When a believer comes to the Bible, she has questions in her mind that she would like answered. That is inevitable. Christians profess that the Bible has authority, that God speaks in and through it. So, whether consciously or sub-, the reader has expectations of the Bible that they desire God to fulfill.
But what is the right question to ask?
In my mind, the question many are trained to ask is "how am I saved?" So in any passage, be it in Numbers, the Gospels or Galatians, there is a salvific angst pressed upon the book by the reader and this question he/she has been taught to ask.
Is this question good/bad/helpful? What other questions do you see others asking? What about yourself and your own scriptural interrogations?
"God is light, and in Him is no un-Christlikeness"--Graham Cole
Take a few of Paul's commands to the church in Rome: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (12:9); "Do not repay anyone evil for evil; respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (12:17-18).
Do God and Jesus adhere to these ethical commands?* Is it odd to consider that God himself clings to good, doesn't meet evildoers with evil and seeks peace with his creation? Or that Jesus loved sincerely and did what was right in the sight of men? (I find that last bit especially interesting).
*I'm sorry I left out the Holy Spirit. I'll try to make it up to him in a later post.
The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series is well underway, with the publication of James, Galatians, Matthew, Ephesians and now Luke joining the number. This volume follows the vision of the series with the focus on accessible Greek language examination/translation and theological discussion in the commentary, and with an application section that concludes each section.
David Garland works through Luke largely by means of literary criticism (akin to Osborne's work on Matthew). He observes differences between the gospels, but seldom takes time to expound or explain them (unlike Bock; however, see his discussion on the divorce logion in Lk 16:18). Depending on the section, he works verse-by-verse and comments concisely on important Greek words (sans transliteration!). He includes relevant Jewish and Greco-Roman writings to help seat Luke's account of Jesus inside its first-century world, and he isn't afraid to look to Acts when explaining Luke.
While all of this sounds like standard fare for a commentary, it is done exceptionally well by Garland. While not a Luke specialist per se, he is a commentary specialist--with commentaries on Mark, 1 Corinthians and Colossians/Philemon under his belt. As a result, his writing is clear and concise, and his prose often sparkles with clever turns of phrase. This is most evident in the application sections, where he encourages care for the needy or speaks on divorce with pastoral sensitivity.
Depending on what one needs in a commentary, this one-volume work is a great foundation for studying and preaching on Luke. Up-to-date, academically informed and pastorally sensitive--it is well worth having.
Here's a brief homily I used to introduce the Lord's Supper on Sunday:
The cross is seen as the main symbol of Christianity, and rightly so. The cross clearly symbolizes Jesus' suffering and death, which is essential for faith and the gospel. Unfortunately, the other important symbols--the bread and the cup--can be easily downplayed or totally ignored. However, we cannot overlook them because Jesus used the bread and the cup to interpret and explain his death. Jesus did not die as an inspirational martyr under a corrupt system; he died for us. "This is my body given for you." And his blood was not shed to display his guilt as a lawbreaker; it was shed to begin a new covenant--a new relationship between us and God--that manifests itself in the forgiveness of sin. "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, for the forgiveness of sins." Thus we see that Jesus' death isn't the end of a life, but the beginning of a new relationship between God and those who trust in him. So let us honor and celebrate his death by taking the bread and the cup.
“The systematic theologian: a lamentable creature, whose reach exceeds his grasp, responsibility outdistances his competence; he is dependent on the Bible as his foundation, yet he lacks the exegete’s mastery of the language, textual intricacies and historical backgrounds. He can only aspire to the analytic rigor of philosophers. Historians shake their heads in dismay at his hasty generalizations, and longsuffering social scientists wait for him to say something relevant.”