Have you thought about Kodak in the last 10 years? In the 70s they were one of the largest American companies. However now, they don’t exist. Luke 16 is asking us if we will change, if we will adjust our behavior and actually follow God’s way. But it asks a question at the end. What happens to us if we don’t actually change?
Jesus gives us a picture of the kingdom of God here in Luke 15. The picture is of a celebration when the lost have been found. Look at how the woman celebrates when the coin is found, look at how the man celebrates when the sheep is found, and look at how the father celebrates when his lost son is found. But this leaves us with a question: will we join the party or complain on the outside.
The world is filled with struggle, and it leaves us wanting more. We’re struggling to get the things which are just out of our reach. But in this world of struggle, Jesus has us look to the creation, beckoning us to see how God takes care of the small things, how the birds are fed and beautiful and how we loves us even more than them.
Lord, when will your kingdom be here on earth? I find myself asking this frequently when I see nothing but sin and distress all around me. However, Jesus wants us to see how we give gifts. He says that we are still sinful and yet we still give good gifts. How much more does God give good things? Just look for them; they may be hidden in plain sight.
Jesus gathers his followers together and sends out 70 (Or is it 72?) to go bring his kingdom to those who need it. But he says, “You will have struggle, for I am sending you as lambs among wolves.” The world is dangerous; however, he sends his sheep out to bring peace to the house.
Jesus asks the disciples “Who do people say I am?” They get it right and say he is the messiah. Jesus then goes to the top of the mountain, becoming bright and shiny. We’re not in Kansas anymore - this is literally a mountain-top experience. But when there are mountains, there are also valleys, with crosses, death, and suffering. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Jesus sends out his disciples with enough to bring good news. Five thousand people have been listening to Jesus in the wilderness. They are getting hungry, and there are only 5 loaves and 2 fish. But Jesus says it is enough. We often feel like we don’t have enough, that we will be so much better if we just had more. However, Jesus says you have enough.
Chapter Eight of Luke talks about soil. The great sower throws seed down, and it falls on different kinds to soil. In bad soil the seed withers and dies, but in the good soil the fruit rises up from the ground. This parable leaves an important question, “What if I’m not good soil?”
Chapter seven is filled with shock and awe. An outsider shows great faith, a widow's son is raised, John the Baptist is not sure about Jesus, and a sinner is forgiven much. Many times when we encounter true faith, we are filled with shock and awe.
Jesus is giving us a picture of the kingdom of God: miracles, healings, and parties. However, some are very upset that Jesus is doing any of this and are threatening to kill him. Jesus just looks at them and says the way of God is all or nothing.
Luke’s Story of Jesus Luke wants to tell us a story; no, he wants to give us an experience. It’s about someone who is doing something new, someone who is bringing miracles, healings, and parties, someone who defies expectations, someone whom everyone has an opinion about, and who will save the world.
John was a man from the wilderness who “prepared the way of the Lord.” But when he baptized Jesus, it was not the normal pattern of forgiveness. Rather, this time the heavens opened up, and God said “this is my son whom I love.”
Mary looks up from swaddling her baby, only to see dirty, wide-eyed shepherds looking at her. When God chose to send a group of people to witness his new Son, He did not send royalty; he sent those who were not able to sleep within the town at night - the outcasts, the dirty, the shepherds.
For years Elizabeth had wished for a child of her own. As she grew older, the chances of that happening vanished before her eyes. But then hope of all hope, her husband sees an angel, and she becomes pregnant. Then her much younger and also pregnant cousin Mary comes and visits her. Elizabeth could have said something nasty about Mary getting pregnant so young, but, with the jump of her spirit-filled womb, Elizabeth gives nothing but encouragement.
All of a sudden, a messenger of the Lord comes to Mary saying she is highly favored. At first she is agitated at the experience, just like her older cousin Zechariah was. However, when Zechariah’s experience with the angel ended, he was left in forced speechlessness, but Mary leaves with her voice. What was the difference? Perhaps it was one simple mindful stance, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
He has worked his whole life for this one moment. He will be doing the sacrifice and will be blessing the people! However, when God shows up, Zachariah is left speechless, literally. Perhaps God is doing something different that no one expected.