"It was a time when Rome ruled the world with the power of life and death in their hands. The province of Roman Palestine was a bubbling cauldron of rebellion and control. And on this greater canvas Luke, narrates a story of wonder, amazement and impact…"
The story of Jesus as presented in the Gospels. Luke opens with narration and assures us that he has investigated the story carefully from the beginning. An Angel of the Lord appears to Mary, a virgin of Nazareth, and tells her that she is going to be the mother of the Jesus. The Holy Spirit will overshadow her and she will conceive. Mary, who isn’t married, rushes to Ein Kerem where Elizabeth, her cousin, is also pregnant by Divine design. They confirm, with great joy, that God has visited them. Elizabeth’s husband, Zachariah, has been unable to speak since the announcement of her pregnancy. During the circumcision he finds his voice and tells the priest that his son is to be named John; named in the womb by God. Zachariah prophesies that John will be a prophet of the most High. Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph have to travel to Bethlehem for a census. She is in the advanced stages of pregnancy. She gives birth among the animals because there was no room in the town. But shepherds in the field were made aware by an angel that a Savior was born to them in the City of David. They, and many in the town, came to pay homage and to see what God had done. Jesus is circumcised on the eighth day. As the little family is coming out of the temple an old man bears witness to God’s salvation in Jesus. Jesus grows into a winsome man of 30 and begins his ministry. Jesus’ cousin, John, now known as the Baptist, is at the Jordan River calling all men to repentance and baptizing them. Jesus is baptized by John and the heavens open and a Voice says, ‘thou art my beloved son in thee I am well pleased.” Right away Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil who leaves in frustration. In Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James and John to come follow him and they do. Then in the synagogue in Capernaum Jesus encounters a demoniac who recognizes him as the Holy One of God. Jesus casts the demon out of the man. He can’t stay and must go proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. Two priests, Zadok and Annas, are waiting and listening for a chance to confront Jesus. Some friends bring a paralytic friend to a house where Jesus is teaching and can’t get in so they dig a hole in the roof and let him down in front of Jesus. Jesus forgives the man’s sins and the priests are outraged. “Which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to say arise and walk?” Then Jesus again outrages the Priests when he commands the paralytic to walk and he does. Now Jesus has set himself against the religious establishment. Jesus chooses his twelve disciples and Judas, the one who will betray him. He goes down by the sea and teaches the multitudes, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” As he’s entering the small town of Nain he comes upon a funeral procession. A young mother is mourning the death of her only son. Just as Elijah raised the widow’s son, Jesus commands the boy arise and he does to the great astonishment of those around. Simon, the Priest, is hosting a dinner for Jesus. There is a commotion at the front door and a woman of ill repute washes Jesus’ feet with her tears. Simon is offended. Jesus rebukes Simon and says, ‘her sins are forgiven, for she has loved greatly.’ All marvel that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins. On the way out Nicodemus catches Jesus in the street and questions him about his authority. Jesus says a very strange thing to Nicodemus, ‘unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” Jesus left Judea and went into Galilee. On his way he passed through Samaria and came to Jacob’s well. There he met a woman and offered her living water, water of truth so that true worshippers shall worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. The woman brought the whole town out to hear what Jesus was teaching and they all believed and received the living water. Jesus teaches in parables and in this way he imparts the mysteries about the kingdom of God. John the Baptist is imprisoned in a dungeon in King Herod’s palace. The King is holding a party and the beautiful daughter of the queen dances before the King. He is so taken with her dance that he pledges her anything she wants. Her mother tells her to ask for the head of the Baptist. Herod is distraught but has to relent. John is beheaded. A Teacher of the Law asks Jesus ‘who is my neighbor?’ Jesus tells him the story of the good Samaritan and commands him to do likewise. At sunset the disciples are all gathered around Jesus and they ask him to teach them to pray. Jesus tells them to go into a quiet room where no one can hear and pray to your Father in heaven. Then he teaches them the Lord’s prayer. Jesus prophecies his suffering. Peter stops the children bothering the Master and Jesus rebukes him. ‘Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.’ At this time a rich man confronts Jesus ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ Jesus answers him, ‘sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow me.’ The rich man was very sad and walks away. Then Jesus tells his disciples it’s time to go to Jerusalem. He tells them of his death and resurrection. Jesus enters Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna in the highest. Zadok and Janus confront him for the spectacle. Jesus tells them that if the crowds became silent the stones would cry out. He immediately enters the temple and is infuriated when he sees the vendors selling things in the Holy places. He turns over the tables in great anger yelling, ‘this is a house of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves.’ The Priest confronts him again and Jesus tricks them with a question they cannot answer which sends them into a rage. Zadok and Janus enter the high council of the High Priest and plot a way to catch Jesus. They ask Jesus if Jews should pay taxes to Caesar? Jesus asks for a coin. ‘Whose picture is on this coin?’ ‘Caesars.’ ‘Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ Jesus tears into their fake piety and abuse of power. When he sees a poor widow giving all that she has he commends her as an example to follow. She gave out of her poverty, not out of her excess. As Jesus is teaching in the temple Zadok catches the eye of Judas and a plot is hatched. Satan enters Judas. In front of the high priest Judas says he can lead them to Jesus so they can take him. The price…30 pieces of silver. Jesus is at Passover, the day of unleavened bread, with his disciples. It is his last supper with them. He blesses the bread as his body, breaks it and passes it around. He blesses the cup, the new covenant in his blood and they all drink. Jesus then, as a servant, washes his disciples’ feet. Peter refuses but Jesus tell him that if he doesn’t get his feet washed he will have no part ‘of Me.’ Peter asks Jesus to wash all of him then. The disciples then argue about who is greater among them. Jesus tells them ‘the greatest among you is the servant of all.’ Then he tells them that they will all abandon him tonight. Peter boldly states that he will never do that. Jesus tells him that before the cock crows he will deny him three times. ‘Satan has demanded to shift you as wheat, Peter. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.’ Judas, full of Satan, slinks out of the room to do his dirty deed. Jesus prays in Gethsemane that the cup be removed from him. Zadok and the temple guards, led by Judas, find him there. Judas kisses Jesus. There is a small skirmish as the disciples put up a weak defense and then all run away. They take Jesus to Caiaphas. Peter slinks behind and sits among the servants hoping to get a glimpse of his master. They recognize him and he denies he knows Jesus. He denies him three times. The cock crows. Peter is devastated by his own cowardice. He sees Jesus beaten and bruised and runs off ashamed and tormented. The temple guards play with Jesus and beat him. Judas comes to Caiaphas to give back the coins, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ They laugh at him. He throws the coins on the floor and runs out. Jesus is brought before the High Priest who questions him. He reveals to them that he is the son of God. They now have their proof of his blasphemy but they can’t kill him so they send him to Pilate who can. Zadok presents their demands. Pilate finds no guilt in ‘this man.’ But he finds that Jesus is a Galilean which is Herod’s jurisdiction. ‘Send him to Herod.’ Herod is delighted to get to meet Jesus. He wants to see some sign, some miracle to make him a believer. Jesus says not one word to Herod which throws the King into a rage. Herod throws a long, purple robe on him and sends him back to Pilate. Caiaphas is now with the Priest in front of Pilate. Feeling the pressure Pilate lets the crowd decide. There is a custom of releasing a prisoner during Passover. Should Pilate release Barabbas, the killer, or Jesus who is called Christ? The crowd releases Barabbas and Pilate is forced to condemn Jesus. ‘Beat him, then crucify him.’ The Romans beat him mercilessly. Jesus stumbles through the crowds on the Via del la Rosa. He’s so weak he cannot make it. Simon of Cyrene is commanded to carry the cross to Golgotha. Jesus will make his destiny to the cross. Judas sees Jesus whipped and beaten, going submissively to the cross. He goes out and hangs himself dead. Three crosses are raised. Two thieves on either side of Jesus. The Priests are especially cruel, taunting him to save himself. The thief on the left of Jesus asks him to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus answers, ‘today you shall be with me in Paradise.’ Then at 3 in the afternoon Jesus cries out in a loud voice, ‘IT IS FINISHED.” The earth shakes violently, the temple curtain hiding the Holy of Holies is ripped in two, and the people are terrified. Joseph of Arimathea, a Priest and a follower of Jesus, asks Pilate for the body so he can bury it. Pilate relents. Jesus is lowered off the cross and laid in Mary’s lap. She removes the crown of thorns from his head and weeps. Joseph and Nicodimus bury Jesus in Joseph’s tomb. Three days later, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James come to the tomb and find it empty. An angel confronts them, ‘why do you seek the living among the dead? He is RISEN.” The women run off in great wonderment and joy to tell the others. They find the disciples in the Passover room and tell them ‘He’s risen.’ Peter and John bolt from the room and race to the tomb. They find the tomb empty, the linen folded neatly. They rejoice – He is RISEN, INDEED. Jesus appears to them and shows them the nail scars in his hands. For forty days he speaks to them concerning the Kingdom of God. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, make disciples for, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” On the Mount of Olives He is taken into the sky as his disciples watch him go. An Angel appears to them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go.”