Home Mission Kingdom Jesus of Nazareth Revelation Fulfillment of Prophecy Kingdom Come Commandments Gospel Fulfillment Nazareth Matthew Mark Luke John Conclusion Web Links

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2001 Jeanie C. Crain
Last modified: March, 2002

See Back to Galilee (2012)


Galilean Ministry in Luke

Luke, like Matthew, begins with the birth story, recounting that the births of both Jesus and John had been foretold and announced by an angel.  Structurally, Luke begins with the birth and early childhood of Jesus, records his ministry in Galilee emphasizing his identity, then follows Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem, echoing structure within Mark.  At this point, Luke focuses on Jesus’ universal misssion, his ministry and passion.

Luke portrays John as forerunner to the Messiah: With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (17).  Zechariah, the priest, hears the glad tidings on behalf of his wife Elizabeth; Mary, the mother of Jesus and relative of Elizabeth, hears the word announced by Gabriel, appearing to her at Nazareth.  As a result of the angel’s visitation, Mary travels to visit with Elizabeth. The women rejoice together, and Mary praises God in the words of Hannah, the mother of Samuel:

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

11       and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

11 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

11 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

11 His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

11 He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

11 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

11 he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

11 He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

11 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Mary returns from the Judean hillside country where Elizabeth and priest Zechariah lived to Nazareth.  The story continues in chapter one with the birth of John, neighbors gathering around and celebrating with Elizabeth this mercy shown to her barren womb, the wonder and talk of the event growing with the sudden ability of Zechariah, struck mute since the angel’s visit, to praise God.  From his birth then, John is wondered at and proclaimed for greatness: 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.  66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.  Already expecting a Messiah, the people listen as Zechariah suggests to them that John will be the prophet to precede the Messiah:

67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

11 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.

11 He has raised up a mighty savior  for us

in the house of his servant David,

11 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

11 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

11 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,

and has remembered his holy covenant,

the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,

to grant us  74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,

might serve him without fear,  75 in holiness and righteousness

before him all our days.

11 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

11 to give knowledge of salvation to his people

by the forgiveness of their sins.

11 By the tender mercy of our God,

the dawn from on high will break upon  us,

11 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

In keeping with Hebrew precedent, Zechariah proclaims Jesus as the expected, much-anticipated Messiah:

             69              He has raised up a mighty savior for us

in the house of his servant David,

70  as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

Zechariah’s proclamation shows him well versed in the prophetic utterances of his people:

            1.67–79:  The “Benedictus,” so called from the first word in the Latin translation.   69:  A mighty savior, one who will bring salvation; see Psalm 18.1–3; Psalm 92.10–11; Psalm 132.17–18.   76:  Malachi 4.5; Luke 7.26.   77:  Mark 1.4.   78:  Malachi 4.2; Ephesians 5.14. The dawn will be when God fulfills his purpose to bless humankind.   79:  Isaiah 9.2; Matthew 4.16; Luke 4.18.   80:  These words cover a period of approximately thirty years. The day he appeared publicly, Luke 3.2; Luke 3.3.

He recalls, of course, what the angel of the Lord has promised:

16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

True to his stated purpose, the writer of Luke sets out to write an orderly account concerning John the Baptist and Jesus, and when Acts is accepted as the second book written by Luke, the orderly account includes Paul and early Christianity. The author  apparently reorders pieces and bits of what has been said about Jesus and his life, following Mark closely. He portrays Jesus as greater than John, greater also than Paul and preceding Paul in universal mission. He explains that  the birth of both John and Jesus had been foretold; Luke links the births of both John and Jesus to Jewish tradition. He describes the role of Jesus, however, as a mission to universal humankind; Jesus is “son of Adam.” Zechariah understands the Hebrew tradition well, for he performs in the temple in the tradition of his ancestors, in the priestly order of Abijah.  His wife Elizabeth is a descendant of Aaron.  Zechariah, interpreting what has been told to him, identifies the role of his son to be the one who comes before to make ready his people’s hearts for the coming of the Lord. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the good news that she has found favor with God and will bear a son and call him Jesus. She has this news further affirmed when she visits Elizabeth and learns of her glad condition; Elizabeth tells her,

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?  44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.

Elizabeth immediately acknowledges that the child she carries is only a forerunner of the child Mary carries within her womb.  Mary becomes the mediation between the Hebrew tradition with its expected Messiah and the new age. In an orderly accounting, chapter one tells of the birth of John the Baptist followed by Zechariah’s prophecy.  Events are carefully balanced: Mary’s “Magnificant” announcing God’s mercy to Israel parallels Zechariah’s prophecy fulfilled. Chapter one then tucks thirty years into one sentence:  The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel. Chapter three reiterates this point of thirty years: 23 Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. One is left to imagine the childhood of Jesus, and early literature creates infancy stories for us. Was Jesus always possessed with an uncanny sense of love and justice? Was he always aware of the mission of bringing about the Kingdom of God? That his mind was early directed to spiritual matters speaks well for his parents’ regard for the sacred.

Chapter two recounts in an orderly way the birth of Jesus, followed by the announcement to the shepherds and their acknowledgment of the Messiah:

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 

The account then moves quickly to Jesus’ circumcision in Jewish tradition and to his being named Jeshua. Luke fills in somewhat the elapsed thirty years, giving his readers the only biblical account of the childhood of Jesus.  Jesus, at twelve, is presented in the temple as Mary and Joseph’s first-born male “designated as holy to the Lord.”  Simeon, who has been promised he will not die before seeing the consolation, the Messiah, confirms Jesus as this expected salvation:

for my eyes have seen your salvation,

11 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

11 a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

Who Jesus is Anna further acknowledges:

            36 There was also a prophet, Anna † the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,  37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.  38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child  to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke then quickly summarizes the childhood:

    The Return to Nazareth


39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.


The Boy Jesus in the Temple


41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.  42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.  43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.  45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.  46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  48 When his parents † saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”  49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” †  50 But they did not understand what he said to them.  51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, † and in divine and human favor.

At the end of chapter two, Luke recounts for his readers the fulfillment of prophecy in John and Jesus, explains their connections, and details some of the early life of Jesus. Luke himself does not explain the many references to Jewish prophecy in the accounts given to him, but a Jewish audience would pick them out immediately.  A Gentile audience would hear a clear narrative without allusions.

But who is Jesus? The mature John the Baptist acknowledges Jesus as the one for whom he is preparing hearts:

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, †  16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with † the Holy Spirit and fire.  17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”


Here, John warns his followers about the social injustices of the age and reminds them to live responsibly:

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”  11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”  12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”  13 He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”  14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

According to Luke,  Jesus comes to John, is baptized, and confirmed to be the Son of God:

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,  22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; † with you I am well pleased.” 

For those arguments concerning when Jesus became the Son of God, one needs only to recall the many witnesses: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, Simeon, Anna, the shepherds, and, of course, the prophecies within the Jewish holy writings.  Luke, apparently aware that the question of who Jesus is has already raised much controversy, takes pains to explain his genealogy:

Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli,  24 son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph,  25 son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai,  26 son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda,  27 son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel,  son of Neri,  28 son of

21       Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er,  29 son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi,  30 son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim,  31 son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David,  32 son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, † son of Nahshon,  33 son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni,  son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah,  34 son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor,  35 son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah,  36 son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech,  37 son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan,  38 son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.

His father is thought to be Joseph, although apparently, some doubt has been raised about this. Who he is, Luke declares, is “son of Adam, son of God.”  The uncapitalized “son,” in this case, clearly contrasts to the affirmation at his baptism that Jesus is “Son” of God.  Luke links Jesus to the original creation. Matthew, one recalls, links Jesus to Abraham and David, the Jewish lineage.  Luke clearly presents Jesus’ human lineage. Luke’s account portrays universal son-ship of God. This is not entirely surprising since Luke has indicated he’s giving an orderly account of everything he has heard and found within his own investigation:

1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us,  2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,  3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first,  to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,  4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

One has to imagine that Luke knows the controversies surrounding Jesus and who he is—whether he is the Messiah expected by the Jews, what the real events of his birth and early life were, who people say he is, and what his actions have indicated about him. He clearly indicates he is using accounts by eyewitnesses and servants of the word as well as his own investigations.  Traditionally, too, Luke writes for a Gentile audience. Note, though, that Luke dedicates himself to getting to the “truth” and to events “fulfilled.”

With the identity of Jesus clearly established as “son of God,” Luke returns to record the wilderness temptation before the public Galilean ministry begins. He shows Jesus tempted with the ordinary and practical: food, safety, power; Jesus demonstrates, however, his commitment to spiritual rather than practical needs:

14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.  15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.


His reputation grows quickly and spreads; when he returns to Nazareth, though, continuing a teaching  like what he has been doing elsewhere, his enraged townspeople seek to kill him:

28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.  29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.

What has he said to bring on the rage? He has read from Isaiah the following words:

the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

11 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

It is not apparently what Jesus has read from Isaiah, or even what he says upon finishing the passage, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” that angers his listeners. They actually have been amazed at his gracious words, wondering to themselves, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  The effect seems to be surprise that one common to themselves speaks so eloquently.

Actually, controversy arises out of these people’s expecting and wanting  works: And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ”  The reply of Jesus, however, indicates his hometown will not be the place where he performs miracles, as he has done in Capernaum, although not reported here by Luke.  He refers to known scriptures:

11      And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.  25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land;  26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.  27 There were also many lepers  in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 


Has Jesus by referring to two Gentiles healed, a widow in Sidon and Naaman the Syrian, rejected his own people?  Is this the cause of their anger?

Luke now has Jesus go directly to Capernaum where he does, indeed, perform miracles.  He heals a man with an unclean spirit and his disciple Simon’s mother-in-law, who is suffering from a high fever. One might note here that the healing actions of Jesus include the possibly psychological and the physical, an unclean spirit and a fever. Wherever he goes, Jesus commits to casting out demons and healing diseases, and he gains two important admissions from these events: that he is “the Holy one of God…the “Son of God” and “the Messiah.” It’s interesting to note that both admissions are made by demons, non-material existences hostile to humans and rebellious of God. What Jesus is about, though, Luke makes clear at the end of this chapter: 43 But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.”  44 So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea. † His sole purpose is to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.

Jesus continues his work in the synagogues of Judea.  Having introduced Simon in chapter five, Luke now gives us Jesus in a boat with Simon fishing; Jesus telling Simon where to cast his net to make the greatest haul of fish.  Simon, who has been fishing all night unsuccessfully, along with his partners James and John, sons of Zebedee, is impressed.  Acting while he has their attention, Jesus calls three disciples: Simon, James and John. Following this unusual successful catch, Jesus heals a leper and a paralytic. The leper has indicated his faith: “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Likewise, the paralytic and his friends who carry him up and let him down through the roof have indicated their faith: “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” The leper is told to show himself to a priest, to do what Moses has commanded, and to make an offering for cleansing.  It’s clear Jesus is directing the individual to follow tradition. Even though Jesus instructs the leper to say nothing to anyone about being healed, the act brings crowds to follow him, including the Scribes and Pharisees.  These two groups immediately take Jesus for task in the case of the paralytic for telling him his sins have been forgiven, accusing Jesus of blasphemy. They apparently continue to dog Jesus’ steps and to accuse him for his acts.  When Jesus calls Levi, a hated tax collector, the Scribes and Pharisees accuse him of eating with sinners.  Jesus rebukes them quietly by saying sinners are exactly the ones humble enough to accept help.

The Scribes and Pharisees next accuse Jesus and his newly called disciples of eating and drinking instead of fasting.  While Jesus does not mention the kingdom of God specifically, he makes his purpose clear in a short parable:

“You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?  35 The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 


The marriage metaphor, common to Hebrew thinking, expresses unity with God.  Note this explanation from Oxford Companion:

Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament view marriage as an image of the relationship between God and his people. It is therefore appropriate that the prophets, Jesus, and the book of Revelation use the imagery of weddings to describe the end of time, when God will be united with his people forever (Isaiah 25.6–9; Matthew 22.1–13; Matthew 25.1–12; Revelation 18.6–10; Revelation 21.1–4).


Jesus follows the marriage parable with yet another parable clearly indicating his kingdom teaching breaks with the tradition:

He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old.  37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.  38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’ ”

Jesus’ kingdom present now in committed hearts is “new wine… put into fresh wineskins.” Is there, perhaps, practical insight, though, in the words, “And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good”?  Could this explain, at least in part, why so many in the first century could not accept  the kingdom of God now instead of the kingdom of God  expected?  Is it any easier today to do so? The reader may recall that the Gospel of John uses both marriage and wine to convey the advent of the new age in the wedding at Cana and the turning of water into wine.  The wedding guests there remind Jesus that tradition supports consumption of the good wine first.  This reversal of patterns is similar to the last will be first and the second- or last-born supplanting the first-born.

Wine was a staple of life (Sirach 39.26), as the formula “grain, wine, and oil” shows (Deuteronomy 11.14; Joel 1.10). It was a source of pleasure for both humans (Ecclesiastes 10.19; Sirach 31.27–28; Sirach 32.5–6; Sirach 40.20) and the gods (Judges 9.13) and was thus a regular component of ritual (Exodus 29.40; Leviticus 23.13). Wine was a divine gift (Deuteronomy 7.13; Psalm 104.15; Hosea 2.8) and would be provided abundantly in the end time (Jeremiah 31.12; Joel 3.18; Amos 9.13–14).


One could argue that much of Luke’s chapter six concerns outward piety rather than a heart committed in action.  Consider the very last section of chapter six:

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?  47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.  48 That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that

house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. †  49 But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”

For Jesus, the kingdom of God requires hearing and acting; the one who hears and acts is the wise person who builds a house laid on the foundation of rock.  Jesus acts, for example, when his disciples are hungry: he condones their plucking and eating grain even though it’s the Sabbath.  The Pharisees  immediately, however, ask if what they are doing is lawful on the Sabbath.  Knowing their religiosity, Jesus couches his answer in their own traditions: remember David? When he and his companions were hungry, he actually entered into the temple and ate the bread of the presence, lawful only for the priests, and gave some to his companions.  He then reminded them, “The son of man is lord of the Sabbath” (5). The issue of the Sabbath, and action over creed and ritual, continues thematically when Luke reports Jesus as choosing to cure the withered right hand of a man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees, watching and waiting, determine that Sabbath rules have been violated.  Jesus asks them an obvious but far from easy question: is it lawful to do good or evil on the Sabbath?  To destroy life or to save it? (11).  Of course, the Pharisees are filled with fury to have their logic exploded. Matthew (12), Mark (3), and Luke all agree that the result of doing good results in the Pharisees’ plotting against Jesus to destroy him.

Luke reveals that prior to calling his disciples, Jesus spends a night alone on a mountain in prayer; Matthew says simply he withdraws, but a crowd follows him.  Mark, also, says Jesus withdraws, but to the sea, and a great multitude follows him. In Matthew, the reader will recall that Jesus makes clear to the Pharisees that actions reveal both Beelzebub and God. ”28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Mark records this in chapter three, verse twenty-six. In Matthew, Jesus penetrates outward ritual and piety to see the actual spiritual state, and he tells the Pharisees that the only blasphemy unforgiven will be that of rejecting the Holy Spirit, also similarly stated in Mark. Who Jesus is has already been asked in Matthew: "Can this be the Son of David?" (12)   Matthew shows clearly that Jesus’ actions suggest to the following crowd that he is the Messiah:

17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

18 "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will any one hear his voice in the streets;

20 he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he brings justice to victory;

21 and in his name will the Gentiles hope."

Jesus next chooses his twelve disciples from among disciples, whom he calls apostles; in Mark, the disciples are already in place, for they are asked to prepare a boat for Jesus, yet Mark in the same chapter at verse thirteen, also, has Jesus calling the twelve from a mountain.

14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew,  15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot,  16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Both Matthew and Luke agree that Jesus begins to teach the crowds after he has called his disciples. In Matthew, Jesus teaches from a mountain; in Luke, the place is level. Jesus teaches and  heals, the crowd from Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon pressing in to touch him for the power flowing from him.  Jesus preaches to them on the plain many of the same teachings in Matthew’s sermon on the mount, adding new teachings, some without parallel such as 24-26:

11 “But woe to you who are rich,

for you have received your consolation.

11 “Woe to you who are full now,

for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who are laughing now,

for you will mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Luke as consummate storyteller simply parallels:

“Blessed are you who are poor,

for yours is the kingdom of God.

11 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,

for you will be filled.

“Blessed are you who weep now,

for you will laugh.

21  “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you † on account of the Son of Man.

Finally, in chapter six, matching sayings with actions for Jesus means going beyond what the law simply requires.  The law says love your neighbor; Jesus says, love your enemy, and do good to those that hate you (11). Do unto others as you would have them do onto you: the measure you give is likely to be the measure you get; why not then measure always in a “running over”? (37). Can the blind guide the blind? (39).  Disciples are not above the teacher: anyone who is qualified can teach (40). Can the person with a log in his eye see to take the speck out of a neighbor’s eye (42)?

The kingdom of God reveals by Jesus matches sayings with actions.  Jesus’ entire purpose defines itself in realizing God’s kingdom on earth; to achieve this, righteousness and justice must reign.  As long as sayings go unmatched by deeds, as long as what is said is not practiced, individuals show themselves guilty of surface religion, outward piety, and attitudes of setting themselves up as better than others. The ultimate test of words, in fact, must be action: 

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;  44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.


In Luke, the teachings end with emphasis upon action and a parable:

46 "Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?

47 Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:

48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."

In Capernaum (chapter seven), Jesus continues to act in ways that draw criticism from the religious establishment.  First, he interacts with a Gentile, and following this, he dares even to touch the dead and risk becoming unclean. In the first case, he does so because he sees genuine faith enacted:

9 When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

And in the second example, he acts out of compassion for a woman grieving the death of her only son:

He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town.  13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  14 Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”


Jesus actually touchew the bier of the dead. In Luke, such acts explain why people begin to follow Jesus, to press in upon him, to ask questions that bring even John in prison in Machaerus, who has baptized him, to ask questions.  In Luke, however, one wonders why John would ask about the actions of an individual he had witnessed being confirmed by a “voice [coming] from heaven, [saying] “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

When John questions whether Jesus is the one to come (the Messiah), Jesus tells his messengers to tell John to consider his works:

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.  23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Jesus does answer, though, John’s question, referencing Hebrew scripture in Malachi, when he speaks to the crowd; Jesus’ answer clearly tells the people they have found in John a prophet in the wilderness.

27 This is the one about whom it is written,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way before you.’

As far as who John is, of those born of women no one is greater; the least, though, in the kingdom of God is greater. Only on earth, temporally, will one ascribe "greatest" to human beings; in the kingdom of God, such puny greatness will not be recognized. This justice of God, the followers of John and those who had been baptized by him, as well as many of society’s undesirables, the tax collectors, acknowledge. The religious pious, however, have rejected John:

30 But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)

Matthew makes clear the point that acceptance makes all the difference:

  13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John;

14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

As for differences in the way John announces his purpose and mission and the way Jesus conducts his, Jesus tells the people, they whine like children, wanting to control outcomes: we played the flute, but no one danced; we wailed, but you didn’t weep. They complain John is a demon because he doesn’t eat or drink wine; Jesus and his disciples, on the other hand, who eat and drink, they accuse of gluttony and drunkenness, complaining they eat with tax collectors and sinners (33, 34).   In the end of chapter seven, the Pharisee invites Jesus to his house, neglecting the common and expected giving of water to wash his feet.  The woman the Pharisees have labeled “sinful” has, however, anointed his feet with an expensive ointment and, more importantly, has acted in faith.  Jesus next explains to his host that this woman has illustrated her love for him:

41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, † and the other fifty.  42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?”  43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus † said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

As a result of her faith, Jesus tells the woman her sins are forgiven and calls forth the question of who Jesus is that he can forgive sins. The point often not considered is that the person listening to the repentant is the one given responsibility to extend mercy.

Never in Luke does one forget that Luke’s true accounting of the events and stories surrounding Jesus evidence Jesus as being human, son of Adam, as well as his being God’s presence in human form: his actions support fulfillment of the Messiah among us. A right reading of Luke shows clearly that Jesus undertakes a universal and Gentile mission.

In chapter eight, Jesus continues both to teach and to enact those teachings: he calms a storm, heals a demoniac and a hemorrhagic woman, and revives a young girl from recent death.  Committed to his mission, Jesus is followed by a group of women:

8 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him,  2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,  3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them † out of their resources.

This glimpse of Jesus’ inclusion of women is important as action effacing the rigid social separations of his day. No parallel passage exists in the other three gospel accounts. Remember, Jesus associates with the poor, with sinners, with women; he robustly teaches, eating and drinking; he dares to touch the leper, the dead.  This is the righteousness and justice proclaimed in the Jewish faith but seldom achieved in its ritual piety. Matching his words with actions, Jesus behaves compassionately: calming extreme fears, daring to walk into the tombs to rescue the demoniac, and  calming the weeping and wailing bereaved by restoring life.

 Jesus is ever the realist in his understanding that many will reject rather than follow him. Only some seed of all that is sown will produce:

    5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.  6 Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture.  7 Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.  8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”

  The light of genuine faith will not be hidden:

16 “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lamp stand, so that those who enter may see the light.  17 For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 

Further, faith will be rewarded:

18 Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.

In God’s kingdom, too, one will not appeal to succession and blood ties:

19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd.  20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”  21 But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

God’s kingdom, so Luke explains, will be realized by those individuals who act on what they hear.

Luke continues to be detailed in his narratives concerning the acts of Jesus.  In Luke 8, the reader learns much unavailable in other gospel accounts concerning Jesus’ calming the waters for his disciples:

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they set out,

23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger.

24 And they went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm.

25 He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even wind and water, and they obey him?"

Matthew, Mark, and Luke agree in their accounts: a great storm (Matthew), more specifically, a storm of wind (Luke, Mark) arises; Jesus is sleeping in all three accounts; waves are swamping the boat (Matthew) filling the boat in Mark and Luke; the disciples are afraid of perishing; Jesus awakes, asked his disciples about their lack of faith, and calms the storm.

The Gerasene episode in Luke agrees with Mark that Jesus meets “a man”; in Mark, he is a man with an unclean spirit who lives in the tombs (5) whereas in Luke, he is a man who has demons and lives in the tombs.  Only Matthew recounts Jesus as having encountering two demoniacs. Luke, however, agrees that this man is beset by Legion or demons.  All three accounts have the demons rush into swine. Whatever else happened on this steep cliff leading into the sea, the rush of the now-possessed swine must have etched itself physically into the minds of those observing the event.  In the presence of the Kingdom of God, evil rushes away.

Not only evil, but physical death itself rushes from the presence of Jesus:

52 And all were weeping and bewailing her; but he said, "Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping."

53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.

54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, "Child, arise."

55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and he directed that something should be given her to eat.

56 And her parents were amazed;

All three accounts are clear that Jesus tells his listeners the little girl is not dead but sleeping. Mark and Luke both recount that the girl is to be given something to eat.  Luke explains “her spirit returned.”  In the presence of spirit, physical death is only sleep. The poignancy and relevancy of the miraculous acts are captured in Edersheim’s insightful interpretation of their meaning:

What Jesus considers his work, effecting the Kingdom of God, he clearly expects his disciples to achieve:

 1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,

2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.

Having attracted attention due to his teaching and actions, Luke tells his readers that Jesus in chapter nine foresees his death and resurrection. Jesus has called twelve together and now sends them out to proclaim the kingdom of God (9.1-4). One of these followers, Peter, has openly proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah:

18 Once when Jesus † was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  19 They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.”  20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah † of God.”

Word of Jesus and his actions has gotten back to Herod and leaves him perplexed:

7 Now Herod the ruler † heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead,  8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen.  9 Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.

Almost as if answering Herod, Luke recounts in chapter nine the transfiguration of Jesus:

28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus † took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.  30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.  31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake,  they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.  33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, † one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.  34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.  35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”  36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

This account clearly echoes Moses on the mountain, his changing face, and cloud overshadowing, and the voice:

             “This is my Son, my Chosen; † listen to him!” 

Even earlier, Luke has prepared for this comparison by having Jesus feed five thousand in Bethsaida (10-17), as Moses’ followers have been fed manna. Luke is quickly pulling together the connection of Jesus with all that has been prophesied and expected of the Messiah, except for shift from current expectation, the cause for Herod’s concern, that this Messiah would become an earthly ruler.  Jesus has spoken clearly and sternly to his disciples:

22 saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Jesus also warns them of the cost of following him:

25    Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.  25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?  26 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 

This cost, however, is bearable, for  27  some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Why will they not taste death before seeing the kingdom of God?  Is not the answer that they who have committed to following have already become part of that kingdom? The transfiguration, Luke recounts, occurs just eight days after this proclamation.  Even amidst this teaching, action, and clear communication, the disciples still choose not to understand that Jesus has departed from traditional expectations relative to what the Messiah will be:

While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples,  44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.”  45 But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.



Luke returns to the theme that not everyone will become a true follower in the final four events of chapter nine. A Samaritan village rejects Jesus because he is apparently on his way to Jerusalem and the wrong sanctuary (the Samaritans have their own temple on Mount Gerizim.) Others reject Jesus because they have responsibilities they consider immediately important. These are admonished by Jesus that


 62 “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

As if resolving  a question of who is a follower or not, Luke includes the account of the exorcist not known to be a follower of Jesus but casting out demons:

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.”  50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

In the kingdom of God, Jesus reminds his disciples, the least of you here (children) will be greatest (if you welcome the child in my name, welcome me, and the one who sent me):

44 "Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men."

45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

46 And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.

47 But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side,

48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great."

That the disciples do not understand suggests the difficulty logic always encounters in the face of spiritual meaning; the child, simple and trusting and certainly without logical sophistication, will be great in the Kingdom of God. Matthew renders the meaning of the action clearly:

18. 3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

A characteristic of the child is clearly humility, not evidenced by Jesus’ disciples in their eager regard to be “greatest.”

Luke includes in chapter nine a Samaritan rejection of Jesus not found in the other Gospels:

51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him;

53 but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

The “When the days drew near” signals a transition into a major section of Luke that may be called the “Jerusalem Journey”: “It is not a straight-line trip, but a journey to meet his fate (Luke 13:31-35)” (The Net Bible). What Luke now emphasizes is the important role the disciples have in effecting the Kingdom of God and the priority of this work:

57 As they were going along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."

58 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."

59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."

60 But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

61 Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home."

62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

I like what the Net Bible says about this passage:

186sn (9:60) There are several options for the meaning of Jesus reply Leave the dead to bury their own dead: (1) Recent research suggests

that burial customs in Palestine involved a reinterment of the bones a year after the initial burial, once the flesh had rotted away. At that point the son would have placed his father's bones in a special box to be set into the wall of the tomb. Thus Jesus could well be rebuking the man for wanting to wait around for as much as a year before making a commitment to follow him. In 1st century Jewish culture, to have followed Jesus rather than burying one's father would have seriously dishonored one's father (cf. Tobit 4:3-4). (2) The remark is an idiom (possibly a proverbial saying) that means, "The matter in question is not the real issue," in which case Jesus was making a word-play on the wording of the man's (literal) request (see L&N 33.137). (3) This remark could be a figurative reference to various kinds of people, meaning, "Let the spiritually dead bury the dead." (4) It could also be literal and designed to shock the hearer by the surprise of the contrast. Whichever option is preferred, it is clear that the most important priority is to preach the gospel (proclaim the kingdom of God).


Interestingly, Luke ten through Luke 18.14 is unique to itself, most of these teachings and sayings appearing in none of the other Gospels. What are these events and teachings?  Jesus sends out seventy-two messengers (10.1-16); he visits Mary and Martha (10.38-42); he calls people to repent (13.1-9) and heals a crippled woman (13.10-17); he grieves over Jerusalem (13.31-35) and heals a man with dropsy (14.1-6);and finally, he heals ten men with leprosy. Much of this unique material in Luke focuses on warnings and teachings: Jesus answers hostile accusations (11.14-28) and warns against unbelief (11.29-32); he criticizes religious leaders (11.37-54), speaks against hypocrisy (12.1-12); warns about worry (12.22-34).  By far, the bulk of this section of Luke outlines Jesus’ teachings: Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan (10.24-37), teaches his disciples about prayer (11.1-13); he teaches about the light within (11.33-36), tells the parable of the rich fool (13-21); he teaches about entering the kingdom (13.22-30), teaches about seeking honor (14.7-14) and tells the parable of the great feast (14.15-24); he teaches about the cost of being a disciple (14.25-35) and tells the parable of the lost sheep (15.1-7), the lost coin (15.8-10), the lost son (15.11-32); he tells the parable of the shrewd manager (16.1-18), the rich man and the beggar (16.19-31); he tells about forgiveness and faith (17.1-10), teaches about the coming of the kingdom (17.20-37), and relates the parables of the persistent widow and two men who prayed (18.1-8 and 18.9-14). Luke ends the teaching in chapter eighteen; in chapter nineteen, Jesus rides in on a donkey into Jerusalem (19. 28-44).

Jesus, throughout Luke, has been portrayed as matching words with action, effectively realizing the kingdom of God upon earth.  Note a difference in his calling of the seventy (some versions read seventy-two; seventy agrees with many Old Testament passages).  What is clear is that Luke has in mind a universal mission for the followers of Jesus. His disciples have been empowered and sent out to teach the Kingdom of God (Luke 9.1). Jesus has urged them to go about their work, proclaiming one message; the urgency of this mission is repeated in chapter 10:


9‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’


37tc (10:11) Several MSS, including the majority of the later ones (A C W Q Y Ë13 Byz), add "on you" here, but it looks like it is an addition

to agree with v. 9.

tn (10:11) As in v. 9, the combination of ejggivzw (engizw) with the preposition ejpiv (epi) is decisive in showing that the sense is "has come"

(see BAGD 213 s.v. ejggivzw 5.b, and W. R. Hutton, "The Kingdom of God Has Come," ExpTim 64 [Dec 1952]: 89-91)Net Bibl.

From this point, all is about listening to, hearing, and acting on this message. This continues the theme of the Gospels that the true believer or faithful acts rather than believes passively. Whoever listens to the seventy listen to Jesus:

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The seventy return, reporting joy in their powers and are reminded that the greater joy is having their names written into heaven:

17 The seventy  returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”  18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.  19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.  20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus rejoices with them:

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!  24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

At exactly this point, a lawyer seeks to test Jesus by asking him about eternal life.

11      Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. † “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”  27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

Jesus’ reply is consistent throughout Luke: the “neighbor” is the one who loves God and demonstrates that love in action. He rescues the one robbed, stripped, and beaten. Achieving the kingdom of God boils down rather simply to focusing on mission:

40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”  41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;  42 there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

In the rest of the sayings and actions in Luke, Jesus is focused upon his mission, even when he is nettled by unbelievers. He teaches his disciples to pray in chapter eleven:

1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples."

2 And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.

3 Give us each day our daily bread;

4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation."


Matthew also records this prayer:

9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread;

12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;

13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;

15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Both Matthew and Luke emphasize the prayer is to be for God’s kingdom; Matthew adds “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus further teaches the disciples to persevere in prayer:

“Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;  6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’  7 And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’  8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for † a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?  12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?  13 If you then, who 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!”


True blessedness derives from hearing and doing:

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”

As previously stated, the call to the mission of effecting the kingdom of God is a call to action. Even though many will reject the true Judaism Jesus teaches, Jesus reminds his followers  23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

As always in Luke, Jesus is most tested and beset by the religious establishment. When in chapter eleven in Luke he is accosted by lawyers and Pharisees about not washing, Jesus reminds them of the superficiality of their acts:

“Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  40 You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?

  In Luke, Jesus righteously insults those who pretend to be interested in justice and profess love of God without practicing it:

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.  43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.  44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”

Not a lot has changed in the history of humanity, not since the time of Jonah, when those blessed with the tradition and knowledge of God rejected it, and God turned instead to the salvation of the Ninevites. 

40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

41 The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Luke’s account has Jesus remind those gathered about him that historically they have always rejected the prophets:

49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’  50 so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world,  51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.  52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

Jesus sees quite clearly the inevitable outcome of his personal earthly mission, and,  in fact, he has already predicted twice in chapter nine he will be killed, but he also reveals that demanding justice will bring extreme division:

49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!  51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!  52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three;  53 they will be divided:

father against son

and son against father,

mother against daughter

and daughter against mother,

mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law

and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Jesus understood that many of the religious who hounded him were not understanding the scripture correctly and were not living righteously.  He says, they can read the signs of nature but not the present time (12.56).  Jesus teaches, instead, that the kingdom of God demands settling disputes and debts (57-59), being faithful and , responsible for the gifts and talents one has received (41-48), watchful for the Messiah (39for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” ), refusing to hoard material possessions (13-21), not even worrying about these (22-31), knowing:

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


What is this kingdom of God like?  Luke in chapter thirteen tells his readers the Kingdom of God begins in a small way but evolves into greatness:

19 It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

Or, those who work for the Kingdom must realize much has already been done, the seed sown, and it has become a resting place. It’s like yeast which leavens the entire loaf:

19       It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with † three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

This Kingdom of God is universal rather than exclusive to those who have based their traditions on prophets whose teachings they have in practice rejected:

29 And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.

30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."


John has been right to call for repentance, but Jesus’ reform program calls for much more than a simple formula of sin and punishment, righteousness and reward; the beginning of chapter thirteen in Luke makes this quite explicit:

13 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  2 He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?  3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.  4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?  5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Achieving the kingdom of God requires matching deeds to beliefs; it requires striving:

19       Jesus † went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.  23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them,  24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.  25 When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’  26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  27 But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 


Rejection is exactly the picture Jesus paints of his own life: warned that Herod wants to kills him, Jesus replies he has work yet to accomplish:

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”  32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, † ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.

Not a little irony exists in Jesus’ pointing out that Jerusalem has always killed its prophets:

34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

While time remains, Jesus continues working: for yet awhile, the house is left with its owners:

35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when † you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

As in the parable of the fig tree, the tree is left alive for one more year to see if it will produce fruit.

The kingdom of God is not far from any of the teachings in Luke.  Exactly when the kingdom will be achieved and who will be a part of it are clearly set out in the parable of the great feast in chapter fourteen:


15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  16 Then Jesus † said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many.  17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’  18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’  19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’  20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’  21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’  22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’  23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.  24 For I tell you, † none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’ ”

The statement is innocent enough: after all, Jesus has just said:

11      But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

This seems to suggest the exclusion of no one, but the reply of Jesus in the parable is that people have to act on the invitation. Acting means, for example, doing good even on the Sabbath, not limiting this to just life-threatening situations, the law which has bound the religious. It also requires hospitality and humility.  The emphasis is not really on the one fortunate enough to be at the banquet; rather, emphasis should be placed on the work to be accomplished in preparation for the banquet: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind are to be invited to the banquet. The cost of discipleship must be understood: it requires a willingness to leave all, family and possessions, perhaps even life.

Chapter fifteen effectively portrays Luke’s narrative style in providing a transition leading into a set of sayings or parables; in this case, Luke presents three parables of something lost: lost sheep, lost coin, prodigal son.  All three focus on the joy of restoring the lost.  The transition Luke presents links the parables as an answer for why Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them,” an action the Pharisees have already questioned on several occasions.

Chapter sixteen in Luke explains why those who have worldly possessions, the rich, may find it difficult to acknowledge that true Judaism effectively creates God’s kingdom here and now in this world.  The answer is really quite simple; one who loves God can’t be devoted to wealth: You cannot serve God and wealth.” † The issue, though, is more than just money; the real issue is setting a priority on the temporal rather than the eternal:

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him.  15 So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.

Here, the Pharisees are accused of emphasizing the external once again, of observing the law in outward shows of piety.  Jesus sees himself as enacting true Judaism:

16 “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. †  John following the law and prophets, but Jesus effectively has been living his proclamation of the kingdom of God (16) and is being rejected by the religious, the established, the rich.  It’s very hard to give up current practices:  17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.

It’s equally hard to give up possessions, as the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus illustrates. The Rich Man has not fed the hungry and goes to Hades; there, he wishes to go back and tell his mistake to his five living brothers:

27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—  28 for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’  29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’  30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

Where the kingdom of God is and when it will be achieved is answered openly in Luke, chapter seventeen:

20 Once Jesus † was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed;  21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among † you.”

His answer is clear: the kingdom of God is among you, but not visibly. The next part of this parable has often been used to urge preparation for a futurist coming of the kingdom; the full context, though, suggests a different possibility, especially verse thirty-seven:

37: 22 Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.  23 They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit.  24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. †  25 But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.  26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man.  27 They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them.  28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,  29 but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them  30 —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.  31 On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back.  32 Remember Lot’s wife.  33 Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.  34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  35 There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.”   37 Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

Taken up in the ordinary and mundane, death will overtake many: of the two women grinding meal together, one will be taken and the other left.  Taken where, his disciples ask, and Jesus tells them “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” In the first place, Jesus has warned his disciples “Do not go, do not set off in pursuit” (23) when people have pointed here or there for the day of the Son of Man.  All will be normal: eating, drinking, marrying, just as in the days of Noah and Lot.  On the day of the son of Man, what must happen is priority must be given to the spiritual:

31 On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back...  33 Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.

In the context of what has been said about possessions, Jesus has clearly indicated that the one recognizing the kingdom of God must be willing to commit everything for it, even when everyone else focuses upon the ordinary and mundane. Jesus expects his disciples to live as he has: they are to refrain from causing anyone to stumble (2), to forgive offenders multiple times when they repent (3,4),  to do what they ought to do (9), and to be thankful (11-18).  How ironic that one of ten lepers healed turned back to God and he is a Samaritan! How unlike this simple faith is the professed piety of the Pharisees.

Chapter eighteen brings Jesus on his journey near to Jerusalem; his sayings and actions still focus on achieving God’s kingdom.  He tells his disciples once again that he expects to die for what he is doing:

31 Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.  32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon.  33 After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” 

Once again, the disciples fail to hear or understand what Jesus is telling them:

34 But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

He is recognized, however, by a blind man sitting on the road in Jericho:

38 Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

The blind man has evidenced the same simple, trusting faith as is characteristic of the child:

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  17 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

As always in Luke, outward piety contrasts to inward sincerity:  even an unjust judge is willing to reward the persistent widow asking for justice (18.1-6); but sadly, Jesus wonders if he will find such faith:

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?  8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The same theme is illustrated in yet another parable:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:  10 “Two men went up to the

temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’  13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Once again, justice and mercy are rewards for genuine repentance and request, not outward show.

 Throughout these chapters in Luke, the writer has used transitions to signal that Jesus is on his way into Jerusalem.  In chapter nineteen, he finally arrives. Just prior, however, he rewards the faith of Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector:

So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.  7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”  8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”  9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.  10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

What the mission of Jesus is about is clearly stated: “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost,” and Zacchaeus is identified as a son of Abraham: [9]: And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.”  In short, for Zacchaeus, the Kingdom of God comes as a result of spirit. The disciples of Jesus have not, to this point, really accepted Jesus as the Messiah who will die as a result of his mission:

11 As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.

The kingdom, of course, they expect is an earthly rather than spiritual kingdom. The parable of ten pounds illustrates the same truth as has been consistently presented: that the kingdom of God is to be achieved and requires active commitment: one is not simply to receive and hold what is given but is to build upon it.  In the death of Jesus, work for the kingdom must now be taken up by his followers. At this point, Luke has Jesus come into Bethany at the Mount Olivet.

The rest of Luke 19 records the triumphal entry of Jesus into and the cleansing of the temple:

28 And when he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples,

30 saying, “Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here.

31 If any one asks you, `Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this, `The Lord has need of it.’”

32 So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them.

33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”

35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it.

36 And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road.

37 As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen,

38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”

40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

41 And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it,

42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.

43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side,

44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold,

46 saying to them, “It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”

47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him;

48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words.

Mark has told the story somewhat differently:

1 And when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,

2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it.

3 If any one says to you, `Why are you doing this?’ say, `The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”

4 And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door out in the open street; and they untied it.

5 And those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”

6 And they told them what Jesus had said; and they let them go.

7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it.

8 And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

9 And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”

11 And he entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple; and when he had looked round at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Two narrative events are recorded here: the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the event of the moneychangers in the temple. All four Gospels record the triumphal entry. Only Luke emphasizes rejection of the mission of Jesus; Matthew explains the entry into Jerusalem in terms of prophecy, as do the other Gospels:

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.

The prophecy references Zechariah 9.9, 10:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

In Luke, one understands that the entire purpose of the Kingdom of God is to bring peace. The Gospel of John alone explains the reaction of the disciples and provides the reason for the reaction of the crowds to Jesus:

16 His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him.

17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness.

That the disciples did not understand is made clear in Mark:

10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”

They obviously are still expecting the kingdom of David to be established on earth in Jerusalem. Luke makes clear, too, that Jesus understands the rejection of the spiritual kingdom:

41 And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it,

42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.

43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side,

44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold,

46 saying to them, “It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”

47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him;

48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words.

Mark does not record the temple incident:

11 And he entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple; and when he had looked round at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Thus ends in the synoptic Gospels the Galilean ministry of Jesus as he makes his way into Jerusalem where he is to be not only rejected but crucified. That, however, the already present Kingdom of God has been understood and accepted is attested to by those who have chosen actively to follow Jesus and by the growth of the Christian movement after his death.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke  remembered and passed on the identity of  Jesus, what he said and did.  This explanation is enhanced by the far richer theological explanations in the Gospel of John.