“Luke is unique among the canonical Gospels for having features indicating that it, along with Acts, was written as a self-consciously literary work. The author apparently intended the Gospel not merely for private or church use but to set before a broad literary public the facts of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of the fledgling “Jewish sect” called Christianity. The prologue shows an awareness of other sources, both written and oral, that provided accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry based on the testimony of eyewitnesses. The author had carefully investigated these. His aim was to compile his own orderly account in order that his reader may “know the certainty” of those things he had been taught. Each of the four Gospels emphasizes something different about the significance of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel. Luke especially emphasizes Jesus as Savior and His work as one of salvation. And though the author stressed Jesus’ life and work as fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, a primary point of his Gospel (and Acts) is that Jesus brought salvation not just to Jews but also to Gentiles. In turn, love of neighbor, expressed in concern for the poor and marginalized, becomes a major demand of discipleship in Luke and Acts. Other major emphases include the Holy Spirit and prayer.” (HCSB)

In 1:16-17, the prophecy of John was given: “He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.” The story of the birth of John can be found in all Christians. In the Great Commission, Jesus instructs His followers to go to the entire world and proclaim the Good News. With the power of the Holy Spirit, it is our mission to prepare the people for the Second Coming of the Lord where He will reign for eternity.

Joe Sabolick Band (Reign):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AalRrWPxMso

When the angel informed Mary that she will give birth to a son, who will be Jesus Christ, Mary’s response in 1:38 was: “I am the Lord’s slave, may it be done to me according to your word.” How awesome and how great a faith Mary illustrates in this verse. Before marriage and intercourse, she chose to become pregnant by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Back in those days in that particular culture, a woman could be put to death by being pregnant from another man. Mary knew the consequences that could take place in her town, but she chose to follow the plan God had revealed to her.

The speech made by John’s father in 1:67-80 is so remarkable I had to share it: “Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times; salvation from our enemies and from the clutches of those who hate us. He has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant—the oath that He swore to our father Abraham. He has given us the privilege, since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days. And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” Notice that the child (John) grew up in the wilderness becoming spiritually strong. He did not grow up in an expensive house where everything was handed to him on a silver platter. Today’s world is considered a wilderness with the wars, natural disasters, unstable economy, etc… This leads to the question of perspective. We can allow this world to drag us down and live depressed OR we can choose to grow stronger in the midst of adversity. God has provided light to replace our darkness, He has given a path of peace to follow, rather than a path of instability and chaos the world gives.

The beginning of Luke chapter 2 is well known as it presents to us the Christmas Story. 2:10, 13-14, 19: “But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.” Verse 19 can be easily passed up if you are not too careful. Just imagine this scene…Shepherds are coming from all over to see and provide gifts to the newborn Jesus, angels are singing in heaven praising God, and Mary is silent, treasuring all that is happening, all that is about to happen in her heart.

2:46, 49: “After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Alan Hultberg made an interesting note in regards to 2:42-51 that states: “Verses 49 and 51 show that Jesus was not intending to be disrespectful of His parents. At age 12 He had a strong sense of His paternity, and He anticipated that His parents would have the same sense. But, despite the announcement of His birth, 12 years of normal family relations had passed, and this sudden revelation of Jesus’ self-consciousness probably brought a flood of confusion to Mary and Joseph about their roles as parents and about Jesus’ relationship to them.”

At the beginning of chapter 4, we read about Jesus going into the wilderness for 40 days and being tempted by the Devil. From 4:5-8, the Devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus were to worship him. Jesus responds in 4:8, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” In regards to 4:8, For groups rejecting the deity of Jesus Christ, this verse is important. Only God is to be worshiped. When compared with other passages, this verse actually presents a case for Jesus’ divine nature, not an argument against it. Scripture is clear in saying that Jesus received worship from a leper (Mt 8:2), from a disciple (Jn 20:28), and from angels (Heb 1:6). If God alone is to be worshiped, then Jesus must be God. These verses also give a clear significance to the fact that we can be rich and powerful, but if we do not love God or our fellow people, then we truly do not have anything.

I found 4:13 interesting, “After the Devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.” We may be led in to the valleys of temptation, but as long as we stand firm on our faith, the Devil will leave us alone, at least for a time. This life consists of spiritual battles between good and evil. As long as we are still living in this fallen world, Satan will always try to lead us away from God. It is important to continue fighting the good fight of faith and it will all be worth it at the end. Whether that is when Jesus comes again or calls us home, as long as we keep our faith in Him, we will win the ultimate war.

We read in 5:31-32, “Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” When we become physically sick, we do whatever we can to become healthy again. From birth, we are spiritually sick (sinners) and it is unfortunate that we do not pay as much attention to our spiritual health as we do our physical health. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ paid the price for all of our sins, the only thing we need to do is accept God’s free gift of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We do not need to work for salvation because the work has already been completed. What we need to do after we accept Jesus in to our lives is to repent of the ways that go against God. This is not to earn anything, but to respond to the grace that has been given. An excellent example is found later on in Luke in 7:47-48, 50: “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” It is important to note that the woman was not forgiven as a result of her love. Rather, her love was a response to the forgiveness she received from Christ.

Alan Hultberg made an admirable note in regards to 8:46-48: “Was everyone who touched Jesus healed? God honored this woman’s faith as it was. The relation of faith to healing in the Gospels is complex. Sometimes Jesus responded to people’s faith (or refused to heal due to their lack of faith), and sometimes He seems to have acted purely on His own initiative (7:11-16). Faith is explicitly present in about half the miracles in the Gospels. In the other half, miracles strengthen the faith of those who witnessed them. Faith is not a matter of “name it and claim it.” It does not override God’s sovereignty. Lack of healing cannot be blamed on insufficient faith. Neither can it be attributed to specific sin (2 Co 12:7-9).”

In regards to 9:60-61 Alan Hultberg made the following comment: “The burial of the dead, especially of one’s close kin, was a sacred duty in first-century Judaism; it took precedence over virtually all other religious obligations. Jesus’ response was intended to shock His audience. He was pressing the radical claims of the kingdom above even the most fundamental obligations of kinship. In effect He was saying response to God’s call is the most fundamental obligation of all (8:21; 9:23; 14:26). Those unresponsive to the call (“the dead”) may bury the dead. That the New Testament does not advocate the renunciation of all family ties by Christians is made clear by such passages as 1 Co 7:12-13, 1 Tm 5:8, and 1 Pt 3:1-2. Jesus’ point was about people’s priorities. He didn’t set aside the commandment to honor father and mother (Mk 7:7-13).”

10:38-42 is an account that speaks true for many of us: “While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.” Every now and then, we get carried away going through the motions of life, keeping ourselves as busy as possible that we forget to focus on what is truly important. We need to find the middle ground of the personalities between Martha and Mary. It is crucial to take care of business to support our family, each other, and ourselves, it is just as necessary to pause and worship our Creator and Savior.

11:8-10, “I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” I enjoyed Alan Hultberg’s comment for 11:10, “Jesus said here that “everyone” who asks receives, yet experience does not seem to bear this out. Why? Jesus was not giving a magic formula for self-gratification. Jesus used absolute terms to emphasize His point: One is to pray while trusting in God’s goodness and willingness to answer. This is particularly true when the object of prayer is spiritual (v. 13). Jesus had just taught the disciples to pray for God’s will to be done. One should assume that the caveats of the prayer earlier in the chapter inform the interpretation of a statement like just a few verses later.”

11:24-26, “When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest, and not finding rest, it then says, ‘I’ll go back to my house where I came from.’ And returning, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man’s last condition is worse than the first.” These verses give a fine example of what happens when we accept Jesus into our lives but fail to keep Him in the center of everything we do. We may stop our sinful acts for a short while after receiving Christ, but if we are not careful, we could end up backsliding in a downward spiral.

Alan Hultberg made an excellent point in regards to 11:34-36: “Jesus made an analogy between receptivity to His ministry and the ability to see. Receptivity is like having healthy eyes; one can see well (light enters the body). The warning to ensure that the light in you is not darkness is paradoxical, not illogical. Jesus intended examination of the heart’s spiritual receptivity. Gurus from the East often urge their devotees to look within themselves for the divine spark that pervades the universe. This goal is accomplished through such disciplines as yoga, meditation, and the chanting of mantras. Jesus warned, however, that evil or non-Christian people who see an inward light are actually encountering darkness. Paul added that Satan appears as “an angel of light” (2 Co 11:14). We experience the true light through the preaching of the gospel (2 Co 4:4).”

12:6-7, “Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!” If you ever feel out of place, this passage provides reassurance that God cares about you. You have so much worth in God’s eyes that He gave His Son for You.

In regards to 12:22-34 Alan Hultberg wrote, “Was Jesus recommending a passive and unthinking approach to life and the future? Absolutely not. He used dramatic rhetoric to highlight the inconsistency of claiming faith in God while remaining anxious about daily needs. Jesus’ advice to sell one’s possessions and give to the poor (v. 33) fits into this context. It is not an absolute command but an illustration of the kind of faith that trusts God more than worldly security.”

Alan Hultberg made an interesting note in regards to 12:46-53: “The punishment of “cutting in two” was not unheard of in the ancient world. To be assigned a place with the unbelievers could mean that the slave’s corpse was left unburied, although this could also be a mixed metaphor—Jesus switching from the parable’s picture to the significance of the picture. The scenes of dismemberment and beatings are intentionally harsh and do not need to be pressed too far with regard to God’s character. Jesus used the most graphic images known to His audience to illustrate the dire consequences of being unprepared for the Day of the Lord. In other passages, Jesus is said to bring peace (Is 9:6; Lk 2:14; Ac 10:36). There “peace” is applied to the restored relationship Jesus affords between God and man and to the ultimate peace He brings to creation when His messianic work is finished, after His second coming and millennial reign. In His first coming He brings division, since His call to the kingdom of God is heeded by some and rejected by others.”

13:6-9, “And He told this parable: “A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He told the vineyard worker, ‘Listen, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it even waste the soil?’ “But he replied to him, ‘Sir, leave it this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. Perhaps it will bear fruit next year, but if not, you can cut it down.’” When a person digs around the tree, the tree becomes isolated from the rest of the environment. Then by putting fertilizer on it, through the dirt, the tree grows and has the ability to bring good fruit. These verses are symbolic to us being the fig trees, love being the fruit, God being the man, and the vineyard worker being Jesus Christ. If we do not produce the kind of love God has given to us to one another, then the consequence would be God cutting us down. Jesus steps in and says, “Wait, let Me work on them to the point where they will allow Me to work through them to carry out Your will for their lives.” Jesus gives us examples of how to produce love for one another in the next chapter of Luke 14:13-14, “On the contrary, when you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Love for God is seen in love for others. Faith leading to salvation is manifested in love for God and neighbor.

15:20-24 is another one of my favorite accounts in the Bible that describes the story of the prodigal son: “So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father told his slaves, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.” God does the same thing for us. Some people have grown up in the Church and then decided to live their own lives and end up performing many regrettable acts. There are others who may never have attended a Church or even had a personal relationship with Christ, unsure if they can change to face our Father in Heaven. In these verses, we read that even though we may be a long way off, if we just turn to God, accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, then He will run to us and meet us where we are in life and help us get through the remaining years we have to live.

In the story of the prodigal son, there is an older brother who has been obedient to his father his entire life without being rewarded. I like what Alan Hultberg had to say in regards to 15:25-30: “The attitude of the older son is completely understandable. Indeed, the listener to the parable is supposed to feel the same sense of injustice that the older son feels, highlighting the distinction between our self-centeredness and God’s grace. The point is that God is a gracious Father, and if one is truly to be His child, one should adopt His attitude toward repentance.”

17:10, “In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’” Alan Hultberg mentioned that “The focus is not on God’s attitude toward our obedience (as an ungrateful task-master) or on the character of discipleship as a cold, thankless endeavor, but on the humble attitude of the disciple, who recognizes that he or she is unworthy of honor for merely fulfilling a duty.” This is the same kind of character that Mary had shown in the beginning of Luke.

18:17, “I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Jesus said this to emphasize the matter of simplicity of becoming a Christian. We are simple-minded as children, but as we grow up and advance our education, we develop analytical minds that make everything complex. There is no implication that we are to remain uneducated because we find in the Scriptures to worship our God with all our heart, soul, and MIND. It is important to gain theological knowledge, however, if we make Christianity complex and develop the mindset that it takes a certain amount of works to enter heaven, then we will be turning people away and basically doing the exact opposite of what we have been called to do as Christians.

19:26, “I tell you, that to everyone who has, more will be given; and from the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away.” Alan Hultberg notes that “The parable is not intended to give insight into God’s (or Christ’s) character but to warn of unfruitful discipleship. Thus what appears as harsh or unfair in the story is applied in reality either to those who attach themselves to the church without actually being saved or to those who make a poor showing of their true discipleship. Jesus’ concern was for His followers to bear fruit for His kingdom.”

The following verses found in 21:28, 34-36 speak for themselves: “But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near! Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Alan Hultberg made an interesting note in regards to 23:39-40: “Both Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 state that the criminals crucified with Jesus mocked Him. Only Luke tells us of one’s repentance. Over the course of a crucifixion that lasted for several hours, the second criminal apparently became impressed with Jesus’ demeanor and speech and changed his view of Him.” We can learn from Jesus that in the midst of hardship, if we keep the right perspective by trusting in God, we will be a living witness to how faith can keep us going. There may be no need for words, because people watch what we do more than listen to what we say.

24:32, 45: “So they said to each other, ‘Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” If we just think about going to church or studying and meditating on Scripture, then chances are, we may not do any of it because we will not “feel like it.” I can assure you, that if you just do it, go to church, attend Bible study, read and meditate on Scripture on your own, then, your “feelings” will change. If we let Him, God will open up our hearts so that we may grow spiritually and will never be the same person as we were the day before. We will be able to continue to live the lives we were meant to live as saved children of God.