“For everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled, and whoever humbles themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 This is the rule for life in the kingdom of God—a polar reversal that turns our familiar world upside down to reveal a world with very different rules. Luke first introduced this reversal in Mary’s Song, where she sang, “He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down princes from their thrones and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things. He has sent the rich away empty” Luke 1:51-53. God is at the root of this polar reversal, which is a key theme in Luke’s Gospel and one he will not let his readers forget. (for example, 1:51-53; 6:20-26; 13:30)”
By alerting us to this impending reversal, Jesus helps to prepare us for life in God’s kingdom, a place that seems at once strange and wonderful and threatening. Just as we would prepare for life in a foreign land by learning the language and customs, so we also need to prepare for the kingdom of God by learning and following Kingdom Rules now. The kingdom of God becomes a present reality and not just a future hope when we acknowledge God as king and live by Kingdom Rules. Christians live with one foot in the kingdom of this world and the other foot in the kingdom of God.
As his disciples, Jesus calls us to follow his example and live in humility as we put the needs of others ahead of our own and learn to seek first the kingdom and his righteousness.
Till next time. Andrew
Adapted from Dick Donovan’s commentary on Luke 14. Used with permission www.sermonwriter.com
In our Gospel lesson this morning Luke tells the story of Jesus healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath. Luke 13:10-17 For the woman who had been crippled by this spirit for the past eighteen years, meeting Jesus must have been the best thing that had ever happened to her. “When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.” Luke 13:12-13
Not everyone was happy though. You’d think that the synagogue leaders would have been overjoyed to see the woman had been healed. The air should have been full of praise for the goodness of God following such a miracle in their midst. Sadly though, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Instead of praise, the air was full of grumbling. Instead of thankfulness, legalism and love of their own rules blocked their vision. Instead of rejoicing at the presence of God at work in their midst, they were overcome with selfishness, pride and jealousy.
Meeting Jesus should have been the best thing that ever happened to them, but it seems that it was not only the woman who was in need of being set free of a crippling spirit. Because of their hardness of heart they missed out on discovering the freedom that comes from knowing Christ.
What about you then? When you come to worship, do you come expecting to meet the risen Jesus? Is your heart open to the power of his transforming love and the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you willing to let meeting Jesus be the best thing that ever happens to you in your life? Or does it feel safer to keep your guard up and to keep your religion under control?
Set free by his truth and love, the crippled woman was born anew and rejoiced in the blessings of God. Jesus came to set us free from all that keeps us from each other and from God. What will you choose to receive? Will it be the blessing of freedom and life like the crippled woman or will you reject Jesus’ love and miss out on the greatest blessing you’ll ever know?
Till next time. Andrew
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Have you ever felt like being a Christian is just too difficult? Do you ever wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier sometimes to give up and enjoy living in the present? If so then this mornings lesson from Hebrew’s 11:20-12:2 is just for you. And if Jesus words to the disciples this morning are anything to go by we could all probably use a little encouragement. (Luke 12:49-59).
Jesus is on the way up to Jerusalem and he tells the disciples in no uncertain terms that following him will be no easy ride. He wants them to know that the choices we make now have eternal consequences and that in the end true repentance and turning to him is the only way.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews also knows that to be a Christian is no guarantee of an easy ride. In fact to prove the point he provides us with a long list of Jewish heroes of the faith. All of these folk faced tough challenges but were able to persevere in faithfulness and bear fruit for the Kingdom. And if they could do it so can we.
The image given is of athletes running in a race, and not just any race, but a marathon. The good news is that we are not left to run this race alone. We are reminded that Jesus is there cheering for us every step of the way. Why I hear you ask? Because he believes in us and wants us to believe in him .
“ So let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2
Till next time ... Andrew
On the 30th of June 1859 Jean-François Gravelet or Blondin as he was better known became famous for being the first person ever to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. For his return journey Blondin asked the crowds if they believed he could successfully complete the return journey carrying a person on his back. The crowds responded with an enthusiastic yes, but unsurprisingly on calling for a volunteer nobody was willing to take him up on his offer. Saying that we believe is one thing but faith requires us to put our beliefs into practice.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews describes faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 He continues with a whole list of heroes of the faith who have expressed their belief by putting it into action. If you read the passage and examine the lives of each of the characters you will discover that these were ordinary folk just like you or I. In our Gospel this morning Jesus encourages us to make sure that our faith is not misdirected into money and possessions that will wear out. Instead he tells us to, “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:33-34 We do this when we place our trust fully in Him. Where will you place your faith this week?
Till next time. Andrew
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Rev. Andrew Smith
Vicar of Light in the Hills