Weekly Word: Lesson 5
Luke: Message of Hope
THE PROCLAMATION OF HOPE (Part II):
People in the West are often content to claim Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. That is not the scriptural model. Jesus’ credentials as Savior are clear, but is He also qualified to be Lord? Is it safe and wise to follow Him? Perhaps you remember the children asking that question regarding Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Mr. Beaver’s response: “Safe? … ’Course he isn’t safe. But he is good.”1 Following Jesus does not guarantee an easy, safe life, either – but it is a good, worthwhile life because He is good.
DAY ONE: Jesus gives the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-49)
A. True blessings (Luke 6:17-38)
- Having just selected the disciples whom He appointed to be apostles, Jesus went with them to a place where He began their special training. Scholars are divided over whether this was the same event as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (held on a flat place on the mountain), or was one of many other times when Jesus gave similar teaching. (For an in depth study of the Sermon on the Mount, see the Thrive Matthew study, Lessons 4 and 5)
- These beatitudes have both a spiritual and a practical application. Compare verses 17-23 with Matthew 5:3-12. Spiritually, Jesus was not saying that poverty and persecution were desirable, but rather than a change in circumstances, what one needed was a change in heart attitude in order to experience blessing. For example, recognition of one’s poverty of spirit was necessary to enter the Kingdom of God. Practically speaking, disciples who left everything to follow Jesus would be richly rewarded by Him.
- How did Jesus reflect that attitude toward suffering in Hebrews 12:2-3?
- Verses 24-26 surprised those who thought material blessings were a sign of God’s favor. There is spiritual danger in affluence! Material blessings are not wrong in themselves (I Timothy 6:17-19), but if this is all people strive for they miss the best – God’s blessings.
- How do these beatitudes help you put your life experiences into perspective? What are your core values? What motivates you? Journal your thoughts.
- The high level of love Jesus commanded in verses 27-38 was totally counter-cultural! It is humanly impossible, however it was the very kind of love Jesus demonstrated. It requires a transformed heart that will surrender to and trust in God to be enabled to respond this way. Think of a time when you have responded to wrong treatment as described in these verses. Then ask if there is someone in your life now who is difficult or antagonistic. I have personally found it makes a huge difference if I persist in praying for that person’s good. In what other specific ways do you need to show love and mercy toward that person? (Consider how they would perceive your actions, not merely what would be in your comfort zone.)
B. True wisdom (Luke 6:39-49)
1. Jesus gave three illustrations particularly to those in leadership positions in verses 39-45.
a. Students become like their teachers. We cannot lead where we have not gone. First we must be faithful followers of Jesus. Then we can see clearly to guide others.
b. Sometimes we need to correct another person. From verses 41-42, what must we do first?
c. What do your words reveal about what is actually in your heart? (verses 43-45)
2. Verse 46 is convicting! What do your actions reveal about whether Jesus is truly your Lord?
3. Assuming the rock to be salvation by faith in Jesus’ person and work, and the sand to be merely professed belief, read verses 46-49 in comparison with I Corinthians 3:11-15.
a. What is the key lesson in this passage?
b. On what is your life built? What materials are you using in your life work?
c. Some think the flood refers to the trials of life which all experience. Others see it as the last judgment. In either case, what is the effect of disobeying Jesus’ words?
DAY TWO: Jesus commends people of faith (Luke 7:1-50)
A. Jesus exhibits Messianic power (Luke 7:1-17)
- We often base our treatment of others based on what they “deserve,” and expect certain treatment in return because of what we “deserve.” That is a characteristic of Western culture today. We hear these phrases in advertisements: “You deserve a break today” and “because you’re worth it.” Thankfully, Jesus was motivated by compassion.
- Read the story of the Roman centurion in Luke 7:1-11. On what basis did the servants plead for help from Jesus? Contrast the centurion’s humility.
- Does anyone “deserve” to receive God’s favor? On what basis must all of us come to God with our requests? (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 4:14-16; James 1:6)
- Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s faith. Because of his faith, Jesus was able to heal from a distance. What does that imply about His power to meet our needs?
- I John 4:19 teaches, “We love because He first loved us.” How is that principle illustrated in Luke 7:11-17? At whose initiative did this miracle occur? How might that illustrate the miracle of our salvation? What was the unbiased response? As I consider this miracle in my own life, I am brought to tears of gratitude!
B. Jesus confirms Messiah’s forerunner (Luke 7:18-35)
- Meanwhile, John the Baptist was in prison – not what he had expected as the forerunner of the Messiah. What was his question?2 There are times when we, too, find that Christian life is not what we expected. What then? Rather than wallowing in confusion or seeking popular opinion, John did what we should do, he went to the Source.
- Read verses 18-23. Jesus answered this honest question by saying, “Look at the evidence. Compare it with what Scripture prophesied.” List some of the evidence we have studied in Luke, Chapters 1-6, which would support Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah.
- Comparing verses 29-30 with Luke 3:3, note that repentance is necessary before one can believe and accept the Good News.
C. Jesus explains response to forgiveness (Luke 7:36-50)
- The account of this unidentified woman is precious to me as it graphically portrays the love of one who has been forgiven of much sin towards Jesus, and the love of Jesus toward one He has forgiven.
- Jesus has forgiven me of much as well! Think of the many things in your life which Jesus has forgiven. Is any gift of love too much? How will you express your love to Him today?
DAY THREE: Jesus explains parables (Luke 8:1-21)
A. Parable of soils (Luke 8:1-15)
- Jesus traveled from town to town proclaiming the message of hope. Name two ways the women in verses 1-3 revealed their faith and love.
- In Chapter 7 we saw both positive and negative reactions to Jesus. We experience the same thing. Jesus tells a parable which explains this puzzle. Read verses 4-15.
- In this parable, what changes, the seed or the quality of the soil?
- As you consider those with whom you have contact, who might need more soil preparation before they are ready to receive the seed? Might the type of soil preparation vary with the individual? What might be your part? What part can only God do?
- Considering those who have received the seed, what type of nurturing is needed for it to grow strong and healthy? What is your part?
- How does this parable help you understand what you encounter in your work?
B. Parable of light (Luke 8:16-18)
- When one has heard, understood, and received the message of hope, one has a responsibility to not keep it secret.
- How might lighting a lamp refer to a change in one’s actions?
- How might it also refer to one’s words?
C. Parable of family (Luke 8:19-21)
- In this brief paragraph, Jesus’ comments sound rude to our ears. However He was not negating or minimizing His family relationships. Instead He was saying that those in whom the seed takes root become His spiritual family.
- What does this mean to you?
DAY FOUR: Jesus trains the disciples through miracles (Luke 8:22-56)
A. Jesus calms a storm (Luke 8:22-25)
- The disciples had gained much head knowledge from Jesus. Now it needed to become experiential knowledge. Similarly, we can know a lot about the Bible and not be a threat to Satan, but when we let that Word change us and we act on it, then he becomes worried.
- The topography around the Sea of Galilee is such that severe storms can come up suddenly. Some in that day thought they were caused by gods or demons.
- From verse 22, why should the disciples not have feared when the storm came up? Give a second reason from verse 23.
B. Jesus casts out demons (Luke 8:26-39)
- In the West, demonic attack is often so subtle it is not recognized as such. In other cultures it can be as blatant as it was in Jesus’ day. Read this familiar story which is also found in Matthew and Mark. Luke focuses on one of the two men.
- What evidences do you see for Jesus’ deity in His interaction with the demons?
- In spite of this miracle, what did the townspeople value most? How did the man respond?
C. Jesus cures disease and death (Luke 8:40-56)
- I’m reminded of the woman in this vignette by one of my neighbors who spent many years and much money going around the country looking for a solution to a perplexing medical problem. After no one could help, she finally said, “It’s between me and God now.”
- Many people were touching Jesus, but it was just this one woman who was healed. Why?
- Although frightened, how did this woman demonstrate courageous faith?
- Imagine the agony of Jairus as the interaction with this woman interrupted Jesus’ progress toward his dying daughter. Jairus, as synagogue leader, was exercising a desperate hope in coming to Jesus at all, risking the certain ire of the religious leadership. When the news came that it was “too late,” how did Jesus encourage him in verse 50? How would you have responded – faith, fear, doubt, unbelief?
- How does Jesus’ sovereign power over disease and death cause you to feel when you encounter these in yourself or a loved one? Do you trust His ability to heal? Do you trust His goodness when He chooses not to?
DAY FIVE: Jesus gives apostles “on the job training” (Luke 9:1-17)
A. The apostles’ internship (Luke 9:1-9)
- When a person learns to fly a plane, he initially has an instructor in the cockpit with him. At a certain point, it is time for his first solo flight. There is a point in the learning curve where we must test our knowledge for ourselves. This was true in apostleship training, also.
- When Jesus sent out the apostles on this first trip, what special gifts did He give them? These served as credentials proving who they were and whom they served.
- What instructions were they given in verses 3-5? What do you think they would have learned by going in this way?
- Describe their ministry (verses 2 and 6). Were they effective?
B. The apostles are tested (Luke 9:10-17)
- When the apostles returned, they reported back to Jesus. What would be some benefits of this time of debriefing?
- What we think we have learned is then often tested. Verse 11 describes an interruption of their private time with Jesus. How do you imagine they felt about this interruption? What was Jesus response? Could this have also been part of the apostles’ training? What might they have learned from this unplanned ministry?
- I imagine that in verse 12, the apostles felt that they were being considerate as well as practical. What a shock to hear Jesus’ command in verse 13! From verses 13-14, what were the facts of the situation? Did they have the ability to feed the crowd?
- Notice that in verses 14-17, Jesus directed the disciples to participate in this miracle. What was the disciples’ part? What was Jesus’ part?
- How might you relate this to the work you are doing?
There are many lessons which apply to us from these passages. Some convict us regarding our inner life and others relate to our work. Which one lesson is most convicting to you? Record it in your journal. Talk to your Father about it. Determine how He would have you respond, and record that plan in your journal. If appropriate, share it with someone else who can pray for you and hold you accountable.
1 C.S Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. (Collier Books, MacMillan Publishing Company: New York, 1950, 1970) pp. 75-76.
2 “Doubt is a matter of the mind: we cannot understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. Unbelief is a matter of the will: we refuse to believe God’s Word and obey… In John’s case, his inquiry was not born of willful unbelief, but of doubt nourished by physical and emotional strain.” Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 1. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989) p. 196-7.
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