Luke 16:1-9 – This parable has always confused me. Jesus seems to praise this manager who unethically reduces the debt of several to gain favor for himself upon learning he’s about to loose his job. Jesus (and his boss) call him shrewd, which he certainly is, but I’d also call him dishonest, selfish and unethical. Hardly a good example.
So why does Jesus praise him, or at least use him as an example? he doesn’t actually come out and say we should live and work like this, but he concludes in verse 9 with this:
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
I’ve heard people use this passage to justify their using their money to get an audience with prominent people and wealthy people in order to share their faith with them or, more often, to try to get their financial support for some church or charity project. But Jesus says we should make friends for ourselves with our ‘unrighteous’ wealth, not use it to further the kingdom. I’m having a hard time figuring out what he means.
In verse 8 he does say that “the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” which is so true. I’ve seem many Christians (myself included) get burned because we treat those outside the church as we do disciples. They take them at face value, assuming them to have the same standards of respect and consideration that we do. There was a woman, who was an outspoken Christina, on survivor who trusted too easily and too completely. It seemed that she didn’t even think through, in a game where deceit is the norm, whether what they were saying made sense or if they were acting in line with what they were telling her. The said it and she believed them and out she went fairly early in the game.
We need to be more wise when dealing with the world, but is Jesus intending to council us to act as they do or merely making the point that we ought not to be naive?
Luke 16:25 – Is our destiny truly tied to the physical blessings we received while here on Earth? you get your good things now or you put them off until later? I don’t think it’s quite that simple, but it meshes with Jesus’ ongoing theme of downplaying the importance of our worldly possessions and using them for more than just ourselves.
Luke 15:1 – Am I the kind of person that draws “tax collectors and sinners”? Jesus was.
Luke 15:4 – Put it in perspective: The sheep were their livelihood. A loss of one is a loss of 1% of their livelihood. What if I lost 1% of my earning capability? I’d search all over too, and rejoice when I found it.
Luke 15:8 – What it it was 10% of your savings?
Luke 15:12 – “And he divided his property between them.” I had never thought of this before. Did he father actually divide all he had in half, giving half to each son so that he had nothing? If so, he must have known at this demand that he stood to loose at least half of what he had. Even if the older son remained, the father was at his mercy for survival.
Since God is the father in this story, what does this tell us of Him? He has already given us the Earth and all that is in it. We have our share here. He gave it to us ahead of time, before what we would do with it was determined. Like this Father, He knew that some of us would squander it and not return it to Him while others would act with gratitude and use it for His glory.
So, are we, like the prodigal, consuming it on ourselves and our pleasures, or like the older son, do we remain and use it to give back to the father?
Luke 15:22-24 – This is one of the most loved stories in the Bible because it is our story. We all, in some way, have run off from God and that He would welcome us back as this father welcomed the prodigal, is as fathomable as it is glorious.
Luke 14:3 – I think one of the other gospels in the parallel account indicates that Jesus was angry at them for their stubbornness. Turn it around. I imagine that Jesus made the lawyers and Pharisees furious. He kept asking these questions that they immediately knew the answer to, but they also immediately knew their answer was wrong. What really made them angry I bet was either that they didn’t know why it was wrong, or that they were the leaders hadn’t gotten the simple things that this carpenter understood. Actually, more likely what made them angry was that Jesus was exposing their ignorance and arrogance in front of those they were supposed to be leading.
Luke 14:12-14 – Jesus doesn’t simply tell us to serve without expecting repayment, he say go serve in ways that actually prevet your repayment. Seek out those who cannot repay you, and deliberately avoid those who can. Think about that for a moment. We tend to thing that we are serving when we have someone over for dinner or help them wiht some chore. How many of the folks that we do these things for then turn and do the same for us? How much of our service actually would fall under the conditions that Jesus lays out here – folks who cannot pay you pack? Not much, frankly.
Luke 13:1-5 – So many want to read sin into the misfortune of others. Jesus says we all have sin to repent of that will take us in time.
Luke 13:17 – It’s funny how so many thing that religous leaders do in the name of God or holiness, average people can see right through as nonsense. It simply seems like common sense to us today, and it seems to the people at the time, that healing on the Sabath was a Good Thing, not a bad. They couldn’t see that, however. They were too focused on the letter of the law instead of the heart of God.
Luke 13:23 – “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” I wonder what that question meant to them in that day? Today the term ‘saved’ has taken on a life of it’s own, a super spiritual meaning. It’s to make it to heaven. I have to wonder if that’s even close to what they meant. They, after all, showed little sign of understanding the real purpose of Jesus’ mission or grasping his heaven focus. They were focused on the Earthly redmption of Isreal from the Romans. I wonder I they were asking about how many would survive the revolution to come?
Luke 12:35-36 – If Jesus showed up today, would he find that you were expecting him? Would he find you looking for his return, or just getting by in life?Are you watchful, awake and ready? It’s a loaded question that might bring up all sorts of activities that we ought to be doing if we were really ready for Jesus, but it’s one we must ask. The question isn’t are you doing the right things, but rather are you living as though Jesus could show up at your door any day.
Luke 12:41 – I love how Jesus doesn’t even answer the simple questions directly. Rather, he answers with his own questions to force them to think it through themselves and find the answer. He longs for men who are able to discern the will of God themselves rather than men who must be told everything directly. I think leaders in our churches would do well to act more like Jesus in this regard. Don’t tell folks what to think and how to act, rather, lead them to think things through, to discern God’s will fro themselves. Parents should do this with the children as well.
Luke 12:49-53 – It’s a shame how we useed this passage to justify our mistreatment of those who didn’t agree with us. Jesus’ teachings do divide households and families. Shame on us when we create division where Jesus’ teachings require none.
Luke 12:4- – What are the implications of this teaching? Jesus is saying that pretty much anything that might happen to us on earth is trivial compared to what comes next. There’s nothing to fear – no violence, disease, poverty, oppression – nothing. It all pales to what God can do to us if we refuse to follow him. The main call is for unbelievers to come to faith, but the implications to believers is huge. We can live boldly because we have nothing to fear. Nothing.
Far from a ‘fire and brimstone’ statement, Jesus is saying do want to be free from fear in this life? Then pay attention to what comes next and who is in control of it. What happens now is nothing compared to that.
I’m not sure I’m doing this justice, and frankly, it’s something that even the devout fail to get. I fail to live like I get it. Paul, in passage after passage kept reminding the early believers of how what they have been given made everything else trivial. How Jesus made all our problems seem to disappear by solving our greatest one. What do we care if life’s not going as planned, God in Jesus has secured our fate! The ultimate risk has been averted. Do we really get it? Hardly.
Luke 12:8-9 – I think this is only about sharing our faith, the cold calling stop-someone-in-the-mall sort, in the most tangential way. Rather, it’s about our acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord and that is far, far more than inviting folks to church.
Luke 12:13 – Here’s proof that we don’t get it. After saying how nothing compares to knowing God, this man asks Jesus to help him make sure he gets what is his here and now.
Luke 12:22-34 – There’s more in here than pithy wisdom on worry. There’s a theme to this entire first half of chapter 12 and that’s Jesus attempting to put life in perspective. When we pull this ‘don’t worry’ passage out in isolation, yes it can help us and teach us. But seen in context with not fearing men but fearing God and the rich fool, coveting his wealth, we see Jesus imploring us to look to heaven and to not be focused on the here and now. God knows what we need today, God can take care of us. Even if it seems that He isn’t, that which we seem to lack here is incomparable to what He has set aside for us in the future.
We ought to take comfort in Jesus’ words in verses 32-34 (ESV):
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
It is his good pleasure to give us the kingdom. Us. You and I. Bumbling, shortsighted, self focused,, prideful, clueless, blind us. Yes, He is pleased to give us the kingdom. What a God we serve.
In light of that, what’s to worry about?
Luke 11:5-13 – The point here seems to be not to be afraid to ask God for things in prayer. He even uses an example of a completely unreasonable request – knocking on the door at midnight to ask for bread. Who in their right mind would, first of all, arrive at a friend’s home from a journey, presumably unannounced, at midnight? (If he was expected, then why wasn’t the man prepared for him? Then again, in Jesus’ day you couldn’t just call ahead …) Even if am unexpected guest arrives at midnight and you’ve nothing to offer, wouldn’t you wait until the morning to go begging?
So Jesus is saying, don’t be afraid to ask God, even ridiculous requests. Ask Him! If you do, you will receive. What a God, who is even prepared to hear our requests for bread at midnight.
Luke 11:20 – He calls them on their challenge to his authority. Do they really believe that he is from the devil, casing out demons or do they simply want to avoid the more obvious truth that the kingdom of God is here? If the latter is true, that would mean that they would have to change or be excluded from the kingdom. if it’s the former, they can go on as they are, and not deal with what Jesus taught.
A lack of belief is frequently not a result of studying the facts and the evidence, rather it’s the desire to avoid facing an uncomfortable truth.
Luke 11:44 – It’s so easy to, like the Pharisees, turn following Jesus into a set of rules and practices. Go to church, tithe, don’t swear, etc. In fact, the crowds clamor for a simple religion that doesn’t require them to think. Just give us the rules and we’ll follow them.
When the leaders give in to this, and it’s so, so common, the people follow, thinking they are following God. Just like walking over an unmarked grave, you think it’s part of the path and don’t know what lies beneath, people who follow these kind of men don’t know how far they are missing the heart of God.
It’s easy to sit and long for someone to tell you what to do an how to live. It even feels spiritual – we’re following the direction of one more mature. But God says to dig deep and deal with our hearts, not our actions, and leaders, lead people to do just that.
Luke 10:1 – He sent them out ahead, when he was about to go. A bit like John the baptist, preparing the way for him.
Luke 10:2 – Jesus looked out at the crowds of people – selfish people looking to be fed and healed, religious people certain the knew what was right, self absorbed people who didn’t even pay attention of the prophet in their midst – and he saw hope. He saw a plentiful harvest. When I look out, do I see many opportunities for God?
Luke 10:9 – Heal, proclaim the kingdom. What an exiting, and scary, time that must have been. I can remember going out like these men were, doing something out of my comfort zone. It scared the bejeebus out of me, but it was exhilarating too.
Luke 10:17-20 – I like how Jesus puts it in perspective for them. It’s cool, you have power over demons. He even tells how it was cool to see Satan fall. But none of that, as cool as it is, can compare to the joy of having your names written in heaven.
Luke 10:21-24 – I can sense the thrill in Jesus at these things. He’s just excited to see these simple men take hold of the kingdom. The plan is working, it’s coming together!
It’s the same thrill of a father watching their kids get stuff. In the car the other day, we were listing to the song Slow Fade from Casting Crowns. It’s about being careful what we see and hear, we just might be slowly fading “People never crumble in a day, it’s a slow fade.”
In the back seat, Audrey asks what the song is about, so I explain it just like that. She responds something like, “So it’s kind of like that parable of the soils? One soil had the weeds that choked the plants.” She then related it to Adam and Eve in the garden, listening to the serpent. We had a great discussion, the three girls and I, about being careful because one little thing after another and we can find ourselves a long way away.
I felt something a bit like what Jesus did here – “They’re getting it! Thank you father in heaven!”
Luke 10:35 – I’ve always been amazed at the man’s giving a large sum of money and committing to an unlimited additional sum to care for this stranger. Sure, it’s a fictional story, and his main point isn’t how we use our resources (a point he makes in other places) but Jesus could have said anything and made his point. But instead, he sets a high bar as an example of taking care of our neighbors.
This Samaritan had resources that he could allocate to such a need. Maybe not set aside for that purpose, but he was willing to use it nonetheless. I wonder how many disciples of Jesus in the US have the means to do the same? Instead, we use our own vast resources (we are all wealthy in the US) mostly for ourselves. We do give, but are we ready to meed needs like this? What if there were a crisis in your church? Would you be in need or ready to supply one? Unrestricted funds? Whatever is needed?
Jesus sets taking care of our neighbors here as a task worthy of large, and unrestricted sacrifice. Sitting amongst our toys, are we still prepared to respond to these kind of needs? I suspect, mostly, we are not. I’m not as ready as I’d like to be. It challenges my heart to consider it as Jesus presented it.
Luke 10:41-42 – Jesus again puts things in perspective. What seems urgent at the time frequently isn’t that important overall.
Luke 9:30-31 – I wonder if He had these kind of meetings with dead prophets when He was praying alone? 😀
Luke 9:36 – I wonder why they didn’t tell anyone at the time? Did Jesus tell them not to? I would think they would have wanted to share it, at least with the rest of the twelve.
Luke 9:37-38 – Jesus left the remaining disciples with the crowd and was gone overnight. How did he get away without the crowd following? Perhaps the crowd gathered in the morning around the disciples, waiting for Jesus’ return. I picture this man, after begging the disciples to do something and getting nowhere, seeing Jesus approach, so he runs to meet Him.
Luke 9:41 – Seeing this in the context of Jesus just returning from his consultation with Moses and Elijah on his departure, this comment make more sense. In addition to his longing for the people to have ore faith, he’s ready to go home.
I can imagine that God looks down at us and longs for us to lift our eyes from the ordinary day to day and see him in his glory and simply have faith beyond what we see. But we all too often cannot see beyond the here and now and our own capabilities. It’s hard to conceive a God who is far, far bigger that we and far, far more capable. We tend to see him, and our ability to act with him, as like us.
I want to see as God sees, to imagine the possibilities he does. I imagine it would be amazing and frightening.
Luke 9:44 – I’m enjoying reading the ESV instead of the familiar NIV. The different wording is a bit like reading it anew, things jump out that were hidden before. Here Jesus says (emphasis mine): “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” Cool.
Luke 9:49-50 – I think John would have fit into American Christianity just fine. Some guy wasn’t following Jesus like they were, so he must be stopped. Jesus says no, and he lets this guy continue to use his name even though he wasn’t with Jesus.
Luke 9:54-55 – I wonder if John thought he had this one figured out. These folks were against Jesus, they refused to welcome him. We can nuke these guys, right? Nope.
Luke 9:1-2 – We tend to look at this through our 20th century lens. What did it mean to them – and to their audience – to “proclaim the kingdom of God”? Certainly, a certain amount of thought of the return of a physical kingdom, a new nation of Israel. But what else?
Luke 9:10-12 – Once again, Jesus tries to get away with his guys and the crowds follow. I’m sure the 12 were relieved to have some down time with Jesus, to review what they learned and just chill. Jesus does not refuse the crowds, however, and they are once again serving the masses. The end of the day approaches, and they see an opportunity for relief. Send them away Jesus, that way they can get some food. We’re thinking of them. Jesus, however, isn’t content with simply giving them the opportunity to fend for themselves, he calls the 12 higher and tells them to care for their needs themselves. Now Jesus didn’t do this every time, I don’t think. I have to believe that there were times that people were left to meet their own needs. He’s challenging them, however, to look with faith when there’s a need that seems bigger than our ability to meet it. God want to meet needs and he wants to use us to do so.
We pray that needs will be met, I wonder how many times God’s answer is “OK, I’m ready to do it, how about you? Will you go help me?” Isn’t that what happened here? God was prepared, the 12 were not. But once they went, God showed up and made up the difference. To often, we want God to go and meet the need, He says You go, and I’ll meet the need.
Luke 9:12-22 – It always seemed a little odd, this constant command of Jesus that they not tell anyone who he was. Maybe there’s some insight as to why in here. He says “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” If they started claiming he was the Christ, and folks believed them, ironically it might actually get in the way of his arrest, torture and death and his mission would go unfulfilled.
Luke 9:23-27 – It’s a little hard to see this outside of the familiar ICOC context. This was essential to the studies we did with folk. A lot of foolishness trying to read our agenda into Jesus’ words about taking up your cross. Setting all that aside, the very core of conversion lies here. Set aside my agenda and plans, and take on Jesus’ – no matter what they are. Doing so means studying and understanding what Jesus calls us to, it means making it a priority, it means setting aside our own notions of what we think God is and submitting to what he actually said. None of that is easily reducible to a study or two or a tract, at least in it’s entirety. It’s a lifetime of commitment and re-commitment.