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Look at the book- Luke – study guide

Study guide, Luke

Luke 1:30–37

What Child Is This?

December 16, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 1:30–37
Topic: The Birth of Christ

Principle for Bible Reading

What child is this, the baby boy we celebrate every Christmas? Mary met the true identity of her son in the words of an angel, recorded in Luke 1. In this lab, John Piper prepares our hearts for Christmas by slowing down over these verses.


Prayer/Review (00:00–00:55)

The Son of the Most High (00:55–06:07)

1.      The phrase “found favor with God” is a popular one in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament. (Luke 1:30)
2.      Jesus was born a human to a human. (Luke 1:31)
3.      Jesus will be great by being the very Son of God. (Luke 1:32)
4.      It’s not just that the kingdom will not end, but the king himself will not end. (Luke 1:33)
5.      We know from elsewhere in the New Testament that this house of Jacob now includes Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus. (Luke 1:33)
6.      Mary’s baby boy is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:16 and rehearsed again in Psalm 89:34–36.

The Power of the Most High (06:07–09:38)

1.      Mary responds to the angel with meekness and obedience, not doubt or defiance. (Luke 1:34)
2.      How will this baby be born? By the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High. (Luke 1:35)
3.      The word for “overshadow” appears in the Old Testament when God hovers over the tabernacle, and then again at the Transfiguration when God “overshadows” the mountain.
4.      The Son of God is born of a virgin (Luke 1:34–36). The divine sonship of Jesus is owing to the virgin birth by the Holy Spirit. (“therefore” in Luke 1:35)
5.      The impossible feat God accomplished with Elizabeth, he will now surpass with Mary, by causing her to bear his own Son.

A Summary for Christmas (09:38–11:04)

Christmas is the Holy Spirit coming to a virgin, Mary, and causing her to give birth to a son, Jesus, making him the son of Mary, the Son of God, and our holy, great, and eternal King.

Study Questions

1.      Read Luke 1:30–37. List everything you learn about Jesus, as many different things as you can.

2.      Put yourself in Mary’s shoes. How would you have heard these words from the angel? How would you have connected the different pieces here?

3.      Explain the “therefore” at the beginning of Luke 1:35. How does what come before the “therefore” ground what comes after? Why does the angel draw the conclusion that he does?

Christmas Content from Desiring God

1.      “Hope for the Hurting This Christmas (Video)” (a poem from John Piper)
2.      “Rethinking Santa” (Ask Pastor John episode)
3.      “Make This Christmas Special” (6-minute video)
4.      “Five Things to Teach Your Children This Christmas” (article)

Related Resources

•      Christmas Spending Is a Test of Your Treasure (article)
•      Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? (interview)
•      Christmas as the End of History (sermon)

Luke 7:36–50, Part 1

Forgiveness Leads to Love

September 22, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 7:36–50
Topic: Justification

Principle for Bible Reading

What do you do when a verse in the Bible (even words from Jesus himself) seem to contradict core beliefs at the heart of Christianity? In this lab, John Piper models a way forward with difficult texts, not ignoring the problem, but digging deeper to find the harmony with the rest of Scripture.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:15)

The Woman’s Love for Jesus (01:15–04:56)

1.      She wet Jesus’s feet with hear tears, and wiped them with her hair. (Luke 7:44)
2.      She continually kissed his feet. (Luke 7:45)
3.      She anointed his head with expensive ointment. (Luke 7:46)
4.      Simon, on the other hand, as the host, failed to show anything remotely close to this kind of love and affection. (Luke 7:44–46)

Forgiveness and Performance (04:56–07:30)

1.      Jesus declares (“Therefore”) her sins are forgiven (“for”) because of her love. (Luke 7:47)
2.      People have asked if this reverses the order of salvation through faith alone. Has Jesus made her love the basis or ground or cause of her forgiveness?
3.      If so, this creates massive issues for our understanding of Christ himself—his righteousness and his cross.

What Does “For” Mean Here? (07:30–12:05)

1.      “For” can support in more than way. It can communicate a cause or evidence. So which is the case here in Luke 7:47?
2.      The forgiveness of little leads to loving little (Luke 7:47). Therefore, the forgiveness of much leads to loving much.
3.      Earlier, we see the same pattern with the moneylenders. Those with a larger debt canceled will love the moneylender more. (Luke 7:42)
4.      Therefore, the “for” here seems to be communicating evidence, and not cause. (Luke 7:36)

Study Questions

1.      Luke 7:47 says the woman loved Jesus much. What evidence is there of that love in the previous verses?

2.      What possible problem do Jesus’s words in Luke 7:47 create? How would you resolve that problem for someone struggling to understand what he is saying?

3.      Explain the “for” in “for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). What possible explanations are there, and why did you choose yours?

Related Resources

•      What Love for God Looks Like (article)
•      How Does God’s Forgiveness Free Us from Idols? (interview)
•      How Justified Sinners Love Each Other (sermon on Romans 12)

Luke 7:36–50, Part 2

God’s Love for the Worst

September 24, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 7:36–50
Topic: The Grace of God

Principle for Bible Reading

Who will love Jesus more, the one who has been forgiven much or the one who has been forgiven little? If so, why do we not sin more? In this lab, John Piper tackles another difficult question raised by Jesus. His answer helps us understand Jesus’s words and cultivate a deeper love for him.


Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:12)

Sin Against Jesus and Love for Jesus (02:12–05:44)

1.      Jesus seems to suggest that people will love him more if they’ve been forgiven for more (or worse) sins. (Luke 7:42–43)
2.      This seems to suggest that we would need to do more serious sins if we want to love Jesus more.
3.      Jesus is assuming that there are “better” or worse sins. (Luke 7:41)
4.      Therefore, do we commit more serious sins so that he could forgive us more and deepen our love for him?

Who Will Love Jesus More? (05:44–10:28)

1.      The one Jesus kept back from five hundred sins or the one Jesus kept back from fifty sins? Clearly, the former (John accidentally flips this).
2.      The one Jesus enabled to lead one thousand people to salvation or the one Jesus enabled to lead ten people to salvation? The former.
3.      The one Jesus strengthens to endure one hundred days in prison or the one Jesus strengthens to endure ten days in prison? Again, the former.

Different Blessings and Different Loves (10:28–11:59)

1.      The point of those examples are to highlight different kinds of love we have for Jesus.
2.      Love for the forgiveness of sin is one kind of love we cultivate for Jesus. (Luke 7:42)
3.      There are many ways grace comes to us, and each produces its own love for Jesus.

Study Questions

1.      What potential problem do Jesus’s words create in Luke 7:42–43? How would you go about resolving that problem in your own mind and heart?

2.      If we love Jesus in response to the forgiveness of our sins, what are other things he is or does for us that would cause us to love him more?

3.      How might your answer to the previous question resolve the problem in Luke 7:42–43? How does it keeps us from deliberately committing more serious sins?

Related Resources

•      Where Sin Increased, Grace Overflowed (article)
•      I’ve Sinned Horribly, Is There Any Hope? (interview)
•      By His Grace, for His Name, Through the Obedience of Faith (sermon on Romans 1:1–5)

Exploring Key Texts

The Book of Life

October 2, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 10:20
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism

Principle for Bible Reading

When you come across an important word or phrase in our reading, stop to search for other uses of that same word or phrase. Look first within the book you’re reading, then within the same author, then in the rest of the Bible.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:59)

What is the Book of Life?
What does it mean to have our names there?
Can our names be erased from the book?

Observations (00:59–09:25)

1.      Revelation 20:12, 15—Being written in the Book is to have eternal life. (00:59–03:23)
2.      Revelation 21:27—Being written in the Book means you enter the city of God. (03:23–04:11)
3.      Revelation 3:5—God will not blot out the one who endures to the end from the Book. (04:11–05:15)
4.      Revelation 13:8—Those who worship the beast were never written in the Book. (05:15–06:50)
5.      Revelation 17:8—Again, those who marvel at the beast were never written in the Book. (06:50–08:46)
6.      Luke 10:20—Our whole security from hell and the things that send us to hell is found in our names being written in the Book. (08:46–09:25)

Study Questions

1.      From the verses above, what does it mean to have our names written in the Book of Life?

2.      Take the six passages and restate in your own words what each says about the Book of Life.

3.      What do Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 say about people who are not written in the Book of Life?

Related Resources

•      New Poem: ‘The Book of Life’ (article)
•      How Can I Help Someone Who Thinks They Aren’t Elect? (interview)
•      We Will All Stand Before the Judgment of God (sermon)

Luke 12:32

Fear Not, Little Flock

September 24, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 12:32
Topic: Fear & Anxiety

Principle for Bible Reading

There are often riches and depths of meaning in the simplest verses. Luke 12:32 is one verse with two short propositions, but there are riches buried in its simplicity. Pastor John gives a few tips for meditating on verses like this and seeing all that’s really there. In this case, it reveals several reasons not to fear.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:36)

Tips for Meditation (00:36–08:29)

1.      Take words or phrases in your passage and restate them in your own words (e.g. “fear not”).
2.      Ask yourself why the writer chose the words he did (e.g. “flock”).
3.      Look for meaningful connections between words and phrases in a passage (e.g. God as a Shepherd, a Father, and a King).
4.      Identify individual propositions (subject + verb) and the connecting words between them (e.g. “for”).

Summary (08:29–09:50)

1.      In God, we have a Shepherd, Father, and King.
2.      He enjoys freely giving us the kingdom at great cost to himself.
3.      Therefore, we should not fear.

Study Questions

1.      What pictures or metaphors are used to describe God in Luke 12:32?

2.      How is “for” connecting the two propositions in Luke 12:32?

3.      Take the verbs in Luke 12:32 (“fear” and “give”) and restate them in your own words (other words that mean the same thing). What do you learn?

4.      How many reasons not to fear do you see in Luke 12:32? What are they?

Related Resources

•      Keep Praying That Prayer (article)
•      What Does It Mean to Call God Our Father? (interview)
•      It Is Your Father’s Pleasure to Give You the Kingdom (sermon on Luke 12:32)

Luke 12:32–34, Part 1

Sell the Treasure That Will Not Last

March 24, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 12:32–34
Topic: Giving

Principle for Bible Reading

Many people are afraid to give because they’re afraid they won’t have enough themselves or that they’ll miss out on something in the future. In this lab, John Piper highlights the liberating promise that God is a providing shepherd, father, and king. Therefore, we can give freely and generously.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:01)

God Knows Your Needs (01:01–03:59)

1.      What should you not be afraid of (Luke 12:32)? You are not to fear the consequences of giving.
2.      You are not to fear being without our basic necessities. God knows everything you need. (Luke 12:29–31)
3.      Jesus overcomes this fear by reminding us that we have a good Shepherd, a good Father, and a good King.
4.      Therefore, give. Be generous.

Sell Your Possessions (03:59–07:35)

1.      If you don’t have cash to give, sell your possessions to get some. (Luke 12:33)
2.      Jesus is not against possessions. We know this because Jesus is simply putting your possessions into someone else’s hands. He’s not prohibiting possessions. (Luke 12:33)
3.      We should hold our possessions so loosely that we are willing to let them go if others are in need.
4.      Being a generous and compassionate person is what shows you are a member of this flock, this family, and this kingdom. And that is because this Shepherd, this Father, and this King delights to give. (Luke 12:32)
5.      If you have a God like this, you can afford to live simply and generously. (Luke 12:32–33)

Closing Prayer and Commission (07:35–08:02)

God, make us the kind of people that prove by our giving that we are sheep of such a shepherd, children of such a father, subjects of such a king. I pray this through Christ, Amen.

Study Questions

1.      In the context of Luke 12, what specifically are Jesus’s disciples not to fear (Luke 12:32)?

2.      How does Jesus try and overcome the disciples’ fear? What promise(s) does he give them?

3.      What lesson is Jesus teaching about possessions in Luke 12:32–34? Is it bad to have possessions? Why or why not?

Related Resources

•      Four Questions to Keep Close to Your Wallet (article)
•      Are Christians Called to Obey the Law? (including tithing) (interview)
•      Loved Flock, Do Not Be Afraid to Give It Away (sermon)

Luke 12:32–34, Part 2

Seek the Treasure That Will Not Fail

March 26, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 12:32–34
Topic: Christian Hedonism

Principle for Bible Reading

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” What we treasure has massive implications for the health and security of our hearts. In this lab, John Piper explains why treasure in heaven will satisfy us more than any other, and shows us the pathway to more of the joy found in Jesus.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:58)

We are sheep of a great shepherd, children of a great father, and subjects of a great king. This shepherd/father/king delights to give, so we also should be generous toward those in need.

The Treasure in Heaven (Luke 12:33) (01:58–04:03)

1.      This treasure will not be lost (“grow old”).
2.      This treasure will not fail.
3.      This treasure will not be stolen (“no thief”).
4.      This treasure will not be ruined (“no moth destroys”).

The Treasure in Your Heart (04:03–06:09)

1.      The heart is the emotional barometer of the value and security of the treasure (Luke 12:34). If your treasure is vulnerable, your joy is vulnerable. If your treasure is secure, your joy is secure. If your treasure is great, your joy is great.
2.      Your heart follows your treasure, wherever and however it leads. Your heart rises and falls with the quality and security of what you treasure.
3.      The full, trustworthy, satisfying treasure in heaven is God—himself, his Son, his kingdom.

Generosity and Joy (06:09–10:19)

1.      Giving to the needy is providing yourself with a never-failing treasure. Generosity is the way you have this treasure. (Luke 12:33)
2.      You do not earn the kingdom (the treasure). You confirm that you are a person with this treasure by your generosity.
3.      You confirm that God is your treasure, and you increase your treasure, and therefore your joy (Luke 6:38). In God’s economy, there is a correlation between our generosity and our joy.
4.      Therefore, do not be afraid. Let’s sell what we need to in order to give all we can.

Study Questions

1.      Explain the “For” at the beginning of Luke 12:34. How does Luke 12:34 ground or explain Luke 12:33?

2.      In Luke 12:34, try and explain the connection between the treasure and the heart? In what ways does our heart follow/depend on what we treasure?

3.      How does Luke 6:38 help clarify the relationship between our generosity and our reward (joy)?

Related Resources

•      Seven Ways to Pray for Your Heart (article)
•      Will Some Saints Be Happier in Heaven?) (interview)
•      Don’t Be Anxious, Lay Up Treasure in Heaven, Part 1 and Part 2(sermons)

Piper, J. (2014–2015). Look at the Book Labs (Mt 28,18–Lk 12,34). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.


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