Friday, January 26, 2018

Reading Through the Gospel of Luke #7 (15.1-17.10)

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 15-16 highlight the accessibility of God to sinners and the joy He takes in restored relationship with them. Jesus seeks out outsiders to bring them in to His family and His disciples should use all their resources to follow His example.  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.

Chapter 15 is one of the best known chapters in Luke. In it Jesus explains, in 3 parables, why He seeks out and has close fellowship with sinners. The bottom line is that God loves and is compassionate even toward those who are in rebellion against Him. God does not turn his back on sinners, but seeks them out to encourage repentance and full restoration to relationship. Jesus' disciples must take the same attitude and reach out to sinners in the same way. God's desire is always for forgiveness and restoration and His people should always offer it to others. The passage also emphasizes the joy that the Father has in restored relationships and renewed people. We can and should share in that joy.

Recovering a lost sinner can take diligent effort. But the effort is worth it when the lost is found. Sinners should know that God is diligently looking for them. Disciples should diligently engage in the search for sinners on behalf of the Master they serve. Jesus provides a clear example for us to follow. Finding lost “sheep” and missing “coins” is a disciple’s priority. Jesus involved himself with sinners; so should disciples. Luke 15:1-10

The parable has two major points. First, repentance means an absolute reversal of status. The lost son has become a family member again. The father’s acceptance of the penitent son is total. This is God’s grace. This is why God pursues sinners. Second, others should have joy when the penitent returns. Reconciliation involves not only God and the individual but also the individual and the community. Luke 15:11-32

Chapter 16 deals with how disciples are to handle money and possessions. Jesus uses two parables to teach that wealth is to be used to do Kingdom service to those around us. It can be very dangerous because it is a powerful temptation to squander our resources on our own comfort and ignore the needs of those around us. The parable of the shrewd steward is very difficult to interpret. It is unlikely that Jesus is praising deceptive financial practices. The point is that the steward uses money to build relationship. How much more important it is that we use our money to build our relationship with God and our place in His eternal kingdom. The rich man and Lazarus parable shows shows the urgency of using wealth to serve God in this life. Our love for God is seen in the way we meet the needs of others. The first 10 verses of chapter 17 show other ways that we demonstrate kingdom love for our fellow human beings which include holding one another accountable, forgiveness, humble service and a trust in God that permits generosity.

Money cannot come with us to heaven. Its value is limited when it comes to everlasting life. So recognize its limits and use it for others, not selfishly. To gain friends by means of mammon is to use money in such a way that others appreciate you for your exercise of stewardship, your kindness and generosity. Luke 16:1-18

Love for God changes one’s values, so that persons made in God’s image become more valuable than things. Money is a resource, not a reward. It is to be used, not hoarded. It is to serve, not become master. Jesus said as much in his own ministry. To love God is to love and show compassion to the humanity he loves...Jesus warns that treasure invested for the self yields emptiness, while treasure invested for God yields compassion. Luke 16:19-31

The disciple’s life is lived in community with others and God. Be careful not to lead others into sin, Jesus says. When sin occurs, rebuke it, but be quick to forgive when there is repentance. Don’t worry about having great faith; just let the faith you have do its surprising work. Finally, serve God as a matter of duty. If you trust God, you can serve him. Luke 17:1-10

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