’Make Friends for Yourselves…’

’Make Friends for Yourselves…’

Money and what money can buy dominate our lives. The title of one book says it all: Born to Shop.

To follow up last Wednesday’s consideration of the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, we noted that the parable brings together several key biblical themes. The property owner in Luke chapter 16 is an honorable man. Confronted by a manager who is corrupt the owner justly dismisses him, but in his mercy does not have him immediately imprisoned. By his silence the manager admits his guilt.

A dark parable. However, perceiving the owner also to be merciful, the manager pursues a bold strategy that will rescue his future. But it is a strategy that is entirely dependent upon the mercy of the owner. It’s a dark parable about life and death issues – our corrupted character and the extraordinary goodness and beauty of God.

Which brings us to verses 9-13: ‘And I tell you’, said Jesus, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth, so that when it is gone they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

The And I say… indicates a new subject that is linked back to the parable. Unlike the manager in the parable, the people to whom Jesus now speaks have financial resources. Instead of simply serving their own needs, they are in a position to assist others.

The theme of an existential crisis about the future continues, but this time it is in the context of Jesus’ followers. Jesus wants us all to consider our own future and how we should live in the light of it. In particular he wants us to think about how we might use our resources – our money and possessions.

In Luke chapter 12, verse 33 Jesus urges his followers to lay up treasure in heaven. Here in verse 9 he is saying, ‘win friends now so that they may welcome you into the eternal homes.’

The they Jesus is speaking about, are people who have heard and responded to God’s good news because of the generosity of God’s people funding gospel ministries.

‘Life is short,’ Jesus is saying. ‘Ask yourself how you will use your material resources, for the time will come when you won’t need your money.’ It will happen when we die or when Jesus returns – whichever occurs first.

Costly Giving? Are you willing to use the resources you have at your disposal for the salvation of others – even those who in your view don’t deserve to be saved?

In the dark parable of the Dishonest Manager, God uses his resources to pay the price of the rescue of fallen humanity. Now Jesus is asking, ‘Are you willing to use your resources sacrificially so that the unlovely and the unjust can come to know him as their Lord and Savior? If you do, the day will come when there will be a welcome cheer for you in heaven.’

‘Don’t live for this world and its wealth. It is absurd to make money and possessions your life’s goal. Live for the world that is to come,’ Jesus is saying.

As now, so then.  In verses 10-11 he illustrates his point by setting down a principle regarding faithfulness. To be found trustworthy in the small matters of life is a measure of trustworthiness in matters that are great. How we use money and possessions now is a measure of our fitness for the greater wealth of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

“And if you have not been faithful in what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?” Jesus asks in v.12.

Worldly wealth is a temporary trust and a test of faithfulness. Entry into the coming kingdom is permanent wealth. Jesus is not an ascetic who sees the material world as evil. He knows money is temporary, but nevertheless useful stuff when properly used.  He is also realistic for he knows how often the purse-strings control our heart-strings. He knows how easy it is to love money and the power it seems to give us.

So he warns in verse 13: “No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The word hate was a common expression in Jesus’ day. It underlines the point that of two alternatives one is preferred over the other.  There is no place for compromise. Jesus wants us to put him first.

Jesus was speaking then to people living in the 1st century Roman society, but he might just as well be speaking to us today. The way we continue to consume goods is surely nothing short of idolatry. Our shopping malls look more and more like temples.

There are many practical ways we can apply this principle:

Adopt the Scriptural pattern of percentage giving: ten percent is the guide.

Support the ministry of the local church as a first commitment. We may not always agree with all the policies of the church – no church is perfect – but if the Bible is being taught and the gospel proclaimed we should have no hesitation in supporting it financially; local churches are fundamental to building people into God’s kingdom.

Invest in the training of ministers: the future of the church depends on this.

Support mission in the wider world and include Christian ministries that care for the poor.

You may also want to support the Anglican Connection – equipping and supporting church leaders in effective discipling and gospel ministry.

Many of God’s people understand the lessons of Jesus’ words here – making generous donations in support Christian ministry at home and mission work overseas, or in supporting foundations for the relief of the poor.

Jesus wants us to know that we are stewards, not owners of the resources we have. We should invest in the future laying up for ourselves, not treasures on earth, but in the home where we will live forever. Jesus is not saying we can buy our way there. Rather, in this instance, we are to enable others to hear the gospel by using our resources for ministry now.

The question he asks us is this: ‘Will you?’ It means trusting his promises about the future. It means trusting that the ministry of his Word will change lives forever.

A prayer for the gospel. Lord Christ, eternal Word and Light of the Father’s glory: send your light and your truth so that we may both know and proclaim your word of life, to the glory of God the Father; for you now live and reign, God for all eternity. Amen.

You may like to listen to the hymn, Across the Lands from Keith and Kristyn Getty.

© John G. Mason

Note: Today’s ‘Word’ is adapted from my book in the ‘Reading the Bible Today’ series, Luke: An Unexpected God, 2nd Edition, Aquila: 2018.

Support the Word on Wednesday ministry – Mid-year gift here.

’Make Friends for Yourselves…’

’Mercy – So Undeserved’

Many millions throughout the world are mourning the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The longest reigning monarch in British history, she was respected for her life-long commitment to leadership through service. She reigned with dignity and graciousness, providing stability in a chaotic world.

In previous Word on Wednesday writing I have touched on her witness to her faith in her Christmas Messages. In 2011 she said:‘…Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive…’

Her words, ‘we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed’ call to my mind Jesus’ parable, ‘The Parable of the Shrewd Manager’ found in Luke chapter 16. Two themes stand out: a Dishonest Manager; and a Generous Owner.

A Dishonest Manager. The parable takes us into the world of property and business. It’s the story of a rich man who has his affairs looked after by a property manager, who enjoyed a great deal of delegated power. He could negotiate financial deals and sign contracts. His position commanded a great deal of respect.

However, as with any position of financial responsibility, he could mismanage funds. And this seems to have been the case, for at short notice his master issued him with a dismissal notice: Charges were brought to the owner that his manager was squandering his property.

The silence of the manager is significant. He was street-smart and was clearly unsure of the details of the charges. To speak might give the master even more reason to charge him. But his silence condemned him. He was fired, but significantly not immediately sent to prison. He had time to plan, but he needed to act quickly.

Knowing he didn’t have either the physical stamina or the heart to work as a laborer, and not wanting to beg, he worked on a strategy to win friends who would look after him.

One by one he called in those who owed money to the owner. He halved the debt of the first debtor who owed the equivalent of 900 gallons (lit. 100 barrels) of oil. He also reduced the sum owed by a second debtor who owed the equivalent of two and a half tons of wheat (lit. 100 containers).  In today’s money both reductions were in the order of $10,000.

While much ink has been spilled in debating the meaning of this parable, we can make several observations. The manager’s action in reducing the outstanding accounts is conceivable. In a bad season an owner could reduce the yearly rent in advance. But the feature here is the secrecy and the speed of the adjustments.

Furthermore, there is an all-important underlying theme: the owner’s character. The manager knew him to be just and upright. And because the owner hadn’t promptly sent the manager to prison, it was evident he could temper justice with mercy.

This is the key: the manager risked everything on his perception of the owner’s mercy.

A generous owner. The owner had two options: he could call in the debtors and point out that the updated rental agreements weren’t binding. Or he could remain silent and personally absorb the pain and the price of the deception. In which case he would be the one who paid the cost of his manager’s tactic.

To interpret the parable this way puts a dark construction on its meaning. Could Jesus really be saying this? Consider verse 8 where we read: And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.

Shrewdness. The placing and force of the word shrewdly is significant. The owner is not commending his manager for his deception, but rather is complementing his shrewdness.

The usual Greek word for wisdom is sophia. But here another word is used – meaning cleverness in self-preservation. The manager is commended for his shrewdness in looking out for his future.

The parable speaks of an existential moment in the manager’s life. He faced a future without hope. The movement of the story and the motif of shrewdness means this is a parable about life and death matters.

Furthermore, as one commentator has noted, the better reading of the phrase in 16:8 is not, the unrighteous manager but rather the manager of unrighteousness. This phrase is a figure or metaphor for the world of men and women whose lives are characterized by unrighteousness before the owner – God.

In the parable Jesus is drawing together a complex cluster of ideas. The owner is a figure for God who is both just and yet incredibly merciful. The dishonest manager is a figure for us all.

A parable for us all. In the story the manager is caught in his sinful actions and called to account. Knowing he is guilty, he entrusts his future completely to the kindness and mercy of the owner. Having experienced his master’s goodness at the beginning (he wasn’t jailed) he is confident his master will bear the full cost of his rescue. This is the shrewdness the master commends.

Shrewdness about life, death and the future is what Jesus wants us all to think about. Verse 8b is the climax of the parable: “The children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light,” Jesus comments.

Kenneth Bailey, who lived in the Middle East for decades observes: ‘the parable provides an unforgettable insight into the nature of God, the predicament of men and women, and the ground of salvation’ (Bailey, p.110).

This is a ‘dark’ parable in that Jesus teaches us lessons about God and ourselves, the present and the future, through a situation of corruption, injustice and pain. It is ‘dark’ in that it is the owner who has to pay the price for human failure. As Luke’s narrative unfolds, the shadow of the cross of Calvary looms ever larger.

The parable challenges us all (disciples 16:1) to be shrewd in preparing for our future beyond the grave, and wise in trusting God with our life now. Men and women (the children of this age) make smart decisions about life, looking after and protecting their interests

However, Jesus is saying, the children of light (his followers, 16:1) are not necessarily clever about heavenly things. They know there is a future world but they don’t prepare for it, nor do they live in the light of that knowledge.

‘In what do you trust?’ is Jesus’ question. Have you understood that the only hope of rescue for sinful men and women is found in the mercy of God? Yes, that mercy is undeserved, he is saying, but the day will come when you will see that God, the owner, is willing to pay the full price of your rescue.

A prayer. Almighty God, you have conquered death through your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and have opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant us by your grace to set our mind on things above, so that by your continual help our whole life may be transformed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in everlasting glory.  Amen.

You may like to listen to the hymn, In Christ Alone from Keith and Kristyn Getty.

© John G. Mason

Note: Today’s ‘Word’ is adapted from my book in the ‘Reading the Bible Today’ series, Luke: An Unexpected God, 2nd Edition, Aquila: 2018.

Support the Word on Wednesday ministry – Mid-year gift here.

’Make Friends for Yourselves…’


Divisions between groups of people is a feature of every age. These days the divisions are being redefined – based especially on race and gender.

In Luke chapter 15 we find two very different groups amongst Jesus’ hearers: what we might call the ‘sinners’ and the ‘saints’. In the eyes of contemporary Judaism, prostitutes and tax collectors were ‘sinners’ – outcasts of respectable society. The religious elite, who viewed themselves as the shepherds of Israel, considered that they were the righteous, the ‘saints’.

By dining with outsiders Jesus implied that he treated them equally as men and women and welcomed them. Indeed, in the previous section Luke records Jesus’ words about true discipleship: “Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!” (14:35). It was the outsiders rather than the religious elite who heard.

In Luke chapter 15 three parables alert sinners to the reality of God’s grace, while at the same time challenging the self-satisfied saints to repentance. In all great literature there are purple passages: Luke chapter 15 stands supreme.

The lost sheep (15:3-7). David Penman, one time theologian and missionary in the Middle East and a former Anglican archbishop, once pointed out to me that ‘no-one in the Middle-East loses anything; things are simply lost. One is never ‘bad’, they are simply not ‘good’. The outcasts in Jesus’ audience would have listened intently because he spoke about the lost.

In our city life we often lose sight of the risks to the shepherd and the price he would have paid to rescue the sheep. His action stands in stark contrast to the ‘shepherds’ in Israel who were losing sheep and not bothering about rescuing and restoring them. All they did was sit on the sidelines, criticizing anyone committed to rescuing the lost.

Does this sound like today? How many progressive church leaders are committed to going out and rescuing the lost with the clear statement of God’s good news?

Grace, freely and sacrificially offered, is the dominant theme of the parable. The sheep was lost and unable to find its way home. Showing grace or mercy, the shepherd was pro-active in searching for it. The lost sheep could offer no assistance: its restoration was a gift from beginning to end. With joy in his heart the shepherd slung the sheep over his shoulder and carried it home. So great was his joy that he called in his neighbors to share in it (15:5-6).

Jesus’ comment in verse 7 provides the interpretative key for the parable: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Jesus made a clear link between the lost sheep and sinners: men and women who are lost in terms of their relationship with God. For many, Christianity means rules and regulations set by a cold and aloof God whose only interest is impossible perfection and retributive justice.

The tax collectors and sinners in Jesus’ audience may have been tempted to think this way too, for their religious leaders taught and held out to them an impossible standard. They knew all too well that they were lost. This parable, with its focus on the extravagant goodness and grace of God, gave them the hope that God was sending his shepherd to rescue them.

Further, the parable is about the cost of the rescue. We are aware of the cost in rescuing people in the aftermath of a major disaster – a hurricane, earthquake or tsunami. Here Jesus points to the cost of the rescue of humanity; the shepherd is not burdened by the weight of a lamb, but by the load of the full-grown sheep that he carries back through the wilderness.

Luke wants us to become aware of the dark shadow of the cross looming over Jesus’ life. There is also an implied repentance – the recognition of need – in the sheep’s acceptance of its rescue.

Through the lens of this parable we see the shape of God’s good news. Jesus himself is the good shepherd who has come to the rescue of fallen, lost humanity. Ironically, the outcasts, the irreligious are aware of their state, but the religious aren’t. A further parable develops this conundrum.

The lost coin (15:8-10). Jesus’ attack on the failure of the religious leaders continued with the opening line of the second parable – a woman and a lost a coin. It may have been one of ten coins in her purse, or it may have been a coin on a string of coins. Significantly, it is the responsibility of the person who lost the coin to find it. Unlike the Pharisees and their scribes who were indifferent to the lost, the woman started searching.

The price of her search and recovery was high, for she needed to get down on her hands and knees and go over every inch of her house, looking in every nook and cranny. Clearly the coin could not find or restore itself. Jesus’ theme of rescue and restoration continued with the successful recovery of the coin.

Men and women are likened to lifeless coins, lost and almost hidden in the darkness of a chaotic, confused world. Rescue and restoration are entirely dependent on the initiative and action of an external actor – someone who is totally committed to finding them.

The first parable presented Jesus as the ‘good shepherd’; this parable presents him as ‘a good woman’ – a responsible householder doing everything to take care of what is theirs. The unexpected theme of grace dominates. God himself is willing to do everything he needs to do to reach out and restore what is very precious to him.

Again, there is joy. How ironic that those who were so critical of Jesus and of his obvious care and compassion for the lost, would dare sit in judgment on him. Heaven itself rejoices over one sinner who repents (15:10).

A prayer. Almighty God, you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and constantly give more than either we desire or deserve: pour down on us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord. Amen.

You may like to listen to Magnificent, Marvelous, Matchless Love from Keith and Kristyn Getty.

© John G. Mason

Note: Today’s ‘Word’ is adapted from my book in the ‘Reading the Bible Today’ series, Luke: An Unexpected God, 2nd Edition, Aquila: 2018.

Support the Word on Wednesday ministry – Mid-year gift here.

’Make Friends for Yourselves…’


These days the success of a church or minister is usually measured in numbers: the bigger the crowds the more successful the ministry.

But numbers never impressed Jesus. He was much more interested in disciples – people who were ready to be taught by him and be guided by his good counsel throughout life, no matter the cost.

In Luke chapter 14, verses 26 through 33, we find that huge crowds were following him. Turning to them he said: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…”

The choice between family affection and our loyalty to him is the first of two expectations Jesus sets out for all who would follow him.

The startling word hatred with respect to family members lays out a principle: namely the need to subordinate every relationship, including our relationship with dearly loved ones, and even life itself, to loyalty to Jesus Christ.

This is not fanaticism. Rather, Jesus’ focus here is rooted in the first commandment: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:6).

Now, it is vital not to build doctrine on just one verse. True disciples, instructed by the counsel of God’s Word, will also be aware of the importance of family life – as we find for example, in Deuteronomy 5:16, 18; Matthew 5:27ff; Ephesians 5:3-5, and Ephesians 5:22-6:4.

Furthermore, elsewhere in his ministry Jesus even commands his followers to love their enemies, not destroy them (Luke 6:27).

In any age – and not least today – there are many who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. But Jesus is telling us that unless our loyalty to him is not front and center in our lives, our claim is meaningless – “they cannot be my disciple”, he says (Luke 14:27b).

Bearing one’s cross is another expectation (14:27). The sight of someone carrying a cross would have been familiar to many of Luke’s first readers. Hundreds were crucified in Galilee at the time. Speaking figuratively, Jesus requires that any of us who would follow him must put aside anything that stands in the way of their loyalty to him and honoring him.

JC Ryle (Luke: Expository Thoughts, pp167f) comments: ‘The demand which our Lord makes upon us here is particularly stringent and heart-searching. Yet it is a wise and necessary one … Ungodly fathers cannot bear to see their sons ‘taking up new views’ of religion; worldly mothers are vexed to see their daughters unwilling to enter into the gaieties of the world …

‘It is a heavy cross to disagree with those we love, and especially about spiritual things; but if this cross is to be laid upon us, we must remember that firmness and decision are true kindness.’

How often has a firm but gracious resolve to follow Christ spurred family members to take Christ seriously?

Two parables illustrate the need to count the cost – the tower builder and the warring king.

Anyone who decides to build a tower – it is their choice – will want to calculate the cost. To do otherwise is to invite the scorn of others and even threaten the success of the enterprise.

Furthermore, it is a foolish leader (king) who goes to war without evaluating the resources needed for victory. It is the wise king who, realizing he does not have the necessary resources, finds a way to secure a peace.

To follow Christ truly is costly. It’s something that God’s people in every age should consider.

With the pandemic over the last two and a half years, many good Bible-believing churches are finding there is a renewed interest in the Christian faith. How important it is that when introducing men and women to the wonders of God’s grace and the hope of glory, they do not neglect to explain the cost of commitment. Too often people come into the life of a church with their own dreams and expectations – prosperity, or ‘God will let me live life the way I want’.

Salt – a warning. Jesus concludes his words here with the analogy of salt. Anyone who says they are his follower and yet who lacks the qualities of true discipleship is like salt that has lost it flavor. “Salt is good,” Jesus says. However, “if salt has lost its taste how can its saltiness be restored?” he asks (14:34).

Pure salt is one of the most stable compounds and therefore doesn’t lose its taste. However it is generally agreed that the common salt used in Jesus’ day was impure. It was therefore possible that the sodium chloride in the material called salt could be washed out and thus lose its salty taste. It became useless: “It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile…”

‘True discipleship,’ Jesus is saying, ‘both preserves and adds flavor.’ True disciples are not bland and insipid. Rather they have a cutting edge to their lives – living a life of discipleship, no matter the cost; praying for and looking for ways to introduce others to the Lord Jesus Christ.

A prayer. Lord God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many great dangers that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

You may like to listen to Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God from Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Attending the upcoming Getty Music ‘Sing’ Conference: September 5-7?

Look for the Anglican Connection booth and sign up for our breakout session: ‘The Gospel Shape of Reformation Anglican Liturgy’.

© John G. Mason

Note: Today’s ‘Word’ is adapted from my book in the ‘Reading the Bible Today’ series, Luke: An Unexpected God, 2nd Edition, Aquila: 2018.

Support the Word on Wednesday ministry – Mid-year gift here.

’Make Friends for Yourselves…’

’The Dinner Party…’

Everyone loves a party, especially if we like the hosts and the interesting guests they always invite. Throughout his narrative Luke observes that Jesus of Nazareth was someone hosts and hostesses liked to have on their guest list.

Jesus has always intrigued people. Even today people indicate they would love to have him on their guest list. But Jesus often proved to be an unpredictable guest, saying the unexpected in the course of a meal. And while the religious establishment were threatened by him, they kept him on their guest list – in the hope of trapping him during conversation.

In Luke chapter 14 we find Jesus at a dinner party in the home of a synagogue ruler, who may also have been a member of the Jewish Council (Sanhedrin) and a Pharisee. It was another occasion when the issue of Sabbath observance arose and the Pharisees there were watching him (Jesus) closely (14:1). The appearance of a man with edema (dropsy) could well have been a trap.

In the same way that hosts today often have place cards for seating their guests, so too protocols existed in the ancient world – including amongst the Jewish people. And, in the same way people today sometimes try and reposition their seating to be seen with the ‘right’ people, people then maneuvered their seats (14:7).

Observing this, Jesus did what he often did in a controversial setting: he told a parable. ‘Beware,’ he warned, ‘of taking a more prestigious position, only to find yourself relocated to a lower position by the host. It is better,’ he observed, ‘to take a lowly position first, so that if the host invites you to a higher position, you will receive the greater honor’ (14:8-10).

He also used the situation to return to his overall theme of the last day and observed that on that day there will be many unexpected reversals: “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (14:11).

Having started to speak he continued with yet another observation, this time to his host: “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or rich neighbors; but when you give a banquet invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (14:12b-14).

This must have been a conversation stopper. We can imagine that as they were just about to eat their next mouthful, Jesus reminded them of the poor and the hungry. ‘How dare he?’ some may have thought. ‘You arrogant upstart,’ others may have said.

One man tried to salvage the situation. Latching on to the idea of the ultimate party in heaven, he responded, “Blessed is the one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God” (14:15).

It was the kind of statement made by someone who liked to think he was good at conflict resolution. We get the impression that the speaker believed in life after death and was pretty sure of where he was going.

But Jesus, knowing that this comment reflected religious apathy, told another story: “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now’” (14:16).

In Jesus’ day two invitations were sent out to potential guests prior to an upcoming celebration. No refrigeration meant that hostesses could not always be sure of the availability of the meat they wanted; nor could they stock up at home. Hence, two invitations: the first sent out some weeks prior to the party, the second, twenty-four hours before the event.

Jesus’ audience would have easily decoded that he was speaking about God’s kingdom. The Old Testament prophets had issued the first invitation to Abraham’s vast family. And doubtless his hearers expected him to tell them how they would all be part of it.

But the parable took an unexpected turn with the second invitation: “Come, everything is now ready.” But there was more: “They all alike began to make excuses”. ‘The first said, “I have just bought an investment property: I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, “I have just bought five new oxen and I need to test them: please excuse me.” Another said, “I’m on my honeymoon, so I can’t come.”’

At first glance the excuses seem plausible. But they’re not. It would have been unlikely then, as today, to purchase land without first seeing it and knowing the details. Second, to purchase oxen without first testing them in a field was again most unlikely. The third excuse is the rudest. In a village community everyone would have known in advance about major events such as banquets and weddings. Furthermore, it was the height of rudeness in the Middle East to speak on social occasions about intimate relationships between men and women.

The parable exposes the way that people in every age are so focused on the interests and cares of the material world that they have no time for God. How attracted we are by the desires of our hearts and so fail to realize that there is a much richer dimension to our existence: we are creatures, designed to know the deep love of our Creator and the rich joy, beauty and delights of his eternal kingdom.

A prayer. God our Father, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you above all things, may obtain your promises which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

You may like to listen to For the Cause from Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Attending the upcoming Getty Music ‘Sing’ Conference: September 5-7?

Look for the Anglican Connection booth and sign up for our breakout session: ‘The Gospel Shape of Reformation Anglican Liturgy’.

© John G. Mason

Note: Today’s ‘Word’ is adapted from my book in the ‘Reading the Bible Today’ series, Luke: An Unexpected God, 2nd Edition, Aquila: 2018.

Support the Word on Wednesday ministry – Mid-year gift here.

’Make Friends for Yourselves…’


No one likes a hypocrite. The English word hypocrite has its origin in the Greek word for actor and like actors, hypocrites typically love the applause of the crowd – as they say one thing and do the opposite

Come with me to a scene we find in Luke’s Gospel as Jesus traveled towards Jerusalem. The details speak of its historical authenticity – a woman crippled with an incurable sickness and a pompous leader of a synagogue with his high-minded rule-keeping. The scene unfolds in Luke chapter 13, verses 10 following.

Teaching in a synagogue one Sabbath, Jesus noticed a badly crippled woman, bowed and helpless – possibly with spondylitis deformans. It may be her infirmity itself drew attention or she may have used it as an excuse to be noticed. Certainly she had a problem.

Luke the physician tells us that a spirit – an evil spirit – had caused this physical infirmity for eighteen years. Inviting her to come over to him, no doubt so that everyone could see, Jesus said to her, “Woman you are set free from your ailment” (13:12). Luke tells us that Jesus laid his hands on her and immediately she was able to stand up straight again. Feeling strength and health in her body, the woman’s first response was to praise, glorify God (13:13).

The moment of joy, however, was brought to an abrupt halt when the synagogue ruler angrily stepped in: ‘You have six other days in the week for work. You are not to practice medicine on the Sabbath,’ was the force of his harsh words (13:14).

But Jesus was not deterred. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”

For Jesus, her healing symbolized something more than God’s power and compassion at work. It symbolized her release from the power of sin and evil. Furthermore, in saying that it was right to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus was pointing out that the Sabbath was consecrated for the ‘good and proper end’ of creation.

Two parables that follow underline this (13:18-20). Both highlight the prolific and pervasive growth of God’s kingdom. The parable of the mustard seed shows how, from a tiny insignificant beginning, God’s kingdom would become immense. From the modest beginning of twelve men, and one of them a traitor, in a tiny province in the Roman Empire, would grow a group numbering millions upon millions. The final return of God’s king is in mind.

If you have ever made bread, you will know how the yeast finds its way through the dough, doubling its size or more, if left long enough. Similarly, God’s kingdom will find its way right through society, into the lives of insignificant men and women as well as into the corridors of political and economic power.

The healing of the crippled woman was a sign of God’s power and of Jesus’ authority. It was a sign of the decision God had made: to liberate men and women from their bondage to sickness, to sin and to Satan. This was God’s purpose.

It was the choice Jesus had made. He had come to liberate men and women from their slavery to self and to sin. And God’s vision is big. Countless millions will be affected. We can be completely confident about this.

And look how Jesus treated this crippled woman. She was a nobody, an outcast, and yet he was prepared to put his reputation on the line for her. Ignoring the potential reaction of the religious elite, he made available for her the benefits of the kingdom of God.

What an encouragement this is for us. Everyone is acceptable. It doesn’t matter who we are: there are no exceptions. And that is why there will be many surprises on the final day.

Prayer. Lord God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many great dangers that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

You may like to listen to He Will Hold Me Fast from Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Attending the upcoming Getty Music ‘Sing’ Conference: September 5-7?

Look for the Anglican Connection booth and sign up for our breakout session: ‘The Gospel Shape of Reformation Anglican Liturgy’.

© John G. Mason

Note: Today’s ‘Word’ is adapted from my book in the ‘Reading the Bible Today’ series, Luke: An Unexpected God, 2nd Edition, Aquila: 2018.

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