Monday, December 10, 2012

Thursday, December 06, 2012

#8 The Son is good news (Luke 24)

The King has died. Luke shows us what happens next. Jesus predicted his death and his resurrection and here will show us how necessary that was. Then Jesus will depart – so what will happen to his kingdom until the King comes back? How will the Kingdom grow. Luke gathers up the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection appearances to show us.

Luke began by telling us he would record what had been fulfilled. Jesus tells his friends on the road that the Old Testament said that he had to suffer and then enter his glory (26), and that he had to suffer and rise on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations starting at Jerusalem. This is the message of the Old Testament. There are things fulfilled.. There are necessary events in history. This is not meaningless. The good news of Jesus is the plan and the story.

If we miss this we’ve missed the message. Which is exactly what Jesus’ friends seem to have done, until he caused their eyes to be opened to recognise him (31), their “hearts burning within” them “while he talked with” them… and opened the Scriptures do them, and “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (45).

They weren’t stupid. They knew that crucifixion was for killing people. They knew that dead people stayed dead. There wasn’t a first century naivety about them. Something world shaking would have to happen to overturn the normal course of events. And it did. Before long these friends of Jesus would be charged with turning the world upside down (Acts 17v6).

Jesus departs blessing them. A summary of everything he has been doing, bringing life to them from his Father freely.

Jesus was prophesied in Luke 1, by Zechariah, as the one who would bring the rising of the sun for those in darkness. Now, the sunrise of the gospel has to come to us in the preaching of the gospel – even to us here, and it will continue beyond us and with us to the ends of the earth. They’re told to wait but that waiting is now over, the gospel has begun its journey from Jerusalem to all nations, and has even reached us.

The Spirit has been poured out to all who ask the Father (11v13). Luke and Acts draw on the imagery of Psalm 133, the anointing oil of the Spirit poured out on the head of the High Priest drips down his beard onto his body. Jesus carries us into the presence of his Father, our names on his heart, and the Spirit sends us out to preach forgiveness of sins.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

#7 The Son dies (Luke 23:25-49)

The whole story of Jesus has been about the coming of the perfect son who would bring forgiveness to his new human race, but how can he bring forgiveness to people who are deserving of death? Here at last as we see Luke’s account of the cross we’ll find our answers.

Jesus’ death is the focus of all four gospel accounts. Jesus has been walking towards his death since Luke 9 when he set his face to Jerusalem. And the Old Testament has spoken that this must happen. Luke tells the account of the cross broadly in the same way as the other two Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark do. But there are differences which highlight particularly what he wants to emphasise about Jesus. These three gospels are called The Synoptics and have strong similarities – whereas John’s account is substantially different. All the events recorded at the cross happened, but each writer selects their material to show us a particular aspects of what the cross means.

"Why did Jesus die?" is one of the most important questions to be able to answer. Mark, Paul, Matthew, John, Peter, Moses, Isaiah would all give us different (though complementary) answers... how would Luke particularly answer? Much common ground but what would he specifically draw our attention to?

Comparing what's common to Mark, Luke and Matthew, what's distinctive to Mark and Matthew, and what's unique to Luke reveals he reports:

 The Weeping Women (27-31)
 The Two Criminals (32-33, 39-43)
 Reference to His Father (34, 46) (contrast Jesus’ prayers in Mk & Mt)

We see of the response of the weeping women. Jesus has time for outsiders like this but his focus is to warn them. He warns them because if such things as his death can happen in days of green trees  they should weep for what’ll happen in the days of dry trees. This might be reference to final judgement or to the destruction of Jerusalem, or the persecutions of the church. Jesus is warning that people are walking in the shadow of death and only the rising sun of Jesus’ gospel can bring any hope. Jesus is warning - look at what happens to the innocent son of God... how much worse for the rest of us when judgement comes. Hide in the son!

Luke uniquely includes the story of the two criminals crucified with Jesus. Here are two men dying who deserve to – unlike Jesus the Son. One of them sees that unlike Jesus he deserves to die and so asks for mercy. Jesus promises him, “Today you will be with me.” Jesus’ mission has always been about bringing those who will receive mercy to be with him. The story highlights that Jesus the innocent dies in the place of the guilty, and this is what secures our forgiveness. Come be with Jesus, the crucified one invites us.

Mark and Matthew tell us of Jesus’ cry of dereliction, citing Psalm 22, that he is forsaken by his God. Luke instead tells us that he twice prayed to his Father. Where Mark tells us of a loud final cry, and Matthew of a loud final voice... Luke says Jesus prayed Father. The accounts agree, it's just that Luke reports the words not just the sound. The emphases here are on Jesus asking his Father to forgive and Jesus’ willingness to die, as he entrusts his spirit to his Father.
Father prayers are typically Lukan...
Luke is all about the Father and his Son. Jesus the son in his Father's house. Jesus the son who reveals his Father, and delights to speak with him, who loves to introduce his friends to his Father and their Father... who cried out to his Father in pain in Gethsemane, now prays to his Father for our forgiveness, always entrusting himself to his Father.

The cross in Luke is about innocent Jesus receiving the death we deserve, a warning of worse days to come, and shows us that this is the united purpose of the Father and the Son, to forgive us and bring us to know them.

In 23v45, Luke tells us not just that things go dark but that "the sun stopped shining". In 1v77-78 the Spirit speaks through Zechariah (and Luke's reporting) to tell that the coming of Jesus is like the sun rising bringing forgiveness. Now the sun stops shining. But when it rises on Sunday morning it'll be to spread its warming beams of mercy across the earth, as the good news of forgiveness is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit to all peoples. Feel the sunshine of the gospel...