Week 39: Luke 1-13

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Luke was a physician who carefully constructed from eyewitness accounts the events of Jesus’ life. His purpose in doing this was “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (1:1-4). In Acts he documents in a similar way the ministry and growth of the early church. Within Acts there are times when he uses personal pronouns such as “we” and “our” which indicate that he was a participant in and eyewitness to the events (e.g. 16:10).

While this is the fourth Gospel we have read, it contains a large amount of important material not found in the other Gospels. We will focus on these elements for the next two weeks.

Two Debtors (7:40-43): Jesus is dining with the Pharisees when a woman, whose sins He had forgiven, came in and washed His feet with her tears and applies perfume to them. Jesus is criticized for letting a “sinner” touch Him. He responds with the parable that teaches that the greater the debt, the greater the appreciation for the forgiveness. The sinful woman was more appreciative for her sins being forgiven than the self-righteous Pharisee.

Good Samaritan (10:29-37): Jesus uses this parable to contrast how self-righteous religion as practiced by favored individuals fails in comparison of true faith practiced by the socially unacceptable. Jesus was criticized for associating the tax collectors and “sinners.” But these people were more appreciative of the forgiveness they received and were more likely to live out the Gospel than the self-righteous. The priest and Levite could not be inconvenienced by stopping to help the injured brother. But the Samaritan, who might be shunned by the injured man under normal circumstances, looked beyond social bias to display love for his neighbor.

Rich Fool (12:13-21): Jesus uses this parable to remind us that all we have, including the ability to generate wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18), are provided by God. The rich man repeatedly says, “I will” in detailing his plans to build on his wealth. He does not realize he is about to die. James teaches us this in 4:13-15 where he says we should say, “If the Lord wills we will live and do this or that.”

Prodigal Son (15-11-32): Jesus uses this parable to teach (using example of the younger son) that God’s forgiveness is greater than our sins and He will always welcome the truly repentant. The son squandered the privilege of his relationship with his father to live contrary to how he had been raised. In the same way we are taught “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

He also uses it to warn us (using the example of the older son) to not become self-righteous or expect God to show us special favor for our obedience to Him. Our salvation is by grace through faith and “not of works, so that no man can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Dr. Samuel Abatte is a physician practicing in Wasilla, Alaska. This column first appeared in the Frontiersman, a Wick newspaper serving the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Alaska.