Luke Devotional – Week 5
January 30 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 7:1-10, When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum.2 At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death.3 When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. 4 So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, 5 “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”
6 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. 7 I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 8 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” 10 And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.
What a story of faith! Jesus demonstrates how faith on our part is a key response to the inbreaking of the kingdom of God into the world. This is all the more surprising since it does not come from one of God’s own people but from a Roman centurion. Rarely, do we find Jesus surprised in a positive way, but we do in this encounter.
The centurion who asked for his servant to be healed had three positive qualities:
First, he was of righteous character. The Jewish elders were willing to go to bat on his behalf to urge Jesus to honor his request because they knew how much he loved their people and had helped them build their synagogue. He was a unique officer who loved the people he was sent to oversee.
Second, he was humble. He did not feel worthy to have Jesus come to his home or even to meet him. In the midst of the crowds who flocked to see Jesus, it stands out as rather unusual that anyone would not want to meet Jesus.
Third, he had an understanding of authority. One of the themes we have discovered so far in Luke is Jesus establishing his heavenly authority through His powerful messages and miracles. What the religious leaders doubted about Jesus, this officer quickly believed because he understood the nature of power. This led him to his remarkable belief that Jesus could speak the word, and his servant would be healed.
The faith Jesus saw in him had not been found elsewhere, not even among his own disciples, the people, and of course, not from the religious leaders. Do we have such faith? What will it take for us to trust in the authority of Jesus who reigns over the universe today?
Prayer: Father, give me such faith. May I be humble enough to recognize the authority of Jesus over all things and submit to Him in total trust and obedience. Amen.
January 31 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 7:11-17, Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” 17 And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside.
There was no social net to catch widows in Jesus’ day. The son would grow up and be expected to care for his mother. Not only does this widow grieve emotionally for one of the greatest losses known to mankind- the loss of a child, but she knows she will have no security going into the future.
As Jesus approached this village, he quickly saw the funeral procession leaving town. Our NLT version says “Jesus’ heart overflowed with compassion.” What a beautiful description of how soft-hearted our Lord is, especially, to those who have experienced loss. If that is you, then please know Jesus’ heart overflows with tender loving empathy for you today.
Jesus did not have to do what He did next. He touched the coffin. As when He touched the leper, this act made Him spiritually unclean according to His Jewish faith. When Jesus became incarnate, He fully embraced humanity in its brokenness, except He refused to sin. The Son of God fully identified with the pain, the guilt, and the shame of mankind. Who chooses to do that except for the most loving person imaginable? In this case, it is no one less than God Himself.
We get a preview of the resurrection to come as Jesus tells the boy to get up. This is the first resuscitation miracle given in Luke. So, it is no wonder that fear and praise swept over the people.
They made two declarations. “A mighty prophet has risen among us.” The word “risen” is the same word used to describe what Jesus did for the dead son. How prophetic of what is to come. Secondly, “God has visited us” is specific language of the prediction from the prophets and Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, of God’s coming Messiah.
The revelation and the realization were coming together. The people were quickly discovering that Jesus was the One who was promised!
May we have the same excitement to discover who Jesus is and what He can do as He visits and dwells within us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for your amazing plan. You visited us in Jesus, and You have come to dwell in us through Your Spirit. We gladly welcome You into our home! Amen.
February 1 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 7:18-35, The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, 19 and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” 20 John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” 21 At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. 22 Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 23 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
24 After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him 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? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’
28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”29 When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism. 31 “To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them? 32 They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t weep.’
33 For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.”
It seems a bit strange that John needed further confirmation, but when we remember he was in prison, this could have led to a season of doubt and defeat. He might have wondered if the Messiah was supposed to release prisoners and if Jesus was He, why was John still in prison? Though John had received reports of Jesus’ ministry and had to be hopeful, John had not personally witnessed such miracles as he had expected; nor had he heard Jesus claim outright that he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer was to tell John all that Isaiah had promised was happening. Jesus went on to state that no one was greater than John because he was the climax of history and prophecy. Sinners had received John and Jesus’ teaching, but the self-righteous refused to do so. Wisdom is revealed by those who accept the message. Who are we in this story?
Prayer: Father, in the midst of all our doubts and questions, help us to be humble and believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to You but through Him. Amen.
February 2 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 7:36-50, One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume.38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!” 40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?” 50 And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The Pharisees knew something important was going on with Jesus, but it was not what they wanted. Simon separated himself from most of the Pharisees by inviting Jesus over for dinner so that he could learn more. In that small, close-knit town, everyone knew about this woman’s sin, but she knew all about Jesus’ forgiving love. Somehow, she had experienced it and was basking in it so much that she could not help herself but to show extravagant hospitality to Jesus. Once again, others were questioning how Jesus could forgive so Jesus told Simon a parable of the moneylender to reveal how her response was natural and appropriate. Simon had failed to offer the basic acts of hospitality, but the woman did those acts in extravagant fashion.
To know we are fully forgiven from the deep darkness of sin will cause us to freely express such abandoned love to our Lord. As John said, “We love because He first loved us.” What acts of worship and generosity are you offering to let Jesus know of your love and gratitude for Him?
Prayer: Father, if we really know how much we have been forgiven by You, if we only knew we are the sinful woman in this story, then we would be all-out in our demonstration of love to You. May we fully appreciate your loving grace today. Amen.
February 3 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 8:1-15, Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, 2 along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons;3 Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.
4 One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5 “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. 6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
We may forget that among the larger group of 12 disciples were other men and women who were following Jesus. It is important for Luke that he includes this information about the women to reveal the kingdom of God is for all persons. In fact, Jesus and his disciples were able to do what they did because of the generosity of some well-positioned and well-funded women. This was no small detail that only Luke offers among the gospel writers.
The well-known parable of the seed illustrates there are four scenarios of people responding to the gospel, but in actuality it becomes two choices. We either listen to the word, which includes fully obeying and bear fruit or we fail to produce because we’re too hard of heart, discouraged by the difficulties of life, or distracted by the pleasures of this world. The difference is the quality of the soil which is the condition of our hearts. Are we nurturing our hearts through obedience to be the rich soil that welcomes the gospel so that it grows and produces a remarkable harvest?
Prayer: Father, soften our heart’s soil. Make it fertile ground for Your word to take root, grow, blossom, and bear much fruit to Your glory. Amen.
February 4 – The Gospel of Luke
Luke 8:16-21, “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. 17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.
18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”
19 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to see you.” 21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”
The theme is the same as the verses from yesterday, namely, all spiritual claims will be tested for its authenticity. God’s truth which was hidden from those who rejected it, would one day be publicly vindicated. The absurdity of lighting a lamp only to hide it reinforces the point. The gospel truth will eventually be brought to light and made known for all to see whether they believe or not.
A spiritual principle for those who truly listen to the gospel message is that they will be given more spiritual insight, but those who fail to fully listen will lose what little understanding they have. To truly listen is to accept the message as truth and appropriate it into our lives. This is how we prepare the soil of our hearts to be fertile ground to receive the message and produce tremendous spiritual fruit.
Obedience to God’s word is key to unlocking the door to God’s spiritual wealth. Jesus dramatically emphasizes that point as He says all who hear and obey God’s word are His family. We can do all the Bible study we want, but until we live it, it does not accomplish the spiritual work that God has intended His word to do.
Jesus has made this same point over and over in the past couple of chapters, which tells us, we better listen because it is a core message of the kingdom of God. True kingdom people welcome God’s word into our lives so that it will transform us into brand new creations that we were destined to be.
Hear with your ears – Listen with your heart – Obey with your will – Receive more spiritual insight into the mind of Christ. Repeat!
Prayer: Father, give me good ears, a receptive heart, and an obedient will to fully appropriate your gospel message into my life so that I can enjoy You more and more. Amen.