Friday, February 22, 2008

Luke Chapter Thirteen

Reading:  Luke 13.1-35

Scripture:  At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else.  Herod wants to kill you."  He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'" - Luke 13.31-32

Observations:  I find it interesting that the Pharisees are concerned for Jesus' well-being after all the confrontations they have had with him.  And, I find it interesting that Jesus doesn't directly confront Herod as John the Baptist did, but neither does he cower from Herod's threats.  This interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees regarding Herod reveals the oppressive conditions of the Roman Empire in the province of Israel.  The chapter begins with news of an incident to the north in Galilee where Pilot killed Jewish worshippers and it ends in Jerusalem with Herod plotting to kill Jesus.  So, as much as the Pharisees may have disliked Jesus' interpretations of the Torah, they feared the heavy hand of Herod more.  They didn't want Jesus to stir up problems in Jerusalem because of the fallout to them and all Jews if Jesus stirs up trouble there.
 Jesus' approach to the politics of his day was neither to revolt against the political oppressors, as the Zealots wanted to do, nor did he pacify them, as the Sadducees were prone to do.  He didn't go out to the wilderness and create a monastic community, as did the Essenes, nor did he fully subscribe to the idea that God would come and rescue them in some apocalyptic event if only they would get right with God, as the Pharisees believed. Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world.  Rather it is like a mustard seed that spreads like a bad weed and like yeast that infects a batch of dough.  Jesus ignored the politics of his day because, for Jesus, the kingdom of God had arrived and was demonstrated by his incarnation, his miracles, his teaching, and his imminent suffering and resurrection. 

Apply:  The kingdom of God has come to into this world in the person of Jesus. The kingdom of God comes to us when we surrender to the rule and reign of Jesus in our lives.  The fullness of God's kingdom is yet to be realized, but now is the time to live as citizens of that kingdom.  It doesn't matter who is in political power or under what form of government one lives, the kingdom of God moves forward not because of earthly politics, but in spite of them.  

Pray:  Jesus, may your kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  


Anonymous said...

Do we as Christ's followers ignore the politics of our day? We need to be knowledgable and make good decisions about our leaders. We need leaders that will help us grow Gods Kingdom here on earth. We need leaders who will help the poor, the hungrey, the sick that value life. Am I wrong? I think Jesus understood the politics of his day and how they related to his Kingdom. We must also seek to understand the issues that effect Gods Kingdom.

Bill E. said...

Good question, Anonymous. No, I don't think we can or should ignore the politics of our day. And where we have the opportunity to select our leaders (some places don't have the luxury we have) we should try to select those who best reflect the values of Jesus' kingdom. However, we kid ourselves if we think that any earthly government is going to fully exemplify the kingdom of God. And neither should we wait for any government or government program to do for us what we are supposed to be doing. The extent to which any government upholds justice for the oppressed and implements Jesus' love for the poor, the sick, and the helpless that government is doing what it is supposed to be doing. And when a government is going astray, there is a place for the prophetic voice to call it to it's rightful place (i.e. O.T. prophets). The point is, wherever we are, in whatever country we live, we must act as citizens of God's kingdom whether or not our government is acting righteously. Jesus built the kingdom without using political power or fighting the political battles of his day. He just did what the Father told him to do, and look at how it spread!

traci said...

Pastor Bill - your comments on the politics of Jesus' day weren't my first thoughts when I read thru Chapter 13 - HOWEVER - I am thankful to GOD that what you say rings so true in this season..Does it (the US future) look hopeless? Are we unsure about who will lead and where they will take us? - maybe yes, but GOD IS ON HIS THRONE. HE directs a mans path and NOTHING is gona surprise HIM as far as this nation (or this universe) is concerned. So no matter the political "look and feel" I agree with you - HE IS.

On a less brainy note and a more heart-y note...I am overcome when I imagine the woman - bent over for so long - can't stand up's such a "true to life" picture of us. In our sin and shame, we can't stand up straight, cause we are too filled with shame and "soul sickness" to look anyone (least of all Jesus) in the eye. Then HE fights to heal us, even on the sabath, and set us free from our bondage. So we can stand up straight, with HIS rightousness all OVER us!

WOW what a SWEET SWEET SWEEEEET Savior! (Thank you Jesus - that YOU ARE)

Anonymous said...

The Bible if FULL of instruction about kings, and I believe that American Christians should be applying those Scriptures to our government. Yes, we should pray for the Lord's favor on who we think is the right candidate, and vote for those persons. BUT we see that God allowed many kings who did not follow His laws. We are also called to respect the authority of that office, whether we like or chose that candidate or not. Would God not honor our respect of the Office of President of the United States more than our slander of such office, knowing that it may be in HIS purpose? God created that person in His image also, lest we forget.
"The king's heart is in the Lords hands, He will turn it as He chooses." Prov