The Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3) gets its name from the olive trees that grow there in abundance. Olive trees were highly valued in Israel as a source of oil and wood. Gethsemane, which was on the Mount of Olives, means “oil press.”
Rabbi (Mark14:45) literally means “my lord.” The title was used to address outstanding teachers of the Jewish law. Jesus told the disciples that they were not to be called rabbi, because they, like all believers in Christ everywhere in the world, have one true teacher—the Lord Jesus himself (Matt. 23:8).
Releasing prisoners (Mark 15:6) was apparently a custom the Roman governor Pilate had instituted as a means of winning favor with the Jewish people. Ironically, in this case, he ended up releasing a man convicted of rebelling against Rome.
Scourging is another term for flogging, a cruel punishment used by the Romans (Mark15:15). Prisoners were tied to a post and beaten with a leather whip that had pieces of bone and metal attached to it. In many cases, scourging was fatal.
Who wrote Luke?
Luke wrote both this Gospel account and Acts. He probably traveled with Paul and participated in his ministry (see Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24). Luke was also a physician (Col. 4:14).
Mary’s song includes one of Luke’s major themes: the great reversal taking place in the world, in which God will exalt the humble and humble the proud (Luke 1:48, 52–53). God often uses seemingly insignificant people to achieve his remarkable purposes.
Why was Jesus taken to Jerusalem at age 12?
At age 13, a Jewish boy was considered a man. It is possible that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem as part of his final preparation for this new stage in his life.
What is a tetrarch?
A tetrarch (Luke 3:1) ruled over part of a region. Herod Antipas became the tetrarch of Galilee when his father, Herod the Great, died in 4 b.c. Luke lists the names of rulers in order to show the historical accuracy of his writing (see Luke 1:1–4).
The pinnacle of the temple (Luke 4:9) was probably located at the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount. It overlooked the steep drop into the Kidron Valley, some 300 feet (91 m) below.
Jesus endured many temptations from Satan in the wilderness, designed to discourage him in his ministry. But he met each temptation with a specific Scripture that addressed that particular temptation. We should follow his example.
The Pharisees may have originated from the Hasidwim, Jewish separatists who fought for independence in the Maccabean Revolt. Unlike the Sadducees, who controlled the Jewish high court, the Pharisees were heavily involved in the local synagogues. They were popular with the people, but Jesus challenged them on many points.
The Golden Rule. In Luke 6:31, Jesus teaches that his followers should treat others as they want to be treated. This is known as “the Golden Rule,” and it is a good summary of OT teaching (Matt. 7:12). Since God is kind and merciful, his children should be too (Luke 6:32–36).
Are you the one who is to come?
John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the “mightier one,” or the Messiah, who would come after John. In response, Jesus pointed out how his ministry fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah (Luke 7:18–23; see Luke 3:16).
Traveling exorcists tried to cast out demons using a variety of spells and devices. Jesus cast out demons using simple commands. This demonstrated his unique authority as the Son of God and showed that Jesus was stronger than any evil power (Luke 8:26–39).
An early outreach to Gentiles. When Jesus healed a demon-possessed man in a Gentile area (Luke 8:26–39), the healed man became an early “missionary” to his fellow Gentiles. The mission to the Gentiles would not begin in earnest until after Pentecost (Acts 2).
Was Bethsaida (Luke 9:10) actually a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee, as Mark 6:45 suggests? The most likely site for Bethsaida is 1.25 miles (2 km) inland from the Sea. However, recent archaeological research has shown that this can be explained by (1) a lowering of the water level in the Sea, (2) sedimentation, and (3) seismic activity.
Jesus welcomed children and sometimes used them as examples of humility (Luke 10:21; 18:15–17). He taught that such humility was necessary for his followers (see Matt. 18:3–4). God delights in showing mercy to those who are humble (see Luke 1:52–53).
The coming of God’s kingdom (Luke 11:2) is an important theme in the Gospels. It refers to the advance of God’s rule over all creation, especially as sinful men and women put their trust in Jesus and submit to God’s authority in their lives.
In Luke 11:42–52, Jesus directs six “woes” to the Pharisees and the lawyers (or scribes). “Woe” is a way of expressing grief or regret. The Pharisees and scribes took offense, but Jesus’ teaching should have led them to repentance.
Worth more than a sparrow? Five sparrows could be purchased for two pennies. However, even the common sparrow is of great worth in God’s sight. And if that is so, Jesus says, each human person must be of infinite worth to him (Luke 12:6–7).