Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 20
What I Read Today: Luke 9.
What Stood Out: Luke 9: 18-25, “Once when Jesus was praying by himself, and his disciples were nearby, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ They answered, ‘John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others that one of the prophets of long ago has risen.’ Then he said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God.’ But he forcefully commanded them not to tell this to anyone, saying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’ Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but loses or forfeits himself?'”
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
I had this wonderfully quirky seminary professor who came to our church to talk about the nature of the spiritual life. The crux of his talk was that he’d discovered lots of theories about what the spiritual walk with Christ looks like in our culture and he’d come to the realization that all of them work, and yet none of them work.
What that means is that some people can read the same book and have it change their life. Others can read it, try the same things, and “fail.” So, if all of them “work” and all of them don’t, how do you figure out what helps you grow?
His theory was three-fold (and keep in mind that I’m simplifying 5 hours of talks into the overview here. Dr. Hannah fully developed this line of thought):
First, you have to know your God.
Second, you have to know yourself.
Finally, you have to know your situation.
And that’s what I see in this chapter in the life of the disciples.
See, first, Peter had to know who God is. In this particular case, they’d been out ministering and seeing amazing things happen. The disciples come back together and Christ asked them a pretty normal question that went something along the lines of, “You guys are out in the community and doing things in My name. Who are they saying that I am?”
The answers were a lot like you’d expect. Some of the people around the disciples were saying that Jesus was actually John the Baptist (keep in mind that most of these people wouldn’t have had the ability to see them both in person). Some of the people said he was Elijah come back to earth (remember, according to the Old Testament, he never died, so it’s at least plausible as a theory). Others said that Jesus was one of the prophets. Maybe they meant one of the old ones or a new one of that same line. But it’s safe to say that there was something special about Jesus and people had a lot of different theories to explain it.
Then Jesus turns the question from theory to personal: Who do YOU say a I am?
Peter responded, in effect, “The Messiah.” We could put a lot of different labels on it and they’d all be accurate, but ultimately it comes down the The One that Israel was waiting for that God promised to deliver the nation and redeem them…ultimately ushering in His Kingdom.
…they accurately knew their God.
It’s also safe to say that contextually they knew who they were: Not Him.
He’d given them power & authority to cast out demons and heal the sick. Then they’d spent the day cruising around town and doing that very thing! Can you imagine? One morning you wake up and you’re just the normal old you with no supernatural power. Someone tells you that you now have those supernatural powers. You go into town and start healing people and proclaiming the good news. My guess is that you’d be pretty darn amazed at not only what was happening but also the unique gift you’ve been given. And you know it didn’t come from within.
They’d also seen an incident happen where a sermon had been preached and it was getting late. You don’t have enough food to feed the thousands in attendance, so you recommend to your boss that it’d be best to send the folks to get something to eat. He tells you to feed them and maybe take up a collection of food to distribute among the crowd to get that done. So, you round up everything and basically, between the 12 of you, the entire meal is a hearty sandwich. Another possibility might be to go get food, but you don’t have near enough money to feed a crowd of this size. Your boss tells you to put them into groups of 50 or so. You do. And you KNOW you only had a hearty sandwich a minute ago. He tells you to pass out food to the sold-out arena-sized crowd. Everybody eats. There are leftovers. Yeah. You’re NOT Him.
A couple on the Mount of Transfiguration got to hear God speak, in the presence of guests with such big names as Elijah and Moses. You’re not even THEM, much less Him. My guess is that when you hear the literal voice of God tell you that Jesus is His Son and to pay attention, you pretty well understand that you’re not Him.
But, they also knew their situation. They were walking with the Messiah. They’d seen (and performed) healings. They’d spread the news about the Kingdom. They’d seen miracles. They understood that they were a vital part of the Kingdom program. In fact, that’s one thing they seemed to think was imminent: Christ becoming King. Logic said that if that’s the case, and we’re in the inner-circle, then we’d have some role in that administration.
Unfortunately, Christ would interrupt their discussions of who sits where and who governs what with the reality that you have to be child-like to have a part. They’d also have discussions about who else could get involved in the inner circle…to which Jesus would remind them that the disciples weren’t the only folks involved. No need to stop other gifted folks from healing in His name, right? They’d watch Christ tell others about who could join their group…people who weren’t afraid to leave their family or to go homeless could come along.
But then they’d also have to hear about how the Messiah would be betrayed and arrested at the hands of the authorities. Wait a minute…how can the King get arrested? What would that do to his political ambitions? Theirs? Hmmm. Something’s amiss. We’re following Someone who will be King to all sorts of urban, suburban and rural settings, ministering to all sorts of people as he begins to create a following which will make Him king at some point. We’ll probably need to follow along a bit more to see how this plays out.
So, the disciples knew their God. The question before us is, “Do we know ours?” If not, what steps will we take to get to know Him?
So, the disciples knew themselves. The question before us is, “Do we know ourselves?” What are we like and what are our gifts and what do we have at hand and what do we bring to the table and are we the boss or the employee?
So, the disciples knew their situation. the question before us is, “Do we know our situation?” Where has God placed us? How has God gifted us to serve in our situation? Who else is around us in our situation and how does the reality of knowing our God and knowing ourselves uniquely position us to fulfill the Kingdom objectives He has for us?
That’s enough for today, right?
When you think of it, answering those questions is enough for a lifetime.
(Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 10)