Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Broad Themes from Luke

This morning I read the gospel of Luke in one sitting, which is unusual for me (I usually read small chunks of Scripture at a time). I usually just read a few verses of a book, think about them a lot, analyze them, and then come back the next day for a few more. But I had plenty of time this morning on a day away for prayer and planning, so I just kept reading and was looking for overarching themes rather than specific things to apply. Here are some things that really jumped out to me (this is the first of 3):

Theme # 1 – Authority: Jesus speaks a great deal about authority. When He sends out His disciples, He gives them authority to heal and cast out demons. When He sends out the 72, He again gives them authority, yet when they come back celebrating that this authority actually worked, He urged them to celebrate not their authority but their salvation. When Jesus teaches, people are amazed at what He says, and one of the comments that they often make is that He teaches as one who has authority. In short, His words carry authority, and I was struck by how little I live in that reality. I think I speak the words of Jesus hopefully, timidly, knowing that they have power for me but maybe not for you. Yet Jesus is THE authority in the world, the author of life and faith. When He speaks, it happens. When I speak the words of Jesus, they are words of authority, not for me to manipulate or use to get what I want, but they do have power to transform.

The story of the centurion who tells Jesus not to come to his house, but rather just to speak the word and his servant would be healed was another story of authority. The centurion recognized how authority works – the one in power speaks and those under him obey. He also recognized that Jesus had authority which all things must obey.

The 12 had great faith in the authority given to them by Jesus. Once, when they had been rejected by a Samaritan village, they asked Jesus if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven on the people. They had seen that when Jesus gave them authority to heal and cast out demons, it had actually worked, and so they saw no reason that they could also have authority over nature, too. Of course Jesus rebuked them (their desire for discipline was shadowed by an anti-Samaritan sentiment, I think), but to it was striking that they believed enough to even ask.

I noticed also that Jesus was willing to be under authority – God had put all things under Him, and Jesus did not have to submit to any man at any time. A crowd had once driven Jesus to the edge of a cliff in order to throw Him off, but He simply walked right through them and went on His way. But when the time came for Him to die, Jesus submitted to the authority of the Father, saying, “Not my will but yours.”

I wonder what it would look like for me to walk more in the authority of God. To believe that the words that I speak have power when I am being led by the Spirit. How would I minister and live differently if I believed that not only had I been given authority, but that Jesus still had authority in our world? Intellectually I believe and know that, but I don’t always live that way practically.

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