Luke 14:25-35 The Cost of Discipleship

July 24, 2009

Are you willing to pay the price?

Are you willing to pay the price?

The Cost of Discipleship

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Salt Without Taste Is Worthless

34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

  • “Imagine a politician standing on a soap-box addressing a crowd, ‘If you’re going to vote for me,’ he says, ‘you’re voting to lose your homes and families; your asking for higher taxes and lower wages; you’re deciding in favor of losing all you love best! So come on. Who’s on  my side?'” N.T. Wright  Who would vote for this guy?  But isn’t this exactly what Jesus is saying?
  • Imagine, instead of a politician, a leader of a great expedition, passing through a very dangerous high mountain pass on a mission to bring emergency medical aid to a remote village.  He warns those with him that if they are to go any further with him, they would have to drop their packs and leave them behind because the path is to steep to carry them.  Once left, the packs would gone forever.  Also the path was extremely dangerous and they may not make it back to see their families.  This sounds hard but we can understand it better.
  • Jesus is more like the expedition leader than the politician.
  • Hate your family?  What about family values?  Hate myself?  Be prepared to die a shameful death (this is what he meant by saying we must carry our own cross)?  “Jesus is not denying the importance of close family, and the propriety of living in supportive harmony with them.  But when there is an urgent task to be done, as there now is, then everything else, including ones own life, must be put to risk for the sake of the Kingdom.” N.T. Wright
  • The same is true of possessions.  We must be prepared to give them up.  We must be prepared to give up everything.  If not then we are like the tower-builder or the king of 10,000 men.
  • The tower-builder.  What was the most important building project of Jesus’ day?  The Temple in Jerusalem, conducted by Herod the Great.  Would this project be completed?
  • The king of 10,000 men.  Israel wanted to go to war against Rome.  Did they realize who Rome was?  Jesus has been consistently warning Israel and urging them towards peace.  However, his warnings fell on dead ears.  Israel was the King with 10,000 men.
  • Israel was meant to be the salt of the earth.  Jesus is warning them about what will happen if they don’t listen to him.  They would be like the tower-builder who didn’t finish his tower and the King who didn’t make peace.  They would be thrown away.
  • What about me?  I counted the cost when I became a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I said I will go any where and do anything for the sake of Jesus and his Kingdom.  I vowed to complete what I started.  I surrendered myself and made peace with God under his terms.  I put Jesus and his Kingdom before my own family.  But what about now?  I must continue to count the cost every day I wake up.  I need to ask myself, will I give up everything for Jesus today?  Will I complete the tower?  Will I surrender and ask for peace?  Discipleship is not a one time deal but a 24/7 lifestyle.  If I can’t answer yes to these questions every day then I can not be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  This is a challenging passage and one that easily gets over looked.  Jesus was serious.  This is the cost of discipleship.
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Luke 14:1-11 Jesus and the Pharisee

July 6, 2009
The Wedding Feast by Tintoretto

The Wedding Feast by Tintoretto

Healing of a Man on the Sabbath

14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son [1] or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  • Luke has more meal-time scenes than any of the other gospels.
  • Luke 14 has two parables about feasting.  The one in verses 7-11 is the first.  This parable seems to be just a simple piece of social advice to avoid embarrassment but verse 7 declares that it is a parable and thus it must have a deeper meaning.
  • Jesus is talking about the way in which religious leaders of his day were concerned with their position in the eyes of God.  They wanted to be first.  They wanted to push themselves forward to gain a higher standing.  These were the sort of people we find Jesus with in verse 1-6.
  • Jesus was warning against self-righteousness, considering oneself better than others in the sight of God.  The pharisees and lawyers thought they were superior to the poor and untrained person.  They were the ones trained in the law while the common person was not.
  • There was also a wider meaning in this parable.  God was opening up his Kingdom to the gentile population.  Many non-Jewish people would become Christians later in the story (read Acts) and would take their seats at the wedding feast.  The Jewish Christians would have a hard time accepting this.  They were too worried about maintaining their own places at the top of the table.  “Pride, notoriously, is the great cloud which blots out the sun of God’s generosity: if I reckon that I deserve to be favored by God, not only do I declare that I don’t need grace, mercy, and love but I imply that those who don’t deserve it shouldn’t have it.” N.T. Wright
  • Jesus was proclaiming God’s love and generosity.  Am I small-minded?  Have I become self-righteous?  Do I withhold God’s love from others?  Am I to worried about my place at the table?  These are good questions to ask.  I need God’s love and mercy and I need to share that same love and mercy freely to all people.

Luke 13:31-35 Jesus Grieves Over Jerusalem

June 30, 2009
A Mother Hen and Her Chicks

A Mother Hen and Her Chicks

Lament over Jerusalem

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

  • Jesus presents the picture of a farmyard and a mother hen protecting her young.  Wright points out that in a farmyard fire, if the animals can’t escape, they will do everything they can to protect the young.   In the case of the mother hen, she will cover her chicks with her wings.  In the process of saving the chicks, she will more then likely sacrifice her own life.  This is what Jesus longs to do for Jerusalem.  There was a fire coming and Jesus wanted to protect his children.
  • Now go back to the warning about Herod.  Jesus call him a fox.  A fox was a predator and a great danger to farmyard animals.  However, Jesus is not deterred by this warning.  He knows he will have to face death, but not at the hands of Herod.  He must continue his journey to Jerusalem.  To the cross.  His mentioning of the two days of healing and casting out demons and finishing on the third day, point to the his upcoming death and resurrection.
  • Jesus must fulfill his destiny.  He must risk the threats of the fox and become the mother hen to his chicks.  The crisis was coming.  The chicks were in danger.
  • “What can we see from the vantage point of the end of chapter 13?  We can see, with devastating clarity, what Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is going to mean.  Israel’s greatest crisis is coming upon her, and he is offering an urgent summons to repent, to come to his kingdom-way, his way of peace.” N.T Wright

Luke 13:22-30 Entering Through the Narrow Door

June 24, 2009
The Narrow Door

The Narrow Door

The Narrow Door

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

  • “The question about how many will be saved sends us to the question of of ultimate and final salvation.  Interestingly, Jesus refuses to answer this question directly; he will not give statistics and figures to satisfy mere human inquisitiveness.  What he gives is a stern warning, not least because in the setting of his journey to Jerusalem “being saved” is not simply a matter of ultimate destination after death, but the more immediate and pressing question of the crisis that hangs over the nation.” N.T. Wright
  • Jesus is holding open the Gate of the Kingdom for people to enter.  It is not easy to enter this gate.  It requires commitment, total commitment to get in.  The gate will not always be open.   I need to enter while I can.  Jesus is giving Israel that chance.  If they refuse, they will be rejected later.
  • The people from east and west, north and south who come to the feast are a reference to the Gentiles who will enter the Kingdom ahead of the Israelites.  “The strange workings of God’s grace, in which, though some are chosen for particular roles, none is assured automatic privilege, mean that some who are first will be last and vice versa.” N.T Wright
  • Am I struggling hard?  Am I making every effort to enter the narrow door?  How long will the gate be open for me?  In context Jesus here is referring to the coming crisis between Israel and Rome, but likewise all of us are facing some crisis in our own lives.  We have choices to make.  I have choices to make.  Will I choose the narrow door.  The NIV says to make every effort.  That is a hard teaching.
  • Luke 13:10-21 Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath

    June 19, 2009

    A Woman with a Disabling Spirit

    10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

    The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

    18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

    20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

    • The woman.  A local woman, probably well known by the people of the village.  She had a “spirit of weakness”.  This could mean that people did not know the medical reason why she was bent double.  She was like that for 18 years.
    • The synagogue president.  He is involved in a power struggle with Jesus.  He is in charge of the assembly and here comes Jesus, walking in and upstaging him in front of all the people.  It says he was angry.  So he publicly rebukes Jesus.
    • Jesus.  He does not hesitate.  He sees the woman and immediately heals her.  Upon rebuke, Jesus answers.  Double standards, this is the problem of the synagogue president.  If you can untie an animal that needs water then how much more should you be willing to untie a child of Abraham bound by Satan.
    • Jesus claims that thus woman is a daughter of Abraham and that she has been bound by Satan for 18 years.  What Jesus does for this woman is what he wants to do for Israel as a nation.  Satan has Israel in his power and Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God can set her free.  Israel, however, is stuck on it’s laws and rigid boundaries and will not accept this message.  This is Jesus’ hope, his desire, for Israel to be set free.  This is why he is going to Jerusalem.
    • What about these two sayings regarding the Kingdom of God?  They are there to explain what had just happened previously.  One healing in one synagogue on one sabbath.  What can that accomplish?  Like a mustard seed or some leaven, this one act may seem very small but in the end its impact is all encompassing.  Thus is the Kingdom of God.

    Luke 13:1-9 The Parable of the Fig Tree

    June 17, 2009

    Repent or Perish

    13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

    The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

    6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

    • Pilate was not a nice guy.  The historian Josephus mentions several things that Pilate did that upset the local Jewish population.  So it is not surprising that he slaughtered these Galileans, who were on pilgrimage to the Temple.
    • Guess what?  Jesus and his disciples were Galileans on their way to Jerusalem.  Would Jesus continue his journey after hearing this news?  And what did this mean?  Jesus had been warning of a pending crisis.  Was this part of it?  Were these Galileans being punished?
    • Jesus will address the first question later.  But he tackles the second question by pointing out that these Galileans were no worse than any others.  But unless you repent you will all be destroyed the same way.
    • Destroyed the same way?  This is not a warning about hell.  It is a warning about the coming destruction of Jerusalem, which Jesus has been continuoslywarning about.  Unless they change their direction, their rebellion against God and Rome, Pilate will get them as well.
    • Jesus mentions the tower in Siloam.  Siloam was a part of Jerusalem.  When Jerusalem is destroyed, many buildings will be demolished and many people will be crushed by falling stones.  Unless the people repent and accept God’s kingdom.
    • This point is then strengthened with the parable of the fig tree.  There are two ways to interpret the story.  The first is with Jesus as the vineyard owner.  He comes to the garden (Israel) seeking the fruit of repentance and has found none.  He is now giving Israel one more chance to repent.  If not, they will be cut down.  The second way to interpret the story is with God as the vineyard owner and Jesus as the gardener.  Jesus is trying hard to fertilize the soil so it will bear fruit.  Either way the end result is the same.
    • What is God up to in my world?  Am I bearing fruit for the Kingdom?  Am I daily practicing repentance in my life?

    Luke 12:49-59 Reading the Sign of the Times

    June 13, 2009
    A storm is coming.

    A storm is coming.

    Not Peace, but Division

    49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

    Interpreting the Time

    54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens.56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

    Settle with Your Accuser

    57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.” [1]

    • Wright talks about how Beethoven would shock his audiences by slamming his forearm down on the keyboard at the very end of a soft, beautiful piece.  Just as people were being lulled into a serene state of peacefulness he would give them a sudden jolt of noise.  Wright says that is what Jesus is doing here in this chapter.
    • There is a crisis coming.  And Jesus is now turning what we thought of the Gospel upside down.  Peace?  No, division.  The Gospel message will divide.  Not everyone will accept it.  Compare this to Micah 7:6.  The only way out of the crisis is complete trust in God.
    • Jesus sees the crisis coming.  He knows the cross will be a central part of it.  He can not believe that no one else sees it as well.  None of his contemporaries get it.  They can forecast the weather but they can not recognize what was happening all around them.
    • That is why Jesus warns them in verse 57-58.  They needed to settle accounts and thus avoid the coming  crisis.  Their rebellion against God and their eagerness to revolt against Rome would put them in front of the magistrate.  And the judgement would be complete ruin.  This is exactly what would happen in AD 70.
    • What does this mean for us now?  “If the Kingdom of God is to come on earth as it is in heaven, part of the prophetic role of the church is to understand the events of earth and to seek to address them with the message of heaven.  And if, like Jesus, we find that we seem to be bringing division and that we ourselves become caught up in the crisis, so be it.  What else would we expect?” N.T. Wright

    Luke 12:35-48 Jesus’ Call To Watchfulness

    June 11, 2009

    You Must Be Ready

    35 “Stay dressed for action [1] and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants [2] whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he [3] would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

    41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?43 Blessed is that servant [4] whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

    • Wright compares the beginning portion of this passage to the first passover in Exodus 12.  The Israelites ate the meal already dressed for their journey.  Again Luke highlights the Exodus theme as Jesus journey’s on to Jerusalem.  People needed to be ready to go.
    • Is Jesus talking about his second coming?  Or perhaps he is talking about events in the near future?  Jesus shows a strong sense of urgency and uses the servant/master analogy.  Wright thinks that Jesus is talking about events which would occur within the lifetime of his followers.  “He (Jesus) is now warning that a crisis is coming, a great showdown for which one must be prepared in the same way as servants who listen eagerly for their master’s footfall and knock at the door.  Jesus seems to have envisaged a coming moment at which the forces of light and darkness would engage in a terrible battle, resulting in his own death, and a devastating catastrophe for Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular.” N.T. Wright
    • The disciples would soon be facing a very serious test.  There was no time to relax or be content.  Jesus knows the time is nearing.  He is on his way to Jerusalem.  He is warning his disciples to be ready.
    • Peter’s question makes sense.  Is Jesus talking to the disciples or to Israel as a whole?  Yes and Yes.  This is the beginning of several warnings in Luke about what will happen to Israel if they are not ready when the master returns.  See Luke 19:11-27.
    • As a disciple of Jesus Christ I have a great responsibility as a servant for my master.  When the master comes, will he find me busy doing his work, or will he find me being lazy and taking it easy?  What is my sense of urgency like?  Time is not guaranteed.

    Luke 12:13-34 The Parable of the Rich Fool

    June 9, 2009
    The Rich Fool

    The Rich Fool

    The Parable of the Rich Fool

    13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

    Do Not Be Anxious

    22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [1] 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [2] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.31 Instead, seek his [3] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

    32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    • “The modern western world is built on anxiety.” N.T. Wright
    • Who was Jesus speaking to?  Rich people?  Not likely.  The majority of Jeus’ audience was probably just getting by.  Lower middle class blue collar people who were one step away from poverty.
    • Anxiety is a killer.  Stress can lead to sickness and disease.  Jesus confronts the heart of who we are in this passage.  Not only will Jesus’ commands lead to good health, they will change the core of my being.  “This wasn’t just good advice on how to live a happy, carefree life.  This was a challenge to the very centre of his world.” N.T. Wright
    • This man who asks Jesus to arbitrate in a property dispute was typical of people in the Jewish culture.  Possession of the land was extremely important.  Families would cling to their land at the cost of their lives.  Therefore, inheritance and maintenance of the family property was so important to this man.
    • Jesus wanted to change this mindset.  Jesus wasn’t securing the defense of Israel but was opening up the gates to all people.  Israel as a nation was much like the man in the parable who wanted the security of his possessions.  Possessions and land will not make you secure.  What is God’s answer to this attitude?  “You fool!”
    • “The Kingdom of God is, at it’s heart, about God’s sovereignty sweeping the world with love and power, so that human beings, each made in God’s image and each loved dearly, may relax in the knowledge that God is in control.” N.T. Wright  The point about the birds is not some new age naturalism.  It’s about how God loves to take care of us, he loves to give us gifts.  God is not a distant far off God.  If that was so then we would have a lot to worry about.  But God is our Father, right beside us.  What do we have to worry for?
    • Jesus’ final command to sell possessions strikes to the heart of the entire passage.  I need not clutch and grasp on to my possessions but I should freely give and share what I have with God’s Kingdom.  It’s only when we truly let go that we become secure.
    • “Treasure in heaven”  This is not about some treasure we will gain after we die.  This is about bringing heaven to earth, like we pray in the Lord’s prayer.  “What matters is that the Kingdom of God is bringing the values and priorities of God himself to bear on the greed and anxiety of the world.” N.T. Wright  When we bring heaven to earth, that will be eternal.  But our homes, cars, televisions, stereos, cell phones, I-Pods, and whatever else we possess in this life are only temporary.

    Luke 12:1-12 Further Warnings

    June 5, 2009

    Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees

    12:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

    Have No Fear

    4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. [1] Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? [2] And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

    Acknowledge Christ Before Men

    8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

    • At this point in Luke, we begin to see a shift in the mood.  “He (Luke) is allowing us to see how, with Jesus on the long road to Jerusalem, tension is building up, opposition is becoming stronger, and anyone who wants to follow Jesus is going to have to become focused, totally loyal, ready for anything.” N.T. Wright  The mood is not relaxed or easy going, it is more serious and urgent.
    • The warning about what is whispered today being shouted from the rooftops tomorrow, Wright suggests that this means that the disciples need to be wise about what they say when traveling around.  What every they say will be spread around the regions and all will know.  Including Herod and the Chief priests.
    • However, they need to be wise but they must not fear men.  They must fear the one who wants to cast their souls into Gehenna.  Does this mean God?  Wright suggests not.  He says a proper fear of God is good but that is not what Jesus is getting at here.  He says we need to recognize who the real enemy is.  In this case it is not God but Satan.  God is the one to trust, the one who values us more than sparrows and has the hairs of our head numbered.
    • To follow Jesus, one must be completely loyal.  If we choose to be disloyal on earth we shouldn’t expect Jesus to be loyal to us in heaven.  But if we are loyal, he will be loyal and will take care of us, even giving us words to say in times of crisis.
    • The warning against blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  Mark and Matthew include this saying where Jesus was being accused of casting out demons by the prince of demons.  This could mean that if we say the Spirit’s work is really the Devil’s work then we are calling good evil.  Here in Luke 12 he broadens the intention.  You could talk against Jesus, not understanding who he is and then realize the truth later and repent.  However, by speaking against the work of the Holy Spirit you are cut off from profiting from that work.  “Once you declare that the spring of fresh water is in fact polluted, you will never drink from it.”  N.T. Wright
    • “Luke 12 is a standing rebuke to all casual, half-hearted, relaxed Christianity.  The warnings about dangerous foes and the promise that our God knows and cares about the smallest details of our lives, combine to challenge us to dedicated, single-minded discipleship.” N.T. Wright