Day 278 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Luke. Well done!
Luke 23 – The backdrop of this story is the three crosses of crucifixion upon which the rightful King Jesus and the two criminals were hung to die. But in the forefront of the story is a pair of sharp contrasts given for our instruction. The first contrast is between the crucified Jesus and the ones who crucified Him. The Jewish leaders and the Roman soldiers mock and ridicule Jesus, revealing their sinful and hateful hearts. In contrast, Jesus does not respond in kind but rather asks the Father to forgive them (v. 34).
The second contrast is between the two criminals who are crucified on either side of Jesus. They are examples of two different responses to Jesus. One of the criminals responds with rejection and mocking, like the other mockers watching Jesus die (v. 39). The other criminal’s response provides a beautiful image of the gospel’s call. This man’s interaction with Jesus is marked by the humility that comes from seeing his own sinfulness and Jesus’ purity. This criminal’s repentance and his looking in faith to Jesus grant him entrance into God’s kingdom (verses 40–42). The result is Jesus’ staggering and beautiful promise that the repentant man would be in paradise in the presence of the Lord that very day (v. 43).
No moral resume is required to be finally accepted into heaven. All that is required is open acknowledgment of sin and trusting faith in Jesus.
Where do you see yourself in these stories?
Luke 24 – These crucial verses help us understand the message of the whole Bible. We learn that the whole of Scripture points ultimately to Jesus (v. 27; see also v. 44). Holy Scripture is the Word of God, the record of God speaking (2 Timothy 3:16). God has spoken in many and various ways, but has now revealed Himself fully through His Son, who can rightly be called the Word of God and who is the full image and representation of who God is (Hebrews 1:1–3). All that God has spoken before ultimately relates to this final Word, Jesus Christ. Jesus provides this way of reading the Scriptures for these early disciples and we, like them, are meant to learn this same way of reading God’s Word.
Yet, at the same time, we have a problem, not of interpretation but of heart. Like these early disciples we too are “slow of heart to believe” and have trouble accepting that glory comes through suffering (Luke 24:25–26; Matthew 16:21–23; Mark 8:31–33). We need to be taught by Jesus, who now instructs and guides us through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; John 14:25–26).
Jesus’ disciples had every reason to be frightened and troubled. Their hopes for Jesus’ promised kingdom seem to be dashed. Jesus’ body has disappeared, and many of them have doubted His resurrection (v. 11) and even denied Him (22:54–62). And now, suddenly, He appears before them—or at least what seems to be His ghost. We too would be frightened, and when we think of our own brokenness and failures we likewise are often full of shame before God. One would expect this to be Jesus’ opportunity to rebuke and correct and maybe even condemn their faithlessness. But instead He speaks these good news words: “Peace to you!”
We have in this story and these words a picture of the gospel of grace and God’s heart toward us in Jesus. He knows our weaknesses and that we are but dust (Psalm 103:14), yet He joyfully welcomes us to be His children. Even more, He commissions us to be His witnesses and agents of the gospel message throughout the world (Luke 24:48). It is this Spirit-given understanding of God’s love and grace in welcoming us that empowers and motivates us to proclaim His grace to others (v. 49).
The beginning of Luke’s Gospel account emphasizes that all that happened with Jesus is “gospel” or good news. It is good news because through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension God is forgiving our sins, blessing us, and giving us His peace (1:67–79; 2:14).
Luke’s account ends by likewise emphasizing Jesus’ blessing of His disciples (24:50–51). The result of God’s blessing of us is that we are free to worship and bless Him with great joy (verses 52–53). The story concludes in an open-ended way, even as our lives continue on in a state of awaiting Jesus’ return from heaven. This conclusion rightly emphasizes the most proper and beautiful response to the gospel of Jesus—worship of the triune God for His grace and blessings.
How have you heard Jesus say to you, “Peace to you!”?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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