June 20, 2015.
Daily Reading: Luke 11-12.
Background: Luke 9-10.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Prayer: The opening of this chapter deals with Jesus’ teaching on prayer, as His disciples came and asked Him directly to teach them how to pray, just as John taught His disciples. Here Luke records the Lord’s prayer (see also Matthew 6:9-13) which focuses on glorifying the Father in His will, asking for our needs, forgiveness and guidance. Jesus then goes on to talk about the relationship we have with our Father and how He is willing and able to give us good gifts from above. To make His point, Jesus uses people as an example to show that even we, as fallible human beings, know how to give good gifts to our friends and family. How much more so will our righteous and loving heavenly Father do so for us?
2. Demons and spirits: After teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus casts out a demon from a mute man, amazing the people when the mute man spoke after he was cleansed. Since it was a notable miracle and those who saw it could not argue that it did not happen, some who didn’t like Him had to find a different way to not accept His teaching. They decided to say He cast out demons in the name of Beelzebul (another name for satan). However, Jesus challenges their logic here, noting that Satan cannot be divided against himself and still stand, for a house divided will fall. Yet some of the people, likely the scribes and Pharisees, were just following in their father’s footsteps. Their fathers had stoned the prophets that were sent by God when they didn’t like the message they spoke, and though the scribes and Pharisees thought that they were different from their fathers, they were doing the exact same thing by not accepting Jesus. He then teaches a lesson about spirits, noting that if an unclean spirit is cast out and comes back to find an empty house (perhaps because it was not filled with God once the unclean spirit left), then the spirit would invite in seven more of his friends to occupy the house, making the last state worse than the first.
3. The light and offensive teaching: Jesus did not shy away from hard teaching here just because it might be offensive to some people. After the encounter earlier with some of the people trying to say that He cast out the demon by the power of Beelzebul, He rebukes the generation because they will not look to see the sign that is given them. He talks specifically here about the sign of Jonah, who was in the belly of the fish for three days before he was spewed out. Even so, Jesus would be laid in the tomb for thee days before He arose never to die again. But even if they saw the ressurection, some would still not repent. That is why the people of Nineveh would rise up and condemn this generation, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah (see Jonah 3). That is why the queen of the south will rise up and condemn this generation, because she came to see Solomon and all of his wisdom, and marveled at his understanding. But this generation saw something that was even greater than Jonah and Solomon, and yet they still didn’t repent. There is a brief interlude between rebukes where Jesus teaches us to let our light shine to the people around us so that others can see the path to Jesus.
However, as He was saying this, a Pharisee asking Him to come eat with him, which He did, but He did not wash His hands before doing so. When the Pharisee was astonished at this, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for washing their outward appearance, but not their inward appearance. When the lawyers (referring to the law of Moses) took offense to this, He made a direct statement against them, telling them that they bind heavy burdens on the people that they would not even touch. Each were following into the footsteps of Israel’s long history of killing the prophets. Instead of taking this to heart, the scribes and Pharisees indeed sought a way to kill Him.
1. Warnings, fear and anxiousness: Jesus gives warning of the Pharisees in this chapter because of their hypocrisy, noting that in the end, there will be nothing that is done in secret that will not be revealed. He also warns that whoever does not acknowledge Him before men will not be acknowledged before the angels in the end. However, if they did acknowledge Him, they too would be acknowledge. The disciples of Christ were not to fear man and what he could do to them, but rather they were to fear God, who could destroy both soul and body. This fear of God leads to peace, however, for we know that He who clothes the grass of the field and feeds the birds of the air love us and protects us. If the only One that man should fear because of His ultimate power is on our side, then we really have nothing in this life to fear. Even when we are persecuted and brought before trials, the Holy Spirt will guide us there to give us words to say. We should not be anxious, but rather trust in the God and Father of all creation, who knows what our needs are and is here to help us. The one who controls nature and paints all of her beauty, He is the one that loves and cares for us. What shall we fear? Why should we be anxious? Let us therefore lay up treasures in heaven where nothing can destroy.
2. Being prepared: Jesus also teaches about being prepared in this chapter, beginning the with the parable of the rich fool. The rich fool was given his name not because he was foolish in business, as it is clear that he was very successful, but rather because he was foolish when it came to where his treasure was. The rich fool trusted in his success and riches, and not in the Lord. However, when the fool died suddenly, all of the treasure in the world could not have helped him. He had missed the big picture. He was not prepared to meet the Lord. Jesus goes on to tell His disciples, and by extension us, to always be prepared and watching, for we do not know when our souls will be called up, nor when our Lord will return. Will He find us watching and waiting when He comes back? Will He find faith on the earth? He is coming at an hour in which we do not expect it, and thus we must always be prepared for His return. To whom much is given, much will be required.
3. Peace/division, missing the obvious and wisdom: This chapter closes with three small sections of Jesus’ teaching. The first teaching in this section is that the message of Jesus was not necessarily going to bring peace, but rather would divide households, as some would choose to follow Him and others would not. Following Him is a substantial commitment, however, and would be viewed as a defiance of Judaism (even though He was actually the fulfillment of the law). Then Jesus tells the people that they can predict the weather and interpret the time, but they miss the obvious which was right in front of them: the Son of God. Finally, Jesus concludes with some practice wisdom of settling cases with your brother before you are brought to court, so that the judge doesn’t sentence you to a punishment that you cannot escape.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Philippians 3-4.
Grace and peace.