The birth of Jesus and the birth of John are closely connected. God was sending His Son. He was also sending His prophet. The prophet should not be exalted too highly. His purpose is to exalt the Saviour. As we read about Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah, we see that each of them gave glory to the Lord. "Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:41). "Mary said, My soul praises the Lord's greatness" (Luke 1:46). "Zechariah began to praise God .... Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied" (Luke 1:64-67).
"The glory of the Lord filled the area with light" (Luke 2:9). "The shepherds glorified and praised God for everything they had seen and heard" (Luke 2:20). Our worship is an entering into the glory of the Lord. He reveals His glory to us. He calls us to glorify Him.
There is the recognition that Jesus was special - "My eyes have seen Your salvation" (Luke 2:30) - and the revelation that Jesus was special - "I had to be in My Father's house" (Luke 2:49). How was Jesus special? - He is our Saviour. He is God's Son. The revelation comes to us, and it draws out, from us, the recognition that Jesus, God's Son, is our Saviour.
We move from John to Jesus - from the prophet to the Saviour: In Luke 3, more is said about John than Jesus. It must, however, be very clear to all that the focal-point is Luke 3:22 - "You are My Son, whom I love, I am pleased with You. "Prepare the way of the Lord" - This was John's ministry. He pointed away from Himself to Jesus. He said, 'Jesus is superior to me. Look away from me. Look to Jesus.'
"Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1). No wonder Satan couldn't triumph over Him! He was also filled with the Word of God. He knew the Word of God, and He knew how to use it. Satan was left with no alternative but to leave Jesus - but he would be back (Luke 4: 13). Satan knows that he cannot prevail against Jesus - but Satan won't take "No" for an answer. He keeps on trying - protesting against the triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we must never forget is this: In our battle against Satan, we stand on the victory of Christ, the victory He won for us. Satan cannot prevail against Jesus. Jesus makes us "more than conquerors" in Him (Romans 8:37). Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
"Take the boat into deep water, and lower your nets to catch some fish" (Luke 5:4). We need to go deeper with God, if we are to bring others to Him. We see this in the ministry of Jesus - "Large crowds gathered to hear Him and have their diseases cured. But He would go away to places where He could be alone for prayer" (Luke 5:15-16).
"Praising God, he (the healed man) went home" (Luke 5:25). "Everyone was amazed and praised God" (Luke 5:26). One man praising God, many people praising God - praise leads to more praise. Personal praise and corporate praise - we need both: praise that arises in my heart when I think of all that the Lord has done for me, praise that grows stronger when I gather together, with others, for worship.
"Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? " (Luke 5:30). The Lord's Supper is for sinners. When we sit with the Lord, at His Table, what we're saying is this: 'I'm a sinner. I need a Saviour.' What does Jesus say to us? He says, 'Yes. You are a sinner - and Yes. I am your Saviour.' This is Good News - the Good News of salvation. Jesus says, "I've come to call sinners to change the way they think and act" (Luke 5:32). When Jesus calls us to Himself, He doesn't leave us the way He found us. He changes us - from the inside, to the outside.
The contrast between the old and the new - What are we to take from these parables (Luke 5:33-39)? In the spiritual life, it's the new life that's better than the old life. when we have begun to live the new life in Christ, the old life loses its attraction. We're learning to see things through the eyes of Christ - to desire more of Him, and less of the world, more of the new life, and less of the old life.
"On a day of worship" (Luke 6:1); "On another day of worship" (Luke 6:6) - What is worship? Is it going to Church? Is it singing hymns? Jesus says, 'It's more than that.' Everything we do is to be done in a spirit of worship. We can be too 'holy'? Note that "the bread of the presence" was eaten by David and his men" (Luke 6:3-4). Is God's presence found only in the Temple. Wherever we are, He is there. The healing of the man with the paralyzed hand (Luke 6:8) - Jesus didn't say, 'I can't do this. I should be worshipping.' Jesus healed the man. This was part of His worship. how fitting it is that, on "the day of worship", the Lord healed this man. The point is: We define worship too tightly if we think that we can't offer kindness to our fellow human beings because we're preoccupied with singing praise to God. Let praise be seen in the full range of our life.
"Power was coming from Him and curing all of them" (Luke 6:19). This is the power of God that changes people. What we cannot do for ourselves, He does for us. The Lord Jesus calls us to be "committed" to Him (Luke 6:22). Those who are committed to Him will enjoy His blessing - even when we face much strong opposition.
"I tell everyone who is listening" (Luke 6:27). The Lord speaks to us. We are to listen to Him. Without our listening to what He's saying to us, His Word will never really get through to us. We need both - His speaking and our listening.
"Everyone who is well-trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). This is not just about the education of the mind. It's about training for living.
"Good people do the good that is in them" (Luke 6:45). We need to be changed from the inside. We need to be changed by the Lord. "Change my heart, O God ... " How is our heart to be changed? We must build on the "good foundation" - hearing what Jesus says to us and obeying what He says to us (Luke 6:48-49).
There's a difference between the way other people see us - "He deserves our help ... " (Luke 7:4-5) - and the way we see ourselves - "I don't deserve you to come into my house" (Luke 7:6). In the searchlight of God's holy Word, we are taken more deeply into ourselves - seeing our sin as it really is. Jesus doesn't save us because we deserve to be saved. He saves us by His grace. He looks at us, sees what we're really like, and keeps on loving us. This is love, real love, the greatest love of all.
"Everyone was struck with fear and praised God" (Luke 7:16). Here, we see a holy combination of the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, and the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. Fear of the Lord is not an end in itself. Through the fear of the Lord, we are to confess our sins and receive the joy of the Lord. This doesn't mean that the fear of the Lord is left behind. We carry the fear of the Lord with us - even when we are rejoicing in the Lord. It's the fear of the Lord which gives depth to our experience of the joy of the Lord. Without the fear of the Lord, our joy becomes superficial. When we are growing in the fear of the Lord, we become more aware of our sin and more deeply appreciative of His saving grace. Throughout our life of faith, the fear of the Lord calls us back when we are being pulled away from the Lord. Our obedience to the Lord grows as, with joy in the Lord and the fear of the Lord, we grow in our appreciation of His love for us and we are kept by His power, walking on the pathway of holiness.
"Whoever doesn't lose his faith in Me is indeed blessed" (Luke 7:23). Throughout life, there is a battle for faith. Who is it that keeps us in the faith? Is it ourselves? or Is it the Lord? In one sense, we are called to hold on to our faith. In a deeper sense, it is the Lord who holds on to us.
"He is far more than a prophet" (Luke 7:26). This is what Jesus said about John. How much more can we say this about Jesus - "He is more than a prophet." "Of all the people ever born, no one is greater than John" (Luke 7:28). If this can be said of John, how much more can it be said of Jesus.
"Your sins have been forgiven" (Luke 7:48). "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace" (Luke 7:50). At the heart of God's salvation, there is the forgiveness of sins and the peace of God. These blessings are received by faith. This is "the Good News about God's Kingdom" (Luke 8:1). When the Lord is crowned in our hearts as King, this is Good News for us because it means that the Lord's blessing is upon us. To God be the glory!
"So pay attention to how you listen!" (Luke 8:18). Listening is more than hearing. Spiritual listening is more than just listening, and then saying, 'That was interesting.' When we listen to the voice of the Lord, we are changed by what we hear.
"My mother and My brothers are those who hear and do what God's Word says" (Luke 8:21). There's a spiritual bond that binds together God's people. This bond is stronger than family ties. That's not to say that family ties aren't strong. It's to say that, in the fellowship of Christians, we are bound together at a deeper level than the biological connection.
"Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25). This is a question that Jesus still puts to us. Do we still believe that He is in control, even when it seems like He has fallen asleep (Luke 8:23)?"
"Why are You bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You not to torture me!" (Luke 8:28). Is this what we think of Jesus? - He's bothering us. This is what many people think of Jesus. Can they be changed? Can we be changed? - "Dressed and in his right mind, he was sitting at Jesus' feet" (Luke 8:35). What about the other people? - "The people were frightened ... they were terrified" (Luke 8:35,37). It's only by God's grace that we are taken beyond this initial reaction into a real trust in Jesus.
"Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace" (Luke 8:48); "Child, get up! She came back to life, and got up at once" (Luke 8:54-55). When Jesus comes to us everything changes. Nothing remains the same. Life is new. The past is behind us. The future has begun. What is it that brings us out of our past and into the Lord's future? Jesus speaks about faith - "Your faith has made you well" (Luke 8:48); "Just believe, and she will get well" (Luke 8:50). This faith is not faith in ourselves. It's faith in Jesus. What we cannot do for ourselves, He does for us. This is the Gospel. It's not the Gospel of our faith - This is what I can do for myself. It's the Gospel of God's grace - This is what Jesus does for me. Faith looks away from ourselves. Faith looks to Jesus, and says, 'What a great Saviour He is!'
"Power and authority" (Luke 9:1) - "No weapon that has been made to be used against you will succeed ... victory comes from Me" (Isaiah 54:17). "Who is this person I'm hearing so much about? so Herod wanted to see Jesus" (Luke 9:9). There is no suggestion that Herod was about to become a believer. Nevertheless, we can read these words in terms of the way in which God creates a hunger to know more of Jesus, a hunger that can only be satisfied by our Saviour. We find Him, and we say, "He found me." He created the hunger, and He satisfies it. Praise be to His Name!
Ministry to the large crowds - "five thousand" (Luke 9:13), ministry to the small group - "His disciples" (Luke 9:18). As Jesus was exercising His ministry, He was looking beyond it to His death and resurrection (Luke 9:22), and He was looking further on to His return - His coming in glory (Luke 9:26).
"While Jesus was praying, the appearance of His face changed" (Luke 9:29). Prayer changes things. Prayer changes people. "Moses and Elijah ... appeared in heavenly glory" (Luke 9:29-30). "They saw Jesus' glory" (Luke 9:32). How can we remain the same when we catch a glimpse of God's glory? "This is My Son, whom I have chosen" (Luke 9:35). We are changed when we listen to Jesus. "They saw that Jesus was alone" (Luke 9:36). We are changed when we look to Jesus. Looking to Him and listening to him, we learn from Him. We learn to be changed by His glory.
"Everyone was amazed" (Luke 9:43). When we think of the Lord and all that He has done for us, we should be amazed at the wonder of His love for us. "Whoever starts to plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). Being amazed at the love of God is not just a passing phase. It is to be something which grows as we continue our journey through life.
"Many prophets and kings wanted to see and hear what you've seen and heard, but they didn't" (Luke 10:24). We read about the prophet. We read about the kings. Sometimes, there were good times. Sometimes, there were bad times. Beyond all that we read about in the Old Testament, there is Jesus. He says to us,"He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). He's greater than all the prophets and all the kings.
"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25). This question is asked to Jesus, the "teacher" (Luke 10:25). We must remember that He is more than our teacher. He is our Saviour. While the parable of the good Samaritan focuses on love for our neighbour, we must note that Jesus speaks, first, about love for God (Luke 10:27). The way in which Jesus speaks about love for God makes us feel hopeless. How can we possibly love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind? This leaves us deeply aware of our failure and our need of the Saviour. This brings us to hear another answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" The answer is "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:30-31). When we come out of the parable of the good Samaritan, we meet Mary and Martha. We are warned that we must not concern ourselves with attempting to earn our own salvation. "Martha was upset about all the work she had to do." She complained that she had to "do all the work by herself" (Luke 10:42). With Mary, things were very different. "Mary sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His Word" (Luke 10:39). This, said Jesus, is "the only thing we need."Listen to Jesus. Hear His Word of salvation. Trust in Him. Be saved by Him.
"Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). We cannot teach ourselves to pray. We can only be taught by the Lord.The spirit of prayer does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord.
"Because He is your friend and because you were so bold" (Luke 11:8) - not just "because you were so bold": first, it's "because he is your friend" - "What a Friend we have in Jesus ... What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."
"A stronger man than he may attack him and defeat him" (Luke 11:22) - the victory of Christ over Satan.
"Someone greater than Solomon is here! ... Someone greater than Jonah is here! ... " (Luke 11:31-32). Jesus is such a great Saviour. He is a "bright ... lamp shining on us" (Luke 11:36).
Jesus told the truth, and"the scribes and the Pharisees" didn't like it. They "held a terrible grudge against Him" (Luke 11:53). The truth of God will either make us or break us. Some people hear the truth, and they're set free to know, love and serve the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit. Others are like "the scribes and the Pharisees" - "they watched Him closely to trap him in something He might say" (Luke 11:54). Lord, help us to receive Your Word - not to resent it; to heed Your Word - not to hate it; to love your Word - not to loathe it.
"At that time, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say" (Luke 12;12). We are not alone. Our words are not our own. The Holy Spirit is with us. He gives us His words.
"Be concerned about His Kingdom" (Luke 12:31). God is calling us beyond the concerns of this world. He's calling us to have a higher purpose and higher priorities.
God's Kingdom and God's Spirit - it's the Spirit who inspires us to live as the people of God, who are living for the Kingdom of God and waiting for the Kingdom of God.
"Lord, did You use this illustration just for us or for everyone?" (Luke 12:41). The Lord's Word was not just for His disciples. It's also for us.
"Do you think that I came to bring peace on earth? No! I can guarantee you that I came to bring nothing but division" (Luke 12:51). There are no shortcuts to peace. We must come by the way of repentance. Before we can enter into the life that is blessed by the Lord, we must hear His Word of warning that calls us back from the pathway that will lead us away from Him, the pathway which will bring no blessing to us. As we see the emptiness of life without Christ, we learn to look to Him for the life that is full of His blessing.
"So why don't you just for yourselves what is right?" (Luke 12:57). Authentic morality and spirituality - these are not just second-hand. The real thing must come from within. It's from the Lord - but it has to be real in us.
Jesus looked for a response from His hearers - Turn to God, and be changed in your way of thinking and your way of living (Luke 13:3,5); Bear fruit (Luke 13:6-7). The change, the new life, comes from the Lord. It's His power that changes us. What we can't do for ourselves, He does for us (Luke 13:10-17). His work in us has small beginnings, but it grows (Luke 13:19).
As Jesus comes near to entering Jerusalem, He speaks about entering the new Jerusalem. The people of the old Jerusalem are called to open their hearts to Him (Luke 13:24,340. This is not just about Jesus entering Jerusalem. It's about Jerusalem entering into Jesus. It's not just about things that happened a long time ago. It's about faith. It's about us. It's about Jesus, welcoming us when we come to Him. It's about Jesus, calling us to follow Him.
Reading about Jesus at a banquet, we think of the words of Song of Solomon 2:4 - "He sat me at his banqueting table, and his banner over me is love." These are words that make us think of Jesus, the Host at the Lord's Table. Jesus is not an invited guest. We are the invited guests. In love, He invites us to come. In love, He welcomes us. What great love! What a great invitation! What a great welcome! What a great Saviour! As we think of Jesus, inviting us to His Table, we rejoice in His love and we give thanks. Thank You, Lord, for Your love. It's the greatest love of all.
Jesus speaks about the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25-35). As we read on to the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (Luke 15:1-32), we learn of grace. We must never forget grace. Our discipleship is grounded in God's grace.We are not saved because we are great disciples. We are saved because we have a great Saviour. When we sing, "How great Thou art", let us not think only of God's great power. Let us think also of His great love. This is what inspires us to follow Jesus.
What is most important to us - the things that will pass away or the things that will last forever? In Luke 16, Jesus challenges us to think about what really matters to us. Jesus gives us something to think about: Are we living for eternity? This is not a question that we can push away from ourselves. It keeps coming back to us. We must answer this question with our lives - not just our words.
"Give us more faith" (Luke 17:5). What does it mean to have more faith? It means more looking away from ourselves to Jesus. Our faith is not in ourselves. Our faith is in Jesus. "Your faith has made you well" (Luke 17:19) - It is faith in Jesus that makes the difference, not faith in ourselves.
"The Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21); "When the Son of Man comes again ... " (Luke 17:26
We are to come to God with the humility that comes from knowing that we are sinners: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" (Luke 18:13). We are to come to Him with the humility that comes from knowing that we are nothing and know nothing that really matters: "Whoever doesn't receive the Kingdom of God, as a child receives it, will never enter it" (Luke 18:17). We are to come to Him with the humility that knows that we need to learn, from Him, how we are to live our lives. This is part of what Jesus is saying to the rich young ruler (Luke 18:22). It may also be said that Jesus is showing us that we cannot save ourselves. We can only be saved by the Lord (Luke 18:26-27). This is salvation by grace. In emphasizing salvation by grace, we should make sure that we also emphasize that grace changes us.
"But they didn't understand any of this. What He said was a mystery to them, and they didn't know what He meant" (Luke 18:34). As well as physical blindness, there is also spiritual blindness. "Receive your sight! Your faith has made you well" (Luke 18:42). Jesus gave sight to the blind man. He opens our eyes. He reveals Himself to us. He is the risen Lord. When He comes to us in the power of His resurrection, we see what He means - He is our Saviour, and we follow Him and praise God (Luke 18:43).
In Luke 19, we read about the day a wee man met the Big Man - and the wee man was never the same again. What a difference Jesus makes. Jesus gave Zacchaeus a new stature - the stature of being a man in Christ, a man who was no longer lost, a man who had been saved by the Lord.
How do we serve the Lord? Do we bear fruit for Him? God is calling us to be fruitful in His service. We must remember that He is the King. We must remember what kind of king He is. He's the King of love. Fear will keep us from being fruitful (Luke 19:21). Love changes everything. When we appreciate the Lord's love for us, we will respond with love for Him. His love for us creates and inspires our love for Him.
"The Lord needs it" (Luke 19:31,34). The Lord doesn't need us - yet He chooses to "need" us. The young "donkey" (Luke 19:30,33) was chosen by the Lord. We have been chosen by the Lord. Before we ever thought of Him, He was thinking of us, loving us and calling us into His service.
"They shouted joyfully" (Luke 19:38). Where does our joy come from? - It comes from this: The Lord has come to us. He gives us His "peace." He leads us on to His "glory" (Luke 19:38). The Lord has called us to be a people of "praise" and "prayer" (Luke 19:37,46).
Jesus had enemies. They were God's enemies. They're our enemies. What does the Word of God say about them? They will be crushed. Why? - Because they refused to come to Jesus and receive His salvation, What does the Word of God say about Jesus? He's the "cornerstone of our faith" (Luke 20:17-18).
Jesus spoke with true wisdom, the wisdom of God. He was so different from the religious leaders of His day. They thought they were smart, but they weren't. "His answer surprised them, so they said no more" (Luke 20:26); "From that time on, no one dared ask Him another question" (Luke 20:40). Where did Jesus' wisdom come from? It came from this - He was more than "David's son" (Luke 20:41). He was "David's Lord" (Luke 20:44) - and He is our Lord. This is why He had the right to say, "Beware of the scribes!" (Luke 20:46). They were men-pleasers. Jesus lived for one thing only - pleasing His heavenly Father.
Jesus' words concerning His Return come to us from such a long time ago, yet they are still words that prepare us for His future. "The earth and the heavens will disappear, but My words will never disappear" (Luke 21:33). We must take time to read His Word. We must also "pray so that you have the power to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand in front of the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36). Along with reading God's Word and praying, there is also to be giving (Luke 21:1-4).
Satan was working (Luke 22:3) - and so was Jesus (Luke 22:7-30). What does Jesus say about this spiritual warfare? He says this:"The hand of the one who will betray Me is with Me on the table. The Son of Man is going to die, the way it has been planned for Him" (Luke 22:21-22). Satan's schemes will come to nothing. God's plan of salvation will triumph over the schemes of Satan.
"Who is the greatest?" (Luke 22:24). This is a meaningless question. There is only one who can be called "great" - Jesus. In ourselves, there is weakness (Luke 22:34). Satan is stronger than we are. Jesus gives us His strength (Luke 22:32). He is stronger than Satan.
God's "will must be done" (Luke 22:42). Even when God's will is being done, there is the activity of Satan - "This your time, when darkness rules" (Luke 22:53). The honest verdict on Jesus is, "I can't find this man guilty of any crime" (Luke 23:4). "Crucify him! Crucify him!" (Luke 23:21) - Awful words! Beyond the words of hostility, shouted by the crowd, there is the will of God and the love of God. Jesus is crucified, Barabbas is set free. This is grace. How wonderful this is! Jesus took the place of Barabbas. he has taken our place so that we might go to be with Him in his place.
"Father, forgive them ... " (Luke 23:34). The love of Christ is shining out to us from the Cross. "Jesus, remember me when You enter Your Kingdom" (Luke 23:42). By giving Himself, in death, for us, Jesus opened the door to God's Kingdom. What wonderful words of life - eternal life, He speaks to those who trust in Him - "I can guarantee this truth: Today you will be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Why are you looking among the dead for the Living One? He's not here. He has been brought back to life!" (Luke 24:5-6). The wonderful message of His resurrection is this - For Jesus, death was not the end. for us, death will not be the end. How re we to understand the Gospel story of Jesus, our Saviour? - We turn to "the Scriptures." We learn from "the Scriptures" (Luke 24:27,32). Our listening to the Scriptures and our learning from the Scriptures is set within the context of "praise and worship" (Luke 24:52-53).