[The Gospel According to…] Luke 6:20, Luke 18:18-27

Bible turned to Luke 18 with fragments of Moonstruck Portland dark chocolate bar and Bad Decision Dinosaur shot glass of milk

WARNING: Uneven Chocolate Break detected. I can’t even.

Today’s passagesLuke 6:20Luke 18:18-27

Of the six instances of the word “gospel” in Luke, two of them (Luke 4:18Luke 7:22) are references to Isaiah 61:1, “The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted.” Three are simply statements that John the Baptist, the apostles, or Jesus himself are preaching the gospel (Luke 3:18Luke 9:6Luke 20:1). And then there’s one where Jesus says, “Since [John the Baptist’s] time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached” (Luke 16:16). We’ve looked at all of these, and I’m still not feeling like I’ve got a handle on how Luke would state what the gospel is, so I’m going to dig a little deeper. In Luke 16:16 we see that the gospel is of the kingdom of God, so I’m going to look at a few verses from Luke that talk about the kingdom of God.

The first handful of verses hit a theme we’ve seen in the other two gospels: healing. Luke 9:2Luke 9:11, and Luke 10:9 all show healing coming hand-in-hand with preaching the kingdom of God. This is familiar territory; by now it’s no surprise that restoration of physical health is a part of God’s movement to set things right in his world.

The kingdom also favors the have-nots over the haves. Preaching on the plains, Jesus declares, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (6:20). Much later, after a wealthy ruler proves unwilling to follow Jesus by selling his possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor, Jesus observes: “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (18:24-25). Basically, for a rich man to get into the kingdom, it takes a miracle.

Something jumped out at me in Jesus’ conversation with the rich ruler. He commands him: “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor” (18:22). He’s basically saying: “One thing you lack: not owning anything.” It’s funny how an absence of possessions can be something you have. I think about how carrying too many things can slow a hiker down and make his hike more fatiguing, and even if you’re not physically carrying the things you own, they weigh on your mind. There’s nothing in the physical properties of an object that makes it “yours;” your ownership exists only in your mind and the mind of those who agree that you own the thing. And what about those who would take your thing and make it theirs? So you build or buy giant places to store your thing, and spend your resources on this thing you own, and it becomes like that mantra from Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you.”

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough. Today’s chocolate is the shattered fragments of the Moonstruck bar, which I tried to cut with a knife. Tomorrow I’m going to puzzle over some parables about the kingdom of God in Luke 13:18-21, and hopefully by then I’ll be ready to summarize the gospel according to Luke.

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