Getting Ready for Jesus: Luke 12.1-12

Well, they did it! In a newsworthy comeback, even missed by the Medford Star newspaper, the U11 Blue Bolts have turned their season around, made their way through to the championship game this past Monday night, and won the big game 2-0 on the main field in Medford Wisconsin, population about 4,000!

My Henry’s team. Summer fun. Great stuff. Loved coaching this rabble. Time to sit back and think about life lessons, I suppose …

Why did things suddenly turn around for the Blue Bolts, just in time? Well, they started listening to their coach (happens to be me). And, they knew the day of reckoning was upon them in that big game!

In Luke 12, Jesus is preparing His disciples for His coming—His coming that we now understand consists in two stages: He was to go to Jerusalem (9.51), die for the sins of all those who would trust in Him, be raised, and then return to the Father, Stage 1. And then, He was to return, gloriously, Stage 2. You and live between Jesus’ two comings. And what He has to teach His disciples in Luke 12.1-12 is every bit as relevant for us as it was for them.

So, how do we get ready for Jesus’ coming? 

Not in appearance only, but with sincerity (:1-3).

Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees … Jesus teaches (:1). Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed (:2). The idea here is that there will be a day of reckoning. Nothing we’ve said or done in secret will be unexposed. Every “bubbler” (Wisconsin word for water cooler) conversation will come to light. Nothing will be hidden. And, those who merely appeared to follow Jesus but did not serve Him in their hearts will have to give account.

Sobering stuff. So, while we press forward to Christ’s return, we’re to let God prune our lives. We’re to search our hearts letting the light of God’s truth in His Word and the gospel expose those little creases of self-dependance. We’re to confess our sins.

What will happen to us in society? Well, we won’t be appreciated by those not looking forward to Jesus. We’re to get ready …

Not with fear of man, but with reverence for God (:4-7).

Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. Jesus doesn’t promise to deliver us from trouble. Jesus does remind us that men have limited ability to hurt us. So, you might have a gun put to your head. You might get bullied for your faith and excluded from the “tribe.” How are we to receive this?

We’ll we’re to reverence God. But I warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! And, as we reverence God who controls not only the events of our lives, but where we go and what we experience in eternity, we’re to remember that God sees all. He knows every sparrow. He knows each hair of our heads. He even knows how many gum balls are in the gum ball machine in the True Value hardware store in Rib Lake.

Finally, we’re to prepare for Jesus’ coming …

Not by denying Jesus, but by confessing Jesus in the Spirit (:8-12).

This includes our speech (:8-9). … everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 

Acknowledging here involves confession. We’re to say throughout our lives, “I’m with Jesus!” That takes place at baptism and the Lord’s Table, in a formal way. But, also in informal, more routine ways. The point is that there’s going to come a day of reckoning when we’ll be accountable for how we have responded to Jesus.

Such teaching arrests us, makes us feel uncertain even. But making us uncertain isn’t Jesus’ intent. That’s why Jesus will send His Spirit. Verse 10 needs to be seen in context then, And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 

How does verse 10 add to our certainty? Well, we need to know that such “blasphemy” against the Spirit isn’t an utterance, but a permanent rejection of the Spirit’s message about Jesus. It’s not “a denial of nerve, but a denial of the heart” (quoting Darrell Bock in his Luke commentary, vol. 2). It’s possible to curse Jesus in a moment, but then be convicted by the Spirit and call Him Lord. Think of Peter who got this right, eventually.

But, more. We’re to acknowledge Jesus through the Spirit (:11-12). Instead of blaspheming the Spirit, we’re to speak through the Spirit. Jesus says, You’re going to give an account of me before men. Don’t panic … don’t worry … don’t even reason out a defense … acknowledge me.

This is contemporary material here. How many times in my work as a pastor do I get in too deep for my own little self? While I’m listening to peoples’ thoughts about their situations, I frequently ask the Lord, “What do I say here? How do I respond?” I’ve noted that in such instances the times I’m helpful always involve helping people understand how the gospel relates to their situations. And, any helpfulness includes wisdom from Scripture that comes from outside myself … Really!

We prepare for Jesus’ coming by living life focused on the day of reckoning.

This includes living in sincerity, non in appearance only; reverencing God, not fearing men; and, confessing Jesus in the Spirit.

Summer is a great time to kinda take our minds out of gear. All good, in its time. But, let’s not forget that the day of reckoning is coming. Let’s confess Jesus and live daily in the Spirit.

Have a great week, in the Lord!


Much Boldness, More Generosity: Luke 11.1-13

Lord, teach us to pray, as John [the Baptist] taught his disciples (:1b, ESV).

This strikes me as a strange request from one of Jesus’ early followers. Think about it. The earliest disciples were actually with Jesus, and yet they wanted to learn a prayer that would establish them as a group, that would kinda make them legit … like John the Baptists’ followers.

Jesus’ response is wonderful. Yes, He does teach them a prayer. Known typically as The Lord’s Prayer, many people repeat what Jesus said to help them … well … feel legit, or religious. Pater noster, qui es in caelis … (“Our Father, who are in heaven …).

After spending the week in Luke 11. 1-13, I’m convinced that Jesus intended something entirely different. If we pay attention to what Jesus emphasizes in this prayer, and pay attention to the prayer’s themes, we don’t get a group prayer by rote, we get … well … God Himself. And, we learn to pray like Jesus.

The prayer itself has one address, two declarations, and then three requests. 

Father … God is not addressed here as one far off; nor is He approached as Creator or Ruler, though He is. Rather, there’s family intimacy. Hallowed by your name. This is a plea for God to make His uniqueness be ever more visible in creation. Your kingdom come … This looks forward to when Jesus returns and makes all wrongs right. It’s not a process; it’s a future event, the culmination of God’s rule revealed.

I’ve got to ask myself: do my prayers involved God’s revealed holiness filling the earth? Or, is my imagination too small?

The requests involve provision (give us each day our daily bread), forgiveness ( … and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us), and spiritual protection ( … and lead us not into temptation).

Much could be said here about the prayer itself, but in Luke’s account Jesus doesn’t stop. Instead, he follows up the prayer with a parable, confusing at first blush (:5-8). It’s humorous and involves a host who receives an unexpected guest at midnight. In that face-saving culture, the host would be expected to provide thee loaves of bread, but he has none. Faced with this quandary, the unprepared host needs to knock on the door of his neighbor’s house. When he does, his normally friendly neighbor, who has just bedded down with his animals and children, goes stingy: … I can’t get up and give you anything! (:7). Even so, the host gets what he needs, not because his neighbor is his friend, but because the man wants to get back to bed without a ruckus.

Jesus tells this parable as a lesson in contrasts. God is exactly the opposite of the stingy neighbor! Then, Jesus makes a clarifying promise (:9-13):

… ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 

God wants us to come to Him. So, ask and pray boldly. Seek, and don’t quite coming to God. Knock, and you won’t find a barred door. God is not a lofty ruler or a stingy neighbor. He’s a good father.

As delightful as this truth about our good, Heavenly Father is, there’s a bonus point at the end of the passage. Verse 13 reads, If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? 

If God is not stingy but generous, then how much more should we go to Him? If God will not only give us what we need but His own Spirit, then how much more bold should we be!

Much boldness in prayer is right, because God is outrageously generous and loves to share with those who ask. 

Wonderful truth that this is, I still need to know what to do with this in my prayers. I recognize that this is not a blank check. God’s purpose isn’t to make me comfortable so I forget Him. Rather, I want to use the themes of the prayer to inform my prayers. Here’s a few questions I’ve settled on asking as I talk to God:

  1. How do You want to expand Your glory in my situation? This is not the same as just asking God for things because I want to. It is about being alive to how God would expand His glory in my life. So, I won’t (just for example) ask for a new house just because I want one. But, I might consider adding on to my existing house, IF I sense that God desires to use my house to meet the needs of my family, or enhance service for Him.
  2. What is it that You want me to be content with? This is challenging and, again, involves me thinking through the reason I want some things and not others. So, for me, it involves asking myself if I should be content with my old, basic cellphone when I could get a smartphone. Maybe I should be content. Or, maybe, the newer, better phone would be used to help me pastor our church better.
  3. Where do I need to be led by Your Spirit? Without the Spirit of God, I want my own glory, not God’s. Without the Spirit, I don’t want to be content. Without Him, I won’t have power to imagine anything greater than myself, and I won’t live a forceful life for God.

So, the Lord’s Prayer is hardly a prayer for rote memory and repetition, is it? The disciples weren’t super clear on how they were to come to God, but Jesus in His kindness showed them. Likewise, He shows us, along with much more about our Heavenly Father.

Have a great week, in the Lord!