I have a coworker who is very knowledgeable on the Bible, and he told me right around the time I finished reading Mark, “Just skip Luke and go straight to John.” The reason for this is that John introduces a lot of new material per my understanding, but I’m anal retentive about this. If I’m gonna read & blog/review the Bible, I gotta read the whole thing. In order. So I went ahead with Luke, which throughout its 24 chapters demonstrated to me over and over again why my coworker had suggested to just skip it. I like to make things as difficult as possible for myself.
You’ll see via blog timestamps that it’s taken me 4.5 months to get through this thing (my Mark review was published in late Feb), and that’s because I’ve basically just read the same book for the third time in a row. It was cool when I read Matthew, and Mark was a less interesting repeat of that, but at least it was shorter. Luke, though, is yet another repeat of mostly the same stories, and it’s nearly as long as Matthew was. Wow, Wikipedia is telling me Luke is actually the longest book in the New Testament … hmm. It’s 4 less chapters than Matthew but each chapter was pretty damn long. Maybe that’s why. If so it’s no wonder I had such a hard time getting through it.
Luke apparently also goes hand in hand with Acts, having been written by the same author. I haven’t gotten to Acts yet so we’ll see what we find when we get there; I’ll focus on Luke for now. Luke never calls out its author, and Wikipedia tells us that “according to Church tradition this was Luke the Evangelist, the companion of Paul,” but apparently that is not the widely accepted view anymore due to contradictions between Acts and “the authentic Pauline letters.” In terms of when Luke was written, Wiki estimates it being between 80–110 AD, “and there is evidence that it was still being revised well into the 2nd century.”
Read the Wikipedia page for more interesting info on where Luke is thought to be sourced from (partly Mark) and what its audience was intended to be, but this diagram I stole from the Wiki page is helpful to show the overlaps between Matthew, Mark and Luke:
Looks like Luke is 35% unique material, which I guess makes sense because we do get some new stuff here added in the early parts of the book, along with a bit more scattered throughout. For this review I’ll mainly just focus on what’s new in Luke rather than nitpicking differences, because the differences this time around just aren’t that interesting. It’s more about the new material. Let’s dig into it.
John the Baptist’s Backstory
Luke starts off addressing “Theophilus” which means “lover of God”, saying that it’s about to give an “orderly account for you … so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” The first story told is about Zechariah, a priest in the time of Herod. His wife Elizabeth is baron, because in the Bible, it’s always the women who are the problem when any couple is unable to conceive. I have not once ever encountered an instance in the Bible where infertility has been the man’s fault. I wonder why that is? Anyway, poor Elizabeth is ruining everything by being baron. Zech and Lizzy are both super old at this point, so it’s no wonder.
But then the angel Gabriel comes to Zechariah and tells him that God is going to make old Elizabeth fertile so she can bear him a son, who he is to name John. Baby John is going to be filled with the Holy Spirit before he’s even born, and he’s never allowed to drink alcohol. Brutal. He’s going to go around and bring the people of Israel to God. Zechariah voices skepticism of all this because he and Lizzy are old, so Gabriel punishes him for his lack of trust by banishing him to silence until John is born. When Elizabeth gets preggo, she is thrilled that God has “taken away her disgrace.”
We eventually learn that Gabriel later makes a visit to the Virgin Mary while Lizzy is 6 months pregnant and tells Mary that God will … impregnate her? with Jesus. That doesn’t sound right. Anyway he’ll wave his magic wand and voila Mary will be pregnant with the “Son of the Most High” even though she is a virgin. The book refers to Mary and Elizabeth as relatives, and Gabriel tells Mary to go visit Elizabeth. When Mary shows up at Lizzy’s house and greets her, Lizzy’s baby John “leaps” in her womb and Lizzy is filled with the Holy Spirit.
A few months later Elizabeth gives birth to John and everyone wants to name him Zechariah, but she tells them no, he’s supposed to be named John. So they look to Zechy for confirmation, and he still can’t talk so he writes it down, and as soon as he declares the kid is to be named John, God gives him the ability to speak again. And this is John the Baptist’s backstory, which I don’t think we get in Matthew or Mark.
The Jesus Origin Story You Were Looking For
You know how I was annoyed that Matthew never mentioned the detail you always hear at Christmas about there being no room at the inn when Joseph and Mary were trying to find a place to give birth to baby Jesus? Matthew didn’t mention the manger or anything, and Mark doesn’t tell the birth story at all. One of the most notable things about Luke is that this is where you’ll find all that material, told in the way you always heard it when you were a kid.
The birth story starts with Caesar Augustus doing a census of the entire Roman world. Joseph travels from “Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belong[s] to the house and line of David.” There he registers himself and Mary in the census, or at least he plans to, but I can’t tell if he completes this task before Mary goes into labor. Then the classic birth story begins. Mary gives birth to baby Jesus, wraps him in “swaddling clothes” and places him in a manger because there is “no room for them at the inn.” When I first read the next section of verses – the King James version which is always the first one I read for every chapter – it immediately started to sound extremely familiar. I realized that the only voice I heard in my head as I read this section was … Linus from Peanuts. Hmmm. Let’s let Linus tell the story:
This is Luke chapter 2 verses 8-14, King James version, word for word. Its sentimental familiarity might be the best thing about the book, although there are a couple other important stories in here too that weren’t there in Matthew or Mark.
Anyway the origin story continues from here, with the shepherds following the angels’ instructions and going to see Jesus. They then spread the word to everyone. On the 8th day, poor Jesus is circumcised and officially named Jesus. Joseph and Mary present him at the temple, and there’s some dude named Simeon there who blesses Jesus and tells Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 2:35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Right after this we have a major rarity in the Bible: A lady prophet named Anna, who is very old and a widow and worships all day and night in the temple – She also comes up to Joseph and Mary and thanks God for Jesus, and speaks about the child “to all who [are] looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Luke is also the only book so far that gives us details of Jesus as a child. It tells the story of how Mary, Joseph and the now 12 year-old Jesus go on their annual family trip to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. Mary and Joseph come back home when it’s over, assuming Jesus is in tow, but he secretly stays behind in Jerusalem. Somehow they manage to travel for an entire day before realizing kid-Jesus is not with them, which makes one question their parenting skills. Maybe Jesus put a spell on them or something. They go back to Jerusalem and search for him for 3 days and then finally find him “in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 2:47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 2:48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’ 2:49 ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?'” M & J are understandably confused.
Jesus then obeys mom and dad finally and goes back to Nazareth with them. Mary “treasure[s] all of these things in her heart.” Jesus then grows “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Luke then jumps to Jesus as an adult getting baptized by his cuz John the Baptist (also now an adult, obviously), which is in line with where Matthew jumps to after the birth story (which is very short in that book). Luke gives a little more of the backstory on how John starts his destiny of baptizing people – The word of God comes to John the wilderness. God tells him to “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 3:5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 3:6 And all people will see God’s salvation.” John goes all around “the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Eventually, he baptizes Jesus.
John also does that thing in Luke that I described in my Matthew analysis where he yells at the people (in Matthew he’s yelling at the Pharisees and Sadducees but in Luke he seems to generally just be yelling at everyone) calling them a brood of vipers and telling them they’ll be “cut down and thrown into the fire.” The upside with Luke is that he then follows this up with advice to the people of what they can do to avoid all this punishment:
- “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
- Tax collectors should not collect any more than they are required to.
- Solders should not extort money or accuse people falsely, and be content with their pay.
O.k. that thing about being content with their pay is a little odd because I’m not sure why Jesus would care so much about that, but the rest of these are nice. But you better obey these rules or else you’ll be thrown into the firey pits of hell.
The Good Samaritan
Here’s another famous story in Luke that doesn’t occur anywhere else: that of the Good Samaritan. Luke sets the context for the story in a short passage in chapter 9, which tells of the time that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and sends messengers ahead into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. Samaria seems to be on the way to Jerusalem if you look at this map. However, the Samaritans do not welcome Jesus, because he’s on his way to Jerusalem. A Google search tells me that Samaritans and Jews generally hated each other. This prompts Jesus’ disciples James and John to ask Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus is like, nah don’t act like assholes guys, please. Let’s just go to another village instead.
In chapter 10, we then get the story of the Good Samaritan. It starts off with an expert in the law testing Jesus by asking him questions about how to get into heaven. Jesus asks the dude, “What is written in the law?” So Law Dude is like, “it says, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” So Jesus is like, o.k. well you’ve just answered your own question. Do this and you’ll get into heaven. So Law Dude is like, “O.k. well I know but who is my neighbor? How do you define ‘neighbor’?”
Jesus is all, o.k. smart ass, let me tell you a little parable. It goes a little something like this: A guy was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes and beat the shit out of him, leaving him barely alive. So there he was, laying there all jacked and bloodied, and a priest walked by, and was like, “Eww. What is going on there? I’m gonna just cross to the other side of the street and hope he doesn’t say anything to me. Just don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact.” Then, a Levite came by, and did the exact same thing. Aren’t these the exact people who are supposed to be helping this poor guy??
BUT, then, a Samaritan walked by. Sworn enemies of the Jews. it was the Samaritan, of all people, who took pity on the guy. He went over to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine. Then he picked the guy up, put him on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. Next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. He told the innkeeper, “Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
Jesus then asks Law Dude, “So then, smart guy, which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Law Dude is like, “The nice guy.” Jesus: “Go and do likewise.” Aww! If only conservative Christians followed this rule. The ones I know are very picky and choosy about the conditions under which they will love their neighbors. It tends to be, “We’ll fly to your country (e.g. Mexico, our literal neighbor) and help y’alls out and preach to you, just make sure you stay there. Do not get anywhere near our border or we’ll arrest you and take your kids. I don’t care what horrors you’re trying to escape from or what kind of life you’re trying to provide for your kids. Just stay. over. there. Capiche?”
Jesus at the Pharisee’s House
Chapter 14 has a little story about Jesus going to eat dinner at the house of a prominent Pharisee on the Sabbath. Jesus runs across a man with “dropsy” (abnormal swelling of his body) and heals him. It’s unclear if he does this outside or inside the Pharisee’s house but I guess the latter would be a little weird. When he does it, he basically looks at the Pharisees and is like “That’s right bitches, I just healed a man on the Sabbath. What are you gonna do about it? If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” Part of that quote is real, I’ll let you guess which part. Anyway the Pharisees keep their mouths shut at this.
As they sit down for dinner, Jesus notices how the guests are all trying to pick places of honor at the table. So he says to them, 14:8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 14:9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 14:10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 14:11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” A lot of that just sounds like good advice to avoid looking like an ass in social situations, but the moral of the story is nice.
Jesus ends it with this, which is also nice: “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 14:13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14:14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Lazarus – But Not That Lazarus!
O.k. wait. I started to type this story from chapter 16 thinking it was about thee Lazarus, like the famous one who gets restored to life by Jesus. But Wikipedia is telling me that the famous Lazarus story is actually in the book of John. It’s confusing because this Lazarus kinda rises from the dead too, but it sounds like he’s not being raised from the dead on earth, rather he’s being taken to heaven. I think. Here’s what happens:
So this Lazarus story is about a rich man who lives in luxury. There’s a beggar that sits at the gate of his mansion every day, covered in sores and just hoping he might be able to get some of the scraps that fall from the rich man’s table. We don’t know the rich man’s name btw, Lazarus is the beggar. For whatever reason the Bible gives us this extra little detail too: Even the dogs lick Lazarus’ sores. Cute. No, this may be meant to signify that the dogs treat him better than the rich man does.
Eventually Lazarus dies and so does the rich man (not sure how long afterwards). The angels carry Lazarus to Abraham’s side (heaven?), but the rich man goes down to Hades. In his eternal torment he looks up and sees Abraham and Lazarus up in … heaven … I guess. Ritchy Rich begs, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” But Abraham says, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 16:26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”
Wow. So I guess it’s impossible to cross over from heaven to hell and vice versa. Which, I guess makes sense, if you’re buying into the whole concept of heaven and hell. So Lazarus begs Abraham, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 16:28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Abraham tells Ritchy to just listen to the teachings of Moses and the Prophets, which Ritchy Rich obviously couldn’t manage to do when he was alive. Ritchy says, “No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” Sheesh, this is clearly a family of dumbasses. So Abraham’s like, too bad dude, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
So, moral of the story, listen to the teachings of the Bible and don’t be a selfish asshole. Or you will burn in hell for eternity.
The Prodigal Son
O.k. here’s a famous story from Luke chapter 15 that I think is the right one this time. There’s a dude who has two sons. The older son is a responsible person, generally doing the right thing in life. The younger son is a complete fuck-up. The young son demands that his dad give him his share of the estate. So Dad complies, and then Younger Bro is all, “Sweet, I’m gonna take this and just like, travel the world, man.” He takes the money, travels to a far-off country, and blows his entire inheritance on partying and coke and hookers. Well, “wild living”, according to Luke. But we all know what that means. Dude sounds pretty obnoxious.
Then, the country he’s now living in hits hard times and enters into a severe famine. All his money is gone at this point and he’s desperate, so he goes and takes a menial job feeding the pigs of some farmer or rancher type guy. Little Bro gets so desperate that he finds himself jealous of the slop the pigs get to eat.
He eventually realizes that he can easily solve all his problems by just running home to Daddy and begging for forgiveness. At this point he’s ready to just work as one of his dad’s servants so he can eat regularly. So he travels home, and as he’s approaching his house, his dad sees him in the distance, and is ecstatic. Dad runs to him with arms open and hugs and kisses him. Little Bro goes into his planned spiel to beg for dad’s forgiveness: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
Rather than busting his balls, Dad calls his servants: “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 15:23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 15:24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they begin to celebrate. When Older Bro gets word of this, however, he is not amused. He says to Dad: “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 15:30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes (OH! I was right about the hookers!) comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” Dad tells him, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 15:32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
I gotta say, as the responsible older sibling in my family growing up, I’m kinda on Older Bro’s side here. I’ve been Older Bro in many scenarios as a teenager. I feel his pain. Anyway, I think what this story represents is described in this verse from earlier in chapter 15: “15:7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Differences in Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection Stories
Luke has a few notable differences and new passages in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection stories. First off, oddly I don’t think I mentioned this in my Matthew or Mark reviews, but I was really confused when reading those books as to why both the rebels being crucified with Jesus talked shit to him (in Matthew), when what I always remembered being taught in Sunday school was that at least one of them had begged for forgiveness. Turns out, it’s Luke that has this version of the story:
23:39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at [Jesus]: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 23:40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 23:41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
23:43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke also has a story after Jesus’ resurrection that’s glossed over in the other books. Mary Magdalene and The Other Mary and their buddies (whose identities change in each book) have just seen Jesus’s body gone from the tomb. They run and tell the disciples and they don’t believe M&M. Then, a couple of the ladies (one named Cleopas and it doesn’t specify who else) start on their way to a village called Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. They’re talking with each other about everything they’ve just gone through, and Jesus himself walks up to them in the middle of this. But for some reason God keeps the ladies from recognizing Jesus.
Jesus asks, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stand there kinda weirded out and say, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Jesus is like, “What things?” Then they’re like “About Jesus of Nazareth, dude. He’s a prophet and he’s magic and super important. But chief priests and rulers crucified him.” The ladies then tell about his body disappearing from the tomb and everything and they seem to be conveying some sense of confusion they are having about the meaning of it all.
So Jesus replies with, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 24:26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Okaayy sheesh, touchy much, Jesus?? Maybe let’s take a chill pill.
Despite Jesus being kind of an hypersensitive dickhead to them, the women keep walking with him towards Emmaus. When they get there, Jesus acts like he’s gonna keep going on his own way after that, but the ladies tell him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” And Jesus does. They sit down to eat, and Jesus “opens their eyes” to be able to recognize him. Just when they do, he performs a disappearing act. They turn to each other like, “Ohhh snaps no wonder we felt a li’l somethin’ somethin’ earlier when he came up to us!!” So they get up and go back to Jerusalem, find the disciples, and tell them, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”
While the 11 disciples who are left (bye bye Judas) are talking to the ladies, Jesus shows up. Luke goes into a lot more detail about this encounter as well in comparison with the other books, whose descriptions of it are rather short. The disciples are obviously startled when Jesus shows up, and then Luke tells us that Jesus shows them his hands and feet to prove it’s really him. “A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” This is definitely a key part of this story I remember from Sunday school, and it’s not mentioned in Mark or Matthew.
The disciples are still weirded out, but Jesus is like “o.k. whatever dudes, I’m hungry. You got anything here to eat?” So the disciples give him some broiled fish and he chows down on it. Then he’s like, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Jesus opens their minds so they can understand the scriptures. “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 24:47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 24:48 You are witnesses of these things. 24:49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Luke then has one last piece of the story not contained in the other books: The Ascension of Jesus. Jesus leads his disciples out to the vicinity of Bethany, and then he blesses them. While he’s doing this, he gets taken up to heaven by God. The disciples then worship him and return to Jerusalem “with great joy.” They then stay “continually at the temple, praising God.” And that’s the end of Luke.
A Few More Notable Unique Luke Stories
Here are a few more notable stories that are new in Luke:
- In chapter 7, while Jesus is in a town called Nain, he sees a crowd of people carrying a widow’s only son’s dead body, and raises him from the dead.
- Chapter 7 also gives us the story of Jesus having dinner at a Pharisee’s house when a woman who lives a sinful life gets word Jesus is there, so she shows up with an alabaster jar of perfume and stands behind J weeping and wetting his feet with her tears. The Pharisee is not impressed, and says that if Jesus really were a prophet he’d know that this beezy is a sinner. Jesus tells him that someone who needs extra forgiving, like this lady, will put way more effort into becoming a better person. Jesus forgives the woman and tells the Pharisee, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
- Chapter 10 tells the story of Jesus and his disciples going a village where a lady named Martha invites them into her house. Her sister Mary is there and just sits and listens to all Jesus has to say. Martha is trying to wait on them hand and foot, and she’s annoyed with Mary for not helping. Jesus tells Martha to just chillax and listen to his teachings; that’s what’s more important. Could the term “Martha” from Handmaid’s Tale be from this story? Hmm.
- Chapter 15 has the Parable of Lost Coin, which basically has the same meaning as the Prodigal Son. It’s like that feeling when you think you’ve lost your wallet, and then you find it and you feel like you’ve just won a million bucks. Even though before you lost it, you didn’t give half a shit that your wallet was sitting right there in your pocket or purse. These parables almost seem like they’re telling you to fuck your life up and cause as much needless drama as possible, so that when you come running back, God will suddenly notice you and care.
- Chapter 16 has the Parable of Unjust Steward, a bizarre story in which Jesus seems to give two completely opposing messages: a) You should act shrewdly/dishonestly in business and b) you cannot serve both God and money. Part A is a Trump wet dream come true and part B is a Trump boner-killer. So which is it?? I hope the latter. Wikipedia has a good analysis.
- Chapter 18 has the Parable of Persistent Widow, which tells the story of a widow who won’t give up on asking a judge to help her get justice against an unnamed adversary. The judge basically is a dick and doesn’t give a shit about her at all, but eventually relents and helps her because he’s afraid she’ll eventually try to get revenge on him or something. The point of this story seems to be to always keep praying to God, don’t give up, and that (I think?) God won’t be such an asshole like this judge.
- Chapter 18 also has the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, involving a Pharisee and a tax collector praying at the temple. The Pharisee is like, “God, thank you for making me so awesome. I follow all the rules and I’m a way better person than those loser evildoers, adulterers, and tax collectors.” Meanwhile the tax collector just humbly bows his head and says, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The tax man is the good example here. “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
- Chapter 19 gives us the story of another tax collector – a chief tax collector who is wealthy – named Zacchaeus. Jesus enters Jericho, and Zacchaeus, apparently a short little nugget, climbs a tree to see Jesus. J is like, “Z get your ass down here I need to stay at your house today.” Z is like, o.k. cool! Everyone who witnesses this talks smack because Z is a sinner. Why should he get to buddy up with Jesus? But Z says to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Differences Between Luke and Matthew/Mark
I started to write some differences here and was reminded once again that while there are plenty of relatively small discrepancies, they really are just not that interesting. Here’s a couple:
- Luke has a slightly different list of 12 disciples than Matthew and Mark: Luke adds an extra Judas (son of James), and leaves out Thaddaeus.
- For some reason, Luke has the classic passage about Jesus sending out his 12 disciples to do their good deeds across the land, same as Matthew and Mark, but then in the very next chapter (ch 10) he also sends out 72 unnamed disciples with similar instructions. This passage includes hellfire for anyone who doesn’t welcome them, similar to what Matthew has in its instructions for the 12 disciples.
- There’s a crippled woman in chapter 13 who … oh who even cares, honestly. I told you this stuff was boring. Next!
Good Stuff and Bad Stuff
It feels like Luke has a pretty decent helping of the good stuff mentioned in Matthew. It’s got turn the other cheek, blessed are the poor, be merciful, love thy neighbor with the whole Samaritan story, be generous to the poor, don’t be greedy, don’t be full of yourself, invite the poor and crippled people of the world to come hang with you, forgive, etc. And there’s definitely a theme in Luke where Jesus is kinda catering to the sinners and downtrodden to bring them in.
In terms of bad stuff, Luke has the End Times passages with all the creepiness included there, and it has a good sprinkling of Jesus threatening people that they’ll get sent to burn in hell if they go against his teachings. e.g. “12:4 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” And “12:47 The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 12:48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.”
You get the idea. There’s definitely some hellfire and brimstone here. Some weeping and some gnashing of teeth, though maybe a bit less than what we saw in Matthew. All the same key messages are here though. Oh here’s another nice one: “19:43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 19:44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
O.k. this post is way too long so let’s get to my rating.
Again, same as Mark and Matthew. Maybe I should give it a fraction of a point higher because I like the Good Samaritan story. Oh it has and some of the classic stories and details that were left out in Matthew and Mark. O.k. done, 5.7/10. But other than a few new stories here and there, Luke doesn’t stray too far from the general message and content of Matthew or Mark. Let’s move onto John, finally!!