Luke 6:46-49: A Firm Foundation

Read: Luke 6:46-49

Jesus closes the discourse in Luke with another parable, this one describing two builders who build houses. One builds it on a rock and the house stands when the storm comes and the other on sand which collapses when the storm comes. The interpretation of this parable is pretty obvious, and Jesus gives it, saying that the one who listen and does the things that Jesus says will be like the man who builds his house on the rock. The foundation of a house is one of the most critical components of the house because on it rests the entire structure, and when the foundation is weak the house will fall flat. Jesus is saying that his words and instructions are the foundation of ones life, and the rest of one’s life is supported by these teachings.

If Jesus’ teachings are to be the foundation of ones life, then it necessary to first understand the teachings and second aptly apply the teachings of Jesus to ones life. The teachings of Jesus are codified in the pages of scripture, so if one wants to understand what Jesus said one needs to study the word of God. This is why Paul admonishes Timothy to use scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that scripture is “God-breathed” and useful for instruction in the ways of righteousness. Jesus being God, worked through human writers produce the 66 books of the Bible, some of which contains the actual words of Jesus himself. Paul acknowledges the work of the prophets, a reference to the Old Testament and apostles which is a reference to what would become the New Testament, but all of this is built on Jesus who is the “cornerstone” of the building (Ephesians 2:19-22).

The process of studying and applying scripture is called “exegesis”, which is multi-part process. First, one attempts to understand what a text meant in the original context by studying the original language of the text, the literary features of the text, and also the historical and cultural settings of the text. These offer key insights into the next step, which is interpreting the text. Interpretation isn’t so much about finding hidden meanings, rather looking for what the text is trying to communicate in terms of instructions and principles. Lastly, one looks for application of the principles of the text, which is practical application of the text in one’s life and how one obeys the commands of Jesus.

Because the teachings and application of scriptures is is so important requires great care. This is why Peter warned against interpreting scripture in a vacuum (2 Peter 1:19-21). Rather, teachers are to be taught and to also teach what they have learned faithfully (2 Timothy 2:2). Holding fast to sound doctrine and sound teaching will give all who understand the knowledge necessary, and with the Holy Spirit’s help, one can aptly apply the scripture to ones life so that when the storms come one stands firm rather than falling flat.

Lord, your word is a firm foundation. Help me build my life on it!

Luke 6:39-42: Teaching Godliness

Read: Luke 6:39-42

Jesus told numerous parables, which are earthly stories to communicate heavenly truth. A few of these parables are short while others are long, and some he offers insight into their meanings and others he does not. Luke inserts a break in the discourse that Jesus to note that Jesus was telling a parable, this one short and with an explanation. He tells a parable about two the blind leading the blind, and how in doing so they both fall into a pit. The explanation Jesus gives is quite simple: a student is not above his teacher but when trained the student will be like the teacher. This parable is typically applied to to the previous section of Jesus’ sermon that is talking about judgement. While this certainly does apply to judging others, the principle is broader, concerning those who teach. The warning here is against the sort of teachers who are unstudied, living a life of ungodliness or both. Such teachers are blinded by bad doctrine or sin of their own making it hypocritical to tell others about bad doctrine or sin. Jesus uses hyperbole to explain this: hypocrisy is the proverbial plank in one’s own eye which is huge compared to a speck in another’s eye.

The New Testament speaks often about the role of teaching in the church. Teaching is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:7) and a role in the church (Ephesians 4:11). The ability to teach is also a characteristic of church leaders as well (1 Timothy 3:2). The word of God is how one knows what to teach (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:15). At the same time, there are warnings against false teachers. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 shows the characteristics of false teachers who subvert the gospel: in short they are conceited, stir up division, and seek godliness as a means of gain. False doctrine and ungodliness is a matter of life and death on matters of salvation because bad doctrine and ungodliness turn people to false gospels that cannot save.

Teaching the word of God is a high calling and cannot be understated, but it comes with great responsibility too. Jesus’ calls for anyone wanting to teach to be mindful of what he or she is teaching and to be mindful of one’s personal holiness. Both personal holiness and sound doctrine requires a teach to also be a student of the word of God because it acts as a mirror so one can see oneself (James 1:23) and also as a sword, piercing the mind of the hearer (Hebrews 4:12). Not everyone is called to be a teacher, but just about every believer will be called to teach another believer at one point, especially if one has children. The call for everyone then is to study the word of God, apply to one’s own life, and teach it faithfully so others too can live godly lives and hold to sound doctrine.

Lord, help me learn your word so I can live and teach godliness!

John 15:26-16:15: The Holy Spirit is a Friend

Read: John 15:26-16:15

After Jesus’ departure, Jesus cites do witnesses that will be present in the world: the disciples and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is sending the Holy Spirit into the world to be a “helper”. The Greek word for helper is “παρακλητος” and is used by John to describe the nature of the Holy Spirit. John uses this word 3 times in John (John 14:16, John 15:26, and John 16:7) and in 1 John 2:1 to describe the Spirit as a testifier of truth, one who convicts sin, and one who is an advocate with the Father, a teacher, and a revealer of truth. The word is the noun form of the Greek verb “παρακαλεω” which is translated numerous ways, including “entreat”, “beseech”, “exhort”, “comfort”, “pray”, “aid”, “help” and “plead”. All these verbs among others are how the Spirit works on the behalf of the believer.

Jesus speaks of the promise of the Spirit and the predictions of persecution to “keep them from stumbling”. In other words, they would not be caught off guard when these things happen. The ones persecuting them will believe they are also doing the work of God, but they are not because they do not know Jesus or the Father. Jesus had already spoken about the coming persecution (John 15:18-26) and here he gives some details to this, saying that they would be kicked out of the synagogue. One man was put out of the synagogue because he testified to Jesus (John 9:52) and the Pharisees were scared they would be put out of the synagogues if they believed in Jesus (John 12:42). Most certainly the disciples would be. Paul experienced this when he was teaching about Jesus (Acts 13:14-48).

Jesus had reserved the promise of the Spirit and the predictions of persecution until this point because he had been with them, but now they would appear to be on their own because Jesus was going away. Jesus says this is to their advantage though. The Spirit that proceeds from God is effectively taking on the role that Jesus had been fulfilling while he was on earth. In the same manner that Jesus spoke truth, convicted people of sin, disclosed things of the Father, and possessed of the Father. In effect, the Spirit was coequal with Jesus and as much a part of the Father as Jesus was. By implication, this would mean that the Spirit is God too. The advantage of the Spirit in their lives was not because the Spirit was better than Jesus, as they are one of the same. It was expedient for Jesus to go away because unless Jesus died and was resurrected from the dead and thus glorified, the Spirit would not come (John 7:39). What that meant for the disciples was a glorified Jesus and a living Spirit who makes his abode in the life of the disciples.

Now that Christ has been glorified and the Spirit lives in the lives of all that believe, there is a mass of testimonies of the life-changing work of Jesus in the lives of all that believe. The disciples testified to Jesus, and so can the believers too with the help of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were kicked out of synagogues, and it is certain that believers will be rejected for testifying about Jesus. But in any case, the Holy Spirit is there to serve as a comforter and an encourager in the same manner as a friend would do. Knowing that Jesus was the friend of the disciples, so the Holy Spirit is the friend of all who believe in Jesus, helping them along the way even in the hard times.

Lord, thank you for being as a friend to me through the Holy Spirit!