Luke Devotional – Week 10
March 6 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 13:10-17, One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”
15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?” 17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.
This is another example of old wine in old wineskins’ thinking from the religious leaders. Their tradition and the practice of their faith had become idolatry. Instead of worshiping God, they worshiped the way in which they approached God. Jesus’ kingdom continually clashed with their small-minded kingdom. There is something wrong with your practice of the faith if you want to keep people in bondage on the day of worship.
One of the meanings of the Sabbath was to look forward to the coming kingdom of God. Once again, Jesus displays that the new kingdom had arrived. Healings are welcome seven days a week. This is the vision of what God desires for His people, and one day, will be fully known.
It is interesting to note that Jesus used the same word to describe the donkey being untied as he does for the woman being released from her bondage. She was untied from Satan’s grip on her life and made well.
Once again, Jesus addressed the religious leaders as hypocrites. They had miniscule rules of what they could not do on the Sabbath, but they still worked by leading animals out for a drink. Jesus’ comparison by describing both acts of untying would have made the point that He was declaring it to be the same kind of work. If one act was allowed, then Jesus’ healing act which had far greater ramifications should be fully embraced.
Her healing led to authentic, heart-felt praise to God. In contrast to the highly regulated ritualistic acts that felt like a burden to perform, this woman illustrated that praise will flow freely from all who have been made whole by the healing presence of Jesus.
How do you describe your own worship? Is it highly ritualistic and perfunctory, or is it a passionate expression of your love for God’s healing and saving work in your life?
Prayer: Father, thank you for the healing presence found in Jesus. Untie me from my bondage so that I might freely and joyfully offer my loving praise to You. Amen.
March 7 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 13:18-30, Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? 19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”
20 He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? 21 It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. 29 And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. 30 And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”
Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God has a small beginning as a mustard seed, but it grows into one of the largest plants where birds are even able to find rest in it. The kingdom of God has come in Jesus in a small way. He offers one healing and one teaching at a time. He recruits one or two disciples at a time. So, do not despise small beginnings.
The kingdom of God is like yeast that works its way throughout the whole dough. The kingdom will permeate the world, but even more importantly, it will permeate each person who receives it. It will transform a person’s heart and work its way throughout the mind, mouth, and body.
In response to the question if only a few will be saved, Jesus tells them to enter through the narrow door of God’s kingdom. As Jesus would say in other places, He is the door, the way to enter in. We enter by repentance, faith, and demonstrating the fruit of our salvation by obeying His word. This speaks against the common cultural thought that all paths lead to heaven.
Many erroneously thought since they were of the bloodline of Abraham or because they were merely doing religious acts, they were automatically in. As Jesus had said multiple times that anyone entering in must be a practitioner of the Word. In fact, the door is open wide for people from around the world to become such doers of the Word. Even those who appear to be the lowest in society are welcomed in because of their authentic trust in Jesus that leads to a changed heart and a transformed life.
Prayer: Father, I do not want to miss out on Your salvation for now and all eternity. By faith, I enter through Jesus and choose to obey His teaching to experience a total life change. Amen.
March 8 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 13:31-35, At that time some Pharisees said to him, “Get away from here if you want to live! Herod Antipas wants to kill you!” 32 Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. 33 Yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn’t do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem!
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 35 And now, look, your house is abandoned. And you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
It is rather surprising that some Pharisees warned Jesus to go away because King Herod Antipas wanted to kill Him. Herod was king over the region of Galilee. We need to remember Jesus was deliberately making his way to Jerusalem one final time for his crucifixion.
In chapter 7, we read that after John’s disciples left Jesus, He began talking about John to the crowds, “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind?” It is interesting to note that Herod Antipas had coins minted of himself, and the symbol he chose was a reed by the Sea of Galilee. Was Jesus making a veiled reference about Herod’s weakness even though he would have John the Baptist killed?
In chapter 9, we read when Herod Antipas heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled and tried to see Jesus. Even as king of the region, he could not make it happen.
The message Jesus told the Pharisees to communicate back to Herod was that he was not in control. He had no power over Jesus, who, one day, would be the King of kings. Jesus would fulfill his purpose and die in Jerusalem where prophets are known to die. Herod could not stop heaven’s mission so there was no need to worry because Herod had no authority over Jesus.
Jesus then revealed His heart for the people of Jerusalem. He knew what was coming. He knew Rome, represented by Herod, would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus desired to gather the people and protect them from the fox and fire to come. In fact, He would do so by sacrificing His life for them, but most would not accept His gift to them.
The house or the temple had been abandoned. This speaks of the leaders’ spiritual condition who conducted worship. The sanctity of the temple was radically abused by those running it. They were full of greed and hypocrisy. As it was when Babylon came calling 600 years earlier so judgment is poised to come through Rome. However, this time there was hope if only they would repent and turn to God through Jesus’ message.
Authentic repentance is the deterrent to judgment. May we heed that message for our own spiritual condition and eternal future.
Prayer: Father, You have given us what we need in Jesus to be spared judgment. May we not neglect our spiritual house but take great care of the holy place we are as Your temple. Amen.
March 9 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 14:1-14, One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. 2 There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” 4 When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. 5 Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” 6 Again they could not answer.
7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: 8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! 10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
Once again, Jesus was being watched closely. It was the Sabbath, and there was a man who needed to be healed. Would Jesus heal him? It may be difficult for us to understand how healing could be considered work. Jesus had a tough time with their logic as well. He told them they had no problem with working on the Sabbath to rescue a child or an animal, why then could He not rescue the sick and heal them?
Again, the Sabbath plays a central role in the gospel’s healings because it was considered a day to anticipate and celebrate the inbreaking of the kingdom of God. It was happening before their eyes, and they refused to see and rejoice that God was doing a new thing.
Evidently, seating at a banquet was a big deal for that culture. People jockeyed for the top seats as people rush to get to the front of the line today. As an example of what it means to walk the humble path, Jesus told them they should think differently and choose the less important position. If you assert your importance, you may be embarrassed by thinking too highly of yourself, whereas, if you choose the humble position, you may be promoted. This is the ongoing theme of the kingdom. The humble will be exalted, and the proud will be demoted.
In the same way, we should serve, give, or host a meal to those who cannot repay. The greatest act in the kingdom is to show unconditional and unexpected love. At the final resurrection, all things will be sorted out, and we will find our greatest reward as a follower of Jesus.
Prayer: Father, help me not to be proud and judgmental but to choose the humble way where I serve and love others unconditionally. Amen.
March 10 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 14:15-24, Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
This scene carries over from yesterday. Jesus is at a prominent Pharisees’ home having dinner. Jesus had just spoken about the humble and gracious way we are to live and give of ourselves to others, especially to those who cannot repay us. After hearing Jesus’ tell this, a man sitting close to Jesus excitedly said how joyful it will be to eat at the banquet table in the Kingdom. In response to that, Jesus told a story about those who are invited to that very banquet.
Many were invited to attend a wonderful banquet. The invitations had been sent and now the servant was going to let them know it was time to come. Remarkably and strangely, the invitees all had excuses of why they could not come. Their reasons were rather lame in comparison to the magnitude of the banquet to which they had been invited. We would expect all who were invited had a special relationship with the one throwing the party. They were not only turning down a great time; they were disrespecting a friend.
So, the master told the servant to go and urgently invite everyone in the city and out in the country to come to the banquet because he wanted his house to be full. What a beautiful picture of God’s heart! He wants His house to be full!
This story was told revealing what was happening during Jesus’ ministry. He was sent to tell the good news that the banquet was ready, but most of the Jewish leaders refused to listen or respond to the final call to enjoy the kingdom banquet. So, Jesus revealed the invitation would soon go out to anyone and everyone throughout the world. God’s own people had rejected what had been promised through the prophets. The invitation had already been sent. Jesus had come to tell them it was time to enter the kingdom banquet, and they refused.
Let it be known, what we do with Jesus’ invitation and call to enter the kingdom banquet has eternal ramifications. May we respond in time to enjoy the banquet of all banquets.
Prayer: Father, You have sent us the invitation and the final call to come. You want Your house to be full. You welcome anyone and everyone. I am sending in my RSVP today. Amen.
March 11 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 14:25-35, A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him?32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
34 “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? 35 Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
With the grace of God offered to us through Jesus Christ, we are invited and welcomed into the kingdom of God if we respond to the invitation as we saw yesterday. Today, Jesus takes it a step further to let the crowds know what daily discipleship in His kingdom requires.
Jesus was aware that it is easy to follow someone who is a dynamic speaker and a miracle worker. However, He does not want the crowds to be mistaken, though grace is free for all, discipleship is costly. It is a choice of not just what is good over evil but what is best of all things.
Jesus is not advocating for us to hate our family. As the NLT version says, “in comparison to our love for family, our love for Jesus is to be out of this world.” If it comes down to a choice of whether we are going with Jesus or a loved one, we will choose Jesus. Let’s be honest, these are difficult words which reveal the challenging nature of true discipleship. Jesus was looking for more than crowds who would show up. He was looking for deeply devoted followers who were willing to pick of the cross of loving obedience and follow Him wherever He leads.
That is why he gave two illustrations of counting the cost before making the final decision. He asks us to consider what it takes to be a disciple before we make the choice to go with Him. He is asking us to make an informed and well thought out decision. It is easy to be in the crowd, but being a devoted follower is another story. Are you willing to give up the priority of all things, family and possessions, in order to be a Christ-follower? We find many examples in the early church where they did just that. Will we do the same?
Father, these are difficult and sobering words. We love our family. We love our stuff. Yet Your call is to go all-in with the Son with our greatest love and devotion. Give us such grace and strength to choose Jesus not only as our Savior but our Lord. Amen.