Luke 21 – A generous widow and some clueless disciples

Yet another contrast between those things at the core of Jesus’ message and those things that don’t matter in the Kingdom/

As you read Luke chapter 21 the story of the Widow putting two coins into the temple treasury it fits very much into Luke’s narrative of the poor being those who belong in God’s Kingdom, who worship properly, who give God his due.

But the disciples are clueless.  They immediately ignore the woman and start to comment how classy the temple is.

The narrative takes a dark turn at this point as Jesus begins to describe the fall of the temple, the desecration of Jerusalem, and even the martyrdom of the Disciples! 

Look ahead to chapter 22 – Jesus trial and crucifixion are imminent.  These words at the end of chapter 21 are some of the last words that Luke records Jesus speaking publicly in the temple courts.  Jesus knows what is coming and in telling his disciples he gives them one message – “stand firm!”

Luke 20 – How to win friends and influence people

Read the passage.  What would a spin doctor say to Jesus?  What would a PR consultant suggest?

At every turn the teachers of the law and the pharisees are trying to trick Jesus into saying something blasphemous, treasonous or that would turn the crowds against him.

They don’t succeed, and Jesus wastes no time in condemning the religious leaders of his day.  This is not subtle.  Jesus is now in direct opposition to the religious rulers.  Something has to give!

Luke 19 – A little man stars on Jericho’s Got Talent

The story of Zacchaeus is much loved of Sunday School teachers and short people!  Read the passage here.  Following on from Luke 18 we see more of God’s radical inclusion – those who were outcast are included and those who thought themselves included are outcast.

One final parable – the parable of the talents with its warning message not to take God’s gifts for granted – and then we move to the start of the Passion narrative – the story of Jesus’ last week.

The colt is brought to Jesus supernaturally, and then he enters Jerusalem – an image from the prophet Zechariah, it demonstrates Jesus humility.  But on entering Jerusalem he does not head to the Roman barracks to liberate his people as the warrior messiah, but instead begins to cleanse the temple – kicking out the corrupt market stalls set up in the court of the Gentiles (the only place non-Jews were allowed to worship!)

An immediately after describing the temple as a “den of robbers” Luke leaves us in no doubt who is talking about.

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words. 

Luke 18 – Who will God bless

The start of Luke 18 is a strange parable.  Jesus describes an UNJUST judge who eventually gives the Widow justice because she is persistent, and then encourages us to be persistent because God is JUST so He WILL answer our prayers.

Then come four different pictures of who will see God’s answers to their prayers

The Tax Collector at the temple sees God’s blessing whilst the Pharisee does not.

The Children receive a blessing whilst the Disciples get a telling off

The Rich Man missed out on God’s blessing because his possession mattered more to him.

The Blind Man, rebuked by the crowd, receives Jesus’ healing.

 

Who will receive God’s blessing?  Well, pretty much everyone that didn’t deserve it!

Luke 17 – Who?

Jesus is heading for Jerusalem.  The heady days of Galilee are behind.

Has the mood changed?  Jesus’ language certainly has.  His words are darker in this chapter.  He speaks of judgment and destruction.

Who will be found worthy on the day of judgement?

But right in the middle is this encounter with 10 men with “Leprosy”.

I use the inverted commas because the word used in Greek can mean many different skins diseases.  Some were benign, some contagious, most treatable with modern antibiotics, but a death sentence in Jesus day.  

Infection and isolation were what faced those with Leprosy.

They were banished from their communities and forced to live a life of begging and isolation.

Ten of them hear about Jesus and shout from a distance

“Jesus, Master, Have pity on us”

And Jesus heals them, and they go to the priests – who would proclaim them clean and allow them to return to their homes.

But one does not go. Realising he has been healed he returns and give thanks to Jesus.

And he was a Samaritan

Once again the Samaritan’s – the hated ones – the impure – the outsiders – find themselves blessed by God and seemingly closer to him.

Who will be saved from the coming darknesss?

Jesus seems to be clear – those who have faith in Him. 

Even if they are outsiders!

Luke 16 – The Great Gulf

If you didn’t like the word HATE in chapter 14 look away now.

The concept of hell is very unpleasant – it doesn’t sit well with our modern world view of tolerance and respect.  In one sense it doesn’t fit at all with Jesus message of hope for the lost.

But Jesus talks of the reality of Hell.  Of a place of punishment.  We have to take this seriously.

Many bible teachers hold a view that those who die without accepting Jesus simply remain dead – they are gone.  Others preach of a place of conscious separation from God, whether a place of increasing isolation (in CS Lewis excellent book The Great Divorce) or a more literal place of fire and torment.

This is uncomfortable reading and it would be wonderful to see this parable simply as allegory – a story to help us make good decisions.

Except Jesus doesn’t always speak of Hell in stories.

Uncomfortable yet?  Me too!

But what does this parable say?

I heard it read by Stuart Matthews, then the Rector of Sprotbrough .

I was stood holding the Gospel book (I was an altar server) and as he read this parable it came to vivid life in my head.  And the last words ring in my mind again as I write this.  The truth of this parable made clear to me simply by hearing it read well – no sermon – no exposition.  simply hearing it read, I am sure, as Jesus would have told it.

Luke 16:31 NIV

He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ 

Even if someone rises from the dead.

If our hearts are dead set against what God says, then even a resurrection will not convince us.

Those who demand proof have already decided that the proof they already have is not enough.

What will it take to convince them?

Luke 15 – Lost


I don’t know where it fits in the word count, but this chapter feels like it sits at the very heart of Luke’s Gospel.

Three parables – Boom – Boom – Boom – each hot on the heels of the previous one.

Luke has been softening us up for this – All that has gone before identifies Jesus as the one who has come to seek and save the lost, and now for those of us who are a bit slow here is the sucker punch.

Jesus is the one who seeks the lost.  

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will risk all for the lost Sheep

God is the Father who runs (Middle Eastern Men NEVER ran) to a son stinking of pig muck (making him spiritually unclean as well as physically) and offers not a telling off but a party – Grace – getting what we don’t deserve.

Read these stories again – and again.  If you remember one chapter of Luke’s Gospel, remember this one.  

Luke 15

Lost!

Lost is FOUND!

H u Normal Service will be resumed shortly

Very sorry that there has been a hiatus in the #LukeInAMonth blog.  The plan is to post two chapters a day until we catch up.  Feel free not to catch up so quickly if you’ve been waiting.

SORRY!

Luke 13 – Getting Sharper!

Luke 13 – Listen here to David Suchet read this passage

Jesus seems to have changed gear.

These encounters and parables are increasingly confrontational – his message is getting sharper every moment.

He is challenging the pharisees and the teachers of the law at every opportunity – there is no subetly to Jesus’ approach in these encounters.  Even Luke records

“His opponents were humiliated!”

And at the end of the chapter we can see why Jesus is accelerating – why his message is getting sharper.

He knows what is coming!

He knows that time is short!

He knows that the forces of darkness are converging upon Jerusalem and will ultimately destroy it, because it will ultimately reject Him!

Time is getting short – he is moving towards Jerusalem and the great finale of his Father’s mission.

Luke – Halfway

Oh Oh We’re half way there – Oh Oh Living on a prayer

I’m not a Bon Jovi fan but odd music pops into my head at a moment’s notice.

We finished Chapter 12 – we’re half way through Luke.

How does it feel?  What has struck you so far?

Is there something that you’ve seen that you’ve never noticed before?

Is there something big that you think I’ve missed?

Which is your favourite part so far?

Which was the most challenging?