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Archive for April 23rd, 2019


Luke 17:1-4: Temptation

Easter Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Jesus is well aware of how difficult it is to live in this world.  Jesus understands the human tendency to take the comfortable route.  Jesus knows all about temptationAnd he also knows about union and resurrection.

Matthew records Jesus as saying that if our right eye offends we are to pluck it out (5:29).  This is a harsh saying but Jesus gives us more advice to help our understanding.  He gives us a prescription for mending walls and building bridges; it is advice that we often ignore. On this day of celebration in new life, let us take a moment to pause and ponder the goodness of God’s word to us, the compassion Jesus shows to us, the love the Spirit bestows on us.

Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, Jesus tells us today.  And when they do, here is a path to follow.

If a brother sins [against you] go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  (Matthew 18:15)  It is so difficult to take this first step.  Our pride and our fear of rejection get in the way; yet it is what Jesus suggests to us.

If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that “every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses”.  (Matthew 18:16)  Jesus enacts the old Mosaic Law spelled out in Deuteronomy 19:15 that witnesses are needed to establish guilt.   He understands how our refusal to accept a truth that others see is common; yet he asks us to remove the beam from our own eyes before we point out splinters in others.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.  (Matthew 18:17)  We must use caution in taking this final step and it is one with which I struggle.  We must be certain not to allow our own ego to take over and we must not step over the mark into gossip, libel and slander.  Social dynamics are difficult and we must exercise patience and kindness more than stir up scandal.  Jesus understands our inability to see the big picture and for that reason he also tells us to turn the other check when we are offended. (Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29)  He knows too well the slippery slope of false accusation; he has seen the crowds whipped up in frenzy.  He shows us how to stand as truth against falsehood.

During this Holy Week we have heard the Passion read out to us several times.  We have journeyed from Genesis to Revelation and what we hear is a single message: There is only one Law; it is the Law of Love.

The apostle Paul describes to the Ephesians – and to us – how to bridge gaps and forgive offenses: All bitterness, fury, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.  [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.  (4:31-32)

Paul tells the Colossians – and us – the mindset we must have in order to build these bridges: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.   (3:13)

On this Easter Day we celebrate the gift of newness that we receive through no goodness of our own, but solely through the goodness and generosity of God.  What a fitting gift is might be if on this day we ask the Creator for the strength to follow his Word, and for the determination to enact his Law of Love.  Let us become Easter People who acknowledge that even when we walk away from solutions we are not so lost that Jesus cannot find us; our sins are not so great that God does not forgive them; and we are never so alone that the Holy Spirit does not accompany us on our journey home.


A re-post from Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012.

For more on building bridges and reconciliation, see The Jesus Bridge page on this blog. 

For a reflection on Jesus’ temptations, see the Temptations page on this blog.

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