July 11, 2015.
Daily Reading: Luke 17-18.
Background: Luke 15-16.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Forgiveness, faith and humility: At the opening of this chapter, Jesus teaches thee core concepts in our relationship with Him and with others around us. First, He warns that temptations to sin are sure to come, but condemns out right the one by whom they come. But as for us, if our brother sins against us even seven times a day, and yet says that he repents, we are to forgive him. Followers of Christ are to be forgiving people, even when it may not seem that the repentance is sincere. Jesus didn’t qualify our forgiveness, other than to say that if our brother says “I repent.” Next, the disciples ask Him to increase their faith, but He tells them about the mustard seed, and if they had faith like a tiny mustard seed, they could do great works. This speaks to needing to have a quality faith as opposed to quantity. The next two stories deal with humility in some way. The first is an analogy that Jesus makes about servants. When we think of a servant, we don’t think that them doing what they are supposed to do as going above and beyond their calling. We are servants of Christ, and in serving Him, we should stay humble, knowing that our service is simply our duty as opposed to something for which we should be overly honored. Finally, we read of ten lepers that cry out to Jesus to be healed and Jesus heals them with but a sentence. Only one of the lepers, however, returns to praise Jesus for what He has done, showing his humility and gratefulness. What makes the story even more cutting to the people is that the one was a Samaritan, a group of people who were seen as half-breeds by the Jewish leaders and ones who did not fully practice Judaism in their eyes. Yet this was the one who came back to praise Jesus. Jesus told him to go, for his faith had made him well.
2. The coming kingdom: At the end of this chapter, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was going to come, but they were looking with the wrong perspective. They were expecting a physical kingdom to be established on earth with Israel as the head, but Jesus said that the kingdom coming is not something that would be physically seen in that way. Then He warned His disciples for a time when He would be gone, and other claims of false Christ’s would arise. They were not to follow them, for He was the true Christ. There would arise a great persecution after His time here on earth, and then when He was to return, it would be as in the days of Noah and Sodom, for the people that were of the world would not be expecting Him, nor would they be paying attention. He would come as a thief in the night, while their daily lives and activities were still going on. And in their activities, some would be taken and some left. Note the question that the disciples ask in the end, as to where those would be taken be taken to, to which Jesus replies “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” The ones who were to be taken are those who are not in Christ.
1. Persistent prayer and humility: The first two stories in this chapter are lessons on prayer and humility. The fist tells of a persistent widow who kept calling out to an unrighteous judge for justice from her adversary, and because of her persistence (not for the sake of justice or righteousness), the judge granted her request. The point of the story was that we should be persistent in prayer, for if the widow’s persistence gained her favor in the eyes of an unrighteous judge, how much more will our persistence be favorable to our righteous Father, who loves us? He wants us to make our requests known to Him (see Philippians 4:5-7). The second story is one Jesus tells of a tax collector and a Pharisee who both went up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee (who Jesus was talking to at the time) went up and thanked God that he was not like other men, sinners, even like the tax collector that he say praying a distance away. He started listing off a list of reasons to the Lord of why he was righteous did what he was supposed to. He was self righteous, which was the point that Jesus was making to the Pharisees. The tax collector, however, showed great humility before the Lord, acknowledging that he was a sinner and asking the Lord for mercy. It was this man’s prayer that was accepted by the Lord, not the pride of the Pharisee. May we always remember this lesson and keep our pride in check. Similar to this lesson of humility, Jesus also tells His disciples to not rebuke the children for coming to Him, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. We should learn that we need the humility and innocence of children if we are to be servants of Christ.
2. The rich young ruler: The story of the rich young ruler is a fairly popular story and there can be great insights drawn from it. Besides the overall message that we should not trust in our material things over God and should be ready to give them up for Him when He asks, note what goes on at the beginning of this story. The man comes to Jesus and asks what he had to do. The ruler wanted to do what was right, as is evident of him keeping the law from his youth up. But Jesus knew his heart and what held first place in his life (his riches), and that is what He asked him to give up- not necessarily because it is wrong to have riches, but rather because it is most certainly wrong to let the love of riches surpass our love of God, which is often the case (even when we don’t admit it). It is not impossible to go to heaven if you are rich, as is evident by Jesus’ later statement to His disciples when they make this very claim, but it very well could be much harder to do so. We must be sure that Jesus is number one on all our priority lists, and that He is the one that we love and are serving. We have to be open and honest with ourselves if we are to get a productive answer to this question.
3. Jesus foretells His death and heals a blind man: This is the third time that Jesus has foretold His death to His dispels in the book of Luke, and the meaning is still hidden from them. They would, however, in the future be able to look back on these statements by Jesus and realize what He meant and believe that He really is the Son of God, for He could predict the future with great accuracy. He tells here of His persecution, beating, death and resurrection. Then He travels to Jericho where there was a blind beggar, who upon hearing that Jesus had come, started to cry out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people rebuked him and tried to get him to be quiet (note that the people around Jesus had not learned fully the compassion he had on people, or at least they had yet to master it). But when Jesus heard the man, He asked what He could do for him. The beggar asked to receive his sight, and with a sentence, Jesus heals the man and the people around Him glorified and praised God.
Tomorrow’s Reading: I Thessalonians 1-3.
Grace and peace.