Nothing like coming to the USA to be without Internet! Have been in two different locations lately where access is non-existent and even cell phones don’t connect well. Seems a bit ironic that in the Homeland of Connected People, I’m most unconnected. Continue reading
As I was studying Luke 3 this week I reflected on the what the Scripture said with regard to what John preached. John the Baptist was a preacher who garnered the attention of the people as he preached in the wilderness (Luke 3:3; Matthew 3:5). John would not be “employed” by most churches today because the message he preached, while intriguing, was one that demanded too much.
His message was three-fold. First, he was preparing the way for the coming Messiah. John’s preparation was accomplished in the preaching. The imagery of Luke 3:4-6 would not have been lost on the people, especially as he illustrated this in his exhortations to the people when they inquired (Luke 3:7-14). Second, he preached and demanded those who came to him reflect a life of repentance; this, however, was much easier said than accomplished. The word “repentance” means “a change of mind” with regard to the sinful way one lives life, and this change being reflected in a godly life lived. Third, he baptized (immersed) those who came to him “for [with a view to] the forgiveness of sins.”
Baptism is not for infants and children who do not understand the difference between sins and righteousness. Baptism is for those who do understand; it is interesting to note that those baptized in the book of Acts are all identified as “men and women” (people who understand). More than the candidate for baptism is important here, however, it is the idea of repentance. Those who come to God need to change the way they live life if they would see Him who is Lord over all (cf. Luke 13:3-5). It is serious! RT
When Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the Temple for purification reasons (Luke 2:21-24), they met a man named Simeon. Simeon is characterized as “just and devout.” He was fortunate to learn from the Lord that before he “passed on to his reward,” the Lord told him he would see the “Consolation of Israel,” which was to “see the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:25-26).
Simeon, after seeing the Lord’s anointed as a baby, praised the Lord and gave some exhortations to Joseph and Mary, “Listen carefully: This child is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected” (Luke 2:34, NET). These words that Simeon spoke to Jesus’ earthly parents boil down to “there is no neutral stance” to be taken when is comes to Jesus.
It is nothing short of disappointment to see the vast majority of people live thinking they can take a neutral stand concerning Jesus. This is done, however, because many preachers are guilty of the same! These people choose to live life just any way they want, and why not—a great many preachers won’t preach against the behavior. It’s not that these people think of Jesus in a bad way, but they just don’t want to submit to His authority and “go to church.” With this way of thinking these same people have failed to see that they have taken a stand with regard to Jesus, and it is not a neutral stand! RT
From stumbling blocks to vultures, Luke 17 presents vigorous teaching by the Master. As today’s NT reading (jump here for the plan), it reminds us that the faith is not a happy-go-lucky lark, but a determined, focused, and deliberate path we follow, guided as we are by the truth of Christ.
People in this world go along doing their own thing, but the shadow of judgment ever looms. Hence, our task of proclamation will include judgment, as we root out sin among ourselves, exercise our faith, do what is but our duty to do, and constantly turn back to the Lord to throw ourselves at his feet in praise and thanksgiving. Because we are not a part of that dead body over which the vultures circle.
I avoid large crowds, but I was once in the midst of a mass of hundreds of thousands of people. In 1985, during the funeral procession of President-elect Tancredo Neves, several people were trampled to death in the confusion of the multitude.
So I understand the phrase, “They were so crowded that they stepped on each other” (Luke 12:1 GW). Other versions give the idea of people being trampled or crushed in the multitude.
Luke seems to suggest that the trampling was more than a problem of numbers. One gets the impression of hostility. With crowds come confusion and aggression.
In the press of such a crowd, Jesus warns against hypocrisy.
For hypocrisy often springs from the desire to please the majority, to impress others, to become something one is not, in order to gain approval of the group.
“Be a true disciple of mine,” the Master seems to say, “rather than follow the popular religious model of the Pharisees, rather than give in to the jostling crowd.”
The safest place, far from the trampling of the multitude, is on the rooftops proclaiming who we are in Jesus (v. 3).
Jesus’ parents were poor, from all indications. One such cue comes from Luke 2:22-24, part of our NT reading schedule for today:
2:22 Now when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 2:23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male will be set apart to the Lord”), 2:24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is specified in the law of the Lord, a pair of doves or two young pigeons.
People who couldn’t afford a sheep were to bring the birds (Lev. 12:8). So the text seems to indicate that Joseph and Mary would have been strapped to present the more expensive offering.
At the very least, we may conclude that being poor was not an impediment to Jesus’ spiritual formation as a child. Primary in the divine plan, obviously, was the righteousness of Joseph and Mary. The financial state of the family was not a consideration in God’s mind.
Would that people today would care more for righteousness than for riches!
Note some differences and similarities between the keeper-of-rules ruler and Zacchaeus. In the gospel of Luke they are placed close together, the ruler in chapter 18, Zacchaeus in chapter 19. Perhaps this is not accidental.
After Jesus’ statement about the difficulty of the rich entering the Kingdom of God, I’m not sure I’d have invited myself to the publican’s home. His class, after all, were traitors who turned their back on their people to collaborate with the Romans for money.
Aside from Jesus’ knowledge of what was in each person, it goes to show that the mission of preaching the gospel is not one of judging receptivity, but of speaking to all regardless of their situation.