Luke 7:1-10: God-Pleasing Faith

Read: Luke 7:1-10

The centurion’s faith impressed Jesus. He saw authority in Jesus, acknowledging that just a word from Jesus’ mouth could heal his servant. He understood this because he too would instruct soldiers and they would act. A centurion was an officer in a Roman legion, and in command of around 80-200 men. They were paid handsomely compared to regular soldiers and command the respect of those in their legion. This particular centurion was nameless, but he was well liked among the Jews because he built their synagogue for them and he was apparently God-fearing too. Jesus healed the servant from afar, and remarked on the centurions faith, saying he had not seen such faith in all of Israel. In other words, those who were supposed to have faith apparently did not have faith that compared to this Gentile.

Luke, in keeping with his theme of the gospel being a gospel for all people includes this story to show that even a Gentile can have faith. Saying that a Roman had more faith than a Jew though was a front to the Jews, because they were supposed to be the ones that had faith. The difficulty with many Jews is that they didn’t see Jesus for who he really was. Luke has already shown that Jesus was rejected in his hometown (Luke 4:14-30) and how stiff-necked the Pharisees were when they heard him preach (Luke 5:17-26). Yet even so, Jesus was well received by the people of Capernaum (Luke 4:31-44) and Gentiles were coming to hear him preach (Luke 6:17). Jesus made no exclusions on who could hear the good news or to those he would heal.

Paul explains in Romans 2-3 the relationship between the Jews and the Gentiles. God chose the Jews to be the ones to carry the gospel to the world going back as far as Abraham. He wanted the Jews to live in accordance with the Law and witness about God so that God’s name would be made known among the Gentiles. However the Jews did quite the opposite, blaspheming God’s name among the Gentiles by their deeds. But Paul reckons that the true Jew was not the one who is circumcised or a descendant of a Jew, rather one who follows the law (Romans 2:28-29) and that Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith (Romans 3:28-31). Abraham was the father of many nations (Genesis 12:1-2. Genesis 17:4-5, Genesis 17:20, Hebrews 11:2) – not by birth but by faith (Romans 4:9-18).

Faith is how one becomes a child of God. Hebrews notes that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). In other words, it is absolutely essential to have faith to become a Christian and live as a Christian. In the same way that the Centurion’s faith impressed Jesus, so does the faith of all those who call on his name and live accordingly even now. It is by faith that God is pleased.

Lord, help my faith be God-pleasing faith!

Luke 3:23-38: Children of God

Read: Luke 3:23-38

Two genealogies of Jesus appear in the New Testament: one in Luke and the other in Matthew 1:1-17. Genealogies can be boring, but usually within the genealogy there are little nuggets that the chronologist will inject into the in the genealogy to make a point. Luke does this as well First, he notes that Jesus is the “supposed” son of Joseph. This is a round about way of affirming the virgin birth of Jesus (as he was conceive d by the Holy Spirit), a nod to the fact that God the Father had just affirmed Jesus as his son (Luke 3:22), reaffirming what the angel told Mary (Luke 1:35), and also reaffirms what Jesus said when he acknowledge God the Father as his father when he was at the temple (Luke 2:49). But in keeping with tradition, Luke lists Joseph as his earthly father and traces the genealogy from there. Second, which is a curious thing, is that Luke calls Adam the the “son of God”. Adam was not divine, rather he was created (Genesis 2:7). John calls Jesus the “begotten son” of God (John 3:16). Likewise, Adam is the father of all those who sin, which results in death while Jesus is the one who brings life (Romans 5:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:20-49).

An issue specific to the genealogies in New Testament surrounds the differences between the genealogies Matthew and Luke. Luke has Jesus as a Son of David by way of David’s son Nathan while Matthew has Jesus coming through the line of Solomon. A difference though does not imply a contradiction, but the reason for the difference is also unknown. Given what is known about the books, the difference may have to do with the purpose of each book. Matthew’s gospel was written to Jews, so it was important for Jesus to come from the royal line in order to be the rightful heir to the throne of David and the genealogy goes back to Abraham. Luke’s gospel was written to a Gentile so the emphasis was on the global aspect so he goes all the way back to Adam. Without more insight and evidence, the reason for the differences is likely to remain unresolved, but nevertheless it does not diminish the veracity or the points made in the genealogies.

What we can affirm from Luke’s genealogy is that Jesus is indeed the one begotten Son of God who came into the world by unusual means. His mission was to bring life by overcoming the death that had been brought into the world by Adam. For those that will believe in Jesus, they too can become “children of God” through adoption (Romans 8:14-23). While Christians have earthly parents, the parentage that one can claim is God the Father. It’s a good reminder that no matter how good or how bad one’s earthly parents may be, one can live in a loving relationship with God as Father. In the same manner, knowing how God loves his own children, parents ought to love their children too, looking to God as the model parent and be an advocate for those who don’t have parents.

Lord, I rejoice that am your child!

Luke 2:36-38: A Pedigree of Faithfulness

Read: Luke 2:36-38

Luke has just 3 verses dedicated to Anna, but he says quite a bit about her in those verses. She was a prophetess, of the tribe of Asher, widowed 7 years into her marriage and had never remarried, 84 years old, the daughter of Phanuel and worshipped in the temple day and night. Anna is not the only prophetess in Scripture. By calling her this, Luke ranks her among many other remarkable women including Miriam the sister of Moses (Exodus 15:20) and Deborah (Judges 4:4).  It’s interesting that Luke makes all these notes about Anna. In fact there is more biographical information about her than information about what she did when she saw Jesus, which was praise God and God tell others about the coming redemption of Jerusalem, namely through Jesus.

Anna is one instance of Luke’s special attention to the role of women in the story of Jesus. When writing Luke the role of women in most of the world at that time was not very high. But nevertheless Luke’s intentionality on the part of women and also the Gentiles for that matter show that Jesus is not redeemer for a select few, rather the redeemer for all people and that all people are equally valuable to him regardless of what status they may have in the world and all have a role in his work.

While Anna’s deeds may not have been some great miracle on a grand scale, her life-long commitment to God make her among the greats in Scripture. Everyone who believes has a part in God’s work, and those that live a life committed to God’s work will leave a lasting legacy even though no single deed is his or her defining moment. Living faithfully day to day in the monotony of life will culminate in a testimony that will be remembered and an example to be followed.

Lord, Help me to live faithfully all my days!

Luke 1:1-4: Good News for Everyone

Read: Luke 1:1-4
Jesus’ coming into the world was good news for all people – he wasn’t merely the messiah for the Jews, rather the whole world. While all the gospels present Jesus in such a light, Luke’s gospel is perhaps the one that would resonates the most with a Gentile audience for a number of reasons:

  • The Gospel of Luke was probably written by the same author of the book of Acts. They were probably a two volume set, as the prologues of each book seem to indicate, written to a man named “Theophilus” which literally means “lover of God”. Theophilus is otherwise an unknown character in the scriptures, but the name is of Greek origin.
  • Luke himself was a traveling companion of Paul, a doctor by trade, and probably a Greek by birth (Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24). Luke was himself not an eyewitness to the accounts given in Luke, nevertheless he probably interviewed and gather information concerning the events contained in his gospel from eyewitnesses and other source material to write his gospel (Luke 1:1-4).
  • The Greek language employed in Luke’s gospel is much more advanced than other Greek used in the New Testament save that of maybe Hebrews and some of Peter’s epistles.
  • Luke focuses on the universality of salvation in that he deals with not only Jews, but the marginalized in society, Samaritans, and Gentiles as well. Acts carries on this same convention.

The focus on the Gentiles and the marginalized in the book of Luke is one way of communicating the importance of the gospel for all people everywhere no matter who they are or what they have done. Jesus relates and forgives people at all levels. Jesus’ willingness to associate with those that others considered to be lesser people serves as an example, and Christians ought to be willing to do the same even if it means that one may be ridiculed for doing so as Jesus was.

Lord, you came to seek and save everyone, not just some.
Teach me to be universal in my vision for the lost!

Hebrews 8:6-11: The New Covenant

Read: Hebrews 8:6-11

Jesus’ first coming was a time of refreshing and renewal. He wasn’t coming to spruce up the old; rather he came to make it new in the sense of superseding it with something else, namely himself. The author of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34, which comes toward the end of two chapters in Jeremiah that are talking about how God was going to reestablish the prosperity and strength that Israel had once known. God declares that he will make a “new covenant” not like the one he made with the people leaving Egypt. The old covenant was written on stone tablets and was given to show the Israelites their need for a savior Galatians 3:22-26), as the sacrifices made year after year were never enough to atone for sin (Hebrews 9 explains this in detail). God was going to write the new covenant on “on their hearts” and put his law “in their minds”. In many ways, this was foretelling the coming of the Holy Spirit – the blessings that Christians receive when they believe in Jesus. The law of God will be so pervasive that there will not be a need to teach it, because everyone will already know it.

The promise of the New Covenant was given to the nation of Israel. The promise, however, is not to those of a particular nationality, but those who are of a particular faith. Romans 11:16-27 likens Israel to an olive tree, and the Gentiles to wild olives. The wild olives were grafted in (a process through which part of a one plant are merge into another plant) to the main tree. And even though some Jews rejected Jesus and were cutoff, some of these branches that were cut off may also be grafted back into the tree. Romans 11:26-27 quotes from Isaiah 59:20-21 where Isaiah is talking about the new covenant too and here he is promising to put his Spirit upon them. All those who have faith in Jesus are the ones who are grafted into the tree, and it is these who are partakers in of the New Covenant which mediated by Jesus and sealed by the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who believe.

The New Covenant is still being fulfilled in part by the proclamation of the Gospel. There are people still declaring “know the Lord” all over the globe to people who haven’t heard about Jesus. Jesus has done and is doing his part by acting as high priest, and as Hebrews later explains, was the sacrifice. The duty of Christians is to be about the proclamation of the New Covenant to all peoples everywhere so a day will come when people will not have to say “know the Lord” because the name of Jesus will be known by every person everywhere.

Lord, help me to take part in the New Covenant so all may be grafted in!