Wednesday, January 27, 2016
"House" Luke 5.17-32
Home groups, care groups, small groups; what are they all about? Sometimes these groups can thin down into sanctioned times of gossip and gab; becoming ingrown and ill. Sometimes they can be nothing more than just another time-consuming, exhausting “program” meant to keep you busy. Nevertheless, there is valuableness for these groups if pursued with the right aim. I hope that when I am done today, we will all have a clearer sense of purposefulness for our home groups.
Brought in (17-26): Though Luke is not very clear where this is, we know that Jesus is in someplace, in some facility. It’s Mark that makes it clear and tells us, “it was reported that [Jesus] was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them” (Mark 2.1-2). This whole scene unfolds inside Jesus’ house. They bring a paralyzed man to him and seek to “bring him in” (2xs, 18, 19). The friends know that going into the house will put their friend close to Jesus; and it’s in the house, close to Jesus, that the man is forgiven and fixed.
Jesus did many things like this in houses, in someone’s home. In 4.38-41 he enters Simon’s home and not only heals Peter’s ailing Mother-in-law, but those who came to the house who “were sick with various diseases” and those oppressed by demonic powers (4.40-41). In 8.49-56 he enters Jairus’s home and restores his dead daughter. Troll your way through the Gospel accounts and you will find Jesus doing many mighty works in homes.
Also, just as Jesus is teaching in his home (Luke 5.17), our Lord taught many times in homes and houses. In Chapter 10.38-42 he is teaching at Martha’s and Mary’s place when there’s that little scene with Martha, who “was distracted with much serving” and Jesus says of Mary, who was listening to him teach, that she “has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (10.42). Also, in Luke 14 Jesus was in the home of a Pharisee when he taught them about the proper purpose of the Sabbath, pride of position, and the great wedding banquet. / So Jesus met with people in homes, teaching them and treating them. Yet Jesus also went out.
Went Out (27-28): Watch how Jesus goes out of the house, looking to bring more people in. He sees Levi, and beckons him to follow him. Levi’s response is the response we all are expected to give – at various levels. He left everything; he turned has back to his sinister past, his previous way of living, of cheating, scheming, and charging his fellow citizens. And then he got up and followed Jesus; he went where Jesus went, served in the ways Jesus wanted him to serve, and pursued the course Jesus laid out. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple…. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-33). “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Ate In (29-32): Levi’s first recorded action as a follower of Jesus is (1) to bring Jesus into his own home and (2) bring his fellow tax collectors and sinners to Jesus in his home (29, 30b). Here we are, back around to being in a house where amazing things are happening. And what is happening? “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (5.31-32). They gathered around Jesus in a home and they found wholeness and holiday! Feasting and fellowship! Restoration and rejoicing!
Though all of this is more descriptive than prescriptive (Jesus did these same thing – healing, calling, rescuing, teaching – out in the open air, out in the marketplace, over at the synagogue, etc.), nevertheless, it’s quite a pleasure to follow the path of homes and houses through the rest of the New Testament. If you search the word “house” you will find that the earlier church – probably for social and pragmatic reasons rather than as a mandatory mandate – met in homes for worship and instruction. The Apostles taught in the Temple, in public and from house-to-house (Acts 5.42 and 20.20). And four times we are told that homes housed congregations (Romans 16.5; 1 Corinthians 16.19; Colossians 4.15; and Philemon 2).
And so, maybe the aim for your groups could be:
1st – To nurture the communal aspects that every church of the Lord Jesus should experience and ache for. Belonging AND believing!
2nd – To cultivate a growing and thriving understanding of God’s Word, and the God of the Word!
3rd – So that it may produce more reverent worship from us.
4th – To help foster love and sanctification in your fellowship.
5th – That you may be better equipped to make disciples (go out to bring in). And these new disciples (belonging and believing) will then be acclimated to your congregation as together you pursue aim.
6th –Begin to look for Jesus in the homes – for Jesus to teach you, to do mighty works among you, to forgive and fix you, to feast with you, to bring you wholeness and holiday, to bring in to you tax collectors and sinners, that together you may joyfully encounter Jesus’ work, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
This material was presented at Heritage Presbyterian Church on 10 January 2016, and at the Capitol Bible Study on 27 January 2016.