more!
(13:31) Considering how the Pharisees have treated Jesus so far, this likely is intimidation on their behalf and a threat.
(13:32) Jesus calls Herod a fox. Morris writes, “The fox was used by the Jews as a symbol of a sly man, but more often for an insignificant or worthless one.” Jesus tells them that his mission will not be altered by Herod or anyone else. He has a goal to accomplish, and he won’t leave until it’s done.
(13:33) This sounds like sarcasm: It’s always the capital of the nation that kills the national prophets.
(13:34) God wants us to be in the Kingdom. The question is, “Do we want to be in his kingdom?”
(13:35) Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple—the place these men held most sacred. Since Jesus is the temple (Jn. 2:19-21), the Temple in Jerusalem was going to be obsolete. Jesus will not return to the people until they sing Psalm 118. This hasn’t happened yet, so this must refer to the future. This is a key passage that demonstrates that Preterism is false: after all, there’s no way the Jewish people were blessing Jesus as the Messiah as the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple!
Have you ever been invited to really bad dinner party? Jesus can relate. This was Jesus’ third dinner with the Pharisees (Lk. 7:36ff; 11:37ff). Each time, it ended awkwardly—yet they keep inviting him back. The Pharisees must’ve been gluttons for punishment!
Jesus would go to dinner with people that he didn’t get along with. But he wouldn’t schmooze and be nice. He would confront them with the truth in love.
Healing on the Sabbath: Admitting you were wrong (vv.1-6)
(14:1) “Watching him closely…” This makes sense. Jesus has been offensive and confrontational each and every time: What will he do the same at this dinner party?
(14:2) “Dropsy” was a sickness. Bock writes, “Its symptoms are swollen limbs and tissue resulting from excess body fluids.” What caused it? Bock writes, “Some rabbis argued that dropsy resulted from sexual offenses (b. Sabbat. 33a) or from intentionally failing to have bowel movements (b. Berakot. 25a).”
Was this a “set up”? The use of “behold” (idou) suggests surprise. Did this man stagger into the dinner party, or was he sent there to trap Jesus?
(14:3) It seems like a setup, because Jesus “replied.” He asks about the legality of healing before he does anything. Does this sound familiar? (Lk. 6:9)
(14:4) He heals him.
(14:5) Bock writes, “The Mishnah mentions Sabbath exceptions for cattle (m. Sabbat. 5; 15.2; m. Erubin. 2.1-4).” Have you ever tried to lift a cow out of a pit? It’s a lot of work—especially on the Sabbath.
(14:6) Their silence speaks louder than any of their words. In fact, their silence was deafening. Their problem was that they couldn’t swallow their pride. They couldn’t admit that they were wrong.
For more the subject, see our earlier article “Humility.”
(14:7) Guests at a first-century Jewish dinner table were ordered according to rank or age. Bock writes, “Later Judaism spoke of a U-shaped table with a three-person couch located on each prong of the table. The host sat at the bottom of the U, in the middle between the two wings of the U; the most honored seat would be to the left and the next honored seat would be to the right.”
(14:8-11) It would be mighty embarrassing to seat yourself at the head of the table—only to be placed at the “kid’s table.” Bock writes, “The main point is that it is better for others to recognize who you are than to suggest to them your ‘proper’ (or improper!) place.” The Pharisees loved taking the exalted seat (Lk. 11:43).
Where does the host want me at the table? You’re going to end up in the same place no matter what. So why not just agree with the host from the beginning? Let the Host (God) place you wherever he wants you. If you try to elevate yourself, it will end up worse than before. Similarly, if the Host (God) wants you to sit at the head of the table, you shouldn’t feign “humility.” You go where he wants you.
- Am I content with the place God has placed me?
- What kind of an attitude do I have about myself? Would I be happy (happy!) mopping the floors in Heaven?
- Do I want to see those I invest in succeed—as long as they don’t succeed more than me?
- Am I angered when slighted or insulted or don’t get recognition?
Commenting on how Jesus told us to seek the lower seat (Lk. 14:7-11), Francis Schaeffer writes, “All of us—pastors, teachers, professional religious workers and nonprofessional included—are tempted to say, ‘I will take the larger place because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ.’ Both individual Christians and Christian organizations fall prey to the temptation of rationalizing this way as we build bigger and bigger empires. But according to the Scripture this is backwards: we should consciously take the lowest place unless the Lord Himself extrudes us into a greater one. The word extrude is important here. To be extruded is to be forced out under pressure into a desired shape. Picture a huge press jamming soft metal at high pressure through a die, so that the metal comes out in a certain shape. This is the way of the Christian: he should choose the lesser place until God extrudes him into a position of more responsibility and authority… we should seek the lowest place because there it is easier to be quiet before the face of the Lord. I did not say easy; in no place, no matter how small or humble, is it easy to be quiet before God. But it is certainly easier in some places than in others. And the little places, where I can more easily be close to God, should be my preference. I am not saying that it is impossible to be quiet before God in a greater place, but God must be allowed to choose when a Christian is ready to be extruded into such a place, for only He knows when a person will be able to have some quietness before Him in the midst of increased pressure and responsibility. Quietness and peace before God are more important than any influence a position may seem to give, for we must stay in step with God to have the power of the Holy Spirit. If by taking a bigger place our quietness with God is lost, then to that extent our fellowship with Him is broken and we are living in the flesh, and the final result will not be as great, no matter how important the larger place may look in the eyes of other men or in our own eyes. Always there will be a battle, always we will be less than perfect, but if a place is too big and too active for our present spiritual condition, then it is too big.”
What is pride?
Pride is the sin of the devil (1 Tim. 3:6).
Pride is competitive.
Pride is exhausting.
Pride ruins relationships.
Pride blocks God’s gifts (2 Sam. 12:8).
Pride is against the very nature of God. After all, Jesus was humble (Phil. 2:5-11; Mt. 11:28-30).
God is always against pride:
(Prov. 13:10) Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
(Prov. 16:5) The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
(Prov. 16:18) Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
(Prov. 16:19) Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
(Prov. 11:2) When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
(Prov. 21:4) Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin!
(Prov. 29:23) A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
(Ezek. 28:17) Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.
What is humility?
Dennis McCallum shows the differences between biblical and postmodern humility in this way.
It would be arrogant for me to declare what is “truth” or morality for anybody except myself
It would be arrogant for me
I decide what is true and right for me
|I don’t decide what is true and right, I submit to what is true and right|
|I stand over truth and right, because I am the ultimate judge||
I stand under truth and right, because God is the ultimate Judge
Since I agree not to tell anyone when I suspect they are in the wrong, nobody should tell me that I’m in the wrong
I’m so error-prone that I need others to tell me often when I’m in the wrong
I also realize at times others might need me to tell them they are wrong
How do we gain humility?
We gain humility by agreeing with God’s placement.
We gain humility through suffering and failure.
We gain humility through focusing on others. Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
The key to battling pride: Focus on others (vv.12-14)
(14:12-13) The poor can’t give anything in return. Darrell Bock points out that Qumran didn’t allow for dinner (1Q28a [= 1QSa = Rule Annex] 2.3-10; 1QM 7.4). Jewish tradition allowed the poor in the community, but only to serve tables! (Mishnah Abot, 1.3-5).
While the Bible excluded these people from the Temple worship—along with many other people, the Jewish Law taught to take care of the marginalized (Deut. 14:28-29; 16:11-14; 26:11-13).
(14:14) God will reward this sort of service, because the people can’t repay. Who am I serving where I can’t get an earthly reward in return? This doesn’t exclude strategic investment. This is an issue of the heart that Jesus is describing here. Why should I invest in people? To get acclaim? So they give something back to me? No. Christian love is for the sake of the other—not ourself.
God’s incredible party: Humility of accepting God’s free lunch (vv.15-24)
(14:15) It’s sounds like this man was trying to smooth over the tension—like at Thanksgiving dinner when the older aunt tries to make a joke out of her drunk husband. He’s trying to appeal their common Jewish heritage.
Jesus doesn’t allow the tension to be broken, because this is the third time he’s dined with the Pharisees, and they still don’t get it. The divine banquet is closer than they think! These men were thinking about the banquet of the kingdom; meanwhile they were eating dinner with the King!
(14:16-17) This refers to responding to the invitation, but then being a “no show.”
Worst excuses… EVER!
Think about asking a girl out for a date, and she says, “Sorry, I’ve gotta wash my hair.” The worse the excuse, the more you realize just how much they don’t care about you. Excuses of this sort really show the heart of the person giving them. Notice that these people weren’t obtusely evil. They were just… busy.
(14:18) “I’ve… ugh… gotta watch my grass grow… that night.”
(14:19) “I’ve gotta go chase my cows around the field for a while.” Morris comments, “No one would buy oxen without first satisfying himself that they would do the job. And if he did, there was no hurry for his testing. The oxen would keep.” The oxen can wait.
(14:20) “I’m married… so my social life should end.”
(14:21-24) The servant doesn’t take the rejection personally. He knows their problem is between them and the Host. This angered the Host. He had more than enough food, but no one to eat it.
God will provide an incredible feast—free of charge. And he will throw this party—whether you’re there or not. You’ve been invited (v.16), but God will respect your freedom to reject his offer. This rejection cannot be revoked.
The messengers didn’t take their rejection personally. They just reported to the Host (God) what they said.
Are you humble enough to respond to this invitation? If you’ve accepted this invitation, Jesus has a second invitation for you.
Cost of discipleship: The humility of putting Christ first (vv.25-35)
Maybe you remember Jesus talking about this second decision in Luke 9. Why are we bringing this up again? Because Jesus is bringing it up again! He’s calling men and women to be his followers. Are you ready to respond to his call? Before you do, consider Jesus’ cost of commitment.
(14:25) Jesus really got the attention of the crowds at this point—though we don’t see how the Pharisees responded to him.
It’s interesting that this vitriol comes up in the context of Christian discipleship. Making a decision for Christ is usually (though not always) respected by others. They might say, “It’s good that you found religion.” But Christian discipleship often engenders a different reaction. It’s when we choose to follow Christ and put him first that we get a negative reaction—even from those closest to us.
Is investing in Christ worth it? We need to compare temporal rewards with eternal rewards—the material with the spiritual. If you only view life from the temporal and materialistic viewpoint, then discipleship will seem like a poor investment—a complete waste of time and resources. If you believe Jesus was who he claimed to be, it is the ultimate investment. All other investments of our time, talent, and treasure are ultimately worthless!
(14:29) Regarding the “ridicule,” Bock writes, “Empaizein has the nuance of ridiculing and making fun of someone.” When we don’t fully commit to God, we look like a fool to people in the world: Why did you waste all of that time? You could’ve been working on a graduate degree, working a second job, or catching up on vacationing or television! We look like fools to people without Christ, but they look like fools to us—trading the eternal for the temporal.
(14:30) We need to commit to Christ to the end. Otherwise, we only build “half of a house,” which is useless.
(14:31-32) The king would carefully contemplate whether battle was a wise decision. In the view of the king, the decision to go to war had consequences, but the failure to decide also would have consequences.
(14:34) Some Christians look like this calcium deposit: They look like salt, but they taste like chalk. They look the same as salt, but they are far different. This is like looking at a nominal and committed Christian. Both may look the same outwardly, but they are far different. Bock writes, “The modern idiom would be ‘running out of gas.’ ‘Running out of gas’ as a disciple is always the result of not having Jesus be primary.”
- Can you admit when you’re wrong?
- Will you take the lower seat and lift others up instead of yourself?
- Are you humble enough to respond to his invitation to the banquet?
- Are you humble enough to count the cost and say yes to his invitation to discipleship?
God seeks them out in each parable.
(15:1) Jesus came to seek and save lost people (Lk. 19:10). He specifically came for the sick—not the healthy. Earlier, he said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Lk. 5:31-32). Now, the sinners are flocking to Jesus.
(15:2) The religious authorities couldn’t stand this. The love of God actually angered them.
(15:3) In each of these parables, God is the one who seeks out the lost. Jesus reveals God’s heart for lost people through these parables. This is in stark contrast to the religious leaders, who were very far from the heart of God.
PARABLE #1. The lost sheep
(15:4) The reason why you’d leave the 99 is because they are safe. It’s the lost sheep that needs the help and attention. In verse 7, the 99 are seen as unrepentant, while the lost sheep is pictured as the repentant one. So, being in the religious majority might feel safe and secure, but in reality, it isn’t.
(15:5-6) The shepherd doesn’t grumble about having to travel into the wilderness and poor weather to retrieve the lost sheep. He is happy to carry it home! In fact, he wants to tell other people about this great experience.
(15:7) This message is quite different from this ancient Jewish source: “There is joy before God when those who provoke Him perish from the world” (Siphré, ed. Friedmann p. 37 a, line 13 from top). Yikes!
PARABLE #2. The lost coin
(15:8) A drachma was roughly a day’s wage. Morris writes, “An Eastern house would have no windows, or very small ones, so the lighting of a lamp was necessary for a close search even in the daytime.” He continues, “If a man keeps seeking for a lost coin much more should he seek for the Law, said the rabbis (Canticles Rabbah I.i.9). There is no rabbinic equivalent to God’s seeking of sinners.”
(15:9-10) Again, God rejoices over finding a single lost person.
PARABLE #3. The lost son
The three parables follow the same pattern with the exception of the self-righteous son at the end. You’re expecting the credits to roll, but you get this commentary from the self-righteous son. Remember, these parables were given in the presence of the self-righteous religious authorities (v.2).
(15:11) The “two sons” represent the religious and the non-religious.
(15:12) This culture practice primogenitor (the oldest son carries the bulk of the inheritance). This is the “younger” son. He deserves less, but he asks for more.
(15:13) The son “gathered everything together” and cut all his ties, leaving nothing behind to connect him to his Father. His brother said that this “loose living” included prostitutes later (v.30). The “distant country” showed that he was far away from the Father.
(15:14) The son definitely had some thrills—no one would deny that. But it ran out. He started to see his aching need. This happens when we are far from God. It’s fun at first, but then an emptiness sets in.
(15:15) Swine! To a Jewish audience, this would be abominable, because pigs were unclean animals (Lev. 11:7). One rabbi taught, “Cursed be the man who would breed swine” (Baba Kamma 82b).
Not only was this man working with swine, but he was a hired hand—an indentured servant. His “liberty” and “freedom” from the Father turned into slavery and indignity.
(15:16) He couldn’t even eat the swine’s food! This would be gross, but he couldn’t even get this going for him. When we’re far from the Father, we end up doing things we never thought we’d do.
(15:17) This time of pain was good for the lost son. He started rethinking his life. He’d rather be a servant of his Father, than be a king of his fallen kingdom.
(15:18) He realized that he needed to take some initiative. Specifically, he needed to admit his faults.
(15:19) Before all of this started, we see the son demanding his inheritance. Here he is dropping all of his conditions. He didn’t even want to be treated as a son, but as a slave.
(15:20) This shows the relational component: he went back to his Father. The Father didn’t send search parties or private investigators to grab his son. The Father respected the son’s choice to leave, make his own bed, and then sleep in it.
However, the Father held out hope, watching and waiting for his son to return.
(15:21) He sees that his sin wasn’t just with people, but God. He started his repentant speech, but he couldn’t even finish before the Father forgave him.
(15:22) This could refer the signet ring, which referred to royalty (cf. Gen. 41:42; Esth. 3:10; 8:2). The Father didn’t put the son on probation. He welcomed him back with a full status.
(15:23) The Father wasn’t a joy-killer. He had an even greater party waiting for him the whole time.
(15:24) Calvinists understand “death” as total inability. But notice that Jesus states that death is equivalent to separation (“he was lost and now is found”). Also notice that the son needed to take initiative to come back to the Father and repent. This is a parable, so we shouldn’t over-interpret the text, but we also shouldn’t under-interpret it either.
(15:25-27) We forgot about the “older son.” He was working hard in the field when he heard the party starting inside the house (v.25). Maybe his expectation was that he himself was getting a party for all of his hard work. A servant tells him the news about his brother being home! What was his reaction to all of this? Did he have the same love of the Father in his heart? No!
(15:28) He refused to have the same joy of the Father. In fact, his Father needed to come outside of the party to speak to his brooding son.
(15:29) The verb form of “serving” is used here the same word for “slave” (douleuō). Notice the first person pronouns: “I have been serving you… I have never neglected a command… you have never given me…” He can’t get the focus off of himself and off of his works. Morris writes, “The proud and the self-righteous always feel that they are not treated as well as they deserve.”
(15:30) He can’t stand the idea that the Father would be loving like this… much like the Pharisees who were “grumbling” (v.2).
(15:31-32) The Father loves both of the sons. He speaks kindly to both. The Father didn’t give him a sacrificial goat; he gave him everything (“…all that is mine is yours…”). Morris writes, “In leaving these points unresolved he throws out a challenge to all his hearers, be they like the elder brother or like the younger.”
Andrew Murray writes, “The elder son was living with his father and serving him ‘these many years,’ and he complains that his father never gave him a [fattened calf], while he gave his prodigal brother the fatted calf. Why was this? Simply because he did not ask it. He did not believe that he would get it, and therefore never asked it, and never enjoyed it. He continued thus to live in constant murmuring and dissatisfaction; and the key note of all this wretched life is furnished in what he said. His father gave him everything, yet he never enjoyed it; and he throws the whole blame on his loving and kind father. O beloved, is not that the life of many a believer? Do not many speak and act in this way? Every believer has the promise of unbroken fellowship with God, but he says, ‘I have not enjoyed it; I have tried hard and done my best, and I have prayed for the blessing, but I suppose God does not see fit to grant it.’ …Thus many are saying, when asked if they are enjoying unbroken fellowship with God:—‘Alas, no! I have not been able to attain [this]; it is too high for me. I know of some who have it, and I read of it; but God has not given it to me, for some reason.’ But why not? You think, perhaps, that you have not the same capacity for spiritual blessing that others have… Do we desire it, do we? Why not get it? Have we asked for it? We think we are not worthy of the blessing—we are not good enough; and therefore God has not given it. There are more among us than we know of, or are willing to admit, who throw the blame of our darkness, and of our wanderings on God! Take care! …Let us come and ask why it is that the believer lives such a low experience.”
(16:1) In the ancient world, wealthy benefactors would have stewards or managers who would run their estate—sort of like money managers today. In this parable, the manager was squandering the rich man’s possessions. The term “reported” (diaballo) means “to bring charges with hostile intent” (BDAG).
(16:2) The rich man wants to see the accounting records. The manager might not have been immoral at this point. He was simply incompetent at running the business. And now, he’s going to get fired!
When you’re fired at a corporation today, they clean out your desk for you on your way out, so you don’t steal from the company. This rich man wasn’t so careful…
(16:3) It’s embarrassing for a corporate money-manager to take a job flipping burgers. Bock writes, “The expression I am not able is idiomatic of people who do not like their prospects… Digging (skaptō) is the labor of the uneducated… He had a white-collar job and does not feel capable of returning to menial labor.” He’s faced with unemployment. What will he do?
(16:4) He’s about to lose his position, but he might as well make the most of it before he does. What does he have at his disposal? He has a plethora of contacts with his soon-to-be-lost job.
(16:5) The manager knew how much they owed. He had accounting records (v.2). He must have been asking them for psychological impact.
(16:6) 100 measures was equivalent to 875 gallons of olive oil—or 1,000 denarii. A denarius was equivalent to a day’s wage, so this would be equivalent to a three years’ severance package!
(16:7) 100 measures of wheat would be equivalent to 100 acres of wheat. Bock writes, “So the debt was between 2,500 denarii and 3,000 denarii—or about 8-10 years’ salary for the average laborer.”
He’s scratching their back, so that they return the favor. He’s setting himself for later in life.
(16:8) Jesus doesn’t admire this man for being a thief—but for being shrewd. The steward knew he was fired. His future with the rich man was over (“Now what?”). He could see the end in sight, so he acted “quickly” (v.6) in light of this certainty.
Many Christians don’t pass this test. Even though death will claim us all, we need to invest in the right things. Much like the stock market, we need to sell before the value drops or invest before the value sky rockets. Why is it that Christians have less zeal in spiritual treasures than secular people have in their earthly treasures? They must not really trust that Jesus was right about the afterlife. We’re all going there very soon, and our investment on earth will be waiting for us.
(16:9) The “friends” that we make with our money refers to valuing men more than materials. When we use our money to reach people with Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness, we will see them in heaven.
(16:10-11) Most people treat money as their ultimate value in life. God calls money “a very little thing.” We should try to avoid investments that will lose value.
The “true riches” refers to people in context (“make friends,” v.9).
(16:12) This is the difference between a stewardship attitude and an ownership attitude.
(16:13) We can’t serve both God and money any more than we can love both a wife and a girlfriend on the side.
(16:14) Materialists don’t have a well-reasoned argument for their worldview or lifestyle. Instead, they only “scoff” at the biblical perspective.
(16:15) The Pharisees looked successful on the outside. In fact, in this religious culture, the people may have believed that their great wealth was a sign of God’s direct blessing. Yet Jesus has an opposite evaluation of these men.
(16:16) The “gospel of the kingdom” refers to God’s good news for the world, which has been a theme that has run throughout the entire Bible, culminating in Jesus.
(16:17) The fulfillment of the kingdom is certain because the word of God is infallible.
(16:18) It’s difficult to see why Luke includes Jesus’ teaching on divorce here. Perhaps, in the context of materialism and God’s word, Jesus had his debate with the Pharisees regarding divorce and remarriage (Mk. 10; Mt. 19). We’re not sure. For a biblical evaluation of divorce, see our earlier article “Biblical Ethics of Divorce.”
Most commentators hold that this a parable. But it is a very unique parable. For one, Luke doesn’t introduce this as a parable. Instead, Jesus just starts telling a story. Second, parables don’t usually give names of real people (e.g. Abraham). Yet Robert Morey writes, “The rabbinic literature before, during, and after the time of Christ is filled with parables which built imaginative stories around real historical characters.” He cites a number of rabbinic sources (Midrash: Lev. 407; Eth. Enoch 22; Kohelith Rabba 1.15, d. Rom. 6a; Ruth Rabba 111.3, 6c).
(16:19) The rich man doesn’t get a name, but the poor man does (Lazarus). This immediately shows the reader who is the protagonist in God’s eyes. Since the rich man identifies himself by his wealth, this is how he is named.
The “fine linen” (byssos) refers to his undergarments. Thus even his underwear were expensive! Moreover, Bock writes, “Purple clothes came from dye derived from snails and were extremely expensive.”
(16:20) Lazarus is probably physically handicapped. He can’t even avoid the dogs licking his sores, and he was laid at the gate to beg.
(16:21) It isn’t that he was fed, but that he longed to be fed.
These dogs were not house pets. The term (kyon) refers to wild dogs. Because of this, dogs were associated with being unclean (Rev. 22:15; 2 Pet. 2:22; Mt. 7:6).
(16:22) Before Christ’s death atoned for sin, even faithful believers couldn’t come into God’s presence. So they went to wait with Abraham—the father of faith—for Christ to die.
(16:23) Elsewhere Jesus spoke of the Pharisees weeping and gnashing their teeth at seeing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in heaven with forgiven people (Lk. 13:28).
(16:24) By calling out “Father Abraham,” the rich man may have been trying to rely on his heritage to get out of judgment. If he was, this was a mistake (Lk. 3:8).
Regarding his plea for mercy, Morris writes, “It is interesting that he who showed no mercy asks for mercy.” The rich man still treats Lazarus like his water boy. Nothing had changed in his heart.
The rich man uses Lazarus’ name. This shows that the rich man knew who Lazarus was the entire time—but he didn’t help him.
(16:25) The rich man received everything that he could get on Earth. For the rich man, Earth was the closest he got to Heaven. For Lazarus, Earth was the closest he got to Hell. For people living apart from Christ, this is the best you’ll ever get.
(16:26) No one can cross the “great chasm” between the place of judgment and the place of reward: “None may cross over from there to us.”
(16:27) The rich man changes his aim, but not his attitude. He still wants to be in control—even in Hades! He is still bossing Lazarus around! He still wants Lazarus to be his messenger boy! There is also a subtext that God’s revelation wasn’t good enough for him.
(16:28) Why five brothers? This doesn’t seem to have any special meaning that we can see.
(16:29) Scripture is capable of generating the conviction to have a change of heart (Lk. 11:28). Miracles don’t typically produce a change of heart like this. Often, miracles scare people.
(16:30-31) He’s arguing with Abraham. Nothing has changed in his heart—even in Hell.
Jesus eventually raises a man named Lazarus from the dead (Jn. 11), but the Pharisees still didn’t believe in him. This could be an example of an “undesigned coincidence” between Luke and John. Of course, the Lazarus of John 11 had a family who cared for him (i.e. he wasn’t dirt poor), so the association isn’t necessarily literal.
In these series of five vignettes, Jesus shows us what it looks like to live the life of faith.
1. False teaching
(17:1-2) What is a stumbling block, and why does it warrant capital punishment? The word here is skandalon (“stumbling”), not hamartia (“sin”) as NIV has. The translation of “stumbling” also makes better sense in context: After all, why would capital punishment be better for someone who causes someone to sin? This “stumbling” refers to preventing someone from coming to faith in Christ. People will fall away from the faith, but we would never want to be a cause of this!
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea…” Murder is incredibly evil, but what if there was such a thing as spiritual murder? What if we could not only kill someone’s physical body, but we could kill their soul for eternity? This would be a grievous sin! No wonder Jesus takes such a strong stance. Jesus was the original Tony Soprano! Only, instead of being a crime lord who kills good people, Jesus is a just Judge who executes bad people.
As teachers, we should realize that we are held to a stricter judgment (Jas. 3:1). False teachers are held to an even harsher judgment. If we tear apart the church, God will get even (1 Cor. 3:17). Tearing down people’s faith is a serious issue.
When Christ refers to “little ones,” this could refer to children. But as Bock notes, “The reference to ‘little ones’ (mikrōn) may allude to new disciples who need instruction.”
(17:3) This passage disagrees with the view of our culture on many levels.
The postmodern view is that other people’s problems are “none of our business.” Yet, this isn’t love. It’s really based out of self-preservation. Really, what we mean when we say this is that we don’t want to get involved.
The biblical view of love is based on the concept of a family (“if your brother…”). The people in the spiritual community should not be strangers, but brothers and sisters. While you might not speak into the life of a stranger, you would (hopefully!) speak into the life of your own brother.
People would rather gossip, nurse a grudge, or hate others in their hearts, rather than speaking a word of correction (Eph. 4:15).
The postmodern view doesn’t have a basis for forgiveness either. Since they reject moral truth, they don’t have an intellectual basis for sin—so it’s difficult to forgive if nothing is really wrong.
The result is that people give up on meaningful relationships, don’t respond to phone calls or texts, and overall keep their distance when they’ve been hurt. We might nurse bitterness for years and suffer from depression as a result.
The biblical view has a basis for forgiveness because we have been forgiven far more than anything we can hold against anyone else.
The result is that friendships grow closer through admonishment and forgiveness. It’s amazing how friendships become strengthened. Even though we’re corrected, we’re also accepted and loved at the same time. Paul sheds light on this: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Gal. 6:1)
(17:5) As skeptical or cynical people, we often wish that we had a stronger faith. How do we grow our faith? Jesus addresses this question here.
What are mulberry trees? Bock writes, “This tree (sykaminos)… is probably the black mulberry, with a vast root system that enabled it to live up to six hundred years.”
Why aren’t mulberry trees flying around all the time? We can only see answers to prayer according to God’s will (1 Jn. 5:14-15). A true follower of Christ would never want God to answer a prayer outside of His will. For instance, Elijah prayed for a supernatural drought (Jas. 5:17), but this was according to “God’s command” (1 Kings 18:36).
The sincerity is less important than the veracity of our faith. The object of our faith is more important than the amount of our faith. Morris writes, “It is not so much great faith that is required as faith in a great God.”
4. Faithful servants
(17:7-10) Luke 12:37 has the picture switched: While God doesn’t need to wait on us, he will freely choose to, because he has the ultimate heart of a servant (Lk. 22:27).
Some people feel like God owes us if we do the right thing. This is an entitlement mentality. We never ever want to approach God based on what we deserve!
To the unthankful attitude, God could give more and more blessings, but it would never satisfy. McCallum compares this to paying off a friend’s debt of 100,000 dollars—free of charge! After you agree to this, the friend says, “Can you pay for some new furniture too?” When you object, he says, “What’s your problem?! You have the money… What is an extra thousand dollars between friends?” So too, God has paid our debt of not going to hell. We shouldn’t have any sort of entitlement attitude based on his generous gift.
(17:12-13) Hansen’s disease (leprosy) invades the nervous system through a microbacterium, causing numbness in a period of the body. Those with this disease are prone to injury, sores, and blisters. It is communicable to others. We only diagnose 200 cases a year in the US, and 150 of these are from people entering the US. The poor typically contract Hansen’s disease because of poor sanitary conditions. They are then ostracized from the rest of their community—both because it is communicable and also because it’s so ugly.
These lepers had to call from a distance, because the Law prescribed a sort of quarantine for such communicable diseases (Lev. 13:45-46; Num. 5:2-3).
It would’ve been easy for Jesus to say, “I’m too busy… I need to go die for the sins of the world.” Instead he stopped and helped.
(17:14) The OT law prescribed lepers to show themselves to the priests to be sure of being cleansed (Lev. 13:19; 14:1ff). Morris writes, “Jesus was putting their faith to the test by asking these men to act as though they had been cured.”
What a remarkable event in the lives of these men! Their entire world was changed in this moment. You’d expect all of them to come back and thank Christ for this miracle!
(17:15-18) Only one returns to give thanks! Moreover, it’s amazing that a Samaritan was the one to give thanks. Samaritans were racist against Jews and vice versa (see “History of the Samaritans”).
Notice that the man was formerly at a distance from Jesus. But now he is close to him—at his feet. The sociological alienation is gone.
Ten healings and only one thank you! How could they not be utterly overcome by seeing this miracle? Occasionally, we feel thankful for one or two blessings, but days can go by without gratitude. Morris observes, “If people do not give thanks quickly, they usually do not do so at all.”
(17:19) It took faith to walk toward the priest, while still in a state of leprosy. Jesus commends his faith, as well as his gratitude.
The Second Coming
(17:20) The Pharisees may have been questioning Jesus about the “kingdom of God” to see if they could get him to openly announce himself as the Messiah.
(17:21) This doesn’t refer to Jesus’ future Millennial Reign. This refers to the Church Age. After all, if Jesus the King is there, then the kingdom is also there. For his original audience (i.e. the Pharisees), Jesus wanted them to get on board with his kingdom through the Church Age. Next, he explains what will happen in the Millennial Kingdom.
(17:22) They won’t see it because Jesus will be gone.
(17:23-24) Jesus’ return will not be secret, stealthy, or silent. No one will need to wonder whether or not the King has returned.
(17:25) Before the Second Coming, we need the Cross and the First Coming. Otherwise, no one would be under the forgiveness of Christ when he comes to rule and reign. Everyone would be judged.
(17:26-27) Jesus compares his Second Coming to the destruction of humanity in the Flood. Notice that “all” were judged—not just some people. Some interpreters understand this to refer to the moral depravity of the people in Noah’s day. While it’s true that people were incredibly immoral at this time and they will be at the end of history (2 Tim. 3), this doesn’t seem to be Jesus’ focus here. Jesus simply refers to marriage. The point seems to be that the people were going on with life as usual, and they weren’t aware of the impending judgment.
(17:28-29) The same picture occurs in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19). While it is true that the people of Sodom were evil, Jesus doesn’t focus on this. He merely refers to them eating, drinking, buying, selling, and planting. These aren’t evil acts. Again, this implies that they were carrying on with life, not realizing that judgment was coming.
(17:30) In the same way, at the end of human history, people will be going along with their lives—not realizing that judgment is hanging over their heads at the return of Jesus.
(17:31) This could refer to the Tribulation. When people see the destruction happening, it’s time to run for it!
(17:32) These short words speak volumes! Lot’s wife was escaping, but she still longed for the immorality of Sodom, looking back longingly. Believers should run for it when the Tribulation hits.
(17:33) Those who have a lifestyle of egoism and selfishness won’t be able to resist staying in the middle of destruction. However, those who have given their lives away to others will follow Jesus’ leadership. If they survive, they will make it into the Millennium, likely limping!
(17:34-36) Some believers in the pre-tribuluation rescue of the Church take this to refer to the rapture. However, we respectfully disagree. In context, who is “taken”? The people taken in the Flood were the unbelievers, and the people “taken” Sodom refers to unbelievers. We don’t want to be taken! This refers to judgment—not the rapture.
(17:37) Where are they “taken”? They are taken into judgment where vultures will feed on their dead corpses. This imagery comes up in Revelation as well (Rev. 19:17-18).
(18:1) Elsewhere, Paul writes, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). Bock writes, “The call is to continued prayer, not in the sense of praying at all times, but in praying again and again.”
(18:2) The unrighteous judge was the sort of man that couldn’t be budged by either God’s law or even public opinion.
(18:3) The widow doesn’t have money to bribe the judge. She just has the truth and persistence.
(18:4-7) This is a case of an a fortiori argument. That is, if even an unrighteous judge would listen to the petition, then how much more will God as a righteous judge listen to us?
(18:8) Jesus is referring to the people of the world here. Morris writes, “He is not suggesting that there will be no believers. He is saying that the characteristic of the world’s people at that time will not be faith. People of the world never recognize the ways of God and they will not see his vindication of his elect.”
What is the difference between persistence and “meaningless repetition”?
Persistence in Prayer
|Looks for God’s will||
Looks for my will
Asks God for guidance
|Expects an answer||
Demands an answer
|Mechanical and impersonal|
|Based on God’s goodness||
Based on self-righteousness
This account isn’t just for a dead fraternity of religious Pharisees. If we’re careful readers, we’ll realize it’s about you and me today.
(18:9) Jesus turns again to the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. They “trusted” (peitho) in their own righteousness; that is, they were convinced or persuaded of their own righteousness.
(18:10) Josephus records the Pharisees were “known for surpassing the others in the observances of piety and exact interpretation of the laws” (Jewish War, 1.5.2). They comprised about 6,000 men (Antiquities of the Jews, 16:42). For more on the history of the Pharisees, see our earlier article, “Judaism in Jesus’ Day.”
The Pharisee’s attitude
(18:11-12) This passage fits with our extrabiblical knowledge of legalism in Pharisaic circles:
If there be a thousand, I and my son are among them; if a hundred, I and my son are among them; and if only two, they are I and my son. (Babylonian Talmud Sukkah, 45b).
I give thanks to thee, Lord my God, God of my fathers, that you cast my lot with those who sit in the study hall and the synagogues, and you did not cast my lot with those who sit in the theaters and circuses. For I toil and they toil. I arise early and they arise early. I toil so that I shall inherit [a share of] paradise [in the world to come] and they toil [and shall end up] in a pit of destruction. (Palestinian Talmud Berakhot 7d, 4.2)
Rebbi Yehudah says, “A person is obligated to say [the following] three Berachot (blessings) every day: Blessed are You Hashem, our God, King of the world, for not making me a gentile. Blessed are You Hashem, our God, King of the world, for not making me a woman. Blessed are You Hashem, our God, King of the world, for not making me a boor” (Tosefta Berakhot, 6:23).
Notice a number of the emphases of the Pharisee’s prayer:
First, the Pharisee only mentions God at the beginning of his prayer, but refers to himself (“I”) five times. Morris writes, “The Pharisee came short of congratulating God on the excellence of his servant, but only just. ‘He glances at God, but contemplates himself’ (Plummer). After his opening word he does not refer to God again, but he himself is never out of the picture.”
Second, he doesn’t ask God for anything. He must feel like he has everything that he needs.
Third, he compares himself with others. Specifically, he compares himself with a notorious sinner as his comparison, rather than God.
Fourth, he narrowly defines sin. He doesn’t consider omissive sin, subtle sins, or attitudes of the heart. He only mentions gross external sins.
Fifth, he forgets about loving others. He forgets the greatest commandment! He found it perfectly acceptable to have contempt for others! (v.10) Notice that he attacks the tax collector who is standing right there! How degrading!
Sixth, he creates arbitrary and invented religious laws. The OT Law only commanded fasting once a year—not twice a week! He fasted 100 times more than necessary. Plus, what really is the moral importance of fasting??
Apologetic point: It’s interesting that all man-made religions have some form of legalism like this. All man-made religions have legalism at their core. Even the early Christians fell into legalism quickly. In one very early text we read, “Let your fasts not [take place] with [those of] the wicked. They fast on Monday and Thursday; you, though, should fast on Wednesday and Friday” (Didache, 8:1). How arbitrary!
Meanwhile, the tax collector…
(18:13) The tax collector was a sinner—no doubt about it (see Jewish Encyclopedia article titled “tax-gatherers”):
The (evil) Roman Empire occupied Israel.
Rome encouraged “tax farming,” whereby the highest bidder could collect taxes in each region (Josephus, Antiquities, 12.4; 14.163). The tax collector (publican) would collect a fixed sum, and any additional money went to him.
People were killed for not paying their taxes (Josephus, Antiquities, 12.4).
Rabbis refused accepting the financial giving of the tax collectors in the Temple, because it was considered dirty money or blood money (Jewish Encyclopedia: B. K. x. 1; “Yad,” Gezelah, § 5; Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ, 370, 389).
Tax collectors couldn’t be judges or witnesses in court (Sanhedrin, 25b). Even his family couldn’t perform this function (Sheb. 39a).
Rabbis held that it was okay to make a false vow to tax collectors (Nedarim, 3:4).
Rabbis held that tax collectors were on par with murderers and highway robbers (Nedarim, 3:4; Bava Qamma, 10:2).
Many people can admit that they are a sinner, but repentance needs to go a step further. We need to ask for God’s mercy. Morris writes, “He, too, puts himself in a class of his own, but how differently from the Pharisee!”
On one side of the prayer is “God.” On the other side is “the sinner.” In the middle of the prayer is “be merciful to me” (hilaskomai). This Greek term is used for the “mercy seat” (Heb. 9:5) or “propitiation” (1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10; Rom. 3:25).
(18:14) The term “justified” (dikaioo) means to be legally acquitted or declared righteous. This is a wordplay on verse 9. We can either seek “righteousness” (dikaioi) from self or from being “justified” (dikaioo) from God.
Jesus and children
(18:15-16) What does it mean to be “like a child” or be “such as these” children?
Children are never bashful in coming to their parents. They never refuse gifts. They tell their needs. Mark 10:14 says Jesus was indignant at the disciples refusing the children.
(18:17) The psalmist writes, “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me” (Ps. 131:2). Bock comments, “That Jesus receives children and takes time to bless them in the midst of a pressure-packed ministry is touching and reveals much about his concern for individual people.”
(18:18) This isn’t like saying, “Good morning!” And the person says, “What’s good about it?” No, it’s more like The Princess Bride (“You use that word ‘good,’ but I don’t think it means what you think it means”).
Matthew 19:20, 22 tells us that he is a young man.
We’ve seen this question earlier in Luke (cf. Lk. 10:25ff). Here we see it again.
(18:20-21) Jesus meets this man on his own terms: he gives the requirements of the Law. This man has lowered the standards of the Law. As Rabbi Eliezer asked, ‘Akiba, have I neglected anything of the whole Torah?’ (Sanhedrin 101a). This shows the way in which the rabbis had lowered the standard of the Law.
(18:22) Do we have to sell everything? For one, this isn’t a universal moral imperative: it’s directed at this particular man. Secondly, this is a case of “Plan A” versus “Plan B” theology for salvation. Thirdly, Jesus makes this call for the man’s own benefit. In Mark’s account, he notes that Jesus told him this because “Jesus felt a love for him” (Mk. 10:22). The purpose for giving up materialism is to do good for others (“distribute it to the poor”), gain eternal rewards (“have treasure in heaven”), and better follow Christ (“come, follow Me”). (see comments on Luke 14:33)
(18:23-24) This man thought that he was following God perfectly. The problem is that he was following the “god of money” perfectly. He couldn’t give that up if he was asked.
(18:25) Pastors often claim that Jesus was referring to the “needle’s eye,” which was a little gate that camels had to stoop to get through. William Barclay writes, “It is said that beside the great gate into Jerusalem through which traffic went, there was a little gate just wide and high enough for a man to get through. It is said that that little gate was called the needle’s eye, and that the picture is of a camel trying to struggle through it.” The problem with this interpretation is that it is demonstrably false! No such gate exists. Another scholar writes, “The so-called needle’s eye gate in ancient Palestine has no historical basis, and is purely the concoction of a European expositor several centuries ago.”
(18:26-27) If the rich can’t get to Heaven, who can? Morris writes, “All this represents a reversal of accepted ideas. It was commonly held that riches were a sign of God’s blessing, so that the rich had the best opportunity of getting the good things of the next world as of this.”
(18:28-30) Mark’s account adds “along with persecutions” (Mk. 10:30). Health and wealth preachers never like to add this part to this promise!
God does bless our lives and meets our needs when we put him first (Phil. 4:19).
(18:31-34) They were oblivious to God’s plan (see our earlier article, “Why Did Satan Crucify Jesus?”).
(18:35) Matthew 20:29 states that Jesus was “leaving Jericho” when this happened. Luke states that he was “approaching Jericho.” Which is true? Carson writes, “Many avoid geographical contradiction by noting that in this period there were two Jerichos—an older town on the hill, largely in ruins, and the new Herodian town about one mile away (cf. Josephus, War IV, 459 [viii. 3]). In this view Matthew and Mark, under Jewish influence, mention the old town Jesus was leaving; Luke the Hellenist refers to the new one, which Jesus is entering. This may well be the explanation.”
(18:36-37) He could hear the crowd, and wondered what it was. They told him it was Jesus of Nazareth.
(18:38) Ironically, the blind man can see better than the crowd. He calls him “Son of David” (Messiah), while the others call him “Jesus of Nazareth.”
(18:39) Seeking Christ is rewarded. Who cares what others think? If they want to reject Christ or not seek him, that’s their choice. We each need to make up our own minds and develop our own convictions.
(18:40-43) Christ was willing to heal. This man was rewarded because he simply asked.
(19:1) See comments on Luke 18:35 for Jesus “entering” Jericho.
(19:2) Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector, but a chief tax collector. Remember, these men were despised (see comments above on Luke 18:13 for historical details).
(19:3) Not only was Zacchaeus “small in stature,” but other people were boxing him out from seeing Jesus. This would be like having bad seats at a concert. But Zacchaeus didn’t let his “shortcoming” stop him. He was tired of being “belittled” and “overlooked.” He was a tax collector, and he was tired of “stooping so low.” He was also tired of being “looked down on.” (Yes, these are all really bad puns!)
(19:4) Zacchaeus was so ambitious that he climbed up the tree to see Jesus.
(19:5-6) Zacchaeus never expected this! He can hardly believe it, scampering down the tree.
(19:7) Why are the people grumbling? The crowd loved Jesus’ miracles, but didn’t like his friends.
(19:8) Zacchaeus’ giving exceeded the law, which only called for 20% restitution (Lev. 6:5; Num. 5:7). He gave 400% instead!
(19:9-10) Jesus “breaks the fourth wall” here. This is a lesson for all of us. Christ wants to come into your life.
Rich young ruler: His legalism, self-righteousness, and materialism brought him sadness.
Zacchaeus: His licentiousness and materialism were bad, and likely worse than the rich young ruler. However, he understood that he needed Jesus. Grace brings joy and excitement—not licentiousness. Maybe you don’t understand why Zacchaeus would be so generous. That’s probably because you haven’t met Christ. Zacchaeus didn’t let anything stand in his way.
Christ didn’t just want to come into Zacchaeus’ house for dinner, but yours too (Rev. 3:20).
Self-righteous people want to keep people from Christ.
Jesus is still in Jericho—about 17 miles from Jerusalem.
(19:11) As Jesus was finishing up with Zacchaeus, another parable came to mind. Jesus was bringing a totally different kind of kingdom.
(19:12) He was going out to receive a kingdom.
(19:13) A “mina” was approximately worth 100 drachmas (or 100 days’ pay for a laborer).
The king only addresses three of the ten servants.
In a similar account, Matthew writes that the master “entrusted his possessions to them” (Mt. 25:14). What has been entrusted to us as believers? Everything!
- Physical beauty or strength
- Spiritual gifts
Some people are entrusted with more (10, 5, or 1), but some have less.
God only expects what he’s given to me—nothing more and nothing less. There is no reason to be jealous of the man with 10 minas, nor to scorn the man with only 1 mina.
This parable refutes the idea: “I’ll come back to this when I’m older.”
(19:14) Jesus tells this parable. He is the King would be rejected.
(19:15) In Matthew, the master “settled accounts with them” (Mt. 25:19).
(19:16) They didn’t take credit for the money which was borne. They call it “your mina.” They were stewards of the money—not owners.
(19:17) He says that this is a very little thing.
(19:18-19) This second man brought in a 500% return on the money. So, the King rewards him according to how he bore fruit.
(19:20) This is the worst security deposit EVER! Even putting it in your mattress would be better.
(19:21) “Take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.” These are “proverbial expressions for making gain through other people’s efforts.” This sounds less like a defense, and more like an accusation! He’s challenging his character, and saying he’s a thief and the money doesn’t belong to him in the first place. He’s trying to blame-shift onto the King. Liefeld writes, “In his case conservatism was born of fear and was wrong.”
(19:22) The man is judged by his own words. This is the fairest form of prosecuting a person.
(19:23) This shows that the third servant’s excuse was an irrational smoke-screen. He was too lazy to even put it in the bank. What was wrong with what this man did? He did nothing! Apathy and omission are serious sins before God.
(19:24) The guy who made a 1,000% return on the mina gets more money.
(19:25) This doesn’t seem fair. But why not give to the man who was the most faithful?
(19:26) Our window of opportunity will soon be over. God has plenty of rewards to give out. If we don’t receive the reward, he will give it to someone else. Liefeld writes, “Whether a person has little or much depends on his use of opportunities to increase what he already has.”
(19:27) The severity of judgment is related to their sin and violence in verse 14 (“his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us’”).
They were trying to seize him (Jn. 11:57). Our natural human tendency is to think there’s a political solution to our problems. Jesus sees a deeper spiritual problem to the human condition.
(19:28-29) Jesus didn’t just stumble into Jerusalem. He planned his entrance carefully. Up until this point, he was keeping his identity secret to some extent. Here he is plotting his big reveal.
(19:30-31) Jesus chose a young donkey to be his “stallion.” His feet would’ve been dragging on the ground as he rode this animal into the city. This is why Darrel Bock refers to this as Jesus’ “untriumphal entry.”
(19:32-34) The owner of the colt didn’t stop the disciples from taking the animal. Once he heard the reason, he freely let them take the animal. This isn’t stealing, as some skeptics have claimed. For one, Jesus likely returned the animal. Second, the animal wasn’t being used. In fact, no one had ever sat on it. And third, since everything belongs to God (Ps. 24:1), Jesus technically owned this donkey in the first place!
(19:35-36) By putting their coats on the ground, this was showing that they believed Jesus was the King (cf. 2 Kin. 9:13). John adds that they were laying palm branches as well.
(19:37-38) The people recognized him as the messianic King because of his three year ministry of miracles. This all fulfilled Zechariah 9:9.
(19:39-40) The Pharisees were expecting Jesus to deny this claim. But since Jesus was the true King, he accepted it. His reference to the “stones crying out” could be a “proverbial saying.” (cf. Hab. 2:11)
(19:41) The word “wept” can be rendered “wailed.” Jesus burst into tears. He knew all of the pageantry was just a fleeting emotional response, but not a deep conviction of who he was.
(19:42-44) Jesus also knew that the city would be conquered. He knew the future, and it made him filled with emotion. Morris writes, “Josephus tells us that when the Romans besieged Jerusalem they set up siege works (Bellum v.262, 264). There must have been a good deal of timber in them, for the Jews destroyed them with fire (Bellum v.469ff.; the Romans replaced them with a wall).”
“You did not recognize the time of your visitation.” The “time” could refer to a general sense of time, or it could refer to the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-26.
(19:45-48) Jesus cleanses the Temple because of the rank profiteering of the religious leaders.
Up until this point, Jesus hasn’t directly confronted the religious leaders. He will debate from time to time, but he won’t reveal his character. At this point in the account, the “gloves are coming off” and Jesus directly confronts the false religion of his day.
To properly understand this confrontation in chapter 20, it’s important to see the context at the end of chapter 19. Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple was not good for business. This would be like shutting off the power at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. They wanted to dispense of him, but they couldn’t because he was so well liked.
The Jewish people couldn’t exercise capital punishment. They could beat and imprison people, but not put them to death. They needed their Roman rulers to do this. So all of Luke 20 demonstrates how the leaders were seeking to find grounds for having Jesus put to death by the Romans. The greatest minds in Jerusalem prepared all of their top questions to grill Jesus—center stage in the Temple.
The question of authority (vv.1-8)
(20:1) Jesus’ enemies were plotting to kill him, while he was speaking about “good news.” This isn’t the complete doctrine of justification by grace through faith—something that won’t be accomplished until the Cross. Instead, Jesus was preaching about good news. Bock writes, “Euanggelizomenou (preaching) has no object, so ‘the gospel,’ ‘the kingdom,’ or a similar idea must be supplied.”
Notice who comes to confront him: the religious leaders (“the chief priests and the scribes with the elders”). It’s about to go down!
(20:2) What gives Jesus the right to cleanse the Temple, handle the Law, and perform miracles?
(20:3) He answers their question with a question—a common practice of Jesus.
(20:4) Was John the Baptist from God—or was he a false teacher? Because John the Baptist pointed to Jesus (Lk. 3:16), Jesus’ authority is wrapped up with John’s authority. They can both reject John and reject Jesus, or they can accept John and accept Jesus.
(20:5-6) They don’t seem to care about truth, but rather, the pragmatic consequences. Morris writes, “They concentrate on the effects, not the truth of the possible answers.”
(20:7) They feared death, so they wouldn’t tell the truth. Jesus told the truth and was later killed. Bock comments, “Sometimes agnosticism is really an evasion of the truth.”
(20:8) Jesus’ answer was silence. If we aren’t truly seeking him, he won’t give any information.
McCallum compares this attitude to a court jester in medieval times. Court jesters were usually smarmy people who would do tricks for the royalty to laugh at. God is not our court jester! We can’t demand for him to perform for us the miracles that we want. We need to seek out the evidence that he has given to us.
We don’t always know what’s in someone’s heart. So it’s probably safer to give people information if we’re not sure if they’re seeking. What are signs that a person is really seeking versus pseudo-seeking?
Evil vineyard workers (vv.9-20)
(20:9) Apparently, the “people” or general population were present to hear this debate. Mark’s account (Mk. 12) is longer. Matthew and Mark add that the owner planted the vineyard, created a hedge, dug the winepress, and built a tower.
(20:10-12) The workers obviously didn’t think that the owner deserved anything from their winepress. Mark 12:5 adds that they even killed some of these men (“beating some and killing others”).
(20:13) Jesus was referred to as the “beloved Son” earlier in Luke (3:22; 9:35).
(20:14-15) This Owner (God) gave them this beautiful vineyard to work in and gain a sustenance from (see Isa. 5). Are they grateful? No! Instead they want to kill the Owner’s son. This shows the insanity of sin.
The Owner (God) wasn’t a weakling. He was patient (2 Pet. 3:9). His motivation was one of love. But there is a limit—eventually he is going to come and judge.
(20:16) The people agree with the parable’s message. Now Jesus makes the parable personal by quoting Scripture: Psalm 118.
(20:17-18) Why does Jesus cite Psalm 118:22? This is a messianic psalm (Lk. 13:35; 19:38). It shows that the people could actually reject the “stone” that God has chosen.
If the stone falls on the pot, the pot will break. If the pot falls on the stone, the pot will break. Either way, this situation won’t end well for that pot!
God loves us—that’s why he wants to lead us (Mt. 11:29-30). Our problem is that we refuse his leadership.
God could be trying to reach us—reach you—but we are too stubborn to accept his efforts.
Question of Caesar’s authority (vv.19-26)
(20:19) These leaders were wildly angry with Jesus: “Who gave him the authority to tell us what God would or wouldn’t do?!” People still hold this animosity today.
(20:20) The religious leaders send some flatterers in order to trap Jesus. Notice all of their flattery at the beginning (to drop Jesus’ guard?). In reality, they spring a hot-button issue of politics. The historical background behind the poll tax is helpful.
Josephus: “Under his administration it was that a certain Galilean, whose name was Judas, prevailed with his countrymen to revolt; and said they were cowards if they would endure to pay a tax to the Romans, and would, after God, submit to mortal men as their lords. This man was a teacher of a peculiar sect of his own, and was not at all like the rest of those their leaders” (Josephus, Jewish War, 2.8.118).
Josephus: “[Judas and Sadduc] became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty” (Josephus, Antiquities, 18.1.4).
Josephus: “The sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemy’s fire” (Josephus, Antiquities, 18.1.8).
This might be similar to asking, “Who would you say we should vote for in the Presidential election?” Pharisees and Herodians were both present and both took different views on the poll tax (cf. Mk. 12:13).
What would the Herodians want? These were later called the “zealot” party after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. They supported Herod’s family in power. They were also violent. They would blend in with the crowds and stab Roman-sympathizers with sicae (i.e. daggers) and then disappear into the crowds. They were similar to the assassins in the Irish revolutionary film Michael Collins. Bruce writes, “Under every form of torture, none of the sicarii [zealot assassins] who were taken captive, whether young or old, could be compelled to acknowledge Caesar as lord.” Bock writes, “The Herodians favored a solution that let Rome have a mediated presence through the house of Herod.”
What would the Pharisees want? Bock writes, “Preferring that Rome not be present at all, the Pharisees would have opposed the tax.”
Remember, the Jewish people didn’t have authority to enact capital punishment, so they are hoping to get the Romans on their side. They later lie about Jesus’ answer (Lk. 23:2).
(20:19-21) They are buttering him up for a blunt and binary question in order to trap him.
(20:22) These Roman taxes were severe. Liefeld writes, “These totaled over one-third of a person’s income and included a poll tax, customs, and various indirect taxes.”
(20:23) Jesus discerned their motives in asking this. Their question wasn’t an academic question about taxes. It was a trap.
(20:24) Bock writes, “The inscription on a silver Tiberian denarius reads, ‘Tiberius Caesar, Augustus, son of divine Augustus.’ On the reverse side his mother Livia is portrayed as an incarnation of the goddess of peace, along with the inscription ‘high priest.’” These hypocrites used this image for trade all day and every day.
(20:25) In this situation, Jesus doesn’t answer either/or. He answers both/and. He doesn’t address the question of what to do when the authority of God and the State contradict—though other passages surely do (see “Prioritized Ethics”).
(20:26) What should be rendered to God? Everything! You should give your taxes to the government, but you should give your whole life to God.
Question of marriage in the resurrection (vv.27-38)
The Sadducees only accepted the Torah, and they rejected the resurrection of the dead, so they attack Jesus on this topic.
(20:27) The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they tried an argument ad absurdum to show that Jesus’ view was ridiculous.
(20:28-33) They cite the example of levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5ff) to show that it’s ridiculous for the resurrection to be true if a woman could be married to seven different men. If you were the seventh brother, you might be a little worried marrying this woman!
(20:34-36) Jesus hinges his argument on the fact that the afterlife is not like this life. For one, death will not exist. Secondly, marriage will not exist.
(20:37-38) Jesus chooses to cite from a passage that they would consider inspired Scripture: Exodus 3:6. If the patriarchs are dead, then so are God’s promises to them. Notice that Jesus not only used grammatical-historical hermeneutics (hinging his argument on the verb tense of a word), but he also believed in verbal plenary inspiration (hinging his argument on the verb tense of a word).
(20:39-40) The scribes (who affirmed the resurrection) said, “Good point!” They liked seeing the Sadducees shut up for once. The scribes also didn’t know what else to say (v.40). So much for the emergent claim that debate and argument are modernistic or irrelevant! Jesus used both effectively.
This shows that Jesus would contextualize based on his audience (citing the Torah for the Sadducees instead of Daniel 12:2 for example).
Jesus goes on the offensive: He gives a argument for his authority in Psalm 110 (vv.41-44)
(20:41-44) He cites from Psalm 110. Bock comments, “Jesus’ point is simple enough: how is it that David can call a son, a descendant, by the title Lord? This is a significant act in a patriarchal society, where a son is under his father. The answer is not a denial of Davidic sonship, but rather an implication that Messiah as David’s Lord transcends him. It recognizes the key authority that is ascribed to the Davidic heir—an authority that David acknowledges. So the key title to be associated with this important figure is Lord, not son of David.”
For further exegesis of this prophecy, see comments on Matthew 22:41-46.
Final rebuke to the religious leaders (vv.45-47)
(20:45-47) Jesus squared off and defeated the greatest minds in all of Israel. Now that their intellectual arguments have been defeated, their moral and spiritual issues really emerge. This is an abbreviated rebuke of the one we see in Matthew 23, which also occurs right before the Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24; Lk. 21).
(21:1) Thirteen trumpet-shaped bowls sat outside the Temple. These collected the offerings of the people. Jesus is watching what the “rich” were putting into the collection.
(21:2) This old widow was “poor” (penichros) which means “very poor” (TDNT). She puts two copper coins (lepta) into the collection. Bock writes, “Lepta were small copper coins, the smallest currency available, whose value was one-eighth of a penny.”
(21:3-4) This is a good passage for those of us who claim we’re poor and don’t have anything to give. If we put our “two fish and five loaves” in the hands of God, he can do amazing things with them. He also rewards us based on what we have.
Jesus isn’t putting the others down. He’s lifting the widow up. She stands in contrast to the Pharisees who “devour widows’ houses” (Lk. 20:47).
(21:5) Josephus describes the Temple as made out of white marble stones, and covered with gold.
Josephus: “Now the outward face of the temple in its front wanted nothing that was likely to surprise either men’s minds or their eyes, for it was covered all over the plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendor, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays. (223) But this temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow; for, as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceeding white” (Josephus, Jewish War, 5.222-223).
The stones were 40 feet long, 18 feet deep, and 12 feet tall (Josephus, Antiquities, 15:392). Tacitus called it “immensely opulent” (History, 5.8). The Talmud records, “He who has not seen the Temple of Herod has not seen a beautiful thing” (Baba Bathra, 4a).
(21:6) Critics say this must post-date AD 70 (because Jesus couldn’t possibly predict the future). But if this is an ex eventu (“after the fact”) prophecy, it’s odd that the NT never records the fulfillment of this event. Specifically, Luke would have recorded it in Acts, but he is silent about it. Also, if it’s truly ex eventu, then why isn’t there more detail? Josephus recorded,
“It was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came [near] believe it had ever been inhabited” (Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 7:1:1).
(21:7) Luke’s account seems to focus on the Fall of Jerusalem (at least until v.25).
(21:8) Notably, Jesus opens this discussion with the warning that many teachers will try to highjack Jesus’ teaching. Don’t get swept up by their mania! False teachers were rampant before the fall of Jerusalem:
(1) A false prophet led the Samaritan Jews to rise up in rebellion. Their leader “was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence” (Josephus, Antiquities, 18.85). He led the Samaritans up to Mount Gerazim, promising the sacred vessels from Moses. They showed up armed, but Pilate had them murdered (18.86-87).
(2) Theudas (a false prophet) claimed he could separate the Jordan River. As a result, Josephus records “many were deluded by his words” (Josephus, Antiquities, 20.98). The procurator Fadus had them all killed or captured. Fadus had Theudas beheaded (20.99).
(3) A false prophet from Egypt convinced the common people that he could bring down the walls of Jerusalem. He even predicted this from the Mount of Olives (the same place Jesus made his predictions!). Felix had 400 killed and 200 taken alive. The Egyptian prophet escaped, but the civil unrest resulted in villages and houses being burned to the ground (Josephus, Antiquities, 20.169-172).
(4) During the time of the Jewish War, a false prophet convinced the people to go to the Temple to see miraculous signs. He said these things so the people wouldn’t desert the fight (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6.285-288).
(5) Jesus (son of Ananus) shouted to the city for seven years, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” He was whipped and beaten, but this didn’t stop his message of doom. He issued this warning until the first stone flew over the barricades from the Roman catapult, killing him (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6.300-309).
(21:9-10) The Jewish War lasted from AD 66-70. This could be in view here.
(21:11) Josephus said that a star (a comet?) stood over Jerusalem for a full year during its destruction (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6.289). Tacitus writes that celestial signs accompanied the destruction of the Temple:
“There had been seen hosts joining battle in the skies, the fiery gleam of arms, the temple illuminated by a sudden radiance from the clouds. The doors of the inner shrine were suddenly thrown open, and a voice of more than mortal tone was heard to cry that the Gods were departing” (Tacitus, History, 5.13).
(21:12-13) “Before” all of these events, the disciples would face persecution. We see these events coming to fruition in the book of Acts (Acts 8:3; 12:4; 21:11; 22:4; 27:1; 28:17). The disciples stood before rulers on trial (Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:1; 18:12; 21:27; 24:1-2; 25:8; 26:1).
(21:14-15) They don’t need to worry, because God will give them the words that they need to say. The opponents won’t be able to refute their testimony.
(21:16) The disciples will face persecution—even from friends and family. Sean McDowell’s PhD dissertation (The Fate of the Apostles, 2016) assesses the historical plausibility of the disciples’ deaths.
(21:17) This must be a case of hyperbolic language.
(21:18-19) Martyrdom is possible (see v.16), which would seem to preclude a literal reading here. Does it refer to protection from going to hell (cf. Lk. 12:4-7)? Why the emphasis on not a single hair being hurt? It could be that if the disciples follow Jesus’ orders in the subsequent verses, then they will be rescued from the Jewish War (vv.20-24).
(21:20) Luke focuses on the short-term fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, whereas Matthew and Mark focus on the long-term fulfillment at the end of history.
Josephus states that 1.1 million were killed, and 200,000 taken captive (Josephus, Jewish War, 6.5.271-73; 6.9.420; 7.5.118; 7.5.138; 7.5.154). The siege was so horrific children were cooked for food (Josephus, Jewish War, 6.3.201-213).
(21:21) The early Christians fled Jerusalem—just as Jesus commanded.
Epiphanius (church historian—late fourth century AD): “The Nazoraean sect exists in Beroea… Pella, and in Bashan… That is where the sect began, when all the disciples were living in Pella after they moved from Jerusalem, since Christ told them to leave Jerusalem and withdraw because it was about to be besieged” (Epiphanius, Panarion 29:7:7-8).
Eusebius (church historian—early 4th century AD): “But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella” (Eusebius, History of the Church, 3.5.3).
(21:22) Unfaithfulness to the covenant brings judgment (Deut. 28; Lev. 26).
(21:23) The term “earth” (ge, ESV, NET) can be translated as “land” in this passage (NASB, NIV, NLT). The context for Luke is local persecution. Of course, this is a foreshadowing (a type) of the final destruction, emphasized by Matthew and Mark.
(21:24) This implicitly predicts the regathering of Israel, because Jesus says the city will be trampled “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
As we’ve argued so far, up until this point, Jesus is predicting the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Luke fails to mention three key components to Jesus’ sermon in Matthew: (1) no human would’ve survived these days unless God cut them short, (2) this was the greatest tribulation the world had ever seen or will see, and (3) the abomination of desolation would occur—only mentioning “its desolation.” Predictions about Jerusalem’s first destruction by the Babylonians (6th century BC) are similar to her second destruction by the Romans (1st century AD). But these are not the same events. Instead, the fulfillment of the one offers confidence that the second will be fulfilled later in history.
Up until this point, the focus has been on the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70. Here, there is a gap between verses 24 and 25. After the nation of Israel is regathered, events will take place at the end of human history.
(21:25) The end of human history will be a poor time to be without the security of Christ. The focus here is on the “nations,” not believers. People without Christ will be experiencing:
“Anguish” (synochē) means “a state of distress that involves a high degree of anxiety, distress, dismay, anguish” (BDAG).
“Perplexity” (aporia) refers to “being at a loss over a circumstance.” Picture how people felt after the most recent flood or tsunami or pandemic.
(21:26) People will be seeing where the world is heading, and the result will be an unbridled and crippling fear. The skies themselves will shake.
(21:27) This is an allusion to Daniel 7:13-14.
(21:28) We can contrast those without Christ (anguish, perplexity, fear) with those who know Christ (straighten up, lift up your heads). While the world will be fainting to the floor, the believer can look up with their heads held high with hope and anticipation. Skeptics often accuse Christians of being “alarmists” regarding eschatology. While we believe there is reason for alarm, we are not alarmists. We have the security that everything is going to be okay. The King is coming back!
Matthew says that the angels will gather all remaining believers at this time (Mt. 24:31).
Parable of the fig tree
(21:29-31) We’re supposed to be able to recognize the signs of the times. When we see these things, we should know that Jesus’ return is near.
(21:33) Jesus emphasizes that this teaching is a reality.
(21:34) Is eschatology a meaningless subject? Not at all. Jesus teaches that reflecting on the future should change us in the present.
“Weighted down” (bareō) refers to having “insensitive hearts.”
“Dissipation and drunkenness” is an “allusion is to living in excessive attraction to an intoxicating, sinful world.” For those in this state, Jesus’ return will feel “sudden” (cf. Lk. 12:45-46).
(21:35) This is a universal language that is dissimilar to the earlier, local account of Jerusalem’s destruction.
(21:36) No matter which generation we’re in, we should all be watching for Jesus’ return. The early Christians lived as though Jesus could return at any time, but not that he would return in their life times.
This teaching about the return of Christ should drive us to prayer. Specifically, we’re supposed to pray for the courage and strength to make it through this period of history.
(21:37-38) People were attracted to Jesus. Once they got a taste of his teaching in the Temple, they would get up early just to hear him.
(22:1) Technically, the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” was different from the Passover (Num. 28:16ff), but they occurred simultaneously. So, most people associate the two together.
(22:2) In what way were the religious leaders “afraid of the people”? It could be afraid in the sense of losing their following. It could also be in the sense of being afraid that the people would turn on them.
(22:3-6) Satan twice enters Judas—both here and in John 13:27. Satan entered him in order to get him to kill Jesus. If you remember, the last time Satan was active in the narrative was in Luke 4:13 (cf. Lk. 10:18; 11:18; 13:16). There we read, “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time” (Lk. 4:13). This is the that “opportune time.” We see the same language in John 13:27.
Being in close proximity to Jesus or his followers doesn’t make you a Christian.
They “discussed” (stratēgoi) how to betray Christ (v.4). Remember, they might have been scared of Jesus, because he was a miracle worker (Jn. 18:6).
Matthew 26:15 states that Judas went asking for compensation and money. Matthew specifies the 30 pieces of silver. The religious leaders literally “rejoiced.”
(22:7) “Lamb” is not in the Greek text, but rather, it is inferred by the translators. They could have sacrificed a young goat at this time. If the Synoptics and John are using different calendars, then this would harmonize the differences between the two.
(22:8-9) They didn’t know where the lamb was because they were from out of town (i.e. Galilee).
(22:10-13) Jesus sends Peter and John to set up the Passover. Jesus makes a short term prediction that comes to fruition “just as he had told them.” He had recently made a similar short term prediction about the young colt that had been fulfilled (Lk. 19:30ff).
(22:14) In ancient Israel, the people would recline at the dinner table with their faces near the table and their (smelly) feet pointed away.
(22:15) “Earnestly” (epithumia) refers to an “over desire.” Jesus couldn’t wait for this meal, because it also looks forward to a future meal—after the Cross in the kingdom (v.18). This passage shows that the Passover meal is in view—not just a generic meal.
What must Jesus have felt at this moment? As he is looking at this sacrificed animal, was he thinking, “This is going to be me in a little while…” John tells us that love for his disciples filled his heart at this moment (Jn. 13:1).
(22:16) This is a good passage to support Dispensational theology regarding the reforming of Israel in the Millennium. After all, Jesus says that they will “eat” the Passover in the kingdom. This means that commemorative sacrifices will continue in the Millennium (cf. Ezek. 40-48). We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper “until” Jesus returns (1 Cor. 11:26).
(22:17) The term “given thanks” (eucharisteō) is where we get the term “Eucharist.” Paul picks up on this concept of “sharing” when he explains the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
(22:18) This must mean that the Mormon doctrine of Jesus travelling to the Native Americans to celebrate communion is false. He says that he won’t drink wine again until the kingdom.
(22:21-23) Judas was so clever and charming that the disciples were more likely to indict themselves, rather than accusing Judas. In Matthew’s account, we read, “Surely not I, Lord?” (Mt. 26:22). John records that the disciples were “at a loss to know of which one He was speaking” (Jn. 13:22). They were more likely to indicate themselves than Judas.The term “determined” (horismenon) can mean (1) to set limits to, define, explain or (2) to make a determination about an entity, determine, appoint, fix, set (BDAG).
The genitive means that he is in the process of betraying him. Even as Judas was in the process of betraying him, Jesus chose to wash his feet (Jn. 13). None of this is a surprise for Jesus (Lk. 9:22).
(22:24) This is surely the worst time to start arguing about who is the greatest. Perhaps they were so troubled about being the one who would betray Jesus that they started to one up each other.
(22:25-27) This is a good case of interlocking between the gospels, because John mentions that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet at this time.
(22:28-30) Again (see v.16), the kingdom would be related to Israel in some way.
What was the final teaching that Judas heard from Jesus? What was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for Judas? What was the final thought that convinced him, “I can’t follow Christ anymore”? It was Jesus’ teaching on self-giving love and servant leadership. Judas was finally coming to the realization that he couldn’t get anything out of following Christ.
John records that Jesus washed the disciple’s feet at this time (Jn. 13:4-5). Were the disciples bickering over their greatness, only to discover Jesus quietly taking the basin and rag and washing their feet?
John’s Account (Jn. 13)
Luke’s Account (Lk. 22)
|The devil had “already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray him” (v.2).
This must be before the Last Supper.
“Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them” (vv.3-4).
This must be before the Last Supper.
Jesus eats the Passover (v.2)
|Jesus eats the Passover (vv.7-20)|
|“During supper…” Jesus washes the disciples feet (vv.2-12)||
Since John doesn’t tell us when he washed the disciples’ feet, we don’t know when this occurs in Luke. It could’ve been before or after they were arguing over who was the greatest (vv.24-30)
States that the Scriptures predicted his betrayal and death (vv.18-19).
Announces that one of them will betray him (v.21).
|Announces that one of them will betray him (v.21). This has been “determined” (v.22) by Scripture.|
|The disciples are shocked and ask who it is (vv.22-25)||
The disciples are shocked and discuss who it is (v.23)
The disciples argue over who is the greatest, and Jesus teaches against this (vv.24-30)
Announces that it’s the one whom he gives the dipped bread to (v.26)
Satan enters Judas (v.27)
|Disciples are still confused (vv.28-29)||
Judas leaves to betray Jesus
Peter promises he will lay down his life for Jesus (v.37)
|Peter promises to face death or imprisonment for Jesus (v.33)|
|Jesus predicts Peter’s betrayal (v.38)||
Jesus predicts Peter’s betrayal (v.34)
(22:31-32) This first “you” is plural, referring to all of the disciples. The second “you” is singular (v.32). Jesus allowed Peter to fall, but he prayed for him to be strengthened afterwards. This could be similar to our experience. When we fall, we need to turn to Jesus to be strengthened again.
(22:33-34) Peter apparently didn’t grasp what Jesus had said. He was filled with self-effort and willpower. Jesus needed to break this in Peter before he could become a good leader.
Ironically, Peter does end up going to prison (Acts 5:19; 12:3ff) and death for Jesus. But before he is able to do this, Jesus has to break Peter’s pride and self-will. This courage doesn’t come from himself. Peter needs to learn that all courage comes from Christ.
Mark states that Peter will deny Jesus three times “before a rooster crows twice” (Mk. 14:30).
(22:35) This “you” is plural again, which means Jesus is addressing the disciples (cf. Lk. 9:3; 10:4).
(22:36) Why does Jesus tell his disciples to buy a “sword”? This doesn’t refer to a sword used by soldiers. This type of sword was called a rhomphaia (see Rev. 2:16; 6:8). Instead, Jesus uses the word machaira, which was “a relatively short sword or other sharp instrument, sword, dagger” (BDAG). The fact that Jesus lists this along with other benign items (e.g. money belt, bag, coat) indicates that this is not some sort of sword used for warfare. In our estimation, this was given for the purpose of self-defense—certainly not for waging war.
(22:37) Jesus claims to fulfill Isaiah 53:12.
(22:38) It possible to understand Jesus as saying, “Enough of this kind of talk!” This would mean that one sword was sufficient. Bock writes that this could be “a Semitic expression that means he is dismissing the topic.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “I’ve heard enough of that.”
It’s also possible that Jesus was simply saying that two swords was “enough” or sufficient. Either way, Jesus wasn’t telling them to build an armory of weapons.
(22:39-40) Luke doesn’t specifically mention Gethsemane (Mt. 26:36; Mk. 14:32).
Jesus told them to pray not to fall into temptation. Even on the worst night of his existence, Jesus was still looking outward in love for his disciples. He was concerned about their spiritual lives, and urged them to pray. He knew that this night would be difficult for them as well.
Remember, Satan wants to sift the disciples like wheat (v.31). So Jesus tells them to pray for this temptation. We need to pray for our people like Jesus did, but we also need to encourage them to pray for themselves. The disciples didn’t pray, so they did fall into temptation. He tells them this twice (v.46). The disciples eventually learn this important lesson (Acts 4:24-31).
(22:41-42) Jesus’ petition (“remove this cup from me”) is sandwiched between submitting to God’s will (“If you are willing… yet not my will…”). Jesus needed to pray through this coming suffer. How much more do we need to turn to prayer during such times!
Jesus prepared his mind to suffer for the Cross (1 Pet. 4:1). The battle was won before the Cross in prayer and trusting in God’s sovereignty.
The “cup” refers to God’s wrath (Ps. 11:6; 75:8-9; Isa. 51:17, 19, 22; Jer. 25:15-16; 49:12; 51:57; Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 23:31-34; Hab. 2:16; Zech. 12:2).
(22:43) God the Father responded to Jesus by strengthening him with an angelic messenger. Did he give words of encouragement? Compassion? The text doesn’t say—being surprisingly terse.
(22:44) Jesus was in “agony” thinking about what was to come. Jesus wasn’t just going to face torture and execution. He was going to face the judgment of God himself. He is realizing just how horrific this will be.
The text does not say that Jesus sweat blood. It uses the language of simile (“like drops of blood”). This refers to the sweat streaming down Jesus’ face. He was filled with terror at what was going to come.
(22:45-46) On the worst night of his life, the disciples couldn’t stay awake. They needed to be doing what Jesus was doing—namely, praying. Their suffering was far less than his, but they needed prayer all the same.
Why did Judas betray Jesus? First, he was greedy (Mt. 26:14-15; Jn. 12:6). Second, he could see that following Jesus was about servant love—not authority (Jn. 13). He took his opportunity to “cash out” and cut his losses when he realized that following Jesus wouldn’t get him anywhere.
(22:47-48) Judas was so sneaky that he used a “kiss” as the sign of marking out Jesus. This was supposed to be a sign of affection, but Judas used it as a sign of betrayal. Even Jesus’ reaction seems shocked at such hypocrisy (v.48). This was Judas’ way of covering his tracks, making it look like he wasn’t responsible. He’s pretending to get ambushed.
It was dark, so it would’ve been difficult for the soldiers and religious leaders to see Jesus in the light from their torches. John records that they brought an entire Roman cohort (Jn. 18:3), which was “a tenth of a legion, or about six hundred men.”
Why 600 men for one Jewish rabbi? Temple police tried to apprehend Jesus before, and they failed (Jn. 7:32, 45-47). There might have been a “crowd” which was separate from the cohort (Mt. 26:47; Mk. 14:43). Thus they may have been worried about a riot ensuing. Or, finally, they might have been afraid of Jesus, because he was a miracle worker (Jn. 18:6).
(22:49-50) Before Jesus could answer this question, “one of them” struck the high priest’s slave in the ear. John tells us that this was Peter who struck the slave (Jn. 18:10). Peter had the “Ready, FIRE, aim!” attitude.
The “mighty Peter” made a stand for Christ! He gathered all of his courage to defend Jesus, and all he could do was sloppily swing his sword at a slave. He didn’t even decapitate the man; he only wounded his ear! Clearly Peter was not cut out for fighting, and should have stuck to fishing.
(22:51) Jesus healed the slave named Malchus. Jesus didn’t want any violence, and even if he did, he didn’t need Peter to lead it!
(22:52-53) Jesus points out the hypocrisy in the fact that the religious leaders needed to come at night. Clearly, it was because they were “afraid of the people” (Lk. 22:2).
Is Luke seeing a symbolic action that this happens at night? (Col. 1:13; Eph. 6:12)
(22:54-55) So far, Peter has tried to defend Jesus, as he promised (Lk. 22:33). Instead of defending Jesus, he just hacks the ear off of a slave (rather than fighting the 600 man cohort!), and Jesus rebuked him for this.
Now he’s following Jesus back to the high priest’s house. Will he help Christ escape or lay his life down for Jesus? Peter wanted to see “the outcome” (Mt. 26:58). Peter had committed to die for Jesus in front of his fellow disciples (Lk. 22:33), but will he do so in the public square? Who will be the intimidating person he needs to stand up to?
Denial #1. To a slave girl (“You were WITH him”)
(22:56-57) The text doesn’t even say that she was a big girl or a muscular girl—merely a little slave girl! Again, the “mighty Peter” couldn’t hold his own under the scrutiny of a little girl.
Remember, it’s night time, and they can only see each other by the dim light of the fire. So she is “looking intently” (atenizō) at him or “staring.” She announces her suspicion to the courtyard: “He was with him!”
“I do not know Him…” Bock writes, “The phrase is like the Jewish ban formulas used against those dismissed from the synagogue.” It might be like saying, “We no longer know you” or perhaps “You’re dead to me.”
Denial #2. To a man (“You are ONE OF THEM”)
(22:58) Matthew and Mark record that Peter got up from the fire and went to the porch (Mk. 14:68) or the gateway (Mt. 26:71). In his second denial, he rejects his fellowship with the disciples of Jesus: “I’m not one of those people!”
Denial #3. To a man (“This man also was WITH him”)
(22:59) An hour goes by… Peter’s accent gave him away (Mt. 26:73). One of the relatives of Malchus (the slave whom Peter attacked) spots him (Jn. 18:26). Peter also got himself into trouble because of cutting off the ear of his friend.
Matthew records that Peter invokes a curse on Jesus, swearing before God that he doesn’t know him (Mt. 26:74).
(22:60) Before Peter could finish the sentence, the staccato shrill of the rooster pierced the air. If you’ve ever heard a rooster crow, it is startling. This must have sent a shiver down Peter’s spine.
(22:61) Peter was so self-absorbed with defending against their claims that he didn’t notice that they were transporting Jesus across the courtyard. Jesus said nothing—only looking at Peter. Morris writes, “We do not know where Jesus was at this moment. He may have been in a gallery overlooking the courtyard, or in a room looking out on to it, or even in it, perhaps passing through on his way from Annas to Caiaphas. At any rate he was in some place from where he could see Peter and he turned and looked at him.”
(22:62) This was an all-time low for Peter, and a definitive moment in his life. This term for “wept bitterly” is often used of weeping over the dead (Lk. 8:52; Jn. 11:31, 33). So this is probably an uncontrollable sobbing.
This whole time, Jesus predicted Peter’s failure, but he also predicted his repentance and restoration (Lk. 22:32). Our sin isn’t a surprise to God. The question is: what will we do when we fall into sin?
(22:63-65) The soldiers began mocking and beating Jesus. They knew that he claimed to be a prophet. By beating him blindfolded, they were asking him to say who hit him, if he was indeed a prophet.
The Kangaroo Court
(22:66) The religious leaders waited until morning to hold a court.
(22:67-68) These people wouldn’t listen to Jesus’ teaching, but neither would they be honest in answering his questions. Jesus knew that there was nothing else to talk about.
(22:69) This is a mixture of Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 110.
(22:70) Jesus openly admits his identity.
(22:71) The claim to being the “Son of Man” and “Son of God” was considered blasphemy. If only they listened to his teachings (vv.67-68), they would’ve known that he was telling the truth.
(23:1) The religious leaders brought Jesus to Pilate because they lacked the power to execute him themselves (Jn. 18:31).
(23:2) They accused him of (1) misleading the nation, possibly through sedition, (2) forbidding the paying of taxes, possibly alluding to Luke 20:25, and (3) claiming to the King of Israel—namely, the Christ.
(23:3) Jesus literally says, “You say.” This is probably because Jesus was not the type of King that Pilate had in mind.
(23:4) Why does Pilate not care that Jesus claims to be the King of the Jews? Pilate asks Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (Lk. 23:3) In a sense, Pilate was asking Jesus, “Are you leading a rebellion against Rome? Are you guilty of treason and sedition?”
Jesus calmly replies, “It is as you say” (Lk. 23:4, NASB) or “You have said so” (ESV) or “Yes, it is as you say” (NIV) or “You have said it” (NLT). He is slightly enigmatic because he was not a King in the way that Pilate would’ve thought—namely, a political ruler.
Does Pilate have him beaten, tortured, and crucified on the spot? No, Pilate immediately tells the chief priests, “I find no guilt in this man” (Lk. 23:5). How odd! Why would Pilate respond in this way?
John explains this difficulty (Jn. 18:33-38). In John’s account, he explains that Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (Jn. 18:36). Once Pilate discovers that Jesus is no political or military threat, it would make sense for him to absolve Jesus of guilt.
(23:5) The religious leaders next point out that Jesus has had a far reaching ministry.
(23:6) Pilate sends him to the tetrarch Herod, because Jesus was from his district. Perhaps, Pilate was hoping that Herod would deal with Jesus, so he wouldn’t need to. He may have been trying to squash a conflict between the two of them (v.12).
(23:7-11) Herod was unimpressed with Jesus. He was expecting a magician, but Jesus wouldn’t do any “parlor tricks” for Herod, as if he was a court jester. Herod has him beaten and humiliated more.
(23:12) What was the source of Pilate and Herod’s conflict? We don’t know. The only mention of this from history occurs here.
(23:13-16) Pilate points out that neither Herod nor himself saw any illegal activity from Jesus. Pilate even interrogated Jesus “before you” (i.e. the religious leaders), so they would’ve been present during Jesus’ trial.
(23:17-25) This could have been a small crowd gathered around Pilate’s praetorium, and the religious leaders could’ve influenced him. Moreover, Barabbas may have had many of his compatriots there to get him off the hook. Even though Barabbas was an “insurrectionist” and a “murderer” (v. 25; Acts 3:14), they chose to set him free.
This is a stark picture of substitionary atonement! The evil person deserved to die, and Jesus deserved to live. However, Barabbas only lived because Jesus took his place on the Cross.
(23:26) Mark records who this man was with more detail (Mk. 15:21). This boosts the credibility of this account; otherwise, why would Mark have mentioned him with such detail?
(23:27-30) Even in this moment of agony, Jesus was thinking of others. He cites Hosea 10:8 and demonstrates that the destruction of the city of Jerusalem will be horrific.
(23:31) This proverbial saying might mean, “If the innocent Jesus suffered thus, what will be the fate of the guilty Jews? If the Romans treat thus One whom they admit to be innocent, what will they do to the guilty?”
(23:32-33) The “place called The Skull” in Latin is calvaria (or Calvary). Jesus was crucified in the middle “with the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12).
(23:34) There is debate as to whether Jesus’ words of forgiveness were in the original manuscript. They do not appear in many early manuscripts, but do appear in others. Morris accepts this as authentic, because there could have been motive for scribes to remove this prayer—namely, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 and this would not look like forgiveness! Jesus wasn’t praying for the nation, however, but for the people around him.
The dividing of Jesus’ clothes fulfills the prophecy of Psalm 22:18.
(23:35) This fulfills Psalm 22:6-8. Ironically, the only way to save others was for Jesus to not save himself.
(23:36-37) This fulfills Psalm 69:21. This was a way to mock him (v.37).
(23:38) All four gospels record this placard differently. However, this could be due to abbreviation, summary, or the fact that it was written in three languages (Jn. 19:20).
Two crucified men have two different responses to Jesus
(23:39) One of the crucified men continues in the mockery of the people. His question is “bitterly sarcastic.” Of all people, this man should be humble! Instead, he continues to mock Jesus on the Cross.
(23:40-41) Earlier, both men were mocking Jesus, but this one has a change of heart—at the last possible moment! The other thief points out that they are both guilty and getting what they deserve. But he realizes that Jesus is innocent.
(23:42) This convicted criminal asks that Jesus would remember him when he comes into his kingdom. The man probably thought that his kingdom was a long way off—especially since Jesus was about to die. So this would’ve taken a lot of faith.
(23:43) Jesus accepted this man on these terms. Even though the man had been previously mocking him, and even though he had only a few words of faith, Jesus told him that he would be with him “today… in Paradise.”
This really counters the notion of soul-sleep. This man expected Jesus’ kingdom to be in the future, but Jesus contrasts this with the word “today.”
(23:44-45) The time measurements are approximate, because they didn’t have watches or clocks. Moreover, the sun was obscured, which was the premier way to tell time.
The “darkness” holds symbolic value for God’s judgment of Jesus. The “veil of the temple” being torn in two shows that access to God was now made—not through the Temple but through Jesus’ own body (Jn. 2:19-21).
(23:46) This fulfills Psalm 31:5. Morris notes, “The word rendered breathed his last, exepneusen, is not the normal one for saying that someone has died. In fact none of the Evangelists says ‘Jesus died’, which may be part of the way they bring out the truth that in Jesus’ death there was something most unusual.” This makes sense, because Jesus—the second person of the Trinity—cannot die. His immaterial Spirit continued to live—even if his physical body was clinically dead.
(23:47) One of the Gentiles recognized who Jesus was. Usually, crucifixion victims would spit, scream, or urinate on those around them. Jesus held himself with such composure that this man was moved deep in his spirit. This also partially fulfills Jesus’ prayer: “Father forgive them…” (Lk. 23:34).
(23:48) Many of these people may have been some of those who came to faith at Pentecost (Acts 2).
(23:49) Even the brave women were “at a distance.”
(23:50-53) Joseph of Arimathea didn’t agree with the vote of the Sanhedrin, and he asked for the body to bury Jesus in a tomb. He was a “secret disciple” (Jn. 19:38; Mt. 27:57). This fulfills the prophecy that Jesus would be “with a rich man in his death” (Isa. 53:9).
(23:54-56) Women were present to witness where Jesus was buried.
(24:1) The women waited until after the Sabbath (Saturday) was completed, and they showed up at the crack of dawn to dress Jesus’ corpse with spices.
(24:2-3) They found the tomb was empty.
(24:4-7) Two angels greet the women, and they announce that Jesus rose from the dead—just as he himself predicted in Galilee (Lk. 9:22; cf. 17:25; 18:32).
(24:8-9) Luke doesn’t explain here what happened to Judas. He merely mentions “the eleven.” This would leave the reader guessing what happened to Judas. We only learn about his death when we turn over to Matthew 27:3-5 or Acts 1:18 for an explanation.
(24:10-11) Men in first-century Israel didn’t view the testimony of women in high regard. The word “nonsense” (leros) means “that which is totally devoid of anything worthwhile, idle talk, nonsense, humbug” (BDAG).
(24:12) Peter took the testimony of the women and literally “ran with it” to the tomb to see for himself.
On the road to Emmaus
(24:13-14) Luke leaves Peter’s journey to the tomb on a cliffhanger, and he moves the plot to the road of Emmaus, where two disciples were walking and talking about Jesus’ death.
(24:15) Little did they know, but they a Perfect Stranger encountered them on the road to talk with them.
(24:16) Why couldn’t they recognize Jesus? The text doesn’t say that Jesus looked different. Instead, they didn’t realize it was Jesus because “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.”
Perhaps the text is saying that their eyes prevented them in a literal sense. Could it be that the men had poor vision? After all, the text says that the problem was with their eyes—not with Jesus’ form. Against this view, we should note that Jesus would’ve needed to have performed a miracle for them to see, and no miracle is mentioned (v.31). Moreover, they could hear Jesus and perhaps recognize his voice, which would count against this view as well. Finally, and most importantly, the theme throughout this chapter is that the unbelief of the disciples prevented them from recognizing Jesus. Later, Jesus needed to open their minds to understand the Scriptures (v.45), and perhaps something similar is happening here: Namely, neither Jesus nor the Scriptures were any different, but the disciples couldn’t see them because of unbelief. Most commentators believe that this was because “sight” is connected with faith (Lk. 1:78-79; 2:30; 6:39-42; 10:23; 11:34; 18:35-42; 19:42). Because of their unbelief, they couldn’t recognize the risen Christ (cf. Mt. 28:17).
(24:17-20) Cleopas’ question implies that Jesus’ death was such a monumental event that it had the city of Jerusalem in an uproar.
(24:21-24) They recount the testimony of the women, and say that “some of us” inspected the tomb. Earlier, only Peter went to the tomb (v.12). In John’s gospel, we discover that both Peter and John went to the tomb. This makes sense of their statement that some of them went, rather than one of them went.
(24:25-29) Jesus implies that they should have realized that he was risen from the dead at this point. He takes them through the Bible to show them the predictions concerning the Messiah.
(24:30-31) They had been with him all day and into the night before they “recognized Him.” As soon as they realized it was Jesus, he “vanished.”
(24:32-35) These two disciples returned to the rest of the disciples to report this appearance. Only one of them was named (Cleopas), but the other is anonymous.
(24:36-37) Jesus appeared to the disciples after they heard the report about Jesus’ appearance on the Emmaus road. Comically, Jesus greets them with a message of “peace,” but this causes them to be “startled and frightened.” He must have appeared so suddenly that he screamed! They thought they were seeing a g-g-g-g-ghost!
(24:38-40) Jesus connects their interpretation and relates it to unbelief. He invites them to literally “touch” his body to show that it is physical.
(24:41-43) What is the allegorical or symbolic interpretation of Jesus asking for a fish to eat? There is none! This simply shows that he had a physical body—not an immaterial body like a spirit or ghost.
(24:44-47) Jesus explained the predictions and message of the Hebrew Scriptures to the disciples, explaining why he needed to die and rise from the dead.
(24:48-49) The disciples had visual testimony and evidence from the Scriptures, but they lacked what was most important: the Holy Spirit. They need to “stay in the city” of Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. Luke doesn’t add too much detail because this is explaining much further in the Book of Acts.
(24:50-53) Again, Luke gives a very succinct explanation of Jesus’ ascension, because he has a sequel that explains it further—namely, Acts.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible Exposition Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 178). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 821). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 822). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 823). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 826). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 89). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke (Lk 1:26). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 830). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 843). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 101). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 107). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Babylonian Talmud, Yomah 9b. This sentiment is also reflected in Sota 48b, Sanhedrin 11a, and Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs, 8.9.3
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 854). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 854). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
ca circa, about (with dates)
. circa, about (with dates)
ca circa, about (with dates)
. circa, about (with dates)
 Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke (p. 169). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke (p. 169). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Flavius Josephus, Josephus Antiquities of the Jews, 18:116-119. Josephus puts a political spin on John’s execution, while the Synoptics place a moral and religious angle on it. These can be harmonized because the religious and political were so closely conjoined at this time.
 Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke (Lk 4:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, pp. 121-122). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke (Lk 4:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Strack and Billerbeck: Kommentar vein Neuen Testament aus Talmud and Midrash, 1:151. Cited in Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, pp. 864-865). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 864). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 133). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 146). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Fitzmyer Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke, The Anchor Bible, 2 vols. (Doubleday, 1981).
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 148). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 149). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 149). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 150). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 152). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 152). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 166). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (p. 142). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Edwards, William D. Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 255. No. 11. 21 March 1986. 1459.
 Nolland, J. (1998). Luke 9:21-18:34 (Vol. 35B, p. 482). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (pp. 150-151). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 926). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Lemke, S. W. (2007). The Academic Use of Gospel Harmonies. In Holman Christian Standard Bible: Harmony of the Gospels (p. 112). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible Exposition Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 207). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (p. 154). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Lemke, S. W. (2007). The Academic Use of Gospel Harmonies. In Holman Christian Standard Bible: Harmony of the Gospels (p. 116). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Joel Green, The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 391.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 200). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 201). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 183). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 202). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1028). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1029). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Nolland, J. (1998). Luke 9:21-18:34 (Vol. 35B, p. 593). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 208). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Nolland, J. (1998). Luke 9:21-18:34 (Vol. 35B, p. 592). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Cited in Nolland, J. (1998). Luke 9:21-18:34 (Vol. 35B, p. 584). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1032). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Burdick, D. W. (1981). James. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 204). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1033). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1033). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 209). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1033). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 943). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 944). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1042). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Chuck Smith, Pastor’s Textbook.
 Schaeffer, Francis A. No Little People. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003. 63.
 Michael Lipka, “5 Facts About Prayer.” May 6, 2015. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/06/5-facts-about-prayer/
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1057). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1058). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1062). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 43a.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, pp. 215-216). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1101). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 221). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Sotah, 4b.
 Berakoth, 60b.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 222). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1117). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 223). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 225). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 225). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 230). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 W. Arndt (et al.), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 428.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 237). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 237). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 238). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 239). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1207). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 242). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 242). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 243). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 245). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1256). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1256). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1258). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1263). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1264). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Francis Schaeffer, No Little People (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), pp.29-30.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1273). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 251.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1288). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1291). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 256). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 256). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 260). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 261). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 262). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Andrew Murray, The Deeper Christian Life (Fleming H. Revell, 1895), pp.16-18.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1328). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, pp. 1330-1331). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1331). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Robert A. Morey, Death and the Afterlife (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1984), 85.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1365). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 270). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1385). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1391). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 273). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 275). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 276). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1447). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 281). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 282). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 282). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 282). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1472). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956), 238.
 William E. Phipps, The Wisdom and Wit of Rabbi Jesus (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1993), 90.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 285). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 435). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 291). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 292). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 1009). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 1010). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 296). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 297). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 297). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 301). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1588). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bruce, F.F. New Testament History. [New York]: Anchor Books. 1983. 99.
 Bruce, F.F. New Testament History. [New York]: Anchor Books. 1983. 99-100.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1609). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, pp. 1609-1610). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, p. 1015). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1612). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Blomberg, Craig. Jesus and the Gospels: an Introduction and Survey. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997. 48.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1639). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1645). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1683). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1693). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1693). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 329). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1749). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Merrill Tenney, John: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 168.
 Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51-24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 334). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 340). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 343). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 344). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 346). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 348). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.