Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23 - Luke 9

Today's reading in our daily plan is Luke 9. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • In this chapter we see Jesus doing some miracles and involving other people in his ministry (the "twelve" in verses 1-6). One of the cool things about God is that not only does he do incredible things, he gives people the opportunity to participate in those things.
  • When you study the life of Jesus it becomes abundantly clear that he was loving and gracious, humble and gentle. But we can't take that to mean he's a pushover or that he has no standards. In verses 23-27 and 57-62 we see that Jesus has very high standards for those who follow him.
  • The stories of "the transfiguration" of Jesus and the "healing of a boy with an evil spirit" are also found in the book of Mark, chapter 9. To see some "Say What, So What, Now What" on those stories, see the post for Mark 9.
  • As the disciples were traveling, they entered a Samaritan village. The town did not welcome them, so the disciples asked to seek revenge.  Jesus speaks harshly to them for their evil thoughts. 
  • The chapter closes with people wanting to follow Jesus, presumably because they believed it would be a fun adventure. Jesus reminds them that they would actually have to sacrifice a lot to join his mission. If you look at the original language in which the Bible was written, the man's request to go and bury his father is not literal; it was a figure of speech that meant he wanted to stay home until his father had passed on. 

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Jesus gave his disciples the authority to preach in his name. As disciples of Jesus today, he still gives us that same power to share the gospel and make a difference in people's lives.
  • In this chapter we see that, if we want to follow Jesus, we must put him before our own lives (see verses 23-24) and before our own families (verses 57-62). And Jesus makes it abundantly clear that if we will not put him first we cannot be his followers.
  • Jesus is ultimate. He is God. Although great men like Moses and Elijah came before, they could not save the world. Our lives are meant to be lived for Jesus.
  • Jesus tells us that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who serve. This is counter-cultural to the American way of life. But Jesus teaches that we descend into greatness. 
  • The story of the Samaritan village is a reminder that even when Jesus is rejected, he still has love and compassion for the people who reject him.  He desires for everyone to know him. 
  • Why is Jesus so demanding? Why must people put him first to follow him? Part of the reason is that he deserves it. Jesus is God, and the only place that makes sense for God is first. Putting God anywhere other than our top priority is an insult to God.
  • Another reason Jesus demands that we put him first is because it's the only thing that makes sense for us. If we put anything else as a higher priority than God it just won't work for us and our lives will get out of whack: we will be seeking perfect love and a sense of purpose and meaning from something that can't really give it to us.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What is number one in your life right now? It's easy to say God is first, but is he really? Our minds tend to automatically turn to what's most important to us. Do you find yourself thinking about God throughout the day?
  • We also tend to spend our money on what's most important to us. Do you make God a priority with your finances?
  • We also tend to be passionate and get excited about what's most important to us. Do you get excited to pray, read the Bible, go to church, talk to your friends about Jesus? If God isn't currently number one for you, he needs to be.
  • What could you do (today, this week) to move God to first place in your life? It may not happen all at once, but you can at least take a step or two in that direction. So do it.