March 26, 2023

Luke: Jesus is Compassionate to Save

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: Luke 1:1– 24:53

Download the Luke Bible Journal Outline

If you would, open your Bibles today to the book of Luke. This is part of the series where I'm preaching through every book of the Bible, one book at a time, and preaching the entire book. So, whether the audio goes out or not, I'll just switch into my Spurgeon voice. And we'll get this going. Let me pray for us as we begin this part of the service.

Lord God, thank you so much for your Word. Thank you for the opportunity to preach. What a privilege it is, Lord God, to be here with these people who love you, who want to know you. Lord, help us to hear your Word, to submit our lives to it, by your grace. To live according to it, by your grace. And to be edified by it, Lord, by your grace. In your precious, Holy Name, Amen.

A man once wrote a letter to his son's teacher. “My son starts school today,” he said, “it's all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. It's an adventure that might take him across continents, all adventures that probably include wars, tragedies, and sorrows. To live this life will require faith, love, and courage. So dear teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know. Teaching him but gently if you can. He will have to know that all men are not just. That all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero. That for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him it is far more honorable to fail, than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose and enjoy winning when he does. Teach him to be gentle with people, and tough with tough people. Teach him, if you can, the wonders of great books. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas. Even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd, when everyone else is doing it. Teach him to listen to everyone but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth. And take only the good that comes through. This is the order, dear teacher, but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy. And he is my son, signed, Abraham Lincoln.”

What I like about this letter is that he says life is going to require faith. He says teach him things he will have to know and filter what he learns on a screen of truth. Likewise, in our book, Luke wrote so that he could give his friend, which it says in the first four verses there. Oh great, Theophilus, a certainty about which the things you have been taught. Luke loved his friend. And his friend was in a position of great authority. But he also wanted him to know with some kind of assurance, the details, the truth, the historical timeline of what he had been taught. Now, Luke was probably written around AD 60. Matthew and Mark had already been written. So Theophilus probably had read those. He was most likely a learned man or one that would have privilege to those kinds of texts in the day. Not everyone, of course, had five versions of the Bible like we do. But Luke cared, like a Abe Lincoln, that the one he loved would have certainty of the truth.

As your pastor, I want you to be certain of the truth you have been taught. Some of you have been taught for many decades. Some of you have been studying the truth for many decades. Some of you may have just heard sermons or read a little bit of the Bible. While others pour into it day, after day, after day. Wherever you're at, as your pastor – and for the visitors as your shepherd for the morning – I want you to be sure of the truth that you hear. So today we get to dive into Luke. And Luke, I want to tell you a little bit about him as we get started. He's only mentioned four times in all of Scripture. He is never mentioned in the book of Luke. Nor is he ever mentioned in the other book that he wrote, the book of Acts. But for his friend Theophilus, he wanted to write a narrative from the birth of Jesus to the Ascension, and that's Luke. And then he also wanted to write, the things that happened after the Ascension, which is the book of Acts. All the way through the ministry of Paul.

Luke was a physician, we probably all know that. He was called, “a beloved physician.” He was probably also a Gentile. And you can see that from Colossians 4:11 and v.14. If you want to look that up. But what that means is that he was the only Gentile to write inspired Scripture. Luke was a traveling companion of Paul. And we see that in 2 Timothy 4:11, where Paul says, Luke alone is with me, so that we know that he traveled with him. Also, when you read through the book of Acts, there's the word “we” in there quite a bit. That's most likely, Luke referring to himself and others once you pick up with Paul.

You also need to know that Luke wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else. We think about Paul and “oh, Paul wrote 13 books”. Yeah, but they're all 13 little, tiny books. That you can read, most any of his books, in 15 minutes or less. Luke and Acts though comprise 27% of the New Testament, while all of Paul's letters only amount to 23%. If you add in the Gospel of John and John's other letters that he wrote, those three men wrote 70% of the New Testament.

The last thing you need to know about Luke as we get into this, is that he was not an eyewitness of Jesus's life, and ministry. He tells us that in the first four verses. If you would, look at Luke 1:1, and he tells us exactly what he's doing, as he writes, and why he's writing. “Inasmuch,” you probably don't use that word very much, but, [Luke 1:1-4] “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

Notice, he distinguishes himself from the eyewitnesses in verse three, when he says, “it seemed good to me also.” He was not one of those, but from his journeys with Paul, and from his life, we know that he did the work of a detailed historian. The one that he writes to, his friend, whom he obviously cared much about, is called, “most excellent Theophilus.” Probably means he's a leader in the government of some rank. If you want certainty, concerning the truth about the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. If you want certainty about the birth of the Church, in the book of the Acts, Peter's ministry and Paul's ministry. Then these books together, Luke and Acts, should be your dear friends. The Word should be very familiar to you. You should give of yourself to learn them, to know them, to ponder them because you need to know who it is that is asking you to follow him even unto death.

The first thing that we're going to go over, you can see there in your Bible outline journal. The first nine chapters. If you look there in the middle, this is Jesus's Ministry in Galilee, where it says chapter overview there in your handout. His ministry in Galilee. Now, why would Luke go over these things again? Well, I want to tell you, it's not just to have a historical account. We see the birth of Jesus in chapter two, that's our favorite Christmas passage. Luke goes over an incredible amount of details around the birth of Christ. We see Jesus's baptism in chapter three, which is given to, “fulfill all righteousness.” We see his genealogy in chapter three, which links him all the way back to the beginning, so that we can see he is from God and in the line of David. And then we can see his power to overcome the greatest temptations of sin in chapter four.

So, in the first four chapters of the book of Luke, you have a story about a Man who supersedes every other example we have in this world. We don't know anyone else who has never given in to temptation. We don't know anyone else who has this genealogy that he has; a baptism that he has, that is just to fulfill all righteousness, one without sin. And we don't know anyone, outside of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had all of the miraculous events surrounding his birth in fulfillment of Scripture. Friends, Jesus Christ is being portrayed as the only one who has the right to bring you salvation. Not just to tell you about it, but he himself is going to be that salvation. And that's where Luke culminates. So, as you're thinking through all of the details in this magnificent book, remind yourself that this is a direct line, a trajectory, to prove that Jesus has the right to bring salvation to all mankind. Note, the book was even written by a Gentile.

So, Jesus goes about teaching, and he's not one to waste words. As you probably know, I love pointing those portions of his ministry out. Look in Luke 4:18, and this is out of the ESV. If you need a copy of God's word, there's one under a seat nearby. If you don't have a Bible, feel free to take that with you. Luke 4:18, Jesus is teaching in the synagogue in Galilee. So, we pick up right away with, what does he want to tell people? Verse 18 [Luke 4:18-19], “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 favor.”

He read that out of Isaiah chapter 61, of course. And he rolls up the scroll – the Isaiah scrolls, you can see copies of those. You can even go to the Museum of the Bible, at times they'll have one, just a portion. I've seen a portion of the Isaiah scroll, very old, from the Qumran Caves, and it would surround this whole room were it to be unrolled all at the same time. It’s a very, very, weighty thing – he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The guy who just said, “I'm here to proclaim God, the Father's, favor.” The guy who just said, “I am going to give sight to the blind.” The guy who just said, “I am the one who is fulfilling one of the greatest passages from your greatest prophet Isaiah, that's me.” And then he sits down, “this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” He just sets himself apart from every other teacher as well. No one else makes the claims that he makes. This all points to Jesus as the one who would save people from their sin. And yet, if you go down to verse 29, they're already such in a rage that they want to kill him, they want to take him and throw him off a cliff. So, the people are loving him. And the religious leaders want to kill him. How's that for a first sermon? You guys are much more kind. Now, it is in this context – and Luke is, of course, an inspired teacher. But he is also one of the most trained teachers – it is in this context, where his followers have just seen that the religious leaders want to kill him, that he goes on to teach something that you and I are very familiar with.

Turn to Luke 6:27. Keep that context in your mind as we read this. I think it's going to change the way you see this verse for the rest of your life. Luke 6:27-28, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” That is quite the context. Is it not? Friends, this letter was meant to be read in one sitting, the whole message. And when you put the whole message together, when you go through the whole thing, you're going to see things that you would not otherwise see. Now I am the greatest proponent of verse-by-verse expository preaching. These overviews though give you a picture that you couldn't just get if you went to Luke chapter six and heard a sermon on those two verses. Remember, Jesus is the One who's under a murder threat already. So, he's got pressure to quit and get another job, right? If you were threatened at your job, “If you keep doing what you're doing, we're going to kill you.” You'd probably move out of state, get a new job, right? All those kinds of things. Jesus doesn't do that, he keeps teaching them diligently.

And then, in that context, he also goes about forgiving people of their sin. In Luke 5:20 and in Luke 7:48, Jesus not only has compassion on people who need it, but he is forgiving others. Now, normally, if we get thrown under the bus, we go about talking how bad people are, who throw us under the bus. But that is not the sum total of Jesus's ministry, he is about forgiveness. So, in all of these things, Luke is weaving in the right to bring salvation through his birth, baptism, genealogy, his successful dialogue with the greatest tempter of all time, in the wilderness. And then he is weaving in this loving attitude of compassion. And in Luke, you're going to see a group of people in just a little bit that is brought to the surface, the truly marginalized. But notice, we've already read he's sent to bring good news to the poor, those who need being set free.

Jesus then is above all, teachers. He heals, he does miracles. A lot of what he writes is in Matthew and Mark, so I don't need to go through those. We've already taught through some of the amazing miracles he does, and how compassionate he was. But there is more to teach about compassion. And Luke draws that out. And I want to spend a lot of my time this morning with you on the Passion Week, the last week, where he's got his Triumphal Entry to the cross. But before we get there, we need to see this this special group of people who followed Jesus. There is indeed a special group of people who follow Jesus. Luke 8:1, would you turn there with me if you would, to Luke 8:1. And this is why in your outline there, the second theme is the Compassion of Jesus. Because he truly breaks the norms and has compassion on people. Luke 8:1 says, “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.” Notice he brought the good news. And the kingdom of God, he didn't just tell people about it, “And the twelve were with him.”

But that's not all. Luke 8:2-3, “and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager,” keep that connection in mind. The one who manages Herod's household is following Jesus, “and Susanna, and many others.” Now look at this, “who provided for them out of their means.” There's a group of women following Jesus, and that's okay with him. And that in and of itself, would make the religious leaders kind of bristle because they wanted to be seen as separate from the women, there was this crazy idea that they had to walk onto the other side of the street, and they couldn't even look at people. And it was just way overblown. And yet here, Jesus is being followed by people whom he's healed. But it's a large group of women.

Now, if I was being followed by a large group of women, I think my family would have some questions about that. Right? Like, what's the deal here? But Jesus, in a society where it was even forbidden to speak to women at times in public, was allowing these ladies to provide for him. He could make food out of nothing. He didn't need that. He created the ground they're walking on. He didn't need them to “provide” but that's exactly what the text says. And if we skip over things like that, I think you miss a magnificent portion of his ministry, which was compassion on people. Compassion, in this case, on women who provided financially for him out of their means.

How did Jesus go about his ministry and do all the things he did? Was he just miraculously, you know, making bread for himself and fish for his followers, and all of that kind of stuff? Was that the norm? No, that was not the norm. The norm was allowing others to bless him, even though he came to bless them. It takes a lot of humility to do that. So, not only would this be a shot at the Pharisees who loved money, they wish they would follow them and give them money. But they also loved followers, the Pharisees did. But this sent a permanent message to the world that God values, women. And misogyny and all other kinds of things are thrown at Christians and a bunch of garbage from people who don't really know the Bible. But you need to know that those labels of some kind of abhorrent patriarchy are nowhere substantiated in Scripture. And you're going to see these women love him to the very point of death when he dies. You're going to see them there. And I'll show you that later.

So, his compassion is just overflowing. And that takes us mostly through chapters one through nine. And it sets Christ up as the one who forgives which only God can forgive. It sets him up as unique. It sets him up as compassionate and it puts him against the religious leaders. So, you can't follow Jesus and the religious leaders of the day, it's one or the other. Next, we see this Journey to Jerusalem, if you will, from chapters 10 to 18. And this is where he goes from Galilee down to Jerusalem for the last time. It's really his ministry of salvation. A lot of these stories are covered in the other two books that I've preached. His miracles, his preaching, his compassion, they all identify his divine right to bring salvation. And he also ministers to Gentiles, to the poor, to the sick, to the deformed, and to the demon possessed. And it is in this context that he continues, as he makes this long journey down to Jerusalem, to teach people about forgiving others. You think, “Oh, well, he's God, he can certainly forgive people. Well, how many of us have been mistreated verbally, half as much as Jesus has already? To forgive and to say, “I don't want anything to do with you,” is one thing. To forgive, and to love, and to be compassionate is another. Did he not feed 5,000 people? Do you think all of those were believers? Do you think he only gave food to the people who were nice to him? He was an amazing example, of course, of showing compassion to others. And it is in this context that he teaches people how to pray and to forgive chapters 11 and 17.

But I want to move towards Passion Week here. A lot of 10 through 18 as I said, this journey to Jerusalem, is covered in the other books. There are some extra details in there. You can research the unique contribution of Luke to the Canon if you want to see exactly what those things are. But as we come up to Passion Week, I think we can learn more about Jesus's teaching. Turn to Luke 19, if you would. See, Jesus is going to not only talk about salvation here, he's going to secure salvation. He's not just going to mention it, he's going to take hold of it. And so he reminds them again in Luke 19:10, what he came to do, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” That's his purpose. That's why he came.

So, you think, “Wow, his disciples must be pretty good. They must, kind of, understand these things. You know, they've heard this before.” And I don’t know if you ever find yourself saying that, “I've heard this before.” The disciples have heard this, throughout Jesus's ministry, why he came. But he's specifically reminding them again, exactly why he came. And then, just so they're not part of the riot that tries to make him king and then other things. He gives this parable in Luke 19. And I think it's instructive for us because sometimes we try and get ahead of Jesus. “Lord, I know you got your plan going on and everything. But if you could just make this thing that I want happen right now, I'd be really happy.” Okay, you got anything like that, that you want to happen right now? So, when you think it's beyond God's perfect timing, it should go right now. Right? That's the disciples. Before his Triumphal Entry, he's given them another message to prepare their heart and mind. And he wants to clear up this issue of the Kingdom for them. When is this thing going to happen? Because we think it should happen right now.

So, in Luke 19:11, as they're hearing these things – why he came, to seek and to save the lost – they're loading up their own mental agenda. Right? Do you ever do that? While somebody's talking you just kind of zone out and wait for your chance to deliver something. That's what they're doing. “As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because,” this is what they were loading up in their mind, “they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.” They thought, “This is it. We got you, you're in the line of the Messiah. You have power over people. People try and kill you and you like disappear and show up other places. You slip through their midst. They can't take you, we've seen that. You're the man, we want you to be the man right now. Let's do this.”

So, he gives them a parable about stewarding resources and preparing themselves for the return of their master. This is the parable of three men and the minas. And in this parable, basically each man was given a certain amount of money and their master goes away. And they're supposed to be good stewards of the resources God has given them until he returns. Can you think of any resources God has given you that you're supposed to be a good steward of until the Lord returns? So, Jesus was telling them, I'm going away. And you all have been given something. And those who are faithful with what they are given in the parable, he explains to them, that those who are faithful will be given more. Those who are unfaithful with what they've been given, even if you've been given a little, that little bit that you've been given and you're unfaithful with, I'm going to take it away. And not only that, but those who are not faithful would receive judgment. And this is, I think, even more poignant for us than we sometimes read in this. Because we like to read this parable and say, “Oh, I'm doing good. I'm in line for more.” That's what we think. But let me read to you, Luke 19:26-27, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.”

God is going to bring full justice on his enemies. And in this parable, there are those who are faithful, and those who aren't. Those who are faithful and get more, and those who aren't faithful and have what they are given taken away. And then punished, slaughtered. That's a sobering parable to kind of prepare the hearts and minds of your followers. But what that does, is that makes them think, “Am I a follower? Am I going to be ready for more? Or am I going to be judged by God Almighty and my life taken from me?” You see, Jesus was not playing games. He was not there to just preach something that they could, you know, feel better about and be coddled with. But if they were followers of him, would they not be encouraged by those things? Would they not be encouraged that you have done well? And you will be given more? Remember, Luke is writing this to a Gentile ruler, who has been given charge over a great many people.

What do you think Theophilus was thinking at this point as he's reading through the book of Luke? Wondering, “Oh, no. How am I doing with what I've been given?” Did Luke say, “Theophilus, don't worry, I'm not talking about you,” as he's recording this narrative. I mean, there are thousands of stories that he could have told about Jesus. Thousands of things he could have recorded, the words that he said. But he wants Theophilus to read these words with his own eyes. Why? Because Luke loves him. He wants him to see the real compassion of Jesus. He wants him to be a real follower of Christ. It would do a disservice to you all if I just skipped through the healings and if I just skipped through and just mentioned all the love your enemies without the murder attempt. Just follow Jesus without the he's going to slaughter those who don't. You need to know that Jesus is playing for keeps. Luke did not soften the message. That would be like sending somebody to war and saying, “Don't worry about it, they're a bad shot.” A real leader would say, “You must be ready to die.” And that's how he's preparing him.

And I love how God has orchestrated that a couple of weeks before Easter, I'm preaching on Luke, on the cross. And next week before Easter, I'm going to preach on John, which focuses most heavily on the love of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection is what I'll preach. And then we come into Easter. And then we get to have our minds and hearts fully saturated with who Jesus is. Friends, I beg you don't treasure anything else about this time of year beyond the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and looking forward to it and examining yourself to see if you are truly in the faith.

A real leader tells it like it is. And Jesus did that in Luke 9:23. As they're leading up to these things, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily…” What is Jesus about to do? See, that's like a metaphorical “Rah, rah, we can do it.” Right? For us Christians today. For Jesus, that was all in. Right? That was all in. And this is genius. As he goes forward, and Luke is giving this account, he's showing that Jesus is not going to ask more than he himself is willing to do. That's what you want in a leader. That's what you want in someone in whom your eternal destiny is at stake. Is he willing to go beyond even what he's asking of us? He was going to die willingly, willingly. He was going to suffer, willingly. When can we last think about a time when we chose to suffer? I'm not saying chose to have a happy heart while you're suffering. But literally chose to suffer for the sake of God, in his name. That's what Jesus is going to demonstrate. So, as you think about the Triumphal Entry, and they want to make him king, he's saying, “No, I don't want to be king. I don't want to receive all of your praise. I am going to die.” He was going to demonstrate what he was calling his disciples, and you and me, to do. Well, this week would be an amazing week. You've heard it preached many times in the Triumphal Entry and when he comes into Jerusalem. And, you know, there's just this crowd of probably a few hundred thousand because it's Passover week. A few hundred thousand coming to celebrate and to follow, and they think he's going to take over.

And what does he do after he gets there? Look in Luke 19:47-48, “And he was teaching daily in the temple.” Every day, he's teaching in the temple and “The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.” Chapter 20, we like to think of Jesus as the cornerstone and like this great thing. It's an amazing picture but in Luke 20:18, he says, “I'm the cornerstone that's going to crush you,” to his enemies. So now he is directly fighting back against the Pharisees and the scribes and the religious leaders. And then in Luke 20:27, and following, he annihilates, the whole theological system of the Sadducees in like five verses. They try and trip him up and ask about life after death. And he says, “you guys don't know what you're talking about. Even Moses taught God is the God of the living, not the dead.” They didn't believe in the resurrection. And at this point, his enemies know, he's smarter than all of them combined. You can see that in Luke 20:40, where he says, “For they no longer dared to ask him any question.”

So, he had bested their best, their best efforts. They couldn't trap him in anything. So, what do they do? Luke 22:2, they plot to kill him. No longer do they just want to kill him, they're going to come together and try and kill him. Luke 22:63, we find Jesus in custody. And I want us to think about this a little bit. He's being mocked, which sends most adults today into the fetal position. Right? If you're verbally mocked by someone were destroyed for weeks. Right? That's what fuels Twitter, right? You just go back at him, later. “And look at this thread, I got him back.” And you're all acting like sinners, right? That's, that's Twitter. He’s being mocked.

And they beat him. You can see this around Luke 22:63 and following. They blindfolded him and continued to beat him and to mock him. I mean, you would be terrified if someone took you out of the seats right now and stood you up in the back and blindfolded you and started to punch you. I mean, you would probably pass out. That's the start of what he's choosing to do. I don't know if you've ever been punched by a full-grown man. Picture a big full-grown man, not someone my size, but a full grown man. You know, someone like 6-8, 285 pounds, trained in war. You know, fists the size of a truck. One punch is crushing. We know that Jesus was surrounded by the soldiers, as they “continued to beat him.” Do you think they took it easy on him? This king of the Jews? No. He's bleeding profusely already. He hasn't even been whipped yet. He hasn't even been scourged.

Do you think they just didn't hit him in the face? But they weren't dealing with any man. Luke 22:70, as he's brought before the religious council, this is before Pilate and Herod and all that. He's just before the religious leaders. “So they all said, ‘Are you the Son of God, then?’ And he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’” So they condemned him to death as a group and now he’s in their custody. He's not slipping away anymore. They can take him to Pilate, and asked Pilate to murder him. Jesus before Pilate says again who he is. Luke 23:3, “And Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ And he answered him, ‘You have said so.’” Verse four, Pilate’s trying to release him saying, “I find no guilt in him.” So Pilate, knowing where he's from, sends him to Herod. Herod toys with him for a while and sends him right back to Pilate, in royal clothes. Notice the only people who find Jesus innocent at this point, are history's worst non-believers: Pilate and Herod. Pilate calls the chief priests and the rulers and the people together. You can see that in Luke 23:13.

So, he's been condemned by the religious leaders, gone to Pilate, no guilt. “Herod, what do you think?” Herod says, “I don't think he's guilty either,” back to Pilate. Pilate says, “I still don't think he's guilty. Let's release him and get someone else.” So, he calls the crowd together, Pilate, to deliver what he wants to do. And this is when the crowd goes into a mad rage. Luke 23:20-21, “Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!” They are not hiding their desire to kill the Son of God anymore. They want Jesus to die. He's already bloody. No one cares that Jesus was punched at this point. No one cares that he was blindfolded, and beaten, and put in royal robes, and mocked. No one cared, who was in authority. Doesn’t that just make your blood boil?

But can I tell you? That was God's plan. You see, up until this point, it seems like everything is going according to someone else's plan. But Jesus had already prayed, “Not my will but yours be done,” in the garden, Luke 22:42. Is that not one of the hardest things for you and I to say, “Not my will but yours be done”? I mean, most of us wouldn't get past that point. And that's where Jesus started. You see, the irony now, is that the crowd in their blood thirsty rage was finally doing the will of God. Luke 23:25 says exactly that, “but he delivered Jesus over to their will.” That was God's plan: for the Son of Man to be delivered up. We see in Acts chapter four, Luke is going to explain that to Theophilus point blank. The next book that he writes, Acts 4:27-28, let me read it for you, “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” If you don't like predestined theology, you don't like the cross.

Look at the front of your Bible journal, if you would, for a moment. And just look at that. That's Jesus on the cross. That's God's plan, that. Before Jesus gave up his life on the cross, he was still saving people. Still saving people. Luke 23:43,” And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” So, this guy who's crucified on the cross – crucify is the act of putting him on the cross, he's already crucified on the cross – and he's still thinking about other people. Do you know someone more compassionate than that? More gracious, more loving, more kind, more merciful?

Then there's the Centurion who's watching all this happen. The women, the eyewitnesses who were there. Luke 23:47 says, “Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’” So now the thief on the cross knows he's innocent. And the centurion, who watched him die and watched all his friends beat Jesus, knows he's innocent, and he's praising God. Why would he be praising God? Is he saved? Well, remember what Jesus said in Luke 23:34. One of the first things he said on the cross when he gets up there, what does he say in Luke 23:34? “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” That's what Jesus is doing on the cross. He's looking at those who have nailed him there. He's pouring out blood, and he's saying, “forgive them.” Maybe the Centurion was one of those who were forgiven? Because I can guarantee you that when Jesus asks the Father to forgive somebody, they are forgiven indeed.

Praise God. And is that not why he came? To save, that we might live lives of praise unto him. So, he gives up his life, is taken from the cross, put in a tomb. And that must have been the longest weekend of the disciples lives ever. But Jesus wasn't defeated. He was following the plan, from eternity past, determined before the foundation of the world. And Luke 24 is the victory upon all which Christianity rests. That Jesus is alive. Luke 24:5, shows the women when they came there on the first day of the week, that is Sunday. They still didn't get it. Because they came looking for the living among the dead. We think at times that Jesus only told the disciples what would happen but he told all of his followers: the women, the Gentiles, the children, the Jews, the crowd, the foreign leaders who were told who he was, and he let the truth ring out. So that truth would win the day. And when they came to the tomb, they got a wonderful message.

Luke 24:6-7. Normally, you'd have to wait till Easter to hear this. “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you,” Remember, he is speaking to the women, “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” God's plan came to pass just as he wanted it to. And you and I can sit here and receive the grace of God, because of all that Jesus Christ went through. Friends, you have a blood bought faith.

The road to Emmaus happens, where he explains to them all that happened about him from the Old Testament. And then in Luke 24:44 and following, while he's on the road to Emmaus, he goes to their house and breaks bread. And the people that he was walking with, they understand, he opens their eyes to know who he is, and then he vanishes from their sight. They come seven miles back further and now they're with the eleven Apostles, and that's where verse 44 picks up, and Jesus just appears to them. [Luke 24:44] “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,’” I told you the plan, “‘that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” That's why we say the Old Testament points to Christ. Moses, the Law, and the Psalms must be fulfilled – that is about Christ. [Luke 24:45] “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Even the ones taught specifically by Jesus couldn't understand the Scriptures, in a salvific knowing way, the way that they needed to, without Jesus helping them understand.

[Luke 24:46] “and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,’” and listen to this [Luke 24:47] “and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” And of course, Acts 1:8, that's going to be repeated. [Luke 24:48] “You are witnesses of these things.” What's your purpose in life? You are witnesses of these things. You have not seen them with your eyes, you have read them with your eyes, you are witnesses of all that Jesus Christ has done. Luke is giving us an account so that we can grow and have certainty in our faith. But he's also allowing us to see that we must share this with others. That's exactly what the whole book of Luke is. It's a witness to someone.

So, we talk about his life. We talk about the cross, we talk about the resurrection. And we share the Good News of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, that we might be saved by the grace that was accomplished on the cross. And Luke ends with the ascension and worship of Jesus, look in Luke 24:51-53, as we conclude, “While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” Do not ever let anyone say, Jesus was never worshipped, this is one of many times he's worshipped.

That's our life. That's your purpose. It's not to get the most high paying job ever. It's not to have peace at home. It's not to just follow your kids around until everyone's exhausted and can't remember their names. That's not your purpose. Your purpose is to worship Jesus Christ with great joy. Let's pray.

Father God, I pray that if there's anyone here who doesn't know you that they would give themselves to you right now. That they would beg you for forgiveness and receive this free gift of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord God, what a kind and generous thing you have done. What an amazing act of compassion Jesus has, to give of himself on the cross, to pour out everything for us, that we might be saved and become joyful worshipers of the Lord Jesus.

Father, I pray that if someone here doesn't know you that they would just give their lives to you now. And if you've done that, come and talk to myself or to Adam after the service. We want to talk with you about salvation.

Lord, for those of us who know you, we pray that this book of Luke, and subsequent Acts, are just an immense, clarifying, joyful witness to what our lives are all about. They're all about you. And Lord God, may you help us to prioritize you in this life. That someone may look at our lives and say we prioritize Jesus. That they might look at our lives and know that while we're not worthy, we are forgiven. Friends, let's just take a moment right now and ask God to help us be joyful worshipers of Jesus.

Father, by your grace, may you change us and make us new. And allow us to love you with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. In your precious, Holy Name. Amen.