This Week’s Reading Schedule
Wednesday’s (today’s) Bible Reading is Luke 11-15
Thursday, Mar. 22: Luke 16-20
Friday, Mar. 23: Luke 21-24
The overall year’s plan is here.
The apostles ask to be taught to pray, and Jesus gives them a stock prayer … first.
Should we just be repeating this prayer? Certainly not if we’re just repeating words that mean nothing to us. Jesus said not to do that in his introduction to this prayer in Matthew (Matt. 6:7).
The "Lord’s Prayer" has a long history of being repeated by Christians from the very earliest days of the church. We should not be afraid to quote stock prayers.
We should be afraid of limiting our prayers to stock prayers. We’ve noticed over the last couple days’ reading that prayer was important to Jesus. Before he chose the twelve, he prayed all night. He was not quoting stock prayers all night, nor was he praying this prayer. He was talking to his Father, surely, about the men he was going to choose and making sure that his will was completely aligned with the Father’s will.
We definitely need to learn the pattern Jesus gives us, though. After all, he was answering a question about how to pray. There is a pattern to the Lord’s Prayer, beginning with praise, blessing God first, and only then asking for our own needs. He teaches us to pray for forgiveness of sins regularly, while making sure that we qualify for forgiveness by forgiving others (Matt. 6:14-15).
Finally, Jesus tells us that one way to answered prayer is repeated pleading.
This is not all the Scriptures have to say about prayer, and we have to include everything when we look to see our prayers answered, not just the Scriptures we prefer. Those who ask God for things for the purpose of fulfilling their own lusts will not have their prayers answered no matter how much they plead (Jam. 4:3). Jesus talks about faith and a holy life (we’ll talk about this tomorrow) as routes to answered prayer, and James talks about our life and commitment as well (Jam. 5:16-18). John adds that we need to ask according to his will (1 Jn. 5:14).
That last requirement ought not to surprise us. We are spiritual children of a new covenant, our whole lives—not just our prayer lives—are being aligned to his will.
Here we have the story of the Pharisees blaspheming the Holy Spirit again. As we’ve seen before, Jesus makes it clear that he is overpowering the enemy by the Holy Spirit as God’s Sent One, delivering us from the power of the devil, not using the devil’s power.
This is an interesting passage that teaches us that it is not enough to experience deliverance from some bondage. The response to being touched by the Lord Jesus is that we should give ourselves to God through him and be filled with the Spirit. Otherwise, our last end could be worse than our first (cf. 2 Pet. 2:20).
Luke 11:27-28 (Advanced)
I’m not going to shy away from controversial subjects. One woman’s response to the things Jesus was saying is that his mother, Mary, is especially blessed. Jesus assures the woman that even more blessed than Mary are those who hear the Word of God and do it.
Mary heard the Word of God and did it, and she was blessed among women. The idea that she is anything other than an obedient servant to God is completely foreign to anything in the apostles writings (do a Bible search for Mary and see) or in the writings of the early church. She simply does not come up.
Instead prayer to Mary and other saints is a product of the influx of pagans into the church in the 4th century. Hero worship was part of the pagan religion, and unconverted members of the church, who only joined because Christianity was honored by the emperor, revived hero worship by honoring the saints.
The rest of this chapter is continues on the idea of Jesus’ opposition to the Pharisees and their unbelief. The chapter illustrates it with stories and statements by Christ.
The end result, of course, is that the Pharisees become even more actively opposed to him.
Luke 12 begins with "under these circumstances" (NASB). We have not left the subject of the opposition of the Pharisees.
Here, however, he’s addressing his disciples, not the Pharisees. They are to beware of the Pharisees, and they are to give fear God and stand up for Christ.
Note here that despite all the questions we have in modern times, Jesus believed in hell in some way.
The word Jesus uses for "hell" in v. 5 is Gehenna, which is the name of a valley in Israel where the Jews burned their garbage. It makes an excellent illustration of the place of torment in which the rich man finds himself (Luke 16, which we’ll look at tomorrow).
God is our Father. He loves us. We read in the last chapter that no human father would give his son a scorpion when he asked for an egg, the point being that God is far more kind than an earthly father. Nonetheless, we are called by Jesus to fear God, and the apostles followed in Jesus’ footsteps by calling for the same (1 Pet. 1:17).
Jesus’ statements about possessions are very clear here. They are brought up by a man who is concerned about his inheritance. Jesus basically tells him his inheritance is meaningless; in fact, being concerned about money is to be strenuously avoided.
Note that Jesus says that your heart will be where your treasure is, not that your treasure is what your heart is set upon. Riches are a danger to those who long for them, bringing a snare and a temptation to the heart (1 Tim. 6:9-19). It takes a miracle of God to raise up a rich man who is unmoved by his wealth (Matt. 19:24-26).
What should we be doing rather than pursuing riches?
We should be getting ready for Christ’s return, being busy with the tasks that have been assigned to us (and not those we have assigned to ourselves—Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Pet. 4:7-11).
Jesus laments that his work is not yet done … or perhaps begun. He has come to kindle a fire upon the earth, and that fire, of course, is kindled in us.
That fire will divide disciples from their families, but it’s worth it. He tells the crowd they should be watching and seeing what’s coming.
This passage ends with a comment about making peace with your adversary before you wind up in front of the judge. In this context, I take it to mean that as that fire comes to us, we need to give up our own desires and pursue the will of God, ignoring those things we may think others owe us.
I’m almost certain there’s much more that could be said about that passage, so feel free to use the comment section if you want to add to it.
Is Jesus saying that unless we repent, we’ll have towers fall on us, or that a tyrant will put us to death?
Of course not. The huge majority of Jesus’ hearers would not die in either of those ways. Jesus has been talking about fearing God, the one who can cast into hell, and it seems much more likely that his statement about repentance applies to that perishing, which will happen to all who do not repent.
Here we have several parables, and one more time the Pharisees are complaining about Jesus and the Sabbath rather than rejoicing over the healing that he brings.
Someone asks Jesus if there are few who are being saved, but Jesus’ answers rarely have to do with others. It doesn’t matter whether few are being saved; it matters whether you are being saved. You had better live your life like few are being saved. Enter by the narrow gate. Give yourself. Do good works, for the evildoers will be cast out.
Then he warns them all to beware lest they be among those who are cast out when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob feast in the kingdom of God.
Jesus is warned by Pharisees—whether for good or bad purposes, I don’t know—to leave because Herod is angry with him.
Jesus is unmoved. He has already begin taking on the Pharisees, who are the real danger to him, and his mind is set on suffering and giving his life. Yet, he’s not moved for himself. He’s moved for Jerusalem, that he has longed to bring to repentance, but it is not to be.
Jesus talks here about a different way of thinking and living, taking a humble place, and inviting those who cannot repay you to your dinners.
Not many of us take this literally, but there are those who do. Have we considered inviting the homeless or poor that we meet to our homes when we throw a dinner? Some will turn us down, but the parable that follows (vv. 16-24) shows that Jesus simply expands his invitation when he is turned down, reaching out into a wider and wider area.
This may be the very hardest of Jesus’ "hard sayings." But Jesus says to count the cost, which means we have to consider whether we want to follow him above our possessions and our family. The statements here may be very straightforward and hard to swallow, but there is nothing new in this passage that we haven’t heard from Jesus repeatedly.
After hearing one of the hardest of Jesus’ sayings, we get to hear about the love of God. The Gospel may be require a complete commitment and giving over of ourselves to Jesus Christ, but the God who calls us is compassionate and holds that Gospel open to us wholeheartedly.
He searches for the lost. When we wander, he welcomes us back.
One of the things we probably tend not to notice in the story of the Prodigal Son is the older brother, even though for us Christians, more of us are like the older brother than the prodigal son. Everything that belongs to God is ours. We sell ourselves short all the time. We picture our Christian lives as unrewarding and perhaps powerless. We are simply, in our eyes, slaving away for a reward that is far off in the future.
But the older brother missed it. Everything that belonged to the father was his, and so everything that belongs to our Father is ours as well.
That commitment that Jesus Christ calls for brings fullness of joy. Our Father is committed to bringing us into that fullness of joy. He is for us, and he wants to help us.