In Luke we get a beautiful exhibition of the state of the pious remnant in Israel at the time of our Lord’s first appearing. We also get the working of the Spirit of God among them, and at the same time the public state of the nation under the Gentiles (chap. 1).
We get the whole political world set in motion to bring a carpenter to Bethlehem (chap. 2).
In connection with the remnant, John the Baptist comes, announcing Him who is to baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire (chap. 3). We now get the genealogy from Adam. Luke gives us Christ as the Son of man in perfect moral display upon earth. He also gives us the grace of God, displayed in His coming, yet still serving in the midst of Israel.
This service in grace, with particular reference to its moral elements, is unfolded in chapters 4-7. Jesus shows its extension to the Gentiles, and the breaking of covenant relations with the Jews. We have not merely the character of the remnant, but the disciples as the remnant, “Blessed are ye poor,” (Ch 6:20) etc. (4-7).
We get (in the demoniac of Gadara – chap. 8) a special picture
- of the healing of the remnant in Israel,
- of the ruin of the people,
- the mission of the delivered remnant, left as a witness instead of going with Him.
In the transfiguration (chap. 9), we find special reference to His intercourse with Moses and Elias as to His decease. Son of man is to be delivered up. The unbelief of the whole generation, including His disciples, will close His whole connection with Israel. Then we see the claim of absolute devotedness to Himself. Meanwhile He insists on the judgment of self in all its forms.
The patient service of Christ to Israel is seen in sending out the seventy (Chap. 10). Israel is warned as to final judgment: whatever power He gave them in connection with the kingdom, their delight should be rather that they belonged to heaven. We then get, further, the principle of grace in dealing as a neighbour, instead of the claim of God towards a neighbour.
The word and prayer with the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those who ask the Father who hears our prayers. After that, we have the judgment of scribes and Pharisees for the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for He had proved that the kingdom of God had come among them. The power of the enemy is bound, so that He could deliver all who were under it. Now, in the state in which the nation was, He was the test of its deliverance and of its going right. The nation would be left to the power of Satan, in whose power the Lord had been accused of acting.
Hearing the word is more important than being associated with Israel according to the flesh – more than any fleshly tie. Thus the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba would rise up in judgment against that generation, and the blood of all the prophets should be found in them. They should be tested by apostles and prophets being sent to them; but these they would slay.
He then teaches the disciples to trust in God for everything, and to confess Him, the Lord Jesus, in the presence of all this opposition. The Holy Spirit would be given to them; so that they who resisted and blasphemed the Holy Spirit in them should be judged.
He taught them (the disciples) that all things should be made manifest. They were to be careful for nothing, but to seek the kingdom which it was the Father’s good pleasure to give them. They were to have their treasure in heaven, and wait for the Lord. He then gives the character of the faithful and unfaithful servant in His absence. He shows that His testimony will bring in division among men, even in families, and warns the people to take notice of the signs of the times. They ought to judge what was right, Jehovah being as one going with them to judgment, and they must agree with Him by the way (chap. 12).
We have in chapters 13 and 14, both in a parabolical way and in direct instructions, the setting aside of Israel, and the letting in of the Gentiles. In order to follow Him, men must take up their cross, and be the salt of the earth.
In chapters 15 and 16, the ways of God in grace we have with sinners, still connected with the setting aside of Judaism. Thus we have,
- grace seeking and receiving sinners
- future hopes substituted for present enjoyment
- the veil drawn aside, so that what is heavenly is contrasted with all that had in Judaism been promised to such as were outwardly faithful.
We then get warnings against being an occasion of stumbling to little ones; and, on the other hand, if we are offenced, exhortations to forgive. We have the power of faith in the disciples, but whatever is done, it is no more than duty.
Liberty from Israel is then shown to be the privilege when the Lord is owned in Christ’s person. The kingdom was among them in His person; but He would come unexpectedly in His glory, and execute judgment. Meanwhile we are to know how to discern the righteous from the wicked. In the distress of that day, and at all times, men were to persevere in calling on God, and reckoning on His answer. We are to be meek and lowly in mind in respect to our faults. The Lord points out the danger of riches, as a hindrance to entering the kingdom, and assures us of the blessing of giving up all for Christ (chaps. 17, 18).
He now goes up to Jerusalem by Jericho. In all the three synoptic Gospels there is a distinct chronological point when He begins to deal again, and finally, with the Jews. Luke brings out grace in Zacchaeus; and though a publican, the Lord owns him as a son of Abraham. He is owned as Son of David, yet brings in grace; “for the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost.” (Chap. 19:10).
Next the parable of the servants to whom money is entrusted differs in Luke, in that the responsibility of man is more brought out. Each gets the same sum, but receives a different reward according to what he has gained; whereas in Matthew He gives to each according to his wisdom and the capacity of each and they all get the same reward.
In His riding into Jerusalem we notice the expression, “Peace in heaven,” (v.38) which is peculiar to Luke. Christ destroys Satan’s power in heaven, and settles peace there, in order to introduce the kingdom. He weeps over Jerusalem – the historical place for the incident.
Chap. 20: We see the various sects – Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians etc. In the Lord’s answer to the Sadducees, we have the introduction of the power of the first resurrection, as the proof of being the children of God. Here, as in Matthew, we get His exaltation to the right hand of God, and that confounds the Pharisees as to all their expectations of the kingdom. He judges the scribes, and owns the poor widow who puts in her mite as better than all the rich.
Then in the prophecy (chap. 21) He does take notice, which Matthew does not, of the soon coming destruction of Jerusalem. He does not speak of the abomination of desolation, but of Jerusalem being compassed with armies, thus referring to the first destruction in AD70. The times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. He enters a great deal more into the spirit in which His disciples are to give their testimony, and how to meet difficulties as they arise.
We find at the Passover the extreme evil of man’s heart: strife among the disciples as to which of them should be the greatest. There is sifting by Satan, with special reference to Simon, for whom Christ had prayed.
Circumstances change now from those of the time in which He exercised power, so as to secure His disciples on the earth.
In chaps. 22 and 23 we have the scenes at Gethsemane and on the cross. The Lord Jesus is presented much more fully as Man in His own perfectness, faithfulness, and grace. It is not here Jehovah smiting His fellow, as in Matthew, but we see Him sweating as it were great drops of blood. It is the suffering man: the perfection of faith and grace.
This characterises Luke all through; We often find Him praying, of which His baptism and His transfiguration are particular examples. Another characteristic of Luke’s gospel is the bringing together circumstances into a single general expression, each bringing out some great moral beauty and truth, such as in the journey to Emmaus.
We have in Luke, Pilate and Herod becoming friends through their enmity to Christ. His opens paradise immediately to the thief on the cross. This is in contrast with the kingdom, and His intercession for the Jews. I may add, natural feeling for Christ is useless unless He is not followed.
We may remark the power of Christ in unspent unexhausted life when commending His spirit to the Father. The centurion owns Him here as the righteous man, and we see the effect also on the spectators and on Joseph the councillor.
In chap. 24 we see the two going to Emmaus. Jesus unfolds the scriptures to them, and makes Himself known in the breaking of bread – the sign of death. He presents Himself very fully as the same Man, Jesus, and eats in the presence of His disciples. He insisted that the scriptures – the Old Testament (law, prophets, and psalms) had being fulfilled in that day. He opened their understanding to understand the scriptures, emphasising ‘thus it is written’ (v.46). He gives them the mission to preach repentance and the remission of sins in His name to all the Gentiles, beginning at Jerusalem. They were to be His witnesses, but they had to wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit from heaven. Then, in the act of blessing them, He ascends.
We have nothing here of Galilee, which we have in Matthew and John, where we have the Jewish thing. That was the connection with the remnant of Israel; here His connection is with heaven.
Originally by JND. Lightly edited by Sosthenes, July 2014
– Se A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible for the original