Day 273 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Luke.
Luke 12 – This short saying of Jesus is a great example of His profound wisdom as God’s Son. At first glance it appears schizophrenic, with its simultaneous command to fear God (verses 4–5) and to not fear Him (verses 6–7). We have a sinful yet natural tendency to be afraid of those who have the power to end our lives. Jesus shows how foolish this fear is, because the end of our physical lives is not the end of us; we should rather fear our Creator God, who has the power and authority to render ultimate judgment not just on our bodies but also on our souls. Understanding God’s place as sovereign Judge is essential to understanding His character and the gospel message (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5).
Yet the kind of “fear” we should have of God should not be compared to our fear of other humans. Rather, our fear of God should be one of worshipful reverence because God knows us intimately and cares for us above all His creatures. This is the kind of fear that Jesus exhibits toward His heavenly Father (Isaiah 11:2–3).
If we think of God as grandfatherly, with no role as sovereign Judge, then our thinking must be corrected. But if we hold God at a distance out of fear, then we should learn to embrace in worshipful reverence His Fatherly care and love for us.
At first these two sections (verses 13–21 and 22–34) seem to be separate stories and teachings. But closer inspection reveals that they are intimately related, hinging on the “therefore” in verse 22.
Jesus’ warning here is to beware of the double danger of money. On the one hand, money easily generates greed and covetousness. On the other hand, the reality of money easily creates heart-deep anxiety in us. The gospel teaches us how to defeat both of these destructive sins. We must seek God’s kingdom first, which will often mean letting go of our goods and money. Jesus motivates us to this counterintuitive solution by showing us that when we do so, God our Father will provide for all of our needs. He does so because as our perfect Father He knows our true needs. He cares for us deeply and considers us very valuable, and it is His good pleasure to give us what we most need for eternal as well as earthly purposes. Only this vision of our heavenly Father, combined with the promise of eternal riches, can motivate us at the heart level to live free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5) and find eternal joy in following Jesus.
The message of the gospel throughout Luke emphasizes peace, so Jesus’ teaching here about His coming to create division at first appears confusing. The gospel that brings deep inner peace to those who hope in Jesus (2:29; Romans 5:1) divides all the peoples of the world into two realms—even within one’s own family—based on their reception of the gospel message. As we follow Jesus, we should expect to reside on this point of tension—we will have Jesus’ abiding peace within us yet we will experience division, conflict, and even persecution from those who reject Him (1 Peter 4:3–4).
How does “fearing the Lord” meaning have a reverent awe of Him help you understand this teaching better?
Luke 13 – Often in the Gospels, paragraphs that contain separate teachings also connect together into a broader point. This is the case with verses 1–5 and 6–9. By itself, 13:1–5 reminds us that the gospel message entails a necessary call to repentance. Repentance—turning away from ourselves and our sins, and turning toward God—is the avenue through which we receive forgiveness of sins, an essential part of the gospel that Jesus preaches (1:77; 3:3; 24:47; Acts 2:38). The only alternative to the path of repentance-forgiveness is perishing (Luke 13:5).
Yet lest this gospel message be misunderstood as merely a stern command from God, the following words from Jesus (verses 6–9) put this call into the context of God’s patient grace toward us. Repentance will result in fruit bearing, that is, heart-led deeds of love for God and neighbor. Yet God is patient with us and works in us to cause the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6–7).
How have you seen God’s patience exhibited towards you?
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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