Jesus: the Lord of the New Israel


I. Jesus prayed all night and then selected twelve apostles (Luke 6: 12-19 – foundation for the new people of God). The twelve tribes are now being fulfilled through apostolic ministry. In Luke 22:28-30, Jesus promised that the apostles would “drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The culmination of this is seen in Revelation 7:4, where 144,00 of “all the tribes of the children of Israel” were sealed. This might be symbolic of the completed number of ethnic Jews that will be saved, or it might be identical with the “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9) Revelation 14:1-5 indicates that such identification might be what is intended, that is, to identify all that “have been redeemed from mankind (14:4) as included in the 144,000. The Gentiles have been incorporated in Israel symbolized by the number of patriarchs, times the number of apostles, times 1000.

A. Jesus depended on prayer – He prayed all night on this occasion; daytimes were difficult to find solitude because of the crowds that relentlessly sought him out. Every selection needed special guidance, even that of Judas Iscariot.

B. Jesus selected the twelve – verses 13 – 16. The list ends with two named Judas, the last defined by the sobering word “who became a traitor.” The human means by which Jesus would be delivered up into the hands of hostile men was included in the clear direction given in answer to Jesus’ prayer. To Peter was revealed the way in which this selection fit the eternal decree of God when he preached, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23).

C. Jesus engaged the multitude with power, compassion, and instruction (Verses 17-19)

  1. Having prayed all night and having just selected as a disciple the one that would betray him, he now turned attention to works of compassion and instruction. He came to serve, he came to show his ability to end sickness, the oppression of the demonic, death itself, and to forgive sin. The demands on his time and energy as a man were enormous. This massive gathering of people came immediately after his having stayed up all night. The great “Mystery of godliness” was never more evident than in these displays of human compassion and divine power.
  2. The phrase “power came out from him” seems to indicate that on this occasion, the work of healing was from a power intrinsic to himself (see also 7:14). The divine prerogative and power of healing and forgiveness of sins (Luke 5:17-26) came together in the healing of the paralytic. “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”
  3. On occasion the power of his operation was from the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 12:28, 32), and on other occasions a peculiar work of the Father through Jesus (John 11:38-43). The same interplay of power is evident in the resurrection of Jesus (by the glory of the Father, through the Spirit of holiness, by an authority in Jesus himself). These reciprocal and intertwined operations of divine power, prerogative, and authority lead to the necessity of articulating a doctrine of the Trinity.


II. Jesus issues a set of blessings and cursings in a fallen and upside-down world (verses 20-26) – Since Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5), and he is building a new nation on a new covenant, he now shows a new set of blessings and cursings. (Cf Deut. 27-28).

A. Verses 20-23 – Jesus shows the blessedness of being poor, hungry, sorrowful, and hated. Blessing comes in not being captured by the world’s goods or approval – Poor – not grasping for worldly goods but realizing that our true need arises from our spiritual destitution. Hunger – not pursuing earthly food but hungering for righteousness; Weep – sorrow for sin overwhelms any attempt for mere temporal frivolity; hate and scorn – when love of gospel truth brings scorn from the world. A knowledge of the excellence of Jesus Christ makes us willingly lose all other things that might be counted gain in this world (Paul in Philippians 3: 8-11).

B. Verses 24-26 – Curses come to those who attain the very things that the blessed have forsaken. Cursing comes from affection for the world’s goods and approval. For those who desire riches as their goal in life, that will be their only consolation to have gained it, but their loss will be eternal. “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18: 24). The goal of full bellies now brings a wretched gnawing in the gut later. Laughter from the pleasure of this perverse world’s standards, will result in unending wailing and gnashing of teeth. Courting the world’s favor now, is to be an enemy of God. False prophets find gospel truth in its full dimensions unacceptable to the population at large and pursue a message that pleases and flatters.

C. Compare James 1:9-11 and 1 Timothy 6:6-11; 17-19.for warnings against seeking satisfaction in worldly wealth. “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation” (James 1:9, 10 NKJV). “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim 6:9 NKJV)


III. Ethics built on knowledge of Grace for children of the God of Grace  (Verses 27-38).

A. Verses 27, and verses 35, 36 – The actions of the people of God must be built, not on natural justice, but voluntary grace.

  1. Even though Jesus pronounces woe upon the worldly and shows that they will be enemies of God eternally, he admonishes children of the kingdom to love their enemies. This marks kingdom children clearly as having been brought from darkness to light. We become his children in the first place only because God loves his enemies Look at Romans 5:6-10; Titus 3:3-5; 1 John 2:16 and 4:7-10. These texts reveal much about the absolute grace that has saved us through describing our former condition. Here are words and phrases used.
    • Without strength, ungodly, still sinners, under wrath, enemies
    • Foolish, disobedient, deceived, slaves to lusts and pleasures, malicious, envious, hateful, and hated.
    • Lust of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, pride of life
  1. First John 4:7-10 sets forth the love of God toward sinner in sending his Son as the model for our lives being characterized by love, a self-giving determination even toward those who have no affection for us. God sent Jesus, his beloved Son, to be the victim of his just wrath that sinners would be forgiven.
  2. The chief manifestation of the gratuitous nature of our new morality, our new ethic, is in imitation of our heavenly Father who has been the source of mercy for us. The outpouring of an undeserved, counter-meritorious benevolence shows we do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, we do not claim to be intrinsically superior to any, and that we have an undying gratitude to the one that loved us even while were dead in trespasses in sins (Ephesians 2:3, 4).
  1. Verses 35 and 36 highlight this aspect of the Father’s mercy to us again in order that we might establish a foundation for this new kingdom as the new people who shall inhabit it. The chief recreation and occupation of this kingdom will be an ever-growing sense of gratitude and praise for the boundless mercy shown in the Father’s forgiveness of sinners through his Son (Revelation 5:9-14; 22:1-5).
  2. This Kingdom of Forgiveness would not have been established had the expectations of Jesus’ contemporaries been fulfilled—As he moved relentlessly toward Jerusalem, “They thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19: 11). Instead, Jesus was saying, “It cannot be that a prophet should perish outside Jerusalem . . . The Son of Man will be delivered to the Gentiles. .. . . They will scourge him and kill him” (Luke 18: 31-33). His kingdom would not be established apart from his suffering and death by and for his enemies.

B. Verses 28-31 show that it is imperative that recipients of grace live with an impulse of grace toward others.

  1. We must foster a submissive and forgiving response to aggression. Those that curse us can neither truly curse nor redeem us; only one has removed the curse from us for he was cursed for us (Galatians 3:10-14).
  2. As an example of prophetic importance, Jesus spoke about those who smite on the cheek and take away one’s coat (29). To those that struck Jesus on his cheek, and gambled that they might take away his cloak, he asked the Father to forgive them. As his brothers, therefore, in the hope of redemption for those that have falsely assumed a position of power and superiority over us, we pray for forgiveness. We willingly part with temporal goods that we might show them the treasures where neither moth nor rust corrupt and thieves do not break through and steal.
  3. Not only do we bear and forbear, we seek a way to do eternal good to those that position themselves as our enemies (30). If we were unaware of an imminent fatal danger, would we not wish even our enemies to warn us of it? “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

C. Verses 32-34 – The response of the forgiven must transcend the response of natural men. To do good to those that benefit us is only to engage in a species of self-love. This kind of self-seeking focus is the very nature of sin and shows why “sinners” so easily can conform to a pattern of appearing helpful, when they have the knowledge that ultimately they will receive worldly advantage from their apparent altruism. Jesus is teaching us to approach the world redemptively. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul said “Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”

D. Verses 37, 38 – On what basis do any of us forgiven sinners have the prerogative or the unblemished insight to sit in judgment over others?

  1. Our zeal should be not for the condemnation of others, but for their forgiveness. Only God knows those that will finally end life in an unforgiven, unredeemed state. We do not.
  2. Nor are we the ones with any right to be personally aggravated and offended at human sin as if we sat on the circle of the law with pure eyes to behold the true nature of every offense. No, we ourselves have been dyed with the blood-red guilt of lawlessness. We, therefore, have no prerogative to judge others.
  3. Rather, as forgiven people we must work for their forgiveness. When we forgive, we show that the principle of forgiveness has entered our hearts. If we know of how much we have been forgiven, we will not be slow to forgive others.


IV. Instruction built on a knowledge of the deceitful, corrupt heart 39-45

A. Verse 39 – How can the blind guide the blind? Spiritual guidance apart from genuine spiritual experience is disastrous. Blindness may be of two sorts: 1. An ignorance of the truth that generates opposition to it. Such were the Judaizers in Galatians and such were many of the Pharisees in their view of the purpose of the Law. 2. Blindness toward true gospel experience –One that has never experienced repentance or seen the true glory of Christ makes an incompetent guide in sorting out the nature of human response to the gospel call to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

B. In verses 40-43, Jesus explores both of these ideas in the preparation of qualified teachers.

  1. Verse 40 – We must all wait on right instruction to be teachers. This is such a profound and essential element of being a truth purveyor that many passages emphasize its importance from different angles. For example, contemplate how these passages relate to this idea [1 Cor 2:14-16; Hebrews 5:11-14; James 3:1-18]; Because the gospel is a matter of divine revelation and revelation comes in words, one that would teach must first of all learn so that he becomes skillful in understanding the concepts, propositions, flow of thought, development of argument throughout the text of Scripture. He must master big ideas and foundational elements of revelatory truth, so as to deal faithfully with those “things . . . that are hard to understand” but are necessary to deal with faithfully, since God in his infallible wisdom has chosen to reveal them (Look at 2 Peter 3:14-18). Jesus’ words here in Luke are in anticipation of verse 46-49.
  2. Verses 41, 42 – This image of the speck and the log shows how egregiously the call to teach can be violated. The teacher is admonished to “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). One who has not dealt with the greatness of his own sin cannot be guide to help others see theirs. cf. Galatians 6:1-3; This is a difficult requirement of gospel teaching, for it is filled with the temptation of spiritual pride and always skirts close to the edge of self-righteous judgment. To keep an eye to our own tendencies to the full range of destructive works of the flesh, maintaining a circumspect walk, and an awareness of the necessity of correction and restoration for a fellow Christian enmeshed in the subtle and destructive powers of indwelling sin. These may range from a sexual fall to the bitter fruit of conceit, envy, and jealousy that causes us to bite and devour one another. While teachers are called to this task in a special way by virtue of their gifts and office, all Christians must maintain the same sense of stewardship of both personal life and loving admonition and encouragement to the members of the body.

C. Verses 43-45 – Such knowledge can only be attained through a change of heart

  1. Spiritual work in the heart produces sensitivity to spiritual fruit – Galatians 5:16-26
  2. We may examine our own spiritual standing by looking at the true nature of our actions – (44 ).
  3. We may be of help to others when our speech reflects spiritual discernment – (45). “His mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”


V. Verses 46-49 – True instruction that bears spiritual fruit is built on a knowledge of the teaching of Jesus. Jesus has assumed the same position of authority and the prerogative of giving curses or blessings that we see assumed in Deut 28:13-15.

A. Verse 46 – Jesus claims the prerogative of the law-giver/authoritative teacher. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” He does not ask advice, nor does he appear confused or agnostic about the absolute values of the present or of the character of personal existence in the future. He is not ambivalent about the reality of sin and judgment or of forgiveness and grace. He alone is the true teacher who gives us the word of God—his own word.

B. Belief of Jesus’s words, assuming such belief arises from the change of heart described above, and produces appropriate fruit, establishes one against every onslaught of time and eternity. When the torrent bursts against it, he will not falter here, for his affections are settled on the unchangeable joy and glory of heaven; he will not falter hereafter under the deluge of divine wrath for his hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

C. Failure to believe the words of Jesus in such a way as to manifest fruit brings disaster. When Jesus asked his disciples in John 6: 67-69 if they would join the crowd that left because of the difficulty of his words, Peter responded, “Lord to whom shall we go; you have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Even at that, one who heard those word, Judas, did not do them, and the ruin of his house was indeed great.

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
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