Gospel for today is from Luke 12 and Jesus explanation to His disciples that He causes division and then He asks the crowds why they cannot “interpret the times”. The Epistle lesson is from Hebrews and the great cloud of witnesses that surround us and help us run the race. Found a great exposition of these passages from a Pastor named Hubert Beck.
So “why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” The word for “time” denotes a “critical time,” a “time that will shape and form all future time,” a “time that will govern the way you live and think, for it holds within it, as it were, all time in its hand.” He is not urging them to watch the skies or natural phenomena or historic events in general around them. He is pointing to himself! “Do you not see in me that for which all Israel – indeed, the whole world – has been waiting? Of all ‘signs,’ the one ‘sign’ of eternity present on earth, of all the past and of all the futures yet to come gathered into one moment is present here before your eyes. Do you not hear in what I say and see in what I do the one thing that all creation has been waiting for? Can you not ‘interpret the time’ when you hear and see me?”
He is, indeed, the one whose “baptism of blood” would pour new life into the veins of all those baptized in the waters joined to the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit, uniting and establishing them into the one indivisible family of God. The “sign” of bread and wine as bearer of the body and blood of this “Sign of all Signs” feeds and nourishes this family set on the pathway to eternity where they will rest in his grace forever. His word, simple and almost weak in its appearance, rises up to bear the promises that first arose in the dawn of the eastern skies and that shall be fulfilled in all their glory when the sun sets in the western skies. “You see the skies and read its signs,” Jesus says. “Look to me and see in me the ‘sign’ of the Father’s good will toward you. Come and be embraced by the One whose reconciling hand reaches out to you through me! The ‘critical hour’ of all history has arrived in my coming. Don’t miss it, for all futures lie hidden within this hour of my presence among you!”
We, too, are called on to “interpret the present time,” for the Lord lives in our time as much as he lived in that time. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:1, 2) Or, as it is put in today’s Second Lesson, “Therefore . . . let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1, 2)
Is it not a wonder that he who felt great distress until his task was accomplished also knew the joy that was set before him when he endured the cross? May our joy be joined to his as we take up our cross, in turn, and follow him, losing our life in order to find it in him