Sunday, September 30, 2012

Scary Scribes...

 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45-47 ESV)
Watch out!  Jesus warns us to watch out for those who live for appearances - especially appearances of true spirituality - they walk, talk, and even pray as if God is shining the spotlight on them for their innate goodness, when they are shining the light on themselves, instead of God. What is so scary is that people do actually follow them into their self-righteousness and turn away from truth and trust in Christ. One test is to compare to Christ on compassion - do they care about their own comfort above the most needy? Do we?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Putting the pieces together...

 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?” (Luke 20:41-44 ESV)
When Jesus came into Jerusalem the people said and shouted statements that identified Jesus as the Messiah. But did they really understand Who he was?  Did they understand that not only did He descend from David, but that He also came before David and was a greater King than he was?  Could they put the pieces together to understand that He was the God-man and their only means of salvation? 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Here's why, part 2...

 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question. (Luke 20:37-40 ESV)
As Jesus responds to the Sadducees' silly story, he points out not only how irrelevant their situation was - in the Kingdom marriage would not be needed - so Levirate marriage would be completely outdated; he also gets to the core mistake they made - ridiculing the resurrection.  Somehow, in studying every minute detail of the Mosaic Law, they had gotten off to a poor start at the beginning of Moses' call.  As God called him He came not as the God of the dead, but of the living Patriarchs. Though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were long ago dead to man, they were very much alive with God, because the resurrection is real. Jesus shook the very foundation of their rationalism - that seeing something is what makes it real.  God is real. Resurrection is real. You better live that way.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Here's why, part 1...

 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34-36 ESV)
In their silly little riddle, the Sadducees used the Old Testament  law of Levirate Marriage, a  practice rarely even used at the time.  When the Kingdom comes, and one is no longer confined to this life, marriage is no longer a factor.  The earth will no longer have to be populated because death will be defeated, and our relationship with God will be such that we will find our fullness in Him, and all others will fall into place with His.  The law of Levirate Marriage, therefore will be even more outdated then than it was in Jesus' day.  The key question then is: "Who is worthy to attain to that age?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A riddle riddled with holes...

 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” (Luke 20:27-33 ESV)
Those snobbish Sadducees thought they could do what the Scribes, Pharisees and Priests had not been able to do: put Jesus in HIs place.  Their "riddle" included two biblical themes: resurrection and Levirite marriage - the latter had fallen out of practice and the former was something they personally did not believe in.  It was a totally absurd example (you would think by brother three or four they all would head for the hills - not a long life expectancy) and one they thought would be impossible for Him to answer, which is also absurd.  Jesus had the answer for every question - no matter how simple or complex.  And that was their problem - they had no respect for the One they were dealing with here.  So, when we go to Him with our issues, let us go: 1) Respecting His Omniscience 2) Beleiving He can and will answer, and 3) Not going with foredrawn conclusions and excuses for our unbelief.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Let's settle this once and for all...

 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.(Luke 20:23-26 ESV)
Having tried every possible way to get in Jesus' face, his opponents now try a "nice" approach - trying to flatter Him into saying something stupid.  But He knows.  They have the answer right their in their hands, and they were the creation of God's hands, but they were running away from Him.  So, once and for all... for now... they are silent. That settles it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Playing politics...

 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (Luke 20:19-22 ESV)
Having failed to stop Jesus from teaching or attracting seekers, the religious leaders tried another method: get someone else to do their dirty work for them.  If they could just get Jesus to look like some political rebel, the Romans would take Him out.  So they try the same game with a different subject - try to get Jesus to say something rebellious and radical against Rome.  We can well imagine that they made sure some reporters were on hand to record his statement.  How often do we try to get others to look like the bad guy, so we will look better?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

God forbid!

 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
  “‘The stone that the builders rejected   has become the cornerstone’?
  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 
(Luke 20:9-18 ESV)
Jesus tells this parables just after the leaders of Israel have sent a simple delegation to inquire about and reject His authority as Messiah.  In the same way as the tenants rejected the Owners servants and Son, they had rejected the prophets and were now rejecting Him, bringing the judgment of the Kingdom upon them instead of its blessings. The shock is overwhelming: "May it never be! God forbid! Surely not!"  Make no mistake about it: without accepting Christ, there is no hope.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who said you could...?

 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Luke 20:1-8 ESV)
The leaders rudely interrupted Jesus' teaching to challenge His authority with a two-headed question. True to form, He answers with a question that gives the answer - if they are willing to accept it. Who told Him He could waltz into Jerusalem like the King, cleanse the temple of distractions, and then teach there authoritatively as a prophet?  The Same One who told John the Baptist he could do what he did.  But then again, they would not accept him either.  "If you've got a problem, take it up with God."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Time to clean house...

 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
(Luke 19:45-48 ESV)
As He had done early in His ministry, Jesus again comes and cleans up the temple.  Why was it so important to Him? Because all the commotion drowned out what was supposed to be going on there: prayer, being able to hear God's Word, and reaching out to those outside (most of this commotion took place in the Court of the Gentiles, leaving them no place to come seek God).  So, what clutters my life, keeping me from prayer, the Word, and making a time and place to reach others?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Not the heartless King...

 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”(Luke 19:41-44 ESV)
Some may have expected Jesus to enter into Jerusalem and take it by storm, calling on the forces of nature to be His troops and using His elusive powers to take the throne.  But this is the compassionate Christ who calls out to our hearts, offering real peace to our souls.  Many respond to that wanting to fight, to resist His peaceful reign, and remain in darkness and sin.  They do not want to know God.  Such a decision, such a course, ends in Judgment and death. This breaks His heart, as He is not willing that any should perish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

King of Creation

 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40 ESV)
Talk about hard heads... The Pharisees refused to let it sink in - the people were worshipping the King. Even the stones were not so hard that they could not soften and come to faith.  John the Baptizer had made a similar exclamation when rebuking like-minded people for refusing to repent, and the prophets had the same imagery of stones attesting to what they had witnessed.  How hard is your heart and your head?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Knowing what to do...

 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”(Luke 19:35-38 ESV)
Looking at the scene on that Sunday morning, it's as if these followers knew what to do.  No one had to tell them to spead out their cloaks, put Jesus on the colt, or sing out their praises.  It was the natural and appropriate response to the King and all He does for us.  Is our response on Sunday mornings the same - to bow before Him, raise Him up, and sing out to Him for all He is and has done?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Moving ahead as planned...

 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” (Luke 19:28-34 ESV)
Jesus has said all He needed to say.  It was time to move into action. So He pulled ahead of the crowd and gave His disciples instructions to move into action.  In doing so he taught them an important lesson: whatever it takes to carry out God's plan, He will provide. The long journey to Jerusalem is over, but now the hard journey begins...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What is their crime?

 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” (Luke 19:20-27 ESV)
To the casual observers whom the new King commanded to take away the mina from the disobedient servant, it seemed like the punishment was excessive what had he done? He claimed to know the King, when he really did not; he did not obey the command of the king to invest what he had been given - he did not even put it in safe place. He had total disregard for the King, His word, His treasure, and His plan.  Thus the even harsher punishment on those who opposed the King's reign. You cannot ignore an outright rebellion.  Would we expect anything less of a challenge on the last leg of the journey to Jerusalem?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's all yours, Lord...

When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’  (Luke 19:15-19 ESV)
The King is returning just as He said.  These two servants believed that and acted accordingly - obeying His instructions.  As they give their report their is not self-righteous comparison between them, and there is no saying "Look at what I have done."  They simply say "your mina" did this. It's all about you, Lord.  Humble, faithful service is what He is looking for, what He deserves.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rejecting His Reign

 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ (Luke 19:11-14 ESV)
As Jesus lays out this parable He is setting up an either/or situation. Either we want His kingdom, and are willing to wait for it on His terms, at His time, or we are rejecting His rule, either not wanting it at all, or wanting it in our time and His way.  Many of them "supposed" they had it all figured out how Jesus would fit into their hopes and plans, rather than wanting to follow Him as the one Who has the best plans for us.  Others just plain wanted to continue to do their own thing without His oversight.  Who fits in where with you?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Evidence Jesus has been here...

 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:5-10 ESV)
If Jesus would have said nothing, nothing would have happened.  If Jesus had waved and said "hi", nothing would have happened.  But Jesus came and gave an invitation - the privilege to be His host.  There was a lot of change.  Obviously, Zacchaeus changed dramatically: confessing his sin, making restitution, becoming a giving man.  And many others changed: they became more hardened in their self-righteous comparison to others and rejection of the Messiah.  They changed for the worse.  As we read God's Word, Jesus has been here.  Which way are you changing?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Not-so-silly little man...

 He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.
(Luke 19:1-4 ESV)
Our first reaction to this account is that Zacchaeus must have looked like a silly little man climbing up that tree.  But he was being resourceful.  He had to be; how else could he have become chief tax collector?  He was a well-dressed professional acting like a child, which is what makes him a hero of faith.  He is illustrating the child-like faith that Christ just called for in the last chapter. He is not being silly at all; he is being wise and acting in faith.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ready to be repaired

 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
(Luke 18:40-43 ESV)
As the blind man had cried out to Him in faith, Jesus stopped what He was doing and interacted with the man.  He was ready to hear what the man was requesting, just as He is ready to hear our requests.  The man got to the core of the matter. He did not ask for riches so he would no longer have to beg; he asked to be fixed, repaired.  Prayer is not asking God to fix our situation as much as it is asking God to fix us. Are we ready to be repaired?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The cry that won't be stiffled...

 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”(Luke 18:35-39 ESV)
What makes this cry of the blind beggar stick out even more is what has happened earlier in the chapter: the tax collector cried out to God for mercy.  What kind of mercy could Jesus have?  The mercy of the Son of David, the Messiah, God's sent One.  It is in Him that we receive the mercy of God we need.  This man demonstrates that faith that refuses to be stiffled, and cry out to Jesus.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Why of the Journey...

 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “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.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.(Luke 18:31-34 ESV)
Jesus has already told his followers where they were going, and has been giving increasing details of what would take place there.  Yet, they did not question him about their lack of understanding. Part of it was how this could be, as no one seemed smart enough or wise enough to trick Jesus. But a lot of it is Why - Why does this need to happen?  So it is with our lives.  Following Jesus is learning the Why as we go: Why did God let this happen? Why am I here? There is a goal in view - His Eternal Kingdom, but let's learn the why along the way.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A better question...

 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:26-30 ESV)
This question has been raised because of Jesus' discussion with the man who asked: "What must I do to be saved?"  The disciples have come far in their understanding to ask this question. They are beginning to understand that they cannot do anything; God is the only one Who can. The cost can seem so high if we are focused on what we do, but when we realize and believe that Christ has done it all, and that the only possibility of our salvation and eternal life is through Him, then it is very possible indeed.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What holds you back?

 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:22-25 ESV)
Having listed five of the six commandments about how we deal with others, Jesus now hits on the one He had left out: coveting.  Coveting hits rich and poor alike.  Our attraction to stuff-others or our own- chains us to this world and keeps us holding back from the Kingdom of God. Otherwise, this man was very upright and moral, a "good" person, but this one was big - it kept him from faith in the Messiah, from following him, from entering the Kingdom.  Again, we must not focus on how good we are, but instead on our area of weakness, of need, of sin, and repent, trust in Christ to give us victory in that area, and allow Him to change us.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The question behind the question...

 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.”(Luke 18:18-21 ESV)
Jesus replies not to this man's question as much as his statement: "Good Teacher," because behind the question the man asks, which really is important, is the question the man was thinking about: "Am I good enough?"  In his eyes he thought so; he hoped so, but he rightly questioned his own goodness. As we will see, Jesus did not question his testimony about keeping these five commandments: He did was; he was "good" by these standards, but only One is good enough.  His very character is Good, so all He does and says is good. Jesus is trying to get this man to look at Him, not himself. We must do the same.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Becoming a kid again...

 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17 ESV)
We grow up much too quickly.  It seems kids these days grow up faster and faster, sooner and sooner, and almost miss their childhood - with its dependence, its trust, its honest observation and its hope.  We lose all those things, or hide them beneath thick skin and hard hearts, so faith seems so unreal.  The Kingdom of God is not pomp and "adult" stuff.  It is rated "G" for good.  It is clearly seeing and believing the truth about Who Jesus is and trusting Him completely. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

He is watching and listening... uh oh...

 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14 ESV)
As Jesus speaks, we get the idea that this is more than an parable - almost as if it is an eye witness account.  Jesus, the Son of God, had been in the position to watch peoples' actions and know their hearts.  The actions here reveal the two different hearts - one of self-righteousness, one of humility.  God is watching and listening as we pray.  That is good news - He hears and He cares. And that can be bad news, as He evaluates the intentions of our hearts - to compare, to make excuses, to praise ourselves instead of humbly bow before Him, His will, and His mercy.