Exile and Repentance, Part 12 (Luke: Revolutionary Background; Jesus Begins His Ministry)

Arch_of_Titus_MenorahThe Jewish revolts against Rome

The consequences of the first Jewish revolt against Rome are summarized in the Wikipedia

The defeat of the Jewish revolt altered the Jewish diaspora, as many of the Jewish rebels were scattered or sold into slavery. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, a sizeable portion of these were at Jewish hands and due to illnesses brought about by hunger. “A pestilential destruction upon them, and soon afterward such a famine, as destroyed them more suddenly.” On the order of 97,000 were captured and enslaved and many others fled to areas around the Mediterranean. …

Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, saying, “There is no merit in vanquishing a people forsaken by their own God.”

It gets worse. In the early Second Century, the Jews rebelled yet again.

The Bar Kokhba revolt (Hebrew: מרד בר כוכבא‎ or mered Bar Kokhba), was a rebellion of the Jews of Judea Province, led by Simon bar Kokhba, against the Roman Empire. Fought circa 132–136 CE, it was the last of three major Jewish–Roman wars, so it is also known as The Third Jewish–Roman War or The Third Jewish Revolt.

The revolt erupted as a result of religious and political tensions in Judea province. Simon bar Kokhba, the commander, was regarded by many Jews as the Messiah, a heroic figure who would restore Israel. Initial rebel victories established an independent state of Israel over parts of Judea for over two years, but a Roman army made up of six full legions with auxiliaries and elements from up to six additional legions finally crushed it.

The Bar Kokhba revolt resulted in an extensive depopulation of Judean Jewish communities, more so than the First Jewish–Roman War of 70 CE. Despite easing persecution of Jews following Hadrian’s death in 138 CE, the Romans barred Jews from Jerusalem, except for attendance in Tisha B’Av. The Jewish community of Judea was devastated in events some scholars describe as a genocide. According to Cassius Dio, 580,000 Jewish civilians were massacred, and those who survived were sold into slavery.

Although Jewish Christians regarded Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, they were barred from Jerusalem along with the rest of the Jews. The war and its aftermath helped differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism (see also Split of early Christianity and Judaism).

In short, the curses of Deu 28 did indeed come true, again and again, as the non-Christian Jews found “messiahs” to lead them in military rebellion against Rome. We easily see why Jesus, looking ahead to what was going to happen to Israel, wept.

It’s all about knowing where you are within the covenant and prophetic framework, and John and Jesus knew that they lived in the Deu 30:6 times, which required a change of heart. Military revolt was not a change of heart.

The baptism of Jesus

Luke records Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist.

(Luk 3:21-22 ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened,  22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

I believe the baptism of Jesus is intended to be a typology of Christian baptism. When we are baptized, we receive the Spirit and God declares us his son or daughter and that we are well pleasing to him.

Jesus was already all of these things before his baptism, but his baptism is an example for us to follow, an endorsement of the ministry of John, and a demonstration of his humility. Even the Son of God, the Messiah, was willing to submit to an act of repentance for forgiveness — not because he was himself in need of either but because he was doing for Israel what Israel would not do for itself. He was, as the Hebrews author teaches, learning obedience (Heb 5:8), so that the Spirit could teach us obedience.

The temptations of Jesus

Luke next records Satan tempting Jesus to use his miraculous powers to feed himself, to test God’s willingness to protect him from harm, and —

(Luk 4:5-8 ESV) 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,  6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.  7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”

Obviously, Satan claimed to have the rule over the entire planet, including over the Jews. And Jesus did not disagree. Rather, as we’ve seen elsewhere, Jesus defeated Satan and other demonic powers by the cross (Col 2:15).

And so, we see that the need for national and individual repentance was quite real — so real that Satan could claim to rule the Jews.

Jesus preaches from Isaiah

Jesus then begins his ministry by preaching in the local synagogue based on Isa 61, from which he announced the coming of the Messiah and the Kingdom. But when he claimed to be the Messiah himself, things began to go poorly —

(Luk 4:24-30 ESV)  24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.  25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land,  26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.  29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.  30 But passing through their midst, he went away. 

Here we see an important shift. Clearly, Luke anticipates that many among the Jews would reject Jesus, and that only a remnant would accept him and be saved. Jesus makes that point exactly, anticipating Paul’s argument in Rom 11, even referring to the time of Elijah, as Paul does. In fact, the reaction to Jesus’ claim was so negative that the townspeople attempted to kill him, presumably for blasphemy.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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2 Responses to Exile and Repentance, Part 12 (Luke: Revolutionary Background; Jesus Begins His Ministry)

  1. laymond says:

    Jay said “I believe the baptism of Jesus is intended to be a typology of Christian baptism. When we are baptized, we receive the Spirit and God declares us his son or daughter and that we are well pleasing to him.”

    (Luk 3:21-22 ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

    I don’t see anywhere in real life anything that would support Jay’s beliefs, I have never been present at a baptism, even my own, where a bird landed on the baptized to confirm the acceptance of the offered. Or any change at all as far as that goes, the change usually happens before baptism. Yes Luke writes more colorfully than others, but that color has no basis in reality. Luke don’t even claim information others don’t have, as a matter of fact Luke admits he gained his knowledge from others, no one who was there said the spirit looked like a dove, they said it came down from heavens like a dove.

  2. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    (Mat 3:16-17 ESV) 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

    (Mar 1:9-11 ESV) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

    (Luk 3:21-22 ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

    (Joh 1:31-34 ESV) 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

    All four Gospels testify to this event. Luke’s account matches closely with the others. All four speak of the Spirit descending like a dove. In fact, this one of the only three event mentioned in all four of the Gospels.

    If this event was not intended as typological for the church, what was the point? Why is it so important that it’s mentioned in all four Gospels? Only two other events are. Why is it important enough to all four writers that they all record it?

    Whether the Spirit behaved in a dovish manner or actually looked like a dove is not, to me, an interesting question. The question is: what does this mean for the readers of the Gospels? And it’s obviously not recorded as it is just for historical curiosity. There is a lesson here. Probably several. But that assumes we’re willing to submit to the authority of scripture. If you deny inspiration, then it’s just a story and we have nothing to talk about.

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