Good News for the Poor

Luke Chapters 1-6 ooze with references and allusions to the Old Testament to show how Jesus is the fulfillment of the story of Israel.

Episode 3
Dec 13, 2016
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Show Notes

In this episode, Tim and Jon discuss the first six chapters of the gospel of Luke. Luke stands out among the other gospels because it is all about Jesus’ message being first for the poor and outcasts. This made the religious leaders of the day mad, and Jesus’ ministry was totally revolutionary in a culture that was all about status and wealth. Luke’s gospel is constantly calling back to the Hebrew Scriptures, and it emphasizes, again and again, that Jesus is the Messiah that the prophets talked about.

In the first part of the episode (02:01-11:10), the guys talk about the literary genius of the gospel of Luke. Luke’s account oozes with Old Testament allusions, and he did this so that his audience would see how connected Jesus is to Israel’s story and history.

In the next part of the episode (11:41-19:28), the guys spend a lot of time talking about why Luke included the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. The symbolism between Jesus’ baptism and the crossing of the children of Israel into the promised land is unmistakable! Jesus was making a bold statement. He was here to usher in a new age for Israel.

In the next part of the episode (19:59-25:55), the guys continue to talk about the unique quality of Luke’s gospel. Even the structure of the book is different than the other gospels. Luke continues to use Old Testament imagery, specifically the exodus motif, so that his audience can’t ignore the connection between Jesus and Israel’s story.

In the next part of the episode (26:25-42:14), Tim and Jon talk about Luke 4. This is the story of Jesus reading from Isaiah 61 proclaiming that he is the Messiah that the prophets talked about. This is another incredibly bold statement from Jesus. He goes on to describe this new age and his upside-down Kingdom that will mean freedom for the poor and oppressed.

In the final part of the episode (42:44-56:08), the guys discuss the honor/shame culture of Israel during Jesus’ ministry. It was this context that made his ministry to the outcasts so scandalous. This is the main point of Luke’s gospel. In Jesus’ new Kingdom, God’s mercy rules, and no person is exalted above another.

Video: This episode is designed to accompany our first two videos on the Gospel of Luke. You can view them on our youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OLezoUvOEQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k4GbvZUPuo

References: "Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels" by Richard B. Hays

Scripture References: Luke 1-6, Isaiah 40, Isaiah 61

Show Music: Defender Instrumental by Rosasharn Music; Blue Skies by Unwritten Stories; Flooded Meadows by Unwritten Stories

Scripture References
Luke 1:46-55
Isaiah 40:10
Luke 2:34-35
Luke 6:20
Matthew 5:3
Luke 1:68-79
Malachi 4:5-6
Luke 3:4-6
Exodus 4:22
Luke 4:14-22

Podcast Date: December 13, 2016


Speakers in the audio file:

Jon Collins

Tim Mackie

Jon: We've been talking through the Gospel of Luke. In this episode, we're going to dig

deep into the opening chapters of Luke's Gospel chapters 1 through 6. We're going

to talking about the birth stories of Jesus and John the Baptist. We're going to see

how these intimate stories were meant to show you that Jesus is connected to the

hope of the Old Testament prophets.

Tim: Instead of just saying, Jesus fulfills the prophetic predictions of the Old Testament,

Luke tells these stories that just ooze with Old Testament echoes and resonance to

show that the story of Jesus fulfilling the essence of this story of the Old Testament.

Jon: We talk about how Luke is preparing you, the reader to see how Jesus' mission is not

what you think it would be.

Tim: Luke is trying to help us see in this no-name teenage girl from Nazareth becoming

the mother of the Messianic King, the essence of the whole thing. That when God's

mercy shows up, nobody gets exalted to a place of honor. That's a part of the

pattern of how God has been working throughout Israel story is the upsidedowniness

of the kingdom.

Jon: Then we talk about what happens when Jesus begins his ministry, announcing God's

coming reign.

Tim: That the kingdom of God is this reversal of values. And that Jesus creating this new

space for the rich and the poor, but especially the poor because they usually on the

oust to be welcomed into God's mercy.

Jon: We'll talk about what Jesus means when he says he's bringing freedom to the poor,

how that's connected to the Jubilee, and we'll dig into why religious institutions of

the day didn't like him. I'm glad you're listening in. Here we go.

We've done the fly-by overview of Luke. Let's jump into each section. The first

section in Luke is chapters 1 and 2. You call it the introduction This is Jesus' birth


Tim: Luke begins his story with this very detailed personal portrait of an elderly priestly

couple serving in Jerusalem; they've never been able to have kids. This old Jewish

couple, they are righteous, they are faithful, and have never been able to—

Jon: There should remind you of—

Tim: Yeah, totally. It just echoes every significant couple in the book of Genesis. It's very


Jon: So it's intentionally making you recall Abraham.

Tim: The story of Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebecca.

Jon: They were unable to have kids?

Tim: Yeah, she was not able to have kids until a certain point in the story. And then Jacob

and Rachel. So he ties you already into this very Jewish story. It's great. Then

Zachariah goes to serve in the Jerusalem temple. And he's offering incense and he

has this encounter with a majestic, angelic being who says, "You're going to have a

kid." And he's like, "What? No, it's impossible." Precisely like Abraham and Sarah's

response in this in the book of Genesis.

He goes mute, and he can't talk until the child's born. This is the famous part of the

story. Luke chapters 1 and 2 are like a musical. It's amazing. When John is born, he's

filled with the Holy Spirit and he sings this poem that is just about five different

passages from Isaiah and three different Psalms put in a blender.

Luke uses Zachariah song to show that these events are not just replaying moments

in Israel's history. They're bringing the whole story of the old testament to its

culmination. So he says, "Praise the Lord God of Israel, he's come to his people, he's

redeemed them." That's from the song of the scene in Exodus after the exodus

through the scene. "He's raised up a horn of salvation for us." That's Psalm 148.

"In the house of his servant David as he said through His holy prophets long ago,

salvation from our enemies, from the hands of those who hate us to show mercy to

our ancestors, to remember His covenant he swore to Abraham." So we're thinking,

"Genesis, all this."

"To rescue us from our enemies." This is Isaiah and Ezekiel. "To enable us to serve

him without fear in holiness and righteousness for all our days." Then he says about

John. "You'll be the Prophet of the Most High. You'll go on to prepare the way of the

Lord." That's right from the book Malachi.

"To give his people knowledge of salvation for the forgiveness of their sins."

Jeremiah 31. "Before the tender mercy of God by which the rising sun will come to

us from heaven." That's Malachi chapter 4. "To shine on those living in darkness in

the shadow of death." That's Isaiah chapter 9. "And to guide our feet into the path of

peace." It's amazing. I mean, I was happy when my son was born.

Jon: You weren't spontaneously just quoting Old Testament Hebrew poetry in a string


[crosstalk 00:05:21]

Tim: It's incredible. When Mary finds out that she's pregnant with the Messianic King, she

has her own song. Here, her song has all of these quotations from the song of

Hannah in 1 Samuel 2, where she couldn't get pregnant and then she goes to pray in

the famous story. She goes to pray in the temple.

Her song is really interesting. It's called The Magnificat. That's how it begins in Latin.

She says, "My soul glorifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior." And we

go, "Yeah, it's very personal. It's remarkable event." "He's been mindful of the

humble state." Literature says, the poor state of the servant.

Jon: The words poor?

Tim: The humiliated state.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: She's economically poor, they live under the thumb of the Romans. That kind of

thing. "From now on, all generations of call me blessed." So this is reversal. She's this

nobody who is now going to be the mother of the Messianic King. "The Mighty One

has done great thing for me, holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear

him from generation to generation." So she's tying her experience of God's mercy

into the story of her people.

Then she goes, "He's performed mighty deeds with his arm; he scatters those who

are proud in their innermost thoughts." And we're thinking, "Oh, well, suppose that's

true, what does that have to do with you being pregnant?"

"He's brought down rulers from their thrones, he lifts up the humble. He's filled the

hungry with good things; he sent the rich away empty. He's helped to serve in Israel,

remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever just as He


So here, she's echoing Hannah's prayer, also Psalm 113. Luke is trying to help us see

this no-name teenage girl from Nazareth becoming the mother of the Messianic

King, Luke wants to see in this the essence of the whole thing. That when God's

mercy shows up, nobody gets exalted to a place of honor. And that's a part of the

pattern of how God has been working throughout Israel story is the upsidedownness

of the kingdom.

David was a nobody on the field, he gets exalted as king. Then Saul, the big guy, he

gets brought low. And that's just the pattern that the childless couple becomes the

family of Israel.

So Luke's very interesting. Instead of just saying Jesus fulfills the prophetic

predictions of the Old Testament, Luke tells the stories that just like ooze with Old

Testament echoes and resonance to show that the story of Jesus, even before he

was an adult, was already fulfilling the essence of the story of the Old Testament. It's

just beautiful. It's epic.

This upside-downness, this reversal of bringing rulers down but lifting up the

humble, that's going to be the essence of what Luke highlights of Jesus' kingdom of

God announcement of this reversal of values, and reversal of status, and Jesus

exalting the poor. So he setting the ground for that already in the first chapters.

Jon: It's cool.

Tim: It's a very personal, intimate stories that he begins with about this questioning of

this couple, who've never been able to - sad - have kids, and Mary's going to be this

misunderstood teenager and her son's going to go on to become this controversial


It's what the angel tells her. Later when Mary brings Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem

and he's dedicated, there are these two old prophets there who see him, and they

sing their own songs about Jesus. But then, Simeon the Prophet, he says, "This child

is destined to cause the rising and falling of many." That's what her song was about.

The proud, fall and the humble are exalted.

So this child is going to cause a great reversal and upset in Israel and he will be a

sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts are revealed.

And a sword will pierce your own soul too. I mean, if you've got this promise about

your own child, I don't know how I'd feel. You yourself are going to be torn in half by

what your child becomes.

Jon: He's talking to her, "Sword will pierce your own soul too."

Tim: Yeah. This child is going to caused great upset in Israel. People are going to speak

against him. It's going to reveal what's really inside of people's hearts when they

encounter your son, and you yourself are going to be conflicted about who your son

is, and what he's all about.

Jon: Ominous.

Tim: Yeah, it's really powerful. So this is how Jesus is introduced to us. We already can feel

the conflict coming just in his arrival. That's the introduction. So we walk away from

the introduction going, "John's the Malachi, Isaiah predicted for runner of the

Messianic King and Jesus, he's going to fulfill the promises to Abraham. He's going

to rescue the people so that they can serve God without fear, is what Zachariah says.

Now, also as a literary design, these songs that the character sing in the opening,

then set you up to expect Jesus and John to do these things.


Jon: That was Luke chapters 1 and 2. Now, let's talk about Luke chapter 3.

Tim: All of a sudden, you turn the page to Luke 3 and they are grown up. Our two key

characters, John and Jesus, are grown men. The way Luke order things is really


There's the baptism story. John goes to the place of Israel's roots, the Jordan river -

It's where they cross enter the land. And he's having the people pass through the

waters once again to renew their commitment to the God of Israel.

So the symbolism is all loaded, that he's kick starting the new covenant people. It's

like a new entry into the promised land. That's surely what John was intending you

to do by choosing that spot.

Jon: And was baptizing...? Where did this come from?

Tim: Well, immersion, this kind of ritual immersion was a temple practice already from

Leviticus. It was a symbolic way.

Jon: For purification?

Tim: Yeah. It was marking your transition from the state of ritual impurity to ritual purity.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: In this period, it was also adopted into people's daily lives, not just whether or not

you can go in and out of the temple. But people would do it before they would pray.

Jon: They would immerse themselves in water.

Tim: Then the Pharisees, this is a debate they have with Jesus, they would immerse their

hands before eating every meal. So, they took a practice from the temple and

brought it into their homes too. But then John seems to have taken this existing

practice and added a layer of meaning to the symbol by taking the baptism, not in

these little pools, especially sacred pools in different places around the temple, but

he goes down to the Jordan River where the nation entered into the promised land.

Jon: Which would be quite a hike.

Tim: Yes. Oh, yeah. It's 20 miles and thousands of feet to get down to Jordan river.

Jon: Who's following John? I mean, who are these people who are going to go take this

20-mile hike down this massive ravine to dunk themselves in the Jordan River for

some sort of spiritual exercise?

Tim: The gospel authors in Luke just says that there were crowds coming to him. And

then made up in those crowds are Pharisees, religious leaders, tax collectors, Jewish

soldiers from Jerusalem.

Again, this is a culture tuned, that's raised on these prophetic promises. So you have

a figure going down who give sermons every day that's just quoting from the

prophets. He starts attracting attention, a movement renewal movement down by

the Jordan River. So people start going down to see him.

Jon: It's like the same reason why people go to like Tony Robbin's retreats.

Tim: It's an equivalent. I'm thinking in terms of American culture; this would be like

somebody going back to the worst harbor in Boston.

Jon: Oh, the Tea Party?

Tim: The Tea Party, yes. it would be like that. Somebody's going back to that harbor and

dumping all these tea bags back in and say, "We're starting over guys. If you want to

join me if you want to recapture the dream of the real American hope, come down.'

Jon: Got it. So, there's a political aspect to this?

Tim: It's all mixed together. Political, religion, it's all mixed.

Jon: Because American politics doesn't have as much religion stuff into it. A little bit?

Tim: Well, it depends on your interpretation of American history.

Jon: It'll be someone going there and being like, "We're going to reboot this and make

this a real Christian nation."

Tim: Correct? That would be it.

Jon: "So come dedicate your life back to God and to America. Let's make this happen."

Tim: Yeah. And you go back to an iconic symbolic location that brings back the memory

of our roots as a people. That's what John the Baptist is doing.

Jon: And people are like, "Yeah, I'm fed up with Rome."

Tim: "I'm fed up with Rome, with those compromised leaders in Jerusalem who keep

striking deals with Rome. They let soldiers go into the temple courts. People are

eating pork in Jerusalem. There's a lot of Jews who don't even obey the Sabbath


Jon: "And so there's a guy down the Jordan River and he's starting to movement, and I

want to go check it out." When you get there, you're like, "Yeah, I'm in. I'm in on this.

Going in to the Jordan."

Tim: "And I repent. I immersed myself and I repent for Israel's faithlessness and all the

compromise to the covenant and the failures that we keep making and that our

people are making. I want to join the new Israel that God's going to form when He

shows up like he said He would." That's Isaiah 40 and Malachi.

That's how Malachi 4 ends. That's how the prophets ends. I'm going to send a

messenger who will turn the hearts of the people back before the great coming Day

of the Lord. And so, John says, "Yeah, the day is coming."

Jon: So, John saying that day is coming, the Lord's coming, I'm preparing you," that's

what he meant 'I'm preparing the way for the Lord?'

Tim: Yeah. Then the narrative clearly is then presenting Jesus as the one who is the arrival

of the Lord. It's written in the book of Isaiah. It's what Luke quotes from the book of

Isaiah from chapter 40. "A voice, calling the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord

the God of Israel. Every valley will be filled in." This is all from Isaiah 40. We don't

have time we go there

Then Luke 3:6. "All people will see God's salvation." The Hebrew word for salvation is

yeshua. It's Jesus' name right there in Isaiah 40. All people will see God's yeshua. And

then John announces this message and then lo and behold.

Jon: Wait. Jesus' name is salvation?

Tim: Yes, it is. It's the standard Hebrew word for Yahweh saves. Yahweh brings salvation.

Jon: Is Yeshua? Common Hebrew name for blokes?

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Wow. And that's what Joshua means too?

Tim: Yeah. Joshua is a lengthened version. And then the condensed version is Yeshua.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: So Jesus comes up and he comes — it's fascinating — he just identifies himself with

John's new Israel movement. Then he's marked out by the events of the baptism,

which is the cloud descends, which is what happened on Mount Sinai. This is what

happened when God's presence came over the temple.

And then the Holy Spirit comes and hovers over him in the form of a bird, which

we've talked about in Holy Spirit that's Genesis 1 imagery.

You have God communicating his love to the son. "This is my son, whom I love. With

you, I'm well pleased." And then the Spirit is the one communicating this message of

love from Father to son. So God does show up.

Again, think Luke, he's got the book of Acts in mind. He's writing to Christians who

believe that the God of Israel, consists of God, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit -

three in one vision of God. It's introduced right here at the beginning of that story. It

doesn't say, Trinity. He didn't have that word yet, but he's got the full three in one

deal right there.

Matthew places the genealogy of Jesus at the beginning, the first. Luke places that

right after the baptism. It's this long genealogy with 77 generations traced, and the

last human figure is Adam, who's called the Son of God, which is precisely what

Jesus was just announced at the baptism. So it's kind of like he pushes pause on the

story and gives you Jesus lineage. Like, "I made a claim right here, let's just pause.

This is legit." It goes all the way back and then he turns the story back on. It's really


So there's more going on in Luke. Jesus goes into the wilderness. Amazing.

Jon: Now, in the other gospels, this wilderness scene—

Tim: Comes right after the baptism right in the same location.

Jon: But the significance of it seems to be closely related to Exodus?

Tim: For sure. You can tell that Luke's put the genealogy there because he interrupts the

sequence of the baptism and Jesus' testing in the wilderness. Whereas Matthew and

Mark, those are tightly linked store is with no interruption.

And it's Exodus imagery, because the passage through the water, and then the going

into the wilderness for 40 days for Jesus, years for Israel. And there in the wilderness,

Jesus is tested, which is precisely what happens to Israel in the wilderness. But Jesus

passes the test.

Jon: Is that Luke's point of bringing this up?

Tim: Yeah. The wilderness story for sure. Because the first question that the devil ask

Jesus is, “Now, if you are the Son of God...” So it's this red thread. "Here's my son,

whom I love, here's the genealogy to prove he's the son of God." Then Jesus goes

into the wilderness and the claim on the examination table is "Now if you really are

the Son of God..."

That's precisely what Israel was called before the Exodus. In Exodus chapter 4, Israel's

called God's firstborn son. In the Exodus story, they go through the waters which

vindicates them as God's special son, so to speak, they go into the wilderness and

they rebel and fail the test as God's Son.

Jon: So Luke is using this motif twice?

Tim: Yeah, the gospel authors don't seem to have this overarching thing of mappings

every story on the certain details in the Exodus. It's rather that the Exodus story

provided them with this vocabulary of images and ideas that they will pull on and

use the language at different points in the story.

One of my favorite New Testament scholars named Richard Hays has devoted years

in number of books to how the gospel stories reference and connect Jesus to the

Old Testament. This is in his book "Reading Backwards." He has a whole chapter on

Luke, where he talks about Luke's most common way of linking Jesus to the Old

Testament is what he calls implicit correspondence.

So instead of explicit prediction fulfillment like Matthew, here's what he says. "Luke's

language and imagery, repeatedly evoke fragmentary Old Testament passages and

connect them to the story of Jesus." He has a cool analogy.

He says, "You might picture Luke's narrative technique in this way. It's as though the

primary action of Jesus and that his story is on center stage in front of the spotlight.

But on a screen at the back of the stage, there's a kaleidoscopic series of sepia tone

images that flash and move across the screen. And these are stories and phrases

from Israel scriptures.

The images can flash by sometimes almost unnoticed. It's just a word or two.

However, if the viewer could freeze the story, and pay careful attention, there are

moments where the words and gestures of the characters on the main stage mirror

what's happening on the shifting backdrop. And at these moments, the viewer

experiences a flash of insight as the live action connects to a scene from a much

older story. It's not Luke style to develop these in sustained sequences."

Notice how we talked earlier about how the exodus motif appears here on the

mountain, and then he goes here, but then the Exodus motif also appears in the

baptism and then going into the desert for 40?

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: So Luke style rather is that almost as soon as we recognize one correspondence with

an Old Testament story, the moment is passed, and then a new Old Testament

references on the backdrop of the next story.

Jon: So it's constantly creating illusions?

Tim: Yes. The story keeps moving, and it leaves us with a powerful sense of analogy

between what God did in the past for Israel and what He's doing right now in the

story of Jesus. That's just a great description of the technique.

Jon: That's cool.

Tim: If you don't catch it, you won't see it. But if you do, it deepens your appreciation of

the story.

Jon: You were just watching the play, what the spotlight was showing, and it might have

been you would enjoy it. But then if you start watching the play while watching that

backdrop sequence of images, it's funny how a sepia tone—

Tim: I don't know why I said sepia. In the baptism story, it's got the people passing

through the Jordan to go into the promised land, the Genesis 1 story of the Spirit

over the waters, the Exodus story through the Red Sea into the wilderness for 40.

And we are like, "Oh, wow."


Tim: Then the next thing Jesus does in Luke's portrait of his mission in Galilee is his

inaugural sermon in Luke chapter 4. Mark, it was just a short summary: Jesus went

into Galilee saying, "Repent, the kingdom of God is here." In Matthew, basically the

same: Repent, the kingdom of heaven is here. But Luke has taken a story and kind of

put it in front position as if it's the first sermon that Jesus gave. Whether it actually is,

we don't know.

So here's the story in Luke chapter 4 is just worth reading. Jesus returned to Galilee

in the power of the Spirit." Luke mentioned Jesus empowerment by Spirit more than

any other gospel author, which of course, look at volume two. "News about him

spread throughout the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues,

everybody praised him."

So it's just a week in the life of Jesus going about. He went to Nazareth, his

hometown, where he'd been brought up. On the Sabbath, he went to the synagogue

like his custom was and he stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was

handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written — and he quotes

from Isaiah 61, though he sprinkles a little Isaiah 58 in there too. "The Spirit of the

Lord is on me because he has anointed me." "Anoint," Hebrew words "mashach," it's

the verb from which the noun mashiycha comes, which is the word Messiah -

Anointed One.

Jon: He Messiad me.

Tim: He Messiad me to proclaim basar - good news. This is the word that becomes

euaggelion in Greek - gospel. To proclaim gospel to the poor. He has sent me to

proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to set the

oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

You rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendance and sat down. Everybody is

staring at him. Literally, the eyes of everyone are fastened on him. And he started by

saying, "Today the scriptures fulfilled in your hearing."

Jon: That's not a normal synagogue situation.

Tim: No. Normally you'd be like, "This is what we're hoping for. When will this figure

come?" And Jesus says, "It's happening."

This is what he says, "All spoke well of him. People were amazed, stunned at the

gracious words coming out of his mouth." But then they asked, "Wait, isn't this

Joseph's son?"

Jon: "We know you."

Tim: "We know this kid. What?" And then he starts to get into it with them because then

they start rejecting him. And like, "What, who are you? You're just hometown kid."

There's a lot going on in the story.

Jon: Which chapter is this?

Tim: Chapter 4.

Jon: Chapter 4.

Tim: So think, baptism, genealogy, testing in the desert—

Jon: This is it.

Tim: This is it.

Jon: This is how he kind of launches his ministry.

Tim: This is how he launches his ministry. It's a really important poem from Isaiah 62, but

he sprinkled in a little phrase from Isaiah 58. We don't have time to talk about that,

but it's really cool. But the key repeated words are highlighted here, are freedom is

repeated twice, and the poor. Because he's announcing good news for the poor


So when Luke wants you to think of Jesus, he wants you to think of a messianic

figure hoped for by the prophets, he's bringing good news and freedom for the


Jon: The poor would be people who knew in that town and other towns that just didn't

have a lot of cash?

Tim: This is fascinating. The word "poor" in the Hebrew Bible refers more to difficult

circumstances, which could be economic, but also being dishonored, state of

dishonor, or shamed or being a social outsider.

Jon: Like if you have leprosy or something.

Tim: Yeah, leprosy. What Luke's doing here is he's setting the stage for all of the people

Jesus is going to go reach out to in the stories to follow. Think of all the famous

stories of the people, Jesus did that. So blind people, lepers, women, who had issues

with their body that made them ritually impure unable to go up into the temple, sick

people, children. But then a tax collector, Levi, he's not poor, he's killing it. But in

terms of his standing in relationship to the community, he's shun.

Jon: He's an outcast.

Tim: He's an outcast. Prostitutes.

Jon: So would a better word be outcasts than poor?

Tim: I've come back and forth. I don't know. The Greek word ptōchos renders the Hebrew

word `ani. This is Joel Green. He is one of my favorite commentaries in the Gospel of

Luke. He thinks this is key for Luke's depiction of Jesus' mission.

He says, "Jesus mission is directed to the poor. Luke chapter 4. In the holistic sense

of those who are for any number of reasons relegated to positions outside the

boundaries of God's people, Jesus refuses to recognize those socially determined

boundaries and asserts instead, that these outsiders can now belong to God's

family." That's what he draws out of this.

So the poor is a big category that refers more to someone status in their culture

than just how much money they have. Jesus is saying that's who his mission is

directed to.

Jon: Because that's not how we use the word in English.

Tim: No.

Jon: We use it to refer to specifically you're just income and your assets.

Tim: Yeah, it's economic.

Jon: Because you could be a poor outcast, you could be a rich outcast.

Tim: Yeah. You can be a rich-poor person in Luke. Levi and then Zacchaeus later on in the

book is another example of wealthy-poor person.

Jon: It's interesting.

Tim: It is interesting.

Jon: So in the Sermon on the Mount, when he says, "Blessed are the poor," and then in

another spot it says, "Poor in spirit"...

Tim: Well, actually, it's an important difference. In Matthew, Jesus says, "Blessed are the

poor in Spirit." In Luke, he says, "Blessed are the poor," which again, fits into Luke's

theme. When Jesus gives that teaching in Luke, he's already announced that his

mission is to the poor.

Jon: So blessed are the outcasts.

Tim: Blessed are those who have been on the outside margin of acceptable society

because God's grace and mercy and bringing the kingdom is coming to you first. It's

just the principle that people who are in economic or social difficulty are more aware

of their need for help than people who are wealthy. If you have a lot of money—

Jon: Money, but also if you're in the club. If you're like socially accepted, even if you have

a lot of cash.

Tim: If you're in the club, you're way less likely to care about a prophet coming through

town saying God's going to bring us deliverance." You're like, "I don't know. Be

delivered from what? I'm doing great."

But if you're blind in one eye, and you can't work anymore and you don't know what

to do, and then prophet comes to town and he's teaching about trusting God for

provision, don't worry about tomorrow, you have a new group of people to hang

out with, they invite you to dinner and everybody shares everything in the name of


Jon: You feel accepted. He gives you hope.

Tim: These are the communities that Jesus would leave behind in these towns when he

would visit them. They are people who are discovering what it means to live in God's


Jon: And he saw that as the kingdom of God?

Tim: He said, "The kingdom of God is arriving. If you follow me and live by my teachings,

you are living in a way that's appropriate to how God rules the world." So Jesus'

mission to the poor, really important part of Luke's portrayal. And it's connected to

what for the poor. Good news and freedom is what happens in most of our English

translations. And that word "freedom," here you can see it, he repeats it.

It sometimes gets translated "release" for the prisoners. Here it is. Release. Or in

some translations, its freedom for the prisoners. And this is really interesting. It's

from the Greek word [unintelligible 00:34:58] literally means to physically release.

But in the passage he's quoting from Isaiah 61, is the Hebrew word that refers to the

release of slaves and the release of people from their debts in the Jubilee cycle.

Which was every 49 years, all debts would be canceled, all slaves freed, all land that

was lost due to just bad fortune, and the family had to sell it, it goes back to the

original owners. So the Jubilee was this reenactment of the Exodus story in Israel's

economic system.

Jon: How is it related to Exodus?

Tim: Slavery in debt.

Jon: Oh. All the debt was canceled when they left Egypt?

Tim: Well, oh, rather, that debt was viewed as a form of being enslaved.

Jon: I see.

Tim: And land the land is in a form of enslavement because it now belongs to somebody

who's not its original family heritage. So, the Jubilee year, this is Leviticus 25, huge,

huge theme in Luke, is that the Exodus slavery, the Egyptian slavery, and then the

Jubilee echo. That's one of these things on the background that's in here.

Jon: So, you have this understanding of this Jewish tradition where people were released

from their obligations and the land that you might have lost, be brought back to


Tim: The land that was assigned to your clan back when Joshua divided up the land, bad

year, you didn't have enough money, you had to sell the land and now belongs to

that family.

Jon: So it's a pretty radical moment of getting back. No matter how you got there, why

you're in this position, just making it right, correcting it.

Tim: Yes. The Jubilee assumes there's an ideal, and that ideal becomes Israel's first

receiving of the Promised Land. And everyone sits under their own vine and fig tree,

all the families have their own piece of land to work. Nobody's indebted or and slave

to another.

Jon: So this is an ideal where everyone's will be productive.

Tim: Free from slavery in Egypt.

Jon: They're not slaves. They're productive on their own land. They don't owe each other

debts. That's the ideal.

Tim: Yes.

Jon: But what eventually happens is you make mistakes, you start owning people debt,

you have to give your land over—

Tim: Or someone takes advantage of you.

Jon: Someone take advantage of you, there's corruption, and now you don't have land,

you might be in debt. You actually might be serving another family now.

Tim: You had to sell your kid into a form bond service into another family because you

can't afford to raise them. This is what would happen. It was their culture.

Jon: Is there evidence that this would actually happen the year of jubilee? They actually

practiced it.

Tim: Oh, that's fascinating. I actually need to do a little more homework on it. It's talked

about a lot in Second Temple literature, but as far as records of it actually being

enforced anywhere in the Old Testament history—

Jon: It would take a lot to enforce it.

Tim: It would. It doesn't mean it didn't happen. It just means the narratives that we have

don't focus on it.

Jon: There could be communities here and there that were like, "We do it." But this is

every 49 years, right?

Tim: Correct. Actually, smaller cycles of seven, it would happen debts released. But in

terms of the land and everything connected to the promised land, going back to its

original pristine state was the Jubilee Year.

Jon: So Jesus out and he's saying, "I am bringing that."

Tim: The kingdom of God is the time of Jubilee release for the poor, which means good


Jon: And so, he's not talking about like, "Hey, it's the 49th year guys, it's time for Jubilee."

The spirit of the Jubilee is now coming for the poor. It's a new era.

Tim: Yes. Remember, he's quoting Isaiah 61. Isaiah was the one who connected the

Messiah's coming, that it would be a Jubilee era. And Jesus is saying, "This scripture

is fulfilled in your hearing. What I'm doing as I travel around Galilee inviting all the

wrong people into what I'm doing." This is the Jubilee. The slaves are being free,

people who know that they need help and need God's mercy and that their lives

need to change, they're going to get their chance. And Jesus is the one who goes

out to them.

Jon: It's very populist message.

Tim: It is. Yeah. One way to frame it. I mean, he opposed the existing institutions in

Jerusalem. He thought they were corrupt.

Jon: Religious iconoclast.

Tim: The popular religious institutions of the local synagogues, it seems he got a mixed

reception. Some people love him, some people ran him out of town. They thought

he was crazy.

Jon: And he's talking about just accepting everyone and sharing—

Tim: Well, I mean, he calls people to repent and follow him. He's not just like, "Hey, you're


Jon: "Leave however you want."

Tim: He's calling people to a new way of life, but he's going first to the poor in that

broader category, saying, "Listen, life as we know it isn't life how God intended it

here for God's people." And he called people to turn and follow him.

Jon: Yeah, because he was he was calling people to a very high level of morality to in like

the Sermon on the Mount.

Tim: Yeah. I mean, traditional Jewish culture is already a very traditional moral culture.

That's why his teachings focus specifically on not getting retribution, forgiveness,

generosity, these kinds of things. But then also including the needy, and including

those of low social status.

Jon: So there was already this high moral standard in Judaism, but there became this

these this underbelly of the outcasts, the people who weren't really accepted, and

Jesus was like, "Look, this is where God's going to begin."

Tim: That's right. That's the specific theme Luke's focusing on. Again, as we think about

the video, this is crucial. I'm thinking of if everybody can see these four different

videos, one on each of the Gospels. For Mark, wit as the question who and how, and

what's it going to do? It's the paradox of the crucified Messiah.

For Luke, it's this. It's this, that the kingdom of God is this reversal of values, and that

it's Jesus creating this new space for the rich and the poor, but especially the poor

because they usually on the oust to be welcomed into God's mercy. And that what

happens in Jerusalem and the cross is just the epitome of upside down, where the

exalted King becomes the poor criminal hanging from the cross.

Jon: Getting executed.

Tim: But you can see there's this link that Jesus' Kingdom announcement is hand in glove

with what happens on the cross. It's the same basic idea. But here, he's just living it

out on the across.


Jon: Tell me more about then, the institutions that he would have been turning his nose

up to. Because there in chapter four, he's at a synagogue, he's handed the scroll by

an assistant. I mean, that's all part of the—

Tim: Yeah, it's his hometown. He's not rejecting Judaism or something, he is bringing to

fulfillment what he thinks is the true calling and hope of the Jewish people. He's

claiming that he is bringing the hopes of their people to their God intended


Jon: This is in Luke. I think it's Matthew where he just rails on the Pharisees. Does he have

that in Luke?

Tim: Yeah. It doesn't get a whole chapter, but yeah, it comes near the end.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: Even in this section in Galilee in chapters 3 to 9, there are multiple stories where they

don't like what Jesus is doing, they don't like the people he's hanging out with. They

don't like that he's having dinner parties with people who used to be prostitutes.

Jon: And why don't they like it?

Tim: Well, you have someone who's presenting themselves as a prophet, as a leader who

is from the line of David, and he's hanging out with the wrong people. He's saying

that someone like a Levi or a tax collector, who essentially is a compromiser, he's a

traitor, he's going and sitting in a Roman tax booth exacting taxes on all these

Jewish fishermen trying to go sell their fish.

And Jesus just says, "Follow me," to him one day, and the guy, he leaves that and

follows Jesus. The stigma didn't stay at the tax. The same with the prostitutes and

other poor people.

It's this honor-shame culture. We already have a difficult time understanding honorshame

cultures from an American point of view. Your status in society is like a

pecking order. If you belong because of your life choices, family history, economics

setting to the low status, it's inappropriate for Jesus to be saying, "And these are

God's New Covenant family."

Jon: But they were Jews.

Tim: They were. Yes, that's right.

Jon: They were part of God's covenant family. But for him to highlight them as like these

are the...where it's going to start—

Tim: Again, I used the word upside down.

Jon: Yeah, upside down. So, like, I'm a religious leader and in my mind where it's starting,

where the kingdom of God is going to come is through my care for the traditions.

Tim: It will come out of the synagogue, out of the rabbi leaders. These are where God's

people meet together.

Jon: And we'll be the ones that help point us all towards where this needs to go. And

when the when a ruler comes, we'll be a part of that. It'll be part of the institution.

Tim: We'll be on the same team. Yeah, interesting. Yes.

Jon: And so, here comes this guy who they don't really feel on the same team was

completely because he's ignoring many of the practices they find really important.

Tim: That's right. He has a different interpretation of what it means to rest on the


Jon: That's huge right there. Massive.

Tim: Huge. It's a big identity marker for Jewish people.

Jon: Don't mess with that.

Tim: And it set them apart in the Roman world because people didn't get weekends in

the Roman workforce. So there's that. But then Jesus does things like, "We're hungry,

there's grain in this field." "All right, let's just eat here."

Jon: And that is against custom?

Tim: And that's against the traditional interpretation of "don't work on the Sabbath."

Then, he has a number of healings on the Sabbath, and they say, "It wasn't lifethreatening.

Why couldn't this wait till another day?" But for Jesus, the Sabbath was

about God's mercy and grace. So what better day for someone to...? That kind of


Then Jesus differed over ritual purity things that weren't in the Torah, but they were

traditions that were formed by the Pharisees about handwashing. And there Jesus

would have to be like, "Listen you're trying to stamp out impurity from Israel

because we live in near-sacred space and we're the holy people." But he accused

them of cleaning up Israel in the wrong place. There's this famous saying about "you

don't get impure by something you eat." Just really provocative because go read


Jon: You do.

Tim: You do. And he says, "No, foods don't make you impure. Not what goes into your

mouth. What comes out of your mouth that renders you impure: hatred, murder."

Jon: So he's fast and loose with Sabbath traditions, he's a little fast and loose with kosher

traditions, although he probably didn't break kosher. And so, that's threatening.

Right off the bat, that's threatening.

I'm trying to understand. So, if I'm a religious leader, I'm looking at someone who's

an outcast, who's poor. I'm supposed to take care of them, right?

Tim: That's true. And they certainly were.

Jon: And so, I'm not going to be that scandalized that Jesus would say, "Hey, God really

cares about the poor." You'd be like, "Yes, of course, God cares about the poor."

That doesn't seem that upside down to them.

Tim: I suppose what's upside down is that these are the kinds of people that Jesus

chooses to spend most of his time with. These are the people that he notices and

moves towards when he goes into a town. These are the people that he recruits as

the leaders of his movement.

Jon: You just wouldn't do that. If you were building a movement, you would look for all

the powerful, authoritative, wealthy—

Tim: You'd go to the Pharisees school down the street...

Jon: Get them on board.

Tim: …get the best Bible experts on board. You go get a priest too, some Levites. You say

you're the Messiah, and you're bringing the kingdom of God.

Jon: You build that kind of coalition.

Tim: Right. He gets no name fisherman, tax collector—

Jon: And a bunch of women who weren't even supposed to be disciples.

Tim: These are the people he says, "Blessed are you. The kingdom of God is yours. You're

the winners." This is what he says. Jesus is very intentional about not just what he

says, but how the shape of his movement and the people that he picked to be in his

movement, that also communicated a message. Just like forming a basketball team

out of no-name players and then taking them to the Olympics. It's like that. Saying,

"Here's the real deal."

Jon: Isn't that the plot of Cool Runnings, right?

Tim: I don't know.

Jon: I guess the Jamaican Bobsled team.

Tim: But your point is, like a poor person. Like a poor beggar who's blind, he's not being

neglected and spit on by the Pharisees. They take care of him.

Jon: They're not like, "Get them out. We don't like these guys."

Tim: Jesus is the only person to ever be nice to them.

Jon: You're like, "Hey, guys, these are people too."

Tim: It's not like that. It's more that there is a powerful symbol in Jesus picking recruiting,

moving specifically and constantly towards...this is what he's remembered for.

Jon: It's kind of like if I wanted to run for mayor in Portland, maybe. We'll see where this

goes. Normally, it's like I got to like hobnob with people with deep pockets, get

some money, get to know everyone in the government and kind of build this

coalition. I get in through that door to the people who are already in.

Tim: This is how you get influence around it.

Jon: This is how I'd also become like school president.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. You get to know the people who could benefit you. So you try and

benefit them.

Jon: Popular kids, the people who have some sort of authority. You want to get in with

that coalition. You wouldn't. I like the school. I've known nothing about local politics,

but I went to high school.

So if I wanted to run for school president, that's what I wouldn't. What I would do is

like go hang out with a couple dudes have played Dungeons and Dragons, and

always sit by themselves and never shower.

Tim: People who eat lunch at the way back by the base bleachers.

Jon: The guy who couldn't get into the drama team because he was too weird.

Tim: But then on a more serious note, there were those kids who always have raggedy

clothes, you wonder maybe they live in the van with their family.

Jon: And then there's the girl who everyone makes fun of because she's thought of as

promiscuous. I'm thinking of the outcasts.

Tim: All these people are coming to my mind from high school.

Jon: I'm trying to think of someone who would be like the tax collector. Like someone

who no one really likes because he's always a brown nosing with the principal or


Tim: He's like the hall monitor.

Jon: Of course.

Tim: He's like, "You'll be later for class."

Jon: Totally. And nobody likes him.

Tim: Traitor.

Jon: He's a traitor.

Tim: So yeah, that whole ragtag—

Jon: And so, Jesus, he's just hanging out with those people, and he goes, "You know

what? We're going to take this...

Tim: "We're going to form an after-school club."

Jon: ...and we're going to turn the school around."

Tim: This is what the school actually needs is this group of people.

Jon: And we're going to live a radically different way, caring about each other.

Tim: We will honor each other. We treat each other as more important than ourselves.

Jon: And they're all like, "Jesus, you're going to become president of the school." And

they're all excited.

Tim: I suppose. Yeah, let's play it out. And then he would be like, "Yeah, but not in a way

that you think."

Jon: "Yeah, not in the way you think." And they're like going to the pep rally yet where

they think Jesus is going to give his announcement that he's running for school

president, and instead he's just he gets like—

Tim: He gets jumped and beat up in the back Hall.

Jon: Totally. And sent to the hospital.

Tim: And then the clinch would be the moment where he's vindicated, whatever the

equivalent is to the resurrection.

Jon: It turns out he comes back from the hospital and you learn that he is actually the son

of the superintendent of the entire school.

Tim: And he's elevated as not just class president, but superintendent of the district.

Jon: Right.

Tim: Okay, you know, we're onto something here. Here's why. I think many people don't

know how to connect all the events of Jesus story together as one unified thing -

making one unified statement. And so we have radical revolutionary Jesus, we kind

of like him, but then there's traditionally moral Jesus who is talking about sex and

divorce and sounds very traditional. And then there's the Jesus who died for my sins.

I think for many people these are different Jesus' in our heads. And I like one I tend

towards the other. I don't understand death on the cross. That's weird. Or it's cool,

it's how Jesus loves me. But it's unifying all these as part of one statement, the

upside down Kingdom of God where the reject are actually the ones of greatest

honor that God shows his love for the world precisely by turning its value system

upside down. And the cross is the epitome of that, the king who's executed. So


Jon: Up next with the final podcast episode, we'll finish off the Gospel of Luke. You'll see

the first video that we made for this new mini-series on Luke release the week

before Christmas. We're really excited about it. Then the route next year, we'll

release four more. Will be five-part series going through the Gospel of Luke fully


Please say hi to us. We're on Facebook at The Bible Project and on Twitter at

@JoinBibleProj. You can see all the videos that we make. They are free on YouTube,


Thanks for listening in. If you enjoy this podcast, you can rate it on iTunes. That's

really helpful for our iTunes standings, and you can share with others. Thanks for

being a part of this.

13 Episodes

Episode 13
N.T. Wright Interview: Paul and the Powers
In this episode, Tim and Jon interview the prolific theologian N.T. (Tom) Wright.
1hr 3m • Apr 8, 2019
Episode 12
To the Ends of the Earth
This is the last episode in the Luke-Acts series, in which we discuss the spread of the gospel to hub of the Roman world and to the ends of the earth.
35m • Apr 1, 2019
Episode 11
Paul in Prison
Jump into episode six of our series on Acts.
51m • Mar 25, 2019
Episode 10
Paul's Journey to Jerusalem
Welcome! This episode continues our series on the book of Acts.
52m • Mar 18, 2019
Episode 9
N.T. Wright Interview: Getting to Know the Apostle Paul
Tim and Jon interview New Testament and Jewish Studies scholar N.T. Wright. Wright has heavily influenced many areas of theology, especially through his work outlining the Apostle Paul.
55m • Nov 26, 2018
Episode 8
Saul and Subversive Christianity
This is episode 4 of our series breaking down the book of Acts.
1hr 11m • May 21, 2018
Episode 7
Global Christianos
Listen to episode three of our series on the book of Acts.
54m • May 14, 2018
Episode 6
Pentecost and the Expected Unexpected Spirit
This is Episode 2 in our series on Acts!
35m • May 7, 2018
Episode 5
The Startup of Christianity
This is episode 1 in our series on the book of Acts!
40m • May 1, 2018
Episode 4
Jesus, Rebels, and Resurrection
We discuss Luke 9-24. What did Jesus do and talk about when he was alive? Why did his message get him in trouble? Was Jesus a rebel? How does Luke want us to see Jesus?
1hr 3m • Jan 6, 2017
Episode 3
Good News for the Poor
Luke Chapters 1-6 ooze with references and allusions to the Old Testament to show how Jesus is the fulfillment of the story of Israel.
56m • Dec 13, 2016
Episode 2
An Overview of Luke
Tim and I are working on a series of videos that will tell the story of Jesus as recorded by Luke in his gospel. In this episode we do a quick overview of the entire book, working through each of the sections, observing how they all fit together.
29m • Nov 22, 2016
Episode 1
An Intro to Reading the Gospels
This episode is our preparation for making a video series that walks through the entire life of Jesus as told by Luke in his Gospel. This first episode is an introduction to what the Gospels are, and what it means to trust them as an accurate representation of what happened in human history. The Gospels are the version of what happened according to his disciples, and not only what happened, but why it all matters.
42m • Oct 28, 2016
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