With his disciples, Jesus has addressed the issues of preparation and readiness and has made it clear that there is no peace without conflict. He wishes the fire that both destroys and refines were already kindled!
Now Jesus turns to the huge crowd that surrounds him—and begins to talk about the weather! The people know that the rain comes from the Mediterranean in the west and that the hot dry weather comes on the winds from the south. They must wonder where Jesus is going with this topic!
Suddenly two words thunder across the hillside: “You hypocrites!” And Jesus turns his comments on the weather into a rebuke for the people’s failure to recognize the “present time.” Jesus chastises the crowd for their ability to read the signs related to weather while being unable to interpret the current times. They can predict rain and heat but cannot see signs of the coming judgment. With the kingdom at hand, the end is near.
Do those words thunder across the hillside to us as well? Are we aware of the signs of our present time? We all have areas of knowledge to which we give attention. Are we attending to some lesser areas to the neglect of a more important focus? When we stand at the crossroad of kingdom nearness and judgment, how will we discern appropriate action?
The kingdom is at hand; can we sense the urgency?
What signs of the present time do you see? What do these signs demand of you, and how will you interpret them?
Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:8-19 employ simi- lar images to represent the people of God—a vine or a vineyard. The image clearly communicates the careful commitment of God to God’s people. Unfortunately, the people do not respond in kind, so God must destroy the vineyard. The people plead for restoration, and their future life will depend not on their repen- tance but on God’s repentance! Jesus issues a radical call for human repentance in Luke. God will bear the burden of human disobedience, and God’s gracious turning to humankind makes life possible. Hebrews shows that the story of God’s people does contain outstanding episodes and exemplars of faith and sug- gests that God never gives up on calling us to follow, to run the dif cult race that leads to life.
• Read Isaiah 5:1-7. What fruit are you growing—wild grapes or sweet ones? How can God redeem you?
• Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How do you recognize God’s love and presence?
• Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Think of a cirumstance when your faith in God was all you could rely on.
• Read Luke 12:49-56. Where do you recognize the urgency of the kingdom of God? How does this awareness affect your daily actions?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.