Earlier in Luke 12, Jesus was speaking to his disciples, but here he is talking to a crowd. These are people who depend on their crops for survival. They study the skies and winds for any indication of what weather is coming. They know by experience that westward clouds passing over a body of water bring rain, and southern winds bring warmer temperatures. They can see these indicators right before their eyes.
But there are other indicators before them that they cannot comprehend. The religious leaders are arrogant and prideful. Herod and the Romans are bearing down with their unjust agenda of occupation. By contrast, Jesus has been walking among them, performing miracles and teaching the pure religion of the kingdom of God. Why can they not see the signs and accept what is before their eyes?
Jesus has a single-word diagnosis: hypocrisy. They know the truth, but they live in denial of it. Their problem is not their capacity to understand; it is their unwillingness to accept the truth. They don’t like what it could mean for them if Jesus is indeed who he says he is. There is a proverb that captures this tragedy: “A person convinced against their will is of the same persuasion still.” Jesus understands this powerful reality, and he calls it out.
Like the crowds who followed Jesus, we too must recognize the hypocritical dilemmas we face. We know the right action, but something overtakes us and we fail to do what we know to be right. That “something” is the very thing Jesus illuminates.
We are not always ready to accept and believe what being a disciple of Jesus means for us. It is not easy to hear these words, but we can trust that Jesus wants us to know abundant life.
Holy God, I am not yet as I hope one day to be. Grant me your grace, and lead me into abundant life in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Isaiah compares the people of Israel to a vineyard that God has planted. However, the grapes that grow there have become wild. There is no justice, no right living in the vineyard, so God is considering letting it be destroyed. The psalmist uses the same metaphor to bemoan the state of God’s people. The vineyard has been overrun, burned, and cut down. The psalmist appeals to God to restore the vineyard. The author of Hebrews presents many more examples of people of faith in past times. All these exemplars now surround us and cheer us on in our life of faith. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus cautions that following the gospel requires full commitment. For some, this will mean tension in relationships, even within families. Following Jesus is not a commitment of convenience.
Read Isaiah 5:1-7. Recall a time when you lovingly prepared a place. What would prompt you to destroy it?
Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How has God restored you when you have been at your most vulnerable?
Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Who makes up your personal Faith Hall of Fame? How does each person cheer you on in your spiritual journey?
Read Luke 12:49-56. What does it mean for your life of faith for Jesus to have come to bring division?
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