This Week’s Reading Schedule
Tuesday’s (today’s) Bible Reading is 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.
The last couple days I’ve mentioned that the Gospel is not just to bring forgiveness of sins—though forgiveness of sins is, of course, central to the New Covenant (e.g., Matt. 26:28; Acts 10:43)—but to bring deliverance from sin as well.
That deliverance from sin is not a private thing. The New Covenant was never meant to be a private religion, but we require each other’s help to experience deliverance (Heb. 3:13: 10:24-25).
Sometimes, though, deliverance looks and feels a lot like this video:
Jesus begins this chapter by proving himself to be Lord of the Sabbath. The scribes and Pharisees are not moved by his claim even when he heals the sick, however, preferring their traditions to the revelation of God.
Do not think you are immune from the same problem. The problem is widespread in religious and Christian circles, and it will affect you if you are not purposely a follower of Christ over tradition.
In vv. 12-16, Jesus chooses the twelve apostles, but only after spending the night in prayer. Once again, we see that prayer was important to Jesus.
Luke 6:20-38; 46-49
This passage seems like a summation of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It may be. Remember, Luke researched his Gospel and gave a life story of Christ based on his research. There’s no reason he should have repeated the Sermon on the Mount word for word from Matthew or bothered to report that it took place on a mountain.
What’s most important here is that there’s a message that matters. Obeying these words of Christ are like walking in the promises of Psalm 1. It means constant blessing, walking in the power of God, even when things are going wrong around you (vv. 46-49).
These sorts of words should be read repeatedly and even committed to memory. Think about it. Isn’t it worth knowing what sorts of commands will guarantee that you will be like a house that can endure storms or like a tree planted by a river, immune to drought and storms?
Jesus is well aware that there are enemies to his teaching. Here he takes a chance to tell people to distinguish between teachers by the fruit they produce, not by the mere words they say.
I don’t know how well we’ve learned this lesson today. It seems to me that modern Christianity honors words and arguments far above results—a holy life and ministries that deliver people from the mire of the kingdom of darkness.
Luke shows Jesus’ compassion to all who come across his path, Jew and Gentile alike. Luke doesn’t make a point that Jesus would normally have been sent to the house of Israel only, like Matthew and Mark do. Chances are, that’s not a message that’s pertinent to his hearers, since he’s the companion of the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul.
Even John the Baptist began to wonder whether Jesus was really the Coming One. Where was the ax set to the root of the tree? Where was the fiery judgment that John proclaimed?
Jesus points John to his mighty works. He knows that John is a man of God, and he will judge rightly, as we read in the last chapter, by the fruit. Jesus doesn’t offer John words, but he offers him fruit.
He also adds that John the Baptist is the greatest man ever born, but that he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater even than John.
Think about that statement, and then realize how much we who have received the Spirit of God as part of the New Covenant have undersold ourselves.
I’m not talking about miracles, though the Scriptures say at least some of us ought to be doing them (1 Cor. 12). John the Baptist didn’t do miracles, but he did give himself completely to what God did give him to do. I am simply talking about us doing the same, doing the ministry that God has given us to do (Rom. 12:4-8).
An excellent picture of the New Covenant and exactly whom God wishes to call.
In verses 1-3, we get one of our only glimpses into how Jesus was supported financially.
We’ve seen the parables in the other Gospels, and we’ve seen the reason for them, which Jesus gives again in v. 10. The parables leave an open door for God to reveal truth to those who are worthy and to hide it from those who are not.
We know from the other Gospels that this was prompted by the Pharisees’ accusation that he did his miracles by the power of the kingdom of darkness.
In vv. 19-21, we see Jesus referring to the hearers of the Word of God as his true family. Jesus makes a lot of statements like this, not only about himself, but about us, and the strongest of them all will come up in tomorrow’s reading, in Luke 14:26. For us, like Jesus, the family of God is our first family, not our second.
We’ve seen the casting out of Legion in the other Gospels, and it is just as strange in Luke as it is in the others.
Notice that Jesus talks to the demons even after he’s commanded them to leave the man. When they do leave, they ask to go into the pigs, which is not so strange except that the pigs immediately kill themselves.
This is the story of the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood. I want only to point out again that Jesus felt it when he was touched by faith. We will find that when our prayers, among other requirements, are touched by faith, that we, too, will get a response from Jesus (Mark 11:23-24).
Jesus sends the apostles on their own ministry for a while, which arouses Herod’s curiosity. When they return, he tries to have time alone with them, but he’s beset by the crowds. He’s not irritated by this, but he has compassion on them.
Here Peter has it revealed to him by the Father that Jesus is the Christ. Immediately, Jesus clarifies something about the Messiah. He’s going to have to suffer and be killed, though he will be raised again the third day. Jesus never intended to be the triumphant, military Messiah overthrowing the Romans and driving them out of Israel.
Jesus’ call to discipleship is a powerful call. It is a call to forsake our own lives, as though we had a death sentence, and to move on to letting him live through us (Gal. 2:20). Letting him live in us is the only way we will be able to follow through on the "hard sayings" of Jesus, who was never afraid to demand complete discipleship (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:30).
Each time the Mount of Transfiguration is described in the Gospels, Jesus first says that some of the apostles will see the kingdom of God coming in power. The Mount of Transfiguration is an advance glimpse of the power of God’s kingdom.
Jesus makes a special effort here to get his disciples to understand that despite all this power, he is not going to triumph militarily, he is going to die. Luke says they did not understand it.
Here is a description of the sort of attitude that Christians ought to have toward greatness and toward those around us. Many Christians read passages like this, and they think, "I will begin my Christian walk by being the least and by being a servant, and then I will rise up to a high-powered pastor or evangelist position, and I will be great."
No, from now until eternity it is the servant of all and least of all who is great in the kingdom, and no matter what your service in the kingdom on earth, your attitude is to remain one of being a servant to everyone.
Here are more "hard sayings" of Jesus. Jesus meant these things, and the best thing we can do with them is give them heed and apply them to ourselves. How serious are we about following Christ?
Here Jesus sends not just the twelve, but seventy disciples to go before him into the cities and towns. He makes it clear that the places that do not receive them will be judged already. Not receiving the messenger is the same as not receiving the one who sent the messenger.
When the seventy return having experienced power, Jesus calls it a great triumph over the kingdom of darkness, saying that satan fell from heaven like lightning.
Then he reminds them, and the rest of us, that the greatest thing of all is to have your name written in heaven.
This parable and the story of Martha and Mary give us a picture of where God wants our heart to be and what marks out real service to God.
I have been pointing out the hard sayings of Jesus today, but it is important not to take those things in a religious sense. Look at who Jesus honors and what he honors them for. Perhaps the greatest picture of who Jesus honors is in the judgment passage of Matthew 25:31-46.
Jesus is looking for committed, sold-out disciples, who put him and the family of God first, but he is not looking for Pharisees. He is looking for those who are kind and compassionate to the naked, hungry, and even the imprisoned. He is looking for those that sit at his feet because they love his word.
Another excellent passage on what is central to the heart of Christ is Titus 2, which is the only place where the great apostle Paul gives a definition of "sound doctrine."