A Look Back at Luke
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.Luke 1:1–4 (ESV)
And what he showed us, through carefully researched and vetted eye-witness accounts:
- A multitude of the heavenly host announcing his birth. (2:13)
- Jesus as a boy amazing the teachers in the temple with his understanding (2:47)
- The holy spirit visibly descending on Jesus at his baptism and God the Father’s voice from the heavens telling him, in the hearing of all “You are my beloved son, and with you I am well pleased.” (3:22)
- Jesus overcoming the direct assault of temptation of the devil by faith in God’s promises (4:1-13)
- Jesus healing diseases and deformities, releasing people from demonic oppression, raising dead people to life, and most astonishingly, forgiving sin – all before chapter 7 is over
- Jesus teaching in a way that confounds and confuses self-righteous religious hypocrites, and compels curious outcasts
- Jesus feeding the five thousand, foretelling his death, and being transfigured into a preview of his glorified state, glowing dazzling white, chatting with Moses and Elijah, and again a voice booming from heaven: “This is my son, my Messiah!, Listen to him!” (Chapter 9)
- Jesus teaching his faithful followers the about the Kingdom of Heaven – a community with a way of doing things that is so upside down to the world that many missed his point.
- We see him falsely accused, unjustly condemned, and murdered on a thief’s cross, in our place. Paying the debt we owe for our guilt, our offense against our good, righteous, loving creator – securing forgiveness for anyone who trust’s him.
- And finally we see that death could not hold him, and by God’s power was raised from death on the third day, the first Easter Sunday. Proving that he is who he said he is, and showing what awaits all who follow him, even to death: resurrection to new life.
And in all of this he was doing exactly what the old testament promised he would.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.Luke 24:44–53 (ESV)
Wow. What are we supposed to do with all this? Well, Luke tells us! Luke did not stop in chapter 24. He keeps writing in Acts. Luke and Acts are part of a single, 2-volume work by the same author, Luke the Physician. Let’s go there.
1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.”Acts 1:1–12 (ESV)
Notice how similar this wording is to the last few verses in Luke’s Gospel. Luke sort of “Velcros” (or some have said “hyperlinked”) his two scrolls together with these words.
PETER’S SERMON AT PENTECOST
A short time later, on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, some very strange and amazing things started happening! We went into detail on this event a couple of years ago in our series through Acts. I recommend checking that out on our website. But the basic overview is that, just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit showed up, and everyone began proclaiming God’s amazingness in a strange way: by speaking in foreign languages.
Languages that were recognized by the crowds that were gathered in Jerusalem for the festival from all over the world. This got their attention! “Wait, they aren’t speaking Hebrew, they are speaking Egyptian! Libyan! Phrygian! Parthian! How do they know to do that?? These folks are locals!
“What’s going on!?” they wondered. So Peter stands up and preaches the first sermon. He explains: do you remember what the prophet Joel said would happen in the end times? That’s now. The Lord is doing something new. He’s changing everything.
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”Acts 2:22-24; 32-33; 36 (ESV)
Peter declares to the gathering crowd that this famous Jesus that everyone has heard of, most have seen, and who caused quite a ruckus a few weeks back at Passover, who was killed on a Roman cross, but about whom strange reports were starting to pop up that he’s back… this Jesus was in fact who he claimed to be, God’s Chosen Messiah, even though he wasn’t what we expected. It’s all true. That’s why this miracle is happening: all these people praising God in languages they’re not supposed know but you understand!
Jesus is the Christ, and you crucified him!
BROTHERS, WHAT SHALL WE DO??
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”Acts 2:37 (ESV)
These people, many of whom had most likely witnessed the events of the last week of Jesus’s life, and probably had encountered his teachings, or at least reports of his miracles at some point in the past three years, were affected by all this.
And I imagine feeling quite suddenly very ashamed. “What if we were wrong. What if he was the Christ after all? What if he was our Messiah that our God has promised, AND WE KILLED HIM!?
Brother’s What Shall We Do!
Peter’s answer, which Luke records, is the same answer to our question: “what are we supposed to do with all of this amazing news in The Gospel of Luke.
REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.Acts 2:38–41 (ESV)
Repent, and be baptized. Mark’s gospel records Jesus saying something very similar, but he says “believe and be baptized” – these are not different statements. Belief in Jesus and his message and his work leads to repentance. We see the crowd is believing here because they were cut to the heart and wanted to respond.
Repentance is the right response of faith to the realization that we are guilty before a holy God. That we brought about the death of the only truly innocent person to ever walk the planet. It is a response of hope in the resurrection, that new life is available.
To respond in faith to those things is to turn away from your old way of thinking and acting. To reject your old life of sin, your old habits and patterns of behaviors, your old rebellion, and to turn toward Christ and the new life he has for you of following his teaching.
And the next step in this repentance is Baptism… and what does Peter mean by that? It is interesting that Acts doesn’t record the crowds heading down to a river. What does it record?
What does Luke show us is the outcome of a crowd of 3000 repenting and being baptized? The birth church! To repent and be baptized looks like joining with the life of the church.
THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.Acts 2:42–47 (ESV)
Again we went into more detail on all the selling of possessions, etc, in our Acts series, go listen to it, but see the overall flavor here. The church was born that day. What does the church look like? Devoted to the apostle’s teaching, devoted to the fellowship, devoted to the breaking of bread (communion), and to the prayers. Awe upon every soul, sharing each other’s needs. Praising God, numbers being added.
How should we respond to all the amazing things we saw in the last year of walking through Luke’s gospel?
Brothers and Sisters, What Shall We Do?
Recognize that though you were not among the crowd that day that was shouting for Jesus’s crucifixion, nor were you in the Roman cohort that nailed him to the cross, Jesus was crucified because of your sin, and my sin. His death was necessary because of our rebellion. It was our cross that he was hung on… the death we deserved that he died.
Peter said to them, and it is just as rightly true of us: “…This Jesus, whom you crucified.”
So what should we do?
Save yourself from this crooked Generation. How?
Believe -It’s true! All of it! Everything we’ve been studying this past year (and everything else in this book!) You can trust Jesus. He is who he claimed to be. He did what he said he did.
Repent – Turn to Christ. Leave your old life behind.
Be Baptized – Join with the fellowship of the church. Declare your new allegiance to the world by going through this awkward and wonderful ceremony in public!
Devote Yourself To One Another – Live the radically counter-cultural life of a Christian. A different set of goals. A different set of things we find valuable. A different way of orienting ourselves to the world. It is no longer about our reputation, our comfort, our success, our happiness, our fame, our wealth, our power, our glory, our kingdom. That is what the world runs after, and what we ran after. But we repent.
We now seek the wellbeing of others. We seek fame for Christ. We seek God’ glory. We seek God’s kingdom!
Devote yourself to The Apostles Teaching – Seek to understand the scriptures. This book reminds us of who we are, who we were created to be. It tells a different story than the world tells us. Devote yourself to it more than any radio pundit, any talk show host, any professor, any Disney movie, any book, any song. Let this book remind you of who you are.
Devote yourself to prayer – having heard from God in his word as you are devoted to it, let him hear from you – pray. Pray alone, pray together. Pour out all your hopes, desires, complaints, joys, disappointments, fears, and triumphs. Don’t go to other people until you’ve gone to him. Go to him first when you are confused. Go to him first when you are scared. Go to him first when you are in pain. Go to him first with your questions. Hear from him in His Word — ask of him in prayer. You will be shocked and amazed by his answers.
Devote yourself to the breaking of Bread. Communion. That command that Jesus gave us in the upper room. A reinterpretation of the passover meal. A reminder that a sacrifice has been makes it possible for us to escape death.
Jesus said: “Do this to remember me” – and he took bread and broke it as a reminder of the punishment he would suffer for us: the ripped bread reminding us of his broken body.
Jesus said: “Do this to remember me” – He took wine and poured it out, red like the blood that would soon be pouring from his pierced body. Simultaneously a marriage proposal to his church, and a reminder of the blood covenant between God and his people. The blood of the sacrifice cleansing his people, removing the guilt through a blood payment.
Today we are going to remember Jesus, his broken body, taking our punishment, his shed blood paying the debt of our sin and cleansing us from our guilt and shame.
Today, all of you who believe and repent are welcome to join with the church in taking communion. If you do not, just let the plate pass by as it is passed around.