September: Faithful followers of Jesus
This month and last, the Lectionary Reflections are taken from the passages in Luke’s Gospel. They are all located within the long, extended journey towards Jerusalem that Jesus undertakes with his followers.
4 September — Luke 14:25-33
One of the most common mistakes made about what it means to follow Jesus, is to claim that “family values” are at the heart of the Gospel. This passage refutes that quite explicitly, as Jesus instructs his followers: “You must hate your father and your mother”. (v 26) It might be an overstatement, but it conveys the point: we have a different set of values. Following Jesus means entering into a new relationship of kinship with a new family — of disciples.
Those who share with you in being faithful followers of Jesus are the ones who have the first and the ultimate claim on you, as you travel through life. This is counter-intuitive; it is different from what we innately expect in contemporary society.
What are you most grateful for, among those who share their journey with you as followers of Jesus?
11 September — Luke 15:1-10
“He welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (v 2) Hospitality was highly-valued in the society in which Jesus lived. Welcoming the visitor, opening your table to others and providing a safe place for the traveller; such values were shared across all levels of society. The parables in this week’s passage demonstrate this. They each end with a marvellous celebration, as friends and neighbours gather to celebrate the finding of that which was lost.
Yet Jesus pushes beyond sharing table fellowship with “friends and neighbours” (v 5, v 9); He insists on holding places for those who would not normally be part of the celebration. “He welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Now there is a challenge, to our comfortable, respectable dinner parties!!
Can you think of someone who could be an unexpected and shocking guest at a party in your house? How else can you show them hospitality?
18 September — Luke 16:1-13
As Jesus heads to Jerusalem with his disciples, He invites them to consider how their lives might be different, because of their commitment to following in his way. He tells this parable in order to provoke them, perhaps even shock them. It contains very difficult ethical dilemmas. Did the shrewd steward do the right thing, or not? What was Jesus up to, by telling a tale of such questionable behaviour?
Many commentators have despaired of making sense of this parable. But perhaps one thing the steward says may offer an insight as to why he behaved in this way. He acts as he does “so that people will welcome me” (v 4). Patronage in the peasant economy of the day was critical. He needed someone to take care of him when he was out of a job. Did he do the right thing?
How would you manage the situation that the manager found himself in?
25 September — Luke 16:19-31
Often restated are Jesus’s teachings concerning money: “Sell your possessions” (Luke 12:33); “Bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame” (14:21); “Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor” (18:22).
Jesus affirmed “blessed are you who are poor” (Luke 6:20), and set His mission as being “to bring good news to the poor, to let the oppressed go free”. (4:18)
The story of Lazarus and the rich man fits into this line of teaching. Jesus does not proclaim a message of prosperity for the rich, but of justice for the poor. Those who travel with Him will be required to hold to this message. When we seek to journey with Jesus, we also are challenged to relegate our possessions into their proper place in life.
What does it mean for people in Australia in 2016 to hear what “someone who rose from the dead” has declared about justice for the poor?
These reflections were prepared by the Rev. Dr John Squires from the Mid North Coast Presbytery
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