Jesus continues to heal and lovingly show people who have faith that He is the Christ. The Pharisees refuse to see that Jesus is Messiah and continue to plot His death.
Jesus is speaking to the people again. Today, He speaks of the leaven of the Pharisees. Leaven, as you recall, usually represents sin. Jews ceremonially remove all leaven from their homes during the Passover celebration. A little leaven (yeast) affects the entire body, or project. Jesus is warning against hypocrisy. The Pharisees were the “super-religious” of their day. They knew every law and every commandment, and their job was to make sure that all the laws and commandments were obeyed. They were really good at religion, but they had no true heart for God.
We all have leaven in our hearts to one degree or another. Because we are human, we can all be called hypocrites. God doesn’t care about external obedience. He cares about what’s in your heart. When you serve Him wholeheartedly you will mess up, but with each repented sin we come a step closer to the goal of complete obedience to God (of course this will not happen until we reach heaven). Do you obey God willingly or because you are required to do so?
Jesus also discusses our earthly treasures. Today we are bombarded with advertisements that try to make us believe that without this or that product or service, our lives will be meaningless. We are a nation of stuff-collectors. Jesus was not talking about practical storing up for lean times – we see Joseph doing just that in the Old Testament. Jesus meant the stuff that’s unnecessary for life. Do your limited funds go to football tickets, electronics, clothes and shoes, or partying? Or do you use what God has given you to help those who are in need? Are you storing up heavenly or earthly treasure?
Since God knows who you are and loves you, Jesus reminds you that there is no need to be anxious about food and drink. That’s a hard lesson to hear if you are out of work and you can’t feed your kids, your pets, or yourself. In other lessons, Jesus has told us that a little faith will move mountains. Faith and worry go hand-in-hand. If you’re struggling, can you remember that you are worth more than a sparrow?
Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:7 (ESV)
Have you heard people say that Jesus came to bring peace?
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Luke 12:51-53 (ESV)
Jesus came to divide. He came to separate believers from non-believers. He’s talked about separating the wheat and the chaff; the lambs and the goats.
Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Matt 25:32 (ESV)
Jesus came to bring eternal life to all who would believe. In Jesus’ day, through all of history, and even today, we see whole families separated based on whether they believe in Him. Do you have family members who have not accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation? Pray for them! Speak to them! Don’t wait – tomorrow could be too late.
The most important lesson today came from the parable of the open door.
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. Luke 13:24-28 (ESV)
Jesus tells us clearly that there is only ONE door. He is the door. If you are attending church, doing good works, giving to the poor, volunteering in the community – and if you think that those good works will allow you to be in heaven, you are absolutely wrong. Jesus tells us that many unfortunate people will be in this predicament.
Does your church preach that you need to repent for your sins? Does your pastor remind you frequently that you need to accept the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ? Do you know that Jesus’ blood and death were required for the atonement (forgiveness) of sins? And most important: have you asked Jesus to come into your heart? Have you told Him that you’re a sinner? Have you asked Him to forgive you? Have you repented and with God’s help work daily to change your ways to be more like Him?
I tell you; but unless you repent,
you will all likewise perish.
Luke 13:3 (ESV)
If your church says that all you have to do to become a Christian is join the church, or say that you believe “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, without also telling you that you need to repent, you don’t have the whole story.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
James 2:19 (ESV)
If you’re not sure whether you have been born into the kingdom of God, check with a pastor, or email/comment me! It’s the most important decision you will ever make. Later this week, Jesus will discuss how hard it is for us to give up our personal idols to follow Him. Make sure you’ve taken that first step today.