Thursday, October 25, 2012

Savoring the Stories

(This year, my church is reading chronologically through the Bible. We have an accompanying blog, which I write on from time to time. The following blog is my most recent entry posted there.)

Only one chapter today in our daily reading! A light day…hooray!

(Read Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded. Attempt to close my Bible. Reopen. Reread Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded…)

Wow, how many sermons and teachings based on this one chapter have I heard? Sending out the seventy-two. Demons submitting to them. The Good Samaritan. And the infamous Mary and Martha conflict. I confess that until this moment I didn’t realize they were all nestled into Luke 10. And I wonder, how many times have I rushed through Scripture without pondering the stories unfolding before me? Without considering the people who are involved? Without really listening to the voice of Jesus as he speaks?

These are not tall tales or fairy tales, but true tales of people who walked with Jesus, learned from him, and interacted with him. Consider the seventy-two. Jesus chooses them from the disciples following him and appoints them to go before him and prepare the way. He doesn’t send them blindly on their way, but he equips them for their mission. Then, they return to him, filled with joy, marveling at the effectiveness of their ministry: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (v. 17).

Frederick Buechner reminds me, “Whatever else they may be, the people in the Bible are real human beings,…and it is not the world of the Sunday School tract that they move through but a Dostyevskian world of darkness and light commingled, where suffering is sometimes redemptive and sometimes turns the heart to stone” (The Clown in the Belfry, p. 41). Hmmmm. Sounds a lot like the world that I am moving through. You?

Jesus’ instructions to the seventy-two establish this truth: “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you…But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you’ ” (v. 8-9). Sometimes people will welcome the light; other times, they will reject it.

He then lovingly shepherds them through the experience of both acceptance and rejection: “Whoever listens to you, listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me” (v. 16). Success wasn’t theirs to claim, and rejection wasn’t theirs to own. It was all about Jesus. It is still all about Jesus.

We are still chosen and called for a purpose. We are still equipped and empowered by Christ within us to move through this world and speak into the lives of others. And we are still wholly dependent on him for our successes and safe in him when we face rejection.

And that’s found in just the first 17 verses of Luke 10. There are 24 more verses to consider.

A light day? Maybe not.



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