Father, open my eyes again that I might see Jesus in all of the Bible. What an amazing and wonderful Savior You have provided in Christ. Give me grace to understand the cross and resurrection in a fresh way that is life-changing and will propel me to announce the good news to all peoples. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Luke 22-24
Luke recorded for us the last days of Jesus’ life in Luke 22–24. In these moments, Jesus makes it plain who He is and why He has come.
Luke 22:1–23 Notice that fear of people led the religious leaders to seek to kill Jesus during Passover. Satan entered Judas, one of the twelve apostles, and he betrayed Jesus for money. Jesus celebrates Passover with His twelve apostles and explains—with a cup, with bread, and with words—how His death will establish a new covenant between God and people.
Luke 22:24–30 Jesus explains that leadership and greatness in the kingdom of God is not about dominating others or being served by others. Under God’s rule, leading with greatness means serving and showing humility. That’s how Jesus’ followers are to lead.
Luke 22:31–46 Jesus prepares His followers for the coming troubles and the temptations they’ll face to turn away from God and His plans. In great anguish, Jesus determines to do God’s will even if it means facing death and experiencing God’s judgment against sinners.
Luke 22:66–71 Who is Jesus? The religious leaders refuse to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, so they bring Him before Pilate, the Roman ruler, on false charges. Pilate then sends Him to Herod who mocks Jesus and then sends Him back to Pilate.
Ultimately, it’s not Pilate but the citizens of Jerusalem, the people of Israel, who call for Jesus’ death by crucifixion; they ask for a convicted murderer, Barabbas, to be released in Jesus’ place. On the way to be crucified, Jesus speaks as a prophet and condemns Jerusalem for failing to recognize the Messiah when He was in their midst. On the cross, we see Jesus’ compassion as He talks with His heavenly Father, pleading for the same people who called for His crucifixion.
In these moments, notice the ironic words spoken against Jesus. It is precisely because Jesus was the Messiah who came to save others that He did not save himself. Instead, He suffered and died to bear the punishment for sins He had not committed.
The thieves on the cross remind us yet again that Jesus is divisive. One rejected Jesus and mocked him; the other recognized Jesus as the Savior-King and asked for mercy.
As Jesus died and committed himself to His Father, the temple curtain was torn in two, symbolizing that access to God is now possible through Jesus Christ, who was once and for all the perfect sacrifice for sin. Interestingly, a Gentile soldier realized this as well and stated the truth about Jesus: “This man really was righteous.”
Not every Jewish leader rejected Jesus. Joseph from Judea, a member of the Jewish council, offered a family tomb for Jesus’ burial place.
Luke 24:1–12 Notice Luke highlights women as the first ones to discover Jesus’ empty tomb. They reported the news to Peter who then ran and confirmed Jesus had risen from the dead.
Luke 24:13–35 Two other followers were walking to Emmaus, a nearby village, and Jesus Himself came and walked with them. Cleopas and the other follower had failed to recognize Jesus as the Redeemer of Israel, the Promised Messiah. Jesus explained how Moses and the prophets had all spoken of Jesus and predicted His sufferings, His resurrection, and even His ascension to glory with the Father. Jesus also ate with them, and when He broke bread and blessed it, they recognized Jesus had died and was now alive again. He repeated that everything in the Old Testament written about Jesus had to be fulfilled, including the parts about God’s blessings flowing to all peoples and nations.
In the Old Testament, it is written that the good news about the Messiah is to be announced to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. Announcing this good news requires the Holy Spirit to activate His people, so followers of Jesus were to wait in the city of Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to empower them. As Jesus was lifted through the clouds to heaven, notice the disciples worshipped Him as Lord.
The Bible has two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. How do these relate to each other, and specifically how does the Old Testament function for New Testament believers?
- The Old Testament establishes a basic worldview from God’s perspective. Consider what we learn simply from the first three chapters of Genesis. We learn that God is separate from creation and existed eternally before time began. We learn that God is infinite in power and created everything simply by speaking it into being. We learn that the created world is real, that it is good, and that it is not its own—it belongs to God. We learn that time and history are linear, with a beginning and a destination. We learn that humanity was created in the image of God, was blessed by God, and was given a job to do. We learn that the human race rebelled against God and that the evil we experience in this world is a consequence of that rebellion. We learn that death was not our intended destiny but rather a result of sin. We learn that God is a righteous God who punished evil and that He is also a gracious God who pursues sinners to draw them back to Himself. That is a hugely significant foundation for a worldview, and without it, the rest of the Bible makes no sense. The rest of the Old Testament fleshes out those themes, especially in regard to our sin, God’s judgment, and God’s redemptive pursuit of sinners.
- The Old Testament establishes the basic themes of biblical truth. In the Old Testament, we learn about who God is, what He has done, and what He requires. We also learn about who we are from God’s perspective. The Old Testament defines for us such crucial biblical themes as redemption, grace, election, covenant, the people of God, and the necessity of sacrifice for sin. Without this Old Testament understanding, the New Testament cannot be understood accurately.
- In the Old Testament, God reveals for us His plans and His promises. Over and over again we see God intervening in history to accomplish His purpose to bless all people through the offspring of Abraham. God’s promises are revealed in the Old Testament. We read about the fulfillment of those promises through Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
- The Old Testament is a tutor to lead us to Christ. It does this by both showing us our need for a Savior and by providing the backstory for the coming of Christ. The New Testament writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly regarded the Old Testament as a book about Christ, and they mined it frequently for references to Him as they explained and proclaimed Him to the world.
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’
- Jesus expected the disciples to be His witnesses, proclaiming the gospel of His life, death, and resurrection to all peoples and nations. We also are His disciples and His witnesses, and the same is expected of us.
- Luke’s Gospel makes clear that Jesus is God’s chosen King, planned for and predicted in the Old Testament. Jesus made the extraordinary claim that the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms—that is, the entire Old Testament—pointed to Him as God’s anointed King. When we read the Old Testament, we should be looking for how each book points to Jesus, the coming Lord.
Compelled by God’s grace, disciples are captivated by the Great Commission. Jesus not only transformed His followers’ way of life; He revolutionized their reason for living. Disciples live—and die—to share the gospel of Christ, to reproduce the life of Christ, to teach the Word of Christ, and to serve the world for Christ by praying for, giving to, and going to people around them and around the world for the sake of God’s fame. Summarize the Definition of a Disciple.
- Read a Gospel Definition and then watch The Bridge Gospel presentation (3 min), Two Ways to Live (6 min), or The Story (5 min). You could also read the Romans Road. Think about how you would explain the gospel, specifically what conversion is. Remember that we always want to set forth the truth plainly (2 Cor 4:1–5), not using deception or distorting the Word in any way. Are there parts presented here you tend to leave out? Watch this video by Propaganda for an interesting and contextualized gospel presentation. [Making Disciples]