Thursday, September 10, 2020

67. Luke (Thru the Bible #37)

Luke. (Thru the Bible #37) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 312 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Luke was the beloved physician of Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” He used more medical terms than Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read twelve or so of his commentaries. (Most recently his volume on Mark.) 

Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. 

By this point, McGee has covered Matthew, Mark, and now Luke. You would think that it would be a lot of repetition and less insight. I didn't find that to be the case. 

In the introduction, he points out some reasons why Luke is unique.

Note these special features of Luke’s gospel: 1. Although the Gospel of Luke is one of the synoptic gospels, it contains many features omitted by Matthew and Mark. Dr. Luke gives us the songs of Christmas. 3. Dr. Luke has the longest account of the virgin birth of Jesus of any of the Gospels. In the first two chapters, he gives us an unabashed record of obstetrics. A clear and candid statement of the Virgin Birth is given by Dr. Luke. 4. Dr. Luke gives us twenty miracles of which six are recorded in no other gospel. 5. He likewise gives us twenty-three parables, and eighteen of them are found nowhere else. The parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan are peculiar to this third Gospel. 6. He also gives us the very human account of the walk to Emmaus of our resurrected Lord. This proves that Jesus was still human after His resurrection. Dr. Luke demonstrates that the Resurrection was not of the spirit, but of the body. Jesus was “… sown a natural body … raised a spiritual body …” (1 Cor. 15:44). 7. A definite human sympathy pervades this gospel, which reveals the truly human nature of Jesus, as well as the big-hearted sympathy of this physician of the first century who knew firsthand a great deal about the suffering of humanity. 8. Dr. Luke uses more medical terms than Hippocrates, the father of medicine.


  • “Eyewitness” is the Greek word autoptai–auto meaning “that which is of itself,” and opsomai meaning “to see.” “To see for yourself” would be an eyewitness. It is a medical term which means to make an autopsy. In fact, what Dr. Luke is trying to say is, “We are eyewitnesses who made an autopsy, and I am writing to you about what we found.”
  • Do you know that you are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? Do you know that the Bible is the Word of God? I feel sorry for the person who is not sure about these things. Do you wobble back and forth and say, “I am not sure about my salvation or the Bible. I guess I do not have enough faith.” Not having enough faith may not be your problem. Your problem may be that you do not know enough. You see, “… faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). If you really knew the Word of God, you would believe it. Those who are ignorant of the Bible have the problems. The problem is not with the Bible or with the Lord Jesus Christ; the problem lies with us.
  • The Word of God has the seal of God upon it. The Word of God carries authority. What Vernon McGee says is not important, but what the Word of God says is important. God speaks to us through His Word.
  • There are many babblers around who are everlastingly spouting off about their unbelief. If they haven’t anything to say, they should keep quiet. Let the man speak who believes in God and has something to say.
  • Anything God determines to do He can accomplish, because there is nothing impossible with God. But that does not mean He will do everything believers want Him to do, because some things are not included in His plan. Let us put everything in proper perspective before we do a lot of talking that will hurt and harm the cause of Jesus Christ rather than help it.
  • The most unwelcome message, even today, is the voice of the prophet. The world will not receive a man who contradicts its philosophy of life. If you want to be popular, and this is also true of preachers, you have to sing in unison with the crowd. God have mercy on the pulpit that is nothing in the world but a sounding board for what the congregation is saying.
  • I wonder how long a preacher would last in any church if he began his Sunday sermon by saying, “O generation of vipers”? I do not think he would be in the pulpit the following Sunday. The people would soon get rid of him. I do not recommend using John’s unusual introduction for a sermon, but I do think it would be appropriate in many churches.
  • Modern man in our secular society says, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” And as far as man is concerned, that ends it all. Selfishness is the curse of a creedless, secular society. Our Lord, in meeting this temptation, refuted the popular philosophy of the world.
  • Dr. Edward Judson, after considering what his father, Adoniram Judson, suffered in Burma said, “If we succeed without suffering, it is because others have suffered before us. If we suffer without success, it is that others may succeed after us.”
  • I do not know about you, friend, but every time Satan comes to me he always finds some place to take hold of.
  • When I was a boy in west Texas, we lived on the west fork of the Brazos River. In the summertime there was not enough water in the stream to rust a shingle nail. It was dry. In wintertime, however, you could have kept a battleship afloat in it. One year we had a flood, and it washed out a railroad bridge over the river. Santa Fe railroad workers came immediately to build a new bridge. When the bridge was completed, they put two engines on the bridge and tied down the whistles. In our little town we had never heard two engine whistles blow at the same time; so everyone raced to the bridge, all twenty-seven of us. One brave fellow in the crowd asked, “What are you doing?” The engineer replied, “We are testing the bridge.” “Do you think it will break?” the young man queried. “Of course it won’t break,” the engineer said with almost a sneer. “If you know it won’t break, why are you putting the engines on the bridge?” the young man wondered. “Just to prove that it won’t break,” said the engineer. That is what the Lord’s temptation was. It showed us that we have a Savior who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God through Him (see Heb. 7:25–26).
  • Faith is quietly waiting upon God, doing His will. It is interesting to note that when Satan quoted from Psalm 91:11–12, he misquoted Scripture, just as he misquoted God’s word in the garden to Eve.
  • God is fishing for your soul, and Satan also is fishing for your soul with a hook baited with the things of the world. You might say God’s hook is a cross. The son of God died upon that cross for you. This is God’s message for you. By the way, whose hook are you on today? You are either on God’s hook or Satan’s hook. Either the Devil has you or God has you. There is no third fisherman!
  • The Great Physician can do nothing for those who think they are not sick.
  • In our Lord’s day literally thousands of people were healed. There were no healing lines, no slapping of this one and patting of that one, no having people fall backwards and forwards. The people whom the Lord healed did not have to do anything. Our Lord would even heal them at a distance. The healings performed by the Lord were genuine, and we have Dr. Luke’s statement to prove it.
  • The true prophet speaks for God and is persecuted. The false prophet misrepresents God and is patronized by men. The true prophet must have faith in God and maintain a quiet confidence which looks beyond the things which are seen to the things which are eternal. This is what keeps a man true to God.
  • The false prophet may become popular with the world, but he will be notorious with God. He may have a lot of fun on earth, but he will cause heaven to weep. He may be well fed, but he has a starved soul.
  • As far as civil rights go, I am not concerned about the color of a man’s skin but about the color of his heart. Has his heart been washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? If it has, then he is my brother. I am going to be living with him for eternity and I had better start learning to live with him now—and I am. A man’s heart may be as black as ink and his skin white as snow; yet he is not my brother.
  • The minister of a church who is seeking popularity does not dare mention sin. Some use the gyration of psychoanalysis to explain away the exceeding sinfulness of sin. It is called a relic of a theological jungle. Sin is not a crime against God, according to many modern preachers. They are afraid to say that God hates sin and that Jehovah is a Man of War.
  • To be right in God’s sight you cannot compliment the ego, pat the pride, smile upon sin, and put cold cream on the cancer of sin. You cannot write a prescription on philosophy and have it filled in the pleasures of the world. The only place you can go is to the foot of the cross.
  • If you can read the Sermon on the Plain and not see that you are a lost and hell-doomed sinner, I feel sorry for you.
  • Doubts are not a sign that you are smart. On the contrary, they are a sign that you are very foolish and do not know everything.
  • I was a pastor for almost forty years, and a great deal of that time was spent as a wet nurse, burping spiritual babies—which is what these religious rulers were in Christ’s day. The Lord said they were like children playing in a marketplace. One of the children says, “Let’s play wedding.” The others say, “No, that’s too jolly.” “Then let’s play funeral.” No, they don’t want to play funeral because it is too sad. Our Lord said these petulant children were exactly like that religious generation. And I wonder if this is an accurate picture of the average church today.
  • Man is a willful sinner. That is the kind of sinners all of us are, and the light that comes in will create a responsibility. We come into this world lost, and if we do not accept the Light, who is Christ, we remain lost. We are held responsible for the light we have received.
  • The storm did not disturb the Lord, but the attitude of His disciples did. He rebuked the wind and the sea as one would speak to dogs on a leash. Literally His command was, “Be muzzled.” The miracle lies in the fact that the wind ceased immediately, and the sea, which would have rolled for hours, instantly became as smooth as glass. How often He puts us in the storms of life in order that we might come closer to Him and learn what manner of Man He really is.
  • It is startling to read that the people of Gadara came and asked the Lord Jesus to leave their coasts. The reason was that they would rather have the swine than have Him. That’s a rather heart-searching question for the present day because there are a lot of people who would rather have other things—which are just as bad as pigs—than to have Christ!
  • Jesus Christ is not the founder of any religion. He did not found a religion; He died on a cross for the sins of the world. He is the Savior, and that is why we are not saved by religion; we are saved by Christ. I remember Dr. Carrol said many times, “When I came to Christ, I lost my religion.” A great many people need to lose their religion and find Christ.
  • When it comes to discipleship, human affection takes second place to His will. When a conflict arises between human affections and Christ. He claims the first place.
  • My business is to sow the seed which is the Word of God. That is the business of every Christian.
  • Dean Brown of Yale University has said that three classes of men that represent three philosophies of life are brought before us in this parable. 1. The Thief: His philosophy of life says, “What you have is mine.” This is socialism or communism. 2. The Priest and Levite: His philosophy of life says, “What I have is mine.” This is rugged individualism that has gone to seed. His cry is, “Let the world be damned, I will get mine.” This is godless capitalism. 3. The Good Samaritan: His philosophy says, “What I have belongs to you.” This is a Christian philosophy of life. “What I have is yours if I can help you.” Folk who talk about “Christian socialism” don’t recognize that they are two distinct philosophies. Now our Lord intended that we bring this parable right down to where we live.
  • Any person you can help is your neighbor.
  • There is a great deal of talk about getting the gospel out to the world, but not much of an effort is made to see that people know about Christ. It is like the young fellow who was courting a girl. He wrote her a letter and said to her, “I would climb the highest mountain for you, swim the deepest river for you, cross the widest sea for you, and cross the burning desert for you!” Then he added a P.S.: “If it does not rain next Wednesday, I will come to see you.” That sounds like the average Christian’s commitment to Christ!
  • Legalism and liberalism push across toward man and say, “Hang on, brother, hang on.” But man cannot hang on. There is a song which says, “I was sinking deep in sin far from the peaceful shore, very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; but the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me, now safe am I.” Christ lifted me, my friend, and He can lift you too. That is the message of the Good Samaritan.
  • Many folks say their prayers. It is sort of an amen to tag on the end of the day when you put on your pajamas. I was brought up in a home where I never heard prayer nor ever saw a Bible. The first time I ever engaged in prayer was at a conference when I was a boy. I stayed in a dormitory with other boys, and at night the one in charge told us to put on our pajamas and gather together for prayer. I got the impression, at the very beginning, that in order to pray you had to put on your pajamas; you could not pray any other time. Your pajamas were sort of your prayer clothes. Of course that was a ridiculous conception, but, frankly, we need someone to teach us to pray—not just to say prayers, but to get through to God.
  • The barren lives of Christians and the deadness of the church today are the result of prayerlessness. That is our problem.
  • We do not need more preachers, churches, or missionaries, but we do need more people who know how to pray.
  • Some people think that God does not hear and answer their prayers. Maybe they do not get the message—sometimes God says, “No!” Our problem is that we do not like to take no for an answer. God always hears the prayers of His own, and answers them, but when He says no it is because we are not praying for that which is best for us. I have learned over the years that the best answer God has given to some of my requests has been no.
  • We need to realize and recognize what kind of world we are living in. Man thinks he is big enough and good enough to bring peace on the earth. This is a fallacy—man is a warmonger.
  • The organized church cannot bring in His kingdom. In His own good time Christ Himself will come and establish His kingdom.
  • Someone has said, “An alibi is a lie stuffed in the skin of an excuse.” No one who was invited said, “I will not come to the dinner.” They were simply making excuses to cover up the fact that they did not want to come.
  • Our great High Priest carries us on His shoulders, and we will not become lost. When He starts out with one hundred sheep, He will come through with one hundred sheep—not ninety-nine. This is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ out looking for those who are His own.
  • Sin does an awful thing for us. It makes us see the world incorrectly. It makes us see ourselves in the wrong light. It makes us see the pleasures of this world in the wrong perspective, and we just don’t see clearly when we’re in sin.
  • Jesus healed ten lepers. Only one of the ten, who was a Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus for what He had done. Jesus then did a second thing for him—He forgave his sins. The other nine lepers were healed but were not saved. Thankfulness should be in the Christian’s heart. Why do you go to church on Sunday? Do you go there to worship God and thank Him for all He has done for you? Part of your worship is to thank Him. About the only thing we can give to God is our thanksgiving. How wonderful it is just to thank Him. We are even to make our requests to God with thanksgiving. We ought to have a thankful heart toward Him.
  • One of the greatest delusions of our time is that man is going to improve himself and his world; that he is going to build the kingdom of God without God. He expects to bring in the Millennium without Christ.
  • During World War II, when the bombing was so intense on the city of London, a sign appeared in front of one of the churches in London that read, “If your knees knock together, kneel on them!” That is practically a restatement of what our Lord has said, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
  • However, when our Lord talked to men He usually spoke of two things: (1) man’s need and (2) God’s ability to meet that need. He did not have to tell Zacchaeus that he was a sinner. Zacchaeus knew he was a sinner, and so did everyone else. The Lord told him there was a remedy for sin. He said, “I am going to Jerusalem to die on the cross so that there will be a mercy seat for you, Zacchaeus.”
  • Today you and I can fall on that Stone, who is Christ Jesus, and be saved—that is, we have to come to Him as a sinner, broken in spirit, broken in heart. When we do this, we are on the foundation that no man can lay, which is Jesus Christ the Stone. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
  • The subtle temptation is to throw overboard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and become a popular preacher. Judas sold out the Lord. Peter denied Him but loved Him and came back to Him. When a man sells Christ for popularity, he will never come back. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? …” (Jer. 13:23). The next time some starry-eyed optimist tells you that the liberals are coming back to Christ, forget it. The Sadducees were the worst enemies that the gospel of Christ ever had—whether in the first or the twentieth centuries.
  • I am not called upon to reform the world, or change the world. That is God’s business, not my business. He has asked me to live for Him, and He has asked me to get His Word out. That is what I am attempting to do, and I hope you are doing this also. It is very comfortable to be in the will of God.
  • The victory of Calvary was won in Gethsemane.
  • The Lord, in speaking about His resurrection, did not show them the prints of the nails in His hands to prove it. He referred them to the Scriptures rather than to the nail prints. He told them, “You should have believed what the prophets said.” It is well to note the Lord’s attitude toward the Bible. The day in which we live is a day of doubt. There are people who are actually saying that you cannot be intelligent and believe the Bible. Many people are afraid that they will not be considered intelligent; so they don’t come out flat-footed and say whether they believe the Bible or not.
  • I suppose it is the most subtle and satanic trap of our day to discount the inerrancy and integrity of the Word of God. Christ says a man is a fool not to believe it. He gave an unanimous and wholehearted acceptance of the Bible’s statements, with no ifs, ands, or buts. 
  • Christ says that there are two things which are essential to the understanding of the Word of God. They are simple but important. First, as verse 25 indicates, we must have faith in the Bible. Christ said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Pascal said, “Human knowledge must be understood to be believed, but divine knowledge must be believed to be understood.” I think the Bible is a closed book to the critic and the infidel. He can learn a few facts, but he misses the message.
  • On the other hand, some simple soul whose heart is turned in humble faith to God will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God. The eyes of his understanding will be opened. Great men of the past have come to the pages of Scripture for light and life in the hours of darkness or crisis. It is not smart to ridicule the Bible. The Lord said, “You are a fool not to believe it.” I would rather lack sophistication and subtlety than to be a fool.
  • Then the Lord says that the Bible can only be divinely understood. Human intellect is simply not enough to comprehend its truths.
  • Our prayer ought to be, “Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Word.” We should come with a humble attitude to the Word of God. Just because you read the Bible does not mean that you know it. The Holy Spirit of God will have to make it real to you.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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