Gospel: Luke 9.51-62.

In this portion of the gospel Jesus sets His face to go to Jerusalem knowing that there He must die. As He and His disciples pass through Samaria they are not welcomed, and James and John want to call down fire from heaven, but Jesus rebuked them. Several people express a desire to follow Jesus but not immediately. Jesus says He is homeless, but the time to follow Him is now.

The gospel stories have told of Jesus showing compassion in raising the dead to life, of forgiving sins, of healing a demoniac, of feeding the multitudes, of stilling the storm, of restoring sight to the blind, of healing the deaf, and now of going to His death surrounded by disciples and encouraging others to follow Him. He has the power to give life–abundant life–to those who follow Him, to forgive sins, to heal people of demonic possession. He is able to do the same for those who follow Him today. Those who have faith in Him, that is, trust Him to be able to do what He promises, find new life–Eternal Life–a new quality of life–in Him. He forgives the sins of those who believe in Him. He reconciles us to the Father. He has the power to take our sins onto Himself and to impute His righteousness to His followers. This really means He can make us members of God’s covenant family. He can heal our infirmities–physical,emotional, moral, and spiritual–and make us new. He is our Redeemer which means He sets us free from the bondage of sin and death. The miracles He performed in the past while on earth, He still performs for believers. That is why He is going to Jerusalem ‘where they killed the prophets.’ He knows He will be killed, but wittingly lays down His life for those who believe in Him. He said at the Last Supper that He was the Passover Lamb. This is a reminder of the Exodus from bondage in Egypt. He is implying that He is leading His disciples (and us) on a new exodus out of the bondage to the law, corruption, sin, and death. Baptism is like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) is like the giving of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai. Following Jesus is like Israel following the Spirit as the pillar of fire in the desert wandering.The disciples followed Him knowing that they might die, but knowing that following Him is the way to life. He will die to pay the penalty we have incurred for our sins. God’s justice requires that man’s sins must be paid for (Rm 3.26). There is an inescapable penalty for sin, but Christ is able to pay the penalty on the cross and set us free. This is a measure of the seriousness of sin, and it is a measure of God’s love for sinners. Jesus was willing to give up His place at the right hand of the Father to become like sinful flesh and be homeless and in constant conflict with those who rejected Him and denied Him and finally crucified Him so that He might restore believers to the place God intended for them at the Creation. He calls us to follow Him, but the time to do so is now. Tomorrow may be too late. Who knows what the morrow will bring? He calls us today. He wants to give us good rather than evil, as He did for the Samaritan village. He shows us a new and better way. This is what He was teaching His disciples then–and now. Following Him is not easy. He said, “Count the cost.” But it is the way to life and fulfillment and meaning. He is offering the opportunity to have a relationship with Him. He came to bring the Kingdom of God to us which is within us as well as among us (Lk 17.21) and to bring us all the blessings of life with Him.

Memory Verse: Come to Me, all ye who labor are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest fro your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Mt 11.28-30).