Luke Devotional – Week 12
March 20 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 17:20-37, Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God 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.” 22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”  37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
The Pharisees’ question about when the kingdom was coming gave Jesus an opportunity to offer more information about it. Without saying it, Jesus told them that He was the kingdom of God. It was in their midst or it could also be translated to say, “the kingdom is within you.” It was active right then and there. It was within their grasp if they would only open their eyes.
Theologian N.T. Wright states that the imagery of terrible destruction that Jesus speaks here is of a military invasion. What we have often interpreted to only be about the end of times, Jesus spoke about the impending destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. There may be similar events happen before Jesus returns, but Jesus was telling them they should not trust the nation’s leadership who wanted to lead them in revolution but understand that God was preparing to judge Jerusalem for their failure to repent.
The days of the Son of Man are the days Jesus will be vindicated as the Messiah, the fulfillment of His prophecies which included His resurrection and Jerusalem’s destruction. Where will this be? Where the vultures gather. The word vulture and eagle are the same in the original language. The eagle was the national emblem of the Roman Army. Again, this adds evidence that Jesus was first speaking about the Roman invasion.
The message is still the same for us. The kingdom of God is found within us. May we listen and open our hearts, repent, and receive the good news so that we will find life and life eternal.
Prayer: Father, give us ears to hear and eyes to see the kingdom of God within us. Give us hearts to respond, repent, and receive the best news every spoken. Amen.
March 21 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 18:1-8, Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
This story reveals two vital elements to our Christian faith. The faithfulness of God that will bring about His justice and our responsibility to not give up in prayer believing that God will answer in due time.
Jesus had previously taught the content of prayer- praying for God’s kingdom to come. He also taught the manner of prayer- persistently coming to the Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. Best of all, He offers His very own Spirit, God’s very presence, to dwell within us.
This parable indicates that we should expect injustice in our lives. The larger view of this story is the Jews found themselves living under unjust Roman rule. Many were preparing for a revolution. Ultimately, they were looking for a military Messiah to lead them out of bondage and into freedom.
On this level, Jesus was telling them to keep persistently praying to the Lord of the universe who has far greater authority than any earthly king or kingdom. He will bring about justice and make all things right and good in His time. So, keep on believing. Keep on praying.
A deep contrast is setup between God and the judge who does not fear God or care what happens to others. This is the worst possible scenario in having such a judge sitting on the bench. He has no business wearing the robe of justice. However, Jesus’ point is even this judge will finally crack and answer the widow out of fear that he might be attacked by her. In other words, he will reach his limit of no longer caring what others think!
If that is true, then God who is filled with perfect love, goodness, and justice will surely be much more motivated by persistent prayer to bring justice into the world and our pain-filled situations.
Jesus asks all of us a question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Will there be such persistence in humility and faith found among God’s people? We are summoned to pray again and again into the mystery and mercy of God.
Prayer: Father, thank you for your loving kindness that is moved to respond to our brokenness and need for justice. May we be persistent in faith to keep praying and trusting in Your goodness and mercy to bring help and hope. Amen.
March 22 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 18:9-17, To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
These two stories connect with the kingdom of God’s high value of humility. Jesus spoke these stories for the benefit of the proud religious leaders who were hypocritically confident of their own self-righteousness. This Pharisee and their whole lot in general were all about the show of piety. This one even bragged to God about his works righteousness. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus goes into further detail about their behavior.
Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
In contrast to such proud public piety was the sinful tax collector who in total humility could only muster a cry of guilt and shame, “God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” This is a prayer that can be prayed by us when we are at the end of ourselves and do not have other words to speak.
Jesus further humiliated the arrogant pieticians by telling them they needed to become like children who honestly and energetically embrace life with absolute faith and trust. This was most humiliating of all. In their pride, they would never stoop so low to become like a child.
These two stories teach humility is the way into the kingdom of God. To be humble is to be real. To be humble is to be totally honest with ourselves, with God, and with others about who we are. There is no pretense. There is no cover-up. There is open-hearted confession and energetic expression of faith and trust in Jesus.
Prayer: Father, I humbly come to You just as I am today. Have mercy upon me, a sinner. Jesus, I energetically run to you and embrace You as children with their parents. Amen.
March 23 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 18:18-18-34, A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” 34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
The ruler’s question is one that lies at the heart of every human being whether we realize it or not. Is life after death possible? If so, how do I attain it? It is no surprise because we read this, Ecclesiastes 3:11, He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
The desire for eternity is built into our DNA. The ruler thought he had achieved everything, but Jesus said there was one more thing. He went away sad because he could not let go of his god. He could not trade in his perishable pleasures for the massive treasure troves of heaven.
Jesus gives us a very stark warning. It is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. The problem is not just that we are rich but that we foolishly put our trust in our wealth. What is surprising is that the disciples ask, who then can be saved? Did they see themselves as wealthy? Jesus told them all things are possible with God. When we choose to surrender into God’s forgiving grace found only in Jesus, then we, too, will know the joy of the kingdom of God.
Jesus reminded them for the third time what was soon to come in Jerusalem. In contrast to those who choose the earthly kingdom, Jesus, the Son of God, was willing to lay down His life so all who would believe would have eternal life. Do we lack one thing from receiving the kingdom of God? If so, what is it? Will we turn from it and give our hearts fully to Jesus?
Prayer: Father, show me if there is one or more things that I lack from receiving the kingdom of heaven. Give me the courage to choose Jesus over everything. Amen.
March 24 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 18:35-43, As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Word was out. As Jesus made His way to Jerusalem, He approached the old town of Jericho. As the large crowd approached, the blind beggar heard the commotion and wanted to know what was going on. He was told that Jesus was coming through.
It is interesting they described Jesus by his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus was a common name. Since they did not have last names, they used an additional descriptive word to uniquely identify one another. Evidently “Jesus of Nazareth” had become widely known and associated with this miracle-working rabbi who traveled around the country.
The blind man knew Jesus’ reputation and did not hesitate to call out in what has become a classic prayer, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Why did he change the description of Jesus? What was he saying by using this?
“Son of David” represents the lineage of Israel’s royalty. Though he was blind, he saw what most did not. He declared Jesus to be the King Messiah! Jesus’ ministry was a growing revelation of Himself as the Prophet, Messiah, and the Son of God.
The blind man revealed to all who could hear that Jesus was the Messiah. The leaders of the entourage told him to be quiet. Why was that? Did they not know or understand who Jesus was? Was it seen as politically incorrect to declare Jesus as king? Was that a threat to Rome? Was he shushed not because of his annoying cry but because of the content of what he said?
Jesus heard him and asked what he wanted Him to do for him. His request to see was no small request. It required tremendous faith to make such a request. His faith already had sight.
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Jesus rewarded his faith by healing him. He and the whole crowd gave praise to God. This is yet another example of the people glorifying God for Jesus’ actions. Heaven had come to earth, not just as expected to happen at the Temple, but along the dusty roads and among the small villages. Praise to God is not just reserved for worship services but for everyday life.
Prayer: Father, give me faith to see and believe what seems impossible. I ask of You what I need most and offer You praise for hearing and answering my request. Amen.
March 25 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 19:1-10, Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Did you sing the Zacchaeus song a child in Sunday School? It was one of my favorites.
“Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see and when the Savior passed that way, He looked up in the tree
And said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down! For I’m going to your house today! For I’m going to your house today!’”
My favorite line was, “Zacchaeus, you come down!” because we were encouraged to shout it!
Jesus had just healed a blind man as he entered Jericho, now He had this encounter with a despised wealthy tax collector. Zacchaeus put forth great effort to see Jesus. Was it mere curiosity or was there something missing in his life that drove him up the tree?
What caused Jesus to stop? Was it a strange sight to see someone up in a tree or was it the inner prodding of His Spirit? Jesus gave Zacchaeus a very direct order that He must go to his house. Was that so He and his entourage could experience hospitality, be fed, and have a place to stay? That may have been the initial reason.
However, we quickly see the real reason. It is interesting that it says that Zacchaeus stood up. His height did not matter anymore. He was taking a stand on the decision he had made to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times those he had cheated.
This is another picture of true repentance. He made the turn away from his sinful past and by these actions was professing allegiance to the kingdom of God. Jesus declared salvation had come to his house and was to be seen as a son of Abraham. In other words, he was accepted into the family of God despite his horrid past of cheating others.
Jesus reiterated that his purpose for coming was for people like Zacchaeus who recognized and repented of their sin and entered in the salvation of the new kingdom of God. No one is beyond God’s grace and redemption if they will respond to Jesus’ call. He has come for all of us!
Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus to seek and save me. I was lost. I am found. I praise you for welcoming me into Your family. Amen.