The first four books of the New Testament give us biographical information on the life of Jesus and his teachings.
The Greek word evangelion, which
is translated gospel, means good
news. Our English word “evangelist” is derived from this word and means “bringer of good news”.
What is the “Good News”?
Jesus came preaching good news about the Kingdom of God for those who would repent and believe.
Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) … Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel [evangelion] of
God, and saying,
“The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God
is at hand; repent and
believe in the gospel.”
Jesus presented as:
Son of David
Suffering Servant of God
Son of Man
Son of God
The gospels of Matthew,
Mark and Luke are
referred to as the
(seeing with the
of the same
stories, often in a
and in similar or
sometimes identical wording.
They stand in contrast to John, whose content is largely distinct.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
WHERE DO THEY FIT INTO THE BIBLE: They are the first 3 gospels in the History section of the Christian New Testament canon.
LANGUAGE: They are written in Koine (common) Greek – the trade language of Jesus’ day.
WHERE DID THE BOOKS GET THEIR NAMES FROM: The books are named after their author.
OCCASION OF WRITING
Irenaeus (130-202 AD), a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, writes:
Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. *
* Against Heresies Bk 3
There are 89 chapters in the 4 Gospels.
4 chapters (4%): His birth and the first 30 years.
85 chapters (96%): last 3 years of His life.
27 chapters (30%): last week of His life.
58 chapters (65%): His ministries of teaching, healing, and the recruiting of His disciples.
About 1/3 of the content of the gospels describes the miracles of Jesus. He performed more miracles than anyone else in history.
Over 40 are recorded in the gospels, but not all his miracles are recorded (John 20:30-31).
They were God’s stamp of approval on his ministry (Acts 2:22, John 3:2) and evidence that he was the prophet to come, spoken of by Moses (John 6:14).
JESUS’ TEACHING MINISTRY
TO THE JEWS
At least 1/3 of the content of the gospels record the spoken words of Jesus. He preached and taught the Jewish people:
inside and outside, in the cities and towns, even in the wilderness
on the mountainside, plains, lakeshore and the Jordan river
in the synagogues in Galilee where they gathered on the Sabbath day
in the temple in Judah during the major festivals when Jews from throughout Judea, Galilee and the entire world came to worship at Jerusalem.
JESUS’ TEACHING MINISTRY TO THE GENTILES
As the Messiah sent to the nation of Israel to fulfil the promise of her coming King (and the prophecy of his rejection at her hands), his ministry was primarily one of offering the Kingdom of God to his fellow countrymen. But in spite of this, wherever worthy Gentiles were to be found, they too were not denied. E.g.:
The man of Gadarene possessed by the legion of demons (Matt 8:28).
The Syro-Phoenician woman whose daughter was demon-possessed (Matt 15:21-28).
The centurion whose faith exceeded that of anyone in Israel (Matt 8:5-13).
The village of Samaritans whose faith response put Jewish towns to shame (John 4:4-42).
The Greeks visiting the Passover Feast who told Phillip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” (John 12:20-21).
FORM AND CONTENT OF JESUS’ TEACHING
Major themes of Jesus’ teaching were:
God’s love for mankind
The Kingdom of God
The New Covenant
Ethics and morality
DATE OF WRITING: As an apostle, Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew in the early period of the church, probably in A.D. 55-65. This was a time when most Christians were Jewish converts, so Matthew’s focus on Jewish perspective in this Gospel is understandable. *
PURPOSE OF WRITING: Matthew intends to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the promised Messiah. More than any other Gospel, Matthew quotes the OT to show how Jesus fulfilled the words of the Jewish prophets. It describes in detail the lineage of Jesus from David, and uses many forms of speech that Jews would have been comfortable with. Matthew’s love and concern for his people is apparent through his meticulous approach to telling the gospel story. *
* https:// gotquestions.org/ Gospel-of-Matthew.html
Matthew quotes more than 60 times from prophetic passages of the OT, demonstrating how Jesus fulfilled them. He begins his Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus, tracing Him back to Abraham, the progenitor of the Jews. *
From there, Matthew quotes extensively from the prophets, frequently using the phrase “as was spoken through the prophet(s)” (1:22-23, 2:5-6, 2:15, 4:13-16, 8:16-17, 13:35, 21:4-5). **
* Ibid. ** These verses refer to the OT prophecies of His virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), His return from Egypt after the death of Herod (Hosea 11:1), His ministry to the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1-2; 60:1-3), His miraculous healings of both body and soul (Isaiah 53:4), His speaking in parables (Psalm 78:2), and His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a tax collector, Matthew possessed a skill that makes his writing all the more exciting for Christians. Tax collectors were expected to be able to write in a form of shorthand, which essentially meant that Matthew could record a person’s words as they spoke, word for word. This ability means that the words of Matthew are not only inspired by the Holy Spirit, but should represent an actual transcript of some of Christ’s sermons. For example, the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in chapters 5-7, is almost certainly a perfect recording of that great message. *
Jesus was a new Moses, bringing the New Covenant teaching to God’s people. Matthew created five long sermons out of Jesus’ sayings, to mirror the 5 books of the Torah. We know the 5 sermons were created intentionally because they all have the same ending: “when Jesus had finished saying these things” (Matt 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).
Ch. 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount)
Ch. 10 (Mission Discourse)
Ch. 13 (Parabolic Discourse - Parables of the kingdom)
Ch. 18 (Discourse on the Church)
Ch. 23-25 (Olivet Discourse on the End Times)
JOHN THE BAPTIST
Jesus said that “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt 11:11). He was the last of the prophets. The prophets preached that the Messiah was coming; John actually pointed to Jesus and said to his disciples, “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who has come to take away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John was the last of the Messianic prophets, the one who literally introduced the people of God to their Messiah.
As the sinless Son of God, Jesus had no need to be baptized for repentance. But as the Son of Man he would identify with sinful man in order “to fulfil all righteousness”. (Matt 3:13-15)
The 40 days of this trial are deliberately parallel to Moses fasting for 40 days while receiving the Law. The point of comparison is between the inauguration of the Old Covenant by Moses’, which was typical of the ministry of Christ who would inaugurate a New Covenant.
John alludes to 3 areas in which mankind is tempted, namely “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16). These play a part in the first temptation (Gen 3:6). Jesus was tempted in the same 3 areas but unlike Adam and Eve, he overcame his temptation.
Adam & Eve
Jesus (Matthew 4)
Lust of the eyes
pleasing to the eye
showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour
Lust of the flesh
good for food
tell these stones to become bread
Pride of life
desirable for gaining wisdom
If you are the Son of God… you will not strike your foot against a stone
SERMON ON THE MOUNT
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew 5-7.
It is the longest continuous discourse of Jesus found in the New Testament and has been one of the most widely quoted elements of the Gospels.
It contains the central tenets of Christian discipleship and includes some of the best- known teachings of Jesus, such as the Beatitudes, and the widely recited Lord’s Prayer.
The Beatitudes are a set of teachings by Jesus from his famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.
The term ‘beatitude’ comes from the Latin adjective ‘beatus’ which means happy, fortunate or blissful.
The Greek word used in the Beatitudes for ‘blessed’ is ‘makarios’ which means: supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off - blessed, happy.
The teaching is expressed as 8 blessings. Each Beatitude consists of 2 parts:
A condition: “BLESSED ARE…”
The outcome: “THEY WILL…” or “THEIRS IS…”
Poor in spirit
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven
will be comforted
will inherit the earth
Hunger and thirst for righteousness
will be filled
will be shown mercy
Pure in heart
will see God
will be called sons of God
Persecuted because of righteousness
theirs is the kingdom of heaven
OLD COVENANT VS NEW COVENANT BLESSINGS
The Old Covenant blessings were generally related to earthly financial and economic prosperity (crops & livestock), health, the fruit of the womb (i.e. offspring), military prowess and political peace. (Deut 28:1)
There are some who try and apply the Old Covenant earthly blessings and promises made to Israel, to the church (replacement theology). But in the New Covenant the blessings are not earthly and material, but instead spiritual blessings:
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
NEW COVENANT BLESSINGS
So these New Covenant blessings Jesus lists in the Beatitudes are clearly spiritual blessings: *
they will be comforted (from mourning)
they will be filled (i.e. the thirst for righteousness)
they will be shown mercy
for they will see God
they will be called sons of God
great is your reward in heaven
* they will inherit the earth is the only blessing that could be construed as an earthly blessing, but it actually refers to the future Millennial reign)
This is the manifesto of the kingdom of God, but unlike a worldly kingdom, there are totally different values.
The worldly value system does not consider the meek, those who mourn, the poor in spirit and the persecuted to be blessed.
This is because often people in these categories do not have material and worldly blessing.
But Jesus promises them spiritual blessings which are of eternal value and don’t just offer a temporary short-term benefit.
Matt 6:19-24 (ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Principally “poor in spirit” refers to those who realize that they are spiritually destitute and unable to reach God through their own effort.
It is to these people that the kingdom of heaven is promised, not to the self-righteous or arrogant.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. [Matt 5:4]
This is not a general reference to all mourners, because some who despair receive no comfort. In the context the “poor in spirit” who realize their own spiritual helplessness, will ‘mourn’ at their own sinfulness. Godly sorrow is meant, a mourning over sinfulness.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [Matt 5:5]
Meekness is not weakness. Meek means humbly patient and docile under provocation from others, submissive, compliant, tame, quiet, mild, gentle, kind.
Matthew Henry: The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
In the natural, hunger and thirst are appetites that keep returning and require that they be met repeatedly. Just as our earthly body calls for its daily food, likewise we should hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Hunger and thirst obsess you until they are satisfied.
Psalm 63:1 (NIV) O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Righteousness includes those things that are upright, virtuous, noble, morally right, and ethical.
Hunger is a desire that seeks satisfaction. Hunger stems from a sense of lack. Those who spiritually hunger, have a strong sense of their own lack of righteousness.
The Beatitudes indicate a progression in our spiritual development.
We first need to realize our spiritual poverty, utter destitution and bankruptcy before God. (Blessed are the poor in spirit)
This realization produces a mourning over your spiritual condition and repentance. (Blessed are those who mourn)
This condition of mourning over your spiritual condition produces a meekness and lack of spiritual arrogance. (Blessed are the meek)
Subsequently we will hunger and thirst for righteousness. (Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness)
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. [Matt 5:8]
Being merciful doesn’t mean performing occasional and isolated acts of compassion. We should be habitually merciful.
We are merciful when we show compassion for the miserable or wretched, who are in need of material or spiritual assistance - or perhaps forgiveness.
Mercy sometimes entails providing the material and practical needs of others.
Mercy sometimes entails meeting the spiritual needs of others.
Mercy sometimes entails forgiving those who have wronged us.
Mercy implies loss. There is only one kind of person you can show mercy to: a person who doesn’t deserve it.
Matt 5:7 (NIV) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Those who extend forgiveness will receive God’s mercy. It’s a spiritual principle. Like it or not, the Bible repeatedly teaches us that mercy and forgiveness from God is dependent on how we treat those who have wronged us.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. [Matt 5:8]
PURE IN HEART
It is not enough to clean up our act on the outside.
Matt 23:25-26 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”
The aim of Jesus is not to reform the manners of society, but to change the hearts of sinners.
The deceptive heart tells
us that the problem is out
there. Those people/
circumstances are the
source of my pain.
The pure heart realizes that
the problem is within. Out of
the men’s hearts comes all
kinds of evil which make us
Matt 15:19 (NIV) For out of the
heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
So Jesus is not satisfied with a society in which there were no acts of murder, but one where men no longer have hatred – which is the root cause of murder.
Matt 5:21-22 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Again Jesus is not content with a society in which there are no acts of adultery, but wants one where men no longer have lustful thoughts – which are the root cause of adultery.
Matt 5:27-29 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. [Matt 5:9]
Jesus doesn’t say “Blessed are the peacekeepers”, but “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Peacekeepers try to keep the peace which already exists. Peacemakers bring peace where there is existing conflict between two or more parties.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Matt 5:10]
The Jews expected a conquering kingdom, and its citizens to be lords among the nations, but Christ pronounces a blessing on those who are persecuted, not for misdeeds, but for righteousness. These shall have the kingdom… (People’s New Testament )
Are these words of Jesus still relevant today? Maybe in our enlightened society persecution of Christians is a thing of the past?
According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith. Christians suffer numerically more than any other faith group or any group without faith in the world. *
Of the 100-200 million Christians under assault, the majority are persecuted in Muslim-dominated or Atheistic (Communist) nations.
* Christians are the most persecuted religious group. They make up 33% of the world’s population, but 80% of all acts of religious discrimination are directed at them.
Paul says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).
Jesus told us to expect persecution:
John 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [Matt 5:11-12]
Jesus further expands by saying:
The persecuted are blessed:
James 5:10-11 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered…
1 Pet 3:13-14 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.
1 Pet 4:13-14 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Matt 5:31-32 (ESV) “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
We serve a covenant God - he keeps his agreements and expects us to do the same. Marriage is a covenant.
Mal 2:14(ESV) … the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
Matt 5:37 (NKJV) “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
WHY OUR YES IS NO
We cannot say no. We find it hard to let people down by saying no. However, if we fail to say no, we often let people down by failing to honour our commitments. What we fail to realize is that the latter is sin, the former is not.
We say “Yes” to too many things and ultimately we fail to meet our commitments because we just have too many.
We sometimes say “Yes” when we have no intention of keeping the commitment. As God does not lie (Heb 6:17, Titus 1:2), so His children should not either. As God always honours a promise, so should we.
Revenge & retaliation
Matt 5:38-41 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well…”
Matt 5:43-45 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
REWARD IN HEAVEN
Giving, praying and fasting all in secret
Matt 6:1-4 (ESV) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
DO NOT JUDGE
Matt 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Often when a Christian speaks out against sin, some variation of Matthew 7:1 might be quoted to them by someone who informs them that they’re not supposed to judge. You might say something like “Adultery is sinful” or “Muslims are lost” and have someone respond, “Judge not, or you will be judged”.
This verse is predominantly quoted by non-Christians or nominal Christians who know little or no other Scripture. They believe Jesus was instructing us to universally accept or condone any lifestyle or teaching.
Further on in the same
chapter of Matthew 7:1 - or the same Sermon (on the Mount) for that matter - Jesus tells us to do something that requires making judgment. We are told to judge whether a person is a false prophet by their ‘fruit’ (Matt 7:15-16) – in other words some assessment of the way that they live is necessary.
When Jesus says we must not judge, he is not prohibiting the civil judgment of courts on criminals and lawbreakers, for this is condoned throughout the Word of God. He is first and foremost instructing us not to judge where we have no jurisdiction or authority.
In certain cases we have been given authority by God to judge. E.g. The governing authorities have God-ordained authority to judge (the people of their own country). So do parents in the family, employers with employees, church leaders over the congregation etc.
Before passing judgment, ask yourself, “Do I have authority or jurisdiction to judge in this situation?”
Matt 7:24-27 (ESV) “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
SALT & LIGHT
Matt 5:13-16 (NIV) “You
are the salt of the earth.
… You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Salt hinders decay and acts
as a food preservative. In the
days before fridges and deep-freezers, perishable food such as fish and meat was salted to prevent decay.
Salt has antibacterial
properties, so it inhibits
the growth of bacteria which spoil food.
Our world is full of decay and corruption because of sin. As Christians we must act as moral preservatives, preventing and hindering the spiritual decline and moral decay in the world.
We should speak out against sin.
Just our very presence should be a hindrance to sin and have a restraining effect on those around us.
All that is needed for evil to triumph – is for good men to do nothing
LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Jesus was the light of the world (John 8:12, 12:46, 1:9, 9:5). Now that he is gone from the earth physically, he says that we are the light of the world (Matt 5:14).
Jesus has given us both a great compliment and a great responsibility because we need to be the light for an otherwise dark world.
Phil 2:14-15 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...
Matt 5:13 “... But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Salt is worthless if it has lost its qualities. If it no longer preserves or adds flavour, it is fit only to be cast out and trodden underfoot.
Jesus said that our purpose is to be the salt of the world. If we have lost our purpose we are worthless. If we no longer impact our families, friends, our immediate community or the world - we are worthless. Are you fulfilling your purpose? If those who are supposed to be the salt of the earth cease to impact our world, they are fit only to be thrown out.
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl…”
Just as there is worthless salt so there is useless light. The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is hidden in the darkness. If the light source is hidden under a bowl, it is no longer useful.
We should not ask, “What is wrong with the world?” for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, “What has happened to the salt and light?” (John Stott)
What is your testimony like? If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you or would the case be thrown out of court due to lack of evidence?
Some people are “secret Christians”. And some have kept the secret so well that even God doesn’t know about it.
If a Christian hides their light, they have lost their very purpose and become as useful as a light under a bowl.
Jesus didn’t just call us ‘salt’ – he said we are the ‘salt of the earth’. We are not just called light – but the ‘light of the world’.
This again reminds us that the life Jesus calls us to is not to be lived in isolation. There have been those in the past who thought that the inner qualities Jesus wants, can be developed or displayed in isolation from the world – by living in a cave or a monastery. In reality Jesus wants us to live out these qualities before the world. He said that we must “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds...”
A key thought in both the pictures of salt and light is distinction. Salt is needed because the world is rotting and decaying and if our Christianity is also rotting and decaying, it won’t be any good. Light is needed because the world is in darkness, and if our Christianity imitates the darkness, we have nothing to show the world. *
In Jesus’ prayer to his Father he said that his disciples were “in the world” (John 17:11), but “not of the world” (John 17:14).
* https:// dailyencouragement.wordpress.com/ 2017/ 11/ 14/ salt-and-light/
To be effective salt and light we need to be different from the world we seek to influence. We cannot change the world for God by becoming just like the world.
If Christians are contaminated by or assimilated by the world, they lose their influence. Our influence on society depends on being distinct, not identical. If your life is not different in a godly way, you will have no credibility.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones said: “The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.”
Matt 10:1 (NIV) Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Jesus warned the apostles that they would not be well received (“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” - 10:16) He was essentially warning them: “The world is not going to wish you well when you obey My commission and implement My strategy.” That is still very true today.
Simon aka Peter or Cephas
Bartholomew aka Nathanael
Thomas aka Didymus
Matthew aka Levi
James son of Alphaeus
Thaddeus aka Jude
Simon the Zealot
The parables are found in the Synoptic Gospels and they form approximately 1/3 of Jesus’ recorded teachings. They are simple and memorable stories, but the messages they convey are deep.
Many parables refer to simple everyday things, such as a woman baking bread, a man knocking on his neighbour's door at night, or the aftermath of a roadside mugging; yet they deal with major religious themes, such as the growth of the Kingdom of God, the importance of prayer, and the meaning of love.
Parables are stories with hidden messages. It is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus taught heavenly truths using earthly stories people could relate to. They understood stories about farming, fishing, commerce, kings and servants.
To provoke the imagination and to see God’s truth from a new perspective.
Storytelling is an ancient art of communicating ethics, values and social norms. It paints pictures which listeners relate to and will remember.
What was the purpose of Jesus’ parables?
Jesus explained that his use of parables had a two-fold purpose: to reveal the truth to those who wanted to know it, and to conceal the truth from his enemies who were listening.
This was a prophetic fulfilment, which fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of a hardhearted, spiritually blind people, so that only those that believe will understand, and those that reject Jesus will not understand.
Matt 13:10-11 (NIV) The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
When studying a parable, ask the following questions. What is the context (setting)? Who is the parable directed at?
Sometimes, a parable is preceded by some introductory words that provide a context. For example, often Jesus preceded a parable with the words “this is what the kingdom of heaven is like” (7 times in Matthew 13 alone). *
* Also, before the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, we read “Then Jesus told this story to some who had great self-confidence and scorned everyone else” (Luke 18:9, NLT).This introduction reveals the subject matter being illustrated (self-righteousness and spiritual pride).
Who do the different people / animals represent (e.g. sheep, king, landowner, servant, son)? What do the different things (e.g. money, vineyard) represent?
Compare the interpretation with other Scriptures. Jesus’ parables will never contradict the rest of the Word of God.
Be consistent in interpretation. E.g. if a landowner represents God in one parable, don’t make it represent Satan in the next parable.
Some parables Jesus explains, e.g. The Sower (Matt 13). Where possible, use Jesus’ interpretation of his own parables as a basis for further interpretation.
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.”
“Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.”
“Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.”
“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
The disciples didn’t understand the parable, so Jesus explained.
(Matt 13:18-23) “Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.
“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.
“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Jesus explains the symbols in this parable.
When explaining the parable of the weeds - Matt 13:37-38 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world…”
Luke 8:5 … some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up … 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts…
Word of God
Luke 8:11 The seed is the word of God.
Sons of the kingdom
Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Matt 13:20-21 (NIV) The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
Cares of life
Luke 8:14 (NIV) The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
This parable indicates the 4 different responses to the gospel. Only good seed is sown in this parable (unlike the Tares parable), but the different soil (the heart of the recipient) determines the response and resultant crop.
The seed that fell on the path. This represents those who do not understand the gospel. Jesus explains that the birds represent the enemy (Satan) who steals this seed before it can take root.
The seed that fell on rocky places. This represents the shallow person (with no root) who hears the word, receives it with joy, but quickly falls away when trouble or persecution comes because of the word.
The seed that fell among the thorns. This represents the man who hears the word but is unfruitful (i.e. not a soul-winner) because the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the seed.
The seed that fell on good soil. This represents the person who not only hears the word, but understands it and is fruitful (i.e. a soul-winner) producing a crop many times what was sown.
THE PARABLE OF THE HIDDEN TREASURE
Matt 13:44 (NIV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
In these kingdom parables the field has always been the world.
Matt 13:37 “The field is the world…”
The man in all the other kingdom parables has been Jesus. The parable is about a man who sold all he had to purchase the field (the world) so that he could possess a treasure. DID WE SELL ALL WE HAD TO PURCHASE THE WORLD, OR DID JESUS? Rev 5:9 … with your blood you purchased men for God
The true church
What was the ‘treasure’ he bought?
Acts 20:28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
Contrary to popular opinion the treasure in this parable is not Jesus and we are not the man. We must interpret Scripture with Scripture.
WE ARE THE TREASURE
We are the ‘treasure’ that Jesus found in the world. “When a man found it, he hid it again”. Like the man in the parable, Jesus left the treasure in the world.
John 17:11 (NIV) I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.
He “sold all he had and bought that field”. Again like the man in the parable Jesus purchased the entire world in order to obtain the treasure in the world. Although Jesus potentially saved the world, only those who believe (the true church) will be his treasure.
1 John 2:2 (NIV) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
JESUS PURCHASED US
The man who found the treasure “in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Jesus bought us joyfully not grudgingly.
Heb 12:2 (NIV) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
Matt 13:45-46 (NIV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Like the hidden treasure, the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ has often been incorrectly linked to Jesus. The merchant is not a lost man seeking salvation. In harmony with the other parables in this discourse, the man in this parable is Jesus.
The man “sold everything he had and bought” the pearl. We have seen how grace, faith and salvation are God’s gift. We did not earn or buy them. In contrast we are taught in 1 Cor 6:20 “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”
The man in all the other kingdom parables has been Jesus. The parable is about a man who sold all he had to purchase a precious pearl. DID WE SELL ALL WE HAD TO PURCHASE JESUS, OR DID JESUS SELL ALL HE HAD TO PURCHASE US?
1 Cor 6:20 (NIV) “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”
We are precious to God:
Jer 31:3 (NIV) I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
THE PARABLE OF THE DRAGNET
Matt 13:47-50 (NIV) Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matt 13:48 …Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.
v49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.
Lake of fire
v50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The interpretation: This will be the church that sees the “end of the age”. There will be both wicked and righteous at the end of the age. The age will end with the removal of the wicked by the angels and their subsequent punishment.
The triumphal entry
In fulfillment of Zech 9:9, Jesus humbly rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.
While the disciples accompanying him- and even the children of Jerusalem - celebrate his entrance, the religious leaders in Jerusalem take offence at his reception and the praise he is receiving.
Returning to Jerusalem the next day, Jesus approached a fig tree, but, finding no fruit, he cursed the tree which withered soon after. The tree represents Israel and her lack of productivity. When they should have been welcoming their king, they were about to crucify him.
Jesus then tells a series of parables about the kingdom rejected.
The Tenant Farmers – Matt 21:33-45
Marriage Feast or Great Banquet - Matt 22:1-14
THE KINGDOM REJECTED
The Two Sons – Matt 21:28-32
The unfruitful tree – Luke 13:6-9
These parables were all about how the kingdom was offered to the Jews, but subsequently rejected.
So the kingdom was given to the Gentiles in what became known as the Church age.
THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
Jesus gives an address on the End Times (Matt 24), called the Olivet Discourse because it was given on the
Mount of Olives.
It is generally viewed
as referring both to
the coming destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, as well as the End Times and Second Coming of Christ.
1) Darkness over the land
The land being covered in darkness coincides with God turning his back on his Son. Thus at about three in the afternoon (Matt 27:46) Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Because he is light (sinless and holy), the Father turns his back on his Son when he takes the sin of the world (2 Cor 5:21).
2) Curtain in the Holy of Holies torn
The way into God’s very presence in the Most Holy Place was not open to all under the previous covenant. When Jesus died, this thick curtain which separated all mankind from the presence of the holy God, was torn by God. He was showing that the way into the Holy of Holies was now opened – and that the lost relationship with God - which was broken by sin - was restored (Rom 5:10)
3) Earthquake and the resurrection of some of the saints of old
Just before God introduced the Old Covenant to Moses on Mount Sinai, the mountain shook (Ex 19:18). Now as God introduces the New Covenant once again the earth is shaken. The splitting of the rocks and the resultant opening of tombs was a preview of the final resurrection.
The centurion experienced the supernatural darkness and now the shaking of the earth when Christ dies. His response is to declare Jesus to be the Son of God.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them … and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt 28:19-20)
When someone is about to leave, the last words they speak are ones they consider to be the most important. Among the last words spoken by Jesus before returning to heaven are those words which have come to be known as “The Great Commission”.
Often people ask, “What prophetic event remains unfulfilled to
prevent the return of Jesus?” Well
consider this prophecy by Jesus.
“… this gospel of the kingdom
will be preached in the whole
world as a testimony to all
nations, and then the end
will come.” (Matt 24:14)
NOW ASK YOURSELF: “Has the
gospel of the kingdom been preached in the whole world to all nations?”
10% DEDICATED CHRISTIANS
20% NOMINAL CHRISTIANS
HEARD, BUT NOT RESPONDED OR REJECTED
(VIRTUALLY NO EXPOSURE
DATE: The Gospel of Luke was likely written between A.D. 58 and 65.
PURPOSE OF WRITING: Origen (185-254 AD) writes “And the third by Luke, the Gospel commended by Paul, and composed for Gentile converts.” *
WHO WAS THE BOOK WRITTEN TO: both the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are addressed to the same person – Theophilus. (Luke 1:1-4)
* Cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical
Theophilus is both a common name and an honorary title among the learned (academic) Romans and Jews of the era.
Some maintain that Theophilus was not a person but an honorary title. The word in Greek means “friend of God”. Thus both Luke and Acts were addressed to anyone who fits that description.
Others believe that he was an important person, an official of some sort, because Luke referred to him as kratistos - meaning “most excellent” (Luke 1:3).
Luke’s identification as the author was unquestioned in ancient times. *
Luke was a doctor referred to by Paul as “Luke the beloved physician.” (Col 4:14, ESV) He was a frequent companion of Paul. **
* In the earliest orthodox list of books (ca. 190 AD ) known as the “Muratorian Canon” we read that “The third book of the gospel is according to Luke.” Origen refers to “ Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts.” (cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.14)
** Jerome (c. 342-347 – 420) writes “Luke a physician of Antioch … An adherent of the apostle Paul, and companion of all his journeying, he wrote a Gospel…” (On Illustrious Men Ch. 7)
Both Luke and Acts were written in a refined Koine Greek that none of the other NT books equal.
Scholars have noted that Luke had an outstanding command of the Greek language. His vocabulary is extensive and rich, and his style at times approaches that of classical Greek, as in the preface of his gospel (Luke 1:1–4)... *
Jerome writes that “Luke … as his writings indicate, was not unskilled in the Greek language.” **
* https:// www.gotquestions.org/ Luke-in-the-Bible.html ** On Illustrious Men, Ch. 7
Luke was the only Gentile author of a NT book – all the others were Jews. (Col 4:10-14).
As a Gentile writing his gospel to a Gentile, this gospel is different to Matthew in its Gentile perspective. E.g.
Theophilus appears to be a Gentile man of some position. Luke alone mentions:
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
The Healing of the Ten Lepers where only the Samaritan shows gratitude.
Over 50% of Luke’s gospel is unique, containing materials found nowhere else. Without Luke, certain periods of Christ’s life and ministry would be unknown to us. Luke alone gives certain important chronological notations (2:1; 3:2; 3:23). Luke has a greater focus on individuals than do the other gospels. It can also be said that Luke’s gospel has more comprehensive range than the others. It begins with the announcements concerning the births of John the Baptist and Jesus and ends with a reference to the ascension of Christ. *
Luke records 20 miracles, 6 of which are only recorded in his Gospel.
He records 23 parables, 18 of which are only found in his Gospel.
Luke is the favourite Gospel of many because the Christ profiled for us by Luke is so human, so compassionate, so caring, and so completely identified with our humanity. As a physician, Luke had a great social conscience, and he gives us a biography of a Christ, Who had a great social consciousness.
THE ROLE OF WOMEN
Women were prominent in Luke’s portrayal of Jesus’ life. Luke mentions 13 women not found in the other gospels.
Although first-century culture usually minimized the importance of women, Luke portrayed women as good examples in the early church.
Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, blesses Mary.
Mary offered a song of praise, the Magnificat.
The prophetess Anna who proclaims Jesus as redeemer in the temple.
A sinful woman anoints Jesus and is forgiven (7:37-50).
Mary learns at the feet of Jesus (10:38-42).
An anonymous woman blesses Mary (11:27-28).
A woman in a parable
found a lost coin (15:8-10).
In another parable, a
widow kept going to a judge to obtain justice (18:1-5).
A poor widow gives all she has (two small coins) to the temple (21:1-4).
WOMEN HEALED BY JESUS
Simon Peter’s mother-in-law healed of a high fever (4:38-39).
Mary Magdalene has 7 demons driven out of her. (8:2)
A 12-year-old girl is raised from the dead (8:41-42, 49-56).
A woman with a 12-year bleeding infirmity is healed by touching the hem of his garment (8:43-48).
A woman who had been crippled for 18 years is healed (13:10-17).
WOMEN Witnesses to the resurrection
Women were among
those who observed the crucifixion (23:27, 49).
Women prepared spices
to anoint Jesus’ body
Women were the first to find Jesus’ tomb empty (24:1-3).
Angels told the women that Jesus had risen (verses 4-8).
Women were the first to tell the other disciples (verses 9-11).
As Jesus had left his occupation as a carpenter and the disciples had been told to leave their sources of livelihood to follow him full-time, Jesus was supported in his ministry by several prominent women. (Luke 8:1-3)
When visiting Jerusalem he and his disciples often spent the night in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1-2, Matt 26:40).
But unlike some preachers today, Jesus lived modestly and travelled light. In his Judean ministry, he had no regular place to live (Luke 9:58)
He relied on God’s provision to pay his temple tax.
He had to borrow a colt for his humble entrance into Jerusalem.
Even the 72 were sent out with meagre resources and were instructed to rely on the provision of those to whom they will minister.
He is buried in a borrowed tomb.
Luke tells us more about the birth and the first 30 years of the life of Jesus than any of the other Gospel writers. The source for much of this material appears to have been Mary, the mother of Jesus.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…
WE NEED A SAVIOUR
Notice Mary’s self-description as she praises God. She addresses him as “God my Saviour”. Only sinners need a Saviour. Some teach the immaculate conception of Mary, claiming she was born without a sinful nature, but Mary sees herself as a sinner like all the rest of us, in need of divine rescue.
This is the whole point of the Christmas story – mankind was in desperate need of a Saviour. So God sent his Son to deliver us from captivity to sin and death.
Luke 1:48 (ESV) “… for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.”
What a difference to the arrogance expressed by many today. Mary acknowledges her own littleness in the eyes of the world. Her words reveal that she felt totally unworthy to be chosen by God. She was after all just a poor girl among the thousands who lived poor lives in an obscure village of a captive nation.
… “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV).
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
Mary was struck by how at odds God’s ways of choosing are from the ways men tend to choose. God overlooked her poverty and lowly station in life and considered rather
her spiritual condition.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Mary sings of God’s compassion for the poor; and when you are full of God’s Spirit, you too will have compassion for the poor and the humble. Your values are turned upside down. God’s attitude toward the poor and humble is described as follows:
God remembers them
God respects them
God feeds them
God helps them
God exalts them
Luke 1:51-53 (ESV) He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
Mary is using metaphorical speech when she sings “he has filled the hungry with good things”. She wasn’t talking about physical food she had received, nor had she been made materially wealthy – she was the recipient of something far greater – God’s favour, spiritual blessing, becoming a channel by which God would bring salvation to the world.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH
In Genesis 3:15 God promised that the deliverer who would bruise the serpent’s head, would be the “seed of the woman”. This is the first allusion to the virgin birth in Scripture.
And Isaiah prophesied that Immanuel (meaning “God with us”) would be born of a virgin:
Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
The virgin birth and conception by the Holy Spirit was necessary for Jesus to be untainted by Adam’s sin.
How will this be since I am a virgin?
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-5). Boaz, Jesse and David, the forefathers of Jesus, lived in Bethlehem. However by the time of Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph were located in Nazareth and there was no compelling reason for them to leave – certainly not while Mary was pregnant.
How would God effect the fulfilment of Micah’s prophecy? It necessitated the world’s greatest empire to move exactly according to God’s plan. And along came the census decreed by Augustus.
Matthew and Luke keep the same record from Abraham to David. But Matthew traces through David’s son Solomon to Joseph, while Luke traces through David’s son Nathan.
Thus Matthew has Joseph’s father as Jacob, while Luke has his father as Heli (who was actually Mary’s father).
Luke’s nativity record seems to be given from Mary’s perspective, * while Matthew’s seems to be from Joseph’s. ** Hence it is believed that Matthew traced the ancestry of Jesus through Joseph, while Luke traced it through Mary.
* Luke alone records the appearance of Gabriel to Mary (1:26-38), her song (1:46-55), the details of her relative Elizabeth’s story (Luke 1),Simeon’s prophecy to Mary (2:34-35), her anxiety when Jesus was lost (2:48) and then the telling statement “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (2:51) ** Matthew alone records Joseph’s 4 dreams (1:20, 2:13,19,22), his initial intention to break the betrothal to Mary (1:19) and his fear of returning to Judea (2:22).
The Bible makes it clear that by virtue of the virgin birth only Mary was a true genetic parent of Jesus. Luke refers to this issue by stating that Jesus “was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph” (Luke 3:23).
Joseph was descended from the kings of Judah through David’s son Solomon. So although not his genetic parent, through Joseph - Jesus had a legal claim to the throne of David.
The proclamation to the shepherds
Rather than being heralded in Jerusalem to the rulers of the people, Jesus birth is announced instead to a group of men who would never enter the thoughts of the rulers and other powerful individuals of Judea.
But these men are not offended that the Messiah has been born in the most lowly circumstances (as the worldly “persons of repute” would most certainly have been).
THE HUMBLE KING
Jesus existed before his birth and was the only one who could have chosen the circumstances of his birth. Yet:
There is no room for him in the inn (or guest room).
His birth is announced to shepherds, men of a humble profession.
He is born in the insignificant town of Bethlehem, not in a prominent city like Jerusalem. And later he lived in Nazareth, a town despised even by other Galileans (John 1:46).
He chose to be born in a humble manger, the feeding trough for animals, rather than a king’s palace where the Magi expected him to be (Matt 2).
Joseph and Mary go to Jerusalem Temple to consecrate Jesus to the Lord and to offer the required sin offering for Mary.
The offering they provided was the one stipulated for the poor who couldn’t afford a lamb (Lev 12:7-8), namely, “a pair of doves or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:23), so they were not wealthy people – as modern prosperity teachers claim.
The presentation of Jesus in the temple also provided an opportunity for two further witnesses to his Messiahship in the words of Simeon and the prophetess Anna.
My Father’s business
We don’t when Jesus became conscious of who he was, but at the age of 12 when he visits the Jerusalem temple for the Feast of Passover, he was already aware of his special relationship to God and his special mission on earth.
Luke 2:49 (NKJV) Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?
Obedient to his parents
Luke 2:51-52 (NIV) Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Although Mary and Joseph clearly did not entirely “get it” as this story shows, yet Jesus yielded to them on this and without a doubt on many other occasions as well, maintaining perfect obedience in spite of ignorance, lack of appreciation, and downright opposition to his necessary course of spiritual growth (Luke 2:40).
Luke 5:1–11 includes the first miraculous draught of fish episode in which Jesus tells Peter, “now on you will catch men”. Peter leaves his net and, along with James and John, follows Jesus as disciples.
This period includes the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6).
After spending the night praying, Jesus chooses the 12 apostles. In the Mission Discourse, Jesus instructs the 12 to travel from city to city and preach.
Jesus appoints a larger number of disciples (70 or 72) and sends them out in pairs with a mandate to go into villages before Jesus' arrival there.
At the end of the Major Galilean ministry, Jesus returns to his hometown, Nazareth, where his wisdom is recognized, but his authority is questioned and he is rejected.
Final Galilean ministry
The Final Galilean ministry begins after the death of John the Baptist.
After hearing of the death, Jesus withdraws by boat privately to a solitary place near Bethsaida, where he addresses the crowds who had followed him on foot from the towns and feeds them all with five loaves and two fish.
Following this, Jesus withdraws into the “parts of Tyre and Sidon” near the Mediterranean Sea, where the Canaanite woman’s daughter episode takes place. Jesus emphasizes the value of tenacious faith.
The importance of gratitude is also emphasized in the cleansing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11–19).
Later Perean ministry
Jesus starts his final journey to Jerusalem by going around Samaria, through Perea and on through Judea to Jerusalem.
Scholars generally assume that the route Jesus followed from Galilee to Jerusalem passed through Perea.
Many of the recorded events in this period are from the Gospel of Luke.
At the beginning of this period, Jesus predicts his death for the first time.
Later in this period, two related episodes mark a turning point in the ministry of Jesus: the Confession of Peter and the Transfiguration of Jesus.
These episodes begin in Caesarea Philippi, just north of the Sea of Galilee, at the beginning of the final journey to Jerusalem.
The most significant structural difference between Mark and Luke is what is variously called Luke’s “Travel Narrative,” “Journey to Jerusalem,” or “Central Section” (Luke 9:51–19:27). *
In Mark, we first learn Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem in Mark 10:32, and he arrives half a chapter later, in 11:1–11. *
In Luke, by contrast, Jesus heads toward Jerusalem in Luke 9:51, but doesn’t arrive for ten chapters (Luke 19:28)! Jesus does not head straight for Jerusalem, but instead moves around from place to place. Yet Luke repeatedly reminds the reader that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51–56, 13:22, 13:33, 17:11, 18:31, 19:11, 19:28, 19:41). In short, though not a straight-line trip, the journey motif represents a theological theme, stressing Jesus’ resolve to reach his Jerusalem goal. *
These ten chapters of the Travel Narrative contain many of Jesus’ most famous parables, such as the Good Samaritan, the Rich Fool, the Great Banquet, the Prodigal Son, the Persistent Widow, and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
Jesus also relates the account of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
It also contain many memorable stories, including the meal at the home of Mary and Martha, the healing of ten men with leprosy, and the story of Zacchaeus.
This section has sometimes been called “the Gospel for the Outcast,” since so many of the stories and parables relate to God’s love for the lost and the outsider. *
The context leading up to the parable of the Lost Son (aka the Prodigal Son) is yet another argument with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. On this occasion their complaint is that Jesus has no sense of propriety about what kind of people a good prophet should associate with. In particular, he is associating with tax collectors and other such “sinners”.
In response to this accusation (that he is friends with sinners) Jesus tells three parables:
(1) The lost sheep, (2) The lost coin, (3) The lost son
These stories demonstrate God’s love for sinners, his desire for them to be restored, and the free forgiveness available to those who come to him in repentance and faith.
In the Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus says: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said:
How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son … threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The son said to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
But the father said to his servants: “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
All of these parables in Jesus’ response (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son) are stories about recovering something precious that is lost and then subsequently found.
Jesus is thus implying that he associates with sinners because they are precious - but lost - and he wishes to recover and restore them.
When facing criticism for going to the house of another tax collector, Zacchaeus, Jesus responds that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” Luke 19:10 (NIV).
But Jesus’ story doesn’t end there.
Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came
near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called
one of the servants and asked him what was going on.
Your brother has come and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
The parable of the prodigal son also shows the attitude of the self-righteous sinner, pictured by the older son. Both sin and self-righteousness separate us from God.
The Father represents God. The younger prodigal son represents the tax collectors and sinners Jesus was reaching out to. But the elder son is a picture of the self-righteous Pharisees that Jesus was addressing.
He didn’t demand his inheritance. He stayed faithful to his father. And now he is angry. Why should his younger, wasteful, sinful brother receive such a reception by their father? The older brother is so angry that he refuses to go inside and join the party. Naturally, his father hears about it and comes to talk to him. *
But he answered his father:
Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!
THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS SON
Note that the elder brother says, “this son of yours” – not “this brother of mine”. He forgets that the prodigal is his brother and that he should rejoice that he has repented. He’s not just angry with his brother, he’s angry with his father, too.
This is again typical of the self-righteous Pharisees that this son represents. Rather than rejoicing that the sinners were seeking out Jesus, they were offended as they considered them irredeemable.
He quarrelled with his father that the younger son had messed up and yet the father had prepared for him the “fatted calf.” Because he considered himself better than the younger son, he could not share in the father’s joy. *
* https:// allaboutjesuschrist.org/ parable-of-the-prodigal-son-faq.htm
My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
In his self-pity, the older son was forgetting the riches available to him in his father’s house.
Grace is given by God at his sole discretion.
The younger son demands the family fortune and subsequently wastes it, then returns home expecting little in the way of good treatment. However the father welcomes him as a son and there is a great celebration.
The elder brother felt that he deserved his father’s favour, while his brother didn’t. But the Father blesses his returning son despite the objections of his other son who had stayed at home and served dutifully.
This is a common thread in the parables of Jesus: the grace of God is something that upsets settled human notions about merit and about what is deserved from God.
THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN
What is the context (setting)?
Luke 10:25-29 (NIV) On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.
Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
What is written in the Law? How do you read it?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
And who is my neighbour?
You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?
Jesus had stated, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies…” (Matt 5:43-44)
Interestingly the OT only tells us to “… love your neighbour as yourself.” (Lev 19:8) The people of Jesus’ day had added the “hate your enemy” part by redefining who their “neighbour” was. Some people thought that their neighbours were only their fellow countrymen – not the Romans or the Samaritans – so they didn’t have to love them. This explains the question “who is my neighbour?”
In reply to this question, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, where the “hero” is the despised Samaritan.
Luke 10:30-37 (NIV) “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. “They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
“A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
“So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
“But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
“Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
“The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
The one who had mercy on him.
Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?
Go and do likewise.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Q: Who do the different people represent?
A: The priest and the Levite represent the religious leaders. The Samaritan represents a despised race who were not considered “neighbours.”
John 4:9 (NIV) … For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
Q: What is the parable teaching?
A: The injured Israelite and the Samaritan are shown to be neighbours. So Jesus is showing that the command to “love your neighbour” included people of different race who were considered to be enemies.
WHICH ONE IS YOUR GOD?
Jesus warned us, “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16:13). He also told the rich young ruler, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Luke 18:22).
This man had money as his God. While he claimed to have kept the 6 commandments concerning his relationship with people, he had failed in his relationship with God; “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20:3)
JESUS’ FORGOTTEN WORDS
Luke 18:23-25 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Listen to what Jesus had to say to a man who had what may seem like a reasonable request to us – his brother had refused to give him his share in the inheritance and he wanted Jesus to intervene (Luke 12:13-14).
Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.
The climax of the Travel Narrative is the Zacchaeus episode (Luke 19:1–11), where a chief tax collector responds to Jesus’ call. Tax collectors were hated as traitors because of their collusion with the Roman rulers and their reputation for extortion.
A chief tax collector who oversaw other tax collectors would be viewed as the worst of the worst.
Yet when Zacchaeus responds to Jesus’ call, Jesus states, “… this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10–11). This statement epitomizes Luke’s central theme. With the coming of Jesus the Messiah, God’s end-time salvation has arrived. It is available to all who respond in faith, whatever their past life, social status, or ethnicity.
* https:// bibleproject.com/ articles/ luke-gospels-savior-lost-people
While the rich ruler in Luke 18 turns away when Jesus tells him to “Sell everything you have and give to the poor” in Luke 19 the wealthy, but sinful Zacchaeus says to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus took this as evidence of his repentance and responded, “Today salvation has come to this house…”
The gospels pay special attention to the account of the last week of the life of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the narrative amounts to about one third of the text of the four gospels, showing its theological significance. As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, he looks at the city and weeps over it, foretelling the suffering that awaits the city (Luke 19:41–44).
Final ministry in Jerusalem
Luke’s Gospel has a unique contribution to the resurrection narratives in the detailed account of Jesus’ encounter with two disciples on the road to the town of Emmaus (24:13–35). As these two are walking along, the resurrected Jesus joins them, but they are kept from recognizing him. Jesus asks them what they were talking about on the road and they share the recent events in Jerusalem. Jesus’ remarkable teaching and miracles confirmed that he was a prophet sent from God. But they had hoped that he might be more—the Messiah, Israel’s Redeemer. Sadly, his crucifixion had dashed their hopes.
Jesus responds by correcting their misconceptions:
“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (24:25-27)
The Gospel of Luke gives us a beautiful portrait of our compassionate Savior. Jesus was not “turned off” by the poor and the needy; in fact, they were a primary focus of His ministry. Israel at the time of Jesus was a very class-conscious society. The weak and downtrodden were literally powerless to improve their lot in life and were especially open to the message that “the kingdom of God is near you” (Luke 10:9). This is a message we must carry to those around us who desperately need to hear it. Even in comparatively wealthy countries—perhaps especially so—the spiritual need is dire. Christians must follow the example of Jesus and bring the good news of salvation to the spiritually poor and needy. The kingdom of God is near and the time grows shorter every day. *
* https:// gotquestions.org/ Gospel-of-Luke.html
According to Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD) gives this account:
The Gospel according to Mark had this occasion. As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it. When Peter learned of this, he neither directly forbade nor encouraged it. *
* Hypotyposes, Cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.14.5-7
The Gospel of Mark was likely one of the first books written in the New Testament, probably in A.D. 55-59.
According to Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD) gives this account as to the order of the Gospels: “The Gospels containing the genealogies [i.e. Matthew and Luke], he says, were written first.” *
Origen (AD 185—254) writes, “The first written was that according to the one-time tax collector but later apostle of Jesus Christ, Matthew, who published it for the believers from Judaism.”
Although the Gospel of Mark does not name its author, it is the unanimous testimony of early church fathers that Mark was the author. He was an associate of the Apostle Peter, and evidently his spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13). From Peter he received first-hand information of the events and teachings of the Lord, and preserved the information in written form.
* https:// gotquestions.org/ Gospel-of-Mark.html
It is generally agreed that Mark is the John Mark of the New Testament (Acts 12:12). His mother was a wealthy and prominent Christian in the Jerusalem church, and probably the church met in her home. Mark joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but not on the second because of a strong disagreement between the two men (Acts 15:37-38). However, near the end of Paul’s life he called for Mark to be with him (2 Timothy 4:11). *
This gospel is unique because it emphasizes Jesus’ actions more than His teaching. It is simply written, moving quickly from one episode in the life of Christ to another. It does not begin with a genealogy as in Matthew, because Gentiles would not be interested in His lineage. After the introduction of Jesus at His baptism, Jesus began His public ministry in Galilee and called the first four of His twelve disciples. What follows is the record of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. *
Mark presents Jesus as the suffering Servant of God (Mark 10:45) and as the One who came to serve and sacrifice for us, in part to inspire us to do the same. We are to minister as He did, with the same greatness of humility and devotion to the service of others. Jesus exhorted us to remember that to be great in God’s kingdom, we must be the servant of all (Mark 10:44). Self-sacrifice should transcend our need for recognition or reward, just as Jesus was willing to be abased as He lay down His life for the sheep. *
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