Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19; (Jeremiah 23:23-29; Psalm 82;) Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; (Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34:9-14;) Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; (Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67;) Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28
When my daughter was in grade school, her teacher included a unit on table manners. The rule that amused me was, “When served food, you should never ask, ‘What is this?’” I don’t think I’ve asked that question aloud, but I’ve certainly thought it, especially at potlucks.
Christians throughout the ages have proclaimed that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8). The implicit teaching is that by being eternally the same, he is therefore divine: a Rock of Ages and, like the Father of Lights, beyond the shadow of changing. He is.
In this reading from Luke we confront stark and conflictual sayings of Jesus that sit poorly with contemporary images of God. Our culture seems to prize a God with an infinite capacity for empathy, a God who is “nice.” Luke challenges this thinking. He offers a glimpse of redemption for a world that is anything but nice—and that needs much more than a nice God to redeem it.
At the heart of the salvation doctrine is the proclamation that our lives and our deaths are in God’s hand; we are loved of God not by our own merit but by God’s gracious initiative toward us. We need not spend our lives in good works in order to be saved but only in grateful response to being so loved.