Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Oct 25, Lk 12-13

Today's readings are Lk 12-13. Tomorrow's are Lk 14-15.

After chastising the Pharisees in Lk 11, Jesus warns people not to follow them (Lk 12:1-3). Their teaching corrupts  and will, in the end, be exposed. The lesson about what is said in darkness works both ways. Dark secrets will be outed. But, while the truth is threatened to be extinguished by the Pharisees and is only spoken of in private, it will soon be shouted from the rooftops. 

In light of their charge to preach the gospel everywhere they go, Jesus cautions the disciples not to fear those who can do physical harm to them (the Pharisees). Rather their primary concern should be their eternal destination and the wrath of God vented on those who reject Him (Lk 12:4-7). This should motivate the disciple to speak boldly and openly of Jesus and His gospel (Lk 12:8-12).

Continuing along in the same theme of eternal reward vs worldly suffering and oppression, Jesus teaches the folly of accumulating worldly goods and being overly concerned with worldly matters (Lk 12:13-21). Instead, they should trust God to provide for them and protect them. He knows what they need and has their eternal welfare in His hands (Lk 12:22-34). This should encourage the disciples to be constantly vigilant regarding His return and constantly aware of how they live and interact with those around them. Their godly living and the truth they proclaim will cause tensions to arise between themselves and those around them. Friends will abandon them, families will turn against them; it will at times seem like warfare. But they should always keep in mind that Jesus is coming back soon. (Lk 12:35-57).

Lk 13:1-9 should be read as a lesson (vs 1-5) and an augment to the lesson (vs 6-9). It clarifies the urgent nature of Jesus's teaching in Lk 12. Either those who hear it repent or they perish. Those who repent will bear fruit for the kingdom of God. The text does not identify the type of fruit. Instead it refers to all godly, spiritual fruit. The fruit they bear will identify them as followers of Jesus. Those who bear no fruit will be cut off. The implication is that those who bear no fruit have not truly repented and are therefor not true followers of Jesus.

As an example of what Jesus is teaching, He heals a disabled woman on the Sabbath (Lk 13:10-17). The ruler of the synagogue condemns the healing. Jesus is quick to point out the hypocrisy of someone who is called to serve the people and his God but lacks compassion and concern for the flock. 

We see that the mustard seed and leaven have similar qualities. Both have the potential to become huge and overtake whatever environment in which they exist. In this case, they are descriptors of the kingdom of God and how the truth Jesus teaches can grow form a humble beginning to a world-changing influence (Lk 18-21).

But, that truth is not going to be accepted by everyone and time is short (Lk 13:22-30). There will be those who appear to be part of the kingdom but are not. Of course, Jesus is referring to the Pharisees and their lack of compassion and concern for the people (fruit). Anyone who doesn't produce fruit can claim to be part of the kingdom. In reality, they are not and never truly were. Jesus never knew them. They claim
to be part of the church, do the work of the church but never experience the transformation and intimacy that comes with truly knowing Jesus. 

Jerusalem seems to be overwhelmed with this sort of person. We see, in the tears Jesus sheds over the city, the compassion the Lord has for the lost (Lk 13:31-35). He knows they will reject Him. He knows this will cause judgment to rain down on them. Yet, He grieves over them. 

The thrust of Luke 11-13 is to caution against following self-centered, self-righteous people regardless of their claims to holiness and position. This necessitates that we know our teachers, know who we model ourselves after, know the direction focus of their teaching and know how they live. In an age when it is tempting to get our teaching through downloads and streaming video/audio, this can have its challenges. 

Equally challenging can be the draw to attend a number of different churches without committing to any particular one. The rebuke of the Sanhedrin and the temple officials of Jesus's day shows us that it is worth the effort to become familiar with who our teachers are and how they live. Do their lives bear the fruit they teach us to bear? Do they give the way they ask us to give? Do they live the way they ask us to live. Do they strive to walk in holiness, or do they just tell others to do so?

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