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Jesus Christ: God, Man and Savior Week Three: Jesus Christ in Luke-Acts

Peter Brown, Author

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Jesus in Luke: The Master of Table Fellowship

The way Jesus restores the people is through preaching, healing, and casting out demons as in the other Gospels—actions that generate acceptance of the people and rejection among the leaders of Israel as Simeon foretold. Yet unique to Luke is the emphasis on table fellowship. Just as with the theme of material possessions Luke records many of Jesus’ deeds and words on this important theme while at the same time shaping the narrative to draw greater attention to eating meals. In the other synoptics, Jesus is accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners. Yet only does Luke record an actual banquet thrown by Levi (5:29). And only in Luke does Jesus use the occasion of a meal with a Pharisee to forgive a repentant woman who anoints Him (7:36-49) and another meal to lambaste the hypocrisy of His opponents (11:37-39). Only in Luke does Jesus give extended parables of wedding feasts while at a great feast to illustrate future membership and life in the kingdom (14:7-24).

Luke’s account of Jesus’ words and deeds and the Last Supper are by far the most influential of the entire gospel tradition. Luke presents the most detailed theology of the Last Supper 1) by recording Jesus explicitly connecting His Last Supper with the “new covenant” promised in Jeremiah 31:31 (21:20); 2) by recording Jesus’ command to “do this” in His memory (22:19); and 3) by connecting the Last Supper celebration by the apostles so closely to their reign in the kingdom judging the tribes of Israel (22:29-30). This last point is of immense importance for Biblical catechesis on the Eucharist. In Luke, the kingdom of God is at least partly a present reality in which one participates by participating in the meal commanded by the Lord and mediated by his apostles! (Compare with Matthew 19:28--which is quite different than the Lukan version of the saying--to see what Luke has done!) 

Eucharistic meals involving the “breaking of the bread” (Luke’s term for them) are very important here on out in the narrative, for not only do they enable the disciples like the two on the road to Emmaus to see Jesus and have fellowship with Him (24:30-35), but they define membership in the restored people of God that emerges in Acts (Acts 1:4; 2:42; 10:41; 20:7; 27:35). Luke envisions very much a Eucharistic centered Church!
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