Be Courageous (Luke 14-24)

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.

Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13)

In the gospel bearing his name, Luke, “having followed all things closely for some time past,” undertakes “to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4).

Luke is a doctor and very detailed in his account. He is also a Gentile, and he emphasizes the availability of the gospel to everyone.

Luke begins before Jesus’ birth with the prediction of John the Baptist’s birth. Luke progresses the angel’s announcement to Mary that she would bear the long-awaited Messiah, the well-known Christmas story, Jesus’ ministry and teaching, death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

Because the book of Luke is so full, Warren Wiersbe divided up his commentary on Luke into two books. The first is Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13): Let the World Know Jesus Cares.

Wiersbe says Luke’s “key message is, ‘For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19: 10). He presents Jesus Christ as the compassionate Son of Man, who came to live among sinners, love them, help them, and die for them” (p. 16).

In the passage about Jesus’ temptation, Wiersbe says:

Satan questioned the Father’s love when he tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread. He questioned His hope when he offered Jesus the world’s kingdoms this side of the cross (see Heb. 12: 1–3). Satan questioned the Father’s faithfulness when he asked Jesus to jump from the temple and prove that the Father would keep His promise (Ps. 91: 11–12). Thus, the enemy attacked the three basic virtues of the Christian life—faith, hope, and love (p. 52).

I’ve often heard that this passage shows Satan tempting Jesus with “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” that 1 John 2:16 describes. I think that’s true as well as Wiersbe’s viewpoint.

In response to Jesus answering Satan’s temptation with Scripture, Wiersbe says:

Jesus balanced Scripture with Scripture to get the total expression of God’s will. If you isolate verses from their contexts, or passages from the total revelation of Scripture, you can prove almost anything from the Bible. Almost every false cult claims to be based on the teachings of the Bible (p. 53).

Some of the other quotes that stood out to me:

It was our Lord’s custom to attend public worship, a custom His followers should imitate today (Heb. 10: 24–25). He might have argued that the “religious system” was corrupt, or that He didn’t need the instruction, but instead, He made His way on the Sabbath to the place of prayer (p. 54).

Jesus was not teaching that poverty, hunger, persecution, and tears were blessings in themselves. If that were true, He would never have done all He did to alleviate the sufferings of others. Rather, Jesus was describing the inner attitudes we must have if we are to experience the blessedness of the Christian life (p. 80).

Life is built on character, and character is built on decisions. But decisions are based on values, and values must be accepted by faith (p. 81).

There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is a matter of the mind: We cannot understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. Unbelief is a matter of the will: We refuse to believe God’s Word and obey what He tells us to do. “Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong,” said Oswald Chambers. “It may be a sign that he is thinking.” In John’s case, his inquiry was not born of willful unbelief, but of doubt nourished by physical and emotional strain (p. 93).

There are many people today who criticize the church for not “changing the world” and solving the economic, political, and social problems of society. What they forget is that God changes His world by changing individual people. History shows that the church has often led the way in humanitarian service and reform, but the church’s main job is to bring lost sinners to the Savior. Everything else is a by-product of that. Proclaiming the gospel must always be the church’s first priority (p. 94).

Power is the ability to accomplish a task, and authority is the right to do it, and Jesus gave both to His apostles (p. 117).

It is impossible to be wrong about Jesus and right with God (p. 121).

We must first say no to ourselves—not simply to pleasures or possessions, but to self—and then take up our cross and follow Christ daily. This means to be identified with Him in surrender, suffering, and sacrifice (p. 122).

[After the transfiguration] As wonderful as these experiences are, they are not the basis for a consistent Christian life. That can come only through the Word of God. Experiences come and go, but the Word remains. Our recollection of past experiences will fade, but God’s Word never changes. The farther we get from these events, the less impact they make on our lives. That was why the Father said, “Hear him!” and why Peter made this same emphasis on the Word in his report (2 Peter 1: 12–21). Our own personal “transfiguration” comes from inner renewal (Rom. 12: 1–2), and that comes from the Word (2 Cor. 3: 18) (pp. 125-126).

I appreciate Dr. Wiersbe’s insights and commentary on the Scriptures.