Sat, 9 February 2008
Timeless Parables and True Discipleship
Beginning in Luke 12:13, we see that Jesus' teachings sharply contrast worldly notions of fiscal prudence and advocate extreme trust in God's provisions. Speaking tenderly to his disciples, Jesus is serious when he says "do not live in fear, little flock ... sell what you have and give alms."
Jesus gives an unprecedented promise to those who live justly and are prepared for the Day of the Lord's Coming, saying in a parable, "blessed are those servants who the master finds well-awake on his return, for ... the Master ... will put on an apron, seat them at table, and proceed to wait them."
Jesus warns, much will be required of those to whom much has been given, and also establishes, "I have come to light a fire on the earth. How I wish the blaze were ignited! I have a baptism to receive [His suffering and death]. What an anguish I feel till it is over! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth?" He answers, "the contrary is true ... I have come for division," prophesying that His words will even divide families.
In Luke 12:57, Jesus confirms the ancient idea of a purgatory, a time of purgation from sin prior to heaven, reminding us to settle our debts to God and our fellows now rather than later.
Chapter 13 begins full-throttle with urgent calls to penance, "you will all come to [death] unless you reform." After repentance, Jesus calls His disciples to bear fruit. Like a barren fig tree, He will cut those down who consistently bear no fruit.
"Strive to enter through the narrow gate." Many will come and press claims of their closeness to Christ, but he will say "away from me, you evildoers!" to those who are not true disciples. The Chapter ends with Jesus pining for the conversion of Jerusalem like a parent longs for a wayward child.
A Sabbath cure opens the 14th Chapter, when Jesus heals a man with dropsy. He illuminates the lack of compassion the lawyers show toward other afflicted Jews.
In parables, Jesus teaches that "everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted" and that attending the Master's banquet should be our highest priority. The wise servant puts the Kingdom before every other responsibility, even those to a husband or a wife.
Like he stated in 9:23-27, Jesus then reminds us of the high cost of discipleship in 14:26-27. He establishes that we must put God before everything else, even if displeases those closest to us.
The cost of discipleship is everything you have, your entire life; not a penny more or a penny less. Unless you are a disciple, you are like salt that loses its flavor or was never salt to begin with, and is worthless for the "land and dung heap" alike.