Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Lessons from Luke
After 67 messages spanning nineteen months we’ve learned a lot from Luke’s account of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I thought for this final message in Luke I’d look back at the top 5 lessons from Luke.
First let’s go back to the very beginning. Luke writes:
Luke 1:1-4 (HCSB) 1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus,
4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.
Luke carefully researched the material using “eyewitness” testimony from those who served the revelation of God’s plan for humanity according to His word. This gospel was not written in a haphazard way or without careful attention. So we can trust it. Everything contained in this book “fulfilled” something God spoke long before.
Secondly, his purpose was so that Theophilus might “know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.” Luke’s attention to accuracy means we can feel certain about what Jesus said, and did.
Given that, there are five main points I want to bring out – they are by far not the only important points in Luke, but as I perused back through the gospel, these stood out to me.
- 1.Jesus was both a uniter and a divider.
Luke 2:25-34 Simeon
Simeon told Mary that Jesus would be a light but also bring a sword. In a way, the presence of Jesus in our lives brings the same thing. He brings light—truth about the true nature of our condition—that is, that we do not measure up to God’s character, but also light in the sense of lighting the way to a solution—through the payment by Jesus Himself for you.
But going towards the light of His salvation and being reunited with God also brings a sword—a dividing of us from others and a pitting of ourselves against the dominate culture we live in. Your friends and family may not want to have anything to do with you as you give your life to the Messiah. You may find yourself ostracized from friend groups and, increasingly, called a “hater” by those who fail to realize what true love really is.
Simeon said Jesus would be a “sign that will be opposed.” When it comes to Jesus there are only two sides. You are either with Him, or opposed to Him.
Matthew 12:30 “Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.”
We actually cannot take a neutral stance when it comes to Jesus, because He also said: “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” There are three definite articles and the firm exclusionary pro noun “no one” in that sentence. You need to come to grips with how you feel about Him. You don’t have to do it right now—but I would keep an open mind as you consider Luke’s gospel.
Don’t oppose His sign of death, burial, and resurrection just based on what others have said. Look at what Luke says and what Jesus Himself says—then make up your own mind.
Luke 4:28 – 29 Nazareth
Jesus revealed to His hometown crowd His actual mission statement. His job was to proclaim liberty and shine the light of truth. But those who knew Him were blinded to who He really was.
Don’t let what you know and who you listen to blind you to the reality that Jesus is so much more than just a purveyor of good sayings or a doer of kind deeds. He represents rescue but the relationship is exclusive.
- 2.Suffering was a part of Jesus’ life from the beginning, was God-ordained, and is part of our lives as His followers as well.
Luke 9:22 (ESV) “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
We shouldn’t be afraid of suffering. Jesus wasn’t. He didn’t like it, but if it accomplished the larger plan of the Father, then He was okay with that. Remember: “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising (counting as nothing) the shame.” (Hebrews 12:2).
Luke 9:23 (HCSB) Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Part of “taking up that cross” means suffering. Peter experienced this first hand:
Luke 22:31-32 (HCSB) “Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.
32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
In this little section we find several truths for the disciple:
- Satan has to ask permission to “sift” us so nothing happens beyond the sovereignty of God and God puts limits on what Satan can do.
- We always have an “advocate” praying for us (1 John 2:1, who “lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25).
- We may fail, but our connection to Jesus is too strong for Satan to overcome (John 10:38-30).
- There is purpose even in our failure—restoration and renewal of purpose.
- Becoming part of His family means you become part of the family business (Luke 9:62, 12:8-12, 22 – 34)
- Luke 12:22-34 A relationship with God is paramount. (Matthew adds: “and His righteousness” so the assumption is that we first belong to God and then are transformed into His character).
- Once that priority is set, we can trust that God wants to and will provide for our needs (though not necessarily our wants). That doesn’t by the way, obviate our need to pray.
- You can tell a person who has light fingers on the things of this age because they are freer to give away their stuff, instead of hanging on to it for dear life.
- The final lesson is that there is a way to become very rich – and that’s to emulate the values of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in a redeemed heart.
I love the ending statement here: “where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
So where are our hearts? What do we value most? What informs and shapes our values?
- Anything that stands in the way of a relationship with Jesus is to be rejected (16:19-31 Lazarus, 20:25 – give to Caesar)
Luke 18:25-30 Why is it hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God? Because wealth gives us a false sense of security (fulfilling every physical need can inoculate us against feeling a more important need in our souls). It also gives us a false sense that we are blessed (God must be behind my success). Jesus uses the analogy of a camel going through the eye of a needle. Apparently that was a common euphemism in that day for something that was impossible.
Peter pipes up and says “if the rich can’t get in, who can?” Jesus replies that God can do it—but it comes only if the person is willing to put the Lord first. God must draw him and let him see his true lack.
So the boys reply to Jesus that they’ve essentially done what He asked of the rich young ruler. Jesus says that all they have given up will be more than returned to them here, and in heaven. Leaving house, wives and families – by the way – means entering itinerant ministry, not abandoning your responsibilities. Notice that Jesus does not affirm the rich young ruler, but He does affirm the disciple’s decision to leave it all and follow Him. And He affirms us when we abandon that which holds onto us in this age and cling to Him.
Anything that takes first place in your life, if it isn’t your relationship with Jesus, is an idol. Anything that could not give up without wanting to die, may also be an idol. Even us who have given our lives to Jesus have many idols—our own pride, anger, monetary gain, position of power, our pride in our physical beauty or athletic accomplishments—even relationships can be an idol. I’m not saying to do a lousy job, I’m saying submit those things to the Lordship of Jesus. Have light fingers on the things of this age.
- Obedience is better than understanding. Faith is better than proof. (Luke 1:26 – 38, 7:1-10)
Often times the disciples simply did not understand what Jesus was saying. That was okay, as long as they continued to trust Him. That’s true for us as well.
Several times the crowds and religious leaders wanted Jesus to prove Himself by showing a miraculous sign from heaven.
Luke 11:29 (HCSB) “This generation is an evil generation. It demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
We need to trust that the sign of Jonah, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, is the only miracle we need to put our faith and trust in the Lord—even if that means things happen to us we don’t like or understand.
To end this study, I’d like to go back to the beginning—to Jesus’ mom Mary.
Luke 1:26 – 38 Mary. “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.”
If that were only our attitude all day every day. She faced something that she really did not understand and seemed like something that could easily be dreaded—a virgin 14-year-old pregnant. Yet her attitude was one of submission. And to bring it full circle—Luke talked about “servants of the word”. Mary was one of those. The “word” from the angel was a word from God. If God ordains or allows it, then no matter how tough, I will be the Lord’s servant. I suppose she could have said “bring it on!” It’s that kind of fearless faithfulness that I hope we can aspire to as well.