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Reading: Luke 12.1-7
When the crowd gathered in thousands, so that they trampled on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
‘I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.’
Today, Jesus is changing the mood. Today, Jesus’ attention is switching from criticizing the religious leaders of the day to challenging and reassuring those who would be his followers. All the while Jesus is journeying towards Jerusalem. Jesus knows that, in Jerusalem, things are going to get very tough indeed. Having pointed out the shortcomings of the Pharisees and lawyers, Jesus is now saying that there is a better path to follow. And Jesus’ words are as relevant to us in the twenty-first century as they were to those first century Jews. Jesus knows that a shallow or superficial approach to discipleship will never be good enough. It will never be adequate to go to a church service, perhaps once a week, and then, perhaps, feel a hint of God’s presence and love, and then go back to normal life just as though nothing had happened. Jesus is demanding total commitment not shallow acquaintance.
Of course, Jesus is aware of the risks associated with being reckless in a dangerous society. Jesus knows that the time is coming when what is whispered about him will one day soon be shouted from the rooftops. Jesus wants his followers to be ready for that moment.
To help and encourage his supporters Jesus reminds them of their value in the eyes of God. Jesus wants us to know that God values his children more highly than a whole flock of sparrows. God even knows the number of hairs we have on our heads, that is how intimate his knowledge of us is.
So, as we go forward on the path of discipleship are we ready to meet Jesus’ challenge? Are we ready for how tough it might be from time to time? Are we ready to trust in the words of Jesus and the love of God as we shout the Good News of Jesus Christ from the rooftops?