Daily Bible Study Tips –

Luke, Chapters 13 - 24

Overview of Luke
Comments on Luke Chapters 1 - 12

Luke 13:1-9
Luke 15:1-10
Luke 15:1-10
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Luke 16:1-13
Luke 16:19-31
Luke 17:5-10
Luke 17:11-19
Luke 19:37-40, Jesus' entry into Jerusalem
Luke 20:19-26
Luke 20:27-38
Luke 21:5-9
Luke 21:25-35
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 22: Luke 22:47-54, Judas’s Kiss of Betrayal
Luke 24:13-48
Luke 24:36-48
Luke 24:44-53

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Luke 13:1-9

The passage from Luke is a bit puzzling, even to scholars.  The incident Jesus refers to in vss. 1-2 is not certain, and the incident in vs. 4 is unknown outside this passage.  Nevertheless, several things are clear:

Luke 15:1-10 (4/24/09)

The best news about sinners is that Jesus is friendly with them. If you know someone who is worried that he or she must be a good person before coming to church, tell them the stories we're reading today. God and all his angels are happy when a sinner turns around and comes back home! So our goal, through the grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit, is not to commit sins; however, no matter how many times we turn away, God is always excited when we turn back.


Luke 15:1-10

Both of today's passages are about mug shots.  Last Sunday we attended Lakewood UMC in Lakewood, Colorado.  The preacher showed mug shots of various celebrities, and most of them looked pretty terrible, I can tell you.  (Mel Gibson looked great.)  Then she said, "God loves a mug shot."  Even when we hit bottom, when we look terrible, and when we have no resources, God loves us.  Very often, that's when we finally realize that we need God, and God is there for us.  So God loves a mug shot.
 
True, but I think this is like drinking.  All life-expectancy calculators and life-style assessments will show that people who have one or two alcoholic drinks per day are healthier than teetotalers – everything else being equal.  Nevertheless, if you don't drink, all of these same tools say, "Don't start!"  That's because when you consider everything else, it's usually not equal, and overall the risks of drinking outweigh the risks of not drinking.  God loves your mug shot, but don't get into trouble just so God can bail you out. See also 1 Timothy 1:12-17.


Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
(2007)
In addition to the charge of Sabbath-breaking, the Pharisees and scribes tried to stir people up because Jesus supposedly defiled himself by associating with tax collectors and sinners.  Now, most of us would probably be happy not to pay taxes, but we don't normally lump tax collectors with sinners.  Tax collectors were Roman collaborators – they didn't just collect taxes, they were contractors who extorted as much as they could, paid what was due to the hated Roman occupiers, and then kept the rest.  So most of them probably were sinners in the ordinary sense of the word "thieves."  Nevertheless, Jesus wants to point out to the Pharisees and scribes that sinners are exactly the people he has come to gather back to God.  He tells them three parables about the joy of finding lost things:  a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. 

Sometimes I feel like the older son – continuing to do my job for the Church but having to watch while some egregious sinner gets a lot of good press for repentance (vss. 29-30). Wesley points out that the elder son still has the complete inheritance: "God's receiving notorious sinners will be no loss to those who have always served him; neither will he raise these to a state of glory equal to that of those who have always served him, if they have, upon the whole, made a greater progress in inward as well as outward holiness." So we win either way. If we are egregious sinners, we can repent. If not, we have more time to go on toward perfection. Either way, God wants us to accept the salvation he offers in Jesus Christ.


Luke 16:1-13

Both of today's passages are about wealth – spiritual wealth and worldly wealth, which are intimately related to each other.   Some denominations preach that worldly wealth is necessarily bad, and that it will impair your spiritual well-being.  Others preach that spiritual wealth will necessarily lead to worldly wealth; therefore worldly wealth is good.  The United Methodist Church teaches that spiritual wealth will make us wise stewards of our worldly wealth, and wise use of our worldly wealth will increase our spiritual wealth.  Just the other day, Pastor David commented about the questions people ask at the pie cafe.  He asked, "What if we were as cautious about the ingredients in our own lives? What if we were as concerned about the things that take up space, demand our time, mortgage our pocket books, and consume our lives?"  We need to be concerned about using our worldly wealth to promote our spiritual wealth, and not the other way around. See also Proverbs 31:10-31.


Luke 16:19-31

Does your family break out the reference books on Christmas morning?  Ours does – sometimes we even receive reference books on Christmas morning!  A few years ago one of my sons received a tee shirt with two large, evil eyes and the message, "FEAR THIS.  'And he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.'  (Luke 18:23) Don't let it be you!"  Like Mary, we pondered what kind of greeting this might be – that is, we discussed what passage it might be from.  So we looked up Luke 18:23, and that reference wasn't correct.  We got out various concordances and quickly located the correct story, which is today's reading.  We reexamined the tee shirt, and it did have the correct reference, but there was an extra dot of ink on the 6.  Note that the rich man is not being punished for having money.  He is being punished for loving his money – that is, for not using some of it to take care of the sick beggar at his gate.  As you read the parable from Jesus, fear this!  Don't let it be you!


Luke 17:5-10

The problem of works vs. grace is a thorny one, and Jesus has a few words to say on that issue today.  Here are the main points you need to remember:
We should never fool ourselves into thinking that good works are optional. 
 
Now, it just so happens that our gracious God attaches value to our good works, in the same way that a grandparent attaches value to the artwork of a little child; nevertheless, we should also never fool ourselves into thinking that our good works would have any value at an auction.


Luke 17:11-19

Jesus always expressed amazement when he saw outstanding faith on the part of foreigners.  I wonder whether he was actually amazed.  Possibly he was feigning amazement in order to hold them up as an example to the Jews, who had less faith than they should have had, given what they had seen, and a low opinion of foreigners.
 
The lepers stand at a distance because it was against the Law for them to approach other people.  Jesus sends them to the priests because only a priest could determine that a leper had been healed and made ritually clean.  Even when Jesus healed them, they couldn't legally be readmitted to society without the priests' say-so.  The rules are complicated.  You will find them in Leviticus 13 and 14.  The rules did not apply to foreigners, so Jesus sends the foreign leper home when he has been healed.


Luke 19:37-40 Jesus' entry into Jerusalem (4/5/09)

Like David, Jesus chose symbols of humility as he came into the city of Jerusalem. Even though Jesus was mounted on a donkey, the crowds on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover recognized him as the Messiah. They waved palm branches and put their coats down for the donkey to walk on. They called out a blessing on "the king who comes in the name of the Lord," singing the words of Psalm 118. Naturally, some people were unhappy about the way Jesus entered Jerusalem, just as Michal was unhappy about the way David entered the city so long before. When his detractors insisted that Jesus quiet his supporters, his response hearkened back to the prophet Habakkuk. Testimony about Jesus and his work could not be silenced. If the people were silent, the stones would cry out the truth.


Luke 20:19-26 (4/14/2008)

Isn't this a great country?  I love paying taxes, because here and now it means that I earned money.  In first-century Judah, it just meant that the Romans were more powerful than the Jews.

Luke 20:27-38

Both of our passages deal with the end times.  The Sadducees asked Jesus a trick question of the "I've got you now" variety, but the Thessalonians asked a serious question.  Someone told the Thessalonians that the Second Coming had already come and gone, and they asked Paul if somehow they missed it.  A lot of people get het up periodically about the date of the Second Coming.  Many years ago my family and I were stopped on the street in Seattle by an extremely earnest young man who wanted to make sure we were saved, because the world was going to end on a specific date that fall.  These kinds of calculations miss the point.  You need to be ready all the time, precisely because you don't know when it's going to be.  Furthermore, if you die in the meantime, it doesn't matter.  So if you aren't ready to go right this minute, get your coat on! See also 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17.


Luke 21:5-9

Our scriptures this week are really preoccupied with the end times.  Ironically, they are mostly saying not to be preoccupied with the end times.  Don't calculate dates for the Second Coming, and don't be deceived if somebody else tells you their calculations.  Jesus says in another passage that even He doesn't know when it will be.  But are you ready?  Get ready!  See also Mark 13:1-10.


Luke 21:25-35

Do you have a dog or cat?  If so, you have probably seen your pet stand up and lift its head expectantly toward the door.  You know that someone is coming.  We had a German Shepherd who knew five minutes in advance that my husband was going to pull into the driveway – apparently she could hear the car well before it turned onto our street.  Jesus commented that we often recognize the signs that earthly things are about to happen, but we have more trouble recognizing that heavenly things are about to happen.  It's probably because we aren't paying attention.  Do you suppose we could hear Jesus coming if we stayed alert and listened? 


Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 22: Luke 22:47-54, Judas’s Kiss of Betrayal (3/31/15)

The best thing about this illustration, I think, is the depiction of Judas. Judas Iscariot must have had great potential, because otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have chosen him to be his disciple. For a time he was sincere; there’s no suggestion anywhere in the New Testament that he was anything but a real disciple of Jesus until the last few days before the feast of the Passover. But then something twisted inside him, and he betrayed his master to the authorities, knowing they wanted to kill him. In Doré’s illustration, Judas’s body is twisted, which to me is the closest art can come to showing a twisted soul.

Previous Step. Next Step.
The betrayal by Judas. Click to enlarge.
"The Betrayal" by Gustave Doré,
from the Gartin family Bible,
now in the private collection of Regina Hunter.


Luke 24:13-48

Today's passage emphasizes the physical reality of the resurrection.  I have a hard time understanding how some folks can read this and still deny bodily resurrection.  The scripture, here and elsewhere, clearly states that Jesus had a physical, flesh-and-blood body after his resurrection.


Luke 24:36-48 (4/23/09)

Let us assume that the worst has happened and we have committed a sin. Now what? God is holy, and an unholy person cannot come into his presence. Jesus addressed this problem at numerous times and places during his earthly ministry, and it is apparently an important point, because he addressed it again after his resurrection. He gave his disciples specific instructions about what to preach: in the name of Jesus Christ, turn back to God, so that you may be forgiven!


Luke 24:44-53

After the resurrection, Jesus spent some time teaching his disciples.  He appeared to more than 500 people.  His teachings from this period are not recorded; apparently he was repeating what he had said before, but the difference this time was that the disciples understood it.  He had told them prior to his death that he would die and be raised again, but until he died and was raised again and appeared to them, they didn't understand it.  To be fair, we wouldn't have understood it either.  Just before he ascended into heaven, he told them to return to Jerusalem until they were "clothed with power from on high."  Certainly they could not have foreseen the nature of Pentecost, but they joyfully did as Jesus commanded, confident in the goodness of God's plan.


Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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