Luke 6:35-36 - [And Jesus was saying to His disciples], "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Years ago, our friend Bill, was teaching our daughter, Elise, how to ride a bike. He took a beach towel and rolled it up. When she was on the bike, he slung it around her waist, and ran behind her. And every time she fell, Bill was there, holding the reins of that rolled-up towel. And he caught her.
This is a picture of how Jesus teaches His followers. Jesus teaches both Law and Gospel. The Gospel is God's promise that Jesus will always catch you when you fall. No matter how hard you fall or how far you fall or how often, Jesus will catch you. He died for you. He lives for you. He sends His Spirit to uphold you because He cares for you. And, when the Gospel makes us God's children by faith, Jesus continues to teach the Law. Why? It's like how Bill believed that Elise could become like him—a person who can ride a bike. So also, Jesus believes He can make us into Spirit-filled people who love God and love others, even loving our enemies as He loves us. Law and Gospel are the two reins of His teaching, wrapped around us—His care for who we are now, and His conviction about the people we will become.
Our daughter had some great falls that afternoon. There was a moment when the handlebars went sideways and the bike careened out of control, but Elise was snatched up out of the ruin, held by the reins of Bill's beach towel. Do you remember when you first learned to ride a bike? There was a moment when it was like a switch inside you flipped on. What was once impossible became effortless. And when the switch is flipped, you never forget it. But until that moment came for Elise, she still needed someone holding the reins.
In this mortal life, it's the same with the followers of Jesus. When you hear the teachings of Jesus, some days you can catch a glimpse of His vision of the new community He is creating. The switch is there, ready to be flipped. Because God's Spirit lives in us, we can be like Jesus. And one day we will be, completely, when Jesus returns to restore all things. What was once impossible will become second nature. But that day is still to come. And until it does, we still need Jesus to take the reins.
So, He keeps teaching. And one day, He will say of His church something like what Bill said of our daughter: "She was eager and ready and excited. She didn't know what she was doing. And it took all my strength to prevent her from pounding her head into the pavement. But she trusted that I was going to hold her. And then I let go of the reins, and she just sailed. But it took a while."
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to be more like You this day, and catch me when I fall. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. What do you remember about learning to ride a bike (or helping someone else learn)?
2. Read Luke 6:20-49. How do you hear his tone of voice? Stern? Encouraging? Playful? Serious?
3. Read it aloud this time. Experiment with different tones of voice. Which seems most appropriate?
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