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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 9:1–27    

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money--not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.

On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish--unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (NRSV)

A first read through the text causes squirming. Acts of healing, casting out demons, proselytizing, miracles, and questions of divinity. It is the type of text that reminds me of my upbringing with a literal interpretation of the word of God that resulted in many questions and frustration.

A deeper review of this text seems to reveal a call for the group of disciples and followers to be empowered. Jesus doesn’t give them the exact manual but directs them to go and take action. Maybe the text is recounting a simplicity of telling stories of transformation, caring and seeing those in need without grand accolades, unorthodox ways of sharing that generates abundance, questioning, and awakening to see Jesus in a deeper way.

At this time in the narrative of the life of Jesus there is not yet “died for your sins.” Instead it is Jesus empowering and setting new ways of responding to others outside the legality and social norms.

The calling is not what Jesus would do but what Jesus empowered his disciples to do. Where are you called to boldly go? What are you called to boldly do?

Create a clean heart within me and cast me into the mess of life empowered to transform the small sphere of my world through my actions. Amen.

Written by Dala Lucas, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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