Monday, December 17, 2012

Luke 18

On the road to Jerusalem Jesus tells a series of parables and has two very significant encounters:
The first parable is about persistence in prayer (1-8). Human beings will do what they don't want to do because they get worn out by someone continually pestering them. God, however, knows our needs, and will "grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night (7)."

The Pharisee and the tax collector is a lesson in religious arrogance versus humility. The Pharisee uses his prayer time in the temple to brag about how good he is being and how virtuous he is and that he is, clearly, better than other men (especially that miserable tax collector in the corner over there). The tax collector dared not even approach the altar of God but stood at a distance simply asking for God to be merciful. Jesus point is very pointed indeed -- the humble man is justified (forgiven, reconciled with God). We can never put God in our debt, we can never be good enough, we can never accomplish enough to earn God's love or favor. God loves us. All we can do is live into that love.

The Rich Ruler (18-30) is an encounter Jesus has with another religious person trying to justify himself. The question of keeping the rules is not enough -- there must be a change of will, a change of heart. For this man that change is to divest of his trust in his wealth, care for the poor and follow Jesus. Our lives must begin to exhibit and demonstrate for the world the compassion that God has poured into our own lives. The issue with this man is that he is very affluent and Jesus tells him, without using so many words, that his God is not the LORD but is his amassed wealth. The man has his sense of security locked into things.

The healing of the blind beggar (35-43) (he is called Bartimaus in Mark) is an encounter that not only heals a blind man but restores that blind man's sense of self. Jesus does not assume what the man wants but asks him and in this simple conversation the blind beggar is treated as a human being (probably for the first time in a long time!).

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