The temple which occupies so prominent a place in St. Luke’s narrative had a special section of its spacious courts set aside solely for the women. The area was known as “The Court of the Women.” Someone has said that Luke’s Gospel is largely colored by this setting.
The opening chapters introduce Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, who are given great prominence. In chs. 7 & 8 the record includes The Widow of Nain; The Woman that anointed Christ’s feet; Susanna; Mary Magdalene; The Daughter of Jairus; and the Woman that spent her all. Later we meet with Mary and Martha, of Bethany; A Daughter of Abraham; The importunate widow; mothers and their children; The widow who cast her two mites into the Treasury; The Daughters of Jerusalem; and, as Luke states, “many others.”
No one was better suited to record these touches of tenderness than “The Beloved Physician,” who opens his message with two remarkable words “surely believed,” implying “stable knowledge” or things perfectly certain.
When studying Matthew, we traced the royalty of Christ’s kingship, while in Mark’s narrative we surveyed the legality of His heirship. In our present study we are to consider the profound message of Luke, which portrays the dignity of His mediatorship. The fourth study will be St. John, wherein our Lord is manifested in the authority of His progenitorship. The fourfold Gospel presents Christ’s portraiture in His relationship to mankind as the Revealer, Redeemer, Reconciler and Regenerator. In His official capacity He is pictured swaying the scepter in Matthew; securing the regalia in Mark; wearing the miter in Luke and bearing the insignia in John. As King He was heralded, as Heir he was entitled, as Priest He was anointed, and as Son He was sealed.
Christ, who is depicted in St. Luke as the Priest, exercised a ministry of heavenly grace, “The grace of God was upon him.” (ch. 2:40) Under the Old Testament economy there were three definite steps in ordaining a priest. He was called of God, bathed at the laver and anointed with oil. In like manner Christ was called; (ch. 1:32-35) He was bathed; (ch. 3:21) and He was anointed. (Ch. 4:18) His priesthood was not of a national or parochial order, but representative of all mankind. He is the One Mediator between God and Man.
Although there are numerous outlines on Luke which set forth Christ as Son of Man in his perfect Manhood, none of these, to my knowledge, sufficiently stress the vocation He filled as the great and gracious priest for mediation. His ministry of identification, compassion, reconciliation and intercession are plainly traced through the entire gospel.
(A) THE REALITIES OF HIS FRIENDSHIP.
The word “Friend” does not appear in Mark for, as sole heir, He stood absolutely alone in His claim to the estate. In Luke there are no fewer than fifteen instances of its use, more than the total in all the remaining N.T. books combined. Christ’s friendliness was so pronounced that the saying became proverbial, “A friend of publicans and sinners.” (Luke 7:34) A true priest must be on friendly terms with those He seeks to represent before God. He must fully know their case and the Divine requirements to meet it, if he is to rightly fill the office of representative consultation.
(B) THE RIGHTS OF HIS MEDIATORSHIP
The priesthood was ordained for mediation, to stand between two parties who were out of accord. In view of this, God gave to the nation of Israel the pattern of a temple to establish a center where the ministry of mediation could be conveniently and righteously discharged.
The Spirit of God stresses these matters supremely in Luke’s Gospel, and we cannot examine the message with any degree of discriminating care, without being impressed with the twenty-two references to the Temple. The object of this emphasis is to disclose that Christ surpasses the Temple in its purpose, supersedes the priesthood in its function and becomes the final fulfillment of both. In respect to the Temple, an alliterate summary will at least suffice to impress this fact:
(a) The Temple was the certitude of welcome. He was the sympathetic Welcomer. “Come unto me.” “I will give you rest.” “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”
(b) The Temple was the center of worship. He was the subject of worship. “This do in remembrance of me.” “And they worshiped Him.”
(c) The Temple was the citadel of wealth. He was the substance of wealth. “The unsearchable riches of Christ,” “In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:3)
(d) The Temple was the crown of workmanship. He was the surpassing Workman. “Created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” (Eph. 2:10) “Living stones built up a spiritual house for the habitation of God.” (I Pet. 2:5)
(e) The Temple was the cause of wonder. He was the supreme Wonder. Trace the seven references to wonder in Luke.
(f) The Temple was the chamber of witness. He was the sublime Witness. “Never man spake like this man.” (John 7:46) “The Faithful and True Witness.” (Rev. 3:14)
(g) The Temple was the court of wisdom. He was the source of Wisdom. “Who of God is made unto us wisdom.” (I Cor. 1:30)
At the very heart of the purpose of blessing for which the temple was given, lay the assurance of welcome. “There will I meet with thee.” “My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations.” To what extent have we really given attention to the instruction Christ gave showing the relationship between His ministry and the Temple? Notice that His invitation of assured welcome expressed in the appeal “Come unto me and I will give you rest,” (Matt. 11:28) is immediately followed by the claim “I say unto you that in this place is one greater than the temple.” (Matt. 12:6) Towards the close of His ministry, when referring to the destruction of the temple, He went on to add to His prediction that the Gospel must first be published unto all nations, “then shall the end come” which further implies that He Himself finally superseded all that the temple stood for. Therefore with this place of meeting destroyed, a Person of meeting was provided for man, so that all stricken with a sense of sin could resort to Him for confession and remission. Beautiful as this majestic structure was, it has been transplaced by Christ who excels it by His personal majesty and perfect sympathy. He is the One in whom God and man may meet, irrespective of caste, clime or class and obtain absolution from all sin. Herein the plaintive longing of Job is fully realized. “Oh, that there was a daysman betwixt us that could lay his hand upon us both.” Christ is the daysman to reconcile and bring man back into accord with God. Moses, who without question stands as the greatest Mediator in the Old Testament, is referred to ten times in Luke’s Gospel, and the official capacity Christ exercises invests this fact with greater interest.
(c) THE RULES FOR HIS RELATIONSHIP
This is the logical outcome of His friendship and mediatorship. When addressing His disciples in an hour that was electric with conflict, He called them His friends. (Luke 12:4) On another occasion He attributed to them the relationship of mother and brethren by reason of their fulfilling to Him everything of comfort and companionship, by doing the will of God. (Luke 8:21) Towards the close of His ministry He commended them for associating with Him in His temptations. (Luke 22:28) Later, in mutual fellowship, He drew near to those going to Emmaus and expounded to them the Scriptures, making Himself known at the meal table. Finally, He appeared in their midst and showed them His hands and His feet and partook of fish and honeycomb with them, before inducting them into the great fellowship of evangelical service as His own witnesses.
Glancing back over these introductory headings for a moment, three things are impressed upon us, namely, His friendship, mediatorship, and relationship. A certain section of the church accredits to the Virgin Mary special merit in regard to these very things, yet remarkably enough, on the three occasions when she addressed Christ on these grounds she was answered in words of rebuke. On finding Him in the Temple she ventured to chide Him with the words, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” With rare delicacy He rebuked her, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business.” Her unwarranted use of “Thy father” is corrected with the real truth, “My Father.” (Luke 2:41-50) At the marriage in Cana, Mary approached Him and said, “They have no wine.” In a courteous dignity He again corrected her with “Woman, what have I to do with thee,” implying, do not intrude beyond your province. (John 2:1-9) Later at Capernaum Mary found Him intensely engrossed in His labors and requested an interview. He immediately repudiated the claim of kinship on natural grounds and declared that true relationship consisted in doing the will of God. (Luke 8:19, 21)
In the foresight of Divine providence, the Scriptures challenge the teaching of Mariolatry. Why do millions of mothers place the medallions of Mary upon their children but to invoke her friendly care and protection? Given that she failed in her care of one child, how can she safeguard millions? Why is the mother of Jesus made a mediatrix to dispense mercy and pardon and invoked to obtain blessing from a glorified Saviour, seeing He disallowed her any right to intrude into the sphere of His sole prerogative? Why is the relationship of Mary and Christ so magnified and claimed to be so meritorious, seeing He denied the existence of any merit on that plane? On another occasion, an unwise but well-meaning woman endeavored to attract attention by invoking blessing on Mary as the mother of such an illustrious son. His answer was sharp and decisive, “Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:27, 28) As to whether Mary had other children born to her after the birth of Christ, there is no need to contend — six are mentioned in Mark 6:3. The supreme and solitary office in which He stands remains for He is without peer or competitor, “For there is ONE God and ONE mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus.” (I Tim. 2:5)
Turning to the tabulated outline of the chart let us trace this glorious priest in His characteristic work: