The final section of Luke's Gospel proceeds through various controversies in the city about Jesus' authority and his eschatological discourse. After the discourse come the final meal and Jesus' arrest. Luke notes four trials: one before the Jewish leadership, one before Pilate, one before Herod and one before the crowd. The masses persuade Pilate to slay Jesus at the Jewish leadership's instigation. On the cross Jesus is portrayed as slain in innocence. The soldier's confession in 23:47 sums up Luke's view. In the resurrection, which catches the disciples off guard, Jesus is vindicated and reveals himself to them, reviving their hope. His life has fulfilled the Scripture, and so will the preaching of repentance by the commissioned and empowered disciples (24:44-49).
Three themes dominate this section: Jesus is in control of events, the disciples need to be faithful and ready, and God is directing his plan. The "must" of Messiah's career comes to realization here. The issue is not so much how Jesus' death achieves God's will. That is a theological concern Paul explores in his picture of substitutionary atonement. Rather, Luke emphasizes who God vindicates and exalts through resurrection. Jesus is the slain innocent. He is risen and exalted to be Lord and Christ (Acts 2:22-39). With Jesus' departure, his disciples prepare to take up his work. The Gospel has an open-ended conclusion that leads to the story of the church, not only the church in Acts but beyond that early era to the church of today. For the story of the influence of the raised Jesus in the world continues to this day.
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