Day 274 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Luke.
Luke 14 – Being honored and avoiding shame are universal human desires. Ever since the first sin of Adam and Eve we have borne guilt and shame (Genesis 3:6–10). As a result, much of our behavior is motivated by attempts to earn the praise of others and avoid their rejection. Jesus cuts through this by painting a powerful picture of the foolishness of seeking one’s own honor. Rather than jockeying for position, Jesus teaches and models the way of wise joy—humbling ourselves so that God may exalt us in the proper time (verse 11). The image of seating at a wedding feast easily transfers to every aspect of our lives. In all our interactions with others and in every situation we can choose the humble way of considering others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:1–11). This is counterintuitive until we get a proper vision of the ways of God’s wise kingdom as modeled in Jesus. God is opposed to the proud but loves to bless the humble (James 4:6), and He is faithful to lift us up in His own timing.
At first glance verses 28–32 might be interpreted to mean that we must work very hard to be Jesus’ disciples, making sure that we have in our own strength the ability to persevere in following after Him. Anyone who has sought to live a godly life knows how impossible this is and knows that this message would not be gospel—“good news”—but defeat (Romans 7:21–25).
Instead, Jesus’ gospel message is a call to value everything else as worthless compared to Him (Luke 14:33; Philippians 3:7–8). This message is so radically against our natural tendencies that Jesus must shock us with the language of “hating” one’s loved ones and even one’s own life. As we read these startling words, however, we must also bear in mind Jesus’ consistent teaching that actual hatred of anyone made in God’s image is antithetical to the gospel (see 6:27, 35).
So there is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus. It is not one of effort, however, but of reorientation of our values toward the greatest worth of being called into God’s kingdom and warmly accepted into God’s family, all by sheer grace. For Jesus Himself bore the greatest cost, the ultimate cost, in our place—condemnation.
How does this help you understand the true gospel message better?
Luke 15 – We have in this series of three interrelated parables a profound picture of God’s heart and the invitation of the gospel. The consistent theme throughout these parables is rejoicing over the finding of what was lost (one sheep, one coin, one son). These are images of God’s joy in the restoration of a sinner through repentance.
The third parable deepens and expands this message. God is pictured as a patient and compassionate Father who welcomes our repentance with great rejoicing. Our repentance is also vividly depicted as coming to realize the foolishness and unsatisfying nature of living apart from the Father. The gospel is explained through this image as a call for us to turn away from all that does not truly satisfy and return to the welcoming grace of our Father God. This applies not only at our conversion but to every day of our life of faith in a broken and tempting world. It is important to note that the father runs in welcome to his son before his son has made any confession—grace even precedes the needed repentance.
This third parable also adds an unexpected twist at the end of the story that applies to us who may not thinking of ourselves as “prodigal.” Even we who have known the grace of a heavenly Father can be stingy about that grace being applied to others. The image of the angry older brother challenges us to have God’s heart of compassion toward other sinners. Our compassion toward others is a good indicator of how well we understand our own need for grace.
Additionally, the older brother has a “works” mentality towards the father, rather than seeing the grace of the father and understanding everything the father owned was already his just because He is his son.
Whether you see yourself as the prodigal or the older brother, how do you rely on God’s grace to set you free from yourself?
Luke 16 – This pithy and memorable saying of Jesus speaks to the danger of double-mindedness—or, we might say, double-heartedness (James 1:8; 4:8). We need to reorient our values to those of God’s kingdom. This kind of discipleship is not easy or popular (Luke 13:24) because it requires a heart-level openness and spiritual transformation. Following Jesus is foundationally about what we love and worship. We cannot serve both God and the wealth this world offers.
All the teaching in chapter 16 touches in some way on the issue of wealth. Verses 14–15 continue the emphasis on the danger of money: it is a mis-valuing of what is truly valuable. The Pharisees are described here in a way that is true of all of us—we are “lovers of money.” Money is valued and sought because of the pleasure and honor it brings. Jesus points out that even though wealth brings honor with other people, God sees and cares about our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). Even more strongly, this human valuing of wealth and what it brings is actually despised by God (verse 15). Once again the gospel calls us to an inner-person response of consciously adopting God’s kingdom values (Romans 12:2) and turning away from what is perceived as significant in sinful human society. This is possible only as we ponder the great love with which we are loved by God in the gospel of grace.
How have you seen money have more of an influence in your life than you would like? How do remind yourself of the truths in this chapter?
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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