Friday, September 30, 2016

30 September 2016
Luke 16:12-26
Good afternoon, welcome. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus picks his twelve and begins His Sermon on the Plain.

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12-13 (NRSV)
Only Luke tells his readers Jesus spent the night in prayer before naming the twelve. Prayer is an important theme in Luke. Many commentators interpret this as reinforcing the need for prayer in the lives of believers. This is indeed true but it misses a couple important points. One, Jesus has come to do His Father’s will. This at least leaves open the possibility Jesus and the Father were discussing what that will actually was, and how it would play out. Another possibility is that the relationship of love between Father and Son was such that Jesus-and here words simply fail-enjoyed being with the Father; they desired each other’s uninterrupted company. My personal opinion is both are true.

He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. Luke 6:17 (NRSV)
This verse is a miniature version of Acts. Note the outward movement-them (the twelve), a great crowd of his disciples, a multitude from Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon. The Kingdom of God is here and available to all who come. His word was heard, diseases were healed, unclean spirits were driven out. Luke, writing to a Gentile audience, wants to be sure they know-this is for you too.

Blessed are you who are…But woe to you who are Luke 6:20-26 (NRSV)
Jesus begins in with four blessings and four woes. Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those hated for Jesus’ sake? Woe to the rich, the full, those who laugh, those who are spoken well of. Jesus is bringing in something new. Remember the new wine? This is it. A new way of thinking at odds with the way the world sees things. Those who adopt this new way will be blessed; those who refuse to change, not so much. Those who adopt this new way will also be persecuted, as has been the history of all who speak God’s truth. This new way would threaten the traditional power structures of Jesus’ day and it continues to threaten traditional power structures today.

The primary focus here, the one thing that jumps out at me, is Jesus spending the night in prayer. Not because it is a model of prayer for believers but just because He did it, and He will do it again consistently throughout Luke. It is, as I said, the relationship between the Father and Son, the desire to be together, the unity of will regarding the mission. I believe this relationship is the true model here. This is the true purpose of spiritual formation-creating the desire in us to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We are not saved so we can make it into Heaven (although we will); we are not saved to force our moral code on an unregenerate populous or to accumulate knowledge (although we will do this too-accumulate knowledge, that is). We are saved for relationship with God just as surely as we get married to have a relationship with our spouse. And, once we get our relationship right with God every other relationship falls into place because the relationship with God is what transforms our character.

Take some time this weekend just to be with God. Use the words from Psalm 46:10-“be still, and know that I am God!” Focus on His presence with you and within you. This could be the start of something big.
May the Lord bless you and keep you this day. JRG

No comments:

Post a Comment