The Journey to Jerusalem.

Luke in introducing the life and ministry of Jesus Christ the Redeemer used a literary device not used by any of the other gospel writers, but it followed the literary conventions of the day. He’s writing for the “most excellent Theophilus” and promises to base his story on eyewitnesses and ministers of the word. He writes to Theophilus that he may have the “certainty of those things which he has learned.” Luke’s history preface can be compared to the preface of “His Against Apion.” by Flavius Josephus, a well-known ancient historian and writer.Josephus also starts with a preface that addresses “most excellent Epaphroditus.” Although descended from Jewish nobility, Josephus designed his writing for Gentile readers. This may have been true for Luke, also. Luke’s information, based on eyewitness testimony, would be called original research now, and this would be attractive to Greeks. One author explains: “History as we know it, as the systematic analysis of past events, was a Greek creation. Herodotus, an Ionian Greek from Asia Minor, has rightly been called the “father of history” since his History of the Persian Wars is regarded as the first real history in Western civilization. It is indeed the earliest lengthy Greek prose work to have survived intact.

The Journey to Jerusalem Begins. Luke 9:51-10:42…Now begins the “travel narrative” to Jerusalem, the city where Jesus will accomplish his “exodus.” Ten chapters later he finally arrives when he enters the Temple (19:45), marking the start of the section dedicated to the Jerusalem ministry. The journey is only mentioned from time to time, and they only serve to separate events. They must climb up to Jerusalem through Bethphage, Bethany and the Mount of Olives. Those followers on the journey are referred to as a “crowd,” indicating there were Gentiles among the Jews.

Luke 9:51-62…Jesus was determined to face his destiny in the cross. It would be a work, an achievement, an accomplishment; he wouldn’t be afraid until it came down to the wire. But that would prove he’s human. When they all went through Sumaria, Jesus was rejected. The disciples wanted to rain fire and brimstone down on their heads, but Jesus forbid that. People wanted to follow him, but they had families, relatives to bury, to which Jesus said: “No one who sets hand to the plow and looks back to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:51…God has a plan for each of us, which some of us learn the hard way. Even if we want to follow God’s plan, we seldom know what it is. Jesus, however, knowing God’s plan, was fully in line with it. The author says: “Significant events in Jesus’ life happen at appointed times in accord with God’s plan. Here a turning point occurs “when the days are fulfilled” for the events regarding his exodus from death to glory begin to unfold. The third servant song of Isaiah provided key background: “I have set my face like flint,/ knowing I shall not be shamed.” (Isa. 50:7).

Luke 9:52-53…Jesus sent messengers before him (literally “before his face”). These messengers are continuing the ministry of John the Baptist: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,/ he will prepare your way before you.” The messengers indeed go “to prepare for his reception.”

Luke 9:54-56…When James and John, sons of Zebedee, and nicknamed “sons of thunder” by Jesus wanted to bring fire down on the heads of the Sumaritans, they were thinking of Elijah, who brought down fire on 400 pagan priests and burned all of them to death. Elijah was in a contest with a pagan to see whose God was more powerful. The brothers have misunderstood their mission yet again. Jesus told them to love their enemies, which they have forgotten. So they obey Jesus and all leave peacefully.

Luke 9:57-58…The journey to Jerusalem provides a setting for the training in discipleship of James and John. The “journey” or “way” is used figuratively later in Acts to indicate the Christian way of life, the Way of the Lord. As they travel, Luke presents three sayings of Jesus on discipleship, which occur in dialogues between Jesus and unnamed individuals who are (potential) followers. The individual’s responses are not given, letting readers apply the sayings to their own lives. In the first dialogue, someone tells Jesus: “I will follow you wherever you go.” In reply to this idealistic but naive statement, Jesus challenges the person to be aware of the sacrifices involved in being his disciple. If the “Son of Man” has nowhere to lay his head,” the disciple should likewise be prepared even to give up house and home. In contrast, even foxes and birds have their homes in dens and nests. Gadenze, the author, says: “Jesus certainly does not preach a prosperity gospel!” My Church does not preach a prosperity gospel; it never has and it never will; it teaches Christ. Joyce Meyer teaches that you can have anything you want if it’s the will of God. I watch her preach because she is so funny and she gives me a lift-a really big lift.

Luke 9:59-60…In the second dialogue Jesus calls someone to follow him as he earlier did with Matthew. But the individual says he will be delayed because he must bury his father. Burying the dead was a religious duty, especially serious for one’s parents, and it took place on the day of the death. But Jesus permits no delay. He says: “Let the dead bury the dead.” The severe reply indicates that following Jesus should be our top priority. Do we make him our top priority? Gadenze says:”Delaying one’s response might indicate failure to appreciate the radical nature of commitment.” Moreover, one who follows Jesus also shares his mission: “go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:61-62…In the third dialogue the potential follower says: “I will follow you, but first let me say goodbye to those at home.” Jesus replies:” No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus again insists on radical commitment to be his follower. That’s his right. He’s God.

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