The lead up to the cross in Luke’s gospel, especially in Luke 22:54-71 is stark and tragic. From the courtyard where Peter sat by the fire and there denied his Master, to the courtroom where the religious leaders of the day denied their own Messiah, the story is full of irony and tragedy. And yet as Isaiah once prophesied, ‘It was the will of the Lord to bruise him’. It was all in God’s plan of course, that His people might be saved. His loss, our gain.
After describing the events in the Upper Room, the text of Luke 22:39-53 take us to the holy ground of the garden of Gethsemane. There, Jesus wrestled with the enormity of what it was that the Father was asking Him to do and submitted Himself to the Father’s will even though it would come at great cost. Why did He go through with it? Because He loved His Father, leaving us to ponder an important question about our love for God and our desire to see His will being done.
In the hours immediately before the death of Jesus on the cross, Luke 22:31-38 reveals the details of his one-to-one conversation with Peter. Though Jesus did everything he could to warn Peter of what was going to befall him, sadly, Peter’s response was only full of bravado and (as we know) we could never fulfill what he promised.
There are those who think that God only works in a big way, through miraculous events. He certainly has in the past and there’s no telling what He will do in the days ahead, but to fill out the whole picture, we need to remember that God also works in the ordinary things of life – birth, census…things like that. Luke 2:1-35 tells us some of these things – even including the extraordinary – by which he has made known to us the path to eternal life – through Jesus, His Son.
Simon was puzzled by Jesus; who was he? Was he from God, a prophet even? So he invited him to eat with him – and Jesus accepted. In Luke 7:36-50, we find that during the meal at his home, a woman Simon knew to be a ‘sinner’ (prostitute) wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair and anointed them with perfumed ointment. But Jesus knew who she was, and that she had done this to him because she was a forgiven sinner; faith in Jesus had saved her; she had believed in him, and he had forgiven her, and she had done this to him because, having been forgiven much, she loved him much.
If Jesus has forgiven our sins, we cannot help loving him, and long to show our love for him, for we know our forgiveness cost him death on a cross; we know that the Son of God loved us and gave himself for us. If we love Jesus, we will know our love for him is not yet what it ought to be, and we will long to love him more, and we will nourish our love for him by meditating on his love for us, by the inward working of his Spirit, and by prayer. The proof of our love for him is not feelings, or tears, or costly gifts, but obeying him. Love for him will enable us to obey him and so prove our love, and our obedience with increase our love for him who died for us to save us from our sins.
There’s little to account for the amazing change that came over the disciples of Jesus as recorded in Luke 24:1-12 and Luke 24:36-53, apart from the fact that they came face to face with the risen Jesus. The fact that he was and is alive changed everything for them …and does a similar thing to those who likewise believe their testimony.
The story of the dying thief on the cross next to Jesus is recorded in Luke 23:32-43. Given his circumstances (that he was convicted, condemned and dying), the fact that he found grace in the eyes of Jesus (who was also dying), stands as a testimony to the reality of the saving power of the Saviour. The story teaches us many things, but greatest of all is the challenge to all to come to Christ and find that salvation He offers those who do.
There’s no denying that Jesus born in Bethlehem has had a great impact upon the world. There is no-one like him nor has there ever been. So many things set Jesus apart from ordinary human beings, even aspects surrounding His birth. The gospel writer, Luke, set out to establish these things as fact and tells in Luke 1:26-38 that Jesus was born of a virgin. The virgin conception of Jesus has long been hotly disputed, but is so vital to so many aspects of the Christian faith which stands of falls on the test of truth. If it is true, then it is one of the most amazing events ever to happen and should cause us to view Jesus in a totally different light.