What I read: Luke 3
Observations: I love how Luke works so hard to keep his story of Jesus grounded in history. I think it was so important to him and the other early disciples to maintain the perspective that what they were saying about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was firmly tied to real life. He does this with the opening of the chapter by telling us about what was happening politically with the Roman Empire and its rulers in the area where the Jesus movement starts. Then he gives the genealogy of Jesus to tie his life into the larger story of what has gone on for generations before Jesus shows up on the scene. I’m not surprised by this since Luke says right from the start that he had carefully observed all these things and was making a record of it from that point of view, but it seems significant that before he goes too far into detail on Jesus’ ministry he gives us the historical context for it all.
Application: I’m struck by the simplicity of John’s message, and really the message that Jesus preached in continuity with John’s. It was a message of repentance, of turning from the ways that were moving people away from relationship with God and instead turning towards him. I often think of repentance as a one-time act, or something that happens in a moment, for a moment. Instead today I was thinking of how repentance is meant to be an all the time activity, not just something I do when I’ve done something wrong, but something that characterizes the very nature of my relationship to God. I want to live in a more continual place of turning my heart away from the things that I know don’t add to my relationship to God, and instead I want to live more fully satisfied with Jesus. I’m not always good at that. Sometimes I let my heart, and my eyes, and my thoughts linger for far too long on any number of other lesser desires than Jesus. Today I’m just feeling the call to live in such a way that I am always allowing my heart, my eyes, and my thoughts to be turned towards Jesus.
Prayer: Jesus your call to me to come and follow you was a call to turn away from all the other things that would try to satisfy my life and instead to find full joy and satisfaction in you. Unfortunately I’m not always living that way. Many times my heart seems to desire much more shallow pleasures than the ones you provide. Many times my devotion to you feels less whole-hearted than I really want it to be, and less than what you want it to be. My simple prayer today is that I would repent not just in this moment, but that I would live a truly repentant life. I’m thinking about the place in the Psalms that says the thing that pleases you most is a broken and contrite or repentant heart. I want to live with a heart that breaks over the ways that I move away from you, and with a heart that is healed every time I turn it towards you. Let me live from that place of repentance that will allow me to truly live with your joy and peace filling me up.