Bible: The Longes Gospel of Luke Essay

Luke is the longest Gospel that emphasizes Jesus’ care and love for everyone including those whom the Jewish leaders did not notice. Jesus does not straightforwardly tell divine, profound truths. There are many instances in the Gospel of Luke illustrating that Jesus allows people to learn, but also the opportunity to ignore his teaching. If his words remain a mystery to his audiences, it is of their choosing. The meaning of his sayings is available to those who are willing to listen and pursue explanations.

As a result, Jesus provides people an opportunity to make a conscious choice between salvation and ignorance. As long as people listen closely and make an effort to understand the message that is delivered to them, the opportunities for their salvation emerge. In other words, Jesus offers people a chance at redemption and further enlightenment. However, He does not make the journey easy; instead, He makes sure that people should be willing to make a change and conscious about their decision.

The following passage from the Gospel of Luke demonstrates Jesus’ use of concealed meanings in his teaching: “Amid the general astonishment at all he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Listen to what I have to tell you. The Son of Man is to be given up to the power of men.’ But they did not understand what he said; its meaning had been hidden from them so that they could not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it” (Luke 9:43). The hidden meaning is in this passage is that Jesus predicts his death.

The excerpt in question points directly to the fact that Jesus was aware of the sacrifice that He was about to make, as well as the betrayal to which He would be subjected. Seeing that the Disciples were not yet aware of what fate had in store for them, they were clueless about the foreshadowing of the tragedy that was brewing. Therefore, the reference to the sacrifice that the Son of Man had to make did not pass unnoticed, yet was not understood properly by the Disciples. Jesus, on the other hand, was aware of what He was addressing, which leads to the necessity to frame His statement in the concept of the free-will doctrine, which was part and parcel of Christ’s teachings (The New Oxford Annotated Bible Luke 9:43).

Based on the philosophy of Jesus’ teachings, free will, in fact, does exist: “We cannot, ourselves, will the will of God. But in all other things, our wills are free. In our daily choices, we have been given and still can retain ‘free will’” (Gramm 104). Put differently, the turns of fate are not predetermined by God as much as they are defined by people’s actions, the decisions that they make, the values that they hold dear to their hearts, etc. Even though God has the power of altering the entire existence of humankind, people are provided it an opportunity to make mistakes and, therefore, learn valuable lessons in the process. One might argue that the interpretation of free will as suggested by Jesus is slightly more complicated than the absence of any constraints as far as the freedom of choice is concerned. Indeed, there is more depth to the concept of free will as viewed through the lens of Jesus’ philosophy than the mere freedom of choice. Nonetheless, the Bible points directly to the fact that people are capable of making their own choices, and that the outcomes thereof are not predetermined by fate. Furthermore, the Bible indicates that people can alter the course of fate and, therefore, proceed to another stage of their spiritual development.

One might assume that, by mentioning His own future death, Jesus accuses His disciples of their future denial of His teachings. On the one hand, the identified interpretation can be a possibility given the fact that free will is, according to His teaching, an integral part of human nature. On the other hand, one should keep in mind that the death of Jesus was expected and predicted, which makes it inevitable, unavoidable, and indispensable. Seeing that Jesus’ death was bound to become the symbol of relieving people of the burden of their sins, it would be a mistake to assume that Jesus was aiming at making His disciples avert it or reproaching them for failing Him. The identified choice does not seem to be in line with His interpretation of ethics and philosophy.

Thus, it would be reasonable to suppose that, instead, Jesus was trying to conceal the impending doom that He was facing. By mentioning the inevitable tragedy only as a hint that none of the participants of the Last Supper could understand, He clearly was trying to give His disciples parting words that they needed, at the same time avoiding to address the inevitable tragedy that they were not supposed to prevent. In other words, Jesus hinting at the fact of the future betrayal and his own death should be interpreted as the attempt to warn the disciples about the hardships that they would have to face soon, as well as give them the final words of wisdom that they would need to remember to retain faith in the face of tragedy when suffering the grief and sorrow of their future loss (Karamanolis 144).

Furthermore, the concept of using information sparingly and disclosing the inevitable future is addressed in an array of fables linked to Jesus. In the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, Jesus teaches about the importance of using resources wisely. The manager is not strong enough to work with his hands. Therefore he devises a plan to reduce the amount owed to his master by two debtors in exchange for shelter after he loses his job. His master commends him for his clever strategy but still decides to terminate his position. Jesus tells this parable to encourage his followers to be generous with their wealth. He draws a contrast between the “children of this age” and the “children of light”. The “children of this age” are the nonbelievers who are wiser in the things of this world, and the “children of light” are the believers who are wiser about the things in the world to come. Jesus wants his followers to be just and righteous people. The concealed principle in this parable is that everything we own is a gift from God, and we should use our resources wisely in God’s service. The unrighteous manager represents Jewish leaders who have misused God’s trust and are about to be banished. They have treated their people harshly. If they were truly wise, they would have lightened loads of the people and followed God’s lead. Instead, they continued to believe in worldly shrewdness. The punishment for their foolishness is that Romans destroyed Jerusalem.

In the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus shows his compassion for sinners. The story begins with a straying sheep. A sheep apart from its shepherd is defenseless and in grave danger. Jesus views anyone apart from God as lost because his sins keep him away from God. However, Jesus, as the compassionate shepherd, does not give up on the straying sinners, because God entrusts them to Jesus. The parable also shows Jesus’s attitude towards the sinner. The shepherd does not despise the straying sheep. Instead, he “lays it on his shoulders and rejoices” (Luke 15.5). A sheep weighs heavily; it would take a lot of effort to carry one over the shoulder. The shepherd bears the discomfort for the joy over finding what is once lost. Likewise, Jesus bears the weight of our sins on the cross so that we can live for righteousness. The parable offers a glimpse into heavenly emotions. When the shepherd comes home, “he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them ‘Rejoice with me’” (Luke 15.6-7). The rescue of the straying sheep is a cause for proclamation and celebration. Similarly, heaven rejoices when a sinner repents and is restored to fellowship with God. The concept of the lost sheep is applicable to the disciples that are confused and are on the verge of betraying their teacher. Nevertheless, Jesus is understanding and kind toward them, realizing that it would be impossible to demand that they should make the right choice. Instead, they must do it themselves.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus answers a lawyer’s question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Instead of giving a straightforward answer, Jesus first replies with a question: “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” (Luke 10:26). By referring to the law, he is directing the man to the Old Testament because they both accept it as an authority. Essentially, Jesus is asking for the lawyer’s perspective and interpretation. The lawyer replies with a quote that Jesus confirms is the right answer. It is difficult for one to love everyone he encounters in his life; therefore the lawyer wants to limit the law’s parameters and asks, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). The word “neighbor” in Hebrew means “someone that you have an association with” and in Greek it means “someone who is near” (Renn 672). Such literal, limited interpretations would have excluded Samaritans, Romans, and other foreigners from the definition of “neighbor.” Jesus tells the parable to correct the false understanding that the lawyer has of the definition of neighbor, and of his duty to those around him.

The identified characteristics of the concept of free will as it was explained by Jesus allow interpreting the reasons for Him not to disclose the bitter truth to His disciples from a slightly different angle. Even though He was aware of the future betrayal and the imminent death that he ultimately had to face, He chose not to reveal the atrocious truth to His disciples since His mission was to instill the Christian lessons into His followers. Thus, Jesus hid the bitter truth and only hinted at it in His speech.

Works Cited

Gramm, Kent. The Prayer of Jesus: A Reading of the Lord’s Prayer. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015.

Karamanolis, George E. The Philosophy of Early Christianity. Routledge, 2014.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th ed., Oxford UP, 2010.

Renn, Stephen D. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts. Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.

Bible: The Longes Gospel of Luke

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