Luke Devotional – Week 11

Rev. Doug Heiman   -  

March 13 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 15:1-10, Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Jesus told three stories, two of which we read today, to address the ongoing complaint of the religious leaders about Jesus hanging out with so-called sinners. Who you eat with says a lot about you. Interestingly, these sinners willingly came to hear Jesus speak life-giving words. Jesus had such good news that the worst of sinners were drawn into it. 

The religious leaders were all about self-effort that led to self-righteousness. It was a legalistic approach to be religious that stood in the way of an authentic relationship with God. It was a heavy burden to bear rather than an offer to freely and joyfully walk with the Lord. 

As the angel announced to the shepherds, we see being played out in these stories, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to mankind.” This is the merging of heaven and earth. As God’s saving peace was being accepted on earth by sinners, heaven celebrated and rejoiced in praise to God. Jesus reveals an inside look into what is most highly treasured in heaven.

As a lost sheep and lost coin are intentionally and diligently sought after so Jesus was doing the same with those who had lost their way with God. As heaven came to earth in Jesus, so heaven continued to rejoice when each person was found by Jesus and brought back into the kingdom of God. 

As Jesus was intent upon reaching those outside the kingdom, so should we. We do so by praying that God will open their hearts to the good news of the kingdom. We winsomely reveal God’s holy love through actions and words. We celebrate when they come home. What heaven rejoices over, so should we! 

Prayer: Father, thank you for coming after us in Your Son Jesus. We are all lost. We all need to be found. Use me to bring others into the kingdom of God so more celebration can erupt in heaven and on earth. Amen. 

March 14 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 15:11-32, To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ 20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The young son’s request was saying he wished his father was dead. He took off for a “good time” but crashed as low as one could go in feeding pigs. In his despair, he remembered his father’s abundance even for his servants and decided to go home. In that culture, a father would never run because it was considered undignified. In contrast to the son’s dishonoring request, the father’s undignified action revealed how beautiful God’s mercy and forgiving love are for every sinner who repents and makes the turn for home. The punchline of the story is the older brother confronting the father. He was just as lost but in a different way. The father pleaded with him which was also extraordinary for that culture. Jesus was saying to his son, who represented the Pharisees’ hardened heart toward sinners, God is still reaching out to you and to all sinners to welcome them in. Will you not receive the gift? Will you not rejoice that others are entering in? 

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your astounding love and forgiveness. May I pray for and exuberantly welcome others who make the turn for home. Amen. 

March 15 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 16:1-15, Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’ “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

“So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’ “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’ “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” 14 The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. 15 Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.

Scholars disagree on how to interpret some of the details of this parable. What we find is a manager, who created a self-made crisis, shrewdly used his owner’s wealth to prepare for his future. The point being made is that Jesus’ followers must also use worldly wealth to bless and help others so that we will be welcomed into eternity by all who were helped. This is not speaking of salvation by works but that stewardship matters so we should use wealth wisely.  

If we do not handle earthly wealth well, then we will not be trusted with the riches of heaven. What we do with what we have now matters greatly for the future. In fact, we must persistently guard against the love of stuff becoming our god. The Pharisees falsely believed they could serve two masters at the same time. They enjoyed their wealth while putting on a show of religious activity. They thought the show was all-sufficient, but God looks deep into our hearts to see what we treasure most. Pretending to worship God while loving our stuff is detestable to God. God refuses to share the throne with anyone or anything else.  

Prayer: Father, help us to see what You see. Reveal our hearts to us. Convict us if we love money and stuff more than we love You. Instead, may we use our stuff to bless others and bring praise to You. Amen. 

March 16 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 16:16-31, “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. 17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned. 18 “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury.20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. 22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. 24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ 27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ 30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ 31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Jesus revealed His message was not contrary to what had been handed down by God through Moses and the prophets. What was different were the man-made traditions and expectations that had become burdensome. Many were responding to Jesus’ good news, but that message was no different. For example, God was still not pleased with divorce and remarriage that caused adultery. The sanctity of marriage is one example of many of how the old is in the new. 

Abraham’s “side” was the pre-Christian idea of where the righteous go after death. In this story, Jesus taught how God’s kingdom views those who have plenty of resources but do not offer to help others in need. However, this was not a brand-new teaching but was also spoken by Moses and the prophets. The problem was that it was not being practiced by many of the rich, including the religious leaders. In the story, Jesus gives us a hint of his future resurrection. The same people who reject His message now, which fulfills Moses’ and the prophets’ message, will not listen to the same message even after He has risen from the dead. What about us? Are we hearing and obeying God’s eternally true word today? 

Prayer: Father, Your word is consistent and true. It never changes. What was true yesterday is still true today. I humble myself before Your word in obedience. Amen.   

March 17 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 17:1-10, One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. So watch yourselves! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!

“When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. 10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”

These teachings are connected together in humility. It is the attitude that I am not going to rush ahead to do what I want but choose to carefully follow God’s heart as I work out my faith. 

As followers of Jesus, we must remember we are not only living for ourselves. To take on Christ is to take on the responsibility of being a positive witness and example for others. We must be careful that we do not tempt or trip up others in their faith. The Apostle Paul talks about living in such a way that we do not cause the younger believer to stumble and fall. We may be free to do certain things, but Jesus says we have responsibility in our freedom not to bring harm to someone else in their walk with Jesus. 

Jesus also calls on us to do the difficult task of rebuking others who sin. In light of what we have already heard from Jesus, we must make sure we do not have sin in our own life. We must bring correction in love and humility being motivated by their spiritual well-being. On the other hand, if a person repeatedly wrongs us and apologizes, we are to offer unending forgiveness. We celebrate God’s forgiveness to us by passing it on to others. 

Was it in light of this teaching, that one of the apostles asked Jesus to show them how to increase their faith? They were discovering to live out Jesus’ new kingdom teaching required much humility. Jesus answered by saying they did not necessarily need greater faith, but they needed to put whatever little faith they had in the great God. They needed a bigger view of who the God of the universe is. 

The teaching on the servant and master is to highlight that God is never in debt to us. Humility refuses to demand rights and entitlements. We cannot impress or leverage God with our obedience or our many acts of service. At the end of the day, whatever we do we do because we are grateful for His immense forgiving love and obediently respond by following Jesus in humble loving service.   

Prayer: Father, I humbly bring what little faith I have and place it in You, the great and only God of the universe. Your way is my way. Strengthen my resolve today. Amen. 

March 18 – The Gospel of Luke

Luke 17:11-19, As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

This passage reminds us that Jesus is deliberately marching toward Jerusalem for His final act of redemption. 

The ten lepers appear to be right outside a village on the border between the two mutually-hated areas of Israel. An interesting observation is that Jews would choose to go around Samaria even though to go through was the shortest route from Galilee to Jerusalem. However, Jesus chose to go through the area. As we have already seen, He was determined to demonstrate that the good news of the kingdom was for all people. 

We also discover that nine lepers were from Galilee and one was from Samaria. They were all together crying out for mercy. The bond of their disease and condition was greater than the social stigma of the sectarian views they had of each other. Brokenness brought them together in community. Pain and suffering are often an opportunity to help us overcome differences and prejudices and unite together.   

What Jesus asked them to do required real faith. While they were still leprous, He told them to go show themselves to the priest who alone could declare them clean so they could return back into society. They all took off and, along the way, the leprosy disappeared. 

The nine former Jewish lepers hurried on to see the priest so that they could return to the community. However, the one who was a Samaritan could not contain himself but had to return to give thanks to Jesus for the incredible gift he had been given. 

Jesus asked where the other nine were. Only one of the ten came back to give God glory for the miraculous healing. Jesus made the point to say it was a foreigner, a Samaritan, who did so. It was the unexpected one who came back in humility to give thanks to Jesus and praise to God. The model for our lives is be humble and grateful for all the good gifts of heaven. 

Again, Jesus highlighted that anyone from anywhere who is humble and receptive to the good news is welcomed into the kingdom of God.  

Prayer: Father, I want to be humble and grateful in all of life. Forgive me for taking Your good gifts for granted. Forgive me for not giving you thanks and praise. Today, I thank you for all the gifts of heaven that You shower upon me. Amen.