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Aug 8 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 7, 2011

Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:2-3 (read chapter 13)

INTRO: When Barb got home from work yesterday evening, the first thing she did was look for more news regarding the downed helicopter in Afghanistan

An unusual loss like that grabs our attention
– we are moved by empathy for those who died and feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves

But I also think we have a built-in mechanism to keep tragedies like that at a distance
– “It happened far away,” we tell ourselves, or, “They were soldiers in combat,” etc.
– we look for explanations to reassure ourselves (and our children) that this kind of thing cannot happen to us

This protective distancing is exactly what Jesus addresses first in this chapter

The Lord has been using an open-conversation teaching style
– not like Religion, Incorporated which does all the talking while the faithful are silenced
– Jesus lets the people in his audience have a voice
In this way, he brings his teaching to their concerns
– it also gives him the opportunity to challenge their assumptions: “Do you suppose . . .” 12:51 (and now here in vv. 2 & 4)

The chapter is held together by a number of recurring and overlapping themes:

  • it begins and ends with government figures: Pilate and Herod
    – they represent earthly kingdoms – and both deliver death (vv. 1 & 31)
  • over against earthly kingdoms is the kingdom of God–another theme
  • there’s a journey theme (and Jerusalem as the destination is another theme)
  • there is also a house theme (vv. 25 & 35)

Throughout the chapter, Jesus does what he said he came to do in 12:51 – he brings division
– moving through the chapter, we come to a number of forks in road
– each fork represents another divide between those who go on with Jesus and those who do not

Verses 1-9, Time is one of the forks in the road

Tragedy does not mean God has singled out a person or group for judgement
– “likewise” (3) and “in same way” (5) – how is that? In what way?
they would die without having taken the opportunity when they had it to do business with God

The parable of the fig tree illustrates the role that time plays
– the tree is given one last opportunity – one more year and that’s it!
– it has time enough to respond to the attention given to it
– this parable reinforces Jesus’ earlier point that we don’t know when “the Son of Man is coming” (12:40)

Repent is a commitment to change – especially to change the mind, the thought-life

Recently I have become convinced that the New Testament writers knew what they were doing when they spoke of repentance as metanoia (a change of mind). Changing our behavior follows changes in the mind when we break bad habits, detach from strong but harmful desires, and exercise our will to choose new ways of being in our thoughts and in the world. We simply cannot when battles over behavior until we’ve won the battle in (and over) our mind.

To repent is to:
– recognize what drives you, how you react, and choose better
– start making different choices
Something inside of us is in a state of agitation
– an emptiness, a stress, an upset, a frustration
– we typically try to release it through venting (even if we often realize that through venting we can damage ourselves, others, and property)

To begin the process of change and see it through we need to:

  • become aware of the inner agitation – recognize it for what it is
  • choose to change our response to it
  • shift our attention from the agitating thought or feeling to God in this present moment
    – breathing with the Spirit can become a and powerful skill for developing awareness of our agitation and not giving-in to it

The first “repent” is in the present tense – “keep on changing”
– make the turn in the morning and then continue to turn again to God throughout the day

The present moment is sacred – and that gives it an urgency
– Jesus is saying, “Take the fork in which you decide now and act now”

Verses 10-21, Religion, Incorporated is one of the forks in the road

Once Jesus healed this woman, there were two immediate reactions:
– the woman began glorifying God
– the synagogue official made a public announcement (directed against what Jesus had done)

This is the division, and it puts two individuals on either side of the divide
– the division appears again at the end of this episode (v. 17), only it now involves two groups rather than two individuals

Jesus’ logic is worth remembering
– the official’s remark about “six days” refers to De. 5:12-13
– Jesus takes up that same passage and finishes it

. . . you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey . . .

– he argues from the lesser to the greater–if an animal, how much more this “daughter of Abraham”
– the point I want to make is that the common sense we exercise in daily life is a useful guide to spiritual decision regarding what is appropriate

That synagogue on the Sabbath was Jesus’ now in which he encountered the woman in need
– for Jesus, human need takes precedence over religious rules – people over institutions

The tension in this episode raises the issue of the kingdom of God (the synagogue on the Sabbath should be a reflection of God’s kingdom)
– the smallness of the seed compared to size of tree
– the yeast is invisible (hidden), but its influence is undeniable
When the kingdom is given space to work, even a little, it grows
– we do not see the kingdom in its fullness (we see suffering and violence)
– but it is at work, changing the environment, making impossible things possible
– the official could not control or stop the kingdom

The kingdom comes with the touch of Jesus – he unties us, removes the bonds and sets us free

Verses 22-30, Taking action is another fork we come to in the road

This is the kind of question people like to ask in Sunday school classes
– it is a question about statistics, percentages
– but it does not have much practical value

Jesus gives the best possible answer for this type of question:
– look to your own condition and status
– don’t speculate or take for granted that you are on the inside
– make certain your name is on the guest list

Strive was the word used of the athlete’s grueling workout and competition
– “narrow door” in Matthew is, “treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Mt. 7:12-14)
– “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts door” echos, “likewise perish” – there’s a time limit

Seek the LORD while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near. Is. 55:6

These people assumed that the kingdom was theirs – that they were entitled to it on the basis of genetics (Lk. 3:8)
– when that fails, they will begin saying, “we ate and drank in Your presence . . .”
– a key feature of Luke’s gospel is the many times we see him eating and drinking with people (e.g., 14:1)
– but to share this experience with Jesus is not enough – something is still missing

Jesus makes the point that there will be many surprises in the kingdom of God
– those who think they have a lock on heaven will find themselves looking in from outside and “weeping and gnashing” their teeth with regret

Verses 31-35, The fox and the hen stand at a fork in the road

The Pharisees made an unnecessary double-statement, “Go away, leave here” – to go away is to leave
– it reveals the intensity of their desire to be rid of him

Jesus sees through their warning
– as a biblical image, the “fox” gets into places it doesn’t and ruins crops (Song 2:15)
– Jesus is not afraid of Herod, nevertheless something else drives him on
– he is going forward to join the company of rejected and martyred prophets

Not the contrast: what Jesus feels for Jerusalem and has for Jerusalem versus what Jerusalem feels for Jesus and has for Jesus

Two times he says, “Behold” – it is an imperative that directs their attention to a specific sight or image
– but it also tells us (the readers) to look – to enter the text visually
– first behold: What we see is Jesus at work, casting out demons and curing people (32)
– second behold: What we see a house abandoned to squatters (35) – God abandoning the temple

The hen offers the protective covering of her wings
– his audience is given the opportunity to say yes and run to him
– we either have Jesus and his ministry or we have an empty house

CONC: What we’ve learned in this chapter is that through a series of forks in the road, we find our way to Jesus

A few years ago, a management consultant worked with our staff and one of the lessons he taught us regarding making best decisions was to ask the WIN question: What’s Important Now?

There are decisions we make today that will pay off for a lifetime
– there are other decisions that can keep us in the same old rut
– or lead to a lifetime of regret
What’s important now, standing here at the crossroad?
– figure that out, make the best choice, and act on it
– and then do the same thing tomorrow or when you get to the next crossroad . . . and the next . . . and the next

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