February 28 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 13)

Submitted by Megan A. from Gracepoint Davis Church
Luke 13:22-35
REFLECTION QUESTIONS

Luke 13:22-24

What does it mean to make every effort to enter through the narrow door?

To make every effort to enter through the narrow door means that I do whatever it takes to know who Jesus is, who he is to me personally, and how I ought to respond to Jesus.  I need to examine and reject my default, self-deluded thinking and I need to accept what Jesus says is true, is good, is trustworthy that I can put my trust in and live according to his word.  Jesus says that when the owner of the house, when God who is the owner of my life, gets up and closes the door, I will be standing outside pleading but he will say he never knew me if I didn’t accept and make every effort to enter through the narrow door, through his way and not my own, to believe and live out what he says is true.  This is a warning to take what Jesus says seriously, to take my life and my sins seriously and to genuinely relate to God by daily confession through conviction from his word and prayer and to make every effort to live out his word, his commands to love him and to love one another, the people he has placed in my life.

Luke 13:25-30

To Jesus’ audience who believed that only Jews could enter kingdom of God, what would be their response to what Jesus said in v. 29?

To Jesus’ audience who believed that only Jews could enter kingdom of God, their response to what Jesus said in v. 29, that people will come from east and west and north and south and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God, would be utter appalled, disdained and dismayed.  They would be so upset at what Jesus is saying because it goes against what they believe and they were unwilling to let go of their mindset and be open to the completely new reality that Jesus was telling them about.  They are judgmental and critical because they should have been happy that Jesus wants to welcome more people, all people, into his kingdom, to the feast that awaits all those who believe in him but instead they are indignant that Jesus would allow these others to come in because they weren’t as pious and religious as they were.  They already had their own belief system and were so unwilling to accept that there is a greater reality that Jesus was trying to teach them.

Who are the “last who will be first” and who are the “first who will be last” in v. 30?

“The last who will be first” are the people who will come from east and west and north and south to take their places at the feast of the kingdom of God.  To these who were thought they are outside of the kingdom and don’t qualify, Jesus gives them free access into his kingdom. The “first who will be last” are the religious ones who don’t know and understand God’s love.  They don’t want everyone to be saved but just themselves. Because of their clinging to their default thinking and unwilling to accept Jesus’ teaching, they completely missed God’s heart for all the lost souls who he wanted to save and welcome at the heavenly feast in his kingdom.

What warning do I need to personalize from this parable?

The warning that I need to personalize from this parable is that I need to be careful to not insist and cling to my default thinking.  I can’t go along with Christian life and remain in my disbelief, boxing Jesus in by my pre-conceived notions, and not being open to God’s truth and reality that comes from who He really is.  I can’t judge and treat others according to my own self-centered bent but I need to be open to accept seeing myself and life and others as God views it, through his eyes of compassion, patience and love.  My heart needs to break out of its self-centeredness and be broken for all who are resisting and living in rebellion against God, those who don’t know God’s unconditional love for them and their eternal destiny separated from God, like I once was and God had mercy on me.

Luke 13:34-35 34

Do I welcome or resist Jesus’ longing to gather me under his wings?

When I see my sins against God and against those I love or those I am called to love and I see how broken this world is as well as how beyond repair my heart is, I welcome Jesus’ longing to gather me under his wings.  I long for the day when I will no longer be struggling with my sins and will be set free from the presence of sin and I will be “pure and white as snow” in heaven one day.

I resist Jesus’ longing to gather me under his wings when I doubt his goodness, when I grumble and complain in my heart and it comes out in my critical thoughts that I am right or know what is best and ingratitude for who He is and for all that He has done already.  When I feel my heart hardening and resisting Jesus, that’s when I know that I need to go to Jesus in prayer of confession and repentance to get right with Jesus again.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Please write out a prayer of commitment or confession either based on today’s text or upon reflection over recent events in your life.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for your tender heart and your tender love for me and for everyone, as you long to gather us to you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but we were not willing.  Please forgive me for insisting on my own ways that rebel against your way.  Thank you for the narrow way that You provide for all to enter through to receive eternal salvation and welcome into your kingdom.  Please help me to make every effort to fight against my default thinking, of giving into my sins and to turn to you.  Please give me your same tender heart for others to come to enter through your narrow door and receive salvation as You had led me through.

Submitted by Gina H. from Gracepoint Davis Church

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

Luke 13:22-24

  • What does it mean to make every effort to enter through the narrow door? 

Though it seems so hard to follow God sometimes, because it means that I need to keep humbling myself, and keep fighting against my sinful nature, Jesus is saying, keep at it, keep doing whatever you need to do, in order to get yourself right before God. Face your sins, accept and acknowledge your hopelessness and helplessness and utter weakness to fight your own sin, apart from God. There may be times you want to throw in the towel, and tell yourself, this is too hard, forget this, who needs this, I don’t want to struggle against my sin anymore, I just want to give into it and indulge in it. But Jesus reminds us that is the wide way. That’s the easy no-brainer way, that’s the way anyone can take. But He calls us to be different, to be mature, to deny our flesh, our pride, and keep confessing our sin, through which it’s clear to me who I really am, nowhere to hide with that…and that’s actually the best place to be, because that means that I am able to stoop low enough to get in through that narrow door that tells me that my only hope is Jesus. I DO need this, because one day I will stand before that door, and Jesus will either say, “I knew you” or “I didn’t know you” – based on whether I humbly acknowledged my need for His blood to cover my sins, or whether I kept up my fight to keep my pride all the way. So – when it gets hard, and the fight and struggle against sin seems like it has finally defeated me, that’s when I need to make every effort to stay on this path, to let go and surrender and relinquish my pride again, because there is just no other way to Jesus.

Luke 13:25-30

  • To Jesus’ audience who believed that only Jews could enter kingdom of God, what would be their response to what Jesus said in v. 29? 

They would have been pretty upset, as they thought that they had exclusive claim to the kingdom of God. They would often say that they had Abraham as their father, and would point to their spiritual lineage, as the thing that would save them. To hear Jesus, on the other hand, say that people would come from the east and the west to take their places in the kingdom of God – this would have gotten them upset, because they would have thought they had exclusive claim on God’s promises. For me, it’s a sober reminder, that I can’t cling onto mere spiritual association as that sure thing that will make me recognizable to Jesus. Entering into the kingdom of God – it’s about my personal response to God daily, and there’s nothing else I can point to before Jesus, apart from that personal response of obedience and repentance, that trusts in His blood to cover me on that day.

  • Who are the “last who will be first” and who are the “first who will be last” in v. 30? 

Those who had no history with God as a people, who would be the last ones you would think would respond to God, those who haven’t been to church all that much even – but the ones who responded right away to what they heard of God’s truths. They will be the ones to enter in. Versus the first who will be last – those whom you would actually think would be the ones to respond to God’s Word, but who have gotten so used to the message, that it’s hard for them now to respond even. This is a sober warning to me, that it would be so easy for me to become the first who would be last, as someone who has grown up in the church, and has just been given every spiritual blessing, in order to do God’s will. I need to be constantly alert against the attacks of Satan that would make me complacent in any way at past experiences of God – and focus today on how I can be the first to respond to God. It’s those who hear God’s Word, but don’t respond – who are in the most danger, because you’re getting practiced at deflecting God’s Word in your life, practiced at listening yet not obeying.

Luke 13:34-35

  • Who are the “prophets” sent to me today?

The “prophets” are God’s people who have been sent to me, to help me to repent. Prophets would be the ones sent by God to proclaim His message to the people. God still uses people – most often my leaders, and also often my spouse, my friends, other brothers and sisters within the church, to speak words of truth in love to me, about my character, my choices and decisions, my perspective which is often skewed too much in my own favor. I need to welcome and embrace their presence in my life, through whom God speaks to me. What a precious gift, that I have people who love me and are committed to me, and love me too much, to just let me keep going hurting myself and others with my bad character, but love me enough to speak up and risk the awkwardness in order to help me to be shaped and molded, raised to be more Christ-like, so that I can love more people. It sounds so nice and loving…but when it actually happens, my pride can really balk at it too, and think, they don’t really understand me, or doubt their love for me…but in those times I need to be quick to humble myself and respond, and really see this as a gift, that I have these kinds of relationships where truth in love can be spoken.

  • Do I welcome or resist Jesus’ longing to gather me under his wings? 

When I’m in my right mind, I welcome Jesus’ longing to gather me under his wings. Really, where else would I rather be? Out in the world fending for myself, being left to navigate through my relationships on my own when I am just a sinner, everyone else I relate with – they’re all sinners. When I know that I am just a sinner, I welcome, I long for, and plead for Jesus’ intervention in my life, that He would keep me close to Him and His will. When I don’t know that I’m a sinner – in the moments that I get proud and defensive over my sins – those are the moments that my pride keeps me from welcoming Jesus gathering me under his wings. The older I get, the more confidently I am convinced, that I am just a sinner, and just here by grace. But each day still, I have that choice of how to respond to that, and to welcome Jesus and his longing to gather me close to Him. My response of pride or humility to 1001 instances each day – Lord, through these, please help me to love you by letting you draw me close, under your wings.

Submitted by Kevin H. from Gracepoint Davis Church

Luke 13:22-35

SOME IDEAS AND WORDS TO CONSIDER

“I don’t know you”

I think most people inherently know that if they adhere to some form or concept of heaven, that there will be some kind of criteria for entering such a place.  Most people would agree that there will be some form of selective process through which heaven will be granted to a select group people.  And people do formulate all kinds of different standards and criteria, but nonetheless most would agree that there should be some distinguishing factors, to weed out the ones who should not be there verses who deserve to go in.  The most common standard would involve the degree of goodness verses wrong-doing.  How much good would merit heaven verses how much wrong deserves hell is where  people may disagree, but in general I think it is true that we do have a sense that ‘good’ goes with heaven and ‘evil’ goes with hell. And it is this notion of how good is in us, or how good we were able to live our life causes the insecurity and anxiety toward death and the eternal life beyond.

Perhaps this is the reason why this person asked Jesus about how many people would be going to be saved.  Maybe he wanted to find out from Jesus whether the standard is indeed that high and heaven is indeed difficult to achieve, as difficult as we find ourselves struggling with day to day for good verses the wrongs that dominate our lives.  He must have thought, like so many of us, that being saved was a difficult task to achieve.  Satisfying all the laws of the Pharisees must have seemed impossible, and worrying about how many of the laws to fulfill before he could receive the passing grade may have been on his mind.  If indeed only a few are going to be saved, it must mean that the threshold is high, and just being around average in ‘good’ won’t cut it.  He must excel in being good if he were to make to cut.

While Jesus fully agrees with the perceived notion that being saved is not something that is going to be granted to the majority, it’s interesting what standard Jesus does set.  “I don’t know you” is the standard.  It’s the relational knowledge of Jesus that will separate the saved from the unsaved.  While most of us fret about achieving the good enough status to get into heaven while constantly being stumbled with the stubborn sinfulness within, what Jesus sets is whether or not we know Jesus.  Even the statement, “I don’t know where you come from,” is very personal and relational in quality.  When we first meet someone we often ask where that person is from. The reason why we do so, is because knowing the person’s origin is a good way to know something about that person at a deeper level.  So the notion of ‘where from’ is also a very relational knowledge.

According to Jesus, the only way to be let into the narrow gate is to know the owner of the house.  When that time to close the door comes, the owner is only interested in the people that he had known.  It also seems to be the case that those that the owner does not know, are the same as being evil doers.  In other words, Jesus here does not ask necessarily how much good was accomplished, but whether or not he/she is known by Jesus.  If we are not known by Jesus, then it is equivalent to being ‘evil doers’.  Understanding this reality really changes the whole perspective on life, how life should be lived out.  Striving to know someone is other centered, whereas trying to achieve a certain level of goodness is entirely self-centered.  The focus is on the ability of the doer, whereas getting to know someone requires focusing on the other.  Being known to Jesus involves my entire self, whereas trying to achieve good on my own is mostly focused on the behavior and self-will.  In the end, what Jesus is really after, is that relational knowledge – the relating to the one and only God, our creator in the proper way.

This really shows what God values that is vastly different than other religions.  Other religions have to do with the practice of the rituals and the requirements of the laws and regulations.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ time also tried to bring down their relationship with God down to that level. But Jesus shifted all of those practiced into the focus of whether or not they knew Jesus.  Those of us who see heaven and hell in the perspective of good verses wrong make the crucial mistake of overestimating how much good we can actually do, and underestimate the gravity of wrongdoings that seem to plague our lives minute to minute, every day.  So Jesus saying that knowing him is the key to being saved is such a great news for those whose desire is to know God and be known by God.  But for those who are not interested in having God and his authority in their lives, to claim that authority for their own lives, this being saved is unachievable.  In my life, I see that striving to know Jesus involves all of me, not just easing my sense of guilt and hoping for the best.  It is no longer the game of keeping track of what good I have done to erase the wrongdoings.  Experientially, it was the case that the wrongs and the hurts seem to haunt me and pile on a lot more than any good that I can remember that I have done.  After some time, all I was left with was just the uneasiness and insecurity that if there is God, I didn’t know if I would make it or not.  All I was left with was fear.  But when I met Christ personally, I have come to know ‘being saved’ as a whole different notion.  It is a lot more involving, as I need to let my entire self be known to Jesus through knowing him and obeying him.  But it’s no longer about just me being able to achieve, but rather letting God transform me.  At times it feels more cumbersome because there’s no list of items to check and then call it a day to be left to my own devices.  But the great news is that it’s no longer about how good I can be, but depending on Jesus’ goodness, his love and generosity of forgiving me. And that is such good news to me.

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