October 31 – Luke 13:31-35

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Luke 13:31-35 – Jerusalem, Jerusalem.

Following Jesus’ teaching about so many of the Jews being left out of the kingdom of God, he goes on to illustrate their complete rejection. At the same time, he offers a view of the sense of divine purpose that drives him to the end.

Among the Pharisees there were a few who believed in Jesus’ mission and his teaching. We know two names, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Some of these people came to warn Jesus, not understanding that his destiny had long since been planned.

In Luke 13:32, Jesus calls Herod a fox. While this might connote cleverness today, in that day, it was a term of derision for an insignificant person. No matter what it was that Herod did or said, it would not deter Jesus from his mission.

In the same verse, Jesus makes references to a time frame. He will cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow and the third day he will finish his course. Luke and his readers would have recognized the words as prophetic even though Jesus’ listeners might not have heard them that way.

Jesus speaks the word “Jerusalem” three times in a row, drawing the listener’s attention to his point of destination and to the city that he loves. Again, his words prophesy his coming crucifixion. He knows that he will be killed as a prophet and that he will be persecuted for the relationship he has with his Father.

Right now he is far from the city. Maybe he can look off in the distance and see it. He yearns for the people of Israel to respond to the call of God. Jesus knows that he is the only one who can offer protection from the sad situation in which they will find themselves and yet they are not willing to sacrifice their own willful disobedience and experience freedom in the kingdom of God.

The house in Jerusalem, the very Temple in which Jesus sat as a boy, is forsaken and the people will be left to their own devices. There is nothing more Jesus can do.

October 30 – Luke 13:18-30

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Luke 13:18-30 – Parables

The first two parables – that of the mustard seed and the yeast describe the power of the kingdom of God. In the first – the parable of the mustard seed we see the power of extension – a seed that increases out of proportion to its original size. In the second – the parable of yeast – we see the power of transformation – yeast seems innocuous enough, but it is capable of transforming the entirety of the dough.

The kingdom of God will change the world.

The narrow door to the palace is generally for servants and deliveries. The Pharisees and hypocrites who expected to arrive in grandeur and style would be refused entrance. The main doors wouldn't be accepting newcomers.

The Israelites at the time had been invited over and over to enter, but they refused the narrow gate. They wouldn't be caught attempting to enter without their layers and layers of Law or their rules. Things had to be just so for them to enter. It had to be on their terms.

Jesus tells us that God opens the door at the narrow gate for all who choose to hear and understand his call. Make every effort to enter through the narrow door. Don’t hesitate, don’t be late.

Notice that Jesus never answers the question posed to him in Luke 13:23, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He never says whether a few or many will be saved, only that many will be lost.

In the last verses of this passage, we see Jesus’ words regarding Gentiles. The patriarchs – Abraham, Isaiah and Jacob and all the prophets will be in the kingdom, but those who believe they have a birthright to the kingdom will be tossed out. There will be others, though who come from the east, west, north and south. They will be welcomed into the kingdom. They are the last to be beckoned and they will be first at the table.

October 29 – Luke 13:10-17

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Luke 13:10-17 – Healing the Crippled Woman

Jesus continues to expose the hypocrisy of the religious leaders in Israel in this next story. One thing it shows is that though the religious leaders refuse to acknowledge that God is working in the present time, the kingdom is continuing to be manifested among them. Jesus has brought the kingdom of God to earth and it will not be stopped.

Luke emphasizes the extremity of the woman’s misfortune. She had dealt with this problem for eighteen years and it had finally destroyed her body to the point that she could no longer stand upright. He interrupted his teaching in the synagogue to heal her.

Now, the leader of the synagogue wasn't stupid enough to confront Jesus. No, he took a more passive aggressive stance and addressed the people who had just witnessed this amazing miracle. In his attempt to put Jesus in his place from afar, he ordered the people to come for healing on any of the other six days of the week. Work was not to be done on the Sabbath.

But Jesus doesn't respond to this attack on the crowd. He directly faces down the synagogue leader. In fact, he uses the plural when he calls out the hypocrites. It is the entire group of synagogue leaders that Jesus is disgusted with. These people are more concerned with their animals than they are a woman who is a daughter of Abraham … a Jewess.  This takes us back to Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. She is the neighbor. She is the one who is important. They can attempt to twist the Law for their own good, but when they twist it so that someone else is imperiled, Jesus will have none of that.

Luke uses a couple of literary devices in this passage. In Luke 13:12, Jesus tells the woman she is freed from her disability. In Luke 13:15, he uses the word ‘untie’ to emphasize the freedom that is given to the ox or donkey. He is clearly pointing out the differences between what they do and what they should be doing.

There are three points of contrast in the last verses – the ox (or donkey) and the daughter of Abraham; the stall and Satan; and finally, the contrast between material bondage and spiritual bondage. The final contrast silenced his adversaries, but it didn't stop them from continuing to look for ways to damage his ministry.

October 28 – Luke 13:1-9

Monday, October 28, 2013

Luke 13:1-9 – Repent or Perish!

This is the climactic moment of Jesus’ words regarding the coming judgment. The time is now. Either repent or you will die.

Luke mentions two events. The first event involved Galileans. The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes that the Galileans were rather revolutionary. It seems that they had attacked Jews who had come to offer sacrifices. The Galileans were killed in the Temple. Jesus was apparently not around when this happened and the crowd wanted to know what he thought about this horrible affair.  The popular view was that they were evil because of their sin. Jesus corrected this thought. They are no more guilty than anyone else when it comes to sin that God sees.

Repent or perish.

The other calamity occurred when a tower fell on eighteen people. Because something awful had happened to them, it was obvious to those who held out judgment on such things that those people were sinners. Jesus corrected this thought. They were no more guilty of sin than anyone else. It was a horrible accident.

Everyone must repent or perish.

Jesus completes this with a parable. A fig tree in a vineyard had not produced fruit for three years. Each year the owner returned, looking for figs, but each time, found nothing. The caretaker begged for one more year. In that year, he would give the tree extra care, if nothing came from it, the tree would come down.

Jesus had been in ministry on earth for three years.  For those three years, the Father had been looking for his people to produce the fruit of repentance and they simply refused. The period of time after Jesus’ resurrection would be critical for them.

Repent or perish.

October 27 – Luke 12:54-59

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Luke 12:54-59 – Interpreting the Times

Even in the days of Jesus, people watched the weather like a hawk and attempted to predict what was going to happen. The Weather Channel would have been a hot ticket item in any generation!

Jesus told them that they not only knew what the weather would hold, but they ordered their lives accordingly. They paid close attention to the signs of the weather so as to know what to do with their days.

As good as they are at predicting weather patterns, they refuse to understand how to interpret the present activities of Jesus. This is a culture that has been waiting centuries for the arrival of the Messiah and yet, they don’t recognize him when he is right there in front of them. For that matter, those that might recognize him refuse to accept him for who he is.

Remember, it was Herod who brought in the Wise Men from the East to interpret the signs. It was the Shepherds of Bethlehem who heard the news from the angels. Simeon and Anna recognized the babe as the Messiah in the Temple grounds. Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father prophesied regarding his own son and the one who would follow.  And then … John the Baptist preached repentance in preparation for Jesus’ arrival and at the Lord’s baptism, the dove of the Holy Spirit touched on his head and God spoke from heaven.

There were signs … and the hypocrites who could interpret the wind could not interpret the present times.

The parable of the trip to the magistrate is Jesus’ way of explaining how important it is to interpret the present time correctly.  This is the moment, he was telling them. This is the moment … when you are on the way to the magistrate. Figure it out for yourself. Your time is up.  Be reconciled. Repent!  The time is now. Do not wait.

Be reconciled today.

October 26 – Luke 12:49-53

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Luke 12:49-53 – Not Peace, But Division

Jesus well understood that his coming to earth was the brand which would light a fire. This fire would burn throughout the hearts of all humanity. This isn't the fire of the Holy Spirit, but of spiritual awareness that would awaken throughout the world.

He remarks that he wishes it were already kindled, but that is going to require a baptism and that baptism occurs at his crucifixion and resurrection.

From that point forward, the spiritual awakening will split people from each other. People will find themselves on opposite sides of spirituality … there is no room for complacency with Jesus. You either believe in Him as Savior, or you do not. He has given us no room to believe anything else. We can’t say that he is a good man or a good prophet. He has declared himself Lord of all and we must agree or disagree.

This division will split families and nations, friendships and will be felt by every person alive. Until he returns there will be no peace regarding his Lordship. This is not a peaceful act … He is a burning fire.

As Christians, we must understand that this division can not be broken down until the day of his return. We can’t force peace upon the world, the world is unable to accept it. We can’t force unity, there is no possibility of it occurring. We can only encourage love and continue to spread the message of Jesus’ gospel.

There will be division, Jesus ignited it and only He can bring it to cessation.

October 25 – Luke 12:35-48

Friday, October 25, 2013

Luke 12:35-48 – Be Watchful

The NIV doesn't do service to the beginning of this verse as Luke paints a picture for his readers. The robe that was generally worn was long and loose, to give its wearer ease in walking, but if they needed to be in a hurry … late in the evening, it would be ‘girded up,’ or belted so that it wouldn't trip a person. The person would also carry a lamp, so as to be unimpeded as they ensured preparations were made for the return of the Master. Even if the Master is delayed, the servant does not give in to exhaustion, he remains prepared to open the door with just a single knock.

This is reminiscent of Jesus words in Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

One knock is all it should take … we must be ready.

The amazing thing, though, is that while the servants have ensured the Master’s home is ready, and they are waiting for him, what he does for them is walk in the door and begin serving. He invites them to recline at the table and makes sure they are fed and cared for.

In the parable just preceding this, Jesus had spoken directly to his disciples after having addressed the crowd. Peter asks at this point who Jesus is speaking to. The crowd … the large group of unbelievers are not going to understand being prepared. These words are not addressed to them. It is the leadership of those who believe that must prepare. They must always be ready.

We must always be ready.

October 24 – Luke 12:22-34

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Luke 12:22-34 – Do Not Worry

Jesus turned back to his disciples and his next words are interesting. They pre-suppose the disciples’ faith. He tells them that if they have faith, then it should be placed in God, not in the accumulation of material goods … and not in depending on those things we have accumulated.

Jesus spoke only to his disciples using this depth of information. Those who have no faith in God would never understand what it means to depend on God alone for their needs. It is foolishness to depend on the things of the world.

In Luke 12:24, Jesus asks his disciples to consider the ravens. Notice the use of the same language from the parable of the rich fool. The raven does not sow or reap, they have no storehouses or barn and yet God feeds them. God provides for them, even though, the raven is an unclean bird of prey (Deuteronomy 14:14). He will do so much more for those who love him.

Living within God’s will is more important to life than having plenty.

After Jesus addresses the issue of food, he speaks to them about clothing. More than likely, he was speaking about the life we each have. We grow, as a lily does and there is nothing we can do about that. We will continue to grow and God will continue to provide for us. We age and if God provides for a lily whose lifespan is minuscule compared to the eternal life we have been given … how much more will he provide for each of us.

In this passage, Jesus presents four prohibitions when it comes to how we deal with possessions and needs.  First of all, in Luke 12:22, we are told not to worry. Then, we are not to set our heart on what we eat or drink (Luke 12:29), he repeats that we should not worry (Luke 12:29) and then in Luke 12:32, we are told to not be afraid.

These are the things that drive us to overcompensate: worry, fear, concern over our basic needs. Jesus tells us that we are prohibited from doing these things. In Luke 12:28b, Jesus calls us people of little faith.  It is these things that prove to the world how little faith we really have.

God is generous with us. God desires to give us the kingdom. Give your possessions to the poor and build up treasure in heaven

October 23 – Luke 12:13-21

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Luke 12:13-21 – The Rich Fool

The next large section in Luke reminds his readers to be prepared for the coming judgment of God. There is no one who will be able to avoid it. The first issue is material wealth.

From the crowd, a man’s brother won’t divide their inheritance between them and asks Jesus to tell the brother to do so.

Jesus has absolute authority to mediate claims of the will of God, but this has to do with our lives … not our possessions. Responsibilities in life do not end simply because we have accumulated wealth. No, Jesus warns his listeners to be on guard against all types of greed. This is some of the worst.

To illustrate this type of greed, Jesus tells a parable of a rich fool, who accumulated many things. When there was too much for the space he had, he built a bigger space to accommodate his possessions. One day he planned to sit back and admire his things, then eat, drink and be merry … take life easy.

The rich farmer had made a grievous error. When Egypt had seven years of bumper crops, Joseph advised the Pharaoh to store up grain for the lean years. They didn't stop planting simply because there was enough to feed people for a year. They continued doing the right thing, the thing that God asked them to do in order to care for the greatest number of people.

Jesus said it earlier in the passage – “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15b). Life is not about a singular person’s well-being, but about doing the will of God.  This man had accumulated enough for his own life for many years to come, but in reality he only had a few short hours to live. His time would have been better spent living a life in accordance with God’s will, building up a treasure in heaven.

October 22 – Luke 12:1-12

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Luke 12:1-12 – Warnings and Encouragements

After Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees, he spends time with his disciples, even though there are thousands of people clamoring to get to him.

The deceit and hypocrisy of the Pharisees is like yeast … it can become part of anything it touches. But, he assured them that their hypocrisy would be exposed for what it was. The other side of this is that the disciples’ words would also be heard in public.  The things they spoke of in the upper room would be shouted from the housetops. When persecution came, their words would be lifted throughout the world.

In Luke 11:49, Jesus said “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.”  This couldn't have gone over too well with the Twelve, so in Luke 12:4, he is almost tender with them as he calls them his friends. The threat of death is one of the biggest challenges to our faith. It certainly would have been thus for the disciples. They were about to enter into the unknown and their first experience of being alone would come after the man they loved, respected and followed was crucified.

They had more to worry about than being killed or persecuted. Jesus was concerned for their souls. But read the words he uses to assure them, “Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7b).

In Luke 12:12, Jesus says, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”  This verse is often overlooked when discussions arise regarding the inspiration of Scripture. 1 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

The Holy Spirit is the pneuma … the breath of God. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us words to speak and it was the Holy Spirit who gave men of God words to write in order to create the Bible you read.

October 21 – Luke 11:37-54

Monday, October 21, 2013

Luke 11:37-54 – Six Woes

Perhaps it was the Pharisee who accused Jesus of allegiance with the devil, or maybe one of those who demanded a sign, but with no good will, he invited him to dinner in his home. He had listened to the entire exchange, but had heard nothing … nor had the other Pharisees who were also traveling in the crowd.

Jesus knew all along what their intentions were and though he was rude by not washing up first, he had something to say to them. The Pharisees placed a great deal of importance on the ritual of washing up before eating. In fact, eating with unwashed hands was a sin as great as that of impurity.

The hypocrisy in a Pharisee’s life was that they created so many rules to purify themselves on the outside in accordance with the Law, that they completely ignored the original intent – that of purifying the heart.

Jesus begins the metaphor of cleaning a cup, but before he gets in too deeply, he simply accuses the Pharisees of being greedy and wicked. They are fools, caught up with rituals and making things look nice on the outside. But, God created both.  Jesus offered them an opportunity to make themselves clean – by helping the poor, but their ignorance to his call on their lives was complete.

Luke moves the story of Jesus accusation of hypocrisy into the six woes that Jesus proclaimed. The first is about giving. Petty tithing is likened to washing the outside of a cup and doing nothing more. Justice and love should be practiced – even if only a tenth of their time were given to those attributes, their lives would be different.

The second woe is for those who like to be seen in public religious places and like to be seen publicly greeting others. Their inner lives are filthy, but they make a good show.

The third woe is in regards to death. If you touched a dead person or a grave, you were unclean for seven days. They were unclean, yet kept their sins hidden. Just as if they had walked over a grave without anyone knowing it … they were contaminated.

Turning to the scribes … or the ones who are experts in the Law, Jesus responds to their accusation that he is insulting them (Luke 11:45).

These are the men who interpreted the Law and created situations for the people of Israel that they could not bear. They set them up and then refuse to help them. His fourth woe is against these people.

The fifth woe is in regard to the tombs that were held in high regard. It was much more important to decorate these sites of ancient days than it was to care for the people who were in need. For that matter, the tombs, in many cases, were of those who killed prophets and those who came to preach the good news. This generation was the final generation of Israel that would live in the old days. They were to be held responsible for the sins of the nation. From this point forward, Jesus’ blood would heal those who came to God.

The final woe cites their refusal to share the knowledge of the Lord with everyone. The scriptures were the key to the living God and their interpretations closed up the true meaning of God’s word.

Jesus walked into the lion’s den and when he left, the lion was snarling.

October 20 – Luke 11:33-36

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Luke 11:36-36 – The Light in You

Luke reminds us of Jesus’ earlier words: “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light” (Luke 8:16).  In this passage, the lamp refers to someone who has heard God’s word from Jesus and then responds.  In this passage, Luke is clearly telling his reader that the light comes from Jesus.

He has used light imagery before in describing Jesus’ ministry. In Luke 2:32, Simeon prophesied that Jesus was “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” In Luke 1:78-79, Zechariah prophesies that his son, John, prepares the way for him who will “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

As the sign from heaven, Jesus is the one who brings light. He can’t be hidden. He can’t be killed. He will rise from the dead and will shine. Luke continues to point out that Jesus knows what is coming and cryptically tells us disciples and those who are following him on the journey to Jerusalem.

The second metaphor follows closely. Our eyes depend on light to see. As Jesus expands this metaphor, he speaks of the lamp within each person. When it is filled with him, it lights the entire body. Jesus is speaking directly to the Jews who asked him for a sign. If their souls were a lamp shining the light of God from within, they would have seen the signs for what they were and known him as the Son of God.

In Luke 11:36, Jesus says, “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

It is nearly impossible for us to achieve this state. This is what Peter, James and John saw at the Transfiguration of Jesus. He was fully overwhelmed by the light of God.  The glory of the Lord surrounded him and was in him.

Paul tells us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but he also says in the second letter to the Corinthians that, “…we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We are being transformed.  Jesus calls us to perfection. Paul explains how to get there. Our lives are a process, not an end result. But, we are continually called to illuminate the world from within with the light of Jesus Christ.

October 19 – Luke 11:29-32

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Luke 11:29-32 – The Sign of Jonah

The crowd had demanded a sign from heaven to prove that Jesus was not of the devil. In these next two passages, he responds again to that demand.  By now, the crowd was growing and Jesus had something to tell them.

He called out the wicked among them for demanding a sign. That demand in Luke 11:16 was not simply a group of people hoping to give him an out, he knew it for what it was. Wickedness.

Jonah was sent to preach to the wicked of Nineveh, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’”

Jesus had also been sent to save the Israelites. When they ask for a sign, he tells them that he … the Son of Man … is the sign.  The listeners in the crowd did not understand that he was also referring to the three days that Jonah spent in the whale as a precursor to the resurrection, but those who were reading Luke’s gospel would have immediately understood the reference.

When Jonah finally arrived to preach to the Ninevites, he did so as one who was alive because of a miracle. Nothing that he had done in the belly of the whale was important, only God’s hand kept him alive. That was the message he carried for the rest of his life.

Jesus knows more about these people than they do about themselves. He knows they will not receive his message. The Queen of the South came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. The men of Nineveh repented because of Jonah’s preaching. Both of these extreme cases will rise up in judgment of the wicked generation that was listening to Jesus and refusing to hear his words.

They are already in place, ready to judge, because one who is greater than Solomon and greater than Jonah is here and the people demand a sign to prove that he is not from Beelzebub.

October 18 – Luke 11:14-28

Friday, October 18, 2013

Luke 11:14-28 – Jesus and Beelzebub

The crowd continued to follow Jesus on his journey. More than likely, it ebbed and flowed as he traveled through communities. However, there were Pharisees who stuck closely and were constantly on watch, waiting for him to do something wrong.

Luke tells us that Jesus drove out a mute demon. When he was gone, the man began to speak and just as they always were, the crowd was amazed. There were some, though, who accused Jesus of aligning himself with the devil. This accusation occurred more than once and we see it echoed in the other gospels. In John 8:48, the Jews say, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

After the accusation, others demanded a sign from heaven, by which he could redeem himself. It wasn't enough that he had driven out a demon, they wanted more … they wanted him to prove himself to them, to justify his actions for them. They were as bad as the devil at Jesus’ temptation.

He refused to acquiesce to their demands or their accusation. Instead, he appealed to their common sense. How can a house divided against itself remain standing?

Jesus’ comment about the devil returning to a clean home, finding it swept clean and bringing seven friends to live there is in response to an unspoken contention that Satan might have driven out a demon in order to trick the people into believing he was the Messiah.

Yes, the devil could remove a demon, but he could not replace it with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus tells his listeners that he drives out demons by the finger of God. In other words, it is of no effort. The right arm of God comes from Old Testament scripture and speaks of God’s power, but the finger is the smallest part of God’s arm. All Jesus must do is lift a finger and demons leave in haste. He has conquered Satan with nothing more than a single finger. God’s kingdom is here. God has won the battle. Satan can do nothing against the Messiah.

Now, rather than speaking of who is siding with Satan, Jesus turns the tables on his accusers. He has destroyed Satan’s hold on this world. He has overpowered the enemy and taken away the armor which protects him. Jesus Christ is the one with whom we should side. If we do not, then we are against him.

October 17 – Luke 11:1-13

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Luke 11:1-13 – On Prayer

One of the beautiful things about Luke’s gospel is the many times we read about Jesus being in prayer. Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28 each show us that Jesus spent time renewing his spirit by communicating with God in prayer.

Jesus had been asked before in Luke 5:33 about John the Baptist’s teaching on prayer and fasting to his disciples. These men had observed Jesus spending a great deal of time in prayer and wanted to learn how to do it as he did. They may have been looking for a common prayer to share together – it would create a sense of community.

So, he responded by giving a prayer that would help them speak simply and directly to God. There were no flowery words or false pretenses, just simple words to bring them together. There are many discussions and commentaries written on the difference between the words of Luke and of Matthew, but it is easy to see that this Luke’s format is something that could be easily used many times during the day and opens the heart to further explore prayer with the Father.

In Luke 11:5, Jesus explains that God is more dependable than human friends. No matter the inconvenience, a friend will help.  In Luke 11:11-13, Jesus explains that God is more gracious than even a parent.

These two sections further develop the attitude that we should have in prayer. The prayer itself doesn't say anything about that, so Jesus tells us that we should be bold. If we can ask our friends for things, we can ask God.  By the time we get to Luke 11:8, Jesus says that the friend won’t bring bread to us simply because he wants to … we must ask for it. Be shameless in your boldness with God. He is a greater friend than any we can know on earth.

The story of the father and son shows us God’s compassion and grace. God will not give something that is useless, nor will he give something to us that is harmful. He gives only good gifts. The good gift that Luke wants us to know of is that of the Holy Spirit. This is the best gift we are given by the Father.

God will respond to our prayers and in grace and compassion will give us good gifts.

October 16 – Luke 10:38-42

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Luke 10:38-42 – Mary and Martha

The expert of the law had asked Jesus the question in Luke 10:25 – “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer was bigger than simply responding to a neighbor in need and Luke continues to answer the question in this next story. Rather than a parable, though, Jesus teaches through his interaction with friends.

He had continued his journey with the disciples and came to a village where Mary and Martha lived. We know from other gospel accounts that these two sisters lived in Bethany and were good friends of Jesus. He spent a great deal of time with them when he was in Jerusalem.

Martha opened her home to Jesus and proceeded to do the things she knew would make him comfortable, while Mary sat down at his feet to listen to what he had to say.

The teaching behind this story is so obvious to all of us, but is so often neglected. The person who loves God finds him or herself preoccupied with his word … preoccupied with Jesus.

It is much too easy to be seduced by the practical things in life which divert our attention from God. Those are the things we easily justify and demand that the Lord help us with. Martha was furious that her sister wouldn't help get things ready for someone as important as Jesus. “Tell her to help me!” she demanded.

Our demands that Jesus help us get through the busyness of life deflect our attention from the things that are truly important … a preoccupation with Jesus himself.

The parable of the Good Samaritan taught about the relationship between people. It was Jesus’ way of teaching the importance of being a good neighbor. The story of his time with Mary and Martha emphasized the importance of the vertical aspect – loving God with all that we have. Both are what we must do to inherit eternal life.

October 15 – Luke 10:25-37

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Luke 10:25-37 – The Good Samaritan

Jesus’ description of the whole will of God for humanity is not necessarily new. Throughout Israel’s history, there had been attempts to describe what it was that God asked of us.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-5, we read: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

In Leviticus 19:18, we are told “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” 

The Deuteronomy passage was recited daily and the words from Leviticus were part of the ethics of Judaism. Love God. Love your neighbor. It is as simple as that.

An expert in the Law decided to challenge Jesus. What happened was that his words were turned around on him and he, in turn, was challenged. The two commandments that Jesus recited were well-known, though not generally used together until this point. This is how we must live. This is a practical way to honor God.

The lawyer lost the first round in the discussion and went back with another question. Luke tells us that it was to make himself look good.  It was more than just a question about who was his neighbor, it is a question we continue to ask. What are the minimum requirements for showing neighborly love? What are the restrictions on this? Who must I consider as my neighbor?

The Jericho that Jesus mentions in the parable is different from ancient Jericho. It is further south. Josephus, the early historian writes that it goes through desert and rocky country. With all of the rocks, it is very suitable for robbers on the road. Travelers would often be on this road – back and forth from Jerusalem to Jericho because of the temple and their responsibilities there.

Luke doesn’t give us many details about any of the characters in this situation. We don’t know whether the man was Jewish or not, or even whether his attackers were Jews. All we know is that his need was great. He had been beaten and left to die, naked and alone.

A religious man – a priest came upon him. It would seem that the man was saved. Was he concerned that the man was dead and so, to keep himself from having to go through ritual cleansing, he stayed away? Who knows. But, he was used as the first example, because everyone would have expected a religious man to care for someone in need.

Jesus has given away the point of the story at this point, and even though he heightens the tension with the arrival of a Levite, there is some expectation that this person should help the traveler. Levites were lower in rank than priests, but served in the Temple.

Jesus introduces a Samaritan into the story and no Jewish listener would expect that this person would assist anyone. Jesus has made this a distinctly Jewish story and a Samaritan is simply a passerby. Everything changed, though, when Jesus told his listeners that the Samaritan “took pity on him.” This is the moment of transformation in the story.

A neighbor is anyone who needs compassion or love. It does not matter whether they are part of the religious community or not. The victim welcomes the Samaritan as a neighbor, even though he is despised by the Jews. This person will help him.  The audience is embarrassed by the actions of the priest and Levite and are grateful for a good conclusion to the story.

Which of these men was a neighbor? The lawyer was forced to respond to Jesus’ challenge. “The one who had mercy on him” (Luke 10:37). He was commanded, as are we, to have mercy on whomever might need it, no matter the case.

October 14 – Luke 10:1-24

Luke 10:1-24 – The Seventy-Two

Jesus was very aware of the short period of time he had left on earth. The only way for him to work well was to send people ahead of him, preparing hearts and minds for his coming. John the Baptist had done a great deal of preparation work, but in these small communities on the way to Jerusalem, there would be many who had not heard the message.

The Twelve had traveled in and around the northern part of Galilee, but the trip through the southern region would require many more. The Twelve stayed close to Jesus this time, though, as he continued their training.

By the way, some translations have this number at seventy, while others read seventy-two. There is a discrepancy in the calculation of this number in early manuscripts.

In Luke 10:2, Jesus begins by telling these appointees of the greatness of their mission, the potential danger and risk and then finishes by giving them rules of conduct.  He tells them that their task is immense. There is so much need and there are so few of them to meet that need.

In terms of risk, they are to trust solely on God and his provision. When they encounter communities who do not welcome them, they are not to try to convince the people of their words, they are to leave.

The imagery of lambs and wolves comes from Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” It is found in Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.”

Israel identifies with the lamb and its leader as the shepherd. The imagery is more developed in the gospel of John (John 10:1-18), but it is familiar to Jesus’ listeners. They are protected by the shepherd, even when they are among wolves.

There is danger and there is urgency … the disciples must travel light and move fast (do not greet anyone on the road – Luke 10:4b) to their goal.

At Luke 10:13, Jesus is already receiving reports of cities which refuse to accept the disciples and he pronounces woe against them. Capernaum, the center of Jesus’ ministry is no better than Chorazin or Bethsaida. This was where Jesus had performed many miracles. They had seen the power of the Lord and yet in the end, they rejected him. They rejected the kingdom of God. They rejected the Savior … the Messiah.

Even with those communities who refused to welcome Jesus, the seventy-two return, excited and rejoicing. They felt the power that came from being one of Christ’s disciples. They understand the authority with which he speaks. Jesus reminds them that Satan fell from a great height. The ministry these people carry out signifies the end of his power on earth. He has been defeated with the coming of the Messiah and the arrival of the kingdom of God on earth.

The disciples are reminded that they are not to emphasize the gift of Jesus’ power, but the fact that they are now part of the kingdom in heaven. There is something greater than an exhibition of God’s power through them and that is their own salvation.

That salvation brings Jesus great joy. These men are not highly trained Pharisees or religious folk, but simple men … children, who wanted nothing more than to live as he taught them. There were many who would have given anything to be in their position, but their faith and love for God brought them to this moment.

October 13 – Luke 9:57-62

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Luke 9:57-62 – The Cost of Following Jesus

Radical demands. Being a follower of Jesus isn't necessarily easy. In fact, Jesus was very clear about the fact that it wouldn't be.

As they were traveling, a man who probably traveled with the larger group offered to follow Jesus wherever he would go. Jesus’ response was a little cryptic. Nature provides a home for creation, but the Son of Man is an alien in this world. His home will never be found on earth. Living as a disciple of Jesus means living as a stranger to the world as well. Choosing to be a Christian is different from the choices that many others make and will always set one apart from the rest of the world.

Jesus continues to make the point when he asks another man to follow him. Personal issues are more important to this man than following Christ. In Judaism, burying a relative is a religious duty taken on by the son. All other duties are set aside. There is nothing that takes precedence over burying a parent. There were expectations placed upon this young man and he asked Jesus for an opportunity to take care of the worldly things first.  Jesus tries to impress upon him the urgency of the call.  This was to take precedence over even the burial of his father.

A third person offers to follow Jesus after he has said goodbye to his family. While this seems reasonable, and is exactly what Elijah allowed Elisha to do when he called the young man to follow him (1 Kings 19:19-21), Jesus refuses to allow anything to be set before his call. There is nothing more important than the relationship with Jesus Christ.

He delivers a warning in the final verse of this pericope. If you are to follow him, you must do so and not look back. There are many instances in scripture of people looking back, only to lose their way. Lot’s wife look back … the nation of Israel looked back after the Exodus. Jesus knows that if we are continually attempting to return to the past … to a family to says goodbye, to a responsibility we feel is more important … we will never fully commit to the kingdom of God.

October 12 – Luke 9:51-56

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Luke 9:51-56 – Samaritans Reject Jesus

This is often called the “Journey” section of Luke’s gospel. He begins telling the story of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem. He is a consummate story teller, beginning with a story of Jesus’ rejection by the Samaritans. Up until this point, the crowds have anticipated his arrival, looking forward to the one who would heal the sick and perform great miracles.

The Samaritan’s rejection of Jesus is a bookend for the next part of his ministry. On the other side of this will be the ultimate rejection as the Jews of Jerusalem crucify him. As one who looked backwards to the story, Luke recognizes that Jesus saw what was coming and tells us that he became determined to push forward.

Those moments with Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration and the discussion of his imminent departure are now always with him and it becomes imperative for him to finish his training of the disciples.

Samaria is south of Galilee on the way to Jerusalem. We don’t know which community Jesus sent his messengers to in preparation for his arrival, but they were refused hospitality. Samaritans worshiped at Mount Gerezim, rather than Mount Zion (Jerusalem), but it had been destroyed in 128 B.C.  Jews at the time would choose to go around Samaria rather than through it because of the enmity between the two peoples, but Jesus had chosen to reach out to them.

In Luke 9:53, we read that they didn't receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem. It may well have been that since he refused to recognize Gerezim as the place of worship, they wanted nothing to do with him.

The disciples were furious. This was a reflection on the honor of their master. But Jesus rebuked them. His ministry is not one of judgment. The Twelve have been given great authority and power, but they are simply to warn and to teach. The issue of judgment is reserved for God and will happen in another time and another place.

October 11 – Luke 9:46-50

Friday, October 11, 2013

Luke 9:46-50 – True Greatness

Those same disciples who did not understand Jesus’ words about his betrayal in the previous verses (Luke 9:44-45), now are having a heated discussion about which of them would be the greatest. These men had experienced great miracles with Jesus. They had gone out among the people and performed miracles on their own. Three of them had been present when Elijah and Moses showed up at the Transfiguration. They were still on a high from that experience and believed more of themselves than was appropriate.

Their very humanness continues to show through with everything they say.

Jesus didn't hear them speaking, but he knew what they were discussing. He was fully aware of their thoughts as the Son of God. It was time to correct them and bring them back under his wing.

He brought a child forward. This is not a young boy who has achieved manhood, but a child. A child has no place in the hierarchy of the community. Children were loved and cared for, but they were not respected. Jesus set his disciples back when he told them that anyone who welcomed that child, welcomed him. Not only that … those who welcome the child also welcomed the one who sent Jesus.

Jesus identifies greatness with humility … an ability to swallow one’s pride, set aside dignity and learn to identify with the lowest of the community, to care for them and treat them with respect. He continues to attempt to teach his disciples that he is heading for the cross – they refuse to listen.

The next thing that occurs is John’s complaint about a man who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name. He wasn’t anyone that was part of their circle. These men continued to have feelings of self-importance. They believed in the privilege that came from being one of the Twelve.  Jesus had yet to get through to them that their position was not one of privilege, but a call to suffering and humility.

Remember when the father of the boy with evil spirits complained that the disciples failed to drive the demon out of his son? How offended must they have been that there was someone out there who wasn't part of the privileged few – the Twelve – who was actually succeeding. Jesus’ words that “whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50b) express the fact that God will not be bound by man’s regulations. The Twelve Disciples will continue to face this issue as the Church begins to grow. How do we limit the work of God? Who will be greater among us? Who will be powerful?

Humility and grace are lessons that Jesus had difficulty teaching his disciples and are lessons we continue to find impossible to learn.

October 10 – Luke 9:37-45

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Luke 9:37-45 – Healing a Boy with an Evil Spirit

This chapter has had some pretty big events and some profound revelations. All of a sudden, Luke drops back to tell about a boy who is possessed by an evil spirit.

Jesus and his three disciples have come down from the mountain. It is the next day and the experience is behind them. The crowd was waiting and all of a sudden a man calls out for help. Luke 9:38 tells us that he asks Jesus to ‘look’ at his son. In this instance, the word ‘look’ or ‘gaze’ is one of a miracle worker. All they had to do was gaze upon someone for the healing to occur.

The man is terrified of what is happening to his son. It was not only dangerous, but brought shame on his family. He describes the illness and then accuses the disciples of failing to heal the boy. Luke doesn't spend much time discussing this, he only relates the event. Of much greater importance to Luke is the power of Jesus Christ.

Jesus responds by accusing the crowd … not just his disciples … of unbelief and perversity. He speaks to ‘this generation’ several times in Luke’s gospel. In Luke 11:29-32; 11:49-51; 17:25 and then in Acts 2:40.

He heals the boy after the child has one more convulsion and the people were amazed.

While the crowd is otherwise occupied, Jesus tells his disciples that he will be betrayed. He had just spoken with Moses and Elijah about his departure from earth and he needed to tell the Twelve what he would be experience.  While everyone was marveling at the miracle he just performed, now the Disciples were confused.

At the Transfiguration, the tide shifted in Jesus’ ministry. Before this point, he was focused on his ministry, now he begins to focus on the end.

October 9 – Luke 9:28-36

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Luke 9:28-36 – The Transfiguration

Luke tells us that eight days after Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah, he went with him to a mountain to pray. Peter, John and James are part of the small group Jesus gathers for this experience. Just as we’ve seen since Moses’ experience, when a mountain is involved, it means that there will be an opportunity for time with God.

While Jesus prayed, his entire being transformed. He didn't change, but his appearance did. He is different from everyone else who is there with him. His true identity is revealed. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appear. They represent the Law and the Prophets. These two things find their fulfillment in the Messiah. They discuss with Jesus the impending departure, the final fulfillment of salvation history. Everything has been pointing to the moment of his crucifixion and resurrection. Israel’s history will be transformed.

Peter, John and James had slept through Jesus’ time of prayer and came awake to the glorious scene.  In Peter’s confusion, he offers to build tents – to erect a shelter. The Festival of Booths (tents) celebrated the years that Israel wandered in the desert. The tent … tabernacle was where God resided when he traveled with them. Peter recognized God’s presence on earth and to symbolize that, he might have thought that a tent would be appropriate. What he missed was that Jesus held the divine presence and glory. Everything was different and the Israelites were still attempting to understand the change it brought to their lives.

In Luke 9:34-35, we find three references (there’s that number again) to the ‘cloud.’  This is the presence of God as found in the wilderness. He traveled in the cloud. When the temple was dedicated, the Shekinah presence of God filled the temple (1 Kings 8:10). We see Jesus returning on the cloud in the Revelation. When the clouds appear, God is there.

From Deuteronomy 8:15, we read, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen.” Jesus is linked to Moses. Moses offered the Law. Jesus brings salvation.

The same words God spoke to Jesus – “You are my Son,” he now says to the disciples – “This is my Son.” They believed Jesus was the Messiah, now they know.

October 8 – Luke 9:18-27

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Luke 9:18-27 – Peter’s Confession of Christ

In following the story that Mark tells, Luke now skips over a number of events. Days have passed and we find Jesus once more praying in private with his disciples. Luke reminds us of Herod’s question, just nine verses earlier. “Who is this man?”

Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

They offer the stock responses: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets from long ago … the same words attributed to Herod when he wondered about Jesus.

Jesus pushed his disciples a little further. “Who do you say that I am?”

We often wonder what the disciples knew about Jesus. They seem so naive sometimes. But, we discover in this passage that they knew the truth. Peter affirms that he is the Christ – the Messiah. This doesn't mean they won’t falter in the future, but it does mean that they are aware of who it is that leads and teaches them.

As the Messiah, Jesus’ life is in the hands of God. There will be suffering and death, but there will also be resurrection and life.

After this moment, we learn from Mark that Jesus calls the crowd back to him. They don’t yet understand who he truly is, but it is time to teach them about responsibility. They have been willing to accept his miracles of healing and exorcism. They were grateful for the food he fed them. There is more to a life of faith than accepting gifts from God. Faith that comes from true repentance means that a person’s life is changed.

If you want to save your life, you must lose it. In other words, the past must be separate from the future. You can no longer live in the same manner. Once you set it aside and truly turn from it, your life will be saved.

Luke continues with Jesus’ words in verse twenty-five, accusing those of greed and a drive for power. A self-involved person, who is driven for those things will never be able to maintain a selfless life which builds a relationship with God. The shame which he speaks of in verse 26 is not just a feeling, but a pattern of behavior. It is a paralyzing effect on both a person’s words and actions. Jesus wants his listeners to understand the power of their lives in living out the kingdom of God.

October 7 – Luke 9:10-17

Monday, October 7, 2013

Luke 9:10-17 – Feeding Five Thousand

The disciples have returned from their mission and Jesus takes them away so they can come together again as a group. When Jesus withdraws, it is for prayer and intimacy. He would know that their experiences had drained them and offers them an opportunity to renew themselves. They no longer need to be in charge and on their own. He is with them again and offers his strength to them.

Before long, however, the crowds found the group and rather than sending them away, Luke tells us that Jesus welcomed them, taught them about the kingdom of God and healed those who were in need.

It is the disciples who are concerned with the needs of the people. Again, Luke’s story is written to the Church and since these are the men on whom the foundation of the church rests, it is from their perspective he relates this story. But, they react poorly when Jesus tells them to take care of the people. It’s as if the journey they had just returned from never happened. They have forgotten that in Jesus Christ, nothing is impossible. They lost touch with the power that had infused them as they traveled.

No matter how long they had been with Jesus, he still needed to remind them of the power God wields through him and through them. He blessed the meager offering they brought to him and then asked the disciples to distribute food to everyone. He put the power back into their hands and asked them to care for the people who sat before them. It is into the hands of these twelve men that Jesus entrusts the growth of the kingdom of God on earth. Even though they still do not understand, he trusts them.

They asked for enough to feed the crowd and God pours out more than they needed, so much that they gathered up twelve baskets – a number corresponding to the twelve disciples … to the twelve tribes of Israel. There is more than is needed. God’s love and power overflows our needs.

October 6 – Luke 9:1-9

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Luke 9:1-9 – Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

For the most part, Luke uses the gospel of Mark as his guide in writing. He adds things, skips other things and sometimes interprets things differently. Much of this is based on the fact that he is not Jewish and looks at the different traditions from a perspective based on his own background – that of an educated Greek man. He is also very focused on teaching his readers about faith in God through Jesus Christ.

One of the passages that Mark inserts between the healing of Jairus’ daughter and sending out the Twelve is that of John the Baptist’s death at the hands of Herod. It is not important to Luke as he drives home the point of the story. There are others that he skips, things that you might find important. He leaves out the stories of Jesus walking on the sea, feeding four thousand, healing a deaf mute, healing a blind man outside of Bethsaida and others. He tightens up the story here placing an emphasis on not only Jesus Christ, but the foundation for the church – the Twelve Disciples. By the time Luke is writing his gospel, the church is growing and he feels it necessary to give them a basis in Christ and the Twelve.

In this passage, Jesus sends the Twelve out with assurance of the authority he receives from God. Without that authority, they would surely fail. He tells them to take nothing with them and lists things to ensure they understand. The Twelve go out with nothing mankind provides, but everything that God provides.

Jesus tells them to stay in the first home they enter, an injunction that would lead to the development of house churches. If a family opens their home to the message of Jesus Christ, it becomes the center of transformation for that community. Paul’s house churches are the basis for the beginning of the Church.

Luke inserts a picture of Herod here. The man is confused and the rumors surrounding Jesus and his disciple continued to grow, making the gossip and confusion grow with them. What is fascinating is that Herod only sees in Jesus – someone who has been raised from the dead. It might be John, it might be Elijah, or it might be yet another prophet. The question he asks in Luke 9:9b, “Who then, is this I hear such things about?” leads us to another question much like it, which will be posed to Peter.

October 5 – Luke 8:40-56

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Luke 8:40-56 – Jairus’ Daughter and the Sick Woman

Jesus returns to the Galilean side of the lake to a warm reception. The crowd is waiting expectantly for him. A ruler of the synagogue, named Jairus, seeks him out, falls at his feet and pleads with Jesus to heal his dying daughter.

Luke emphasizes the greatness of Jesus in this account by pointing out that a ruler of the synagogue bows down before him. His only daughter, aged twelve, was dying.  One thing you should understand in this story is the fact that a twelve year old girl, in common understanding, has just become a woman. The age is pointed out for a reason. More than likely, a girl that age, has begun her menstrual cycle and that information leads us, though we might not be able to imagine why.

All of a sudden, Luke’s story turns from its original plot to another story. A woman who has been bleeding for those same twelve years touches him. She is unclean and by law is forbidden to have contact with anyone else. Continued bleeding is analogous to death. Her life force continually flows from her. According to Levitical Law, illness and impurity are both contagious and all must be protected from those things. A single touch by her should render Jesus unclean for a day as well.

That single touch healed her, but Jesus called her out anyway. He didn't see her act as one of uncleanliness, but of faith. That faith opened her to a return healing touch by the power of God.

Jairus is still walking with Jesus throughout the streets of the community and has witnessed this extraordinary miracle. When the encounter is finished, one of his friends came to tell him that his daughter had died. There was no longer any need for him to bother Jesus.  But, Jesus wasn’t finished.  He asks Jairus to believe … to trust him. He must have faith. The woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment had faith, so must Jairus.

In the midst of traditional mourning, Jesus approaches the house and only allows Jairus, his wife, Peter, James and John to enter with him.

The crowd is insistent in their noise and when he tells them to stop, they laugh at him. It didn't matter how many miracles they had seen him perform, his authority would still be questioned.

Jesus allowed a woman who was impure to touch him and he reached out to touch a child who was dead. This type of contact was forbidden by Law, but Jesus would always choose a person over the Law. They had faith in God, they trusted Jesus and God’s healing power touched both of these people.

October 4 – Luke 8:26-39

Friday, October 4, 2013

Luke 8:26-39 – Healing Legion

After Jesus commanded the wind and water to be at peace, the company sailed to the opposite side of the lake from Galilee. Oneinteresting thing about this story is its intentionality because if you read the beginning of the next pericope (section of scripture), you find that as soon as Jesus has finished healing the man living with a legion of demons, he immediately returns to Galilee. The crowds are still there waiting for him. They were expecting him (Luke 8:40).

There was a singular purpose for Jesus going ashore in the region of Gerasenes (or Gadarenes, or even Gergesnes) – to confront these demons and help this man. As soon as he stepped ashore, he was met by this man.

The man falls at Jesus’ feet, a sign that he still has some humanity left in him, but the picture he presents is one of a near loss of all that is human. He is more dead than alive. He lives in a cemetery and no longer has any clothing to wear. Luke is pointing out that a life without God is inhuman indeed.

The demons recognize Jesus and call him by his title, “Son of the Most High God.” This is no title that any human would know him by, but those who realize his power and authority certainly do. The battle between Jesus and the demons is already accomplished. They don’t fight to remain in possession of the man, but plead instead to avoid returning to the Abyss, which is where the enemies of God are imprisoned.

With the introduction of a herd of pigs, we are told that this is not a Jewish settlement. Jesus is in Gentile territory and for Jews, this story would be understood. Pigs are unclean and belong in an unclean world, much as demons do.  Their caretakers would have recognized the glaring difference between the holy and the unholy as the demons fled to the pigs and hurtled themselves into the lake, thus ensuring they were trapped in the Abyss of which they were so afraid.  They ran off telling everyone. The news spread quickly and people were fearful of the power of the Messiah and asked him to leave them. The man who was healed asks to go with Jesus, but for Christ the important thing for this man was that he return to his family and reintegrate with society. He no longer needed to hide. He had been healed.

October 3 – Luke 8:22-25

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Luke 8:22-25 - Lord of the Storm

In one of the commentaries I read regarding this passage, it was interesting to see how the author pulled out various sets of ‘three.’

First – there are three trajectories: Jesus, the disciples and the storm. It is as the three interact that the story grows. There are three behaviors that Jesus displays – toward himself … he sleeps, toward the elements … he commands, toward his disciples … he poses an important question.  The elements of wind and water act in three separate phases – they begin normally, enter into a crisis, then return to normal.  These three phases take us through the entirety of the story.

My father, a pastor, always said that he was trained to give three points in his sermon and then wrap it up. It seems like this is a point Luke took to heart as well.

Jesus and his companions get into the boat. You have to realize that it wasn’t only the twelve disciples. The women who traveled with them would have been part of this group (the women have not left the group since they were introduced in the beginning of chapter eight).  It was calm and Jesus went to sleep.

Then, came the crisis. A squall came up and it threatened the boat, so much so that they were in danger. Luke tells us they were in great danger. Think about this – if the disciples were afraid enough of the squall to wake Jesus, it had to have been quite a storm. Four of those men were fishermen and probably knew more about weather on a lake than anyone else.

The author of my commentary notes another set of three – the disciples went to Jesus, they woke him and they spoke to him. By calling him Master, they give him authority that is greater than that of a teacher. He wakes up, gets up and rebukes the wind and the waters and the elements return to normal.

When Jesus asks them about their faith, none of them respond with defensiveness or an answer. They are in awe of the amazing power found in the moment. Jesus is more than just a healer or great teacher, he is Lord of the universe.

Bovon, F., & Koester, H. (2002). Luke 1: A commentary on the Gospel of Luke 1:1–9:50. Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

October 2 – Luke 8:16-21

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Luke 8:16-21 – A Lamp; Jesus’ Family.

In the previous parable, Jesus spoke of responding to the word of God and thus producing a good crop. Now, Jesus writes of a lamp that has been lit.

This lamp is the person who has heard God’s word and responded to it. This is not a passive action at all. Putting it on a stand doesn't mean that we are to stand around and look pretty. No, a lamp sitting on a stand is a person who lives as though they have responded to God’s word. The work of a lamp is to provide light. The work of a Christian is to live their lives in service to God’s kingdom. The light-bearer has a great responsibility to the world.

Luke 8:17 isn't necessarily about a person’s inner secrets, but is more about the secrets of the Kingdom. A person who bears God’s light points to the end, when all secrets will be revealed and God’s purpose is also revealed to humanity. As Christians, we are privileged to know the secrets of the kingdom. We know what God’s desire for humanity is and how he will bring it to pass. We know and understand love. It is our responsibility to expose that through our lives to the world.

In the passage regarding Jesus’ family (Luke 8:19-21), he continues to emphasize the importance of God’s word and those who take it in and then respond to it. Mary’s importance in the scheme of things wasn't just because she gave birth to Jesus, but even more than that, because she had faith in God. The faith that she exhibited in her encounters with the angel and then the life she lived as part of the band that traveled with Jesus and stayed close through his death and resurrection made her as much a part of his family as you or I.

We are all accepted into the family of Jesus Christ because of our response to the good news.

October 1 – Luke 8:1-15

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Luke 8:1-15 – Parable of the Sower

Luke’s storytelling eases the transition from the home of Simon the Pharisee and his experience with the prostitute, to his itinerant ministry throughout the region. He explains where some of the financial support comes from and that there are women who travel with the disciples. Because he specifically introduces Mary from Magdala as one who was released from seven demons, many in the past of assumed that she was the prostitute who poured ointment over his feet. While this may be true, because of the depth of Luke’s writing, we could be pretty certain he would have named her during the actual story and not just as one of the women who traveled with Jesus.

The men who followed Jesus as his disciples were called by him into ministry. The women in this list follow Jesus because of the personal way in which his touch changed them. It was their response to a miraculous change in their own life that supported the work he did. Jesus was transforming culture by accepting these women into his traveling band. Because of him, women knew freedom they’d never known before – not just from bondage to sin and sickness, but these women left their homes to be with him. No other religious person accepted women as disciples, yet Jesus included them and they traveled with him to the cross.

In Luke’s version of the parable of the Sower, he breaks from Mark, who placed the emphasis on those who received the word of God. Luke tells us that the important part of the story is the word itself. The word comes from God and the most important thing for those who hear it is to take it in and then produce a crop by persevering.

 In between telling the parable and explaining the parable, Jesus points out the division occurring in the people of Israel. There are those who see and hear, but don’t see and hear. Even though God is at work miraculously in bringing change into people’s lives through his word – people still have the freedom to make choices.  When they hear the word, retain it and produce a crop, Jesus says that the crop will yield a hundred-fold more than was sown (Luke 8:8).