What’s The Answer ?

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Download Notes for study by clicking this link – LukeSheet-1(1-25)

 

A short introduction to Luke’s Gospel to accompany The Point Summer 2014 preaching series:
‘The Gospel of Luke: Encounters with the Son of Man’
Luke himself was a doctor, an historian, a gentile, a missionary and an evangelist.  He was interested in people, in detail,  historic accuracy and in making news about Jesus accessible to everyone, whatever their cultural, ethnic or religious background.  The Gospel was originally written to a friend called Theophilus (probably a Roman) after very careful research (see 1.1-4).  Luke travelled with the Apostle Paul and was involved in planting churches with him throughout the Mediterranean.  Luke also wrote the book of Acts and with his Gospel this means that he contributed more material to the New Testament than any other person (more even than Paul).  Paul referred to Luke as the ‘beloved physician’ (Colossians 4.14) and clearly they had a very close relationship, and shared the same theology, proclaiming Jesus as the one who came to ‘seek and save the lost’ (19.10) with a strong emphasis on faith, repentance, God’s mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Luke’s Gospel is full of ordinary people encountering Jesus and being radically changed, eg.: Simon Peter (5.1-11); Levi the tax collector (5.27-32); the sinful woman (7.36-50); the blind beggar (18.35-43); Zacchaeus (19.1-10); the thief on the cross (23.32-43); the disciples on the road to Emmaus (24.13-35) and many others who are healed and set free.  People’s opinion of Jesus is deeply divided in the Gospel: either they respond to Jesus in faith, find salvation and give up everything to follow Him, or they reject Him and want Him dead.  There is no middle ground.  Luke pushes his readers to to respond to Jesus, one way or the other.  The parables in the second half of Luke (and there are quite a few) bear this out again and again (see the great banquet (14.15-24); the prodigal son (15.11-32); the rich man and Lazarus (16.19-31); the tenants (20.9-19).

Luke’s favourite title for Jesus is the Son of Man.  He protrays Jesus as ‘one of us’, perhaps the most ‘human’ Jesus in all the Gospels, and relating to real human beings with real human needs.  Rebecca Manley Pippert writes: For Luke, ‘there was no person Jesus could not reach, and no boundary that He could not cross.  That is why Luke chose stories that depicted not only Jews and Gentiles, Romans and Samaritans, but women, widows and prostitutes as well.  Luke saw that the Good News was for real people with real needs.’

This sense of Jesus coming for all people, especially those generally excluded and oppressed, is expressed in some of the key themes in Luke.  He writes more than any other Gospel writer about Jesus’s encounters with:

  • Gentiles/Samaritans: Roman Centurion (7.1-10); The Good Samaritan (10.25-37); the leper who came back (17.11-19)
  • Women: Mary (1.26-56); the sinful woman (7.36-50); women were with Him and supported Jesus financially (8.1-4); the dead girl and the sick woman (8.40-56); Mary and Martha (10.38-42); women were the first witnesses of the resurrection (24.1-12); God is even depicted as a woman in the parable of the lost coin (15.8-10)
  • The poor/how we use money: Jesus anointed to proclaim good news to the poor (4.14-21); Beatitudes in Luke, ‘blessed are you who are poor . . . but woe to you who are rich’ (6.17-26); The Good Samaritan (10.25-37); The rich fool (12.13-21); The rich young ruler (18.18-30); taxes to Caesar (20.20-26); The widow’s offering (21.1-4)
  • ‘sinners’: again and again Jesus is associated with tax collectors and prostitutes. Luke uses the word ‘sinners’ 16 times (see 5.30-32).

There are two other key themes in Luke which are perhaps the most important of all, Prayer and the Holy Spirit:

  • Prayer: Jesus teaches several times on prayer, most notably the Lord’s prayer (11.1-13) and the parable of the persistent widow (18.1-8); and His personal life of prayer is also described more fully than anywhere else: Jesus tested in the wilderness (4.1-13), frequently praying alone in a solitary place (4.42; 5.16; 6.12; 11.1), and on the Mount of Olives, ‘as usual’  (22.39-46).
  • The activity of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life is described in Luke more than in any other gospel: conception (1.35), baptism and testing (3.21-23, 4.1, 14), anointing for His mission (4.18), joy at Satan’s downfall (10.21), Holy Spirit promised to all who ask (11.13), sin against the Holy Spirit condemned (12.10), words from the Holy Spirit promised (12.12), His spirit/Holy Spirit given up at death (23.46).

Questions for Groups or Individuals

  1. Has your life been radically changed by encountering Jesus like so many in Luke’s Gospel? How?
  2. How do you feel about the poor/those who are excluded/treated unfairly? How does Jesus’ message in Luke challenge you to respond?
  3. How do you pray?  What do you think of Jesus’s prayer life as described by Luke (going off to solitary places on a regular basis/praying the Lord’s prayer)?  How could you put this into practice?
  4. Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?  Jesus clearly needed the Holy Spirit to fulfil His mission and life, so we need the Holy Spirit even more!  How can you ‘go on being filled with the Spirit?’ (Ephesians 5.18)

Will Kemp, 24/05/14