Monday, December 15, 2008

To Jerusalem: He who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 9:51-19:48)

Last week, as we read about what Jesus did in Galilee, I encouraged you to think about who Jesus is. We were reminded that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. He is the Servant promised in Isaiah, as his work also demonstrates. Significantly, Jesus never uses these terms to describe himself, instead referring to himself as the Son of Man. I wonder what else you discovered about Him? Remember, all this may be clear to us, but at the time, some were confused.

At the end of the last section we read that the time of Jesus’ departure is about to be fulfilled (9:31), and so now he heads to Jerusalem (9:51). He knows that his work will find its fulfilment in Jerusalem and so he goes there; his arrival recorded at the end of chapter 19. While there is mention of his journey throughout this section, it is not primarily about the journey but about what Jesus taught on the way.

There is a great deal of teaching in this section of Luke. There are only a few passages of extended narrative and even the miracles come with significant teaching points. Jesus speaks in parables, he gives sermons and he pronounces woes. He answers questions and he asks questions. He teaches his disciples, he teaches the experts, he teaches the people. He teaches men, he teaches women. He teaches on the road, in synagogues and in homes. He teaches and the people listen. He teaches and we also ought to listen.

A big theme throughout Jesus’ teaching is the Kingdom of God. He talks about what the Kingdom of God is like, when it will come and how. He talks about who will enter it; who will have life, who will be saved, who will be exalted. A related theme is who will be excluded and why, particularly those who were leaders, who should have been taking care of the people, managing, as it were, God’s possessions.
Jesus speaks also of his destination at Jerusalem, where everything that is written about him must be fulfilled. The disciples do not understand what he is saying, for while they have understood that he is the Christ, they have not understood that the Christ must suffer; they have not understood all that has been written.
As we read this section, I want us to think about what Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God, particularly focusing on who will enter, and who will be excluded.

Questions to ask yourself as you

• What does it tell me about the Kingdom of God? Think about what it is like, how to enter, who enters, the character of those who do, and about those who don’t.
• What does it tell me about leaders of God’s people?
• What does it tell me about Jesus and what he is doing?

Recommended Daily Readings.

• 9:51-11:13 The Unexpected Kingdom
• 11:14-53 Three ways to respond to Jesus.
• 12:1-13:9 Fear God, not Man
• 13:10-14:35 Who, then, will be saved?
• 15:1-32 These, then, shall be saved.
• 16:1-17:10 Bad Managers.
• 17:11-19:48 Will he find faith on the earth?

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