Each week we will post the handouts, notes, and other materials from the discovery hours lesson on Sunday. This is the handout from out first lession on September 6, 2008
In the beginning of his gospel, Luke explains to one of his anticipated readers, Theophilus, that he is writing in part, “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (1:4). Luke spends chapters 1, 2, 3 on the birth of Jesus, his baptism, and his genealogy before taking up his public ministry in chapter 4, beginning with his temptation in desert. This focus on Jesus’ public ministry continues in the book until the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem (chapter 19) and the events of the last week of his life. We will be examining several events from this public ministry period in the next few weeks. Each one teaches us important lessons about Jesus, our relationship with him and our relationship with others.
These texts fall into a genre often called historical narrative. One of the interesting characteristics of this type of narrative is that it almost always has a particular point or lesson embedded in it. These narratives record events in the life of Christ, but they do much more, as is obvious from the way they are written. As Biblical scholar Leland Ryken states: “The four New Testament Gospels contain the same three ingredients that are intermingled throughout the Bible: the historical impulse to record the facts, the theological and didactic impulse to teach religious truth, and the literary impulse to recreate experiences in our imaginations.” (Words of Life, p. 29).
As Ryken also describes, the gospels give us a portrait of the many sides of Jesus. Donald Hagner characterizes the encounters of Jesus in the gospels as “replays”:
In these replays the action can be dramatically slowed down so that one is able to see much more than one was able to see in the action as it actually occurred. If one is given the full treatment – close-up, slow action, forward-and-reverse, split-screen, the same scene from several perspectives, and with the verbal commentary and interpretation of an expert superimposed – one has a fair analogy of what the evangelists do … One might add to the significance of the analogy by pointing out that the true significance of certain plays can only be known after the game is over” (Donald Hagner, “Interpreting the Gospels: The Landscape and the Quest,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 24 (1981): 34.)
As such, it is important for us to consider the particular aspects of Jesus’ character and teachings that are highlighted in each particular recorded encounter. Which side of his personality do we see? Which aspects of his teaching and how are those aspects emphasized? These are the kinds of questions we will be asking today about his teaching about the Sabbath.
Further Reading: See 1 Sam 21:1-9 for the passage which describes the event from the live of David that Jesus refers to in verse 3, where David and his men ate what was unlawful to eat, food only for priests. Also see other passages in Luke where Jesus challenges the Pharisees in their practice of the Sabbath (13:10-19 and 14: 1-6) as well as passages in the other gospels focused on Jesus and the Sabbath (Matthew 12: 1-14; Mark 2:23-3:6; John 5: 16-30; 7:14-24; 9:13-34).