Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Weekly meditations taking us through the Gospel of Luke

Instruments or Obstacles of Grace? – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Instruments or Obstacles of Grace? – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

The question is, how would we fare if we were in their shoes? Because there is one thing of which we can be certain—God’s grace is ceaselessly reaching into the lives of the lost, seeking to draw them to Christ. Will we, then, be instruments of that grace or obstacles? Will we help draw others to Christ through the same availability and hospitality we see here in Christ–even to the most despised sinners? Or will we, like the crowd, shut them out from encountering God’s transforming love because we are so conditioned by our own judgments of others that we don’t have eyes to see God’s grace in their lives?

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Following Christ – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Following Christ – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

If, then, following Jesus is the more demanding command, why order the rich man sell and give? Because this was the concrete incarnate way this particular man was to follow Jesus; it was his particular cross. Paul says of the meaning of the Cross: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich”(II Cor. 8:9) Isn’t that what he asked of this man? Isn’t that what he asks of us, each in our own way? And since comparative material wellbeing is the lot of most of us, will not our cross of sacrificial love involve, in part, sacrificial giving to the poor as well?

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A Faith that Saves – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

A Faith that Saves – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Jesus says that it is this faith which made him well. The word used here comes from the word sozo, which can also mean ‘to save’. There can be no doubt that this is what is implied here, for he had already been healed. The physical healing he received from Jesus was an immense grace and a foretaste of the complete wholeness and salvation Jesus came to bring him and the other lepers. But it was only a foretaste. Only through faith—a constant living into that healing through obedience, trust and gratitude expressed in worship—could he be made completely well, could he be saved.

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All for One – Meditation of the Studies in 2 Timothy

All for One – Meditation of the Studies in 2 Timothy

At the heart of the gospel is the great affirmation that “we are members of the body of Christ and individually members one of another”. That is, as the Three Musketeers would say, it is “All for one and one for all”. This is how we are to live and this is how we are to serve. The fact that we all let each other down in this, sometimes severely, does not change this fact at all. That is why the foundational ideals of the church are love, loyalty, and mutual service but the practical virtues that express this are patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.

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Extravagant Mercy – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Extravagant Mercy – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

The message is clear: we can either be driven by our devotion to mammon—that is acquiring, storing up material possessions, which will ultimately fail—or we can store for ourselves treasures that do not fail in “the eternal habitations” by giving freely giving of our possessions to those in desperate need for mercy. In neither case are the possessions ever really ours. They are entrusted to our care and our stewardship them is a mark of our faithfulness to the Master and our trust in his mercy.

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Bearing Christ’s Burden – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Bearing Christ’s Burden – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

…in this, of course, we begin to see echoes of the cross where, in fact, the one who was the Good Shepherd bore on his shoulders every sin by which his flock had been lost and isolated from him, so that they might be restored to him. But if we do not also see our own stake in the care for the rest of the flock—especially those that are loss—and our own call to bear that burden with him, then we have missed the point of the parable entirely. This parable is not just about God’s love for sinners and the lost, but also about our call to care for, love, seek out and even bear the burden of helping those who are lost be restored the community for which they were made: they community that is founded and fed on the love and grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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No Greater Love – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

No Greater Love – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

It is only by loving God above all things and all people that we can not only be opened to His love, but also formed by it, and so become more perfect instruments of that same love to the people in our lives and around us. Sometimes this will mean sometimes loving them in ways that are challenging and difficult to understand, but it is always rooted in the sure hope and confidence that God’s love for them is infinitely greater than our own. For he is the one who is Love, and his is the love of the cross.

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No Act Too Small – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

No Act Too Small – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

To choose to demonstrate the power of God’s kingdom in the life of a woman who, up to that point would have either been ignored or treated with revulsion, and …considered among the lowest in society may have seemed counter-intuitive; and yet it is in this that the true nature of God’s kingdom is made known—for it seeks not coercion, power or privilege, but is made present “even in such seemingly inconsequential acts as the restoration of an ill woman who lived on the margins of society” (Green).

Such small acts, we are promised, do not remain in isolation but have the power leaven the whole of life with the healing, restoration and salvation that are the hallmarks of the kingdom of God.

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Freedom and Detachment – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Freedom and Detachment – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us…something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation…Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.”

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Compassion and Perfect Love – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Compassion and Perfect Love – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

We all implicitly know that Samaritan is the only one who exhibits the love of God in his actions and that, as a result, the religious figures are proven to be hypocrites in their inaction. We even know that we are called to be like the Samaritan by showing compassion to all those around us. But the text is not simply suggesting that because we are the people of God we should have compassion on people in need because that’s what our religion calls us to—whether as Jews or Christians. No, the text—Jesus—is making clear that this is how we are called to be and to act because that is who God is, and we are called to be the people of God.

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