Weekly Word: Lesson 4
Luke: Message of Hope
PROCLAMATION OF HOPE:
Why is it that so often success and suffering go hand in hand? Why is it that when our Kingdom service is finally bearing fruit we are sometimes blindsided by persecution, often from an unexpected source? How did Jesus deal with this? This week we will see several principles from His life which we can apply to ours.
I. DAY ONE: Jesus proclaims His commission (Luke 4:14-44)
A. Jesus is rejected in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-30)
- After Jesus’ preparation for ministry, He had initial success, enjoying a “honeymoon period” with the people. John 1:19-4:45 records some of the events of His early ministry which occurred between Luke 4:13 and 14.
- Read Luke 4:14-15. How were people responding to Him at this time?
- After a time, Jesus came back home to Nazareth. What does verse 16 reveal about His normal practice? How does Hebrews 10:25 apply His practice to us?
- The text Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1-2 was commonly understood to be a Messianic text, and by His comment in verse 21, He clearly implied He was the Messiah. Read the Isaiah passage and note the part Jesus did not read. That phrase refers not to His first coming, but to His second coming.
- From Luke 4:23-27, what examples did Jesus give from history to suggest that if Israel rejected Him, messengers of hope would be sent to the Gentiles? Remembering Lesson One, how did this support Luke’s theme of God’s compassion toward all mankind?
- Why do you think this was so offensive to the Jewish listeners in Jesus’ home town?
- How did Jesus respond to their irrational rejection in verses 28-31?
B. Jesus is accepted in Capernaum (Luke 4:31-41)
- We aren’t always called to move on, but in this case Jesus was. His teaching and miracles there authenticated His claim of verse 21. In verses 31-41, how would you describe the peoples’ response? Why do you think they were attracted to Him? Do you think they had genuine faith in Him or superficial belief in what He could do for them?
- Do verses 35 and 41 surprise you? Why do you think Jesus would not allow demons to testify about Him?
C. Jesus confirms God’s will through prayer (Luke 4:42-44)
- When things are going well and our service is being well-received; when we are able to alleviate needs and people want us to stay, it is tempting to do just that. Sometimes it is God’s will for us to stay; sometimes it is not. What did Jesus do in the face of that question in verses 42-44? (Also see Mark 1:35)
- We find a principle here for us: We must seek God’s will for our service through planned times of prayer and deep communion with God. When we are certain of God’s leading, we must obey Him, trusting Him to take care of any needs He might call us away from.
- Often when God leads us to serve in a different culture, it means leaving parents or children behind, sometimes with significant needs. Do you believe God can meet those needs in your physical absence? Will you commit those dear loved ones to His care, giving the support you are able to give, and trusting Him to do for them what only He can do?
II. DAY TWO: Jesus proclaims disciples’ purpose (Luke 5:1-11)
A. Jesus models fishing for people(Luke 5:1-3)
- Do you remember Luke’s key verse? If not, refresh your memory by looking up Luke 19:10. Only Jesus could fulfill this verse. Only He could provide the atonement which procured our hope. But He needed others to proclaim the message of hope, especially after His ascension. He now began selecting and training disciples for that task.
- Remember from Luke 4:43 that Jesus confirmed through prayer what God’s will was for Him at that time. This passage shows Jesus fulfilling that task.
- Jesus was also very practical. (Think how hard it is, for instance, to hear a tour guide shouting on a city street, compared to how easily a quiet conversation carries across a lake!)
- How often do you and I consider environmental factors that might either enhance or detract from people hearing the message of hope? Are you and I willing to be creative in adjusting our method or do we give up in the face of hindrances?
B. Jesus enables fishing for fish (Luke 5:4-7)
- A careful reading shows this fishing trip is different from the one of Matthew 4 and Mark 1. Jesus had met these fishermen previously, but they had gone back to their fishing careers. Now He is preparing them to follow Him on a permanent basis.
- What characteristics do fishermen have which would prepare them to be good disciples?
- How was obedience to the first, seemingly insignificant command (“Put out into deep water”) necessary before the second command could be given and the miracle experienced? How might that apply to the necessity we have to be faithful in our seemingly insignificant daily tasks? (Could that also include our housework, etc.?)
- Simon Peter the fisherman explained to Jesus the carpenter why fishing at this time made no sense! Why did Peter decide to obey anyway?
- Peter let down his net into the water. Who brought the fish into the net? Relate this to the cooperative effort needed in fishing for people.
C. Jesus announces new kind of fishing (Luke 5:8-11)
- Before these men could be disciples, they needed to willingly submit to Jesus and His authority. What was the first step, modeled by Peter in verse 8?
- How did Jesus respond in verse 10? Did past failure preclude future service?
- What did it cost Peter and the others to pursue this higher calling? Taking the long view down history, was it worth the cost?
- A principle for us: Regardless of our situation in life, Jesus offers a higher calling, that of fishing for people. We need not fear. Although we are inadequate, He provides the enabling for a miraculous catch.
III. DAY THREE: Jesus proves His authority (Luke 5:12-26)
A. Jesus heals a leper (Luke 5:12-16)
- Jesus performed an amazing miracle which a fisherman could appreciate, but did He have the compassion and authority that would make it desirable and wise to follow Him?
- When you consider the social isolation as well as the slow deterioration of the body, the plight of the leper evoked great grief and helplessness. He could never come into contact with those he loved. He had to call out, “unclean,” to warn the unsuspecting to stay away from him. Read verse 12. Describe the emotions of this man as he fell before Jesus.
- What would Jesus’ verbal response in verse 13 have meant to him? What does it mean to you?
- What powerful message would Jesus’ physical touch have conveyed?
- On a spiritual level, Jesus touch was even more significant. Leprosy was often used to symbolize sin. By touching this leprous man, Jesus, too, became “unclean,” but He did so redemptively. Read II Corinthians 5:21 and I Peter 2:24.
- How has Jesus reached into your life and touched you? How have you thanked Him?
- Whom would Jesus have you touch? Are you willing?
- Such a ministry requires wisdom and energy. How did Jesus refresh and renew Himself in verse 16. Is this also part of your practice?
B. Jesus heals a paralytic (Luke 5:17-26)
- Read this very familiar story. Paralysis is an apt picture of one of the spiritual effects of sin. What impresses you about the love and faith of the men carrying the mat? Could the paralytic have come to Jesus without the help of those men?
- In what way could our task also be described by the metaphor of carrying a stretcher? Can one person do it alone? With whom are you partnering in carrying stretchers to Jesus so the spiritually paralyzed can hear those same precious words?
- Jesus proved His ability to forgive sins by healing the man completely. What evidence can you point to in your own life which proves Jesus forgave your sins? Record that in your journal, and ask God for an opportunity to share it.
- A principle for today: Jesus has both the authority and the willingness to forgive the sins and heal the souls of those who come to Him in faith.
IV. DAY FOUR: Jesus proclaims His mission (Luke 5:27-39)
A. Jesus calls Levi (Luke 5:27-32)
- Levi the tax collector met Jesus and it changed his life. What do verses 27-28 say about his response to Jesus?
- The natural response to being changed by an encounter with Jesus is to want others to meet Him also. Levi (also known as Matthew) would have been a wealthy man at that time, and what he chose to do was to give a big banquet for that purpose.
- What was the response of the religious leaders to Jesus attending that banquet?
- What was Jesus’ answer to their criticism?
- What necessary attitude must a person have toward their own spiritual condition to be healed spiritually?
- A principle for us: People must realize they are sinners before they can recognize their need for salvation.
B. Jesus presents need for new paradigm (Luke 5:33-39)
- The religious leaders wanted Jesus to fit into their mold (verse 33). Perhaps that way they would feel they had some control over Him. What complaint did they bring? We hear a variation of this in criticisms of worship styles today, for example in what is being called “worship wars.”
- We also hear criticisms of lifestyle choices. You and I may even face this problem with our co-workers. Skim Romans 14. How should you respond to a co-worker’s differing choice with this passage in mind? (Some call this the “Law of Love.”)
- Jesus responded with a parable. Jesus’ gospel which would come in power at Pentecost would not “fit” into the old legalistic Jewish religious system. Jesus would fulfill the ceremonial law, so there would no longer be a need for the old sacrificial system. Besides, the Law was not designed to “contain” the gospel of grace, but to prepare the people for it. Read the explanation in Romans 3:20-24. How might you paraphrase this?
V. DAY FIVE: Jesus proclaims His authority (Luke 6:1-16)
A. The next two incidents illustrated the truth that Judaism could not stretch to accommodate the Spirit-filled faith which Jesus was introducing. It also marked a turning point in the treatment of Jesus by the religious leaders.
B. Read Luke 6:1-5 for the first incident.
- From Deuteronomy 23:25, were the disciples actually breaking the Law?
- Jesus did not argue the point of Law but instead pointed to the occasion in I Samuel 21:6 where David actually did break the Law in order to meet a legitimate human need. The Pharisees did not condemn David, God’s anointed king, for this.
- What claim did Jesus make for Himself, which gave Him rights greater than David’s?
- Today we celebrate “The Lord’s Day” rather than “The Sabbath.” How much of your celebration is legalistically based on the culture you came from versus on Scripture?
C. Read Luke 6:6-11 for the second incident.
- From verse 7, what was the attitude of the religious leaders toward Jesus? (It is not unreasonable to think that the man with the withered hand was a “plant”.)
- What principle did Jesus state in verse 9?
- Did Jesus actually do “work”?
- Verse 11 describes the evil response of the religious leaders to the good which Jesus, the good Son of Man, did. From Mark 3:6, what irrational evil did they plan to do?
- A principle might be that those who are self-righteous will not admit their need for salvation, and may even attack the messenger.
D. Jesus appoints His twelve apostles (Luke 6:12-16)
- Israel’s religious leaders should have been leading the people to faith in Jesus. Because they rejected God’s Son, He chose others to communicate the message of hope to the people. (Jeremiah 23:1-4) The apostles He appointed would receive the privilege of spending time with Jesus, getting to know Him in a deep way, and receiving special training to carry His message of hope to the world.
- What did Jesus do before calling His disciples (learners) to Himself and choosing twelve to be His apostles (appointed messengers)?
- Do you and I do the same when we invite someone into service?
- From your own past knowledge, notice the diversity of backgrounds and personalities of the twelve men. How does that encourage you regarding the diversity among your co-workers?
- Something jumps out at me in this week’s passage: the importance of prayer. Prayer to know God’s will, prayer to be refreshed while doing service that is draining, prayer for wisdom and humility when one’s service is bearing fruit, prayer to be strengthened and persevere when under attack.
- Luke 5:16 is particularly instructive to me. In addition to one’s regular daily quiet time, we need periodic extended times of prayer. When is the last time you took even a half day alone with your Bible and notebook to talk with and listen to God? Perhaps you had a particular concern, maybe your spirit felt dry, or maybe you just needed to confirm that you were “on track” with His will for you. If it has been awhile, why not schedule a time on your calendar in the next week or so to do just that.
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