Monday, 17 May 2010

Lukes Gospel Part 2

In this post I'm going to look at Luke 1-9, it would be worth having it open as we go along.

I wonder how you would answer the question 'What makes a good leader?' It has been a hot topic of discussion over recent weeks given the election and I can't help thinking the current coalition government will be examined on this like never before.

Luke shows us Jesus' leadership credentials; what makes him worth listening to and following. Christianity is not about religion, rules or ritual but about a person – Jesus – who we can get to know by reading Luke. Christianity is ‘responding to Jesus appropriately, now in order to do that we need to understand who he claimed to be.

I wonder when you hear the name Jesus what words do you associate with it? He is often portrayed as being gentle, meek, non-confrontational, mild, passive and almost harmless. The problem is that doesn’t fit with the Jesus that we see in Luke.

Luke gives Jesus a special title; “Christ” if you can look at Luke 2:1-11. There Jesus is given a name; 'Christ' it is not a surname, it is a title with a history, literally meaning ‘anointed one’, specifically someone anointed by God.

The Old Testament has lots of prophecies that promise one day the truly anointed one would come and rule with God’s authority. This person – the “Christ” – would speak and act on God’s behalf. If you want to look at some of the prophecies you can find them in the Old Testament.

When Jesus is announced as “the Christ” in 2:11 he is identified as God’s long promised King who speaks with God’s authority and acts on God’s behalf.

The rest of Luke looks at how Jesus reveals he is the Christ, or what evidence there is to back up the claims the angels make.

Luke also shows us that Jesus is God’s spokesperson, read Luke 4:14-22

What claim does Jesus make about the prophecy? “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”

What is the Old Testament prophecy which is he claims is fulfilled saying about Jesus? That he is anointed with God’s spirit to speak on God’s behalf.

As you read through Luke one of the repeated things Luke records is peoples amazement at Jesus words. Why? Because he speaks on God’s behalf.

As we read on we see something else amazing about Jesus he has authority to heal people (Read Luke 4:38-40)

It’s tempting to just dismiss the idea of miracles as the talk of those who didn’t have any medical knowledge. But Luke was a doctor and reports of Jesus power to heal are widespread and not just in the Bible. Even anti-Christian sources recognise Jesus abilities to do the amazing.

But Jesus miracles aren’t party tricks to wow a crowd they are proof of who he is, of his power. Signs of God’s intention to one day heal all brokenness

Thirdly Luke wants us to see that Jesus has authority to hand out God’s forgiveness (Luke 5:17-26)
The big questions in this section are: What is the miracle? And what does Jesus claim to be able to do?

He claims to be able to forgive sin. Jews and Pharisees stood nearby know only God can forgive sin.

If I wrong you, how would you feel if someone else forgave me on your behalf? She or he has no right to do so, I have wronged you. Well the Bible says sin (our determination to run life our way) is against God, yet here is Jesus giving out forgiveness on his behalf. And to prove he can forgive he heals the man.

Jesus is God’s spokesman forgiving sin as only God can because he is the Christ.

But back to the issue we started we, leadership. Luke also wants us to see that Jesus has authority to lead people (5:27-28). Jesus asks people for allegiance, for people to leave everything and follow him, and he expects them to obey.

What is the first thing that Levi does as a follower of Jesus? He throws a party, why? Because its good news, following Jesus is worth celebrating and inviting others to meet him.

In chapter 9 we see a key moment in the lives of those who follow Jesus, read Luke 9:18-22. This passage is the climax of Luke so far. After they have watched all his actions and words, after they have seen him forgive sin, heal the sick, lead people and speak God’s word Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?”

How does Peter answer? “You are the Christ of God”. That’s what all the evidence they have seen indicates, he is the one they have been waiting for the long promised God anointed leader who speaks on God’s behalf.

To sum up the first 9 chapters of Luke's gospel show us that: as the Christ, Jesus possesses the authority of God himself. It is an authority he calls on people to recognise.

The question Luke wants Theophilus and us to ask is “Who do I say Jesus is?”

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