Luke 20 is basically a religious judo match between Jesus and the Jewish religious elites. They exchange quandaries, parables, and counter-arguments; the scribes and chief priests even enlist double-agent disciples to try to catch Jesus in some error and find a pretext for getting him in trouble with the Roman authorities. Each time he prevails, however, and at the end of the chapter he presents a puzzle of his own about the nature of the Messiah. I was particularly struck by his debate with the Sadducees over the resurrection, so let’s turn our attention there.
Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree and he said,
Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I’m going to your house today!
For I’m going to your house today!
So goes the Sunday school song. But if the song were all you knew of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus, you’d be missing all but the barest bones of the story.
Like the chapter before it, Luke 18 has a lot of stuff happening. There are parables about unjust judges and self-assured Pharisees, there are children and rich men coming to Jesus, there are teachings about sacrifice and predictions of crucifixion, and there’s a blind man who gets his sight back. A single post would only afford me space for a cursory glance at each portion of the text if I attempted to cover it all, so we’re going to zero in on our friend the rich young ruler.
We have a buffet of passages within this chapter to examine, and many of them are cans teeming with worms eager to be released. We could talk about miracles, the implications of Jesus’ statement that mustard-seed-sized faith is sufficient to make trees uproot themselves, and the historicity of Jesus’ own miraculous healings. We could talk about how after nearly two millennia, Jesus has not returned. We could talk about how Jesus’ parable in verses 7-10 apparently suggests that our posture toward God should be that of slaves. If we opened up any one of these cans, could we get all the worms back in the can by the end of the post? This is the risk you run when you open cans.
Welcome to our last day on this passage and portion of the Triad study. The study workbook recommends that on this day I go ahead and read Matthew 12:46-50 from my own perspective, as a disciple of Jesus. It occurs to me that I’ve done that every day this week, necessarily, even as I imagine what someone else’s perspective on the verses might be. By design, I am always in my own head. But some days I write with a point in mind, and other days I just read the passage, start writing, and find out what there is to say. Today? I suppose it’s a little of both.
Welcome back, people who read Chocolate Book. We continue to catch up on this week’s posts, camping out in the final verses of Matthew 12 for the Triad study. I read them again, and they haven’t changed; they are still about spiritual family. The Triad study suggests that on Day Four, we read them from the perspective of Jesus’ disciples, presumably to get a new view and new insights. Perhaps we’ll touch on that, but in order to get the post started, I want to talk about a thought that occurred to me as I was asking myself how the disciples might view Jesus’ words.
Welcome back to the last five verses of Matthew 12, in which Jesus may or may not dunk on his own family. The Triad study workbook suggested that on day one we read the passage with its context, which we did, and for day two it suggested we read the passage from the perspective of its first-century Jewish listeners, which we did not, because we are a rebel who doesn’t play by the rules. For day three, it recommends we read it from the perspective of Jesus’ family themselves. And we’ve got a post to write, so why not?
I’ve never seen more than ten minutes of Home Alone. In 1990, my parents took my brother and me to see it at the theater, but the first ten minutes were so full of family dysfunction and bad child behavior that Mom and Dad decided to walk us out of it. In particular, my mom took issue on many levels with Macaulay Culkin’s declaration “Families suck.” At the time, Home Alone was the latest hot ticket, and I was profoundly disappointed that my parents had dropped the hammer on it. But to this day, I still haven’t seen the full movie, and I honestly think I’m none the worse for it.
Okay, so last week ended kind of catastrophically. Let’s see if we can get back on our feet. This week we return to the Triad study with Matthew 12:46-50, which the study authors chose to illustrate the theme of “family.” What do you think? Can I go the whole week in this passage without actually addressing the theme of “family?” I kid, but all good jokes have a grain of truth to them.
Sometimes, Pastor Stephen Kirk is a man after my own heart. Commenting on Ephesians 1:13-14 in the Multiply book that accompanies the Triad study program, he goes to absolute town on the Greek. I could never be a pastor; I imagine that unless your congregation is either extremely generous or nerdy, you only have so many Original Greek Language Points to spend per sermon before they start losing interest. I, on the other hand, had half a mind to just start looking up Greek words from this week’s passage and see what I found, until I realized I’d kinda already done that back in All the Paul.