A Biography of Jesus (BOOK EXCERPT, PT 1)
The Book Stop Blog is featuring excerpts from A Biography of Jesus by Tom Cowley and available from Paraclete Press.
The last six months of the earthly life of Jesus Christ are a travelog through the provinces of Judea and Perea. These six months represent a turning point in Jesus’s life. Some authors call it a period of opposition.
After his receptive audiences in Galilee, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51b). The stakes for following Jesus are raised. Early in this part of his journey, Jesus warns those who were with him walking along the road: “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58b). He empha- sizes a sense of urgency as he says, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60b). Again and again in this travelog from Luke (9:51–19:27), Jesus “raises the bar” for his followers.
The base of Jesus’s ministry in Judea and Perea was not centered in a particular village. Perea is an area east of Jerusalem across the Jordan River. Jesus received affirmation from God during his travels that would take him twice to feasts in Jerusalem and once to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. In John chapters 7–11 Jesus declares his divinity at the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Dedication, and in raising Lazareth in Bethany. Then, through a series of “I am” claims before Hebrew leaders, he leaves no doubt as to his mission.
Luke is the primary source for this portion of our study and Luke is ordered more by principles than by events. So the events in this section are not necessarily chronological. The Judea/Perea ministry period becomes a time for Jesus to coach his disciples. Values of the kingdom of God and confrontation of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem are also key themes. This section contains seven events—five teaching events and two impact events.
Followers of Jesus are called to be humble.
no money, no extra tunic” (Luke 9:3b). He was beginning to coach his disciples to deny self for their emerging responsibilities. Arguments arose among the disciples as to who would be the greatest. Jesus taught them: “For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest” (Luke 9:48b). Human nature assumes the opposite, to think of self first. Jesus calls his followers to reverse the order; God first, others second, and self last.
Facing Samaritan opposition, Jesus resolutely continued travels toward Jerusalem through other routes (Luke 9:51– 53). The disciples suggested bringing down fire from heaven to destroy a village, but Jesus, denying their anger, simply went on to another village. There Jesus encountered a man who volunteered to follow Jesus wherever he would go—after burying his father who had just died. Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the king- dom of God” (Luke 9:60). Later, Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
As his travels continue with the disciples, Jesus emphasizes entering through the “narrow door” (Luke 13:24). He is increasingly asking a lot of his followers.
refer to: Luke 9, 13, 16:16–31
Questions: Why do you think it was difficult for the early disciples to fully understand Jesus? When is it difficult for you to follow him as he taught?