Luke Looks Back 29

27Jan

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Study 29-Luke 23:26–24:12

The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.

All history pivots on the events described in these verses. The story is told with striking simplicity and absence of comment.

We read Luke 23:26 – 43.

Many people play a part in the judicial murder of Jesus. In order from Luke 22:47 on we read about:Judas, the arresting squad, Peter, the men guarding Jesus, the council of the elders, Pilate, Herod, the soldiers, the crowd in front of Pilate’s house, the soldiers leading Jesus to his death, the watchers and rulers at the place called a Skull and the criminals on their crosses. For each of these we might:

  • Consider what their motives, if any, were for what they did.
  • Think of a present day situation where the same motives might be apparent.
  • Wonder which of these motives we might sometimes have ourselves.

Question 1: Select 3 people or groups of people from that list and consider:motive, present day equivalent and personal reflection for each of them.

The arresting squad, the men guarding Jesus and the soldiers were all obeying orders so motive doesn’t really come into it except for those who mocked Jesus rather more vigorously than they might have done. The problem of when to disobey orders is still with us. No one has ever been able to explain why Judas did what he did completely satisfactorily. Peter acted from a desire for self preservation, something we have probably all been guilty of in some small or large way at some time in our lives. The elders, Pilate, Herod and the rulers watching the crucifixion allowed political aims to dominate their thinking. They thought their ideas more important then the life of the most important man who ever lived. Some people still allow purely political aims to lead them to dreadful acts of wickedness. Only the friends watching beside the Cross, of whom the most important, according to John, were women and just one disciple, come out of the story with any credit at all. They had seen something in this man that transcended the danger of being associated with him. May we have the strength and courage to do the same.

Question 2: Paul talks about sharing Jesus’ sufferings (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10). For some of us those statements may be reflected in our own lives. What would we achieve by such suffering? Would any such sufferings be in any way redemptive?

Of course sufferings, by definition, are not pleasant. Such things give us a great sense of solidarity – these would give us a much enhanced sense of solidarity with Christ, of fellowship with him. And apart from our feelings there would be the practical experience of His glory that Paul also mentions.

We read Luke 23:44–56.

The tearing of the temple curtain symbolises the opening of the way to God to everybody – you and me included. Each and every attempt by men to re-erect a barrier to God by saying that only they have full access, or only in their way is it possible to approach God, is sadly mistaken. After the death of Jesus the action moves to the apparent outsiders:Joseph of Arimathea was not one of the leading disciples and the women were second rate citizens in the thinking of those days.

Question 3: Which one sentence of the story of the crucifixion will you take away as the most memorable for you?

Different people would give different answers to this. For me, I think it is that brief comment “the centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God” because that mirrors my thoughts as I read about what happened. And so we come to the resurrection.

We read Luke 24:1 – 12.

This is one of the four accounts of what happened that we have. They do not exactly agree about what happened, differing in the way that eye-witness accounts of any surprising, unexpected, event will do. The women set out to do the obvious, necessary things, for a dead person. They did not agonize in prayer about what they should do (did they leave that to the male apostles?). They were hugely blessed as a result of undertaking the obvious tasks. Is this a lesson for us?

Question 4: Why was it women (in those days considered unreliable witnesses to anything!) who were there first? What are we expected to learn from the fact that they were first to meet the risen Lord (according to Matthew and John)?

The NT challenges the way women were thought of and treated in those days. It does this obliquely, rather than directly in gospel stories like this, in the way Paul refers to women particularly in the last chapter of Romans where Priscilla has a dominant role in what she does with her husband, in what is said of Phoebe, in that Junias, a woman, is called an apostle, and many other women are mentioned and commended, all in this same chapter. The church, like the societies in which it has existed for most of its history has been male dominated. We need to be careful to think about the balance we see in scripture.

The most important event in the history of the world was the death of Jesus on the Cross, for that act alone atoned for the rebellion of all men and women, including you and me, against God. That we know this is the correct understanding of what happened is because of what followed – the resurrection of Jesus to the new life of the ages. Had he not risen he would have been just one more of the many failed would-be Messiahs of those days. There would have been no church, no Christian movement. Many people have tried to argue that it did not happen. None of them have given a satisfactory explanation of what did happen. We know without the slightest doubt that there was a Jewish nation there when Jesus was born and that a remarkable movement of people known as Christians started very soon after his death.

Something happened in between to cause the move from one to the other. What was it? Only the Biblical account recorded in the four gospels makes any sense of the gap. We – you – have to come to terms with what happened and decide how we – you – are going to respond to it. The next, and last, study in this series considers the two episodes describing what happened when disciples met the risen Christ. These are clearly written to challenge any and every reader or hearer to faith. So, if you are not already a follower of Jesus, you are going to be challenged to think deeply about what you have heard. Will you be prepared to follow Him, whatever the cost may be?

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