THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the Life of Christ, we covered the verses from Luke 12:42- 13-9. So, this lesson begins where we left off and it starts with a miracle.
Luke 13:10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity." 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
As usual, Jesus is taking an opportunity to teach, and this time He is in a synagogue on the Sabbath. There is a woman there, who has been bent over for 18 years who could not straighten herself up. I have seen a few people with this physical problem, but it does not stop this woman from being part of the synagogue worship. We do not know a lot of details about this woman, but thanks verse 16, which we have not read yet, we know that she is a daughter of Abraham, which means she is a Jew. We also learn that her spirit of infirmity was caused by Satan in some way. Some think she might have been demon possessed or maybe a demon caused her condition 18 years ago. We are not told for sure, but as I said, Satan had a hand in her condition in some way.
There is no indication in our verses that this woman came to be healed by Jesus. All we read is that Jesus saw her and called her to Him. Jesus knew exactly what her problem was and told her that she was loosed from her infirmity, and He laid His hands on her and she immediately was able to straighten up for the first time in 18 years. As you would expect, she glorified God. What a wonderful miracle and display of Jesus’ compassion and power.
This serves as another example of a miracle done on someone who did not ask for the miracle nor is there any indication that this woman had any faith in Jesus. The miracle was done for all to see, and there was no question of whether a real miracle took place here. There was no delay, it was immediate, which is just the opposite of the alleged miracle workers today.
Now you would think that everyone who saw this miracle that day would be rejoicing and praising God for such a wonderful miracle, but we find out that is not the case as we continue reading in:
Luke 13:14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day."
I have no idea of knowing how long this particular man was a ruler of the synagogue. However, I have no doubt he had been there long enough to know who this woman was and that a real miracle had been done. In fact, he does not deny that woman was healed, he simply had a problem with it being done on the Sabbath. Just as many other Jewish leaders had already expressed their indignation when Jesus had healed others on the Sabbath as well. As we have discussed in the past, these Jewish leaders had turned the Sabbath into something it was not. If you really think about it, do you think God would allow a miracle to be done on the Sabbath if was wrong for it to be done on that day? It seems that Jewish leaders like this man had no common sense because they were so steeped in their traditions. This man should have been happy for this woman and thanked God for such a wonderful healing, but he did not.
I just wonder how often something similar to this happens to those in the church who have made some of their traditions equal to God’s Word. Now I am not talking about a miracle being done, but when a person receives a blessing from God, some would have a hard time being happy for them because they are steeped in their own traditions. We certainly need to be careful that we do not make our personal traditions, which are not backed up Scripture, into stubbing blocks and we should be thankful for the blessings the God bestows on others.
Let’s look at Jesus’ response:
Luke 13:15 The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound -- think of it -- for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
Jesus did not back down from this man. Instead, he served him and all who had the same thinking as him a big slice of humble pie. In fact, the first word out of Jesus’ mouth was, Hypocrite! Then He goes on to point out their inconsistencies with their view of the Sabbath. They thought is perfectly fine to work on the Sabbath if it was for a good cause such as freeing his ox or donkey from the stall so they could get them some water. So shouldn’t it be the case that if you can do good on the Sabbath for your animals, that something good can be done for a daughter of Abraham on the Sabbath? Of course it can, which is why our text says that Jesus’ adversaries were put to shame.
If they tried to argue their case, they would have to say that animals were more important than one of their fellow Jews, which they would never argue. The multitude of people rejoiced about what Jesus said because they understood what He said to be true, and they knew that this great miracle on this poor woman was worthy of rejoicing over even if her healing happened on the Sabbath.
Next, Jesus speaks two more parables that we have covered before:
Luke 13:18 Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches." 20 And again He said, "To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."
These parables were given in Matthew 13, but they were given at different time in our text here. Jesus used parables like these on more than one occasion. As with Luke’s account, at least with the first parable, it was not repeated word for word. However, the message is basically the same because Jesus is speaking about the kingdom. Regarding the first parable about the mustard seed, Jesus uses an example that His listeners would be familiar with. The mustard seed was known for its smallness. In fact, it seemed to be a common saying during their time to denote smallness. For example, notice this example:
Matthew 17:20 So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
This would be similar to some of our modern day expressions such “big as a barn” or “quiet as a mouse”. The mustard seed was one of the smallest seeds used during ancient times. Though it was small it would grow into something large enough to support birds.
Jesus wanted us to appreciate how something as small as a mustard seed could grow into something big. So, when we apply this to the kingdom of God, we can clearly see that Jesus is telling us that even though the church or we could say kingdom would start out small or may even seem insignificant, it will grow and continue to grow until it is large and powerful.
Though the parable of the leaven is similar to the parable of the Mustard Seed, they have a different emphasis. The parable of the mustard seed dealt with the success of the kingdom compared to its modest beginning. The parable of the leaven focuses on the hidden operation of the gospel of the kingdom and its effects in the world.
Though many times leaven is used in an a negative way, such as the leaven of the Pharisees, it used in a positive way in this parable as it shows how the Word of God can be used to leaven the whole world with its message, which is a good thing.
As I try to keep things in chronological order, we are going to take a quick break from Luke’s account and go back to John’s account even though we are right in the middle of Luke 13. Now you may not remember this, but are actually going back to the point in John’s account that we left off from when we started looking at Luke’s account starting Luke 10. I know this can get a bit confusing, but it is what is when you try and keep things in order.
John 10:22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch.
About three months have passed between John 10: 21 and verse 22. So, it was this three month time period that we have been examining from Luke’s account. So now we come back full circle to John 10:22. It was now winter and it was time for the Feast of Dedication.
According to F.F. Bruce,
The festival of Dedication was a relatively recent institution. After the temple had been defiled for three years (167 – 164 BC) by the installation of a pagan cult under Antiochus Epiphanes, and the idolatrous altar, the ‘abomination of desolation’ (a mocking pun on the pagan divinity’s name), had been erected on top of the altar of Israel’s God, the sacred site was recaptured by Judas Maccabaeus and his followers and the temple was reconsecrated to its proper use on 25 Kislev (= 14 December), 164 BC. The festival of Dedication (Hanukkah) commemorating this event, may have had a prehistory as a festival of the winter solstice, but from then on it was given a place in Israel’s religious calendar, and to this day it is celebrated as the Feast of Lights (so call from the lighting of the lamps or candles in Jewish homes to honour the occasion) (The Gospel & Epistles of John p.229-230).
This feast lasted for eight days. We are used to hearing it called Hanukkah instead of the Feast of Lights. Since it was winter, Solomon’s porch was a great place to go to get out of the weather.
According to Johnson:
It is generally supposed to have been in the southeast part of the temple enclosure, overlooking the valley of Kedron. Josephus describes it as a stadium in length, and as having three parts, two of them thirty feet wide each, and the middle one forty-five feet (The New Testament Commentary (Cincinnati, Ohio: Christian Standard Publishing Company, 1886), p. 164).
One dictionary said that a stadium was twice the length of a football field (Peloubet's Dictionary), which gives us a good idea of how big Solomon’s porch was. Not only did Jesus teach in this area, Peter and John taught the people about God in this area after they healed the lame man (Acts 3). Also, the apostles gathered at Solomon’s porch where miracles were done (Acts 5:12).
John 10:24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. 26 "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. 30 "I and My Father are one."
Once again, these opposing Jews are doing their best to trap Jesus. They are trying to get Jesus to say that He is the Christ. However, Jesus knew what they were up to, and He had already told them over and over that He was the Christ in many different ways, but they were not willing to believe. The miracles and signs Jesus did proved that He was the Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus told them the reason they do not believe is because they are not of His sheep. He taught them plainly several months before that He was the true Shepherd and only those who know Him will follow Him. Only those that choose to allow Him to be their Shepherd can have eternal life.
When Jesus said that no one can snatch His sheep out of His hand and then said that no one can snatch them out of His Father’s Hand shows that Jesus is Deity. Only Deity can offer eternal life, and only Deity can make the claim that no one can take you from Him. Once again, Jesus shows that He is of the same nature of the Father because He said, “I and my Father are one.” This does not mean they are the same person as some teach. It means they are one in nature and Deity. This same word “one” is used by Jesus to describe His disciples in,
John 17:11 "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
This verse proves that Jesus is not talking about being the same person or every Christian would have to be the same person. So, the Father and Son are two different persons, but they are one in nature and thought, which is the same way Christians are to be. The only way to achieve this unity in thought with God is by allowing His Word to be our guide.
Some try to teach the false doctrine of “once saved always saved” from our text because it says that no one can snatch us out of the hand of God. Since no one can snatch us from the hand of God, they would say it is impossible for us to be lost once we are saved. However, this is not what this text is teaching. It is teaching that no external force can take us away from God because God is all-powerful and in control. A great commentary on this can be found in Romans 8:31-39. In fact, let’s read those verses:
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Both of these passages deal with external sources, but they do not touch on the individual’s free will. We have been given the privilege to choose whom we will serve, so it is possible for us to choose to leave the hand of God and to follow the evil way. This is why the “once saved always saved” is a false doctrine because we always have the choice to either stay in the hand of God or to leave it.
John 10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."
These Jews had no problem understanding what Jesus was claiming, which is why they were ready to stone Him because they thought He was committing blasphemy. According to Leviticus 24:11-16, blasphemy was punishable by death whether a person was a Jew or a Gentile. However, the person accused was supposed to have a trial, but they were ready to forgo that and commence to stoning even though the Roman law did not allow them.
Again, Jesus points out the good works He did by the will of the Father. He wants to know for which good work are they willing to stone Him. While these works of Jesus proved He was Deity, they claimed they did not want to stone Him for His works, but because He made Himself God.
John 10:34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods" '? 35 "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? 37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 "but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him." 39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
The Jews appealed to the Law of Moses to justify stoning Jesus for blasphemy, but now Jesus is appealing to the Law to show that He can call Himself Son of God and it is not be blasphemy. He quotes:
Psalm 82:6 I said, "You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High.
God was calling these Jewish leaders gods even though they were not judging the people as they were supposed to (Ps. 82:2). God even told Moses that he would be as a god to Aaron (Ex. 4:16). In our text, the word “gods” is in lowercase even though it comes from the same Greek word for God almighty.
Gingrich, Greek NT Lexicon explains it this way:
…God, god a term generally used in the ancient world of beings who have powers or confer benefits that lie beyond the capacity of mortals. In translation the capitalized term God refers to a specific deity and ordinarily to the One God of Israel.” Also Thayer gives several definition for this Greek word “theos”, “a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities 2) the Godhead, trinity 2a) God the Father, the first person in the trinity 2b) Christ, the second person of the trinity 2c) Holy Spirit, the third person in the trinity 3) spoken of the only and true God 3a) refers to the things of God 3b) his counsels, interests, things due to him 4) whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble him in any way 4a) God's representative or viceregent 4a1) of magistrates and judges.
When we put this all together, we learn that when God called the judges gods, He was not calling them Deity; He was calling them representatives of God. So, if it was Scriptural for God to call these men gods, who were supposed to be representing God by judging according to His Word, then there was nothing scripturally wrong with Jesus saying that He was the Son of God because He was sent by the Farther into the world and sanctified by Him.
The works that Jesus did proved that He was sent from the Father, and if they would allow His works to prove He was Deity, they would have no problem understanding that Jesus and the Father are one in nature and are in perfect unity. When Jesus made this argument, I do not believe that He was classing Himself with the ordinary rulers of the Jewish nation, but He was showing there was nothing scripturally wrong with calling Himself the Son of God.
When Jesus said the “Scripture cannot be broken,” this means He believed in the authority and genuineness of the Scriptures. It also proves that He did not believe the first five books of the Bible were the only Scriptures because He quoted from the book of Psalm in this context, which proves that the book of Psalm is also considered unbreakable because it was inspired by God. Many have tried to find flaws in the Scriptures, but no valid ones have been found. Archeologists keep making new discoveries about our past, and every time a new discovery is made it always confirms the validity of the Scriptures. So far Archeologists have never found anything that contradicts or disproves the events recorded in the Word of God.
In verse 39, we learn that they were not interested in Jesus’ teaching from the Law, and they wanted to seize Him for claiming to be one with the Father, but it was not His time to die. Once again, He managed to escape from their presence.
John 10:40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, "John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true." 42 And many believed in Him there.
Jesus was staying near the place where John the Baptist had been baptizing. John bore witness that Jesus was the Christ, and many of these Jews were now willing to believe that Jesus was the Christ. Even though Jesus’ teachings were rejected in Jerusalem, many in this area of Perea believed in Him. This brings us to the end of this lesson. I hope you will join me next time as we pick back up in Luke’s account.