June 27, 2015.
Daily Reading: Luke 13-14.
Background: Luke 11-12.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Repentance and bearing fruit: Continuing His ministry, some of the people who were with Jesus told him about some Galileans who had apparently been killed by Pilate, in what seems to be a question of how “bad” their sins were. However, Jesus turns the tables and tells the people that brought this up that unless they repent, they would also perish. It is clear that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23), and Jesus’ statement here should remind us that our sins are no less wicked than those around us. We all need to repent and seek the grace of God. Then Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the barren fig tree, of which the master wanted to cut it down because it didn’t bear any fruit. Yet the vinedresser wanted to give the tree another chance, after he cared for it another year to see if he could get it to bear fruit. However, if it did not bear fruit in a year, it would be cut down. This can be both a message of hope and a warning to us, as we are given ample opportunity and grace to produce fruit, however there is a time in which we are expected to do so.
2. Problems with the rulers: As He was teaching in the synagogs one Sabbath, Jesus had another run in with the rulers and chief priests of the people after He healed a woman with a disabling spirit. It seems that the rulers lashed out at the woman more than they did Jesus on this occasion, telling the people to come on the days that weren’t the Sabbath to be healed by Jesus. It is interesting the way they have to word this, as they cannot deny that Jesus is doing miracles and every attempt to cast a shadow on Him has backfired. Though they speak to the people, Jesus confronts them in their defense, asking which of them would not lead their donkey or ox to water on the Sabbath day. Jesus made it apparent that they cared about their animals more than they did the sick of the land, and for this they were put to shame. They did not have their priorities in the right place. This was a common theme amongst the rulers of Jerusalem even in times passed, as is apparent from Jesus’ last statement in this chapter. They had a history of killing the prophets and messengers from God, just as Herod wanted to do with Jesus, and were stubborn and rebellious towards the will of God. Jesus lamented over them, as He wished that they would be gathered to Him, but they refused to listen. Sometimes it is rather difficult to listen and accept something that we don’t agree with, even when it is truth. May we be humble in our positions, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us of the will of God.
3. About the kingdom of God: There are three different symbols that Jesus compares the kingdom of God to in this chapter from which we can learn about the kingdom. The first two, the mustard seed and the leaven, seem to speak to the great power that the kingdom has to influence those around. A mustard seed is tiny, but when it is fully grown, it houses many birds. In the same light, a small amount of leaven produces its effect on a large portion of flour. The next symbol, however, deals with the difficulty of entering into the kingdom. There will not be many who are able to enter in through the narrow door, even though they sat and ate with Jesus. Often today we look at the entrance to the kingdom as something that is easy. As long as we claim to be a Christian, we’ll be alright. This concept, however, was not one that was taught by Christ, as upon many occasions He spoke of the difficulty of entering the kingdom, such as He does here. May we ever seek to know the will of God, and enter in the narrow door.
1. Healing on the Sabbath: On another Sabbath, Jesus once again deals with healing on the Sabbath, but this time it seems that He goes on offense (after perceiving that the scribes and Pharisees were watching Him like a hawk), asking the leaders of the people if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. When they could say nothing, He heals the man and immediately makes the point that each of them would save their own son or ox who was in trouble on the Sabbath. Once again, He had silenced His enemies.
2. Parables: Jesus speaks three parables in this chapter about feasts, each making a different point. The first story involves a wedding feast and the teaching of humility. It seemed to be common practice amongst the people to try and sit at the highest places of honor when they went to a wedding feast. Jesus taught that they should rather sit at the most humble place, with the possibility of being moved up, as opposed to the honored place with the possibility of being told to move. The second parable has to do with showing grace, as Jesus tells the people to invite as dinner guests not the rich, but rather the handicapped and those who could not repay them. By showing grace to those whom the world looks down on, we store up treasures in heaven. The third story deals with making excuses, as three invited guest to a dinner party each make a certain excuse as to why they cannot come to the party. The man who was putting on the party was very angry, and instead of calling those who were invited (which was probably a reference to the Jews who were first invited into the kingdom by their Messiah, but reject Him), he called all those in the highways and streets, the crippled, lame and blind, and further to the hedges when there was still room, that his house might be filled. This was a reference to the gospel going to the whole world after it was rejected by the Jews. May we continue this spreading of the gospel to all who will hear, never loosing our saltiness, as Jesus said was worthless at the end of this chapter.
3. The cost of discipleship: Jesus has some hard teachings for the people near the end of this chapter about being His disciple. He did not sugar coat the road of discipleship. There is sacrifice that comes with following Christ. We are to deny ourselves (see Matthew 16:24) and follow him. Before one becomes a Christian, he or she should count the cost. They must understand that Christianity is not a check box or a simple designation when asked in public. It is a way of life, a different world view. Following Christ will come with its challenges and persecutions. Jesus did not promise his disciples an easy life, but he did promise rest for their souls. True conversion starts with full disclosure of the terms and agreement, so to speak.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Colossians 1-2.
Grace and peace.