"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering." (Romans 12:1, MSG)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

#LukeActs2014 - Luke chapter 20

Rev. Aaron is on his way back from the Holy Land and will be blogging again next week. He has asked me to write on Luke 20 this week. - Josh Wilson

Calvin and Hobbes was, by far, my favorite comic strip growing up and the first thing I would read every morning. The strip featured perpetual troublemaker Calvin and his stuffed tiger named Hobbes. In the strip, Calvin and Hobbes would often play CalvinBall, a game invented by Calvin in which one makes the rules up as one goes along. Rules cannot be used twice. No CalvinBall game is like another. The game may involve wickets, mallets, volleyballs, and additional equipment as well as masks. 

There is only one permanent rule in CalvinBall: One can't play it in the same way twice. For example, in one game of CalvinBall, the goal was to capture one's opponent's flag, whereas in a different game of CalvinBall, the goal was to score points by hitting badminton shuttlecocks against trees using a croquet mallet. An apparent rule in CalvinBall is that one must wear a black mask and that one isn't allowed to question the mask. Another apparent rule is that any new rule made up by each player must be accepted. A third apparent rule is that you cannot make any plays you made in a previous game. 

I feel like we sometimes view life as if it were CalvinBall…we make up rules to suit our circumstances and our level of comfort. 

Throughout the Old Testament, God repeatedly called on the people of Israel to stop worshiping false gods and lean on Him. Time and time again, they would fall away and God would call them back. Their continual mutiny would eventually result in God sending them into Exile, out of the land given them by God and into the hands of foreigners. When they came out of exile, they renewed their dedication to the Law given them by God through Moses (we see this in Nehemiah 8-10). But, over time, the religious leaders added so many rules that the true intent of the Law was lost (there’s the CalvinBall connection). The Law was supposed to point to the coming of Christ, to prepare the people for His arrival. Instead, it became a burdensome weight on those seeking to follow God. And by the time Jesus came, the people didn’t recognize Him. 

When Jesus tells the story of the vineyard in Luke 20, He uses the imagery of the landowner and the tenets to paint a picture of these religious leaders, these Pharisees, as they had taken the worship of the one true God and made it into their own religion. When the landowner sent his son to deal with the situation, the tenets killed him. This foreshadows of the fate of Jesus at the hands of the Romans. After He tells this story, Jesus looked directly at them (the Pharisees) and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.'" (Luke 20:17). 

The Pharisees knew that the story of the vineyard pointed towards them, but in lieu of doing the wise thing and receiving the Son, they set in motion plans to kill Him. 

I think I can safely say that we sometimes still misunderstand the meaning of the Law….and sometimes we add to it to suit ourselves. Our religious practices should always point us to Christ and should be rooted in thankfulness for having been redeemed by Him. When we find that we are burdened by these practices, we need to prayerfully examine whether Christ is at the center of it. 

Jesus is the Rock, and if we do not stand upon Him as our cornerstone, then we will stumble upon Him like those who argued against Him (vv. 17-18). 

Reading these last few chapters of Luke has been particularly meaningful for me and have caused me to re-examine myself in light of Jesus’ words, just as He called the Pharisees and the people to examine themselves. I pray, as we continue to read about His final week on earth, that we hear anew His call on our lives…that we will be assured in those places that we need reassurance and that we will be made uncomfortable in those places where we need to change and grow.

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