Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Luke Chapter Seven

Reading:  Luke 7.1-50

Again, there is so much in this chapter to think about I had a hard time choosing.  I would like to hear from some of you who focused on other parts of the chapter.  What are some of your thoughts or prayers?  Here are my thoughts...

Scripture:  John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" Luke 7.20

Observations:   John the Baptist had been languishing in prison since he boldly spoke out against Herod Antipas (Luke 3.19-20).  Although John had been confident of Jesus' identity as the Messiah, he now was needing reassurance, so he sent his disciples to Jesus to get some answers. Perhaps the loneliness of prison and fear that he may be killed caused John to doubt.  Or perhaps John was expecting Jesus to be more confrontational like he was, pronouncing judgment upon the sins of the king and the fallen nation.  The time for judgment, however, would come in due time, now was the time for salvation.  Jesus' answer to John pointed to the ways in which Jesus was doing the things that the prophet Isaiah said the Messiah would be doing: "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, he deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."  (See also Isaiah 35:5-6, 61:1) 

Apply:  Loneliness, fear, suffering, and persecution can cause the best of us to doubt our faith in Jesus. If Jesus came to set the prisoners free, why did John remain in prison?  We hear stories of the miracles Jesus does for others, but when they don't happen for us we begin to doubt.  When that happens it is good to remember that Jesus not only works through miracles, healings and help for the poor, he also works through suffering.  John the Baptist's preaching and subsequent persecution set the stage for the people to reject the world's kind of kingdom as typified by Herod and accept and enter the kind of kingdom as typified by Jesus the Messiah, the Kingdom of God.

Pray:  Jesus, when things don't go the way I expect them to go, or when you don't seem to fit my expectations, encourage me by helping me to remember the things you are about; and may I be willing to do whatever it takes for the others to see your kingdom on display in my life, whether in good times or in bad.  

4 comments:

Laura K said...

"33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon!'
34 "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners"

Uh, the concrete thinkers who MUST categorize everything and everyone. Meditiating and disecting Chapters 6 & 7 reveal to me the bold compassion that Jesus instructs fulfills the Law. P. Bill, you have preached before that Jesus broke all the boundary lines of legalism, and the new commandment was to show mercy.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
24 "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! "

Why do we approve the conventional, while we are miserable in it?? Don't many of us dream of living more simply than this society? Missionaries speak of the appalling arrogance of this country when returning from poverty, yet slowly acquiese to former lifestyles. Some of us have never even made the trip to aid those poor. What does it take for the American Christian to KNOW the "blessing of nothingness", to only be able to count on the mercy of God and pray that the person whom He is choosing to show mercy will obey?
So, the acceptable message would be if John were a conventional prophet, and Jesus came in the manner of which He was expected. But thankfully, He didn't.

Lord, daily good intentions are of no value. Reveal the way of releasing myself from being " a prisoner of my comfort, a slave to my own fear." Let mercy, compassion and love become so alive in me that my sanity also may be in question. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and You are calling me to be an answer to someones prayer.

Scrap Happy said...

I don't understand Luke 7:23, where Jesus says "Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." Can you explain that please?

Anonymous said...

Good question, Scrap Happy! You piqued my interest for understanding this verse.

"Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me"(v.23)

Even John questioned ("fall away?"..(verse 7:19)

Jesus's response was to send the messengers (verse 22-23) "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

Is Jesus saying "Blessed are those who continue to believe in me and my miracles, ("does not fall away") even though they suffer and their lives are not change by Him directly?" (account of me). That faith in Him is strengthen by the belief that He can heal, cure and raise?

My prayer: "Oh Lord, help me to turn to you when I am feeling defeated or come up against despair. Teach me to love you more in these times rather than "fall away" because my "miracle" has not been part of your Will.

Gladys said...

You know, the Pharisees' and lawyers' reactions to Jesus socializing with the "sinners" of society, specifically in this case, the woman who was a sinner. (vs. 37-38), seem to us to be so hard-hearted.

A co-worker and I are going through the Bible this year during lunch breaks once a week or less. At the rate we are going, however, it will take us longer! In one of the insights from a booklet we are using as a guide* regarding Leviticus 4-5 on sin offerings, it has an insight from further on in Numbers. It says: "The sin offering was only for sins of ignorance (sins that were not premeditated). What about willful, deliberate sins? That person was to be "cut off from his people" (Numbers 15:30-31), formally excluded from religious privileges -- a severe punishment in Israel's religion-centered community."* And, you must read these two verses to really get the impact of what they say!!

In looking at this from the Jewish perspective, the woman was a sinner and this fact was known. A sinner, and no doubt, she had done willful, deliberate sinning. The Law said this person was to be cut off. As an Israelite, what should one DO with a command such as in Numbers? Then, what if it were YOU that was this sinner . . . not only realizing the fact that you have been cut off, but also living that way -- always. There was no mention of ever going back.

So, we have the command to love one another in Leviticus 19:18, but then, you have the opposite here in these verses in Numbers. And with these, I can't see any love there with possible repentance/restoration. Is there even a middle ground? Doesn't seem to be.

Yes, the sick and ill, of which we all are, are the ones who need a physician. But we know too, that even in our own Christian Bible there are verses that seem opposite one another and because of such, we may end up on opposite sides. It's been done before in Christian history, whether way back or of late.

Here we have a sinful woman, but a loving person to the very core of her being, which was acknowledged by Jesus, and who also granted her forgiveness. Then, the Pharisee who is so hard-hearted in comparison . . who was just trying to keep and to do what "the Law had said" . . . possibly forgetting about the verse in Leviticus 19:18. He needed retaught, much like we all do at times.

Father, we all know what the rules, a/k/a verses, are, and it's so easy to point the finger even to isolating our brother/sister in the process, sometimes with a slew of 'proper' excuses. Oh, that we might walk a mile . . .
Please help me to remember that the law of love is pre-eminent, and to enable me to love as You would have me to.

* Daily Walk, Walk Thru The Bible, February 2008, p. 7