During Lent, we are using short videos to share a daily idea (linked to the gospel of Luke) on how to grow spiritually. Watch today’s video. Click here or on the image below:
Note: We are reading the entire gospel of Luke in the GPS. Some day’s readings are longer than usual. We hope you’ll have an extra cup of coffee, or use your lunch break, and read Luke’s entire story of Jesus.
9 Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust: 10 “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ 13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this person went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”
15 People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. 16 Then Jesus called them to him and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 17 I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.”
18 A certain ruler asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?”
19 Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. 20 You know the commandments: Don’t commit adultery. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Honor your father and mother” [Deuteronomy 5:16-20; Exodus 20:12-16].
21 Then the ruler said, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.”
22 When Jesus heard this, he said, “There’s one more thing. Sell everything you own and distribute the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” 23 When he heard these words, the man became sad because he was extremely rich.
24 When Jesus saw this, he said, “It’s very hard for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom! 25 It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”
26 Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible for humans is possible for God.”
28 Peter said, “Look, we left everything we own and followed you.”
29 Jesus said to them, “I assure you that anyone who has left house, husband, wife, brothers, sisters, parents, or children because of God’s kingdom 30 will receive many times more in this age and eternal life in the coming age.”
31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and said, “Look, we’re going up to Jerusalem, and everything written about the Human One [or Son of Man] by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. He will be ridiculed, mistreated, and spit on. 33 After torturing him, they will kill him. On the third day, he will rise up.” 34 But the Twelve understood none of these words. The meaning of this message was hidden from them and they didn’t grasp what he was saying.
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” Jesus said in 18:31, and he was nearly there. His culture didn’t value tax collectors or children. Jesus said those “nobodies” were more apt to receive God’s favor than an arrogant Pharisee or a ruler who loved his wealth more than God. “Then who can be saved?” his startled hearers asked. Anyone, Jesus implied. “What is impossible for humans is possible for God.”
Lord Jesus, preserve me from trusting in my own righteousness or in my bank and retirement accounts. Be the center and source of my life, now and forever. Amen.
Click here to incorporate music and worship from the COR Worship Collective into your daily practice and devotion.
I’ve always been sort of fascinated by the time immediately before something changes forever. People walking to work in New York in the morning of 9/11. My grandmother’s story about the family Sunday dinner on December 7, 1941 with her three sons sitting around the table. In a few hours the world would be at war, and in a few months her sons would be in the South Pacific, farther away than she had ever imagined. I think about conversations that I didn’t know would be last conversations. Our lives are full of change, so they are full of these moments.
In today’s reading in Luke, we find Jesus, talking to his disciples, and crowds of people want to see and hear him. They are living in one of those moments. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” (Luke 18:31), Jesus said to his disciples. He tried to tell them, to prepare them for the days to come, for the fact that the world was going to change forever, but they didn’t understand.
Jesus is feeling the weight of what is about to happen. He is spending this time connecting with people, teaching in parables to explain the life-changing truths he knows they need to take in and practice. He wants to make sure they understand that put-on righteousness and pride will never make them fit for the kingdom to come. He wants them to understand that he came to welcome sinners who humbly ask for mercy (Luke 8:13). He wants his disciples to understand that the pure, simple faith of a child is the faith that God requires. He tells them that God must come first, even before family and certainly before gathering and guarding wealth and position. He wants them (and us) to know that, when human efforts fall short, God still has a plan for salvation. He even tries to make his closest disciples understand what is going to happen to him in the days to come, but they can’t even imagine it.
As we observe Lent, we live with the disciples and crowds in the moments before Jesus goes up to Jerusalem. We have the chance to learn what he wants us to know before we see what happens at the cross and at the tomb, so we will understand.
Jesus tells them, “What’s impossible for humans is possible for God.” (Luke 18:27) What a comforting and amazing truth. God sent Jesus to tell us what the kingdom will truly look like. Jesus told us how God can change our hearts, our priorities, and the moments of our lives.
Lord God, as we read and pray and follow Jesus through the last moments before the world truly changed forever, help us see and hear what Jesus is teaching. Thank you for reminding us that nothing is impossible for you. May the changes we see be the changes you desire for us. Amen.
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