Category Archives: Bible passages

Study 8 – Luke 14:25-15:32

The Decisive Disciple

Context

Entrance into the kingdom of God is described as narrow and those who enter it will not be those who presume on God but those who hear the words of Jesus and follow him. The Pharisees and teachers of the law have been fueling their disapproval of Jesus while the crowds listening to him have been growing. Jesus has spoken about the coming judgement that pivots around him – if you are not for him then you are against him. He has come to bring division in households rather than peace. As our series title suggests, “On Board With Jesus”, means being a disciple that has made a decision to be for Him.

Read

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Observation

Structure

  • 14:25-35 – Counting the cost of discipleship
    • 25-27 – The principle given: such a person cannot be my disciple
    • 28-30 – The principle illustrated 1: Building a tower
    • 31-33 – The principle illustrated 2: Fighting a battle
    • 34-35 – Salt that is not salty is no longer salt
  • 15:1-32 – God the Father rejoices when a sinner comes home
    • 1-2 – The issue raised: Jesus welcomes sinners!
    • 3-7 – Repentance results in rejoicing: The lost sheep
    • 8-10 – Repentance results in rejoicing: The lost coin
    • 11-32 – Repentance results in rejoicing: The lost son
      • 11-24 – The lost son
      • 25-32 – The bitter son

We will spend most of this article on Luke 14:25-35 with some small commentary on Luke 15:1-32. These two sections make a great double-sided lesson: Discipleship is Costly, but God the Father is cheering for you! For the sake of time, it is recommended to choose one of the sections for study rather than try to get through all of it.

14:25-35 – Counting the cost of discipleship

What we see in these verses from Jesus is his description of what we might call the cost of discipleship. He lays out the principle and uses two illustrations to show what he means. Then finally gives us the ultimatum: a disciple is like salt: when it has no qualities of salt, can you still use it like salt?

25-27 – The principle given: such a person cannot be my disciple

“Large crowds were travelling with Jesus…” We are really used to this background by now in Luke (4:42; 5:15; 6:17; 7:9; 8:4, 42; 9:37; 12:1). Luke not only mentions the crowd support or curiosity but also the reminder that Jesus is travelling (to Jerusalem Luke 9:51).

“…and turning to them he said…” Jesus addresses the whole crowd now. He has spoken to the disciples with the crowd listening in before but now he wants everyone to hear. He doesn’t want numbers, he wants commitment. We recall the excuses given in 14:15-24 for what else was more important than coming to Jesus. This teaching follows directly on from that. If people in the crowd are contemplating their allegiance to Jesus, Jesus wants them to know what a commitment means. He begins with a huge challenge!

“…If anyone come to me and does not hate….even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple.” Bible reading principle: if a statement in the bible appears to directly contradict another clear teaching, then we must look at the two statements again and listen to what the Holy Spirit is teaching us. 1 John 4:20 condems hatred of others (brother and sister) as a sign that they do not love God. Luke 14:26 has the meaning of “loves more”. That is, whoever loves father, mother, wife and children, brother and sister and even your own life MORE than you love God, you are not worthy to be a disciple. Look at it this way: the bible uses two words to describe commitment: love and hate. We use hate almost always to mean that you wish something were dead! But the bible uses it also as a description of choice. “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated (Malachi 1:2,3; Romans 9:13). Our love for God must exceed our love for our family. Abraham left his home in obedience to God’s instruction to go to another place that he had never seen. He took his wife and servants with him BUT he denied them the comfort and security of staying in the home that they knew. He loved God more than he loved his family – but he did not stop loving his family.

“…take up their cross and follow me…” The hearers of Jesus don’t know yet that Jesus himself will carry his own cross to his own death. BUT they do know what the reference is regarding since crucifixion was a common death sentence. It was a hugely shameful way of dying. The whole process was humiliating and even after death, your family would be ashamed to speak of you. Following Jesus is akin to leaving the security of being respected and loved in this world and committing to being different and choosing to be at odds with the world. Little did Jesus’ hearers know that he was not speaking figuratively altogether. He would literally take up his cross. Many of the disciples died serving the mission of Jesus. All of us must be baptised/buried and reborn into a life of commitment to Jesus.

“…cannot be my disciple.” Stop and breath in this warning. See also Luke 9:23.

The principle Jesus has laid out is this: following Jesus means a 110% commitment to him above all other things. A disciple ought to be aware of this before they go any further in following Jesus. The cost of discipleship is that Jesus comes first.  Following Jesus comes with a warning label: beware the cost of following Christ.

28-30 – The principle illustrated: Building a tower

“…first sit down and estimate the cost…” It is important to acknowledge that following Christ comes at a cost. Many projects in life never begin because the cost is known and is too much. If anybody begins their walk with God before knowing what’s at stake, they may come to a time quickly when they choose to ignore God and put family first.

“…enough money to complete it.” When we match this illustration with the gospel, the expense on our behalf is simply perseverance – keep the faith. To run the race as though you will reach the end. Acts 20:24; 1 Cor 9:24; Gal 5:7; Heb 12:1; 2 Tim 4:7.

31-33 – The principle illustrated again: Fighting a battle

“…first sit down and consider whether he is able…” This second parable begins very similar to the first and so does have the same principle in mind: know what it will cost you to follow Jesus. Will the king act foolishly without calculating the risk or will he be wise and work out how this will play out for him.

“If he is not able, he will send a delegation…” Here is where the second parable differs from the first. The calculation results in failure. The sums do not add up: he is outnumbered 2:1! An army stronger than his is coming. Remember the parable of the strong man and the stronger? Two kingdoms are going to war and one of them is vastly outnumbered. But, what if there was a way to diffuse the war and so you did not have to go at all. The first king avoids defeat but it comes at the cost of a kind of surrender.

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” We need to reconcile the difference between the two parables while allowing Jesus to say: in the same way! What did the king give up? His pride. His self-sufficiency. His self-made triumph over the enemy. He surrendered to someone greater than he. Is Jesus not teaching us that the cost of discipleship includes surrendering to Christ?

34-35 – Salt that is not salty is no longer salt

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” This reminds me of the joke: What do you call a fly with no wings? A walk! What do you call salt that is not salty? Can it actually be called salt? It’s dead salt. It’s expired. It’s ex-salt. We are not to be ex-salted (could not resist that!) If comes to Jesus to be included in the kingdom of God and yet remains in their own kingdom here on earth, aren’t they forfeiting their inheritance? If a king goes to battle on their own and loses to the enemy and dethroned, they are no longer a king are they? A disciple, by definition, is someone who aligns their life with Christ. It is no longer they that live but Christ that lives in them (Galatians 2:20). Salt has qualities that make it salt. Without those qualities, it is no longer desired or used as salt.

A note to bible readers: keep the meaning of the text as your goal and read the text in its context. Jesus talks of salt in other passages and sometimes that will shed light on what we are reading here, but Luke has given us enough to go on. A disciple must be a disciple or else they stop being a disciple. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot be a part time disciple. Darrell Bock, in his commentary on Luke writes, “Failure to pursue discipleship can indicate that faith is not really present, even though it was thought to be.”

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Rather than just a random tack on to the end of his lesson, Jesus is indicating what is really required. Many ears will be present that day to hear Jesus speak but they will not really hear. They will continue to travel with him for a while before scattering and giving up on him. The moment of Jesus’ trial and execution will be too much for the best of the disciples. Jesus’ warning is concluded with this call to listen.

Meaning of 14:25-35

Jesus is not interested in great numbers but in great commitment. Better a few that will take up their crosses to follow than a great multitude who will not give their life to Him. Following Jesus comes with a warning label: followers will lose themselves in order to gain eternal life.

15:1-32 – God the Father rejoices when a sinner comes home

In contrast to Jesus’ warning about discipleship, He expresses how excited God is when a sinner repents.

1-2 – The issue raised: Jesus welcomes sinners!

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.” Remember the previous verse (14:35). Who are the disciples who will have ears to hear? Answer: the tax collectors and sinners. This couplet is shorthand for “everyone that the Pharisees and teachers of the law would consider unworthy for the kingdom of God.”

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Conversely, the Pharisees and teachers of the law do NOT have ears to hear. They say this as though it is an evil accusation but this is actually the gospel! And it is the theme of the rest of this chapter. Jesus will answer their mutterings with a celebratory YES!

3-7 – Repentance results in rejoicing: The lost sheep

“…more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” God is ecstatic over the right choice of a sinner to repent! We must never be slow to come to him and say sorry. He is not seeking self-righteousness, so why do we overlook grace and keep pursuing what we cannot obtain! 1 Timothy 1:15 – Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS! (and I am the worst!). Jesus will not respect those who feel that they have nothing to repent over. The parable of the prodigal son from verse 11 teaches this exact lesson.

8-10 – Repentance results in rejoicing: The lost coin

“…rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The lost coin parable has the same message as the lost sheep story. Notice that the searcher looks high and low for their precious thing. We hear a reference to God not being alone in the kingdom of heaven. The angels will rejoice with God. The angels were thought very highly of in the first century (Hebrews 1 illustrates this by arguing that Jesus is better even than angels). Creatures as special as the angels will be amazed when a lost person is found.

11-32 – Repentance results in rejoicing: The lost son

Commonly referred to as the Prodigal Son story, it is actually a story about two sons and the love of the Father. He has equal love for both brothers but the one who was lost is then found, while the one who presumed on the Father and grumbled against him remained outside of the banquet celebration.

11-24 – The lost son

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filld with compassion…” The love of the Father and the quickness of forgiveness is important in this story.

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” This is the model of a repentant prayer. Jesus’ theme here is that he is not looking for righteous people but he is looking for those who are ready to repent.

“Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again…” Like the lost sheep and lost coin stories, this is a story of the lost son. The parable is brought closer to an emotional connection of relationships rather than lost possessions. But the conclusion remains: God is ready to celebrate when we come back home to him and REPENT! He welcomes sinners and eats with them (Verse 2).

25-32 – The bitter son

“Meanwhile, the older son…” The parable turns to look at the heart of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They believe that they have been faithful to the Father but actually they do not know Him and are unable to understand the celebration that is necessary.

“Your brother has come…” Notice how the relationship is emphasised in this story. There is no care from the Pharisees and teachers toward the lost sinners. But Jesus says that these are your brothers!

“…refused to go in.” The nature of those who do not enter the kingdom of God is an unwillingness to enter. Two wills are required, the will of the Father and the will of the sinner. Either of them missing will result in failure. The doctrine of election and predestination expresses that this is true and that even our own change of will is an act of grace on God’s behalf. But God does not force our wills against our own willingness. Notice in the story how the Father goes out to plead with the older brother.

“But when this son of yours…” The older son does not see his own relationship with the younger brother but labels him as a son of yours.

“My son…this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;he was lost and is found.” The Father will not allow his first son to disown his own brother. The story ends with the Father making the same statement as the stories of the lost sheep and lost coin. What was lost is now found. We don’t hear another word from the eldest son since the parable is a lesson for them. How will the Pharisee respond? Given their history and what lies ahead for Jesus at their hand, probably just what the parable gives: silence.

Meaning of 15:1-32

God the Father welcomes sinners and eats with them! He has not come for the self-righteous who do not hear the call to repent. He has come to seek and to save the lost.

Application

Topic A: “Hate” as “love less”. Explore what Jesus means when we are to hate our family and even ourselves. What does this look like for you? Can you share how you have seen this play out in your life? Perhaps you can describe a situation where you are unsure how to apply this which your group can help you with. What does it look like to put Jesus first in life?

Topic B: It’s time for some perseverance. The builder of the tower may have started to build but ran out of resources. Those around him laughed at him. Do you feel like someone who has started out as a disciple but is feeling the difficulty now? Let your group encourage you to keep listening to Jesus who is barracking for you. How can you encourage someone to keep on growing in the faith?

Topic C: Being the king who surrenders. The gospel says that we are all doomed to destruction if we try to go to battle on our own apart from Jesus. Repentance means admitting that you cannot do this on your own. Have you ever had a moment of true repentance? It is a very healthy practice to repent regularly. Using the Lord’s prayer and the Ten Commandments as a guide for your thoughts, you can come to Christ and confess that you fall short of his glory but give thanks and praise knowing that a repentant sinner means more to God than a thousand proud Pharisees.

Study 7 – Luke 13:22-14:24 (or 13:22-35)

The Heart of God

Context

Luke announced in Chapter 9 Verse 51 that Jesus had turned his face toward Jerusalem and he will remind us again in Chapter 13 Verse 22 and Chapter 17 Verse 11. Jerusalem is at the heart of the Jewish faith. It is the city which houses the Temple of the LORD. The people there were called by God to be special to him. As Abraham’s descendants, they were given the promises of God to be a blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12). They were given the city of Jerusalem as the true location to worship God. They were given the law of God which provides life and teaches them of the coming King. Jesus knows that as he approaches Jerusalem, his people will cry out for his execution. His own people will disown him.

He has talked about the kingdom of God which will not appear great at first but will blossom into greatness. He has welcomed his disciples to ask, seek and knock and the door of the kingdom will be opened. He has warned his listeners to be reconciled before it is too late. He rebuked the Pharisees and experts in the law for their hypocrisy and evil teaching. Jesus picks up a number of themes in this week’s reading as he answers the question, “are only a few people going to be saved?”

Read

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.

5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ”

Observation

Structure

 

  • 13:22-30 – Many will be saved, but will it be you?
  • 13:31-35 – The heart of God and the will of man
  • 14:1-14 – Jesus describes the danger of feeling important

 

        • 14:1-4 – A scene of proud Pharisees eating and drinking with Jesus
        • 14:5-6 – Jesus rebukes their silence
        • 14:7-11 – Jesus rebukes their pride
        • 14:12-14 – Jesus describes the heart of God

 

  • 14:15-24 – The invitation to the kingdom has gone out and those who feel most important are not coming.

 

      • 14:15-16 – The great banquet invitation
      • 14:17-20 – The invitees make no effort to come
      • 14:21-24 – the banquet will be filled, but not everyone invited made the effort to get there.

The following reflects on the entire passage but for a focused discussion, Luke 13:22-35 is recommended. We will see that the teaching in that section is played out in the accounts of Luke 14:1-24

13:22-30 – Many will be saved, but will it be you?

“…teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.” See context section for the frequency of Luke mentioning where Jesus is heading. He taught along the way. This whole section of Luke 9-19 is revelation after revelation of the things that were on Jesus’ mind. As he teaches, we hear the words of the kingdom of God. The great prophet is making his way to the city of God, Jerusalem, and testifying to the nature of the kingdom and the great need to be a part of it.

“Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” We know that literally thousands of people were coming to hear Jesus speak. His following was huge. We also know that he wasn’t swayed by the crowds and new that they would all turn against him. His teaching has warned of being dressed and ready because the time of judgment will come. Lastly, we know that the Pharisees were blasted just prior to this for their evil whisperings and religion that kills the soul. So does Jesus expect many to be in the kingdom of God? Is it harder to get into the kingdom than once was thought? If those who are children of Abraham, keepers of the law of Moses and leaders in the church will be excluded, then who will be saved? But perhaps the question infers the opposite: will only the elite get into heaven!?! Either is possible, but Jesus takes up the question to teach us that it is important to make an effort to be a saved one!

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door…” This should raise questions for us. What effort is needed? What is this narrow door? Jesus has created a metaphor for being a saved one – it involves going through a door. We see that he carries this analogy on, so we’ll stay with it and see where it takes us.

“…many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” Well, now we have more questions. It seems that not every effort will be successful. So, if we are to make every effort, it appears that some will try and fail. So where does that take us? Is the effort too much for everyone to succeed? Or are there those who try but do not do it the correct way? We want Jesus to keep talking to help us understand this. And he does…

“…you will stand outside knocking and pleading…” This brings back the memory of Jesus telling us to ask and seek and knock because the door will be opened. But now we are told that a time comes when the owner of the house will not get up any more. But why? What has changed?

“…I don’t know you…” Here is the sting. Four words that we never want to hear coming from the mouth of God! The time has come for the door to be closed to strangers. Our standing with God is on the basis of Him knowing us, not just on us knowing Him. Those who have been locked out have played with religion or considered themselves part of God’s family but they have done nothing toward knowing God in truth and being known by Him. How can we get to be known by God? We need a Mediator. We need to have responded to God’s invitations to come to Him and know Him through His Son.

“…or where you come from.” No family heritage will count you right with God. No membership of a denomination will make you right with God. No childhood memory of listening to stories of Jesus will make you right with God. No nationality. Only those who have pursued God in truth.

“We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” The Pharisees ate and drank with Jesus and Jesus taught in their streets. But their hearts were far away from God. They were hypocrites. God will say to them, go away, I don’t know you or where you come from. It is vitally important for us to know whether we are known by God or not. It sounds like something out of our control but have you turned to Christ to proclaim him as your Lord and Saviour? Imagine a party being held at your house and hundreds of people were there but only ten people talked to you and thanked you. The next day a person comes to your house and walks right in. They tell you that they were at the party and it was awesome but you turn to them and say, “who are you? I’ve never met you. I don’t know your name or anything about you.” They were one of the 90 people who cared very little about the owner of the house when they attended the party. Does that illustration fit with how Jesus will one day reject many who thought they were on the inside? Luke 14:1-24 illustrates exactly what Jesus is teaching us here.

“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth…” These descriptions reappear elsewhere as illustrating the anguish of hell (Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51). Other references to gnashing of teeth all describe the attitude of anger or threat.

“…and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.” Jesus is affirming that the prophets of the Old Testament were of God and were in the right. But many of his hearers will not join them in the kingdom of God.

“People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast…” It must have been insulting to hear that many people will come to God from the ends of the earth while the Pharisees and many in the crowd of many thousands will not be welcomed. The kingdom of God is for those who hear the word of God and obey it! They hear the news of Jesus and follow him! The kingdom of God is not for the Jews but for the entire world to hear and respond to.

“…those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” The theme is of God rejecting the Jews and Pharisees and welcoming in Gentiles and sinners.

13:31-35 – The heart of God and the will of man

“…some Pharisees came to Jesus…Leave…Herod wants to kill you.” It’s nice that they are looking out for Jesus’ safety given that they are by and large trying to kill Jesus too. It is very likely that they are not concerned for Jesus’ life but they would just love for him to leave and disappear. A hiding Jesus is better for the Pharisees than a Jesus who has the audience of thousands of people.

“Go tell that fox…” Given that Jesus is in the middle of rebuking people just like the Pharisees, he could be using the phrase ‘fox’ for not only Herod but the Pharisees also for their cunning ways. Jesus doesn’t flinch at the warning of his death because he knows that’s his near future anyway. What he says next may well allude to that.

“…today and tomorrow, and on the third day…” This phrase seems to primarily mean something like, firstly, secondly and then finally. The third day has a sense of finally or lastly to it. We naturally hear the allusion to the resurrection but the hearers of Jesus would not have heard that. Jesus has a goal to get to. It is the cross, grave, resurrection and ascension. The kingdom of God is coming and the goal will be met in Jerusalem.

“…no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” Jesus compares himself to the prophets. Jesus was indeed a prophet: a man of God who declared the word of God to the people. The word of God being the declaration of the kingdom of God. He doesn’t speak his own words but only what he has been told to speak (John 14:10). A prophet is not someone who knows the future. He is someone who speaks what God has directed him or her to speak. Jesus has described already how many of the prophets were killed fulfilling their call. Jesus too will die bringing the kingdom of God to fulfillment.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem…” Jesus appears to speak in silique – to nobody in particular or to the deaf city itself. His song mourns how often God had sent messengers and longed Himself to gather his people together but the people were always resistant to have Him.

“…you were not willing.” The heart of the gospel is all about the heart. It’s about the heart of God to love and embrace sinners. And it’s about the heart of sinners needing to be transformed to stop loving themselves and all kinds of evil, but to love God. The gospel is told to us and retold so that we will learn to understand and trust the love of God and so love him in return. God desires us to want him. The chief purpose of people is to glorify God and yet the chief desire of people is to glorify themselves. This desire must be changed within us. The Pharisees and the history of the people in Jerusalem were consistently against reform, repentance and returned love to the one who loved them first.

“…your house is left to you desolate.” Jesus speaks of Jerusalem compared to that house that was left empty and ready to be reoccupied by many demons (Luke 11:24-26). The house is desolate of God. His heart has been longing for them for thousands of years but they have failed to engage with Him in spirit and in truth.

“…you will not see me again until you say…” Jesus speaks a word of Prophecy since when he arrives in Jerusalem, the words he will hear from the people there is “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Luke 19:38; Psalm 118:26.

14:1-14 – Jesus describes the danger of feeling important

14:1-4 – A scene of proud Pharisees eating and drinking with Jesus

“…Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee…” Two things to note here: 1, Jesus is eating (and drinking) with the Pharisees which is exactly illustrating what Jesus has just completed testifying to. Just that he is eating there does not make the Pharisee known by God or welcome at the feast of the kingdom. 2, Luke says a prominent Pharisee. This will be the major theme for the rest of this section. It won’t be the great who will be welcomed into the kingdom but the least. It won’t be rich and influential people but poor and lame and unwanted people will be invited in and will accept the invitation. This is not a statement against riches or class systems, but about those who think highly of themselves and are not living like kingdom people.

“…abnormal swelling of his body.” This is hydrops or dropsy. It relates to the issues spoken of in Leviticus 15:1-12. It is not so much a disease as a symptom of something else. At the time of Jesus, it was regarded as a sign that you were suffering at the hand of God’s judgment on you. It is likely that this man was invited to such an event in order to trap Jesus. It is possible that he was not invited but just turned up as is common in the era  (Luke 7:37). More likely, though, that he was brought there to trap Jesus (Luke 11:54).

“…but they remained silent…” See also Verse 6. This account illustrates the very people that Jesus had in mind when they will one day come to the door of the kingdom and find it shut, being told that they are not known. They eat and drink with Jesus and Jesus is teaching in their street but they don’t know him and don’t understand what his kingdom is on about. They are silent because Jesus’ question about healing on the Sabbath is known to be unlawful and yet it clearly shouldn’t be! Their silence shows their default answer as ‘unlawful’.

14:5-6 – Jesus rebukes their silence

“And they had nothing so say.” See Verse 4. Jesus illustrates how absurd the wisdom of the Pharisee is, that they would help an ox out of a ditch on the Sabbath but would not allow a man to be healed. See Luke 13:15. Jesus’ question is not entirely rhetorical. They had a chance to defend themselves but they remain silent. If they were trying to trap Jesus by organising the sick man to be present, then this is their moment to condemn Jesus but his question leaves them silent.

14:7-11 – Jesus rebukes their pride

“…the guests picked the places of honour at the table…” Jesus’ parable in Verses 7 to 11 follow the theme of the Pharisees thinking they are important when in fact, they are not known by God. The dinner party that Jesus has been invited to is playing out the messages of Jesus’ teachings in Luke 13:22-30. They will get a rude shock on the day that Jesus comes to serve and they are told that they are not in the right seat, and that the crippled, the poor, the blind and the lame will be given their seats. The Pharisees presume too much of themselves. Sure, this is a good lesson on humility in life but the context tells us that Jesus has in mind their place at the banquet table in heaven. See Luke 20:46.

14:12-14 – Jesus describes the heart of God

“…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…” These verses remind us that it is easy to love those who love us and it is easy to give when you know that you will give in return. But, the deeper lesson here is about the heart of God. He has sent his Son into the world to invite sinners who can pay nothing back to God. His invitation into the kingdom of heaven comes with no repayment plan or entry fee. The only thing God expects from his invitation is for those invited to feel privileged to come. The following parable illustrates those who are invited but do not respond with gratitude, rather, they have better things to do.

14:15-24 – The invitation to the kingdom has gone out and those who feel most important are not coming.

14:15-16 – The great banquet invitation

“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Isaiah 25:6 in its context gives the metaphor of the reward of the righteous forever is a banquet prepared by God. Jesus has been talking about the reward at the resurrection and a man bleats out a praise to Jesus.

“Jesus said, ‘a certain man was preparing a great banquet…’” Another parable begins and it’s about an invitation to a great banquet. The context is clearly about eternal life for the righteous. Even those present would need to be dimn to not see what Jesus is preaching. So, God is inviting many guests to His banquet. Remember the theme of this whole section of 13:22-14:24 – there will be many coming but who will they be?

14:17-20 – The invitees make no effort to come

“Come, for everything is now ready.” Everything about this banquet is done and the invitation has gone out with the date given as NOW.

“But they all alike began to make excuses…” We make excuses to be absent from something because there is another thing of greater value to us. We have made up our minds that there is something better to go to. The people in this parable who make excuses have all regarded their excuse as a greater priority and have declared the banquet invitation as not important enough for them.

“I have …bought a field….bought five oxen… just got married” Property, investments and estate have taken priority over an invitation of the “certain man”. They are not interested in his banquet but in their kingdoms.

14:21-24 – the banquet will be filled, but the original guests are no longer welcome.

“…the owner of the house became angry…” It is insulting to our God to reject his invitation. Why wouldn’t it be? We are created to be in unity with God and yet we habitually return to our own glories and loves in exclusion to Him. The banquet has been prepared by Him for the pleasure of the guests and they refuse His hospitality.

“…the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” It’s not hard to connect the dots of Jesus’ stories. Luke 13:28; 14:13. These are exactly the types of characters that the Pharisees would exclude from their banquets and would find excuses not to go to theirs! Revelation 19:9 says, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”

“…compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” We see that God has no desire for an empty banquet table. His grace is generous and his love is wide. God desires for all to be saved but he will not permit those who do not want to enter. Revelation 7:9; 19:1; 19:6 describe the celebration in heaven as attended by a great multitude that nobody could count.

Meaning

Jesus has come to prepare for the great banquet. When he reaches his goal, the banquet will be ready and the invitations to come will go out. This is the spreading of the gospel which those stuck in pride and self-worth will reject but many from far and wide who do not deserve the invitation will hear and accept. The celebration in heaven will be filled with a crowd too large to count. It won’t include everybody though. Many who have heard the news of Jesus (teaching in their streets) and have pretended to care about him, will be rejected because they were more concerned with themselves than they were for the kingdom of God. Many will be at the banquet but will it be you?

Application

Topic A: Imagine the size of the kingdom of God. When we talk about God, we talk in unlimited sizes. He is eternal and infinite. The world is finite but the number of people who have existed since the beginning is large. But not infinite. There was a day when things were not and there will come a day when things will be no more. Only those who have committed their trust to the eternal God will be ready to enjoy a festive eternity. God’s invitation to be part of his kingdom does stretch far and wide and we should not imagine heaven to be a small church service.

Topic B: What effort is required to be known by God? Jesus said to make every effort to enter through the narrow door and he said that a time will come when people will want to enter but will be told they are unknown to God. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life – nobody comes to God except through Him. The crucial question is: do you want to be on the other side of the door or not? If so, then invest your life in getting to know and follow Jesus. Go to church regularly to hear the word of God and be encouraged by other believers. Read your bible for all its worth – not like it’s your push-bike that you used to ride around everywhere but now you have other interests – but like in that book are the words of eternal life, and every tool you need for a transformed life and mind. Try to understand the mind of God as if you are so glad to be invited by Him to His banquet.

Topic C: Matching the heart of God. Our God has viewed the crippled, blind and lame and has entered our world to save us. We are not the well-off, rich and unneedy. We are poor and mourning who are overwhelmed to be known by God. But do we see the world around us as in need of saving or do we see others as underneath us? Of course you will want to say the former but how do you live it? In practice, are you more inclined to see yourself more deserving of the kingdom than other people? Can we truly be on mission for God’s kingdom if we see others in this way? Pray for a heart like God’s.

Study 6 – Luke 12:35-13:21 (focusing on 12:35-59)

The Judgment of God

Context

Jesus had previously compared the kingdom of God with a lamp that illuminates and must be allowed to shine fully and not be covered (Luke 11:33-36). He then began to address a crowd of thousands at the beginning of Chapter 12. In his teaching he talked about being clothed by God, dependant on him and making him our treasure rather than the accumulation of things.

On Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem, he went through a Samaritan village who rejected him. He rebuked his disciples when they suggested they call down fire from heaven on them. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the law for hindering people from entering the kingdom of God and failing to see that they too were outside it. Jesus has come to call people to enter the kingdom of God. Those who listen to Jesus need to learn how to do that. How do you enter the kingdom of God? When will the kingdom come and what should we expect from the kingdom of God?

Read

35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

8 “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”

20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Observation

Structure

  • 12:35-59 – Be found dressed and ready when the Day comes…
    • 35-40 – It will be good for you to be ready when the Master returns
    • 41-48 – It will be even more important for those who know much to be ready and found serving
    • 49-53 – The storm is coming
    • 54-59 – Be prepared for the storm
  • 13:1-21 – When will that fig tree bear fruit?
    • 1-9 – Tragic events are tragic, but more so is a person who does not repent! A time will come to cut down the fig tree.
    • 10-17 – An example of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Jesus is waiting for that fig tree to bear good fruit.
    • 18-21 – What the kingdom of God is like. When the fruit grows, it blossoms.

***Due to the size of this text, we’ll focus on the first part only: 12:35-59: Be found dressed and ready.

35-40 – It will be good for you to be ready when the Master returns

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…” Springing from his lesson on trusting God with clothing and food, Jesus commands his listeners to be dressed and ready. He has told us to have eyes and bodies that are like lamps, containing the light of life within us and he tells us here to keep our lamps burning.

“…like servants waiting for their master to return…” The metaphor is pointing to the future date when Jesus will return. Will he find us ready and waiting? What will happen if we are not?

“…so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.” It’s difficult to get an old English castle with british butlers and servants out of my mind. Like the palace of the Queen or a Lord of the manner. When the master comes home, there is someone standing ready at the door even though they had no idea of what time the master would return. Their job is to stand at the ready. Then Jesus turns this image upside down…

“Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve…” The master will become the servant. It will be good to be ready because rather than serving the master, the master will sit you down at the table and wait on you. This is an upside down kingdom! This is consistent with how Jesus presents the kingdom of God. The last shall be first. The teacher and Lord will wash his disciples’ feet. Jesus is our servant King.

“If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming…” Jesus mixes his metaphor again here but to make the same point of being ready! You must be ready for the master to return at any moment. The hour is not revealed, otherwise we would relax and slacken off and just get ready when we knew he was returning. But the servant is to be dressed and ready with the lamp burning – whether it is a small wait or a long one!

“…the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Jesus reveals more clearly now that his story of servants and masters is about the day when he will return. When he returns, the kingdom of God will be fully grown/revealed and those who have waited faithfully will be sat down to eat and be fed, not just in the presence of the King but by the King himself.

41-48 – It will be even more important for those who know much to be ready and found serving

“Peter asked…” Behind all of this teaching, Luke has been reminding us of the growing crowd around Jesus and now we are drawn to the disciples. When Peter calls Jesus Lord, it is a normal kind of submission between a student and teacher. Of course, Peter has identified Jesus as God’s Messiah (Luke 9:20), so this title still holds special significance, but it won’t be until after the resurrection that the disciples will teach us all that Jesus is God (LORD). Luke inserts in verse 42 that ‘The Lord’ responded, as opposed to ‘Jesus’ answered. What is Peter asking? Is he wondering if his business in the kingdom of God is secure or not? Is Jesus telling the disciples to keep watch and be ready? Or is he talking the whole crowd? Is he talking to everyone else?

“Who is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants…” It seems that the answer to Peter’s question is that Jesus was talking to everyone and now he talks to his disciples, describing them as managers.

“Truly I tell you…” Verse 44 parallels Verse 37. This is the bottom line: there is a great reward given to those managers who manage with wisdom and faithfulness. To those who are faithful with a few things, the Master will put them in charge of many things and share in the master’s happiness! (Matt 25:23)

“He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.” Those who find themselves in positions of authority over the church are not guaranteed a place in the kingdom unless they remain faithful and wise in their duty. Peter and the disciples are warned. The actions of the wicked master is of glorifying themselves and sitting comfortable at the expense of others and their sober duty.

“…beaten with many blows…beaten with few blows.” There remains a destination for all unbelievers outside the kingdom of God but there is a stronger warning given to those who have been offered more opportunity to respond and do well for the kingdom. Ignorance is no excuse on judgment day for there remains nobody without excuse (Romans 1:20). But knowledge shall bring harsher punishment with it if that knowledge does not produce repentance and faith.

49-53 – The storm is coming

“I have come to bring fire…” Jesus’ coming is in two parts and the first part comes with salvation. With salvation, however, comes judgment also since we stand now in the position of knowledge. Jesus’ coming was not a secret. The Holy Spirit has made sure of that with the worldwide spread of the gospel. This spreading of the gospel is what Jesus may mean when he says ‘bring fire’. The first coming of Christ gives nobody excuse and the world will be divided over those who believe and those who do not. When he returns again, he will bring final judgment. Thank God for his restraint and patience on us all. We live now in the age of the spread of the gospel.

“But I have a baptism to undergo…” Our notions of a baptism being a pleasant photo day for all is not what Jesus has in mind. He is going to the cross for us. To be buried, which is what the word baptism means. He will take our sins and nail them to the cross.

“…and what contraint I am under until it is completed!” The ESV: “how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” This is probably a clearer rendering of what is meant. Jesus is going to the cross and this is what is most important next. The distress he was under grew just as the crowd who were adoring him grew!

“No, I tell you, but division.” I do wish that the world would all stop and actually read the things that Jesus said. As we come to Jesus for salvation, know that this does not produce peace in our society but conflict. Much will be done in the name of religion. Jesus is not placing guilt on the shoulders of believers but he knows that opposition to the faith and the faithful will be great.

“…father against son…” Jesus alludes to Micah 7 (esp Verse 6). When God comes, we will not rely on our blood relationships, but put our hope firmly in the LORD and wait for God our Saviour. Once the resurrection occurs, the world will be different. A storm is coming.

54-59 – Be prepared for the storm

“He said to the crowd…Hypocrites!” He addresses this to the crowd which is growing in size. Again, Jesus is not concerned about how popular he is, but whether people are coming to the kingdom of God in truth, repentance and ready for judgment.

“…how is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” Many will talk about the “signs of the end of the world” as if you can conclude when the very last days are coming. The world has been living in the last days ever since the resurrection. The last thing for Jesus to accomplish is his final return. Wars and catastrophes will take place over and over. While we wait, we spread the good news of the kingdom of God and we advise that now is not the time for judgment, but now is the time for salvation and repentance. We don’t live in heaven. It is not a place on earth. But heaven has come down in the form of Jesus and we need to recognise that it is time to get right with God. Why can’t this generation see it as clearly as reading the weather?

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Jesus transitions from his illustration of weather forecast to a closer illustration of doing what you can to avoid imprisonment. When the weather looks good or bad, you prepare appropriately. It is about judging the day ahead. When you know that you are being called before the judge, why place your hopes on what the judge might say when you can repair the damage beforehand? Jesus has come to call sinners to repent. So do it! Jesus is seeking some self-reflection. We may see a connection in thought back to Luke 12:13-14, but the connection flows naturally from the weather illustration into the next.

“…try hard to be reconciled on the way…” If you make it to the magistrate, the penalty will be final and there is nothing left for you to do. Before reaching the judge, can you work out how to put things right? With God, the way is to surrender to Christ and call yourself his.

“…you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” The smallest value of money you can think of will be enough to find yourself guilty. There will be no rounding down on judgment day! Any sign of guilt of sin is sin. Likewise, the righteousness of Christ that is imputed on us when we repent is complete righteousness. Our slates are wiped clean with zero debt left to be paid!

Meaning

The difference between being ready or not is the difference between the King serving us on the day of judgment or being found guilty with no option of appeal. The time is now to be ready by being reconciled to God through Christ. Ignorance will not help you since the times are clear. Jesus has acted and challenges us now to respond. Those who respond must lead others in humility.

Application

Topic A: What does it look like to be dressed and ready? Consider what Jesus means by being ready. What does a disciple of Christ (a Christian) do to be ready? Remember that the Christian life is all about grace and faith and about nurturing these two things. How do we do that?

Topic B: Talking about the last days. Some Christian churches have taught errors in this department and so many will talk about the state of the world today as if Jesus must return soon. Our reaction to the state of the world ought to reflect every past generation of born again Christians who have mourned over the sinful conditions that they living amongst. Every generation needs to see their world, not as the worst that has ever been, but as bad as it has always been. The forecast is still for judgment to come and our call to action is to repent today, because you do not know the day or the hour that the Son of Man will come.

Topic C: Divisions in the family. A zealous and passionate Christian may take the words of Jesus in 49-53 and jump at the chance to condemn their family members who are not Christian. The division that Jesus speaks of, however, is not generated by the zeal of a Christian to declare they are right and the family is wrong. The resentment and anger will come from those who are not for Christ and resent that you are. A family who, although are not Christian, are ok with the Christian faith will show less signs of division. But it is likely to still be present under the surface. Be careful how you love your family. They are not the enemy.