Adult Education – Lent ’22 Linked-In Learning Series

Reading Luke Backwards

Some stories are not meant to be read once and in order. Some stories are meant for us to revisit over and over again. The Gospel of Luke is such a story and our yearly journey through Lent provides an ideal opportunity to remember and learn anew the story of Jesus’s cross and resurrection anew, afresh, and perhaps from a different vantage point.

And so we invite you to read the Gospel of Luke backwards this season. In a world turned upside down by pandemics and politics alike, how might we approach Easter if we start at the foot of the cross, at the threshold of the empty tomb? And what if we end the story where it starts, in the arms of Mary? From the end to the beginning, Luke narrates a good news that transforms a ruptured world.

Audio recordings will be posted below each class description.

Eric Barreto is Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, an ordained Baptist minister, and a Nassau parent. He earned a BA in religion from Oklahoma Baptist University, an MDiv from Princeton Seminary, and a PhD in New Testament from Emory University. Prior to coming to Princeton Seminary, he served as associate professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary, and also taught as an adjunct professor at the Candler School of Theology and McAfee School of Theology.

March 6 | Luke 23:26-40

An Unjust Death

Lent and Easter invite us into multiple stories of the cross and resurrection. Luke’s account of the cross focuses on Jesus’ innocence and his unjust death at the hands of an empire that saw him as a threat to the order it had established. At the foot of the cross then, we meet a Jesus who stands alongside others unjustly and cruelly executed by the machinations of various empires. Thus, we stand at the foot of the cross grieving what we have seen: an innocent person whose life an empire tries to take but whom God redeems. 

March 13 | Luke 20:20-26

Confronting Caesar

In light of Luke’s account of the cross, we can turn afresh to a number of well-known Lukan passages, including Jesus’ famous and often misinterpreted call to “render unto Caesar.” Often, this verse is deployed to encourage us to keep separate the political and the religious. Instead, the story calls us to count carefully what actually belongs to God and how much is left for a Caesar who claims to possess the world. What belongs to God if not everything! And if that’s true, then what is left to give to Caesar?

March 20| Luke 14:15-24

The (Not So) Great Dinner

Luke loves stories about food, about gathering around tables with sinners and righteous alike. Here, Jesus tells a story about what a gathering usually deemed a great dinner, a picture of the feast that awaits us all in paradise. However, the Jesus Luke narrates consistently goes to the margins to find his dinner companions, not as a concession after all his friends have turned down his invitation. That is, this (not so) great dinner teaches us more about what a feast in heaven will not be like.

March 27 | Luke 6:20-26

Blessed Are…

Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain promises nothing less than a reversal of the order of a world that privileges raw power, excessive pride, unrestrained greed by highlighting the poor, the meek, the disinherited as beneficiaries and exemplars of God’s promised reign. Alongside blessing, Jesus also names woe to those who have already received their “consolation.”

April 3 | Luke 4:1-13

Power & Justice: Temptation in the Wilderness

Following on the heels of Jesus’ baptism and a voice from heaven naming him God’s beloved child, the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness. There, Jesus faces temptation, supported by the Spirit and the belief that God was with him. At the center of the temptation account is Satan’s promise to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, kingdoms Satan now controls. Jesus’ faithful response is an invitation to ponder the shape of power and how we might hone our expectations of God’s good reign.

April 10 | Luke 1:39-56

A Believer, A Prophet

We end where Luke’s narrative begins: with Mary’s faithful consent and her prophetic declaration. Typically, we read about Mary’s choice and her song in the Christmas season. In light of Good Friday’s cross and Easter’s promise of resurrection, how might Mary’s bold belief help us meet Jesus once again? This story will remind us of Mary’s faithful teaching of Jesus, the anguish and grief she must have experienced throughout Jesus’ life, as well as one of the sources of the prophetic and prayerful proclamation of God’s transformative kingdom that marked Jesus’ own ministry.

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