Saturday, June 3, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Luke 7-8

Among the miracles recorded in today’s scripture reading is Jesus healing a dying servant in response to a Roman centurion’s faith (Luke 7:1-10; note also Matthew 8:5-13) and raising the son of a poor widow from the dead in a village identified as Nain (7:11-17).

We are privy to an intriguing interview when the followers of John the Baptist, the forerunner and maternal second cousin of Christ, came to Jesus and His disciples desiring on John’s behalf an affirmation that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah (Luke 7:18-35).  Lest we be too hard on John the Baptist, we should remember John is in prison after boldly confronting king Herod’s adultery (Luke 3:19-20).  There is little doubt the hardships of prison, his isolation from the people, and knowledge his own life and ministry are nearing the end moved John to seek assurance Jesus was the Promised One, Israel’s Messiah.

Rather than rebuke John for doubting, Jesus responded to the questions posed by John’s followers with reassurances.  The first response was in deeds; we read, “in that same hour He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind He gave sight” (Luke 7:21).  Having performed many miracles, Jesus sent John’s followers away commanding them, “Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached” (Luke 7:22).

As John’s disciples departed, Jesus turned to the people and affirmed the ministry of John as His forerunner (7:24-28) and hailed his character with these words: “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28).

There are many other observations to be made in Luke 7-8, but LORD willing those I might address in another time.

I close today with a word of admonition to those blessed to sit under a faithful pastor’s ministry:  If John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28), could succumb to doubts and fears, the same is true of your pastor.

The number of disciples who followed John the Baptist is uncertain; however, in his most vulnerable hour there were “two of his disciples” (Luke 7:19) to whom he expressed his earnest desires and “sent them to Jesus saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?” (Luke 7:19b).

To church members on behalf of all faithful pastors: There are many who follow pastors, but few who encourage them.

One reason pastors prematurely quit the ministry and the “minister retention rate” for Bible-believing churches is so deplorable is there are few church members who encourage their pastors.   John the Baptist at least had “two of his disciples”; however, your pastor may feel so vulnerable and isolated there is none in whom he confides.

Lesson: A hurting shepherd in the midst of sheep might raise the anxiety level of a church, but loving, understanding and compassionate church members will get their pastor through dark days and trying times.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith