Sunday, April 22, 2012

Luke 7

This time I took the questions and posted them here below with the answers right behind them highlighted in a different color.  I hope it works for you:

  • 7.1 "...all His discourse..." is this talking about His "sermons" in the previous chapter?  And it doesn't mention here that the crowd followed him.  I was thinking He'd left them behind... but then in v.9 he turns and addresses them... so I guess they followed him from ? to Capernaum.

 Yes, Luke was writing about Jesus’ sermon on the plain.  Remember that in Luke’s original writing there were no chapters and verses, so it was just one continuous thing. 

Jesus had gone off to a mountain to pray (6.12), and apparently it was no secret where he’d gone, because his disciples were close enough nearby for him to summon them (6.13).  Then when they came down from the mountain, a huge crowd had gathered.  It seems they’d been waiting for Jesus to come down.  So when Jesus finished his sermon, he went back to home-base, which was Capernaum, and that’s where the Centurion’s people found him. 

  • 7.3 Jewish elders?  They'd be conservative religious guys, but not Pharisees, right?  Someone well-respected in the community and well-taught in the Torah? 

Yes, Jewish elders were probably leaders of their local Synagogue.  Local men who were respected within their community and probably served as counselors, decision makers and guides. 

  • 7.4-5 This verse really bugs me.   The elders told Jesus who was worthy of healing?!?!   Do they think the should be able to influence or tell or instruct this "young hooligan" how He should handle his healing powers? 

 Jesus was Jewish, and just like all “good” Jews in those days, they had no dealings with Gentiles, especially Gentiles who were Roman soldiers who were occupying forces in their land.  Imagine if the USA were defeated by China, and they sent troops here to keep the peace and make sure we paid our taxes to the Chinese government and to keep us in line with their laws.  Not only do they have a different religion, we’d despise them just for invading and conquering our country.  That’s one reason why “tax collectors” are seen as bad guys by the religious folks – they were Jews who collected taxes for the Romans.  So doing something good for a Roman soldier would be a shocking thing, and they suspected it might be offensive to ask Jesus to do such a thing without him first hearing that this particular Roman happened to be a good guy.  

  • 7.6-8 This guy gets it!   Does he just comprehend Jesus' control/power/authority?  Or does he get the full picture of Jesus as God's Son?   He has faith, so...?

Yes, the Roman officer has great faith!  Apparently one of his local Jewish friends had been telling him about Jesus, and he didn’t want to put Jesus in an awkward situation of coming to his Roman house, and he also believed so strongly in Jesus’ power, he figured he’d just say that it was cool for Jesus to heal remotely.  Wow!  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Qs from SoPlain (Luke 6)

Before the questions, a reminder:
From Luke 4.14 to this point, Jesus has begun his ministry.  There are four groups of people who react differently to Jesus so far: the good religious folks (scribes & Pharisees), the crowds (regular people), the sinners, and the disciples.  The religious folks are actually turning out to gradually disapprove of Jesus, the sinners are attracted to him, the crowds are curious, and the disciples have dropped everything - even leaving their jobs and families - to follow Jesus whole-heartedly.

So now as we arrive at chapter 6.17, Jesus' first major lesson is in that context.  Notice here he has just come down from the mountain, having selected his 12 primary disciples.  So while he's speaking to the "great throng of people," he's really teaching his disciples (see verse 20) at first.  Then notice in verse 27 he says, "I say to you who hear," which is a clue to his audience, and then two other verses have clues as to his audience (39 & 7.1).  It's important to recognize Jesus' audience, because we must remember that these words were not spoken to us! So we read Jesus' words to his audience, then we deduce a meaning for ourselves.

The questions I got refer to these issues, so here they are listed out:

  • 6.39-40  Pharisees? 
  • 6.41-42  Is this specifically about Jews doing this to other Jews?  or doing it to "the others"? (aka Gentiles, sinners, Romans, etc?)  
  • 6.43-45  Seems to tie back into 6.39-40... So no corrupt teacher will produce a real disciple?  
  • 6.46 Who is Jesus talking to/about?  The crowd?  Those that follow but don't go all-in?  
  • 6.46-49  Those that try to be good  vs. those that try to do good?   

The cool thing about these questions and the answer is that it reveals the genius of Jesus.

When Jesus speaks, he's training the 12, showing the 12 how to teach, and teaching the crowd, all at the same time.  And Luke records this sermon for his audience.  This is one lesson for many audiences, and each of us has a list of people we'd like to apply this teaching to.  The truth is, it works at almost any level you want!

If a "sinner" is listening to this, he may be staring at the religious folks and pointing his finger accusingly.  He would be right.  This IS about the Pharisees and bible scholars who have been doing a bad job of teaching.  But if that's true, then it's also true that the religious folks are the 'enemies' of the sinner, and so the sinner must love his enemy.  He does that by first removing the log from his own eye.

In other words,  when Jesus says (vs. 27), "I say to you who hear..." he is talking to anyone who will apply these lessons to himself or herself!  Instead of me pointing the finger at my enemy and telling him he must love me, I must be the "one who hears," and take personal responsibility.  If I'm going to be a guide, like Jesus, I need to be sure and not be a blind one.  I need to remove the debris from my own eyes before trying to tell others how to live.

So the answer to the questions above is:

  • Yes, Pharisees (and any of us who will apply it to ourselves), 
  • Yes, Jesus was speaking to Jews & their brothers were fellow Jews, but it would also apply to us disciples and our fellow disciples, right? 
  • Right - the product of false teaching is people with false beliefs.  But - to the extent a student breaks away from a blind guide, he or she can learn the truth 
  • Jesus is talking specifically to his disciples in the crowd, but it applies to anyone - ever - who says, "Jesus is Lord," but then fails to obey him.  If he really is lord (boss, master, etc.), then we do as we're told 
  • Yes ... obedience is action - it's doing good.  It's loving enemies, and removing logs from our eyes and following guides who can see so we can become wise guides ourselves 

If you'll accept Jesus' teachings and apply them to yourself ... that's the best possible outcome.  If we will obey Jesus by taking these lessons and applying them first to ourselves ... then we'll be the one with the solid foundation - indestructible by life's storms.