Day 271 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Luke.
Luke 8 – Jesus’ famous parable describes the varied responses to the gospel as it goes forth throughout the world and over time. The fourfold classification of responses is a sobering call as it shows that only a portion of those who hear and (apparently) respond to the gospel will ultimately prove to be disciples of Jesus. The difference between this fourth, fruit-bearing soul and the others is that the person holds to the gospel with an honest and good heart (v. 15). This does not mean true disciples experience moral perfection or freedom from sin’s effects; it means that the gospel profoundly affects the hearts of those who truly receive it. To respond to the gospel truly is to be open to the Lord searching the depths of our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10), transforming us not just in the realm of behavior but through the power of the Spirit changing our inner person (Romans 12:1–2; Ephesians 3:16).
In verses 40-56 these two interwoven healing stories show Jesus’ compassionate power and the central gospel theme of faith or belief in Jesus. In the case of the chronically ill woman and even more with the deceased child, Jesus reveals the heart of God who cares for our plight in this broken world and who gladly intervenes with healing power. At the same time, we see again the relentless gospel theme of our necessary response of faith. Trusting belief in Jesus’ ability and willingness to heal as He knows is best is a deep gospel call upon our lives.
How do you respond when God’s response does not align with what you were expecting or wanting?
Luke 9 – In this well-known story of the feeding of the five thousand we have a picture of God’s provision and power. This wilderness meal not only refers to a past event (the feeding of the Israelites with manna; Exodus 16:1–36) but hints at God’s continual provision for us and the promise that one day we will no longer be hungry in this broken world but satisfied in a renewed one (Luke 6:21). This is the forward-looking hope that is at the center of the gospel.
At the same time, this story shows that God’s provision for us is sure and abundant despite our lack of faith and understanding. Jesus seeks to elicit a faithful response and action from His disciples in challenging them to look to God to provide the needed meal (v. 13). After all, they had just experienced this when apart from Him (verses 1–6). But they do not yet have this faith or understanding. Nevertheless, the grace of the gospel shines forth in that Jesus still gladly and graciously provides what they cannot provide for themselves, modeling for us the God-ward faith and action that we get to pursue as well.
Jesus’ call to His disciples in verses 23-27 reveals a couple of important aspects of our brokenness and sin. His strong exhortation to lose our lives and not be ashamed of His cross-bearing way shows our natural inclination to do the opposite. We do seek to gain the things of this world while losing the only thing that will last for eternity, our souls. We do seek the praise of men, and this drives us to be ashamed of the suffering and shame-filled way of Jesus. In these ways we stand guilty. Yet the promise of the gospel is that if we will exchange our values for God’s, embracing the life He offers as the most rich and fulfilling, then we will receive glory and security that will last eternally. Jesus appeals to us to embrace the wisdom of God’s way, promising that through following His path of death to self we will find eternal life in Him.
Once again Jesus’ teaching to His disciples provides a mirror for us to see our own brokenness. Our sinful and petty values are revealed in the disciples’ argument about who is the greatest among them. The gospel answer to this is the revelation of God’s radically different perspective. It is the childlike, humble person who is the truly great one. The gospel—both provided and modeled ultimately in Jesus—calls us to fight against the self-promotion inherent in our sinful souls and embrace the lowly way of humility, buttressed with the visionary promise that God will exalt us in the proper way and at the proper time (1 Peter 5:5–6).
The gospel includes Jesus’ call to follow after Him, not just to believe certain truths and do certain moral actions. Luke’s record of some assorted interactions between Jesus and potential followers shows that the call of the gospel does have a cost: it reveals our values and our hearts (recall 2:35). The call of Jesus lays bare whether we are devoted to God’s kingdom or whether we are split in our allegiance.
How does how seeing your own brokenness lead you to follow Jesus even more closely?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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