The Gospel of Luke – Responses to Jesus’ Death

Luke 23:47 The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” 48 When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; 49 but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events. 50 Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, 51 had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. 54 It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. 55 The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, 56 they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.  Continue reading

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The Gospel of Luke – The Death of A Savior

jesus_crucifiedIt is a sometimes very difficult pastoral situation, when a person has been truly wronged by the events that have unfolded with in a marriage, and I know that ultimately – in one form or another – I will let the person know that there are no innocent parties.  Indeed some are infinitely more innocent, but in the end there is rarely complete innocence.

Indeed we stand rightly condemned. But this gospel reveals that in the simple act of trust, there is salvation, beyond merit or worth, beyond categories of innocence or guilt. There are no scales. There is only the promise that our Savior remembers those who trust. We stand before complete innocence. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – Condemned to Death

Jesus Condemned by michael o'brianUp to this point in the narrative the chief priests, scribes, and leaders have been the ones who have been active throughout the arrest, hearing and trials of Jesus. While in the privacy of the Sanhedrin gathering, the charges brought against Jesus by this group were religious.  Once the assembly moved to the public forum involving Pilate, the charges became secular – “misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.” (23:2)  In the start of this section, “the people” are now present. Previously the people have supported Jesus (cf. 19:47-48, 20:1, 20:6, 20:19, 21:38) – what will they do now? Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – Peter’s Denial

The arrest of Jesus leads into three successive and connected scenes: Peter’s denial (vv. 54-62), the mocking of Jesus (vv. 63-65), and the trial before the religious authorities (vv. 66-71). What is interesting is that in the midst of the Passion narrative of Jesus, there is the scene in all four gospels that concentrate on Peter and his response.  Luke’s account is unique in the following respects: sequence – in that the denials occur in the courtyard before the mocking and interrogation; structure – Luke does not connect the denial as a caused by the trial; and detail – such as the servant girl sitting at the fireside where there is light to clearly recognize Peter  – and most vividly, it is Luke that reports Jesus looked Peter “dead in the eye,” bringing the full gravitas of the denials to Peter. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – The Time of Testing

Of course we all know that after the meal with his disciples that Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Actually, no gospel says that.  Matthew and Mark wrote that he went to a garden. John says he went to Gethsemane. Fuse them all together and you get the “Garden of Gethsemane.”  What does Luke say? Luke only calls it “the place.”  There is no garden specifically mentioned nor is Gethsemane.  Is it important? Well, it is a reminder to be attentive to the text before you and not meld the familiar stories and scenes from other sacred writers.  Each sacred writer has something distinctive that can be missed if one fuses all the details from other accounts. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke: Teaching at the Passover Table

christ224  Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.

In the midst of the Passover to break out into an argument about who would be the greatest – imagine. This scene at table is reminder to be attentive and the problem of discernment to know what is important – especially in “real time.”   The problem is that all of us have a Thanksgiving meal, a birthday party – a time when something important was at hand – and we argued about the most trivial of things.
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The Gospel of Luke – The Passover Meal

Introduction to The Lucan Passion Narrative: The passion narratives provide the climax for each of the four gospels, catching up themes that weave their way through the evangelists’ entire portrayal of Jesus life and bringing them to a dramatic completion. In deft strokes the evangelists tell us of the final hours of Jesus’ life – his last meal with his disciples; his arrest in Gethsemane; his interrogation by the religious leaders; the trial before Pilate; and finally the heart clutching scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial. Continue reading

Jesus and Zacchaeus – Context

Zacchaeus in the Sycamore Awaiting the Passage...Luke 19:1-10. 1 He came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. 2 Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, 3 was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he came down quickly and received him with joy. 7 When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.

Context. A long section of the Gospel of Luke is passed over as we move from the 30th to the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C:

  • 18:15-17          The Little Children
  • 18:18-25          The Rich Ruler
  • 18:26-30          The Demands of Discipleship
  • 18:31-34          The Third Passion Prediction
  • 18:35-43          The Blind Beggar

For many weeks the Sunday gospels have been accounts are that are unique to Luke.  At the beginning of his narrative of the journey to Jerusalem (9:51), Luke departed from the outline of Mark and began introducing material from sources either personal or common to Matthew and himself. At this point Luke begins to follow Mark again. The paragraphs below provide a very brief description of these passages: Continue reading

Boundaries, Faith, and Gratitude – Boundaries

all-kinds-doorsThey stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

The telling of this encounter seems straight forward: (a) Jesus encounters a group of lepers on the road to Jerusalem, (b) they ask for his mercy,  (c) they are cured, but (d) only one returns to thank Jesus and that one is a Samaritan. A simple miracle story, yes? A narrative about faith as the foundation of healing? Such simple summaries, even if true, miss several key aspects of the encounter and the chance to reflect further on our own life of faith in Jesus. Continue reading

Scandal, Faith and Forgiveness – faith

Calling disciplesPraying for Faith. Why do the apostles make the request: “Increase our faith”? Does their request indicate that one can have more or less faith? If one remembers that pístis (“faith”) is also translated as “trust” then our own experience is that indeed with can trust to different degrees. But what was it that indicated their faith was somehow lacking?  Jesus commissioned them and sent them out with power over demons and diseases (9:1-6). They preached and healed; went about without any supplies of their own. They had trusted God for their necessities. They trusted God to heal the sick and cast out demons. They trusted God and proclaimed the coming Kingdom of God. Why do they now ask for more faith? Did they need more faith to stand up to temptations to sin? To cease from causing others to sin? To rebuke those who had sinned against them? To forgive one another? Perhaps moving mulberry trees (or mountains as in the parallels) into the sea is an easier act of faith than moving us to “rebuke” and “forgive” people who have sinned against us. Continue reading