Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Luke's Gospel Studies|
INTRODUCTION - Luke 14 & 15
The Journey South
To put the present studies in context, it is important to catch something of the structure of Luke's Gospel. Chapters 1 to 4 mostly comprise passages unique to Luke, focusing on the supernatural elements surrounding Jesus' birth. Thereafter there is action and teaching in Galilee. The pivotal point is in 9:51 where we are told “ As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” What this means is that from chapter 9 through to chapter 19, Luke is recording Jesus' last journey from the north of Galilee down to Jerusalem for that last fateful week.
Facing a Problem of Duplication
The fact that Luke puts this material in the context of the journey south, and some of it seems to be duplicates from Matthew and Mark, possibly from Galilean ministry, should not put us off, for two reasons. First parts of chapters 9 onwards are still in Galilee , and second, it is probable that Jesus would repeat his teaching again and again all over the country, and also would no doubt perform miracles that were virtually the same.
The Significance of the Journey
One of the significant features of this part of this Gospel, is the increasing amount of conflict with the various religious representatives of Judaism at that time. The nearer he gets to Jerusalem, the more these encounters increase, especially with the Pharisees, the guardians of dead orthodoxy.
The end of the journey comes in chapter 19 when he arrives in Jerusalem at the start of that final week, and then the conflicts continue in earnest as Jesus teaches in the Temple precincts throughout that week. In all of this the pressure builds towards that awful climax at the end of the week, his arrest, trial and crucifixion.
Part 1 : “Saints & Sinners”
In chapters 14 and 15 we will see Jesus, first of all at the home of a Pharisee, and then out with the crowds, challenging those who considered themselves ‘saints' (the Pharisees) and teaching how it was ‘sinners' that God was interested in. Watch for the conflict of ideas.
Chapter: Luke 14
Passage: Luke 14:1-6
A. Find Out:
1. Where did Jesus go & what was happening? v.1
2. Who was there? v.2
3. What did Jesus ask the Pharisees with what response? v.3,4a
4. So what did Jesus do? v.4b
5. How did he justify this? v.5
The Pharisees normally came to criticise Jesus but on this day of rest he is presumably invited by a leading Pharisee to come for a meal. Presumably the Pharisee wants to check Jesus out and, maybe, even find further grounds to criticise him. It seems surprising therefore that Jesus takes up this offer. We've seen already that Jesus knows what is in the minds of men, so he surely knows what is happening here. So why go? Perhaps simply because he knows this man is going to be there who needs healing and he's going to take this opportunity to challenge the thinking of the Pharisees, even in their own homes!
There is no way that Jesus could ever be accused of being aloof from these religious people. He comes to all men, to any who will receive him, and if that includes a prominent Pharisee, so be it.
Seeing the need he takes the initiative and asks these religious men whether it's all right to heal on the Sabbath. Possibly they sense a trap and so keep quiet, so Jesus just gets on and heals the man. Well, I mean, you didn't tell me not to!!!! Having done it, he then justifies it by reference to their own rules which allowed a man to work to rescue an animal in distress. OK, is what he is saying, if it's all right to help an animal on the Sabbath, I'm sure you'll agree it's all right to help a needy person on the Sabbath as well, isn't it. If they say no, they're going to look very hard hearted. They keep quiet. Smart move!
1. Right Priorities.
2. Opportunities to show compassion?
A. Find Out:
1. What prompted Jesus to tell the parable? v.7
2. What did Jesus warn could happen at a wedding feast? v.8,9
3. So what did he advocate and why? v.10
4. What principle did he lay down? v.11
5. What did he say not to do? v.12
6. What did he say to do, and why? v.13,14
Jesus is at a meal with a Pharisee and his guests, probably other Pharisees. Now they were a group who delighted in working out the Law but when it came to their lives they fell far short of God's standards. At this meal Jesus notices how some of the guests grab places of honour, perhaps on the top table near the host. He speaks against this.
He gets them to think about a wedding feast and warns them against being made to look silly by taking a place high up on the table and then being moved down by the host if a more distinguished guest arrives. Instead, he says, you would do better to sit further down and have the host move you up.
At first sight this looks like a simple teaching on humility, but the picture of a wedding feast was often used by Jesus to refer to the time of his return, so it may be there is a hidden warning to the Pharisees that they will not get the places in God's kingdom they think they will!
But Jesus pushes the teaching a stage further. When you have a meal and invite people, don't just invite friends or family who will only invite you back. There's nothing meritorious about that. Instead if you want to be examples of good spirituality, invite the poor and needy who wouldn't be able to do a return. That would be a genuine act of piety. That is what God is looking for in His kingdom!
2. Blessing for no return
Chapter: Luke 14
Passage: Luke 14:15-24
A. Find Out:
1. What did one of the people at the meal say? v.15
2. So what story did Jesus start telling? v.16,17
3. What three excuses were given? v.18-20
4. What was the master's response when he was told? v.21
5. What yet happened? v.22
6. What was the master's response to this? v.23,24
Jesus has just mentioned the resurrection that will occur at the Second Coming and this was something that was understood by the religious people, so one of the Pharisee guests comments on how good it will be to be part of that experience which will culminate in a feast. There is behind his comment perhaps, an assumption that they will be there – they are qualified! So Jesus tells a story.
In the story there is to be a great banquet but when it comes to the time for it, all the people who had been invited, start making excuses saying they can't come. The master of the banquet is not put off by this and tells his servant to go out and get as many ordinary poor and needy people as he can find. There is no room left for the others should they try to change their mind.
Whatever else this parable says, it must be a warning to these Pharisees to let nothing get in the way of ensuring they will be at the banquet. Don't assume anything is what he's saying, actually it's the ordinary non-religious people who will end up at the great banquet at the end of time! The assumption is that the original guests (Israel?) were of the same class as the master, but they threw away their qualification, so eventually others with no prior relationship with the master (the Gentiles?) were the ones who eventually were invited, and they came, for no other reason than they were invited and wanted to.
1. Grab the moment!
2. Beggars are not choosers!
Chapter: Luke 14
Passage: Luke 14:25-35
A. Find Out:
1. Who did Jesus say could not be a disciple of his? v.26,27
2. What did he say a potential builder will do? v.28
3. Why? v.29,30
4. What will a king thinking of going to war do, and why? v.31,32
5. So what did Jesus conclude? v.33
6. What did he say about salt? v.34,35
Jesus now goes on to say things that anyone who wants to win friends and influence people, would NOT say! Crowds are following him, obviously thinking it is good to follow this preacher-healer. However, Jesus doesn't just want an audience, he wants those who will commit themselves to him, so, he says, if you want to come with me, love or concern for anyone else must take second place. In fact, he goes on, you want to consider you have no future (If you carried a cross you were on your way to your death!).
Then he gives two examples of people who will give careful thought to their actions less they be seen to be foolishly hasty – a builder and a warring king. The message is obvious – think about this, don't act hastily otherwise you may easily give up and your friends will deride you. No, he finishes, unless you are willing, thoughtfully, to give up everything in your old life, you can't follow me.
Then he finishes this section with reference to salt. The implication must be that he considers his disciples to be salt, purifying and enhancing the world. He comments that he wants them to be wholehearted, because if salt has lost its flavour it loses its effect and it's only worth throwing out. Everything he says in this passage is that he wants whole heartedness in any who come with him.
1. Half hearted?
2. Whole hearted?
Chapter: Luke 15
Passage: Luke 15:1-10
A. Find Out:
1. Who was with Jesus and who objected? v.1,2
2. What situation did Jesus speak about? v.3,4
3. What happens when the man finds his sheep? v.5,6
4. Who does Jesus then speak about? v.8
5. What happens when she finds her coin? v.9
6. To what are the two outcomes similar? v.7,10
Jesus has a number of the more disreputable members of society come to hear him and this upsets the religious Pharisees. They condemn these people for their sinfulness and so Jesus for being with them. So, Jesus tells two stories. (Note Jesus doesn't just tell off the Pharisees, he tells stories because a) they are memorable and b) they need thinking about).
Now the two stories are very similar so we can take them together. In each story there is someone (a shepherd and a housewife) who has a number of things (sheep and coins) and loses ONE of them. Both people then go to great efforts to find the lost item – because the lost thing clearly means a lot to them. Again, in both cases, when the lost item has been found the owner tells everyone and has a time of rejoicing.
After each story Jesus says there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner than over all the righteous people. The stories and their application are very obvious. Look, Jesus is saying, when these sinners come looking me out, when they come looking for God, this should be a time of rejoicing not a time of criticising. God delights in sinners seeking Him out. Yes, He's blessed by all His righteous children but when someone clearly in sin, turns and comes to Him, that is time for special rejoicing!
1. Attracted to the Lost?
Chapter: Luke 15
Passage: Luke 15:11-24
A. Find Out:
1. What happened in Jesus next story? v.11,12
2. What happened to this younger son? v.13,14
3. How bad did it get? 15,16
4. What did he realise and determine to do? v.17-19
5. Yet what happened? v.20,21
6. But what did his father do? v.22-24
As we saw in the previous two parables, Jesus is giving illustrations about how good it is when sinners repent and come back to God. In the previous two stories it was an animal and money that was lost. Now Jesus makes it more direct and gives a story about a foolish young man. He asks for his share of the property that will come to him when his father dies. Note that this is not obligatory – the father needn't have given it to him, but he does! The son soon takes the money and leaves – he doesn't want to be around the father! He spends the money foolishly and is soon in great need – surely a picture of the human race. The turning point of the story is when he “came to his senses” (v.17) and faced his own stupidity. This is the turning point for any human being.
From here on the most important thing to watch is the behaviour of the father in the story – surely God. First of all note that he is out watching for his son's return (v.20b). When we return to the Father we find that instantly He is there.
Second, note his responses to his son - there are no recriminations – that was what the son expected, it is what we expect!
Third, note what he does – he lays on a party! This is incredible! You would expect just getting on quietly, but no, it is a major celebration. The most important thing is that his son is back, that is all that matters. This is the extent of God's love for us!
1. Sinful frailty
2. Accepted and Loved.
Chapter: Luke 15
Passage: Luke 15:25-31
A. Find Out:
1. Who does Jesus' story now turn to? v.25
2. What did he do? v.26,27
3. What was his response? v.28
4. What was his objection? v.29,30
5. What was the father's first answer? v.31
6. What was the second part of his answer? v.32
We've seen the wonder of the father's love for his lost son and now Jesus brings out some other aspects of it by extending the story to include an elder son who has always been there for the father, never turning away like his younger brother.
When this brother comes in and hears what has happened, he is indignant and his complaint has two aspects to it. The first aspect is that he has always been there and has never been rewarded by a party! The father's answer to that is that he enjoys everything on the farm – it's his for the taking if he wants it. There is in this an implied dig that the son takes for granted the wonder of life with the father, that he doesn't appreciate (or use fully?) what he has.
Now, bearing in mind that Jesus is speaking to the Jews and especially the religious Jews, what he is saying is that, in all these years of relationship with God, you've never really realised the wonder of what you have.
The second aspect of the brother's complaint is that the wayward brother is being blessed in such abundance – and that for having been so wayward! No, says the father, we're celebrating the fact that he was as good as dead to us but has now come back – THAT IS worth celebrating. The religious Jews really didn't care about the “sinners” but God does – the point is that He rejoices when we return to Him. Hallelujah!
1. Taken for Granted
2. Rejoicing over Others
In this first group of 7 studies we have seen Jesus :
In the previous studies we noted that Luke was now showing us Jesus' teaching, much of it given in response to questions. Here he continues that with teaching on right attitudes in respect of humility, of being responsive to God's call, of being aware of the true cost of discipleship, and of the wonders of salvation. Much of this is chiding the Pharisees for their wrong attitudes. As religious people who may have known Christ a long time, these are all temptations we may need to counter in our own lives.
1. God is more concerned with people than with special days.
2. God calls us to exercise humility & hospitality.
3. God calls us to put nothing before Him in our lives.
4. God calls us to appreciate the wonder of sinners repenting.
Thank the Lord for the shear wonder of your salvation, for the fact that He has called you and saved you and blessed you in abundance with all of His goodness.
PART 2 : "Spiritual Realities"
In this next Part, Luke continues to show us Jesus' teaching – on loving God or possessions, on divorce, on the reality of hell, on sin, forgiveness and faith, on the signs of his Second Coming. These can really only be described as ‘spiritual realities' and they help us focus on what is real, now and in the future.