Thursday 27 June 2024

"But even the hairs of your head are all counted." (v. 7)

Luke 12:1-12 Thursday 27 June 2024

Psalm 2:1-8

Our passage today comes from the long middle section of Luke’s Gospel, where Jesus is slowly making his way to Jerusalem. In the preceding chapter, Jesus taught his disciples and received praise from the crowds, who now number in the thousands (verse 1). However, he is also coming into increasing conflict with many in authority. In particular, he has just delivered a strong denunciation of certain practices of some Pharisees and lawyers (Luke 11:37-52). They, in turn, are becoming increasingly hostile to him (Luke 11:53-54). Jesus continues this attack on all forms of deception today. He warns people against hypocrisy and the “yeast of the Pharisees” (v. 1). This probably refers both to the association of yeast, or leaven, with corruption in the Old Testament (Leviticus 2:11) and the powerful effect it has on everything around it, even in small quantities.

The rest of the passage, which may contain material that Luke’s Gospel brought together, speaks about the need to stand firm in the face of persecution. If, as is widely assumed, the gospel was written around AD80/85, then the original audience would have seen attacks from a range of bodies across the Roman empire (v. 11). Jesus here offers his disciples words of consolation, concerning their great value to God (vs 6-7), the aid of the Holy Spirit (vs 11-12) and the limited power of earthly authorities (v. 4).

Jesus calls on his audience to be more concerned about the judgement that will take place at the end of time, in the heavenly court (vs 8-9). The 'Son of Man' in verse 8 is almost certainly a self-reference by Jesus, using language borrowed from the book of Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14). He also warns against denying the Holy Spirit, something we also find in other gospels (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29). Why this is a graver sin than denying Jesus himself is not immediately clear. It may be that to fail to recognise God in the disguised form of the ‘Son of Man’ (ie Jesus) is excusable. However, to reject the unmistakable manifestation of God in the form of the Holy Spirit is not.

To Ponder:

  • Where might you see the “yeast of the Pharisees” – something seemingly small that leads to great corruption – in our world today?
  • How might you understand the references to divine judgement in today’s passage?
  • Is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit so much worse than blasphemy against Jesus? Why, or why not?

Previously published in 2018.

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