Thursday, June 23, 2011

Luke 13-15

So I've been able to catch up with my group after last weekend's lackluster results. :) Back to catching my fine blog readers up to what we've covered!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Luke 13
We've seen Jesus deal with working on the Sabbath before (Luke 6), but I think he used an especially effective analogy this time in explaining to the Pharisees their hypocrisy. He pointed out that, by their laws, they allowed even the animals to be freed from bondage and provided for on the Sabbath and that this woman's condition was exactly that, bondage of a spiritual nature. If the Pharisees considered it okay to untie an animal on the Sabbath how could they argue with freeing a human being from their bonds. I think it was effective because Christ demonstrated how their very laws showed them to be unloving and hypocritical.
In each of Jesus' examples of the Kingdom of God, the item is something small (mustard seed, yeast) that grows and becomes something much larger than how it began. God often works in ways we don't understand and here, instead of coming in magnificent glory and overthrowing Rome, he came as a carpenter from Nazareth, leading individuals to follow him and then spread the Gospel. It started small, but has come to change the world. In the same vein, the entrance to God's Kingdom is narrow. This phrase jumps out at me: "...many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." I believe there are those out there who are interested in hearing about Jesus but who, for some reason or another, cannot place their faith in him as Lord and Savior. I don't pretend to know what those reasons are (think they have to be perfect, think they're fine, etc.), but I imagine these are the people that Jesus spoke of, those who know of/about him but refuse to take that crucial step through the door and into the Kingdom. Only God knows the hearts of men. But Jesus does say that going through this door requires our effort. I have to seek him, obey him, follow him at whatever cost, and that requires diligence on my part. Salvation is through Christ alone, but I must seek and accept it and live it out.

Luke 14
The Pharisees seem to be getting smarter (or at least more devious) for now when Jesus does something they object to, they're keeping their mouths shut. Maybe they think if they don't say anything Jesus can't speak against them without giving them the ammunition they want to destroy him? For whatever reason, they are definitely trying to entrap Jesus, since this incident took place in the home of a prominent Pharisee and they most certainly planted the suffering man there to see what Jesus would do, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath or not. And he again points out their hypocrisy by giving examples of work that they would do on the Sabbath to save someone, inferring that what he is doing in healing/rescuing the people he has is no different.
I love the idea of a feast being held in the kingdom of God. Maybe it's the fact I'm a Baptist, but most celebrations involve food. :) So it totally makes sense to me that when we celebrate with God it would be around a huge banquet table. I think the parable he tells about the guests not coming is so sad though, knowing that some people will turn their backs on God for trivial reasons.
As Jesus points out, before going in to most big projects, people will sit down and plan it out to know what they are getting into. Becoming a follower of Christ is no different. He points out that to be a disciple, one must carry their cross and follow him, rejecting all others and even their own life so that Jesus is Lord alone. Following Jesus demands everything of us, even our own life. But what will it profit us to gain the world if we lose our soul in the process? How much better to give it all to Jesus and follow only him. Difficult, I know. This is something I struggle with now and feel I will continue to struggle with for the rest of my life. I am human, stubborn, strong-willed and want to be in control, yet I desire to serve a Savior who would have me lay all that aside and bring all of me humbly to him. For now, I'm a work in progress. :)

Luke 15
Right at the end of Luke 14, Jesus said "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." And then right at the beginning of Luke 15, we see the tax collectors and sinners gathering around to "hear" him. The Greek word is exactly the same in both cases. I think that Luke wanted to make sure that we knew it was these people who were actually hearing and learning from Jesus while the Pharisees muttered to themselves.
I read John MacArthur's book "A Tale of Two Sons" awhile back, written about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It provided a lot of historical and cultural context to the parable but also speculated on what the end of the story might have been if Jesus had not stopped telling it when he did. Since the prodigal represented the sinners that were listening to Jesus and seeking him and the father represented Jesus, the older son would have represented the Pharisees. In the book, he speculates that if Jesus were to keep the story true to life, then at the end the older son would have killed the father. I thought it was a really interesting thought experiment and enjoyed some of the other insights of the book. The parable also reminds me how much God is waiting and desiring my return to him when I wander. His arms are open for me to run back into them, all I have to do is get up and go humbly like the prodigal.

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