What was Jesus really on about?
Why did Jesus come?
Who did Jesus come for?
We’re continuing to look at the Gospel of Luke in this series, exploring the historical record of Jesus’ life and ministry. This section explores Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, in Luke chapters 4-9 (see the video here for a flyover around the Sea of Galilee, just to get your bearings!).
After demonstrating his humility and determination in the face of temptation, Jesus’ ministry began in Nazareth, speaking with the Jewish people in their local synagogue. He stood up there and read from their Scriptures, from the scroll of Isaiah, and then claimed it of himself:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Luke 4:18-19)
This was Jesus’ mission statement, his manifesto to proclaim a life changing freedom through his work and his message. His scope was more than just the Jewish nation, and the story that started in Jerusalem would eventually travel far beyond it. Eventually people from every corner of the world would be called into Jesus’ kingdom.
Amidst all the healings, crowds, opposition and controversy, a spiritual and physical conquest was happening in this one man. As part of his 3 year ministry, Jesus called his disciples to train them in his kingdom work and message. Amongst them were simple fishermen and even an outcast tax-collector (Luke 5-6).
Jesus’ message brought people from far and wide. His teaching held a mark of unparalleled authority. He taught people to love their enemies, and to build the foundation of their lives on his very words (Luke 6:35; Luke 6:47-49). His claims went further too, as he brought people from all kinds of backgrounds and nationalities out of their sickness and blindness. He ate with sinners and outcasts, and brought dignity and forgiveness to those who were willing to acknowledge his place in their lives. He held authority to forgive people their sins (Luke 7:44-50) and to control the very forces of nature (Luke 8:25). This puts Jesus above and beyond any other prophet or religious leader in history.
Jesus sent his disciples off to proclaim his message: the kingdom of God had arrived. His friend Peter realised who Jesus truly is after Jesus questioned him:
But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God. (Luke 9:20)
The promise of the Messiah (or Christ) to come and rule over God’s kingdom had come in Jesus. After such a pivotal moment of realisation, Jesus then explained the ultimate purpose of his coming. He said of himself:
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Luke 9:22)
This would be the supreme goal of Jesus’ life and mission. Not vain human glory, nor political power or diplomacy, nor some kind of spiritual ecstasy, but a destiny involving his own suffering and death. That destiny shaped his teaching. Where his disciples jostled for position, Jesus taught them to go for last. Where they might have sought privilege and status, he said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” (Luke 9:48).
Jesus resolutely set himself toward that goal in Luke 9:51, and we’ll explore some more of that purpose in the next post.
Author: Andy Buchan
Here’s a quick overview of Luke’s Gospel:
- Luke 1-3: Jesus: God’s Promises Fulfilled. Preparing the way.
- Luke 4-9: Jesus: God’s Kingdom Come. Ministry in Gaililee
- Luke 9-20: Jesus: God’s Purpose in Coming. The Journey towards Jerusalem
- Luke 21-24: Jesus: God’s Redemption and Hope. Jesus’ Arrest, Trial, Crucifixion and Resurrection.