The Narrow Door

Luke 13:22-30

Read Don’s comments about this passage in his on-going blog articles on Luke at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/the-narrow-door-3/

Peace, Discord and Division

“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Luke 12: 49-53

Read Don’s comments at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/peace-discord-and-division/

A Good Neighbor

Luke 10:25-37

On another occasion Jesus is confronted by an “expert in the law” who asks what he must to “inherit eternal life”. Jesus, as He often did, answered with a question: “What is written in the law; how do you read it?” Seems like a fair question to ask an expert in the law… The man replied:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (10:27)

Continue: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/a-good-neighbor/

Shining lamps and hidden things

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” Luke 8:16-18

Read the comments: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/shining-lamps-and-hidden-things/

Love Your Enemies, part 1

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:27-31

Let’s not kid ourselves, of all of Jesus’ teachings, this might just be the hardest one to grab hold of; it is the poster child of counter-intuitive!

I used to say that I will be loving and forgiving when someone wrongs me, just as soon as I have retaliated massively. Of course I had my tongue inserted in cheek when I said it… mostly. Ues, this is a tough one.

It really comes together in the last verse:

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

How do we treat those who are rude, who are impolite or even hostile towards us? Mo, how do we really treat them? For most of us, there is still work to be done, for I don’t know about you, but I fall a little short on this one from time to time.

I think that this all boils down to an attitude; how to I see myself in relation to others? Am I important, am I a big shot, am I what everything is all about? Or am I a humble servant of all, a servant of God whose ego isn’t all that important when compared to my calling?

I don’t know about you, but I do quite a bit better when my thinking runs along these lines.

Jesus has more to say on this, so maybe we all should take a moment or two to ponder these things in our hearts, and then we will continue the discussion next time.

Now go to The Life Project and sign up to get Don’s whole blog series on Luke

Another Disciple; More Conflict

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 5:27-32

Tax collectors were probably the least popular of all in the Jewish social structure of the first century, for they were considered to be both thieves and traitors. They were considered thieves because they earned their very substantial livings by collecting more tax than was actually due. They were considered traitors because the tax they collected was for the Roman Government which was the foreign force that occupied Jewish territory, ruling by force of arms.

Everyone hated the tax collectors.

Jesus called Levi (Matthew) to be a disciple, and Levi followed Him without hesitation, giving up a massive business in the process: Astounding for a crook. What did Levi do next? He throws a big party for Jesus!

Let’s look at this from the point of view of the Pharisees: Seeing all of this, what are you going to think? If we are honest, we’d probably think the same thing they did; what was Jesus doing?!

In His reply to their question, Jesus shows a priority system that was more or less foreign to the Jews, for He had come to save these people, not to condemn them as everyone else did. That approach didn’t go over very well with the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, and frankly, it doesn’t go over very well with the Pharisees of our time either.

While we are looking at the passage, there is another little tidbit we shouldn’t overlook. Levi left his booth, went home and threw Jesus a party, inviting all of his sinner friends to attend… and they showed up. Notice that nobody had time to get their life in order before coming to Jesus. Levi was now a disciple of Jesus, but had he gotten his act together yet?

Don’t answer too quickly… for I think the answer is probably something like ‘kinda sorta but not really’. Yes, he walked away from his booth, so there might be repentance in play to a certain degree, then he throws a party and invites his old pals which could be said to be carrying on his old lifestyle or is this Levi hoping that Jesus will save them too? Forget for a moment that you know how the story ends, how Levi returned all he had stolen; at this point that hasn’t happened yet.

For me this story reinforces the notion that we do not need to get our life “together” before we come to Jesus, for who can truly get it all together without Jesus?

It’s something to think about don’t you agree?

To comment – or follow Don’s series – go to: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/another-disciple-more-conflict/

“I Am He”

~ Merritt

John 18:1-11

This text is not actually one of the seven “I Am” statements of John’s Gospel, but it does make an interesting study nonetheless. It takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper at the time when Jesus was arrested. In short, Jesus and the remaining disciples had gone to the Garden to pray when Judas came to them with a detachment of troops to arrest Jesus. It is Jesus‟ response to their arrival that contains the statement we will look at today.

1: Here we set the scene: they left the upper room and crossed the Kidron Valley, which is more of a ravine than a valley, with a creek that runs through it separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. It is an area where there are many olive trees, and it is one of these groves that they entered, one known to us as the “Garden of Gethsemane.”

Continue: