December 3, 2010 * Luke 20:41-21:4

Gospel Reading

 

Luke 20:41-21:4 contains three distinct sections, Luke 20:41-44, Luke 20:45-47, and Luke 21:1-4, connected only by Luke and their location, the Temple. The first section deals with a question about the Messiah being David’s son, the second section contains a rebuke of the scribes, and the third section lifts up the offering of a poor widow. The movement here is from (1) the beauty and complexity of the psalms to (2) those who are to be caring for the people, taking from the people, to (3) those who are to be cared for giving all they have. This is a movement from beauty to ugliness and back to beauty.

 

The first section, Luke 20:41-44, starts with Jesus asking a question, since they will not ask any more questions (“For they no longer dared to ask him another question”). Jesus’ question is, “How can they say that the Messiah is David’s son?” Jesus quotes from Psalm 110:1. Jesus’ use of this portion of the psalm appears to speak to the question of his identity and consequently his authority. This was the question that the chief priest, scribes, and elders first asked Jesus, Luke 20:2, “‘Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?'” Jesus, as the Messiah, has authority from God. This portion of today’s reading deals in part with the theological problem of Jesus being fully human and fully divine.

 

The second section, Luke 20:45-47, is a rebuke of the scribes. This portion of today’s reading is directed to the disciple “in the hearing of all the people.” It is a warning for all of Jesus’ disciples to avoid the temptations of pride, greed, and self-righteousness especially when doing the work of God.

 

The third section, Luke 21:1-4, contains Jesus’ observation and evaluation of a poor widow’s offering. Jesus saw a variety of people giving to the Temple’s treasury. He declared the small gift of a widow as being greater than all the rest. The reason Jesus gave for this judgment was gave “all she had to live on.” Because of this gift, the poor widow was now even more dependent on God for survival.

 

Have we been able to recognize Jesus for who he is? Have we been able to avoid pride, greed, and self-righteousness? What steps might we take to live this out?

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