Chapters 1-2

I like the turn of phrase used here to describe John and his ministry: “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (v.16-17; italics mine) [ESV] I also like this verse in reference to Mary: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (v.45) [ESV] As a woman waiting to see the fulfilment of a Word from God given some years back, I like this verse not only because of the promised blessing (who wouldn’t want that?), but also because it reminds me that I am not the only one what is waiting, or has waited, to see a prophecy come to pass. There are times when I wonder if what I heard was a delusion or trick of the mind, but I choose to believe that it was a promise from God. How did Mary stand her waiting especially when she heard about her son’s destiny? Did she ever question the extraordinary and seemingly outlandish claims? We know she and the family wondered about Jesus’ sanity in the early days of his ministry, but what about in the 30 years leading up to that point? Or did Mary just continue to faithfully treasure and ponder the words in her heart? [10-05-2008]

Chapter 4

Verses 23-28 are puzzling. Jesus seems to be implying that the people of Nazareth don’t really believe that He is who he has just said he is – their faith is lacking. But there wasn’t any previous mention of his work in Capernaum, and my ESV edition doesn’t have cross references to the “physician” proverb, or the scripture about Elijah and Elisha so I’m left a bit confused and lacking context. The commentaries I have checked so far don’t address these parts specifically. I know that Jesus can, and does, do miraculous things despite our unfaithfulness. Let’s face it – that’s usually the case! But on the face of it, it sounds like he won’t. That’s pretty harsh. I don’t believe that to be true. [03-06-2008]

Chapters 6-7

Don Carson has apparently said that he thinks Luke 6:37 – Judge not, and you will not be judged [ESV] – is the most well known verse in society today. During the first session, we were told ‘don’t judge’, but ‘do assess’, and that the difference between the two is love. No argument there. Judging was defined as a negative assessment of another person, where our focus is on their behaviour. Assessment, or discernment, done in love, shifts our focus to our own behaviour, so we can ask – is my assessment hypocritical? There must be a relationship in place with the other person first before anything can be said. And we must be aware of our own limitations. The ‘log in the eye’ (6:42) prevents us from seeing a situation, and ourselves, accurately. The log is an obstacle, making us blind to our own short-comings, and prevents us from seeing the other person with compassion. During a time of discussion, someone asked what our response should be to the Mardi Gras parade that evening. I thought the response was very wise and bold. In a nutshell, we are not a Christian society anymore. We are a pluralist society. The second great commandment calls us to ‘love our neighbour’. It does not say to protest – this would be a judgement. In the second session we moved on to Luke 7:36-50 – What does discernment look like? I scribbled down three thoughts: Firstly, how did the sinful woman gain entry to the house without being challenged either by the host, or his servants? Secondly, even though the Simon was thinking silently to himself “If this man were a prophet …” (7:39), Jesus straight away has a reply. He really does know our thoughts. Thirdly, in the comparison between the large and small debtor and Simon and the sinful woman, (7:41-50) Jesus doesn’t actually say that the woman has the greatest debt – he says her sins are ‘many’, but he doesn’t say they are ‘more than yours’. But that is generally our conclusion. As for whether the sinful woman is actually Mary Magdalene – well, that’s a whole other line of thought that I don’t have the energy for at the moment. [Notes from Church Houseparty Feb 2008.] [27-03-2008]

Chapter 9

Verse 41 is a puzzle. Jesus’ rebuke seems so, well, un-Christlike, especially the “how long shall I … put up with you?” part. The NIV footnotes are silent on this verse, and the parallel verses in the other gospels. Oddly, when to me it is one of the more confusing verses. So I did what any 21st century disciple would do – I went to to find out more. In a nutshell, it is a reference to a generation straying due to a lack of trust in God’s redeeming power. I guess that would make anyone feel frustrated. Thankfully God has infinite patience for us. Praise Him! [12-08-2008]

Leave a Comment