The Gospel Of Luke
As you go through the resources for this section, you will gain a better understanding of the following aspects of the Gospel of Luke:
- Origins of the Gospel: where and when written, original language, etc.
- Who was Luke writing to; what was his purpose.
- Luke’s writing style so that you will begin to recognize a few differences/similarities between Luke and the other gospels.
- How Luke portrays Jesus of Nazareth
Steps for achieving the objectives
Hint: If you complete all of the reading by the end of Week 9, you will be well prepared for completing the assignments due in Week 10. Remember: Procrastination = STRESS!!! :-/
Complete the following steps in the order listed and by the due dates listed below.
- Read Frontline: The Gospel of Luke: A Novel for Gentiles
- Read The Gospel of Luke (including Introduction) in The Complete Gospels. (pages 121 – 184)
- Watch The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32)
- Watch The Kingdom of Heaven is Here and Now (Luke 12)
In the Gospel of Luke, we have some of the best loved teaching stories told by Jesus. The interesting thing is that when you dig into some of these teachings stories – and you take into consideration the laws and customs of first-century Palestine – the meaning of the stories no longer seems like a slam dunk. We begin to be puzzled by what Jesus could have meant – which is arguably JUST what Jesus intended to do with these stories! Wisdom teachers historically try to get people to understand the idea that things are rarely black and white – that is, they may not be what they appear to be.
Jesus’ teaching stories and parables frequently upend or reverse traditional thinking. Remember that Jesus said, “And people will come from east and west, from north and south, and dine in God’s empire. Those who will be first are last, and those who will be last are first.” (13:29-30) The meaning of this verse appears to be this: Be prepared to be surprised! The empire of God is not what you think it is. In fact, it may be the exact opposite (first will be last, and last will be first). Also remember that Jesus says that God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. There is no black and white thinking in God’s empire.
So, in looking at the parables, lets first make sure we are all on the same page regarding the meaning and function of parables. Our textbook defines “parable” in this way:
A brief narrative or picture. It is also a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.
This implies that the very purpose of the parables is to “arrest” (or put a halt to) automatic and conventional thinking – and to cause you to STOP and think again! Dig deeper, think outside the box. But, above all else, THINK! Don’t let others tell you what you understand.
If we wish to truly understand any of the parables, it is especially important that we interpret them through the lens of the time and place in which they were told – first century Palestine. But how can we do this since we do not live in first-century Palestine? The answer is that we can do a bit of research into some of the historical information that we DO have from that time.
1. Please write your own interpretation of these two very short parables:
a. The Parable of the Mustard Seed
b. The Parable of Leaven
These parables are found back-to-back in Luke 13. While you may think you understand exactly what Jesus is saying in these two little parables, think again! Read this little essay on the perception of Mustard seed in first-century Palestine. And then do a little of your own research on the meaning of leaven as it is used in the Bible. Jesus is comparing the empire of God to both the mustard seed and leaven. How does Jesus reverse conventional thinking with these two parables?