Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
Thesis: Luke used Herod to establish the legitimacy of his claims regarding Jesus so that Theophilus might have strong encouragement to believe.
Introduction: It is an obvious reality that few people think alike. It is just as obvious that the vast majority of people do not think correctly. And it is the claim of the Bible that it is because these obvious things are true that God made a significant effort to reveal the Truth.
In the text before us this morning, the overwhelming theme is divine revelation through prophetic utterance. Then, under this "overwhelming theme" there are two contrasting facts. First, there is the fact that God's revelation is "as clear as clear can be", and, second, there is the fact that clarity of revelation only helps those who have an inner desire to walk in the Light. Paul said it this way in his letter to Titus: "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (1:15, KJV).
For our edification this morning we are going to take Luke's focus upon Theophilus as the focal point for the organization of the facts of our text.
September 6, 2009
- I. Luke's Major Theme.
- A. Luke selectively used his description of Herod as "the tetrarch" to highlight the major associated fact that God has spoken.
- 1. In Luke's first reference to "tetrarch" (3:1), Luke's record is that "the word of God came" and was proclaimed (3:2-3) according to the Scriptures (3:4-6).
- 2. In Luke's second reference to "tetrarch" (3:19) two facts stand out: first, there is no obvious need to call Herod "the tetrarch"; and, second, Herod's action in this text was taken because the "word of God" was directly applied to him in a most unflattering way.
- a. Theophilus was some kind of political appointee and had absolutely no need to be told of Herod's "tetrarchy".
- b. Luke refers to "Herod" 12 times in his Gospel and 9 times in Acts, but only identifies him as "the tetrarch" four times and three of those four are "redundant".
- 1) Redundancy in the Bible is always emphatic and used to draw specific attention.
- 2) Luke's redundancy in regard to "tetrarch" is deliberately focused upon the issue of "spoken Truth".
- 3. In this third of Luke's references to "tetrarch", Herod is described as having "heard" and the immediately preceding verse says the disciples were "preaching".
- B. Luke deliberately used the ideas of the rumors to highlight "prophecy" as the issue: God has spoken.
- 1. John was introduced to us as a prophet fulfilling prophecy (Luke 3:1-6).
- 2. Elijah was considered a most potent prophet whose reappearance would signal the coming of the Messiah according to the prophecies (Mark 9:11).
- 3. One of the ancient prophets is the most general identification made by the least understanding, but the fact stands clear: "prophet" is the name of the game.
- II. Luke's Undercurrent Themes.
- A. God's revelation is not unclear.
- 1. In the first place, the "tetrarch" did not have any trouble at all in understanding John's words to/about the evil of his ways.
- 2. In the second place, Luke's record of this text -- that Herod heard -- is enormously significant in terms of the issue of clarity.
- a. The first claim -- that Herod heard -- simply means what Paul later declared in Acts 26:26: the information about Jesus' power and doctrine was pervasive.
- 1) John 7:12 establishes the fact that Jesus' doctrine was not ambiguous.
- 2) The "logic" of all four writers of Gospels is that the power is determinative.
- 3) The argument is that if Herod heard the information, it had reached into the upper echelons of government and, therefore, was enormously widespread.
- b. The second claim is that what Herod heard was sufficiently convincing that he wanted to see Jesus (9:9) so that he might witness Him doing a miracle (Luke 23:8).
- c. The point is that there was no one in all Judea and Galilee who did not know that Jesus of Nazareth was teaching specific doctrines and backing them up with the exercise of more power than anyone had ever before seen.
- B. That clarity is insufficient/sufficient.
- 1. That this record comes immediately upon the heels of Jesus' restrictions upon The Twelve, we know that Luke could not have so quickly abandoned his focus upon the human side of the issue of redemption: faith.
- 2. That this record is a revelation of Herod's persistent unbelief in the face of the testimony is simply an acknowledgement of the biblical truth of Sin's impact upon those who engage in it.
- a. Sin's impact upon sinners is not external or of a minor nature.
- b. Sin's impact upon sinners is a profound internal "confusion" of the nature of Faith and Love.
- 1) Luke deliberately refers to Herod's "perplexity" as the result of multiple "options" of faith.
- 2) But "perplexity" in the same paragraph as "clarity" is a jarring contrast that pushes the question of how both can be at the same time.
- 3) The answer to that question is not hard: those who walk in darkness simply cannot see even what is most obvious.
- 3. That this record exists is Luke's way of letting Theophilus know that what he believed is true.
- a. Hebrews 6:18, in context, says many things.
- 1) First, it says that what God has said is true.
- 2) Second, it says that what God has said is not easily established in our minds as "that which can be counted upon".
- 3) Third, it says that we need an anchor for our souls that is both sure and steadfast.
- 4) Fourth, it says that we have that anchor when God speaks and validates what He has said if we believe Him.
- b. Luke's record to Theophilus was one such "soul-anchoring" revelation.
- c. This means that, though potent evidence will not create faith, it will sustain it.