The Rev’d Derek Arnold
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He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
In this reading from Luke’s gospel, Jesus warns us about a future crisis and the coming of God’s kingdom. For most of recorded history, the world’s principle occupation has been and is farming. Farmers are very dependent on just the right amount of sun and rain at the right times to make a living and most of them become very skilled at interpreting the natural signs.
However, Jesus is announcing an earth-shattering event which would be more important than the year’s crop and that is the coming of God’s kingdom. Like a down pour or a sunny day there were signs that the kingdom would soon be here. But for some reason those that were normally good at interpreting the natural signs seem to be intentionally ignoring the signs of the times.
Jesus always uses situations and experiences that all could understand. The idea that when a lawsuit is in progress, a writ is being issued, and a heavy sentence is impending, those who ignore the plain signs of the way things are developing will only have themselves to blame when they are finally called to account. As we all will be on the day of judgement.
Therefore Jesus distinguishes between those who do not or will not see his crucial place at the centre of human life and history, and those who as his disciples are beginning to glimpse, however dimly, the meaning of it all.
Once again, there is no place to hide, it is impossible to be neutral. Jesus demands a response from us, either we follow the path that leads to eternal life or we don’t. But we need to make a choice.
O God, forasmuch as without you
we are not able to please you;
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen