week 6

Luke 12:32-59

Did your parents ever send you to your room as a child to clean, telling you that they would be coming to check on you in an hour or so? Maybe you started with every intention of cleaning it up, but somehow got distracted by toys, books or other things that seemed more interesting. Unfortunately, when your parents arrived to see your progress, there may have been penalties for your lack of focus. 

 

Jesus is warning his followers that it could cost them a lot more than that when their Lord returns.  Those who are found disobeying his commands will find severe consequences. He likens the punishment to being cut into pieces, placed with the lost or beaten with many blows.  This seems a little harsh, but there is much more at stake.

 

There are many distractions that can turn our attention toward worldly desires, instead of what is most important.  In our walk with Christ, how can we be sure we are watching and waiting for the time of His return – a time Jesus says will be unexpected?  Do we simply drop everything to keep watch on the sky and on our behavior? 

 

No so. Jesus simply wants us to follow Him and live a consistent life in our pursuit of Him.  We don’t have to put on airs or overthink every step we take if we are keeping our eyes on the prize of His coming kingdom.

 

What distractions take your eyes off following Jesus?  There are many who live pious lives on Sunday or other faith focused days, only to follow the desire for worldly pursuits the rest of the week.

 

What distractions do you need to keep in check? How can you focus your life on a consistent walk with Christ?  What are two habits that help you stay focused on your faith?   Remember it is more about being a follower 24/7 and less about performing specific activities that make us feel religious.

 

Luke 13:1-21

Have you ever noticed that Jesus was a master at answering a question with a question?  Sometimes, people came to Jesus with legitimate questions for which they were seeking answers, and other times they came trying to entrap Him. 

 

In this passage, we see a similar situation.  Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and a seemingly innocent question is presented to Him in response to a situation where Pilate had Jews killed.  Would Jesus support Pilate and infuriate the Jews, or would He condemn Pilot and set the leader against him before he even got close to the city? News of this would certainly reach Jerusalem long before he ever set foot in the city.  His response would certainly set the tone of his entrance to the city.  How would He respond?

 

Jesus asks a question that strikes to the heart of the problem and then answers the question he asked.  Does punishment on sinners only come from God?  He likens it to workers killed in an accident in Jerusalem. Does every accident point to sin on the part of those involved? He cautioned his ‘questioners’ not to equate great suffering with great sin. We should not be like Job’s friends, who all wrongly attributed the suffering he was going through as some form a punishment from God for sins he committed. Jesus then used the opportunity to call his hearers to repentance.

 

In other words, we should not spend our time concerning ourselves with the sins and transgressions of others: who deserves suffering, who does not, who is a ‘bigger’ sinner than someone else (or ourselves). Instead of playing that comparison game, let’s just focus our time and attention on the state of our own lives.

 

Take some time today to examine your own heart and life for where you are falling short and ask God for forgiveness for past failures and strength and resolve for the future.

Luke 13:22-35

In today’s passage Jesus is asked a question that many consider, discuss and debate today:  how many will get into heaven?  Jesus’ response seems almost backhanded.  He tells them to strive to enter the narrow door and shares more about how many won’t be going than revealing the number who will.  He realized that many - possibly most - of those He was speaking to would not be getting into heaven, based on the story he shares. Not only that, but they would be surprised by those that would be allowed in to sit with the patriarchs of the Jewish nation.  The people He references from the east, west, north and south would possibly not even be Jewish. That would be quite a surprise for these devout Jews!

 

A better question for us would be, “Will I be going to Heaven?”  Instead of weighing the odds of our getting in, we should make sure we enter through the narrow door and then seek to show as many as possible the path to the door.  It is comforting to know that something is easy and that many will be going, but this is not the case in this scripture or throughout the gospels in reference to heaven.

 

Have you discovered the narrow door?  What evidence is there in your life that the master of the house will recognize you?  What are you doing in your life to point out the narrow door that so many will miss?

 

Luke 14:1-24

Today this passage begins with another testing of Jesus; this time, the healing of a man with dropsy (edema).  Jesus heals him and then quickly put the testers in their place.  He goes on to address another issue of the heart - the desire to feel important through gaining recognition in social standing. 

 

Where you sat at important events at the dinner table could reveal your importance in the eyes of the host and, obviously, the guests.  We get terms like “right hand man” and “head of the table” from this kind of thinking.  In scripture we read passages that say, “Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father.”  (Luke 22:69) The disciples even asked to sit at the side of Jesus in the kingdom to come.  At this request from James and John’s mother (Matt 20:21), Jesus taught them about serving and humility and how the first will be last and the last first.

 

The point Jesus is making is that while people are concerned with social status, God is more concerned about character and humility of the heart.  God sees the thoughts and motives of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  Everyone likes to be appreciated and rightly so, but does gaining the approval of others drive your life and actions? Of all the people, whose respect do you seek the most?  Where does God stand in this list?

 

Luke 14:25-35

Priorities!  Jesus is addressing a priority in our life and uses extremes to get how serious His point is in this passage.  In the “sermon on the mount” in Matthew he uses extreme terms like “gouging out your eye” and “cutting off your hand” to avoid sinning.  In this passage he uses the word hate to drive home a point.  The word “hate” here does not suggest positive aggression towards someone, but more like to “loving them less than.”  Our love for Christ must be so strong that all other love is like hatred in comparison.

 

In Luke 9:23, Jesus uses “deny, take up cross and follow” to emphasize the importance of this priority of being His disciple. The term “disciple” is used 264 times in the gospels and Acts to describe “a follower of Christ.”  Oswald chambers wrote, ‘There is always an ‘if’ connected to discipleship.”  Jesus does not coerce or compel us to follow, only “if “ we choose to prioritize Him first in our lives. 

 

Is there something in your life that stands in front of Christ?  Are their priorities that rise above God?  Take a few minutes now to pray and ask God to reveal your heart’s priorities and to help you make following Christ your greatest priority.