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|Luke 16||Luke 17||Luke 18||Luke 19||Luke 20|
The Unjust Manager, Lazarus and the Rich Man, Parables to make us think, Not how we can bribe our way to heaven! Nor how heaven calculates financial investments! Parables are not meant to be taken at face value but investigated. These parables have so many things to teach us. Some parables are puzzles, ordinary life events or things that are to be contrasted with the supernatural equivalent so we stop thinking naturally:
- We all have to give an account of our stewardship of the life and talents God gave us to work with
- We need to realise our time on the physical world is an investment for the eternal world
- Money tests our hearts and reveals our true attitude to Jesus’ Lordship over our lives
- God wants faithful sons who serve His way with his priorities and instructions
- True riches are NOT financial so we need find out what God considers them to actually be
- Heaven is real … and so is hell
Every time we read God’s Word we should see new things! This is just the start of the list of things God showed me. Each time I look I see more.
Our willingness to be corrected, transformed and produce good fruit is essential for everyone who wants to follow Jesus. Forgiveness tests our hearts almost as much as money. When we focus on Jesus and ignore offence then our faith is empowered to work. “You MUST forgive” Jesus said but so many of us say “I can’t forgive”. What we actually mean is “I won’t forgive” or “I refuse to forgive”. It seems to us that forgiving lets the person off from the consequences. BUT it actually frees us from the consequences and allows God to intervene.
Forgiveness frees us from judgement. It is a sign of humility! We have decided that God knows better than us and we put the matter in His hands. Forgiveness allows love to be released in our hearts. We begin to see God’s love for us in a new way. We begin to trust Him more.
God is NOT like an unjust judge! He is not ignoring us! He is not unfeeling and preoccupied with other matters! Once again, this parable is intended to make us think. Like a puzzle of two pictures with 10 differences, Jesus intends us to look and spot the differences. God is a Just Judge. He has all the facts. He cares for us. He is listening to us. That gives us confidence to pray, faith to pray, power to pray!
Yet prayer is not based on us and our performance. Child-like faith is unquestioning faith, whole-hearted faith, wiling faith. Faith gets answers because it trusts and asks. This is why Jesus could not help but listen to the Blind Man who called out to him based on his understanding of who Jesus was (Son of David = Messiah = God on the earth).
Zacchaeus also understood who Jesus was. It affected his heart and his desires. His response was instant and almost over the top. Not just repaying but compensating and adding extra. Full and complete repentance. No wonder Jesus said “Today Salvation has come to this house” he was excited. It is after all the main reason he came to earth … to seek and actually find and then save the lost.
What a contrast with the person with one talent who buried his gift. No concept of stewardship effecting his thinking, just how unfair life is. That attitude so affected his thinking that he didn’t even consider the simple ways to make money. Offence robs us of vision!
Jesus in contrast is still able to maintain his vision in the face of opposition. Listening to his Father and knowing that whoever rejects him rejects the Father as well. Prophesying over Jerusalem the destruction that came just a few years later. Real authority! Yet when questioned about his authority, Jesus made no attempt to defend or prove his position. True humility. Jesus was always clear about his calling and background, knowing the Father’s wishes and fulfilling them.
Questions to consider
- How trustworthy are you?
- Do you think and therefore act as a servant or do you wait to be served by others? Who can you serve today?
- How lightly do you hold your possessions? Are they available for God to use? Compare Luke 18:22-23 with Luke 19:8.
- Are you using the gifts God has given you?
- Spending time praying and reading the Bible as a family is so important. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me”. Make sure everyone, even the youngest, as an opportunity to pray.
The contrast between Jewish communities and that of Gentile or Non-Jewish communities was huge. Apart from basic beliefs regarding the nature and character of God, Jewish society was also strictly separated in response to God’s Word on basic issues like food and work routines. Jewish life and culture was carefully based around maintaining the traditions of the Law. The whole annual calendar revolved around the key fast and feast days, with the working week also matching the requirements of the Sabbath. Daily trips to the temple to make sacrifices and fulfill vows were a regular part of Jewish society.
Josephus (1st Century historian) records 5 main religious groups, later historians identify another 15-20 main groups. These different groups were mainly separated by their interpretation of the various commandments and regulations of the Law.
Daily living was clearly an act of faith, with every part of Jewish life focused on pleasing God by fulfilling every requirement of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy plus the many Rabbinical teachings.
It is easy to see why the early church struggled to incorporate the Gentile believers.
Luke, Paul’s companion, is generally accepted as the author of this gospel. Possibly written while he stayed with Paul during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (59-62AD) with the investigative work being done after Paul’s death.
Luke’s Gospel and Acts are the only 2 books of the Bible written by a Gentile, all other books being written by Jews. However, some historians suggest that Luke was a Jewish Christian who followed a Greek lifestyle and that he was therefore comparatively lax in ritual observation, rather than being a Gentile. Scripture only gives us hints as to his true background.