A Prayer Prompted by Luke 13

Heavenly Father,

At present, we see that good and bad things happen to both good and bad people.

We accept the way that you maintain your control over the world, allowing evil and tragedy to exist side-by-side with everything that is good.  Even within the church, the living expression of Christ’s life on earth, we see that there is corruption.  Help us not to be a part of that problem, but rather be part of the solution.

Help us not to trust in ourselves, in our own goodness, merit or virtue or righteous works.  We see that before your holiness, the only safe way to approach you is in humility, admitting our guilt and seeing our need for repentance.

Forgive us of our sins, fill us with your Spirit.  Help us to live completely for you, relying on your power, the power of Christ’s resurrection life at work with us.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

A chance to repent – Luke 13:1-5

When extreme tragedy strikes, there is an almost universal tendency to see that the person somehow had it coming to them.  Call it karma, call it something else, the tendency has always been there.  The Bible has a version of this, memorably expressed by Paul in Galatians 6:7-8.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

At the same time, the Bible sees this principle as limited, at least in this life.  The story of Job is an excellent example.  A perfectly righteous man endures terrible hardship, while his friends try to make sense of it as best they can.  Perhaps inevitably, they resort to blaming Job for his own troubles.  They were wrong, but they add much insult to Job’s injury before they are forced to see it.  God sets all things right at the very end, but it took Job a long time and a lot of undeserved suffering to get there.

Jesus encountered this kind of thinking one day and answered it perfectly as always.  Let’s read it from Luke 13.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The Galileans killed by Pilate and the victims of the fallen tower were no worse people than anyone else.  The twist in Christ’s version is not that they were especially innocent in God’s eyes, but that everyone else is comparably guilty.  This is the biblical view of sin.  It is the bad news that makes the good news of the gospel good.

We are all in need of repentance.  That is one of the earliest lessons that the Bible aims to teach us.  At some level, we are guilty before a perfectly holy God.  Sure, there may be mitigating factors to the particular level of our guilt.  A certain temptation was especially difficult.  Under the circumstances there were no good choices.  We have a natural tendency to do this or that.  Someone or something drove us to a point where we reacted, which was wrong.  But, in the end, we are wrong too.  We have sinned because we are fundamentally flawed members of a flawed race who eventually lived up – or maybe down – to our potential.  We sinned and fell short of perfect holiness, which is the standard of the one and only thoroughly holy God.

The solution is repentance.  We are not to hold onto our sin and cherish it.  We are to turn from it and turn our hearts toward our divinely provided Savior.  This is the point made by Jesus when he says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

John 3:16 steers us directly to this principle.  We have a chance to repent right now.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Luke 12 – Verse by Verse

Photo for Luke

Mark Radke was scheduled to take this chapter while Ginger & I were in Texas.  In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, everything changed, but we decided to stick with Mark and Luke 12.

Luke 12.pdf   (Mark Radke)

Luke 12.mp3   (Mark Radke)

Here is a link to the livestream video:  https://www.facebook.com/horizoncentral/videos/1399883910195033/

Luke 11 – Verse by Verse

Photo for Luke

Jesus often taught off the cuff as people asked questions or made comments.  We get several examples of that here in Luke 11. Some of them may be familiar to us.

Luke 11.pdf

Luke 11.mp3

Luke 10 – Verse by Verse

Photo for Luke

Christ has now turned from Galilee toward Jerusalem.  In this chapter Luke gives us some stories not found in the other Gospels, such as sending the seventy (two) and the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10.pdf

Luke 10.mp3

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 10

Father in Heaven,

Thank you for revealing yourself to us even though we are not the great, mighty or wise of this world. If the last will be first, and so on, then we are happy to take the lower place now if it means that we get to know you.

As Jesus tells us, the harvest is large and the laborers are few. We pray earnestly that you would send laborers into your harvest.

Like the seventy-two, we can see that all of us can play a part in the task of mission. Help us to receive you sincerely knowing that we also need to be ready to be sent.

And then help us to be ready to serve our neighbor in need, no matter who that neighbor is.

Finally, make us the kind of people who will listen to and learn from Jesus. Even as we serve, we never want our work to somehow stand in the way of our relationship with him.

In Christ,

Amen.

And who is my neighbor? – Luke 10:25-37

The story begins with a lawyer asking about eternal life.  When Jesus asks him what is written in the law, he responds with the answer Jesus himself has given in Matthew 22 and Mark 12.  My personal opinion is that this was a little bit of a setup.  The lawyer wanted to give Jesus an answer he knew he would like, so that he could ask his next question.  So in 10:29 he, “desiring to justify himself,” now asks, “And who is my neighbor?”  A narrow definition of neighbor can make “Love your neighbor” an easy command to obey, but Jesus was not about to limit his definition.  

He now tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  A man is attacked by robbers.  A priest and a Levite both pass by “on the other side.”  A Samaritan comes along and helps.  To digest the parable’s full meaning we have to remind ourselves that Samaritans and Jews typically hated each other.  They were both ethnic and religious rivals, and the mixed-race Samaritans only appeared in the land after the norther tribes of Israel were dragged off into exile.

If Jesus told the story today in Israel today, he might say “Along came a Palestinian Arab …” When Christ asks his final question (10:36), “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” the lawyer gets it right. “The one who showed him mercy.”  Then Jesus delivers his punchline (10:37), “You go, and do likewise.”

To find a proper application for “Go and do likewise,” it might help to think of someone we dislike or someone we believe dislikes us.  Who really irritates you?  Who do you feel most uncomfortable around?  Who do you suspect feels uncomfortable around you?  Who is to you an ethnic and/or religious rival?  What about the atheist next door?  Now go and do likewise.  According to Jesus, the “neighbor” we need to love most may come to us dressed as our enemy in need.