Archive for the ‘Luke’ tag
The text for this lesson is Luke 10:1–24
- God chose the seventy-two to serve Him for a special task. God places us in various callings, giving us opportunities to serve Him and share our faith with others.
- Law: I sin when I think only church workers serve God in their calling. I sin when I despise anyone’s vocation.
- Gospel: God, in His mercy, provides all vocations to meet our needs and in His Son, Jesus, provides for our spiritual needs through pastors, Christian parents, and others. God forgives my sins of pride and arrogance for Jesus’ sake. God forgives my sin of feeling unworthy or inadequate because I am not in church work.
- Today we study how Jesus sent out seventy-two men to heal the sick and proclaim the Gospel. We also will discuss the doctrine of Christian vocation, which comes from the Latin word vocatio, meaning “calling.” The seventy-two were called to do a specific task for the Lord. Likewise, each Christian has one or more callings to do specific tasks in service of the Lord, for example, in family, country, and workplace. But there is one major difference between the calling of the seventy-two and our own callings. What is this difference, and why is it important to make this distinction? What are some examples of ways that Christians sometimes fail to make this distinction today? How does the Lord call us into our various stations in life?
- In today’s lesson, Jesus says that the judgment on any town that rejects the message of the seventy-two will be harsher than on Sodom. This town was proverbially corrupt. Its inhabitants participated in open sexual immorality, including homosexuality (Genesis 19:5; Jude 7) and also lived decadently with no regard for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49). According to 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, what activities have Christians been called away from through Baptism? What does this passage suggest about the content of Christian preaching?
- Much like Jesus had called the Twelve (Luke 9:1) and sent them out to preach and heal the sick, He now calls seventy-two men and sends them out ahead of Him (Luke 10:1). The word translated “sent” is the Greek word apostello, like apostle, which means “one who is sent.” In the ancient world, people in positions of authority often selected delegates and sent them out with the authority to speak and act on their behalf. This is even true today, such as when the president sends delegates to foreign lands to speak and act in his place. How does Luke 10:16 make it clear to the sent ones what kind of authority they had? According to John 20:21–23, what were the apostles eventually authorized to do? How does Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 20:25–28 prevent the ones He sends from abusing the authority they are given?
- In Luke 10:3–4, Jesus sent the seventy-two out “as lambs in the midst of wolves” with no provisions for the journey. This sounds terrifying, but in what way was Jesus actually blessing them? What is the similar message that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:31–34?
- In Luke 10:9, Jesus tells the seventy-two to heal the sick and proclaim, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” Based on what Jesus says in Luke 7:18–23, why might He have had the seventy-two perform miraculous signs along with preaching? Why do we no longer need miraculous signs to accompany Christian preaching today?
- But this teaching may also cause us to stumble. If God chose us to be saved, does that mean that He elected others to be damned? According to 2 Peter 3:9, does God desire that any people be condemned? According to 1 Timothy 2:3–6, for whom did Christ die? Whom does God desire to be saved? When we struggle to understand all of these things, what does Romans 11:33–36 teach us?
- In Luke 10:5, Jesus told the seventy-two that whenever they entered a house they were to say, “Peace be to this house.” Since they were sent out with Jesus’ authority to proclaim the Gospel, their greeting of peace was not ineffectual but actually delivered peace and salvation to those who received it. As we come to God’s house each week for worship, what parts of the service proclaim peace to us?
- God’s Word helps us understand how we are to live within our various vocations. Discuss the various vocations of Christians described in 1 Peter 2:9–17 and 3:14–16. What basic form of evangelism is every Christian called to do? According to 1 Peter 4:10, do all people have the same gifts and vocations? Why or why not?
The text for this lesson is Luke 15.
1. The relationship between shepherd and sheep is used frequently in Holy Scripture to describe the relationship between the Lord and His people. Sheep have a reputation for wandering. According to Isaiah 53:5–7, in what way are we all like sheep? Why is “everyone turning to his own way” such an apt description of sin? How did God atone for the sins of the sheep?
2. The emphasis on sinners returning to the Lord in today’s lesson fits perfectly with the primary theme of the season of Lent: repentance. Both Jesus and John the Baptist began their ministries with the same message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Jesus made this the primary message of the Church’s preaching when He said “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). The Lutheran Reformation could be described as an effort to return the Church to the proper biblical understanding of repentance. As Luther said in his first of Ninety-Five Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” The verse that is sung before the Gospel reading during the season of Lent is Joel 2:13. According to Joel 2:12–13, what is repentance? Why can the repentant sinner confidently approach God, knowing that He will forgive?
3. Luke 15:1–2 sets the stage for the three parables that follow. Tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus. Tax collectors were notorious for being corrupt; the sinners would have been those who had committed public sins. It was remarkable that Jesus agreed to eat with them. In Jesus’ time and still in the Middle East today, to eat with someone was a sign of fellowship and peace. It cannot be emphasized enough how significant table fellowship was to the Jews. The Pharisees, who were righteous (self-righteous, that is), would never have eaten with someone who was a sinner—someone who had lived a life of manifest sin. For them, it was “once a sinner, always a sinner.” This is why they grumbled about Jesus’ table fellowship practices. According to Luke 5:27–32, why did Jesus love to eat with tax collectors and sinners? Which group didn’t think they needed to eat with Him?
4. Some background information can help us interpret the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3–7). First, shepherding was a despised trade at the time. Shepherds were considered unclean, even sinners. Second, it was common for Palestinian shepherds to work together, so when one went off to look for a lost sheep, the other shepherds would keep watch. Further, the open country served as a safe place for the sheep to graze, even when the shepherd had to leave for a time. Third, a lost sheep will, after a while, become despondent and lie down, completely helpless. The shepherd has to lift the sheep upon his shoulders and bring it back to the flock. Based on the parable and the background information, answer the following questions:
(a) Whom do the shepherd and lost sheep represent? Why?
(b) What does the shepherd’s carrying of the lost sheep represent?
(c) In what way is this parable a critique of the Pharisees?
5. The parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son is one of the most beloved in Scripture, yet there are several details about its cultural background that can shed additional light on this wonderful story. We will go through the parable in five sections: (a) 11–16, (b) 17–19, (c) 20–21, (d) 22–24, and (e) 25–32.
a) In Luke 15:11–16, the wasteful son wastes more than material goods; he wastes his father’s great love for him. In Jesus’ day, it was unheard of for a father in good health to give his inheritance to his sons until his death. So the younger son basically was saying to his father, “I wish you were dead. I want no part of life with you anymore. I’d rather go off and spend my time and money with people I don’t even know.” People hearing this story would expect the father to blow up at the son and deny his request. But the father does not; he graciously grants his son’s wishes. Then the son liquidates his share of the inheritance and heads to a foreign land with lots of cash in hand. He squanders it all, living recklessly. After the money is gone, the son becomes a slave to a foreigner, doing something that a good Jew would have found abhorrent: feeding pigs. (The Old Testament deems pigs unclean, and Jews couldn’t eat or touch them.) Whom does the prodigal son represent?
b) In Luke 15:17–19, the son comes to his senses. He realizes that his father’s servants have it much better than he does. He plans to return and make a deal with his father. He will give up the title of son in exchange for the role as servant. Do you think he was truly repentant? How could you see yourself in the son’s shoes?
c) In Luke 15:20–21, we see the dramatic meeting of the father and the son. Several details are important. First, while the prodigal son is returning to bargain for forgiveness, the father is moved with compassion and runs to embrace and kiss his son. Aristotle wrote, “Great men never run in public.” It would have been humiliating for a noble man in that culture to run, but the father is so overjoyed to see his son that he tosses aside societal conventions. Recall that the son is poor, filthy, and probably smelly, yet the father does not care. He loves the son so much.
And this love moves his son to true repentance, for he does not make a bargain but only confesses his sin and unworthiness; he does not tell his father to make him a servant. How does the father’s love resemble God’s love for us? According to Romans 2:4, how does repentance come about?
d) In Luke 15:22–24, the father restores the son to full sonship in the household. Without even making the son wash up, the father puts the very best robe on him, covering his shame. He puts the family’s signet ring on his finger, signifying full authority over the family property. The servants put sandals on his feet, signifying that he has authority over the servants—he is not a slave but a son. Finally, killing the fattened calf meant that a great party was thrown to celebrate his return. How does this part of the parable apply to us?
e) In Luke 15:25–32, we hear the sad story of the elder son’s lack of love for his father. He has nothing but bitterness for his brother. He won’t go into the party. He says to his father, “I have slaved for you and you never even gave me a goat so that I could party with my friends, but you’ll go all out for this sinful one?” It would have been humiliating for a nobleman to be called away from a feast by a son who refused to enter. But the father loves him just the same and gently rebukes him, reminding him of the great news about his brother. Whom do you think this part of the parable was directed at? How does it apply to us?
6. The parable of the lost coin, Luke 15:8–10, shares the same message as the parable of the lost sheep but with one significant difference: the person seeking the coin is a woman. Whom might she represent and why?
7. Earlier, we discussed how important table fellowship was in Jesus’ day. We still can relate to this somewhat through our enjoyment of family meals and dinners with friends. But what is the most important table fellowship we share as Christians? Who is welcomed at His Table?
The text for this lesson is Matthew 1:18–25.
- Just as the angel proclaimed to Joseph that Mary would bear an infant who is the Son of God, the Savior, so God proclaimed to us in His Word that this same Jesus is our Savior from sin and death.
- Law: “Seeing is believing,” or so we tell, or, rather, deceive ourselves. We live by sight, not faith in the divine Word. Worse yet, most often we see only what we want to see. We school our eyes to perceive reality as we desire it to be, not as it really is. In our own eyes, our own senses, we trust, not Christ.
- Gospel: God tells us what is real, what is true, what is trustworthy. He acts in a way perceptible not necessarily through the eyes, but through the ears—ears attuned to what God says. Believing is not seeing, but hearing, for “faith comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17) and is “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is in Immanuel, God with us, cradled in a virgin womb.