Bringing the Gospel of Luke to Life: Insight and Inspiration

Luke 22:44

44 He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.] The key for understanding what Jesus was experiencing lies in what Luke meant when he wrote that Jesus was in agony. For modern readers, agony means extreme pain. Agony is a near transliteration of the Greek word that Luke uses, agonia, but agonia meant something different from extreme pain for Luke’s first readers. It was a word associated with athletics and was used to describe an athlete’s struggle for victory; a closely related word is translated as “strive” at 13:24, as “struggle” at 1 Tim 4:10, and as “compete” at 1 Tim 6:12. Luke’s readers would have understood Luke to mean that Jesus was in an intense struggle as he prayed. He prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. Jesus did not sweat blood but, like an athlete in vigorous competition, perspired so profusely that his sweat fell from him like drops of blood. Luke uses athletic language and imagery to convey the intensity with which Jesus, strengthened by an angel, prayerfully strived to align himself with his Father’s will. It was not easy for him to tell his Father, “not my will but yours be done”; it was spiritually comparable to a superb athlete exerting every bit of his or her strength and energy in a grueling race. Luke does not immediately tell his readers the outcome of Jesus’ struggle, but Jesus’ words and behavior in the following hours demonstrate that he was victorious in aligning himself with his Father’s will.

For reflection: What insight into Jesus am I given by Luke’s portrayal of him struggling fervently in prayer?

Above is an excerpt from Bringing the Gospel of Luke to Life: Light and Inspiration.

Bringing the Gospel of Mark to Life: Light and Inspiration

Mark 1:17

17 Jesus said to them, “Come after me.” Jesus takes the initiative; Simon and Andrew do not volunteer to become Jesus’ followers. Jesus asks them to do more than become his students; he asks them to come after him, to follow him, to be with him, to share his life, and to pattern their lives on his life. Being a disciple of Jesus means entering into a personal relation-ship with him and thereby entering God’s reign.

Disciple: See page 20

For reflection: How has Jesus taken the initiative with me? How did I first hear his call? What is my relationship with Jesus?

Above is an excerpt from Bringing the Gospel of Mark to Life: Light and Inspiration.

Bringing the Gospel of Matthew to Life

Matthew 10:20

20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit (1:18, 20); the presence of the Spirit was manifested after Jesus’ baptism and led him (3:16; 4:1). This same Spirit will speak through the disciples of Jesus. This is the only promise by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel of the Holy Spirit assisting or coming to his disciples. Jesus speaks of the Spirit as the Spirit of your Father. In the New Testament, the Spirit is sometimes identified with Jesus (Acts 16:7; Phil 1:19; 1 Pet 1:11) and sometimes, as here, with the Father—and sometimes with both in almost the same breath (Romans 8:9, 11). The church will grapple for centuries over how to speak of the relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to one another. Jesus does not go into such matters here; his point is that the Spirit will speak through his disciples as they bear witness. They therefore do not need to worry about what they will say; their heavenly Father will, as always, provide for their needs.

The Spirit: See page 21

For reflection: How have I experienced inspirations from the Spirit helping me in difficult situations?

Above is an excerpt from Bringing the Gospel of Matthew to Life: Light and Inspiration.