Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Luke 19

The story of Zacchaeus reminds us that Jesus is inviting himself into our lives. Zacchaeus was curious and in his curiosity Jesus invited himself to Zachaeus' home. Upon accepting the invitation everything changes for Zachaeus. He restores any funds that he might have stolen in his role as Roman tax collector (the four fold restitution was only required when the theft was intentional under Old Testament law) and he gives half of his funds to support the poor -- "today" Jesus says, "salvation has come to this house (9)."

The parable of the pounds (called talents in Matthew) is a lesson in stewardship. In Luke's version of the story the nobleman gives the servants equal amounts -- ten pounds each. Each pound "mina" was worth about 3 months wages for a day laborer -- so 30 months or 2 and a half years pay -- a lot of money. Upon his return he asks for an accounting. One doubles his funds, the other increases by 50% and the third buries his pound. The key to the third servant is his clear misunderstanding of the nature of the nobleman. The simple point of the story is this: there will come a day when we who are Christ followers will face our Lord and be asked to give an accounting of what we did with the resources we were trusted with: resources of time, talent, treasure, etc.  Are we improving on and utilizing what Jesus gave us?

This chapter concludes with Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Palm Sunday story has Jesus riding a donkey into the city. In the imagery of the time a king who came to conquer entered a city on a horse a king who came in peace rode a donkey. This journey, from Bethany to Jerusalem over the mount of olives and through the Kidron valley takes about 40 minutes on foot (probably less). Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (knowing what is coming in about 40 years) and then he cleanses the temple. Notice that in John's gospel Jesus does this at the beginning of his ministry whereas here in Luke this story is placed at the end of Jesus ministry -- as part of Palm Sunday and the beginning of what we call Holy Week. What are the different authors trying to say to us about Jesus ministry through the placement of this story?

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