The Teaching of Christ Concerning the Holy Spirit

This post continues the series on “The Holy Spirit in the Gospels.” We have just concluded looking at how the Spirit impacted the ministry of Christ, so we must now turn our attention to what our Lord Jesus spoke of this Helper, Comforter, and Counselor. We remind ourselves that before Christ left this earth, He offered the disciples several words of encouragement about the coming Spirit. This post will provide an introduction to the next section of the overall paper, and will foreshadow what is to come.


 

The Teaching of Christ Concerning the Holy Spirit

The Gospels record Christ teaching about the Spirit in a variety of different ways. As Jesus lived in the Spirit and the Spirit was active in Jesus’ life and ministry, Jesus knew that He must prepare His disciples for his departure. Speaking to the disciples and people of that time, and with future believers in mind, the Gospels record Jesus speaking at lengths about the Spirit: who He is, what He will do, how He will come, why He will come, and when He will come. Jesus taught what it means to live in the Spirit, which includes: the Spirit will indwell them (John 14:17), blasphemy against the Spirit is unpardonable (Matt 12:31-32; Mark 3:29-30; Luke 12:10), the Spirit will guide them into all truth (John 16:12-15), and provide wisdom and words (Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11; John 14:15-16; 16:16). As Jesus ministered in the Spirit, it was important that they knew what it meant to minister in the Spirit, such as: Jesus promised the Spirit to the disciples and all who believe (Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11; Luke 11:13; 12:12; John 7:37-39; 14:15-17, 26), the Sprit would empower, teach and guide believers to preach the Gospel (Matt 28:19; Luke 24:48-49; John 14:26; 15:2-27; 16:13-15; 20:22), open their minds to being born in the Spirit (John 3:5-6, 8). Finally, Jesus knew that in order to live and minister in the Spirit, they must know the Spirit is worthy of worship since He is God, and the Spirit would facilitate true worship to the Father (John 4:23-24). Jesus said it was better that He go and the Spirit would come (John 16:7) since the Spirit is the “Counselor” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) so that the Spirit would remind the believer of the words of Christ and have communion with the Godhead (John 4:23-24).

Significance of Women in Luke: Seeing Through Eyes of Faith

As we continue the study on the significance of women in Luke, we start nearing toward the end of the book and prepare for the crucifixion narrative. Before we get to the crucifixion though, a few key stories appear that requires our attention. Luke continues to use the pairing style to compare and contrasts different responses. We see more stories involving widows and continue to see what faithful discipleship looks like. 

I would like to make a short comment on one thing before we get to the main post. There are many in the feminist theology camp that picks up the parable of the woman and the lost coin to support their view on the appropriateness of calling God the Father a “She” or “Mother” among other names. This paper does not deal with feminist theology nor does it go into great depths about this particular verse. There is not time nor space to go deeper into this subject. I would recommend further study on this topic from sources that have studied and researched it far greater than I have. This paper again just looks at how Luke emphasized women in his gospel and how that was counter-cultural to that day and the typical customs.


A Proper View of God Elicits a Faithful Response

The three parables of mercy, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son each reflect how God seeks the unbelieving and acts as a Shepherd to those who believe in Him. The woman who searches for the lost coin and rejoices with others when it is found is no less an image of God than the shepherd who seeks the lost sheep.[1] Moreover, Jesus chooses to single out a widow as an example of generosity in giving (21:1-4).[2]

In the pairing of women and men in the description of the last things (17:34-37), Luke stresses that both men and women are to take responsibility for oneself in being prepared. This is followed up by another story on responsibility in the persistent widow (18:1-8), which succeeds better than any other story in uniting the themes of equality and oppression.[3] The story of her speaking up for herself to be recognized as a human shows that God will see justice done to those who cry out to him.[4]

This discussion is followed up by a contrast between the pious Pharisee who publicly displays his religion (18:9-14) and a poor widow who exemplifies true faith when she contributes the two coins (21:1-4). Like the persistent widow, this widow understands what constitutes her dignity.[5] Compared to the Pharisee, the widow provides an authentic expression of faith and worship.


 

[1] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 500.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 199-200.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 200.

The Significance of Women in Luke: Mary, Martha and Luke 10-11

Continuing the discussion of the significance of women in the gospel of Luke, this post will focus on the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Luke continues to discuss and show true discipleship by providing a snapshot of the events that took place with these two sisters and the raising of Lazarus. While many sermons have come out of this section, our focus here is just to take a brief look at how Luke portrays this story and what he emphasizes. We conclude this section by bringing discipleship back up and what true discipleship is based on.


 

Mary and Martha

The story of Mary and Martha (10:38-42) is rooted in attentiveness to Jesus and the ability listen. While it is uncertain if they had husbands or children, they appear as faithful, godly women.[1] While Luke omits all of John’s details about Mary and Martha and the raising of Lazarus, he instead focuses on the teaching of getting one’s priorities straight by highlighting the unique story of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet while Martha was absorbed with serving. The message of listening ties back to words that Jesus spoke earlier in regards to His family, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Luke 8:19-21). While Mark’s Gospel (Mark 3:31-35) does not include the hearing reference that is found in Luke, the point Jesus makes is that a true relationship to Him is grounded in hearing His Word and doing it.[2] Luke’s special interest in disciples and women is found in this story as Mary is praised for hearing Jesus’ words.[3] This story further demonstrates Jesus’ acceptance of the education of women and becoming a part of His ministry, which is sharply contrasted with the common rabbinic practice.[4]

Luke follows up this theme of listening and doing God’s will in describing the story of the woman who cried out blessing the womb that bore Jesus (11:27-28). Jesus responds that true blessing is found in those that hear the word of God and do it. His correction shows that discipleship and blessing is not found in a physical relationship, but one grounded in faith.[5]


[1] Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.”

[2] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 197

[3] Rosalie, “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke,” 56.

[4] Stein, Luke, 241.

[5] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 198.

True Discipleship Modeled in Luke 8

As we progress through Luke, we come today to another of Luke’s main topics that he discusses throughout His gospel, discipleship. What is interesting is how Luke portrays the women as models of discipleship. As he begins to display discipleship, the women who accompanied Jesus are shown in a very positive light. They often will exhibit a response that reflect a more faithful attitude than that of the twelve. We end chapter eight with another example of Jesus’ healing and how that transcend societal norms.


Luke 8:1-3 offers a unique reference to the early days in Jesus’ ministry that shows women participating, ministering and serving in it as “disciples.”[1] The women were “with him” from the beginning and were faithful to that call. The verb that is used in the passage indicates a permanence, or that it was continuous and not sporadic.[2] In introducing the female disciples, Luke prepares “the reader for the role they would play at the crucifixion (23:49), the empty tomb (24:1-11), and perhaps in the early church (Acts 1:14).”[3] Luke 8:1-3 is an important passage for women because it indicates that Jesus’ attitude was different from other rabbi’s of that time (cf. John 4:27).[4] This portrait of Jesus’ relationship with these women and the way He treated them with dignity, respect and honor were very unusual in the first century.[5] These women essentially modeled the words Jesus spoke in Luke 14:26 and 18:28-30 about leaving everything to follow Him. More often than not, Luke presents women as examples of faith, sometimes in contrast to the male disciples (cf. 24:1-11).[6]

Luke concludes chapter eight with another pairing of cures (8:26-56). A Gerasene is cured of demon possession and two women are cured of physical ailments, one who has been hemorrhaging for twelve years and the other who is dying. Once again, this episode demonstrates how Jesus transcends the normal divisions in society and display a reversal on the normal by touching the “unclean.” Jesus helps all those in need and sees all individuals as equal, regardless of gender.[7]


[1] Maly, “Women and the Gospel of Luke,” 102-3. Also see Rosalie, Ryan, “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke,” Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology 15 (1985): 58.

[2] Maly, “Women and the Gospel of Luke,” 102-3.

[3] R. H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 240.

[4] Ibid.

[5] R. C. Sproul, A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke, (Great Britain: Christian Focus, 1999), 158.

[6] Joel B. Green, The Theology of the Gospel of Luke, (New York: Cambridge Press, 1995), 128.

[7] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 197-98.

The Significance of Women in Luke: The Curing Pairs

Today, we will look at the pairs of curing that occurred in Luke 4 and 7. As mentioned in the previous posts, Luke uses the “pairing” style to contrast different responses oftentimes between men and women. This pairing style shows the reader a more faithful response. The theme of barrenness also comes back up and will show up a few more times in the rest of the book.

Pairs of Curing

As soon as Luke presents the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he introduces a pair of cures (4:33-39). First, the man was cured of the demons: Luke notes the effect that the cure had on the belief of those who witness it. Yet, when the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law follows, the effect is vastly different as she immediately rises and waits on the disciples. She evidences true discipleship. The impact of this pair is seen on the reader as Luke displays sincere gratitude gives rise to action, and that action is a way of returning the gift.[1]

Luke tells another set of stories about cures that expand compassion beyond physical curing to an extension of attitude toward those in need (7:1-17). Jesus exhibits grace and heals the centurion’s servant, who is not a member of the Jewish community. This is followed by Jesus meeting the widow of Nain, who represents a group that is among the most oppressed and neglected of society.[2] She does not speak or act, but is now “barren” with the death of her son. We see that the oppressed and needy evoke a compassionate response from Jesus as He brings her son back to life.[3]

Another pair is found in Luke 7:36-50 where Luke contrasts the attitude of the repentant woman who anointed Jesus with the attitude of the Pharisee at whose house Jesus dined. The Pharisee sees himself as righteous, and she sees herself as unworthy. The object of the contrast is not to celebrate unworthiness, but to show the relationship between forgiveness, gratitude, and love.[4] The gratitude and repentance she displays transcends the fear of appearing foolish or self-conscious. This gives her spiritual freedom that characterizes discipleship and expresses through her actions what cannot be adequately expressed through words.[5]

[1] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 195.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 196.

[5] Ibid.

The Significance of Women in Luke: Luke’s Writing Style, pt 3

As we continue to look at Luke and how he emphasized women in his narrative, today we begin to see how his writing style was used to show the difference between a male response and a female response. As will be briefly discussed shortly, Luke uses a style called “pairing” that provides a unique comparison in different situations that the other writers do not use. In an effort to show this, we will start our analysis of Luke’s Gospel by first looking at the first two chapters of Luke and the birth narrative.

Luke: The Style of Pairing and Passage Analysis

Luke uses a unique writing style of “pairing” wherein he presents a number of linked pairs or groups of similar types of events or parables together.[1] A high proportion of these references are to male and female which is not always about comparison, but suggest a measure of equality that was unexpected in the time of Jesus.[2] Another unique aspect of Luke’s style is that he focuses on women who are exemplars of poorness and lowliness before God that finds expression in barrenness, widowhood, spiritual or actual neediness, or service to the poor.[3] In many of the pairing cases, the story about the man is traditional and the one about the woman is special to Luke.[4] Lucan “pairs” can be detected in almost every chapter of the Gospel.[5]

The Pregnancy and Birth Narrative

The first pairing example in Luke’s Gospel is found in the birth announcements made to Zechariah (Luke 1:5-23) and to Mary (1:26-38). This is one of several incidents that contrasts the male and female response. Mary’s questioning of the messenger is rooted in faith, where Zechariah’s is not.[6] In response, Zechariah is punished and Mary is blessed. It is Mary who provides a better example of true faith.

The miraculous conceptions and births from the closed wombs of Mary and Elizabeth described in Luke offer an interesting portrait. At the start of the Gospel, there are two women, one old, one young, both childless. The barrenness of Israel under the old law, as represented by Elizabeth, will be the last of the prophets that will herald in the Messiah.[7] It is compared to the virgin’s womb who brings the new law, the message of salvation and grace. This new covenant will afford women a greater role that is suggested by making Mary, not Joseph, the recipient of the angelic message.[8]

Mary’s subsequent encounter with Elizabeth (1:39-45), introduces another example of a distinctive contribution of women in Luke’s presentation. They both identify with the lowly and oppressed.[9] Elizabeth tells Mary she is blessed because she believed, and the two of them stand together as faithful listeners and hearers.[10] “It is Elizabeth and Mary, not Zechariah and Joseph, who are first to receive the message of Christ’s coming, who are praised and blessed by God’s angels, and who are first to sing and prophesy about the Christ child.”[11] They are not just witnesses, but active participants in God’s redeeming purposes. Elizabeth and Mary are the most prominent characters in the first two chapters of Luke, yet Elizabeth does not appear in the other Gospels.[12]

Another example of pairing in the dual examples of Simeon and Anna (2:25-38). Both are in the temple, both praise God, both give witness to the fulfillment of the promise, and both are shown to be faithful.[13] Anna, a barren widow who served God faithfully (2:37) and was eager to speak of the Lord Jesus and His redemption, is described as a prophetess. The fact that she is a prophetess and her testimony was valued just as much as Simeon’s shows Luke’s theme of equality.

The women of the pregnancy stories, Anna, Elizabeth, and Mary, are recognized in Luke as demonstrating patience, prayer, praise, and faith – marks of true discipleship.[14]


 

[1] Mary Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel,” Testimony Magazine, 2007, accessed March 14, 2015,  http://www.testimony-magazine.org/back/aug2007/benson1.pdf

[2] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 192.

[3] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 192.

[4] D’Angelo, “Women in Luke-Acts: A Redactional View,” 444.

[5] Ibid, 445-46,

[6] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 193.

[7] Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.”

[8] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 193.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ben Witherington III, Women in the Earliest Churches, (New York: Cambridge Press, 1991), 134.

[12] Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.”

[13] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 195.

[14] D’Angelo, “Women in Luke-Acts: A Redactional View,” 448.

The Significance of Women in Luke: A Radical Reversal

Following the introductory post about why Luke seemed to have a greater number of stories about women than the other Gospel writers, today we look at the reasons why Luke may have been more open to speaking about women. Because Luke focuses on Jesus bringing salvation to more than just the Jews, as well as his prior education, we can start putting the pieces together with how his inspired narrative is formed. Today, we will see how Jesus changed society and the impact that had.

A Radical Reversal

Luke’s purpose was to show how God had turned society upside down when Jesus entered the world and displayed great love.[1] “Luke, both as an educated Gentile and as a physician, would naturally have a more open mind and heart to the socially deprived peoples of his day.”[2] Thus, it is not surprising that women are prominent in his Gospel. Throughout his narrative, the theme of reversal is seen with the positive attention given to women and the inclusion of the Samaritans and Gentiles.[3]

Luke’s portrayal of Mary, Jesus’ mother, is emblematic of how God reverses the misfortunes of the human condition. Mary’s Magnificat (1:46-50) exemplifies Luke’s new way of interpreting society that occurred through the entering of Christ into this world. The Magnificat, which resembles Hannah’s hymn (1 Sam 2:1-10), celebrates the reversal of human values and this form of justice to which the Sermon on Mount speaks.[4] In Mary’s song of praise, she echo’s Elizabeth’s prophecy showing that she and Elizabeth (1:41) are both filled with the Holy Spirit.[5] The Magnificat (1:46-56) displays a hymn of human solidarity both with others who have cried for deliverance and with the compassionate God.[6] Luke 23:5 displays how Jesus treated the minorities differently. He welcomed and admitted these peoples, particularly women, into his group which was unheard of in rabbinic circles.[7] This is further displayed in the story of Mary and Martha (10:38-42) where Jesus accepts Mary into His “rabbinical circle” as she listens to His words.

The cure of the crippled woman on the Sabbath (13:10-17), which can be paired with the Sabbath cure of the man with dropsy (14:1-6), reflects multiple significant reversal concepts. Jesus not only cures on the Sabbath, but He cures a woman on the Sabbath all to the dismay of an official; this is a double conflict that is only found in Luke. Then, Jesus refers to her as a daughter of Abraham, thus indicating participation in the religious life of Israel that was unimaginable.[8]

These stories then seem to show that while Jesus and in this case Luke do not outright condemn the social structures, they did go beyond those walls so that women could enjoy His ministry.[9] Since Jesus was radically changing society and relationships in society, Luke’s writing style must be examined along with these passages on women.

[1] Maly, “Women and the Gospel of Luke,” 99.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Luke Johnson, “The Gospel of Luke,” in Sacra Pagina, vol 3 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991), 22.

[4] Maly, “Women and the Gospel of Luke,” 102.

[5] Matthew Henry, “Luke,” in Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged, (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1825.

[6] Jane Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” Theology Today 43 (1986): 193.

[7] Maly, “Women and the Gospel of Luke,” 102.

[8] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 199.

[9] Maly, “Women and the Gospel of Luke,” 104.

Stand firm on Truth

Over the past several months, there have been several verses that have become very important to me. They have been going through my mind when things seemed grim. They were great reminders of hope. They were truths that I could stand on. As the days mounted and trials persisted, more verses kept coming. What was amazing was and is that they became hidden in my heart. They were my treasures. It was a way to focus on who is in control. It wasn’t about saying these ritualistically or like a mantra, but the power came from who they were talking about. It wasn’t faith in the words, but faith in what the words pointed to. I can honestly say that when we did discuss our fears and anxieties with God, that He did bless us with a peace and continues to do so.

We don’t know where this journey is taking us or for how long we will be on it, but we do know there is hope. We do know there is peace available and has already been given. We do know that this isn’t our home, this isn’t where we belong. We know that this journey through the wilderness is just a visit. Maybe this visit lasts until our mortal lives are over, but they will end. God doesn’t guarantee us a good life or an easy life, in fact He tells us quite the opposite that there will be pain and hurt. There will be times of trial and torment. But there is hope, there is always hope to cling to.

That is what these verses speak to for us. That is what we cling to, hope and faith in something beyond what we can see. These few verses are just a small sampling of the hope God gives us. There are so many more verses and reminders He gives us, but during this time, these stand out. Just like when we keep being reminded of the same lessons during these trying times the past few months, so have these verses and some others kept coming to our minds. In what may seem like a very random time, we will be reminded of a very important lesson or a verse and a smile will come on our face for God’s reminders.

We share these to praise the Lord for the hope, reminders and lessons He keeps sharing with us. We praise the Lord for the truths and the power of the Gospel.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who gives me strength

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see

Ephesians 3:20 – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

Romans 8:25-26 – But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (26) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Genesis 50:20 – You intended to harm me, but intended it for good…

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

James 1:3-6 – because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (4) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (5)If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (6) But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Psalms 56:10-11 – In God, whose word i praise, in the Lord, whose word i praise – (11) in God I trust and am not afraid…

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (6) in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Luke 22:44 – And being in anguish, he (Jesus) prayed more earnestly…

Luke 18:1 – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. From the Parable of the persistent widow

Luke 18:27 – Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (10)… For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.