Reflections on Luke 8Posted: February 27, 2014
Bishop’s Note: Most of you know that I had planned to be away in the Holy Lands this week until my accident cut that short. In anticipation of being gone I invited a couple of guest authors to share their reflections from the weekly scripture reading. I hope that you are blessed by their gifts and what they have to offer us. They will be using the same process that I have used for the past several weeks.
This week’s post is written by the Rev. John H. Collett, Jr., Executive Assistant To The Bishop of the Nashville Area.
- Read and Ponder each passage.
- Write the words that leap out to you.
- Meet the challenge to write a prayer using all the words you selected.
- Then select a phrase or sentence from the passage that grabs your attention.
- Write several personal I BELIEVE statements about each passage.
Words that leap out at me:
called, together, power, authority, proclaim, heal
A prayer using these words:
O Self-Emptying God, you have given yourself completely in your only Son Jesus Christ. In him you have loved me and called me. You try to love me out of my sin and into the fullness of life in your service. You have called me to be a follower of Jesus and a voice for your gracious and redeeming reign. Together with you in your triune being of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit you give me power and authority to proclaim and, dare I say, to heal. My faithfulness to this call is to live, act, and speak knowing that this power and authority are not for me or my use but only for your passion to make people whole and redeemed. Amen.
A phrase or sentence from the passage that grabs my attention:
“Jesus called the Twelve together and he gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal sicknesses. He sent them out to proclaim God’s kingdom.” Luke 9.1-2
- I believe God’s reign of grace is now and future; I believe God’s reign is ultimately irresistible.
- I believe that God emptied God’s self through Jesus in love and hope for the world.
- I believe God calls us and empowers us to be Christ’s word and deed.
- I believe that only when I/we act in self-emptying love and service does God’s power work through us to heal and redeem.
In his baptism and while he was praying, Jesus heard the divine voice, “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.” (Lk 3.22 CEV) However, the questions persisted about who he really was. The most common speculation, even by Governor Herod, was that Jesus was either John the Baptist, Elijah, or another prophet back from the dead. But as God’s own, Jesus was convicted to live, proclaim, and act upon the in-breaking of God’s gracious and redeeming reign.
When launching his ministry, Jesus made his headquarters, not in his hometown of Nazareth, but in Capernaum at the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum was not only a fishing village but also the hub of trans-national travel, commerce, and geo-political maneuvering. From a diversity of personalities, temperaments, trades, cultures, and ideologies Jesus called disciples to follow him.
The mission field would include the people of Palestine and neighboring regions. A handful of these people were well to do and powerful. Vast numbers, on the other hand, lived hand-to-mouth, had no influence, and felt the sting of oppression. The powerful had much to fear and defend. The poor had nothing to lose. The influencers did pretty much whatever it took to hold on to power. The spiritually hungry longed for belief, hope, sustenance, righteous, and lasting peace.
In the beginning, Jesus called together Twelve men to follow him. He sent them out with power and authority to proclaim and heal. (Many women also followed and served – Lk 8.1-3; 23.55-56; 24.1-11). Jesus and the disciples attracted large crowds that included not only the sick but also the desperate, the spiritually impoverished, would-be revolutionaries, and, to be sure, informers. But Jesus welcomed and ministered to them all.
For the long haul, Jesus had to get his disciples ready – ready for service and sacrifice, even suffering, rejection, and death. He wanted them to understand that the environment would be threatening. He had to teach them what it took to serve God’s reign completely. So he sent them without provisions – no food, no money, no credit cards, not even an extra shirt. He demonstrated that with only five loaves and two fish, God could feed thousands. He wanted them to trust God alone so they could finally say, “I shall not want.” (Lk 9.10ff)
The absolute hardest thing for the disciples was to learn that this ministry was not about them – not about their position, status, or power. They had to learn that the power Jesus gave them was not for use for themselves or even their self-styled goals. They even had to guard against was the temptation to misuse of this divine power (Lk 9.51-55). By contrast, Jesus called them for self-emptying love to be channels for God’s power to heal, save, and make whole. (Lk 9.18ff)
Jesus always led the way. Once he led Peter, James, and John up on a mountain to pray. While he was praying (as he was doing at his baptism), Jesus glowed with white brilliance and an apparition of Moses and the great prophet Elijah appeared. (But no time to erect shrines.) In the mist of an overshadowing cloud, the divine voice spoke directly to Peter, James, and John: “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him.” (Lk 9.28-31) Peter had already affirmed that Jesus was the Christ (Anointed One) sent from God. But what kind of Christ would Jesus be?
Jesus began to tell them that his kingdom would be like no other. He would empty himself by suffering, being rejected, and being killed – not at the hands of outlaws but by the religious and political establishment! The disciples would have to be prepared to follow suit.
With Jesus determined to go to Jerusalem, the crowds and the needs kept coming. Responding to people was part of the journey because Jesus was moving forward into the reality of the now and coming reign of God’s love and justice. Jerusalem would be the place of his ultimate obedience and sacrifice. It would also be the avenue to his freedom and glory. And in the process Jesus redeems through self-emptying love.
Consultant and author Gil Rendle often asks during his presentations, “How are we doing so far?” Well, how are we doing so far? How are we doing to be faithful disciples of Jesus who go where we are sent with his power to proclaim good news and to heal? How are we doing to welcome the crowds and meet needs? How are we doing to live into God’s reign of grace? And who and how many are we inviting to take that journey with us?