Monday, January 22, 2018

Reading Through the Gospel of Luke #6 (12-14)

Bock LukeThis post continues my reading through the Gospel of Luke accompanied by Luke, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Darrell L. Bock. Chapters 12-14 highlight the need to listen to Jesus to receive God’s blessing. The religious leaders reject this and miss it. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue. Again, I am not sure why the page numbers in the IVP series do not come up in Logos, but I will reference the quotes with the corresponding scripture reference.

After exposing the defective righteousness of the Pharisees, Jesus explains what it means to be His disciple. Jesus' disciples must make allegiance to the person and teachings of Jesus their highest priority. Often this will place them in opposition to the prevailing culture which will produce persecution. True disciples publicly acknowledge allegiance to Jesus, no matter how intense the opposition is, because they know that God sees what is happening, and, in the end, will set the scales of justice rightly for both the disciples and the one who persecutes them. This means that disciples must use the time we have on earth to serve Jesus rather than ourselves. The "rich fool" is one who lives for earthly possessions and ends up with nothing in eternity. God can take care of His people who work hard to serve Him and others so that they don't have to worry. Serving God now is investing in an eternal future. We will stand before God in judgment and the standard will be how we served God and His people. Let us use our lives now to invest in God's kingdom rather than in our own pleasures and desires which do not last or satisfy.

The disciple may face a hostile world, but loving God means standing up for him. Behind that backbone and resolve to face the opposition is an understanding that we must fear God and know that he sees both the disciple and the accuser. What is done in secret will be revealed in public before God one day. Then the disciple will stand though others fall. Luke 12:1-12

For some, the material world is god. Many of us end up serving our dollars or pounds and bowing before their demands rather than relating sensitively to people. In the process relationships can be damaged and marriages destroyed. False worship involves bowing before something that is not worthy of honor and that cannot deliver life’s true meaning. The pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of false religion. Luke 12:13-34

The good servant, the one who waits and is ready, is the one who serves faithfully during the master’s absence. Often we think of waiting as an attitude, but Jesus sees it as translating into action. Life lived prospectively is marked by constant service to God. The Lord blesses those living faithfully as they await his return. Luke 12:35-48

The next section records the fact that Israel's leaders did not discern that this was the time of God's promised visit to His people and they rejected Jesus and missed its blessings. Nevertheless, blessing could still come to those who followed Him and generously invested in His kingdom.

We all have debts before God that need paying. To settle accounts with God, we must come to grips with Jesus. His presence forces choices and brings the potential for division. We need to look at the ledger. Bankruptcy and debtors’ prison will be the results of rejecting God. Only Jesus can pay our debt. Luke 12:49-59

The section continues with another rejection from another Jewish religious leader which leads to further warnings from Jesus not to miss the opportunity from God that His presence provides. The issue is urgent because we are all going to die and face judgment. Whether we die early from a natural disaster or human oppression or live a full life we all will die and stand before God. The issue for judgment, Jesus explains, will not be our heritage or even our completion of religious duties. It will hinge on "knowing Jesus." Jesus shows that He has this authority in the synagogue by healing a woman from a disease which involved supernatural causes. This demonstration of God's compassion and authority were rejected by the synagogue ruler and this would be the last time Jesus is seen in a synagogue in the book of Luke. Jesus explains that the Jewish expectations of the kingdom were wrong and, perhaps, mistimed. The kingdom would begin slowly with acts of healing and compassion and grow into a great entity which would provide shelter for all the nations. Everyone who hears is responsible to take the kingdom message, receive and apply it for themselves to enter into the great "banquet" that God's ultimate kingdom will bring.

Jesus is again stressing that the real fact of life we must face is mortality, not the timing of death. More important than determining death’s cause or timing is dealing with the fact of death and subsequent judgment. This quickly levels the playing field and calls on each person to consider where God stands in the equation—or better, where one stands before him. Luke 13:1-9

Luke’s reader can have hope that despite the humble beginnings of this community, the kingdom will come to have a dominating presence and will provide shelter and calm. God’s plan is advancing. Opposition, whether human or spiritual, cannot stop its realization in the world. Trees built with earthly hands, like that of Nebuchadnezzar, will become stumps, but the branches of God’s kingdom provide shade forever. Luke 13:10-30

The parable warns people not to assume they are in the kingdom on the basis of exposure to Jesus or on the basis of elect ethnic origin. The patriarchs of Judaism will be there, but that does not mean every physical descendant of Abraham will. One had better decide for Jesus while the door remains open and there still is time. A responsive heart to Jesus is what God seeks. Luke 13:22-30

The theme of Jesus' call to discipleship in the midst of the rejection of the Jewish leadership continues in the next section. When Jesus is threatened from Herod he cries over Jerusalem's rejection of Him and the devastation it will bring to Israel in the near future. The healing of the man with edema (14.1-6) illustrates how deeply chronic is Jerusalem's resistance to God and their rejection of His protection and blessing. The first banquet parable (14.7-14) shows the reason that Israel misses God's banquet: they pridefully preferred to honor themselves rather than to humbly serve God and let Him honor them. Instead of reaching out and helping those in need, they viewed relationships as a tool to climb the social ladder. Thus, when invited to God's great banquet (14.15-24) they missed the invitation because they had other priorities and they would suffer the consequences. The bottom line (25-35) is that Jesus' disciples must be willing to make Jesus, and learning from Him, their #1 priority in life. Anything less causes one to miss God's blessing.

The passage confirms how strong sin’s stubbornness can be. It also shows how even after warnings about judgment and its consequences, God graciously still gives evidence of his presence. His grace still reveals itself, but closed eyes can never see the evidence of God’s power. The division between Jesus and religiosity remains, and so does the question of which way we will choose if we want to know God. Luke 13:31-14:1-6

Honor is not to be seized; it is awarded. Jesus is not against giving honor to one who deserves it, but he is against the use of power and prestige for self-aggrandizement. God honors the humble, and the highway of humility leads to the gate of heaven. Those who are truly humble persons recognize their desperate need for God, not any right to blessing. Luke 14:7-14

The point of the list is that no other relationship is first for a disciple. “Hate” is used figuratively and suggests a priority of relationship. Jesus is first. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus, not anyone or anything else. A disciple is a learner, and the primary teacher in life is Jesus. This total loyalty is crucial, given the rejection and persecution that lie ahead. If his followers care more about family than about Jesus, when families are divided under pressure of persecution, they will choose against Jesus. This is what lies behind Jesus’ remarks. Discipleship is not possible if Jesus is not the teacher. Luke, 14:15-35

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