30 July 2015

Luke 6:39-49

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I tell you?” (v. 46)

Psalm: Psalm 53


Jesus seems to have really enjoyed telling stories to help people understand, or to challenge their thinking. Near the beginning of this collection of teaching, the writer has made it clear that this is addressed to his followers more than to the crowd. Here there is the additional emphasis of verse 46 that these stories are to challenge disciples about their way of life.

To be part of the faith community, to be one of the followers, means living out the teaching, not just talking about it. Learning discipleship means entering fully into the relationship, not simply learning a set of rules.

The first comparison (verses 39-42) was probably intended to make folk laugh, which is often a good way of persuading people to think. The group was being invited to live openly rather than critically, and to notice their own complex motivations.

The familiar story of the building of houses (verses 46-49) goes a little deeper. Here the listeners - and later, the readers - are invited to look even more closely at hypocrisy. The building recommendations do, of course, depend on the conditions in that country - and at that time. It might be fun to try and update the story, both for our time and place, but also for our technology.

The issue, however, remains the same, and Jesus had other stories about doing or not doing what he said (see for instance, Matthew 21:28-45). The disciples are being asked if they are prepared to learn and obey, or if they are only going to appear to obey with disastrous results. Jesus appears to suggest that pretence will always lead to failure in the end.

To Ponder

  • Consider the challenges and difficulties in your life. How easy would it be to pretend?
  • Reflect on how hard it is sometimes to look for the good, and how much easier it is to criticise, or even judge harshly.

Bible notes author

Revd Alison Tomlin

Alison Tomlin is a supernumerary Methodist minister, who was president of the Methodist Conference in 2010/2011. She has been involved for the last 25 years in leading retreats and offering prayer, accompanying both groups and individuals.