Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2
Thesis: Identifying Jesus as "the Coming One" means that the "wiggle room" has been reduced to the maximum.
Introduction: Immediately after Luke records Jesus saying, "I have not found such faith in all Israel", he records Israel's greatest prophet as a victim of the same blindness that created the massive ambivalence in Israel regarding Jesus. After having given a large body of evidence regarding His identity, Jesus asked His disciples: "Whom do men say that I am?" Matthew 16:14 records their answers: "John the Baptist (risen from the dead -- Mark 6:14)"; "Elijah" (Mark 9:11); "Jeremiah" or "One of the prophets". Few, if any, wanted to bite the bullet and go out on the limb where all of the evidence would take anyone who was willing to be led by it. Luke knew this.
Even when Peter -- mouth in gear, mind in neutral -- claimed that Jesus was "the Christ" (Matthew 16:17), Jesus pointedly told him that his "clarity" on the issue was not a result of "revelation by flesh and blood". Luke knew this also.
Even as Luke sifted through his research and made his decisions regarding what to record and what to omit, he fully understood that what he was writing to Theophilus was of such a nature that without full blown divine input his efforts would be a waste. But he put forth the effort anyway.
That brings us to the issue before us in the text this morning: "Are You the Expected One, or do we look for another?" What is Luke's "take" on the significance of John's question?
August 24, 2008
- I. Luke's Deliberate Verbatim Repetition.
- A. That he recorded John's question twice is indicative of his literary effort to focus his reader's attention [Jude 15 is an "over the top" example of this].
- B. That he recorded John's question twice is indicative of his understanding that readers tend to miss details [Mark 12:26 is a subtle example of this].
- C. That he recorded John's question twice is indicative of his awareness of his own thesis: men are blind and cannot see [Luke 4:18-19 is his record of his thesis].
- D. That he recorded John's question twice is indicative of the flow of his own thought through the larger context ["I have not found such faith in all Israel"].
- II. Luke's "Thesis".
- A. It is impossible to read Luke's text carefully and not "see" that his "issue" is the "point" of John's question: Who is Jesus in respect to John's "Coming One" message?
- 1. The NASB translators did an inexcusable thing: they "translated" an extremely crucial identity phrase falsely.
- a. The phrase "the Expected One" represents the combination of a definite article and a present tense participle which, in combination, create a "title" of sorts.
- b. The participle Luke used never means "expected": it has no "faith/hope/expectation" connotations.
- 2. The "issue" in John's terminology was created by John himself in Luke 3:15-17.
- a. At issue in John's "message" is this question: Is this one "the Christ"?
- b. At issue in John's "setting" is this question: Are you going to be gathered as wheat or burned as chaff with unquenchable fire?
- c. At issue in John's "response" is this declaration: One mightier than I is coming.
- 1) This declaration is highly prejudiced by Luke's record in 1:76-78 where he tells us that "The Mighty One to come" is, in fact, "the Lord".
- 2) This declaration is what makes John's question so "questionable" and what explains Jesus' response to it: The Coming One = The Mighty One and No One ever acted with greater "might" than Jesus.
- d. The point: John had proclaimed a "Coming One" Who was to bring us to a salvation that would make us "wheat" (the foundation for the bread of life) instead of worthless chaff.
- B. It is also impossible to read Luke's text carefully and not "see" that his "issue" is whether his readers will embrace Jesus as the Coming Mighty Deliverer Whose plan is to turn us into instruments of life.
- III. Luke's "Conundrum".
- A. He argues for an unrestrained allegiance to Jesus of Nazareth as the Mighty, Saving, God.
- 1. This is no small argument: Jesus of Nazareth is a terribly "defined" individual that will not accept the use of His name divorced from His actual "definition" when it comes to His evaluation of a person's "faith in Jesus".
- 2. There is "blindness" in the mix for any, and every, person who seeks to maintain any kind of "independence" from Jesus while claiming to "believe" in Jesus.
- B. He argues in the face of the fact that even John revealed a "restraint".
- 1. The greatest single problem that God faces with human beings is their pride/fear issues.
- a. On the one hand, people do not wish to be humiliated, or proven to be "unworthy".
- b. On the other hand, people are terrified of what might happen if they simply abandon themselves to someone else's agenda.
- 2. This problem is not one that simply "goes away" by a simple decision: not even John escaped the subtlety of "reservations".
- C. He accepts his place: make the case for unrestrained loyalty and let God do what He will with it.