Luke’s Good News

An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Gospel of Luke

Hilda Bright

This translated Bible text has been through our Advanced Theological Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


The author

Luke wrote two books of the *New Testament (NT). Luke’s *Gospel tells the story of the life and work of Jesus. Luke’s second book, Acts, continues the story after Jesus went back to heaven. The two books amount to a quarter of the NT. This is even more than Paul wrote.

Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14). He was often Paul’s companion in his travels. The book of Acts contains passages in which the author includes himself as a companion of Paul (‘we’ in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). Luke shared Paul’s work (Philemon, verse 24). He was a loyal friend. In prison, Paul says, ‘only Luke is with me’ (2 Timothy 4:11).

Luke was a *Gentile. He came from Antioch, which was an important town in Syria.

Luke’s special interests

Luke was a skilled writer. He wrote to show that the *gospel is good news for all people:

1 *Gentiles (people who were not *Jews)

Luke tells us how Jesus emphasised the *faith of the *Gentiles. Jesus did this when he spoke in the *synagogue at Nazareth (4:16-30). Luke also records that Jesus praised the *faith of a *Roman officer (7:1–9).

2 *Samaritans (enemies of the *Jews; they came from *Samaria)

The *parable of the Good *Samaritan is only in Luke’s *Gospel (10:30-37). Jesus praised a grateful *Samaritan whom he *healed (17:11-19).

3 *Sinners

Luke describes Jesus’ meeting with Zacchaeus (19:1-10). And he includes three of Jesus’ *parables about God’s love for people who are ‘lost’, that is people who have wandered away from God (chapter 15).

4 Women

The stories of the widow of Nain (7:11-16) and of Martha and Mary (10:38-42) are two examples of Luke’s sympathy for women.

5 Poor people

Luke knew the dangers of wealth and he sympathised with the poor. Only Luke mentions the *parables of the rich fool (12:13-21) and the *parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus (16:19-31). Only Luke tells us about the poor *shepherds who visited Jesus after his birth.

6 People who were ill

Luke shows how Jesus, through the power of God, *healed people who were ill.

Luke, as a doctor, mentions some medical details that are not in the other *Gospels. Peter’s wife has a ‘high’ (bad) *fever (4:38). The man in the *synagogue could not use his ‘right’ hand (6:6).

7 Prayer and praise

There are many references to Jesus’ prayers. There are three *parables about prayer in this *Gospel:

1.   The ‘friend at midnight’ (11:5-10)

2.   The ‘unfair judge’ (18:1-8)

3.   The ‘*Pharisee and the *tax-collector’ (18:9-14)

Luke includes the songs in which Zechariah (1:68-79), Mary (1:46-55) and Simeon (2:29-32) praised God, because the *Messiah had arrived.

The *angels appeared to the *shepherds (2:14). They sang ‘*Glory to God’.

Luke 1:1 - 9:50 (First Section)

Chapter 1

The reason why Luke wrote the *Gospel 1:1-4

v1 Many people have tried to write about the things that God has done among us. v2 They obtained their information from witnesses. They saw what happened and *preached the *gospel. v3 I have studied all these facts with great care from their beginning. So, I decided, most noble Theophilus, to give you an exact account of events, in their proper order. v4 This is so that you may know the truth about what you have heard.

Verse 1 The ‘things that God has done’ refers to the life, death and *resurrection of Jesus, and the news of his work. ‘Us’ means Luke and people of his time.

Verse 2 Luke was not one of the original witnesses who had seen and heard Jesus. But Luke had met some of these witnesses and heard their stories. He spent two years in Caesarea while Paul was in prison there (Acts 24:27). Luke would have found it easy to travel from there to collect information.

Verse 3 ‘Most noble’ are words of respect. They mean that Theophilus was an important official. ‘Theophilus’ means ‘friend of God’. It was a common name. Luke wants to give him clear and accurate information about Jesus. Luke had paid attention to every detail that he collected. Now he is going to describe the events in their proper order. This can mean in order of time. It also means that Luke will give a clear and careful account of the facts.

Verse 4 Theophilus had heard something about the Christian *faith. Luke wants to be sure that his friend has the right information. So, he has decided to write a full and accurate account. He wants Theophilus to understand more completely what Jesus did and taught.

An *angel promises the birth of John the *Baptist 1:5-24

v5 During the time of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest whose name was Zechariah. He belonged to the Abijah group of priests. His wife’s name was Elizabeth. She was a *descendant of Aaron the priest. v6 God knew that they were both good people. They obeyed God’s laws completely. v7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth could not have children. Moreover, both Elizabeth and Zechariah were now very old. They were beyond the normal age when people have a child.

Verse 5 This member of the Herod family was Herod the Great. He was king of all the land of *Israel for 33 years. Herod the Great was great as a builder, but not great in character. He was jealous and cruel (see Matthew 2:1-18).

The event that Luke is going to describe happened about one year before Herod died.

Zechariah belonged to one of the 24 groups of priests (1 Chronicles 24:10). Each group worked in the *Temple in Jerusalem. Twice a year they were on duty for a week.

Verse 7 If a wife had no children, *Jews thought that God was punishing her and her husband. The woman would feel both sad and ashamed. Other women, who had children, would think of her as a wife of no value.

v8 One day Zechariah was doing his work as a priest. He was in the *Temple because his group was on duty. v9 The priests used *lots to choose which one of them would burn *incense on the *altar. This time Zechariah had the opportunity. So he went into the *Temple. v10 The crowd of people were outside. They prayed while he burned the *incense.

Verse 9 Each group had so many priests that they had to choose their duties by *lot. The opportunity to burn *incense on the *altar was a special honour. A priest could do this only once during his life. The *altar was inside the Holy Place.

v11 An *angel of the *Lord appeared to Zechariah. The *angel stood on the right side of the *altar of *incense. v12 Zechariah was very frightened when he saw him.

v13 But the *angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer and your wife Elizabeth will give you a son. You must name him John. v14 You will have joy and happiness. Many other people will be happy because of his birth. v15 He will be great in the *Lord’s sight. He must not drink any *wine or strong drink. He will be full of the Holy Spirit even before he is born’.

Verse 13 Zechariah would have prayed for *Israel. But, for many years, he and Elizabeth also must have prayed for a child. Now they were too old. But God has not forgotten what they prayed earlier.

The name John means ‘God is showing kindness’.

Verse 15 ‘He will be great in the *Lord’s sight’ means that God has very important work for him to do.

The order not to drink any *wine or strong drink was evidence. It meant that John was to serve God in a special way. Some people made a special promise to serve God (see Numbers 6:1-6). This order was part of the rule for them.

The words ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ mean that John will have the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide him and help him in all that he does.

v16 ‘He will cause many of the people of *Israel to turn back to God to *worship and praise him. v17 He will prepare people for the time when the *Lord comes. He will have the strength of character and the power of bold speech of Elijah the *prophet. He will bring fathers and children together again. He will change people who do not obey God. They will then think in the same way as good people think. He will prepare the *Lord’s people to receive him’.

Verse 17 The *Jews believed that the great *prophet Elijah would return to earth. He would announce the arrival of the *Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6). There had been no *prophet for several hundred years. Like Elijah, John would be a *prophet who urged people to turn back to God. This would mean that they must put God first in their lives. This would also help to unite families. John’s work was to prepare the way for the *Lord. That is, he told people to expect the *Messiah to come very soon. *Messiah is the word for ‘Christ’ in *Hebrew (the *Jews’ language).

v18 Zechariah said to the *angel, ‘How shall I know that this is true? Because I am an old man and my wife is old as well’. v19 The *angel answered, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in front of God. He sent me to speak to you and to bring you this good news. v20 And now, because you did not believe me, you will be silent. You will be unable to speak until Elizabeth has the child. My words will come true at the right time’.

Verse 19 Gabriel was one of the most important *angels. His name appears twice in the *Old Testament (Daniel 8:16; 9:21).

Verse 20 The ‘right time’ means nine months after Elizabeth has begun to expect a child. It also means the time that God has chosen.

v21 The people were waiting for Zechariah. They wondered why he stayed so long in the *Temple. v22 When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realised that he had received a message from God in the *Temple. Zechariah signalled with his hands, but he remained dumb.

Verse 22 It was usual for the priest to *bless the people. He spoke the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26.

v23 When his time of service ended, Zechariah went home. v24 After this, his wife Elizabeth was expecting child. For five months, she did not go out in public. v25 She said, ‘Now at last the *Lord has taken notice of me. People will no longer think that I am wicked’.

Verse 23 Zechariah’s home was in the hills, south of Jerusalem (1:39-40).

Verse 25 People would stop thinking that God was punishing her.

The message to Mary about the birth of Jesus 1:26-38

v26 When Elizabeth had been expecting a child for six months, God sent the *angel Gabriel to Nazareth. This was a town in the region of Galilee. v27 Gabriel went with a message for a girl named Mary. She was going to marry a man whose name was Joseph. He came from the family of King David.

Verse 27 Nazareth was a small town, a few miles from the south of the Lake of Galilee. It was very serious when a man and woman agreed to marry. Such an agreement could only end in an act of divorce. If the man died before the marriage, the woman considered herself as a widow.

v28 The *angel went to Mary and greeted her. ‘The *Lord is with you’, he said, ‘and has given you a great honour’. v29 The *angel’s message worried Mary. She wondered what this greeting meant. v30 The *angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary. God is pleased with you. v31 You will soon expect child and have a son. You shall call him ‘Jesus’. v32 He will be great, and he will have the name ‘son of the Most High’. God will make him a king, as his *ancestor David was. v33 He will rule over the *descendants of Jacob for ever. His *kingdom will never end’.

Verse 28 The usual *Jewish greeting was ‘Peace be with you’.

Verse 31 ‘Jesus’ is the *Greek form of the *Hebrew name ‘Joshua’. The name means ‘The *Lord is *Saviour’.

Verse 32 ‘son of the Most High’ was a way to say ‘son of God’. This was a name of the *Messiah. ‘The Most High’ was a name for God in the *Old Testament.

Verse 33 ‘The *descendants of Jacob’ means the *Israelites. These included King David. God promised David that his throne (rule) would never end (2 Samuel 7:16).

v34 Mary asked the *angel, ‘How can this happen? I am not married’. v35 The *angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of God will rest upon you. Therefore, the child that you will have will be holy. He will be the *Son of God. v36 Look! Your relative Elizabeth has been expecting a child for 6 months although she is old. People said that she could not have a child. v37 Because there is nothing that God cannot do’. v38 Mary said, ‘I am the *Lord’s servant. Let it happen to me as you have said’. And the *angel left her.

Verse 34 Mary wondered how she could have a son before she and Joseph had married.

Verse 35 The words ‘will rest upon’ mean that God’s *glory comes down on a place or person. God’s power, through the Holy Spirit, would make it possible for Mary to have the son.

Verse 35 ‘holy, the *Son of God’ means that the child would be God’s son. He would be without *sin.

Verse 38 When Mary accepted what God wanted, she was taking a great risk. Perhaps Joseph would be angry. She would probably have public shame. People in the village would certainly gossip about her. A girl who promised to marry should be loyal to her future husband. If she was not loyal, she broke God’s law. Yet Mary did not doubt the *angel’s message. Luke, with his sympathy for women, may have received this story from Mary herself.

Mary visits Elizabeth 1:39-56

v39 Soon afterwards, Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. This was in the south of the country. v40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. v41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby moved inside her. Then the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth. v42 She gave a loud cry, ‘God has *blessed you more than any other woman! And he has *blessed the child that you are expecting! v43 The mother of my *Lord is visiting me. Why do I have this honour? v44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby inside me jumped for joy. v45 You are happy because you trust that the *Lord’s message to you will come true!’

Verse 44 A six-month baby moves in the mother’s body. However, Elizabeth knew that her baby made a sudden movement. This showed that her baby was full of joy. John had not been born yet, but he knew that Mary’s child was very special.

Verse 45 Elizabeth was much older than Mary was. But she was not jealous that Mary had the greater honour. Mary’s baby was to be the *Messiah.

Mary praises God with a song 1:46-55

When Mary heard what Elizabeth said, Mary burst into a song of joy to praise God. Christians still sing that song today.

The song has four parts.

1. God’s goodness to Mary 1:46-49

v46-47 ‘My spirit praises the *Lord. I am full of joy because God is my *Saviour.

v48 Although I am not important, he has remembered me, his servant. From now on, people of all times will call me *blessed’.

2. God’s character 1:49-50

v49 ‘The God of power has done great things for me. His name is holy. v50 He shows his love and goodness in every age to those people who honour and respect him’.

Verse 49 The ‘name’ of God describes what he is like. He is pure and perfect. He is powerful over everything and everyone. He is *eternal. He is ‘holy’.

3. The way that God changes society 1:51-53

v51 ‘God, with his great power, has scattered people with proud plans. v52 He has brought down rulers from their rank of power. He has given more honour to humble people. v53 He has fed hungry people with good things. But he has sent rich people away with nothing’.

Verses 51-53 Mary speaks of how God has disturbed the plans of proud people (Genesis 11:4-8). He has dragged down strong rulers (Daniel 5). He has put humble people in ranks of power (Genesis 41:40). Mary was certain that God would act like this in the future. He had already acted like this in the past (Psalm 98:1).

The hungry people are poor people. God will provide for them (Psalm 107:9). Also, this means people who are ‘hungry’ to know God. He will satisfy their *spiritual hunger (Matthew 5:6). Some people are rich and feel that they do not need God. They will receive nothing (Luke 12:16-21).

4. God’s promise 1:54-55

v54 ‘He has kept the promise that he made to our *ancestors. He has come to help his servant *Israel. v55 He has remembered to show his love and goodness to Abraham. And to all his *descendants at all times’.

Verse 54 ‘his servant *Israel’ means the people of *Israel. God had rescued them many times in the past from their enemies. God was now sending the *Messiah who would rescue them from *sin. God had promised this to their *ancestors.

Verse 55 God promised Abraham that he would *bless all the families of the earth. This would happen by one of Abraham’s *descendants (Genesis 12:3). Mary realised that God’s promise was coming true. The love and goodness that God showed to Abraham would continue in the *Messiah’s work. The *Messiah would bring *blessing to all Abraham’s *descendants.

v56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months. She then returned to her home.

Verse 56 Mary returned to Nazareth just before Elizabeth had her baby, John.

The birth and *circumcision of John 1:57-66

v57 When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she had a son. v58 Her neighbours and relatives heard how the *Lord had been kind to her. They shared her joy. v59 When the baby was eight days old, all the neighbours and relatives came for the *circumcision ceremony. He would receive his name then. They wanted to give him the same name as his father, Zechariah. v60 But his mother said, ‘Certainly not! His name is to be John’. v61 They said to her, ‘You do not have any relative with that name’. v62 Then they signalled to his father. They asked him what name he would like his son to have. v63 Zechariah asked for a writing board. He wrote, ‘John is his name’. That surprised everybody. v64 At once Zechariah was able to speak again. He began to praise God. v65 He astonished all his neighbours. People lived in the hills in the country of Judea. And they kept talking about the events of John’s birth. v66 And they wondered. They asked, ‘What is this child going to be like when he grows up?’ For it was plain that the *Lord had *blessed the child.

Verse 59 The law of Moses required the *circumcision of a boy, a week after his birth (Leviticus 12:3). *Circumcision was the evidence of God’s special agreement with the people of *Israel (Genesis 17:9-14). At the same time, they had a ceremony to name the child.

Verse 62 ‘They signalled to Zechariah’. Perhaps Zechariah was deaf as well as dumb. Or perhaps the people just thought that he was deaf. They knew that deaf people often could not speak.

Verse 63 ‘a writing board’. This was a small wooden board with soft polish on it. People scratched words on the board. They used a small stick with a point at the end.

Zechariah wrote the words, ‘John is his name’. The boy already had his name. God had given it to him.

The song of Zechariah 1:67-79

Verses 67-75 are a song of praise to God. God rescues his people and keeps his promises. Verses 76-79 describe the work of John. The song is a message of hope for the future.

v67 The Holy Spirit came upon John’s father Zechariah. Like a *prophet, he gave a message from God to his people:

v68 ‘Praise the *Lord, the God of *Israel! He has come to rescue his people.

v69 He has given us a powerful *Saviour from the royal family of his servant David.

v70 Long ago God made promises by his holy *prophets.

v71 He promised that he would rescue us from our enemies and from those who hate us.

v72 God said that he would show the love and goodness that he had promised to our *ancestors. He would keep the holy agreement that he had made with them. v73 God made a serious promise to Abraham to rescue us from our enemies. v74 The promise means that we shall be able to serve God without fear. v75 We shall belong to God and live in the right way with him all our lives.

v76 You, my child, will be a *prophet of the Most High God. You will be a *herald of the *Lord to make the way ready for him. v77 You will tell his people that God will forgive their *sins. So he will *save them. v78 For our God is loving and kind. He will send a *Saviour. He will be like the sun that rises at dawn. v79 He will shine on all the people who live in darkness and in the shadow of death. He will make us calm and quiet in our spirits’.

Verse 71 The *Jews had many enemies. In the past, powerful foreign nations attacked and ruled them. Therefore, most *Jews would describe ‘enemies’ in political ways. This was especially true at that time because the *Roman soldiers were in their country. However, the rest of the song suggests that ‘enemies’ means all people who oppose God.

Verse 73 The promise that God gave to Abraham is in Genesis 22:16-17.

Verse 76 Zechariah begins to speak to his son and describes him as a *prophet. There had been no *prophet in *Israel for hundreds of years. God sent John to prepare the way for the *Messiah (Malachi 3:1).

Verses 78-79 In the dark, people cannot see what is real. They cannot see where they are going. The words ‘the shadow of death’ suggest that they have no hope. When the sun rises at dawn, the darkness disappears. Like the sun, the *Messiah would bring light into the world (John 8:12). People would then really understand what is right and what is wrong. Light makes people able to see where they are going. Jesus is the light of the world. So, he will guide people into the way of peace. This peace does not mean freedom from trouble. It means that we feel quiet in our spirits. It means that we have peace with God, because he has *forgiven us. It means that we can be confident of God’s love in all circumstances. We shall not fear death. Christians are certain that they will live with God for ever.

John grows up 1:80

v80 As John grew up, his *spiritual life became strong. He was in the desert until he began his public service for God.

Verse 80 This desert was probably west of the river Jordan, near the Dead Sea.

Chapter 2

The birth of Jesus 2:1-7

v1 At that time *Caesar Augustus ordered a *census in the *Roman *empire. v2 This was the first *census when Quirinius governed Syria. v3 Everyone went to the town of his family to register. v4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. Bethlehem was the town of King David’s birth. Joseph went there because David was his *ancestor.

v5 Joseph went there to register with Mary, who had promised to marry him. She was expecting a baby.

v6 While they were there, the time came for her to have her baby. v7 She gave birth to her first son. Mary wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in an open box. This box usually held animals’ food. There was no room for them in the *inn.

Verse 1 ‘At that time’ means when John was a baby. The name *Caesar means the *Roman *emperor. He was king over all countries that the *Romans ruled. This *Caesar also received the name Augustus, which means ‘noble’. This was because he had brought peace after many years of war. He ruled for 41 years.

The reason for the *census was to collect *taxes. The *Romans took a *census every 14 years.

Verse 2 We know from ancient records that Quirinius held a *census some years after Jesus was born (Acts 5:37). Quirinius governed Syria twice, so Luke must refer to an earlier *census. We do not know anything else about it.

Verse 3 Men had to go to the city that their family came from.

Verse 4 Nazareth is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) from Bethlehem.

Verse 5 Probably Mary did not have to go too. But Joseph would not want to leave her in Nazareth. People might have insulted her. She was expecting a child, but she was not yet married.

Verse 6 The first son belonged to God (Exodus 13:2).

Verse 7 When Joseph and Mary arrived, the town was already full. People had come for the *census. The *census brought Mary to Bethlehem. The *prophecy of Micah (5:2) said that the *Messiah would be born there. That came true.

The *shepherds and the *angels 2:8-20

v8 In that part of the country, not far from Bethlehem, there were *shepherds out in the fields. They were looking after their sheep during the night. v9 An *angel of the *Lord appeared to them. The *glory of the *Lord was shining over them. They were full of fear. v10 But the *angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! I have come to give you good news. This will bring great joy to everybody. v11 For today, a *Saviour has been born for you in the city of David. He is Christ the *Lord. v12 This will be the evidence for you. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth. He is lying in a place where animals have their food’. v13 Immediately, a great army of heaven’s *angels was there with the *angel. They were praising God and saying, v14 ‘Praise to God in the highest heaven! There will be peace on earth among those who please him’.

v15 Then the *angels returned to heaven. The *shepherds said to one another, ‘We must go to Bethlehem immediately. Then we can see what the *Lord has told us about’. v16 They hurried and found Mary and Joseph. They saw the baby lying in the animals’ box. v17 Then the *shepherds told everyone what the *angel had said to them about the child. v18 The *shepherds’ story astonished everybody. v19 But Mary remembered all these things, and thought about them deeply. v20 The *shepherds returned to their sheep. The *shepherds were praising God for all that they had heard and seen. Everything had been as the *angel had told them.

Verse 8 Probably these *shepherds were looking after sheep intended for *sacrifices in the *Temple in Jerusalem. Bethlehem is only a few miles from Jerusalem.

Verse 9 ‘*glory’ describes a very bright light. It meant that God was there.

Verse 11 The city of David is Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1).

‘A *Saviour’. Mary too spoke of ‘God my *Saviour’ (1:47). ‘Christ’ is from the *Greek word for the *Hebrew word ‘*Messiah’. ‘*Lord’ is a name for God in the Bible.

Verse 12 They would be able to see the evidence that the *angel’s message was true.

Verse 13 In the *Old Testament, God is ‘the *Lord of hosts’ (Isaiah 6:3). ‘Hosts’ means ‘armies’. The *angels were a great army in heaven.

Verse 14 ‘the highest heaven’ is a way to describe where God is. The *Messiah will bring peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Verse 20 *Jewish leaders of that time did not like *shepherds. Because of their work, *shepherds could not keep all the rules of their religion. Yet they were the first people to hear the good news of the *Messiah’s birth. Luke often emphasises that God cares for people who are poor or not important.

v21 When the baby was eight days old, it was time to *circumcise him. He also received his name Jesus then. The *angel, who visited Mary, said that this would be his name (1:31).

v22 Then Mary and Joseph had to do what the Law of Moses ordered. So Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem to offer him to the *Lord.

v23 As the *Old Testament law says, ‘The first boy who is born in a family belongs to the *Lord’.

v24 The law also says that the parents must offer a *sacrifice of two young birds.

Verse 21 Luke emphasises the baby’s name. The name Jesus means *Saviour, that is, a person who rescues people from *sin.

Verses 22-24 After a woman gave birth to a boy, she was ‘*unclean’ for 40 days. She could not go into the *Temple in Jerusalem. Nor could she attend any *religious ceremony. At the end of the 40 days, she had to offer a *lamb and a young bird. If she could not afford a *lamb, she could bring another young bird instead. Mary’s *offering showed that she did not have enough money for a *lamb (Leviticus 12:8).

Exodus 13:2 says that the first son born in an *Israelite family belongs to God. When the first sons of families in Egypt died, the first sons of *Israelite families remained alive (Exodus 13:14-15). They belonged to God.

Simeon recognises the *Messiah 2:25-35

v25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He was a good man. He loved God. He was waiting for God’s *Messiah to come to save *Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him. v26 The Holy Spirit had told him that he would not die until he had seen the *Lord’s *Messiah. v27 The Holy Spirit led Simeon into the *Temple court. Then the parents brought the child Jesus so that they could do what the law required. v28 Simeon held Jesus in his arms and praised God. v29 ‘*Lord, you have kept your promise’, he said. ‘Now your servant can die in peace. v30-31 Because I have seen your *salvation, which you have prepared for all people to see. v32 He will be like a light, to show truth to the *Gentiles. He will bring *glory to your people *Israel’.

Verse 29 Simeon had finished his work for God because he had seen the *Messiah.

Verse 32 Isaiah spoke of a servant of the *Lord who would be ‘a light to the nations’ (Isaiah 42:6). Simeon’s words are similar to these. The *Messiah will help *Gentiles to understand God’s truth. All people, *Jews and *Gentiles alike, will see God’s *glory because his Son has come to earth (Isaiah 40:5).

v33 Jesus’ mother and Joseph were astonished at what he said about the child. v34 Simeon *blessed them and said to Mary, the child’s mother, ‘This child will cause many people in *Israel to fall and rise. He will be like a sign that points people to God. Many people will oppose him. v35 He will show up the secret thoughts of many hearts. You will be so sad. It will be like a large sword that cuts you to the heart’.

Verse 33 Joseph was Jesus’ legal father.

Verse 34 ‘Fall and rise’ can have two possible meanings:

(1) People must be humble (‘fall’) before they can gain a place in God’s *kingdom (‘rise’).

(2) The child will separate people. People who refuse to accept Jesus will receive judgement (‘fall’). People who accept him will enter his *kingdom (‘rise’). This will happen ‘in *Israel’, that is, among Jesus’ own people. This truth also appears in John 1:11-12.

Verse 35 Mary will suffer greatly. This came true when she saw her son Jesus die.

People will show their attitudes to God, when they accept or refuse God’s Son, Jesus.

Anna recognises the *Messiah 2:36-38

v36 Anna was the daughter of Phanuel who came from the *tribe of Asher. She gave God’s messages to people. She had a husband for seven years. v37 Now she was a widow. She was 84 years of age. She did not leave the *Temple. She praised God during the night and the day. She prayed and *fasted. v38 She arrived at that moment and thanked God. She spoke about the baby to everyone who was expecting someone to rescue Jerusalem.

Verse 37 ‘she did not leave the *Temple’ may mean that she lived in a room there.

Verse 38 She arrived at the same time as Simeon was there.

Jerusalem was the centre of *worship for the whole nation of Israel. The nation was waiting for the *Messiah to come.

Mary and Joseph return to Nazareth 2:39-40

v39 Mary and Joseph returned to their own town of Nazareth in Galilee. They had performed all the ceremonies that the law required. v40 The child grew and became strong. He was full of wisdom. God’s *blessing was upon him.

They visit Jerusalem for the *Passover *feast 2:41-52

This story is the only one about Jesus as a boy. Only Luke tells it.

v41 Every year Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the *Passover *feast.

v42 When Jesus was 12 years old, they went there as usual. v43 After the *feast, they began the journey back home. But the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know this. v44 They travelled for a day and thought that he was in their group. Then they looked for him among their relatives and friends. v45 They did not find him. So, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. v46 After three days, they found him in the *Temple. He was sitting among the teachers. He was listening to them and asking them questions. v47 He astonished everyone who heard him, because he knew and understood so much. v48 When Joseph and Mary saw him, he astonished them. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you dealt with us like this? Your father and I were very worried as we tried to find you’. v49 He said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I should be in my Father’s house?’ v50 They did not understand what he said. v51 Then he went down with them to Nazareth. He continued to obey his parents. His mother stored all these precious memories in her heart. v52 Jesus became wiser and he grew taller. God was pleased with him and other people approved of him.

Verse 41 The *Passover *feast was in April and it lasted for a week. This *feast reminded the *Israelites how God rescued them from Egypt. They had been slaves there (Exodus 12:24-27). Every *Jewish man was supposed to go to Jerusalem for three important *feasts: *Passover, *Pentecost and the *Feast of Tabernacles. If they could not attend all three *feasts, they would choose the *Passover as the most important.

Verse 42 A *Jewish boy became a man, a ‘son of the law’, when he was 12 years old. This was probably Jesus’ first visit as a boy to the *Temple in Jerusalem.

Verse 43 At the end of the week, people travelled home together in large groups. Mary and Joseph did not worry about Jesus until the evening of the first day’s journey. Everyone met together in the evening.

Verses 45-46 Mary and Joseph took a day to travel back to Jerusalem. They looked for Jesus in the city on the second day. They found him on the third day.

Verse 47 The *court of the *Temple was a place where the *rabbis taught. It was usual for students to ask and answer questions. Jesus had joined a group. He was asking questions. He also answered the questions that the teachers asked him. He astonished them because he knew and understood so much.

Verse 49 No *Jew would call God ‘my’ Father. But Jesus already realised that he had a special relationship with God. Joseph was only his legal ‘father’.

When Jesus said ‘I must be in my Father’s house’, this showed how much he knew. Jesus knew that he must do what his Father required. All through his life, Jesus knew that he must obey God’s purpose for him.

Verse 51 After this, Luke does not mention again that Joseph was present. Joseph may have died before Jesus began his public work. However, the people in Nazareth called Jesus ‘Joseph’s son’ (Luke 4:22).

‘Mary stored all these precious memories in her heart’. Perhaps, many years later, she told them to Luke himself.

Chapter 3

The work of John the *Baptist 3:1-22

v1 The *emperor Tiberius had ruled in that part of the world for 15 years. Pontius Pilate was governing Judea. Herod was governing Galilee, and his brother Philip was governing Iturea and Trachonitis. Lysanias was governing Abilene. v2 Annas and Caiaphas were chief priests. At that time, God’s message came to John, the son of Zechariah. John was in the desert.

Verse 1 After the death of Herod the Great, his three sons (Archelaus, Antipas and Philip) shared the country:

(1) Herod Archelaus had Judea. When Joseph and Mary returned from the country of Egypt with Jesus, they went to Galilee. They did not want to stay where Archelaus governed (Matthew 2:19-23). Archelaus governed Judea in such a cruel way that the *Romans replaced him in the end. Pontius Pilate governed Judea for 10 years. (In 1962 people dug up a stone with his name on it at Caesarea, where he used to live.)

(2) Herod Antipas governed Galilee, during the time when both John and Jesus were teaching.

(3) Philip had the same father as Herod Antipas, but he had a different mother.

Verse 2 Luke says that Annas and Caiaphas were chief priests. There should have been only one chief priest at a time. Caiaphas was the official chief priest. But Annas (the father of Caiaphas’ wife) still had great power. The people who arrested Jesus took him first to Annas (John 18:13).

John’s message 3:3-17

v3 John went into all the region round the river Jordan. He announced that people must turn from their bad ways. He would then *baptise them. God would then forgive their *sins. v4 John made the *prophecy of Isaiah come true (Isaiah 40:3-5). John was the voice of one shouting a message in the desert. John said ‘Prepare the way for the *Lord, make straight paths for him!

v5 Raise every valley! Make every mountain and hill level! Make the bent paths straight! Make the rough ways smooth! v6 And everybody will see how God will *save them’.

Verses 4-6 When a king was to make a journey, an official went ahead to prepare the road. The official would make the road level, straight and smooth. John was preparing the people for the arrival of the *Messiah, their king. They must give the *Lord a way into their lives. They must remove all their wrong attitudes. These attitudes are like ‘valleys’ and ‘hills’ that prevented God from saving them. They must put right everything that was wrong in their lives. They must put right everything that was against what God wanted.

Verse 6 Luke uses words from Isaiah to emphasise that Jesus had come for the whole world, *Jews and *Gentiles alike.

v7 Crowds came to John so that he could *baptise them. ‘You are like poisonous snakes that try to escape from a desert fire!’ said John. ‘You are trying to run away from God’s anger. v8 But you must produce fruit in your lives that shows that you really have *repented. Do not say, “We have Abraham as our *ancestor”. God is able to make *descendants for Abraham from these stones. v9 Even now the axe is ready to cut down the trees at the root. God will cut down every tree that does not produce good fruit. He will throw it into the fire’.

Verse 7 John realised that some people do not come with the right attitude. They were not really sorry for their *sins. They were trying to escape God’s punishment. ‘Fire’ is a way to describe God’s judgement.

Verse 8 These people were *descendants of Abraham. They thought that this connection would save them. But God could make as many children of Abraham as he wanted – even out of hard stones. In the *Hebrew language, the words ‘stones’ and ‘children’ are very similar. John was using this fact when he said these words.

People judge trees by their fruits, not by their roots. These *Jews were trusting in their ‘roots’, that is, their connection with Abraham. They should have been thinking about their ‘fruits’. ‘Fruits’ result from living in the right way towards God and other people.

Verse 9 John said that it was urgent that people should change their bad ways. God is like a farmer. When a tree fails to produce good fruit the farmer cuts it down. Then he throws the tree into the fire. God is ready to act in the same way, if people do not change.

John taught the crowd 3:10-14

v10 The crowds asked him, ‘What must we do?’ v11 He answered, ‘If anyone has two coats give one coat to somebody who has none. He must share his food as well’. v12 *Tax-collectors also came for *baptism. They asked him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?’ v13 He said, ‘Do not collect any more money than the *Romans require’. v14 Soldiers also asked him, ‘And what shall we do?’ He said, ‘Do not use force against people. Do not pretend that they have done something wrong. Do not complain about your wages’.

Verse 10 The crowds were asking how they could satisfy God’s demand for ‘fruit’.

Verse 11 Ordinary people must stop being selfish. They must care for the needs of other people.

Verses 12-13 John did not tell the hated *tax-collectors that they must not work for the *Romans. Instead, they must not use their work to cheat people. They must be honest.

Verse 14 Soldiers must not use their authority to make money for themselves. They must not frighten people with *physical attacks. They must not make people pay money to avoid trouble about some crime. The soldiers had been accusing people of crimes that they had not done.

The *Messiah 3:15-17

v15 All the people were full of hope. They wondered whether John could be the Christ. v16 John told them, ‘I *baptise with water. Someone is coming who is much more important than I am. I am not even good enough to be a slave to remove his shoes. He will *baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. v17 He is like a farmer, who *winnows his grain. He will put the good wheat in his store. But he will burn the *chaff completely’.

Verse 16 John recognised that he was only the person who announced the arrival of the *Messiah. The king was coming. But John felt that he was not good enough. Not even to do the most humble task of a slave for him. John *baptised people with water. This showed that people desired to be clean and free from *sin.

Fire is very powerful. The *Messiah’s *baptism would give people the power of the Holy Spirit to live in a new way. Fire would also refer to the punishment of those who refused to believe.

Verse 17 A farmer used a large tool like a fork to *winnow. He threw mixed grain and *chaff into the air. The wind blew the *chaff away and the grain fell to the ground. John used this picture language to show that the *Messiah would separate people. The good people, who were like grain, would come into his *kingdom.

John warns Herod 3:18-20

v18 John warned the people in many other ways as he announced good news to the people.

v19 John had told Herod, the ruler, that he should not have married Herodias, his brother’s wife. John also spoke against many other wrong things that Herod had done. v20 Herod added another *sin to all his other *sins: he put John in prison.

Verse 19 Herod Antipas divorced his wife. She was the daughter of the king Aretas who came from Arabia. Herod wanted to marry Herodias who was his brother Philip’s wife. Philip was his half-brother. He was a son of Herod the Great by a different mother. [He was not the same Philip as the one who ruled Iturea (Luke 3:1).] John said that both the divorce and the marriage were wicked. Herodias never forgave John.

Verse 20 They did not put John into prison until later. John and Jesus continued to teach. Luke completes his account of John here. Then he continues to tell the story of Jesus.

John *baptises Jesus 3:21-22

v21 When all the people came for *baptism, Jesus came too. When John had *baptised him, Jesus was praying. Then heaven opened. v22 The Holy Spirit, in the shape of a dove (bird), came upon Jesus. A voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son whom I love greatly. I am very pleased with you’.

Verse 21 Jesus had no *sin for which he had to say sorry. He came to rescue *sinners. And he wanted to show that he understood and cared about them. He also chose to mark the beginning of his public work in this way.

‘He was praying’. Luke emphasises the prayers of Jesus at all times in his life. Luke also includes two *parables about prayer (Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8).

Verse 22 The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus in the form of a bird. This could also mean that the Holy Spirit came in a silent way like a bird. The Holy Spirit gave Jesus power for his future work. The phrase ‘son whom I love greatly’ comes from Psalm 2:7. It describes the *Messiah. God was ‘very pleased with him’. These are words from Isaiah (42:1). They describe God’s Servant. Other verses in Isaiah show that God’s Servant would suffer and die (Isaiah 53:8-10).

Jesus’ *ancestors 3:23-28

v23 Jesus was about 30 years old, when he began his public service.

People thought that Jesus was the son of Joseph. He was from the family of Heli. v24 Heli was from the family of Matthat. Matthat was from the family of Levi. Levi was from the family of Melchi. Melchi was from the family of Jannai. Jannai was from the family of Joseph. v25 Joseph was from the family of Mattathias. Mattathias was from the family of Amos. Amos was from the family of Nahum. Nahum was from the family of Esli. Esli was from the family of Naggai. v26 Naggai was from the family of Maath. Maath was from the family of Mattathias. Mattathias was from the family of Semein. Semein was from the family of Josech. Josech was from the family of Joda. v27 Joda was from the family of Joanan. Joanan was from the family of Rhesa. Rhesa was from the family of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was from the family of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was from the family of Neri. v28 Neri was from the family of Melchi. Melchi was from the family of Addi. Addi was from the family of Cosam. Cosam was from the family of Elmadam. Elmadam was from the family of Er. v29 Er was from the family of Joshua. Joshua was from the family of Eliezer. Eliezer was from the family of Jorim. Jorim was from the family of Matthat. Matthat was from the family of Levi. v30 Levi was from the family of Simeon. Simeon was from the family of Judah. Judah was from the family of Joseph. Joseph was from the family of Jonam. Jonam was from the family of Eliakim. v31 Eliakim was from the family of Melea. Melea was from the family of Menna. Menna was from the family of Mattatha. Mattatha was from the family of Nathan. Nathan was from the family of DAVID.

v32 DAVID was from the family of Jesse. Jesse was from the family of Obed. Obed was from the family of Boaz. Boaz was from the family of Salmon. Salmon was from the family of Nahshon. v33 Nahshon was from the family of Amminadab. Amminadab was from the family of Ram. Ram was from the family of Hezron. Hezron was from the family of Perez. Perez was from the family of JUDAH.

v34 JUDAH was from the family of Jacob. Jacob was from the family of Isaac. Isaac was from the family of Abraham. Abraham was from the family of Terah. Terah was from the family of Nahor. v35 Nahor was from the family of Serug. Serug was from the family of Reu. Reu was from the family of Peleg. Peleg was from the family of Eber. Eber was from the family of Shelah. v36 Shelah was from the family of Cainan. Cainan was from the family of Arphaxad. Arphaxad was from the family of Shem. Shem was from the family of Noah. Noah was from the family of Lamech. v37 Lamech was from the family of Methuselah. Methuselah was from the family of Enoch. Enoch was from the family of Jared. Jared was from the family of Mahalaleel. Mahalaleel was from the family of Cainan. v38 Cainan was from the family of Enosh. Enosh was from the family of Seth. Seth was from the family of ADAM. ADAM was from GOD.

Verses 23-38 There are several possible reasons why Jesus waited until he was 30 years old:

(1) There is no reference to Joseph after the *Passover visit to Jerusalem. Therefore, until he was 30, Jesus was working to take care of his mother, brothers and sisters.

(2) He had the opportunity to learn for himself the problems of family responsibilities. Later, when he taught, he could speak with authority.

(3) *Levites were officials who helped the priests. They began their service at the age of 30. People considered that a man of that age was mature.

To the *Jews, family history was very important. God had promised to send the *Christ who would be from David’s family. It was necessary to show that the *Christ was a *descendant of David. So, both Matthew and Luke record the family history. Here is an explanation for the two different family lists.

Matthew gives the legal list of names from Abraham to Joseph. In *Jewish law, Joseph was the father of Jesus but in fact, he was not. Matthew starts with Abraham and comes forward in time (Matthew 1:2-16). This shows that Jesus as a man comes from the *Jewish nation. Jesus was the *Christ that God promised to *Israel.

Luke shows that Jesus is not in fact a son of Joseph. So, he gives the list of Mary’s *ancestors. Joseph was the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16). Heli was his father-in-law (the father of Joseph’s wife Mary). Mary was the daughter of Heli. Probably Luke used the name of the male, Joseph, as it was the custom of the *Jews at that time. The *Jews would not usually end or start the family list with a woman. They would give the name of her husband instead.

Luke shows the family list from Joseph and he goes back in time to Adam. This shows the man Jesus as a relative of all people and not just of the *Jews. God promised Adam that his *descendant would defeat *Satan (Genesis 3:15). This *descendant was Jesus.

Chapter 4

Jesus and the devil 4:1-13

v1-2 Jesus returned from the river Jordan. He was full of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit led him into the desert for 40 days. During that time, the devil tried to make him do wrong. Jesus ate nothing. At the end of 40 days, he was hungry. v3 The devil said to him, ‘If you really are God’s Son, order this stone to turn into bread’. v4 Jesus answered, ‘The *Scripture says, “Bread is not people’s only need” ’. v5 The devil took him up, and showed him all the countries of the world at the same time. v6 He said, ‘I will give all this authority and *glory to you. God has given it to me and I can give it to anyone that I choose. v7 Just *worship me and it will all be yours’. v8 Jesus answered, ‘The *Scripture says, “*Worship the *Lord your God, and serve only him” ’. v9 The devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and put him on top of the *Temple. He said to Jesus, ‘If you really are God’s Son, jump off. v10 The *Scripture says, “God will order his *angels to take care of you. They will keep you safe” v11 and “they will catch you in their arms. You will not even hurt your feet on the stones” ’. v12 Jesus answered, ‘*Scripture also says, “Do not test the *Lord your God!” ’ v13 When the devil had finished every test, he left Jesus until he had another opportunity.

Verse 1 Jesus returned after John had *baptised him in the river Jordan. While Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, he has been thinking about his work as *Messiah. All the verses that Jesus will use against the devil are from Deuteronomy. This suggests that Jesus has been thinking about Moses’ 40 days in the desert (Deuteronomy 9:9-18). During those 40 days, Moses received God’s instructions for his work.

Verses 2-4 The devil tries to make Jesus doubt that he is God’s Son and to use the wrong methods for his work. Jesus is hungry. So, the devil suggests that Jesus could use his power to turn the stones into bread. The hot, flat stones look like bread. The attractive idea would satisfy his own hunger. Also, Jesus could do the same to show his sympathy for the hungry crowds. The *Jews believed that, when the *Messiah came, he would give them bread from heaven (John 6:30-31). Jesus knows that to satisfy someone’s need for food will still leave that person hungry for God. Jesus refuses to do what the devil suggested. Jesus uses words from Deuteronomy (8:3). Those words mean that life is more than being alive. People need more in life than food for their bodies.

Verses 5-8 The devil now takes Jesus to a high place. From there, he can see all the countries of the world. The devil offers them to Jesus, if only Jesus will *worship him. This second test refers to the way in which other countries attracted the ancient *Israelites to follow their gods (Deuteronomy 6:10-15). Jesus knows that *worship belongs to God alone. People must not *worship anything that makes them turn away from God. Jesus again uses words from Deuteronomy (6:13) when he refuses the devil’s offer.

Verses 9–12 Then Jesus imagines that he is on the very top of the *Temple in Jerusalem. Below him, there is a drop of 450 feet (150 metres) into the Kidron Valley. If Jesus jumps off the roof of the *Temple in safety, it will be an extraordinary sight. It will attract people to follow him. The devil uses words from Psalm 91:11-12. He suggests that even the *Scriptures say that Jesus can trust God to keep him safe. But the devil does not go on to mention the next words (Psalm 91:13). They refer to the defeat of a lion. That is a picture of the devil (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus replies and speaks words from Deuteronomy (6:16). He says that it is always wrong to test God. And it is wrong to do something foolish. It is also no use. People who desire the excitement of extraordinary events soon become tired of them.

Verse 13 The devil then left Jesus, but only until he thought that he had another chance.

It was often difficult for Jesus to find enough time to teach. People were always asking him to help them. While Jesus was popular, the people wanted to make him a political leader (John 6:15). Many of his enemies asked Jesus for evidence to prove who he was (Luke 11:16).

Jesus begins to teach 4:14-15

v14 Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. News about him spread everywhere. v15 He taught in all their *synagogues, and everyone was praising him.

The people of Nazareth refuse to accept Jesus 4:16-30

v16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had grown up. He went to the *synagogue on the *Sabbath day. This was his custom. He stood up to read. v17 The official gave him the book of the *prophet Isaiah. Jesus opened the book and found the place where it said, v18-20 ‘The Holy Spirit is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me

·     to announce freedom for people in prison

·     to give sight to blind people

·     to give freedom to everyone who is suffering

·     to announce that this is the time that the *Lord has chosen to *save people’.

Jesus closed the book and gave it to the official. Then he sat down. Everyone in the *synagogue was looking at him.

Verse 16 The *synagogue was the place where the *Jews met to *worship God. The *Sabbath was the seventh day of the *Jewish week. It was a day of rest that lasted from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. In part of the service, someone read the *Hebrew *Scriptures. The officials might ask a visitor to read and then explain the words.

Verse 17 This official was responsible for the *scrolls, which he kept in a wooden cupboard. The ‘book’ was a long *scroll that Jesus had to roll open. The verses that he chose to read describe the work of the *Messiah. They are from Isaiah 61:1-2.

Verse 18 The poor are those who have very little. The *Messiah will give freedom to people as he forgives them. The blind will be able to see again. People can also be blind about *spiritual truth. The *Messiah will help these people to understand his words.

Verse 19 Jesus read the news of the arrival of the *Messiah. Then he finished reading. He did not complete the verse with the words about God punishing wicked people.

Verse 20 A teacher usually sat down when he taught.

v21 Jesus said to them, ‘This word has come true today’. v22 Jesus impressed the people by the attractive way in which he spoke. And he astonished them. The man that they had known as Joseph’s son was claiming to be the *Messiah. v23 Jesus said to them, ‘No doubt you will say to me, “Doctor, cure yourself. We have heard about your work in Capernaum. Do the same things here in your home town” ’. v24 Jesus said, ‘People will not accept a *prophet from their own area. v25 I tell you the truth. In the time of Elijah, there was not much food because there had been no rain for three and a half years. There were many widows in *Israel. v26 Yet Elijah did not go to help any of them. He went only to a *Gentile widow in Zarephath in Sidon. v27 There were many people with skin diseases in the time of the *prophet Elisha. But it was only Naaman, who came from Syria, who became clean’ (1 Kings 5:1-14). v28 When they heard this, everyone in the *synagogue was extremely angry. v29 They jumped up and pushed Jesus out of the city. Their city was on a hill. They took Jesus to the top of the hill. They intended to throw him down over the side of the hill. v30 But Jesus walked straight through the crowd and left them.

Verses 22-23 The *Jews in Nazareth thought that they knew everything about Jesus. They had seen him grow up. They knew his family. He had been a carpenter (he made wooden objects). They could not believe that he was the *Messiah. In the same way, we may not give honour to someone who is very familiar to us. Jesus knew that they wanted him to prove that he was speaking the truth. They wanted Jesus to do something wonderful for them. This demand was like the devil’s third test in the desert.

Verses 25-27 In the past, *Jews had not believed the *prophets Elijah and Elisha. In the same way Jesus was saying that the *Jews of his day would not accept their *Messiah.

Verse 28 The idea that *Gentiles were better than *Jews made the *Jews in the *synagogue extremely angry. They wanted to kill Jesus.

Verse 29 The *Jews intended to push him over a steep hill. If he did not die when he fell, they would throw stones at him.

Verse 30 Jesus remained calm. He walked away through the angry crowd. He never returned to Nazareth. The people there had had their chance.

Jesus in Capernaum 4:31-44

1. The authority of Jesus 4:31-37

v31 Jesus went down from Nazareth to Capernaum, which was a town in the region of Galilee. He taught the people in the *synagogue on the *Sabbath. v32 The authority with which Jesus spoke astonished everyone. v33 In the *synagogue there was a man whom a *demon controlled. The *demon made him ‘*unclean’. v34 ‘Go away!’ the *demon screamed. ‘We want nothing to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth. Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the Holy One of God’. v35 ‘Be silent and come out of him!’ ordered Jesus. The *demon threw the man on the floor in front of them and then left him. The *demon had not hurt him. v36 Jesus’ words astonished everyone. They said to one another, ‘He has authority and power over evil spirits! They come out!’ v37 The news of what Jesus had done spread everywhere in the whole region.

Verse 31 Capernaum was a city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was an important port for trade. Jesus used it as his home. He went out from there to teach in Galilee.

Verse 32 The *scribes taught by referring to traditions. They supported their arguments by what past teachers had said. They taught in a confusing way rather than a helpful way. The *prophets had used the words ‘This is what the *Lord says’, when they gave God’s messages to people. But Jesus spoke with his own authority. He knew that he was the *Messiah.

Verse 33 The *demon was a wicked spirit. It made the person ‘*unclean’.

Verse 34 The word ‘us’ includes other *demons. They were all expecting punishment one day. The *demon, which was in the man, recognised that Jesus came from God. Jesus was ‘holy’, without *sin, and set apart for God’s work. The ‘Holy One of God’ was a title of the *Messiah. The *demon knew that the *Messiah would destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

Verse 35 People tried to force out *demons by all kinds of methods. Jesus cured the man just by his order. Luke, who was a doctor, noted that the *demon had not hurt the man.

Verse 36 The people recognised that Jesus had authority to make the *demons leave. His words had the power to make them obey him.

Jesus taught in a very different way from the *rabbis. They only repeated what earlier teachers had said. Jesus spoke in a direct way, on his own authority. He did not depend on the authority of what other people had said.

Verse 37 The news spread in the region of Galilee round Capernaum.

2. Simon’s wife’s mother 4:38-39

v38 Jesus left the *synagogue and went to Simon’s home. Simon’s wife’s mother was ill with a high (bad) *fever. They asked Jesus to help her. v39 He went and stood by her bed. He ordered the *fever to leave her. At once, she became well again. She got up and served them.

Verse 38 Jesus calls Simon Peter to be a *disciple in chapter 5. Simon Peter’s home was in Capernaum. Luke, who was a doctor, uses a medical term when he speaks of a ‘high (bad) *fever’.

Verse 39 Jesus shows his authority again when he orders the *fever to go. At once, she is well and able to prepare food for them all.

3. The evening 4:40-41

v40 After sunset, all those who had any sick people with various diseases brought them to Jesus. He put his hands on the people and made them all well. v41 *Demons also came out of many people and they screamed, ‘You are the *Son of God!’ But Jesus ordered them not to speak. They realised that he was the *Messiah.

Verse 40 People remained at home as it was the *Sabbath day. They could not carry anyone to Jesus. It was against the *Jewish *Sabbath tradition to carry something. The *Sabbath ended at sunset. Then friends and relatives were able to bring their sick friends to Jesus. They either carried them on mats or helped them to walk. There were many different diseases among the sick people. On this occasion, Jesus cured by touching people.

Verse 41 Jesus did not want *demons to say who he was. If people believed the *demons, they might try to make Jesus king. Jesus did not want to begin a popular movement against the *Romans. This would cause great trouble. Then he would not be able to do his work.

4. Jesus leaves Capernaum 4:42-44

v42 When day came, Jesus left the town. He went to a quiet place by himself. But people began to look for him. When they found him, they tried to stop him so that he did not leave Capernaum. v43 But he said to them, ‘I must declare the good news about the *kingdom of God in other towns as well. That is what God sent has sent me to do’. v44 So he continued to teach in the *synagogues in all parts of the country.

Verse 42 Early on Sunday morning, Jesus went off by himself. Mark says that he went to pray (Mark 1:35).

Verse 43 ‘The *kingdom of God’ is not a country. It means that God rules as king. It is both a present and a future *kingdom. It was present when Jesus came. Everyone who believes him becomes part of his *kingdom. It is still in the future, when God will establish his rule over the whole world.

Chapter 5

Jesus calls the first *disciples 5:1-11

v1 The people crowded round Jesus because they were so eager to hear God’s message. He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. v2 Jesus saw two boats on the shore. Men had been fishing. They had left their boats and they were washing their nets. v3 Jesus got into the boat that belonged to Simon. Jesus asked Simon to move his boat into the water little way from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. v4 When he had finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon, ‘Take the boat into the deep water. Drop your nets to catch fish’. v5 Simon said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But because you tell me to, I will drop the nets into the water’. v6 When they had done this, their nets caught a great crowd of fish. The nets began to tear.

v7 So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled the two boats so full of fish that the boat almost sank. v8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down on his knees in front of Jesus. He said, ‘Leave me, for I am a wicked man, *Lord’. v9 For the great number of fish astonished Simon and his companions. v10 It astonished his partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, as well. Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch people’. v11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and went with him.

Verse 1 Gennesaret is another name for the Sea of Galilee. Luke always calls it a lake. It is a very large lake in Galilee, about 13 miles (21 kilometres) long and 7 miles (11 kilometres) wide. The river Jordan flows into the north end and flows out of the south end.

Verse 3 The crowds were pushing forward to hear Jesus. He got into the boat so that he avoided the crowds. Now they would all be able to see and hear him.

Verse 5 Simon had been fishing in this lake for many years. He knew that the best time to fish was at night. He did not expect Jesus to know that. He had only been a carpenter (made wooden objects). Simon protested. But he was willing to do what Jesus said.

Verse 7 Their partners in the second boat were James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Luke does not mention Andrew’s name here. But he may have been in the boat with his brother Simon.

Verse 8 Simon Peter somehow felt that Jesus was holy, but that he himself was not holy. Jesus seemed to have power that other people did not have. Simon called Jesus ‘*Lord’. This suggests that Simon realised that Jesus had the right to tell him what to do.

Verse 10 Jesus told them that they had worked to catch fish. Now they must work to catch people for him. They had worked to kill fish. Now they must work to give people *spiritual life.

Jesus cures a man with *leprosy 5:12-16

v12 While Jesus was in one of the cities, a man came to him. This man was full of *leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he laid down on his front, in front of Jesus. The man said, ‘*Lord, you can make me clean if you want to’. v13 Jesus touched him with his hand. ‘I do want to’, he answered. ‘Be clean!’ At once the *leprosy disappeared. v14 Jesus ordered him not to tell anyone what had happened. ‘But go and show yourself to the priest. Then, because you are well again, offer a *sacrifice to God. Offer whatever Moses has ordered. This will prove to everyone that you are healthy’. v15 But the news about the man spread even more. Great crowds came to listen to Jesus. They asked him to cure their diseases. v16 But Jesus went away to pray in the desert.

Verse 12 In the Bible the word *leprosy refers to the disease that we call *leprosy. But it also includes other types of skin diseases. People with *leprosy had to keep far away from other people. They must call out ‘I am not clean!’ They warned other people not to come near them. Therefore, they could not be with their family or friends. Luke describes this man as ‘full of *leprosy’. He uses a medical term for a very serious form of the disease. The man came close enough to Jesus to fall down near his feet. He was not being humble. He was desperate. He needed Jesus’ help. This was urgent. He trusted that Jesus could *heal him. He was not sure that Jesus would want to.

Verse 13 Jesus would make himself ‘*unclean’ if he touched a person with *leprosy. But Jesus took no notice of this fact. Instead, he reached out and touched the man.

Verse 14 A priest acted as a medical officer of health. If the priest declared that the man was healthy, then he could go back among people. And the man who was now well would make the necessary *offerings. The law describes these matters in Leviticus 14:1-32. Everyone would then know that the man was really well again. They would accept him back into society. Although Jesus did not keep the *Sabbath traditions, he obeyed the law of Moses.

Jesus *heals a man who could not walk 5:17-26

v17 One day, as Jesus was teaching, some *Pharisees and teachers of the law of Moses were sitting there. They had come from every town in Galilee and Judea, and from Jerusalem. God had given Jesus the power to *heal sick people. v18 Some men came with a man who could not move. They were carrying him on a mat. They tried to take him into the house and put him in front of Jesus. v19 But the crowd was too great. They could not find a way in. So they went up on the roof. They let him down through a hole in the roof into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. v20 Jesus saw how much *faith they had. So he said to the man, ‘My friend, God has *forgiven your *sins’. v21 The teachers of the law and the *Pharisees began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man Jesus? This Jesus is insulting God! Only God can forgive *sins!’ v22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Why are you thinking that? v23 Is it easier to say, “You are free from your *sins”, or to say, “Get up and walk”? v24 I will show you that the *Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive *sins’. Jesus said to the man who could not walk, ‘Get up. Pick up your mat and walk home’. v25 At once the man got up in front of everyone. He picked up the mat on which he had been lying. He went home, praising God. v26 He astonished everybody, and they praised God. They said, ‘We have seen wonderful things today’.

Verse 17 Luke does not say where Jesus was teaching. Mark says that it was in Capernaum. It was perhaps in Peter’s house (Mark 2:1).

The *Pharisees were strict *Jews who obeyed the law of Moses. They also tried to obey all the traditions that explained the law. Many *Pharisees were proud of all that they did. They were not sincere when they gave honour to God. They soon began to oppose what Jesus said and did. The teachers of the law (often called ‘*scribes’) were experts. They explained the *Hebrew *Scriptures. They taught especially about the law of Moses in the first five books of the *Old Testament.

Verse 18 Mark says that four men carried the man on his mat (Mark 2:3).

Verse 19 Houses usually had an outside staircase that went up to the flat roof. They made the roof from wood and mud. The men could easily make a hole in it.

Verse 20 At that time people believed that everyone who suffered was guilty of *sin (John 9:2). Even today, when people are ill they sometimes say, ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ Some people may suffer because of what they have done. But this does not explain all illnesses. It was important that this man should not feel guilty any more, whatever the reason for his illness.

Verse 21 The *Pharisees said that God alone could forgive *sins. They were right. However, they were wrong when they accused Jesus. He had not insulted God. Jesus was the *Messiah. He knew that he had God’s authority.

Verses 22-23 When Jesus said ‘I forgive you’, the *sin may or may not have gone. People could not prove that it had happened. But the people could certainly see that the man was better. The man had not been able to move. But then he got up and was able to walk. That proved that Jesus had authority to forgive *sins.

Verse 24 Jesus called himself the *Son of Man. He used this name for himself many times. This phrase could mean that he was human. It showed that Jesus considered himself to be like other men. But it could also mean ‘the *Messiah’ (Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus probably used the name on purpose because it had a double meaning. Many people were expecting that the *Messiah would fight and free them from the rule of the *Romans. But that was not what Jesus had come to do.

Jesus calls Levi 5:27-32

v27 Jesus went out and saw a man who collected *taxes. His name was Levi. He was sitting in his office. Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me’. v28 Levi got up. He left everything and followed Jesus. v29 Then Levi made a splendid dinner for Jesus in his house. Many *tax-collectors (people who collected *taxes) were among the guests. v30 Some *Pharisees and teachers of the law who belonged to their group complained to Jesus’ *disciples. They asked, ‘Why do you eat and drink with *tax-collectors and other *sinners?’ v31 Jesus answered them, ‘People who are healthy do not need a doctor. Only sick people need a doctor. v32 I have not come to invite good people to change their ways. I have come to call *sinners’.

Verse 27 People hated *tax-collectors because they worked for the *Romans. Therefore, people regarded them as not loyal to their own country. It was also easy for them to cheat and take too much *tax. There were very many *taxes that people had to pay. Levi was in his customs shed. He collected taxes from people who were going in or out of Capernaum. This was a main trading route. Levi is the same person as Matthew (Matthew 9:9). His name is in the list of *apostles (Luke 6:15).

Verse 28 Perhaps Levi was giving up more than Peter and his partners gave up. They could, if necessary, return to their fishing. It is probable that Levi would not be able to return to his work as a customs official.

Verses 29-30 If you ate with people, this suggested that you approved of their behaviour. The *Pharisees would not want to mix with *tax-collectors and ‘*sinners’. ‘*Sinners’ were people who did not keep all the *religious rules of the *Pharisees. It did not usually mean that they were very wicked people.

Verses 31-32 When Jesus said ‘good people’, he meant people like the *Pharisees. They believed that they were good. But they were not sincere in their attitude to God and his laws. The ‘*sinners’ knew that they needed Jesus to help them. Jesus compared them to a sick person who knows that he needs a doctor.

A question about *fasting 5:33-35

v33 Some people said to Jesus, ‘The *disciples of John often *fast and pray. The *disciples of the *Pharisees do the same. But your *disciples continue to eat and drink’. v34 Jesus answered, ‘At a wedding party you cannot make the guests *fast, while the bridegroom is with them. v35 But the day will come when people will take the bridegroom away. Then they will *fast’.

Verse 33 The *Pharisees *fasted (did not eat food) on two days every week. They *fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. They tried to make people notice what they were doing. So, they looked as miserable as possible. They also prayed at fixed times during the day. The *Pharisees said that Jesus and his *disciples did not carry out these *religious duties.

Verse 34 Jesus said that guests at a wedding party are full of joy while the bridegroom is with them. Jesus was like the bridegroom. While he was with them, they would not *fast.

Verse 35 One day, people would take Jesus away to kill him. His *disciples would *fast then, not as a *religious duty, but because they were sad. Jesus and his *disciples often prayed. Luke does not record an answer to this part of the *Pharisees’ question.

The old and the new 5:36-39

v36 Jesus also told them this *parable. ‘Nobody uses a piece of new cloth to mend an old coat. He will spoil both. He will tear the new cloth, and that new piece will not match the old.

v37 Nobody pours new *wine into old *wineskins. If he does, the new *wine will burst the *wineskins. The *wine will pour out and the *wineskins will not be useful any more. v38 Instead, people must put new *wine into new *wineskins. v39 Nobody wants new *wine after drinking old *wine. He says that the old is better’.

Verses 36-39 Jesus uses two examples from daily life to describe what he was teaching. He was not aiming to ‘mend’ the *Jewish *faith. He was teaching new things. These were like a new piece of cloth. People make *wineskins from the skins of goats. The skin becomes hard when it is old. New *wine is strong enough to burst the old skins. The new things that Jesus taught were as powerful as new *wine. Some people would not like what he was teaching. They would be like a man who says that old *wine is better than new wine. The *Pharisees, and other people like them, were refusing to accept the joy that Jesus could give them. They preferred the ‘old *wine’ of their own traditions. They asked a question about *fasting. It had shown that they were not willing to change their ways. Their attitude was hard like an old *wineskin. They could not accept new ideas and the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Jesus’ message made people free from *sin. They could have joy as they obeyed God. However, Jesus’ message would destroy the religion of the *Pharisees. Their rules limited people’s freedom and did not give them any joy.

Chapter 6

How to use the *Sabbath 6:1-11

1. The *disciples in the fields of corn 6:1-5

v1 Jesus was walking through some fields of wheat on a *Sabbath. His *disciples picked some heads of wheat and rubbed them in their hands. Then they ate the grains. v2 Some *Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing that? The law does not allow any work on the *Sabbath’. v3 Jesus answered, ‘Have you read what David did? He and his companions were hungry. v4 He went into the house of God. He took the special bread that only priests may eat. He ate some himself and gave some to his men as well’. v5 Then Jesus said, ‘The *Son of Man is *Lord of the *Sabbath’.

Verse 1 The *disciples were not stealing. It was legal for people to pick heads of grain (Deuteronomy 23:25).

Verse 2 The *Pharisees accused the *disciples that they were working on the *Sabbath. When they picked the grain, they were harvesting it. When they separated the grain from its outer cover, they were *winnowing it. They had prepared food. All these activities were work. Work was not legal on the *Sabbath.

Verses 3-4 Jesus reminded the *Pharisees of how David and his men went into God’s holy place at the town of Nob. David and the men with him were hungry. So, they ate the holy bread that only priests should eat (1 Samuel 21:1-6). David and his men were hungry and needed something. This was more important than the law of Moses.

Verse 5 ‘*Son of Man’ is Jesus’ special name for himself (see note on Luke 5:24). As the Christ (*Messiah), Jesus had the right to decide what should happen on the *Sabbath. He came from the family of King David. David could break a law, because people needed something. Therefore, Jesus could certainly take no notice of *Jewish traditions.

2. The man who could not use his hand 6:6-11

v6 On another *Sabbath, Jesus went to teach in a *synagogue. A man was there who could not use his stiff right hand. v7 The teachers of the law and the *Pharisees wanted to accuse Jesus because he did not obey the law. So they watched him to see if he would *heal on the *Sabbath. v8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He said to the man, ‘Stand up and come here to the front’. v9 Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, what does the law allow us to do on the *Sabbath? May we do good things or evil things? Should we save life or to destroy it?’ v10 Jesus looked round at everyone. Then he turned to the man and said, ‘Stretch out your hand’. He did so, and at once, his bad hand became well and useful again. v11 The *Pharisees became extremely angry. They discussed with one another what they could do to Jesus.

Verse 7 The *religious leaders allowed people to *heal on the *Sabbath, if someone’s life was in danger. If there was no danger, they had to wait.

Verse 9 Jesus intended to do good as he *healed the man. Then this man would be able to work again. The *Pharisees wanted Jesus to leave him alone. That was like doing wrong. Jesus intended to save the man. The *Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus.

Jesus calls the 12 *apostles 6:12-16

v12 At that time Jesus went up a hill to pray. He prayed to God during the whole night. v13 When day came, he called his *disciples to come to him. He chose 12 of them, whom he named *apostles. v14 He chose Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, v15-16 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon, whom people called the *Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who later handed Jesus over to his enemies.

Verse 12 Jesus knew that more people were becoming his enemies. He had to decide how he should continue his work. He had many *disciples. So, he prayed all night about the ones whom he should choose. They were to be his special helpers.

Verse 13 The nation of *Israel grew from the 12 sons of Jacob (Genesis 35:10, 23-26). Jesus was beginning a new people of God. The 12 were to be *apostles, that is, men whom Jesus sent out. He gave them his authority to teach about him. The people whom he chose were not rich or important, but ordinary men.

Verse 14 Simon Peter always comes first in the lists of the *apostles. He and his brother Andrew were *fishermen. So too were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. James and John had fierce tempers. Jesus called them ‘Boanerges’, which means ‘sons of *thunder’. This meant that they were always ready to give their own opinion in a noisy and unpleasant way (Mark 3:17). Philip and Bartholomew came from the town of Bethsaida in Galilee and knew one another.

Bartholomew is probably the same person as Nathanael (John 12:43-49).

Verse 15 Matthew was a *tax-collector. Thomas was a *twin (John 11:16). Another Simon (not Peter) belonged to a party of *Jews who wanted to fight the *Romans and force them out of their country. So Simon was in the same group as Matthew, who had worked for the *Romans. Most people hated the *Romans. Jesus can unite people who used to be enemies.

Verse 16 Judas, who was the son of James, is probably the same person as Thaddaeus in Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18. ‘Iscariot’ may mean ‘man from Kerioth’, a place in Judea. So, Judas Iscariot was the only one of the group of 12 men who did not come from Galilee.

Jesus teaches 6:17-49

1. The crowds and the *disciples 6:17-19

v17 Jesus went down from the hill with these 12 men. He stood on a level place with a large number of his *disciples. There was also a large crowd of people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem. They came from the north too, from the region of Tyre and Sidon on the coast. They came to listen to him and they wanted him to *heal their diseases. v18 Jesus also cured those who had wicked *demons troubling them. v19 All the people in the crowd tried to touch Jesus. This was because power went out from him and *healed them all.

2. *Blessings and troubles 6:20-26

v20 Jesus looked at his *disciples and said, ‘How happy you are if you possess nothing! The *kingdom of God is yours. v21 How happy you are if you are hungry now! God will completely satisfy you. How happy you are if you are crying now! You will laugh with joy.

v22 How happy you are, when people hate you! They cut you off from their company. They will say wicked things about you. This is all because you follow the *Son of Man. v23 Be glad when these things happen. Be full of joy, because God has a great reward for you in heaven. The *ancestors of such people behaved in the same way towards the *prophets.

v24 But how miserable for you who are rich now! You have already had your good time. v25 How miserable for you who have all you want now! For you will be hungry. How miserable for you who are laughing now! For you will be unhappy and cry. v26 How miserable for you when everyone praises you! That is how your *ancestors acted towards the false *prophets’.

Verse 20 Poor people have so little in this world. But they can know God’s secret. God’s *kingdom belongs to them! Jesus said that the *kingdom is theirs. It is theirs, not only in the future, but here and now. They can know God’s rule in their lives. He will guide them. He will care for them.

Verse 21 God will *bless those who are hungry now. They will have plenty to eat. God will supply everything that they need. God will *bless those who are sad now. They will be able to laugh again. They see that many people and organisations in the world are wicked and unjust. They will be full of joy when they see that goodness overcomes evil.

Verse 22 Jesus spoke about the future when he warned his *disciples. But his words were already coming true. The *Pharisees hated Jesus and were plotting to kill him. They shut a blind man out of the *synagogue. Jesus had *healed him so that he could see (John 9:20-34).

Verse 23 ‘Their *ancestors’ means the *ancestors of people like the *Pharisees. They had hated and insulted the *prophets. People will hate and insult the *disciples. This is the evidence that they are being loyal to Jesus.

In verses 21-23, all these *blessings are very different from the way in which the world thinks of happiness.

Next come 4 ‘woes’ which are the opposite of the 4 *blessings. ‘Woe to you!’ is an expression of regret, meaning ‘How miserable for you!’ It is also a warning that God’s judgement is to come.

Verse 24 Rich people have a comfortable life. These people think only about what they own. They do not think about what follows this life. They may enjoy their present life, but they have nothing else to come (1 Timothy 6:7).

Verse 25 Some people only think about what they own and enjoy in this world. But they will never find true satisfaction. When this life ends, they are going to cry (Isaiah 65:13-14).

Verse 26 People will be miserable if they just live to be popular with other people. In *Old Testament days many people praised the false *prophets. These false *prophets pretended that their messages came from God. But their messages were not true. They had invented them. There will still be false *prophets in the future (2 Peter 2:1).

3. Christian love 6:27-36

v27 ‘But I say to all who will listen to me: Love your enemies. Be good to those people who hate you. v28 Ask God to *bless those people who curse you. Pray for those people who insult and hurt you. v29 If anyone hits you on one cheek, offer him the other cheek as well. If someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt too. v30 Give to everyone who asks you for something. When someone takes away your goods, do not ask for them back again. v31 Do to other people what you would like them to do to you’.

v32 ‘You can not expect praise because you love the people who love you. Even *sinners love the people who love them! v33 You should not expect God to *bless you because you are kind to those who will be kind to you. Even *sinners do that. v34 You do not deserve honour, if you lend money and expect to get it back again. Even *sinners lend to *sinners, if they expect to get back the same amount. v35 But love your enemies and do good to them. Lend to them but do not expect to get anything back again. You will then have a great reward. You will be sons of the most high God. God is kind to people who are not grateful to him. He is kind to people who are wicked. v36 Be kind and generous like your Father’.

Verse 27 The *Jews knew God’s *commandment to love their neighbours (Leviticus 18:18). Their teachers had added the words ‘and hate your enemy’. But those words are not in the Bible. Instead, Jesus said that they must love their enemies. He was not asking them to like their enemies. This love was not like the natural emotion that they had towards their own family. Christian love means that you act for the benefit of the other person. It may be difficult, but God will help us. It is not a matter of the emotions, but we should do what God wants.

Verse 28 If someone hits you, you probably want to hit them back, perhaps twice as hard. This is a natural way to behave. The people who follow Jesus should behave in a different way. They must not do something evil to the person who does something evil to them.

Verses 29-30 Jesus did not mean that all Christians must give everything away and become very poor. But Christians must act with love. They must be generous to other people and not be selfish about their possessions.

Verse 31 Jesus gave this rule for the whole of life. There were many examples of the negative attitude, ‘Do not do to other people what you do not like’ (*Tobit 4:15). But Jesus said that those who follow him must be active and do good things. ‘Do to other people what you would want them to do to you’.

Verse 32 ‘*Sinners’ need not mean very wicked people. They are those who are not very *religious. They are not aware of God’s laws. Yet, even these people love the people who love them.

Verse 35 God is kind to everyone. This does not depend on people’s attitude to God, or how they behave. He is the Father whose children must behave in the same way as he does. The way that they behave will show whether they are God’s true children.

4. To judge is God’s work 6:37

v37 ‘Do not *judge other people, and God will not *judge you. Do not be severe with other people. Then God will not be severe with you. Forgive other people and God will forgive you’.

Verse 37 Jesus is not forbidding Christians to have an opinion about other people. He is saying that it is wrong to judge people if you do not know all the facts about their actions. A person, who remembers how much God has *forgiven him, will be generous to other people.

5. Be generous 6:38

v38 ‘Give to other people, and God will give to you. You will receive a full measure, a generous amount poured into your ‘pocket’. You will receive the kind of measure that you give to other people’.

Verse 38 People pulled part of their long clothing up over their belt to make a large pocket. People could fill this pocket with a large amount of grain. This is a picture of how people can be generous when they give. The reward from God will be even more generous.

6. The responsibilities of *disciples 6:39-42

v39 Jesus told them this *parable. ‘One blind man cannot lead another blind man. They will both fall into the ditch. v40 A student does not know as much as his teacher. But when he has learned enough, he will be like his teacher. v41 You look at the bit of dust in your brother’s eye but you do not notice the beam of wood in your own eye! v42 You should not say to your brother, “Brother, let me remove that tiny bit of dust from your eye”. You *hypocrite! First, take the large beam out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly so that you can remove the bit of dust from your brother’s eye’.

Verse 39 Perhaps this *parable was a warning so that people would not follow what the *Pharisees taught. Before a *disciple can teach other people to speak the truth and to love people, he must behave like that himself.

Verse 40 The *disciples needed to be humble so that they could learn from Jesus, their teacher. Then they would be able to help other people.

Verses 41-42 ‘Brother’ here does not mean a close relative. It means another member of the Christian family of God’s children.

A man cannot see if he has a big piece of wood that sticks out of his eye. His offer to remove the tiny bit of dust from his brother’s eye is stupid. Jesus’ humorous picture showed that it is impossible to correct another person’s mistake before one has corrected one’s own. The other person’s wrong actions may be very small when compared with one’s own.

The word ‘*hypocrite’ comes from a *Greek word which means that someone is acting. A *hypocrite is a person who pretends to be something that he is not.

7. Good and bad fruit 6:43-45

v43 ‘A healthy tree does not produce bad fruit. A tree that is not healthy cannot produce good fruit. v44 People recognise what kind of tree it is by its fruit. People do not pick *figs or *grapes from sharp thorn bushes. v45 A good person has good things stored in his heart. And so, he brings good things out of his heart. A bad person has evil things stored in his heart. So, he brings evil things out. A person’s words show what thoughts have filled his heart’.

Verses 43-44 If a tree is healthy, it has fruit that is good to eat. Thorn bushes are weeds. They have sharp branches. They produce fruit that people do not want to eat. A man’s ‘fruit’ means all of his words and actions. They will show what kind of person he is.

Verse 45 This is another way to describe good and bad fruit. Paul spoke of good riches which a *disciple stores in his heart. ‘Whatever is true, honourable, fair, pure, lovely…’ (Philippians 4:8). Jesus spoke of lies and other wicked words that come from a person’s heart (Mark 7:22). Whatever a person thinks about most will come out in his speech. The word ‘heart’ means the mind, from which thoughts and feelings come.

8. The two houses 6:46-49

v46 ‘Do not call me “*Lord, *Lord”, if you are not obeying me. v47 I will show you a picture of a man who obeys my words. v48 He is like a man who decided to build a house. He dug deep into the ground and put the foundation (base) of his house on rock. When a flood came, the river burst against that house. But the water could not shake the house, because it had a strong base. v49 Another man hears my words but does not practise what I have said. He is like someone who built his house on the ground without a base. When the flood burst against that house, it fell at once. The crash completely destroyed the house’.

Verses 46-49 The wise builder is someone who not only listens to Christ’s words, but obeys them. So, if a flood comes, that person will have God’s help to deal with it. A flood may not be a flood of water. It may be a sudden severe test, or a difficult problem in our family. It may come as a serious illness, or the death of someone that we love. It may come in ways that we do not expect.

The foolish person is someone who does not do what Jesus says. So, when sudden trouble comes, that person’s trust in God fails. It is too weak.

Chapter 7

The *faith of an army officer 7:1-10

v1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things to the people, he went to Capernaum.

v2 In that town, an officer in the *Roman army had a servant, whom he liked very much. The man was very ill and he was nearly dead. v3 When the officer heard about Jesus, the officer sent some *Jewish leaders with this message: ‘Please come and *heal my servant!’ v4 They immediately went to Jesus and urged him to come. ‘This man deserves your help. v5 He loves our people and he has even built our *synagogue’.

v6 So Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the officer sent friends to him. They gave Jesus a message from the officer: ‘Sir, you do not need to come. I do not deserve to have you in my house. v7 Nor am I good enough to come to you myself. But just give the order and my servant will be well. v8 For I too obey officers of higher rank. And I have soldiers who obey me. I tell one soldier to go, and he goes. If I say to another soldier, “Come”, he comes. If I order my servant to do something, he does it’. v9 The officer’s words greatly surprised Jesus. He turned round and said to the crowd behind him, ‘I tell you, I have never found *faith like this in *Israel’. v10 When the officer’s friends returned, they found that the servant was well.

Verse 2 The *Roman officer’s attitude was not usual. His servant was probably a *Jew. But he had served his master well. The officer certainly did not want him to die.

Verse 3 The *Jewish leaders were sincere when they asked Jesus to help.

Verse 5 They said that the officer loved the *Jews so much that he had paid to build their *synagogue. ‘Our’ *synagogue could mean that Capernaum had only one *synagogue. If so, it would be the building in which Jesus had already shown his power (Luke 4:31-37).

Verses 6-7 The *Roman officer was a humble man. He considered that Jesus was more important than he was. Also, he did not want Jesus, who was a *Jew, to make himself ‘*unclean’. This would happen if Jesus entered a *Gentile’s house (Acts 10:28).

Verse 8 He spoke from his own experience, when he requested Jesus to give an order. The officer knew what authority meant. He had to obey other officers who were superior to him. He himself could give an order to his soldiers, and they would obey him. He recognised that Jesus had God’s authority. If Jesus gave the order, the officer’s servant would get well.

Verse 9 The *Roman officer’s *faith astonished Jesus. It was stronger than the *faith of any *Jew, a member of God’s own people *Israel. Luke did not need to mention that Jesus actually gave the order. Instead Luke wants to emphasise the *faith of the *Roman officer, because he was a *Gentile.

The widow of Nain’s son 7:11-17

v11 Soon afterwards Jesus went to the town of Nain. His *disciples and a great crowd were with him. v12 As he came near to the town gate, he met a group of men. They were taking a dead man to his grave. The man who had died was the only son of his mother. She was a widow too. A large crowd from the town was with her. v13 When the *Lord saw her, he felt very sorry for her. He said to her, ‘Do not cry’. v14 Jesus went and touched the *bier. The men who were carrying it stood still. Jesus said ‘Young man, I tell you, get up!’ v15 The dead man sat up and began to speak. Jesus gave him to his mother. v16 Fear filled them all and they praised God. They said, ‘A great *prophet is here with us! God has come to help his people!’ v17 The news about Jesus spread all over Judea and everywhere else in that region.

Verse 12 Nain was a town with a wall round it. Jesus arrived at the gate in the wall. The widow had no other members of her family. Her son had provided her income and he protected her. He could not do that any more. Her family would not continue. Her husband was dead. Her son was dead too. She probably doubted whether God loved her. The large crowd with her was showing its sympathy for the death of her son.

Verse 14 When Jesus touched the *bier he made himself ‘*unclean’. Nobody had asked Jesus to help. Jesus acted because he had a lot of love.

Verse 15 When the young man spoke everyone knew that he had come back to life. Jesus gave an order. That order defeated death, at once and completely.

Verse 16 The crowd recognised that Jesus had used God’s power. So they called him ‘a great *prophet’. They were perhaps thinking of Elijah and Elisha. These two *prophets of the past had also made dead people come back to life (1 Kings 17:17-23; 2 Kings 4:17-37).

John the *Baptist’s question and Jesus’ answer 7:18-23

v18 When John’s *disciples told John about all these things, he called two of them. v19 He sent them to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the one who will come, or should we expect someone else?’ v20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, ‘John the *Baptist sent us to ask you, “Are you the one who will come? Or should we wait for someone else?” ’

v21 At that very time Jesus freed many people from their diseases and pains and freed them from wicked *demons. He made many blind people able to see.

v22 Jesus replied to John’s *messengers, ‘Go back to John. Tell him what you have seen and heard. The blind can see. The people with weak legs can walk. People with *leprosy are well again. Deaf people can hear. Dead people are alive again. The poor people are hearing the good news. v23 The person who has no doubt about me is very happy!’

Verse 18 John was in prison at the town of Machaerus by the Dead Sea. His *disciples told him what Jesus had done for the servant of the *Roman officer and for the widow’s son.

Verse 19 ‘The one who will come’ means ‘the *Messiah’. There may be more than one reason why John doubted. He may have wondered why Jesus did not do anything to free him from prison. Perhaps he was urging Jesus to tell people that he was the *Messiah. He did not know what to believe. He had warned people of God’s judgement. Perhaps he was expecting Jesus to free their country from the *Romans and to punish *sinners. However, Jesus was forgiving people and doing kind things.

Verses 21-22 When Jesus *healed people this pointed to the work of the *Messiah. This would remind John of the words of Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1. Jesus was making those words come true.

Jesus praises John 7:24-30

v24 After John’s *disciples had left, Jesus began to speak about John to the crowd. He said, ‘When you went into the desert, what did you expect to see? Did you expect to see grass that the wind was shaking? v25 Did you go out to the desert to see a man who wore expensive clothes? You only find people like that and luxury in palaces. v26 Did you go out to see a *prophet in the desert? Yes, he really is a *prophet and he is much more than a *prophet. v27 John is the one of whom the *Old Testament speaks. God said, “I will send my *messenger ahead of you. He will prepare the way for you” ’. v28 Jesus said, ‘I tell you that John is more important than any other person. But the least important in the *kingdom of God has more honour than John’.

v29 All the people who heard John’s message, even the *tax-collectors, accepted John’s warning. They believed that God’s demands were fair. They showed this because they came to John. They asked him to *baptise them. v30 But the *Pharisees and experts in the law did not accept what God wanted them to do. They refused to ask John to *baptise them.

Verse 24 Jesus did not want people to be confused when they heard about John’s doubts. The crowds did not go to see a very ordinary man. Nor did they go to see a weak man. He was not like grass that the wind blew one way and then another way. John did not keep changing what he believed so that he agreed with other people. He had a strong character and firm beliefs.

Verse 25 They did not go to see a rich man who was living a comfortable life. John had worn rough clothes. He had lived a strict life with very simple food (Mark 1:6).

Verse 27 The *prophet Malachi had written about John (Malachi 3:1).

Verse 28 God gave John more honour than any other person. John announced that the *Messiah had come. However, when Jesus appeared in public, John was humble enough to end his own work. He said, ‘Jesus must become more important, but I must become less important’ (John 3:30).

Verse 28 Jesus was not speaking about John’s character. He did not compare it with that of one of his own *followers. John was the link between the time of the *Old Testament and the time of the *New Testament. He belonged to the time of preparation for the *kingdom. Now Jesus had come, people could actually enter God’s *kingdom.

Children were playing 7:31-35

v31 Jesus asked, ‘I will tell you what you people are like. v32 You are like children who are sitting in the market place. They are calling out to one another, “We played you merry music for a wedding, but you would not dance. We sang a sad song for a funeral, but you would not cry”. v33 When John the *Baptist came, he ate no food and drank no *wine. You said, “He has a *demon in him”. v34 When the *Son of Man came, he ate and drank. You said, “Look at him! He is greedy, and he drinks too much *wine. He is a friend of *tax-collectors and *sinners”. v35 All those who are wise prove that wisdom is right.’

Verse 32 Jesus compared the people of his time with children playing a game of weddings and funerals. One group was arguing with another group. One group said that the other group would not play a game of weddings. So neither would they pretend to play a game of funerals.

Verses 33-34 In the same way, people did not want to accept either John or Jesus. John the *Baptist led a very strict life. People said that he was crazy. Jesus enjoyed normal social occasions. People said that he was too fond of food and drink. Moreover, he mixed with the wrong kind of people. The people of Jesus' time were not satisfied with anybody!

Verse 35 Both John the *Baptist and Jesus were doing what was right for them at that time. Wise people knew that.

The woman in the *Pharisee’s house 7:36-50

v36 A *Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. Jesus went to the *Pharisee’s house and sat down at the table. v37 A woman of the city, who had a bad character, came in. She had heard that Jesus was a guest in the *Pharisee’s house. She brought a little bottle of very expensive oil that had a sweet smell. v38 She stood behind Jesus, by his feet. She was crying and her tears fell on his feet. She dried his feet with her hair and kissed his feet. She poured the oil over them. v39 When the *Pharisee saw this, he thought, ‘If this man were really a *prophet, he would know what kind of woman she is. He would not let a bad person like her touch him’. v40 Jesus said, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you’. He answered, ‘Teacher, what is it?’ v41 ‘A man gave loans to two people. One had an enormous debt of money that would take a year and a half to earn. The other owed a small amount of money, one tenth of the other man’s debt. v42 Neither man was able to pay. So the man to whom they owed money forgave them both’.

Jesus asked, ‘Which of the two men will love him more?’ v43 Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, who had the greater debt’. ‘You are right’, Jesus said. v44 Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘You see this woman. I came into your home and you gave me no water to wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. v45 You did not welcome me with a kiss. She has been kissing my feet ever since I arrived. v46 You gave me no ordinary oil for my head. Yet, she has covered my feet with expensive oil. v47 Her great love to me proves that she knows that her many *sins have gone. The one who has few *sins for God to forgive shows little love’. v48 Then Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your *sins have gone’.

v49 The other guests began to talk among themselves, ‘Who is this man, who forgives *sins?’ v50 But Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your *faith in me has *saved you. Go in peace’.

Verse 36 It is not clear why Simon invited Jesus. Everybody was talking about Jesus. Simon may have been curious and wanted to see Jesus. He may have been eager to show people that he had entertained a famous teacher. He did not do the usual polite acts when he welcomed Jesus as a guest.

Verse 37 People often used to come in to watch what was happening.

It is probable that the woman had sex with men to earn money. She may have met Jesus before. She may have heard his message that God forgives.

Verse 38 The guests leaned on their side at a low table. Their feet were behind them, away from the table. The woman had come to show how grateful she was to Jesus. Her tears were tears of joy. People did not respect *Jewish women who showed their long hair in public. She did not care about what people might think.

Verse 40 Simon had not welcomed Jesus in the usual polite way. But Jesus made a polite request when he spoke to Simon.

Verse 43 Simon said ‘I suppose’. He probably suspected that the story involved himself.

Verses 44-46 Hosts would usually provide water for their guests. They could wash the dust of the road from their feet. It was the custom to give a guest a kiss on the cheek to welcome him. A man used to put oil on his face and head. This would make him feel soft and cool after the hot sun.

Simon had left out all these usual ways to welcome a guest. The woman’s lovely behaviour was very different from the way that Simon welcomed Jesus.

Verse 47 The woman’s great love showed that she was grateful that her many *sins were gone. Simon did not even realise that he needed God to forgive his ‘few’ *sins. Simon’s attitude to Jesus showed this.

Verse 48 Jesus wanted to make the woman completely certain that God had *forgiven her. Simon’s attitude may have made her feel that she had done the wrong thing. Jesus also wanted Simon and the other guests to know that she was no longer a ‘*sinner’.

Verse 49 Jesus had shown that he was more than a ‘*prophet’. He could forgive *sins. Only God has that right.

Verse 50 Jesus did not care about what the other people said. He sent the woman away ‘in peace’. She could be confident that Jesus had rescued her from the wrong way that she used to behave. Her *faith in Jesus had *saved her. She loved him because she knew that he had removed all her *sins.

Chapter 8

The women who helped Jesus 8:1-3

v1 Soon afterwards, Jesus travelled round the towns and villages. He brought the good news about the *kingdom of God. The 12 *apostles were with him. v2 There were also some women with him whom he had freed from wicked *demons and diseases. There was Mary whose name was Magdalene. Jesus had sent seven *demons out of her. v3 There was also Joanna, who was the wife of Chuza. He was an official in Herod’s court. And there were Susanna and many other women. They used their own money and goods to provide for Jesus and his *apostles.

Verse 2 Mary was from the town of Magdala on the west side of the lake of Galilee. Some writers say that she had behaved in a very bad way. However, the ‘seven *demons’ may describe a terrible mental illness that had caused her to suffer greatly.

Verse 3 Chuza was an important official. He looked after the financial affairs of Herod Antipas, who was the ruler of Galilee. His wife Joanna may have given information to Luke. These women paid for food and other things that they needed. People thought it was a good act to provide for a teacher and his *disciples.

The *parable of the man who sowed grain 8:4-8

v4 And when a large crowd from many towns came to him, Jesus told them this *parable: v5 ‘A man went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed, some of it went on the path. People walked on the seed and the birds ate it up. v6 Some of it went on stony ground. The plants began to grow. But they soon dried up because the soil contained no water. v7 Some of the seed landed among weeds. The weeds grew up and caused the wheat to die. v8 But some seeds went into good soil. The plants grew and produced grain. Each grain of seed produced a hundred grains.’ When Jesus ended the *parable, he said, ‘If you have ears to listen with, take careful notice of my words!’

Verse 5 A farmer sowed his seed by hand. He threw the seed across his field and he would plough it in afterwards. The path through the field would be hard because people had walked on it. The birds could eat this seed, as it lay on top of the ground.

Verse 6 The stony ground had a thin amount of earth over the rocks and stone. Such a small quantity of soil would not contain water because the hot sun would dry up any water there. The plant would not be able to grow deep roots. It would soon die, because it had no water.

Verse 7 Weeds grew up at the same time as the grain seeds. The weeds had many leaves so the light could not reach the young grain plants. The grain could not grow because the weeds filled up all the space.

Jesus explains why he uses *parables 8:9-10

v9 The *apostles asked Jesus what his *parable meant. v10 He answered, ‘God has made it possible for you to know the secrets of the *kingdom of God. But other people receive the secret truths about the *kingdom only in *parables. These people will look, but they will not see. They will hear, but they will not understand’.

Verses 9-10 Jesus contrasted his *apostles with other people. The truths of the *kingdom are secrets. People cannot discover for themselves what they mean. God tells that Jesus is King, only to those people who are willing to believe him. Other people who heard the *parable would not understand what it meant. Some people had refused to believe in Jesus. The result was that they were unable to see and accept the truth. *Parables show truth to people who are sincere and try to obey God. *Parables hide God’s truth from people who hear the stories, but do not desire to obey God.

Jesus explains the *parable 8:11-15

v11 ‘This is what the *parable means’, said Jesus. ‘The seed is God’s word.

v12 Those on the path are the people who hear. But the devil comes and takes God’s word away from their minds. The devil does this so that the people will not believe or find their way back to God. v13 Those on the rock are the people who hear God’s word and receive it with joy. But they believe only for a while. When troubles come, they lose their *faith. v14 The seeds that fell among the weeds are people who listen. But they worry. They are rich and want to have fun in this life. This leaves no room for *faith. Their *faith never produces the fruit of good actions. v15 The seeds in the good soil are the people who hear and remember God’s word. They are sincere and obey God. They do not give up, but go on to produce the ‘fruit’ of a good life’.

Verse 13 Troubles may be family problems, illness, *temptations to do wrong, or insults. The *faith of these people is not very deep and it soon dies, like plants in the hot sun.

Verse 14 Some people have many responsibilities in life. People desire wealth. They want to satisfy themselves in this life. All these things slowly push out the life of *faith. Some of these things may not be wrong in themselves. But they take a lot of time and people think about them. They do not have room for God.

This *parable invites people to think about their own ‘soil’. That is, the way in which they hear God’s word. The *parable will also encourage the *apostles when they give Jesus’ message. The people who listen will be like the people in the *parable. Some people will not be interested. The *faith of other people will not last. But there will be many other people who understand the message. They will receive it. These people will act on what they hear. Their lives will produce a harvest for God.

The lamp under a bowl 8:16-18

v16 ‘If someone lights a lamp he does not cover it with a bowl and put it under a bed. He puts the lamp where people can see the light as they come in. v17 If you hide something, somebody will find it. If you have a secret, someone will discover it. v18 Be careful, then, how you listen. Whoever has something will receive more. Anyone who has nothing will lose the little that he thinks that he has’.

Verse 16 The people who follow Jesus must show that they have *faith. Then they can give ‘light’ to other people. The ‘light’ means that they know God’s love.

Verse 17 One day, every secret will be open. People may try to hide their actions, words and ideas, but they will not succeed. God will show everything on judgement day.

Verse 18 Jesus told this *parable to warn people. They must listen to God’s word with great care.

‘Whoever has something, will receive more’. If we use our knowledge of God, he will give us more and more of this knowledge. Those who do not obey God’s word will lose what little knowledge they have.

Jesus’ family visit him 8:19-21

This incident emphasises that people should ‘hear and do’. It is in a suitable place, after the *parable of the man who sows grain.

v19 Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. But they could not get into the house where he was teaching because of the crowds. v20 Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you’. v21 Jesus said, ‘My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s message and obey it’.

Verse 19 Jesus had four brothers and several sisters (Mark 6:3). The tradition in the *Roman Catholic (world-wide) Church is that they were children of Joseph from a previous marriage, or they were cousins of Jesus. Other Christians believe that these brothers and sisters were children of Joseph and Mary. Luke describes Jesus as Mary’s first son (Luke 2:7). These words suggest that Mary and Joseph had other children from their normal marriage relationship.

His mother and brothers may have come to rescue Jesus and to take him home. They were worried. They had heard news of the crowds and of people opposing Jesus. They may even have wondered if he had become mad (Mark 3:21). Luke does not mention Joseph, so he may have died by this time.

Verse 21 Jesus never said that natural family relationships were not important. He cared for his mother, even when he was on the cross (John 19:27). He blamed the *Pharisees who wanted to try to avoid caring for their parents (Mark 7:9-13). But here Jesus was emphasising the importance of the Christian family and of his own work. The people who obey his message are part of his *spiritual family.

The storm on the lake 8:22-25

v22 One day Jesus got into a boat with his *apostles. He said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake’. v23 They set out. On the way, Jesus fell asleep. A fierce storm came onto the lake. A lot of water went into the boat. They were in danger because it might sink. v24 They woke Jesus and shouted, ‘Master, master, we are going to drown!’ Jesus woke up. He ordered the wind and the stormy waves to stop. The wind and the waves obeyed him. All became calm. v25 Jesus said to them, ‘Where is your *faith?’ They were afraid and astonished. They asked one another, ‘Who is this man? He gives orders to wind and water, and they obey him!’

Verse 23 Jesus’ work made him very tired. The crowds always needed him to help them. He was so tired that he fell asleep. He was not even aware of the storm until the *disciples woke him. Jesus was a real human and he needed to sleep.

Verse 24 The lake is below sea level and there are hills all round it. Because of the shape of these hills, the wind can cause sudden fierce storms on the lake. The lake can then become very dangerous. The men in the boat were used to this. But this time they were afraid that they would die.

Verse 25 Psalm 89:8-9 says that God made a stormy sea calm. If the *apostles knew this Psalm, it would answer their question. Jesus was showing his authority over nature in the same way as God who created the world.

Writers often use this event to show that Jesus can bring calm to the ‘storms’ of life. For example, these may be sudden tests or problems. We should remember that Jesus is always with us. This will keep us calm.

The man who was mad 8:26-39

v26 Then they arrived at the territory of Gerasa, which is across the lake from the region of Galilee. v27 As Jesus landed, a man from the town met him. A powerful *demon controlled the man. For a long time the man had worn no clothes. He was not living in a house, but he lived among the *tombs. v28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out. He fell down in front of Jesus and shouted, ‘Why do you bother me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I ask you, do not make me suffer’. v29 (Because Jesus had ordered the *demon to come out of the man. The *demon would often control the man completely. People had tried to control the man. They bound his hands and feet with chains. However, he was so strong that he broke the chains. The *demon would then make him go out into lonely places.) v30 Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ The man replied, ‘Legion’, because many *demons had gone into him.

v31 The *demons kept asking Jesus not to send them into the place of punishment

v32 A large number of pigs were feeding on the hill. The *demons asked Jesus to let them go into the pigs. So, he permitted them. v33 Then the *demons left the man and entered the pigs. The pigs rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and drowned.

v34 The men who had been looking after the pigs ran away. They told people in the town and the country what had happened. v35 So people went out to see for themselves. They found the man from whom the *demons had gone. He was sitting next to Jesus’ feet. The man had clothes on now and he was normal again. v36 The people who had seen the incident told how the man had become well. v37 Then all the people in the area asked Jesus to go away. They were very afraid. So, Jesus got into the boat and returned to Capernaum. v38 The man from whom the *demons had gone wanted to go with Jesus. But Jesus refused. v39 Jesus told the man to go home and declare how much God had done for him. The man went away. He told everyone in the town how much Jesus had done for him.

Verse 26 The town of Gerasa was south of the Sea of Galilee, and east of the river Jordan. People who lived there spoke in the *Greek language. So Jesus was among *Gentiles.

Verse 27 People believed that *tombs were the place where evil *demons lived. Mark tells us that the man would hurt himself with sharp stones (Mark 5:5).

Verse 28 The *demons were afraid that Jesus was about to send them to the place of punishment.

Verse 30 Jesus’ question, ‘What is your name?’ made the man calm. The man’s answer, ‘Legion’, meant that many *demons had gone into him. A legion was a section of the *Roman army of about 6000 soldiers. It is possible that *Roman soldiers had frightened the man in the past. This may have badly disturbed his mind.

Verse 31 On the day of judgement, God will send evil *demons to the place of punishment. They knew that Jesus would be their judge. They did not want their punishment already.

Verses 32-33 *Jews would not keep pigs, as they were ‘*unclean’ animals. They were a suitable home for ‘*unclean’ *demons. There were 2000 pigs (Mark 5:13). The owners accused Jesus and said that he robbed them of their income. But the healthy mind of a human being is more important than money. The death of the pigs would convince the man that he was completely well.

Verse 35 The man was sitting next to Jesus’ feet, and was eager to learn from Jesus.

Verse 37 The people did not consider that the man’s dangerous behaviour had gone. Or that he was not now a public nuisance. The people saw that Jesus had great power. They did not want Jesus to upset their lives.

Verse 39 Jesus told this man to tell people that he was well now. Jesus did not usually do this. But he was in was *Gentile territory. The people there had asked Jesus to go away. But the man would be able to tell them what God was doing through Jesus. The man’s *faith would become stronger as he told other people what had happened to him.

Jairus’s daughter (part 1) 8:40-42 (the story continues in 8:49-56)

v40 When Jesus returned to the other side of the lake, the crowd welcomed him. They were expecting him. v41 Then a man arrived. His name was Jairus. He was an official in the local *synagogue. He bent down at Jesus’ feet and asked Jesus to go to his home. v42 His only daughter, who was about 12 years old, was dying. As Jesus went along, the people crowded round him.

Verse 41 Jairus was responsible for arranging everything that happened in the *synagogue. He would have been an important person. He would know that Jesus had *healed people in Capernaum. He was also aware that many *Jewish leaders opposed Jesus. Therefore, he had courage when he approached Jesus in public. He was humble, too, because he bent down at Jesus’ feet. He had the *faith to ask Jesus to come to his house.

The woman who was bleeding 8:43-48

v43 There was a woman in the crowd round Jesus. She had been bleeding a lot for 12 years. She could not find anyone to cure her.

v44 She came in the crowd behind Jesus and touched the edge of his clothing. At once, she stopped bleeding. v45 Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ Everyone denied doing so. Peter said, ‘Master, there are many people who are crowding all round you and touching you!’ v46 But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me in a special way. I know that some power left me’. v47 The woman saw that she could not hide her *healing. So she came, trembling with fear, and went down onto her knees in front of Jesus. There, in front of everyone, she told him why she had touched him. She said that she had received *healing at once. v48 Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, you became well because you trusted me. Go in peace’.

Verse 43 Because of her illness, the woman was ‘*unclean’ (Leviticus 15:19-30). People would have avoided her. She could not take part in the *worship in the *synagogue. Mark 5:26 says that she had suffered much from many doctors. She had spent all her money to pay them. Instead of getting better, she had grown worse. (Luke, who was himself a doctor, left out these details!)

Verse 44 The edge of Jesus’ outer clothing had four *tassels. *Jews had these to remind them to keep God’s laws (Numbers 15:38-40).

Verse 46 Jesus lost some energy when the woman became well. He knew that she had touched him in a different way. He insisted that he wanted to know who had touched him. This was for the benefit of the person whom his power had *healed. If the woman said nothing then went away, she might feel guilty. She had taken a risk. She made Jesus ‘*unclean’ by her secret touch. She might not believe that her illness had ended completely. People might not believe her. She would then not find a welcome back into society.

Verse 48 Jesus used a kind word when he called her ‘daughter’. He declared that her *faith had made her well. He did not want her to think that he had some form of magic in the edge of his clothing.

Jairus’ daughter (part 2) verses 49-56 (continued from 8:42)

v49 While Jesus was still speaking, a man came from the official’s house. ‘Your daughter has died’, he told Jairus. ‘Do not bother the teacher any more’. v50 But Jesus heard the message and told Jairus, ‘Do not be afraid. Trust me and she will be all right’. v51 When he arrived at the house he allowed only Peter, James, John and the girl’s father and mother to go in with him. v52 Everyone there was crying and weeping in their usual noisy way. Jesus said, ‘Do not cry. The child is not dead. She is only asleep’. v53 They all laughed at him. They knew that she was dead. v54 But Jesus held her hand and said, ‘Little girl, get up!’

v55 Her life returned and she got up at once. Jesus told the parents to give her something to eat. v56 The event astonished them. But Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Verse 51 This is the first time that Jesus gives Peter, James and John a special place in his work. He sent away all those who would worry or frighten the girl.

Verse 52 Jesus speaks of death as ‘sleep’ (John 11:11-13). This is how the *New Testament describes the death of Christians (1 Corinthians 15:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). This is true even if the person dies in a painful way (Acts 7:60).

Verse 54 Jesus called the girl as her mother might have done to wake her in the morning.

Verse 55 Jesus gave a practical order. The girl needed something to eat. Food would help to make her strong after her illness. Her parents needed something to do to bring life back to normal.

Verse 56 His order not to tell anyone meant that they must give all their attention to their daughter. This would also protect her from too much attention and from crowds gathering round the house.

Chapter 9

Jesus sends out the 12 *apostles 9:1-10

v1 Jesus called the 12 *apostles together. He gave them power and authority over all *demons and diseases. v2 Then he sent them out to tell people the good news about the *kingdom of God and to *heal the sick. v3 He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey. No stick, no bag, no food, no money. Do not even take a spare coat. v4 Stay in the same house as a guest until you leave that town. v5 Wherever people do not welcome you, leave that town. Shake the dust off your feet to warn them of God’s punishment’. v6 The *apostles left and travelled through all the villages. They announced the good news and *healed people everywhere.

v7 Herod, the ruler of Galilee, heard about all the things that were happening. The reports confused him. Some people were saying that John the *Baptist had come back to life. v8 Other people said that Elijah had appeared. Other people said that one of the *prophets of long ago had risen from the dead.

v9 Herod said, ‘I killed John. Who is this man about whom I hear such things?’ He kept trying to see Jesus.

v10 When they returned, the *apostles told Jesus everything that they had done. He took them away to the town of Bethsaida, so that they could be quiet together.

Verses 1-2 The people who opposed Jesus were making it more difficult for him. He was aware that his time in Galilee would end soon. The 12 *apostles would make his message known more widely.

Verse 3 They were to carry nothing that would delay them. These instructions would also test them. They had to trust that God would provide everything. Jesus was preparing them for their future work.

Verse 4 They should stay in the same house where they were guests. They must not move somewhere else because they prefer the place.

Verse 5 The *apostles must not waste time on *Jews who do not give them a welcome. They must shake the dust of that place from their feet. This showed that they were not responsible for the people of that town any more. Their opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus was over. Those *Jews were no better than *Gentiles. (*Jews always shook the dust off their feet when they returned from *Gentile territory.) The action warned them that they must expect God to punish them. As they were *Jews, they should have given a welcome to God’s promise and his *messengers.

Verses 7- 9 Herod Antipas remembered that he had ordered John the *Baptist’s death at the request of Herodias (Mark 6:14-28). Herod had a guilty conscience about this, and popular opinion about Jesus confused him. He wondered who Jesus was. Later he did get an opportunity to see Jesus. That was when Pilate sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:6-12).

Verse 10 Bethsaida was on the north east shore of Lake Galilee. It was outside Herod’s territory. Jesus took the 12 *apostles there so that he could be alone with them. He wanted to hear more about their work, and he wanted to rest with them.

Jesus feeds 5000 people 9:11-17

v11 When the crowds heard about it, they followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the *kingdom of God. He cured their sick people.

v12 At the end of the afternoon, the 12 *apostles came to Jesus. They said, ‘Send the crowd away to go into the villages and country round here. There they can find food and somewhere to stay for the night. Because there is nothing in this lonely place’. v13 But Jesus said, ‘You give them something to eat’. The *apostles protested, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish. Do you want us to go and buy food for all these people?’ v14 (There were about 5000 people there.) Jesus told his *apostles to make the people sit down in groups of about 50. v15 They did so, and they made them all sit down. v16 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish. He looked up to heaven and thanked God for them. Then he divided the bread and fish and gave pieces to the *apostles to give to the crowd. v17 They all had enough to satisfy them. The *apostles collected 12 baskets full of the pieces that were left over.

Verses 10-17 A *miracle happened. Everyone had plenty to eat and there were even 12 baskets of food left over.

At that time, there was a popular idea about the period of the *Messiah. The people thought that it would include a splendid dinner (Revelation 19:7). The *Jews believed that the *Messiah would feed them with special food from heaven. God fed the *Israelites in the desert in this way (Exodus 16). John 6:15 says that the *miracle of the bread and fish made the crowd believe that Jesus was the *Messiah. So, they tried to make him king.

Christians see the *miracle as the evidence that Christ feeds their *spiritual life. Nobody who comes to him goes away empty. The *miracle also reminds us of the *Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) in which Christians receive *spiritual food.

Verse 11 Although he wished to be alone with the 12 *apostles, Jesus still welcomed the people.

Verse 13 Philip calculated that they would need more than 200 days’ wages to give each person only a little food (John 6:7).

Verse 14 Jesus ordered the people to sit down in groups. This made it easy for the *apostles to give out the food.

Verses 16-17 The *Jews always thanked God for their food at the beginning of a meal.

This event was so important that it appears in all four *Gospels.

Peter declares that Jesus is the *Christ 9:18-22

v18 One day, when Jesus was praying alone, the *apostles came to him. ‘Who do the people say that I am?’ he asked them. v19 They answered, ‘Some people are saying that you are John the *Baptist. Other people say that you are Elijah. Other people say that one of the *prophets of long ago has come back to life’. v20 Jesus said to them, ‘What about you? Who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the *Messiah whom God has sent’. v21 Then Jesus gave them strict orders that they were not to tell anyone. v22 He also told them, ‘The *Son of Man must suffer many things. The *elders, chief priests and the teachers of the law will refuse to accept him. People will kill him. But three days later God will raise him to life’.

Verse 18 Matthew 16:13 says that this incident happened near Caesarea Philippi.

Verse 19 God promised that Elijah would return before the *Messiah (Malachi 4:5).

Verse 21 If the *apostles had spread the news that Jesus was the *Messiah, people would have misunderstood. They thought that the *Messiah would be a political leader. They expected him to free their country from the rule of *Romans. Peter and the other *apostles also needed to learn what kind of *Messiah he was.

Verse 22 In Daniel 7:13-14, ‘*Son of Man’ is a title of honour and power. Jesus used this title for himself here. He said that he ‘must’ suffer. He meant that all that happened to him was part of God’s plan for him.

It was the *Jewish leaders of the nation who would refuse to accept the declarations of Jesus. Jesus died and rose from death. This was in God’s plan for him.

Take up the cross 9:23-27

v23 Jesus said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself. He must take up his cross every day, and follow me. v24 For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it. But whoever loses his life because of me, he will save it. v25 A person gains nothing, if he wins the whole world but loses his true life. v26 Some people may be ashamed of me and of my words. If they are, the *Son of Man will be ashamed of them. This will happen when he returns to earth in his *glory and in the *glory of the Father and of the holy *angels. v27 I tell you the truth. There are some here who will see the *kingdom of God before they die’.

Verse 23 To ‘take up his cross’ meant that someone was going to his death. When the *Romans were going to kill a man by *crucifixion he had to carry the central bar of his cross. The people who were listening to Jesus would have often seen this. The people who want to follow Christ must put to death their own selfish desires. They must be loyal to him, whatever the cost. The Christian life is a life of continuous discipline.

Verse 24 A man who tries to gain everything for himself in this life will lose his *eternal wealth. Some people refuse to satisfy their own desires because Christ is most important in their life. They will have life with him.

Verse 25 ‘The whole world’ means possessions, things that people enjoy and power. All these things have no value if someone gains them but ruins his *soul.

Verse 26 Jesus was speaking of his future *kingdom when he will come in *glory. On that day, he will not accept the people who were not loyal to him and his message on earth. They are not his *disciples

Verse 27 Some of those present would live until they saw the *kingdom of God. They would see Christ’s *resurrection, *ascension, and see the Holy Spirit come at *Pentecost. They would see how the good news of Jesus spread in the world. And they would see thousands of people accept Jesus as king.

These two verses (26 and 27) describe both the future *kingdom and the *kingdom that is present and growing on earth.

The *transfiguration 9:28-36

v28 About a week later, Jesus took Peter, John and James with him. He went up on the mountain to pray. v29 While he was praying, his face changed its appearance. His clothes became almost too shining white to look at. v30 Two men were talking with him. They were Moses and Elijah. v31 They appeared in the splendid light of heaven. They talked with Jesus about his death in Jerusalem, which would complete God’s purpose. v32 Peter and those with him were asleep. But they woke up. They saw Jesus’ *glory and the two men who were standing with him. v33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. We will make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah’. He did not know what he was saying.

v34 While he was still speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them.

v35 A voice came from the cloud and said, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him!’

v36 After the voice had spoken, they saw that Jesus was alone. The *apostles kept quiet about all this. At that time, they told nobody what they had seen.

Verse 28 Luke does not name the mountain. It was probably *Mount Hermon, near Caesarea Philippi. This was where Peter had said that Jesus was the *Messiah. However, it could be *Mount Tabor if Jesus had returned to Galilee during the week.

Verse 29 Matthew 17:2 says that Jesus’ face shone like the sun. Peter, James & John were able to see for a short time what Jesus will be like in his *glory.

Verse 30 Moses, through whom God gave the law, and Elijah, the great *prophet, were both there. This showed that Jesus was more important. He explained what the Law meant, and he made the message of the *prophets come true. Seeing Moses and Elijah would make Peter, James and John stronger in their belief that God’s servants would live again after they had died.

Verse 31 The *Greek word that Luke used for Jesus’ death is ‘exodus’. By his death on the cross, Jesus would rescue men from *sin. Moses had rescued the *Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt. That event was ‘the Exodus’. Jesus’ death in Jerusalem would complete the purpose for which God sent him.

Verse 33 Peter said that it was good for the three *apostles to be there. He offered to make three temporary shelters, which meant that he did not understand the situation.

Verse 34 The cloud showed that God was there (Exodus 24:15-16).

Verse 35 The words are similar to those that God spoke at Jesus’ *baptism (Luke 3:22). They show that his decision to go to Jerusalem was right. The event would help the *apostles’ believe more deeply that Jesus was the *Messiah. It would also help them to accept that he must suffer.

Verse 36 Many years later, Peter wrote of this experience in his second letter (2 Peter 1:16-18).

Jesus *heals a boy 9:37-42

v37 The next day Jesus and the three *apostles came down the mountain. A large crowd met Jesus. v38 A man in the crowd shouted to Jesus, ‘Teacher, please pity my son! He is my only son! v39 A *demon often attacks him and makes him scream. It shakes him until bubbles come from his mouth. The *demon keeps on hurting him and almost never leaves him alone. v40 I asked your *disciples to send it out of him, but they could not’.

v41 Jesus answered, ‘You people have no *faith! You do not want to believe! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you?’ Then he said to the man, ‘Bring your son to me’. v42 As the boy was coming, the *demon threw him to the ground in a fierce *convulsion. But Jesus gave an order to the *demon, and *healed the boy. Then he gave the boy back to his father.

Verse 37 The crowd probably included the other 9 *apostles. Mark says that some of the *Jewish *scribes were arguing with the *apostles (Mark 9:14). There was great confusion.

Verse 38 Luke notes that the boy was an ‘only son’. So it was with the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12). Jairus’ daughter, too, was his only child (Luke 8:42).

Verse 39 Luke was a doctor, but he still said that a wicked *demon had caused this illness.

Verse 40 The *apostles had received authority and power over *demons when Jesus sent them out (Luke 9:1). But they failed here. Mark 9:28-29 says that they asked Jesus why they had failed. He told them that a difficult situation like this needed prayer.

Verse 41 When Jesus complained about lack of *faith, he included the crowd as well as the *apostles.

Verse 42 Jesus again *healed someone with a *demon by an order, as he did at Capernaum (Luke 4:31-37). He gave the boy back to his father, as he had given the widow’s son back to her (Luke 7:15).

Jesus again speaks about his death 9:43-45

v43 The great power of God astonished all the people. The crowd was still wondering about all that Jesus was doing. At the same time he spoke to his *apostles. v44 ‘Give careful attention to what I am telling you. Someone will hand over the *Son of Man to men’. v45 But the *apostles did not know what he meant. Something made it impossible for them to understand. They were afraid to ask him about this his words.

Verse 44 Jesus had spoken before this about what would happen to him (see 9:22). This was the second time.

Verse 45 Jesus’ words had confused the *apostles. They still had the wrong ideas about the *Messiah. It must have been very difficult for them to think that their *Messiah would die.

The *apostles argue with one another 9:46-48

v46 The *apostles began to argue about which of them was the most important.

v47 Jesus knew what they were arguing about. So, he took a little child and put him by his side. v48 He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. He also welcomes God who sent me. The humblest one among you all is the one who is great’.

Verse 46 The other *apostles may have been jealous of Peter, James and John. Jesus had taken only those 3 *apostles with him when he went up the mountain on that special occasion (9:28-36).

Verse 48 To welcome a little child is an example of service to someone who has no important position. Jesus meant that anyone who was willing to serve him in any humble way is ‘great’. He did not use the word ‘greatest’, which means ‘the most important’. The people who serve Jesus must not compare themselves with one another.

The *apostles refuse to accept another group who followed Jesus 9:49-50

v49 John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone sending out *demons by using your name. We told him to stop because he does not belong to our group. v50 ‘Do not try to stop him’, Jesus said to John and the other *apostles. ‘Anyone who is not against you is for you’.

Verse 49 Perhaps the *apostles were jealous of the man’s success. They themselves had just failed to cure the boy who had a *demon.

Verse 50 Jesus’ answer showed that people are on either one side or the other in the war against evil. They are either friends or enemies of Jesus. The man who was sending out *demons was not a member of their particular group. But he was a friend of Jesus. The people who are loyal to Jesus try to please him. Therefore, they must show love towards other people.

Luke ends his record of Jesus’ work in Galilee as he brings together 4 incidents (9:37-50):

They are examples of the *apostles’ lack of trust (verses 40-41), their lack of sympathy (verse 45), their *pride (verse 46), and their failure to accept other people (verse 49). They still had much to learn.

Luke 9:51-19:27 (Middle Section)

This long section of Luke’s *Gospel (9:51-19:28) tells what Jesus taught those who followed him. Luke places this section in the story of Jesus as he slowly travels towards Jerusalem. Luke often reminds his readers what will happen to Jesus in Jerusalem.

A *Samaritan village refuses to welcome Jesus 9:51-56

v51 When it was nearly time for Jesus to go to heaven, he showed his determination to set out for Jerusalem. v52 Jesus sent *messengers ahead of him into a village in *Samaria. They had to prepare a place where he could stay. v53 But the people there would not let him visit them. They knew that he was on his way to Jerusalem. v54 When his *apostles James and John heard about this, they said, ‘*Lord, shall we ask God to send fire down from heaven to destroy the village?’ v55 Jesus turned and strongly disagreed with what they said. v56 Then Jesus and his *apostles went on to another village.

Verse 51 ‘time to go to heaven’ refers to Jesus’ *crucifixion, *resurrection and *ascension.

Verse 52 Jesus chose the direct route from Galilee to Jerusalem. It went through *Samaria. Many *Jews avoided this route. *Jews and *Samaritans had hated each other for a long time. The *Samaritans prayed to the same God as the *Jews. But they had married people who were not *Jews. They used only the first five books of the *Old Testament. They had built their own *Temple on *Mount Gerizim. A *Jew would use the word ‘*Samaritan’ as an insult (John 8:48).

Verse 53 Jesus was going to Jerusalem, where the *Jewish *Temple was. So the *Samaritans would not welcome him.

Verse 54 James and John both had a strong temper. They wanted to destroy the village. They remembered how the *prophet Elijah had asked God to send fire down from heaven (2 Kings 1:9-12). They knew that Jesus had the power to do this.

Verse 55 Jesus had not come to destroy people’s lives. He had come to rescue them from evil.

What it costs to become a *disciple 9:57-62

v57 As they were going along the road, a man said to Jesus, ‘I will follow you wherever you go’. v58 Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds have nests. But the *Son of Man has no home where he can stay’.

Verses 57-58 The man was eager to follow Jesus. But he had not thought about the kind of life that a *disciple would lead. It would not be easy. There would be no security.

v59 Jesus said to another man, ‘Follow me’. But that man said, ‘*Lord, first let me go back and bury my father’. v60 Jesus answered, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and announce the message about the *kingdom of God’.

Verse 59 It is probable that the man wanted to wait rather than to follow Jesus at once. He was not asking to go to his father’s funeral, as if his father had just died. He wanted to stay at home until his father died.

Verse 60 Jesus said that, when he called someone to follow him, they should not delay. The people without *spiritual life could bury those who had died. The work of Jesus’ *kingdom was urgent.

v61 Another said, ‘I will follow you, *Lord. But first let me go and say goodbye to my family’. v62 Jesus replied, ‘Anybody who begins to plough must keep looking ahead. If he keeps looking back, he is no use for the *kingdom of God’.

Verse 62 When a farmer ploughs, he must look straight ahead. Then the plough will go in a straight line. Jesus meant that someone who looks back to his former life was not ready to be a *disciple. It would be like a man who ploughs, but does not concentrate on his work.

Jesus was honest about what it would cost to become a *disciple. He did not try to hide the difficulties. A person must make an immediate decision and be completely loyal. Jesus’ work was urgent. People should spread the good news about Jesus. This is more important than other good work or responsibilities. This might even include care for one’s family, if God called. (But see Matthew 15:3-6; Mark 7:9-13.)

Chapter 10

Jesus sends out more *disciples 10:1-12

v1 After this, the *Lord chose 72 other *disciples and sent them out in pairs. He told them to go ahead of him. And he told them to go to every town that he himself was going to.

v2 Jesus said to them, ‘There is a large harvest, but there are few workers to gather it in. Pray to the *Lord who owns the harvest. Ask him to send more workers to gather his harvest’.

Verse 1 Luke realised that the number ‘72’ had an important meaning for the Christian church in the future. He would know that the *Greek translation of Genesis chapter 10 lists all the 72 nations in the days of Noah. The 72 *disciples would help Jesus in his present work among *Jews. The time would come when all nations would receive the good news about Jesus (Matthew 28:19). That included both *Jews and *Gentiles.

Jesus sent the 72 *disciples in pairs for two reasons. Two *disciples would help and encourage each other. But also, two witnesses together proved that the good news that they brought about Jesus was true (Deuteronomy 19:15).

Verse 2 There were many *Jews who were ready to hear the good news. They were waiting to come into the *kingdom. They were like a crop waiting for workers to harvest it.

There were few *disciples. They must pray to God and ask him to send more workers. They would bring people into God’s *kingdom.

v3 ‘I am sending you like young sheep among wolves (fierce animals). v4 You are not to take a purse, or bag, or extra shoes. Do not delay to greet anyone on the road. v5 Before you enter a house, say, “God *bless this house with peace”. v6 If people who love peace live there, your prayer for peace will *bless them. If not, your prayer will return to you. v7 Stay in the same house, and eat and drink whatever they provide. For a worker deserves his pay. Do not move from one house to another. v8 Where the people in a town give you a welcome, be content with the food that they give you. v9 *Heal the sick, and tell the people in that town, “The *kingdom of God has come near to you!” ’

Verse 3 Their task was dangerous, because they would find enemies. They would be like weak animals going among fierce ones.

Verse 4 They were to go with only what they had at that time. They had to trust God to provide for them. Nothing must delay their urgent work. Jesus ordered them not to greet anyone. This sounds as if they were not to be polite. But at that time, *Jewish greetings took a long time!

Verse 6 ‘Peace be with you’ was the usual *Jewish greeting. It meant, ‘May everything go well with you’. The *disciples must not leave a *blessing with someone who did not want to receive them.

Verse 7 The *disciples deserved to be guests because they were working to give the people good news. But they should not go to many different houses to find a better place to stay.

Verse 8 They were to eat whatever food people gave them. They should not worry whether the food obeyed the strict rules about what was ‘clean’ or ‘*unclean’ (1 Corinthians 10:27).

v10 ‘But whenever a town does not give you welcome, go into the streets. Say to the people, v11 “We are wiping off even the dust from your town that sticks to our feet. But remember that the *kingdom of God has come near to you!” v12 You may be sure that on the day of judgement God will punish Sodom less than that town!’

Verses 10-11 To wipe the dust from their feet in public showed that the *disciples had carried out their responsibility. The people of the town could blame only themselves for their fate. They had had the opportunity to become members of God’s *kingdom.

Verse 12 The people of Sodom were so wicked that God destroyed their city (Genesis 13:13; 19:24-25.) The people who refused to accept the good news of Jesus were even more guilty than the people of Sodom. They must expect a more severe punishment.

The warning to cities in Galilee 10:13-16

v13 ‘How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible it will be for you, Bethsaida! I performed *miracles in your cities. If I had performed *miracles in Tyre and Sidon, the people would have turned away from their *sins long ago. They would have sat down, worn *sackcloth, and put ashes on their heads. v14 God will show more *mercy on the day of judgement to Tyre and Sidon than to you. v15 Capernaum! Perhaps you wanted to be the most important town! God will destroy you’. v16 Jesus said to his *disciples, ‘He who listens to you, listens to me. Anybody who refuses to accept you refuses to accept me. The man who refuses to accept me is also refusing to accept God’s message’.

Verses 13-14 Tyre and Sidon were two important commercial ports. God had judged them for their selfish *pride and cruel acts (Ezekiel chapters 27-28).

Jesus said that they would have changed their behaviour long ago, if they had seen his powerful works.

‘*Sackcloth’ and ‘ashes’ were the usual ways that people showed that they were sorry for *sin. The cities in Galilee had seen Jesus’ *miracles, but they continued to refuse what he taught. Therefore, God’s judgement on them would be severe. The name ‘Chorazin’ does not appear in the record of Jesus’ work in Galilee, but is in Matthew 11:21.

Verse 15 The people of Capernaum were very proud. They said that their city ‘reached up to heaven’. Isaiah 14:13 uses the same words about the proud king of Babylon. Capernaum expected fame. Instead, it would go down to Hades, which was the world of dead people. Jesus had performed many *miracles in Capernaum. But the people had disappointed him. They did not accept what he taught. Jesus’ words about their fate came true, because Capernaum is a ruined city.

Verse 16 The *disciples had Jesus’ authority when they worked. Many people believed what the *disciples taught. This showed that those people also believed that God had sent Jesus. Anyone who refused to accept Jesus was therefore refusing to accept God’s message.

The 72 *disciples return 10:17-20

v17 The 72 *disciples returned with joy. They said, ‘*Lord, even the *demons obeyed us. With your authority, we ordered them to go out of people!’

v18 Jesus answered them, ‘I saw *Satan fall like lightning from heaven. v19 Listen! I have given you authority to walk on snakes and *scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy. Nothing will hurt you. v20 But do not be glad because evil spirits obey you. Rather, be glad because God has written your names in heaven’.

Verse 18 *Satan is the Enemy of God. He is the chief of all *demons. The 72 *disciples were successful when they threw out *demons. This was a sudden defeat for *Satan’s forces of evil. It was as sudden as a flash of lightning. The rule of Jesus the *Messiah had begun. His authority was destroying the power of *Satan.

Another explanation (Isaiah 14:12) is that, before Jesus came to earth, he had seen *Satan’s sudden fall from heaven.

Verse 19 Jesus reminded his *disciples that their authority came from him. It was authority over all the forces of evil. To ‘walk on’ means to have power over. Snakes and *scorpions both produce poison that can kill. (*Satan has the name of ‘snake’ in 2 Corinthians 11:3 and Revelation 12:9.) The *disciples would be able to stop *Satan. He would not be able to ‘poison’ people’s minds, so that they would not believe in Jesus. They would save people from *spiritual death. Nothing would hurt the *disciples.

Verse 20 The *disciples should remember that *Satan fell because he was proud. It was a warning to them so that they did not become proud in their success. The real cause for joy was that they already had *eternal life. The idea of God’s ‘book of life’ is in Philippians 4:3 and Revelation 3:5.

Jesus’ prayer 10:21

v21 At that time, the Holy Spirit filled Jesus with great joy. He said, ‘Father, you are *Lord of heaven and earth. I thank you because you have shown these things to simple people. You have hidden them from wise people and people who know a lot. Yes, Father, that is what your plan was’.

Verse 21 Jesus thanked God for what the 72 *disciples had been able to do. He may also have thought about all those who had accepted what he had taught. He spoke to God first as ‘Father’. This showed God’s loving relationship with Jesus. He also called God ‘*Lord of heaven and earth’. These words emphasise that God has power over all that he has created. God had not shown his truth to people who thought that they were wise and clever. He had shown his truth to simple people. These people did not have great education but they trusted him. God was pleased that this should happen. Paul later wrote that God chose to act like this (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). It was to prevent people from becoming proud.

Jesus and the Father 10:22

v22 ‘My Father has given me all things. The Father knows who the Son is. He is the only person who knows this. The Son knows who the Father is. He is the only person who knows this. No one will know the Father, unless the Son chooses to show the Father to him’.

Verse 22 These words show the close relationship between Jesus and God. God has given Jesus complete authority. Jesus knows God’s purpose. People will come to know God only through Jesus.

The *disciples’ *blessing 10:23-24

v23 Jesus turned to his *disciples and spoke to them in private. He said, ‘You are happy because you see the things that you see! v24 I tell you this. Many *prophets and kings wanted to see the things that you see. But they did not see them. They wanted to hear what you hear. But they did not hear it’.

Verse 24 Jesus told the *disciples that they have had a very special *blessing. They have seen the *Messiah and heard his words. Many *prophets and kings of *Israel had been expecting Jesus. But he did not come in their days. Now Jesus had made all the hopes of the *Jewish nation come true.

The *parable of the Good *Samaritan 10:25-37

v25 An expert in the *Jewish Law came to test Jesus. ‘Teacher’, he asked, ‘what must I do to receive *eternal life?’ v26 Jesus answered him, ‘What do the books of the Law say? What do you think that they mean?’ v27 The man answered, ‘Love the *Lord your God with all your heart, your *soul, your strength and your mind. Love your neighbour as you love yourself’. v28 ‘You are right’, Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live’. v29 But the teacher of the law wanted to defend himself. So he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbour?’

v30 Jesus told the man a story as he answered him. ‘A man was going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Thieves attacked him, and took all that he had. They beat him and left him half dead. v31 By chance, a priest was going down that road. But when he saw the man, he walked past him on the other side of the road. v32 In the same way, a *Levite also came to the place. He went over and looked at the man. Then he walked past him on the other side of the road. v33 But a *Samaritan man was travelling on that road. He came across the man. When the *Samaritan saw him, he felt sorry for the man. v34 He went over to him. He poured oil and *wine on the man’s injuries and put a bandage on them. Then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an *inn. There he took care of him. v35 The next day he took out two silver coins. He gave them to the man who owned the *inn. He said to him, “Take care of him. On my way back, I will pay you whatever more you spend on him” ’. v36 Jesus ended, ‘Which of these three, do you think, acted like a neighbour to the man whom the thieves attacked?’ v37 The teacher of the law answered, ‘The one who was kind to him’. Jesus replied, ‘You go and do the same’.

Verse 25 ‘To test Jesus’ may mean that he wanted to discuss what the Law meant. However, the words can mean ‘to trap’ Jesus. That suggests that he was not sincere when he asked for Jesus’ opinion. Perhaps he wanted to make Jesus look foolish.

Verse 27 The teacher had used words in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 when he answered. People should put God first in their life. They should love him with the whole of their life. The *Jews believed that the word ‘neighbour’ referred only people who were *Jews.

Verse 29 He had given the answer to his own question. So, the expert in the law tried to make it appear that he was right to ask. So he asked Jesus what ‘neighbour’ meant. He wanted to show that he was innocent.

Verse 30 The road that goes from Jerusalem to Jericho descends through the desert below sea level. The road was dangerous. Thieves often hid in the caves in the cliffs near the road.

Verse 31 The priest was probably going home to Jericho from his duties in the *Temple in Jerusalem. He saw the man, but continued his journey. The man might be dead. Then the priest would become ‘*unclean’ if he touched the body.

Verse 32 *Levites helped in the services in the *Temple. We do not know which way this *Levite was walking. If he were going to the *Temple, he could have been thinking of his duties there. He thought that he did not have enough time to help the man. He did not want to make himself ‘*unclean’. He also might have been afraid that the thieves still might be near.

Verse 33 The *Samaritan belonged to the nation whom the *Jews hated (see the note on 9:52).

Verse 34 Oil would make his injuries less painful. Wine would clean them. People often used oil and wine for this purpose.

Verse 35 The money that he paid was two days’ wages. The *Samaritan even offered to pay more if the *inn owner needed it. This was a risk. The owner might cheat him.

Verse 36 Jesus asked, ‘Who acted like a neighbour?’

Verse 37 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who was kind to him’. As a *Jew, he probably did not want to admit that it was the *Samaritan. However, he gave a true answer. The man who helped was a ‘neighbour’. Jesus told the expert in the law that he must do the same. He must be a neighbour to anyone who needed help. To act as a neighbour was different from trying to identify a neighbour. The *Samaritan helped a man. He did not think of the differences in their nations or religions. Anyone in trouble requires another person to help and love him or her.

Martha and Mary 10:38-42

v38 As Jesus and his *disciples went on their way, they came to a village. There a woman, whose name was Martha, welcomed him into her home. v39 She had a sister whose name was Mary. She sat at the *Lord’s feet. She listened to what he taught. v40 Martha was upset about all the work that she had to do. So she went to Jesus and said, ‘*Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!’ v41 The *Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha! You are anxious and upset about many things. v42 Only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part and nobody will take it from her’.

Verse 38 Martha and Mary lived in Bethany, about two miles (3 kilometres) from Jerusalem (John 11:1, 18).

Verse 39 Mary was sitting at the *Lord’s feet, as a *disciple. She wanted to learn from him.

Verse 40 Martha was rushing about and trying to prepare food. If some *disciples were there as well, she would have much work to do.

Verse 42 ‘Only one thing’ could mean that Martha was trying to prepare too many dishes of food. One would have been enough. Jesus also meant that to listen to him was more important than food.

This incident, which only Luke records, adds the other truth to the *parable of the Good *Samaritan. They are both examples of the Law in Deuteronomy and Leviticus (Luke 10:27). The Good *Samaritan story shows that a person needs to ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’. Mary’s choice shows that to love God comes first.

Chapter 11

Jesus teaches about prayer 11:1-13

1 The prayer that Jesus taught 11:1-4

v1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his *disciples spoke to him. ‘*Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his *disciples’.

v2 Jesus replied, ‘When you pray, say this: “Father, may people respect your name and keep it holy. May your *kingdom come. v3 Give us each day the food that we need. v4 Forgive us our *sins, because we forgive everyone who does wrong things to us. Keep us from tests that are too hard” ’.

Jesus gave the *disciples a prayer to use. There is a longer record of it in Matthew 6:9-13. Matthew writes that Jesus said, ‘Pray like this’. Therefore, it is a model for other prayers as well.

The first three parts put God first. The next three parts speak of what people need. These prayers ask God to do three things:

·           to provide what we need for the present time,

·           to forgive us for what we have done wrong in the past,

·           to guide us in the future.

Verse 1 Jesus wanted the *disciples to talk to God as ‘Father’. Christians are members of God’s family. The word ‘Father’ reminds them that they have a relationship with him. They love and trust him.

Verse 2 ‘May we respect your name and keep it holy’. We should not use the name ‘God’ in a negative way. But Jesus meant more than this. In *Hebrew, the ‘name’ of someone means his or her whole character. *Disciples should give honour to God. Then they should help other people to understand God’s character. They should not do or say anything that would give people a wrong impression of God.

‘May your *kingdom come’. This prayer asks that more and more people will accept Jesus as their king. When God’s *kingdom is complete, *Satan’s power will end. *Disciples help God’s *kingdom to grow.

Verse 3 People depend on God for food. Jesus wants his *disciples to pray for their food each day. They should remember how God gave the *Israelites their food (‘manna’) each day in the desert (Exodus 16). They should not worry about the future. The word ‘us’ reminds people that they are part of a great family. Their demands must not be selfish. *Spiritual food is important too. People need to learn more and more about God and his purpose Then their *spiritual life will be healthy.

Verse 4 *Sin separates every person from God, who is holy. Therefore, we need God to forgive us. A person should forgive other people. If they do not, then God will not forgive them.

*Satan tries to lead people to do wrong things. God does not try to make anyone do anything wrong. God’s *disciples ask him to help them to avoid difficult situations. Some situations might be too hard a test for their *faith.

2. The *parable of the friend at midnight 11:5-8

v5 Jesus said to his *disciples, ‘Suppose that you go to a friend’s house at midnight. You say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves. v6 A friend of mine is on a journey and he has just arrived. But I have no food for him”. v7 And your friend will answer from inside his house, “Do not bother me! I have shut the door. My children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything”. v8 I tell you this. He will not get up and give you anything because you are his friend. But he will give you whatever you need because you keep on asking’.

Verse 5 The visitor arrived at midnight. He had travelled later in the day when it was cooler. He avoided the heat at midday. This was a common practice. Three small loaves would be enough food for this guest.

Verse 7 The man in the house and his family would be sleeping together on mats on a platform. The animals would be on the floor near the door. He would wake them all, if he got up.

Verse 8 The man got up at last. He did not want the man at the door to continue to bother him. God is different. He is always ready and willing to listen to his children’s prayers. He will answer them when they make their requests. The *parable encourages *disciples to continue to pray and not to give up.

3. The promise 11:9-13

v9 ‘So I tell you. Go on asking for what you need. You will receive it. Go on asking, and you will obtain it. Go on knocking, and God will open the door to you. v10 For everyone who asks will receive. He who looks for something will find it. God will open the door to anyone who knocks. v11 No fathers among you would give your son a snake, when he asks for a fish. v12 Neither would you give him a *scorpion, when he asks for an egg. v13 You are not perfect. But you know how to give good things to your children. Your Father in heaven will certainly give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

Verses 11-12 A *fisherman sometimes found a water snake in his net. When a *scorpion rolled itself up, it was like the shape of an egg.

Verse 13 Human fathers can do wrong. But they would not give their children anything that would hurt them. God, the Father in heaven, has no *sin. He has knows perfectly what is best for his children. He has perfect power to supply it. Therefore, he can be far more generous than a human father can. Luke says that God will give the Holy Spirit. He is the best gift, from whom everything good comes.

God’s *kingdom and *Satan’s *kingdom 11:14-23

v14 Jesus was forcing out a *demon that made a man dumb. When the *demon left, the man began to speak. That astonished everybody. v15 But some of the people said, ‘He forces out *demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the *demons’. v16 Other people wanted to test Jesus. They asked him for evidence from heaven. They wanted him to prove that God was giving him his authority. v17 But Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said to them, ‘When people fight each other in a *kingdom, they will ruin it. If a family fights, it will break up. v18 So if *Satan fights against himself, how can his *kingdom last? You say that Beelzebul gives me the power to force out *demons. v19 If this is true for me, how do your *followers force them out? Your own *followers prove that you are wrong!

v20 But it is by the ‘finger of God’ that I force out *demons. This proves that God’s *kingdom has already arrived among you. v21 A strong man, with arms to protect him, guards his house. His possessions are safe. v22 But when a stronger man attacks, he overcomes him. He carries away the arms that protected the owner. The stronger man shares what he steals with other people. v23 Whoever is not for me, is against me. Anyone who does not gather people to me, scatters them’.

Verse 15 Matthew 12:24 tells us that the people who said this were *Pharisees. Beelzebul was a foreign god. The *Jews identified Beelzebul with *Satan, the chief of the *demons.

Verse 17 Jesus proved that they were speaking nonsense. It was stupid to think that *Satan would destroy his own *kingdom.

Verse 19 He asked about other people who forced out *demons. If Jesus was using *Satan’s power, were they working with *Satan as well?

Verse 20 ‘The finger of God’ means God’s power. This phrase is in Exodus 8:19. Jesus was showing God’s power as he made people well in their body and their mind. That meant that God’s *kingdom had arrived in Jesus.

Verse 21 Jesus speaks of *Satan as a strong man. He controlled people, until Jesus came to overcome him. Jesus had begun to defeat *Satan, as he forced out *Satan’s *demons.

Verse 23 People cannot refuse to take sides in the war against evil. Anyone who is not on Jesus’ side is against him. Such a person is like a bad *shepherd. He scatters sheep instead of bringing them together.

The *unclean spirit 11:24-26

v24 ‘When the *unclean spirit leaves a person, it travels through the desert. It looks for a place to rest. If it cannot find a place, it decides to go back to the house from which it came. v25 So it goes back. It finds the house clean and with everything in order. v26 Then it goes out and brings seven *demons more wicked than itself. They come and live there. That person ends in a worse state than before’.

Verse 24 People thought that evil (or *unclean) spirits lived in the desert. Very few people live in deserts. So, the evil spirit could not find anyone.

Verses 25-26 Suppose that somebody clears a garden of weeds. That garden will become even more full of weeds, unless flowers replace the weeds. It is not enough to drive away evil thoughts and habits. Many people give up their *sins, but do not ask God into their lives to guide them. Good thoughts and habits must replace wrong ones. Evil will return unless people protect themselves. The ‘house’ is a person’s life. He or she must have God inside their life. When the Holy Spirit lives inside a person, evil cannot get in.

The woman’s *blessing 11:27-28

v27 When Jesus had said this, a woman in the crowd called out to him, ‘How happy is the woman who brought you into the world and fed you!’ v28 But Jesus answered, ‘Happy people are those people who hear the word of God and obey it!’

Verse 27 The woman’s remark may have been in a moment of emotion. But what she said about the mother of Jesus was true. Elizabeth had *blessed Mary (Luke 1:42). Mary herself said that people would call her one whom God had *blessed. When the woman praised Jesus’ mother she was also praising Jesus.

Verse 28 Jesus showed that it was not enough to praise him in this way. When people obey God’s message it brings real happiness.

The evidence of Jonah and of the Queen of Sheba 11:29-32

v29 The crowds were increasing. Jesus said, ‘The people who are living now are evil! They ask for evidence. But the only evidence that they will get is the evidence of Jonah. v30 The *prophet Jonah became evidence to the people of Nineveh. In the same way, the *Son of Man will be evidence to the people of this time.

v31 On the day of judgement, the queen of the south will be a witness against the people of this age. She travelled all the way from her country to listen to the wisdom of King Solomon. I tell you, there is something more important than Solomon here! v32 On the day of judgement, the people of Nineveh will stand up and accuse you. They turned from their *sins when they heard Jonah’s message. I tell you, there is something here more important than Jonah’.

Verse 29 Some people had asked for evidence, so that Jesus could prove where his authority came from.

Verse 30 Jonah was a *prophet who gave God’s message to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. He warned the people that they must change their behaviour. If they did not, then God would destroy their city (Jonah 3:4). Jonah spent three days in a great fish (Jonah 1:17). This was the evidence of Jesus’ *resurrection after three days (Matthew 12:38-40).

Verse 31 ‘The queen of the south’ was the queen of Sheba. She came from the Yemen in south Arabia. She made a long and difficult journey to listen to the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-10). Jesus was actually present there among the *Jews. She had only heard reports about Solomon. Jesus himself had invited the *Jews to follow him. The *kingdom which had come was more important than the wisdom of Solomon. On judgement day, the queen of Sheba will show that the *Jews were guilty. They did not believe in Jesus.

Verse 32 The people of Nineveh will also declare that the *Jews are guilty. They had changed their behaviour, when Jonah gave them God’s warning (Jonah 3). But the *Jews of Jesus’ time refused to believe Jesus’ message. The news about God’s *kingdom that Jesus brought was more important than Jonah’s message.

Light and darkness 11:33-36

v33 ‘Nobody lights a lamp and hides it somewhere or puts it under a pot. Instead, he stands it on a table. The people who come into the house can see the light. v34 Your eye is like a lamp for the body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body is full of light. When your eyes are no good, your whole body is full of darkness. v35 Make sure, then, that you have light in you, and not darkness.

v36 If your whole body is full of light, with no part dark, it will be completely bright. It will be like having a lamp to give you light’.

Verse 33 The *Jews had ‘hidden’ what they knew of God’s truth. They had failed to give the ‘light’ of truth to other people.

Verse 34 With a healthy eye, people can see what they are doing. If the eye has a disease, then the body is ‘full of darkness’. That person will be unable to do anything in the right way. The *Jews demanded evidence. Their *spiritual sight was not healthy. They were in darkness because they refused to accept Jesus.

Verse 35 Jesus warned each person who was listening. People must be careful not to lose what they know about God, that is, their ‘light’. Then they would be in the complete darkness of evil. The people who allow God’s truth to give them *spiritual sight will be able to show the truth to other people. They will be like a lamp that shines in the darkness.

Jesus and the *Pharisees 11:37-41

v37 When Jesus finished speaking, a *Pharisee invited him to have a meal with him. So, Jesus went in and sat by the table. v38 Jesus surprised the *Pharisee because he did not wash before he ate. v39 So the *Lord said to him, ‘You *Pharisees clean the outside of your cup and plate. But, on the inside, you are greedy and evil. v40 You fools, God made both the outside and the inside. v41 Give what you have to the poor. Then all that you have will be clean’.

Verse 38 The *Pharisee was surprised because Jesus did not wash his hands. This was not to remove dirt. It was a ceremony. It showed that a person was pure after he had been in the world outside. They had to pour the right amount of water over their hands and arms in a special way. Jesus might have touched a *Gentile or one of his possessions. This would have made Jesus ‘*unclean’.

Verse 39 Jesus said that it was foolish to wash the outside of cups and dishes and leave the inside dirty. The *Pharisees were as foolish. They worried about their outside washing ceremonies, but inside they were greedy and wicked. God wanted their *souls to be clean as well as their pots.

Verse 41 They should be generous and help poor people. Then all that they did would please God.

Three *warnings to the *Pharisees 11:42-44

1. They gave *tithes 11:42

v42 ‘How terrible for you *Pharisees! You give to God one tenth of small plants that flavour food. But you neglect to be fair and to love God. These things you ought to have done, but you should do the other things as well’.

Verse 42 The *Jewish law asked for a tenth of the harvest of oil, grain and *wine (Deuteronomy 14:22). This tenth part was a ‘*tithe’. These *tithes paid the *Levites (Numbers 18:21). The *Pharisees were very careful to give a tenth of even small plants that flavoured food. The law did not ask for these. But the Pharisees failed in much more important matters. They were not fair to other people. They did not obey the *commandment to love God.

2. They desired honour 11:43

v43 ‘How terrible for you *Pharisees! You love the best seats in the *synagogues. You like people in the market to respect you as they greet you’.

Verse 43 In the *synagogue there were seats for important people. These seats were in front of the cupboard that contained the holy books. The *Pharisees loved to sit in these seats, because everyone was able to see them. When they were walking in public, they liked people to show their respect for them as good, important *Jews.

3. The *Pharisees’ evil effect 11:44

v44 ‘How terrible for you Pharisees! You are like graves that people fail to see. People walk on them without knowing it’.

Verse 44 The *Jews usually painted graves white so that people did not walk on them. If a person walked on a grave by accident they became ‘*unclean’ for a week. Such people could not join in any acts of *worship (Numbers 19:16).

The *Pharisees were like graves that people had not noticed. People were not aware of the bad effect that the *Pharisees had on them. The *Pharisees’ behaviour appeared to be holy. But people who listened to what they taught were becoming ‘*unclean’. That is, they were learning wrong ideas about God.

Three *warnings to the experts in the law of Moses 11:45-54

v45 An expert in the law of Moses said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, when you say such things, you insult us as well’.

Verse 45 The experts in the law of Moses belonged to the same *religious party as the *Pharisees.

1 Their rules 11:46

v46 Jesus answered, ‘How terrible also for you, teachers of the law! You put heavy loads on people. But you *yourselves do not do anything to help them’.

Verse 46 The experts in the law had hundreds of rules about how to keep God’s law. There were so many rules that ordinary people found it impossible to obey them. The rules were like great weights on people’s backs. The experts in the law, however, found clever ways to avoid their own rules. For example, they said that a person must walk only a short distance from home on the *Sabbath. But if someone tied something across the end of his street, he could call the end of the street his ‘home’. He could then walk the distance from there. They told other people what to do. But they did not even keep the rules that they themselves made up.

2 Their attitude to the *prophets 11:47-51

v47 ‘How terrible for you! You make splendid *tombs for the *prophets, the *prophets that your *ancestors murdered. v48 Your actions show that you approve of what your *ancestors did. They murdered the *prophets and you build their *tombs. v49 Therefore God in his wisdom said, “I will send them *prophets and *apostles. They will kill some of them and hurt some of them”. v50 So God will punish the people of this time. They are responsible for the murder of all the *prophets since the beginning of the world. v51 That is, from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah. He died between the *altar and the Holy Place in the *Temple. Yes, I tell you, God will punish the people of this time for them all’.

Verse 47 The experts in the law pretended to honour the *prophets of the past. They built their *tombs. This could mean that they built them again or made them more splendid.

Verse 48 The experts in the law of Moses and *Pharisees had the same attitude as their *ancestors. They would kill a living *prophet. Jesus meant that they would kill him.

Verses 50-51 The *Jews of Jesus’ time would be responsible for all the murders in *Jewish history. This was from the time of the first murder, when Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). The last was that of the *prophet Zechariah. The people killed him in the *Temple court, on the king’s orders (2 Chronicles 24:22). Genesis is the first book and Chronicles is the last book in the *Hebrew *Old Testament.

3 God’s Word 11:52

v52 ‘How terrible for you, teachers of the Law! You have taken away the key that opens the door to knowledge. You *yourselves will not go in. You stop those who are trying to go in’.

Verse 52 The lawyers had made the word of God very difficult for ordinary people to understand. They should have explained what the law meant. Then people would know what God wanted. Instead, they had made the law complicated. This prevented anyone from learning the truth. They did not obey God themselves. They also stopped other people who were trying to obey him.

4 The result of Jesus’ *warnings 11:53-54

v53 When he went away from there, the teachers of the Law and the *Pharisees became extremely angry. They made fierce attacks on Jesus as they asked him about many subjects. v54 They were trying to lay traps for him. They wanted to catch him as he said something wrong.

Verses 53 -54 The *Pharisees were so angry that they wanted to get Jesus into serious trouble. They were like men who were waiting to catch a wild animal. They were hoping to make Jesus say something wrong. Then they could accuse him because he did not keep the law of Moses.

Chapter 12

Jesus warns and encourages his *disciples 12:1-12

1 Warning about the false lives of the *Pharisees 12:1-3

v1 Thousands of people had gathered. There were so many people, that they were walking on each other’s feet. Jesus spoke to his *disciples first. ‘Be careful, avoid the *yeast of the *Pharisees. v2 God will lift the cover from everything that people want to hide. He will display every secret. v3 Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark, people will hear in the light. Whatever you have whispered in a private room, people will shout from the roofs of houses’.

Verse 1 ‘*yeast’ or ‘*leaven’ is a substance that cooks use to make bread rise. Jesus used the word to describe the *hypocrisy of the *Pharisees. *Hypocrisy means ‘acting a part’. The *Pharisees pretended to be good, but they were hiding their true character. Their false behaviour could spread to other people, as *yeast spreads in flour. Therefore the *disciples must not believe what the *Pharisees taught. They must always be sincere in what they say and do.

Verse 2 *Hypocrisy is foolish. On the day of judgement God will show the hidden wicked thoughts of people like the *Pharisees.

Verse 3 There are two ways to say that the truth cannot remain hidden. People will hear in the daytime whatever anyone has said at night. People may whisper a secret in a private room in a house. But other people will shout it from the roofs.

Houses had flat roofs. As most houses were very close together, it was easy to shout from one roof to another.

2 The *disciples need not fear people 12:4-7

v4 ‘I tell you this, my friends. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body. After that, they cannot do any more. v5 I will show you whom to fear. Fear God. He has the power to kill people and to throw them into hell. Believe me, he is the one whom you should fear! v6 People sell five sparrows (little birds) for two pennies. But God cares for every one of the sparrows. v7 God even counts the hairs on your head. So, do not be afraid. You are more valuable to God than many sparrows’.

Verse 4 When a person’s physical body dies no one can kill them again.

Verse 5 However, God has power after a person’s physical body dies. God judges everyone. He can punish them and send them into hell. The *Greek word for ‘hell’ is ‘Gehenna’. This refers to the valley of Hinnom, just outside Jerusalem. The people burned all their rubbish there. People thought that it was like the place of final punishment.

Verse 6 Jesus spoke of God’s power to punish. Then Jesus reminded the *disciples of God’s loving care. It cost only two pennies to buy five small birds.

People used to cook and eat them. They cost a penny for two, with an extra one free. But God does not forget any of these cheap and common little birds. He even remembers the free one.

Verse 7 *Disciples need not be afraid. They are worth much more than a great many little birds. God knows everything about those who follow Jesus. He even counts the hairs on their heads. That shows that he cares about everything and nothing is too small.

3 To confess or to deny Christ 12:8-12

v8 ‘You may tell other people that you belong to the *Son of Man. Then he will tell God’s *angels that you are his loyal *disciple. v9 But you might tell other people that you do not know me. Then the *Son of Man will tell God’s *angels that he does not know you. v10 God will forgive anyone who says something bad about the *Son of Man. But God will not forgive anyone who says evil things against the Holy Spirit. v11 The people with authority will accuse you in the *synagogues and to rulers. But do not worry about what to say or how you will defend yourself. v12 The Holy Spirit will teach you what you ought to say at that time’.

Verse 8 Our attitude to Jesus is very important. On judgement day he will declare to the *angels in heaven who his true *disciples are. They are those who are willing to say that they follow him. The people who deny Jesus on earth refuse to accept his claim on their lives. In heaven, Jesus will say that they do not belong to him.

Verse 10 God cannot forgive anyone who *sins against the Holy Spirit. Some people said that good things were evil. They were guilty of this *sin. They said that when Jesus *healed people, he was helping the devil. Such people refuse to recognise their own *sin. They continue to oppose God. Therefore, God will not forgive them. Their attitude has become so hard. They do not even realise that they need God to forgive them.

Verse 11 The *disciples would have trouble because of their *faith. But Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would help them. They might have to go to a *synagogue court. Maybe the chief *Jewish court, the *Sanhedrin, would judge them. Later, *Gentile rulers might oppose them too. They need not worry about what to say in court. John 14:16 calls the Holy Spirit the ‘Paraclete’. That word means ‘he who is at one’s side to help’. He will give the *disciples the right words to say.

The *parable of the rich fool 12:13-21

v13 A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to share the property that we received when our father died’. v14 Jesus answered him, ‘Man, I do not have the right. I cannot decide how your brother should divide the property with you’. v15 Jesus went on to say, ‘Do not be greedy! A person’s true life is not made up of the things that he owns, however great his wealth’.

v16 Then Jesus told them this *parable. ‘There was a rich man whose land gave him a great harvest. v17 He thought to himself, “I do not have room for all my crops. What shall I do? v18 I know!” he told himself. “I shall pull down my sheds and build bigger ones. There I can store all my grain and my goods. v19 Then I shall say to myself, ‘You are a lucky man. You have plenty of all that you need for many years. Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!’ ” v20 But God said to him, “You fool! This very night you will die. Then who will get all those things that you have kept for yourself?” ’ v21 Jesus ended, ‘This is what happens to someone who stores up riches for himself. But he remains a poor man in the sight of God’.

Verse 13 It is possible that the man was the second son. He should have received less than his brother. This is what the law of Moses says (Deuteronomy 21:17). Perhaps he wanted an equal share. He may have felt that his brother was cheating him in some way.

Verse 14 Jesus said that he did not have the authority to judge. It was not his work. His work was to bring people to know God.

Verse 15 Jesus took the opportunity to give a serious warning about being greedy.

To be greedy is to have the desire for more and more things. It is like salt water. If a person drinks salt water, he feels that he still wants more to drink. Real life does not depend on how much a person owns in this world.

Verses 19-20 The man was a fool because he spoke of ‘many years’. He did not think about his death. Moreover, he could not know when he would die. Neither could all his possessions satisfy his *soul. He was also selfish. He used the words ‘I’ and ‘my’ 12 times. He thought only about using his wealth for himself. He did not think about helping other people. He planned to live a life of luxury. He believed that he was in control of the future. He did not realise that God gave him everything, including his life. He was stupid to depend on material things. He could not take those things with him when he died (1 Timothy 6:7).

*Disciples must not worry 12:22-34

v22 Then Jesus said to his *disciples, ‘And so I tell you, do not worry about food to eat or clothes to wear. v23 Life is much more important than food and clothes.

v24 Think about the birds. They do not plant or harvest. They do not have rooms or sheds in which to store things. Yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds. v25 You can not live longer because you worry. v26 If you cannot do even such a small thing, then do not worry about the other things. v27 Look how the wild flowers grow. They do not work or make clothes for themselves. But this is what I tell you. Even Solomon with all his splendid wealth did not wear clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. v28 It is God who gives ‘clothes’ to the wild plants. These plants are in the field today, and the next day people burn them in their ovens. God will certainly give you clothes to wear. How little you trust God! v29 So do not worry about what you will eat and drink. v30 People who do not trust God worry about such things. Your Father knows that you need them. v31 Instead, put the work of God’s *kingdom first. Then God will provide these things as well.

v32 Do not be afraid, my little group of sheep. Your Father wants to give you the *kingdom.

v33 Sell all your possessions and give to the poor. Have purses that never wear out. Save your riches in heaven. They will never disappear, because no thief can get near them. No insect can destroy them.

v34 For your love will always be in the place where your wealth is’.

Verse 22 Jesus had just spoken of the danger of riches. Then he spoke to his *disciples, who had few possessions. They must not worry about what their body needed, like food and clothes. There are more important things in life than these things. Jesus was not telling them to forget their responsibilities and not to think about the future. He was warning them not to worry.

Verse 24 Birds, such as ravens, do not farm or store food. Ravens were among the ‘*unclean’ birds in the *Old Testament list (Leviticus 11:15). But God takes care even of them. Christians are far more valuable than any birds.

Verse 25 Worry achieves nothing. A person who worries cannot make his life longer. Worry may even make life shorter.

Verse 26 If *disciples cannot do these things, they need not worry about the rest.

Verse 27-28 Wild flowers are more beautiful than rich King Solomon in his splendid clothes. Yet, flowers live for only a short time. People then burn them as fuel to heat their ovens. If God ‘clothes’ flowers that have such short lives, then he will certainly give clothes to his children.

Verse 29-30 People worry because they do not trust God. He is the Father who knows what his children need. The people who do not know God worry about things like food and drink.

Verse 31 They should give honour to God as they do what he wants. They should try to bring more people into his *kingdom. If they put his work first, then he will supply what they need each day.

Verse 32 Jesus spoke as a *shepherd. He compared his *disciples with a small number of sheep. Although they were few, their *shepherd cared for them. Jesus had just told them to put the work of God’s *kingdom first. Now he says that the *kingdom is a gift from God. God is happy to welcome them into his *kingdom. This is not in the future, at the end of time. It belongs to them now. They work to spread the good news of the *kingdom. God gives them the power that they need to do his work.

Verse 33 Jesus was not asking his *disciples to give everything away. That would make them a nuisance to society. He was urging them not to be like the selfish ‘rich fool’ in the story. Jesus wanted them to be generous with their goods. Their real wealth is *spiritual. This wealth lasts. It is like a purse that never wears out. It is completely safe. Thieves can steal valuable possessions on earth. Insects can destroy expensive clothes. A person concentrates all his time and effort on whatever he thinks is most valuable. Riches on earth will make him worry, but they do not last. Wealth in heaven means that he obeys God. Then he has joy and feels safe. A person’s life with God lasts even after death.

The *Son of Man will return to earth 12:35-40

v35 ‘Always be ready. Dress ready for action. Keep your lamps lit. v36 Be ready, like servants who are waiting for their master to come back from a wedding party. They will be able to open the door as soon as he comes back and knocks. v37 Some servants are awake when their master returns. Those servants are happy. I tell you that the master will get ready. He will make the servants sit down. Then the master will serve them at the table. v38 If the master comes at midnight, or even later, those servants are happy! v39 But understand this: If the owner knew when the thief was coming, he would make sure that his house was safe. v40 You too must be ready. For the *Son of Man will come when you do not expect him’.

Verse 35 Jesus teaches about the time when he will return to earth. People must always be ready for Jesus to return at any time. He will come suddenly. Then there will be no time to get ready for him.

As servants got ready for work, they would pull up their long clothes over their belt. People need to care for lamps so that they continue to burn. The *disciples should prepare themselves too.

Verse 36 Jesus wants his people to be like servants who stay awake. They will then be ready when their master returns from a wedding party.

Verses 37-38 The servants do not know when the wedding party will end. They need to wait for their master all night. The servants, who keep awake and ready, even in the early hours of the morning, will receive a surprise. Their master will get ready to serve them himself. Jesus himself acted as a servant to his *disciples (John 13:4). God’s rewards are always more than a *disciple ever expects.

Verses 39-40 *Disciples must be like the owner of a house. He prevents a thief who tries to break into his house. They must always be ready for the *Son of Man to return to earth. Jesus will return when they are not expecting him.

The responsibilities of servants 12:41-48

v41 Peter said, ‘*Lord, are you telling this *parable for us or for everyone?’

v42 The *Lord answered, ‘Who is a loyal and wise servant? He is the one whom the master will choose to look after his house and servants. He will have to give the other servants their food at the proper time. v43 The master may return and find that he has carried out his duties. Then that servant will be happy. v44 I am telling you the truth. The master will ask the servant to look after all his property. v45 But that servant may think, “My master is taking a long time to come back”. And the servant begins to beat the other servants, both men and women. He eats and drinks, and drinks too much wine. v46 Then the master will come back one day when the servant does not expect him. He will give the servant a severe punishment. The servant will have the same fate as those servants who were not loyal. v47 A servant who knows what his master wants may take no notice of it. The master will hit him with many blows. v48 But another servant may not know what his master wants. That servant may do something wrong that deserves punishment. But the master will hit him with only a few blows. God requires much from the person to whom he gives much. He will expect much more from the person to whom he has given more’.

Verse 41 Peter asked the question, because he was worried about Jesus’ warning. Jesus had said that he would return to earth. He seemed to suggest that some of his *disciples would not be ready.

Verse 42 *Disciples are the *Lord’s servants, to whom God has given great responsibility. They are like the servant who looks after his master’s house.

Verses 43-44 The *disciples should wait for the *Lord to return. While they wait, they should be active and work for him and for other people. When the *Lord returns, he will reward those people who have served him and been loyal.

Verse 45 Nobody has the right to be lazy. Nobody should live and just satisfy his own desires.

Verses 47-48 Some *disciples know more and have more opportunities. Therefore, they should be more responsible. As a *disciple learns and knows more, God expects him to become more responsible. God will be fair when he punishes people who do wrong. God has been more generous to us than we deserve. He will expect us to serve him much better.

Jesus divides people 12:49-53

v49 ‘I came to make the earth on fire. How I wish that the fire had already started!

v50 I have a *baptism to receive. How unhappy and upset I am until it is over! v51 Do you think that I came to bring peace to the world? No, I do not bring peace. Instead, I divide people. v52 From now a family of five will divide. Three people in the family will be against the other two. And two people in the family will be against the other three. v53 Fathers and sons will be against each other. Mothers and daughters will oppose each other. A wife and her husband’s mother will oppose each other’.

Verse 49 Jesus had come to bring God’s judgement. It was like fire that destroys things that have no value. This judgement would take place at the cross, where God would judge people’s *sin. Jesus came to rescue people from *sin. He wished that his work had already begun.

Verse 50 He referred to his death as a ‘*baptism’. The word *baptism sometimes means suffering. (Look at Mark 10:39.) Jesus knew that he would suffer and die. He felt great strain as he thought about it. He wanted it to happen soon.

Verses 51-53 Jesus did bring peace. He made people at peace with God. However, his message also divided people. Some people accepted his message. Other people refused to obey him. This would even divide some families. Jesus used words like those in Micah 7:6. He said that in one family there would be three people on his side and two people against him. Or it would be the other way round. A father will decide one way, a son another way. Mother and daughter will not agree. In a family, people must be loyal to Jesus first. Their family must take the second place.

The evidence of the times 12:54-56

v54 Jesus also said to the crowds, ‘When a cloud rises in the west, you know at once that it will rain. And it does rain. v55 When the south wind blows, you say, “It is going to get hot”. And it does. v56 You *hypocrites! You can look at the earth and the sky. Then you know what the weather is going to be like. Then why do you not know what the present time means?’

Verse 54 Jesus said that people could understand the weather. They saw the evidence that it would change. Sometimes the clouds came from the Mediterranean Sea. Then they knew that it would rain.

Verse 55 The south wind from the desert would bring extremely hot weather.

Verse 56 They were *hypocrites. They knew how to judge the evidence of future weather. But they refused to understand the ‘signs’ that Jesus was talking about. The *Greek word for ‘time’ here is ‘kairos’, which means ‘the right time’. People were not deciding to follow Jesus while they had the opportunity.

Making peace with God 12:57-59

v57 ‘You should decide what is the right thing to do. Why are you not willing to decide? v58 If someone accuses you, you should try hard to be at peace with him. Do this while you are on the way to the court. If you do not, he will drag you to the judge. The judge will order the police to put you in prison. v59 Then you will stay there until you pay the very last tiny coin of your debt’.

Verse 57 Jesus asked why people did not think for themselves. They should not let people like the *Pharisees guide them.

Verses 58-59 A man is in debt. He should pay the person who is taking him to the court. If he does not, he could go to prison. He will not get out until he has paid every single coin, even the very last small coin. Every man is in debt to God because he or she has failed to love and obey him. He should ask for God’s *mercy, before God judges him.

Chapter 13

People need to turn to God 13:1-9

Two incidents and a *parable all teach that people need to turn to God. They must do this so that they avoid punishment.

1 The murder of the people from Galilee 13:1-3

v1 At that time, people told Jesus about the some Galileans. While they were making *offerings to God, Pilate’s soldiers had killed them. v2 Jesus said to the people, ‘What do you think about these Galileans? Were they worse *sinners than everyone else from Galilee? Is that why they suffered like that? v3 No, that is not true. But unless you turn away from your *sins, you too will die suddenly’.

Verse 1 Pilate was the *Roman who governed Judea. He was always afraid that *Jewish crowds would disturb the peace. ‘Galileans’ are people who came from the area near Lake Galilee.

Verse 2 The *Jews often thought that people suffered because they had *sinned (John 9:2). Jesus had just spoken about *judgement. The people may also have thought of what Jesus had said. Therefore, they were wondering if these Galileans were especially wicked. Some people from Galilee were offering their *sacrifice in the *Temple. Pilate did not want anyone to cause trouble against the *Romans. He ordered his soldiers to stop such people. The soldiers killed the Galileans. Their own blood mixed with the blood of their animal *offerings.

2 The accident at Siloam 13:4-5

v4 ‘Think about those 18 people who died at Siloam. A building fell down and killed them. Do you think that they were worse *sinners than all the other people who lived in Jerusalem? v5 No they were not! But unless you turn from your *sins, you too will die too’.

Verses 4-5 The building may have been part of Pilate’s plan to improve the water supply to Jerusalem. This was necessary, but the *Jews were very angry. Pilate took some money from the *Temple to pay for it. These men may have been working on the water system. Some people hated Pilate’s plan. They thought that people should not work on it. The workers should not have accepted money which came from the *Temple as their wages. They died when the building fell down. Therefore, people thought that God had punished them. Jesus denied that they were more guilty than anyone else in Jerusalem. But their deaths were a warning. People needed to turn to God.

3 The *parable of the *fig tree 13:6-9

v6 Then Jesus told them this *parable. ‘A man had a *fig tree growing in his *vineyard. He looked for fruit on it, but found none. v7 So he spoke to the man who looked after his *vineyard. “Look, I have looked for fruit on this tree for three years. But I have not found any. Cut it down! Why should it waste the space?” v8 But the man answered, “Leave it alone, sir, for just one more year. I will dig round it. I will dig something in the soil to help the tree to grow. v9 Then if the tree produces fruit next year, that will be good. If it does not, you can have it cut down” ’.

Verse 6 A *vineyard was picture language for the nation of *Israel. Isaiah spoke of the care that God had given to his *vineyard. But its fruit was no good. The people were wicked. Therefore God would destroy the *vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7).

Verse 7 In Jesus’ *parable, the *fig tree was in good soil in the *vineyard. But it had failed to produce fruit after three years. Jesus had been expecting the *Jews to accept his message for the past three years. The *fig tree disappointed its owner in the story. In the same way, the *Jews had disappointed Jesus.

Verses 8-9 The extra year in the story suggests that God gives people every chance to *repent. But there comes a time when there are no more opportunities. If the *Jews did not change their behaviour, God would destroy their nation. He was like the *vineyard owner, who would cut down the *fig tree.

The *Jews would not obey God. Jesus knew that this would lead to trouble with the *Romans. The *Romans destroyed the *Jewish nation in AD 70.

The woman with the bent back 13:10-17

v10 One *Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in a *synagogue. v11 A woman there had an evil spirit. It had made her ill for 18 years. She was bent over and could not stand up straight. v12 When Jesus saw her, he called her to him. He said, ‘Woman, you are free from your trouble!’ v13 He placed his hands on her, and at once she stood up straight. She praised God. v14 The official at the *synagogue was angry that Jesus had *healed on the *Sabbath. He spoke to the people in the *synagogue. ‘There are 6 days in which we can work. So come to find *healing on one of those days, and not on the *Sabbath!’ v15 The *Lord answered him, ‘You *hypocrites! Each of you frees one of his animals from its stall on the *Sabbath to give it water. v16 This woman is a *descendant of Abraham. *Satan has tied her up for 18 years. Certainly she must go free on the *Sabbath’. v17 His enemies were confused and they said nothing. All the people continued to be very pleased at all the wonderful things that Jesus was doing.

Verse 12 ‘Woman’ was a polite way of speaking. Jesus used the word when he spoke to his mother (John 2:4).

Verse 14 Many people opposed Jesus because he did not keep their *Sabbath traditions. This incident is another example of this. The official may also have been angry that Jesus had taken no notice of his authority. He did not have the courage to speak directly to Jesus himself. Instead, he protested to the people in the *synagogue.

Verses 15-16 Some people agreed with the attitude of the official. Jesus called them ‘*hypocrites’. They would free their animals on the *Sabbath. But they were not willing for him to free a person. God rescued the *Israelites so that they were not slaves any more (Deuteronomy 5:13-15). Jesus linked this to the law about the *Sabbath.

*Satan had kept the woman in a ‘prison’. Jesus gave the woman her freedom. By that action Jesus was destroying the work of *Satan.

The *parable of the *mustard seed 13:18-19

v18 Jesus asked, ‘What is the *kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? v19 It is like this. A man takes a *mustard seed and plants it in his field. The plant grows and becomes a tree. The birds make their nests in its branches.’

Verse 19 The *mustard seed is very tiny. Matthew emphasises this (Matthew 13:31-32). The plant can grow as large as a small tree. The *kingdom of God had a very small beginning, with just a few *disciples. But it grew. Now *disciples are all over the world.

At that time, a tree was picture language for a powerful nation. The birds in its branches were the nations to which it gave protection (Ezekiel 17:22-24). People of all nations will find their *spiritual security in God’s *kingdom.

The *parable of the *yeast 13:20-21

v20 Again Jesus asked, ‘What shall I compare the *kingdom of God with? v21 It is like this. A woman has some *yeast. She mixes it with a large quantity of *dough to make bread. She does this until the whole amount increases in size’.

Verse 21 Jesus must have watched his mother as she made bread. A small amount of *yeast causes a large amount of *dough to rise. Nobody can see its slow work as it changes the *dough. In the same way, God works slowly to change a person’s character. The *yeast is a picture of the difference that the *kingdom makes to society. The *yeast affects the *dough. In a similar way the Christian *faith affects society and improves it. The people of Thessalonica said that Christians had ‘turned the world over the other way’ (Acts 17:6). *Yeast changes *dough. *Faith in Jesus the king changes people and society.

The narrow door 13:22-30

v22 As he walked towards Jerusalem, Jesus went through towns and villages. There he taught the people. v23 Someone asked him, ‘*Lord, will only a few people escape God’s punishment on judgement day?’ Jesus answered, v24 ‘Try very hard to go in through the narrow door. I tell you this. Many people will try to go in. But they will not succeed. v25 The master of the house will get up and shut the door. Then you will stand outside and begin to knock on the door. You will say, “Open the door for us, sir!” But he will answer, “I do not know where you come from!” v26 Then you will answer, “We ate and drank with you. You taught in our town!” v27 But he will say again, “I do not know where you come from. Go away from me, all you wicked people!” v28 How you will cry out in despair and anger! This will be when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the *prophets, inside the *kingdom of God. But the master will not allow you to go in. v29 People will come from every part of the world. They will sit down in their seats in the *kingdom of God. v30 Then the people who are now least important will be first. The people who are first will be last’.

Verse 23 The *Jewish teachers often discussed who would escape God’s punishment. Many considered that most of the *Jews would escape. God would punish *Gentiles.

Verse 24 Jesus did not answer their question. He did not say how many God would *save. Instead, he concentrated on why so few people would enter the *kingdom. He told them to struggle with determination to enter the ‘door’ of *salvation. Jesus was not suggesting that people can earn *salvation by their own efforts. He was emphasising that *salvation is an urgent matter. People cannot postpone a decision to follow Jesus. Their opportunity to enter God’s *kingdom does not last for ever.

Verse 25 Some people wait until it is too late. Then the owner of the house will deny that he knows them.

Verses 26-27 The people outside will try to get in, because they have had a few contacts with Jesus. Many people who are members of a Christian country may consider themselves Christian. But they have no real desire to be *disciples of Jesus. Jesus used words from Psalm 6:8. They are wicked. He does not recognise them. If they were genuine *disciples, they would have changed their behaviour.

Verse 28 They will weep and be angry. They will see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who began the *Jewish nation. They will see the *prophets too. They will all be in God’s *kingdom. But the people who are outside will not be there themselves.

Verse 29 *Jews taught that there would be a great dinner at the end of time. They imagined that they would be there and have great joy. Jesus said that people would come from every part of the world to the *Messiah’s great dinner (Isaiah 25:6). *Gentiles would be guests as well as *Jews. This would make Isaiah’s words come true. God’s *salvation would ‘reach to the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 49:6).

Verse 30 Heaven has very different standards from those on earth. God will welcome *Gentiles who trust in him. But he will shut out *Jews who have not accepted him as the *Messiah. Also, people who are the least important on earth will receive more honour than other people in heaven.

The warning about Herod 13:31-33

v31 At that time some *Pharisees came to Jesus and said, ‘You must leave Galilee and go somewhere else. Because Herod wants to kill you’. v32 Jesus answered them, ‘Go and give this message to that fox. “I am forcing out *demons and *healing people today and tomorrow. On the third day I shall finish my work”. v33 However, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day. Jerusalem is the place where they kill a *prophet’.

Verse 31 These *Pharisees may have acted as sincere friends. But they probably tried to move Jesus out of Galilee for their own reasons. They had more power to change public opinion in Judea. Therefore, they were willing to warn Jesus about Herod, a person whom they hated. Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee and Perea. Perhaps he was still anxious because he had agreed to John the *Baptist’s death. He did not want to be responsible for another murder. Jesus was popular. So, Herod may have been worried about political activity that would disturb the peace. Therefore, he thought that he should warn Jesus. This would make him leave that region.

Verse 32 The *Jews believed that they could not trust a fox. It was an animal that was always destroying things. Foxes were of little worth. Jesus compared Herod to this animal. Jesus continued his work. He forced out *demons and *healed people. But soon he would finish this work.

Verse 33 He ‘must’ go to Jerusalem but not because of Herod’s wish. God planned that Jesus would go there. It would be when God wanted. It would not be when Herod wanted. Jerusalem was a ‘holy’ city because the *Temple was there. But they had often killed *prophets there. Jesus was a *prophet too.

Jesus is upset about Jerusalem 13:34-35

v34 ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the *prophets. Men brought God’s messages to you. But you threw stones at them and killed them. I often wanted to bring you to me. Then you would be as safe as baby chickens under the mother chicken’s wings. But you would not let me! v35 And so God will leave your city. I tell you this. You will not see me again until you say, “‘God *bless him who comes as God’s servant” ’.

Verse 34 ‘I often’ shows that Jesus went to Jerusalem more times than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record. Jesus said that the people of Jerusalem had refused to obey God’s servants. They even killed them.

Verse 35 *Jews refused to obey God. So, God stopped protecting their city. As in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:4), the *Jews believed that their city would always be safe. The *Temple was there. So, they thought that an enemy would never defeat Jerusalem. But Jesus’ words came true. In AD 70, the *Romans completely destroyed Jerusalem.

Jesus used words from Psalm 118:26. People greeted one another with these words when they came to Jerusalem. People greeted Jesus with these words on the Sunday before the first Easter (Luke 19:38). Here Jesus also refers to when he will return to earth. On that day people will have to recognise him as *Messiah.

Chapter 14

Jesus *heals a man on the *Sabbath 14:1-6

v1 One *Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the more important *Pharisees. They were watching Jesus with great care to see what he would do. v2 In front of Jesus was a man who suffered from dropsy (that is, he had too much water in his body). v3 Jesus spoke to the lawyers and *Pharisees. He asked them, ‘Does the law allow a person to *heal on the *Sabbath, or not?’ v4 But they did not reply. Jesus held the man and *healed him. Then he sent the man away. v5 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose your son or ox (animal) fell into a well on the *Sabbath. You would pull him out at once, even on a *Sabbath day’. v6 But they could not answer him about this.

Verses 1-2 Probably the *Pharisees had put the man there on purpose. They wanted to see what Jesus would do. They did not doubt that Jesus could *heal him.

Verses 3-4 The experts in the law of Moses and *Pharisees could not reply. They knew that the law allowed them to do good acts on the *Sabbath. God linked their law about the *Sabbath to the rescue of the *Israelites from being slaves (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). They had been slaves in Egypt and God brought them out of Egypt. The *Pharisees had limited this law. They said that a person could *heal only if someone’s life were in danger. If the *Pharisees said ‘Yes’ to Jesus’ question, they would break their own rule. If they said ‘No’, they would appear to be cruel.

Verse 5 Jesus showed that they were *hypocrites. On the *Sabbath none of them would hesitate to rescue a person or an animal if they were drowning in a well. Jesus had helped a man who was very ill.

Verse 6 The *Pharisees could not give an answer to Jesus.

Advice to guests 14:7-11

v7 Jesus noticed how some of the guests were trying to sit in places of honour. So he spoke this *parable to all of them. v8 ‘When someone invites you to a wedding party, do not sit down in the best place. Perhaps the host has invited someone more important than you. v9 Your host, who has invited both of you, will say to you, “Let this man sit in that place”. Then you will feel ashamed and have to sit in the place of least honour. v10 But when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the place of least honour. Then your host will come and say, “My friend, come up to a better place”. Then all the other guests will see how much the host respects you. v11 People try to make themselves look important. But God will make them humble. God will give honour to everyone who lives in a humble way’.

Verse 7 What Jesus said was more than just advice about good behaviour. It was a ‘*parable’ and a *religious lesson. Jesus showed that people should to be humble.

Verses 9-10 uses words like Proverbs 25:6-7.

Verse 11 Mary’s song in Luke 1:51-52 is similar to this verse. God does not want people to be proud. Instead, he gives honour to humble people. Nobody has the right to make themselves important in God’s *kingdom.

Advice to the host 14:12-14

v12 Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers. Do not invite your other relations or your rich neighbours. For they will invite you back. This is how they will pay you back. v13 When you give a party, invite the poor and people who have *physical disabilities. v14 Then you will be happy, because they cannot pay you back. God will pay you back, on the day when good people rise from the dead’.

Verses 12-13 Jesus did not mean that people must never invite their close friends and relatives. He meant that people should invite other guests as well. Proverbs 19:17 says, ‘He who is kind to the poor lends to the *Lord, and the *Lord will pay him back’. Jesus was asking people to be generous hosts.

Verse 14 Some people denied that the wicked would rise from death. *Pharisees believed in a general *resurrection (Daniel 12:2). But the *Sadducees did not believe this (Luke 20:27).

The *parable of the great dinner 14:15-24

v15 One of the people who were sitting at the table heard this. He said to Jesus, ‘How happy are the people who will share in the great dinner in the *kingdom of God!’ v16 Jesus said to him, ‘There was once a man who was giving a great dinner. He invited many guests. v17 When it was time for the meal, he sent his servant to tell his guests, “Come, everything is ready”. v18 But one after another, they all began to make excuses. The first one told the servant, “I have bought a field. I must go and look at it. I am sorry that I cannot come”. v19 Another one said, “I have bought five pairs of animals to help me plough the soil. I am on my way to see whether they work well. Please excuse me”. v20 Another one said, “I have just married a wife and therefore I cannot come!” v21 The servant went back and told all this to his master. The master was extremely angry. He said to his servant, “Hurry to the main streets and the side streets of the town. Bring the poor people here. Bring the people with *physical disabilities”. v22 Soon the servant said, “I have done what you told me to do, sir. But there is room for more people”. v23 So the master said to the servant, “Go out to the country roads and hedges. Make people come in. I want my house to be full. v24 I tell you this. None of those whom I invited at first will taste my dinner!” ’

Verse 15 The person may have been someone who desired to be at the *Messiah’s great dinner. It is probable, however, that he was a person like a *Pharisee. He was confident that he would be there himself one day. Jesus then told a *parable that was about an invitation. The people had to reply in the present time, not in the future.

Verse 16 It was the custom for a host to give a second invitation after the first one. Someone might accept the first invitation and refuse the second one. Then they were insulting the host.

Verse 18 The first man made the excuse that he must look at his field. He may have bought the field and he had not seen it yet. But he could wait for a few days.

Verse 19 The man who bought new animals also could have waited. He, too, would have been foolish to buy the animals if he had not seen them.

Verse 20 Perhaps the third man referred to the law in Deuteronomy 24:5. This law allowed a man freedom from military service for a year after his marriage. But it did not forbid social contacts. He had accepted the invitation. The generous host probably would have welcomed his wife too. The man did not even say that he was sorry to refuse.

Verses 18-20 The *Jews who cared more about their own *religious rules were like the people in verses 18-20. Jesus was like the servant. He reminded them that God called them to come into his *kingdom.

Verse 21 The people from the city were those people whom the *Pharisees called ‘*sinners’. They were people like *tax-collectors, and other people who did not keep all the *religious rules.

Verse 23 The hedges were plants and bushes along the road. They could shelter people who had no homes. They might doubt that the host really wanted them at his great dinner. The servant must persuade them with love, but not with force. Jesus was referring to the *Gentiles. There will be room for them in God’s *kingdom.

Verse 24 ‘You’ is plural. Jesus is speaking to all the guests, and to everyone who will hear his words. It is important to accept Jesus’ invitation today. If anyone refuses it, he loses the opportunity to enjoy life with God in his *kingdom.

What it costs to be a *disciple 14:25-33

v25 Large crowds of people were going with Jesus. He turned and said to them, v26 ‘You cannot be my *disciple unless you love me more than you love your parents or your wife and children. You must love me more than you love your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me, unless you love me more than your own life. v27 You must carry your own cross and come with me. Otherwise you cannot be my *disciple’.

v28 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tall building. He first sits down. He works out what it will cost. He wants to see if he has enough money to finish it. v29 He may lay the foundations (base stones) but then he cannot finish the building. Everyone will laugh at him. v30 “This foolish man began to build and cannot finish it”, they will say. v31 Or suppose a king goes out with 10 000 men in his army. He goes to fight against another king who has twice as many men. The king will sit down first. He will decide whether he is strong enough to fight that other king. v32 If he is not, he will send a message to the other king. He will do this while he is still far away. He will ask for peace. v33 In the same way, someone may want to be my *disciple. He must give up everything that he has’.

Verse 26 A person should be more loyal to Jesus than to his or her closest family. And Jesus is more important even than one’s own wishes.

Verse 27 The crowds were following Jesus. They thought that he was going to become a powerful leader. But Jesus told them that he was going to suffer. His *followers must be ready to suffer for their *faith, and even to die for it. But Jesus also meant that a *disciple must give up his own plans, comforts and ambitions. Carrying a cross is very hard and painful. Sometimes today, it is difficult to be a Christian.

Verses 28-32 These two *parables use familiar situations. They make people think about the cost and danger of being a *disciple. Verses 28 and 31 talk of ‘sitting down’ first. This suggests that people must take care when they decide whether to follow Jesus. One must consider what it will cost to ‘build’ one’s *faith and ‘fight’ its enemies. ‘Build’ means the work of a whole life, not a sudden, brief effort. ‘Fight’ means opposing evil in every way.

Verse 33 To ‘give up everything’ means to be completely loyal as one follows Jesus. Whatever it costs. A *disciple must give his whole effort to the work of the *kingdom of God.

Salt without value 14:34-35

v34 ‘Salt is good. But if it no longer tastes like salt, one cannot make it proper salt again. v35 It is no good for the soil and no good for plants. People throw it away. Listen, then, if you have ears’.

Verses 34-35 People used salt to give flavour to food. Salt also prevents food from going bad. Refrigerators are a modern invention. People used to put salt on the land to help plants to grow. Jesus said that his *disciples were ‘the salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5:13). Christians should add flavour and joy to life. They should act against evil in the world, and help people to be good. The salt of Jesus’ time was not as pure as it is today. In those days, salt could dissolve and leave only a type of substance that had no flavour. People threw it away as it had no value. Some *followers of Jesus are not carrying out their functions. Those *disciples are of no use to God.

Chapter 15

*Parables of God’s love 15:1-32

1 Introduction 15:1-2

Jesus told three *parables as an answer to the *Pharisees. They did not approve of him because he ate meals with ‘*tax-collectors and *sinners’. People who are lost can be those who have never been Christians. Or they can be Christians who have wandered away from God.

v1 One day all the *tax-collectors and other bad people came to listen to Jesus. v2 The *Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to complain to one another. ‘This man greets *sinners and even eats meals with them’.

Verse 2 The *Pharisees believed that it was wrong to meet with people like *tax-collectors and ‘*sinners’. ‘*Sinners’ refers to bad people. Many people did not keep all the *Pharisees *religious rules. The *Pharisees called these people ‘*sinners’ too. A person might eat a meal with them. This would show that the person approved of their behaviour. The *Pharisees did not understand God’s love.

2 The *parable of the lost sheep 15:3-7

v3 Jesus told them this *parable. v4 ‘Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Think about what he does. He leaves the 99 sheep in the field. He goes to search for the sheep that he has lost. He searches until he finds it. v5 When he finds it, he is really happy. He lifts the sheep up on to his shoulders and v6 carries it home. Then calls his friends and neighbours together. He wants them to be happy too. He says, “I have found my sheep”. v7 In the same way, there is joy in heaven when one *sinner turns to God. Yes there will be more joy than there would be for 99 good people who do not need to turn to God’.

Verse 4 It was very easy for a sheep to wander away from the rest and not realise it. God is like the good *shepherd. Many people have gone away from God’s laws. They did not mean to. So, God searches for them. Every person is valuable to God. The *shepherd searches until he finds his ‘lost’ sheep. In a similar way, God will search until he finds the ‘lost’ *sinner.

Verse 7 When Jesus said ‘good’ people, he probably meant the *Pharisees. They considered that they did not need to turn to God. But they were ‘good’ only in their own opinion of themselves.

3 The *parable of the lost coin 15:8-10

v8 ‘Or suppose that a woman has 10 coins. She loses one of them. Think about what he does. She lights a lamp and sweeps her house. She looks with great care in every corner until she finds it. v9 When she finds it, she calls all her friends and neighbours together. She says to them, “I lost a coin. I am so happy that I have found it. Come and be happy with me!” v10 I tell you that it is the same in heaven. The *angels of God are very happy when one *sinner turns to God’.

Verse 8 The silver coin may have been the woman’s savings. One coin was the amount of a day’s wage. There is another reason for its value. The 10 silver coins on a silver chain were the evidence that she was a married woman. She would wear them round her head, and nobody could take them from her. They were as precious as a wedding ring is today. In those days, the houses had tiny windows. This kept out the sun and heat. It was dark inside, so she would need to light a lamp. Then she could see where her coin had fallen.

Verse 10 This *parable, like the first one, shows that God’s love is great. He searches for the ‘lost’ *sinner with as much care as the woman looked for her lost coin. Both *parables speak of God’s joy when a *sinner turns to him.

4 The *parable of the lost son 15:11-32

The younger brother 15:11-24

v11 ‘There was once a man who had two sons. v12 The younger son said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the property”. So, the father divided his property between his two sons. v13 Not long after that, the younger son sold his share of the property and left home with the money. He went away to a distant country. He lived there in a foolish way and wasted all his money. v14 After he spent all his money, there was a famine (lack of food) in that country. Soon he had nothing to eat. v15 So he went and hired himself to one of the citizens of that country. The man sent him to look after his pigs. v16 The son would have been glad to eat the pigs’ food. But nobody gave him anything.

v17 At last he realised that he had been very foolish. He said, “My father’s workers have more food than they can eat! But I am starving and might die. v18 I will return to my father. I will say to him, ‘Father, I have *sinned against God and *sinned against you. v19 I do not deserve that you should call me your son any more. Consider me as one of your workers’ ”. v20 So he set out for his father’s house. But while he was still a long way from home, his father saw him. He pitied him. He ran to meet him. He hugged and kissed him. v21 The son said, “Father, I have *sinned against God and *sinned against you. I am not fit for anyone to call me your son any more”. v22 But the father called to his servants, “Hurry! Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Put a ring on his finger and put shoes on his feet. v23 Get the best young animal and kill it. Let us show how happy we are. Let us have a great dinner. v24 For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive. I had lost him, but now I have found him”. And so the party began’.

Verse 11 The law allowed the oldest son to receive two thirds of his father’s property (Deuteronomy 21:17). This was because, after his father’s death, he would have many things to buy. He would be the head of the family. The second son would therefore receive only a third of the property.

Verse 12 The younger son wanted to enjoy himself. He did not want to wait until his father died.

Verse 13 The younger son hurried to be free. He went as far away as possible. He did not want anyone to reduce his freedom. He bought whatever he wanted. He had fun and paid for entertainment. He had a ‘good’ time but he wasted all his money.

Verse 14 The lack of food in the country would make his situation worse. Food would be more expensive. People would not be as willing or able to share their food.

Verse 15 *Jews considered pigs to be ‘*unclean’ animals (Leviticus 11:17). But the son accepted a job to look after pigs. He must have been desperate.

Verse 17 The son recognised that *sin against his father was also *sin against God.

Verse 20 The father must have been watching for his son to return. He saw his son from a long way off. It was unusual for an older person to run as the father did. People would think that it was not right for him to run.

Verse 21 The son was going to ask to be like one of his father’s workers. The father prevented him as he gave his son a great welcome home.

Verse 22 The best clothes showed his honourable position. The ring was evidence of his authority. Slaves had bare feet. Therefore, the son had shoes. This showed that he was free and was not a slave.

Verse 23 The animal was one that the father made fat for a special occasion.

Verse 24 The father felt as if a dead son had come back to life. He was ‘lost’ to his father when he went away. He was ‘found’ when he decided to return.

The older brother 15:25-32

v25 ‘In the meantime, the older son was out in the field. As he returned to the house, he heard music. People were dancing. v26 He called one of the servants and asked him, “What is going on?” v27 The servant told him, “Your brother has come back home. Your father has killed the best animal, because he has his son back home safe and well”. v28 But the older brother was angry. He refused to go into the house. So, his father came out and kept asking him to go in. v29 But he answered his father, “Look, you know that I have worked like a slave for you all these years. I never once failed to obey your orders. What have you given me? You did not even give me a young goat so that I could have a party with my friends! v30 But this son of yours has wasted all your money on women, and you kill the best animal for him!” v31 “My son”, the father answered, “you are always with me. Everything that I have belongs to you too. v32 It was right to have a party and be happy. Your brother was dead, but now he is alive. I had lost him, and now I have found him” ’.

Verses 28-29 The older brother was like the *Pharisees. His work was strict duty. He did not serve his father because he loved him. The *Pharisees obeyed the law, but they did not love God. The son did not understand how his father felt. The *Pharisees did not believe that God would welcome *sinners.

Verse 30 He would not say ‘my brother’ but he said ‘this son of yours’. He was trying to blame the father when he said that. He accused his brother. He said that he had spent all his father’s money. But the younger brother had spent only his own share. The older brother could not know what his brother had spent his money on. He imagined that his brother had done terrible things. He may have been right, but he did not speak with love. The older brother was angry and jealous.

Verse 31 The father emphasised that he loved both his sons. The older one should have enjoyed being at home with the father. He still had his share of the property.

Verse 32 The father corrects the words ‘this son of yours’ when he says ‘this brother of yours’.

The *parable does not say whether the son listened to his father. It does not say whether he joined the party. The story of the older brother was a warning against the proud *Pharisees. The father gave a generous welcome to his ‘lost’ son. In the same way, God welcomes *sinners whom he forgives. The *Pharisees heard the *parable. In the story, the father means God. The Pharisees had to decide whether to have the same attitude as the father or to be like the older brother.

Chapter 16

The *parable of the unjust manager 16:1-8

v1 Jesus said to his *disciples, ‘A rich man had a servant who managed his property. The rich man heard that his manager was wasting his goods. v2 So the rich man called his manager and said, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me a complete account of how you have dealt with my property. Because you cannot be my manager any longer”. v3 The manager thought, “My master is going to remove me from my job. What shall I do? I am not strong enough to dig. I am too proud to ask people for money and food. v4 I have decided what to do! Then, when I have lost my job, I shall have friends. They will invite me into their homes”. v5 So he called all the people who were in debt to his master. He asked the first one, “How much do you owe my master?” v6 “One hundred barrels of oil”, he answered. “Here is your account”, the manager told him. “Sit down and write 50 barrels”. v7 Then he asked another one, “And how much do you owe?” “A hundred sacks of wheat”, he answered. “Here is your account”, the manager told him. “Write 80 sacks”. v8 The manager was not honest. But the master praised him because he did such a sensible thing. For the people of this world manage their affairs in a more sensible way than people who belong to the *kingdom of God do’.

Verses 1-2 The manager had wasted his master’s goods. He had been careless as he did his duties. He may have been guilty because he used his master’s goods for himself. The master asked him to hand in his accounts before he lost his job.

Verse 3 The manager thought hard about how he could live in the future.

Verses 5-7 The people that he called may have owed rent to the master. They paid in goods rather than money. Perhaps they had bought goods from his master’s lands and promised to pay for them. The people in debt may have believed that the manager had persuaded his master to reduce the amount. They would be very grateful. It is more likely, however, that the manager had involved them in a wrong business deal. They would be willing to give him a home. Or perhaps they could not refuse to help him. He could accuse them of doing something wrong unless they helped him.

Verse 8 The master praised the manager. He knew that the manager was not honest. He did not praise him for that reason. But he praised him because he had been very sensible. He had thought about his future and made plans.

Jesus points out four lessons from the story 16:8-13

Lesson 1 16:8

v8 ‘The manager was not honest. But the master praised him because he did such a sensible thing. For the people of this world manage their affairs in a more sensible way than people who belong to the *kingdom of God do’.

Verse 8 People who are not Christians often manage their affairs with care. And they are sensible when they plan their future. Christians do not always show as much care when they think about God’s work and their own *eternal life.

Lesson 2 16:9

v9 Jesus went on to say, ‘So I tell you, use the wealth of this world to make friends for *yourselves. Then, when money is no longer any good to you, they will welcome you in heaven’.

Verse 9 *Disciples should use their wealth to help people who have a need. Then the people that they have helped will welcome them into their home in heaven.

Lesson 3 16:10-12

v10 ‘Whoever is responsible in small matters will be responsible in large ones. v11 Perhaps you have not been responsible, as you manage material wealth. Then no one can trust you with *spiritual riches. v12 And if you have not been responsible with someone else’s property, no one will trust you with true wealth’.

Verses 10-12 If people are responsible in small matters, they will be responsible in large ones. A *disciple uses goods that belong to God, not to him. He needs to show that he is responsible. God can then trust him to look after other people’s *spiritual needs. And then God can trust him with the riches of heaven.

Lesson 4 16:13

v13 ‘No servant can serve two masters. He will hate one and love the other. Or he will be loyal to one. Then he will think that the other one has no value. You cannot be the servant of both God and money’.

Verse 13 Nobody can serve two masters. He can be completely loyal to only one master. Nobody can have money as his master and *worship God at the same time.

The *Pharisees and the law 16:14-18

v14 When the *Pharisees heard all this, they laughed at Jesus. They laughed at him because they loved money. v15 Jesus said to them, ‘You are the ones who make *yourselves look good to other people. But God knows what you are really like. The things that people admire are worth nothing to God. v16 What is written in the Law of Moses and the *prophets had authority until the time of John the *Baptist. Since then, people have been hearing the good news about the *kingdom of God. Everyone tries hard to get into it. v17 But it is less difficult for heaven and earth to disappear than for one tiny detail of the law to lose its meaning.

v18 A man might divorce his wife and marry another woman. If he does that, he *sins against God’s law. A man marries a woman whom her husband has divorced. That man *sins against God’s law’.

Verse 14 The *Pharisees believed that wealth was God’s reward for their goodness. But Jesus contrasted love for God and love for money. This did not please the *Pharisees.

Verse 15 What some people admired in the *Pharisees disgusted God. He knew that their ‘good’ behaviour was a false show.

Verse 16 The Law of Moses means the first five books of the *Old Testament. The *prophets form the second part of the *Hebrew *Old Testament. A new period in *Jewish history began when Jesus came. People wanted to accept Jesus as king. They certainly wanted to enter his *kingdom. They were different from the *Pharisees, who did not use their opportunity.

Verse 17 The Law had not ended. The tiny detail was the small extra mark on a *Hebrew letter that distinguished it from another letter. The Law would come true even to the very smallest detail. When Jesus taught, he explained what the Law meant.

Verse 18 There were two opinions about divorce, a strict one and a very easy one. The *Pharisees accepted the easy opinion. A man could divorce his wife if she burnt his dinner. Or if he saw someone who was prettier. But Jesus said that marriage was a permanent relationship. He spoke again about divorce, where he made the one exception. They could divorce if either the husband or the wife was not loyal to the other (Matthew 5:31-32). That *sin against God’s law breaks one of the Ten *Commandments (Exodus 20:14).

The rich man and Lazarus 16:19-31

v19 ‘There was once a rich man who dressed in the most expensive clothes. He lived in great luxury every day. v20 There was also a poor man. His name was Lazarus. He had *sores all over his body. Someone used to bring him to the rich man’s gate. v21 Bits of food fell from the rich man’s table. Lazarus hoped that he would be able to eat them. Even the wild *dogs came and tasted his *sores. v22 The poor man died. The *angels carried him to sit next to Abraham at the great dinner in heaven. The rich man died, and people buried him. v23 And in *Hades he was in great pain. He looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus at his side. v24 So he called out, “Father Abraham! Please pity me. Send Lazarus to put the end of his finger in water and make my tongue cool. For I am in great pain in this fire!” v25 But Abraham said, “My son, remember this. You received all the good things while you lived on earth. Lazarus had all the bad things. Now he is happy, and you have pain. v26 Anyway, there is a very wide gap between us. That stops people who want to cross from here to you. Neither can anyone cross over from you to where we are”. v27 The rich man said, “Father Abraham, please send Lazarus to my father’s house. v28 Because I have five brothers. Let him go and warn them. Then they will not have to come to this place of pain”. v29 Abraham said, “Your brothers have a warning in what Moses and the *prophets wrote. Your brothers should listen to what they say”. v30 The rich man answered, “That is not enough, father Abraham. But if someone were to rise from death. If they were to go to them, then they would turn to God”. v31 But Abraham said, “If they will not listen to God’s word, they will not turn to him. Not even if someone did rise from the dead” ’.

Verse 19 The rich man wore purple outer clothes. Kings wore that colour. Underneath he wore the best quality clothes. He ate splendid meals every day.

Verse 20 The name ‘Lazarus’ means ‘God is my help’. He suffered from disease. Someone had to carry him to the rich man’s gate.

Verse 21 He was very hungry. He hoped to eat the bread that the guests threw. They had wiped their hands on it first. He was so weak that he could not even push away the *dogs in the street. The *dogs were a nuisance.

Verse 22 Abraham was the host at the great dinner in heaven. After Lazarus died, he was in a place of honour next to Abraham. Lazarus was very happy there. People gave the rich man a funeral. But the story does not mention whether Lazarus had a funeral.

Verse 23 The rich man went to ‘*Hades’. This was the *Greek word for the *Hebrew name ‘sheol’. It just meant the place for all dead people. However, in this verse, it seems to mean the same as ‘hell’. Hell is the place of punishment or pain.

Verse 24 The rich man spoke to ‘father’ Abraham. Perhaps he wanted to emphasise that he came from *Israel. That was the nation that God had chosen. The rich man had done nothing for Lazarus. Now he wanted Lazarus to act as his servant.

Verse 25 Abraham answered him. It was fair that Lazarus should be happy. He had suffered through no fault of his own. The rich man had enjoyed his life and had not thought about Lazarus.

Verse 26 Moreover, the rich man had made an impossible request. After a person had died, their situation was permanent.

Verses 27-28 The rich man requested that Lazarus should warn his brothers. But the rich man was also making an excuse for himself. He did not think that he had received sufficient warning. He would not be in *Hades if someone had warned him.

Verse 29 The books of Moses and of the *prophets contain frequent *warnings. They told people to care for the poor. His brothers could listen to those words in the *synagogue every week.

Verse 30 The rich man then asked Abraham to send some special evidence to warn them.

Verse 31 God’s word had already warned them, and they had paid no attention. Abraham said that even astonishing evidence would not help. Not even if a dead person became alive. This was true. Martha and Mary’s brother died and Jesus raised him from death. However, people did not believe in Jesus. Instead, they plotted to kill him (John 11:1-53). The *Jews still refused to believe in Jesus, even after his *resurrection (Matthew 28:11-15).

The *parable showed the rich *Sadducees that there is a life after death. They did not believe this. Moreover, a person’s life after death depends on what he did in his life. The man in the story was guilty, but not because he was rich. Abraham himself was a rich man (Genesis 13:2). The man was guilty because he had a selfish attitude. He only thought about his own satisfaction. He did not think about what the poor man needed.

Chapter 17

The danger if you cause other people to *sin 17:1-2

v1 Jesus said to his *disciples, ‘Things will certainly happen that turn people away from God. But how terrible for the one who makes them happen! v2 If anybody turns these little ones away from God, that is extremely serious. It would be better for people to throw him into the sea with a millstone round his neck’.

Verse 2 A millstone was the heavy upper stone that turned grain into flour. It had a hole in the middle for people to pour the grain in between the upper and lower stones. Anyone with such a stone round his neck would certainly drown.

You need to forgive 17:3-4

v3 ‘Be careful how you act! If your brother *sins against you, tell him that he is doing something wrong. He may say that he is sorry. If he does, you should forgive him. v4 He might *sin against you seven times in a day. When he tells you, “I am sorry”, you must forgive him’.

Verses 3-4 ‘Be careful how you act’ could mean ‘do not lead anyone into *sin’ (verse 1). It also means that a *disciple must forgive a person’s wrong acts. A *disciple must be ready to forgive as many times as anyone asks him. Jesus told Peter to forgive ‘70 times 7’ (Matthew 18:21-22). That is, as many times as you need to.

The power of *faith 17:5-6

v5 The *apostles said to the *Lord, ‘Make our *faith stronger’. v6 The *Lord answered, ‘If you had *faith as big as a *mustard seed, you could say to this tree, “Pull yourself out of the ground. Plant yourself in the sea”. And the tree would obey you’.

Verse 5 *Disciples should not lead other people away from God. They should also be ready to forgive. This is not easy. It means that the *disciples need God’s help. They realised this. So, they asked God to help them. They needed stronger *faith in God’s power.

Verse 6 A *mustard seed is very tiny. A tree has strong roots. Jesus was using picture language. It seems impossible to do some things. But Jesus showed that even very little *faith in God makes things possible.

The master and his servant 17:7-10

v7 ‘Suppose that one of you has a servant. And he is ploughing or looking after the sheep. He comes in from the field. You do not tell him to come at once and eat his meal. Of course you do not! v8 Instead, you say to him, “Get my supper ready. Get ready to serve me. Then wait on me while I eat and drink. After that, you may have your meal”. v9 He does not praise the servant because he obeys orders. v10 It is the same with you. When you have carried out all your orders you say, “We are servants who do not deserve praise. We have only done our duty” ’.

Verses 7-9 At the end of a day’s work, a servant serves the master. The servant just does his duty. The master does not thank him.

Verse 10 There is no place for *spiritual *pride. A *disciple cannot expect God to be grateful to him. A *disciple may give his best service to God. However, that is no more than his duty.

The 10 men who had *leprosy 17:11-19

v11 As Jesus travelled to Jerusalem, he went along the border between Samaria and Galilee. v12-13 Jesus was about to go into a village when 10 men with *leprosy met him. They stood a distance away from him. They called, ‘Jesus, Master, please pity us!’ v14 Jesus saw them and said, ‘Go to the priests and let them examine you’. As they went, their *leprosy left them. v15 Then one of them saw that he had no *leprosy. He came back. He was praising God in a loud voice. v16 He fell down on the ground next to Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The man was a *Samaritan. v17 Jesus said, ‘There were 10 men whom I *healed. Where are the other 9? v18 Why is this foreigner the only one who came back to give thanks to God?’ v19 And Jesus said to him, ‘Get up and go. Your *faith has made you well’.

Verses 11-12 10 men had *leprosy. 9 men were *Jews. The other man was a *Samaritan (verse 16). Jesus was on the border between Samaria and Galilee. People with *leprosy had to live together. They could not get near to other people. They were obeying the law of Moses as they stood at a distance (Leviticus 13:45-46). This is why they had to call. It was so that Jesus could hear them.

Verse 13 They asked Jesus to pity them. This means that they wanted him to *heal them.

Verse 14 Jesus did not touch them. He did not say that he would *heal them. But he told them to go to the priests. The priests had to examine anyone to see whether he had recovered from his disease. All 10 men obeyed Jesus. So they showed that they had *faith. They started to go to the priests. Then they realised that they were well again.

Verses 15-16 The man who returned praised God ‘in a loud voice’. He was excited. He wanted everyone to know that Jesus had *healed him.

Verses 17-18 Jesus asked two questions. These questions showed that he was disappointed. He did not want the men to thank him. But the 9 men had not been grateful to God.

Verse 19 All 10 men had shown *faith. But the *Samaritan’s *faith had led him to praise God. Jesus’ words meant that the *Samaritan now had a healthy spirit as well as a healthy body.

God’s *kingdom 17:20-37

v20 Some *Pharisees asked Jesus when the *kingdom of God would come. He answered, ‘The *kingdom of God will not come with evidence that anyone can see. v21 Nobody will say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” Because the *kingdom of God is in you’. v22 Then he said to his *disciples, ‘The time will come when you will wish to see even one of the days of the *Son of Man. But you will not see it. v23 There will be those who will say to you, “Look, over there!” or “Look, over here!” But do not follow these people. v24 Everyone will see the *Son of Man when he comes. When lightning flashes across the sky, people see everything clearly. People will see the *Son of Man as clearly as that. v25 But before he comes again, the *Son of Man must suffer many things. People of this time will refuse to accept him’.

Verse 20 Both John the *Baptist and Jesus had taught about the *kingdom of God. The *Pharisees may have asked this question because of what they had heard.

Verse 21 ‘The *kingdom is in you’. The *kingdom is not an event. The *kingdom is an inner experience that changes a person’s character. The *Greek word for ‘in’ also means ‘among’. The *kingdom was present ‘among’ them. The *Pharisees were looking for a *kingdom. But the king, Jesus, was already among them.

Verse 22 Later the *disciples would think about the time when Jesus was with them. They would desire to be with him again. However, they would look forward to the time when he returns to earth. Jesus probably meant that. They would not see any evidence that he was going to come. He would come when they did not expect him.

Verse 23 People will make false *prophecies about when the *kingdom will arrive. The *disciples should not believe them.

Verse 24 Everyone will see the *Son of Man when he comes. People will see him as clearly as when lightning flashes across the sky.

Verse 25 But before he comes again, the *Son of Man ‘must’ suffer. Jesus knew that he was going to die. He knew that this was God’s purpose.

v26 ‘Before the *Son of Man comes again, this is what the world will be like. It will be the same as it was in the time of Noah. v27 Everyone kept on eating and drinking. Men and women married. They did these things up to the very day that Noah went into the *Ark. The flood came and killed them all. v28 The world was like this in the time of Lot. Everybody kept on eating and drinking. They were buying and selling. They were planting and building. v29 On the day when Lot left the town of Sodom, fire and hot sulphur poured down from the sky. It destroyed all the people in Sodom. v30 The world will be like that on the day when the *Son of Man appears in *glory’.

Verses 26-27 People were living ordinary lives during the time of Noah. There was nothing wrong with these particular activities. But people were thinking only of their normal lives. They took no notice of Noah. The flood came when they did not expect it. They did not believe that it was possible.

Verses 28-29 The same normal business of daily life went on in the time of Lot. The people of Sodom took no notice of what Lot taught. Or how well he lived. They did not think about God or his judgement until fire came from heaven. The fire destroyed their city (Genesis 19:23-25).

Verse 29 Sulphur is a yellow substance. It burns with a fierce heat and a very unpleasant smell.

Verse 30 These two examples show that Jesus will return to earth suddenly. People will be thinking only of their ordinary lives.

v31 ‘On that day, whoever is on the roof of his house must not go inside the house. He must not get his possessions. Whoever is in the field must not go back to his house. v32 Remember Lot’s wife! v33 Whoever tries to save his own life will lose it. Whoever loses his life will save it. v34 On that night, there will be two people sleeping in the same bed. I will take one away and leave the other behind. v35 Two women will be together as they prepare flour from grain. I will take one woman and leave the other woman. v36 Two men will be working in a field. I will take one man away and leave the other man’. v37 The *disciples asked, ‘Where, *Lord?’ Jesus said, ‘There are birds that eat meat. Wherever there is a dead body those birds will gather together’.

Verses 31-32 Nobody can escape when Jesus returns to earth. But these verses speak of a bad event from which people are able to escape. So it may refer to when the *Romans attacked Jerusalem 40 years later. When that happens, Christians should escape as quickly as possible. They should come down from the roof of their house. But they must not even go into their house. Or, they may be in their field. Then they should not go home before they escape. Lot’s wife looked back, when she was escaping from Sodom. She was wishing for the things that she had left behind. She delayed. So, she died when fire destroyed Sodom (Genesis 19:26).

Verse 33 Jesus had already spoken about how someone could save or lose his life (Luke 9:24). A selfish person is only interested in his own life in this world. But he will lose it when the *Son of Man returns. But the Christian who spends his life for God and other people in this world will save it in heaven.

Verses 34-35 Jesus could return at night, when two people are sleeping in the same bed. He could return in the day, when two people are working together. Jesus will take to heaven the person who has believed in him. The other person will remain behind and God will judge him. Each person’s attitude to Jesus will decide what happens to him or her.

Verse 37 Jesus used a common saying. He did not answer the question about where he would return. Judgement will certainly come to where there are *spiritually dead people. In a similar way, large birds that feed on meat will always find a dead animal.

Chapter 18

Two *parables about prayer 18:1-14

1 The widow and the judge 18:1-8

v1 Jesus told his *disciples a *parable. It showed that they should continue to pray. They should not give up. v2 ‘In a certain town there was a judge who did not respect God’s laws. Also, he did not care about people’s rights or opinions. v3 There was a widow in that town who kept coming to the judge. Someone had acted wrongly against her. She wanted the judge to give her a right judgement against that person. v4 For a long time the judge refused to do anything. At last he thought, “I do not respect God. I do not care what people think. But I will make sure that she gets her rights. v5 She is giving me so much trouble. If I do not help her, she will keep coming to me. She will wear me out!” ’ v6 The *Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. v7 God will rescue his own people who call to him all the time for help. He will not be slow to help them. v8 I tell you this. He will make sure that they get fair results. He will do it quickly. The *Son of Man will return. But he will not find many people who have *faith in him then.’

Verse 2 The judge was probably a *Gentile official whom Herod or the *Romans appointed. He was a judge who wanted money. People called them ‘thief judges’. *Jewish courts had three judges. That made fair decisions more likely.

Verse 3 The widow was someone who was without help (Malachi 3:5). She had no friends who could persuade the judge to act for her. She had no money to encourage the judge to answer her request.

Verses 4-5 The judge answered her in the end. It was not because it was his duty. He was losing his patience because she kept coming to him.

Verses 7-8 God is very different from the unjust judge. God is not impatient. Sometimes he seems to delay the answer to the prayers of his people. But he will see that they get right judgement. This may not happen when people want it to. God knows the right moment to answer their prayers. Jesus will return to earth one day. He wonders whether he will find people who are loyal to him. He wonders how many people will continue to pray.

2. The *Pharisee and the *tax-collector 18:9-14

v9 Some people were sure of their own goodness. They thought that all other people were bad. So Jesus also told this *parable to them. v10 ‘Once there were two men. They went to the *Temple to pray. One man was a *Pharisee, the other man was a *tax-collector. v11 The *Pharisee stood by himself when he prayed. He said, “I thank you, God, because I am not like other people. I am not greedy or unjust. I do not have sex with other men’s wives. I thank you that I am not like that *tax-collector over there. v12 I go without food twice a week. I give you one tenth of all my income”. v13 But the *tax-collector stood at a distance. He dared not even look up to heaven. But he hit his *chest and said, “God, pity me! I am so bad!” ’ v14 Jesus said, ‘I tell you this. God forgave the *tax-collector when he went home. But God did not forgive the *Pharisee. If anyone thinks that he is important, God will make him humble. God will forgive anyone who is humble’.

Verse 10 People went to the *Temple court for private prayer. The *Pharisee ‘stood’. The *Jews usually stood when they prayed.

Verses 11-12 The *Pharisee informed God of the wrong things that he had not done. He then spoke of some *religious practices that the Law did not require. The Law told every *Jew to *fast on a special day that they called the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). *Pharisees *fasted twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. The Law ordered that people should give a tenth of their oil, grain and *wine to the *Levites (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). The *Pharisee did more than this. He gave even a tenth of the small plants in his garden. He compared himself with the *tax-collector. The *Pharisee thought that he was praying. But really, he was praising himself. He used the word ‘I’ many times, as he was interested only in himself. He compared himself with other people. He should have compared himself with God, who is holy.

Verse 13 The *tax-collector put his head down. He kept hitting himself to show how sorry he was. He knew that he was a *sinner. He knew that he needed God to forgive him.

Verse 14 Nobody can be proud of himself in front of God. The men went home, but only the *tax-collector had pleased God. He had been humble and he asked God to forgive him. A person’s attitude is important to God.

Jesus and children 18:15-17

v15 Some people brought their babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. The *disciples told them not to bother Jesus. v16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the children come to me. Do not stop them. The people who are like children belong to the *kingdom of God. v17 Remember this! You will never get into God’s *kingdom, unless you enter it like a child’.

Verse 15 Jesus probably placed his hands on the children’s heads. This was the way that he gave them a *blessing. The *disciples protested. They probably thought that Jesus was too busy and tired. Jesus was helping and teaching the adults. The *disciples thought that children were not as important.

Verses 16-17 Children trust and believe people. And they accept gifts with delight. The only people who are in God’s *kingdom are those who trust and accept his rule over their lives.

The rich young ruler 18:18-30

v18 A *Jewish ruler asked Jesus, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to receive *eternal life?’ v19 Jesus asked him, ‘Why do you call me good? Only God is good. v20 You know the *commandments: “Do not have sex with anyone who is not your wife. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about someone. Respect your father and mother” ’. v21 The man replied, ‘Ever since I was young, I have obeyed all these *commandments’. v22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one more thing that you need to do. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor. Then you will have wealth in heaven. Then come back and be my *disciple’. v23 But, when the man heard this, he became very sad. That was because he was very rich. v24 Jesus saw that he was sad, and said, ‘It is very hard for rich people to enter the *kingdom of God. v25 It is difficult for a camel to go through the hole of a needle. It is even harder for a rich man to enter the *kingdom of God’. v26 The people who heard him asked, ‘If that is true, then whom can God *save?’ v27 Jesus answered, ‘What is impossible for people, God can do’. v28 Then Peter said, ‘Look! We have left our homes to follow you’. v29 ‘Yes’, Jesus said to them. ‘I tell you the truth. If anyone leaves his family and becomes my *disciple, he will receive much more from God. v30 He will receive much more in this present time, and receive *eternal life in the future age’.

Verse 18 The man was a leader of the *Jews. He may have been a ruler of a *synagogue. Matthew tells us that he was young (Matthew 19:22). The ruler used the word ‘Teacher’ because he respected Jesus. He thought that he had to do things to earn life with God after death.

Verse 19 Jesus asked why the ruler had called him ‘good’. Jesus was not denying that he was good. Instead, he was reminding the ruler that only God is completely good. Therefore, if the ruler meant that Jesus was good, he was saying something very important. Moreover, *eternal life is life with the God of absolute goodness. The ruler could not have been as good as God is. Therefore the ruler should have asked for God’s *mercy, rather than how he could earn *eternal life as a reward.

Verse 20 The ruler had asked what he should ‘do’. So Jesus mentioned five *commandments. These speak of a person’s duty to other people. Jesus left out the *commandments that speak of duty to God.

Verse 21 Jesus mentioned five *commandments. The ruler believed that he had obeyed those five. He had obeyed them all his life.

Verse 22 Jesus knew that the man’s wealth separated him and God. He trusted in his riches rather than in God’s *mercy. Jesus promised him wealth in heaven, which is *eternal life. But he must have no possessions to take first place in his life.

Verses 24-25 Jesus saw that the ruler was sad. Jesus said that it is difficult for rich people to accept God as their king. ‘It is difficult for a camel to go through the hole of a needle’. Writers have explained what this means in three different ways:

1     A camel with a load on its back could not squeeze through a very narrow gate into a city. A man with a ‘load’ of riches cannot enter the *kingdom.

2     The *Greek word for camel is similar to the word for a very thick type of string. This string could not go through a needle’s hole.

3     This is the most probable explanation. Jesus used a phrase that means something is impossible. The *Jews had a similar phrase about an elephant.

Verse 26 The people who listened were astonished. They thought that wealth was evidence of God’s *blessing. However, Jesus said it was difficult for a rich man. Therefore, the people wondered whether it was possible at all for anyone else.

Verse 27 God has *mercy and he can work *miracles. He can *save people who cannot *save themselves.

Verse 28 Peter says that he and the other *disciples have left everything. Therefore, he thinks that they must deserve some reward, either on earth or in heaven.

Verses 29-30 Jesus replied that God’s rewards are always far greater than service to him. If *disciples have to leave their own family, they still belong to the far larger family of God. And they will have *eternal life with God.

Jesus speaks about his death for the third time 18:31-34

v31 Jesus spoke to the 12 *apostles in private. ‘Listen! We are going to Jerusalem. There everything that the *prophets wrote about the *Son of Man will come true. v32 People will hand him over to the *Gentiles. The *Gentiles will laugh at him. They will insult him and *spit on him. v33 They will whip him and kill him. But three days later he will rise to life’. v34 But the *disciples did not understand any of these things. They failed to realise what he meant. They did not know what Jesus was talking about.

Verse 31 What happens in Jerusalem will be part of God’s plan.

Verses 32-33 This is the first time that Jesus speaks of *Gentiles. He refers to the way that they kill people. They were whipped before *crucifixion. But that would not be a defeat for Jesus, because he would rise again.

Verse 34 Jesus had spoken about people dying in order to live (Luke 17:33). The *apostles may have thought that he was speaking about that again. They did not understand what Jesus meant. Not until after he died and rose again.

Jesus *heals a poor blind man 18:35-43

v35 Jesus came near to the town of Jericho. There was a blind man who was sitting at the side of the road. He was asking people for money. v36 When he heard the crowd passing by, he asked, ‘What is happening?’ v37 ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by’, they told him. v38 He cried out, ‘Jesus, *Son of David, please pity me!’ v39 The people in the front of the crowd told him to be quiet. But he shouted even louder, ‘*Son of David, please pity me!’ v40 So Jesus stopped and ordered, ‘Bring the blind man to me’. When the blind man came near, Jesus asked him, v41 ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘*Lord’, he answered, ‘I want to be able to see’. v42 Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight! Your *faith has made you well’. v43 At once the man was able to see. He followed Jesus and gave thanks to God. When the crowd saw this, they all praised God.

Mark 10:46 says that the blind man’s name was Bartimaeus.

Verse 35 Jericho was an important city about 15 miles (24 kilometres) from Jerusalem. Jesus and his *apostles were on the last part of the journey to Jerusalem, where Jesus would die.

Verse 36 The crowd would include people on their way to Jerusalem for the *Passover. So, the blind man would hear that many more people than usual were passing by.

Verses 37–38 Many people believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the *Messiah. The blind man must have heard that. He called out to Jesus as ‘*Son of David’. This was one of the names of the *Messiah. Jesus did not say that it was wrong to call him this.

Verse 39 The people wanted the man to stop shouting. They could not hear Jesus when he shouted. Perhaps they thought that he only wanted money. He was also delaying their journey to Jerusalem. They were selfish and impatient.

Verses 40-41 Jesus asked the blind man what he wanted. Jesus knew that the man wanted more than money. But the man had to express himself what he needed. God knows what we need. But he wants us to tell him.

Verse 42 Sometimes Jesus touched blind people and cured them (Mark 8:22–25; John 9:1- 7). This time Jesus just spoke. The man did not doubt that Jesus could make him see. People had tried to stop the man. But he had continued to ask Jesus to help him. The man’s *faith *healed him.

Verse 43 The man could see immediately. He became a *disciple of Jesus. He began to thank God for what Jesus had done for him. The crowd joined in and praised God too.

Chapter 19

Jesus and Zacchaeus 19:1-10

v1 Jesus was walking through the city of Jericho. v2 The chief *tax-collector there was Zacchaeus. He was very rich. v3 He was trying to see who Jesus was. But Zacchaeus was a short man and could not see over the crowd. v4 So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree. Jesus was going to pass that way. v5 When Jesus came to that place, he looked up. He said to Zacchaeus, ‘Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today’. v6 Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed him with great joy. v7 Everybody began to complain. ‘This man Zacchaeus is a *sinner! But Jesus has gone to his home as a guest!’ v8 Zacchaeus stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Listen, *Lord! I will give half of my goods to the poor people. If I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back 4 times as much money’. v9 Jesus said to him, ‘Today God’s *salvation has come to this home. For this man also is a true *descendant of Abraham. v10 The *Son of Man came to search for and to *save the lost’.

Verse 1 Jericho was a wealthy and important city. It was near a main route for trade. It was about 17 miles (27 kilometres) from Jerusalem.

Verse 2 Zacchaeus was the head of the *tax district of Jericho. He would not have been popular. He worked for the *Romans and had made himself rich by his job.

Verses 3-4 He had heard that Jesus was a friend of *tax-collectors. Zacchaeus was a lonely man, so he was eager to see Jesus. He was a short man, but the crowd would not let him through. So, he forgot his important official position. He climbed into a tree that grew by the road. The tree was one with a short main stem and wide branches. He could climb it easily.

Verses 5-6 Jesus did not ask to stay with Zacchaeus. He said that he ‘must’ stay with him. It was part of his work for God.

Verse 7 Everyone called Zacchaeus a ‘*sinner’. They did not think that Jesus should go into his home.

Verse 8 Zacchaeus stood up, as he was going to make an important statement. Jesus’ visit had changed his attitude to his wealth. He would give half of his goods to the poor people. As a *tax-collector, he had taken too much money from people. He promised to pay back 4 times the amount that he had taken. This was far more than the Law of Moses ordered. The Law asked for the original amount plus one fifth (Leviticus 6:5).

Verse 9 Jesus said that Zacchaeus was not only a physical *descendant of Abraham. Because of his *faith, he was a true *spiritual son of Abraham (Galatians 3:7). And his whole family would benefit.

Verse 10 Jesus came into the world to look for those who had wandered away from God. He came to rescue them.

The *parable of the gold coins 19:11-27

v11 The people listened to what Jesus said. He was now close to Jerusalem. Therefore they thought that the *kingdom of God was about to arrive. So Jesus told them this *parable. v12 He said, ‘There was once a prince, who was going to a distant country to receive royal power. Then he planned to return home. v13 Before he left he called 10 servants. He gave to each of them a gold coin. He told them, “Trade with these gold coins while I am away”.

v14 His citizens hated him. So, they sent a message that said, “We do not want this man to rule over us”. v15 But he did receive royal power, and he returned. He ordered his servants to come to him. He wanted to find out how much they had earned. v16 The first one came and said, “Sir, your gold coin has earned 10 more gold coins”. v17 “Well done”, he said. “You are a good servant. Because you have been loyal in a small matter, you will rule over 10 cities”. v18 The second servant came and said, “Your gold coin has earned 5 more gold coins”. v19 To this one he said, “You will rule over 5 cities”. v20 Another servant came and said, “Sir, here is your gold coin. I kept it safe in a cloth. v21 I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what is not yours. You get something that you do not pay for”. v22 He said to him. “You are a bad servant! You know that I am a severe man. I take what is not mine. I get something that I do not pay for. v23 Why did you not put my money in the bank? When I returned, I would have received the coin. And I would have received the extra money that it gained”. v24 Then he said to those who were standing there, “Take the coin away from him. Give it to the servant who has ten coins”. v25 But they said to him, “*Lord, he already has 10 coins!” v26 “I tell you this”, he replied, “everyone who has something will receive more. Maybe a person has nothing. But God will take away even the little that he has. v27 These enemies of mine did not want me to be their king. So kill them in front of me” ’.

Verse 11 In this *parable, Jesus used a true incident that happened in his time. Herod the Great was king of the region Judea. He said that, after his death, his son Archelaus would become king. After Herod’s death, Archelaus went to *Rome. He asked the *emperor to allow him to be king. Archelaus was a very cruel man. So 50 *Jews went to *Rome to oppose his claim. Their protest did not succeed. Archelaus returned to Judea, although he could not call himself ‘king’.

Jesus used these events to speak of himself. The main purpose of the *parable was to correct the belief that the *kingdom was coming soon. He also warned his *followers to be loyal in their service until he returned.

Verse 12 After his death, Jesus would go to heaven to receive honour from God. There would be a long interval between his death and when he returned to earth. The words ‘a far country’ shows this. Matthew emphasises the long time before Jesus returns to earth. The bridegroom ‘delayed’ in the *parable of the ten maids (Matthew 25:5).

Verse 13 The servants are Christians everywhere today. They are responsible for using all the gifts that God has given them. They especially have the gift of the good news of Jesus. This is like the gold coin that God has given each person. They should use this gift and tell the good news to other people.

Verse 14 The citizens are the *Jews of Jesus’ time and all the people who oppose Jesus.

Verse 15 Jesus will return to earth. Then he will expect his *disciples to give an account of their work for him.

Verses 16-19 A person’s reward for loyal service is not to escape from service. Instead, he will have the honour of greater responsibility.

Verses 20-21 The lazy servant made the excuse that he was afraid of his master. He was a strict man who expected profits from the work of other people. The servant returned the gold coin but he had not used it. He had put it in a cloth and kept it safe.

Verses 22-23 The servant thought that the master was very strict. Therefore, the servant should have been even more careful. He could have put the money in the bank to earn some extra money.

Verse 25 People protested. They may have been people who were listening to the story. Perhaps they were so interested that they interrupted Jesus.

Verse 26 Jesus was expressing an important principle that is true in all parts of life. Exercise makes the body stronger. A part of the body becomes of no use, if a person does not use it. The people who use their gifts find that they increase. Some people do not use the gifts that God gives. They will lose them.

Verse 27 Some people oppose Jesus. When he returns to earth, he will judge those people.

Luke 19:28 - 24:53 (Final Section)

Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem 19:28-40

Jesus made careful plans to show everyone that he was the *Messiah. He showed great courage when he decided to ride into Jerusalem. The *religious leaders were already plotting to kill him (John 11:50). But the *Jews were not expecting a *Messiah like Jesus. They expected him to force out the *Romans. A king would ride a horse in war. But Jesus chose to ride on a *donkey. He did that to make the words of Zechariah 9:9-10 come true. A king would ride a *donkey in times of peace. Jesus was not a military hero; he was a king who brought peace.

v28 After Jesus told this *parable of the gold coins, he went on towards Jerusalem. v29 As he came near to the villages of Bethphage and Bethany at the *Mount of *Olives, he sent two *disciples ahead. v30 He told them, ‘Go to the next village. You will find a young *donkey there that nobody has ever ridden. Undo it and bring it here. v31 Someone may ask why you are undoing it. Tell him that the Master needs it’. v32 They went ahead. They found everything that Jesus had told them. v33 As they were undoing the young *donkey, the owners said to them, ‘Why are you undoing it?’ v34 ‘The Master needs it’, they replied. v35 And they took the *donkey to Jesus. Then they threw their coats on the animal’s back, and helped Jesus to get on it. v36 As he rode on, people laid their clothes on the road. v37 Jesus came near Jerusalem, where the road went down the *Mount of *Olives. Then the large crowd of his *disciples began to thank God. And they praised him in loud voices for all the great works that they had seen. v38 ‘God *bless the king who comes in the name of the *Lord! Peace in heaven and *glory to God!’ v39 Then some of the *Pharisees in the crowd spoke to Jesus. ‘Teacher’, they said, ‘order your *disciples to be quiet!’ v40 Jesus replied, ‘I tell you this. If they keep quiet, the stones themselves will start to shout’.

Verse 29 Bethany is a village about two miles (three kilometres) from Jerusalem. Bethphage was close to Bethany.

Verses 30-31 A young *donkey that nobody had ridden was suitable for a holy or royal purpose. Jesus probably had friends with whom he had made this arrangement. The words that the *disciples should use (‘The *Lord needs it’) were the evidence to the owners. They would know that the *disciples were not stealing the animal.

Verses 35-36 The *disciples’ coats made a saddle for the *donkey. The clothes that the crowds laid on the road made a carpet for a royal procession. Luke does not mention the branches that people put on the road (Matthew 21:8). Neither does he say that people came out from Jerusalem to give him a welcome (John 12:12).

Verse 37 The road into Jerusalem goes down the hill on which there were many *olive trees. People made oil from the fruit of *olive trees.

Verse 38 The crowd used words that come from Psalm 118:26. The priests would *bless people with these words as they came into Jerusalem. Luke adds the word ‘king’. ‘*Blessed is the king’ instead of ‘*Blessed is he’. ‘In the name of the *Lord’. This means that Jesus came as God’s servant, with his authority and power. ‘Peace in heaven’ means that God has already won the war against the power of evil. The other three *Gospels use the *Jewish word ‘Hosanna’ to praise God. Luke says ‘*Glory to God’ as a shout of praise.

Verse 39 The *Pharisees were afraid that the *Romans would understand the crowd’s actions. Then the *Romans might punish Jesus and the whole nation. The people were welcoming their *Messiah. The *Pharisees could not stop the crowd from shouting. So, they asked Jesus to tell them to be quiet.

Verse 40 Nothing could stop the crowd. Jesus used a phrase that showed that. It was right that they should *praise God. Everything that God created would praise him.

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem 19:41-44

v41 Jesus came closer to the city. When he could see it, he wept. v42 He said, ‘Today your people do not know what will bring them peace. Now you cannot see it! v43 The time will come when your enemies will build up an earth wall to attack you. Armies will surround you completely. Your people will not be able to go in or out of the city. v44 The armies will completely destroy you. They will kill all your people. They will not leave even one stone in its place. You did not realise that God had come to *save you. That is why all this will happen.’

Verse 41 Jesus would have crossed the Kidron valley. Then he went to the *Mount of *Olives where there is a wonderful view of Jerusalem. Jesus saw the city from there.

Verse 42 Jesus speaks as if the city is a person. He weeps because people in the city had not accepted him as king. They wanted a king to fight the *Romans. They did not want Jesus, the prince of peace. This choice would lead to war and the people would suffer greatly.

Verse 43 If there was a war, the *Romans would completely ruin Jerusalem. Jesus knew that this would happen. It came true 40 years later. The *Romans surrounded Jerusalem. Nobody could escape from or enter the city. Many died of hunger during this time.

Verse 44 Josephus was a *Jew who lived at that time. He wrote a book called ‘The history of the *Jewish war’. He says, ‘When the *Romans seize Jerusalem, they killed all the inhabitants, young and old. Titus (a leader) ordered his soldiers to destroy the city completely. Future visitors would not believe that the city had ever been there’. All this happened because the *Jews had refused God’s Son. They had refused God’s plan to *save them.

Jesus sends the merchants out of the *Temple 19:45-48

v45 Then Jesus went into the *Temple. He began to force the merchants out of the *Temple. v46 He said to them, ‘The *Scriptures say, “My house shall be a house for prayer”. But you have made it into a place where thieves can hide’. v47 Every day Jesus was teaching in the *Temple. The chief priests, the teachers of the Law of Moses and some important citizens wanted to kill him. v48 But they could not find a way to do it. This was because all the people were eager to listen to every word that Jesus said.

Verse 45 In one part of the *Temple, merchants had erected stalls. Animals for the *sacrifices had to be perfect. People could buy them in the city for a much cheaper price. But it was safer to buy them in the *Temple. Here, the merchants said that the animals were perfect. People had to pay the annual *Temple tax in special coins. There were stalls where people could exchange their money for the special coins. The men who changed money were charging far too much. All these stalls belonged to the family of the chief priest.

Verse 46 God had said that the *Temple would be a place for prayer (Isaiah 56:7). Jesus was angry because it had become a noisy market. It was impossible to pray there. The merchants and the men who changed money were cheating people. They were making huge profits for themselves. Jesus was also angry with that. He repeated words from Jeremiah 7:11. Jeremiah described the *Temple as a ‘place where thieves could hide’.

Verse 47 Jesus continued to teach in the *Temple courts. The *religious leaders wanted to kill him for his action in the *Temple. But they were unable to do anything. Many people wanted to listen to Jesus. So, it would have been impossible for the leaders to arrest him.

Chapter 20

The question about Jesus’ authority 20:1-8

v1 One day Jesus was in the *Temple. He was teaching the people and declaring the Good News. The chief priests, teachers of the law and other leaders, came to him. v2 They said to him, ‘Tell us, what authority do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?’ v3 Jesus answered them, ‘I also will ask you a question. v4 Did John’s authority to *baptise come from heaven or from men?’ v5 They began to discuss this together. ‘What shall we say? If we say “from heaven”, he will say, “Why did you not believe John?” v6 But if we say “from men”, the people here will throw stones at us to kill us. For they are sure that John was a *prophet’. v7 So they answered, ‘We do not know where John’s authority came from’. v8 And Jesus said to them, ‘Then neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things’.

Verses 1-2 Jesus had upset the *Temple trade. The *religious leaders sent an official group of *Jewish rulers to examine his authority. They were members of the ‘*Sanhedrin’. They wanted Jesus to give the wrong answer to their question. If Jesus said, ‘From heaven’, then they could accuse him of *blasphemy. If he said, ‘From men’, Jesus could be in trouble from the *Romans.

Verses 3-4 Jesus did not give them a direct answer. Instead, he asked them a question about the authority of John the *Baptist.

Verses 5-6 This question was one that the *religious leaders could not answer. Although John had been very popular with the public, the *religious leaders had refused to accept him. They did not have courage to say that John was a genuine *prophet. Jesus could then ask why they had not believed John. They were afraid of the crowd’s power. Many ordinary people did believe John. So, the leaders could not deny that John’s authority came from God.

Verse 8 John had said that he was preparing the way for the *Messiah. They could not give an honest answer to a question about John. Therefore, Jesus would not answer their question.

The *parable of the *tenants in the *vineyard 20:9-18

v9 Then Jesus told the people this *parable: ‘There was once a man who planted a *vineyard. He arranged for some men to take care of the *vineyard. Then he left home for a long time. v10 At the time of harvest, he sent a servant to receive the owner’s share. But the *tenants attacked the servant and sent him away with nothing. v11 So the owner sent another servant. But the *tenants attacked him also, and insulted him. They sent him away with nothing. v12 Then the owner sent a third slave. The *tenants badly hurt him too and threw him out. v13 Then the owner of the *vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my only son whom I love. They will respect him!” v14 But when the *tenants saw him, they said to one another, “This is the son. Let us kill him. We shall get what he should have received after his father’s death”. v15 So they threw him out of the *vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner do to the *tenants?’ Jesus asked. v16 ‘He will come and kill those men. He will give the *vineyard to other *tenants’. When the people heard this, they said, ‘May that never happen!’ v17 Jesus looked straight at them and said, ‘Then what does this *Scripture mean: “The builders decided not to use the stone. But it became the most important stone in the building”? v18 That stone will cut to pieces everyone that falls on it. It will turn to dust anyone on whom it falls’.

Verse 9 A *vineyard was picture language for the nation of *Israel (Isaiah 5:1-2). God is the owner of the *vineyard. He had given responsibility to the *Jews, who were the *tenants in the story.

Verses 10-12 The servants who went to collect the harvest were like the *prophets. God had sent them to remind *Israel that he demanded the ‘fruit’ of good lives. The rulers of *Israel had taken no notice and had made the *prophets suffer. For example, they had insulted Amos (Amos 7:12). They beat Jeremiah and put him in prison (Jeremiah 37:15). They killed Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24:20-21). God showed great patience when he sent the *prophets. He gave *Israel every opportunity to do what was right.

Verses 13-15 In the end, God sent his son whom he loved greatly. These words for Jesus appear in the story of his *baptism (Luke 3:22). They show that Jesus was more than a *prophet. He was the *Messiah. The *tenants’ murdered the son. This shows that Jesus knew what was going to happen to him.

Verse 16 The *tenants thought that the owner was too far away. But he returned to punish them. God, like the owner, would punish *Israel. Then he would give the church the position that *Israel had enjoyed. The people who were listening were shocked. ‘God forbid!’ they said. These were very strong words. They hoped that God would never make it happen.

Verse 17 Jesus then reminded them of words in Psalm 118:22. He was like the stone. The *Jews were like the builders. The *Jews refused to accept Jesus. Yet, he would become the most important stone. This stone was probably the special ‘foundation’ stone. It united two walls at the base of a building. It made the whole building strong. Or it may have been the special stone that united two parts at the top of a building. Jesus would become the ‘foundation’ of the Christian church. He would make it strong. Peter used these words to describe Jesus (Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7).

Verse 18 Jesus spoke of the fate of those who opposed him. He used words like those in Isaiah 8:14-15. Isaiah spoke of a stone that people would trip over. The picture is also like one in Daniel 2:34-35. There, a stone destroyed the model in the king’s dream. It became like dust that the wind blew away.

The question about paying *taxes to Caesar 20:19-26

v19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests wanted to arrest Jesus at once. They knew that Jesus had told this *parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. v20 So they looked for an opportunity. They paid some men to go to Jesus. They pretended that their questions were sincere. But they were trying to make him say something wrong. Then they could hand him over to the power and authority of the *Roman ruler. v21 These men said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we know that what you say and teach is right. We know that you do not have favourite people. You always teach the truth about what God wants. v22 Tell us, is it against our Law to pay *taxes to the *Roman *emperor, or not?’ v23 But Jesus realised their wicked plan. He said to them, v24 ‘Show me a coin. Whose face and name are on it?’ ‘The *emperor’s’, they answered. v25 So Jesus said, ‘Then pay to the *emperor what belongs to the *emperor. Pay to God what belongs to God’. v26 There, in public, they could not make him give the wrong answer. His answer so astonished them that they could say nothing.

Verses 19-20 The *religious leaders had failed with their direct question about Jesus’ authority. They were afraid of the crowd. Again this prevented their plan to arrest Jesus. They were afraid for their own safety. And if the crowd disturbed the peace, there would be trouble with the *Romans.

Verse 20 They paid men to ask a question. They pretended that they wanted him to answer a genuine problem. Whichever answer Jesus gave would make trouble for him.

Verse 21 First, they pretended to praise Jesus about what he taught.

Verse 22 Every *Jew had to pay a personal *tax every year to the *Romans. It was not a great amount of money, but the *Jews hated it. It showed that they were not a free nation. Some *Jews thought that they should not pay *tax to the *Romans. They thought that it was against God’s law. Judas of Galilee had led a group of men to protest against this *tax (Acts 5:37).

Verse 23 Perhaps Jesus would say that the *Jews should not pay the *tax. Then he would be in trouble with the *Romans. Perhaps he would say that they should pay it. Then he would lose much support. He would be in trouble with the people.

Verse 24 The coin which Jesus asked for was a ‘denarius’. It was equal to a man’s wages for one day. The coin would show the head of Tiberius, the *emperor at the time. The writing on one side gave his name.

Verse 25 Jesus said that they were using the *emperor’s coins. Therefore they should pay the *emperor’s *taxes. They received benefits from the state. The *Romans made good roads. They kept order and established a peaceful society. The *Jews should be prepared to pay for what the state did for them. But they should give to God the love and service that was his right. If there is a difference between duty to God and duty to the government, God must come first. Peter stated this principle. He said, ‘We must obey God rather than people’ (Acts 5:29).

The question about the *resurrection 20:27-40

v27 Then some *Sadducees came to Jesus. They say that people do not rise after death. They said, v28 ‘Teacher, Moses wrote this law for us: “If a man dies and leaves a wife with no children, his brother must marry the widow. This is so that they can have children. People will consider that these are the dead man’s children”. v29 Once there were 7 brothers. The oldest bother married and died without having children. v30 Then the second one married the woman, v31 and then the third. The same thing happened to all 7 men. They died without having children. v32 At last the woman died. v33 Now, on the day when the dead rise to life, whose wife will she be? All 7 of them had married her’. v34 Jesus answered them, ‘Men and women marry in this life. v35 But they will not marry in the future age. The good men and women will be part of the future age. They will rise from death. v36 They will be like *angels. They cannot die any more. They are children of God, because they have risen from death. v37 And Moses proved that God raised dead people to life. In the passage about the burning bush, he calls the *Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. v38 He is the God of living people, not of dead people. For all people are alive to him’. v39 Some of the teachers of the law declared, ‘You have given a good answer, Teacher’. v40 They did not dare to ask him any more questions.

Verse 27 Most of the *Sadducees were priests. They did not believe in the *resurrection of dead people. They did not believe in *angels (Acts 23:8). Also, they accepted only the first five books of the *Old Testament. They did not accept the traditions of the *Pharisees. But they did not oppose the *Roman government of their country.

Verse 28 The law of Deuteronomy 25:5-6 meant that a brother or close relative must marry a widow. The dead man’s name and family could continue when children were born in that second marriage.

Verses 29-33 This story was one that the *Sadducees made up. They were probably thinking about two things: They would make Jesus look foolish, if he could not answer their question. At the same time, they tried to make the *Pharisees’ belief in *resurrection look foolish.

Verses 34-36 Jesus explained that in heaven life is different from life on earth. There is no marriage, because there is no more death. People will not have children to continue their family. They will be like *angels who do not die. They will become *spiritual people, part of God’s family in heaven.

Verse 37 Jesus then used a passage from one of the books that the *Sadducees accepted. This was about the incident when Moses saw a bush on fire. God spoke to him from inside the bush (Exodus 3:1-6).

Verse 38 God said, ‘I am’ (not ‘I was’) the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So he meant that they were alive and with him. The bodies of these men had died long ago. But he was not the God of dead people. He was God of living people.

Verse 38 ‘To him all are alive’. Real life is a relationship with God. Such a relationship cannot end when a person dies.

Verses 39-40 The teachers of the law were pleased with Jesus’ answer. They did not agree with the *Sadducees about *resurrection. But the *Sadducees had not been able to make the belief in *resurrection look foolish. The *Sadducees did not dare to ask Jesus any more questions.

The question about the *Messiah 20:41-44

v41 Jesus asked them, ‘Why do people say that the *Messiah will be a son of David? v42-43 For David himself says in the book of Psalms, “The *Lord said to my *Lord, Sit here at my right side. Until the day comes when I finally defeat your enemies”. v44 David calls him “*Lord”. How then can the *Messiah be David’s son?’

Verse 41 Jesus did not deny that he was from David’s family. The blind man had given him this title (Luke 18:38). Luke records the promises to Zechariah and Mary. Jesus would be a king from the family of David (Luke 1:32, 69). But Jesus wanted to show what the title ‘*Son of David’ meant for the *Messiah. People thought that he would be a soldier like David, as well as a king. He would defeat the *Romans and other nations. He would make *Israel a great political state.

Verses 42-43 Psalm 110 describes the *Messiah. In verse 1, David spoke of the *Lord as ‘my *Lord’. God invited the *Messiah to the place of honour until all his enemies suffered defeat. An enemy had to lie on the ground. The man who had defeated him could put his foot on his neck. There is an example of this practice in Joshua’s time (Joshua 10:24). For the *Messiah, it meant that God would defeat his enemies. God would make them look humble.

Verse 44 Jesus was correcting false ideas about the *Messiah. He was greater than David. He was David’s ‘*Lord’. The *Messiah was not a military hero. He was a king whose people would love him. And they would be glad to follow him.

Jesus warns against the teachers of the law 20:45-47

v45 As all the people listened to him, Jesus said to his *disciples, v46 ‘Be cautious about the teachers of the law. They like to walk about in long clothes. They love people to greet them with respect in the market place. They choose the best seats in the *synagogues and the best places at parties. v47 They take away widows’ property. Then they hide what they have done. They say very long prayers. God will punish them in an even more severe way!’

Verse 46 Jesus is not protecting the *disciples from such teachers. He is warning them not to become proud like them.

Verse 47 All teachers of God’s truth should work to provide for themselves. They should not charge when they teach. But these teachers wanted more money. They were cheating poor widows, who could not defend themselves. Then the teachers tried to hide what they had done. They said long prayers, which made them look very *religious. But God knew what they had done. And he would certainly punish them.

Chapter 21

The widow’s *offering 21:1-4

v1 Jesus looked up and watched the rich men. They dropped their money into the boxes in the *Temple. v2 He also saw a poor widow who put in two little copper coins. v3 He said, ‘I tell you; this poor widow has put in more than all the other people. v4 For the other people offered what they had to spare from all their riches. But she is very poor. She gave all that she had to live on’.

Verse 1 In the Court of the Women in the *Temple, there were 13 boxes. The priests collected people’s money in these boxes

Verse 2 The widow’s two coins were the smallest coins. They had little value. Yet, her gift was more generous than that of those who gave large amounts. They had given what they could easily afford. They still had plenty of money left.

This incident comes after that of the teachers of the law. It shows clearly the difference between a person who is sincere and a *hypocrite.

Jesus says that men will destroy Jerusalem 21:5-6

v5 Some people were talking about the *Temple. They spoke of its beautiful stones and the splendid gifts in it. Jesus said, v6 ‘You can see all this now. But the time will come when not one stone will remain upon another. Men will throw them all down’.

Verse 5 The *Temple was a magnificent building. The stones in the foundation (base) were enormous. Gold covered a large part of the walls. People, including King Herod, had given gifts that made the *Temple even more beautiful.

Verse 6 Jesus knew that the *Romans would completely destroy Jerusalem. The idea that anyone could destroy God’s *Temple was *blasphemy to the *Jews. But Jesus’ words came true 40 years later. The place where the *Temple had been became no more than a field. Men could plough it.

Troubles that will come in the future 21:7-19

Jesus answered a question. He spoke about the evidence of the end of the world. And when he would return. He also warned them about what would happen when armies attacked Jerusalem.

v7 Some people asked, ‘Teacher, when will this be? How shall we know that it is about to happen?’ v8 Jesus said, ‘Look out! Do not let men make you believe what they say about themselves. Many men will say, “I am the *Messiah!” and “The time of the end has come!” But do not follow them. v9 Do not be afraid when you hear of wars and revolutions. These things must happen first. But the end will not be immediate’. v10 Then he said to them, ‘Nations will fight each other. *Kingdoms will attack one another. v11 The earth will give terrible shakes. In many places, people will starve. They will suffer awful diseases. There will be strange and terrible signs in the sky.

v12 Before all these things happen, the *Jews will arrest you. They will attack you. They will accuse you in the *synagogues. They will put you in prison. They will bring you to kings and rulers, because you are my *disciples. v13 This will be your chance to tell the Good News. v14 Do not worry about what to say in court. v15 For I will give you wise words. Then none of your enemies will be able to prove that you are wrong. They will not be able to say that your words are false. v16 Even your parents, brothers, relatives and friends will hand you over to the rulers. They will kill some of you. v17 Everybody will hate you because you are my *disciples. v18 You will not lose one hair from your head. v19 Remain loyal to me and you will gain *eternal life’.

Verse 7 The *disciples asked when armies would destroy Jerusalem. What would show them that it was about to happen?

Verse 8 Jesus warned them first not to trust false *Messiahs. They will say that they know the time of the end of the world.

Verses 9-10 Good relationships between nations will end. But wars will not be the evidence of the immediate end of the world. Wars will happen all through the time. Bad events have happened on the earth all through history. Strange events in the sky have always frightened people. But all these events will probably happen together before the end of the world.

Verses 12-19 describe the troubles that the *followers of Jesus will have. But God promises to help and protect.

Verses 12-13 The *Jews will oppose them. The *synagogues were not only places of *worship. They were also courts of law. ‘Kings and rulers’ means that the *Gentiles also will oppose the *disciples. In such situations, Christians will have opportunities. They will be able to tell people about Jesus. Later, Paul was in prison in *Rome. Many people were guarding him. He was able to speak about Christ to all of them (Philippians 1:12-13).

Verses 14-15 The *disciples may have to go to court. But they should not be anxious. Jesus himself would give them the right words to say.

Verse 16 Troubles will come even from friends and relatives. ‘Brothers’ means either actual brothers or close relatives. Jesus had already spoken about the divisions that being loyal to him would cause (Luke 12:51-53). Some *disciples would even suffer death for their *faith. In the early days of the church, the *Jews killed Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). Then Herod Antipas killed the *apostle James (Acts 12:2).

Verse 17 People in general will hate Christians. They hated Christ and therefore will hate those who obey him (John 15:18-19).

Verses 18-19 Jesus had used these words before to show that God cares (Luke 12:7). A *disciple may even suffer *physical death, but God can control all situations. *Disciples will be safe as they obey God. This should encourage them to remain loyal. Then they will receive life with God in heaven.

The defeat of Jerusalem 21:20–24

v20 ‘When armies surround Jerusalem, you will know that they will soon destroy it. v21 Then those people who are in Judea must escape to the hills. The people who are in the city of Jerusalem must leave. The people who are out in the country must not return to the city. v22 For those are days of punishment. Then all that the *Scriptures say will come true. v23 How terrible it will be in those days for women who are expecting babies! And for mothers with little children! Terrible suffering will come upon this land, and God will punish these people. v24 Some *Jews will die in the battle. Other *Jews will go to prison in all countries. The *Gentiles will rule Jerusalem until their time is over’.

Verse 20 About 40 years later, *Roman armies camped outside Jerusalem for about 5 months. The people in the city were starving. They were so desperate that they were even prepared to eat human bodies.

Verse 21 Jesus had warned his *disciples to leave the city. They did. They escaped to Pella, a city on the east side of the river Jordan.

Verse 22 The *prophets in the *Old Testament warned that God would punish his people for their wicked behaviour. The *Jews of Jesus’ time had refused his message too and they must expect punishment.

Verse 23 Jesus thought especially of women who were expecting babies or still feeding them. They would suffer themselves. And they would watch their children starve to death. It would be a terrible experience.

Verse 24 Thousands died when the *Romans broke into the city. The *Romans took thousands of other people to other countries. The phrase ‘until their time is over’ can mean ‘until God has decided that the *Gentiles can no longer rule Jerusalem’. Or it can mean ‘until the *Gentiles have had enough time to hear the good news about Jesus’.

The *Son of Man will return to earth 21:25-33

v25 ‘Strange things will happen to the sun, moon and stars. On earth, whole countries will be in despair. They will be afraid of the terrible roar of the sea and the huge waves. v26 People’s courage will fail completely. They will be afraid of what is going to happen over the whole earth. The sun, moon and stars in the sky will shake greatly. v27 Then the *Son of Man will appear. He will come in a cloud with great power and *glory. v28 When these things begin to happen, look up. Put your heads up. Because God will soon save you’.

v29 Then Jesus told them this *parable. ‘Think of the *fig tree and all the other trees. v30 When their leaves begin to appear, you know that summer is near. v31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know this. The *kingdom of God is near. v32 You can be sure about this. Some people alive will not die until all this has happened. v33 Sky and earth will not always last. But my words certainly will continue’.

Verses 25-26 The *Old Testament *prophets often wrote of strange events in the sky. These would happen before God’s judgement. The earth will become dark because the sun, moon and stars will not give their light (Amos 8:9; Joel 3:15). The sea will be greatly more stormy than usual. Something will shake the sky. The *Greek word for ‘shake’ refers to an earthquake (when the earth shakes greatly). But this will happen in the sky.

Verse 27 Daniel wrote that ‘one like a *Son of Man will come in the clouds of heaven’ (Daniel 7:13). Jesus said that he would return to the earth in this way. In the Bible, a cloud was often evidence that God was present (as in Exodus 13:21). When Jesus’ comes ‘in a cloud’ this describes how he will return in *glory.

Verses 28-31 Leaves first appear on trees when summer is near. In the same way, the events described in verses 25-27 will show that Jesus is about to return.

Verse 32 Some of the people whom Jesus spoke to would still be alive when the *Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Some writers think that Jesus was referring to those people. This would be true only if the defeat of Jerusalem was a sign of the end. Other people think that he meant the *Jews, or other people who would remain loyal to the end. Other people think that he meant ‘people who are alive then’. Not ‘people who are alive now (when Jesus was speaking)’.

Verse 33 What Jesus said would always be true. Whatever happens to the earth or sky will not change Jesus’ words.

*Disciples need to watch 21:34-38

v34-35 ‘Be careful not to spend time in eating and drinking too much. Do not allow worries to become a heavy weight. Otherwise the day when the *Son of Man comes may quickly catch you, like a trap. For it will come upon all people everywhere on earth. v36 Watch, and continue to pray. Pray that you will be strong enough to escape all that is going to happen. Then you will be able to stand in front of the *Son of Man’. v37 Every day Jesus was teaching in the *Temple. When evening came, he went out and spent the night on the *Mount of *Olives. v38 Early each morning people would go to the *Temple to listen to him.

Verse 34 Jesus had already warned his *disciples. They should be ready for when he returns to earth. Jesus told the *parable of the servants (Luke 12:35) and he described the fate of the people in the time of Noah and of Lot (Luke 17:22-29). This shows that judgement will be sudden. He now warns his *disciples about fun and worry. If they concentrate on these things, they will forget to watch for evidence.

Verse 35 A trap shuts quickly and catches an animal. When Jesus returns to earth it will happen quickly. *Disciples will need God’s strength to escape the troubles in the future. Then they will be ready to meet Jesus in heaven and serve him.

Verse 37 Thousands of people came to Jerusalem for *Passover. Jesus was able to continue to teach. The crowds were too great so the rulers would not arrest him. He may have slept outdoors on the *Mount of *Olives or stayed in a friend’s house that night.

Chapter 22

The plot to kill Jesus 22:1-6

v1 The time was near for the *feast of *Unleavened Bread, or *Passover. v2 The chief priests and teachers of the law were afraid of what the people might do. So, they wanted to find a way to kill Jesus in secret. v3 Then *Satan took control of Judas Iscariot, who was one of the 12 *apostles. v4 So Judas went and spoke to the chief priests and the officers of the guard. They discussed how he could hand Jesus over to them. v5 They were glad and promised to pay him money. v6 Judas agreed and began to look for an opportunity. He wanted to hand Jesus over to them. But he did not want the people to know about it.

Verse 1 The *feast of *Unleavened Bread and *Passover were very important. They reminded the *Jews of what God had done for their *ancestors. The *Jews escaped from Egypt many centuries ago (Exodus 12). They had been slaves there. But God, through Moses, rescued them. They had left Egypt in a hurry. They did not have time to make bread with *yeast in it. The *feast lasted 7 days in the *Jewish month of Nisan (middle of March to middle of April). The *Passover was on the 14th day of Nisan.

Verse 2 Many more *Roman soldiers came from Caesarea to control people during the *feast. If the *religious leaders had arrested Jesus in public, the crowds could have caused trouble. That would lead to punishment from the *Romans.

Verse 3 People ask why Judas allowed *Satan to lead him to do such a wicked thing. Judas was one of the 12 *apostles, whom Jesus trusted as friends. Here are some possible answers:

1     Perhaps Judas wanted the money that he expected as a reward. Judas used to steal money from the *apostles’ bag. Judas was in charge of the money (John 12:6).

2     Perhaps he was jealous of the other *apostles. If his name ‘Iscariot’ means ‘man from Kerioth’, he was the only one of the 12 who did not come from Galilee. Jesus had given special honour to Peter, James and John on several occasions. Perhaps he thought that Jesus had not given him the place of honour that he deserved.

3     Perhaps he expected Jesus to drive out the *Romans and make himself king. Then Judas would have had a special place in this new *kingdom. His name ‘Iscariot’ could mean that he was one of the *Zealot party A *Zealot was a man who wanted to fight against *Rome. The *Zealots wanted the *Jews to rule *Israel again. Perhaps he wanted to use force to free his nation. He may even have thought that his action would force Jesus to show his power.

4     Perhaps he was a coward. He saw trouble coming to Jesus, and wanted to protect himself.

Verse 5 The priests promised Judas 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). That was the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32).

The *disciples prepare the *Passover meal 22:7-13

v7 The day came, during the *feast of *Unleavened Bread, when they had to *sacrifice the *Passover *lamb. v8 Jesus gave instructions to Peter and John, ‘Go and prepare the *Passover meal for us to eat’. v9 ‘Where do you want us to prepare it?’ they asked him. v10 He answered, ‘As you go into the city, a man will meet you. He will be carrying a jar of water. Follow him into the house that he enters. v11 Say to the owner of the house, “The teacher says to you, ‘Where is the room where I and my *disciples will eat the *Passover meal?’ ” v12 He will show you a large room upstairs for guests. You can prepare everything there’. v13 They went off. They found everything just as Jesus told them. And they prepared the *Passover meal.

Verse 7 Men killed the *lambs for the meal before sunset on the 13th day of the month Nisan. A new *Jewish day begins after sunset. So the *Passover meal was in the evening of 14th Nisan.

Verse 10 A man who carried a jar of water was special evidence. Usually, only women carried jars of water on their heads or shoulders.

Verses 10-11 Jesus gave the instructions to Peter and John. This shows that he had already made the arrangements. He had also done that with the young *donkey (19:29-35). He did not want the rulers and Judas to know the place. He still had important truth to teach his *apostles.

Verse 12 We do not know the name of the owner. Some people think that the house belonged to Mary, the mother of John Mark. The room became a meeting place for the *disciples after Jesus rose from death (Acts 12:12).

Verse 13 The *Passover meal included *lamb and *unleavened bread. The *Jews ate bitter *herbs to remind them of the bitter life of their *ancestors as slaves in Egypt (Exodus 12:1-11).

The *Lord’s Supper 22:14-23

v14 When the time came, Jesus sat at the table with his *apostles. v15 He said to them, ‘I have greatly desired to eat this *Passover meal with you before I suffer. v16 Because I tell you this. I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the *kingdom of God’.

Verse 16 The *Passover meal reminded the *Jews how their *ancestors used to be slaves in Egypt. And how they gained their freedom. The word ‘fulfilled’ means this: When the *kingdom of God comes, Christians will praise God. They will have freedom from *sin, judgement and death. Jesus won this freedom for people on the cross.

v17 Then Jesus took a cup of wine. He gave thanks to God and said, ‘Take this and share it among *yourselves. v18 I tell you this. I will not drink *wine again until the *kingdom of God comes’. v19 Then he picked up the bread. He gave thanks to God. He broke the loaf and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which I give for you. Do this to remember me’. v20 In the same way, he gave them the cup of wine after supper. He said, ‘This cup is God’s new special agreement in my blood, which I will pour out for you. v21 But look! The one who will *betray me is here at the table with me. v22 The *Son of Man will die as God has decided. But it will be terrible for that man who *betrays him!’ v23 Then they began to ask questions among themselves about which one of them would do this.

Verses 17-18 During a *Passover meal there were three loaves of *unleavened bread and four cups of *wine. He gave his *disciples *wine to share to show their unity.

Verse 19 Bread was a like a picture of his body. He was going to give his life on their behalf.

Verse 20 The final cup after supper showed the new special relationship between God and people. The *Jews had broken the old agreement to obey God’s laws. The new special agreement (see Jeremiah 31:31-34) would mean that people would want to obey God. They would obey him, because he loves them. The blood of an animal ‘signed’ the old agreement. When Jesus gave his life for them, he would have ‘signed’ the new agreement. They ate bread and drank *wine. These two ceremonies were to be a permanent way to remember his death.

Verse 21 Jesus said that the person who would *betray him was sharing the meal. It was especially wicked for a guest to *betray his host.

Verse 22 Jesus spoke of his death as part of God’s plan. But Judas was responsible for his own actions. Jesus spoke of how terrible his fate would be. His warning was a final appeal to Judas. He could have changed his decision, even at this last moment. Luke does not tell us what the *apostles said to Jesus. But John 13:21-30 gives the details.

The argument about greatness 22:24-30

v24 The *apostles began to argue among themselves. They wondered which one of them was the most important person. v25 Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the *Gentiles have power over their people. The rulers tell their people to call them “Friends of the People”. v26 But you should not behave like that. Rather, the most important one among you must be like the least important. The leader must be like the servant. v27 Who is more important? The person who eats at the table or the person who serves him? The person who eats at the table is more important. But I am like the servant. v28 You have remained loyal to me through all my difficulties. v29 My Father has given me the right to rule. So, I will give you the same right. v30 You will eat and drink at my table in my *kingdom. You will sit on royal seats, and rule over the 12 *tribes of *Israel’.

Verse 24 The *apostles had argued about this before (Luke 9:46-48). Jesus had said that the least important person was the best.

Verse 25 The *apostles were wondering which of them would be the most important in the *kingdom. Jesus told them that the *Gentile rulers tried to make themselves look important. They demanded that people obey their authority completely. And yet, they liked to call themselves the people’s friends.

Verses 26-27 The Christian attitude must be very different from people who are not Christians. The only person who can really be great is someone who serves other people. John records that Jesus had given an example. He had washed the *apostles’ feet. That was the work of a slave (John 13:1-10).

Verses 28-30 The *apostles had shared the hard times in Jesus’ work. Jesus encouraged them. He said that they would enjoy the *Messiah’s splendid dinner with him in heaven. They would share with him the honour of his *eternal rule. Some Christians believe that ‘the 12 *tribes of *Israel’ refers to the Christian Church.

Jesus warns Peter 22:31-34

v31 ‘Simon, Simon, listen!’ said Jesus. ‘*Satan has asked to test you all. He wants to separate loyal people from the people who are not loyal. This action will be like a farmer who separates the wheat from the rubbish. v32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your *faith may not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must help the other *apostles to be stronger’. v33 Peter answered, ‘I am ready to go to prison with you and to die with you!’ v34 Jesus replied, ‘Peter, I tell you this. You will say three times that you do not know me! This will happen before the *cock calls in the morning’.

Verse 31 Jesus repeated the name ‘Simon’. This emphasised that he was going to say something important. ‘Simon’ was the name that Peter had before Jesus changed it (Mark 3:16. ‘Peter’ means ‘rock’). Jesus knew that Peter was not yet strong like a rock.

*Satan can act only with God’s agreement. We know this from Job 1:6-12.

Verse 32 Jesus had prayed that Peter’s *faith would not fail completely. When he became loyal to Jesus again, he would help the other *apostles.

Verse 33 Peter did not realise how serious the situation was. Neither did he realise that he was weak. He was confident that he would be willing to die for Jesus in some future time of trouble.

Verse 34 Jesus now spoke to him as ‘Peter’. Jesus was reminding Peter of the name that he had given him, the ‘Rock’ (Luke 6:14). Jesus knew that Peter was not yet as strong as a rock. Peter would deny Jesus three times before the *cock gave its loud cry in the early morning. These words may refer to the farmer’s bird. Or they may refer to the *Roman trumpet. Someone blew this trumpet (musical instrument) at three o’clock in the morning. But it meant that Peter would deny that he knew Jesus, before the night was over.

Jesus warns all the *disciples 22:35-38

v35 Then Jesus asked his *disciples, ‘When I sent you out that time without purse, bag or shoes, did you lack anything?’ ‘We lacked nothing’, they answered. v36 ‘But now’, Jesus said, ‘whoever has a purse or a bag must take it. Whoever does not have a sword must sell his coat and buy one. v37 The *Scripture says, “He shared the fate of criminals”. I tell you; that must come true about me. Whatever the *Scripture says about me will come true’. v38 The *apostles said, ‘Look! Here are two swords, *Lord!’ ‘Enough!’ he replied.

Verse 35 Jesus spoke of the time when he sent the *disciples out. They had to trust God to supply what they needed (9:3; 10:4)

Verse 36 The situation was going to be different in the future. They must prepare to have the equipment for it. Jesus did not mean an actual sword. He was using the word to emphasise future danger.

Verse 37 He used a verse from the ‘suffering Servant’ poem in Isaiah 53:12. People would consider him a criminal. They would punish him, like a wicked person. Jesus said that all the *Scriptures about the *Messiah would come true.

Verse 38 The *apostles failed to understand Jesus. They showed him two swords. ‘Enough!’ does not mean that two swords among 11 *apostles were sufficient. Jesus said it to end the conversation.

Jesus prays on the *Mount of *Olives 22:39-46

v39 Jesus left the city and went to the *Mount of *Olives. He usually did this. And the *apostles went with him. v40 When he arrived at the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that God will keep you from a difficult test’. v41 Then he walked away from them about the distance that someone can throw a stone. He went on to his knees and prayed. v42 ‘Father’, he said, ‘if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. But may what you want happen, not what I want’. v43 An *angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. v44 He was in severe mental pain. His prayer was an even greater struggle. The water on his face was like drops of blood that fell onto the ground. v45 When he rose from prayer, he went back to the *apostles. He found them asleep. They were very sad and this had made them tired. v46 He said to them, ‘You should not be sleeping! Get up and pray. Then you will not want do the wrong things.

Verses 39-40 Matthew and Mark tell us something else about the place that Jesus went to. They tell us that it was the garden of Gethsemane. Luke adds that Jesus had often gone there.

Verse 41 The *Jews usually stood when they prayed. And they looked up to heaven. On this very serious occasion, Jesus went down on his knees.

Verse 42 In the *Old Testament, the ‘cup’ describes God’s action, sometimes when he was angry. In the *New Testament, it refers to pain, as in Mark 10:38 and John 18:11. Jesus did not mean only *physical pain. However, he knew that *crucifixion would be very painful. Jesus would have to leave the work of his *kingdom to men who were still not ready. He was struggling with *spiritual powers of darkness as he prayed to obey his Father.

Verse 44 ‘The water on his face was like drops of blood’ describes the size and quantity of the drops, not the colour. The drops were the size of big tears. This shows that Jesus was suffering greatly.

The arrest 22:47-53

v47 Jesus was still speaking, when a crowd arrived. Judas, one of the 12 *apostles, was leading them. He went to Jesus to kiss him. v48 But Jesus said, ‘Judas, are you going to *betray the *Son of Man with a kiss?’ v49 The *apostles were with Jesus. They saw what was going to happen. So they asked, ‘*Lord, shall we fight them with our swords?’ v50 And one of the *apostles struck the chief priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. v51 But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ He touched the man’s ear and *healed him. v52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the *Temple guard and *elders who had come to arrest him, ‘Did you have to come with swords and heavy sticks. Am I really a dangerous criminal? v53 I was with you in the *Temple every day. You did not try to arrest me. But this is your hour, when the power of darkness rules’.

Verse 47 Judas gave Jesus a kiss. This showed which man they had to arrest (Mark 14:44). Judas was using a greeting from a friend and *apostle to *betray Jesus!

Verse 50 Peter attacked the servant, whose name was Malchus (John 18:10-11). The chief priest was Caiaphas.

Verse 51 Jesus stopped the *disciples so that they did not fight. And he *healed the servant’s ear.

Verses 52-53 Jesus asked why they had chosen to arrest him in secret like this. If they had a good reason, Jesus had given them every opportunity for a legal arrest in the *Temple. Darkness was the time for *Satan’s work. That time had arrived.

Peter denies Jesus 22:54-62

v54 They arrested Jesus and took him to the house of the chief priest. Peter followed at a distance. v55 People had lit a fire in the middle of the *courtyard. Peter joined those who were sitting round it. v56 One of the servant girls saw Peter as he sat by the fire. She looked straight at him, and said, ‘This man too was with Jesus!’ v57 But Peter denied it, ‘Woman, I do not even know him!’ v58 After a little while, a man noticed Peter and said, ‘You are one of his *followers too!’ But Peter answered, ‘Man, I am not!’ v59 And about an hour later another man insisted, ‘Certainly this man was with him. Because he also is from Galilee’. v60 Peter answered, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about!’ At once, while he was still speaking, the *cock gave its cry. v61 The *Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered that the *Lord had said to him, ‘Before you hear the *cock tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me’. v62 Peter went out and wept great tears for a long time.

Verse 54 They took Jesus to Annas first. Then they took him to the house of Caiaphas (John 18:13).

Verses 55-57 Someone had lit a fire because it was cold that night. The light from the fire shone on Peter’s face. A servant looked hard at Peter. She thought that she recognised him. She said that he had been with Jesus. But Peter denied that he knew Jesus.

Verse 58 The man made a more serious remark. He said that Peter was one of Jesus’ *followers. Peter denied Jesus for the second time.

Verses 59-60 People who came from Galilee had a different accent from everyone else. Someone insisted that Peter was a *disciple of Jesus because he too came from Galilee. Mark 14:71 adds that Peter denied it and cursed. Then Peter heard the cry of the *cock.

Verses 61-62 Jesus looked at Peter. Jesus probably felt very sad, but also he had pity. Peter remembered his warning. Peter cried because he had been weak. Also he had failed his *Lord.

In the high priest’s house 22:63-65

v63 Some men were guarding Jesus. They laughed at him and beat him. v64 They tied a cloth over his eyes and asked him, ‘Who hit you? You must guess!’ v65 And they said many other things to insult him.

Verses 63–65 Luke does not mention that the priests also had a *trial during the night (Matthew 26:57-68). To examine a person at night was not legal. So, the priests had to wait until morning. Then the *Sanhedrin could declare that he was guilty. While they waited, the soldiers hit Jesus. They laughed at him and his message.

The *Sanhedrin examines Jesus 22:66-71

v66 When day came, the *elders, chief priests and teachers of the law met together. The guard took Jesus to the *Sanhedrin. v67 ‘Tell us’, they said, ‘are you the *Messiah?’ He answered, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe me. v68 If I ask you a question, you will not answer. v69 But before long the *Son of Man will sit at the right side of God, who has all power’. v70 They all said, ‘Are you, then, the *Son of God?’ He answered them, ‘You are right to say that I am’. v71 And they said, ‘We need no other witnesses! We have heard what he said!’

Verse 66 Early on Friday morning the soldiers took Jesus to the *Sanhedrin, the chief *Jewish authority. It had 70 members. The chief priest was its leader.

Verse 67 Jesus could not answer their question. He knew that their belief about the *Messiah was very different from his. He knew that they would not believe him, even if he said ‘yes’.

Verse 68 Jesus had asked questions about the *Messiah before (20:3, 41). But they had not been able to reply.

Verse 69 Jesus then used words from Daniel 7:13. They would see the *Son of Man. He would be sitting in the place of honour at God’s right side. The word ‘sitting’ suggests that he would be at rest. He would be at rest after his work on earth was complete.

Verse 70 They asked Jesus a direct question about his relationship to God. He did not deny that he was ‘the’ *Son of God.

Verse 71 The *Sanhedrin said that this was ‘*blasphemy’. They said that he was guilty. But they had broken their own laws. Two witnesses had to agree about the person that they accused. The *Sanhedrin should not have asked a direct question. There was another law. They could decide that someone was guilty. Then they had to wait for a day before they decided his punishment. But they were so anxious to kill Jesus that they broke their own rules. They did not have the authority themselves to kill Jesus. So they made up charges that the *Roman ruler, Pilate, would consider serious.

Chapter 23

Pilate examines Jesus 23:1-7

v1 The whole group rose up and took Jesus to Pilate. v2 They began to accuse him. ‘We caught this man because he is causing a revolution among our nation. He tells us not to pay *taxes to the *emperor. He says that he himself is the *Messiah, a king’. v3 Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the King of the *Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say’, answered Jesus. v4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘This man is not guilty of any crime’. v5 But they insisted, ‘He is teaching the people all through Judea. And he is starting a revolution. He began in Galilee and now he has come here’. v6 When Pilate heard this, he asked, ‘Is this man from Galilee?’ v7 He learned that Jesus was from the region that Herod ruled. So, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at that time.

Verse 1 Pilate had to come to Jerusalem from his official house at Caesarea because of the *Passover *feast. The crowds came to remember their *ancestors’ freedom from Egypt. There was always a danger that they might start a fight against the *Romans.

Verse 2 The *religious leaders accused Jesus of three things. They suggested to Pilate that Jesus was encouraging a revolution.

Verses 3-4 Jesus answered Pilate’s question. But it depended on the way in which Pilate understood the word ‘king’. Jesus was king of the *Jews. But not in a political way. Pilate must have suspected the *Jews as they accused another *Jew to a *Roman. He decided that Jesus was not guilty.

Verse 5 The *religious leaders said this about Jesus, too. He had caused trouble wherever he went.

Verses 6-7 Pilate discovered that Jesus came from Galilee. So, he sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee. Herod came to Jerusalem for *Passover. He was hoping to please the people that he ruled. Pilate had to take some responsibility for a decision. But he hoped that Herod would share the problem.

Herod Antipas examines Jesus 23:8-12

v8 Herod was very pleased to see Jesus. He had heard much about him and had wanted to see him for a long time. He was hoping to see Jesus perform some *miracle. v9 So Herod asked Jesus many questions. But Jesus did not answer. v10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law watched and then accused Jesus with great force. v11 Herod and his soldiers laughed at Jesus and insulted him. Then they put a splendid coat on him. Then Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. v12 On that very day Herod and Pilate became friends. Before this, they had been enemies.

Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s house-manager. It is possible that she gave Luke the information about what happened (Luke 8:3).

Verses 8-9 At one time Herod was afraid that John the *Baptist had come back to life. He was afraid that Jesus might be John the *Baptist (Luke 9:9). He wanted Jesus to perform a *miracle for his entertainment. Jesus would not answer Herod’s questions. He knew that they were not sincere.

Verse 11 Herod joined the soldiers. They put a royal coat on Jesus and laughed at him as a king.

Pilate gives in to the crowd 23:13-25

v13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders and the people. v14 He said to them, ‘You brought this man to me. You said that he was causing trouble. You said that he was starting a revolution. Now I have examined him here while you were present. I do not think that he is guilty of any of the crimes that you accuse him of. v15 Herod did not think that this man was guilty, because he sent him back to us. This man has done nothing to deserve death. v16 Someone will whip him and then I will free him’. v17 Every *Passover, Pilate freed for them one person who was in prison. v18 The whole crowd cried out, ‘Kill him! Free Barabbas for us!’ v19 Barabbas was in prison. He had murdered someone during a popular revolution against the *Romans in Jerusalem. v20 Pilate wanted to free Jesus. So, he appealed to the crowd again. v21 But they shouted, ‘*Crucify him! *Crucify him!’ v22 Pilate said to them the third time, ‘What crime has he done? I cannot find anything that he has done to deserve death. Someone will whip him then I will free him’. v23 But the crowd continued to shout with loud voices. They asked Pilate to *crucify Jesus. At last, they succeeded. v24 Pilate decided to agree to what they demanded. v25 He freed the man that they wanted. He was the one in prison for his part in revolution and for murder. Pilate handed Jesus over for *crucifixion, as they had wished.

Verses 13-15 Pilate said that neither he nor Herod had found Jesus guilty of any crimes. This is important. Both Pilate and Herod agreed that Jesus was innocent. The *Jewish law says that if two witnesses agreed, that provided proof (Deuteronomy 19:15).

Verse 16 Pilate showed that he was trying to please the crowd. He said that someone would whip Jesus. This was a very cruel *Roman punishment. Sometimes the person even died.

Verse 17 is not in many *Greek copies of Luke. A *scribe may have added it from Mark 15:6.

Verse 18 Barabbas was a *Jewish terrorist. This means that he used terror to fight the leaders. His name means ‘son of a father’. Pilate freed him and ordered the death of the Son of God the Father.

Verses 20-22 Pilate wanted to free Jesus. Luke does not record details of Pilate’s questions to Jesus. Nor does he record that the *Jews warned Pilate. If he freed Jesus, then he was not being loyal to Caesar (John 19:12). Pilate had already been in trouble. He had taken the *Roman army flags into Jerusalem. He had also upset the *Jews. He had used *Temple money to improve the water supply. He was afraid that they would complain about him to the *emperor again. Then perhaps he would lose his job.

The *Roman soldiers *crucify Jesus 23:26-31

v26 The soldiers led Jesus away. As they went, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon. He was coming into the city from the country. They seized him and put the cross on him. They made him carry it behind Jesus.

v27 A very large crowd of people followed him. Among them were some women who were crying loudly for him. v28 Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not cry for me. Cry for *yourselves and your children. v29 For the time is coming when people will say, “How happy are the women who never had children. How happy are those who never had babies. Or those who never had them in their care!” v30 That will be the time when people will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Hide us!” v31 People do these things when the wood is green. So think about what will happen when it is dry!’

Verse 26 A man on his way to *crucifixion had to carry the beam part of the cross on his back and shoulders. Jesus was weak after the *Romans had whipped him. He was so weak that he could not carry it. Simon was a *Jew from North Africa. Perhaps he lived in Jerusalem but he was coming home from his work outside the city. Or perhaps he had come to Jerusalem for the *Passover. Mark tells us that Simon was ‘the father of Alexander and Rufus’. Alexander and Rufus were well-known Christians. Simon carried the cross and witnessed the *crucifixion. He may have become a *disciple because of this experience. His sons were later known as Christians in *Rome (Mark 15:21). Mark wrote for *Romans. (See also *Romans 16:3.)

Verses 28-29 Jesus had already warned that people would suffer. The *Romans would attack and destroy Jerusalem (Luke 21:23). Now Jesus said this. Women without children would be lucky when trouble came to Jerusalem.

Verse 30 Jesus used words from Hosea (10:8). Hosea had warned *Israel of an attack from the country of Assyria. The words may mean that the *Jews would want the mountains to protect them. They could hide there from the *Romans. Or the words mean that the people would suffer very much. It would be so awful that they would want the mountains to fall on them and kill them.

Verse 31 This was probably a well-known phrase. Green wood is alive. Dry wood is dead. The *Romans were going to kill an innocent man in a time of peace. They would do worse things to guilty men when the nation was at war.

Jesus suffers insults 23:32-43

v32 The soldiers also led out two other men. Both of them were criminals. The soldiers were going to *crucify them with Jesus. v33 When they came to the place called ‘The Skull’, they *crucified Jesus there. They also *crucified the two criminals, one on his right and the other on his left.

Verse 32 Two criminals were on either side of Jesus. The words, ‘People counted him among *sinners’ (Isaiah 53:12) came true.

Verse 33 The *Hebrew name of the place was Golgotha (John 19:17). In the Latin language the word is ‘Calvary’. Both words mean ‘the Skull (the bone inside a man’s head)’. This was because of the shape of the ground. Or because *crucifixions took place there.

v34 Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing’. The soldiers decided who should get Jesus’ clothes. They threw on the ground special stones with marks on them. v35 The people stood there and watched. But the *Jewish leaders laughed at him. ‘He saved other people. The *Messiah is the man whom God has chosen. If he is the Messiah, then let him save himself’. v36 The soldiers also laughed at him. They came up to him and offered him cheap *wine. v37 They said, ‘If you are the king of the *Jews, save yourself!’ v38 They had put a notice on the cross above him. It said, ‘This is the king of the *Jews’.

v39 One of the criminals who were hanging next to Jesus insulted him. He said, ‘Are you really the *Messiah? Save yourself and save us!’ v40 The other criminal, however, told him that he was wrong. He said, ‘Do you not respect God? You have received the same punishment as he has. v41 Our punishment is right. We are getting what we deserve for our actions. But he has done nothing wrong’. v42 Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me, when you come into your *kingdom’. v43 Jesus said to him, ‘I promise that you will be with me in Paradise (God’s garden) today’.

Verse 34 Jesus meant the *Roman soldiers when he prayed to his Father to forgive them. They were only obeying their orders. He also meant all the *Jews who had brought about his death. The clothes of a person whom the soldiers killed in this way became their property. The soldiers threw special stones on the ground to decide who should have the clothes.

Verse 35 People watched *crucifixions out of a strange curiosity. The *Jewish rulers laughed at Jesus, because he said that he was the *Messiah. They said that he could prove his claim if he saved himself. This was a cruel demand for a special sign.

Verse 36 Jesus had refused the *wine with a drug in it which a person could have before *crucifixion (Mark 15:23). Later, the soldiers showed him their cheap *wine. They knew that he would be desperate for a drink. Then they took it away.

Verse 37 They suggested that he could save himself, if he really was ‘the king of the *Jews’.

Verse 38 They usually put up a notice to say why the person was on the cross. John tells us that the priests complained because the notice said, ‘This is the king of the *Jews’. Pilate refused to change it (John 19:21-22). The notice was in three languages, *Hebrew, *Greek and Latin. Therefore, everybody could read it.

Verse 39 The *Romans *crucified two criminals with Jesus. Matthew and Mark say that they both insulted him.

Verse 40-41 One of the criminals changed his attitude. He realised that Jesus was different from them. They were receiving punishment for their crimes. But he declared that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death.

Verse 42 He asked Jesus to ‘remember’ him. He realised that death was not the end. There was something beyond it.

Verse 43 Jesus promised far more than the criminal had asked. He would be in Paradise that very day. And Jesus would be with him. ‘Paradise’ is a word from the Persian language. It means ‘a quiet garden with a wall’. It was a beautiful place, like the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-9).

The death of Jesus 23:44-49

v44 It was midday. The sun stopped shining. The whole country was completely dark for three hours. v45 The curtain in the *Temple split into two parts. v46 Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Father, I put my spirit in your hands!’ He said this and he died. v47 The army officer saw what had happened. He praised God and said, ‘Certainly he was a good man!’ v48 The people who watched there saw what happened. Then they all went back home. They were hitting their *chests because they were so sad. v49 All the people who knew Jesus, stood at a distance to watch. So did the women who had followed him from Galilee.

Verse 44 The country was dark for three hours. This was evidence that evil was happening to Jesus. He was the ‘Light of the World’ (John 8:12). In the Bible, darkness is often evidence of God’s judgement. This darkness showed that God in Jesus was judging human *sin.

Verse 45 A special curtain in the *Temple separated the Holy Place from the ‘Holy of Holies’ (Exodus 26:31-33). It separated the people from God. Only the chief priest ever went into the Holy of Holies. And this was only once a year. It was on a special day, that they called the Day of Atonement. The curtain was huge and very heavy. No human hands could have torn it. In any case, the tear was from the top (Mark 15:38). This meant that people could now approach God (Hebrews 10:19-22). The death of Jesus made this possible.

Verse 46 Jesus prayed in words from Psalm 31:5 and added the word ‘Father’. The *Jews used this prayer at night before they went to sleep. Jesus was confident that God, his Father would care for him. His last words showed that.

Verse 47 The officer heard how Jesus spoke on the cross. He praised God. He said that Jesus had not been guilty of any crime.

Verse 48 The people who had been watching returned home. They were very sad. Many people had probably come because they were curious. But they had changed their attitude. This happened because they saw the darkness. And because of the way that Jesus had spoken, before he died.

Verse 49 The *disciples who stood at a distance included women from Galilee. They had travelled with Jesus (Luke 8:2-3). They were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome, the mother of James and John (Matthew 27:55-56).

Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus 23:50-56

v50 There was a man whose name was Joseph. He came from the town of Arimathea in Judea. He was a good and honourable man. He was waiting for the *kingdom of God to come. He was a member of the *Sanhedrin. v51 But he had not agreed with their decision and action. v52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. v53 Then he took the body down from the cross. He wrapped it in a linen cloth (material like cotton). He placed it in a *tomb which someone had already dug out of the rock. No one had put a dead body in it before. v54 It was Preparation Day before the *Sabbath began. v55 The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee went with Joseph. They saw the *tomb. They saw where Joseph had placed the body. v56 Then they went back home. They prepared the strong *herbs and the oils, which smelled sweet, for the body. On the *Sabbath they rested, as the law ordered.

Verses 50-51 Arimathea was a town a few miles north of Jerusalem. Joseph must have been a secret *disciple of Jesus. He may have remained silent in the *Sanhedrin. Or he had no chance to change their decision.

Verse 52 It was the *Roman custom to leave the bodies on crosses. The *Jews believed that it was wrong to do that. Someone must bury a man before sunset, if he had died in this way (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). Joseph was brave. He went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead (Mark 15:44-45). But he granted Joseph’s request.

Verse 53 The *tomb was a cave in the hill. It belonged to Joseph. It had never had a dead body in it before (Matthew 27:60). A new *tomb was a suitable place for a dead king. When the *Romans *crucified a criminal, they threw his body into a common grave.

Verse 54 The ‘day of preparation’ was Friday. The *Jews prepared for the *Sabbath, which began at six o’clock on Friday evening. Therefore, Joseph had little time after the death of Jesus and his visit to Pilate.

Verse 55 The women from Galilee saw where the *tomb was. But they had no time to prepare the body. They usually put oils, which smelled sweet, on it. Nicodemus helped Joseph to put *spices between the strips of cloth (John 19:38-40). The women wanted to finish doing this.

Verse 56 They went back to where they were staying in Jerusalem. The *Sabbath ended at sunset on Saturday.

Chapter 24

The *resurrection 24:1-12

v1 Very early on the first day of the week, the women went to the *tomb. They carried the *spices that they had prepared. v2 Someone had rolled away the stone from the entrance to the *tomb. v3 So they went in. But they did not find the body of the *Lord Jesus.

v4 They did not know what had happened. Suddenly two men who had shining white clothes stood by them. v5 The women were very afraid. They bent down and their faces nearly touched the ground. The men said to them, ‘Why are you looking in a place for dead people for someone who is alive? v6 He is not here. He has risen to life. Do you remember what he said to you? He said it while he was in Galilee. v7 “The *Jews must hand over the *Son of Man to the *Gentiles. They must *crucify him. On the third day he must rise again” ’. v8 Then the women remembered what he had said. v9 They returned from the *tomb and told everything to the 11 *apostles and all the other people. v10 The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James. They and the other women told these things to the *apostles.

v11 The *apostles thought that the women were speaking nonsense. They did not believe them. v12 But Peter got up and ran to the *tomb. He bent down and saw the grave clothes, but nothing else. Then he went back home. What had happened astonished him.

Verse 1 As soon as the sun rose, very early on Sunday, the women went to the *tomb.

Verses 2-3 There had been a heavy round stone that closed the entrance to the *tomb. Someone had rolled this stone away. When the women arrived, they saw that. So they could get in. But the body of Jesus was no longer there.

Verses 4-6 The two men were actually *angels, in human shape. Their shining appearance greatly frightened the women. But the *angels reminded them what Jesus had said about his death and *resurrection.

Verse 7 What had happened was all in the plan of God. The word ‘must’ emphasises that.

Verses 9-10 Luke alone mentions Joanna (8:3), but Mark includes Salome (Mark 16:1). The women told the other *apostles what they had seen and heard.

Verse 11 Luke used a medical word to describe what the *apostles thought. It meant the nonsense that a very sick person might say. Luke emphasises the *apostles’ attitude when he adds, ‘They did not believe them’.

Verse 12 But Peter ran to see for himself. He found only the cloths that Joseph had wrapped round the body. John 20:3-7 says that John went with him.

The two people on the road to Emmaus 24:13-35

v13 On that same day, two of Jesus’ *followers were walking to the village of Emmaus. It was about 7 miles (11 kilometres) from Jerusalem. v14 They were discussing all the things that had happened. v15 As they talked, Jesus himself came. He walked with them. v16 But somehow they did not recognise him. v17 Jesus said to them, ‘What are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stood still and looked sad. v18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him, ‘Things have happened in Jerusalem these last few days. Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who does not know about them?’ v19 ‘What things?’ he asked. They answered, ‘The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth. What he did and said showed that he was a powerful *prophet. He pleased God and all the people. v20 Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to the *Roman ruler. They wanted him to die. The *Romans *crucified him. v21 We hoped that he would be the person to free *Israel. Also, this is now the third day since it happened. v22 Some of the women in our group surprised us. They went to the *tomb early in the morning. v23 But they could not find his body. They came back. They said that they had seen some *angels. The *angels had told the women that Jesus was alive. v24 Some of our group went to the *tomb. They found it as the women had said. But they did not see him’.

v25 Then Jesus said to them, ‘How foolish you are! How slow you are to believe all that the *prophets have said! v26 Christ (*Messiah) had to suffer these things and then share God’s *glory in heaven’. v27 And Jesus explained to them what all the *Scriptures said about himself. He began with the books of Moses. And he went through all that the *prophets had written.

v28 They came near to the village to which they were going. Jesus seemed to be going further. v29 But they persuaded him not to go on. They said, ‘Stay with us. The day is almost over and it is getting dark’. So, he went in to stay with them.

v30 He sat down to eat a meal with them. He took the bread and thanked God for it. Then he broke the loaf and gave it to them. v31 That moment they recognised him. Then he vanished. They could not see him any more. v32 They said to each other, ‘Were we not greatly encouraged while he talked to us on the way here? Were our spirits not filled with joy as he explained the *Scriptures to us?’ v33 At once they got up and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the 11 *apostles, with the other people. v34 They were saying, ‘The *Lord has certainly risen! He has appeared to Simon!’ v35 Then the two told what had happened on the journey. They said that Jesus broke the bread. And that was when they recognised him.

Verse 13 The two people who were returning to Emmaus were *disciples of Jesus. One was Cleopas (verse 18), but Luke does not name the other one. The second one could have been Cleopas’s wife.

Verse 15 Jesus must have been behind them.

Verse 16 We do not know why they did not recognise Jesus. They were not expecting to see him. Also, they were too sad to look straight at this stranger. But there were other occasions when people did not recognise Jesus at once. Perhaps he looked different. Perhaps the two people needed to understand the message of the *Old Testament before they could recognise him.

Verses 18-21 The traveller astonished them. He did not seem to know what had happened. They told him that Jesus was a *prophet. God approved of him. The *miracles that he performed showed that. The ordinary people had accepted him as a *prophet.

Verse 21 ‘We hoped’ would include the other *disciples as well as the two travellers. The *Jews all hoped for a political *Messiah who would drive the *Romans out of their country. Now their hope had ended in bitter disappointment.

Verses 22-23 They explained that the women had visited the *tomb. And that some *apostles had visited it to check their story. Luke mentions only Peter. John also went with him (John 20:3-8).

Verse 27 The ‘books of Moses’ are the first five books of the *Old Testament. The second part of the *Hebrew Bible contains what the *prophets wrote. Jesus would have used a passage like that of God’s Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. *Israel had thought of itself as this servant. Jesus showed that he was the suffering servant. And he died on behalf of other people (Isaiah 53:12).

Verse 28 Jesus never forced anyone to welcome him. He acted as if he were going on.

Verse 29 He accepted their invitation to stay, as it was getting late in the day.

Verses 30-31 Jesus acted as the host. He gave the usual thanks to God, when he broke the bread. As he broke the bread, they suddenly recognised him. They may have seen the marks of the nails on his hands. Perhaps he thanked God and broke the bread in the familiar way. They were probably not at the Last Supper (just before the *Jews arrested Jesus). But they may have seen Jesus do this on other occasions. On one such occasion, Jesus fed 5000 people.

Verse 32 The two people had felt excited as Jesus was explaining the *Scriptures to them. Now they remembered that.

Verse 33 It was evening. The journey back to Jerusalem meant that they walked another 7 miles (11 kilometres). And the road was up hills all the way! But they wanted to share their good news with the other *disciples immediately. So, they left at once. They knew where the 11 *apostles and the other *disciples would be.

Verse 34 The *disciples in Jerusalem already knew that Jesus was alive. He had appeared to Peter. There are no details of this meeting. It was probably a painful but happy experience for Peter. But too private to talk about. Paul says that Jesus appeared especially to Peter (1 Corinthians 15:5).

Verse 35 The two travellers then told of their own experience. And how they had recognised Jesus when he broke the loaf. Later, Christians would break a loaf. They considered those occasions as the special time when Jesus was present with them. Holy Communion is one of the names for these special times when Christians remember Jesus’ death. Other names for it are Eucharist, Breaking of Bread, and the *Lord’s Supper.

Jesus appears to his *disciples 24:36-49

v36 While the two were telling them this, the *Lord himself suddenly stood among them. He said to them, ‘May God’s peace be with you’. v37 They were very afraid. They thought that they were seeing a spirit. v38 But he said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Do not have doubts in your minds. v39 Look at my hands and my feet. See! It is I myself! Touch me and see! A spirit does not have skin and bones, as I do’. v40 Then he showed them his hands and his feet. v41 They were very surprised. It was such good news that they could not believe it. So he asked them, ‘Do you have something to eat?’ v42 They gave him a piece of fish that someone had cooked. v43 He took it and ate it. They watched him. v44 Then he said to them, ‘These are the very things that I told you about. I told you about them while I was still with you. Everything about me in the Law of Moses, the words of the *prophets and the Psalms had to come true’. v45 Then he helped them to understand the *Scriptures. v46 He said to them, ‘This is what the *Scriptures say: The *Messiah must suffer and must rise from death three days later. v47 With his authority you must *preach the good news to all nations. Tell them that they must *repent then God will forgive their *sins. Begin in Jerusalem. v48 You are witnesses to these things. v49 And I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait in the city until the power from above comes down upon you’.

Verse 36 ‘Peace be with you’ was the usual *Jewish greeting.

Verse 37 Jesus did not enter through the door. His sudden appearance greatly frightened them. They thought that he was a spirit. John says that the doors were shut because they were afraid of the *Jews (John 20:19).

Verse 38 Jesus tried to make them calm. He told them to look at his hands and feet and to touch him. They would see the evidence of the nails. They would realise that he had a real body. A spirit does not have a physical body.

Verses 42-43 They still could not believe that he was real. So, Jesus asked for some food. He did not need it for himself, but it gave them extra proof.

Verses 44-45 Jesus may have taught them that evening or on another occasion. He said that the three parts of the *Hebrew *Old Testament all taught about him. He said that their words had come true. Psalms are in the third part, called ‘The Writings’. The *Scriptures said this: The *Messiah must suffer before he rose to life again three days later.

Verses 47-48 Jesus said that they must take his message of good news to all nations. They would have his authority. They must tell people to turn to God. Then God will forgive their *sins. The *disciples’ work must begin in Jerusalem. There they would give the good news that they knew was true.

Verse 49 Jesus said that he himself would send the Holy Spirit to them. But they must stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. He would give them power.

The *ascension of Jesus 24:50-53

v50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany. Then he raised his hands and *blessed them.

v51 As he was *blessing them, he left them. He went up into heaven. v52 They *worshipped him. Then they went back into Jerusalem with great joy. v53 They spent all their time in the *Temple and thanked God.

Verse 50 Luke gives only this short account of the *ascension. Luke wrote the Acts of the *Apostles. He intended to begin it with more details (Acts 1:1-11). The way in which Jesus left meant that the *disciples would not see him again on earth.

Verse 53 The good news in Luke’s *Gospel began with Zechariah in the *Temple. He received God’s promise about Jesus the Christ (*Messiah). It ends with the *disciples praising God in the *Temple. They are waiting for the Holy Spirit, whom the *Lord Jesus Christ has promised to send to them.

Word List

altar ~ a table in the *temple on which people make *offerings to God.

ancestors ~ any persons from whom the families of your father or mother come.

angel ~ God’s servant and *messenger in heaven.

apostle ~ one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to be his special helpers.

ark ~ a large boat such as Noah built.

ascension ~ the passing of Christ’s body from earth to heaven.

baptise/baptism ~ to put a person into water to show that he wants to obey God.

Baptist ~ a person who *baptises people (John the Baptist).

betray ~ to give a person to an enemy by not being loyal.

bier ~ open structure on which to carry a dead body.

blasphemy ~ insulting God.

bless, blessing ~ to say or to do much good to a person; to call something holy; to ask God for good things to happen; to guard and to keep from evil things.

Caesar ~ *Roman *emperor.

census ~ official count of people.

chaff ~ outside cover of grain.

chest ~ top part of a person’s body where the heart is.

Christ/Messiah ~ the *Jews’ word for the king whom God would send to rescue them.

circumcise, circumcision ~ act of removing end part of skin from the male sex part; a sign of God’s special agreement with *Israel.

cock ~ male chicken.

commandment ~ a rule that God gave.

convulsions ~ sudden body movements that a person cannot control.

court, courtyard ~ open space with building round.

covenant ~ special agreement.

crucifixion ~ to nail someone to a wooden cross in order to kill them.

crucify ~ to kill by *crucifixion.

demons ~ bad or evil spirits. They work for *Satan, the chief demon.

descendants ~ future members of a family or nation.

Devil ~ or *Satan; chief of *demons.

disciple ~ one who follows another and learns from him; a person who believes in Jesus; a person who follows the things that he teaches.

dog ~ an animal that some people have in their houses.

donkey ~ animal like a small horse.

dough ~ bread mixture.

elder ~ a leader.

emperor ~ king who rules over many countries.

empire ~ group of nations under one ruler (*emperor).

eternal ~ without beginning or end.

eternity ~ the future life in heaven.

faith ~ trust.

fast ~ to choose not to eat and drink for a time.

feast ~ special meal; *religious ceremony.

Feast of Tabernacles ~ a *Jewish harvest *festival to remember God’s care for his people when they were in the desert.

festival ~ a holiday; a *feast; a big meal.

fever ~ illness that makes the body very hot.

fig ~ kind of sweet fruit that grows on a tree.

fisherman ~ someone who fishes.

follower ~ person who follows a leader.

forgive ~ when someone stops being angry with another person who has done bad things.

Gentiles ~ people who are not *Jews.

glory ~ everything that makes God beautiful and great; like a great light from God.

gospel ~ good news about Jesus.

grape ~ fruit of *vine.

Greek ~ language of the *New Testament. Many people spoke Greek in *New Testament times.

Hades ~ *Greek name for place of dead people.

heal ~ cure; make completely well.

Hebrew ~ language of the *Jews and of the *Old Testament.

herald ~ one who announces the arrival of an important person.

herbs ~ plants that are useful in cooking or medicine.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s *Spirit sent by Jesus to help people; another name for God; also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the one who comforts; the Holy Spirit is a person, but not human as we are; he lives and works for God; he is God, equal with God the Father and with God the Son. We cannot see him but he is there.

husks ~ dry outer cover of grain.

hypocrisy ~ pretending to be better than you are.

hypocrites ~ persons who pretend to be better than they are.

incense ~ substance that people burn for its sweet smell, especially in *religious ceremonies.

inn ~ a place that provides food and shelter for travellers.

Israel, Israelites ~ all the people from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jew ~ a person who was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

judge ~ one who decides what is true or not.

kingdom ~ land that a king rules.

lamb ~ young sheep.

leaven ~ see *yeast.

leprosy ~ serious disease of the skin.

Levite ~ *priest’s helper in the *Temple.

Lord ~ name for God in the Bible; name that we use for Jesus when we obey him.

lot ~ means of reaching a fair decision.

mercy ~ be kind to and help a person who does wrong.

messenger ~ person who gives a message.

Messiah/Christ ~ the *Jews’ word for the king whom God would send to rescue them.

miracle ~ an event that seems to be against the usual laws of nature.

Mount ~ small mountain.

mustard seed ~ a very tiny seed.

offering ~ a gift to please God.

olive ~ a kind of tree that has fruit.

parable ~ a story with a moral meaning.

Passover ~ annual ceremony to remember when God rescued the *Jews from Egypt.

Pentecost ~ the time each year when the *Jews thank God for their food; the time when God gave the *Holy Spirit to the church.

Pharisees ~ group of *Jews who were very strict about the law of Moses.

physical disabilities ~ people with physical disabilities are people who cannot see or people who do not find it easy to walk or to do other things.

praise ~ to say how good a person is; to tell God how great he is, as when we are praying or singing to him.

preach ~ to tell people about Jesus, and how to live for Jesus.

pride ~ to praise yourself. To think that you are very important.

priest ~ a man that gave gifts and burned animals as a *sacrifice to God for the *Jews; a man that God chose to serve him.

prophecy ~ words that God gives to a person to tell other people.

prophet ~ one who tells God’s messages.

rabbi ~ teacher of the law of the *Jews.

religious ~ leaders belonging to a religion.

repent, repentance ~ to change one’s attitude and behaviour.

resurrection ~ to come back to life after death.

Roman ~ person or thing that belongs to *Rome.

Rome ~ capital of a great *empire in *New Testament times.

Sabbath ~ day of rest when people should not work (Saturday for *Jews).

sackcloth ~ rough material (made from old sacks). *Jews wore it when very sad or sorry.

sacrifice ~ a gift to God to ask him to forgive sins; or to thank him for something.

saddle ~ rider’s seat on an animal.

Sadducees ~ group of *Jews who did not believe in life after death.

salvation ~ when God saves a person from the results of, and punishment for, sin. When a person is sorry for their wrong ways; God forgives them and they follow Jesus.

Samaria ~ country on north border of Judah; its capital has the same name.

Samaritan ~ a person who comes from *Samaria.

Sanhedrin ~ the group of *Jewish *priests and other leaders.

Satan ~ chief evil spirit; the Devil.

save/salvation ~ rescue from the power and result of *sin.

Saviour ~ the one (Jesus) who rescues from *sin.

scorpion ~ a dangerous insect that stings.

Scribes ~ teachers of the law of Moses.

Scripture(s) ~ Bible.

scroll ~ long piece of paper or animal skin with words on it.

shekel ~ *Jewish money.

shepherd ~ one who cares for sheep.

sin/sinner ~ when people do things against God or other people.

Son of David ~ *descendant of David; a title of *Messiah.

Son of God ~ a title of *Messiah.

Son of Man ~ special name that Jesus used of himself.

sore ~ a bad place on your body.

soul ~ the part of a person that we cannot see, that is in us during our life on earth. It continues to live after the body dies.

spice ~ powder that people make from certain plants to give flavour to food.

spirit ~ the part of a person which is alive, which we cannot see. It can speak to other spirits and the *soul.

spiritual ~ belonging to the *spirit.

spit ~ to send liquid out of the mouth.

synagogue ~ a building where *Jews gather to pray and to study the *Old Testament.

tassels ~ groups of long pieces of wool or cotton on the edge of clothes.

tax ~ money that people must pay to the government.

tax-collector ~ man who received *taxes for the government.

Temple ~ special building in Jerusalem where *Jews *worshipped God.

temptation ~ something that tries to make us do wrong things.

tenant ~ person who occupies somebody’s property in return for rent.

thresh, threshing ~ to separate grain from straw.

thunder ~ the loud noise that you may hear in a storm.

tithe ~ one tenth. The *Jewish law said that the people must give a tenth of the harvest of oil, grain and *wine to God. This tenth part was a ‘tithe’.

Tobit ~ an old book that someone wrote before Jesus came to earth.

tomb ~ cave in side of a hill for a grave.

transfiguration ~ change in appearance.

trial ~ the examination of a person in a court of law to discover whether he is guilty or not of a crime.

tribe ~ a group of people; a family or people having the same *ancestors.

twin ~ one born at the same time as a brother or sister.

unclean ~ (1) not pure in a *religious meaning. (2) dirty.

unleavened ~ bread without *yeast.

vine ~ plant that produces *grapes.

vineyard ~ a place in which to grow *grapes.

warning ~ when we warn someone. We say that we are giving them a warning.

wine ~ a drink made from *grapes.

wineskins ~ these were used to keep *wine in. They made them from the skins of animals.

winnow ~ after you *thresh plants, you winnow to separate the grain from the rest of the plant.

worship ~ show honour and respect to God and praise him.

yeast ~ substance that you put in bread to make it rise.

yourselves ~ more than one ‘yourself’.

Zealot ~ a strong enemy of the *Roman government.

Book List

H. Balmforth ~ St Luke ~ Clarendon Bible Commentary

William Barclay ~ The *Gospel of St Luke ~ Daily Study Bible

John Blanchard ~ Look through Luke

Robert G. Bratcher ~ A Translator’s Guide to the *Gospel of Luke

G. B. Caird ~ St Luke ~ Pelican *Gospel Commentary

A. E. Garvie ~ The *Gospel according to St Luke ~ Westminster *New Testament Commentary

William Hendriksen ~ The *Gospel of Luke ~ *New Testament Commentary

D. G. Miller ~ St Luke ~ Layman’s Bible Commentaries

Leon Morris ~ Luke ~ Tyndale NT Commentaries

Michael Wilcock ~ The *Saviour of the World ~ The Bible Speaks Today

Bibles ~ TEV, RSV, NIV


© 1997-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words)

June 2002

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