Jesus teachings – Luke 13 1-17

Readings for this week September 21-25th
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Day 1 – The Consequences of Non-Repentance

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 13:1-5
Our return to the Gospel of Luke brings us to chapter 13. Chapter 12 had included many of Jesus’ warnings against hypocrisy, greed (including the parable of the barn-building rich fool) and calls to obedient vigilance for the future. Jesus is now on his way to Jerusalem with a group of pilgrims. While on the road one day, some disturbing news is shared, news that sees Jesus offer up further warnings.
Scholars aren’t exactly sure which event the slaughter of the Galileans in verse 1 refers to, as with Pontius Pilate there are many to choose from but the point is this information is being brought to Jesus to see what his reaction will be. Are we all still going to Jerusalem? What’s going to happen once we get there? You’ve been giving dire warnings of disaster, falling on those who refuse to heed your message; is that what has happened to the Galileans?
Jesus’ response is clear: the Galileans were no more sinful than anyone else – but a similar fate does await those who refuse to repent. Jesus is offering up a warning about the political and social consequences of not heeding his call to renounce selfishness and violence and turn back to God. Those rushing headlong into rebellion against Rome will suffer the consequences. Take up the sword and you risk dying by the sword. Unless you repent, the same fate will befall you and you will be destroyed.

Question to Consider
What does this passage have to say about the sufferings of the Galileans and those in Siloam? How does it speak to suffering today?

Prayer
Almighty God, may I continually turn away from my own desires and return again to you and your ways. You are my only king, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


 

Day 2 – The Fruitless Fig Tree

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 13:6-9

In the Hebrew bible the image of a fruitful tree was often used as a symbol of holy God-centred living. Psalm 1:3 is an example: in talking about someone who delights in the law of God it describes them as “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” As we have seen, Jesus himself had used the image of the nature of the fruit on a tree as a measure of the Godliness of someone’s life: you shall be known by your fruit.
But in this little parable we see the possible consequences for the other sort of tree – the fruitless tree, the tree taking up valuable space in the garden with nothing to show for it. (Figs were often planted in the middle of vineyards – good for the grapes apparently.) The story acts as a nice, though jarring, comment on his warning from verses 1-5.
Is Jesus the vineyard owner, trekking through Israel, calling for repentance and searching for those who will respond to his call? If so, apart from the still rather wayward disciples, repentance has been fairly thin on the ground. Or is God the vineyard owner, coming to Israel year after year seeking the fruit of his people, only to find nothing. Jesus as the gardener, convincing God to give his people one last chance while trying to coax some life out of them? Either way, the end result for the fig tree is the same: produce some fruit or be cut down.

Question to Consider
How conscious are you of giving your all in the service of God? What fruit is evident in your life?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, by your Spirit grow your heart in me that I may be fruitful and exhibit your goodness for all to see, for your glory, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 3 – Another Sabbath Day Synagogue Showdown

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 13:10-13

Notice how Luke tells us simply that the woman was there and Jesus saw her. She didn’t approach him and ask or beg for healing. She wasn’t pointed out to Jesus by someone else there. She was simply there, Jesus saw her, and he acted. In a village setting like this people would have known who the woman was. They would have known she was there. She was probably always there, probably a well-known local character.  She was someone people would have seen many times before; so many times in fact that it was natural for them to overlook her and not notice her at all. Jesus noticed. Jesus saw her and he acted. She was not insignificant in his eyes.
That she was ‘crippled by a spirit’ or ‘a spirit of weakness/infirmity’ tells us nothing specific and it isn’t meant to as it isn’t really the issue. There are many things that could have been wrong with her, whether physical and derived from some disease, or psychological and caused by treatment received at the hands or mouths of others.  The most important thing to remember is that whatever the issue was, Jesus healed her. He reached out to her where she was, met her where she was and healed her. No one is beyond the love and care of Jesus. Nothing is beyond the scope of his healing power. All are capable of being healed and rescued!

Question to Consider
How did the woman respond to being healed? How do you respond when God acts miraculously for you or for others?

Prayer
Loving Father, give me new eyes to see those I would otherwise fail to see. May I be your hands and feet and offer love, compassion and healing to those unseen on the margins and in the shadows. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

 

Day 4 – Another Failure to See and Celebrate

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 13:14

Already this year we’ve encountered a few episodes in Luke where Jesus performs a miraculous healing, either as a prelude to challenging the religious leaders’ beliefs and preconceived ideas, or in response to being denounced as a blasphemous demonic influence. So the reaction of the synagogue leader to the healing of the crippled woman shouldn’t really come as a surprise to us. It is not an isolated reaction, particularly from those in positions of social or religious power and influence.
Some people look for reasons not to help, not to get involved. They look to disparage what God is doing because it isn’t done the way they think it should be done, it doesn’t involve the people they think should be involved. Like the synagogue leader, their own sense of propriety, or an inflated sense of their own self-importance, prevents them from seeing the real importance of what is happening around them and isolates them from what God is doing. Rather than rejoicing in the healing and freedom experienced by the crippled woman, or marvelling at the power of God unleashed right before his eyes – in his house of worship no less – the synagogue leader finds cause for complaint. He doesn’t confront Jesus directly. Instead he obliquely (and snidely) remarks on the way in which he thinks people should be healed. God moved; he saw it and turned away.

Question to Consider
When God moves in a way we do not understand or consider to be the way he ‘should’ move, how do we stay open and accepting of what God is doing and the people he is involving? What happens if we don’t?

Prayer
Holy God, help me be an instrument of freedom for those who are in bondage, whatever the cause, whatever the situation. Help me look for reasons to embrace whatever you do, however you do it, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 5 – The Offer of Freedom for Those Who Will Listen

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 13:15-17

Now we get Jesus’ reaction to those who would indignantly protest his healing of the woman and on the Sabbath! In a synagogue! In the presence of the synagogue ruler, who is no doubt incensed that Jesus has chosen to do this right under his nose, on his territory!
Jesus doesn’t hold back. He calls them hypocrites. They would quite happily untie a thirsty animal on the Sabbath so it could drink; how much more should Jesus ‘untie’ this daughter of Abraham (notice the ringing affirmation of her as one of God’s chosen), bound up for eighteen years?
A further point is the interpretation that Jesus offers to the crowd in the synagogue: “Then should not this woman…whom Satan kept bound for eighteen years…” This miraculous healing acts as an opportunity for Jesus to reveal a little bit more of who he is and what he about. The woman has been bound up for eighteen years – by Satan. Like the crippled woman, Israel has been under the power of Satan – the Accuser, the Deceiver, for many years, led astray from their God, bound and suffering in sin and rebellion. And just like he did for the woman, Jesus longs to free Israel and the world from its bondage to Satan. The message of the kingdom is freedom. If Israel will only give up her stubborn reliance on tightly enforced rules and regulations, and repent. What is God up to in the world today? How are we responding to it?

Question to Consider
How has God unbound you from the sins and restrictions of your past?

Prayer
Father God, the freedom you offer us all is too important to turn away from. Thank you that you reach out to all – may I reach out in the same way, offering the same freedom and love you have offered me, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)