Updated: Mar 19
We are following the life and ministry of Jesus through several interactions and conversations recorded of Jesus. Luke 9 is a transition in the gospel of Luke. Luke could be divided into several significant acts or movements.
Prologue (Lk. 1:1-4)
Introduction (Lk. 1:5-2:51)
Part I (Lk. 3:1-9:50) The Announcement of God's Kingdom
Part II (Lk. 9:51-19:27) The Journey to Jerusalem
Part III (Lk. 19:28-24:53) In Jerusalem (Confrontation, Execution, and Resurrection)
This lesson will consider Part II-The Journey to Jerusalem.
Although our study has not been on the gospel of Luke, it is important to notice the narrative design of Luke as most of our conversations have been from Luke's gospel. For example, today, we will jump into part II, Jesus' Journey to Jerusalem, as we look at the parable of the Lost Son. Part II is one of the major movements in Luke.
Luke 9:51 (NIV)
"As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem."
The ministry of Jesus shifts from Galilee towards Jerusalem and the cross. It is a section that some have described as Jesus' Travel Log. It's a long road trip where Jesus and the disciples will join other Israelites in Jerusalem for the ancient feast of Passover.
Luke, in many ways, has designed this road trip to remind us of Israel's long road trip, the Exodus. With Moses, Israel went from Mount Sinai to the promised land. Later, King David established Jerusalem as the capital city.
Luke places Jesus in this setting. He is like Moses, who renews Israel's covenant with God and David as He gathers a people to live under His rule and kingdom. Jesus' road trip, in Luke, overlays the Exodus account.
Preparing the Road
As Jesus "set His face to go to Jerusalem" (9:51), He sends the disciples ahead to prepare the way.
Luke 10:1–4 (NIV)
"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road."
Jesus sends out this wave of disciples to prepare the way for the towns and villages He is about to visit. When Jesus arrives, He announces the good news of God's kingdom and calls others to follow in God's new exodus movement.
As we noticed in our last session, much of Jesus' teaching through this section is in the form of parables. Jesus' teaching forces the hearer (and us) to rethink how we consider wealth, the poor, the outcast, and how we treat others (Lk. 10:25-37; 11:37-52; 12; 13:10-17; 15; 16; 18:9-14; 18:18-29). As Jesus teaches and shares the message of God's kingdom, tension builds among Israel's religious elite (Lk. 11:37-52). Why would God's Prophet welcome sinners and eat with them (Lk. 15:1-2)? Amid this building tension, with Jesus setting His face towards Jerusalem and the cross, we find three teachings of Jesus about lost things: the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son (Lk. 15). The kingdom of God is not some exclusive club or group, God's kingdom is for all people.
The Lost Son
There was a father who had two sons. The younger son wanted half of his father's estate. The father gave it to him, and not long after, this son gathered all that he had and set off to a distant country where he wasted all that was given to him. A severe famine hit the whole land, and the son was in great need. He found some work feeding pigs; all he had to eat was the pig slop.
After a while, the son realizes his father's hired helpers have more food and provisions than he does. Planning out what he would say to his father, the son decides to return home.
Considering his son had been lost to the famine, the father sees him at a distance. He runs to him, kissing him and throwing his arms around him. Before the son can even get his words out, the father brings a robe for him, a ring for his finger, and shoes for his feet. Then, in the father's excitement, he throws a part for the son he thought was dead.
The older son, coming in from the field, sees this party and calls for one of his father's helpers. Why the party? "Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound" (Lk. 15:27).
The older brother is angry and refuses to go in to the party. The father goes out to the older brother, why won't you come in? The older brother sees himself as faithful to his father, yet his father has never thrown a party for him. Why would he throw a party for this son who has wasted his money and disgraced our family?
The father explains, son, you have always been with me, and everything I have is yours. But your brother, as good as dead, has come home. He was dead and now is alive, he was lost, and now he is found.
Sons and Daughters
In this famous parable of Jesus, what does Jesus want the religious elite to see? He wants them to see the outsiders, the outcast, and the suffering as God does. They are sons and daughters of God most high and are being reclaimed from death to be given new life.
God's kingdom is open to everyone. Those who humbly come to Him will be welcomed and celebrated. Rejecting this message is not only a rejection of Jesus but also of what God is doing as Jesus leads a new exodus.
The road trip to Jerusalem begins its final journey. As it does so, the tension builds with Jesus' face set to Jerusalem. Luke will launch into part III, Jerusalem (Confrontation, Execution, and Resurrection), and we will continue following Jesus and His interactions as the Passover Plot develops.
Bridging The Context
Luke is sharing the story of Jesus. But as each gospel author does, they unfold how God works through His Son Jesus in reclaiming His creation.
Some will be blinded to what God is doing. Predijucies, jealousies, doubts, and even exclusive attitudes will prevent them from experiencing the good news of God through Messiah Jesus.
In Jesus, a new community is formed. It's a new way of seeing others, a new way of seeing our world, and a new way of envisioning God's mission in His world.
Are we standing outside the party in judgment or joining Jesus in His new kingdom community?
Downloads & Resources
lesson notes: Journey to Jerusalem
study guide: Journey to Jerusalem
slides (PDF): Journey to Jerusalem
Scripture quotations: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.