Lecture 6: Journey to Jerusalem (Part 1)
Course: Life of Christ
Lecture: Journey to Jerusalem
This is the 6th lecture in the online series of lectures on the Life of Christ by Dr. Darrell Bock. Recommended Reading includes: Jesus According to Scripture: restoring the Portrait from the Gospels by Bock, Baker, 2002 and Jesus in Context by Darrel Bock and Greg Herrick, eds., Baker, 2005 and Jesus Under Fire by Mike Wilkins and J.P. Moreland, Zondervan, 1995.
This section now in Matthew, Mark and Luke overlap and then Luke goes his own way. There’s a unique section of the Journey to Jerusalem in which much of the material is uniquely structured in this section of Luke and represents parabolic material. It’s when Jesus turns his face to go to Jerusalem, yet training his disciples as he launches into the journey of providence that going to take him to his death in Jerusalem. He wants to prepare his disciples in the mitts of that journey. It’s not direct but it is one important segment that Luke highlights. We get instruction and silence of who Jesus is; he instructs them on one hand but tells them to keep quiet about it. And why the silence, it’s because the disciples still need instructions. So at the transfiguration, we get the voice from heaven saying, ‘this is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight, listen to him!’ This is a call from Deuteronomy 18, ‘there is a prophet like Moses that needs to be listened to.’ Then we get Jesus introducing his upcoming suffering and what that means for the disciples and what they need to understand about it. This is a major paradigm shift for the disciple’s expectation of the Messiah. They expected a Messiah who would use his power to take care of things. They think the solution is to forcibly take control. For Mark, this is the second part of his narrative emphasis. Mark pivots with Peter’s confession in Caesarea, Philippi. Luke uses this introductory instruction to set up the following journey to Jerusalem. Matthew mostly parallels Mark with a few additional points in his discourse materials of Matthew 18.
At Peter’s confession of Jesus as being the Christ, it was said, ‘God has revealed this to you and upon this rock I will build by church.’ Interestingly, in the center of Caesarea, Philippi, there were a series of temples: Zeus, Tanner Anips, Temple of Augustus which was near the Bunya Springs, and Grotto of the god, Pan where a spring ran out of a cave. It was Herod’s son who renamed the place Caesarea, Philippi and it eventually became the capital of one of the regents. But the name Paneas was its earlier name from the Hellenistic period and that mutated in time to Banias, as it is known today. The sanctuary as it was called continued it worship of these gods well into the age of Christianity. So this site is associated with the atmosphere of when pagan gods were being proclaimed and in the mist of that, Jesus claimed deity within the framework of Jewish monotheism. However, the context of Peter’s confession is concerned with the popular perception of Jesus as prophet. The key to all the versions of Peter’s reply is the recognition that Jesus is the Christ. That he is more than a prophet or that he isn’t just a prophet. However, what we tend to do with this is do the reverse. The only passage that alludes to the fact Jesus is the Son of God as a confession is Matthew’s version of the text. In Matthew, its reads, ‘you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ In Mark, it reads, ‘you are the Christ.’ In Luke, it reads, ‘the Christ of God.’ The three versions of the confession share a declaration that Jesus is a Messianic figure. So when Peter makes this confession, is he confessing recognition that Jesus is ‘the Son of God,’ that is, is he deity? Or is he simply confessing that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one? I would say that most people in thinking about this passage and preach it would let Matthew speak for all three Gospels and say, ‘Son of the Living God,’ that is, ‘deity.’
I think what makes this declaration so important is that Peter is confessing that Jesus is the anointed one of God. That Jesus is at the hub of the eschatological program of God. He’s not merely a prophet and then from that Jesus builds the portrait of who he is. Why do I think that? Afterwards, Jesus begins to predict his death. When Jesus starts to predict his death, what does Peter do? Peter says that can’t happen! One or two things is going on, either Peter has a lot of nerve to counter Jesus as deity and Son of God or else Peter still doesn’t understand yet and says, ‘wait a minute Lord, the suffering Messiah isn’t part of the equation.’ And Jesus responds, ‘get behind me Satan.’ This is a passage that is not going to be invented by the church. So what I think is going on here, Jesus elicits a confession from Peter of which he’s going to build on. Peter has given a starting point for building the church. If you understand that I (Jesus) am at the hub of what God is doing and you ask what that is, you will begin to understand who I am. And now I’m going to teach you what that is. That’s why he elicits the confession and then immediately tells them to be quiet. It says, ‘who do the people say that I am?’ They say, ‘John the Baptist,’ others say Elijah, and still others say, ‘one of the prophets.’ But Jesus asks, ‘but who do you say that I am.’ Peter answered him, ‘you are the Christ.’ Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. The title is accepted and welcomed but yet it still needs clarification. And this is what Jesus is going to do.
In Mark 8:32 Jesus continued teaching them, saying that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and after three days, rise again. He spoke openly about this. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan. You do not have your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.’ So Jesus is saying this is not going to happen the way you think, this isn’t a raw exercise of power. Then in verse 34, Jesus called the crowd along with his disciples and says to them, ‘if anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’ Now the cross in those days was a sign of the most horrific culturally humiliating form of death. They knew what it meant to take up a cross. Jesus was talking about total rejection, a baptism of rejection, immersed in rejection. Mark continued, ‘for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the Gospel will save it. For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life? What can a person give in exchange for his life? For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, there are some here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’
The Keys of the Kingdom
So in Matthew I think Christ equals Son; look at Matthew 14:33, ‘Then those who were in the boat worshiped him saying, truly you are the Son of God.’ This is a level higher than in Peter’s confession. They are still not totally sure who Jesus is, but they are getting closer. Note that church is only used by Matthew of all the Gospel writers. No other worldly authority will prevail against the church for it will have the key to the entry into kingdom blessings. This is why whenever you see Peter in a lot of paintings in western civilization; he always has keys in his hands, the keys of the kingdom. Notice the victory that resides in kingdom blessings and the church and kingdom here overlap. We get the passion prediction. We have already talked about the authenticity; you would not create a story in which Peter was called Satan. We get the prediction after three days, potential imprecision. I have already suggested that the example of John the Baptist might have allowed Jesus to deduce what was going to happen to him. There is new teaching being emphasized, both in Matthew 16:21 and Mark 8:31 emphasizing the fact that this is new teaching. And we get the picture of the rejected stone which has become the cornerstone, which is part of the background of the imagery of the passage. And Peter’s reaction states that there is no way this is going to happen. Jesus’ rebuke is an indication that Peter needs to learn. (Note, the lecturer answers a student’s question regarding the three days of Jesus’ death, saying that three days are taken inclusively, it’s not 72 hours. Each day counts as a day, even if it’s only part of a day that’s being counted. Even after you get this phrase, ‘after three days and three nights in scripture, it’s still being counted that way.)
The Son of Man
This is part of the exhortation related to discipleship. We get, ‘deny and take up your cross and then follow me,’ is an ongoing exhortation in the Greek; we get two basic commitments: to deny oneself, to take up the cross, to take up the way of suffering and then go about the process of daily following. In fact, Luke will add the word, ‘daily.’ Note the kingdom, and Son of Man connection here. There is kingdom judgement by the Son of Man; the Son of Man judges in relationship to response to Jesus. Notice also that we are getting the Son of Man consistently presented by Jesus as a third person; he’s almost discussed as being a separate figure from Jesus. This has caused some scholars to say, ‘did Jesus anticipate a judgement figure outside of himself who would exercise this judgement?’ I think not, it’s an indirect way to refer to himself, and there is precedence for this and there are other examples of this. There are even examples of this today: Margret Thatcher always referred to herself as the ‘lady’ in the third person, in an indirect kind of way. Jesus does the same when he speaks about the Son of Man when he speaks about himself. The beauty of this title, even though it means a human being, ‘Son of Adam’ means Adam’s child, Son of Man means a human’s child. In Daniel that human being rides the clouds and the only figure who rides the clouds in the Old Testament is deity: either Yahweh or the description in rebuke of Baal. So it has a unique mix of divinity and humanity associated with it. But Jesus doesn’t reveal the connection of the Son of Man to the Daniel 7 passage until late in his ministry in the Olivet Discourse. Some people would talk about the Christ and Jesus and then would use other titles to talk about himself as the Son of Man.
This is a preview of the glory, a repetition of the baptism and a call to hear in a language of a prophet like Moses. You are supposed to obey the prophet that is like Moses. He is a leader delivering prophet. He is sometimes described as the eschatological prophet, which is what Jesus also was. And he is to be obeyed. To fail to obey the prophet like Moses is to be subject to being cut off from the people. Moses and Elijah are present probably representing the Law and eschatological restoration (Mark 9:4). In Luke alone, we are told that what they discussed was Jesus’ exodus or Jesus’ departure; that is to say, Jesus’ death and what would follow after it. The disciples needed instructions because when Moses and Elijah and Jesus were there, Peter suggested that they set up shelters. But then the voice, ‘this is my beloved Son, listen to him!’ It’s obvious that Peter didn’t know what he was saying. They still needed to learn. 2nd Peter 2 talks about this event, verses 16-18. What about Elijah, the question that Matthew 17 raises? The background to this is Malachi 4:5 and Syriac 48:10, ‘at the appointed time it is written you are destined to calm the wrap of God … to turn the hearts of parents to their children to restore the tribes of Jacob.’ This is the language we saw in Luke chapter 1. Elijah will come and then Jesus declares that he has come as John the Baptist. Mark says there is no glory without the suffering of the Son of Man and Matthew highlights the Son of Man will suffer similarly to John the Baptist and the disciples need to understand this. They are beginning to grasp something of what Jesus is saying.
The next scene is of an epileptic possessed boy who was not able to be healed while Jesus and the inner circle were up on the mountain. Jesus rebuked the generation and the critique is of the disciples for a lack of faith in prayer. Only in Luke does it show that the crowd marveled at God’s majesty when the healing comes and in Matthew and Mark, there is a question about why they failed. In Matthew there is an emphasis on faith and in Mark there is an emphasis on prayer. Apparently they were acting alone and put into a position of needing to learn. After this there is another prediction of Jesus dying and being raised on the third day. Matthew 17:23 says it will be on the third day while Mark says after three days; again this is inclusive in the variation of wording in the Gospels as we sometimes see in the parallels. It says that the disciples did not understand as they were distressed.
In understanding Biblical truth, when it says that the disciples did not understand, this does not mean that they did not understand the words. It means they did not grasp the word’s significance. The text tells us they were distressed; they understood the content but didn’t understand how it fit into what they were doing. They had yet to be able to connect everything together. They couldn’t understand how this could be the Messiah. And they are bothered by what Jesus is telling them.
The next scene in Matthew 17 has to do with the kingdom and the tax. In 17:24-27 there is teaching with regard to tax and whether or not they were going to pay it. There was a half shekel temple tax. ‘After they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, your teacher pays the double drachma tax, doesn’t he? He said, yes. When Peter came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, what do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect tolls or taxes – from their sons or from foreigners? And he said, from foreigners. Jesus said to him, and then the sons are free, but so that we don’t offend them, go to the lake and throw out a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth, you will find a four drachma coin. Take that and give it to them for me and for you.’ On the one hand, Jesus declares that they are free from paying the tax because they are genuine sons of the kingdom but yet, we will pay the tax. This show a little of the two spheres idea; there is the sphere of the kingdom and the sphere of the world that is working alongside the kingdom. This is also a lesson on God providing what they need.
In Matthew 18:1, the fourth set of discourses using the key word of teaching. There is a discussion about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus brings a child in front of him. This is another cultural script. In our world, a child is a cute thing; in the ancient world, a child is best not seen or not heard from until they are useful. So Jesus is taking someone with no cultural status and bringing that child before them. ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven and whoever welcomes a child like this in my name, welcomes me.’ In saying this last part about welcoming a child goes against the cultural status of the time and the place. Another way of putting this, whoever welcomes someone with no social standing like this in my name, welcomes me. He is showing the disciples that their ministry will not be just to the rich and powerful, it will reach out in all directions. ‘But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea.’ This is the deep six text and to see what a millstone is like, you can imagine something weighing fifteen or so pounds around your neck. ‘Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come. If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fiery hell.’ You must separate yourself from that which causes sin. The exhortation here is to have a sense of accountability for how you behave; this impacts those that are around you. We are not independent entities. What we do impacts people around us.
Parable of the Lost Sheep
The Lost Sheep in this context is not like that of Luke 15. ‘See that you do not disdain one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If someone owns a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for the one that went astray? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost.’ The little ones in this context are people who are straying from the faith. This has to do with seeking to recover someone who risks straying from the faith, whereas in Luke 15, we are dealing with tax collectors and sinners in evangelism; the same image but a different application. So we are accountable to one another, we are supposed to pay attention to one another. We have a community where there is spiritual accountability, what about that? Well, if your brother sins go show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother, but if he doesn’t listen to you, take one or two others so that the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, if he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a gentile or tax collector. This process is what we call church discipline.
‘I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask my Father in heaven, he will do it for you. For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.’ Note that most people really love Matthew 18 and 19 but they ignore the context. This has to do about what to do in relationship to church discipline. There is a process of accountability in the case of someone who is stubborn with regard to the church and which may sometimes call the church to rebuke someone. And then Peter comes and asks this, ‘Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me, as many as seven times? Note that in Judaism, you forgave someone three times. After three times, they were taking advantage of you. So Peter understands this, he’s got more than twice the amount, but it still isn’t enough. Jesus answered, ‘not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!’ The parallel text in Luke, we have seventy times seven or four hundred and ninety. What does this mean? Does Jesus want us to keep an accounting of this? No, you must simply forgive? So how important is this? If you create a community where there is accountability and there is discipline but there is not forgiveness, you have an oppressive environment. So the spiritual accountability and discipline with the balance of compassion and forgiveness; and thus the Parable of the Unforgiving Slave.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Slave
‘For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. As he began settling his accounts, a man who owed ten thousand talents was brought to him.’ This is a lot of money even in today’s economy. It’s equal to 6,000 Denarii and one denarius is what you earned in one day. This would equal to twenty years of labor. ‘Because he was not able to repay it, the lord ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. Then the slave threw himself to the ground before the lord, saying be patient with me and I will repay you everything and the lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt. After he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred silver coins.’ This was nothing compared to what he owed to the lord who had forgave him of the debt. This was a hundred days of labor. ‘So he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him, saying, pay back what you owe me! Then this fellow slave threw himself down and begged him, be patient with me, and I will repay you. But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had taken place. Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, evil slave! I forgave you of your entire debit because you begged me! Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you? And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed.’ Of course, he will not be able to repay the debt from debtor’s prison. So my heavenly Father will do to you, if you don’t forgive your brother from your heart.’ If God is capable of forgiving us for what we have done in our lives, of such a huge debt; why can’t we forgive people for the little things they do against us. The environment of the community is supposed to be fuel by this recognition of how this forgiveness is made to ultimately drive the community, even in the mitts of this spiritually accountable environment. Without the ability to forgive and move on, the environment will become oppressive. And look what happens when legalism runs rampant. This is on community relationships. This is a very important text to building community and getting others to think about it. So you are to be like a child, you are to be humble and realize that even the least is great and thus open to anyone and then you are to pursue forgiveness.
Now in Mark 9:38 and Luke at this point, we get the outside exorcist, just to make sure you understand this point. Note that there is a person who is casting out demons in Jesus’ name but he isn’t part of the twelve. They tried to stop the man but Jesus said, ‘do not stop him, because no one does a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say anything bad about me.’ Here, we see that the ministry is much bigger than just the twelve. So again, the disciples need more teaching and instructions. Those who are not against us should not be stopped. But there is an obvious issue of sincerity here because when we come to Acts 19 and we get others trying to use the name of Jesus, they are stopped and rebuked. Mark continued with talking about children and not doing anything against them. Note that mutilation was prohibited in Judaism so the suggestion of removing a limb that sinned was a radical teaching. Next, an image of salt is mentioned again, reminding them of their accountability. Be at peace with one another and be salt in the world.
Now we deal with the prospect of the rejection by the world and suffering in the community. Turn and depend on God, willing to face the world’s rejection but do it in community pursuing holiness with accountability, not causing others any offence and being quick to forgive. And in all of this, the shadow of listening to him is still above us.
Jesus in Samaria
We are up to the journey to Jerusalem section in Luke 9:51 – 19:44 which is mostly unique material up until 18:14. This is a journey of divine faith and the following themes apply: discipleship instruction, rising opposition and Jesus’ challenges of it and opportunities to that opposition, there is teaching, invitation and warnings to the crowds. They are caught in the middle between Jesus’ teaching and the reaction to him. From this point onward, many passages remind us of that journey and this is the focus point of what’s happening. Matthew and Mark have Jesus heading for Judea as well but Luke is the one who emphasizes it. All the synoptic Gospels cover it but it is more detailed in Luke. We start off with mission and rejection and then we go beyond Israel. So now, Jesus moves into Samaria and there is preparation for a time of ministry in Samaria. ‘Now when the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set out resolutely to go to Jerusalem. He sent messengers on ahead of him. As they went along, they entered a Samaritan village to make things ready in advance for him, but the villagers refused to welcome him, because he was determined to go to Jerusalem. Now when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, do you want us to call fire to come down from heaven and consume them? But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.’ So the disciple’s solution is to ‘kill them all solution.’ What did Jesus say in his rebuke? What did he tell them? All we know is that they gave the wrong response. The idea of throwing out retribution at this point is wrong. If they reject us, just move on and perform the mission in another location. Then we get the sayings about discipleship that we have already covered in the other Gospels. As they were walking, someone said, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And then Jesus said, ‘Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ And Jesus continues to teach in regards to putting himself first in their lives. Jesus said, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ These texts emphasize the priority in following Jesus. It is greater than anything else in one’s own life and they should not look back. Note that the number of Samarians left alive today only equal to around five hundred people or so. They are seen in Acts as a kind of transition group as you move from Israel proper. On the one hand, they have a connection to the Torah, but on the other hand they’ve changed part of it to suit their own belief.
The Seventy-Two are Sent Out
We have kingdom mission in the face of rejection. When they return, they have some interesting things to talk about. There’s the image of Satan’s fall and the Messiah’s victory. Remember that one of the signs of the arrival of the kingdom is Satan being defeated. It is language about Satan falling and being defeated and the kingdom coming and there is the exhortation to rejoice because this is being offered to babes, while it’s what others long far. There are two parts of this passage that are really important that you don’t want to miss. One of them is Luke 10:17-20 which says a lot and many in the church should be very aware of it. ‘Then the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!’ Jesus said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Look, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and on the full force of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice that spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names stand written in heaven.’ This passage shows how Jesus prioritizes the activity of miracles to the activity of new life. What are you supposed to appreciate? Not that you have this power, but the relationship. In 10:23-24, another interesting passage, ‘then Jesus turned to his disciples and said privately, blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it!’ When I think about this passage, the way some people react. Some people react when they watch the Ten Commandments and their reaction: I would have like to have been there with them to see the Red Sea part and the Ten Commandments delivered. But this passage is saying the opposite. What Moses, David, and Isaiah would want is to experience what I am offering to you now. This emphasizes that the new era has come, that which was promised and looked forward to, is not being realized and that’s why those prophets and kings longed to look forward to this day.
The Good Samaritan
There is a call to be loyal to others, to Jesus and to God. And so we get the Good Samaritan. Near the old Jericho to Jerusalem road are caves where bandits could hide. This is a perception of what the parable is built on. So here the scene: ‘now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? He replied by a question, what is written in the law? How do you understand it? The expert answered, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with your entire mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said to him, you have answered correctly; do this and you will live.’ But does he really understand it? The next question tells you no. ‘The expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, and who is my neighbor?’ He’s actually trying to ask, there are people who are neighbors and there are people who are not neighbors. It’s like they don’t exist. So he’s trying to exclude people to whom he is accountable, and so he’s justifying himself. ‘I’m doing this’, he is saying indirectly.
So Jesus begins the Parable of the Good Samaritan, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead.’ That’s the image of what we have here. It’s the heat of the day in the desert. ‘Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side; so too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.’ The text is very clear, they saw the person in need and they simply went to the other side and left him. Whatever reason, they just left him.’ Now the story slows down. We are now getting every action this person performed for the person in need. It’s like going to slow motion. ‘But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him.’ He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.’ The Samaritan put him on his own animal so the Samaritan had to be walking now. ‘The next day he took out two silver coins and gave the two coins to the innkeeper, saying, take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way. Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ The expert in religious law said the one who showed mercy to him. So Jesus said to him, go and do the same.’ Notice that there are two things happening here. The one who showed mercy to him; the expert can’t even say the word, Samaritan. So who is my neighbor? Are there some people that aren’t our neighbors? Jesus’ answer, be a neighbor. Don’t ask to be a neighbor to someone, just be that neighbor and remember that neighbors can be very different. Jesus begins to discuss with the disciples in regards to what is necessary as they walk with him. In doing so, we realize that we need to be available to serve literally anybody. There is no restriction on who our neighbors are; the call is simply to be a neighbor and of service.
And the next scene is Martha with Mary in Bethany. And Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet while Martha is busy preparing a meal. There are a lot of Martha’s around who are very hard workers. They are usually so busy that they have trouble stopping and even taking a breath. And so Martha is laboring away and Mary is doing nothing but listening to Jesus. Martha then asks Jesus to intervene; however, Jesus usually refuses in such situations. ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me. But the Lord said, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.’ The double name calling here has a certain meaning as it did when Jesus called Saul on the Damascus road, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ So Jesus doesn’t intervene. Mary has made a good choice. Jesus rebukes Martha for trying to bother Mary and what she is doing. She’s spending time with Jesus.
Luke 11:1 the third scene is the disciple’s prayer. We have already covered this in an earlier lecture. After this there are a series of parables that teach us to prayer with nerve. The Parable of the Midnight Request, ‘he said to them, suppose one of you has a friend and you go to him at midnight and ask this friend to lend you three loaves of bread because another friend has stopped by while on a journey. Do not bother me, my door is locked, my children are already in bed and I cannot get up and give you anything.’ In this setting, you don’t have a shop readily available to go to like you would today. And within that socio-economic culture, the family most likely lived in one room. So if you disturb the house, you disturb everybody. Also, once you get young children to bed and asleep, you don’t want to wake them up. ‘But because of the man’s sheer persistence, he will get up and give the man everything he needs.’ The context of this is prayer. You are supposed to be persistent in prayer. ‘So I tell you, ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.’ The paragraph closes with verse 13, ‘If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ This is specific; this is a request for spiritual insight or spiritual direction or for spiritual presence as opposed to the parallel in Matthew, it simply says, ‘will he not give good gifts for those who ask.’ We have disciples who are being taught to be dependent, to turn to the Lord in prayer and to do so with the expectation that God will answer and give the request that is sought.
So, in this unit as a whole, we have devotion in the Good Samaritan and service to the neighbor. We also have the choice to sit at Jesus’ feet and then we have dependence on God and turning to him in prayer. So we have people, Christ and God in a reverse order of what introduced the unit. Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. That brings us to the Beelzebub’s controversy and we will start there in the next lecture.