Good morning. I hope you had a great weekend. We had some snow, but thankfully we were able to have church yesterday. Today, we will continue our look into the Gospel of Luke. In both Matthew and Mark we looked at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The same scene takes place in Luke. The only thing really different in Luke's account is what takes place as Jesus approaches the city.
"As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build and embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." (Luke 19:41-44))
I have said before that Luke puts a lot of emphasis on Jerusalem. In Luke's account the story is moving toward Jerusalem. In the Book of Acts (which Luke also wrote) the story moves away from Jerusalem. As we have discovered already Jerusalem is known as the city that kills the prophets. On many occasions Jesus has been portrayed as a prophet. Here in this scene Jesus is weeping over the city ( in the manner of the prophet Jeremiah) and he prophecies over it. Jesus is foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD. Why does Jesus say this will happen? Because the messiah had come, but the city would fail to recognize him (and would ultimately kill him.)
Just like in Matthew and Mark, Jesus spends more time teaching once he arrives in Jerusalem. Now, again, we often wonder how these people can go from throwing Jesus a parade to shouting "crucify him!" Well, don't forget, they thought he had come to end oppression. Jesus, instead, tells them to pay their taxes to Caesar. (Luke 20:20-26) Hmm...if this guy has come to fight off the Romans why is he telling us to pay our taxes to them?
Jesus has a last supper with his disciples in Luke. (Just as in Matthew and Mark. NOT IN JOHN) But there is a slight difference in the detail that Luke gives. In Matthew and Mark there was one cup and one loaf. In Luke there are two cups and one loaf. (22:7-38) This is not that big of a deal, just interesting. Other events in Luke are told that were told in the other two gospels. Let's now begin to look at how Luke recall the passion of Christ.
"At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 'If you are the Christ,' they said, 'tell us.' Jesus answered, 'If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.' They all asked, 'Are you then the Son of God?' He replied, 'You are right in saying I am.' Then they said, 'Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.' Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him..." (Luke 22:66-23:2a)
Why did Jesus die? Why was he executed? I know, I know, he came to die for our sins! Yes, but I assure you that the authorities never said, "O.K., O.K., now this guy is supposed to die for the sins of the world, therefore lets do our part and kill him." No, they had other reasons. What were they? Who was responsible for his death?
The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts is, among other things, apologetic history. Wait! That is not as bad as it sounds. This is the history of a people written as a means of self-definition for insiders and of favorable presentation to outsiders. Notice, that the Jewish authorities are responsible for taking Jesus to Pilate. What were the charges once they appeared before Pilate? "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be the Christ, a king." (Luke 23:2b) Did you catch all of that? When did Jesus ever oppose paying taxes to Caesar? Also, the interpret for Pilate that his claim of being the Christ is a claim of being the king. What were they trying to do? Incite Pilate. The charge leveled against Jesus is political. The Jews understood that the Romans wanted to keep stability. Anyone found to be disturbing the peace was viewed as an enemy of the Roman order. Pilate examines Jesus and pronounces him to be innocent of the charges. (Luke 23:4) But the leaders insisted: "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here." (Luke 23:5) Pilate wants no part in this. He passes him on to Herod, he roughs Jesus up a bit and sends him back to Pilate. On three occasions Pilate pronounces Jesus innocent. "He has done nothing to deserve death," Pilate proclaimed.
Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but the Jewish leaders would not have it. They would rather have Pilate release a murderer over Jesus. In the end Pilate gave in to their demands and ordered Jesus to be crucified. Tomorrow we will look at the crucifixion. Join me again tomorrow. -Pastor Rick.