Introduction to Christianity with Luke
- Jesus authorizes his disciples to heal and spread the gospel
- Who different people think Jesus is
- Jesus feeds 5,000 families
- The cost of following Jesus
- Who’s Jesus?
Luke 9:1-6: Jesus sends out the twelve
Luke 9:7-9: Herod hears rumors about Jesus
Jesus’ miracles were causing quite a stir and catching the attention of authorities. Ancient historical documents such as from Josephus report on miraculous works in association with Jesus and the early church.
Mark 6:14-29 goes into detail about how Herod had John executed to reward his stepdaughter for her beautiful dancing.
Luke 9:10-17: Jesus feeds five thousand families
In John 6:9 we read that the five loaves and two fishes belonged to a young boy.
This story reflects God feeding the Israelites with “mana” (bread from Heaven) every day for forty years after their exodus from slavery in Egypt.
This miracle proves that God continues to care for his people, and we need not worry when times get difficult.
Luke 9:18-21: Peter answers “Who is Jesus?”
Following on from Herod’s speculation that Jesus was John the Baptist, others thought Jesus was a prophet resurrected from ancient times. But Peter recognizes Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16).
Luke 9:22: Jesus foretells death and resurrection
Given that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God, he reminds his disciples of the numerous prophecies that he’d be sacrificed but would come back to life. This is first mentioned when God kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden as he addressed the snake:
Genesis 3:15 I will make you and the woman hostile toward each other. I will make your descendants and her descendant hostile toward each other. He will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel.”
Luke 9:23-27: What it means to follow Jesus
Jesus explains that to follow him is like carrying around the tool of your execution. Christianity’s a full-time commitment – to lay aside your comfort and pleasures to serve God and build his kingdom by discipling others on their journey.
We’re still expecting Jesus to return to establish a kingdom on Earth, so how could he say that some standing here won’t die until they see his kingdom? Because they saw this promise fulfilled spiritually – particularly in Acts 2, when the believers were all filled with God’s Holy Spirit. But many didn’t “see” this and were caught up in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD because they’d rejected the Messiah.
Deuteronomy 18:19 Whoever refuses to listen to the words that prophet speaks in my name will answer to me.
Since then, we’ve experienced the growth of God’s kingdom throughout the World. And we expect Jesus to return soon to physically establish an Empire throughout the world.
Luke 9:28-36: Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah
For the Jews, these two men represent the Law (Moses) and the prophets, of whom Elijah was the most famous. These are the foundation of the Jewish scriptures that we call the Old Testament.
I wonder if this happened to comfort Jesus as he approached the time of his execution, but also his three closest disciples. This would have greatly strengthened their faith.
Luke 9:37-43: Jesus cures demon possessed boy
Luke 9:43-45: Jesus foretells his betrayal
Just as they’re not getting it about the authority Jesus has given us, they also didn’t get the prophecies that Jesus had to be sacrificed. It’s reasonable that they just didn’t want to believe such things. Certainly, the Pharisees only wanted to believe in the conquering Messiah, who’d bring them to positions of power. This mindset would have influenced everyone. But in Jesus’ Kingdom, the greatest are the servants to all – not the overlords.
Luke 9:46-48: Who’s the greatest?
Luke 9:49-50: Others using Jesus’ name
Luke 9:51-56: Samaritans reject Jesus
God kingdom is not spread by force. There’s no sense in nuking those who don’t believe. It’s too late to bring them into the Kingdom once they’ve died and gone to Hell. Just move on to another village and maybe they’ll be more receptive next time.
Luke 9:57-62: The cost of following Jesus
Jesus reiterates that following him is a full-time commitment. You shouldn’t wait for your parents to die before you follow him. Nor should you seek your family’s approval before you believe in Jesus and follow him. “Hey dad, would it possibly, if you’re ok with it, be alright if I believe in Jesus?” That’s not belief. You don’t ask anyone permission for what you believe in. You believe and you act on that belief.
Jesus asked Peter, “Who do people say I am?” This remains an important question. Some say a teacher, master, a builder, an historical figure, a prophet, son of David, savior, son of God, or God.
But the more important question is “But who do you say I am?” By this we can measure if our belief in him qualifies us for Heaven. And remember belief results in action.
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. That’s fine! The demons also believe that, and they tremble with fear.
If Jesus is your Lord, you will submit your life to serve him with everything you’ve got.
While an eighth of the world identify as Christian, more than a quarter recognize Jesus as a great teacher. The gospels observe how people flocked from the surrounding lands to listen to Jesus’ teachings, and addressed him as Rabbi, which means teacher.
Some go beyond that to call Jesus Master. Not simply one to be obeyed, but one to whom we apprentice ourselves. Jesus teaches us through the Bible, but also through the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
To his hometown, Jesus was just the son of the carpenter, or the local builder who lives down the road. John 1 describes Jesus as the creator from Genesis who created all things. In John 14, Jesus tells us that he’s building a place for us.
♫ Jesus the builder. Can he fix it? Jesus the builder. Yes, he can!
♫ With John, James, and Peter, and others too, the Holy Spirit came to fill the crew.
♫ Jesus and his gang have so much fun, working together, to save everyone.
♫ Jesus the builder. Can he fix it? Jesus the builder. Yes, he can!
A historical figure
Certainly, Jesus was a historical figure. People try to claim that he was made up and demand proof apart from his obviously biased followers. If we applied this same standard to any other ancient figures, they’d fall far short of the mountain of evidence that remains available for Jesus. Not only do contemporary accounts speak of him, scriptures from 500 to 1,500 years prior describe his life. Yes, Jesus is a historical figure, but that history prerecorded in the Bible is still unfolding.
Napoleon Bonaparte is a historical figure who wrote a lot about great emperors before him.
Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man: no one else is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than a man.
I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me but to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space.
Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted.
Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers.
Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Jesus isn’t just some historical figure, but our calendar divides history around Jesus’ birth between BC = Before Christ and AD = Anno Domini, which means the year of our Lord. Napoleon’s greatest legacy is that Europeans and Americans drive on the wrong side of the road ;-).
A great prophet
With the amazing miracles Jesus performed, he’s certainly up there with the great prophets like Elijah and John the Baptist. And he certainly spoke with the authority of God.
But what about the prophet Mohammad who came after Jesus and established a great religion? He claimed that God’s perfect revelation had become corrupted over time, and here’s how things really go… He was a historical revisionist and a conquering emperor who established a legacy of intimidation and fear. There may be a couple of scriptures that can be read into to point to him, but Jesus clearly fulfilled hundreds of scriptures. Jesus didn’t come to change anything, but to fulfill what was written since the beginning of time.
However, Jesus can’t be called a great prophet of God because he was tried and found guilty of claiming to be God. For this he was executed as the most blasphemous of false prophets. The word blasphemy means to slander God.
Son of David
Often people would call out to Jesus, addressing him as “Son of David”. Most were probably unaware of this fact that he was a biological descendant of King David through his mum, and the legal heir of his dynasty of the Kings of Judah. However, Jesus wasn’t known for his amazing singing or his military achievements. So, what did they mean? Even the demons addressed Jesus as the Son of David.
Scriptures spoke of a descendant of David who would come to resolve the sin problem, to bring healing, and to restore Israel and rule the world in justice and peace forever.
The name Jesus derives from Joshua. It also means salvation, which means being saved. Joshua was Moses’ apprentice. After Moses’ death he led Israel out of the 40 years living in the wilderness to cross the Jordan river to occupy the promised land. This land was occupied by the evil Canaanites, whom God destroyed at Israel’s hand to take over the land of Israel.
This is a picture of Jesus leading us from the wilderness of our old life of sin, into belief in him and crossing through the waters of baptism. Then we’re led by God to battle those things in our lives that cause us to sin, so that we can occupy the promised land flowing with milk and honey of God’s goodness and provision.
Son of God
Others called Jesus the Son of God. People love Christmas and all the presents that remember God’s greatest gift to mankind – his Son. Jesus left his eternal position in Heaven at the right hand of the Father to be born as a baby. He experienced the struggles of life as a refugee, then lived under a brutal military occupation as a member of the most despised nation of all time. He lost his earthly father before he was 30 and suffered the most torturous death that could be engineered by the cruelty of men. Jesus is fully qualified to relate to anything you might go through in life. He understands our struggles. Having overcome them faultlessly, he shares his faultlessness with all who will believe in him and accept his payment for our sin on our behalf and submit their lives to living for him.
Being the son of God means Jesus is God. He’s our teacher and master. He was the builder from the beginning of creation who’s now building a place for us in Heaven. He’s the figure that defines and divides history. Although he appears to be a great prophet, he is truly the son of David, the Savior promised since the beginning, and the Son of God. Jesus is God.
So thanks for joining me again for this chapter.
Lord, I pray that you would bless those who are reading these words, as they seek to know you and understand more about Christianity. Lord, I thank you that you’ve authorized your disciples to spread the gospel. Thank you that although there are many opinions about who Jesus is, Lord, you are our God our savior, and our master. Thank you Lord, that you provided for 5,000 families, the food that they needed, and that you provide for us, even when times are difficult. And I thank you Lord, that even though the cost of following you is all of our lives, that you reward us with eternity in Heaven, and joy in this Earth. Just be with each person I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
We’ll see ya later guys.