Eternal Life and Death

Entrance into the kingdom

Although space prevents a full discussion of the importance of the kingdom of God throughout Luke’s Gospel, we will focus on one particular narrative unit, Luke 18:9–19:10, which is the concluding part of the long journey section (Luke 9–19) in Luke’s Gospel before Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. We will focus on this unit primarily because of its important narrative location (at the culmination of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem) and its emphasis on the kingdom. Broadly speaking, Luke 18:9–19:10 includes the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, children being brought to Jesus, the rich ruler, a prediction of Jesus’ death and resurrection, a blind beggar receiving sight, and culminates in the account of Zacchaeus the tax collector. Rather than being an arbitrary collection of events from Jesus’ life, however, this section particularly stresses the response of those who will enter the kingdom of God. A variety of expressions are used to describe the result of this response: justification (18:14), receiving or entering the kingdom of God (18:16–17, 24–25), eternal life (18:18, 29), receiving mercy (18:13, 38–39) and salvation (18:26, 42; 19:9–10). As with the descriptions of the result, there are also a variety of ways of expressing the required response of those who will enter the kingdom. This response is to be characterized by a humble acknowledgment of one’s sinfulness (18:14), dependent trust in Jesus alone (18:16–17, 37–42), and an abandonment of any other source of confidence (18:11–12, 18–30; 19:1–10). In each case Jesus is the one who determines what this response should be and is the one to whom the response must be made. Thus those who respond are described as those who come to him (18:16), follow him (18:22, 28, 43), have faith in him (18:42) or welcome him gladly (19:6). Tucked away in the middle of this section is Jesus’ final and most detailed prediction of his impending suffering, death and resurrection in Jerusalem (18:31–33). The conclusion to this long journey anticipated since 9:51 and referred to regularly along the way is now imminent. Thus this detailed description of what Jesus is about to face indicates again that the Jesus to whom response must be made in order to enter the kingdom of God is the soon-to-be rejected, suffering, dying and resurrected Jesus.

Alan J. Thompson, The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus: Luke’s Account of God’s Unfolding Plan, ed. D. A. Carson, vol. 27, New Studies in Biblical Theology (England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2011), 41–42.

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