Jesus’ Understanding of God’s Will in the Book of Luke

When Luke speaks of the will of God, he uses the word δεῖ. It is found 101 times in the New Testament. Luke uses it 41 times in Luke-Acts, with 14 of those occurrences being found in Luke. This word is typically understood as being translated “it is necessary” or that something “must” happen. Luke’s use of the word is by far the most comprehensive in the New Testament. It is through his use of the word that one can conclude that it intends to imply the will of God.

This is significant as one looks at the 14 uses of δεῖ in Luke. God’s will is seemingly His will as found in the law, or in the Old Testament in general. Throughout Jesus’s ministry on earth, He tells his disciples that He “must” suffer, be delivered and crucified as a fulfillment of the Scriptures (9:22; 17:25; 24:7, 26; 24:44). It is interesting to note that Jesus did have an understanding of the necessity of following God’s will from an early age. Luke is the only one to give us a peek at this time in Jesus’ life, so it is significant to note. When Jesus was twelve years old, he stayed back in the temple in Jerusalem without the knowledge of Mary and Joseph. When Mary and Joseph came back looking for Him, Mary asked, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (2:48-49, emphasis added). Jesus was well aware of the will that God the Father had for his life even from a young age.

This is not the only time that Jesus’ actions were dictated by His understanding of God’s will and the role it played in His understanding of what His own purpose was on earth. After spending time in Galilee and at Simon’s house, Jesus had done many miracles. He left to go to a solitary place, but people came and found Him, begging Him to stay. But Jesus replied, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (4:43, emphasis added).

Jesus, lamenting the history of Jerusalem, tells some Pharisee’s who warn him that Herod wants to kill him that He will continue to heal people and to cast out demons, but he “must” press on to Jerusalem. (13:32-33). Later, Jesus also tells Zacchaeus that he “must” stay at his house (19:5).

Perhaps the greatest link to Luke’s understanding of δεῖ is God’s will for Jesus’ suffering. Soon after Peter’s confession that Jesus is “God’s Messiah” (9:20), Jesus tells them, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” He tells his disciples a similar thing in 17:25, that “He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

After Jesus resurrected from the grave, He appeared to His disciples and reminded them of what He had told them about it being necessary for Him to “be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again” (24:7). On the road to Emmaus Jesus rebukes and explains to the saddened men something they should have known: that “the Messiah had to suffer these things and then enter his glory.” (24:26).

After Jesus had explained that there was coming a time when the temple was to be destroyed, the disciples asked about how they could know when these events were about to take place. Jesus responded that there would be claims by false Messiahs, wars, and uprisings. He told them when these things happen to “not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away” (21:9, emphasis added).

Luke portrays Jesus intentionally living in the necessity of God’s will. He was constantly mindful about God’s will – that He was to preach the Good News, obey the law of the Old Testament, die a sinless man, and be resurrected in power for mankind on the third day.

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