Luke Devotional Guide #4: Luke 9:51-12:59

Luke Devotional Guide #4: Luke 9:51-12:59 April 1, 2022

Week #4 Luke 9:51-12:59

Monday: Read Luke 9:51-10:24

Luke 9:51-19:44 is often deemed the “travel narrative.” The title is not so much concerned with the journey, but the destination: Jerusalem (9:51, 53, 56; 13:22; 17:11; 18:31; 19:28): “it came about when the days for him to be taken up[2] came about, and He himself resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem” (51).[3] As we venture on, we learn Jesus must travel to Jerusalem “for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem” (13:33).

James and John’s request to bring fire down on the Samaritans (54) demonstrates that they do not understand the mission. Hence, Jesus rebukes them. The Samaritans may have rejected Him also (53), but His kingdom still desires to save (56).

Man wishes to follow Jesus but “permit me first to go and bury my father” (59). Scot McKnight notes that the question here is whether or not the man is going to follow Torah (which he believes requires him to bury the father after one year) or if he is going to follow Jesus.[4]

Jesus again sends out his disciples (10:1-16).[5] The sending of 70/72 represents the nations of the world in Gen 11:1-9.[6]

The disciples report, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (17). This is the evidence that the kingdom of God has come! Jesus affirms, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (18). No longer does Satan have the ability to enter the throne room and accuse the people of God.[7] The presence of the kingdom of God, and Jesus’ seizing of the throne by means of His death, resurrection, and ascension signals the defeat of Satan—the real enemy of God and His people.

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • Perhaps the most grieving verse in the Bible is “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (10:2). We are not to think of this, however, in terms of people “called” to ministry—such as, a pastor or missionary. All of God’s people are called to such ministry! Therefore, this verse is not so much a call to ministry and service as it a call for more people to enter His kingdom! Pray for the Lord to increase the harvest today. Is there anyone the Lord may be laying on your heart?

Tuesday: Read Luke 10:25-11:13

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (10:30-37) continues Luke’s stress on the fact that the kingdom of God is for all people. The road to Jericho winds its way down 17 miles down to the Dead Sea valley. Bandits were known to roam these roads.

The priest and the Levite[8] both serve in the temple. As Luke tells the story he notes that both of them “saw” and “passed by” the person on the road (31-32). The Samaritan, who is neither a member of the priestly tribe nor was he even considered as an Israelite, however, “saw” and “felt compassion” (33).

In the story, it is the Samaritan who demonstrates what kingdom love looks like! He cares for the other regardless of the person’s identity or class and regardless of whether it gains him anything.

Luke says that Mary was sitting “at the Lord’s feet” (39). This is the posture of a (female) disciple. In fact, Jesus says, she has chosen “the good part” (42).

At the same time, it appears that Jesus disparages Martha and the role of women as servants. Martha’s concerns would have been well understood by the culture. How she receives and treats her guests impacted her family’s reputation. And Mary wasn’t helping! Jesus’ response, however, affirms Martha and her service. He just commends Mary more so because she has chosen the greater.

The parable that follows the Lord’s prayer (5-13) illustrates the Lord’s willingness to provide for the needs of His children. The focus of the parable is on the Father’s willingness to answer prayer. Note that Luke closes the discussion of prayer with, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (11:13). This verse is very similar to Matt 7:11 except that Luke has changed “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good” to “will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit.”

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • Each day presents opportunities for us to “choose the good part” or to choose to “worry about many things.” We must be careful not to let the worries of life choke away the Word. Ask the Lord for the Holy Spirit today to help you choose the “good part.” (doing this tomorrow and the next day . . . won’t be a bad idea either!)

Wednesday: Read Luke 11:14-54

This section presents a contrast with the previous in terms of rival kingdoms. Jesus casts out a demon (14), which is a sign that the kingdom of God has come (20). Those in opposition to Jesus question the source of His abilities and ask for a sign (16). Jesus makes it plain: He is stronger than the devil (22).

Jesus affirms, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (28).

Jesus’ extensive rebuke of the Pharisees (39-44) and the lawyers (46-52) must be read in light of His kingdom ethic of doing good for those lower on the social ladder even though it provides no personal benefit.

The religious leaders, on the other hand, “weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers” (46).

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • It is so easy for us to read (at least it is for me) Jesus’ words “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (28) and conclude, “I’m good.” But we must always stop and wrestle with the fact that “the Word of God” for Jesus is counter-revolutionary demand to love others, especially those who are marginalized, and to love them even when it provides no benefit for us. In accord with Luke’s thinking, “ask the Holy Spirit” to help you to “hear the Word of God” and to “observe it.”

Thursday: Read Luke 12:1-34

Jesus now begins to stress for His disciples what it means to follow Him. Ultimately, following Jesus means to detach oneself from the goods of the world (32-34). Living in accord with the kingdom will result in persecution (1-12). The nature of a true disciple will be revealed (2). Jesus prepares them for the proper response (8)—trust in the Holy Spirit (12)—as opposed to an improper response (9)

Jesus, then, teaches about faithfulness with regard to possessions and warns against greed. The rich man’s problem was not that he was rich (recall that Luke is written to Theophilus, a wealthy benefactor), but that he failed to consider God in his analysis. Had he done so, he would not have stored up treasures for himself but would have used them for the kingdom.

Of course, living for the kingdom now creates the uncertainty of how one will be provided for. Jesus’ answer for that is, “consider the ravens” (24), “consider the lilies” (27), and “And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (29-31).

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • By now, I hope we have begun to recognize that Jesus’ words are much easier said than done. I remember singing, “seek ye first the kingdom of God . . .” in church for years. But I don’t believe I ever considered the revolutionary and radical call that it entailed. How has our study of Luke challenged you? Share with others or journal some thoughts before the Lord

Friday: Read Luke 12:35-59

This section must be read in light of the reversal of societal norms. The master throws a banquet for the servants (37). For most of Luke’s first readers, this would have meant more than just the fact that Jesus was the servant who serves them at a banquet. It would have meant that they too get to enjoy a banquet! For more than 90% of those in the Roman world, sitting at a private banquet table would have been unthinkable.

Although Jesus came to bring peace, the result of following Him may well create conflict.

However, we must be ready for it! What does being ready mean? (we should all know the answer by now!) It means loving and caring for those in need (42). Jesus’ warning especially resounds for those who have wealth and power.

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • This passage does not justify the conflict with others. Jesus is merely saying that it is going to happen. Living out the kingdom is often a threat to many people’s way of life. Their resistance will often be to attack the follower of Jesus. Though we have to admit, that we may be partly to blame. This is especially true when it comes to family. We simply do not treat family as well as we do others. In such situations remember:
    • We are still called to love them. We are still called to lay down our lives for them.
    • We are not to conclude that since conflict is inevitable, we are okay with it.
    • Such conflict should drive us to greater humility.
    • Family conflicts are often the most painful. We must be prepared to accept our part in the conflict and repent and seek forgiveness (we often do not respond to family the same way we do others). Then, we must recognize that often the only things we can do are:
      • live out Jesus’ ethic in humility as best we can
      • and pray.
    • If you have a family situation that is in need of prayer, find others that you can share this with and have them join you in prayer.

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[1] This guide is meant to be done either as a group study over the course of 2 or 4 meetings (Day 1-5; 6-10; 11-15; 16-20), or as a private devotion over the course of 4 weeks (or a calendar month—5 lessons per week).

[2] What does it mean that He will be taken up? NAS says it is His “ascension” (similarly NET, NIV). But the meaning is uncertain.

[3] My translation. The Greek is pretty emphatic here, but it is hard to bring out in translation. Hence, the great divergence among the modern translations.

[4] See: McKnight, Jesus Creed.

[5] This group may not include the 12 (cf 9:1-6): He sent 70/72 “others” (10:1).

[6] The manuscript evidence is completely divided over whether it is 70 or 72. Both numbers reflect the number of nations in Gen 11:1-9.

[7] See Rev 12:10.

[8] Both are members of the Levitical tribe.

About Rob Dalrymple
Rob Dalrymple is married to his wife Toni and is the father of four fabulous children, and has two grandchildren. He has been teaching and pastoring for over 32 years at colleges, seminaries, and the local church. He has a PhD (Westminster Theological Seminary) in biblical interpretation. He is the author of four books (including: Follow the Lamb: A Guide to Reading, Understanding, and Applying the Book of Revelation & Understanding the New Testament and the End Times: Why it Matters) as well as numerous articles and other publications. You can read more about the author here.

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