Introduction to Luke
The Bible tells us God’s story, the history of his plan to save people through his Son, Jesus Christ, for his glory. The eternal, triune, living God decided to create to make known his surpassing value and goodness and to share his joy with a people that would be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is that word “saved” that touches our human situation. Why do people need to be saved or rescued? It is because of what God calls “sin”. Sin is rejection of God as God, refusal to love God, and rebellion against God and his will. Sin wreaks havoc in people and our world (Rm 1:29-31). People do not know peace—“well-being, wholeness, the fullness of God’s blessing or favor”. For this reason, Jesus came to establish peace in the people he came to save. Luke tells the story in Luke and Acts of how Jesus acted and still acts to bring peace to all the people groups of the world by setting up God’s kingdom—his saving reign. (“Peace” occurs about twelve times in Luke.)
Structure of Luke
- The preface and the introduction of Jesus (1:1-2:52)
- The preparation for Jesus’ ministry (3:1-4:13)
- The Galilean ministry (4:14-9:50)
- The journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27)
- The Jerusalem ministry (19:28-24:53)
Ideas and features of Luke
- Luke, a coworker of the apostle Paul, wrote Luke and Acts, a two-part work. Together, they contain about 27% of the words in the New Testament Scriptures
- The center of Luke and Acts is the accomplishment of salvation by Christ is his death, resurrection, ascension, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Lk 23-Ac 2); everything in Luke leads toward this central core, and everything in Acts develops from it; the two books tell the story from the birth of Jesus to the gospel reaching Rome
- If we want to know the right way to read the Old Testament Scriptures, we need to see the way that first Jesus and then his apostles used them; Luke 24 is very important in this regard; it is one of ten most important chapters in the Bible
- Luke wrote his Gospel so that people we know that the good news of Jesus is for all the people groups of the world; the book is addressed to Theophilus, which is a Greek name; Luke wants him to know the certainty of what he has been taught, which means that this man from the nations was a disciple
- Luke teaches that the kingdom of God arrived with the coming of Jesus; Christ brings the new age of God’s kingdom rule; there is a “new covenant”; however, there is another aspect of God’s kingdom that will only arrive when Jesus comes again; this is part of the “already/not yet” progression we see in God’s story
- Luke tells us about the “great reversal” that Jesus brings among people; for this reason we hear a lot about good news for the poor, the humble, the disadvantaged, tax collectors, religious outcasts, women, and people from Samaria and the rest of the nations; years ago someone described Jesus as “the King of the Misfits”; the good news is that Jesus welcomes people from every level of human society, including you and me
- Luke presents the necessity of prayer (mentioned about 30 times in Luke), a proper use of one’s possessions (riches and prosperity can hinder anyone’s relationship with God), sharing one’s life by eating with others, and the absolute importance of the Holy Spirit
I. Christ’s message to them
A.The historical setting of this meeting of Jesus and his followers
1.Luke recorded the numerous failures of Christ’s followers on their last day with him. They had argued about who was the greatest of them. They had fallen asleep when they should have been watching and praying. They had not grasped that Jesus came to dies and rose again, and so they had suggested that they use swords to defend him. After Peter’s denial, they disappear from the story until after the resurrection.
2.Even after they had heard reports that Jesus had risen and Peter had seen the empty tomb, they still were struggling with doubts. When Jesus appeared to them, they were frightened.
B.Yet Jesus came with a message of peace for them.
1.Christ’s birth was celebrated by an army of angels announcing peace (2:14). Jesus told a woman to go in peace because her faith had saved her (7:50). He healed a woman who had been sick for twelve years and told her to go in peace (8:48). He sent his followers out with a message of peace (10:5-6). When Jesus was welcomed as king at his triumphal entry, the crowds exclaimed “peace in heaven” (Lk 19:38).
2.On meeting with a group of his followers for the first time after his resurrection, Jesus gave them the blessing of peace. Peace had come because he accomplished peace by his death and resurrection. This group that was to form the first local church was to be a people of peace, enjoying peace, spreading peace. The Holy Spirit would come to produce his fruit of peace in them (Gal 5:22). We also should exude or radiate peace.
Apply: Can people say of you, “I sense the peace of Jesus Christ being in your presence?”
II. Convincing proofs of his resurrection – This is the turning point of history.
The future of God’s story comes out from Jesus really being raised from the dead. This is it, or there is no more story! Therefore, Jesus gave many convincing proofs, and here we see three of them.
A.Christ’s awareness of their need
1.The Lord questioned them to help them face their troubled thoughts and doubts. Christ acts as the Wonderful Counselor to lead them to openness about their doubts. Observe that the Lord does not want our knowledge of him to be based on some kind of mythical leap of faith. No, he wants us to face reality; in fact, he demands that we do.
2.The Lord does not give up on us when we are troubled and doubting. This is good news! At the same time, he wants us to comprehend our condition and admit it. If you came into our gathering this morning expecting to find only people of triumphant faith, well… you might be disappointed. We are too much like the disciples described in our text. But what we want to share with you is the good news that Jesus Christ helps those of very weak faith. He guides us into a better spiritual condition by the word of God and the Holy Spirit.
B.The Lord provides three evidences to them. Having got out of the tomb, Christ steps into their lives in order that they might know who he really is—the Lord of life! These people had heard of an empty tomb, folded grave clothes, and angels, but it took the personal appearance of Jesus himself to convince them of the reality of the resurrection.
1.See – Jesus wanted them to verify his identity. The same Jesus that was crucified stood among them.
2.Touch – Jesus let them know that he was not a ghost, but that he has a real, substantial, tangible, solid, material, resurrected body. His full humanity was intact.
3.Participate – Jesus asked them to give him something, so that he could demonstrate his true, living humanity by eating it.
Apply: Christ’s resurrection gives life to real Christians, who are ready to take the good news about him everywhere. “If Jesus rose from the dead you have to accept all he said, if he didn’t rise from the dead then why worry about anything he said…. If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything.” (Keller, The Reason for God, p. 202).
III. Missional purpose
A.Basis is in the teaching of the Scriptures.
1.The Scriptures are a book about Jesus Christ. Every part of the OTS speaks about him. “Central to our understanding of the Old Testament is the fact that Jesus, the apostles and all the New Testament authors saw it as in some way a book about Jesus Christ… The overwhelming testimony of the New Testament is that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, which is another way of saying that the Old Testament is about Jesus” (Goldsworthy, According to Plan, p. 53) The NTS, still to be written on that night, record what Christ did, does and will do, and the significance of his actions. In the Bible we see Christ stepping into the lives of people to honor the Father. (See also Goldsworthy, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology, p.31.)
2.Jesus explained what had happened to him as the fulfillment of what the Scriptures taught about him. Jesus’ death and resurrection came from the divine “must”. God did these things. So then, his followers can teach from the Bible to show others the fulfillment of God’s purposes.
Apply: This is what makes the Biblical message important and powerful. God is speaking to people today through his word. In the Bible God tells us of Jesus who is able to save completely those who come to God through him. In an age of doubt, disillusionment and despair, people need this message of hope!
B.Illumination to understand clearly three essential truths.
1.The gospel (good news) is the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that it is foundational to everything Christianity teaches. The cross tells of the perfect sacrifice that takes away sin and guilt and punishment, provides forgiveness, establishes a new covenant, removes God’s wrath, and puts us in a right relationship with God. His resurrection demonstrates that God has accepted what Christ did and so gives us eternal life in him. The main theme of the Bible is the story of God’s glory in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.
2.The proper response to the good news is true conversion, indicated here by repentance. What is repentance? It is a change of mind about God, who we are, sin, Christ, and salvation. It is looking at life from God’s standpoint. When a person has this change of mind, he or she trusts or relies on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
3.This good news is to be preached in Christ’s name to all nations. Since the Lord Jesus accomplished salvation, we are to tell people about him. We are partners in his mission. We have the message of life for all people everywhere, regardless of gender, skin color, ethnic heritage, educational level, political views, or social and economic status. And we don’t simply tell people to tolerate others and work toward peace. We tell them that Christ is peace and all who have faith him in are accepted by God and God’s people! Christ is the source of our peace. He is our peace.
1.To witness or testify about what Christ did in his death and resurrection. The focus is on Christ. But how will people listen to the message about Jesus Christ? It seems that people are too distracted by things or disillusioned by religion or disappointed by false hopes or delighted with their own ideas. Everyone wants to think that he or she is an expert in spiritual matters. How will they ever listen and respond positively?
2.Need of the Holy Spirit – He is what God the Father promised (cf. Ezk 36:27; Joel 2:28). All that Christ’s followers need comes through the Spirit.
Apply: We invite you to become followers of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Right now you can have a change of mind and receive Christ and the peace that he is and gives.