God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2 - Luke 18:15-19:48: Jesus, a Rich, Young Ruler, Zacchaeus, and Jerusalem

Today’s Reading: Luke 18:15-19:48

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

In two chapters Jesus tells a man to sell all his possessions and follow Him and gives a parable where a ruler punishes a servant for not putting his money in the bank.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus taught everyone must accept the Kingdom as children do.
Jesus challenged a young ruler, "Sell everything, donate the proceeds, and follow Me." He declined.
"We left everything," Peter stated.
"You won't regret it."
Jesus would be humiliated, crucified, and given new life.
Jesus healed a relentless, blind man.
Jesus praised Zacchaeus' decision to change his tax-collection habits.
An unpopular ruler gave more authority to servants who used his money and punished those who didn't.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to a grand reception. Jesus cried because Jerusalem rejected Him.
Jesus threw the merchants out of the Temple.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Zacchaeus provided an example of an "unrighteous" person receiving the Kingdom.

Yesterday we read from Matthew where Jesus used three parables set in a vineyard to inform Israel that God would open enrollment into His Chosen People. Previously we read examples of Non-Chosen People who had more faith than the Israelites. Today's example is not of a Non-Chosen Person but of a detestable sinner—a traitor to the Jewish people who most likely extorted Jews for his living. Zacchaeus accepted Jesus without Jesus challenging him in any way. Instead, all Jesus needed to do was visit. Jesus constantly battled the Pharisees, the religious scholars, and the priests and they tried as hard as possible not to believe. The parable of the two sons provided a glimpse into this situation with Zacchaeus playing the role of the first son who said he would not work but did and the Jews playing the other son who said he would but did not. Many so-called "unrighteous" people will enter God's Kingdom before many Chosen People.

God's approval rating does not excuse you from setting things right.

Something I had never realized until today was that the ruler in Jesus' parable about servants receiving money for investing was an all-around unpopular ruler. I knew the lazy servant had accused him of being this way but I never realized his popularity was less than that of Congress. However, the ruler (and by extension, Jesus) does not allow the servant to get away with not investing his money for that reason. In fact, he would have accepted the money back with simple interest from a bank. Because the servant did nothing with the money, he was punished. Jesus is clearly showing that when the masses have an unfavorable view of God, His Chosen People must continue to spread God's Light to the blind. His Love and His Word will return nothing less than simple interest. God would be fine with that. (NOTE: In 2011, a firm did a poll where they saw that God's approval rating was 52%. Is that good or bad?)

The story of the rich, young ruler and the parable of the vicious ruler are not about money.

The stories are not about the love of money or the importance of investment. These stories are about trusting in God to set things right. The rich, young ruler could not fathom life without his comforts. He could not imagine life where he followed Jesus without his investments. He did not have enough faith in God to let go. The unfaithful servant did not have enough courage to go into the marketplace with his ruler's money. He was punished because the ruler did not care what the opinion polls said about him. He wanted results—at least attempts at results. We could learn from these stories about the uses and abuses of money, but they are ancillary to the main story—have more faith in God than anything else.

If no one praised God, Earth's praises would be audible.

Sometimes I hear doomsday predictions that one day no one will care enough about God to praise Him. Although they may be true for humans, God doesn't need our praise. If we ceased praising God, the earth would fill the void. Jesus wasn't giving a command. He was telling the Pharisees that if His Disciples did not sing His Praises, creation would. Never fear, God's Awesome Goodness is always on display.

Do you have enough trust in God to do something rash if it meant setting things right?

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