This chapter certainly has a lot going on in it! We’re introduced to the key players in the story of the birth of Jesus. We’re given an amazing visit by an Angel to Mary and Zechariah, who each react in different ways. And we see the beginnings of the Holy Spirit coming to fill people in order to expand God’s kingdom.
But I wanted to highlight something specific going on here. God’s first set of activities in the world regarding the birth of His Son dealt with the ‘impossible’. He could have easily given children to two, ready, willing, and perfectly capable couples. But instead, God wanted to show how much His power was necessary in the world. And how much we stand to gain by letting Him do it!
He took Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple who were ‘childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive… and very old’ (Luke 1:7), and used them to give birth to John, the forerunner to Jesus – the one meant to ‘go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord’ (Luke 1:16-17). Even though they doubted initially, Zechariah and Elizabeth had their ‘disgrace’ of being childless taken away (Luke 1:25).
He used Mary and Joseph, a couple who were engaged to be married yet Mary was still a virgin (Luke 1:34) and therefor incapable of conceiving children, and brought about the Messiah Himself. Mary realized that by responding in faithfulness, all future generations would call her blessed (Luke 1:48).
What areas in your life is it difficult or even ‘impossible’ to see God use you? Perhaps you don’t have the time or energy. You don’t have the skills or finances. Well, God is a God who delights in using the impossible to show His glory as well as bless His servants. Do not block the mighty hands of our heavenly Father because you realize how frail and fragile your own hands are – because you may be missing out on a blessing!
This chapter holds for us “good news that will cause great joy”! (Luke 2:10). In this chapter, we have the birth of Jesus, and we see God’s redemptive plan begin.
However, have you ever noticed the importance of ‘positioning’ within this chapter? Mary and Joseph were forced by a Roman census to go to Bethlehem – the same Bethlehem that was prophesied to be the birthplace of the Messiah a few hundred years prior (Micah 5:2)! God used a secular government official to bring about his own divine will.
And it doesn’t stop there. The angels go to visit some shepherds in a field, in a glorious display of the importance of the gospel message. The shepherds, rather than simply remain, chose to go to find that which the Lord had told them about (Luke 2:15). Had they simply remained where they were when God spoke to them, they would have experienced the coming of the messiah as no more than information. In their desire to see more, they had a firsthand encounter with Jesus.
Then we have the story of Simeon, who had been given a prophecy that he would see the Lord’s Messiah (Luke 2:26), yet we still see the Holy Spirit prompting him to be at the temple this particular day (Luke 2:27). In his obedience, Simeon was so blessed that he felt that his life had been completed, and the Lord could simply take him home! (Luke 2:29).
Even something as simple as the story of the boy Jesus being left by his family at the temple (Luke 2:41-52) has Jesus asking the real question – ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ (Luke 2:49)
Sometimes, when we feel like we’ve missed the Holy Spirit, or we don’t see the kinds of results we had hoped for or expected (or were promised by God!), we simply need to check our position. Are we where the Holy Spirit is? Are we going where He is going? God will speak to us wherever we may be, but these stories, we realize the extra blessing – and the reason for God’s actions – as we tag along for the ride!
The message of John the Baptist was simple – ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’ (Luke 3:4). However, the practical application of this message was more personalized. To the masses, John taught that making a straight path for the Lord meant taking care of each other (Luke 3:11); To the tax collectors, it was honest work and honest wages (Luke 3:12-13); to soldiers, it was protecting the population and refusing to abuse their power (Luke 3:14).
And yet, even through this message, John reminded people of a much higher standard to come. To John, the coming Messiah was someone of such power and importance that John wasn’t even worthy to untie his shoes (Luke 3:16). Repentance and ‘making straight paths’ to the Lord wasn’t enough to fill the gap. John knew that, whatever road he may have been helping to straighten out, only the coming Messiah was going to be pure and powerful enough to walk it to it’s completion.
We need the humility to constantly remind ourselves that, for all our obedience and purity we strive for before the Lord, that we are ourselves not even ‘worthy’ enough to untie His shoes! And yet, He loves us so greatly that He did all the work for us to pave the way. We may have the limited power to slightly alter our trajectory, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit in light of God’s great salvation do we have the ability to walk the path God laid for us.
Luke 4 marks the beginning of the ministry of Jesus in the gospel of Luke. However, I believe that Luke had an agenda when he paired many of these stories together. When we consider them as a whole, we see a truth about the power and realm of Jesus’ authority.
The story starts off with Jesus undergoing temptation from the devil (Luke 4:1-13). He resists the many temptations of the devil through the truth of scripture. This shows us Jesus’ authority in areas where we may be tempted by the world, or otherworldly spiritual forces. The fact that Jesus – a human – is able to refuse to give into this sort of temptation – at one point, he is offered the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:6-8).
Next, we have Jesus proclaiming His own status and ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth. He reads from the scroll of Isaiah, a specific prophecy (Luke 4:18-19), and then immediately claims that the truth of scripture is fulfilled in His coming. Jesus teaches them – and us – that His authority and power was proclaimed from old, and that Jesus stands uniquely to fulfill all of God’s promises regarding His great salvation.
Then we see Jesus healing people in two different ways – first, from a demonic possession (Luke 4:31-35) and a natural illness (Luke 4:38-39). Jesus is demonstrating His total authority in the realm of the physical and spiritual world.
How many areas of our lives do we not submit to the total authority of God? Maybe we feel like we need to deal with our own temptations, and muster up the force of will to overcome them, forgetting the Jesus who was tempted in every way like us (Heb 4:15). Maybe we try under our own strength to understand the words and the will of God, and we don’t approach the Jesus who has demonstrated perfect knowledge of truth. Maybe we harbor an illness or a spiritual oppression, and we don’t come to the Jesus who has demonstrated complete mastery over both.
Whatever area you may lack or you may need – Jesus can bring fulfillment and completion!
In this chapter, Jesus begins to start drawing out his disciples. Many of these initial disciples went on to have very involved positions in the early church.
Through this chapter, we see Jesus doing things that were atypical of a rabbi of the day. We see Him first picking some fishermen to be his disciples (Luke 5:8-10). This went against the grain at the day – their occupation as fishermen shows culturally that they had already either been passed up or had never considered work under a rabbi, and so they were not ‘ideal stock’, so to speak. We also see Him healing people (Luke 5:12-15; 5:22-25) and forgiving sins (Luke 5:17-21).
The key is found in the last part of the chapter. Jesus gets called out on how His disciples do not engage in fasting like the disciples of the pharisees, or even John’s disciples. Jesus pointedly remarks that fasting and prayer was a way to commune with God, a practice unnecessary when God was actually standing in your midst (Luke 5:33-35)!
However, Jesus goes on to use the illustration of new wine in old wineskins (Luke 5:36-39). The problem is, newly made wine as it continues fermenting and maturing would expand in volume and release gas to further expand the container. Old wineskins had already been stretched out and settled, so the expansion process would burst the skins (Luke 5:37). A new wine needed a new, unstretched container to expand in.
Likewise, any movement of the Spirit, any direction we receive from Jesus, will not grow very effectively if we try to stuff it into an old practice, habit, or ‘container’. If we want to let Jesus continue to use us and grow us, we have to let Him work on our containers (Our habits, our expectations of His responses, etc). What containers do you have in your life, and what ways do you think you could be limiting the work of God by trying to fit Him in a box? Remember the warning from Jesus – the wine WILL expand – we run the risk of the Spirit bursting our containers (Luke 5:37)!
If I had to summarize this chapter in one sentence, I’d say this; ‘We don’t really understand how the spiritual world works!’
Jesus starts the chapter off by challenging the answers that the ‘religious elite’ thought they had about God. They ‘informed’ Jesus that His disciples were breaking the law on the Sabbath (Luke 6:2), but Jesus pointed them to the grace still found within the Law (Luke 6:3-4) and to His own authority as Lord over Sabbath (Luke 6:5).
As Jesus goes on to teach, He calls many realities we take for granted into question. God blesses those who are poor, or hungry, or those who mourn, or are persecuted (Luke 6:20-22), while woe befalls those who are rich, well fed, or are universally praised (Luke 6:24-26). We are called to love our enemies (Luke 6:27) and not judge people (Luke 6:37).
However, it’s not simply enough for Jesus to pass on information – this information needs to result in genuine life change. Jesus actually challenges us that we have no right to call Him Lord without obeying what He teaches (Luke 6:46). The person who both listens to and practices what Jesus says will build the kind of life that storms can never knock down (Luke 6:48).
Does your life feel rocked by storms? Perhaps you have built it on the wrong kinds of assumptions. Go back, and re-examine what Jesus teaches throughout the Bible – and begin to actually put those things into practice!
Throughout this chapter, we see many reminders about the supremacy and Godhood of Jesus. Each of the stories in this chapter appeals to a specific aspect of Jesus and His status as God.
The story of the Centurion (Luke 7:1-10) calls back to the Genesis creation story; Jesus demonstrated that out was His word alone that was necessary to show His power. Jesus raising the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17) shows His mastery over death itself. And Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50) showed both Jesus’s ability to forgive sin and the fact that He deserves to be praised and worshipped.
How many times do we detach the actions and responses of God from His infinite Majesty? How many times do we worship God simply because of His Majesty?
Let’s reframe this not as a ‘laundry list’ of what we can expect from Jesus, but rather as a constant reminder of how much praise we owe him!
I have always loved the Parable of the Sower. It communicates so much to us about what kind of things can make it easy or hard to understand God’s truth. So let’s break it down a bit!
In this parable, Jesus identified a few factors that can hinder the growth aspect of God’s truth in our lives. Firstly, He identifies that our hearts can sometimes be so hard that we refuse to receive His truth at all, and burning grows (Luke 8:12).
However, those who receive God’s words yet allow many things in life to compete for ‘real estate’ for what is allowed into their hearts may receive the truth, but can fall away when tested (Luke 8:13); their desire to treasure many things on the same level as God mean that they do not have soil for His truth to root in!
Next, we see people who receives His truth with joy and have soil to grow in – but their environment is still very attached to the world. Jesus says that this kind of faith will not make because the cares of life will choke away any potential growth (Luke 8:14).
Lastly, the ‘good’ example (Luke 8:15) can best be summarized as a lack of the previous examples; a heart that has a place for the truth to grow, no competing factors for the ‘throne’ of their lives, and no string attachments to worldly things that can inhibit growth.
Which faith do you most identify with? Which faith would you like to have? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what areas you need to address to ’till your soil’!
In Luke 9, Jesus commissions the disciples to go out and continue His ministry. He confers power and authority on them (Luke 9:1-2)- the same kind of power and authority that we as believers can walk in!
They go around, and see many miracles and healings. Other Gospels highlight just hope excited the disciples were to see that kind of power moving through them. And it’s an exhilarating experience, to see the Holy Spirit move in power! We can’t get enough of times like that.
Which makes the next miracle seem like a reminder to the disciples. A large crowd gathered around Jesus and the disciples, and the disciples asked that Jesus send them away, because they didn’t have the food to feed that many people (Luke 9:10-12). However, as a test, Jesus tells them to feed the masses. When they don’t know how, Jesus miraculously multiplies the food (fit for only a few people) into a meal that fills up a huge crowd (Luke 9:13-17)!
We tend to see this as host another miracle, bit it’s position here next to a story where the disciples had returned from seeing their own hands do miraculous things teaches us something about God’s heart. That when the post comes, and we feel that rush and that exhilaration, we can never forget to have compassion on the lost around us. We can never allow ourselves to get to the point that we become so preoccupied with filing ourselves up with the Spirit that we allow the needs of others around us to go unmet.
We should always pray that God would keep us grounded, so that in our quest to feel Good power, we never lose His heart!
One day, someone asked Jesus one of those core questions – ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ (Luke 10:25). The man directly distills a large amount of Jewish theology and history into two statements: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”(Luke 10:27).
But then he questioned Jesus about who he should consider as his neighbor. The Bible says that it said it to justify himself (Luke 10: 29). However, in the parable that Jesus tells, He teaches us that the concept of ‘neighbor’ to God is rooted more in compassion than cohabitation.
We are very tempted on life to huddle into our own groups, our own sets of like minded individuals. And the command to love your neighbor comes easily in our little cliques – because everyone is a lot like us, and we love each other!
But the heart of God is best shown when we go beyond ourselves, beyond our preferences and go the extra mile. The passerby who helped the man was a Samaritan (Luke 10:33), a group of people who hated and were hated by the Jewish community. Yet when he or aside his hatred to help his fellow man, he showed a supernatural kind of love.
Let us always remember that the command to love our neighbors extends even to our enemies, and that Jesus Himself sees it as an entry requirement to being qualified for the kingdom!
We are actually using a portion of this scripture in our daily prayer times through the week! We have used Jesus’ teaching on prayer (Luke 11:2-4) to inform our focus on what to pray for each day. However, I wanted to take a step back and examine Jesus’ general teaching on God’s response to our prayers.
Have you ever had a need, and had to rely on a friend for help? Now, have you ever felt like an inconvenience on that person? In Jesus’ parable, you are the subject, and you’re in need of bread – but you decide to visit your friend at midnight (Luke 11:5). Jesus says that it’s not the relationship your friend has with you that will prompt them to meet your need, but rather your ‘shameless audacity’ (Luke 11:8).
And Jesus continues, ‘ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’ (Luke 11: 9-10).
I think the point in understanding this verse is in understanding the ‘shameless audacity’ needed to go wake up a friend at midnight. If you’re in that place – you’re in need! I’m not going to go knock on a neighbour’s door at midnight for just anything. When we get to that place of desperation, that place of great need, and we genuinely and fully turn to God – He will be there for us. When we truly turn to God and ask, we’ll get an answer. When we truly seek God (and not just for show!), we will find Him. But we have to be desperate enough to seek Him.
If I had to summarize this chapter in one phrase, I would say this – ‘Don’t do things the way your nature pushes you to do them’. Jesus takes a lot of opportunities through the chapter to address the way our default nature leads us astray- our fear of how we appear to or appeas other people (Luke 12:4); our natural feeling that we are on our own in our lives to figure everything out (Luke 12:6-7); what to say in front of people about God (Luke 12:11-12); how we are to pursue wealth (Luke 12:16-21); or what sort of things we are really supposed to live for (Luke 12: 32-34).
However, this isn’t a one-sided recommendation. Jesus also tells a parable of a master returning from a wedding banquet (Luke 12: 35-37). Now, the servants were simply doing their duty- waiting eagerly for their master’s return so they could be ready to wait on Him. But for their faithfulness, the master instead waits in then and blesses them!
Jesus is showing us a very important principle about His upside-down Kingdom- that even in the ways that we are called to serve, we stand to be richly blessed. Demanding service out of someone out of threat of punishment, or out of exercising authority can only go so far- the kingdom Jesus brought into the world blesses all who enter, and the greatest in it is the servant to all. So as much as Jesus tells us that it’s understandable to fear God, Be promises is that He loves us so much, we won’t have to (Luke 12:5-7).
One thing that Jesus was great at that we are lacking is His ability to take deep spiritual truths and express them using language and ideas easily accessible to a common person. Here in this chapter we see Him drawing two key comparisons to the kingdom- that of mustard seeds (Luke 13:18-19) and yeast (Luke 13:20-21).
Both were fairly common items that the people would be familiar with. Both parables used common shared experiences to point to a greater divine truth. And both explained a singular truth about a specific aspect of the kingdom.
We are often afraid to explain the kingdom of God to someone else because we think that we lack the proper training, education, or vocabulary. We may not be able to adequately explain words like propitiation, sanctification, eschatification, or transubstantiation. But Jesus didn’t use those words. He cared enough about the person to use words that THEY understood, rather than preferring words that HE understood.
Want to explain how much God loves us no matter what we do? Talk about their kids, or their pets, or a bad experience at a restaurant that you love otherwise. Want to explain the necessity of the cross? Talk about how easy it is to get angry even at people we love, and how destructive that can be. Want to talk about how to witness? Just ask the person to talk to you about anything they really like, and let them show you that they already know how to do it!
Faith should not be so complicated that only the educated few can grasp it. Jesus blasted the Pharisees for this tendency. God can be expressed using our lives and experiences- something that God has already given you!
And to prove my point- I made up one of the words in my list above. Did you catch it?
This chapter starts off with something seemingly unrelated to the rest of the chapter – a healing on the Sabbath (Luke 14:1-4). But I believe that the rest of the chapter is in fact connected to this idea. Follow along with me.
The Pharisees were opposed to Jesus healing on the Sabbath- while the Bible did not forbid this, their own distorted teachings forbade any sort of effort at all on the Sabbath. Their own wordly approach restricted them from seeing the evidence of Jesus’ power in the Spirit, saying because it ran contrary to the way they had limited how the Spirit could move.
So each of the stories Jesus tells throughout the rest of the chapter detail a different way that someone could miss a good thing through focusing on themselves. Jesus taught that at a wedding feast, one should take the last important seat to allow the host the chance to exalt that person should they choose, rather than taking the most important seat and forcing the host to humiliate them (Luke 14:8-11). Similarly, Jesus next taught that when someone holds a celebration, they should invite those with no means to repay them, understanding that they will instead receive repayment from God- which is better by far (Luke 14:12-14)! The last parable Jesus tells is of a man who hosts a great feast, and all the people who had been originally invited declined for various reasons – a major offence in their culture. In response, the man invited others and swore that those who had first been invited would never see the banquet (Luke 14:16-24).
Jesus caps off these stories with this simple truth – ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
(Luke 14:26). Jesus strategically used his parables prior to this statement to remind us of a sobering truth- that our own preconceived ways of telling God how He should work, or what makes us great or exalted in the kingdom, can cause us to miss the genuine and real thing God is doing in our midst. And that to Jesus, the only solution to this default nature attempting to exalt ourselves rather than God was our own personal cross.
Next time you find yourself in that same place- maybe trying to position yourself against someone else to be better in the eyes of the kingdom, or doing something in the church to receive recognition or praise from others- ask God to show you the cross He has for you to carry, so that when the time comes to stand before Him, you can be exalted by Him!
The beginning of this chapter describes the exact issue that Jesus is trying to deal with: ‘Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”’ (Luke 15:1-2).
When we understand the full lens, the rest of the chapter starts to take on a different meaning. This isn’t just Jesus teaching, ‘I love the lost no matter what.’ Jesus is responding to a criticism from the Pharisees – that he was associating with ‘sinners’. To the Pharisee, a sinner was a person to be vehemently avoided at any cost. They were worried about spoiling their own ritualistic purity. The sinner wasn’t someone to be rescued – they were a plight to be erased, in order to save yourself.
Jesus teaches first on the idea that, to God, all have the same ‘value’ – notice how in the story of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) and the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), both the ‘lost’ and ‘found’ are the same unit? They are both sheep, and both coins of the same value. Jesus is trying to teach the Pharisees that their legalistic righteousness does not earn them a ‘greater standing’ before God.
However, in the story of the lost son, Jesus introduces a third character – the older brother. Though the younger brother had squandered his estate, and gone off and wasted it in wild living, when he came to true repentance the father welcomed him back with open arms in celebration. And the older brother, the one who had faithfully served the father, hated and rejected both the father and the younger brother, claiming that the father had not so much as blessed him with a ‘young goat’ so he could celebrate with his friends (Luke 15:29).
The father’s response is telling – that the father’s riches have always been available to the son, and that the return of a family member was a cause of celebration, not jealousy at the father’s generosity (Luke 15:31-32).
How many times do we, in our lives, believe that our longstanding relationship with God earns us ‘more pull’ in the kingdom of God than a new believer? How many times do we place the needs of the lost behind our own, because we deserve more as ‘God’s children’? If we had Jesus’ priorities, we would greatly celebrate at the chance to bless those outside of the kingdom trying to get in!
Today, we should commit ourselves before God to becoming the kind of people that celebrate at the presence of a new person in our church, rather than lamenting the lack of focus on ourselves.
There’s a psychological concept out there called ‘confirmation bias’. Basically, what it means is that the more convinced you are of your own ‘correct-ness’, the more likely any evidence presented – either proving OR disproving your belief – will convince you that you are more correct. Show a person absolutely sold out to a conspiracy theory evidence that their theory is bogus, and they will take that evidence as even more proof of a conspiracy.
I believe Jesus understood this concept when He told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In the parable, a rich man (condemned to hell for punishment) begs Abraham to spare his brothers the same fate. “I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’’ (Luke 16:27-28). Abraham’s responds that the man’s brothers have Moses and the Prophets to teach them the truth. The man counters that they have not believed the prophets, but they could be swayed if they saw someone raised from the dead. Abraham’s response is amazing: ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ (Luke 16:31).
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I would sure change my tune if someone came back from the dead in front of me! But Jesus was clear – real faith and understanding comes first from the foundation of trusting God’s words.
How many times have we refused to believe God’s word until we saw a material or physical response proving it? We tell ourselves, ‘I will believe when I see it for sure’ – but I have seen many times in my life where people missed God’s real and clear answer because they did not have that foundational trust in God’s words.
This is not about ‘believing is seeing’, either. The truth here is simple – if you read God’s word and do not believe it based on that, it is a lack of trust in God. Maybe the truth is hard to accept, and maybe it runs contrary to what you want from your own life. But if you want to see God really move – read and obey!
One day, the Pharisees asked Jesus a question – ‘When would the kingdom of God come?’ (Luke 17:20-21). Jesus used the moment to teach about the nature of the kingdom and how it operates. His response seemingly answers a different question; Jesus points out that the kingdom “is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21).
Now, our default understanding is the literal, geographical interpretation. The Kingdom is not a place – it is inside of us. It’s not something that’s confined to a church building, or a specific area of the world. Many translations translate this concept ‘in your midst’ as ‘within you’. The kingdom is not a place to go – it is a place that is already within you wherever you go!
And I think we sort of miss the main reason Jesus gave this response. The question He was asked wasn’t ‘Where’, it was ‘When’. The pharisees may have simply been asking the question – when is it that I have to start ‘taking the kingdom seriously’? When is the time of the week that I have to worry about kingdom values? When does this start moving?
And Jesus’ reply shows us a real truth about the nature of the kingdom – it’s not tied to a ‘when’. There isn’t a ‘holy’ time of week where God wants more of our hearts and lives than another time. There isn’t a ‘place’ where we can go where God expects more worship from us than another place. The kingdom is right here in us, right now with us. We don’t just visit God on Sundays – we bring Him everywhere we go, every moment we exist!
There’s a specific scripture in this chapter that I think we often misunderstand.In Luke 18:9, Jesus is telling a parable to a group of people ‘who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else’. He tells the story of two men who stand praying before God – one, a pharisee, who highlights all his accomplishments and boasts that he is ‘not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers’ (Luke 18:11), or even like the person praying next to him. The second is a tax collector who refuses even to look to heaven, but simply exclaims, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ (Luke 18:13).
We often understand this verse to be railing against the ‘false righteousness’ of the pharisees. But that’s not actually the case. The key lies in how Jesus summarizes this verse; ‘For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’ (Luke 18:14).
Jesus wasn’t just speaking out against their false righteousness. He was speaking out against a kind of religion that seeks to make yourself seem better than others. A faith in God that promotes hierarchy, where one person is automatically more important or more valuable to the kingdom than another’. The crime Jesus is specifically accusing this hypothetical pharisee of is not being false – it’s of being self-centered!
And I appreciate the irony of people who hear this verse and pray, ‘God thank you that I am not like that Pharisee…’ True faith in Christ draws us to a genuine humility and repentance before Him, understanding that the weight of our sins that have been forgiven is both deep and wide. It doesn’t draw comparisons against others to make itself feel better – it’s peace and identity is found in the great wealth that is knowing Christ.
There are a few ‘parables of the talents’ or ‘minas’ in the bible with different circumstances and meanings behind them, so we often get them confused. In this chapter, we see one variation of the story. By understanding some of the details, we can understand what Jesus was trying to tell us.
The first detail is that each one of the servants were given the same amount – a mina (Luke 19:13). This money they were given was given under the order that they were supposed to work with it to profit the king (Luke 19:13). During the story, one servant manages to make 10 minas out of his original one, and is given 10 cities to manage in return (Luke 19:17). The next servant takes his same 1 mina and earns 5 more, and is given 5 cities (Luke 19:18-19). Lastly, the disobedient servant’s mina was taken from him and given to the one who had 10 minas.
There’s a few truths we can glean out of this story. The first is – that we are capable of being more or less faithful with the gifts that God has given us, and that this level of faithfulness is rewarded in heaven. Two servants who started with the same amount but ended with different ones were given different rewards. We shouldn’t be doing any sort of comparison in the kingdom, except against the standard God has given to us; but that doesn’t mean that we have room to sit back and say, ‘whatever I do is OK, it’s what God has expected me to do!’. We can always increase our faithfulness, increase our giving towards God’s kingdom. And God will respond in kind!
But secondly, we also learn that, as we work more for God and give Him more of ourselves, we will receive even more than what our previous faithfulness had produced. The king takes the mina away from the disobedient servant and gives it to the one with 10, because ‘everyone who has, more will be given’. This is not ‘everyone who has been given much will be given more’, because each servant started with the same amount. This is, ‘to everyone who has produced greatly, more opportunity to produce and prosper will be given’.
If you don’t find yourself being used by God, ask God to help you be more faithful with what you have been given. And after that – you will see an increase!
Luke begins and ends this chapter talking about the Pharisees. In the first section, they question Jesus about where He gets His authority to drive out spirits (Luke 20:2). Jesus replies by showing them their own motivations. He shows them that they were just as afraid of displeasing people as they claimed they were of displeasing God.
Luke ends the chapter with a warning from Jesus himself about the self-centered nature of the Pharisees. He points out how many of their actions stem from simply wanting to please people (Luke 20:46-47).
We like to believe that we are different, but I think if we hold ourselves up to the might of Scripture, we may find a little Pharisee in us all. Jesus tells a story in the middle about some farmers charged with managing a vineyard in the owners absence (Luke 20:9-18). The tenants were attempting to steal the land from the landowner.
Jesus draws an obvious parallel between these landowners and the Pharisees. By seeking so much praise from men, they were stealing praise from God.
How many times in life have we attempted to take glory reserved for God for ourselves? How many times have we secretly wanted the praise? We may not even have done it for the purpose of receiving the praise ourselves – but we still need to watch our motives!
Throughout this chapter, Jesus teaches a lot about the end of days. Though the book of Revelation covers more ground, Jesus’ words are decidedly easier to understand. We can glean a lot of good information from what Jesus taught, even apart from the actual chronology of events.
First, Jesus warns us against being led astray, or falling away on our own. Many people will come and claim to be Christ (Luke 21:8), but we should not follow them. Likewise, there will be a great persecution against those who follow Christ (Luke 21:12-13). However, Jesus promises to give us ‘words and wisdom’ (Luke 21:15) to help protect ourselves. Though many may be put to death, ‘not a hair of your head will perish’ (Luke 21:18). What an amazing thing to say – that those that were even put to death shall not perish! But Jesus points to the real goal after this time – to receive our eternal life (Luke 21:19).
Though there will be many signs, and many things to happen before the end, we should be ever diligent. Jesus warned that if we are not careful, we our hearts can become ‘weighed down’ (Luke 21:34) with the cares of the world, the pleasures of life, and the like. Jesus warns us that for those who are not diligent, the day will come ‘suddenly like a trap’ (Luke 21:34).
Let’s pray that we can always put the kingdom of God first, so that when these times come – we shall be prepared!
There is so much going on in this chapter! However, I want to highlight a small part of the story. I wanted to draw attention to a time where, by our own ‘standards’, one of Jesus’ own prayers was not answered by God.