Friday, February 29, 2008

Luke Chapter Eighteen

Reading: Luke 18.1-43

The blind receive sight, the poor and children find easy access into the kingdom, and a widow receives justice. Tell me, blog readers, which of these is your favorite story? Which challenges you? I'm interested in your thoughts too.

Scripture: But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I tell you that this man, rather than the [Pharisee], went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. - Luke 18.13-14

Observations: Over and over again we see Jesus' concern for the weakest of society and his prophetic anger toward those who are on the top of the heap. In this one chapter we see him point out the injustices of the powerful (judge), the pride of the self-righteous (Pharisee), the trappings of wealth (rich young ruler), and the unconcern for the littlest and disabled (his disciples and the crowd). At the same time we see his incredible heart for those whom society tends to ignore.

The gospel is incredibly personal, for each of us must come to grips with Jesus. But those who find the gospel for themselves must be the good news for those whom society overlooks. Therefore, the gospel is also incredibly social.

Each of these stories calls us to see ourselves in them. We are to pray persistently for justice because God cares about justice, unlike the judge who responded simply to get rid of an annoying woman. We are to humble ourselves before God, unlike the self-righteous Pharisee. And we are to come to God empty-handed, like children, like the poor, and like the blind beggar, for it is only in our emptiness that God can fill our lives with things that are of eternal value. And it is only in our spiritual emptiness that we can see the truly empty with the compassion and concern for justice that Jesus has.

Prayer: Jesus, I fill my life with so many things expecting that each of them will bring me more happiness only to find out that those very things end up crowding out the One who is most important to me. Forgive me and help me to learn what it means to be spiritually empty, hungry, and poor so that I can be filled with more of You and be more concerned for those who truly are empty, hungry and poor.


traci said...

Which is my favorite
which could it be?
Could it be the parable of the rich young ruler? - nope, hits too close to home when I try to imagine MY reaction to Jesus statement.
IDK - maybe the children EVERYONE loves the blessing of the children. (I love it too - but today - no that's not the one that's "cryin out" for my attention).
The parable of the two men who prayed...sigh - sometimes I even get the POSTURE right but the attitude is still, I will leave that one alone today as well.

I might digress a little here but, I do question how Jesus can be so straight forward about his suffering and death and his closest earthly friends have no CLUE what He was talking about - how alone he must have felt...


I wonder if the persistant widow felt alone when she repeatedly approached the grumpy old judge for justice? - I wonder if she was intimidated, or brave?...I DO know we're s'posed to approach the throne of grace BOLDLY - but this his no throne of grace...I think of the the saints in revelation 6:10 who approach a much different throne when they ask "how long O sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge...and avenge our blood".

I am THANKFUL TODAY that we have a HIGH PRIEST who is able to understand the "stuff" we go thru - cause HE was tempted in every way - and yet - without sin...I am thankful today that it is HIS throne that we approach and not some earthly judge (no matter what it looks like in the physical)...

I've heard a man named Lou Engle approach the throne boldly when he prays and so - I join with him -

Jesus I plead your blood over my sins and the sins of my nation. GOD end abortion and send revival to America.

about Lou Engle

Bob said...

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector always brings me back to a Sunday School lesson when I was in about 4th grade. I remember my Sunday school teacher telling the story so dramatically and really bringing the point home. The puffed up Parisee so full of himself and his self-righteousness, looking down his nose at the tax collector and then the poor tax collector, so humble, and so contrite.

It's ridiculous to try to show off to God in our prayers. Someone once said" God is not disillusioned with you, because he had no illusions about you in the first place." We need to pour out our hearts to him honestly. He knows our weakness -- He knows our troubles-- and He still loves us.

Thank you Lord that we can come to you just as we are and that you hear the cry of our hearts, forgive our sins and keep us in your care.