The Insensitive Remark: Luke 7:11-17

Focus Passage: Luke 7:11-17 (NIrV)

11 Some time later, Jesus went to a town called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 He approached the town gate. Just then, a dead person was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother. She was a widow. A large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, he felt sorry for her. So he said, “Don’t cry.”

14 Then he went up and touched the coffin. Those carrying it stood still. Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk. Then Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 The people were all filled with wonder and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread all through Judea and the whole country.

Read Luke 7:11-17 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One of the most surprising statements the gospel writers record Jesus saying is found in Luke’s gospel, and it comes as Jesus and His crowd of followers meets a funeral processional. I am sure that both the woman who had just lost her only son, as well as both crowds present believed Jesus’ remark to be pretty insensitive.

Perhaps this is why Luke prefaces the statement with a brief statement clarifying Jesus’ thoughts. On meeting the funeral processional and seeing the mother crying, Luke tells us, “When the Lord saw her, he felt sorry for her. So he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” (v. 13)

Now in my mind, it is perfectly acceptable for Jesus to feel sorry for this mother, but telling her to not cry when her child has just died seems a little insensitive – especially for a loving perfect Messiah.

But perhaps Jesus says this to help break the woman and the funeral procession out of the sadness they are in. It may be that Jesus wants to redirect those present onto what God is about to do instead of on what has recently happened. Jesus may be focusing instead on the joy that comes as a result of the upcoming resurrection than on the sadness that comes with death.

When we face death in this life, we are reminded how special life is, and it is perfectly natural to feel sad and shed tears. However, as a way of moving past the sadness, it is also good to remember the future resurrection that comes through having faith in Jesus. This woman didn’t have to wait until Jesus’ second coming to benefit from His power to resurrect. She simply had to have enough faith to pay attention to where He wanted to redirect her focus.

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Living with God’s Protection: John 7:25-36

Focus Passage: John 7:25-36 (NCV)

25 Then some of the people who lived in Jerusalem said, “This is the man they are trying to kill. 26 But he is teaching where everyone can see and hear him, and no one is trying to stop him. Maybe the leaders have decided he really is the Christ. 27 But we know where this man is from. Yet when the real Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.”

28 Jesus, teaching in the Temple, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. But I have not come by my own authority. I was sent by the One who is true, whom you don’t know. 29 But I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

30 When Jesus said this, they tried to seize him. But no one was able to touch him, because it was not yet the right time. 31 But many of the people believed in Jesus. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miracles than this man has done?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about Jesus. So the leading priests and the Pharisees sent some Temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I will be with you a little while longer. Then I will go back to the One who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me. And you cannot come where I am.”

35 Some people said to each other, “Where will this man go so we cannot find him? Will he go to the Greek cities where our people live and teach the Greek people there? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘You cannot come where I am’?”

Read John 7:25-36 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In Jesus’ ministry, often He said things that rubbed people the wrong way. During one of these times, John shares with us an interesting verse in his gospel record. While teaching in the temple during one of the festivals, He said some things that seemed to claim equality with God – which was something that was punishable by death and it was crossing a line that the people had determined should never be crossed.

When Jesus said this, they tried to seize him. But no one was able to touch him, because it was not yet the right time.” (v. 30)

John points us to an interesting theme that runs throughout Jesus’ life on earth: God gave Him protection that allowed Him to speak the hard truth without being harmed while leading up to the cross. No one was able to touch or arrest Him because God had placed Jesus under His protection.

This is incredibly important for us to pay attention to.

First, this tells us that God is willing to protect us. While not everything bad will be avoided, God will only let bad through that fulfills a purpose or gives us an opportunity/experience we can use later in life.

This also tells us that Jesus lived intentionally knowing this protection existed. Jesus didn’t abuse the protection with the goal of drawing attention to Himself. Instead, He lived entirely within this protection with the goal of pointing people to God by showing His character. God is full of love, not afraid to speak the truth, and is wholly interested in placing us ahead of Himself. Jesus modeled this, and God gave Him all the protection He needed to live life this way.

This leads me to some questions that I challenge myself with:

What would happen if we lived 100% for God knowing His protection exists in our own lives?

What if we lived with the understanding that no one could touch us until God’s timing is right?

If we knew God is protecting us, would that allow us to live more outwardly like Jesus in a world looking for selfless examples of love?

With Jesus as our role model, why not live like God fully protects us – especially since we are called to be His witnesses to a world in need.

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Acting While Doubtful: Luke 5:1-11

Focus Passage: Luke 5:1-11 (NCV)

One day while Jesus was standing beside Lake Galilee, many people were pressing all around him to hear the word of God. Jesus saw two boats at the shore of the lake. The fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, and asked him to push off a little from the land. Then Jesus sat down and continued to teach the people from the boat.

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish.”

Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish, and we caught nothing. But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will.” When the fishermen did as Jesus told them, they caught so many fish that the nets began to break. They called to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats so full that they were almost sinking.

When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he bowed down before Jesus and said, “Go away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man!” He and the other fishermen were amazed at the many fish they caught, as were 10 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will fish for people.” 11 When the men brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Read Luke 5:1-11 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

While the gospel of John shares with us Jesus’ first encounter with some of the men who would ultimately become Jesus’ closest disciples, Luke’s gospel includes the details that prompted these four early disciples to leave everything to follow Jesus.

In this event, we see an amazing example of faith in the midst of doubt from the man who would become the most famous disciple of them all: Simon Peter.

The event begins one morning as Jesus is teaching by the lake. In my mind’s eye, the crowd was getting a little big, and the people kept crowding closer and closer to hear Jesus, and the space between Jesus and the water kept getting smaller and smaller.

Seeing a couple of boats and recognizing their owners, Jesus walks over and asks to use one of the boats to teach from. Jesus finishes His sermon while in the boat, and Simon (also known as Peter) and Andrew continue cleaning their nets from inside the boat.

After finishing the sermon, Jesus turns to the men and says, “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish.” (v. 4)

Here is where Peter gives us an amazing response – even before accepting the call to be a disciple. He answered, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish, and we caught nothing. But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will.” (v. 5)

It is like Peter is telling Jesus, “Hey, I’m the expert fisherman and you are the expert preacher. I didn’t catch anything last night during the prime fishing time. I don’t want to offend you, so I’ll try again, but if your plan doesn’t work, then perhaps you should just stick to preaching while I stick to fishing.”

But while Peter was doubtful of Jesus’ plan, he decided to try it out. By casting their nets into the water, these two early disciples displayed a willingness to test Jesus’ words with their actions. The result was the opposite of what they expected, and their catch was so large that it took multiple boats to drag it to shore.

Simon Peter was willing to act even though he was doubtful of the outcome. This shows way more faith than we might realize. Too many people today reject God’s plan because it doesn’t make sense in their mind, or because they don’t have all the answers for their questions. These people choose to skip testing Jesus because they are certain it wouldn’t work.

Peter’s decision in the boat is exactly like our decision is today: Do we test Jesus, even if we are almost certain of the results, or do we simply not put forth the effort and never know if things would have been different?

The call of these four disciples by the lake shows us that it is worth testing Jesus’ teaching, and seeing for ourselves – from our own experience – if following Jesus is worth it.

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Misunderstanding a Metaphor: Matthew 16:5-12

Focus Passage: Matthew 16:5-12 (NCV)

Jesus’ followers went across the lake, but they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus said to them, “Be careful! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

His followers discussed the meaning of this, saying, “He said this because we forgot to bring bread.”

Knowing what they were talking about, Jesus asked them, “Why are you talking about not having bread? Your faith is small. Do you still not understand? Remember the five loaves of bread that fed the five thousand? And remember that you filled many baskets with the leftovers? 10 Or the seven loaves of bread that fed the four thousand and the many baskets you filled then also? 11 I was not talking to you about bread. Why don’t you understand that? I am telling you to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” 12 Then the followers understood that Jesus was not telling them to beware of the yeast used in bread but to beware of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Read Matthew 16:5-12 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of the many times that Jesus and His disciples crossed the lake, the disciples forgot to bring bread with them. While this probably already irritated the disciples enough, since they may have been hungry, an interesting conversation takes place. This conversation highlights one big challenge we all face in human nature.

In my imagination, probably about half way across the lake, the disciples realize they had forgotten bread. At about this very moment, Jesus gets their attention to say, “Be careful! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” (v. 6)

While it is pretty clear to us that Jesus is speaking in a metaphor about something that is below the surface, the disciples didn’t catch this at first. The disciples did grasp that there was something more to Jesus’ words, because they started talking amongst themselves about what this phrase meant. It seems like they concluded by coming to what must have been the plainest, most surface-level, rational answer they could imagine in their moment of hunger: “He said this because we forgot to bring bread.” (v. 7)

The disciples might have also came up with the thought that if they saw a Pharisee or Sadducee merchant (which would be unlikely) selling yeast, or even one of these two groups of people giving yeast away, then they shouldn’t even consider getting any from them.

However, we know from how Matthew frames this event that Jesus is speaking with a simple metaphor: yeast equals something else. The context for the statement and the frame of mind of the listener both matter. Had there been an abundance of bread on this trip, the disciples may have realized that Jesus was speaking about something not directly related to bread.

It is the same for us when we communicate. For us to communicate without the message being lost when it reaches the listener’s ears, we must pay attention to the context. Otherwise, when we are trying to share a metaphor to help people remember a concept, they could be too focused on taking it literally.

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