By Sijy Voit
How privileged we are to be able to read from the gospels, to have witness accounts of Jesus’ ministry as he lived among man. We’ve recently been reading from Luke as part of our church-wide reading plan. My favorite thing about reading the gospels is all the RED – I love the RED – Jesus’s words, alive and true, right there in the gospel. Jesus taught in parables and illustrations, and Luke captures more of these than the other gospels (Matthew, Mark, and John). Although Luke wasn’t one of Jesus’s original disciples, His gospel is known to give us a unique glimpse into the humanity of Jesus. Well known parables like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan that are solely found in Luke’s gospel teach us about the grace, compassion and forgiveness of God himself.
What spoke to me this week from Luke’s gospel was a teaching from Jesus that sheds light on His divinity. But, true to Jesus’s style, it isn’t overt but is presented metaphorically. In Luke 12, Jesus continues to journey towards Jerusalem and is teaching the multitudes that gather to hear him. In Chapter 12, verses 54-59 (NIV),
“54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
The people in Jesus’s times didn’t rely on the daily news to tell them what the weather would entail for the day. As probable farmers and agriculturalists, they were extremely knowledgeable in using the skies to interpret what sort of weather to anticipate for their crops. Why does Jesus call them hypocrites? He says, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” The Israelites could take their knowledge of present conditions and apply it to predict the future outcomes; however, they couldn’t see what was right in front of them or WHO was in front of them. They knew the Old Testament text and prophesies; had seen and heard Jesus feed 5000 people, heal illnesses, cast demons out of the possessed; and listened to the numerous calls for repentance and salvation. Yet, many could not see that Jesus was the Messiah. Their savior was right there among them, but they did not call Him “Lord”.
“How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” I think about our present time right now, amid the pandemic. The majority of our world is full of anguish, worry and uncertainty. As citizens of the most advanced technological era, we are knowledgeable and have taken necessary precautions where our human abilities allow us. But, are we like the multitudes that cannot see Jesus in our midst? Have we fallen so far into fear and dread that we have forgotten the divinity of Jesus? Nehemiah 9:6 reminds us that He is the creator of the world. “You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” (NIV) The all-powerful creator of the world also created you and cares deeply for your needs. “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” (Luke 12:5-6, MSG) Let’s not forget that we serve that all-knowing and all-powerful God! May we cling to Him more than ever now, in prayer for our world and our neighbors.
However, if fear is your overwhelming response to the current situation, allow Jesus to become the “peace that passeth understanding” in your life. Jesus continues in Luke 12, verses 57-59 (see above for text) to give an account of an individual going to see the magistrate with their adversary. He says it is better for him to reconcile before he reaches the judge. Some scholars believe Jesus was perhaps speaking literally, as a call to the people to get their personal matters in orders. Still other scholars believe Jesus was speaking of the matters of the soul – we have the opportunity to get right with Jesus, to experience His peace, joy and salvation now. Let Jesus be the Lord of your life.
Like the people of Jesus’s day who could look up into the sky and confidently know whether it would rain or be hot, let’s be the people who can always have confidence in the divinity of Jesus. He remains God – creator of the world and provider of all our needs, regardless of our circumstances.