June 13, 2015.
Daily Reading: Luke 9-10.
Background: Luke 7-8.
Concepts and Connections.
1. The proclamation of Jesus: Several of the stories spread throughout this chapter are related to the proclamation of Jesus and the kingdom of God. First, Jesus sends out His 12 apostles to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God and to heal everywhere, just as He would do for the 72 in the next chapter. Earlier in His ministry, Jesus would charge people not to tell what He had done for them so that His fame wouldn’t rise too quickly, but not it seems that He is allowing the word to be spread both near and far. His ministry was in full session, and it was time for the world to know who He was. As word traveled, Herod heard what Jesus was doing and was perplexed, because the only person he had heard of doing such wonders was John the baptizer, and he had beheaded him. This idea that Jesus was John is later brought to light when Jesus asks His disciples who people say He was, and this was one of their answers. But Peter boldly proclaims Jesus as the Christ of God (compare with Matthew 16:13-20). This great confession, however, would be followed by a small bit of confusion when Jesus was proclaimed by God Himself on the mount of transfiguration, as Peter would suggest building three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. At this statement, Moses and Elijah disappeared, and Jesus was glorified before Peter, James and John as a voice from heaven said “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to Him!” The time to proclaim the name of Jesus had come. However, though the good news would come to the world, there would be those who would reject the gospel, like the Samaritan village. It is out job to spread the seed. We let God handle the outcome.
3. Following Jesus: Just as the proclamation of Jesus is spread throughout this chapter, so is the teaching of the cost and what it means to follow Him. Twice in this chapter does Jesus foretell His death to His disciples, though the meaning was hidden from them. Twice also is the cost of following Christ emphasized in this chapter. If we are to follow Him, we are going to have to make sacrifices, dying to self and living for Him. We live our lives as a testament of Christ, not as men who are ashamed of Him. We cannot think of ourselves as the greatest, but rather have to be come as humble as a child to follow Christ. Note what Jesus is asking at the end of the chapter when it comes to discipleship. There can be no excuse, no reason to place anything before Christ in our spiritual walk if we are to be pleasing to Him. We cannot place family or friends above Him. When we die to ourselves, we are making a commitment to Christ, one that should not be taken lightly.
1. The limited commission: In what is often referred to as the limited commission (as opposed to the great commission, see Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus sends out 72 disciples ahead of Him to prepare the way for Him. He gave them power over demons, power to heal and to do other great works, like He did for the 12 apostles in the previous chapter, and urged them to stay focused on the task at hand. They were to take nothing in preparation for their journey, relying on the Lord to provide for them through the people they met. When they entered a house, they were to judge whether or not peace was in the house and they were to eat whatever was given to them in the houses and towns they went to, for they were deserving of wages for their labor. If the town accepted them, they were to heal the sick and proclaim that the kingdom of God came near to them, but if a town rejected them, they were to shake off the dust from their feet. Note that Jesus said that it would be more tolerable in the day of judgement for Sodom (see Genesis 19) than those cities that rejected them, seemingly such as Chorazin and Bethsaida, for they had seen mighty works and not repented of their sins. When the 72 returned, they were ecstatic that even the demons were subject to them. Jesus acknowledged that this was a good thing, but He rather emphasized that the real joy was not that the demons were subject to the, but rather that their names were written in heaven. They were missing the bigger picture and implications of the work they were doing. They were missing the joy that comes from salvation. But they were leaning from Jesus, and He thanked the Father that the wisdom from above had been hidden from the wise of this world (see I Corinthians 1:18-31) but had been given to whom the Son chose to reveal it. What an opportunity and blessing these chosen few had, for they were being shown things that many prophets and kings of old had desired to see, but were not able to.
2. The good Samaritan and Mary and Martha: The parable of the good Samaritan is perhaps one of the most well known parables in the book of Luke. It is a great display of the wisdom and teaching of Jesus, as the parable is prompted by a question from a layer who was wanting to justify himself. The first question was what did he have to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what was written in the law, and the lawyer answered his own question: love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Yet the lawyer wanted to justify himself, so he asked who his neighbor was. To answer this, Jesus tells a story of a man that is beaten and left for dead on the side of the road as three characters passed by. The first two, a priest and a Levite, were representative of men who were supposed to be children of God, holy in their lifestyle and who were supposed to display the love of God. Yet they both passed by on the other side without helping the man. The third character was a Samaritan, a people of mixed Jewish decent who were detested by Jews, who did stop and help the man, going out of his way to do so. This man, as the lawyer who asked the question in the first place discerned, was he that was a neighbor to the man who was beaten. The lawyer was told to go and do likewise. Being a neighbor to someone had nothing to do with whether or not you live close to them, but rather it is all about how we interact with anyone we come into contact with. We are to be Christ on earth, and show His steadfast love and faithfulness.
Later, Jesus made His way to Mary and Martha’s house, where Mary sat at His feet soaking up His teaching while Martha served. Martha got mad at Mary for not helping her, but when she went to Jesus about her concern, Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the good portion, listening to the words of life, while Martha was distracted with much serving. Serving was not wrong, but rather there was something better here. Let us learn to discern and prioritize our daily activities, putting those that glorify the Lord first.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Philippians 1-2.
Learn from His teachings.