Daily Reflections November 22, 2017
Luke covers a variety of material in this chapter: the Sabbath “showdown” (verses 1-11), the calling of the disciples (verses 12-16), ministry to the masses (verses 17-19), kingdom ethics (20-42) and the evidence of true faith (verses 43-49).
The Sabbath “showdown” occurred when on two occasions, Jesus’ disciples and Jesus himself were accused of breaking God’s law. The disciples picked grain on one Sabbath, and Jesus deliberately healed a man on another. He is the Lord of the Sabbath and the merciful Saviour. This was a direct challenge to the authority and teaching of the Pharisees. In turn, they watched Jesus’ every move and listened to his every word, hoping to condemn him. They sought to destroy him, and eventually did (see Mark 3:6).
Old Testament law did not prohibit either the plucking of grain with the hand (Deuteronomy 23:25), or of healing and thus, doing good, on the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). The Pharisees and the Rabbis were slavishly devoted to their Sabbath traditions. These legalistic amendments to God’s law stretched the requirements of God’s law past its limits. The Pharisees used these writings to make provision for their greed and also to destroy their opponents.
Jesus, however, loved and kept God’s law. We are to love the law and understand the heart behind the law without getting ensnared in binding legalism. Loving and obeying God’s law is empowered by Christ alone and leads us to holiness. Christ-follower, obedience leads to blessing and not a burden. We obey and are blessed (see verse 35). When we obey we will be like those who build their house upon the rock. In the storms and flood, our house will stand. However, those who disregard the Word of God and the fear of God will experience woes in their lives and in the eternity to come.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46 ESV)
Throughout the Gospels, the example of Jesus in prayer is astounding (see also Mark 1:35, Luke 11:1, Matthew 26:36). Jesus often retreated to places of prayer.
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12 ESV)
Here Jesus is seeking the face of God his Father for wisdom as he selected those who would be his disciples: those who would comprise the 12, who ultimately would turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). In the synagogue, in his sermons, and in his service, Jesus taught them about the life of blessing, kingdom living and ministry. Jesus wanted to imprint upon his disciples their high calling. His emphasis was on God-like character, lived out in relationship to other people. In all they did, they were to imitate God.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36 ESV)
Followers of Jesus are grievously aware of their spiritual bankruptcy, tangibly conscious that their soul that has but one fountain of satisfaction, and joyfully convinced of the rewards that lie beyond a life of opposition for Christ’s sake.
By God’s grace, let us have a deep faith in God, a generous love for others, radical honesty with ourselves and a passionate obedience for the Word of God.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross
Today we turn our attention to a familiar Old Testament narrative. The story of Jonah is not particularly complicated – it portrays God’s patience and mercy as He sends a fish to save a rebellious prophet and as He sends a prophet to save a rebellious nation. God’s forgiveness of sinners shines forth as He rebukes Jonah for having more compassion for a plant than he does for a nation (chapter 4).
Underneath and supporting these master themes, the details present juxtapositions and contrasts to further heighten the point. I’d like to draw your attention to those details in chapter 1.
Upon hearing God’s call to preach to the Ninevites, Jonah defiantly boarded a boat that was headed in the opposite direction. We are not told in this chapter why Jonah opted to flee, but the proceeding chapters explain that Jonah fled because he did not want Nineveh to repent. The city of Nineveh was the capital of Assyria – the same Assyria that would go on to decimate the Northern tribes of Israel around 700 BC. God was sending Jonah to extend forgiveness to his enemies. Jonah promptly decided that he was not willing to be as merciful as God.
Isn’t it interesting that the pagan fishermen on Jonah’s boat showed more mercy than God’s prophet? Consider the details of this story: Jonah is sleeping in the inner part of the ship while the fishermen are frantically throwing cargo overboard in attempts to survive the storm. When they finally wake him up, they discover that he is the reason for the dangerous situation they find themselves in. After explaining that he was running away from God, Jonah adds:
“I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9 ESV)
At this point the men were furious! “You are rebelling against the God who made the sea and you thought it was a good idea to hide in our boat... on the SEA!?” At this point, it would be hard to fault these men for throwing Jonah off of the boat. But, even after Jonah pleads with them to do so, they are extremely hesitant to take another man’s life into their hands. When he finally convinces them to throw him overboard these pagan men cry out to the God of Israel:
“O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” (Jonah 1:14b ESV)
Even though Jonah had put their lives at risk – showing the disregard that one would expect from an enemy – even still, these fishermen did not presume to have the authority to sentence Jonah to judgement.
What a contrast with the rebellious prophet! He is fleeing in the opposite direction because he doesn’t want God to show forgiveness to his enemies. He wants them to die. Yet, in the midst of his rebellious flight, pagan fishermen teach him a lesson about mercy. And as he sinks in the oceans’ depths, God graciously sends a fish to swallow him up and to spare him for another day.
I see a simple lesson here: We are not equipped to preach God’s forgiveness until we humble ourselves to recognize the forgiveness we’ve received. We need to preach God’s mercy like men and women who have just been spit up on the shore out of the belly of a great fish. We were drowning in the depths of our rebellion and sin when God graciously sheltered us in His Son Jesus Christ.
We need to see ourselves as the Apostle Paul did when he referred to himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). When we understand the grace we’ve received, we recognize that no one is outside the reach of our merciful Saviour.
Pastor Levi denBok