After blogging through the Gospels for several weeks now, I am amazed and even overwhelmed at the stuff that is contained in these books! God’s word is so rich and deep and full that a lifetime isn’t enough to get to know it well. And just think, we’re only getting the tip of the iceberg! There’s far more going on that what we can see or know about in this physical existence! Keep on reading, keep on learning, keep on drinking deeply of the deep, sweet well of God’s word.
Filled with rage over… — Luke 6:11
When I read this verse carefully I found myself surprised — and yet not so surprised — at the reaction of religious leaders, when a man with a withered hand was healed. OK, it was a Sabbath; and yes, it demonstrated that what they had been teaching was erroneous; and yes, it probably made them look foolish — but to be filled with rage and discuss what they might do to eliminate Jesus, is just a little over the top! It’s not like someone just managed a better zinger than you to score a debate point or something. This was a teaching accompanied by a miracle to demonstrate the teaching’s divine rightness. Their rage speaks of the personal drive to win rather than a desire to be in the right. It’s a common malady, I’m afraid. So before you get all charged up about someone’s well thought out biblical argument that makes you look bad, think about these guys and ask whether or not you might be mistakenly more concerned about winning than being right. Your soul’s on the line here.
The golden rule — Luke 6:31
In my humble opinion, I think this is the best expression of Jesus’ golden rule: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31, NAS95. It’s neat, clean, positively stated, and straightforward. Ah, if only we could live it as neatly, as cleanly, as positively, and as straightforwardly as it is stated. So much of God’s word is simple and straightforward — in reality, not so hard to do; but somehow we still find it hard to do. Perhaps Satan does throw us a lot of curve balls and “gray areas”; but if that is true, it is also true that we probably complicate many things that are really pretty straightforward — because we’re looking for a way to do things we shouldn’t. The world complains about Christians sometimes that we look at things a little too black and white for their taste — they see almost everything as shades of gray — but who is showing better success at morality, at raising functional children, at sustaining marriage, at honor and ethics? Methinks the world could use a lot more black and white thinking — God’s.
Why do you call Me, “”Lord…”? — Luke 6:46
“Lord” is a title of authority; you obey a lord. It is not just an empty, honorary title. Jesus’ original audience certainly understood the meaning, because they lived in a time of kings and other rulers who had what we would consider tyrannical powers. You obeyed or you quickly (with little or no “due process”) payed a dear price for it. Those who were calling Jesus “Lord” were giving the title lip service but neglecting obedience. The point: confessing Jesus as Lord is not enough; you must live Jesus as Lord.
They rejected God purpose for themselves — Luke 7:30
Now here’s an interesting turn of phrase: the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John. The essence of John’s baptism was repentance, and when these religious leaders rejected John’s baptism (do demonstrate repentance) they also rejected God’s purpose for themselves. They should have been the first in line to be baptized, but they were not — maybe some let pride get in the way, maybe some didn’t recognize John as a legitimate prophet, maybe they thought that their Jewishness was quite enough and that this baptism stuff was completely unnecessary. Who knows? But it is sometimes seen among religious leaders today and the people that they lead who reject Christ’s baptism (immersion in water in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin). And in doing so, they reject God’s purpose for themselves, again — “For the promise (of forgiveness and reception of the Holy Spirit through baptism, Acts 2:38) is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”” Acts 2:39, NAS95. Accept God’s purpose for you.
Two debtors — Luke 7:40ff
Who loves God more? The claims are easy to make, but the actions tell the truth. In the larger story Simon the Pharisee has asked Jesus to his home in what appears to be a perfunctory show of hospitality; although Simon fed Jesus, he provided for him none of the usual greetings or favors expected in oriental hospitality. On the other hand, a sinful woman shows extravagant and poignant care for the Master — to Simon’s great judgmental displeasure. In rebuke of Simon’s judgment Jesus then tells the story of the two debtors ending with the rhetorical question, Who loved the moneylender more? Obviously, the one who was forgiven more. Jesus replied, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47, NAS95. Not that Simon had necessarily sinned a lot less, but, in his self-righteousness, he certainly perceived it less. When our love grows weak, maybe it’s time that we looked at what we’ve been forgiven of.
Bearing fruit with perseverance — Luke 8:15
Bearing good fruit is important, even crucial to our entering Heaven. But it’s not like we’re going to be able to produce fruit one season and then retire. Discipleship, living “Jesus”, fruit bearing, is an endeavor to be practiced until the moment we breath our last. If I may be so bold as to remark on it, I’ve sadly witnessed too many folks who assumed that retirement from the work-a-day world was also a retirement from the Lord’s business. Oh, they still came to church and the fellowship dinners; but they refused to teach, they refused to visit, they refused to do much of anything. “I’ve put my time in; it’s time those younger people pulled their weight.” While it might be a good idea to let younger people do some things; it is never a good excuse for not bearing good fruit with perseverance.
What great things God has done for you — Luke 8:39
After the demon possessed man was delivered from his demons, he greatly desired to follow Jesus. But Jesus had a different plan for him: Go home and tell others what great things God has done for you! This is precisely what the man did. You know, this wouldn’t be a bad strategy for any of us who’ve ever felt a little unskilled at the work of teaching the Gospel to someone else. OK, so you may not be able to quote the book, chapter, and verses like the preacher does; you may get a bit tongue-tied trying to put together a logical presentation of salvation; you may feel less than adequate at answering difficult questions. But you can tell someone else what God has done for you. You can tell someone else about your lostness, about what you learned about Jesus, about what the Bible told you to do to be saved. Doubtlessly, the people you tell these things to will have questions, but that’s when you lead them to someone who can teach. In the meantime, you’ve given them a taste of the Gospel and stirred up their spiritual interest.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.