As I read through Luke 15’s parables of lost things yesterday, they readily brought to mind Relient K’s song “The Last, the Lost, the Least.” I considered mentioning it, but as I reflect further, I’m glad I didn’t. Relient K’s song is more about the dignity of human beings as created in God’s image, particularly those we dismiss as worthless because of their poverty or weakness. Jesus’ parables in Luke 15, on the other hand, underscore God’s love for sinners and his desire to bring them to repentance and restoration. While there’s some thematic overlap, for the most part the extent of the song and the chapter’s commonality is the word “lost,” and even then, they’re using the word in two different senses. It’s unjust societal marginalization vs. genuine spiritual neediness.
In a move that surprises even me, we’re putting our All the Paul study on hold as I begin Hope Church’s Triad Program. Over the next year or so, I’ll be meeting regularly with two of my friends in order to grow in following Jesus Christ with an eye toward spiritual multiplication. The Bible study portion of the program entails reading the week’s passage every day of the week. The Triad program coordinator, Pastor Bill Craig, described it as “soaking” or “marinating” in the passage, which is a little too touchy-feely a description for my tastes. But as an English major, I am all for a sustained engagement with the text, and I look forward to seeing what insights God can reveal to me through prolonged exposure to particular segments of scripture.
Welcome to 2017, and to Isaiah 62. The chapter continues to look ahead to Zion’s restoration, and as lines do, a few lines jumped out at me. Isaiah begins the chapter with a promise to keep prophesying; he tells us, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent” (62:1). He also promises that the watchmen of Jerusalem will not be silent either. And then we come to this bit: “You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (62:6-7). Now, God is omniscient, so we humans shouldn’t need to remind him of anything, and he’s going to refrain from resting whether we allow him to rest or not (Psalm 121:4). In short, these are eyebrow-raising verses.
First things first: remember that extended metaphor of the light at the end of the tunnel that I employed while discussing Isaiah 57? At the time, I felt a little odd framing the chapter that way, since it doesn’t use the words “light” or “dark” at all. But look at these lines from today’s chapter: “We hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes” (59:9-10). It seems the metaphor hews a little closer to the source than expected.
Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Mint Dark Chocolate Today’s Passages: Luke 13:10-17. Luke 14:1-6 When the Sabbath gets mentioned in the gospels, it’s often because something or other happened on the Sabbath: for example, in Mark 1:21, Mark 6:2, or Matthew 28:1/Mark 16:1. During the Olivet Discourse, Jesus notes, “But pray that your flight will not be in the […]
In this passage, Jesus compares the gospel to a mustard seed that grows into a tree, and leaven that makes bread rise. Nothing fancy here, just the simple message that the kingdom grows. It starts small, but give it enough time, and it’ll become a tree big enough for birds to nest in. The kingdom of God plays the long game.
Of the six instances of the word “gospel” in Luke, two of them (Luke 4:18, Luke 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 3:18, Luke 9:6, Luke 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.