Luke 6 Reflection – Verses 27-38
This week we are back with a second portion of Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6. This chapter is similar (ish) to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel, but shorter and with a rather different set of emphases. Given that Jesus was a teacher who travelled the villages and towns for 3 years, we would expect his teaching to have been both consistent but also differently framed, but inevitably there are questions about the relationship between the two gospels. it is well worth reading the whole section not just these verses.
Luke was writing for new Christians living in the towns and cities around the Mediterranean, helping them work out how they should live. In a world which was looking for what you would get back from others, how to give strategically as it were, Jesus challenges us to be generous particularly to those who cannot repay or will not repay – the needy and our enemies.
This is not easy teaching – our human instinct, our conditioning is to hold on to and to keep (most of) what we have. We can easily find ways to deflect the impact – either to ignore the passage in favour of nicer stories, or by assuring ourselves we shouldn’t take it literally, or by claiming the world today is different. Is it not better to give to Urban Outreach or Fortalice than to give our money to the beggars? Yes, but..!
Like those first Christians we should stop and ask what it does mean for us, not why it doesn’t matter. This is not a set of rules to follow but a challenge to our attitudes and whole way of looking on life.
Maybe one way to consider this is to look at how much we do give to others, outside of our own kinship group, whether we do speak up for and out for the needy, or whether our first instinct is that they are a problem. Do we think only people who are worth it should receive benefit, our giving, or do we respond to need? How much of what we have goes to others?
We can read this passage and move on; or we can read it and pray for insight into how we should be living and giving – with the measure we give so is the measure we receive. How much do we think God has given us and how much do we think God will continue to give us? Have we understood the gospel message?
It is not an easy passage, but may we listen for the challenge and may we be reminded of how much we are given and promised.
Luke 8 Reflection
One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’
Some of us heard this reading last week at the Team Service, but it is set as a lectionary reading for this week – though there is an option to continue with Jesus teaching in chapter 6.
This is not the first “lake” story in the gospel – you will remember (in ch5) that Jesus told the disciples to put out their nets (in the daytime) and they caught a catch too big for even two boats to manage easily. This episode is different. The disciples have put out again, but this time to cross the lake. Presumably it starts calm or they would not have set out nor would Jesus have fallen asleep. But the weather changes without warning and this time the boat is filling with water not fish. This is danger not “wow!”
Jesus seems to be in a deep sleep – remarkable – maybe it says something of his exhaustion, but this story also has echoes of Jonah, another one who was asleep in a storm when the crew were fearful for their lives. Jonah is fleeing from God and it is God who stills the storm once Jonah is overboard so there is no straightforward connection, but there is the link.
We think of the famous hymn, “
“Eternal Father strong to save, whose arm doth bind the restless wave”
God can calm storms as well as call them up, but so can Jesus – Who then is this that even the winds and water obey him? – the answer is there for the taking. It is God! No one else can rebuke a storm, as if it is a naughty child doing something out of place.
Just as the miraculous catch was both a real tangible thing – and it would have helped the families when the men left to follow Jesus – and a theological sign – that God will bring people into the Kingdom through the disciples, so the stilling of the storm is also both a real event and a profound sign.
For us, in the betwixt-times when we see signs of the Kingdom but await its fulness, it can feel as if Jesus has gone to sleep on us, that he does not care about the storms that afflict us, that we feel as if we are perishing, and in too many places people are perishing. I would like to say that we can wake Jesus up and he will sort it, but that is not how it works. This is a sign, not a regular occurrence; the way of the Cross does not have a magic by-pass, but Jesus is present, may our faith be sufficient to know that. There is a beauty and a wonder to these signs – real signs effected in real places – Jesus was tempted to make his work easier by doing wonderful things and he resisted that temptation – that is not the way of God. Let us find faith in the presence and power of Jesus even in the storms of life.
Rev’d Peter Reiss