Whose Kingdom is it Anyway? (Luke 19-21)

Every night when I tuck our youngest child to sleep we whisper the Lord’s prayer together. Right now it’s the only way she knows to pray. When I started to teach it to her I was worried it would become something she would just vainly parrot from memory. Certainly she doesn’t understand everything she says in that prayer yet. I was worried it would lose meaning, but as we have prayed together every night I have noticed that as I repeat this prayer that the themes are never old. It is always fresh. Some nights I remember I am in need for forgiving others as Jesus teaches in the prayer. Other days I realize I’ve not been seeking His Kingdom to come and His will to be done and so I repent. These simple words that Jesus has given us as a model prayer have served to keep my focus when I have stopped and prayed them with intention.

I have come to admire the first part of the prayer in particular where he teaches us to pray, “YOUR kingdom come, your will be done.” It places the focus back squarely on the Lord. At this point in the prayer I haven’t even asked for daily bread or even the forgiveness of my sins. To pray the rest of the prayer you have to first bow a knee and recognize Jesus as Lord. When Jesus is Lord, everything else falls into place.

The problem in today’s reading was that there were several men who didn’t want Jesus to be the Messiah. they didn’t want him to be Lord. They were well known. They were wealthy. They had built small little kingdoms based off of their knowledge of the scriptures. When the real messiah came to town rather than honoring the Lord, they wanted to murder him.

Jesus has made a be-line for Jerusalem. He is headed to the cross and on his way he preaches and shares a few parables aimed at demonstrating the incompetence and cowardice of the religious leaders. In the one parable (Luke 19:11-27) he talks about stewards who are given charge over the masters money and given a task to multiply it through whatever means they might have a mind to. The point is that these men were stewards. They were handling someone else’s resources. Those who handled things well were rewarded, those who didn’t faced severe consequences.

Jesus shares a more explicit parable (Luke 20:9-18) aimed right at the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees. He compares the leaders to murderous tenants who had leased a vineyard from a wealthy land owner, but don’t want to share the fruit of their labors. They very obviously step across the boundaries of being tenants to the point that they even murder the land owners son. They forgot their place. It wasn’t their vineyard. It belonged to the master and he would set his house in order.

So often in ministry and life we want to tell the LORD what to do. We forget that we owe Him everything. We are just stewards and tenants. We really are to pray for HIS Kingdom to come and HIS will to be done. The religious leaders had forgotten that along the way. They stopped being good stewards, they had stopped being good tenants, they found themselves complicit in a conspiracy to murder Jesus.

Father, we freely confess and pray for your kingdom to come and your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We recognize that your kingdom is breaking into this world. We recognize that we are stewards and tenants of the kingdom. We don’t call the shots, you certainly do. Give us grace today to bow a knee, humble trust you and see you move in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

You Can’t Be Made Righteous By Your Brother’s Faults (Luke 16-18)

Luke 18:9-14 NKJV Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: (10) “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. (12) ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ (13) “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise [his] eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ (14) “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Life isn’t fair. It’s full of people who will hurt us. It doesn’t take long for children to play together before the drama of so-and-so did whatever to start to unfold. Tattling is human nature. Its our sin nature that makes us want to point out the sins of others. Somehow we feel that if our sins aren’t as bad as somebody else’s then we are ok.

We should know better. No one else’s sin can make you righteous. No matter how much of a sinner someone else is, it doesn’t make you right before God. We all stand our fall on our own before the Lord.

When we point out the sins of others, we are trying to justify ourselves. We are trying to make ourselves look better. We imagine that if the fault really lies with someone else, well then maybe we aren’t that bad. The problem is that recognizing someone else’s sin never made our own sin disappear.

This is why forgiveness is such a big deal. When we refuse to forgive others we are holding on to a perverted sense of righteousness because we fail to release them from their sins. That kind of righteousness is self-righteousness and it doesn’t save, it damns.

The only way to truly deal with the sin in our lives is not by pointing out the sin in others, but freely confessing our own sin. Two men went to the temple to pray. One was right in his own eyes and in danger of Hell because he was blind to his own sin. The other freely confessed he was a sinner and walked away justified, not by what he had done, but by the God who hears the prayers of the humble.

Father, Help us not to look for the fault in our brothers, but to freely confess and deal with the faults that lie in our own heart. Help us to trust you to judge the faults of others and to see our heart rightly. I pray that we are always swift to come to you for repentance. I rejoice that you have made a way for us to be made righteous through Jesus Christ who takes away our sins when we humbly repent and trust in you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

One who is faithful in very little

We have only done what is our duty

Will He Find Faith On the Earth?

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.