Scripture Focus: Luke 23.8-12; 42-43
8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

From John: As we prepare for Student Writers to take us through the book of Acts, we continue through the last three chapters of Luke’s gospel. Don’t forget that, beginning on July 15 and continuing through August 10th, approximately 90% of donations to The Park Forum will be directed to scholarships/stipends for these talented students. Give during this time to support our ministry and theirs.

Reflection: Demands of Faith
By John Tillman

Pharaohs, Herods, and Pilates demand a show in exchange for their faith. 

“Who is Yahweh, that I should obey him…?” (Exodus 5.2) “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Luke 23.3) “When Herod saw Jesus…he hoped to see him perform a sign…” (Luke 23.8)

Pilate and Herod, former enemies, bonded over their experience with this stubborn prophet who wouldn’t perform for them. Their cynical conclusions about Jesus drew them together.

Some people who claim to be looking for signs are really just looking for excuses for doubt. Some people demand that you “prove something” just so they can manipulate you.

The privileged and powerful often say to Jesus or God’s people: “I’m important.” “Don’t you see what I could do for you?” “What’s in this for me?” “You need me on your side.” “Show me something.”

It isn’t just the powerful who make demands in exchange for faith. On the cross, one of the rebels says, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

Jesus won’t trade miracles for faith. He did miracles out of compassion, that fulfilled prophecy and God’s will, and because of the faith of those who asked. But he never “proved himself” to a doubter, performing for them like a magician. Many people saw public miracles and believed but then fell away. Jesus knows that faith in signs is worthless and fades into nothing. 

After showing the cynicism of the powerful and the desperation of the powerless, Luke spotlights the simplest example of faith: “Jesus, remember me…” 

There are many personal statements of faith in the gospel accounts. John the Baptizer’s “Look! The Lamb of God,” (John 1.29) Peter’s “You are the Messiah,” (Mark 8.29) Thomas’s “My Lord, and my God” (John 20.28) are some that stand out.

The rebel’s “salvation prayer” is special because it shows us how deep the grace of Jesus reaches. It feels incomplete and imperfect. When I imagine standing there, I’m tempted to correct him, “Pray like this…” It’s exactly the kind of prayer Jesus leans in to listen to.

Sincere faith comes from sincere seeking, knocking, and asking, and listening to Jesus’ answers. People will always have doubts and questions and we should treat them gently and with respect. However, we should recognize that demands and ultimatums are typically used to deny or avoid faith.

Make space for people to explore and explain their doubts. Let them ask questions. Then leave room for the Holy Spirit to work.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off in his joy, sells everything he owns, and buys the field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.” — Matthew 13.44-45

Today’s Readings

Isaiah 41 (Listen -5:00)
Luke 23 (Listen -6:39)

Read more about The Crux of Repentance
If only our repentance looked more like the thief on the cross. Hands open, holding nothing. Naked, hiding nothing. Humble, asking nothing. He simply believes.

Read more about Resisting Herods
The Herods epitomize the kind of people that the Jesus community is so often drawn to in hopes of gaining their approval…