The gospel of Luke is so full of good things that Warren Wiesrabe divided his commentary on Luke into two books. I mentioned the first, Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13): Let the World Know Jesus Cares, earlier in the month. Its companion is Be Courageous (Luke 14-24): Take Heart From Christ’s Example.
Luke 14 drops us right in the middle of Jesus’ ministry, with His healing of a man and then teaching through several parables. The next several chapters continue in much the same way. In addition to parables, Jesus teaches His disciples about the need to take up their cross and follow Him. In chapter 21, Jesus prophesies about the future.
Up to this point, the Pharisees, scribes, etc., have been keeping a close eye on Jesus, trying to trip Him up with questions, challenging His actions. In Chapter 22, things escalate with Judas offering to betray Jesus.
The narrative slows down in the next few chapters to focus on the events leading up to Jesus’ death. He celebrates the Passover with His disciples, institutes the Lord’s supper, is arrested, tried, and is found innocent, yet He is still given over to be crucified. Chapter 23 tells of His crucifixion and burial, and chapter 24 tells of His resurrection, appearance to the disciples, and ascension back to heaven..
There’s a lot in each of those chapters. In our discussion of five chapters at a time at church, we could only hit a few highlights in each one.
Luke’s books were written to his friend, Theophilus, to provide “an orderly account . . . that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4).
Wiersbe ably explains things along the way, shares insights, and harmonizes Luke’s account with that of the other gospel writers. Some of his comments:
Our modern world is very competitive, and it is easy for God’s people to become more concerned about profit and loss than they are about sacrifice and service. “What will I get out of it?” may easily become life’s most important question (Matt. 19: 27ff.). We must strive to maintain the unselfish attitude that Jesus had and share what we have with others (pp. 21-22, Kindle version).
What does it mean to “carry the cross”? It means daily identification with Christ in shame, suffering, and surrender to God’s will. It means death to self, to our own plans and ambitions, and a willingness to serve Him as He directs (John 12: 23–28). A “cross” is something we willingly accept from God as part of His will for our lives (p. 26).
This chapter makes it clear that there is one message of salvation: God welcomes and forgives repentant sinners. But these parables also reveal that there are two aspects to this salvation. There is God’s part: The shepherd seeks the lost sheep, and the woman searches for the lost coin. But there is also man’s part in salvation, for the wayward son willingly repented and returned home. To emphasize but one aspect is to give a false view of salvation, for both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man must be considered (see John 6: 37; 2 Thess. 2: 13–14) (pp. 31-21).
Sin promises freedom, but it only brings slavery (John 8: 34); it promises success, but brings failure; it promises life, but “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6: 23). The boy thought he would “find himself,” but he only lost himself! When God is left out of our lives, enjoyment becomes enslavement (p. 36).
Peter’s self-confident boasting is a warning to us that none of us really knows his own heart (Jer. 17: 9) and that we can fail in the point of our greatest strength (p. 129).
I never noticed this before, but both the ESV Study Bible and Wiersbe point out that Luke begins and ends in the temple. In the first chapter, the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, is announced to his stunned father, Zechariah. In the last, Jesus’ followers “worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.“
May we follow in their footsteps, joyfully worshiping and blessing Him.