Today we have two stories from Luke, each difficult to decipher and apparently unconnected.
First, Jesus tells His listeners that seeing that since they easily read weather patterns, they should be able to read the signs of the times. Then He tells them to settle legal disputes before arriving at court.
St John tells us that Jesus did so many things that they could not all be described (John 21:25), so why record these two odd data-points?
On closer examination, there is a nexus.
In the Gospels, Jesus is frequently critical of the Pharisees and Scribes but not ordinary people. Here he calls the whole crowd ‘Hypocrites.’ Why does he criticize everyone, and why are they, hypocrites?
Since they can accurately assess the coming weather, they surely can also read the coming times. They can, but they pretend that they cannot, and for this reason, they are not stupid: It’s worse than that; they know but pretend not to – ‘Hypocrites!’
What is it they refuse to admit to themselves? And how does the passage connect to legal disputes?
The second passage infers that the would-be litigants are dangerously overconfident and face a disaster that can only be averted by humbling compromise.
Here’s the connection; in their heart of hearts, the backyard lawyers know that judgment is coming, and yet they blithely persist. So too, Jesus’ hearers know that they stand at the nexus of history – they actually can read the signs – but pretend not to: ‘All will be well.’
Within a generation, the Jewish homeland will be irretrievably gone, destroyed by the Roman behemoth that was towering over them. Of even greater importance, Jesus will soon be dead, handed over by some of His current listeners. All will be gone, but the stone now being rejected will become the cornerstone.
And what of us?
What signs are we seeing but pretending not to? How are we disconnected from reality?
Jesus told the litigators and the crowd to admit the truth and abandon their delusional thinking.
What do you need to acknowledge, and what will you do?