What you need for your next road trip!
As we dive into these chapters that Luke recorded about Jesus’ life and ministry leading up to his arrival in Jerusalem
you may find yourself confused or even slightly miffed at some of Jesus’ teaching.
Sure, some of these passages will be well familiar to you.
But if you are anything like me, you’ll read some of these passages convinced that they were added since the last time you read the book of Luke.
Like Chapter 16.
Was that really always there?!?!?
Surely I must have blocked that from my memory.
In the Bible Project’s synopsis of this portion of Luke (check it out below) we are reminded that these lessons came during the disciple’s road trip with Jesus to Jerusalem.
And if you’ve ever road-tripped you know all bets are off during those long stints stuck in the car together. With nowhere to hide, everything that you love and hate and are bothered by your fellow travellers comes to the surface.
With that in mind, Jesus’ lessons begin to make more sense.
Perhaps along the journey the brevity of time he had left on earth was so apparent, He decided to just seize the moment.
To be sure that everyone, his followers and critics alike, understood that His kingdom had come and would keep coming, He decided to go for broke and challenge, affirm and admonish those who would listen.
So friends – get ready!
Let’s read and wrestle with these passages together with the posture of equipping ourselves with everything we need for our journey.
And let me just encourage you.
Don’t be afraid of feeling confused, or annoyed, or bothered by some of the things Jesus said and did.
He isn’t put off by you, or surprised or angry or disappointed.
Instead talk to Him about it!
Ask Him to explain what He meant, what He wants you to learn about Him, about yourself.
I believe Jesus wants to meet with you this week.
He loves road-tripping with His people.
Day 1: Be Teachable!
Read: Luke 14
Jesus gets right into the heart of His upside-down kingdom, doesn’t He?
From healing on the Sabbath, to challenging social norms and hierarchy, to piercing the heart of what it means to be family you can almost sense Jesus’ urgency in sharing His heart with both his followers and critics, can’t you?
Their reaction? Though we can’t be exactly sure, in v. 4 it says that “they remained silent”.
Did their silence indicate that they were receiving His words joyfully, or were they just biting their tongues – waiting for a chance to argue or prove Him wrong?
We don’t know – but one thing is certain, Jesus is the teacher and they were the students.
And those who were teachable – willing to hold their own ideas and ways loosely in light of His divine knowledge and expertise – were the ones Jesus called friends.
So – how teachable are you? How willing are you to release your own ideals/traditions/habits to the refining work and wisdom of Jesus?
Spend some time talking to Jesus about this. Ask him to reveal the things you cling to that prevent you from having His Kingdom fully come in your own life.
Day 2: Be Real
Read: Luke 15
Pastor Vijay preached about the Parable of the Lost Son (v.11-31) just a few weeks ago and if you haven’t heard it, you really should. And if you have heard it, you may want to listen to it again.
For most of my life I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this parable.
As someone who has spent most of her life trying to follow Jesus I more often than not felt a kinship with the older brother – and was slightly annoyed by the Father’s critique of his reluctance to celebrate his brother’s return.
Things got real when I realized that the older brother was just as lost as the younger one.
Things got even real-er (is that a word?) when I realized in I am always a character in Jesus’parables – just not the one I want to be.
I’m the lost sheep. I’m not one of the sheep snuggled in the pen with the shepherd…and I’m most certainly not the shepherd.
I’m the lost coin. Not the silver ones still in the widow’s pocket…I’m not the house she lives in and I’m most certainly not the widow.
And I’m the lost son. Usually I’m the older brother – but in seasons of my life I’ve been the younger one too. I’m not the hired hand, and I’m most certainly not the Father.
When I get real about being lost, all I can do is feel grateful at being searched for, found and celebrated.
How does it feel to know that you have been searched for, found and celebrated?
Thank God for His reckless love for you. And ask Him to reveal who in your life needs to know the Love of God. Confess any anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, or judgement that is keeping you from celebrating others who have been found.
Day 3: Be Prepared
Read: Luke 16
What in the world was Jesus trying to teach in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager? Is Jesus commending swindling?
NT Wright’s commentary on the Book of Luke was super helpful for me in unpacking this chapter – you can order it online if you like or even peruse it on Google Books.
Wright points out that Jesus’ parable is not some pithy lesson on how to deal with finances, but instead a call to be prepared for His kingdom coming in unexpected ways.
In this parable the Master is God, and the Manager is God’s people – the Israelites! God’s people are to be managing God’s possessions and being His light to the world…and as such are failing miserably at it. Jesus uses this parable to tell God’s people to resist the tendency to thighten the additional rules and traditions they associate with godliness and instead be more adaptable and free to bring His Kingdom ways to outsiders. Interesting right?
What does that mean for us – God’s people in 2020?
Jesus’ ways are different then what we expect. So be prepared.
Spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you as you read through this chapter. Invite Him to speak to you and take the time and space to listen by sitting quietly for at least 5 minutes.
Wright says this parable encourages us to be prepared to release our own extra traditions or rules to welcome others into the life-changing, saving work of Jesus. How does this challenge you?
Be honest with Jesus as you talk to him about any confusion, discomfort or conviction you may feel as you read through this chapter.
Day 4: Be Humble
Read Chapter 17
Maybe it’s because of the quarantine, but authentic gratitude has been a struggle for me lately.
It is so easy for me to think about what I can’t do, what I’ve lost or what I may lose instead of what I have been given.
And while I totally believe it is good and right to mourn cancelled vacations and the freedom to visit friends and family, if I’m honest I realize that much of my griping comes from my deep belief that I deserve better. I deserve more. In essence, I’m still battling my pride.
In this leg of the road-trip, Jesus is reminding me who I am in light of who He is.
Not in a belittling, shaming kind of way.
But boy, do I feel it when Jesus points out that the only leper to thank Him for his miraculous healing was a Samaritan.
Someone who wouldn’t even call God His God recognized the divine mercy and grace of Jesus in His life.
Spend some time reflecting on the blessing and provision of God in your life over these past 9 weeks.
Confess your tendency for self-pity or jealousy or ungratefulness – whatever you felt convicted about as you read this passage. Ask Jesus to give you eyes to see His Kingdom in your life – especially in quarantine!
Day 5: Be Hopeful!
Read: Luke 14-17
Jesus knows that His Kingdom is upside-down…that our natural bent will always skew opposite to where He is leading.
And He loves us still!
So take heart! Cling to the truth straight from Jesus’ lips,
“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is’, because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20)
Take some time to praise God for sending Jesus to make it possible for His Kingdom to come and be within you!
Listen to this song and meditate on the words – there is nothing better than Jesus!