I have been reading, Christ plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson. I have been meditating on the Gospel of Luke almost since last November. A few thoughts from
St.Luke is probably the only Gentile writer in the New Testament
- He is also the only Gospel writer who was not an eyewitness to Jesus
- He has the unique experience among the Gospel writers of knowing Jesus exclusively through the work of the Holy Spirit in the community of Jesus’ followers
- His Gospel begins with a visitation of the Holy Spirit that results in conception; the book of Acts (authored by Luke) begins similarly, also with a visitation of the Holy Spirit that results in conception.
- In the Gospel it is Jesus, the Savior who is conceived, in Acts it is the church.
- The two Holy Spirit conceptions are meant to be understood as parallel beginnings in the parallel narratives: both Jesus Christ and the community of Jesus Christ similarly conceived by the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the Gospel and at the beginning of Acts, Jesus tells his friends that he will send the Holy Spirit to them, he also says that this coming of the Spirit will be accompanied by power. Power is a critical word in the context of the Story. Luke uses the word “power” to instruct Mary on how she will conceive “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” Here the Holy Spirit power makes a woman pregnant. All five of the Holy Spirit references in Luke 1-2 are related to pregnancy and birth. This is an interesting use of “power”--
The second occurrence of the term “power” by Luke is in the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus is tempted by the devil to command stones to become bread, to become the ruler of the kingdoms of the world, and to prove his divinity by performing a spectacular circus trick by diving off the pinnacle of the temple and commanding an angel to save him at the last minute.
Each is a temptation that has to do with the exercise of power: power to impose his will on the creation, power to impose his will on the nations, and power to become a celebrity. Each of these exercises of power could be good, feeding a lot of people, ruling the whole world justly, demonstrating the miraculous ever-present providence of God to the people on the street. Jesus said "no" to each in turn. Why?
After the three refusals to use power to do good things, in the wrong way, Luke tells us this: “Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to
The moment the community exercises power apart from the story of Jesus, tries to manipulate people or events in ways that short-circuit personal relationships and intimacies, we can be sure it is not the power of the Holy Spirit; it is the devil’s work. The Holy Spirit, no matter how loudly or fervently or piously invoked in such settings, is a stranger to such religious blasphemies…