Lukes gospel Essay

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Each of the four evangelists had a particular slant to their writing:- One could say that Mark was a brief account of the preaching of Peter. Johns Gospel was written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31). Matthew was written for Jews to show how Jesus teaching related to their laws and traditions. And Luke wrote for those who had become disciples and wanted to ground their faith in historical fact. Luke is described in the title of Jean-Francois Racines 20008 article as Luke: Storyteller, Interpreter and Evangelist.

Despite his skills as both narrator and interpreter of events, he would have perhaps felt most comfortable with the last of these Evangelist. In his gospel he makes many theological points he was concerned for instance that his readers knew exactly who the person of Jesus was not as Alan Richardson says a docetic apparition i. e the belief , later considered heretical, that Christ merely appeared to have a human body, an idea that Luke opposes with his birth narratives and the genealogy in chapter 3.

Nor is he a pagan theophany i. e. the mere visible, but not material appearance of God . This reality of God in history can be seen in the reading of this passage. Jesus is not just reading an old prophecy. He is laying claim to it. It is not to be interpreted as The Spirit of the Lord is upon some unknown person, some future long promised Saviour, but upon Jesus, the boy they had all seen grow up. It is perhaps no wonder the congregation found this difficult to accept.

God in man, yet not someone who would perform miracles just to prove a point as is made clear in the description of the temptations in the wilderness, yet who is prepared to reveal signs that can be interpreted. The bringing of sight to the blind was in particular something associated with the servant of the Lord according to Richardson and would be seen as a Messianic sign. It is clear from the words of Isaiah that he chose that he saw the miracles he was able to perform as signs of the coming of the kingdom of God the day of the Lord predicted by Isaiah.

He makes this clear when he follows his reading by making the astounding claim Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. After the prologue ( Luke 1 verse 1 to 4 ) Lukes Gospel can be divided most obviously into 5 main sections in a frame work that more or less follows that set out by Mark, but which includes many events recorded solely by Luke:- ¢ Births of John and Jesus, Luke chapters 1 v 5 and 2, and unique to Luke ¢ Galilean Ministry, ( this section would also include his baptism and genealogy).

The genealogy too is unique, for although Matthew includes such a list they vary. This section concludes at Chapter 9 v 20 with Peters confession when he acknowledges Jesus as Gods Messiah. ¢ The parable of the Good Samaritan in chapter 10 begins the next section wherein Jesus gradually moves towards Jerusalem. ¢ Luke 19 v 28 marks Jesus entry into the city of Jerusalem and a re-joining of Lukes narrative with that contained in Marks shorter gospel.

Although there are accounts of earlier confrontations, in particular with the Pharisees this section marks a period of greater confrontation , as when he drove out the merchants in the temple in Luke 19 v 45-48 and of course later with the Sanhedrin and the Roman rulers. ¢ The passion narratives can be said to start from Chapter 22 with the feast of unleavened bread and the preparations for the last supper with the disciples. They conclude with the ascension, described again in Acts 1.. Jesus at the point described in 4 v 14 -30 has returned to his home town of Nazareth in Galilee.

It is a passage that place Christ right at the centre of the story of salvation. According to Conzelmann and Buswell in the section of their 1992 book entitled The centre of history Luke deliberately takes the today which is expressed in this passage as belonging to the past, and builds up the picture of Jesus whole career on the basis of this historical interpretation. Today might not actually be included in the passage in most translations, but is still implied as the passage is in the present tense and in the final line as in the Message paraphrase This is Gods year to act.

In the Amplified Bible the passage reads :- The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], To proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound.

Headings in the Good News Bible for this passage are Jesus begins his work in Galilee and Jesus is rejected at Nazareth The local people would have heard about the miracles don e in other places in the region. They must have been thinking If he has done so much in other villages, how much more will he do here Instead he quotes to them a well known proverb :- Surely you will quote this proverb to me: Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.

I tell you the truth, he continued, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. He goes on to expound upon the way in which Gentiles could have faith, giving the examples of the widow of Zarephath who had been helped by Elijah, and also Naaman the Syrian, both of whose stories would have been familiar to the congregation. The passage has been proceeded by the birth narratives, the account of the early visit to Jerusalem, the sudden jump to the preaching of his forerunner John .

His baptism is recorded briefly and then comes the genealogy which traces Jesus ancestry back to God The temptation in the wilderness is described as immediately preceding the events of 4 v 14 30. So we have Jesus, a unique being, Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Christ, the Lord. And , according to the words of Simeon, not just a Saviour for the Jewish people, but also Salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

It had been traditionally expected that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah as is pointed out by Luke by his inclusion of the prophecy from Isaiah A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord¦.. the crooked roads shall become straight , the rough ways smooth, and all mankind will see Gods salvation. So once again the image provoked is of a universality to the message of salvation. John the Baptist is an Elijah type figure, especially if one reads Marks description of him , John wore clothing made of camels hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

The baptism was a public event , but according to Luke the message from God to his son was a personal one, and it is not clear in this passage whether others heard the voice You are my son whom I love; with you I am well pleased. , a parallel passage to the one in Mark , but in John it is clear that John the Baptist at least was a witness, John gave this testimony : I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. Matthew gives a slightly different version of events, which seems to imply that God was publically acknowledging Jesus as his son.

A voice from heaven said This is my son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. So all is ready Jesus is established in history as being God on earth, the special, unique person , prophesied of old as the means of the worlds salvation now he can begin. Which brings us to the Nazareth synagogue scene which marks , as far as Luke is concerned, the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. How far does passage set the agenda for the ministry of Jesus?

According to Hans Conzelmann and Geoffrey Buswell in the 1982 book TheTheology of St Luke It is significant that according to Luke Jesus is not led by the Spirit, but himself acts in the Spirit. First of all there is the obvious contrast between He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him which refers in a general way to the synagogues of various Galilean towns, and the reaction in his home town of Nazareth, presumably before a congregation of those who knew him well :-Isnt this Jesus, Josephs son?

and then when he expounded on the passage, pointing out how Elijah had not been sent to a Jewish home in the time of famine, but to help the Gentile widow of Zarephath in Sidon, this provoked an extremely violent negative reaction All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this so much so that they were apparently prepared to actually kill him according to verse 28 and 29. Why such a violent reaction? Israel had long been expecting her Messiah.

He had been prophesied from Genesis through to Malachi, but in both negative and positive ways I will put enmity between you and the woman ,and between your offspring and hers and Suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant; whom you desire, will come, says the Lord Almighty. However the people were expecting a warrior, a physical king, someone who would free them from the yoke of the Romans not a village boy, perhaps even an illegitimate one people have long memories. The passage Jesus was reading was from the scroll of Isaiah, chapter 61 .

He bought the reading to an end in what, for the congregation, would be considered the wrong place. i. e half way through what is in modern Bibles , verse 2 of the chapter. He includes the phrase to proclaim the year of the Lords favour but omits the one after it the day of vengeance of our God. These people wanted a powerful saviour who would rid them of Roman oppression. Isaiahs prophecy goes on to talk about a double portion for the Israelites who would feed on the wealth of nations. Preaching good news to the poor was fine, but it wouldnt send the Romans back to Rome.

Don Swager in his commentary says :- Jesus praise for outsiders caused them offence because they were blind-sighted to Gods mercy and plan of redemption for all nations. This sudden change of mood from the previous verses in which Luke records that he found acceptance where ever he went is a pivotal point in the gospel record. It exemplifies what will come and so can be said to set the agenda for instance on Palm Sunday we are told that a large crowd began to thank God and praise him in loud voices for all the great things that they had seen. Shouting Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! This is followed immediately by a plea from the Pharisees that Jesus call upon his followers to be quiet. Presumably they feared a negative reaction on the part of the authorities to someone being hailed as king. It isnt just the words used. Spreading clothing along his way was known to be the way to greet a king. An example of this would be 2 Kings 9 v 13, a passage that would have been known when to many in the crowd , where, and had anointed him, after Elisha had told his that God wanted him to be king Jehu told his officers that Elisha had said :-

Here is what he told me: This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel. They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, Jehu is king! But the words were from what are called the songs of ascent i. e a normal part of the Passover celebrations and sang every year by pilgrims arriving in Jerusalem for the feast. So any Roman observers would have probably seen nothing unusual, and wouldnt have been familiar with the passage from 2nd Kings. As with so many other passages this reaction of the Pharisees is unique to Luke.

But these people were aware to some extent at least of the miracle that Jesus had performed in Galilee and the resurrection of Lazarus, recorded by John the evangelist, though not by Luke, had only just occurred, John places the event perhaps a week earlier, and it would certainly have been the latest news, so they at least were aware of the special person that Jesus was. These same people, described by Luke as disciples would have course still been in Jerusalem at the end of the week and some at least must have been in the crowd which Luke describes:- With one voice they cried out, Away with this man!

Release Barabbas to us! ¦.. But they kept shouting, Crucify him! Crucify him! ¦¦. But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. This constant split in opinion and changes in opinion , the general misunderstanding about what was Jesus true ministry as recorded first in Luke 4, continues throughout the passages between then and the trial narrative. In Luke 5 for instance there is the story of the call of Levi ( Matthew) after which there was a feast in Levis house.

Again it is the Pharisees who complain But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? He tries to explain :- It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. The Good News Bible translate this verse as I have not come to call respectable people to repent, but outcasts. which links back to the Isaiah passage read by Jesus in his home synagogue:-

He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, That passage of course begins the Spirit of the Lord is on me and of Jesus this was literally true if the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him at the time of his baptism is to be believed. It was acknowledge by Luke at the very beginning of the Galilean ministry :- Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.

The passage, which comes from Isaiah 61 would not have originally have had the chapter and verse breaks with which we are so familiar. The section immediately before it is headed in the New International Version The Glory of Zion, and begins Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you . Oswald Chambers commenting upon his book My Utmost for his Highest notes that We have to make the first step¦when getting in contact with God in order to find out what he wants. This is a long positive passage which includes references to God appearing and nations ( i.

e. the Gentiles ) coming to his light and which concludes with the words I am the Lord ; in its time I will do this swiftly.. . Jesus , although he read only a few lines, would have been very aware of this wider context , and so would many of his readers. This ministry to the outsiders of society would continue and is more strongly evident in this gospel perhaps than in others as for instance in chapter 15, known for its parables of the lost which begins with tax collectors and others on the edges of society coming to Jesus an event that brings an immediate reaction from the religious leaders

Right at the beginning of his story Luke had stressed the presence, power and working of the Holy Spirit, something that it was generally felt had departed from Israel. The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. This emphasis upon the Spirit continues. It is evidenced for instance in the raising from death to life of the widows son, only one of many healings which took place and which Luke summarizes.

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Even such miraculous events could be misinterpreted, such were the misunderstandings surrounding Jesus, who he was, and what his purpose was.

In the gospels11th chapter, Jesus, now on his way towards Jerusalem, drives out a demon. :- Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons. This empowering by the Spirit was not restricted to Jesus alone, Anticipating opposition ahead he tells his followers they need not fear :- When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not

worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say. Another aspect of the passage is the binding up of the broken hearted. This could be seen as referring to those who mourn for whatever reason as in Matthew 5 v 4 Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. as Jesus describes life in the coming kingdom of God. The Message Bible has this as :- Youre blessed when you get your inside world your mind and heart put right . Then you can see God in the outside world.

Luke is always concerned with mankind fully realizing who Christ is and his purpose and the message might be. The letter to Philippians in chapter 2 contains a quotation from an early Christian hymn which explains this that Christ humbled himself by coming to earth in order eventually that man will be restored in his relationship with God a relationship broken in the early chapters of Genesis when man disobeyed what he knew to be the will of God. Luke portrays the purpose of Christ as restoring this broken relationship. In 4 v 43 Jesus says :-

I must preach the good news of the Kingdom to God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent. Luke also shows the universality of the task in the call of the disciples as when he responds to Peter in 5 v 10, Dont be afraid; from now on you will catch men told . When the seventy two disciples, who had been sent out as recorded in chapter 10, they had been told Heal the sick who are there and tell them the kingdom of God is near you They returned full of joy because Lord, even the devils submit to us in your name!

This idea that the spread of the gospel is the task and responsibility of the whole church, and they will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry it out is of course continued in Lukes second volume , the Book of Acts, for example in chapter 2 v 4 :- All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. This idea of restoring relationships is shown repeatedly even in the healing miracles, where the emphasis is on the forgiveness of sins rather than on any physical healing that took place as with the healing of the paralytic man brought to his by friends in 5 v 17 -26.

The man does receive healing, but even before that in verse 20 we read :- Friend , your sins are forgiven something that the Jewish faith believed was only brought about by the offering of sacrifices. The result in this case was not only one man being forgiven, but a whole crowd of people seeing God in power and praising him for it. The theme continues even on the cross when the thief pleads with the dying Messiah :- Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.

When John records Jesus final words, It is finished it is a sign that not only is his earthly life drawing to an end, but that of the task which he had taken upon himself. Peterson, in the Message Bible translates this as :-Its done complete. A phrase that might be translated as It is accomplished as indeed it was if one accepted that by his sacrificial death Jesus is able to restore the relationship between God and his salvation. Lukes version of the gospel story cannot be seen in isolation, and should be read alongside complementary passages, i.

e. the other gospels. It is stated in John 3 v 14 18 a:- The son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned.

References

Bible, Good News Version, Todays English Version, Collins/Fontana London 1976 Bible, New International Version, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1988 Chambers, O. ,My Utmost for His Highest, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, reprinted 1975 Peterson,E. Bible , The Message, Navpress, Colorado Springs, 2002. Richardson,A. Introduction to the Theology of the New Testament, SCM Press, London 1958 Electronic Sources Amplified Bible, retrieved 6th April 2009 http://www. biblegateway. com/passage/? search=Luke%204;&version=45; Brow, R. , Lukes Gospel Commentary, Retrieved 6th April 2009 http://www. brow. on. ca/Books/Luke/Luke01. htm Conzelmann, H. and Buswell, G.

The Theology of St Luke Faber and Faber, London 1992 , Questia on Line Library, retrieved 7th April 2009 http://www. questia. com/read/87968381? title=The%20Theology%20of%20St. %20Luke Racine, J. Luke: Storyteller, Interpreter and Evangelist , Theological Studies, Volume 69, 2008, Questia Online Library, retrieved 7th April 2009 http://www. questia. com/read/5025752564? title=Luke%3a%20Storyteller%2c%20Interpreter%2c%20Evangelist Swager, D. The Gospel of Luke, A Commentary and Meditation retrieved 6th April 2009 http://www. rc. net/wcc/readings/luke146. htm

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