Luke 11: 14 – 32
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.
Jesus was a contradiction for the people of his day, doing greater works than anyone had seen or heard of yet absolutely flying in the face of the received traditional wisdom of what it meant to be a faithful Jew. Not only that but the more successful he became and the greater the crowds,
the more off-putting were his messages. As he said elsewhere, he did not come to bring peace but a sword. His way was sharply different from the traditional approach of faithful Israelites, and his habit of attracting disciples that walked away from their lives and families was not exactly sustainable either if you consider how churches and synagogues related to society at large. In fact it almost sounds like he was starting what some today call cults!
Based on how he related to the Pharisees, teachers of the law and priests of his day, he would have been banging heads a lot with ordained ministers. He would have been attracting young people and the outcasts of society in a manner to which ordinary church folk and their priests and ministers would have found problematic. Yes, today Jesus would be considered a cult leader and perhaps dangerous, perhaps even persecuted and prosecuted.
Not only was Jesus a contradiction for the people of his day, but once you start poking into it, he remains a contradiction for the church today – equally for would-be followers of Jesus as for those who claim to worship him in Spirit and truth, preaching his gospel to the world. Just what are we doing desiring to follow Jesus?
If in fact he is alive, if in fact he rose from the dead and something like what we read about in Acts of the Apostles and the letters written by Paul and others is true, then what are we doing today in answer to this desire/call/being chosen to follow him?
If in fact he is alive, if in fact he rose from the dead and something like what we read about in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters written by Paul and others in true, what are we doing in synagogue/temple-like churches with worldly governance systems, worldly accommodations to the culture and little that resembles the fire and devotion we read about?
What are we doing? Abba guide us into all truth and, where necessary, shatter us that we might be melted down and remolded into your image, into the gifts you created us to be.
Noon Day Prayers Question
What would Jesus do? What should a follower of Jesus be doing today? Attending synagogue or church is okay but certainly is NOT the fulfillment of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. What would Jesus do today if he was walking the earth? What should a follower of Jesus do?
A good question is better than a good answer because it keeps yielding fruit. Keep asking yourself these questions. What would Jesus do today? What should you be doing as a follower of Jesus?
Let the Spirit lead you into wisdom and loving action.
Luke 11: 33 – 54
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not
darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal. Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you – be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”
“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.”
“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.
Jesus was so radical, sometimes so black and white, and yet what he says is so true. Consider the “eye as the lamp of the body.” When we see through our own diseased filters, we perceive darkly but when we see through God’s eyes we are full of light. When we think and act as we are accustomed to doing, we are in darkness and sin but when we think and act as Jesus did, as led by the Spirit, we are full of light and holiness. Jesus takes this black/white characterization and then paints the Pharisees and teachers of the law black, nastily insulting them in the process. He was deliberately provocative!
He would be the great anti-Trump but just as provocative, just as pilloried by the media and the churches would be against him as well. Some of those attracted to Sanders would love Jesus, and they would get radicalized in the process, not radicalized into acts of violence like radical Muslims and far-right anti-abortionists, but radicalized into acts of love, of sacrifice, of giving themselves away in service to the downtrodden of this world.
Is it Jesus we are modelling ourselves on? Do we truly want to be his followers willing to do whatever the Spirit guides us to do, willing to be foolish and sacrificial in our loving, giving and service? If so, we need to return to the “eye as the lamp of the body” and we need to get much more serious about our use of the “examen” as we make it part of our daily life, regularly examining where we are walking in darkness and where we are walking in the light.
All the illumination we need and more is available to us but we have to resolutely and with determination pursue holiness (being like Jesus) if we are to break out of our accustomed dark and broken ways of doing things. Abba give us the grace, strength and determination to truly break free of this world, to become increasingly transformed from glory to glory that we might shine for you! Amen!