Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Luke 9v1-36

I was struck in reading this passage today, not by the detail, in each of the incidents, but by the bigger issues.

Luke 9 is not helped by the chapter division ... we need to remember what had happened in the previous chapters (perhaps unsurprisingly). Luke 8 starts to ask the question, 'Who is Jesus?'. We see it in v19-21 when Jesus surprises us about who his real brothers and sisters are. We see it in v22-25 when Jesus calms the storm and the disciples ask 'Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him'. We see it in v26-39 when the demons know precisely who He is, and yet blind the people of the region of Gerasenes to Him and ask the one the demons see is 'Jesus, the Son of the Most High God' to leave!

Yet we also see that Jesus does not want people to come to sudden, meager conclusions about who He is ... it is easy to place a label, whether a great one like 'Son of the Most High' (8v28) or 'Messiah' (9v20), or a lesser one (though great in our consideration) like 'healer' (9v56), 'miracle worker' (8v22, 9v11), or prophet (9v7-8,19-20). In attaching such a label we can completely miss the full message.

No wonder Jesus told the parable of the seed (8v1-15) ... 'the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by perseverance produce a good crop'. We need to 'consider Him', not label Him.

The tragedy is that no matter how trivially or deeply we think we understand Him, we can get it so wrong. Herod was intrigued (9v7-9), but merely intellectually ... even if he attributed the label 'prophet' he was as ready to behead Jesus as he had done John. The disciples, who had known the empowering of God to do miracles and wonders (9v1) and the provision of God (9v3,10), still failed to transfer that experience to practical faith when faced with 5000 to feed with five loaves and two fish (9v10-17). Peter, who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah (9v20), failed to understand this also meant He was Lord who demanded our all (9v33,v23-24) and would be the very one who would deny Him because of fear of a young girl despite what Jesus warned in 9v25-26.

What a warning for us, then. He is 'prophet, priest and king'. He is God's son (8v28, 9v35). But we can know this and yet be a demon, or even hear it from the mouth of God Himself and yet deny Him!

We need, of course, to firstly know him as 'My Lord and my God'. This is the only starting point. All else is mere knowledge without relationship, understanding or security.

But knowing that, we need also to go on without thinking that we have Him 'sussed'. How we need to walk with Him, learning from Him each day in humility, letting the 'word dwell in you deeply'. How much we need to not forget the lessons we learn from Him and of Him in the blessings, but also apply them in the difficulties. How much we need to raise our eyes beyond the trivialities of the things around us, that would cause us to be concerned with 'who is the greatest' (9v46-50). "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done out duty.' " (17v10)