Yesterday, we started looking at the story of Jesus at Simon’s house in Capernaum, where a “woman of ill repute” poured perfume on his feet and wiped them with her hair. (You need to read that post before beginning today’s. ) After Jesus’ parable about the man who had been forgiven a great debt vs the man who had been forgiven a smaller debt, we looked firstly at the woman’s response. She’s aware of how much she’s been forgiven, hence her great show of affection. Today, we look at the response of the two other characters in the story: Simon and Jesus.
Are you familiar with the awkward turtle?
If you’re over 40, you’re probably not. At 43, I’m technically too old to know about it, but for more than a decade I was a pastor to young adults. Keeps me young. And well-informed when it comes to useless information about youth culture. And one of the more useless things I picked up a few years ago is a hand gesture called the ‘awkward turtle’. It looks like this:
The next story in Luke chapter 7 flows out of yesterday’s dialogue between Jesus and the disciples of John the Baptist. You’ll remember that John sent them to check whether he had it right – that Jesus was indeed bringing in the kingdom, since there was still…ahem…one prisoner, Mr. Jesus, who had not been released. What’s going on? Jesus reassured him that yes, the signs of the kingdom were indeed happening. The blind received their sight, the deaf heard, the dead were raised – this isn’t the dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing, baby!
Continuing our series in Luke chapter 7, the next story is another healing one:7:11-12 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.
A tragic scene. Made more tragic not simply by the loss of her son, but the fact that he was her only son, and her husband had also died. In the absence of a social security system, without a man around this woman had no means of support. Jesus is touched.
Today we begin a series in Luke chapter 7. And the first story in the chapter is about Jesus doing a favour for a Roman centurion, whose faith Jesus commends in the strongest possible terms:7:9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
What is it about this guy that amazes Jesus? (Remember, most of the time in the gospels Jesus is the object of amazement, not the subject.) Let’s work through the story to find out.
Last week, we worked our way through the stories in Luke chapter 18. In every story we saw a pattern: the person of high status (whom you’d expect to be the “winner,” according to first century culture) ended up being the “loser” in the story, at the expense of the person of low status. The score ended up being 5-0 in favour of the underdog, powerfully illustrating a central theme of God’s kingdom: that the rich and powerful will miss out, but the poor and powerless will enter.
Except that’s not the full story.
This week we’re looking at the short stories in Luke 18, and keeping score as to who “wins” in each story. Here’s the recap so far in table form:
|18:1-8||Poor widow||Rich litigant and unjust judge|
|Total:||People of low status – 4||People of high status – 0|
Today, we have two stories. And at first glance, the first one seems to break the flow. The status-reversal pattern Luke has set up (see above) seems to be sidestepped when Jesus chooses this moment to again remind his disciples of his impending death.
This week we’re looking at the short stories in Luke 18 – each individual story, as well as the big picture. We’ve been keeping score as to who “wins” in each story. So far we’ve seen a rich litigant, a Pharisee, and some adults (the disciples) unexpectedly in the “loss” column. By contrast, a poor widow, a tax collector, and little children scored a “win.” The score is currently: low status people – 3, high status people – 0. Today, we get a slightly longer story; the famous one about a rich young ruler.
This week we’re looking at the short stories in Luke 18 – each individual story, as well as the big picture. We’ve been keeping score as to who “wins” in each story. Yesterday, we saw the poor widow (someone of low status ) win an appeal for justice over her (probably rich and important) adversary, wearing down the unjust judge in the process. The score stands at: low status people 1, high status people 0. Let’s find out what happens in today’s two stories.
Last week, the speaker of the Australian Federal Parliament resigned over a scandal involving her use of travel entitlements. (I mention this for the benefit of international readers; if you’re local, you can’t have missed it!) Among other things, this speaker was renowned for ejecting opposition members from the parliamentary chamber. One of the newspapers put together a mosaic of her face, made up of smaller pictures of the 400 members of parliament she had ejected over the past two years. A close-up view is on the left, and the full mosaic on the right. Some very clever, painstaking work. (In the future, it’ll take some convincing for me to believe journalists when they say they’re understaffed.)