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.
Apply: 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.