And also some women

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. Luke 8:1-3

Christianity often gets a bad rap when it comes to women. But should it? In today’s verses we see that some of the women whom Jesus had healed as well as others who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah followed Him in His travels along with the disciples. We are told that they even provided for Jesus and the disciples. In the New Testament Gospels it is the women who are there at the cross and it is the women who are the first to see the risen Jesus. In Acts women support the apostles and open their homes as churches. Women played an important part in Jesus’ life and ministry and continue to play an important part in the life of the church.

During the first century women were not considered to be reliable witnesses and not allowed to testify at trials. Yet in the Gospels it is women who first see the empty tomb and heard the angel tell them Jesus had risen and it was Mary to whom Jesus first appears. Women were considered at the time to be a small step above children and slaves and for the most part to be the husband’s property. Yet we see in the Bible and the New Testament in particular that women played a large part in God’s plan. As the Western world turn more and more Christian we see the status of women slowly elevated so that today they have the same rights as men. Could it have happened sooner? Of course it could but as we can see from the non-Christian world women still are thought of and treated as less than men. They have to be covered head to toe, cannot vote, are rarely educated and are frequently mutilated and killed to save family honor.

The Bible teaches us that we are both, women and men, created in God’s image and are equal. But just as the Trinity consists of three persons all of one essence and equally God but in a hierarchical relationship where God the Father is relationally over God the Son, so in a family the husband is over the wife and the wife is to submit to the husband. And that I think is the rub, that submit word. I believe that is caused by a misunderstanding of what God means by submit. God does not intend for husbands to mistreat their wife or treat her as a servant. The wife’s submission should be a willing submission because the husband is fulfilling his role as the family priest and is himself in submission to God.

I think God’s reason for this is that in any group someone needs to ultimately be responsible for the decision making. If you have ever been in a meeting or on a committee where there are multiple leaders you soon find out the group has no leader. Someone has to take responsibility and take charge. In a marriage God intends this to be the husband. Guys, that is not a task we should take lightly. We are to love our wife as Jesus loves the church. We are to be willing to give our life for her. We are also to seek her council and should seek agreement. After all we are now one body and a body that fights it’s self cannot long survive.

Have a blessed day,

David

Posted in Bible, Devotional, God, Gospel of Luke | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you see this woman?

And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:40-50

Rather than condemn the woman as I am sure the Pharisee thought Jesus would do Jesus used it as a teaching moment. That is something we need to emulate. Jesus tells Simon a short parable which was a customary teaching tool of the day. Then Jesus compares the woman’s actions to Simon’s.

One Jewish custom was that when you had guests for a meal the first thing you did was have a servant wash the dust off their feet. The reason was that people ate at low table and sat is a reclining position and after walking through the dusty roads in Jerusalem one’s feet would be dirty. Simon had forgotten this very basic custom. Then there is the customary greeting of a kiss which it seems Simon also omitted. I find it hard to believe a Pharisee would forget these basic hospitality customs so he may have invited Jesus only to embarrass Him.

However, this unnamed woman washed Jesus feet with her tears and never stopped kissing Jesus feet. Then she anointed Jesus feet with the expensive ointment something one would do to an honored guest. Simon may have wanted to see a show from Jesus or maybe he wanted to embarrass Jesus or maybe just try to trick Jesus. Whatever his reasons Simon forgot basic Jewish manners.

After Jesus told Simon the parable He asked Simon who would love the moneylender more and Simon answered correctly, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” Then Jesus forgave the woman’s sins. This woman whose sins were many but who also loved much received Jesus’ forgiveness. Simon who in his minds had few if any sins and little love for Jesus, his sins were not forgiven.

When I look at the life they have lived and the many sins I have committed and continue to commit and I think that Jesus has already paid for and forgiven all my sins past, present and future how can I not love Him much?

Have a blessed day,

David

Posted in Bible, Devotional, God, Gospel of Luke | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

She is a sinner

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” Luke 7:36-39

I never really thought the passages concerning the anointing of Jesus to be very controversial until the past few months when I encountered some comments on by blog where the writer felt that it is through Judas and not Jesus we are saved. This person was referring to the anointing in Bethany which is recounted in Matthew, Mark and John. Matthew and Mark do not single out any one disciple who was upset with the expense of the ointment used but John tells us that Judas was especially upset by the ointment was not sold and the money given to the poor. However John also tells us the real reason Judas wanted to sell the ointment was so he could steal the money as he kept the money for the disciples. In today’s verses Luke recounts another time when Jesus was anointed this time in the house of a Pharisee. Luke is very straight forward in letting us know that this woman was a sinner.

We are not told who this woman was or what her sins were but her identity and sins are beside the point. I believe this was one of the women who Jesus had forgiven her sins, maybe one of the prostitutes, but she became a follower of Jesus and this was her way of showing devotion to Jesus. Or maybe she had heard how Jesus had forgiven the sins of other women like her and had heard from them that this Jesus was the Messiah so she came to honor Him.

The Pharisee was quick to let Jesus know that this woman who was touching Him was a sinner. In fact the Pharisee questions if Jesus is really a prophet because He seem to be unaware who this woman is. As I reread today’s verses something new came to mind. If the Pharisee knew this woman was a sinner and Pharisees went out of their way to avoid sinners then why was she in his house? This was a dinner after all and they were already reclined at the table. So why was she there? Just my opinion but it seems this Pharisee had a double standard when it came to Jesus.

Have a blessed day,

David

Posted in Bible, Devotional, God, Gospel of Luke | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

To what then shall I compare the people of this generation?

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” Luke 7:31-35

People do not change. We act today that same way people acted in Jesus’ day. We make up our minds about something and then no matter what we stick to it. No amount of evidence or the actions of people will change our minds. In fact we will interpret everything through our preconceived beliefs.

There was John leading an acetic life and so many said the he must be possessed by a demon. How could they possibly follow someone who lived, acted and talked the way he did. The along come Jesus who drinks wine and associates with sinners and they call Him a drunkard and a glutton. How could we possible follow someone like that? The issue was not how John or Jesus acted but that both were calling the people to change and repent of their sins.

No one likes to be told that what they are doing is wrong. How could it be wrong because it brings me such pleasure? I think a lot of people reject Jesus not for what He actually said but for how they think it will change their lives. They just do not want to give up their perceived pleasure. But is sin really pleasurable? In the moment it probably is. But what about after? When a person comes down from their high or seeps off the drunk from the night before, how pleasurable is that? When you have to sneak around always wondering if you are going to be found out, how pleasurable is that?

Sin has a cost. Even when no one finds out about our sins we still have the cost and fear of being found out. We suffer the low after the high or the hangover after a night of partying. Then there is the physical cost of sin. The damage the stress does to us or the damage caused by drugs and alcohol. Sexual sins have their own costs with the possibility of disease. Then there is the cost to our loved ones as they deal with our sins. Children suffer because of divorce. I think most people when they are honest with themselves know that what they are doing is wrong. They just do not want to change.

But un-repented sin has an even bigger cost. That cost is eternal. The sad thing is that once we turn our lives over to God we find even greater pleasure in following Him. We find that we no longer enjoy the old ways but we also find we still live joy filled lives. And we have something great to look forward to.

Today or two thousand years ago, people just do not want to change and they definitely do not want to hear they are sinners. So rather than change they reject Jesus.

Have a blessed day,

David

Posted in Bible, Devotional, God, Gospel of Luke | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What did you go out into the wilderness to see?

When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) Luke 7:24-30

After John’s disciples left Jesus addressed the crowd concerning John. John had lived as a Nazarite. He did not cut his hair and did not drink wine. In fact John lived a harsh life even by first century standard. He essentially lived off the land and wore cloths suitable for such a life. The luxuries of the city were not for John. He had more important things to do and say.

John was the herald for Jesus. I guess in modern parlance, John was Jesus opening act. From the short passages we have of what John said he was in line with what Jesus would preach. John called Israel to repentance. John offered baptism for the people to show their repentance. John however knew that he was not the Messiah. John told the people who flocked to see him that another would come.

Jesus goes on the praise John saying that “among those born of women none is greater than John.” Yet Jesus goes on the say “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Sounds like what Jesus gave with one hand He takes away with the other. But I think Jesus is telling us that what is really important is not what we do on earth but that we used this time on earth to make sure we enter God’s kingdom when we move on to the next life.

After all nothing we do or accomplish here will be eternal. For most of us in a hundred years or so we will be nothing more than a name on a tombstone. We will have been forgotten by those alive then. Everything we have accumulated will belong to others. There may be a few faded photos that people scratch their heads to identify who is in them but that is it.

But heaven, that is where we will not be forgotten. We will be God’s people and will spend eternity worshiping God and doing the work He has for us. Most of the people around Jesus understood what Jesus was saying. But, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected what Jesus said. They had stayed away from John except to confront him and they would only come around Jesus to challenge Him. I think they recognized that Jesus was ending their way of life and like most people they wanted to keep a good thing going. That is what happens when our minds are on earthly things rather than the eternal.

Have a blessed day,

David

Posted in Bible, Devotional, God, Gospel of Luke | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Go and tell John what you have seen

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ” In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Luke 7:18-23

Doubts? I do not know many people who never have doubts, probably none. And yes Christians are just as prone to doubts about our faith. Many times these doubts creep in when we are going through some crisis. We lose our job for no apparent reason. Someone close to us dies. It seems there is never enough money. We look around and those we know are not Christians seem to be doing just fine. Why we ask is God letting this happen to us.

John is just like us. He is in prison because he spoke the truth about Herod and his wife. Before prison he saw many of his followers leave him for Jesus. He was doing everything God asked and all he has to show for it is a prison cell. So is it any wonder that John would send his disciples to ask if Jesus was the Messiah?

Jesus could have rebuked John. After all didn’t John know what had happened when he baptized Jesus in the Jordan River? Jesus however tells John’s disciples to go back and tell John what Jesus has been doing. Jesus tells them that He is fulfilling what Isaiah wrote in chapter 61 verses 1 and 2a, that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” To this Jesus adds the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up. Jesus is doing the things only God can do.

Jesus sends them back to John so that John will know that the work he has done for God was not in vain. That not only had the Messiah come but that John was witness to that coming. God does not hold our doubts against us. He knows that we are still in our weak flesh. And if God does not hold our doubts against should we beat ourselves up over them? When those doubts creep in we need to remember that what God has promised us is not of this world but of the next.

Whatever we are going through, however unfair it may seem to us there is always someone who has endured worse. All we need do is look to Jesus. Talk about unfair. Jesus led a sinless life. Jesus was God. Yet Jesus endured the worst possible death. He suffered so that we could live. Rarely are any of us asked to give our life for our faith. So when doubts creep in turn your thought back to God’s Word and His promise. Know that whatever we endure it is only temporary.

Have a blessed day,

David

Posted in Bible, Devotional, God, Gospel of Luke | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

God has visited his people

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17

In today’s verses we have Luke’s account of the first person Jesus raised from the dead. Losing a child is always terrible no matter what the age you live in but for much of human history it was the sons who took care of their widowed mothers. For this woman she lost not only her child but her support. When Jesus came upon the burial party He had compassion on this woman.

Jesus touched the bier to get the bearers to stop and then He said “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the young man sat up and began to speak. Something had just happened that people at any time have no experience seeing, a dead person coming back to life. This was no Mary Shelly novel or modern Sci-Fi or horror movie no this was a person they all knew who had been dead and was about to be buried come back to life.

Is it any wonder that these people were afraid? They had witnessed a miracle. But they also recognized that this was from God and they glorified God saying a great prophet was in their midst and that God had visited them. They were right on both accounts. God’s greatest prophet was among them because this prophet was God. I doubt any there that day realized that Jesus was God but they recognized that someone great walked among them.

So many people witnessed this and other miracles that Jesus did yet so many refused to accept that Jesus was their Messiah. Many times unbelievers today say “if only God would perform a miracle for them then they would believe. Yet we see from the Bible that even those who did witness Jesus’ miracles did not always believe. In fact it appears that most of them never believed what they saw with their own eyes.

Many people are so sure they are right that no matter what proof is presented they will not believe. They will always come up with some other explanation for what they saw. My eyes played a trick on me or it has to be a hoax or if it really happened then there has to be some natural explanation. They will believe anything but God at work.

All the evidence in the world will not change a closed heart and closed mind.

Have a blessed day,

David

Posted in Bible, Devotional, God, Gospel of Luke | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment