In this passage from Luke we will look at several important vignettes from Jesus’ opening public ministry phase where he relocates to Galilee. These early stages of his public ministry are characterized by powerful words and deeds, which demonstrate a power and authority never before seen by the people there. This results in early and growing popularity, but also early opposition, which Luke juxtaposes throughout Jesus’ life.
Few topics seem more unpleasant than the wrath of God. Some people deny it entirely, suggesting a God of love cannot have wrath. Others seek to downplay or soften it. Most simply ignore it despite hundreds of biblical references. But as D.A. Carson says, “A wrath-less god does not make him more attractive. It makes him morally indifferent.” God’s holiness demands judgment against sin and without wrath Christ died for nothing. It is precisely because we were once objects of God’s wrath that God’s grace to us in Christ is such good news.
The discouraged, poor, and weak Christians in Ephesus needed to be reminded of the hope, riches, and power that were theirs in Christ. In particular, they needed to be assured of the power of their resurrected, triumphant Lord who rules His Church as its invincible King and Head. Beleaguered Christians today still need to hear of our invincible Lord and the power He continues to exert through His body, the Church.
Not being in control scares us, which is bad because we are never truly in control of our lives! We also tend to respond badly to not being in control, frequently resorting to compromise, attack, or flight. But Jesus was in complete control of His circumstances even when He seemed to be at His most vulnerable. When isolated, He remained secure. When betrayed, He remained undaunted. When arrested, He remained in command. The Savior who was in full control of His own crucifixion is more than able to govern our lives in righteousness as we look to Him for grace.
In Luke 3:1 to 4:13, the writer includes three important episodes in the life of Christ: the appearance of John the Baptist, Jesus’ own baptism and genealogy, and the temptation of Jesus. Each of these is part of the public inauguration of Jesus as Messiah. And each of the episodes points to his other offices: to his coronation as the New King and his consecration as the ultimate prophet and priest. These offices of Jesus are important to properly understanding who he is and what his work is for his people.
There are a virtually limitless number of things to pray and strive for in the Christian life. All of them have value, but when writing to the Ephesians Paul said his top concern was that they would know God better. How can we pray for others to know God better? How can we know Him better ourselves? God’s word teaches us how to know Him better through the grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
God the Holy Spirit is often the most misunderstood Person of the Trinity. Either glamorized or ignored, His primary work of drawing us to Christ is often forgotten. But the Holy Spirit is the unbreakable, unifying, confirming, and anticipatory seal of our salvation. He is the evidence of what is already ours in Christ, and the guarantee of what is yet to come. He comforts our hearts and guides our lives as we live in the grace of God from whom all blessings flow.
Jesus said that everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34). But we have been set free, or redeemed, from sin and death through the payment of a price-the very blood of Christ. We now stand forgiven according to the lavish grace of God who not only sets us free, but reveals how He is bringing all things together under the Lordship of Christ. Jesus is the organizing principle of the universe, and He is able to free completely those who look to Him for grace.
As Luke begins to develop his portrait of Jesus, he begins at the beginning, and gives us an account of the birth of John the Baptist and his cousin, Jesus. Luke weaves together the two accounts to show that even though John the Baptist is a great figure in the outworking of God’s redemption, Jesus is the greatest figure. He alone is the Son of the Most High and the new king, who will occupy the throne of David forever. His kingship and kingdom, foretold long ago, have important applications for us today.