If You Really Believe Luke, You Just Can't Be a Pessimist in 2019

If you had a few days left to live, what would you tell those around you?

You'd probably ensure that your loved ones know they are loved. You might reminisce with them about the past. You might even try to bury the hatchet with some contentious people from your past.

Photo by Bruce Mars

But in addition to nostalgia and forgiveness, I can bet there would be a good deal of practicality wrapped up in your last few days. Things like where you store the password for the retirement account. How to start up the lawn mower when it makes that pathetic sound. When to pay the water bill.

If anyone at all depends on you, you would prepare them for your absence. You would attempt to share all of the knowledge in your head so that your loved ones could carry on when you died.

This is exactly what Jesus did on his last trip to Jerusalem. He knew the end was near for him. In Luke 18 he even predicted his death for (at least) the third time. He said:

See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise. 
Luke 18:31-33

Knowing full well his crucifixion was just days away, don't you think he would have hammered home as many critical lessons as possible? Once Jesus was dead, these disciples would be responsible for spreading the gospel and growing the kingdom.

So what did Jesus teach them?

The lessons are varied and nuanced, but they all circle back to one thing: faith. Now, lest you think that's obvious, generic or cliche, let me qualify. Jesus taught his disciples that faith is a critical element of all facets of life. He taught that faith is effective in driving evil out of this world. He taught that some things, like forgiving others, can only be accomplished with faith.

To boil it down even more: Jesus taught that faith can move mountains.

Do you believe that to be true?

I think too many Christians have believed the lie that what they do or say or think or believe doesn't really matter. They might read Luke's gospel account of Jesus's last journey to Jerusalem, crammed packed with lessons on faith, and mentally assent to them. But when it comes to living out those principles? They feel lost, hopeless, or helpless.

And can we really blame them?

The world is a messed up place. At times it seems worse than ever. We see things like racial injustice, civil war, poverty, and school shootings, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Beaten down by the world, the temptation is to believe that nothing one does really matters. I can have no positive effect on the kingdom or in the world today.

That's exactly what the enemy wants you to believe.

So we surrender to any number of ungodly positions: apathy, fatalism, pessimism. We sit on our hands while the world burns, not out of malice but out of fear or sheer overwhelm. Seriously, what can I do to stop world hunger or overcome corruption in government? What could I possibly do to end human trafficking?

Let's go back to that core message Jesus taught in Luke:

If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 
Luke 17:6

Now you might say this is just a metaphor, and maybe you would be right. But which is harder to do? Cast a tree into the sea or put an end to human trafficking? Give me the former any day.

What Jesus was saying is that with faith both of these things are possible. Don't believe me? Read what he said in Mark:

All things are possible for one who believes. 
Mark 9:23

One can, and of course many have, taken verses like this out of context, but you get my point. When our wills are aligned with that of the Father, anything is possible. This truth applies as much to us today as it did to the disciples in the first century.

So you see, if you believe what Luke wrote in his gospel about Jesus and his last journey to Jerusalem, then you can't be a pessimist in the 21st century, despite how awful things are in the world.

This is exactly why Daniel Sweet and I wrote our new book, The Last Lessons of Christ: Living by Faith in an Age of Despair.

We think way too many Christians have given up on making a difference for the kingdom. But Jesus taught something radically different. He showed his followers that with even a tiny amount of faith, big things are possible.

The book is available for order today.

If you're still on the fence, check out what author extraordinaire, Mary DeMuth, had to say about The Last Lessons of Christ:

The Last Lessons of Christ is insightful, theologically astute, compelling and powerfully written. This would be a wonderful companion to study during Lent, to better contemplate the last days of Jesus’s earthly ministry. A highly recommended personal study and ministry tool.

Daniel and I believe this book will be a source of encouragement, hope, and inspiration in your personal walk with Christ, something we all need in today's world.

You can buy The Last Lessons of Christ at the following links:

Barnes and Noble
Books a Million
Indigo Books



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Little Iceburg Lettuce photo by Deviyahya.

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