In this section, you will learn some of the identifying features of the Gospel of Luke, and you will also get a feel for “Luke’s” particular style of writing.
Objectives for this section
As you go through the resources for this section, you will gain a better understanding of the following aspects of the Gospel of Luke:
Origins of the Gospel: where and when written, original language, etc.
Who was Luke writing to; what was his purpose.
Luke’s writing style so that you will begin to recognize a few differences/similarities between Luke and the other gospels.
How Luke portrays Jesus of Nazareth
Steps for achieving the objectives
Hint: If you complete all of the reading by the end of Week 9, you will be well prepared for completing the assignments due in Week 10. Remember: Procrastination = STRESS!!! :-/
Complete the following steps in the order listed and by the due dates listed below.
Read Frontline: The Gospel of Luke: A Novel for Gentiles
Read The Gospel of Luke (including Introduction) in The Complete Gospels. (pages 121 – 184)
Watch The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32)
Watch The Kingdom of Heaven is Here and Now (Luke 12)
Luke: Background and Writing Prompt
In the Gospel of Luke, we have some of the best loved teaching stories told by Jesus. The interesting thing is that when you dig into some of these teachings stories – and you take into consideration the laws and customs of first-century Palestine – the meaning of the stories no longer seems like a slam dunk. We begin to be puzzled by what Jesus could have meant – which is arguably JUST what Jesus intended to do with these stories! Wisdom teachers historically try to get people to understand the idea that things are rarely black and white – that is, they may not be what they appear to be.
Jesus’ teaching stories and parables frequently upend or reverse traditional thinking. Remember that Jesus said, “And people will come from east and west, from north and south, and dine in God’s empire. Those who will be first are last, and those who will be last are first.” (13:29-30) The meaning of this verse appears to be this: Be prepared to be surprised! The empire of God is not what you think it is. In fact, it may be the exact opposite (first will be last, and last will be first). Also remember that Jesus says that God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. There is no black and white thinking in God’s empire.
So, in looking at the parables, lets first make sure we are all on the same page regarding the meaning and function of parables. Our textbook defines “parable” in this way:
A brief narrative or picture. It is also a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.
This implies that the very purpose of the parables is to “arrest” (or put a halt to) automatic and conventional thinking – and to cause you to STOP and think again! Dig deeper, think outside the box. But, above all else, THINK! Don’t let others tell you what you understand.
If we wish to truly understand any of the parables, it is especially important that we interpret them through the lens of the time and place in which they were told – first century Palestine. But how can we do this since we do not live in first-century Palestine? The answer is that we can do a bit of research into some of the historical information that we DO have from that time.
1. Please write your own interpretation of these two very short parables:
a. The Parable of the Mustard Seed
b. The Parable of Leaven
These parables are found back-to-back in Luke 13. While you may think you understand exactly what Jesus is saying in these two little parables, think again! Read this little essay on the perception of Mustard seed in first-century Palestine. And then do a little of your own research on the meaning of leaven as it is used in the Bible. Jesus is comparing the empire of God to both the mustard seed and leaven. How does Jesus reverse conventional thinking with these two parables?
Please remember to include specific references (chapter and verse) to the particular passage you are writing about.
Follow up post
The Gospel of Luke
The gospel of Luke is one the three synoptic gospels and its the third book in the new testament. It’s written around 70 AD by the author Luke. Luke was a physician and therefore someone learned in Hellenistic literary and scientific culture. He was also a good writer and his book was like a Greek traditional novel. Traditions report that Luke was a companion of Paul(Frontline: Traditions report).
Luke portray Jesus more deeper than the other gospels. Even though the audiences of Mark and Luke are the same which were gentiles, he describe Jesus as a teacher and also as many things. Luke wrote not only Jesus’s teachings but he describes his deliverance, healing, and how he was a beneficiary for the people. Luke’s descriptive writing skill and his knowledge made his book more interesting for the audience specially for the Greek people.
Among all Jesus teachings, the son who left his father house and returned back story was one of it that Jesus shows how the kingdom of God works(Luke 15:11-32). He taught them about forgiveness, love(Luke 15:21-23) and how the children of God are blessed(Luke 15:31-32). Jesus was also taught when the kingdom of heaven is coming (Luke 12). He said to the people to prepare for that day and told them what the sign was. After that he told them its already here. He was telling them to open their eyes and ears so that they can know the signs like they knew rain is coming by looking the cloud and so on. The gospel of Luke gave the stories more picture that can even more illustrative for todays audience.
The Interpretation of the Parables of Mustard Seed and Leaven
As we read and know the teachings of Jesus, he taught in parable to make his teaching understandable for the people who followed and listened to him. According the gospel of Luke 8:5, Jesus told to a lot of people who came and gathered from different places using a parable of seed which is the example of the word (message) of God… After he finished his teaching with his examples (parables), his disciples asked him why he taught in this example. Then, Jesus answered and said that they have given the privilege of knowing the secret of the empire of God, but the rest get only parables, so that they may look but not see, listen but not understand. According to Jesus’s answer, a lot of people followed him in different reasons, but they didn’t understand what he was teaching them. Although people didn’t understand him, he was persistent in his teaching and he continued his sermon with different parables. Some of the parables are mustard seed and leaven.
1. What is the meaning of mustard seed?
Jesus told them that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. According to the gospel of Luke 13:18-19,Luke said,” What is the empire of God like? What does it remind me of it’s like a mustard seed that a man took and tossed in to his garden? It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky roosted in its branches.” As we know, the mustard seed is very small when it is tossed (casted) by a man, but after some weeks, it become bigger and it’s name changed into a tree and different birds roost on it. Similarly, the preaching about the Kingdom of the God was begun first by John the Baptist, and then by his twelve disciples. After Jesus death and resurrection, the kingdom of the God has been preaching all over the world. Therefore, Jesus used a mustard seed to teach his gospel which spread all over the world.
2.The Parable of Leaven Luke 13:20
Leaven (yeast) is also very small in size and only a little is kneaded (mixed) in to the dough. After some hours, the yeast spread through all the dough and changed the dough. Similarly, as I wrote in the above sentences, the preaching of the gospel of the God is begun by John the Baptist 3:1-20, Mathew3:1, Mark 1:1-8 in the Jordan desert, but it is spread all over the world. The word of the God which declares about the kingdom of God changes the heart of the people. Similarly, the yeast changes the dough step by step (slowly). In contrast, Leaven is the example of Pharisees’ hypocrisy Luke 12:1.
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