Sunday, July 26, 2015
Luke 13:15-16 (NRSV): The Humility and Compassion of Jesus
15But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?’
Legalism draws us into a vortex of superstition and anti-grace; it is what dominated the worldview of first-century Judaism. As twenty-first century Christians, we must avoid a legalistic view of serving God and neighbor. When it comes to mercy and love, the rules of a faith tradition stand aside. God matters above all things, and our neighbor matters, too. We must first express love, forgiveness, and compassion toward each other as Jesus does here. The religious establishment’s legalistic approach to religion gets in the way of love. We are not called to the Kingdom of God through legalistic rule adherence. Rather, we are called to Christ through humility, love, self giving, and mercy, all attributes the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes lack but Jesus exemplifies. Can we love with the unlimited love of Christ, or do we find ourselves stuck in a world of doctrinal rules and limitations?
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Luke 9:43-45 (NLT): Faith Hindsight
While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn't understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
Looking back at our experiences can sometimes lead to epiphanous moments. As adults, we remember formative experiences that made little sense at the time, but with grown eyes and a better sense of our world, those early experiences make sense and fit into the picture of who we have become. Maturity gives us a sharper sense of perspective.
This was the same truth Christ’s inner-circle, Peter, James, and John, experienced. When they witnessed the great theophany of the Transfiguration, “they couldn't understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.” Peter, James, and John, three of Jesus’ closest friends, did not understand that he had to suffer, die, and rise in order to redeem us. Peter was too caught up in the spiritual significance of Moses and Elijah to think about and coalesce Jesus's important words, not even to mention the voice of the Father coming from the cloud. The disciples, moreover, did not understand the Transfiguration until after the Resurrection. At that point, the experience made total sense, and they were able to preach about the Kingdom of God and Christ resurrected.
Life provides trials and experiences that momentarily puzzle us. But we must, as Peter, James, and John did, chalk-up the experience to faith, trusting that God is in charge and will reveal all truth in His time.