Luke continues his narrative in chapters 19 and 20 with scene after scene from Jesus’ journey to the cross. Clearly Jesus knew ‘His time had come.’ He made no effort to appease the chief priests who “looked for a way to arrest Him immediately, because they knew He had spoken against them. But they were afraid of the people.”
ENGAGE the passage: Read the two portions from Luke 20: 20-26 and 21:1-4. (Adults and teenagers can read through other passages in between to savor every vignette in this engaging drama.) We’ll highlight two incidents that focused on finances. Read the verses cited above with your family, giving them time to let the action sink in. If you’re using the film, cue to these scenes and watch them together.
EXPLORE the meaning: The priests send ‘spies who pretended to be honest.’ This should intrigue the kids. Review what you know about Rome’s occupation of the nation of Israel. Surely Jesus was caught in a trap, right? Discuss what the options were for Jesus’ answer. It was, of course, brilliant! Read vs. 23 and note Luke’s comment. Jesus was not fooled and his advice (vs. 25) rings clear, down through the centuries to us. It’s a matter of setting priorities. Help your children understand how this plays out in today’s world of finances. Call attention to vs. 26. The spies had failed in their mission! As they slink off, they give room for others to try to trap Jesus.
The narrative continues to the end of the chapter. And, then, Luke gives us another brief insight into stewardship in God’s Kingdom. Read Luke 21: 1-4 about the ‘poor widow.’ What is the stewardship principle here? How could a very small amount of money be more than the gifts of the wealthy? Talk this out until everyone has had a chance to put in their ‘ two cents!’
EXPERIENCE the stories: Both of these incidents lend themselves to enactment. Enjoy some homemade drama. Discussion that leads to a conclusion is important also. Summarize each story by matching the lead character with one word – Zacchaeus, Caesar, widow. If your family is large enough, divide into three groups and assign one name to each group. Otherwise, divide your time with your family together and choose one word or a short phrase that sums up something to learn from each story. I’ll give you my answer for Zacchaeus to illustrate what I mean, here. You may come up with something different. (Zacchaeus: integrity) At the end, I’ll give a suggestion for the other two, but don’t supply answers right away. Let them come as a result of the group’s discussion.
EMBRACE the Savior. How we handle our finances is relevant to our living in God’s Kingdom. Hopefully you’ll be impressed with the practical wisdom Jesus supplies. Note: He appreciated Zacchaeus’ change of heart and ensuing integrity. He pointed out the obvious responsibility to obey authority, even harsh authority. He was advising them to set priorities. He made it clear that God loves a willing giver, even one who exhibits sacrifice. Even young children can understand these things and begin to build their lives as good stewards on integrity, setting wise priorities and, yes, even sacrifice. End your family session with a brief time of silence, reflection and prayer.
A FINAL NOTE ON STEWARDSHIP: Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, 1 Cor. 4:2 – Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. The idea here is stewardship. Randy Alcorn in his wonderful little book, Treasure Principle, points out that everything we have belongs to God; we prayerfully discern how much He wants us to keep – not what percentage we are obliged to give back to Him. You may have already begun to practice this principle with your finances and hopefully you’re teaching it to your children. 2Cor.9:7b-8 – …for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (Read on in this passage if you have time. He speaks to our topic very well!)