When we look at protests, do we see the pain of centuries of injustice, or do we see graffiti? When we hear about yet another unarmed Black person killed by police officers, do we see the shedding of innocent blood, or do we seek to find an excuse (such as a misdemeanor on their record that means they were a “criminal,” and, by extension, deserved to die) to justify it? When we see healing on the Sabbath, do we see 18 years of disability come to a loving end, or do we see a violation of religious ritual?
Today’s closer look at Luke examines another section of lengthy discourse. So many of the things Jesus says tie back to many of the topics we’ve already touched on in previous posts, with the core of the message being a radical faith that is lived out through selfless sacrifice to provide for everyone else. Basically, every step of the way, Jesus’ call contradicts what we naturally choose to pursue and the values of a materialistic world.
All of these things are rooted in selfishness, arrogance, and greed. And that ties us right back to the key components of the simple prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray at the beginning of the chapter.
Both pieces – one the story of how Jesus chose to send his followers out to minister and the other a parable to convey the truth that everyone is our neighbor – underscore just how serious the treatment of the most vulnerable is to Jesus. It is the hope of better treatment for them that is at the heart of his good news. Without it, there is no kingdom of God.
The entire heart of Jesus’ message, as exemplified in the famous words about gaining the world and losing your very self, is that others are the priority. Always. That simply does not align – and in fact completely contradicts – the mission and message of American “Christianity” and its culture.
In this passage, we see a highlighting of the essential role of women in Jesus’ ministry, and we see a solemn warning against misusing the secrets of the kingdom of God revealed to us through the words and life of Jesus. Let us keep both in mind as we move forward in our efforts to follow Christ and be the lamp on a stand in our world today.
If we profess to follow Jesus, we must follow his example. And if we are going to invoke his name in connection to our lives, the result must be a diverse community around us that can report what they’ve seen and heard.
Let’s take this opportunity to repent and return to the words Jesus called us to follow. Let’s recognize the Lord of the Sabbath and find rest and joy in the presence of God and the beauty of God’s creation and seek to be good trees that produce good fruit at all times.
These stories show us the inclusivity and community aspects of Jesus’ message and lifestyle. Just as he prompted Simon’s nets to catch every fish, his ministry was vast and reached the farthest corners of society with hope and healing.
Chapter 4 of Luke turns the attention fully to Jesus, and within this chapter’s 44 verses we learn of Jesus’ early temptations, rejection, and healings.