Who gets named in the story?

Names are extremely important in Scripture. So it would seem to carry meaning that, in the story Jesus tells in Luke 16, the rich man is not named, but the poor man is.

The man whom all society knows and respects goes nameless and remains so in the eyes and plan of God. The man who is despised for taking up space on the sidewalk — God knows and publishes his name.

Is this not an example of what the Lord said to Moses in Exodus 33.17?

The Lord said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have requested, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

But we just can’t leave good enough alone, can we? So interpreters gave the rich man a name: Dives, from the Latin word for “rich man.”

Does the naming not miss the point of the story?

What do you think?

#rich-man-and-Lazarus #Luke #names

Receiving Others

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest.” Luke 10.38

Do you receive people into your home? If you do, what is your attitude toward the situation? Do you get anxious about what to feed them? Do you feel that everything has to be just right? I have been on both sides of the situation.

In the past, when receiving someone, I would do a super cleaning, wearing myself out physically. Mentally, I would worry about what to serve and what to do while the guest was in our home. Many times, I was exhausted before they even arrived, being unable to enjoy to the fullest the time they were there. I could definitely relate to Martha in the context of Luke 10.

With time, I have come to realize that the important thing is to make someone feel comfortable while in my home. That does not mean that I have to serve them a huge, special meal. It does mean that I need to give them the attention that they need. That need might be physical, emotional, or spiritual.

I am blessed by inviting others into our home. I have learned to simplify many things so that I do not allow stress to steal my enjoyment of the moment. That makes it more positive for everyone!

#risingjoy #devotional #Luke #hospitality


Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you host a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors so you can be invited by them in return and get repaid. But when you host an elaborate meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14.12-14

Jesus went to eat a meal at the home of a leader of the Pharisees. He was under scrutiny to see how he would react to different situations. The Pharisees were always trying to find fault with his actions or words.

After healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus challenges their thinking regarding what they would do in a similar, though perhaps personally, more important circumstance. He teaches a parable concerning the fact that the guests were choosing the more important places to sit.

Jesus then addresses the issue of the one who had invited the people into his home. All are guilty of this situation. So often you invite those who, in turn, will reciprocate and invite you into their home. Christians are to care for those who are unable to reciprocate any action that might be made in their behalf. In this way, Christians are imitating the one who died for them. There is no reciprocal action for that deed other than dying to oneself which will put others’ needs above one’s own.

#risingjoy #Luke #Reciprocation

A final question

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. Luke 10.33

Jesus often had experts of the law to ask him questions. Usually, these questions were not asked for clarification or instruction. They were asked to test Jesus.

An expert in the law stood up to test him with a question. Jesus responded by asking a question which the expert answered. He had responded correctly and Jesus encouraged him to act accordingly.

However, the expert wanted to justify himself and asked another question. Jesus replied to his question by telling a parable or story of a man who was traveling. He was robbed, stripped, beaten and left for dead. Both a priest and a Levite walked down the same road and came upon the man, passing on the other side of the road without helping him. When a Samaritan came along and saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him, treated his wounds, put him on his own animal and carried him to an inn, where he continued to care for him until the next day. He left money and instructions to take care of the man and stated he would return to pay what was owed the innkeeper.

Jesus asked a final question of the expert of the law. Of the three who passed that way after the robbery, who became a neighbor to the man who was hurt? It was not that he already knew the man, he did not. But the man needed help and the Samaritan showed compassion and mercy.

“Go and do the same.”

#risingjoy #Luke #compassion

Do good

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Luke 6.35

The majority of people would not think of doing anything for their enemies. The worst they might do would be to seek vengeance for a perceived wrong that their enemy did to them. At best, they would ignore their presence to the best of their ability.

However, Jesus would not agree with either of those actions. Jesus taught to love your enemies and to pray for them, Matthew 5.44-45. His objective is that you might become more like your heavenly Father.

When someone comes to you in need, generosity is the attitude that we must have, especially if the person is a Christian, Galatians 6.10. We are to do good and not expect anything in return.

God is kind to all men, even those who are ungrateful and evil. He sent Jesus to die for all mankind, John 3.16. May we follow in his steps and practice kindness to all, not just to our friends.

Doing good is doing right, the theme of the book, The Right Kind of Christianity.

#risingjoy #Luke #generosity

As long as

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18.6-8

God loves us and wants what is best for us. This does not always align with what we may think is best.

We need to be like our Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise for both the evil and the good. He sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Jesus instructed us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, Matthew 5.44-45.

Jesus taught the importance of asking for the things that we want and need through prayer to God. God will grant our requests as long as they are in accord with his word, Matthew 7.8. God gives good gifts to those who ask him!

However, that is the question at hand. Do we ask? Do we ask with the right motive? Or do we get so busy with our daily schedules and routines that we forget to talk to God? Do we cry out to him day and night? Will God find faith on the earth when Jesus returns to claim his church?

#risingjoy #Luke #prayer

Go out and search

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

… Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent. … Luke 15.6-7

Jesus taught many times using a parable. According to Merriam-Webster, a parable is a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.

The Pharisees and experts in the law were complaining. They did not like the fact that Jesus was eating with the tax collectors and sinners that were coming to hear his teaching.

Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep. There were ninety-nine sheep safe in the open pasture, but one sheep was lost. The owner went to look for the sheep that was lost. He found it and brought it home. He called all his friends and neighbors to tell them the good news. He had found his lost sheep!

The significance of the parable is the joy that God has to see one sinner repent. There is much rejoicing in heaven over just one! Will we go out and search for the one who needs to repent?

#risingjoy #Luke #joy

A cause for feeling blessed

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.(…) Luke 6.22-23

Being a Christian is not always easy. Suffering is not the popular choice. Insult and rejection are things that we try to avoid as much as possible. For someone to call us evil is offensive. Yet, when these things happen because we are following Jesus, it is cause for feeling blessed and rejoicing.

The apostles, in Acts 5.12-42, were called before the Sanhedrin, the high council of the Israelites. The high priest and the Sadducees, because of jealousy, had put the apostles in a public jail after they had been teaching and healing people. An angel released them during the night. He told them to go teach in the temple courts. They obey. Once again they find themselves before the Sanhedrin. The apostles were told not to teach in the name of Jesus. After barely escaping execution and being beaten, they left the council. They did not leave the council with their heads hanging down and feeling beaten. They left rejoicing because they had been worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of Jesus. Every day they continued to teach and to proclaim the good news of Jesus!

When you are mocked for your faith, how do you react? Do you stand firm or do you begin to cower and wither? May we stand firm before persecution and continue to proclaim Jesus Christ!

#risingjoy #Luke #suffering

Verify the facts

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.(…) Luke 2.9-11

In the Bible, the reaction to the appearance of an angel was great fear. Here the reaction of the shepherds is no different. They were living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. Between the sudden appearance of the angel and the light from the glory of the Lord shining around, they were absolutely terrified.

The angel had a message to deliver to them. It was good news! It would bring great joy to everyone. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They later decide to go check it out for themselves. They head to Bethlehem and find Jesus in the manger.

After sharing what they had seen and heard, they returned to the field glorifying and praising God. Everything they had been told was true.

Today, Christians are God’s messengers. The subject has not changed. We still announce Jesus to the world. We find what we need to know written in the Bible. Do you encourage others to verify the facts for themselves? Everything written in the Bible is true; therefore, we also can glorify and praise God.

#risingjoy #Luke #facts

Let God use you

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

(…)And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1.43-45

This passage is about two women. Both find themselves in situations that defy the very nature of how things should be. God’s hand was in the picture.

Elizabeth was pregnant. She was old and considered to be barren. But, God had a different plan for her. He blessed her with a child, John. He was a relative of Jesus. He would become the fore runner of Jesus preparing the way for the one who would come after him.

Mary was pregnant. She was a virgin who was pregnant with the son of God. As soon as possible, she went to visit Elizabeth. The text does not say why explicitly. Perhaps due to Elizabeth’s situation, Mary felt that she would receive understanding and support. After all, both women were in situations that were out of the normal. They were miraculous!

The baby, John, leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary entered the house. She blessed Mary for her belief that what the angel had announced to her would actually happen.

Mary often pondered about the things that happened, perhaps not understanding completely who her son was and what his mission was. But she allowed God to use her for his glory. It is a valuable lesson that we all need to apply to ourselves: letting God use us for his glory!

#risingjoy #Luke #handofGod

A glimpse of the joy

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. Then his son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!” So they began to celebrate. Luke 15.20-24

This is a glimpse of the joy that overflows in heaven when someone comes back to God. Let’s take a closer look.

The young man had come to his senses. In the verses prior to our reading, he had sunk to the bottom of the well. He was in a dark place and it was not going to get any better if he continued there. He had run out of options and of hope. Then he remembered… the father that had always taken care of him and loved him. Finally, he decided to make a change. He repented. He started back home.

Notice that the father was watching for his child. He was seen a long way from home. The father did not turn his back on him. But he ran to meet his son, hugged him and kissed him. The father was so happy to see his son that it seems he gave his son’s comments little importance. He called for a celebration of the return of his son!

All of us have been at the bottom of the well. Perhaps you are still in that dark place. What is important is that we remember that we have a Father who loves us more than we can imagine. He is anxiously waiting for us to decide to return to him. It must be our decision to change our direction and come back. Come back to God! Let the celebration begin!

#risingjoy #Luke #repentance

You who laugh now, Luke 6.25

“Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.”

Luke 6.25

The second and third woes of Jesus reverse fortunes. The woes are for those who live for these things, “those who make merriment … a constant aim” (Fourfold Gospel).

For the partier, eternity will not be a party. Think weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus challenges what it is we live for.

#votd #Luke #woes

He has a demon, Luke 7.33

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’”

Luke 7.33

He was different. Very strange. In that strangeness he caught their attention. But they still spoke evil of him, even while being immersed in water by him.

People who refuse to leave their sinful ways will find fault with anyone who challenges their status. Are you a fault-finder, when your real need is repentance?

#votd #Luke #criticism

We have left everything, Luke 18.28

“And Peter said, ‘Look, we have left everything we own to follow you!'”

Luke 18.28

Jesus said it will be difficult for the rich to enter heaven. Peter mentions their sacrifice. Surely, then, they will be saved! Such will be blessed many times over, Jesus said.

What must I do to be saved? Give up everything to following Jesus! Stop clinging to this world. And see more of what I will receive than what I have sacrificed.

#votd #Luke #sacrifice

He became a traitor: Luke 6.16

“… Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

Luke 6.16

They all do it. All the four evangelists marked Judas as the future traitor of the Lord. Matthew 10.4. Mark 3.19. John 6.71; 12.4. His sin, never repented of, overshadows every reference to him.

Famous people such as sports figures are often known by big mistakes they make on the field or court. Their accomplishments are forgotten; their mistakes, remembered. Shall we do the same?

#votd #Luke #sin