It may come as a surprise to you that Jesus was friends with Pharisees. Back at the end of chapter eleven of Luke’s gospel, Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house for dinner on the Sabbath. This might seem like a small detail, but it’s actually pretty significant.
Being invited to someone’s house for dinner was a way to climb up the social ladder, but being invited for the Sabbath meal meant you were almost family. We usually think of the Pharisees as ‘the opposition,’ but Jesus didn’t always behave that way. Continue reading
August 25, 2019
Here is an earlier version of this sermon, told in first person narrative style.
Hearing just a few verses of the gospel each week, it’s easy to lose track of the bigger story. It seems like ages ago that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. And for the past three weeks, he’s been in the same spot, even thought Luke doesn’t tell us exactly where that spot is.
Now we’ve moved into the next phase of the journey. Jesus is still teaching outside the Pharisee’s house where he had dinner back in chapter 11. And he’s telling parables again. He has just told the story of the barren fig tree (13:6-9). In that parable, the landowner gives the gardener one more year to work the soil around the tree so that it can bear fruit. If that doesn’t do any good, the tree will be cut down.
In the verses that follow today’s reading, Jesus will give two analogies for the kingdom of God: the mustard seed growing into a great bush where many birds will roost, and the leaven growing in the lump of dough (13:13:18-21).
But here, sandwiched in between these stories about things that grow and things that don’t, is a real-life encounter with Jesus. It wasn’t expected. It wasn’t planned. But this encounter introduces us to two people who could easily have been represented by the parables surrounding their story. Notice which one seems more like a mustard seed growing into a tall plant, and which one resembles a fig tree that won’t grow any fruit. Continue reading
August 11, 2019
Last week, we considered how greed can actually make you poorer, as we heard Jesus tell the story of the farmer who wanted to keep all his crops for himself. This week, we pick up Luke’s story almost where we left off. Jesus has been teaching how different the Kingdom of God is from anything we might imagine. He has just explained how we each matter to God, and how God wants to provide for all our basic needs.
If our heavenly Father feeds the birds and clothes the flowers of the field, we can depend on him to care for every need we have, because God loves us so very, very much. You wouldn’t give your child a snake or a scorpion to eat, would you? How much more is our heavenly Father eager to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. And how much more God wants to give us, his own beloved children! So what are we afraid of? Continue reading
August 4, 2019
Last week’s reading started out as a lesson in prayer, but shifted into a reminder that God wants to provide for us, if we will only ask. But asking God to give us his Spirit is a lot different from asking God to give us stuff. This week, Jesus carries the lesson a step further. Continue reading