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Ministry on the gospel of Luke - Keith Sherwood

 

Luke 1

 

The first four verses are the key to the whole gospel

'In order' does not refer to chronology, but a disciplined, report of the source (the base rock) of all teaching given to the church by the apostles and now believed by the church. Though it is chronological in a loose sense – the order, in a strict sense, refers to the foundation of all doctrine through the life, acts, happenings around events, sequences, miracles, and words of the Lord  while upon earth – so it is a spiritual order above all else. Not always chronological.

Luke is careful that his sources of information are of the highest order, being eye witnesses, original hearers and teachers of the same. In other words, those who have never forgotten and have been continually exercised in reiterating the same – no faded memories, speculation or invented stories here.

Then there is a third or overall check, Luke himself being taught right from the beginning by the apostles, has himself a perfect, uncorrupted understanding of apostolic teaching.

 'Most excellent' is the title of a Roman magisterial person, indicating that the power of Rome is behind him. Acts 23 v 26; 24 v 3. Theophilus (lover of God) is a pseudo name of a real person of political power (maybe Sergius Paulus) who is being educated so he can speak concerning the genuineness of Paul’s person, I assume as a personal friend of Paul, before Nero after accusations and Paul’s own defence is completed, but before the judge delivers his verdict. This legal privilege is also found in English law  

See the very legal arguments and precedents in Acts:are listed

Acts 4 v 1 – 21

        5 v  17 – 42

        6 v 11 – ch 8 v 4

        9 v 1 – 7

       12  1 – 25

       13 v 7 -12

       16  v 19 – 39

       17 v 5 – 10

       18 v 12 – 17

       19 v 24 – 40

       21 v  28 – Acts 26 v 32

These take up a large part of the narrative of Acts and prove that all legal precedents declare the apostle’s and Paul's innocence in all the cases that had already been judged within Rome's authority, and by all forms of Roman government (Governor, Magistrates of a Roman  city (Philipi), The town clerk of a self governing city but under a Roman consul (Ephesus), The independent municipal city (Thessaloniki), Client Kingdom (Agrippa) thus  making a rounded and legally correct defense.

 To speak for Paul, Theophilus must be fully educated in the root source of all church doctrine, that in its origin is from the Lord during His life and ministry during His first advent, not from any other source. So the gospel of Luke in showing this, it is a vital document  for the church within scripture.

To understand events, we must know that they are not ordered by accident, but by Divine purpose - And therefore are not simply a record of events that happen by chance and are used by God, but that they explain deity, the character of God, the needs of mankind, the purposes of God past present and future.  God is behind every movement of the Lord and every descriptive word of the writer – nothing is ad hoc.

The opening of Luke brings us face to face with an intervention of God, and events occurring because of that intervention these events are entirely the workings of Him who works after His own counsel Eph 1 v 11 See also Ps 16 v 7, Is 40 v 13 – 31, Acts 2 v 23

What we read here is why the church believes in the deity of the Lord though the testimony of His mother and brethren (his own family members) who can testify to the events that led up to and resulted in the incarnation and early years – it is very personal and this precedes the genealogy and can only be known through the participants.

Zacharias of the house of Abijah found in1 Chronicles 24 v 10. The eighth Levitical order for service. These provisions were ordered as a consequence of sin which meant the King could no longer go to the tabernacle 1 Chronicles 21 v 29  In the same way only through and because sin is dealt with, by Christ on Calvary, can we (Male/female) enter freely into God’s presence

This priestly order is by grace (unmerited mercy) and this is its history:- The temple was built upon the threshing floor of Ornon read 1 Chronicles 21 v 18 – God sends an Angel to destroy Jerusalem, and as the angel was about to destroy Jerusalem (the seat of power in Israel that boasted 1,100, 000 fighting men, excluding Levi and Benjamin  470,000 were of Judah.) The angel with sword drawn and hand outstretched over Jerusalem and was visible to David and the elders, David feared to inquire of the Lord in the high place of Gibeon where the tabernacle was because of the Angels sword. The Lord stayed the hand of the angel, and. From this event plans are laid that only Aaron's descendants and the Levites will go before the Lord in the Temple  -  David was commanded to build an alter to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan  The Jebusite, Ornan and his four Sons saw the angel and hid. David bought the floor of Ornan and built an alter and offered burnt and peace offerings, and fire came down from heaven upon the alter in  2 Samuel 24 25 the last verse of the book says Thus the Lord was moved by prayer – and he said this is the alter of God and set about ordering the building of the temple and organizing the orders of the Levites which results in Zachariah offering incense on the day we are looking at. 

ALL OF GRACE

1)      The golden calf in the wilderness = Apostasy   God in Grace restrains gives instructions for the Tabernacle that he might dwell with a covenant breaking people Ex 20 - 32

2)Pride in numbering the people (David)  - God in grace for Grace restrains and provides Solomon'sTemple 1 Chronicles 21 & 22

3)      Disregard for the Law (not keeping the Sabbaths) sent Israel into captivity - Grace is extended through Cyrus and Darius and provides the EzraTemple through the remarkable events detailed by Ezra, Nehemiah and also Esther but it is a substitute for what had been ruined and upon the area that Solomon's temple occupied  with its Levitical orders set up under David continues - and the same with Herod's Temple which was a reconstruction of the second (Ezras Temple) but greatly improved.

4)      Rejection of the Christ and Grace provides a way of salvation through Christ (who is crucified in the same mountain upon which the temples were built) to all peoples and for a heavenly and spiritual body (the church)

5) In a future day yet to come when  Peace comes through human ingenuity Ezekiel 38 and note v11; But we are told that Israel in their pride and guaranteed security will again mock Christ and Christianity 2 Peter 3 v 3, and the Largest army ever will invade Israel – Grace provides a a mighty redeemer in the return of the Lord and the temple prophesied in Ezekiel will yet be built.

 Back to David and the numbering of the people and the establishment of the temple and priests Zachariah is of this old order. Zacariah’s and Elizabeth's son is to be called John that is ''God is gracious' – John, his ministry to turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers. Translated here and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous – seems not to indicate family unity, but to revive the heart towards the fathers of Israel's teaching (the teaching of scripture from the past) contained in the Ten commandments and law, to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself Luke22 v 37 – 40 in preparation for the coming of the messiah, the Lord and his ministry. See Acts 19 v 1-5

All this in Chronicles (The threshing floor incident) is because of the future Solomon's reign of Peace (1 Chronicles 22 v 9 & 10) is a foreshadowing of the genuine and real future peace under the reign of Christ.

Zacharias (Jehovah is renowned) represents all who keep the law with diligence in religious duties and personal life (who teach Israel), along with his wife Elizabeth (a unique name in scripture God is swearer) her also being from Aaron. Zechariah has passed all the tests in genealogy and personal fitness through lack of physical defects. He is in a sense a perfect example of a righteous and fit person. I realize, if we have become very slack in honesty, integrity truthfulness, etc., we are not fit.  I know how the world operates – we should not operate like that.

Elizabeth is barren. The daughters of Israel are the reflection of the state of the nation 2 Sam 1 v 24. Here we see not only the personal sorrow (and reproach, disgrace see verse 25) but it is representative of the whole nation – no fruit for God.   However, these two are not representative of  the godlessness of the nation, but of the godly, who pray day and night for fruitfulness and the fulfillment of all the promises – for Gabriel says 'your petition has been heard' So must we if barrenness represents us as a whole – we must pray. And be encouraged to

Zacharias is chosen by lot (and therefore by God) to enter the temple of God and burn incense at the time of prayer (a daily event) all work ceases and not a sound is heard without see Rev 8 v 1. This was the year of his retirement, and the most notable event of his whole priestly service – he had never officiated like this before

The Angel of the Lord – Gabriel 'God is mighty' (who has spoken to Daniel twice Dan 8 v 16 and 9 v 21, regarding future events) declares;-Elizabeth will bear a son and his name shall be John 'God is gracious'

He will be a Nazarite – see Numbers 6 for the law of a Nazarite

Filled with the Holy Spirit – Numbers 6 v 1 – 7 and take note of verse 25

He will turn many of the Sons of Israel back to the Lord their God

He will go as a forerunner in the spirit and power of Elijah see Mal 4 v 5

To turn the hearts of fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous

In this; John is not Elijah 'but in his spirit'

 See the Lords comment in Matthew 11 v 14–if you are willing) so his mission looks forward also to another day and that reconciliation of Israel under the returning Lord who will be preceded by the real Elijah Rev 11

Zacharia's question to Gabriel is a statement of it being impossible, disbelief – see also 2 Pet 3 v 3.His disbelief brings silence. Disbelief here, means 'no message to give– see the picture of Israel restored Luke 7 v 15 he sits up and speaks. He who was dead now has a message. If we do not believe – we have no message, or a false message. The judgement matches the crime of lack of belief.

Luke makes his Major point 'All the people realized He had had a vision (the first for 400 years) This event was dramatic, known and talked about – a real historical event

But Zacharia speaks upon the birth of John the Baptist and represents those who believed in a soon coming messiah. Zecharias lived in the good of that belief from that day on – he had a message Acts 19 v 1 – 5 – Apollos was also such and ministered.

His wife Elizabeth 'God is swearer' a unique name. Feels her responsibility and she hides herself to, not out of shyness, But it seems, fulfil all that is expected of a mother of a Nazarite – there is one example in scripture and the detail is this Judges 13. 'Let the woman pay attention she shall not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor drink wine, or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing – let her observe all that I commanded.'     It is clear from that narrative that that Manoah's wife had to be very careful says the angel let her beware and Manoah is instructed not to interfere at all in her obedience to that instruction. So she hid herself from society, I assume, ensure no accidental defilement. Ihave no doubt that she taught John her son the same– he lived in the desert where there were no vines, his food honey and locust (one of the clean insect foods), he kept himself pure for the day of his ministry (that alone must be why he was in the desert). Just these two in the bible Manoah's wife and Elizabeth – if Zachariah is expected to fulfil an active and vocal testimony, Elizabeth is one of quite and dedicated submission under the hand of God.

For todays believer in Christ it says the New Testament;-

Flee fornication

Flee Idolatry

Flee the love of money

Flee youthful lusts

It is at the Birth of John that he writes His name shall be John (God is gracious) that his tongue is loosed, and his message  (see verses 67 – 79) is of the future blessings to Israel. Zacharias dumbness relates Ezekiel 3 v 24 – 27 under the real Elijah

This prophecy shows Luke is accurate, since there is nothing of the church here (or in the Old Testament) and all of Israel, This narrative shows that Jesus is the future King of Israel – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – at the end of Luke the dying thief – sees not the crucified man trodden down – but he who did miracles and went about doing good and saw him as the King of kings and Lord of Lords 'Lord when you come into your kingdom, remember me.’

This narrative becomes divided (rather like the divided story of Jarius Luke 8) as it is now interrupted by Gabriel to Mary – but this including the statements to Mary by Gabriel, followed by Zacharias Statements upon the birth of John. Mary's 'mgnificat' and Zacharias statements embrace only the promises and future foretold for Israel under the Messiah..

In Mary we have a different story – not a Levite (although Elizabeth is a relative) not one associated with the priesthood or the temple, engaged to an industrial man Joseph in the city of Nazareth. A young virgin quick of mind, naturally competent, full of vigour (as her being in charge of the wedding in Cana of Galilee bears witness to). There is more apart from her great intelligence and speed of mind, evidently very devout and full of humility, Favoured by the Almighty (who else could that be said of?), the Lord is with you. The sudden appearance of Gabriel, who appeared to Daniel twice does not startle too much, it sets her thinking. Mary's question is not disbelief, but of wondering how? Her reply to being told she would bear the Messiah, the honour of honours, is one of humility and devotedness ‘The bond slave of the Lord’, Gabriel is satisfied. Mary arises and rushes to see Elizabeth and seems to stay, maybe, up until the birth of John -we are not told why, but I suspect she sees Elizabeth as a mentor to help her and prepare her with what seems like a huge responsibility, it would be strange if such a young woman as Mary would have left Elizabeth before the birth of John.

 Her meeting with Elizabeth is extraordinary, ‘That the mother of my Lord should visit me’ – seems quite astonishing and it is a comment of great doctrinal importance for it embraces the attitude necessary for salvation. These two ladies are not bit players, but vital and yet so full of humility

 

Mary is overwhelmed with her honour ‘God my Saviour’, understands that she will be called blessed by all future generations, but is a bond slave, non so honoured in the human race as she (the seed of the woman). She sees the purposes of God clearly as explained in scripture see 1 Sam 2

 Mercy towards those that fear Him Ps 103 v 17

Scattered the proud in the thoughts of their Heart

Brought rulers down from their thrones

Exalted those who were humble

Has filled the Hungry with good things

Sent the rich away empty handed

Given help to Israel

In remembrance of his mercy

According to his promises to Abraham.

It is a wonderfully personal assessment of the grace of God towards all that humble themselves before God, though it sees the supremacy of Christ, who will indeed bring rulers down from their thrones and help Israel because of his promises. It is about those that fear God, those who are humble, and those who are hungry

 

When John is born Zachary prophesies concerning the millennium when Israel will serve as a nation of priests under the Christ Is 61 v 6 and 7 – 1 Peter 2                                                                        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9, Is 43 v 20 and John will Pave the way for the king of Kings and yet he gets John the Baptists ministry spot on as opposed to Elijah see vs  76 - as one of the two witnesses in Revelations.

 

All this happens in a City of Judah, an administrative centre where possibly eighty five percent of the population in a city would be administrators and officials who would tell the whole area of this. All wonder at this

 

And this is still Luke's major point, it is a well known event, not an invented story  

This is reflected in the prodigal son (Luke 15 v 25) The elder Son is the inheritor of the earthly wealth which relates to Israel under Christ 15 v 21. The prodigal revels in being a Son with no earthly inheritance cares only to be a Son, but with the father, in the house, and represents the position of the church.

 

Chapter 2 Identifies the time of the great census. Many say it happened later. But an ancient census could not be held on a single day. Instead, it was fixed by registration in your family city, or place of birth, that way the data could be collected over the years, collated, sent to Rome and registered. So at times certain events are ordered in heaven that the divine purposes might be fulfilled. God has a, foretold in detail plan, that men might believe and every detail has to come true that we might recognize the Christ.

 

There was never an Inn in Bethlehem, the Greek word used is 'upper room' The houses in the hill area of Judah where the upper room for living, lower room for animals and agricultural tools. In winter the animals would give heat to the upper room. This is not winter, the flocks are in the pasture. Birth is a private affair, so the lower room is cleaned and converted into a living area for Joseph and Mary, the manger would be padded, lined and the perfect place for the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes

 Bethlehem would have plenty of vegetation for sheep, it was a farming area Ruth 2 v 2.. The shepherds were real, they accepted the angelic message, they found the parents and the Lord.

 The message is very fitting for it is the doctrine of the church (John 3 v 16)  I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

 The narrative also fits the fact that our Lord was born in the Lower part of a house in Bethlehem ‘ a babe in a manger’ which would be unusual and in all the world one would never find such devoted parents, the riches of God are theirs for Mary has given birth to the incarnate Son of God and they both Joseph and her know it, it is not the shepherds alone who are exited and praise God – the gentle maiden Mary concentrating on her tasks of motherhood, holds in her arms and presses to her the suckling Son of God and wonders in her heart at the great mystery of God manifest in the flesh, She is in awe at the shepherds visit – precious moments which she will turn over and over in her heart until the day she breathes her last, in all the world that she alone should experience so much of the glory of God – The word of God has great respect for her, nearly thirty times she is referred to as ‘His mother,, that relationship that is hers alone, is never diminished, how she suffered in her heart beneath Calvary’s cross and wondered at God’s salvation – if she had a unique privilege and is so devoted, so it was it would be hard to think of any disciple could be more devoted in true humility than she – such a gentle person.

 

 Luke sticks to His major point, they told all they could (verse 17 and 18).

 

The event was well known in the city and the surrounds. Rome had a legend – its founders were nursed by a she wolf, they were found and brought up by a shepherd, one killed the other brother. Shepherds – real shepherds found the Lord of Lords and King of Kings who will bring about the only real 'eternal city' that the saints seek Heb 11 v 10 & 16

 

The eighth day the next great day for the Jewish boy – the bringing Him to the temple to be circumcised, according to law and custom.

 

In Simeon's statements he puts the light to the gentiles before the glory of  your people Israel – the order might be important, but the two cannot be separated from those who believed the Christ of Israel have brought the gospel to us gentiles. In the millennium Israel as a nation will fulfil that role. Saul (Paul) who speaks of himself as born before due time 1 Cor 15 v 8 exactly replicates Israel in the future in this sequence:- he was saved because he saw the Lord, (not through the preaching of the gospel preached by the Christians) in the brightness of manifested glory and light, he owned Christ as Lord, he taught the gentiles. Simeon has seen in scripture the sufferings of Christ and he warns Mary about how her heart will be pierced by sorrow – I think he is unique in this, meditation only reveals the truth of scripture, not text books, systematic theology or commentaries – meditate on scripture for a correct ministry.

 It is the eighth day of the incarnate Son of God carried into the temple. Eight the number of a new week, new era, the resurrection day, etc. is a feature in this narrative.

 Simeon a picture of the church - It is not until the Lord is circumcised (the eighth day) that the man Simeon (whose age is not told) speaks. It is evident he has meditated on the word of God and seen Calvary (Ps 22 Is 53 and in so many other scriptures), I assume in all its horror and its purpose. What he says to Mary reveals this, for he knows the deep sorrow she will experience at Calvary. His name 'Simeon' means 'one who hears and obeys' – It is Characteristic of the church that they are saved through hearing (and not seeing) and loving the Lord. Through the scripture he has discovered the truth of the first advent - as such he represents all who believe in the crucified Saviour. Simeon's characters is the character of the church, the church that is satisfied with Christ alone and sees death as the gateway to heaven and have no investment in the world (for we do not hope for a kingdom on earth, but to be taken up to be with Him). We are those who, having come to know Christ are also willing to die for Him. Now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.

 

 Anna of Asher, the eighth son of Jacob..Anna means grace. Asher means Happy, Eighth equals a new day. Anna speaks to all those who are with her in her belief of the word of God - of the new day of redemption for Israel through this one. She is a temple character, having been a prophetess there night and day for it seems eighty four years (although there is doubt about whether eighty four  refers to her age or to her time of widowhood, it seems to more likely to her widowhood).

  Eighty four is not a significant number in scripture, but it does relate to two the approximate. Time of two things

1) Almost the combined reigns of all the Herods as client Kings over Israel

 2) The time that the rebuilt temple would have been in use, this means Anna has been continually serving in fasting, prayers and prophecy before and since Herods great rebuilt Temple was usable. But this time, eighty four years, also coincide with reasonable accuracy with hypocritical religion led by Priests who are part of the fabric of the political system set up by Rome under the Herods. The priests love position, had a reputation for being corrupt more than spirituality - the proof of this is their rejection of The Lord, His crucifixion, their persecution of the apostles and their pleasure at James being beheaded.

 Anna is genuine;  not only everyone in Israel knows her, but all the Jews dispersed among the nations Jews also. Since Herod built his temple, she has been the true spiritual influence, longing for the messiah and the kingdom. What a ministry, men fail, but not Anna

 It is to those, who during these barren years of no spiritual leadership by the Priests. The Priests were Sadducees (stricter in observance of the law than the Pharisees, but rejected the resurrection, angels and spirits. They therefore rejected a future for Israel under the Messiah (we have such in the church today), with its belief in the bodily resurrection of all of faith who ever lived. Sadducees were immensely rich and powerful. Anna was the beacon of light and truth (I am assuming for 84 years) in the temple and amongst all the visitors were those spiritually minded who loved her ministry, her happy enthusiasm over all these years, many now being the children of parents who loved Anna and her words and the Lord. To these little happy flock she now with radiance declares I have seen the messiah - he is growing up amongst us - she in line with being, of the eighth from Jacob, looks to the kingdom and the glory that would follow the suffering – the kingdom fills her vision, the suffering fills Simeon’s vision. It is a female trait to be faithful when others fail; here is one who is a minister of his word and its true intent.

 

Again, Luke makes his major point – this happened, this is witnessed to, it is not a made up story

 

Verse 41 bar Mitzvah, the next major event in a Jewish boy's life, but it turns out not to be a private affair, as the missing Lord amazes the teachers. And all who heard Him. His panicked parents find Him and will never forget his words

 

Again, Luke drives home his major point, it happened; it is remembered and no doubt was a favourite memory told to the church by Mary. Not a made up story.

 

To this we could add the next major event in a Jewish man's life when he turned thirty . To be invited by the ruler of his home synagogue to, for the first time..

 Time to read and comment on the scripture, the event is recorded In Luke 4  v 16 – 37

 

Luke again makes his main point  in v 36 – 37 Nothing was done in a corner, everything is verifiable; and this is why the church believes that Mary's son,  Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, very God

 

The Lords  baptism by John;- I think it is without dispute a defining and life changing moment for the Lord (as it was for those baptized Acts 19 v 1 – 7 best describes that).So with the Lord, while He prays the Holy Spirit descends upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice from heaven declares this is my beloved Son

 .We must ask the question. Why?  What difference does this make, for what purpose does the Spirit descend upon the Son of God who has the fullness God? - What is the significance.?

 Notice who he has been under 2 v 51 he continued in subjection to them (that is, His parents) it is not just the humility as he grew as infant, boy, and man his submission to the correctness of the child/parental order is perfect – ours never is. Now this changes and the Son of God when entering His ministry is not acting as the second person of the trinity who executes the will of His father through the agency of the third person, 'The Holy Spirit Gen 1 v 2 -  the order is reversed, he now is no longer under His parents but in everything he is Led by the Spirit of God .So His words , travels and actions are under the control of the Father through the agency of the Spirit of God – so we read 4 v 1 Full of the Holy Spirit returned from Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.

 This does not change until the ascended Lord sends the Spirit, according to the Father to indwell the believers John 14v 16 , 26, 20 v 22,Acts1 v 5 & 8  Luke 24 v 49 gives clarity in the context of Luke

 

As the Spirit is the agency that works with creation as determined by the will of the Father and at the command of the Son, that order is again resumed upon ascension and the Son sends the Spirit to us and to Him we must submit, as our Lord did when on earth, as a bond  servant.

 

The Holy Spirit descending upon Him was not symbolic only, but a revelation and marked the moment when He who created all things begins His ministry in complete obedience to the Father utterly under the control of the Spirit of God