Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Gospel of Luke

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 read. 

• 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?

 Heavenly Treasure (Luke 12:22-32)
I wonder what the Rich Fool would have stored up in the barn had he been a woman? Or, what is it that you are working hard to acquire now so that your life will be easy later, your future secure? A larger house? A new washing machine? A second car? A better education? I would really like a few more solar panels. Then life would be easy…

But as the parable shows, earthly possessions 
cannot give us security. Storing them up is really just another form of greed. I was really challenged by this; and thankful that Jesus goes on to explain how we can be on our guard against this form of greed, the greed that finds security in possessions.

It’s about trusting our Heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father 
knows what we need and cares about us, so he will provide us with what we need. Trust him and do not worry. Our heavenly Father holds our lives and our days in his hands. Our future is secure in his hands. No matter what happens to us here in this life, our future is secure in heaven. Life is more than what we can see and touch here. Trust Him and do not be afraid.

It’s about rejoicing in our Heavenly Treasure. Earthly treasure, while fleetingly pleasurable, will not last. It’s heavenly treasure that lasts, and this is what we need to set our hearts upon, 
to seek and have in abundance. But what is this intangible treasure? Stored up and waiting in heaven for us is the inheritance we receive because God has adopted us as his children. There’s a heavenly dwelling being prepared for us. There’s the crown of life, the crown of righteousness, and even the crown that is the very people whom we have served in the gospel.

Then there is the treasure that, while it is of heaven, can be ours now. There is the treasure of
belonging and the treasure of the gospel by which we enter that kingdom. Above all, our heavenly treasure is God himself;

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

About this month's contributor, Rachael Connor
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I was saved, by the grace of God, through children's ministry. This began in a family which knew God and served him. We went to a Sunday School where my teachers faithfully taught God's word and genuinely loved us with the love of Christ. I remember heeding Christ's call to follow him and submitting my life to him at a Girl's Brigade Camp when I was ten.

What book(s) has helped you most in growing in your knowledge of God?
I have a confession to make. I don't read theological books very well. I have begun many and finished few. So in my case, the answer is, indisputably, the Bible.

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