So I have now read up to the end of Luke chapter 8, and I have been reduced both to astonishment, tears and laughter as I have been reading.
I am seeing that the connections from the start of the gospel echo out, and I want to read this gospel from now on in large chunks, as much as I can handle, so that I can get the echoes. For example, you will have noticed how many times people are astonished at Jesus, all the way through! Also, you will have noticed that there is already a theme that Jesus loves the poor, and the outcast, and is not interested in the rich and highly religious. He certainly treats them with kid gloves, and later on takes the gloves off.
I thought his treatment of Simon the Pharisee stood out, and I saw (which I had not seen before) that his criticism of Simon was far-reaching. Simon did not provide water for him to wash his own feet, but the sinful woman washed his feet with her tears. Simon did not even give him a kiss of greeting, but the sinful woman kissed his feet – not counting herself worthy to kiss his face. How low Simon was in Jesus’ eyes, and how virtuous the sinful woman was! How counter to the ways of the world is our Lord.
I must just also comment that having spent quite a lot of time previously with the gospel of Mark (I memorised up to around chapter 8 before ‘moving on’), I feel that Luke has a real ring of variety and eloquence about it. Mark is a little repetitive and straightforward. Luke has many wonderful turns of phrase, some of which seem to me quite fresh as I am reading it. What about the Lukan version of the explanation of the parable of the sower, which has quite a different flavour to the Markan one (which I like very much):
The Parable of the Sower Explained
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
What caught me here was both the theme of fruit, and its importance. We are not saved for ourselves, we are saved to bear fruit. Backsliders and lone cannons spring to mind; those who say they’re okay, but it is bringing fruit to maturity that matters for all of us. Also, the ones who hear the word with a ‘noble and good heart’. It is important when we sit under the word of God, that our hearts are pure, clean, fresh: that we have guarded our hearts, as the issues of life spring out of them. Our hearts cannot be bitter, harsh, hardened, or divided.
But why did I cry and laugh at the end of chapter 8? I have never read this before really with the eyes of a parent, I don’t think. Jesus raises a twelve year old from the dead, as calm as you like, and then he instructs the parents: tell no one what has happened. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon! Everyone would have known about how ill she was, and there were mourners just outside, and they were supposed to keep quiet about what Jesus had done for them! I’ll have to put some thought into why Jesus told them this – and I wonder how seriously they took his request? Find videos of my readings below, you’ll see I almost lost it at the end of chapter 8 as this took me quite by surprise.