March 8 — Luke 3 — Fruits of Repentance. John the Baptist was not politically correct. He called some of the people in the crowd who came to hear him a “brood of vipers” (v. 7). He rattled their cage of self-righteousness, challenging them: “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (v. 8). True repentance results in a changed life with outcomes like sharing with those in need (v. 11) and not taking advantage of others (vv. 13-14). Man’s innate selfishness needs to be shaken by the bold message of the gospel, the “good news” (v. 18). Some will turn and be changed by it while others will react violently. John’s boldness cost him his life. How much danger do you face because of your boldness in proclaiming God’s way? For most of us, it is not much.
March 9 — Luke 4 — Uncovered Sin. Jesus returned home to a comfortable, peaceful Nazareth. He knew them all and they knew Him. He spoke in their synagogue and they “all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth” (v. 22). Home, sweet home. However, Jesus knew their hearts, and all was not peaceful inside. They had hateful prejudice against Gentiles, so Jesus reminded them of stories about God’s bypassing needy but resistant people in Israel in order to minister to receptive Gentiles: a widow (v. 26) and a warrior (v. 27). Jesus uncovered their sin and it stung. They were suddenly “filled with wrath” (v. 28) and tried violently to “throw him down the cliff” (v. 29). We don’t like to be shown our deep, sinful attitudes. Our natural tendency is to react in denial and anger. A godly reaction would be for us to accept it as God’s process of refining us and repent in humility.
March 10 — Luke 5 — Crowds. There were always crowds around Jesus. Four times in this passage it mentions the pack of people. They crowded Him so much at the seashore that He had to teach them from a boat (v. 3). (It was even crowded for the fish in the net as the disciples reaped a record catch through their obedience!) So many people came to Him to be healed (v. 15) that Jesus had to escape to a quiet place to pray (v. 16). It was so crowded where Jesus was teaching in a house that the roof was torn up to lower a paralyzed man to Him (v. 19). It is interesting that although it was too crowded for them to let the man into the house, they made room to let him out (v. 25)! The last crowd mentioned was for a feast for Jesus at Levi’s house (v. 29). Crowds are attracted to greatness, and Jesus was, and still is, a great teacher, healer, and forgiver of sins.
March 11 — Luke 6 — Blessings or Woes? The nine complete Beatitudes (meaning “supreme blessedness”) in Matthew 5 are famous, while those in Luke are often overlooked because there are only four. Luke, however, shares some of Jesus’ words that Matthew omitted: The Woes. In Luke, for each “blessed” there is a corresponding “woe.” For example, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (v. 20). “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (v. 24). These blessings and curses could have been intended to apply to both material and spiritual situations. Believers who are materially poor in this world anticipate unbelievable wealth in heaven. We who are poor here, in the sense of being humble or repentant, are already participating in the spiritual prosperity of the abundant life (John 10:10). Still, Jesus would say about Christians: You have “received your consolation” in full. The best blessings are let to come.
March 12 — Luke 7 — Outside vs. Inside. Two stories are told in this chapter relating to external appearances and internal realities. The Jews in Capernaum focused on what they saw in the centurion and concluded, “He is worthy …” (v. 4) because he loved their nation and built their synagogue. The centurion, however, declared, “I am not worthy” (v. 6) as he compared himself to Jesus. He showed great ability on the outside but also had great humility and faith on the inside. In the other story, a Pharisee invited Jesus to eat at his house, which was a good outward gesture. On the outwardly negative side, an uninvited and sinful woman also came in. The condition of the inside of these two people was also quite different. The Pharisee had a critical, doubting attitude, saying, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is …” (v. 39). On the inside of the woman, however, there was humility, sorrow, repentance, love, and faith. What is on our inside is far more important than what is seen on the outside. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).