Module 33: Jesus the Perfect Teacher
Module Guide: Luke - Jesus Christ the Man
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Luke was a Greek and a physician. He wrote moreover to a Greek, his friend Theophilus. These facts enable us to appreciate his standpoint, and thus to approach the study of this gospel intelligently. The Greek ideal was that of the perfection of the individual, and Luke sets Jesus before us in all the perfection of His human nature, showing how it transcends, by virtue of the work He accomplished, anything which the highest conceptions of Greek culture had ever conceived. His presentation of Jesus falls into three distinct parts, in which he shows Him as Perfect (1-3); Perfected (4-9:36); Perfecting (9:37-24:53).
The opening paragraph constitutes a prologue, in which Luke carefully stated the method of his writing, giving the sources of his information, and declaring that he had "traced the course of all things accurately." That is pre-eminently the method of the artist who from a mass of material produces an orderly statement.
Following that method, he first presented the Person of Jesus in three movements; His being and birth; His childhood and confirmation; His development and anointing.
As to the first, he gave the account of the angelic annunciations, which account was immediately followed by that of the songs of the Mothers, and of the birth of Jesus. Thus he dealt first with the physical side, showing that this Child came into human nature, but not as the result of human will or act.
The next picture presents the Child at about twelve years of age, when according to Hebrew custom. He was presented for confirmation, and became a son of the law. The outstanding impression is that of the mental, as with perfect naturalness, in questions and answers, He revealed an intellectual capacity which astonished the rulers of His people.
The final movement in this division tells the story of the baptism and anointing of Jesus. Here the special revelation is that of the spiritual perfection of the Man as He set His face toward His life work. Thus the threefold perfection of Jesus is set forth.
In connection with the last of these three movements, Luke gave an account of the ministry of John, which is followed by the genealogy which traced the descent of Jesus, even on the human side, through all mediating men to God Himself.
Having thus shown what may be termed the natural perfection of Jesus, Luke proceeded to tell the story of how He was perfected by processes of testing. Of these there were three; that of temptation, in which He dealt with the under-world of evil in the person of its prince, the devil; that of teaching, in which He dealt with the world of men about Him; and that of transfiguration, in which the supreme value is the revelation of His relation to God.
The first of these was a process in which, led by the Spirit, He challenged evil, and sustained by the Spirit, met all its onslaughts, and gained full and final victory. The whole temptation was in the realm of the manhood of Jesus. The words with which He rebutted the attacks of Satan were quotations from the Divine law for the government of human life. He deliberately abode in the will of God as revealed in that law, and so overcame the enemy at every point. The issue Luke declared in the words, "When the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from Him for a season," and "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee ... and taught." This statement reveals the exhaustive nature of hell's onslaught; but the thoroughness of the temptation is the completeness of the victory.
The second process and issue reveals the perfecting of Jesus in relation to men. In the synagogue at Nazareth with which He was perfectly familiar from youthful association, He claimed the fulfilment of prophecy in His own Person, and was immediately rejected as the men of Nazareth attempted to do Him violence. Luke next gave a series of pictures revealing different aspects of His work in Capernaum; teaching, mastery over demons and disease, and healing of all who came to Him.
He then told how Jesus called the twelve into a mountain, and appointed them to apostolic office and service; and passing from the mountain came with them into the midst of the multitudes, and repeated portions of the great manifesto which Matthew records as having been given at an earlier point in His ministry. Jesus then passed over the national barrier and brought blessing to the house of a Roman centurion. The next picture is that of the meeting, in the gateway at Nain, between death and the Lord of life, with the transformation of the procession of death and sorrow, into the triumphant march of life and joy. Following is the account of John's inquiry, with Christ's answer and consequent address to the multitudes; then the story of the scene in the house of Simon, and the account of His journeying with the twelve through cities and villages, teaching both by parables and miracles.
Finally, the twelve were sent forth alone on a mission from which they returned flushed with victory. He led them apart, ultimately to Caesarea Philippi. There the confession of Peter illustrated his perfection as a Teacher, as it declared the essential truth concerning Him. Jesus immediately commenced the second stage in the training of His own disciples, as turning toward the supreme work of the Cross, He prepared them by announcing it to them.
The third and last process and issue, that of transfiguration, would perhaps be more accurately described as an issue resulting from the process of all so far considered. The story of the transfiguration is that of the coming to final perfection of the human nature of Jesus. Up to this point the life had been probationary. A perfect instrument had nevertheless been subjected to the testing of temptation, and of responsibility. In both He had been victorious, mastering all attacks made upon Him by the under-world of evil, and living so absolutely at the disposal of God, as to have been the Instrument through which light had shined upon others. Thus through innocence and holiness He came to that transfiguration, or metamorphosis, by which without death He, in His humanity, was prepared to pass from the earthly scene into all the larger spaces of the life that lay beyond. In the glory of this mountain we see Him revealing the ultimate intention of God, and the consequent consummation of human nature. The contrast between this Man and all other men who must pass to death because of sin, became most vivid in this hour. At this point in the narrative of Luke the utmost reach of the Greek ideal was realized. This is the absolutely perfect human Being. All the rest of the story has to do with sacrificial work on behalf of others.
The Greek teachers had recognized the necessity for sacrifice in order to the realization of personal perfection, but that a perfect One should suffer for the imperfect was new, and this is the story of the last division of the gospel.
Fittingly Luke placed the story of the healing of the demon-possessed boy immediately following the account of the transfiguration. The only begotten Son of God met an only begotten son of man. Raving turned His back upon His right of entry to the larger life, descending into the valley, He came into contact with one, devil-possessed, and so prevented from the possibility of entering into the life that now is. Immediately He cast the devil forth, and gave the boy back to his father. It was a symbolic miracle, suggesting that work to which He was now passing, as His face was toward the Cross; and became the occasion of a conversation with His disciples in which He corrected their false views of greatness and of dignity.
This last division is centred in the Cross, and falls into three parts. The first deals with the purpose and preparation; the second with the approach and accomplishment; and the last with the administration.
The purpose is declared in the words, "When the days were well-nigh come that He should be received up. He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." That is the key to all that follows in this section. Anything in the nature of detailed analysis is almost impossible. The Prophet Priest is seen pressing resolutely and yet quietly on toward the city and the Cross. On the way He was perpetually occupied in correcting all kinds of mistakes made by all kinds of people; and instructing as He went. In turn He dealt with His disciples concerning varied matters; addressed the multitudes, and manifested His power on their behalf; rebuked the rulers as responsible; answered the criticism of His enemies; and scattered helpful words and beneficent deeds among the people, according to their individual requirements. It was wholly a ministry of prophecy, revealing superlatively the darkness in which the people were living, flinging up into startling distinctness the sins of the time, and thus supremely and overwhelmingly revealing the necessity for that very work, the accomplishment of which was the reason of His first coming; and moreover, of His recent descent from the mount of transfiguration. The perfect One, perfected to demonstration in the process of His own life, is now seen doing the preparatory work in order to the perfecting of those who need His help.
The next section commences with the words, "He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem," and with the declarations He made in connection therewith. It may be analyzed around this affirmation of Jesus. Thus we have first the account of the immediate approach, as He and His disciples took their way through Jericho to Jerusalem. On the journey He healed Bartimaeus, and entering into the house of Zacchaeus excited the astonishment and opposition of those who observed Him. Because He was nigh the city, He uttered the parable which predicted His own rejection, and indicated the responsibility which would rest upon His representatives after He had gone. At last He entered the city itself, in the midst of acclamations; and His own attitude is revealed in a wonderful merging of tenderness and terror, as He swept over the city, and uttered the prediction of its coming doom.
Then follows the account of how He was "delivered to the Gentiles." His first act was to cleanse the Temple. This was followed by the criticism and questioning of the authorities, to which He replied directly, accompanying His answers by parables of denunciation. Then came the beginning of the end. The priests and the devil are seen in coalition. Their one central work was to get rid of Jesus. They were afraid of the people, but at last they gained their vote and crucified Him. He gathered His apostles about Him, and the shadow of the ancient ceremonial ritual was merged in the substance of the new Feast. He gave them fresh instructions, which indicated the necessity henceforth for forethought and arrangement in all their service for Him.
Luke now brings us into the land of shadows. In Gethsemane we see Jesus keenly alive to the terrible nature of the passion baptism, but resolutely abandoned still to His Father's will. Immediately all the storm of the malice of devils and the sin of man broke upon His head. Judas the betrayer kissed Him to death. Peter the boaster blundered with a sword, followed afar, and finally polluted the night air with blasphemy. The servants that held Him mocked and beat Him. The council formally and definitely rejected Him. Nevertheless the figure of the Christ is still commanding and arresting. He passed through this hour with the firm step of a Conqueror. To Judas He spoke strong and awful words, which opened perdition before him. Peter He looked back to penitence and tears. In the hands of brutality He opened not His mouth. To the council He formally declared His high office, and coming dignity. Out of the hour and power of darkness He brought light and victory for all the enslaved; and proved that in the toils of His foes, and in the extremity of His weakness, He was yet mightier than all the power of the adversary; and by victory won through defeat He turned the hour of darkness into the daybreak of the race. Two men saw Jesus for the first time, Pilate and Herod. The one sold his conscience to save his position. The other, having no conscience left, endeavoured to satisfy his morbid sensual curiosity with a new thrill, and the only thrill he gained was the tragic silence of the Son of God.
The story of the Cross itself is told by Luke with sublime simplicity. We stand again on the margin of the sea of unutterable anguish, and remember that His submerging was for our rescue. What it meant to Him of suffering, and to us of deliverance, is only understood as we remember that He exhausted all the force of its sweeping waters; and we now stand on the far side with Him, singing the triumph song of those whose judgment is passed, and whose heaven is won. What mingled feelings of disappointment and love must have filled the heart of Joseph as he laid the body of Jesus in his garden grave. Thank God for ever, for the love of this heart that found resting-place for the sacred body which was never to see corruption.
And thus we reach "the third day." No human eye saw the resurrection. The failure of the disciples to believe Him concerning His return out of death prevented their watching for it, and the keepers were not permitted to behold; for emerging from the grave-clothes, without discomposing them. He left the tomb before the stone was rolled away. Yet while no human eye saw the daybreak, men everywhere were soon to walk in the full light of the glorious day.
The last page of Luke's gospel gives us some suggestive glimpses of the personal administration of the priestly work of Jesus. All the appearances were to His own, and all He did was on their behalf. The story of the walk to Emmaus is full of fascination. Two men in unbelief, and yet in love declared, "We hoped that it was He which should redeem Israel." To them He gave new interpretation of the Scriptures with which they were familiar, which created a burning of heart, which consisted in the kindling of a new passion for Him, and for the enterprises of His heart.
Then with startling abruptness He revealed to them the new comradeship existing between them, which created their confidence for all the coming days. Coming into their midst through closed doors, He invited them to see His hands and His feet, and know that it was He Himself, and moreover, He ate a piece of broiled fish.
He then gave them a commission which indicated the relation of all the past and the future in the economy of God to Himself; the ancient writings, the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms concerned Him. Their ultimate message was of His suffering and resurrection. In order to the preaching of repentance and remission to all the nations, His disciples were first to enter into the experience, and so to become witnesses.
The last vision of Him is that of hands outstretched in priestly benediction as He left them, in consequence of which they returned to the Temple and to worship; thus, through His priesthood, fulfilling their own.
PART A: PERFECT - Luke 1:1-3:38
Prologue - Luke 1:1-1:4
A.1. Being and Birth - Luke 1:5-2:39
- Angelic Annunciations - 1:5-1:38
- The Two Mothers - 1:39-1:56
- The Births - 1:57-2:39
A.2. Childhood and Confirmation - Luke 2:40-2:52
- Growth - 2:40
- Confirmation - 2:41-2:51
- Advancement - 2:52
A.3. Development and Anointing - Luke 3:1-3:22
- The Ministry of John - 3:1-3:20
- Anointing and Attestation 3:21-3:22
A.4. Genealogy 3:17 with 11:2 - Luke 3:23-3:38
Part B: PERFECTED - Luke 4:1-9:36
B.1. Temptation. First Process and Issue - Luke 4:1-4:14
- The Challenge - 4:1-4:2
- The Process - 4:3-4:12
- The Issue - 4:13-4:14
B.2. Teaching. Second Process and Issue - Luke 4:15-9:27
- Induction and things following - 4:15-6:11
- The Twelve - 6:12-8:56
- The Issue - 9:1-9:27
B.3. Transfiguration. Third Process and Issue - Luke 9:28-9:36
- The Process is in the perfecting already considered
- The Issue
Part C: PERFECTING - Luke 9:37-24:53
Prelude - Luke 9:37-9:50
- Symbolic Miracle - 9:37-9:45
- The Disciples - 9:46-9:50
C.1. Purpose and Preparation - Luke 9:51-18:30
- Purpose - The Key to all that follows - 9:51
- Preparation - 9:52-18:30
- The Journey - 9:52-9:62
- The Prophet Priest - 10:1-10:24
- Correction all Classes - 10:25-10:42
- Disciples as such - 11:1-11:54
- Multitudes - 12:1-12:59
- Rulers as responsible - 13:1-14:35
- Individuals according to need - 15:1-18:30
C.2. Approach and Accomplishment - Luke 18:31-24:12
- Approach - The Key to all that follows - 18:31-18:34
- Accomplishment - 18:35-24:12
- The Priest making Atonement
- Up to Jerusalem - 18:35-19:44
- Delivered to Gentiles - 19:45-23:56
- The Third Day - 24:1-24:12
C.3. Administration - Luke 24:13-24:53
- The New Interpretation - creating Passion - 24:13-24:35
- The New Comradeship - creating Confidence - 24:36-24:43
- The New Commission - creating Responsibility - 24:44-24:49
- The New Benediction - creating Worship - 24:50-24:53
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.