Red Letter Year: 7/25

Luke 9:46-62

vgg girl46 Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. 48 Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

49 John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”

50 But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”

51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 So they went on to another village.

57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”

The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

60 But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”

62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Comments

Several small scenes in today’s reading. First, Luke tightens up the argument over who is the greatest (right after Jesus has predicted his death, sheesh). Jesus doesn’t question them or moralize like he seems to in Matthew and Mark. No encouragement to be like little children, just a statement that they are just as capable of bringing in the kingdom of God as anyone, more capable of those who think too highly of themselves. Luke makes the matter much more straightforward. I was at the Vineyard National Conference in Anaheim last week. A main focus there was getting kids and teens involved in doing kingdom work because they pray as well as anyone and they hear from the Lord as well or better than adults. Kids in our church pray for adults and do get prophetic words for them and do see their prayers answered. Luke moves the understanding in this direction.

Then we get two small, related stories, where John tries to stop ‘unauthorized’ exorcisms and he and James want to take a page from Elijah’s book and call down fire on people for not being hospitable. Luke shows a penchant for irony by placing the first just after the ‘authorized’ disciples have been unable to cast out a demon. Jesus’s response turns our typical logic on its head. We tend to think whoever is not for us is against us, but Jesus assures John that whoever is not against us is for us. If various Christian churches ever took this attitude toward each other, we would see the kingdom breaking through in new and exciting ways. In the second, Jesus shows he favors moving on to the next town over drone strikes.

Finally, Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem and begins the journey that will take up the next nine chapters in Luke. The final dialogues create a real sense of movement. Jesus is on the move, are you coming or staying? Two volunteer, two are called by Jesus, and all four have their commitment tested. These short exchanges show that Jesus was looking for people who were all in, even willing to leave behind cultural and social duties. Jesus is still looking for people who will make this commitment level and he will take anyone who is all in. Children are more likely to make and keep such commitment because they are far less likely to be choked out by the cares of this life. They trust more naturally, pray more honestly, and when they see that trust validated through answered prayer, miracles, and gifts of the Spirit they are less likely to ever turn back. Our kids can teach us to trust, hope, love, believe, and pray. They can lead us into the kingdom. Are we willing to follow?

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 7/24

Luke 9:28-45

28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. 31 They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.

32 Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials — one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 34 But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them.

Courtesy of Barta IV

35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” 36 When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

37 The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38 A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child. 39 An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone. 40 I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

41 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.”

42 As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. 43 Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.

While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” 45 But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

Comments

Like we saw before with Jesus’ baptism, Luke makes the Transfiguration a prayer event, more for Jesus’ benefit than for his three companions. Luke is the only one to report Peter, John, and James sleeping, as well as the discussion they missed between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, regarding, “his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.” Luke uses ‘exodus’ to echo Moses, and he changes what the Voice from the cloud says from ‘Beloved’ (both Matthew and Mark have that) to ‘Chosen One,’ all in an effort to seal the concept he has been driving for a while now: Jesus is Great Prophet Moses said would come.

When they come down from the mountain, Luke drops quite a bit of Mark’s account. The following get edited out:

  • arguing between the disciples and scribes
  • extended dialogue between Jesus and the dad about the boy’s condition
  • Lesson on faith for the dad
  • Disciples asking why they couldn’t
  • lesson on prayer and fasting for the disciples

What is left is a simple story of a boy the disciples could not heal, and Jesus’ complaint (for some reason, I picture Jesus mumbling this under his breath, just loud enough for those closest to him to hear). The boy was an only child. Jesus heals him and gives him back to his dad, just as we have seen before.

Then Jesus again predicts his death. The disciples couldn’t heal the boy, now they don’t understand what Jesus is telling them. The matter remains hidden from them and the power to heal eludes them. Luke is already preparing us to understand that these disciples required special empowerment to carry on the work of Jesus after his exodus. Even this early, we are being set up for his Day of Pentecost account in Acts 2.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.