Thursday, April 30, 2009

Luke 21:1-19

I was impacted by the text in First John a couple weeks ago about laying down your life for the brothers. I can't help but notice this widow laid it ALL down according to Jesus. His commendation is based not on what she gave, but on what was held in reserve!

The most amazing part of this paragraph about persecution is the promise of supernatural help. The persecution will be an occasion for testimony or witness. He says, don't plan what you'll say, the Holy Spirit will give you the words. I would think Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance, but Jesus suggests otherwise in this case. The Holy Spirit will give you a mouth (stoma) and wisdom (sophia) and your adversaries will not be able to withstand you! Wow!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Luke 20:27-46

Jesus' response to the Sadducee's fictitious story is instructive and different than recorded in Mark. Here he says:
  • Sons of eternity don't marry or are given in marriage.
  • To be counted worthy of eternity means that you don't make marriage in heaven an issue.
  • Marriage and death are somehow connected. Because you don't die in heaven, you don't marry.
  • Sons of the resurrection are like angels.
  • Because God is God of the living marriage in heaven isn't a question.
You get a heightened sense of panic on the part of the leaders to try to stop Jesus. Yet everything they do backfires. His answers to their questions are so good that it reinvorced the people's opinions about how marvelous he was. Finally, Jesus posed a technical, grammatical question they had no answer for -- checkmate! Jesus was making sure he got crucified.

Then he adds this about the scribes:
  • Walk around in fine threads.
  • love the be greeted.
  • love the best seats in the house, church, or dining establishment.
  • devour widows houses.
  • make a pretense of long prayers.
Therefore, they will receive greater judgment.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Luke 20:1-26

I love verse one, Jesus was teaching and sharing the good news and the chief priests, scribes and elders were standing around. They were standing around. Loitering scribes, interesting. Clearly they were lurking to see if they could trap Jesus.

I have to say, I wonder about the brains of the vineyard owner. Why would he send his son if the wicked tenants had beaten up or killed everyone he'd ever sent? I love that the scribes knew that he spoke this parable about them. This means they knew that Jesus was the son in the story and that they knew their ancestors had mistreated God's prophets!

I think Jesus' best line ever is, "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's!" That is as practical today as it was then.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Luke 19:28-48

The setup for the triumphal entry is the same as for the Last Supper. Two disciples go ahead and find things just as Jesus said. How did Jesus do that? I'd like to know.

The most remarkable thing about the triumphal entry may be that Jesus is riding on an unbroken colt. You'll see other unbroken colts in rodeos!

The disciples rejoiced to praise God with a loud voice -- for all the miracles they'd seen. I'd never noticed before that Luke records their motive for rejoicing. I wonder if that explains why they were so quick to turn against Jesus. The motive of the majority was quite external.

Jesus' sadness in weeping over Jerusalem is because they did not know what was coming. His sorrow was rooted in his foreknowledge. Hmmm.

The reason Jesus was not arrested while teaching is that the people were hanging on every word!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Luke 19:1-27

The text if very deliberate to tell us that Zaccheus was a wealthy man. Jesus tells him, "It is necessary for me to go to your house today." That is an interesting way to talk to a rich man, particularly a rich mobster-type man. The conclusion of the conversation is an editorial comment, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." I did not remember that comment to be the follow-up to talking with a rich man.

Jesus told the parable of the servants and their minas so that we would know the kingdom is about to be revealed. The stewardship of these servants is in the context of enemies of the king! Faithfulness is more important when the context is hostile to the king. The unfaithful servant showed that he was one who did not want the rule of the king. He was on the other side.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Luke 18:18-48

Living in West Linn the rich young ruler discourages me and gives me hope at the same time. I am with the disciples, "who then can be saved?" Jesus point is that it IS impossible to be saved unless God does it. That's true no matter how much money you have.

What going to Jerusalem will mean to the disciples is still hidden from them, even though Jesus could hardly be any clearer.

Jesus asked, again, "What do you want me to do for you?" He asks this all the time. How do I get so busy trying to do something for God. The rich young ruler asked, "What must I do?" This is the opposite of that. Jesus is doing the work. The blind man got saved and the rich young ruler didn't. Hmmm.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Luke 18:1-17

These two parables come with their points explicitly stated. The first is so that you wold pray always and NEVER give up. The second teaches that you can't be puffed up in prayer because the proud will be humbled and the humbled exalted. Taken together they tell me that if I pray persistently and humbly I can expect to be heard by God!

Children: Such are the kingdom of heaven. . . if you don't come to it as a child you can't come. You can't come.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Luke 17:20-37

The Pharisees asked the first question. That's odd. Why would those who are against him ask about his kingdom? His answer was simple, the kingdom of God is among you.

Then, he turned to his disciples and said more. It will happen like lightning. People will be going about their business like they were when Noah and Lot were around. One will be taken and the other left. Save you life and you will lose it.

Where the body is, that's where the vultures gather! How does that help me?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Luke 17:1-19

Offense is coming. Problems will happen. People will sin. Woe to the one through whom it comes.

If you have faith you can uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea. Why would you want to do that? Is Jesus saying that we will be able to do pointless things if we have faith? Or is he reasoning that, if faith will enable you to do something that difficult and unusual, that you will be able to do all that you need to do and more!

Don't look for extra thanks for doing what you are supposed to do!

One leper along returns to thank Jesus. It is very much like Jesus to point out that the leper that returned was a Samaritan. The least likely ones (lepers, and Samaritan lepers at that) are the ones Jesus delights to love and the Spirit delights to work in. Lord, make me grateful. Make me like that one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Luke 16

This is a very interesting chapter. The steward was unfaithful in his responsibilities, he was lazy, then he stole from his master -- yet, his master praised him for his shrewdness. Why? He recognized he had only a short time to steward someone else's things and only what he did in that short time could provide for him in the future. "Make friends with unrighteous mammon" with a view to being received into heaven. I am to steward God's money in such a way that people will be in heaven and will welcome me when I come after a short time!

The Pharisees, who loved money, made fun of Jesus for his money lesson. His response is that the law and prophets tell you to enter the kingdom by force. This is opposite what most people do when they passively hope they'll make it. Press into the kingdom!

Jesus makes quite a statement here. If they don't listen to Moses and the prophets they will not be persuaded by someone rising from the dead. I would think that would be the MOST persuasive experience ever! Repentance is not about experience it is about truth. Experience doesn't drive repentance. God's word is the instrument for soliciting repentance and for saving people from torment.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Quote on the Importance of the Cross

I ran across this quote by H. Richard Niebuhr today that makes me think of the gospels we're reading. If you dispense with God's wrath being spent on Christ on the cross then you end up with:
A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministration of a Christ without a cross.

Luke 15

Jesus justifies having a relationship with sinners because of the joy! To retrieve what was lost is joyful. The celebrations are significant enough they can't happen in isolation; they are community, heavenly celebrations. The searching is an individual responsibility, the celebration is a community activity.

The first two stories focus exclusively on the joy, as does the first half of the third. All the joy sets us up for the anger of the older brother. It is the opposite of a happy response. Oh the pain of trying to earn God's favor. The older brother neither loved the father nor did he enjoy him. All this because the Pharisees were grousing about him loving sinners.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Luke 14

Jesus is on the offensive. They were watching him to trap him but he silenced them with this offensive. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? He was invited to eat at someone's house to be watched. What a better place to keep an eye on Jesus than at the dinner table?

This lesson on choosing the lowest seat has influenced me, even as recently as last Wednesday. I didn't get invited to the best seat.

Go tot he highways and hedges and compel people. What bushes have you shaken lately?

Jesus is out front saying it will cost you family comforts if you follow him. Consider this before you start.

The excuses people make for not following Jesus are not new. Jesus anticipated them in this text. How many people in America will face God's wrath because the bought a field or have to try out their new ride or want to hang out with their family?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Luke 13

Suffering, or lack of suffering, is not directly proportional to merit. Jesus' message when one encounters unjust or undeserved suffering is the same as the message of Job -- Repent.

The fig tree got a one year reprieve to become fruitful. The message is simple -- don't just take up space!

Satan had physically afflicted a 'daugther of Abraham.' How can he do that? He must have some latitude to afflict believers. His critics would do for their animals what they would not do for this woman.

Jesus calls people from all four directions to his kingdom. I'm in Luke 13:29! The question posed to Jesus is one I ask all the time, "Why are so few saved?"

His lament over Jerusalem is precious. After the simple expression of his love, "you would not." Sad words.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Luke 12:35-59

Peter asked Jesus, "Did you tell this story for us or for everyone?" (Luke 12:41). In answer, Jesus told another story. Anyone who would be faithful must be on watch.

The phrase in Luke 12:48, "to whom much has been given much will be sought. The one who has will be asked for more." I know God's given me a lot -- keep me faithful, watchful and working.

It is a surprise to me that Jesus brings division. I expect peace, unity and happiness. Interesting that he quotes Micah 7:6.

Right after he emphasizes division in your family Jesus urges reconciliation with your accuser. The accuser might be a stranger or a neighbor, but he is certainly more distant than a family. How could Jesus divide the family and unite you with a stranger.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Luke 12:1-34

Don't think you can keep sin secret. Attempts to be hypocritical will be unsuccessful. You will be found out. That alone is one reason not to be a hypocrite.

Don't fear those who can only hurt you. If someone can only hurt you, that is an insufficient to fear them. Fear God. But don't fear God. Because God loves you. He loves you way more than the sparrows he watches over. So, He'll take care of you. Since God cares for things of lesser value, you can assume He'll care for you who are of greater value.

Luke really, really trusts the Holy Spirit. He will help you in the spur of the moment. Am I willing to be trust God when I don't know what to do.

Guard yourselves against greed. . . become rich toward God. This will be sound investing, your treasure will never be at risk. The Christian's relationship to money says everything about their relationship to God. Don't worry. . . Oh you of little faith. The rich fool talks to himself, "Self". God talks to him, "Fool". This whole discussion reminds me of an American suburb.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Luke 11:29-54

The comparison between Jonah and Solomon and Jesus is interesting. One greater than them is here. How would you act if you were around someone wiser than Solomon?

In the conversation about tithing, I'd never notice, buried in the conflict, the theological reason why tithing is important. They were tithing religiously yet missed, or passed by, the justice and love of God. Tithing should be connected to justice and love!

I can't help but think of false religions, how they place great burdens on people. They don't go into grace and they hinder others from going in, too. I also worry how many pastors will hear from God, "You have taken away the key of knowledge." Frightening words for someone in my position.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Luke 11:1-28

Jesus' disciples ask him to teach them to pray, like John taught his disciples to pray. Apparently that's one of the key things you should learn from someone who helps you walk with God. What would I learn if I asked Jesus to teach me to pray? Jesus says, pray about God's stuff, then pray about your stuff -- His kingdom, his will, then my daily bread, my forgiveness and temptation. The closer we connect our needs and desires to God's agenda, the more pleased he will be to respond.

Even if God were unwilling, like the friend in the night, he can be prevailed upon by persistence. But he is more like the father who is looking to give good gifts to his children. The best gift he gives is the Holy Spirit.

There is no coincidence that the Beelzebul controversy and Jesus clear claim of spiritual authority follow his instruction on prayer. Prayer and spiritual authority and spiritual victory go together.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Luke 10:21-42

This section is one piece. The lawyer came up with this summary of the Old Testament law, not Jesus. Jesus didn't let it rest as mere belief, but told them that "doing" it was the key. That made the lawyer feel like he needed to justify himself. How many of us need to justify why we don't do what we know or say we believe?

Luke shows us what loving your neighbor looks like. It looks like caring for anyone who needs you. Jesus asked, "Who was a neighbor to this man?" Only one answer is possible: The one who showed compassion.

Luke then shows us what loving God looks like. It means soaking up Jesus words and spending time with Him . . . not serving Him! Everyone I know who has ever put church work before relationship with Jesus (and there have been many) usually come to that realization with a similar smugness and self-righteousness that Martha has here. Mary's part, love for Jesus, can never be taken away from her!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Luke 10:1-20

The harvest Jesus sends these workers into is interesting. It is plentiful. Serving in the harvest is a joyful experience. But, there is a shortage of workers. Why? One reason might be that you harvest like sheep among wolves. You can get killed, eaten alive, in this harvest!

In principle, Jesus instructs his deputies to work with those who are responsive. Don't waste time on the disinterested. This is instructive for any of us who are trying to serve in Jesus' stead.

The delegated authority of Jesus that made the demons subject to them and caused Satan to fall from heaven is ours, too. We are to pray, "in his name." We are to use his authority as we pray. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is all about the delegated authority of Jesus. I underestimate the spiritual authority that a Christ-follower on Christ's mission possesses. Wow!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Luke 9:38-62

The boy with the unclean spirit gave Jesus an occasion to explain what he expects from his followers. He told his disciples they were an unbelieving and perverted generation because they cast out this demon. Jesus considered spiritual impotence to be unbelieving and perverted. Wow!

Jesus gets serious about getting to Jerusalem. The disciples didn't understand. When the Samaritans didn't either, John and James were ready to call down fire from heaven. It is interesting how quickly people who don't understand are quick to invite God's condemnation on others!

Great principle: Whoever is not against us is for us. Usually we operate with the opposite principle. This is much more inclusive and inviting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Luke 9:1-37

I love that the preaching of the twelve got results. The delegated preaching responsibilities caused word about Jesus to swirl through the whole countryside. Speculation about Jesus was everywhere, even in the palace. They had him as a prophet or John the Baptist -- Messiah never occurred to anyone. Herod was worried.

Peter confessed Jesus as Christ when they were praying. Jesus prayed before feeding 5,000. Would someone writing my life talk that much about my prayers?

I am supposed to take up my cross, not once and for all, but literally, "according to the day." Cross-bearing is a daily thing. Each day requires a different and distinct dying!

Jesus, Moses and Elijah spoke about Jesus' death. This was the conversation he had been trying to have with his disciples. The mount of transfiguration was not a spectacle or some glorified show-off experience, it was a strategy and encouragement summit in the face of the cross!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Luke 8:26-56

This crazy man who breaks chains and lives in graveyards may be the most frightening person in the whole Bible. The ending is great. The townspeople find this man sitting there talking to Jesus in his right mind. So, they ask Jesus to leave. Jesus tells him to go to his family and next thing you know he's preaching to the whole area. What would it be like to be refused by Jesus like this man was. Hmmm.

Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue. I wonder what it did to their synagogue to have Jesus raise his daughter from the dead? These parents apparently kept it low key as Jesus asked them to. Not very many people did.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Luke 8:1-25

The woman who washed Jesus' feet prompted Luke to list the other women who also followed Jesus. At least that must be why there is this interesting short little list of women.

The parable of the sower seems clear enough. Those who bear a hundred-fold with endurance are saved. There are a variety of reasons why the others don't:
  • Immediate distractions steal the word.
  • Heart hearts don't support the word for long.
  • The word gets choked out by the cares of the world.
The parable of the light and the bushel is not like the little song either. It is not my light. It seems to be about God making things known.

When Jesus is in the boat it will not sink. What a great thing to remember and what an easy thing to forget. The appropriate response to his intervention is fear and amazement.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Luke 7:36-50

This sinful woman is the perfect foil for the Pharisee's hollow religion. Oddly, he had no sooner told they Pharisees that they consider him a glutton and a drunkard than one of them invited him over for dinner. Somehow this woman knew Jesus would be at Simon's house -- curious. Curious she would choose this meal to make a spectacle instead of all the other meals Jesus ate! This would have been the most awkward opportunity.

Their formality, pretense of goodness and heartlessness were all exposed by this woman's act of love. Washing his feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, kissing hi feet and pouring myrrh on them would have been frowned on everywhere I've ever been. It's not really normal. To Jesus it seemed like an appropriate and proportional response.

Jesus' question, "Who loved more?" And his answer, "The one who was forgiven more," give me insight into how I encourage love for Him. I must remember how much I've been forgiven. I trust the sterility of my expressions of love are not proportional to my experience of forgiveness!

Jesus tells her that her faith has saved her. Yet, nowhere else does it talk about faith. . . only love. Jesus sees them as one in the same -- to believe is to love.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Luke 7:1-35

The Centurion recruited the Jewish elders to speak to Jesus on his behalf -- an interesting approach!. His understanding and faith seemed to clearly apprehend the authority of Jesus. This gentile had grasped what everyone else had missed -- Jesus had the right and authority to do whatever he pleased!

It looks like Jesus couldn't help but show compassion to this widow who had also lost her son when he stumbled upon a funeral procession. He had compassion and everyone, everywhere, heard of Him because of it. They drew conclusions about Him that came from the Bible.

I love the last line in Luke 7:35, "Wisdom is proven right by her children."

Friday, April 03, 2009

Luke 6:27-49

Luke 6:31 signals a new standard for the treatment of both friends and enemies. The treatment of those who cannot help us is one of the marks that distinguishes Christ-followers from others.

The measure God uses in return for justice is equal justice. The measure he uses for generosity is overflowing, pressed down, and shaken together. God is serious about encouraging generosity.

From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. This may be the key diagnostic principle in all the Bible. What is treasured in the heart is what comes out, whether good or bad.

Unlike the children's song, the one who hears and does Jesus' words is the wise builder with a strong foundation. It is not simply the person who "believes".

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Luke 6:1-26

Am struck again at how directly Jesus went after the Sabbath issue. The pharisees brought the man with the withered hand. Jesus stood him up in the middle of the group to make sure they had the conflict they were after. He is Lord of the Sabbath. . . don't mess with Him!

Am humbled by Jesus' prayer life. I can't escape how he prayed all night before choosing the twelve. I somehow think a quick 30 minutes will cover it. Jesus was always in prayer. These twelve men changed the world!

These beatitudes are different from what Matthew records. Here there are woes, not just blessings. Happy are the poor (not just in spirit) and happy are the hungry (not just for righteousness). His woes and blessings are built upon a divine reversal someday.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Luke 5

Sometimes I feel like I've never even read this book before.

Jesus effortlessly moves from one draining/amazing miracle to another. He raised Peter's mother-in-law by "rebuking" the fever. Interesting.

Before calling Simon, Jesus commandeered his boat, preached from it, went out with them into the deep, brought in a record catch, returned to shore, and THEN dismissed the crowd. This was a public event!

Peter had already been fishing. He replied to Jesus, "By your word we will do it again." That is how I feel about many of my 'fishing-for-men' experiences. If only He would fill the nets with people!

After cleansing the leper and many others, Jesus withdrew to the wilderness to pray. Any connection between his being filled with the Spirit and his prayer?!

After he healed the paralytic, everyone was amazed and said, "Today we have seen something incredible." Do you think? I love the understatement.

Levi left everything and followed Christ. . . except his friends. He threw a party to bring them along with him to Jesus!

The wineskins parable is almost universally misapplied. Jesus' takeaway is simply, "The old wine is better!" He is not celebrating the new, but the old.