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48. Let the dead bury the dead
48. Let the dead bury the dead
Ministry II (Jairus’ Daughter, 5,000 fed, Upon This rock etc)

48. Let the dead bury the dead

Luke 9, 51-62; 10, 1-24 A.D. 29, Age 32. Leaving Galilee. Samaria. Perea.

Let the dead bury the dead..WHEN the time was come that Jesus should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before: they entered into a village of the Samaritans.

They did not receive him; and his disciples James and John said, Lord wilt thou that we command fire to come down and consume them, as Elias did? But he rebuked them, saying,

Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to savethem.

They went to another village. In the way, a certain man said unto Jesus, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

And he said unto another,

Follow me.

But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him,

Let the dead bury the dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.Another said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. Jesus said unto him,

No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

¶After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them,

The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

¶The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Jesus said unto them,

I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

¶In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said,

I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

¶He turned him unto his disciples, and said privately,

 Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heardthem.

 

Scripture: Luke 9:51-62 Let the dead bury the dead

Meditation 1 of 5: Let the dead bury the dead

God’s grace sets us free — from intolerance and prejudice and from everything that would keep us from following him.  When Jesus made preparation to enter a Samaritan village he was met with opposition, no doubt because the Samaritans perceived that he belonged to the other party they were in dispute with.  The Jews and Samaritans had been divided for centuries.  Jesus’ disciples were indignant and wanted to see retribution.  Jesus, in turn, rebukes them for their lack of toleration.  Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem in order to die that Jew, Samaritan and Gentile might be reconciled with God and be made one in Christ. When the Lord calls us to follow him he gives us the grace to put aside everything that might keep us from doing his will. Loyalty to Jesus demands sacrifice, especially the sacrifice of one’s own will for the will of God.  A would-be disciple responded by saying, I must first go and bury my father, that is, go back home and take care of him until he died.   Jesus surprised his disciples by telling that they must not look back on what they have freely given up, but instead keep their focus clearly on the goal they have set for their lives, union and happiness with God in his kingdom. A plowman who looked back caused his furrow to be crooked.  Likewise, if we look back our path will likely diverge and we’ll miss what God has for us   When the going is rough or the way ahead looks uncertain, we are tempted to look back to the “good old days” or to look for “greener turf”.Are you resolved to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and to “stay the course” in following him to the end? 

“Heavenly Father, keep my mind fixed on the surpassing  joys stored up for me in your kingdom.  And let me be willing to put up with all the suffering, hardship, and pain that may come my way in serving you.” 

 

Scripture:  Luke 9:57-62

Meditation 2 of 5: 

Are you fit and ready to follow the Lord wherever he leads you?  With the call the Lord gives the grace to respond and to follow to the end. Why does Jesus issue a challenge with the call?  Jesus was utterly honest in telling people what it would cost to follow him.  When a would- be disciple approached Jesus and said he was ready to follow, Jesus told him it would require sacrifice — the sacrifice of certain creaturely comforts.  Jesus appealed to this man’s heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might hold him back.  Spiritual detachment is a necessary step for following the Lord.  It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, we, nonetheless, must be willing to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing God’s will. Another would-be disciple said he would follow as soon as he had buried his father.  What he meant by this expression was that he felt the need to return to his home to take care of his father through old age until he died. The third had no obligation to return home, but simply wanted to go back and say good- bye.  Jesus surprised these would-be disciples with the stark truth that nothing should hinder us from following the Lord.  Was Jesus being harsh and rude to his would-be followers?  Not really.  We are free to decide whether we will take the path which Jesus offers.  But if we choose to go, then the Lord wants us to count the cost and choose for it freely.

What does the story of a plowman have to do with the journey? A plowman who looked back while plowing caused his furrow to be crooked.  He had to look straight ahead in order to keep the plow from going off course.  Likewise, if we look back on what we have freely left behind to follow the Lord, our path will likely diverge and we’ll miss what God has for us.   The gospel does not record the response from these three would-be disciples.  We are only left with the question which Jesus intends for us as well.  Are you ready to take the path Jesus offers?  His grace is sufficient and his love is strong.  There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord and Master of the universe. We cannot outgive God in generosity.  Jesus promises that those who are willing to part with what is most dear to them for his sake “will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Is there anything holding you back from pursuing the Lord and his will for you life?

“Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will.  All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will.  Give me only your love and your grace — with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more.” (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556) 

Scripture: Luke 10:1-12

Meditation3 of 5:

 What is your vision of the Lord’s harvest for today?  When Jesus commissioned seventy of his disciples to go on mission, he gave them a vision of a great harvest for the kingdom of God.  Jesus frequently used the image of a harvest to convey the coming of God’s reign on earth.  The harvest is the fruition of labor and growth — beginning with the sowing of seeds, then growth, and finally fruit for the harvest.  In like manner, the word of God is sown in the hearts of receptive men and women who submit to God and honor him as their Lord and King.  The harvest Jesus had in mind was not only the people of Israel, but all the peoples (or nations)of the world. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

What does Jesus mean when he says his disciples must be lambs in the midst of wolves? The prophet Isaiah foretold a time when wolves and lambs will dwell in peace (Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25). This certainly refers to the second coming of Christ when all will be united under the Lordship of Jesus after he has put down his enemies and established the reign of God over the heavens and the earth.  In the meantime, the disciples must expect opposition and persecution from those who oppose the gospel.  Jesus came as our sacrificial lamb to atone for the sin of the world.  We, in turn, must be willing to sacrifice our lives in humble service of our Lord and Master.

What is the significance of Jesus appointing seventy disciples to the ministry of the word?  Seventy was a significant number in biblical times. Moses chose seventy elders to help him in the task of leading the people through the wilderness. The Jewish Sanhedrin, the governing council for the nation of Israel, was composed of seventy members. In Jesus’ times seventy was held to be the number of nations throughout the world.  Jesus commissioned the seventy to a two-fold task: to speak in his name and to act with his power.  Jesus gave them instructions in how they were to carry out their ministry.  They must go and serve as men without guile, full of charity and peace, and simplicity.  They must give their full attention to the proclamation of God’s kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things. They must  travel light — only take what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them — in order to concentrate on the task of speaking the word of the God. They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting special privileges or reward.  “Poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision.  The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves.

Jesus ends his instructions with a warning: If people reject God’s invitation and refuse his word, then they bring condemnation on themselves. When God gives us his word there comes with it the great responsibility to respond.  Indifference will not do.  We are either for or against God in how we respond to his word.  God gives us his word that we may have life in him. He wills to work through and in each of us for his glory. God shares he word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly and simply to others.  Do you witness the truth and joy of the gospel by word and example to those around you?

“Lord, may the joy and truth of the gospel transform my life that I may witness it to those around me. Grant that I may spread your truth and your light wherever I go.” 

Scripture: Luke 10:13-16

Meditation 4 of 5: 

If Jesus were to visit your community today, what would he say? Would he issue a warning like the one he gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida? And how would you respond? Wherever Jesus went he did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with the visitation of God. They heard the good news and experienced the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities? The word woe is also translated as alas. It is as much as an expression of sorrowful pity as it is of anger. Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! Repentance demands change — a change of heart and way of life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction — the destruction of soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and loving-kindness, justice and holiness. Do you receive his word with faith and obedience or with doubt and indifference?

“Most High and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfilment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226) 

Scripture:  Luke 10:17-24

Meditation5 of 5: 

Do you know the joy of the Lord? The scriptures tell us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Why does Jesus tell his disciples to not take joy in their own successes, even spiritual ones? Jesus makes clear that the true source of our joy is God, and God alone.  Regardless of the circumstances, in good times and bad times, in  success or loss, God always assures us of victory in Jesus Christ.  Jesus assures his disciples that he has all power over evil, including the power of Satan and the evil spirits or fallen angels who conspire against us.  In fact, that is why Jesus came into the world to overthrow the evil one (John 12:31).  We, too, as disciples of Jesus have been given spiritual authority and power for overcoming the works of darkness and evil (1 John 2:13-14).

Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his disciples the wisdom and knowledge of God.  What does Jesus’ prayer tell us about God and about ourselves?  First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and at the same time, goodness and loving care for all his children. All fatherhood and motherhood is derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God.  What makes us ignorant and blind to the things of God? Sinful pride springs from exaggerated self-centeredness.  It closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. The angels fell into pride and were cast out of heaven.  The virtue of humility, the only true remedy against false pride, and which is very different from the feelings of inferiority and low self- esteem, leads us to a true recognition of who we are in God and of our dependence on God. 
  
Jesus contrasts intellectual pride with child-like simplicity and humility.  The simple of heart are like “babes” in the sense that they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in the one who is greater, wiser, and more trustworthy. They seek one thing — the “summum bonum” or “greatest good” who is God himself.  Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility, the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root or every sin and evil, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root.  It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Prov. 3:34, James 4:6). The grace of Christ-like humility inclines us to God and disposes us to receive God’s wisdom.  Nothing can give us greater joy than the knowledge that we are God’s beloved and that our names are written in heaven. Do you seek to be like Jesus Christ in humility and simplicity of heart?
  
Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make: He is the perfect revelation of God. One of the greatest truths of the Christian faith is that we can know the living God.  Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally.  The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the knowledge of God as our Father.  Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like.  In Jesus we see the perfect love of God — a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross.   Jesus is the revelation of God — a God who loves us completely, unconditionally  and perfectly.  Jesus also promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in his name. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray with confidence, Our Father who art in heaven ..give us this day our daily bread.   Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his love and care for you?

 “Lord, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love.   Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.” 

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