SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Luke 12:1 through 19:27
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Today’s lesson describes Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem before His crucifixion. After leaving Galilee, Jesus passed through Samaria where He healed ten lepers. He spent some time east of the Jordan River and then went on to Jericho where He healed the blind man. Our text concludes with the conversion of Zacchaeus and Jesus’ visit to his home.
In this portion of text, Luke’s focus is on Jesus’ compassion and the teaching of His principles. Many of Jesus’ most well-known parables are in this segment; in fact, Jesus taught almost half of His parables while traveling through the countryside on His way to Jerusalem. Included are the accounts of the rich but foolish farmer, the chief rooms, a great feast, the lost sheep, a lost coin, a prodigal son, an unjust judge, and an unjust steward.
Jesus also spoke of His imminent death and gave numerous warnings regarding being alert for His return to earth — an event that will take many by surprise. He emphasized the necessity of striving to enter into the Kingdom of God and the high cost of discipleship, but also promised that those who sacrifice in this life will be greatly rewarded both here and in eternity.
Luke records several instances in these chapters when Jesus was criticized by the religious leaders of the day who were more concerned with their traditions than with the law of love. They condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath and eating with sinners, but Jesus knew their hearts and in each case responded with teachings that revealed their hypocrisy.
During this final journey, Luke highlighted the compassion of Jesus, noting how He gave special attention to the lowest in society: the women, the helpless, the poor, and the outcasts. He took time for little children and indicated by His teachings that He would go out of His way to find the lost. However, even though Luke portrayed Jesus as the Son of man — One who empathizes with humans — he also made it clear that Jesus was the divine Son of God.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus gave the parable of the rich but foolish farmer who decided to tear down his barns and build greater ones to store his crops. What precipitated this discourse by Jesus, and what point was He making in this parable?
Jesus’ discourse was triggered by a man who asked Him to resolve an inheritance problem so the man could get what he felt should be his. The point of the parable is found in Christ’s words, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (verse 15). Point out to your group that this warning is no less critical in our day than it was in the time of Christ. Though many in our society seek after material gain, riches will never satisfy, and there are countless snares and temptations that can come upon those who focus on having or seeking prosperity. Perhaps that is why Jesus gave more parables about money than any other topic.
- After giving the parable of the rich farmer, Jesus went on to tell His followers that “life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment,” and to explain that there was no need to worry about the provision of their needs (verses 23-34). How can we reconcile this injunction with other Scriptural admonitions to labor industriously to provide for our own necessities and those of our families?
Christ’s followers are not to be anxious about what to eat, drink, or wear. The phrase “life is more than meat [food]” (verse 23) highlights that man has a spiritual as well as a physical existence. While it is necessary to work and plan responsibly for ourselves and those in our families, we must guard against allowing prudent forethought to become obsessive concern. The main focus of disciples of the Lord should be the salvation of souls and the building up of Christ’s Kingdom. If these are the first priority, God has promised to meet material needs.
To broaden your discussion of this passage, you may wish to focus your group’s attention on the phrase “neither be ye of doubtful mind” (verse 29). This is a caution not to fluctuate between faith and anxiety. God’s providential care is unfailing and we should never doubt it. Rather, we should focus on seeking the Kingdom of God (see verse 31). When we release total control of our lives to God, He will help us to be satisfied and joyful whether we have a lot or a little in this world.
- In Luke 13:24, Jesus told the people to “strive to enter in at the strait gate,” the “gate” representing access into the Kingdom of God. What does it mean to “strive” to enter in, and why is this necessary?
Jesus was saying that if we want to enter His Kingdom, we have to exert extreme effort. The Greek word translated strive is agonizomai, meaning “an agonizing, intense, and purposeful struggle.” It is the word used to describe athletes in the ancient games as they gave everything they had in order to win the prize (see 1 Corinthians 9:25). It is the same word Paul used when he told Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12, emphasis added).
Make sure your class understands that this striving is not payment for admittance into the Kingdom; salvation is the free gift of God. Only Jesus’ Blood can pay the price of forgiveness for sin. And yet, there is a price that must be paid to receive that free gift — not a monetary price but a complete surrender of self. One must be willing to yield everything into God’s control in order to receive salvation and continue walking with the Lord.
As your group addresses the second question, they should note that Jesus’ teaching in this passage gives three reasons why we must strive to enter the Kingdom: because the gate is narrow, because one day entrance will no longer be possible, and because the way in will never be re-opened once it is closed. Discussion should bring out that while the Christian life is one of joy, it also necessitates diligent seeking of God, a turning away from temptation, resistance to conforming to the world, putting others first, endeavoring to maintain unity, granting forgiveness, and a wide range of other requirements, all of which necessitate determined effort.
- In the parable of the great supper (Luke 14:16-24), what did the invitation represent? What were some of the excuses given for not accepting the invitation?
The invitation represented the call of God to salvation. The excuses given were the purchase of a piece of ground, the purchase of five yoke of oxen, and a marriage. These excuses portray the tendency of people to become so preoccupied with the details of life that they fail to respond to God’s invitation to salvation. The lord’s response to the excuses, “I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (verse 24) illustrates that God’s call will end if it is put off too long.
While this parable concerns God’s invitation to sinners, ask your class how this parable could apply also to those who are saved. Class discussion should bring out that we all have a call to work for God. Not only are we called to day-to-day service, but we may have a more specific call that will take consecration and sacrifice. Have we spent time in prayer and the study of God’s Word to prepare spiritually? Have we made business or other temporal decisions that would make us available for that call? Have we taken time to prepare ourselves with the proper education to qualify ourselves to respond effectively? Or are we just too busy with life to put God and His call first in our lives? We want to place a top priority on the most important aspect of our lives — the call of God.
- Verses 1-2 of chapter 15 set the scene for the three parables given in this chapter, all of which relate to seeking lost things. The Pharisees and scribes were upset about Jesus’ actions and communicated their displeasure by “murmuring.” What had Jesus done to cause their displeasure, and how did Jesus’ response in the parables relate to their attitude?
The Pharisees and publicans were displeased because Jesus associated with sinners. The animosity of these religious leaders toward those who did not measure up to their strict religious requirements was well-known, and they presumed that anyone who associated with unrighteous individuals was of similar character. You may wish to point out to your class that the verb tense of the Greek phrase translated “drew near” (verse 1) indicates a tendency of publicans and sinners to approach Jesus, rather than an isolated incident. Apparently many of the outcasts of society recognized their lost condition through Jesus’ teachings and eagerly sought salvation. In addition, since Jesus was traveling at this point, the Pharisees’ charge that He “receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” had to refer to events in the past or to His general habit of such associations.
Jesus used the religious leaders’ criticism as an opportunity to teach the value of sinners (lost souls). All of the lost articles described in the parables were precious to the owners, so no effort was spared in a diligent search until the lost was found. This point confronted the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees, who regarded “sinners” as being contemptible.
Point out to your group that Christ’s valuation of and seeking for lost souls should be a great encouragement to us as we pray for those who need salvation. Christ’s own words in our key verse point out that seeking the lost was the reason He came to earth.
If class time allows, you may wish to lead your group in a discussion of similarities and differences between the three parables.
- When speaking of His future Kingdom on earth, Jesus said the coming of the Son of man will occur quickly and gave several warnings about being ready for that day. One of them was, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). What do you think Jesus meant by that warning?
Jesus was warning against getting so wrapped up in the temporal things of life that our affections become divided and we lose our focus on the Lord’s return. Lot and his family had to be urged to leave behind the life they had built for themselves in Sodom (see Genesis 19:15-26). Though warned by God’s messengers not to look back, Lot’s wife disobeyed and did so. There must have been reluctance to part with what she was leaving behind.
You may wish to ask your students to name things in our lives today that could consume our attention and distract us from a proper spiritual focus. The point should be made that we are to hold the material aspects of this life with a loose hand and avoid entanglements that could hinder us from being ready for the Rapture. When Christ comes, there will be no second chances, just as there was no opportunity for Lot’s wife to reverse her decision to disobey.
- After relating the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow, Jesus said, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8). To “bear long” and to “avenge them speedily” could appear to be contradictory concepts. What was Jesus teaching by this parable?
Jesus was making the point that if a woman could obtain justice from an unjust judge simply by continually coming, a follower of Christ should have no trouble believing that God will answer his prayers, even though it may appear at times that the answer is delayed. God is never late. He looks at time differently than we do. We may feel we have sought long and hard for something, but the Lord knows the right time to answer. It is up to us to trust in God’s timing. You may wish to ask your class to share examples from their own experiences when God stepped on the scene at just the perfect time.
- Jesus loved the little children. We read in Luke 18:15-17 that after the disciples tried to stop those in the crowd from bringing infants to Him, Jesus welcomed them to come to Him. He then told those present that one must “receive the kingdom of God as a little child.” How do children typically receive teaching about God?
As you begin discussion of this question, be aware that this passage frequently is used to describe general qualities of little children that adults should emulate. However, in this passage Jesus was specifically addressing how little ones “receive the kingdom of God.”
In response to the question, your class should conclude that children are typically trustful, receptive, and simple in faith when presented with the teachings of God. They are not hindered by doubt or suspicion when they are told of Jesus and His love. They do not question or challenge what they hear — their natural response is to simply believe. Jesus declared that adults must receive Christ in that same manner if they are to be saved.
- The account of Zacchaeus’ conversion is given in Luke 19:1-10. What evidence did Zacchaeus give of the transformation that had taken place in his life?
Zacchaeus announced that he would give half of his goods to the poor and would restore fourfold anything he had taken by false accusation. As a chief publican (or tax collector) and a rich man (see verse 2), Zacchaeus would have been part of the culture of extortion that was commonplace under the Roman government. His decision to make restitution by righting the wrongs of his past revealed his inward change by outward action.
This may be a good opportunity to review with your class that restitution is the act of making reparation or repayment for loss, damage, or injury that has been done to another. It is a voluntary act, not an imposed punishment or repayment demanded by the one who experienced the loss. The Bible is clear that Christians are to have a conscience “void of offense toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16), and that the desire to straighten out one’s past is an evidence of true conversion. Thus, restitution may not be a requirement for salvation, but it certainly is a result of salvation.
- In the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:12-27), a nobleman “went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” In his absence, he gave his servants a certain number of pounds and instructed them, “Occupy till I come.” What did the word “occupy” infer, and what is the application of this parable to our day?
The word “occupy” inferred that the servants were to do something with what had been given them. The nobleman’s distribution of pounds was made so that the servants could multiply the master’s wealth.
Jesus was communicating that in the interim between His time on earth and His return to earth, there was work to be done — His followers should busy themselves with expanding His Kingdom. Because we live in the era immediately prior to Christ’s return, this parable is especially applicable. There may not be much time left to work for our Savior. Each of us has been given opportunities and resources that potentially could be used for God. The question is, what are we doing with them? Someday each of us will be accountable for what we have done with what He entrusted to us.
As Jesus neared the end of His time on earth, He taught His followers many vital principles. We would do well to pay close attention to His words and apply them to our own lives.