Thursday, December 29, 2011
This passage contains three parables: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Prodigal Son. All three stories share common themes. They portray the horrible condition of mankind in reality, that man is a hopeless sinner. They show that men are received when they come in repentance, and they show the great rejoicing over a redeemed sinner.
In the first two parables, note that Jesus is identifying with the despised people group: shepherds and women.
First, we have the parable of The Lost Sheep. The sheep who is lost doesn't have the ability to find his way back home. He's helpless. He has no self-defense. See how the shepherd finds him and brings him back. We don't just need a Shepherd to save us, we need a Shepherd to keep us and carry us home.
Next, the parable of The Lost Coin. Like the woman, the Holy Spirit will stir things up to retrieve a lost soul. The coin is like a helpless sinner; it will lie where it is until someone puts out his hand to find it. The woman uses a light to search for the coin, symbolizing the Spirit bringing truth to bear on a sinner's heart.
Finally, there is the Prodigal Son. This story is detailed and clear. The story begins with the son who is not satisfied with his father's provision. He is greedy, not content. He wants his portion of the inheritance now.
Like any sinner, the son is an escapist. He want to get as far away from the father as possible. He wants to be free from all restraint. What is the outcome? The son wastes all that he has and winds up broke and hungry, working in a pig sty. For the Jew, this would have been the worst place imaginable.
What happens then? Does the son just pray a little prayer, and all is well? No! He comes to himself, he assesses his sad condition accurately, and he makes a radical change, returning to his father in humility. See how he is convinced of the goodness of the father, how he is certain that his father will receive sinners!
And he is received, with great affection! He is given a robe, symbolizing the Robe of Righteousness, and a ring, symbolizing the sealing of the Spirit. He is given shoes to equip him to do the work of the father.
Christ is encouraging all to turn to the Father in repentance. Do these descriptions fit you? Come to Him! He will receive those whom He is encouraging to come!
This section describes the cost of kingdom life. A humble, committed faith is required to be part of the kingdom. Are you wanting to rest and take your ease? Wanting to play and enjoy recreation?
Jesus says, if you really want to follow Him:
You must hate everyone else, in comparison to your love to Him. Who will you associate with first? Christ and His followers, or your friends and relatives outside the kingdom.
You must take up your cross. Everyone will have a cross to bear. What is your cross? Your own nature: your pride, ambition, selfishness. These things must be battled against always.
There is a cost. Christ tells the truth; He is not trying to "bait and switch". This is a place of commitment where work is required.
You must sue for peace. Like the king on the parable, who compares the armies, you must see that you can't win this fight, and you must do it fast. You must commit yourself to the mercy of the coming King. Nothing you can bring to Christ will satisfy Him. Cast yourself on Him and withhold nothing if you are to be His disciple.
Finally, there is the picture of salt. First, Jesus declares that "salt is good". It is good to be a disciple of Christ!
Salt was valuable in the ancient world, and was known for several characteristics from which applications can be made:
Salt represented purity. Salt's glistening whiteness suggests a life of holiness, of commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards.
Salt is a preservative. Believers preserve society, offering a semblance of righteousness in this fallen world. Believers preserve the truth of God's Word.
Salt is an antiseptic. Salt treats wounds and provides (a painful) healing to sufferers -- the witness of believers brings a relief to those suffering with sin.
Salt makes people thirsty. When the world sees us, we should make them thirsty for what we have.
Salt gives a pungency of flavor. Salt is a flavor enhancer. It makes things tasty. In the same way, Christians should add a certain savor to life.
Note that Jesus didn't say, "You ought to be salt", but that "you are salt". A true Christian will be salt to the world around him.
How does salt lose its savor? Much of the salt around the Dead Sea was contaminated with gypsum. In the same way, a life contaminated with sin will lose its savor. Let us put away sin and be fully salty towards the world around us!
The previous section of Luke emphasized the division between those within God's Kingdom and those without. This theme is continued in this passage, as Jesus gives two teachings based around the theme of feasts.
The teaching begins as Jesus is invited, on the Sabbath, into the house of one of the Pharisees to eat. They are watching Him closely, looking for a slip-up. He begins by seeing a man suffering from dropsy. Understanding the question in the Pharisees' hearts, He asks if it is permissible to heal on the Sabbath. Since they do not reply, Jesus heals the man, sends him on his way, and explains that freeing this man from disease was no different than letting loose any of their animals on the Sabbath.
Next, Jesus presents a parable about seeking honor at a wedding feast. What is this about? The point of the parable is that, to enter the narrow gate, you must approach god with humility. Do not take the position of being the Ruler of your soul. Instead, view yourself as deserving of nothing and bow before the Master, God Himself.
Then Jesus goes on to discuss how they should not invite the wealthy to their dinners, but the poor. Jesus is describing the correct way to perform charity -- not to perform charity out of self-interest, giving to receive again. In charity, your motivation should be simply for the good of the person whom you are helping, not for what you can get in return.
This is followed by a comment from a guest: "Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" This guest is missing the point: are you going to be one of the ones in the kingdom? Jesus tells another parable to make this point clear.
In this parable, God the Father is portrayed as a man who has given a great feast, representing salvation. The prophets have been declaring the invitation to this feast for years, but those who have been invited are saying, "What I want to do with my life is more important to me than my soul. This is more important than Jesus Christ. I'm not ready for Christ now."
It's not OK to put it off. The Father is angry at the spurned invitation. The man holding the feast invites the crippled and lame, those who were not allowed to enter the temple. Still, (v22) there is more room! Consider that there is still room in the kingdom for sinners! The Master sees that there are still people who need to come into the kingdom. There is assurance and acceptance for those who come to God.
You may ask yourself, "How can I know if the feast is for me?" Are you coming to the feast? Coming to God is a fruit of election; if you are coming, you can have confidence that you will be received.
Come! What can be more important in your life than this feast of salvation? Come as you are, acknowledging your sin, knowing you will be received.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
In this section we see that Jesus is a separator of men. There are only two groups of people, only two destinies. You will either be consumed by or purified by the fire He is bringing.
In this section, we see a few events that teach this great division among min that the Lord is bringing.
First, we have the example of the crippled woman who is healed. She is a picture of Israel under the Law: bent down, burdened, rather than freed on the Sabbath to pursue good.
Rather than making the Sabbath a time of special condemnation and rule-making, the Jews should have taken the opportunity of the Sabbath rest to see the coming Messiah's deliverance from a striving, works-based righteousness. They accused Christ of breaking the Law, because He healed on the Sabbath. But Christ was actually setting this woman free, just as they would set their animals free from the stalls on the Sabbath.
Next, we see the pictures of the mustard seed and the leaven. What is the Kingdom of God, this new thing, going to look like? It will have a small beginning, like the tiny mustard seed, but will spring up -- as does the mustard seed -- into something great. It will grow and expand and be visible. The saints will not blend in with the world; they shall be visible. Like the leaven, this Kingdom is alive. It is not a dead lump.
Then, Jesus is given a question: "Are only a few going to be saved?" Jesus diverts the question -- instead of making it a question about other people, of another group, he turns is back to the one asking. He tells them to strive for themselves that they would make it in.
You cannot come through the narrow gate as a group, as a family, as a church member. Salvation is for the individual.
Then, there is a message for the Jews at that time: the era of the advantage of the Jews was coming to an end. Even some of the last (Samaritans, for example) would enter in the kingdom. "What will you do?" Jesus is asking them. What will you do with all God has given you and done for you? It is a question for us as well.
The Jews thought they were secure, because they believed they knew all about God. But it's not important whether you know all about Jesus; it's important that Jesus knows you. You must come to Jesus, introduce yourself to Him, and not stay in your sin. Does Jesus Christ know you? Strive to enter in! Put forth effort! In verse 34, we see that He will receive those who come to Him. If you will not come, it is because you love sin too much.
Finally, we see that some of the Pharisees came to Jesus warning Him about Herod. Was this for real, or just a ruse? Either way, Jesus takes advantage of the teaching opportunity. Jesus says, in effect, "It is a sure thing. I will work My ministry through to perfection. Nothing will stop Me from accomplishing salvation."
What will you do with Jesus? You don't have to consider any else. There is only one Way, one straight gate. You must go through Jesus.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
In this passage, Jesus gives a few parables about His second coming. Here are some particular bits of information we are given:
- Jesus will return in a manner like a man returning from a wedding feast. The servants in the parable didn't know when to expect their master. Like them, we must be constantly watching and waiting.
- Like a thief, Jesus will come at a time that is not known to you.
- He will come at an hour when you think He won't come.
- The faithful servant has girded his loins. He's gotten dressed to do some work. He's active, involved, and has embraced all that God has given Him to do. He is actively engaged in the stewardship God has given him.
- Faithful servants are to give light. We are to bring light to darkness, living a life of truth as a testimony to the dark world around us. Light your candle at the source of light: Jesus!
- The faithful servant is watching and waiting. Biblically, waiting on the Lord is what He has called you to do in the interval before His coming. Be watchful, not forgetful!
- A stewardship has been given. God has given you something to do. There is a discipline involved. Self-discipline is the start of all godliness.
- A faithful steward takes care of the people under him. He brings peace, happiness, joy and contentment for those who are committed to his care.
- To whom much is given, much is required. We have all been given very much physically and spiritually; we should see the gravity of that gift.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
This section begins with a man in the crowd who asks Jesus to help divide the family inheritance. Jesus refuses to intervene in this family matter. There were adequate resources in the civil government of the time to resolve the issue.
Jesus is a judge in greater matters, and He reveals it. He sees beyond the immediate request to the man's bigger issue: covetousness, desiring more than you need. Next, He tells the parable of "The Rich Fool."
In this parable, God has given the landowner an abundant harvest. He decides to build larger barns to contain it, assuring himself that now he will be set for life, and able to live comfortably, needing nothing.
But this rich man was not rich towards God. God says he is a fool, and that his soul would be claimed that night, and another man would use the wealth that he has amassed. God will judge him for what he has done with this blessing.
What did he do? He:
- Took no thought for God
- Took no thought for his fellow man
- Wanted an abundance of provisions
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Finally, we have a reminder of the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The ministry of the Holy Spirit will help you when you are in a situation where you need to give an account of your faith. Yield to the Holy Spirit; He will lead you into open confession, not hypocracy!
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
- The Lord came to Zechariah -- the vision didn't come from Zechariah's entreaty. God comes to us through His gracious desire to make Himself known.
- Zechariah was wakened out of his sleep. God has to awaken us, to put us into our right minds. God has to clear away what is affecting our minds. He makes an appeal directly to our intellectual understanding.
- Zechariah was asked what he saw. Zechariah was responsible for passing the vision on to Zerubabbel, and God wanted to make sure he could accurately represent the word given. In the same way, we should be careful to accurately represent the Word God has given us.
- Zechariah asked, "What does this mean?" He was willing to say, "I don't know." He was a humble man. We should be humble as he was: if you don't know something, ask God to make His Word plain to you.
- Candlestick -- represents the nation of Israel. It is gold, showing that they are special.
- The Seven Lamps -- like the seven eyes of the stone in the previous chapter, these represent the eyes of God. God will have His eyes on His people; they will have His presence and His guidance.
- The Oil -- represents the Holy Spirit
- The two olive trees are a topic of some contention, but I believe they represent Zerubabbel and the high priest Joshua, the men who were responsible for the rebuilding of the temple. They were guiding and leading the nation of Israel, bringing forth good fruit by the Spirit.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
- First, a proclamation that the Kingdom was coming
- Next, an exhortation that the Jews had a part to play -- duties to perform in bringing about that Kingdom
- A reminder that the Kingdom of God was bigger than the Jews, and would encompass all nations.
- A series of visions (Chapter 6-8)
- The first oracle (prophecy of God) -- Chapters 9-11
- The second oracle -- Chapters 12-14
- Believe God's promises; believe that God's way is the right way
- To do something as a result of His way being true -- for two years the rebuilding of the temple had ceased; they needed to continue its rebuilding
- To not be discouraged by the smallness of the work; this temple would not be as grand and great as the one Solomon had built, but it was the job God had called them to.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Jesus then makes it clear that Mary has chosen the best part. Fellowship with Jesus is heaven on earth! Nothing is of greater importance than choosing to have fellowship with Christ. Mary is occupied with lesser things - not sinful things - but Mary has chosen the better part.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Text: Luke 10:1-16
This section contains some of Jesus’ teachings on the final judgment to come. A brief listing of some of those teachings is given below:
First, what you do in this life follows you into the next, and the position in the next life is fixed: either eternal judgment or eternal life.
There is a Last Day. A final Day of Judgment is coming. A certain day is fixed when this world will end and God will put all things right. All the dead shall rise and stand before God. Every man will be there on that great day.
There are only two destinies when we leave this world: heaven or hell. There is no second chance. What did you do with your privilege of hearing the gospel?
There will be degrees of punishment. Some will receive a greater punishment. The punishment will be perfect, exactly fitting the situation.
The degree of punishment, we read here, will be based on the amount of truth is rejected – not on what bad things the person did in his lifetime. What a fearful thing to consider here in America where the gospel is so well-known, even treated as commonplace!
Jesus cites three contemporary cities (Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum) and compares them two three ancient cities that had long-since been annihilated. The contemporary cities that He mentioned had seen much of Christ and His teachings. Then He compared them to Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon – dreadful places known for their wickedness – and said that these horribly wicked ancient cities would have repented long ago if they had seen the gospel.
Jesus discusses Capernaum specifically. The parallels to the United States are clear. It is a city that has been incredibly blessed, but now they are “lifted up” – at least they think of themselves as lifted up. Their religion is a civil religion; it will get them nowhere. How can our country, who is so much like this city, continue on? We need a revival of true heart religion!
From this section in Luke, we must take away the certain knowledge that we are carrying the most important message – the gospel. This is the message of judgment and life eternal.
Note that Jesus is entrusting this word to just normal people. Each of us is responsible to pass the word of the gospel along. Remember that men cannot be convinced through reasoning. Salvation only comes through the working of God, and God works through His gospel.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
- Being right with God depend's on God's grace. (In the Old Covenant, men had to perform (circumcision, sacrifices) in order to be in the Covenant.)
- There is love and acceptance in Christ Jesus. (The Old Covenant was one of fear and doubt.)
- Christ is the light of the world; the darkness of the Old Covenant is lifted and God is made known in all His glory.
- Sin has been slain. In its place is peace, unity, comfort, and purity.
- The King of this kingdom has come as a servant, to serve others.
- Humility is the rule, rather than pride and religious pomposity and display.
- The Law says, "You must"; Jesus says, "Only trust."
Sunday, March 6, 2011
At this point in Luke’s gospel, he is summarizing all of what Christ has been doing, and the emphasis is shifting to what Christ is teaching. This section begins to discuss truths about the Kingdom of God, and about the King of that kingdom, Jesus.
At that time, there was a question raised about who Jesus was. This is the question of the ages: “Who is Jesus?”
Like many in our society, Herod thought Jesus was just an ordinary man, and many of the people of that day thought so too. This is an inaccurate description, the thought of Jesus being a great teacher who died a tragic martyr’s death. This is wrong and dangerous – following this belief will get you into hell. This “ordinary” view of Jesus is just a cover and excuse for sin.
Peter, as spokesman for the disciples, gave the correct answer: “You are the Christ of God!” The Anointed One, the One who has come from God. This view of one Man in whom salvation can be found, one true Messiah, flies in the face of the world. Of course, this is to be expected – we are not of this world, and shouldn’t be expecting anything from the world.
Jesus then tells the disciples not to tell this to anyone. This is quite remarkable. Why did He give this command?
- First, the Jews were looking for a political Messiah to liberate them from the Romans. They may have interpreted Jesus’s claim to be a Messiah as an announcement that He was establishing a physical kingdom, when He was in fact establishing a spiritual kingdom.
- Second, this was not the time for public acclamation. This was not a time for great crowds and a mixed multitude. Jesus wanted to spend this time with His people, giving them the truths they needed to hear and learn.
- Third, this was during the time of His humiliation. It was not yet time for Him to be praised and recognized.
The question of “Who is Jesus” also asks, “What kind of Messiah is He? What is He going to do?” Jesus explained this in verse 22: the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, must die, and must rise again on the third day.
Must suffer – it is a necessity that Christ’s sufferings would happen in order for Him to be a Messiah. This was the Father’s will and the Son’s promise. Christ willingly came and suffered. The Law demands perfection and requires a penalty for failing to meet that perfection. Man is required to pay that penalty, and, apart from Christ, he cannot.
Must be rejected – Christ was to be rejected by the religious leaders. The Elders (the elite families, the ruling class), the Chief Priests (the families within the Levitical Priesthood), the Scribes (the theologians and interpreters of the Law) – all of these thought Jesus was just an ordinary man, and all rejected Him.
Must die – the Sacrifice must be slain. Death is not uncommon, but Christ’s death is unique. He died after living a sinless life, and He died alone, cut off from God by our sins which He bore.
Must be raised on the third day – This death is a victorious death, a temporary death. Christ rose victorious over the grave. After He rose, He discussed the Scriptures with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, saying, “Isn’t it right that the Christ would suffer these things?”
Christ is celebrated now in the heavens as the One who has triumphed. Paul saw this glory (but he was not allowed to speak of it.) We can’t know the glory of Christ in heaven – it is beyond us. But the glory of Christ on earth is us, His children. We are His people, an example, the testimony of the work that He accomplished on Calvary. Let us live mindful of that!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
- Her faith - Faith is visible, you can see it. The church is made up of visible saints. She risks all to get to Jesus; faith knows it will be received. She entrusts herself completely to Jesus. If the Spirit moves you to Christ, get to Him! You can know you will be received.
- Humility - She takes the lower position. She doesn't assume a familiarity with Jesus. She's not afraid, but she is also not arrogantly bold and presumptuous.
- Repentance - She cries over a life wasted in sin and cries rejoicing that her sins are forgiven. This is an act of the heart as well as the mind. This is not a dryly mechanical response; her whole person is involved.
- Service - She performs an act of loving service in washing Christ's feet and anointing Him with perfume. She did what Simon should have done. She serves her Lord.
- Her best - She gave her best, an entire bottle of costly perfume. She wouldn't hold back and give Christ second best, or second place.