Luke 12:54-57 (CEV)
54 Jesus said to all the people:
As soon as you see a cloud coming up in the west, you say, “It’s going to rain,” and it does. 55 When the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to get hot,” and it does. 56 Are you trying to fool someone? You can predict the weather by looking at the earth and sky, but you don’t really know what’s going on right now. 57 Why don’t you understand the right thing to do?
“Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.”
It’s a simple little rhyme, but it’s almost always right. Apparently it works anywhere that the weather systems come from the west, because the setting or rising sun picks up on particles of dust that are trapped by high pressure systems in the atmosphere – if the high pressure system is coming in from the west as the sun sets, then tomorrow’s weather should be a clear, sunny day. If the high pressure system is leaving from the east, then the high pressure system is moving out, so invariably will be replaced with windy, wet low pressure weather.
Or there’s the way I was taught to watch for thunderclouds gathering in the sky while outtripping – learning to distinguish the different shades of grey – to watch for the speed at which the clouds were gathering, the direction that the wind was coming from and the rise of the waves to determine when and where to find shelter.
The impact of weather – whether it is the everyday fluctuations of high and low pressure systems or the more significant changes that bring severe weather like hail, tornados, hurricanes or ice storms – is so great that humans have spent time trying to figure out how to predict the future of weather probably since the beginning of time. And the reason is simply this – whether big or little, the impact of the weather on our lives is always significant.
So, in Jesus’ logic, it stands to reason that if the impact of what’s going on spiritually is also significant, then maybe the people who are listening to him might want to pay attention?
And to recap, what they would be paying attention to is this:
That Jesus was here in the midst of their fear and their experiences of oppression and sickness and doubt and debt and conflict and condemnation to offer a new way of living:
One full of a love that was big enough to conquer fear.
Full of a freedom that could take on whatever forms of oppression you might face.
One offering healing in response to sickness. Hope in response to doubt. A generous new way of living that was big enough to respond to whatever debt or conflict or condemnation you might be experiencing.
But the one thing you had to do, was pay attention to the signs, and respond to what they said.
There’s no value, if you are a sailor, to getting up at dawn to check if the sky is red or not if it doesn’t change whether you go out in your boat.
Equally, there’s no value, if you are struggling under the weight of the brokenness of your everyday reality, if you read or hear these words about Jesus without letting it change the way you’re living.
The right thing to do if you are that sailor, is to make your decision as to whether you’ll mend the nets on shore or go out on the boat based on the colour of that sky.
And the right thing to do if you’re looking at Jesus and seeing the impacts of this new and different way of living is to decide to start living life in this new way.
- Take some time this week to read straight through Luke 1 – 12. As of Thursday, we’re halfway done the book of Luke.
- What changes is God calling you to notice or make in your life as you read through the pages of this book?