The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of Luke is the third of the so-called Synoptics. The word synoptic means "seeing the whole together or at a glance." Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels, because they present a common narrative, relate the same incidents of our Lord, with much the same words, though characteristic differences, omissions, and additions are equally apparent. Various theories have been advanced to explain the similarity and differences, so often called discrepancies, of these three Gospels. One is the theory that originally there existed a primitive Gospel, which has been lost. Out of this primitive Gospel, it is claimed, the three Gospels were constructed. Another theory is that they grew out of one another; that one wrote first and the others followed to add to it and omit what they thought best to omit. It is beyond the scope of our Bible study work to take up these attempted explanations of how the Gospels came into existence. Nor can we follow in detail the intensely interesting historical evidences, which so wonderfully demonstrate their authenticity. However, we desire to say that the last word in the controversy of the Gospels and their genuineness has been spoken. The attacks upon the historicity of the narrative, the denials which have been made, have been silenced, though infidelity cannot completely be silenced, at least not in the present age.
The well-known scholar, Dr. Schaff, made the statement, "The essential identity, of the Christ of the Synoptics is now universally conceded." This is true. But the differences, the divergences in numerous things of the story the Synoptic Gospels reveal, how are they to be explained? There can be but one answer. The three persons who have written were chosen by the Spirit of God to write the narrative in exactly the way in which they did. The characteristic differences of their work is not man-made, but God- breathed. They 'wrote independently of each other. They did not try to improve upon a record already in existence. The Holy Spirit guided the pen of each, so that we possess in these three Gospels the testimony of the Holy Spirit concerning the Lord Jesus in a threefold aspect. The proof of this will soon be found in the careful and prayerful study of the Gospels. The truth is not discovered by learning and research in linguistic or historical lines, but by earnest searching in the Word itself. The three Gospels make the humanity of the Lord Jesus prominent, but not to the exclusion of His Deity. The full revelation of His Deity is given in the fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, but not excluding His true humanity. The Transfiguration is given by each of the Synoptics, but it is not found in the fourth Gospel. There is no room for it in the Gospel of John. Of the characteristic features of the Gospel of John and the contrast with the Synoptics, we have more to say in our introduction to that Gospel.
We have already seen that Matthew describes the Lord Jesus as the King and Mark pictures Him as the obedient servant, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many. The Gospel of Luke is the Gospel of His Manhood; we behold Him in this Gospel as the Son of Man. It has often been pointed out that the early church possessed these fundamental facts concerning the synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John and that knowledge may be traced in an outward form through centuries. It was Irenaeus who, as far as we know, called first the attention to the fourfold appearances of the Cherubim and the four Gospels. He declared that the four faces of the Cherubim are images of the activity of the Son of God. The Cherubim had the faces of the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle. The application to the four Gospels of the four faces of the Cherubim has been maintained for many centuries as the true application. Ancient manuscripts, illuminated missals, etc., bear witness to it. The Lion, the kingly animal, represents Matthew's Gospel. Mark, the Gospel of the Servant, is represented by the Ox, the bur- den-bearing animal. In Luke we see the Face of a Man and the Eagle, sweeping the heavens, coming from above and returning there, represents Him, who came from the Father and has gone back to the Father.
We turn now our attention to the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of Manhood.
The Writer of the Third Gospel
The writer of the third Gospel does not mention his name, though he speaks of himself in the opening verses of the first chapter. The first verse in the Book of Acts makes known that the same writer who wrote the Book of Acts also wrote the third Gospel and that both mention the same person, who is addressed, that is Theophilus. Furthermore, we learn from Acts 1:1, that the third Gospel had been written, when the writer of Acts began his work. Inasmuch as Luke is undoubtedly the writer of the Book of Acts, he is also the penman of the third Gospel. "It has been generally and almost unanimously acknowledged that the Gospel, which we now possess is that written by Luke." (Dean Alford.)
Luke did not belong, as some hold, to the seventy our Lord sent forth to minister. His own words answer this statement. (Read Luke 1:2.) The Epistles give us the only reliable information about his person. In Colossians 4:14 we read of him as "the beloved physician." In the Epistle to Philemon he is called a fellow laborer of the Apostle Paul. From Second Timothy we learn that he was in Rome when Paul was a prisoner and remained faithful to him when others forsook the Apostle. He had also joined the Apostle during his second missionary journey at Troas (Acts 16:10). The evidence of it is found in the little word "we." He went with Paul to Macedonia and remained sometime in Philippi. In Colossians, chapter 4 we find also the fact brought out that he was a Gentile. First Paul mentions those of the circumcision (Colossians 4:11). Then Epaphras, a Colossian Gentile, is mentioned, followed by the names of Luke and Demas, both undoubtedly Gentiles. He is therefore the only writer in the Bible who was a Gentile. The reason that he was selected to write the Gospel, which pictures the Lord Christ, as the perfect Man, and the Book of Acts is more than interesting. The Gospel of Luke, a Gentile, addressed to a gentile (Theophilus) is the Gospel for the Gentiles. And the same Gentile instrument was chosen to relate the history of the Gospel going forth from Jerusalem to the Gentiles. Other critical questions, such as the time it was written, where it was written, etc., we are obliged to pass by.
The Characteristic Features Of The Gospel Of Luke
We have seen from the study of Matthew that our Lord is seen in it as the King and in Mark as the Servant. The Gospel of Luke has even more characteristic features which bring out the great purpose of the last Synoptic Gospel. The perfect Manhood of the Lord Jesus Christ, His moral perfections, His tender sympathies as the Saviour of man, are written here in a most precious way. The Priesthood the glorified Son of Man exercises now in behalf of His people, being touched with a feeling of our infirmities has for its foundation His true Manhood. "For every high priest taken from among men is appointed in behalf of men in things Godward, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; since he himself also is compassed with infirmity." (Hebrews 5:1-2). That He was the true and perfect Man, tempted in all points like as we are, apart from sin; holy, blameless, undefiled and separate from sinners, is fully seen in the Gospel of Luke.
A glance at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke reveals at once its object. Matthew's Gospel begins with a genealogy; the genealogy of the King and is followed by the account of the wise men coming to Jerusalem looking for the new born King of the Jews. Mark begins abruptly, one might say in a hurried way, as if the writer is anxious to introduce the untiring ministry of the perfect Servant at once. And so he does.
How different is the beginning of the third Gospel! It is perfectly human. A friend writes to a friend and when he begins to tell the story he starts also in a very human way, "There was in the days of Herod the King." The two opening chapters are peculiar to Luke. All is new. We do not find anywhere else the details of John's birth, Gabriel's visit to Mary and the announcement of the coming birth of Christ, and the beautiful outbursts of praise of the two women and Zacharias. The Gospel, which is to reveal "the face of a Man" had to give these blessed facts. The second chapter, containing the most beautiful description of the birth of our Lord; bringing out the facts that He entered the world, whose Creator He is, like every other son of man, born of a woman, no room in the inn, his first resting place a manger, known to Matthew, Mark and John, were omitted by them. Luke, chosen to describe the perfect Man, had to embody these blessed details in his narrative. The babe, the child growing, the twelve year old boy in the temple, His increase in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man, all related in the second chapter of Luke show Him forth in His true humanity. The authenticity of these two chapters has often been doubted. There can be no valid reason for it; on the contrary their genuineness are as completely proven as the rest of the Gospel. Another beautiful feature of this Gospel is that Luke speaks more of the prayers of our Lord than the others. Prayer is the expression of human dependence upon God. Inasmuch as the Son of God had taken the Creator's (creature's?) place, He prayed and was cast upon God. Being baptized "and praying&Saturday 08-Sep-2007 6:52He continued all night in prayer (6:12-13). "As He was praying" He asked the disciples, "Whom say the people that I am," (9:18). According to Luke He was transfigured "as He was praying." He also said to Peter "I have prayed for thee." All this is peculiar to this Gospel and is needed to bring out His true humanity. When Luke speaks of Him more than the other evangelists, that "He sat down to eat meat" we have the picture of a true man among men. And what more do we find in the Gospel of the beloved physician, which brings out His tender human sympathy. The story of the raising up of the widow's son at Nain is alive with tenderness and sympathy. Then there are the parables peculiar to Luke. The parable of the lost coin, the prodigal son, the parable of the importunate friend, the unjust steward, the good Samaritan, the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the temple and others are reported only by Luke. In this Gospel only we have the record of the story of the rich man and Lazarus, their life on earth, their death and their state after death; the conversion of Zacchaeus; the dying thief and his salvation; the walk to Emmaus and other incidents. How fitting that Luke, the Gentile, should also tell us what the others were not commissionedSaturday 08-Sep-2007 6:52 should be trodden down by the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
All these characteristic features and many others, such as the genealogy in chapter 3, His ministry as reported by Luke, the description of His suffering, His death, and His resurrection are pointed out in the annotations. May it please the Holy Spirit to give us through the study of this Gospel a new vision of Him who was rich and who became poor for our sakes, that we through His poverty might be rich.
Events and Principal Circumstances Reported Exclusively by Luke
It will be of much help to the student of the Gospels to possess a list of events and a number of circumstances, which are not reported by Matthew, Mark and John, but only by Luke. These interesting peculiarities of the third Gospel shed much light upon the Gospel itself. We give the list of fifty-eight items by chapter and verse.
1.--The vision of Zacharias, and conception of Elisabeth 1:5-25.
2.--The salutation of the Virgin Mary 1:26-38
3.--Mary's visit to Elisabeth 1:39-56
4.--The birth of John the Baptist, and hymn of Zacharias 1:57-80.
5.--The decree of Caesar Augustus 2:1-3
6.--The birth of Christ at Bethlehem 2:4-7
7.--The appearance of angels to the shepherds 2:8-20
8.--The circumcision of Christ 2:21
9.--The presentation of Christ in the temple 2:22-24
10.--The account of Simeon and Anna 2:25-38
11.--Christ found among the doctors 2:41-52.
12.--Date of beginning of John's ministry 3:1-2.
13.--Success of John's ministry 3:10-15.
14.--Genealogy of Mary 3:23-38
15.--Christ preaching and rejected at Nazareth 4:15-30
16.--Particulars in the call of Simon, James and John 5:1-10
17.--Christ's discourse in the plain 6:17-49
18.--Raising of the widow's son at Nain 7:11-17
19.--Woman in Simon's house 7:36-50
20.--Women who ministered to Christ 8:1-3
21.--James and John desiring fire to come down 9:51-56
22.--Mission of seventy disciples 10:1-16
23.--Return of seventy disciples 10:17-24
24.--Parable of the good Samaritan 10:25-37
25.--Christ in the house of Martha and Mary 10:38-42
26.--Parable of friend at midnight 11:5-8
27.--Christ in a Pharisee's house 11:37-54.
28.--Discourse to an innumerable multitude 12:1-53
29.--Murder of the Galileans 13:1-5
30.--Parable of the barren fig tree 13:6-9
31.--Case of the woman diseased 18 years 13:10-20
32.--Question on the few that be saved 13:22-30
33.--Reply to the Pharisees' warning about Herod 13:31-33
34.--Case of a dropsical man 14:1-6
35.--Parable of the lowest room 14:7-14
36.--Parable of the great supper 14:15-24
37.--Difficulties of Christ's service 14:25-35
38.--Parable of the lost sheep and piece of money 15:1-10
39.--Parable of the prodigal son 15:11-22
40.--Parable of the unjust steward 16:1-18
41.--The rich man and Lazarus 16:19-31
42.--Instruction to disciples 17:1-10
43.--Healing of ten lepers 1712-19
44.--Question and answer about the coming of God's kingdom 17:20-37
45.--Parable of the importunate widow 18:1-8
46.--Parable of the Pharisee and Publican 18:9-14
47.--Calling of Zacchaeus 19:2-10
48.--Parable of the pounds 19:11-28
49.--Christ weeping over Jerusalem 19:41-44
50.--Special warning to Peter 22:31-32
51.--Direction to buy sword 22:35-38
52.--Appearance of an angel, and bloody sweat in garden 22:43-44
53.--Pilate sends Christ to Herod 23:6-16
54.--Women deplore Christ's sufferings 23:27-32
55.--The penitent thief 23:39-43
56.--The appearance of Christ to two disciples going to Emmaus 24:13-35
57.--Circumstances attending Christ's appearance to the eleven 24:37-49
58.--Christ's departure in the act of blessing 24:50-53.
The Division of the Gospel of Luke
As already stated, the Gospel of Luke in its beginning gives the birth and childhood of our Lord; then reveals His perfect Manhood, ministering, suffering and dying as the Saviour of men. The last chapter reveals the second Man in His resurrection glory and His ascension. All is cast in such a way as to bring out His true and perfect humanity. The best verse to quote as key for this Gospel is found in the nineteenth chapter: "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (19:10). Various divisions have been made. Seven great parts, however, are clearly marked.
I. The Birth and Childhood. Chapter 1-2:52.
II. The Beginnings of His Ministry. Chapter 3-4:13.
III. The Ministry in Galilee. Chapter 4:14-9:50.
IV. The Journey to Jerusalem. Chapter 9:51-19:27.
V. In Jerusalem. Chapter 19:28-21:38. VI. His Rejection, Suffering and Death. Chapter 22-23.
VII. His Resurrection and Ascension. Chapter 24.
We give the different chapters with their contents in the Analysis.
Analysis and Annotations
I. The Birth and Childhood -- Chapter 1-2:52
1. The Introduction. 1-4
2. Zacharias and Elizabeth; the Vision. 5-12
3. John the Baptist, his birth and ministry announced. 13-17
4. Zacharias' Unbelief and Punishment. 18-26
5. The Angel's Announcement to the Virgin Mary. 27-33
6. Mary's Question and the Answer. 34-38
7. Mary Visits Elizabeth 39-45
8. The Virgin Mary's Hymn of Praise. 46-56
9. The Birth of John. 57-66
10. The Prophetic Song of Zacharias. 67-80.
The third Gospel begins in a way that no other Gospel does. It begins in a very human and humble way corresponding beautifully with the purpose of the Gospel. Yet it is couched in the choicest language. "Not only is it written in most classical Greek, but it reminds us by its contents of the similar preambles of the most illustrious Greek historians, especially those of Herodotus and Thueydides" (Prof. F. Godet). From the introduction we learn that Luke was not an eye-witness and minister of the Word; he did not belong to those who walked with the Lord during His earthly ministry. We do not know who the "many" were who had written on the great things which had taken place on earth and which all Christians believed. The remark has no reference to Matthew or Mark. Some have found in this simple introduction, in which Luke has nothing to say about a divine commission to write, an evidence that he did not write by inspiration. Others have pointed out the fact that the words "from the very first" mean literally "from above" (so rendered in John 3:3) and found in these words an evidence that Luke was inspired. This, however, is incorrect; Luke does not assert his own inspiration. The entire introduction rather shows the guidance of the Spirit of God.
"It is a beautiful example of how naturally the Spirit of God works, or may work, in what we term inspiration. The instrument He uses is not like a mere pen in the hand of another. He is a man acting freely--for 'where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty'--as if from his own heart and mind alone. He uses all the means he has got, and uses them diligently. You are quite prepared to find in his work the character of the writer: why should not He who has prepared the instrument, use it according to the quality of that which He has prepared? Why should He set aside the mind which He has furnished, any more than the affections of the heart which He has endowed?"--Numerical Bible.
For about 400 years the Lord had sent no communication to His people Israel. The silence of heaven is at last broken. The ministering Priest Zacharias beholds the Angel Gabriel, the same wonderful being, who brought heaven's messages to Daniel. The names of the aged and pious couple are significant. Zacharias means "Jehovah remembers," and Elizabeth is translated "the oath of God." If we join them together we have the sentence "Jehovah remembers the oath of God." The time of remembrance had come. Prophecy is about to be fulfilled.
John's birth and ministry are announced. "John" means "Favor of Jehovah." It fits in beautifully with the names of Zacharias and Elizabeth. "Jehovah remembers the oath of God" and the blessed result of the remembrance is "the Favor of Jehovah." Gabriel (which means: "God is mighty") announces that Zacharias' prayer had been heard and the answer was now given. The prayers of many years had not been forgotten. God's time for the answer had come. John is not Elias, but he came in the spirit and power of Elias. Malachi 4:5-6 is yet to see its fulfillment before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
The announcement of the birth of a son was not believed by Zacharias. Like Abraham and Sarah he looked to earthly circumstances. He did not reckon with the power of God. Disbelieving the words of Gabriel he was struck dumb. He should have shouted praises; instead, he expressed his doubt. Unbelief insults God; the character of God demands judgment upon unbelief.
Next God's messenger is sent to Nazareth of Galilee to carry the greatest message, which was ever given to an angel. He appears in Nazareth and came in to the Virgin Mary. How simple and beautiful is the narrative! Here is the woman, the Virgin of Prophecy, who is to bring forth the long promised Son. She is to conceive; bring forth a Son; His name is to be called Jesus; He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest. Even so it came to pass. Then we have an unfulfilled part of the announcement. "The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end." When He comes the second time, not in humiliation, but in power and great glory, He will receive the throne of His father David and the promised Kingdom. "Let us beware of spiritualizing away the full meaning of these words. The house of Jacob does not mean 'all Christians.' The throne of David does not mean the office of a Saviour to Gentile believers. These words will yet receive a literal fulfillment, when the Lord Jesus comes a second time. The Kingdom of which he speaks is the glorious Kingdom of Daniel 7:27." (Bishop Ryle.)
The Virgin's question "How shall this be, seeing that I know not a man?"--is not the result of unbelief. She believed, presupposing the absolute reality of the promise, in asking the exact manner of its fulfillment. The blessed mystery of the incarnation, how the Son of God should take on the human form and become man, is made known. It is a great mystery. "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee" means that the human nature of our Lord was produced in the Virgin by a creative act of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18-20). And therefore He possessed an absolutely holy nature. "And the Power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." This is not a repetition of the first statement. It means that the Son of God, who is the Most High, overshadowed the Virgin, uniting Himself with the miraculously prepared human nature. He is designated in His Being "that holy thing" because He cannot be classified. And because He is holy there could be nothing in Him, who was born of the Virgin, which is unholy. And beautiful is the submission of the Virgin to the will of God.
Mary then visited her cousin Elizabeth. How perfectly human is the whole account! And how beautiful the language of the elder woman calling the Virgin "the mother of my Lord." Surely this was a great revelation she received. With holy reverence we also should use that worthy Name. Well has it been said, "Let us remember the deep meaning of the words 'the Lord' and beware of using them lightly and carelessly." Then she blessed Mary. "Blessed is she that believed."
The marvelous outburst of praise which comes from Mary's lips is a beautiful echo of the Old Testament Scriptures. The pious Virgin knew the Word of God; her heart was filled with it and the Holy Spirit used the Word in the expression of her praise. Many Psalms are touched upon, but especially are we reminded of Hannah's inspired song. (1 Samuel 2.) Notice also Mary's deep humility and her acknowledgment of the need of a Saviour. The invention of Rome, of the sinless and immaculate person of Mary, is disproved by everything in the Word of God.
When John is born Zacharias' tongue is loosed. He is a type of Israel. Now that people is dumb; some future day when "the Grace of Jehovah" is acknowledged by them, when they see and believe, the remnant of Israel will praise and bless God. No doubt Zacharias was also afflicted with deafness. The last written word of the Old Testament is a curse, Malachi 4:6; the first written word of the New Testament is "grace"--Bengel, "Gnomen" (John: Grace of Jehovah).
Zacharias prophesies. He praises God for the fulfillment of His promises spoken by the mouth of His holy Prophets. The Lord of salvation is Messiah. It denotes strength and power. He brings deliverance, salvation from enemies and the promised covenant mercies. (psalm 132:17-18). He beholds the blessings of the promised Kingdom and beholds the blessed results of the visit of the day spring from on high. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the O.T.) translates the word branch in the Old Testament with "day spring." Christ, the Branch, is also the day spring from on high. The fulfillment of Zacharias' prophecy takes place with the second coming of the Lord.
1. The Birth of Christ at Bethlehem 1-7
2. The Glad Tidings Announced to the Shepherds. 8-20
3. The Circumcision and Presentation 21-24
4. Simeon and His Prophecy 25-35
5. Anna the Prophetess 36-38
6. In Nazareth 39-40
7. In the Temple 41-51
8. The Increase 52.
The appointed time (Galatians 4:4) had come. According to prophecy the Saviour had to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). But Mary lived in Nazareth. God in His own marvelous way ordered everything and Caesar Augustus was directed to issue the decree of taxation at such a time and in such a way and also the journey of Joseph and his espoused wife, Mary, that she had to be in Bethlehem when the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. The great Roman Emperor knew nothing of what God was accomplishing by his decree. Then He was born, who left the glory of Heaven and became poor for our sakes. What condescension we behold here! The Maker of Heaven and Earth, born of a woman, taking the creature's place! The first resting place of Him, who came from the bosom of the Father is a manger! There was no room for Him in the inn.
Here not the birth of a King is announced as in Matthew, but the birth of a Saviour. The wise men from the East looking for the newborn King are not mentioned by Luke. Poor shepherds hear the glad tidings first. Heaven is opened. The Glory of the Lord shines round about; angels' voices are heard, telling out in heavenly praise, what will be the ultimate result of the work of the Second Man. "Glory to God in the highest, Peace on Earth, good will toward men." But the world rejected Him. Good will toward men sounds forth in the glad tidings, but "Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth" is yet to come, when He, the Son of Man, appears again. The shepherds were obedient. They made haste. How simple their faith; how great their reward!
And now we find that He, who came of a woman also was made under the law. The circumcision made Him "debtor to do the whole law" which He alone could fulfill; and then to redeem those upon whom the curse of the law rests, by being made a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13). The name announced before His birth is then given to the child. (Matthew 1:21). Five other persons in the Bible were named before their birth: Isaac, Genesis 17:19; Ishmael, Genesis 16:11; Josiah, 1 Kings 13:2; Cyrus, Isaiah 44:28, and John the Baptist. As the firstborn, according to His own law, He is presented unto the Lord. The required sacrifice is brought, in which is written the story of the cross. The sacrifice tells the story of poverty, for the sacrificial birds were only for the poor. "If she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtle doves, or two young pigeons." (Leviticus 12:6).
Simeon had the divine revelation that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Anointed. He belonged to the faithful remnant of Israel, who in the dark days of decline and apostasy held fast the Word and waited for its promised fulfillment. The Lord had then a faithful remnant, who waited for His first coming; and now His faithful people wait for the blessed Hope, His coming again to receive them unto Himself. Simeon had the revelation that he should not see death, till He had come. This corresponds to the greater promises in 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The Spirit led him into the temple at the right moment. His waiting ended when he held the child in his arms. It was a babe, like any other babe. Yet faith saw in Him what He is, the Lord's salvation for His people; He who had come to do the great work. "A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people, Israel." This is prophetic. The Gentiles are put first. Even so it has come to pass; after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in all Israel will be saved. See Isaiah 49:5-6; Romans 11:25-26. And Simeon, holding the babe in his arms, blest the mother and Joseph, not the child, for he knew He was the Blesser.
Then a daughter of Phanuel, Anna, appeared to add her testimony. What a beautiful woman she must have been in her self-denying service! No sooner had she seen the Lord than she spake at once of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. In the midst of the wicked city, soon to become a city of murderers (Isaiah 1:21), there was a company of men and women who looked for redemption.
They returned to Nazareth. The visit of the wise men, the flight into Egypt and the return are omitted. Twelve years passed and it did not please the Holy Spirit to give us a report of them. Spurious Gospels of the Infancy were circulated later; they are all legendary and unreliable. As the true Man He grew from infancy to boyhood. Of all the sinless conditions of the human body He was partaker. He grew both mentally and physically. His heart ever seeking God and being in subjection unto Him.
Every Jewish boy of twelve years visited Jerusalem at the time of the great festivals. He stayed behind and his anxious mother and Joseph found Him in the temple three days later. For three days He was lost to them. May this not be a reminder of the three days He was thought lost by His disciples? (Chapter 24:21). Here the human infirmity of Mary comes to light. She was nervously anxious. Her words have an accusing tone. The greatest mistake she committed was the mentioning of Joseph as "thy Father." In all this her human failure is in evidence. But how sublime the answer of the twelve year old boy! He is astonished that they should have sought Him; He came to seek them. He is astonished that they did not know that He had to be about His Father's business. What an answer it is! These are His first words recorded in the Gospels. He corrects His fallible mother, who had said, "thy Father and I." His Father, He declares, is He in whose house He had gone. It is the first self-witness to His Deity.
And He went down with them to Nazareth and was subject unto them. He was obedient in all things.
II. The Beginnings of His Ministry -- Chapter 3-4:13
1. The Ministry of John the Baptist. 1-14.
2. His Testimony to Christ and his Imprisonment. 15-20.
3. The Baptism of the Lord Jesus. 21-22.
4. The Genealogy of Mary, the Mother of our Lord. 23-38.
Eighteen more years of silence follow. It is broken by the voice of the forerunner, John, who preached at Jordan the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. He is not reported here preaching "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." He preached thus as the witness for the King and the Kingdom about to come. Matthew had to give the report of this preaching. Here we read that "all flesh should see His salvation." This awaits still its great fulfillment when He comes the second time. John's call to repentance is answered by the people, by the publicans and by the soldiers. They asked "What shall we do?" How different, however, the question concerning salvation and the answer. (Acts 16:30-31).
Then he gave witness concerning Christ. The expectation among the people was great and some thought that John might be the Messiah. The answer he gives directs the people to the coming One. Verses 16 and 17 blend together the first and second Coming of Christ. The fire-baptism takes place when He comes again; it is the fire of judgment. His first coming has brought for all who believe in Him the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
We request the reader to turn at this point to the remarks made in our annotations on Matthew and Mark. Luke omits, however, the conversation which took place between our Lord and John; then there is the additional information that our Lord was praying, when heaven opened and the Holy Spirit came upon Him. The descent into the water signified His death and as the result of His death, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit came down. As He prayed in Jordan so He prayed in Gethsemane as He approached the cross. "Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him out of death and was heard in that He feared." (Hebrews 5:7).
The age of our Lord, about thirty years, is only given by Luke. In the Gospel of the Manhood this properly belongs. The annotations on the first chapter in Matthew should be carefully considered here and the two genealogies compared. The genealogy in Matthew is that of the King; Luke's genealogy is that of the Son of Man. Matthew's genealogy begins with David and Abraham and leads up to Joseph; Luke's genealogy begins with Joseph and leads up to Adam, the first man. It is a tracing backward to the head of the human race, Adam; and back of Adam is God Himself. So He who is God had come and became the Son of Man, the Second Man, the last Adam. The genealogy in Matthew is that of Joseph, a son of David, through the line of Solomon; Luke's genealogy is that of Mary, the mother of our Lord, who also is of David through the line of Nathan. Joseph is called in Luke's genealogy the son of Heli, because Mary was a daughter of Heli. Matthew's Gospel tells us that Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary.
1. The Temptation in the Wilderness. 1-12.
2. The Devil Defeated. 13.
What interests us most is the different order in which the three temptations of the Lord are reported by Luke. The second temptation the devil brings to bear upon Him (in the high mountain) is the last in the Gospel of Matthew. Why did Luke change the order and put the second temptation last and the last temptation into the second place? Matthew gives, no doubt, the correct order. The Lord's word to Satan, "Get thee behind me, Satan," proves this. (These words must be omitted in the 8th verse. They are not found in the best manuscripts.) The order in Luke corresponds to the nature of man. Man is composed of Body, Soul and Spirit. The first temptation concerns the body; the second the soul, and the third the spirit. The temptations man has to go through in life are clearly seen here. In youth it is the lust of the flesh; in manhood the lust of the eyes, to possess and to enjoy; in old age the pride of life. The change in the order is made to correspond to this. But "the holy thing," the holy Son of God, had nothing in Him which could ever respond to this trinity of evil. He did not sin, nor could He ever Sin. The devil departed from Him for a season.
III. The Ministry in Galilee -- Chapter 4:14-9:50
1. In the Synagogue of Nazareth 14-21
2. Unbelief and Rejection of Christ. 22-32
3. A Demon Cast Out in Capernaum 33-37
4. Peter's Wife's Mother Healed; Many Healed. 38-44.
And now the description of the ministry of the Son of Man begins. The beginning is in His own city. How all written here is again in a very human manner. He had been brought up in that city and as His custom was "He went into the synagogue," and as He had done, no doubt, before, He stood up to read and like a man finds the place in the scroll which the servant had handed Him. Isaiah 61:1-2 is read by Him and then applied to Himself. The Spirit of the Lord was indeed upon Him to preach the Gospel to the poor. But He stopped in the middle of a sentence. The acceptable year of the Lord, is the last word He read. In His Person all this had appeared. He came to preach the Gospel, to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind and to set at liberty them that are bruised. He did not read "the day of vengeance of our God." That too is His work, but not as long as the acceptable year of the Lord lasts.
"Is not this Joseph's son?" It is the first hint of the coming rejection. Then when He declared that God's grace is not to be confined to Israel, but that it will, as in days of old, in the case of the widow of Sarepta and Naaman, go out to the Gentiles, they were filled with wrath. They were ready to kill Him. What happened? "But He, passing through the midst of them, went His way." Was it a miracle? Is it the same as when He passed through shut doors? It was the result of His own dignity as the perfect Man, which awed the crowds, so that no one dared to touch Him.
The same incident is reported in Mark 1:21-28. The demons knew him but He had come to spoil the enemy and here He manifested His power.
Many works of power followed. As the seeker of the lost to preach the good tidings, He went from city to city.
1. The Miraculous Drought of Fishes. 1-11
2. The Leper Healed. 12-16
3. The Paralytic Healed. 17-26
4. The Call of Matthew and the Feast 27-29
5. The Scribes and Pharisees Answered 30-35
6. The Parable of the Garment and the Bottle. 36-39.
Two miraculous draughts of fishes are found in the Gospels. The one here at the beginning of His ministry; the other after His resurrection. (John 21). Both demonstrate His power as Lord over the animal creation. Here the net broke (or began to break), in the other miracle it did not break. Peter is prominent in both. Here he falls at His feet crying out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." The divine presence, made known by the miracle, showed Peter his own condition. The Lord graciously calms his fear. The soul that sinks down at the blessed feet of the Lord and owns his sinfulness is safe. He came to seek and to save what is lost. And more than that. He calls into service. "Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men." They left all and followed Him. It would have been strange if they had done anything else. The highest and best besides knowing the Lord as our Saviour is to follow Him and to be obedient to His call.
Luke describes the leper as being full of leprosy. The terrible disease had advanced so as to cover the entire body. Leprosy is the most awful, incurable disease. It is a living death and one of the best illustrations of sin and its ravages. He has the power, and He alone, to heal the leper, as He is the only One who can heal the spiritual leprosy. Then great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed. How men were attracted to Him and sought Him! But He went instead into the wilderness to pray. He felt the need as the perfect man to seek the Father's presence. He has given us an example. It is the pattern we should follow.
"Why is it that there is so much apparent religious working, and yet so little result in positive conversions to God,--so many sermons, and so few souls saved,--so much machinery, and so little effect produced,--so much running hither and thither, and yet so few brought to Christ? Why is all this? The reply is short and simple. There is not enough private prayer. The cause of Christ does not need less working, but it does need among the workers more praying. Let us each examine ourselves, and amend our ways. The most successful workmen in the Lord's vineyard, are those who are like their Master, often and much upon their knees."--Bishop Ryle
The same miracle is reported by Matthew and Mark. (Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12). See annotations there.
The Publican Levi is Matthew, the writer of the Gospel of Matthew. He was a tax-gatherer and as such despised by his own brethren, because he was serving the hated Roman government. Tax-gatherers and sinners the Son of Man came to call. Levi left all and followed him. That he became at once a witness for the Lord is seen by the feast he made and the large number of tax-gatherers he had invited.
The concluding verses of this chapter we have already considered in the preceding Gospels.
1. The Son of Man the Lord of the Sabbath. 1-5
2. The Man with the Withered Hand Healed. 6-11
3. The Twelve Apostles Chosen. 12-19
4. Blessing and Woe. 20-26
5. Good for Evil. 27-31
6. Instructions to Disciples. 32-38
7. Warnings. 39-45.
The opening verses of the chapter are nearly alike in the three Gospels. The arrangement in Matthew is different. It is used there to bring out the consummation Of the rejection of the King. (Matthew 12:1-8). Then He healed the man with the withered hand. The healing was done in their midst; it was a miracle done before their eyes. How different from the pretended healings of Christian Science and other Cults. They were filled with madness and began their plotting.
Before He chose the twelve Apostles He spent the whole night in prayer. It was "in those days," the days when they were rejecting Him. The refuge of the perfect Man was then in God. He sought His presence and cast Himself upon Him for guidance. The Gospel of Luke has much to say about the prayers of the Lord Jesus. His prayers are the expression of dependence of His perfect humanity. Among the twelve is Judas the traitor. He was called to be an apostle that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. The Lord knew him from the beginning. He was not a believer in the Deity of our Lord; Judas never called Him, Lord. A very old commentary gives the following suggestion: "Judas is chosen that the Lord might have an enemy among His attendants, for that man is perfect who has no cause to shrink from observation of a wicked man, conversant with all his ways."--Anselim, who lived from 1033-1109.
Certain parts of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew it occupies the most prominent place, for in the Gospel of the King it is the great proclamation He utters in the beginning of His ministry. See the Study pamphlet on Matthew. Luke reports only a part of the great discourse. A comparison will show that Luke gives a number of additions, which are all in line with the purpose of the Gospel. There is no allusion made as in the Gospel of Matthew to the Law, nor is there given in Luke the expansion of the Law. The instructions concerning alms and prayer are likewise omitted. In Luke's Gospel the words are reported which touch upon the wants of the disciples as men, who are in the world. Their separation from the world, their conduct, besides warnings are fully given. In Matthew we read, "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." Luke changes by divine guidance the word perfect to "merciful." The correct rendering is "Become ye merciful." The Son of Man came to this earth in mercy to meet man; the disciple is to manifest the same mercy. The word "perfect" given by Matthew is the larger description; it includes "mercifulness," which Luke is led by the Spirit of God to emphasize.
1. The Centurion's Servant Healed. 1-10.
2. The Widow's Son Raised from the Dead. 11-17
3. John's Questions and the Answer. 18-23
4. The Testimony Concerning John. 24-29
5. The Unreasonableness of Unbelief. 30-35.
6. The Woman With the Alabaster Box. 36-40
7. The Parable of the Two Debtors. 41-50.
In Matthew the healing of the Centurion's servant comes after the healing of the leper. It teaches there the dispensational lesson, that the Gentiles would enter the Kingdom and the children of the Kingdom would be cast out into the outer darkness. As Luke writes for another purpose he omits Matthew 8:11-12. Luke tells us that the Centurion sent the Jewish Elders first; when on the road to the Centurion's house, the friends of the Centurion with the message of unworthiness, met the Lord. Some have tried to explain these differences by making the two accounts, two different miracles. This is not the case at all. The account given by Matthew is more fully explained by Luke. The Centurion first sent messengers to our Lord, and afterwards he came to speak to Him in person. Matthew relates the personal interview and Luke the message. "Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed," is a marvelous utterance of faith. The Centurion owned Him as Lord of all, with power over all. To him He is the Creator with omnipotent power. And the Lord marvelled at him. It is an evidence of His true humanity. Twice He marvelled; here at faith and in Mark 6:6 at unbelief.
The account of the raising of the widow's son is peculiar to Luke. The story brings out the deep compassion of the Son of Man and that is why it is exclusively reported in the third Gospel. The only son of a widow had died. Here is human sorrow in the fullest sense. A widow losing her only son, her only support. He had compassion on her. How human and filled with sympathy were His words "Weep not." And the second Word He spoke in touching the bier was "Arise." And when the young man came back to life, He delivered him to his mother. "Weep not!" the word of His sympathy; "Arise" the word of His power. No wonder that the people declared, "God hath visited His people." Elijah raised the son of a widow, but he had to humble himself and had to cry to the Lord. Elisha also raised the son of the Shunamite, but only after having stretched himself over the child. But the Lord commands and death has to release its prey at the one word. The Second Man has power to deal with sin and death and man's need is fully met.
John, perplexed with doubt, sends to Him two of his disciples. "Honest doubt never stays away from Christ, but comes to Him for solution." The disciples beheld the miracles the Lord did at that time. Then when John had evidently made shipwreck of his witness bearing, the Lord bears witness to him. He declares the greatness of his person. (Verses 27-28). All this is recorded in Matthew 11:2-15; but Luke gives an interesting addition. Two classes of people stood there. The people who had heard John, accepted his message of repentance and who had been baptized. They and the tax-gatherers justified God. The leaders of the nation rejected the counsels of God against them, they had testified to that by not being baptized by John.
The balance of this chapter is again peculiar to Luke. He is seen as the friend of sinners, who had come to seek and save that which is lost. Beautiful sight this woman so sinful, standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, so that she wet His feet with her tears! This incident must not be confounded with the similar one reported by Matthew, Mark and John; nor was the woman Mary Magdalene. She seeks shelter with her burdened soul at the feet of Him, whom the proud Pharisees called "a friend of publicans and sinners." How great must have been His compassion, how marvelous His lovingkindness, that a woman could come thus in His presence. The loveliness and attractiveness of the perfect Man as the friend of sinners is here fully seen. And the proud host, the Pharisee Simon, doubts that He is a prophet, for would He then not know what kind of a woman she is! The Son of Man at once gives him the evidence of His omniscience. Not alone does He know who the woman is, but He also knows the unspoken thoughts of Simon. The parable the Lord gives to Simon explains the great love of the woman, much had been forgiven her. The consciousness of that forgiveness had produced these blessed actions of the woman. And once more she hears from the lips of the Friend of Sinners, what countless thousands have heard spoken to their hearts by His Spirit; "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
1. The Ministering Company 1-3.
2. The Parable of the Sower. 4-15.
3. The Parable of the Lighted Candle. 16-18
4. The Declaration of a New Relationship. 19-21.
5. The Storm on the Lake. 22-25
6. In the Country of the Gadarenes; the Maniac Healed. 26-36
7. His Rejection by the Gadarenes. 37-40.
8. The Woman With the Issue of Blood Healed. 41-48. 9. The Daughter of Jairus Raised. 49-56.
This also is reported exclusively by Luke. What wonderful preaching it must have been when He with the Apostles went about preaching! And the trophies of His power and grace were also with Him. Here we read that women ministered unto Him of their substance. What privilege was theirs to minister to Him!
The parables which follow are known to us from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The parable of the Sower is here not in the dispensational setting in which it appears in Matthew (Chapter 13). The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven are reported later by Luke. The parable of the Sower is linked here with the preaching of the Word in verses 1-3.
The events which follow are also found in the Synoptics. The Storm on the Lake shows His true humanity. He is asleep. But in the threatening danger, when the helpless vessel fills with water, He knows no fear. They have to wake Him. The wind and waves obey His Word. And blessed be His Name! He is still the same. Then there is the man in his fallen pitiful condition, under the complete dominion of Satan, both in body and in soul. And once more the Son of Man shows His absolute power over Satan. The sufferer is completely healed. What a transformation took place! "The 'many devils' by whom he had been possessed were compelled to leave him. Nor is this all. Cast forth from their abode in the man's heart, we see these malignant spirits beseeching our Lord that He would 'not torment' them, or 'command them to go out into the deep,' and so confessing His supremacy over them. Mighty as they were, they plainly felt themselves in the presence of One mightier than themselves. Full of malice as they were, they could not even hurt the 'swine' of the Gadarenes until our Lord granted them permission.
1. Christ Sends Forth the Twelve Apostles. 1-6
2. Herod Perplexed. 7-9
3. The Return of the Apostles. 10
4. The Feeding of the Five Thousand. 11-17
5. Peter's Confession of Christ. 18-21
6. The Son of Man Announces His Death and Resurrection. 22
7. Necessity of Self-Denial. 23-26
8. The Transfiguration. 27-36
9. The Demon Cast Out. 37-43
10. The Second Prediction of His Rejection. 44-45
11. Disciples Rebuked. 46-50.
The sending out of the twelve is briefly given by Luke. The full account is in Matthew. All this shows the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Matthew writing concerning the King must needs give all the details of the sending out of the Kingdom messengers. In the foreground is put here the power and authority which the Lord gave to the Apostles over all demons and to cure all diseases. Did Judas also have this power? Assuredly, for he was an Apostle. The authority and power was conferred upon them and not for any faith, virtue or merit on the Apostle's side. They went forth preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. They are the messengers of the compassionate friend of sinners. Herod here fears Him and desires to see Him, who was greater than John, whom he had beheaded. Herod saw Him later. He had desired to see Him for a long time. At last He stood before Him bound, the willing sacrifice to be led away to the cross. Herod never heard a single word from His lips. Then the wicked King mocked. (Chapter 23:8).
The compassion and tenderness of the Lord is blessedly revealed throughout these verses. The Apostles returned and He took them away for rest. The multitude followed Him "and He received them, and spake unto them of the Kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing." The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is reported in all the Gospels including John. He graciously supplied their need. Peter's confession is preceded by prayer. In Matthew we read the fuller confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." There also the Lord saith that it was revealed unto Peter by His Father. Luke alone tells us He prayed before. May we then not look upon the confession as an answer to the Lord's prayer?
In the transfiguration scene we see Him again in prayer. "And as He prayed the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistening." Luke tells us of the subject of the conversation between the Lord, Moses, and Elijah. They spoke of His decease, which He should accomplish in Jerusalem. He had announced for the first time His coming suffering and death (verse 22) and that death demanded by the Law (Moses) and predicted by the prophets (Elijah), which must needs be and precede His, glory, is the great theme. Another statement is found in Luke, which is absent in Matthew and Mark. Moses and Elijah "appeared in glory"; not their own glory, but His glory. Luke also informs us that when they entered the overshadowing cloud, they feared. The Transfiguration is prophetic. Some day the Second Man, the last Adam, the head of the new creation, will appear in His Glory, and all His Saints will share that coming Glory.
IV. The journey to Jerusalem -- Chapter 9:51-19:27
1. His Face Set Toward Jerusalem. 51-52
2. The Rejected Messengers and His Rebuke. 53-56
3. Tests of Discipleship. 57-62.
The fifty-first verse marks a new part in this Gospel. The time was come; His hour was approaching. As the perfect Man we have seen Him. As babe, as child, as man in all His loveliness we have seen Him and now the compassionate, loving One, He, who always pleased God in a perfect obedience "steadfastly set His face to go up to Jerusalem." Coming from Galilee the messengers entered into a village of the Samaritans, who would not receive Him because His face was set toward Jerusalem, the city the Samaritans hated. James and John asked the Lord to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them as Elias did. They believed the Lord had the power to do this. They had been with Him and had seen His deeds of love and kindness and yet they could make so strange a request. He then rebuked them. Later John went again into Samaria, but manifested a far different spirit (Acts 8).
1. The Seventy Appointed. 1-16
2. The Return of the Seventy and the True Rejoicing. 17-20
3. Jesus Rejoiced in Spirit. 21-24
4. The Question of the Lawyer. 25-29
5. The Parable of the Good Samaritan. 30-37
6. Martha and Mary. 38-42.
Seventy others are commissioned by Him to be His heralds. They were to visit every city and place, which He would visit. How great and extended the labors of the Son of Man must have been. The Gospel of the Kingdom was then heralded as a witness. And He knew that the message would be rejected. The meek and lowly One, the friend of sinners pronounces as Judge the woes upon the cities, who had already rejected the message. When the messengers returned He said unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." According to Revelation 12, he is still occupying the heavens and the casting out of Satan is still future. The Lord beheld this complete downfall of Satan; the work the seventy had done was but a little anticipation of that which is yet to come. Then He rejoiced. Three times we read of Him that He wept, but only once that He rejoiced. He uttered concerning Himself a great declaration, which reveals His glory. "All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." Only He who is very God could utter such a declaration.
The lawyer's question leads to the utterance of the parable of the good Samaritan, to answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?" The parable answers the question fully, but it also contains the most blessed Gospel truths. Jerusalem is the city of God; Jericho represents the world. The traveller is the type of humanity. Man has fallen in the awful road which leads down, fallen among thieves, naked, wounded, helpless and hopeless. The failure of the Priest and the scribe to help illustrates the inability of the law and the ordinances to save man out of his deplorable condition. The good Samaritan is the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to the place where the lost are and He alone could have compassion on him. The wine typifies His precious blood He shed to save us. The oil is the type of the Holy Spirit, who applies the blood. He takes care of fallen man found by Him. The inn is typical of the church, where the Lord through His Spirit cares for His own. The two pence are not typical of "two sacraments" but speak of the reward, which those receive, who, under the Holy Spirit, care for souls. The promised coming again with a greater reward offered is the Second Coming of our Lord. The Gospel of the Manhood records this parable exclusively.
In verses 3,8-42 we find another incident reported exclusively by Luke. The story of Martha and Mary is closely linked with the preceding paragraph. Martha and Mary were both disciples. Martha was busy serving the Lord, while Mary took her place at His feet and let the Lord serve her. In this He delights.
"Martha has received Christ into her house, and surely into her heart. If she is busy, she is busy serving Him; yet that does not prevent her being distracted by it. She is more: she is vexed and irritated. Mary her sister is sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus, listening to His word; and she blames even the Lord for permitting it, while she needs her help so much. But the Lord asserts that Mary has chosen the good part, and it is moreover the only needful thing: it shall not be taken from her.
But is learning of Jesus, then, the one needful thing? Is activity nothing? is service nothing? We may be sure the Lord is very far from meaning that. But if a man brings me, let us say, an apple, I do not despise it when I say, 'The one thing is the tree that bears the apples.'"--Numerical Bible.
Twice more we find in the Gospels Mary at the feet of the Lord. When her brother Lazarus, had died, she wept at His feet and He comforted her. When she anointed Him, Mary again was at His feet. She owned Him as Prophet (Luke 10) as Priest (John 11) and as King (John 12).
1. The Prayer Given to the Disciples 1-4.
2. The Friend at Midnight. 5-10
3. Encouragement to Pray. 11-13
4. A Demon Cast Out and the Blasphemous Accusation. 14-23
5. The Return of the Unclean Spirit. 23-26
6. The Blessedness of Hearing the Word. 27-28
7. The Sign of Jonas. 29-32
8. The Single Eye. 33-36
9. The Pharisees Exposed and Denounced. 37-44
10. The Lawyers Exposed and Denounced. 45-54.
Prayer is here more fully dealt with. We have learned how the perfect Man, the Son of God, who had taken the creature's place, made use of prayer. Again we see Him praying and when His disciples request Him to teach them to pray, He gives them the form of prayer, commonly known as "the Lord's prayer." But the better name is "the Disciples' Prayer," for the Lord Jesus had no need to pray, "forgive us our sins." Many teach that this form of prayer was given twice, once in the Sermon on the Mount and the second time here. This is of course not impossible, but far from probable. If the prayer had been previously given, why should the request be made again? The ending which appears in Matthew, "For thine is the kingdom, etc.," is omitted here as it ought to be in the Gospel of Matthew, for it was undoubtedly added by someone else. The parable which follows is peculiar to Luke. The parable was spoken to encourage perseverance in prayer, to pray without ceasing, continue in prayer, to always pray and not faint, which are all exhortations to His people. The promise contained in the thirteenth verse was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost. To plead this promise now is unscriptural. The Holy Spirit has been given; He has come and dwells in the believer.
The story of His rejection is followed much in the same way as in Matthew. Verses 24-26 are in Matthew's Gospel applied to the nation. The unclean spirit of idolatry had left them and is to return with seven others. But here the words of the Lord have a wider application, for He speaks of the state of a man. Outward reformation without true conversion and the reception of the nature from above, but brings Satan back with seven other spirits. Self-reformation cannot save.
The chapter closes with the judgments pronounced upon the Pharisees and Lawyers. Verses 37-54. He had entered the lawyer's house as his guest. When the Pharisee marvelled, that He had not washed His hands in the ceremonial way, as commanded by the traditional law, the Lord uttered these solemn woes. They remind us of Matthew 23, but a closer study reveals the fact that the words of judgment Luke reports here were uttered at another occasion entirely. The words in Matthew were uttered in Jerusalem, while the words in Luke were spoken when He was journeying towards Jerusalem.
1. Warning Against Hypocrisy. 1-3
2. Encouragements. 4-14
3. Warning Against Covetousness. 15-21
4. Warning Against Anxiety. 22-31
5. The Disciples Comfort and Hope. 32-40
6. The Parable of the Steward. 41-48
7. The Purpose of God and the Resulting Division. 49-53
8. Concerning signs. 54-57
9. The Failure of Israel. 58-59.
Nearly all of the entire twelfth chapter is not found in the other Gospels. Perhaps the largest multitude, which ever gathered to hear the Lord, is seen here. He speaks to His disciples first of all and warns of the leaven of the Pharisees. But the warning was also meant for all who heard Him. He declares a coming day, when the hidden things shall be uncovered. Then He gives encouragement to His friends, "Be not afraid." What meaning these words have, coming from such lips! The entire first half of the chapter is taken up with warnings and encouragements to those who heed the warnings and are His friends.
He speaks of His own coming again. The little flock is assured of the kingdom. Everything else is uncertain, insecure and passing away. He is coming again and His return will bring the reward to His friends, who are obedient to His Word. They are to wait for Him. "From the wedding" is better rendered by "because of the wedding." The wedding, the marriage-feast does not precede His return, but follows that event. "He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." This is a wonderful statement. What service that will be, when He has His faithful people with Him! The Romans divided the night into four watches. The Lord speaks of the second and third watches, but does not mention the fourth. However in Matthew 14 we read that He came to His toiling servants in the fourth watch.
"He says nothing of the fourth, simply for the reason that the disciples, from that, should note that His return was by no means to be expected as late as possible; even as He does not name the first, because it would weaken the whole representation of the watchful servants. The Parousia does not come so quickly as impatience, nor yet so late as carelessness supposes, but in the very middle of the night, when the temptation to fall asleep is great and therefore must be most vigorously combated. It may even tarry longer than the servants think; but, grant that it should not take place even till the third, or should come even in the second watch of the night, whosoever perseveres faithfully at his post shall in no wise lose his reward."--Van Oosterzee.
He assures them that He will come "at an hour when ye think not." The parable of the Steward is closely linked with all this. A solemn declaration is made, found only in Luke, concerning the penalties. (Verses 47-48.) The punishment is according to the knowledge of the Lord's will. His rejection by Israel has brought for the world the results of which He speaks next.
1. The Necessity of Repentance. 1-5.
2. The Barren Fig Tree. 6-9
3. The Healing of a Daughter of Abraham. 10-17
4. Parable of the Mustard Seed. 18-19
5. Parable of the Leaven. 20-21
6. Solemn Teachings. 22-30
7. The Answer to Herod. 31-33
8. Lament over Jerusalem. 34-35.
Luke alone gives the parable of the fig tree as well as the historical incidents preceding the parable. The absolute necessity of repentance is emphasized by the Lord. The fig tree is the nation Israel; but the individual application must not be eliminated. When there is no repentance, after God's merciful patience, the delayed judgment will be executed. Israel illustrates this fully. The tree was hewn down, though the root remains. In Matthew we read of the budding fig tree, the sign that the summer is nigh.
The healing of the daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound for eighteen years, is reported only by Luke. Attention has been called to the significance of the number 18. Upon 18 fell the tower of Siloam and the woman, who was bound for 18 years. "The number 18, which is 3 x 6 (six the number of man) speaks of evil manifested in its highest uprise"--Numerical Bible. Satan had manifested his dreadful power over this daughter of Abraham but the Son of Man, who came to seek and to save that which is lost, has the power to deliver her. She was made straight and glorified God. The expression "daughter of Abraham" signifies that she was a believer. Satan was permitted to afflict her body; it was the same with Job. See also 1 Corinthians 5:5.
The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven appear in Luke in an entirely different setting than in Matthew. We have already seen in our annotations of Matthew 13, what these two parables teach. Here in Luke they are evidently closely linked with the parable of the barren fig tree, showing that when Israel has failed and passed under the national judgment, the Kingdom of God, as resting in the hands of man, becomes like any other kingdom of the world, sheltering the unclean (fowls), and internally it is corrupted by leaven.
Solemn teachings follow in answer to the question "Lord, are there few to be saved?" The door is open, but narrow. And the door to salvation will one day be shut for those who refused to enter in. And here we find the words which were omitted by Luke in the account of the healing of the Centurion's servant. The application to the Jews, who rejected Him, and the acceptance of the Gospel by the Gentiles is self -evident. The person, whom our Lord calls "fox," most likely was Herod himself. The "today and tomorrow" refer to His great work in bearing testimony and working miracles; the third day, when He would be perfected, is the day of resurrection. Then follows His lament over Jerusalem. The consecutive teachings of this chapter, beginning with the necessity of repentance, Israel's failure, the demonstration of His power, His solemn words and finally His lament over Jerusalem are intensely interesting.
1. The Man with the Dropsy Healed on the Sabbath. 1-6
2. The Wisdom of Humility. 7-11
3. Recompensed in Resurrection. 12-14
4. The Parable of the Great Supper. 15-24
5. Conditions of Discipleship. 25-35.
Again He heals on the Sabbath. In the house of a ruler, a Pharisee, they were watching Him. He had gone there to eat bread. What condescension! They were His enemies, yet He loved them. He healed the man with the dropsy. The question, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?" was answered by the very power of God.
The parable which follows, also peculiar to Luke, emphasizes the wisdom of humility. The natural man with the pride of life as a governing principle loves self-exaltation. Abasement for him follows in judgment to come; but if man humbleth himself before God, exaltation will follow. He, the Son of Man, had humbled Himself and taken the lowest place. How great is His exaltation! Then He exhorts to seek recompense at the resurrection of the just. Here is a hint on the two resurrections, which are so clearly distinguished in Scripture. The first resurrection is the resurrection of the just and includes all the Saints of God. In that resurrection there will be a reward according to works, but no sinner can work to make himself worthy of that resurrection.
The parable of the great supper is distinct from the similar one in Matthew 22:1-14. They were spoken at different occasions. The parable in Matthew has clearly marked dispensational aspects, such as the twofold offer to Israel, before and after the cross, the judgment upon Jerusalem and the calling of the Gentiles, etc. The primary object of the parable in Luke is also to show the unbelief of the Jews, especially the self-righteous Pharisees and the call of the publicans and harlots. God has mercifully provided the feast. The Kingdom had come nigh. All things are now ready. The Son of God had come in their midst. But the parable also looks forward to the finished work of the Cross. That work has made all things ready. The self-righteous among the Jews refused and brought their excuses. Then exactly that came to pass of which the Lord had spoken (verses 12-14). The publicans and harlots, the poor, maimed, blind and lame came. They could not have the excuses of the self-righteous of the nation. The call of the Gentiles is also seen in this parable: "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." The doom f the rejectors is seen in verse 24. The great multitude, which followed Him then hears from His lips the conditions of true discipleship. Let no one say, as it has been said, that they are not binding today.
1. The Murmuring Pharisees. 1-2
2. The Parable of the Lost Sheep. 3-7
3. The Parable of the Lost Coin. 8-10
4. The Parable of the Prodigal Son and the Elder Brother. 11-32.
A blessed climax of the teaching of our Lord as the Saviour and the friend of sinners is reached with this chapter, a chapter which the Saints of God have always loved and will always love. Here we find the completest illustration of the key text of Luke "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost." The tax-gatherers and sinners, after hearing His words and knowing the welcome which awaited them, drew near to Him in large numbers. The murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes and their words "This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them" is answered by the Lord with three parables. The parables of the lost sheep, of the lost coin and of the prodigal son belong together. The lost Coin parable and the parable of the prodigal are peculiar to Luke. The Trinity is revealed in these parables seeking that which is lost. The Son is seen in the Shepherd; the Holy Spirit in the parable of the lost coin and the Father in the parable of the prodigal.
In the study of these parables it must not be overlooked that the Lord answers in the first place the murmuring Pharisees. This however does not exclude the wider application on Gospel lines. Bengel states that in the first parable the sinner is seen as stupid; in the second as totally ignorant of himself and in the third as the daring, wilful sinner. In the parable of the Shepherd the ninety and nine do not, represent the unfallen angels, nor, as it has been suggested, inhabitants of other worlds, but the self-righteous Pharisees, who think they need no repentance. The one sheep, lost and helpless, pictures the tax-gatherers and sinners, who owned their lost condition. All must first be applied on this ground. The Son of Man had come to seek and to save. He looked for the lost; He followed them and sought them out at their tables; He ate and drank with them, so that He was called a wine-bibber. The found sheep He puts on His own shoulders; He would not leave this to a servant. The care of the saved sheep is all His own. And there is joy in heaven over one repenting sinner. It was a severe rebuke to the Pharisees, who did not rejoice when the tax-gatherers and sinners came but murmured. The second parable is of much interest and has been interpreted in various ways. We quote here the exposition as given in the "Numerical Bible" as the most satisfactory one.
"The second parable is that of the woman, in the Scripture the figure of the Church, the instrument of the Spirit. The lamp of the Word is in her hand, and she needs it in the darkness of the night, while Christ is absent. The 'house' is the circle of natural ties and relationships; for it is not just a question of public preaching, but of that testimony upon which the success of the preacher after all so much depends, and for which the whole Church, and not any class or section of it, is responsible. Good it is to realize that every soul of man, covered with the dust of sin as he may be, and hidden in the darkness of the world, belongs of right to the King's treasury, and has the King's image stamped on him, though with sore disfigurement. Claim him we may, wherever we may find him, for God to whom he belongs. This general evangelism, we may learn from the parable here, is what is the mind of the Spirit for the Church indwelt of Him. Here too there must be friends and neighbors summoned to rejoice,--angelic onlookers who are in sympathy with Him who is always the glorious Seeker, and who sets in motion all the springs of love and pity that flow anywhere in unison with His own."
In the Parable of the prodigal son is brought out again the two classes of men before whom the Lord spoke these parables. The prodigal represents the publicans, the elder son the ritualistic Pharisees. The application in the Gospel, which this parable so blessedly reveals, the condition of man as a sinner, the true repentance, the Father's joy, the welcome the returning one receives, etc., all is so well known that we need to make no further annotations. The elder son's character clearly shows that the Pharisee, self-righteous and self-sufficient, is completely in view. He has never transgressed a commandment and therefore considers himself above the poor, lost wanderer, who has returned home; he was angry. Thus the Pharisees were angry, when the Lord received the outcasts. It is strange that this parable should have been explained to mean that our Lord endorses worldly amusements and that a Christian may dance and make merry. There is no reason whatever that He has done so. The parable has, no doubt, a national meaning as well. The elder son represents the Jews and their unwillingness to see the Gentiles converted. The prodigal then is a picture of the degradation of the Gentiles.
1. The Unjust Steward. 1-12
2. The Impossible Service. 13
3. The Deriding Pharisees Answered. 14-17
4. Concerning Divorce. 18
5. The Rich Man and Lazarus. 19-31.
Let us notice that this story was spoken to the disciples. It contains a number of difficulties. It has well been said "there are knots in it which perhaps will never be untied, until the Lord comes again. We might reasonably expect that a book written by inspiration, as the Bible is, would contain things hard to be understood. The fault lies not in the book, but in ourselves." The story of the unjust steward is used to teach wisdom in the use of earthly things. What the steward did was an unjust thing, but he acted wisely. "The lord commended the unjust steward because he had done wisely." Then our Lord makes the statement that "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." But what is the application? "And I say unto you, Make yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it (not ye) fails, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Pages could be filled with interpretations which have been given of this statement. Many of these have been made at the expense of the grace of God, which alone fits a sinner for glory. (Godet gives a novel interpretation: "May not the disciple who reaches heaven without having gained here below the degree of development which is the condition of full communion with God, receive the increase of spiritual life, which is yet wanting to him, by means of those grateful spirits with whom he shared his temporal goods here below?") Heaven cannot be bought by the rightful use of earthly things. Man as God's steward has failed and has wasted His goods. But the disciple is to use earthly things, the mammon of unrighteousness, to a wise and advantageous purpose. The Lord's word may be paraphrased in this wise: "Use the temporal things, the mammon of unrighteousness with an eye to the future, as the steward did his, so that it will be like friends you have made." "That they may receive you" is indefinite and must be regarded to signify rather "Ye may be received." We leave this difficult passage by quoting a valuable comment on it: "On the one hand let us beware of opposing that by any use of money we can purchase to ourselves God's favor and the pardon of our sins. Heaven is not to be bought. Any such interpretation of the verse is most unscriptural. On the other hand, let us beware of shutting our eyes against the doctrine which the verse unmistakably contains. That doctrine plainly is, that a right use of our money in this world, from right motive, will be for our benefit in the world to come. It will not justify us. It will not bear the severity of God's judgment, any more than other good works. But it shall be an evidence of our grace, which shall befriend our souls. There is such a thing as 'laying up treasure in heaven,' and 'laying up a good foundation against the time to come.' (Matthew 6:20; 1 Timothy 6:19.)"--Bishop Ryle. That the whole story has a meaning connected with the elder son the Pharisee in the preceding parable must not be overlooked. The Pharisees were avaricious. After the Lord had declared the impossible service, not alone then, but in all times, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon," the Pharisees, who heard all these things and who were covetous, derided him.
A solemn paragraph closes the chapter. Avoid the use of the word "parable" in connection with these verses. The Lord said, "There was a certain rich man." It is history and not a parable. The derision of the Pharisees on account of the Lord's words about the unjust steward must have been based upon their trust in the law and the promise of the law, that temporal blessings and riches were in store for all who keep the law. The story our Lord relates is aimed once more at the sneering, unbelieving, self-righteous Pharisees.
The rich man had great riches. But his riches were not the evidences of divine favor and blessing. Lazarus, the poor man, had no earthly possessions. Was his poverty an evidence of divine displeasure? Then the Lord, the omniscient Lord, draws aside the veil and reveals what is hidden from the sight of man. Both die. Lazarus is carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. He had no means to make friends for himself by using the mammon of unrighteousness, so as to be welcomed in the everlasting habitations. And yet he is there. God had in His infinite grace carried him so high. Lazarus' name means "God is Helper."
The rich man also died and is in Hades (not in hell; the lake of fire opens after the judgment). He is in torment and sees Lazarus in Abraham's bosom. He hears that there is no relief, no hope. An impassable gulf is fixed, which separates forever the lost and the saved. Not a ray of hope is given by the Lord, that there is the slightest possibility after death for another chance. Death fixes forever the eternal condition of every human being. Whoever meddles with this solemn truth, whether a Russellite, or Restorationist or whatever name he may bear, rejects the testimony of the Son of God and charges Him with not having spoken the truth. We cannot follow the solemn story in all its details. Future punishment of the wicked, the future conscious punishment of the wicked, the future conscious and eternal punishment of the wicked is denied and sneered at today by the majority of professing Christians. But the Lord Jesus, the friend of sinners, the One who came to seek and to save what is lost, teaches beyond controversy in this solemn story, the future, conscious and eternal punishment of the wicked.
Of late one hears much that the story is a parable, that the rich man typifies the Jew, his torment, their persecutions; the poor man is the Gentile. It is an invention. The story must be forced to mean this. The careful student will soon see how impossible such an application is. Nor is the view new. It was taught by many errorists of past generations.
1. Concerning Offenses and Forgiveness. 1-4
2. Increase of Faith and Lowly Service. 5-10
3. The Ten Lepers. 11-19
4. Concerning the Kingdom and His Second Coming. 20-37
The story of the ten lepers is only found in Luke. All were cleansed by the power of God and the nine obeyed the Word of the Lord and went to the priests (Leviticus 13-14). But the tenth did not go but instead turned back and glorified God with a loud voice and fell on his face at the feet of the Lord. He took the attitude of a worshipper; and he was a Samaritan. He turned his back upon the ceremonial law and owned the Giver of the blessing he had received. We have in this healed, worshipping Samaritan, who does not worship in the mountain of Samaria, nor in the temple in Jerusalem, an earnest of the new dispensation to come. (John 4:22-24.)
The question "when the Kingdom of God should come" is answered by the statement "the Kingdom of God is within you." The translation is faulty. The "within" means "among"; so that we read "the Kingdom of God is among you." It had appeared in their midst in the Person of the King. Then He spoke of His second coming. He reminds them of the days of Noah and the days of Lot. His coming here is His visible coming at the end of the age and not His coming for His Saints, which is a subsequent revelation. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.) Then one will be taken (in judgment as the People perished in Noah's and Lot 's day) and the other left (on earth to be in the Kingdom).
1. The Unjust Judge and the Avenging of His Elect. 1-8
2. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. 9-14
3. The Little Children and the Required Lowliness. 15-17
4. The Rich Young Ruler. 18-27
5. Rewards Promised. 28-30
6. The Renewed Prediction of His Suffering, Death and Resurrection. 31-34
7. The Blind Man near Jericho Healed. 35-43.
The parable of the unjust judge is closely connected with the preceding announcement of His second coming. "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" Apostasy and darkness will rule the day. But a faithful remnant of His people, His elect, will suffer and cry day and night to Him for help and deliverance. His coming will avenge them. The resources in those days will be prayer, as prayer is always the resource of the Saints of God. In the Psalms the Spirit of God has recorded the prayers of the suffering Jewish Saints during the great tribulation.
This parable also is found only in Luke. It is a continuation of the great subject of this Gospel, that the lost are saved and the self-righteous rejected. "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." The self-righteous Pharisee trusted in himself; pride and self-conceit are expressed in his prayer. He speaks of a negative goodness "not as other men" and then he speaks of his good works, which are even more than God demanded in His law. God did not demand tithes of all possessions. The Publican did not lift his eyes to heaven. His prayer was more than asking for mercy. It means literally translated, "God be propitiated towards me, the sinner." He felt the need of a sacrifice. It is interesting to note that the Greek word "be merciful to" is found only once more in the New Testament. In Hebrews 2:17 it is applied to our Lord "making reconciliation."
1. The Salvation of Zacchaeus. 1-10
2. The Parable of the Ten Pounds. 11-27.
When He drew near to Jericho the Lord healed the blind beggar. The reader will find hints on the meaning of this miracle in the annotations of the Gospel of Mark. (10:46-52.) The story of Zacchaeus is not found in the other Synoptics. The Lord is now in Jericho. Zacchaeus (meaning: clean) was the chief tax-gatherer and a rich man. "He sought to see Jesus"; his desire and faith overcame all hindrances which were in his way. The rich man climbing into a sycamore tree must have brought him ridicule. Little did he know that He, whom he sought, was seeking him. The Lord knew him and called him by name. And so Zacchaeus received Him joyfully into his house, while others murmured because He was to be a guest of a sinner. But Zacchaeus, though the chief publican, was an honest man. His confession shows that. He did not say what he intended to do, but what he had done already in his past life. It was not the result of having received the Lord in his house, but Zacchaeus answered by it the accusation of those who had murmured. He was a son of Abraham, yet destitute of salvation, which he knew not with all his honesty. But the Lord had brought now Salvation to his house. Zacchaeus was lost but the Son of Man had found him.
The parable of the ten pounds was occasioned because they that heard Him thought the Kingdom of God should immediately appear. He speaks of Himself in the parable as going to a far country to receive a Kingdom and to return. In the interval His servants are to be faithful with the entrusted pounds. "Occupy till I come." The ten servants represent Christendom in the same way as the ten virgins. The one who had hidden the pound in the sweat cloth (soudarion) is called a wicked servant and represents a mere professing believer, an unsaved person. The citizens mentioned in the parable, who hated the nobleman are the Jews. (Verse 14.) The parable teaches definitely that when the Lord returns He will reward His faithful servants for their faithfulness. May it be an incentive for us to occupy till He comes.
V. In Jerusalem -- Chapter 19:28-21:38
1. The Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem. 28-40.
2. Weeping over Jerusalem. 41-44.
3. The Purification of the Temple. 45-48.
The triumphal entry of the Lord into Jerusalem has been before us already in Matthew and Mark. He is presented as King. Luke gives an interesting addition. The multitude of disciples rejoiced and praised God for all the mighty works they had seen. "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest." The angelic announcement was "peace on earth"; here the disciples say "peace in heaven." Such will be the ultimate and glorious effect of the work of Christ, when Satan will be cast out of heaven, the heavenly inheritance redeemed (Ephesians 1:13), and the reconciliation of things in heaven (Colossians 1:20) accomplished. All this and much more will surely come, when the King-Messiah comes again. Then there will be peace on earth, peace in heaven and glory in the highest. Verses 41-48. What a scene it must have been when He saw the great city and wept over it! Before He utters the great prophecy announcing the doom of the city, He weeps. What a glimpse it gives of the loving heart of the Saviour-King, the friend of sinners! And all came as He announced. The second cleansing of the temple took place after that. See annotations on Mark 11:15-18.
1. His Authority Demanded and His Answer. 1-8
2. Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. 9-19
3. Question about Tribute to Caesar. 20-26
4. The Question Concerning Resurrection. 27-40
5. The Question Christ Asked. 41-44
6. Beware of the Scribes! 45-47.
The events in this chapter are found in both Matthew's and Mark's Gospels. The parable of the vineyard foretells His death. He is the son, the beloved son, whom the husbandman cast out of the vineyard and killed. The rejected stone, which becomes the head of the corner (Psalm 118:22) is likewise Christ. Verse 18 shows the judgment which came upon the Jews nationally. Rejecting Christ, stumbling and falling upon that stone they were broken. It also shows the future judgment which will strike the Gentile world-powers at the close of the times of the Gentiles, when the Stone shall fall out of heaven and smite the image, which represents Gentile dominion (Daniel 2). Inasmuch as we have followed the different questions in Matthew and Mark, put to the Lord by the chief priests, scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees, to ensnare Him, no further annotations are needed here.
1. The Widow's Mite. 1-4
2. The Destruction of the Temple Predicted. 5-6
3. The Disciple's Question Concerning the Future. 7
4. Things to Come. 8-19
5. The Destruction of Jerusalem and the World-wide Dispersion of Israel. 20-24
6. The Return of the Lord with Power and Great Glory. 25-28
7. The Fig Tree and Warnings. 29-38.
This entire chapter with the exception of the incident of the widow's mite is prophetic. Luke's account however differs in many ways from the account given of the prophetic Olivet discourse in Matthew and also that in Mark. Matthew gives the Olivet discourse in its completest form. (See Matthew 24 and 25.) He reports what the Lord had to say concerning the end of the age, the great tribulation, which concerns the Jewish believers living at that time; then in three parables He revealed the moral conditions existing in Christendom and how He will deal with them and finally He revealed, as reported by Matthew, the judgment of the Gentile nations.
The characteristic feature of Luke's report is that he has little to say about the details of the end of the age, such as the great tribulation and what will take place during that period of time (Matthew 24:4-42). Instead of this he was led by the Spirit of God to record in the fullest way what our Lord had said concerning the fall of Jerusalem, the fate of Jerusalem, the dispersion of the nation and the duration of all this. The Lord announced that Jerusalem would be compassed by armies and that days of vengeance would come. (Verses 20-23.) There would then be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.
This great prophecy was fulfilled in the year 70 A.D., when the Romans besieged Jerusalem and a million perished, besides 100,000 who were made slaves. It is one of the most awful pages in human history. So has verse 24 been fulfilled. The Jewish nation has been scattered among all the nations; Jerusalem has been trodden down by the Gentiles and is still in that state. But the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled in the future and when that comes, deliverance and restoration for Jerusalem and the nation are promised. Luke significantly tells us about the fig tree, "and all the trees." (Verse 29.) They are to shoot forth and that would be a sign of His Return. The fig tree is Israel. Who are the other trees? Other nations, who are to see a revival before the Lord comes, such as the centers of the Roman empire, Italy, Greece and Egypt. Israel and these other nations indeed "shoot forth"; from this we are to learn that great events in connection with the Kingdom of God are at hand. May we also heed the warnings with which this chapter closes.
VI. His Rejection, Suffering and Death -- Chapter 22-23
1. The Betrayer. 1-6.
2. Preparation for the Passover. 7-13.
3. The Last Passover. 14-18.
4. The Lord's Supper Instituted. 19-20
5. The Betrayal Announced. 21-23
6. Strife for Honor; True Greatness. 24-27
7. Rewards Promised. 28-30
8. Peter and the Disciples Warned. 31-38
9. The Agony in the Garden. 39-46
10. The Betrayal and the Arrest. 47-53
11. Peter's Denial. 54-62
12. The Son of Man Buffeted and Before the Council. 63-71.
And now we reach the story of His Rejection, Suffering and Death. What pen is able to describe it all! What mind can fathom it! We shall again confine ourselves to those things which are peculiar to Luke and not repeat annotations as given in Matthew and Mark. Notice the difference in the words of the institution of the Lord's supper. Matthew and Mark have "My blood shed for many." In Luke we find the words "My body which is given for you"; "My blood which is shed for you." His love shines out fully in these words. In Luke alone we have His loving request "this do in remembrance of Me." Oh! that His people for whom He shed His blood may never forget this beautiful word and remember Him in this simple way.
And Luke shows us the contrast between Himself and His disciples. He was about descending into the deepest depths of humiliation; sorrow and shame were before the willing victim, yea the greatest agony and death. Among them was strife, who of them should be accounted the greatest. This was the second instance of contention for preeminence recorded by Luke. (See 9:46.) Then He announced the denial of Peter. Verses 31-32 are peculiar to Luke. Satan was to sift him as wheat, but the Lord knew all about it and had prayed for him and therefore Peter could not succumb and be lost. And the Lord is the same today. He knows His own and prays for them before Satan can ever come near with his temptations. The word "when thou art converted" does not mean that Peter was unconverted. It has the meaning "when thou hast returned back."
There is also a marked difference in the account Luke gives of Gethsemane from the accounts in Matthew and Mark. Luke tells us of an angel who strengthened Him. How could an angel strengthen Him, who is the Creator of the angels? He certainly could not strengthen His holy soul. That an angel strengthened Him must belong to His deep humiliation.
"But the body suffers, and presently the strain upon it is seen in the 'sweat, as it were great drops of blood,' that fall down upon the ground. Laborer for God and man as He is, His labor is a warfare also: the enemy is here, as He presently says to those who come to apprehend Him: 'This is your hour, and the power of darkness.' The Seed of the woman is planting His heel upon the head of the old serpent, but His heel is bruised in doing this. In the weakness of perfect Manhood He suffers, and conquers by suffering" (F.W. Grant).
Then follows the Betrayal with a kiss, the arrest of the Son of Man, Peter's Denial. Luke alone tells us that the Lord looked upon denying Peter; what look that must have been! The chapter ends with the cruel treatment of the Son of Man, the Friend of sinners, who had come to seek and to save that which is lost, received from man, His glorious self-witness and unjust condemnation by the council.
1. The son of man before Pilate and Herod. 1-12
2. Pilate Yields to the People's Will; Barabbas Freed and the Son of man Condemned. 13-26
3. The Crucifixion of the Son Of Man. 27-38
4. The Penitent Thief. 39-43
5. The Death of the Son of Man. 44-46
6. The Testimony of the Centurion. 47-49
7. The Burial. 50-56.
Before Pilate the Son of Man is accused as a perverter of the nation and as an enemy of the Roman government. They had attempted to ensnare Him with the question of the tribute money and failed so miserably in it. Their motive stands now uncovered. Pilate asks Him concerning His Kingship, which the Lord answered affirmatively. Thus He witnessed to two facts, His Sonship and His Kingship. Luke tells us what Matthew and Mark omit, that Pilate sent Him to Herod. The silence of the Son of Man standing before that wicked king is very solemn. Then He is mocked by Herod and his soldiers. Herod and Pilate became united in rejecting Christ. See how this fact is used in the first prayer meeting after the church had been formed. Acts 4:23-30.
The weakling Pilate is helpless. Their voices prevail. "Away with this man!"; "Release unto us Barabbas!"--"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" These are the cries now heard. Pilate then gave the awful sentence, that it should be done to Him as they required. The lamenting women and the Lord's answer is peculiar to Luke. "Weep not for me!" Blessed words of His great love. He looked for no sympathy from man. Frail women were moved to pity. He is the green tree; they were the dry wood. The people's wrath fanned by Satan's power was spending itself upon Him, the green and fruitful tree. How awful it would be when the dry wood, the unsaved masses, would be exposed to the fires of wrath and persecution. Forty years later the "dry wood" burned fiercely in the siege of Jerusalem. When they reach the place called "Calvary" (the skull: Luke only gives the name "Calvary" because it is the Gentile Gospel), the Latin, Gentile name for Golgotha,* they crucified Him. Luke omits much which is more fully given in the other Synoptics; we read nothing of the cry of the forsaken One. But Luke tells us of the blessed prayer which Matthew and Mark omit, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And His last word, "Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit," is also given exclusively by Luke. All this is in blessed keeping with the character of this Gospel.
The story of the dying thief and his salvation is also characteristic to Luke. The great lesson of the three crosses is so familiar that it needs no lengthy annotations. The two classes, the saved and the unsaved, are represented by the two thieves. He, the Lamb of God paying the penalty of sinners, is in the midst. The way the penitent was saved is the only way in which man can be saved. He could do no good works; he could not get baptized or perform anything else. All he could do was to cast himself in faith as a lost sinner upon the Lord. Nor was his salvation a life-long, progressive work (as some teach on salvation); it was instantaneous. Nor was there any "purgatory" for him. He expected to be remembered in the Kingdom to come. Instead of that he hears, "Verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in paradise." The attempt by soul-sleepers, restorationists and others to put the comma after "today" is a deceptive invention to bring the Word of God into line with their evil doctrines.
"This short prayer contained a very large and long creed, the articles whereof are these.
1. He believed that the soul died not with the body of man;--
2. That there is a world to come for rewarding the pious and penitent, and for punishing the impious and impenitent;--
3. That Christ, though now under crucifying and killing tortures, yet had right to a kingdom;--
4. That this kingdom was in a better world than the present evil world;--
5. That Christ would not keep this kingdom all to himself;--
6. That He would bestow a part and portion hereof on those that are truly penitent;--
7. That the key of this kingdom did hang at Christ's girdle, though He now hung dying on the cross;--
8. That he does roll his whole soul for eternal salvation upon a dying Saviour" (Ness).
Then the Son of Man cried with a loud voice ere He dismissed His spirit and the Centurion, in keeping with this Gospel, bears witness, that He was a righteous Man.
VII. His Resurrection and Ascension
1. The Resurrection. 1-12
2. The Walk to Emmaus; the Appearance of the Risen Son of Man. 13-35
3. The Appearance to the Eleven. 36-45
4. The Commission. 46-48
5. The Ascension. 49-53.
The account of the Resurrection in Luke's Gospel has also its characteristic features. He alone reports the full account of the walk to Emmaus. It is a precious story showing forth the fact that the risen One is the same tender, loving, sympathizing friend of His own. He joined Himself to the two disciples, who bad left Jerusalem. Their hearts were filled with Sadness and perplexity. He Himself drew near and their eyes were holden that they could not recognize Him. In a perfectly human way He joined Himself to them and asked them about their troubles. Then He reproved them for their unbelief and opened the Scriptures unto them. Constrained by them, He abides with them, as He always will with those who belong to Him. In the breaking of bread, their eyes were opened and they knew Him and He vanished from them. They returned to Jerusalem where they found abundant proof that the Lord is risen indeed.
The appearance to Simon is not fully made known. What took place between the Lord and the disciple who failed Him is a blessed secret between them. He then appeared again with His gracious "Peace be unto you." He showed them His hands and feet. He had a body of flesh and bones. He was not a phantom, but a real man. His body was real for He ate fish and honeycomb. All this belongs properly to the Gospel of the Manhood. It is the fullest demonstration of His physical resurrection. All the wicked "isms," including Russellism and Christian Science, which deny His physical resurrection stand here fully convicted.
It may be well to mention here the twelve distinct appearances of our Lord after His resurrection. He appeared:
1. To Mary Magdalene alone. Mark 16; John 20:14.
2. To the women returning from the sepulchre. Matthew 28:9-10
3. To Simon Peter alone. Luke 24:34
4. To the two disciples going to Emmaus. Luke 24:13, etc.
5. To the apostles at Jerusalem, except Thomas who was absent. John 20:19
6. To the apostles at Jerusalem, a second time, when Thomas was present. John 20:26-29. 7. At the sea of Tiberias, when seven disciples were fishing. John 21:1
8. To the eleven disciples, on a mountain in Galilee. Matthew 28:16
9. To above five hundred brethren at once. 1 Corinthians 15:6
10. To James only. 1 Corinthians 15:7
11. To all the apostles on Mount Olivet at His ascension. Luke 24:51.
12. To Paul as an untimely birth. 1 Corinthians 15:8-9.
Three times we are told that His disciples touched Him after He rose. Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:39; John 20:27.
Twice we are told that He ate with them. Luke 24:42; John 21:12-13,
The Gospel of Luke ends with the commission given to His disciples and the ascension of the Lord "while He blest them."