As we read through Luke each week there will be two devotions focusing on particular passages. Click here to read past devotions.
Focus Point: Listen (Luke 8:16-18)
I have a habit of reading by sections, using the subtitles added by the translation. For instance the NIV titles this section, “A Lamp on a Stand”. I know these sections were added by the translators, different translations have different section breaks. I also know that even the chapters and verses were added long after Luke wrote the gospel. The authors did not expect us to read in such piecemeal fashion… but I still do.
So this passage was confusing. As the section title suggests, it is about lamps, so why then does v18 begin “Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” Listen? Not Look or see? So I expanded the context and discovered the word: hear, again and again.
Hear(d) occurs 6 times in verses preceding: 8:4-15. These verses discuss the parable of the sower. The seed is spread but how it grows is dependent on how it is heard.
The word hear also occurs in the verses that follow: 8:19-21. There Jesus explains how his family is not by physical birth; instead, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
And the mention of family helped me to see the context was coming full circle from the beginning of the chapter. In 8:1-3 Luke outlines who is following Jesus. There are the twelve and then a mishmash of women: Mary of Magdalene – freed of seven demons, Joanna – wife of infamous Herod’s steward, and Susanna – name without details. These women, “were helping to support them out of their own means”.
So God’s family includes fishermen, tax collectors, and WOMEN… even those connected to an oppressive regime! It includes anyone who hears the call and follows. This becomes the definition of family, the meaning of discipleship.
Connecting to Today: This week my peer group met with Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life in St. Joe. We had just finished his book and were excited to dialogue. That afternoon he tweeted about our visit. I was kind of excited (maybe not famous, but he has 35k more followers than me!). Then I read the comments about Baptist pastors. Here is one:
I marked out his name, you know to protect his identity from my massive following (hi mom). Then I imagined my pockets full of stones and Jesus, “let he who is without sin…” (John 8:1-11). I realize for most people, the term Baptist is synonymous with Pharisee. Which is depressing… and a challenge to create a new narrative. One that looks like Jesus, surrounded by Pharisees and sinners and everyone in between.
Tidbits: I mentioned this in the introduction to Luke, but some believe these women were among Luke’s sources – part of his “careful investigation” into the Gospel story (1:1). Joanna and Susanna are only mentioned by Luke. Joanna’s history has specific details and she is mentioned as one of the women at the tomb (24:10).