For a Study Guide for next week, 24th Chapter of Luke, look after the sermon.
Study Guide: The Gospel According to Luke Chapters 19-23
Zaccheus: In this story, Luke gives us a complete picture of the person of Jesus and his ministry. Can you identify the themes that we continue to encounter in Luke’s portrait of Jesus’ ministry and purpose?
Mark and Luke: After a collection of material of his own while Jesus is “on the way, “ Luke’s narrative rejoins Mark’s structure. But there will be considerable differences in the order of the Passion story, and a different picture of the disciples and their relationship to Jesus. How are the disciples portrayed differently by Luke. Look for the compassion of Jesus to be highlighted.
Jerusalem: Who is with Jesus when he enters? Why does Jesus weep over the city?
The people: Jesus teaches in the temple to large crowds. Keep your attention on who is conspiring against him and who honors and is sympathetic to him. Watch how this develops as Luke moves into the passion story.
Jesus’ Authority: This material with the adversarial Jewish leadership is pretty close to Mark. Do you notice some language and emphasis that is different? (Clue: there’s not much)
Luke and John: In rearranging Mark’s structure of the Passion narrative, Luke’s version of the supper and Jesus’ trial and conviction come close to John’s Passion account. You might want to mark the differences you notice so you can go back to them when we read John together next month.
Satan: In 4:13, Satan leaves Jesus until a more “opportune time.” Now Satan is back in 22:3, entering Judas’ heart, and (22:31) sifting Peter and the disciple’s faith like wheat.
Passover: What in this story of Jesus’ meal with his disciples is new to you? What language is familiar to you? Look at 1 Cor 11: 23.
Jesus as Wise One/Sage: The Jesus we meet in Luke’s passion story resembles Hellenistic moral heroes, the sophos. He is gentle, unflappable, courageous, a model for his followers. Where in the passion story do you see this Jesus?
Jesus as One Who is Just: The sophos figure is also righteous. His innocence of any crime and his righteousness in following God’s will are highlighted in Luke’s telling of Jesus’ trial and death. What examples do you find of this?
Herod: Jesus’ trial before Herod is exclusive to Luke. Note the healing of relationship brought about through Jesus: a suggestion of a greater healing yet to come?
Threes: Luke seems to love laying out groupings within events in the narrative. In Jesus’ crucifixion, there are three groups who appear on the way to the cross, three groups mock him on the cross, and three groups who honor his identity as God’s innocent one. It’s almost like Luke is composing a painting – similar to the way he laid out the annunciation/birth stories.
“Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” Remember Mark’s Jesus in the Garden and on the cross? He was desperate and alone as he met God face to face. The Jesus we have before us here is still literate, forgiving, and confident.
Joseph: Remember how Joseph was portrayed in Mark? Note how Luke introduces him and his actions.
Sabbath: Luke’s final touch is to tell us that the women observed the Sabbath law. He was very insistent to report that at Jesus’ birth, everything was done according to the Law. From one end of his life to the other, Jesus has lived within the confines of Torah.
12th Sunday after Pentecost
August 19, 2012
Mark 15:21-41; Matthew 27: 31-55; Luke 23: 26-49
Read Mark 15: 21-41
In Mark’s Gospel, we meet a Jesus who is stoic and nearly silent, marching through the false witnesses, the trials, the mockery that degrades him, and the physical abuse which depletes him. He comes face to face with the God who has not answered his plea for another way, crying out, as if abandoned, while the mockery continue, his friends have deserted him, the women who traveled with him are far away. The scene is sketched in the starkest terms, giving us the image of Jesus alone in the hands of God. In Mark’s Gospel that Jesus sat at dinner with his disciples taking the cup of wine, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” This Jesus understands, but suffers deeply.
Read Matthew 27: 31-55
Here Jesus is not alone, two criminals are crucified with him. But many of the other details of Mark’s version are the same: the division of his clothes, his denial of a drug, the sign over the cross, the mockery of the crowd. Jesus cries out, is misunderstood and breathes his last, seemingly forsaken after all. The curtain in the temple was torn in two as in Mark, but here there is an earthquake, tombs are split open and the sainted dead are resuscitated.
Read Luke 23: 26-49
Here again, Jesus is not alone. He is followed by a crowd beating their breasts at the disaster of his arrest and condemnation. This Jesus is wise and sympathetic, preparing people for the day when Roman justice will come crashing down on all. This Jesus is generous, and never loses his heavenly composure, forgiving those who administer this false justice. It is not the crowd who is turned against Jesus here, but the leadership that mocks and derides him. Luke is quick to highlight Jesus’ innocence in the comments of the thief who turns to Jesus for mercy and in the Centurion who leads the crucifying squad. The taunters call on him to save himself, but Jesus acts rather to save the penitent criminal beside him. This trusting Jesus commends himself into God’s hands with equanimity. The crowds that had been his followers return home mourning for his death. Both the temple, where God’s presence dwelt, and the earth and sky, God’s creation, react to Jesus torment.
Luke has given us the gentlest Jesus, the Jesus most committed to including all, to inviting the lost, the Jesus who brings joy in the midst of sorrow and pain, the Jesus of a peaceable kingdom. It is much easier to love this Jesus than Mark’s Jesus who dies alone and friendless, calling out in abandonment. But I’ll tell you the truth. The Jesus I cling to when my life is falling apart is the Jesus who cries out, questioning if God is really there. I trust that Jesus, because I know that a suffering Jesus knows what is ripping apart my soul. As much as I want God to always be gentle and forgiving and extravagant in love for me, I usually come to that God after I’m finished howling for all that cannot be.
Each of the evangelists we read is a theologian, not simply an artistic narrator. Each of them gives us a picture of how Jesus is the realization of the promises given to God’s people since the beginning of time. Each of them gives us the stories of the eating, drinking, weeping, laughing, loving, healing person of God with us. Each of them calls us into the presence of the One who came to live among us in flesh just like ours.
When we read these stories, we experience the living, breathing Word of God. His words, his actions, his stories can come right out of the page to grasp our hearts when we most need a word of comfort or solidarity or grace. These stories become our own story as we carry them with us into the tempests and moments of joy in our own lives.
I remember when we read the story of Jesus in the wilderness with the wild beasts, the story from Mark. It occurred to me that I have been in the wilderness with the wild beasts myself, and that you have been in the wilderness, too. It is good to know that Jesus has been there first, ahead of us. He tells us that we are never alone in our pain or in our joy. Always and forever, God goes ahead of us, walks with us, heals and forgives us, carries us on his shoulders, brings us home. Horrible as they are, the stories of Jesus’ death are the way to see how much God loves us, the lengths to which God is willing to go to carry us and bring us home. May you rest in the knowledge that God is always at work to heal and forgive, to invite you in, to love you completely, asking only that you give back your heart and soul in thanks and praise.
Now may the God of hope give you all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Study Guide for Next Week: Luke chapter 24.
The last chapter of Luke’s Gospel gives us the resurrection story in several parts: the empty tomb (1-12), appearance on the road (13-35), appearance in Jerusalem (36-49), blessing and departure (50-53).
The empty tomb: how many people saw that the tomb was empty? Who are the primary reporters?
Disciples: Who are the followers included in this category by Luke in his narration of the events on the day of resurrection? What is their reaction to the news they receive?
Remember: Verses 7-8, 26, and 46-7, are almost a creed of what the disciples and the readers of Luke are to believe about Jesus. Notice that they do remember until all the pieces are put together for them. How is this like your own experience of Jesus in word and sacrament?
The Road to Emmaus: This story is exclusive to Luke and reveals his artistry as a story-teller: the balance between narration and conversation, the reflection on the reactions and the mood of the disciples, the motif of a journey as a frame for the action, the echoes of an Old Testament story (Gen 18:1-15).
Recognition: Luke continues to show us that Christ is only known by revelation. Christ appears only to those who are prepared to recognize him after his resurrection. Even then, it is not until he acts to reveal himself that they understand the fullness of what they are witnessing. Remember the lack of understanding of Jesus’s passion predictions. The disciples were not ready or able to understand at that time. (Luke 9:44-45) Even here, it is after instruction in Scripture and supper with the Lord that the disciples recognize Jesus.
“That this meal is the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, is quite evident in the language: ‘ took…blessed…broke…gave…’ Yet were that the whole of the story, all believers except those select few would experience only the absence of Jesus, fated to try to keep faith alive on the thin diet of these reports of his having once been seen by others. Thus all subsequent generations would have been secondhand Christians…But Luke here tells us that the living Christ is both the key to our understanding the Scriptures and the very present Lord who is revealed to us in the breaking of bread. His presence at the table makes all believers first generation Christians and every meeting place Emmaus.” Craddock
My Hands and Feet: The empty tomb, the words of the dazzling men at the tomb are incomplete until Jesus confirms his actual presence through touch and voice and sharing a meal. Jesus proves that he is the one who was crucified when he shows his hands and feet.
Witness: the Emmaus disciples rush back to tell their tale; they must share the good news. It is the experience of Jesus in people’s lives that becomes their witness. So with us, it is the message of Scripture and our own experience that creates a believing community, and the message needs to be heard again and again to confirm, strengthen, encourage, and deepen faith.
In Jerusalem: How is the story of Jesus appearance to the gathered in Jerusalem similar to the Emmaus story? How is it different?
He opened their minds: Jesus’ instruction makes the connection between the risen Jesus, the one who was their teacher, and the predicted Messiah of the Hebrew Bible. Luke’s been telling us that since the beginning, this was God’s plan throughout Scripture.
Power from on high: Luke will give us the whole story in Acts when the Holy Spirit comes upon them.