Through the Bible in a Year: Luke 1-5

This Week’s Reading Schedule

Monday’s (today’s) Bible Reading is Luke 1-5
Tuesday, Mar. 20: Luke 6-10
Wednesday, Mar. 21: Luke 11-15
Thursday, Mar. 22: Luke 16-20
Friday, Mar. 23: Luke 21-24

The overall year’s plan is here.

Luke 1

Luke has some long chapters. I am going to need to keep my commentary limited so you have time to read Luke himself!

Luke is the only Gospel that does not claim eyewitness status. He makes it clear from the beginning that he researched all this information, "having investigated everything carefully from the beginning," and is now reporting it.

Nonetheless, each Gospel requires apostolic authority, and Luke’s authority is Paul because he was Paul’s traveling companion.

Luke is the only one who gives John the Baptist’s full background and birth, which is very interesting.

Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of the virgin birth is also included in this chapter, and here we learn that Mary and Elizabeth—and thus Jesus and John—are relatives.

This set of events was so spiritual that God ensured that the Holy Spirit was involved all the way from these mother’s wombs, and John recognized Jesus before either of them were born.

Mary’s proclamation in vv. 46-55 is important and spiritually insightful. She foresees that this has to do with far more than just her baby. She sees the deliverance of God to Israel and God’s power over the whole world in the proclamation. Great things are happening.

After Zacharias has his voice restored, his proclamation is even grander and clearer. This is "the redemption for his people." It is "Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us." In fact, this is such a great event that "The Sunrise from on high will visit us," to the result that they will be guided into peace.

At least as that moment, Zacharias could see the grandeur of the coming of John the Baptist, who would announce the approach of the Lord who would bring this glorious kingdom of God to pass.

Luke 2

Luke 2 covers Jesus birth through his return to Nazareth, including the only glimpse we have of his childhood, his 3 days at the temple in Jerusalem.

We also meet a prophet and prophetess, Simeon and Anna, who recognize him for who he is.

Never underestimate the power of the Spirit. Christianity is a miraculous, spiritual religion. It is walking by the Holy Spirit that will teach you a new way of living as you follow Christ. Obviously, we are to study the Scriptures. Friday, we heard Psalm 1’s promise that those who meditate on the law of the Lord will prosper. But we are part of a covenant that is of the Spirit and not of the letter (2 Cor. 3:6). All God’s people are granted to receive the Holy Spirit and to hear God speak by the Spirit.

How that is experienced varies. There are no step-by-step instructions in Scripture, but if we give ourselves to God, follow him, and meditate on his will, God has committed himself to teaching us.

Luke 3

Luke 3 gives an overview of the ministry of John the Baptist until Jesus came to be baptized by him.

There’s no denying John’s boldness. He spoke the truth as God gave it to him without fear of men. When he upbraided Herod Antipas about his marriage, his confident speaking of God’s Word landed him in prison.

We are eternal beings. Being courageous and bold is our call. God has not called us to safety, but to boldly live out the Word of God. To do so is an incredible adventure, but it is not always safe. Both John and our Lord Jesus would die from choosing to do so.

Luke 4

In Luke 4 we have a very thorough introduction to Jesus’ ministry.

First is the temptation. Jesus’ ministry begins by a display to the devil that he has no place in Jesus. Jesus is not bending to any of the devil’s ways.

Notice in v. 13 that the devil had finished "every" temptation. Surely the devil does not have only three temptations. Instead, these temptations towards Jesus represent the ways that the devil tempts us as well. In 1 Jn. 2:16, John speaks of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.

Jesus’ temptations do fall well into those categories. The bread represents the lust of the flesh, the kingdoms of the world the lust of the eyes, and jumping off the temple to prove God’s support represents the boastful pride of life.

Jesus’ public ministry begins immediately after he shows the devil that he has no power in Jesus’ life. He’s rejected in his home town, but elsewhere his mighty works bring him great praise and a large following.

Of note is that the demons know him.

There is a real kingdom of darkness and a real kingdom of God. Jesus’ works broke the power of the kingdom of darkness, and the demons recognized their demise when he showed up. According to Jesus, this was proof that the kingdom of God was appearing in their midst (Matt. 12:28).

Luke 5:1-11: The Gospel and the Word of God

Today, we commonly reduce the Gospel to an outline. We believe there is a specific list of things that need to be said, most especially that Jesus died for our sins, in order for a person to be saved.

No one seems to have noticed that in the entire book of Acts, the apostles never told a lost person that Jesus died to forgive their sins. They preached the person of Christ, but they never mention the atonement or that Jesus’ death was the provision for the forgiveness of sins. (We’re doing Acts next week, so you’ll see this. The atonement is mentioned throughout the letters to the churches, written to Christians, who should know about the atonement.)

Jesus was not bound by such ideas. He knew that he was the answer, as a person. It wasn’t the facts about his ministry that would save people, but he himself would save people. The result that is needed from preaching is that people see Jesus and give their lives to him.

Thus, Jesus said all sorts of things that led to people’s salvation. In Simon’s case (who later became Peter), it was simply to throw his nets on the other side of the boat.

What was the result? Simon not only recognized that Jesus must be followed, but he saw that he was a sinful person, needing forgiveness. No explanation of the atonement or the sinfulness of man was necessary.

Luke 5:12-39

In verse 16, Luke quietly mentions that even with all the crowds, Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Even Jesus, the Son of God, made it a habit to spend time alone with his Father. Surely, our need is even greater.

In verse 17, it seems worth pointing out that the power of the Lord was present to heal at that particular meeting. Were there meetings where the power of the Lord was not present to heal? Or not so strongly?

I see no indication that’s true, at least not when Jesus was present, but the statement arouses questions for me, and it certainly makes me wonder if our modern meetings might occasionally have situations where the Lord shows up wanting to heal. Will we notice that the power of the Lord is present?

You can compare the healing of the paralytic man in Acts 14:7-10, where Paul "perceived that he had faith to be healed."

Jesus goes on to use the healing of the paralytic here in Luke 5 as proof that he has authority on earth to forgive sins. There is no authority that God has that Jesus did not have on earth. Jesus lived a life of complete submission to his Father, but his authority was a completely divine authority with no power lacking.

Finally, vv. 29-39 are an excellent picture of the New Covenant. Jesus’ brings the Gospel to sinners, not to justify them in their sin, but to provide a hospital that will cure them of their sin (Rom. 8:3-13; Tit. 2:11-14).

This can’t happen while we’re old wineskins. We must be made into new creatures so that we can handle the new wine of Jesus’ New Covenant teaching.

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