The Luke Challenge Catch-Up

At the beginning of December, I started Year One of what I hope is a new tradition. I challenged myself to read the Book of Luke, an entire account of Jesus’s life, a chapter a day, leading up to Christmas. Below. My summaries. My interpretation follows. I’m no Bible scholar, just a regular person, trying to be better than the person I was yesterday. Maybe next year I’ll add to this outline. Maybe this year you’d like to join me for the last ten days of Luke.

  • Luke 1:
    • The angel Gabriel appears to Elizabeth’s husband and Mary (separately) to announce immaculate conceptions for both.
  • Luke 2:
    • Jesus is born.
    • Within the chapter he is twelve, listening and asking questions of temple teachers.
    • He grows in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
  • Luke 3:
    • Genealogy of Jesus.
  • Luke 4:
    • Jesus is tested and rejected, and he heals the sick.
  • Luke 5:
    • Jesus call his first disciples.
    • He heals leprosy and forgives and heals a man with paralysis.
    • He eats with sinners.
  • Luke 6:
    • Jesus prays before choosing his disciples/friends.
    • He heals more and more people.
    • He teaches:
      • Love your enemies.
      • Do not judge and you won’t be judged.
      • Forgive and you will be forgiven.
  • Luke 7:
    • Jesus performs a resurrection.
    • He forgives a sinful woman.
    • He teaches with a story of debts and forgiveness.
  • Luke 8:
    • Jesus teaches with parables—the seed sower and the lamp on the stand.
    • Jesus chooses his family.
    • He calms storms.
    • He heals.
    • He resurrects.
  • Luke 9:
    • Jesus gives disciples the power and authority to heal and humbly spread news of God.
    • Jesus feeds five thousand, heals more people, and speaks about God’s kingdom.
    • Peter declares Jesus the Messiah.
    • Jesus, as son of man, says—
      • That he must suffer.
      • That he will be rejected and killed.
      • That he will be raised from the dead.
      • Follow me if you want to save your life (for everlasting life).
    • Peter, John, and James pray with Jesus on the mountain.
      • Jesus transforms and his face glows.
      • Moses and Elijah appear in glorious splendor and speak of Jesus’s departure.
      • A cloud descends and God speaks—“This is my son, listen to him.”
    • Jesus heals another person and predicts his death a second time.
      • He tells his disciples to get rid of their egos.
      • He says—Whoever is not against you is for you.
    • On the way to Jerusalem (to his death)—
      • Jesus isn’t welcomed by the Samaritans, and he moves on.
      • People say they will follow him, but they have excuses in the moment.
  • Luke 10:
    • Jesus sends out 72 to spread God’s word.
    • He teaches with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
    • At Martha and Mary’s house, Martha busily prepares to be a hostess.
      • Mary spends time with Jesus.
      • Martha is bitter about her self-imposed work.
      • Jesus tells Martha that Mary’s choice is better.
  • Luke 11:
    • Jesus teaches his disciples to pray:
      • Give thanks, ask for forgiveness and help in forgiving others and help with temptations.
      • Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.  
    • Jesus says that kingdoms and houses divided will fall.
    • Jesus says to let the light within you shine.
    • Jesus instructs us to be generous to the poor.
  • Luke 12:
    • Jesus says, “Whoever acknowledges me before others…will also acknowledge before the angels of God.”
    • “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
    • Jesus teaches with the parable of the rich fool.
    • Jesus tells us we won’t prolong our life through worrying.
    • Jesus says, “Be ready…the son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
    • He says that there will be division in families and asks, “Why don’t you judge for yourself what is right?”
  • Luke 13:
    • Jesus instructs us to repent or perish and uses the parable of a man who has a fig tree that doesn’t bear fruit.
      • The advice to that man is—leave it alone for another year and see what happens.
    • Jesus heals a crippled woman who cannot stand straight.
    • Jesus uses the mustard seed and yeast parables for God’s growing kingdom.
    • Jesus says that the entrance into God’s kingdom is a narrow door.
    • Jesus hears that Herod wants to kill him. (This is a different Herod than Herod the Great who tried to have Baby Jesus killed).
  • Luke 14:
    • Jesus heals a man with abnormal swelling.
    • In a wedding feast parable, Jesus concludes, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
    • In the parable of the great feast, the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame are invited.
    • Being a disciple costs you yourself. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

No matter what you believe about Jesus or Christianity, in Luke we see Jesus spreading good news and deeds, in a humble, non-preachy way. He’s a natural teacher, using stories that allow people to draw their own conclusions. He doesn’t judge, and he forgives. Satan tests him, others reject him, and he suffers. Such is life. I believe that he calms storms and heals people and resurrects the dead to show us perfection in the afterlife. I don’t know about you, but Jesus gives me hope—and shows that our struggles strengthen us, that better days lay ahead. I could use a little hope. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and good tidings to you!   

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A New Tradition

Have you ever opened the bible at random to find a divine message from God? Perhaps I have. If so, it’s been awhile.

A day or two after Thanksgiving, my daughter Lauren called to tell me about her encounter with God. I could hear her smile and energy through my cell phone. “I opened the Bible and ended up in Amos, and I was like, ‘Amos, where am I?’” She laughed her twenty-eight-year-old laugh. “And this is what I found, I’m going to read it.” She hesitated through the words. “‘Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is’ (Amos 5:14). The words were bolded. They jumped off the page. I was like, ‘Seek good, not evil.’” She paused. The way she phrased the scripture sounded more like a question. “Of course, that makes sense.”

And I said, “No matter what you believe, the Bible has some good advice.”

Lauren agreed, and eventually we said our goodbyes, and a day or so later while Facebook scrolling, I found this:

I texted the image and a message to Lauren: I saw this today. I think I’m going to do this.

 She texted me: Oh that sounds good maybe I should do that

Me to her: We could read it and talk about it. New tradition.

And so I read Luke 1. If I ever knew the story, I didn’t remember that the angel Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth’s husband as well as Mary to announce immaculate conceptions for both. Two immaculate conceptions. One for a menopausal woman. The other for a virgin. I love a good miracle. Miracles keep my hope alive.   

On December 1, my friend Denise called. Denise, my friend since age five. I told her about Luke, and she wanted to join Lauren and me in the new tradition.

Later she texted me and some friends: I’m reading Luke – a chapter a day. I hadn’t remembered Mary going to Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist). All we need is that one friend right!?! God knew.

And I texted: Love that perspective.

And Cheri texted: Same here. I’ll join you.

And now for Luke 2. Let me tell you, Luke is not messing around. He jumps into the story. Jesus is born, and within the chapter he is twelve. Sitting among teachers at the temple. Listening. Asking questions. Growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

And no matter what you believe, Jesus was a good guy. We could all learn a little something through him. Who’s in? New tradition. The reason for the season.

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