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

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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 – Delivered to Prefects and Kings

Jesus_Before_Pilate_smAlan Culpepper commented that reading the arrest and trials of Jesus is, for him, like watching film footage of John Kennedy’s motorcade winding through Dallas in 1963 or the 1986 launch of the Challenger space shuttle.  We know what is coming, we know we have no power to undo them, but are compelled to watch because we honor the loss of great people doing what was theirs to do.

At a more intimate level we know that the encounter of Jesus and Pilate is a scene wherein both face the test of their convictions. Pilate knows and announces the verdict – innocence, but in the face of an unruly crowd does not have the conviction to persevere.  Neither Herod nor Barabbas provide an avenue to resolved the crisis when the leaders of Jewish Jerusalem are ever at work to animate the crowd to bend Pilate’s to their will. 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

Temptation, Treason, and Good News

When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time (Lk 4:13). Technically, the translation should be that Satan departed from Jesus for a more “favorable time.” In other words, it was not a one-and-that’s-it temptation for Jesus. Satan was coming back for another try.  And if Satan was coming back to tempt Jesus, there is no reason to think that our life will be free of temptation.

The historian Shelby Foote tells of a soldier who was wounded at the battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War and was ordered to go to the rear. The fighting was fierce and within minutes he returned to his commanding officer. “Captain, give me a gun!” he shouted. “This fight ain’t got any rear!”  The encounter with temptation is no different. Continue reading

Prayer, Seeking, Asking

English: Saint Luke the Evangelist. Russian Ea...

Luke 11:1-13 – The Lord’s Prayer

With the geographical note, “in a certain place” Luke has
separated this narrative from the immediate context of Chapter 10 (the
conclusion of the mission of the 72, the parable of the Good Samaritan,
and the encounter with Martha and Mary). Luke now presents three
episodes concerned with prayer:

  • the first (Luke 11:1–4) recounts Jesus teaching his disciples the Christian communal prayer,
  • the “Our Father”; the second (Luke 11:5–8), the importance of persistence in prayer; and
  • the third (Luke 11:9–13), the effectiveness of prayer.

The Matthean form of the “Our Father” occurs in the “Sermon on the
Mount” (Matthew 6:9–15); the shorter Lucan version is presented while
Jesus is at prayer and his disciples ask him to teach them to pray just
as John taught his disciples to pray. In answer to their question, Jesus
presents them with an example of a Christian communal prayer that
stresses the fatherhood of God and acknowledges him as the one to whom
the Christian disciple owes daily sustenance, forgiveness, and
deliverance from the final trial. Continue reading