Monthly Archives: July 2015

Mocked, Merciless, Miraculous

In this last readings of Luke we find the Passion week relived. Each Gospel writer wrote from a different perspective and to a different audience. In the Passion Week [which by the way is the goal of Jesus coming to earth in the first place] we are given the events prior to Christ’s arrest, the trials and the crucifixion.  There is a tremendous amount of religious politics being played out by the Chief Priests, Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. One almost gets the idea that they are suffering for Jesus Envy!

The interesting part about the narratives is the fact that Jesus doesn’t back down, but the opposite, He seems to fuel the fire of anger and hatred for Him by the religious leaders. He speaks parables that are meant for them, to indict them for missing God’s signs and warnings.[Luke 20:9-18] Now Jesus had been falling from public favor for a while because He wouldn’t be the king of King the people wanted. The Jewish leaders knew that they were in trouble because no one could argue with Jesus and win; but also many of the common people loved Him.

Jesus is accused of insurrection and trying to become King, lies and more lies were made about Jesus. The leaders twisted His words to fit their lies. He was accused of refusing to pay taxes, yet Luke 20:19-ff, indicates that Jesus was always observant to the laws.

Moving to The Upper Room, Lord’s Supper meal, we find that Satan has entered into Judas to betray Jesus. The room is a large room, probably because of the many who had been close disciples along the journey. Plus we find that there were 120 in the Upper Room in Acts – I think this is the same room where they ate the meal with Jesus. This blog isn’t the place to debate whether Judas had a choice or not to betray Jesus, but Luke 22:23, seems to indicate that they all thought each other could be the betrayer.

Now I have used the failure of the Apostles to stay awake while Jesus was praying in a very negative way in the past. However, something that we fail to understand is the wording “sleeping from sorrow” in verse 46. The word sorrow here, does not mean sadness, but overcome by stress and anxiety. The disciples felt that the coronation of Jesus was imminent, and were so excited, like a child at Christmas time, but were overcome and tired because anticipation of what was about to happen.

The trials come after the arrest of Jesus, now they had eaten in the city, walked to the Garden of Gethsemane, now are being taken back across the Kidron Valley in the middle of the night. The Mock trials before Caiaphas, Herod and at daybreak before Pilate were all illegal. The 70 – Sanhedrin couldn’t meet at night, but did so anyway. Where is Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus?  In the other Gospels we find how that many were brought to bring false accusations against Jesus – didn’t work.

Through mocking and beating [Luke 22:63] and constant quizzing – “Are you the Son of God?”  This is a dumb question, for Nicodemus has already told us that they knew Jesus was from God. [John 3] Jesus says “I am” – familiar – Exodus 3! After they Beat the confession out of Jesus – they head to Pilate, at daybreak, don’t want to get on the bad side right off – Pilate questions and finds no fault with Him. Oh, He is a Galilean, send Him to Herod. Herod and Pilate become friends that night. Again, the mocking and beating, humiliation with the robe and stick. On the way back to Pilate. Trying to see through the jealousy and plot of the Jewish leaders, Pilate tries to release Jesus – to no avail, Jesus is scourged and led out to the crucified.

Meanwhile, Peter is having his own problems, Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. Luke 22:61 is a very sad verse – the third denial, Jesus looks at Peter, I cannot imagine what that look appeared like, but I can imagine what it did to Peter!

Jesus, Isaiah 52:14, describes for us the extent of the beating he took.  He was so marred, he was unrecognizable as a man – the Movie “The Passion of the Christ” is the best depiction I have ever seen portraying the merciless beating and scourging Jesus withstood. How did Jesus keep going, any other man would have died under such punishment. Yet Jesus made it to the Cross, that was the goal – Get to the Cross; earlier Satan had tried to get Jesus to accept “a” crown without the cross. I think is a weird way, Jesus embraced His crucifixion. I think He said to himself – I made it!! Hence He could say “it is finished.” Even through all the pain, agony and horror of the day, Jesus still had compassion on a guilty criminal – It might as well been me hanging there that day, for this is how He – King Jesus purchased My Salvation!

In all the unlawful acts to get Jesus killed, the religious leaders still wanted to be sure they were not defiled from the Passover Meal. Oh the hypocrisy of religious people!

A hasty burial by Joseph of Arimathea, the women watching on,; quickly get him into the tomb and get inside before the Sabbath. The long lonely hours of waiting for the Sabbath day to end, early in the morning, the women go running to the tomb with more spices to finish the job. Only to find, the stone rolled away and grave-clothes inside. What has happened? “I thought the stone would be our problem; but we don’t have a body to finishing burying!”

That empty tomb the seal of our salvation in that as Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection, so we too will join Him. Just as sin could not keep Him in the Tomb, neither can Satan and sin prevent our reunion with our Lord Jesus. That was a great day; greater than the greatest healing day Jesus ever had in His 3 years of ministry.

The take away – people will mock you, treat you merciless and humiliate you like they did Jesus. If you live out your faith, the same thing will happen to us. Expect it, get ready for it, and embrace it – for you are being fashioned into the image of you Savior – rejoice Matthew 5:11-12!

You are not of this world, don’t try to act like it, there is enough people already doing that!

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Parousia, Parables and Prayer

I actually will start with parables. Jesus brings many parables in His style of teaching. before discussing any parables in our Luke 14-18 chapters; we need to clarify that Parables have one central message or point. To try to make some significance to all the details of a parable takes away from the desired intent of the writer.

In Luke there is several parables of interest, especially in Luke 15, where we find a number of “Lost Parables.” I have preached on these a number of times, and each time I find something new. The context of Luke 15 is the tax collectors and sinners coming to Jesus. The Pharisees protest [grumble] that He should allow such. Jesus then enters into His three parables about lostness. The reader must be reminded that Jesus came to the sick, not the healthy. The point of lostness goes from 100-1, 10-1 and 2-1 odds. The point Jesus is trying to make is that in each case the return of the Lost was met with celebration and joy. The Pharisees, are appalled that sinners are allowed to come to Jesus. The Pharisees represent the “older brother ” of the Lost Son. While the Father [God] is rejoicing over the return of the son, the Pharisees are put off because they haven’t had a blow out celebration – and they have been there all the time [not really, just self-interest]. Jesus is interested in those that are the outcasts, the undesirables and the broken of life. Churches often take the attitude of the older brother, detesting any kind of celebration over a broken sinner – dirty as they are to be counted as part of the Family of God.

The Parables earlier in Luke 14, have to do with pride and people who think they are above the rest. The glaring and embarrassing wedding where a person was asked to step down from a prestigious place to give to another, reflects that we ought to be humble, not arrogant and thinking that because we are Believers – that we are all that and a bag of chips better than everyone else.  Jesus continues to bring parable after parable about life situations – only problem is that the Apostles/disciples understand what Jesus is saying. There is an underlying theme within these chapters – the broken, blind, lame, diseased and crippled are the ones Jesus came to heal. The arrogance of the religious leaders is very prominent in these parables. Twice [Luke 14:11 & 81:14] Luke tells us that exalted will be humble and the humbled will be exalted.

In chapter 17, most of the time the Parousia is looked at, while the fact Jesus is coming back is real, it seems that in three cases life was normal. Instead of looking and preparing for the Return; life went on as usual. I find it interesting that so many are trying to declare that the conditions in America and the American churches are proof that we are on the imminent threshold of Jesus’ return, yet few are doing anything about it – so I doubt if they really care about the Lost that will be going to Hell. It’s almost like a “I got my ticket, forget everyone else.”

Two verses that are very interesting are verse 9 and 16. In verse 9 we find that there should not be expected praise for that which was normal obedience. Example – I never got praised for doing the assigned chores around the house, why should I be praised for doing what is expected – no glory seekers in Heaven allowed. Second is verse 16, the Ten Lepers healing, as we know only one returned; the identification of the one being a Samaritan – obviously the others were Jews, but only the outcast Samaritan returned. The Jews probably felt they deserved to be healed, whereas the Samaritan was overjoyed to be included in the healing.

The last part of this blog looks at the Prayer of the Pharisee and the Publican. Again we have the contrast between the two attitudes. The Pharisee actually gloated over his “self-righteousness” and expected God to be pleased with his performance. But the Publican [tax collector] couldn’t lift his head, for he knew what manner of man he was, and had no place to boast. I find the pharisee prayers in the church all the time, we pray, not out of need but as to tell God how good church members we are. One who is fully aware of their sin, will not approach Church or the presence of God is a flippant manner.

Statement for the week: The World is obviously broke; but that is nothing new. The Church is also broke, for it has forgotten its place and ministry; the problem isn’t the World – for it is acting out only what it is; but the Church has no excuse for acting the way it is with it often pompous arrogance. The Church is broke – but it needs to be Broken! Broken over self-righteousness and the lost dying and going into eternity without Christ.

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The Jesus Ministry

The chapters of Luke 9-13 are filled with so many kinds of topics, it is difficult to settle on one theme. Our reading begins with the “Call, power and sending out ” of the disciples. They after having watched Jesus for approximately 18 months now get to engage in the work He was doing. The work of the disciples becomes so known, that even Herod that “old Fox” feels conviction, fearing that John the Baptist has been reincarnated. Yes Jews believed in reincarnation to some degree [see Luke 9:18-19]. When the disciples return they explain the results to Jesus. He takes them away, but the crowds follow. In these high popularity years Jesus does a lot of healing, and crowd gathering. His message shifts to the Kingdom of God and the task that is before Him. Remember the Jews are looking for a Messiah, albeit a faulty expectation from the real Messiah that Jesus would be at that time.

Jesus begins to tell the disciples how he will go to the cross, He shows them His glory on the mount of Transfiguration; and all they do is asked for “priority seating” in the Kingdom of God [Luke 9:46-48]. The disciples were very sympathetic or discerning of what Jesus was really all about. Before we chastise them, we aren’t much better today. Before Jesus goes to Jerusalem there is one last major evangelistic thrust, and open revelation of who He is; He sends out 70 ahead, to prepare the people by way of announcement.

The are times when I hear that sometimes my preaching is a bit too harsh or in your face. Yet when I look at the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles, I find not a wimpy preaching approach, but one that is bold and truthful about the judgment and the condemnation on the unrepentant cities and communities. Even the cities of Bethsaida and Capernaum are chastised for their unbelief.

It always follows that when God has done a great work [the return of the 70’s report] that evil wants to discount and destroy the testimony of the work. In chapter 10, the lawyer bent on discrediting Jesus puts Him to the test with a question that the lawyer already knows the answer to. Such as it is, Jesus does His best teaching through great illustrations ans stories – in this case the Good Samaritan story. In the end, the lawyer is corrected in his thinking about neighbors, but unmoved in his prejudice against Samaritans, all he could reply to Jesus was “the one who showed mercy.” [Luke 10:37]

I have studied Luke 11:1-13 extensively, it is a very good passage about prayer. I pondered why the Disciples would ask Jesus to teach them to pray, when every good Jew prayed 3 times a day. The secret is they were missing the “power” behind the prayers. When Jesus prayed, things happened! This is not the case for many believers; we know we should pray, want our prayers heard, but find great difficulty in maintaining a prayer life.  The secret is not “saying prayers” but communicating with the person to whom we are praying too. We forget that prayer in its simplest form is just dialog with Jesus.  Prayer is not so much about asking for things as it is about know Jesus.

As with ministry today, there are varied reactions to the Gospel. Jesus is considered to be Beelzebub or Satan doing the works that He does. The Jews really don’t appear to be too smart at times – as Jesus dismisses the remark by “house divided against itself” giving truth that if Jesus was Satan, He is destroying Satan’s own work. Jesus will continue to have opposition from here on to the Cross. One of the thought we must come to understand; as we profess and live out the believer’s life, there will be times of great opposition. We are no better than out Master!

A funny passage is Luke 10:37-53; I title it “What a Lunch!” Jesus was asked to lunch by a Pharisee, from there things went downhill fast. Jesus pronounces Woes on the Pharisees and condemns the religious rulers for their part in killing the prophets and apostles. Needless, after the lunch, they are ready to kill him; and will from now on seek to do just that.

Jesus preaching has become more intense; no longer is He trying to present evidence that He is the Messiah, but is bringing the message of how people will be judged at the End of the Age. Warnings are given to those who have ears to hear.  Please note that the Gospel is Offensive! Chapter 12:49-53 explains how that families will be divided over who Jesus and the Gospel. I have seen this happen in families and it is so sad.  The Cross looms in front of Christ; He is resolved to embrace His “baptism” of agony and trial, for this is His reason for coming – to seek and to save that which is lost, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Through all the teaching, miracles and healing, Jesus focus has always been “get to the Cross.” He did not come for popularity, self glory or create a following. He came to be the Savior of the world; delivering us from sin and wrath.

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Synagogues, Sabbaths and Son of God

I apologize for those of you who follow this blog and were looking for my post for the week – I have been to Celebrate Recovery in Tennessee and didn’t get to post my normal Thursday post. Anyway here is it.

In Luke chapters 4-8 we find a very difficult time for Jesus and His ministry. The odd part about it, is that the conflict comes from His presence and activity while attending the synagogue on the Sabbath. It was Jesus’ normal routine to visit the Temple when He could, and to attend the local Synagogue when He was in town.

After the Temptations in the wilderness [just a thought, Satan defeated man in the Garden under ideal conditions for man; yet when he tempts Jesus in the Wilderness – under extreme conditions, he fails; thank You Jesus! Also Satan couldn’t defeat the Father- hence cast out of Heaven; so he goes after then Son – another failure.] which are an attempt by Satan to get Jesus to get “the Crown without the Cross.” You know we really do have an awesome Savior!

Jesus enters into the synagogue on the Sabbath and reads Isiah 61:1-2; sits down and says this “day these words have been fulfilled in your hearing.” Rather than reflect on what was said, the people disregard the prophecy fulfillment because they “know Jesus” as the carpenter’s son and his family. Often people disregard a testimony or miracle right before them because of either familiarity with the person or the thing said or done violates the senses of the mind.

An often overlooked passage is Luke 4:25-27; Jesus came for many reasons, one of them was to bring a final indictment upon the Jews for failure to accept the prophets and the Word of God. Jesus uses two Old Testament stories to show how that the Jews just aren’t all that and a bag of chips! The willingness to help the widow [gentile] and Naaman [gentile] when there were plenty of Jews He could have helped; reveals that God is a God that loves all people, and that if we think that God HAS TO DO for us because of who WE ARE; we are really mistaken. Obviously those who got it, were offended. Hmm, preaching of the word in the synagogue [church] being offensive? Over the course of the next few chapters we see that this trend of Savior on the Sabbath in the Synagogue repeated over and over. As I read the difficulties that Jesus experienced while “going to Church,”  I wondered if He ever got tired of going to Church on the Sabbath, because of all the drama?

In chapter 5, Jesus gets great fallout over forgiving sin, not over healing the lame guy. The Church has often been the source of frustration and great conflict for pastors, prophets and the Word of God. Paul experienced the same things while on his missionary journeys. The Trouble making Judaizers followed him just as the Jews, Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders followed Jesus, not because they wanted to know more about the Kingdom of God, but that they might find fault with Him. News flash the same thing happens today.

Word for us who have to deal with all the junk of the Church today; Jesus never stopped loving and healing the people – neither should we! Jesus continued to minister to those around Him. The healings and miracles of catching fish and casting out demons didn’t stop because people [religious people] couldn’t wrap their minds and hearts around the love of Christ. His works of healing and great words of teaching affirmed Him as the Promised Messiah; yet there were skeptics that even though the facts substantiate Jesus, they asked “Are you the Christ, or is there another?” Even John the Baptist was found to have doubts. Jesus is ridiculed for the company He keeps, of course the Religious leaders wanted Jesus to BE WHAT THEY WANTED not who He was. Today many still try to claim Jesus as their own, yet try to twist Him and make Him FIT what they think a Savior and Lord should be. When the Bible and Jesus do not support the ways of “the people” they walk away in disgust.

In chapters 7-8, we have Jesus teaching in His favorite way – Parables. We sort of understand parables today, only because Jesus gave us insight into the parable. The story of the centurion salve healing reflects back onto the healing of Naaman earlier except with a twist. The Jews were okay with Jesus healing this Gentile, for he was a great contributor to the synagogue. Really, not much has changed. I know that Pastors and Churches will pressure what is or isn’t done based on the acceptance of those who “give the most” rather than what is right by God’s Word. Even though the synagogues and churches are messed up; Jesus died for the Church, it is His Bride. He will build His Church and Present His Bride [Church] pure, unblemished, chaste and adorned in radiant White to the Father. Yeah we’re messed up, but God hasn’t given up on us – let’s not give up on us either!


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Luke’s Legacy

We begin this week reading the Gospel of Luke. Luke is known as the companion of Paul on most of His missionary journeys. The capacity with which Luke traveled with Paul is often one of conjecture. Did Paul need a medical doctor with him because of his “thorn in the flesh” or because of the many beatings and physical injuries? Either way, the good doctor has left us with two exquisite books in the New Testament.  While Luke is a doctor, we also find that he is also an accomplished historian. The preamble of both is books tells the reader his purpose for writing; to explain and affirm what “most excellent Theophilus” has been taught. While we may not know if Theophilus is a real person or a pseudo character for Luke’s writings; we do find that Luke takes great pains in making sure of the factual information.

Luke is known as one of the synoptic gospels. Much of what is found in Luke is also contained in both Matthew and Mark; with Mark believed to be the source for much of the other two gospels.

Luke also begins his Gospel “at the beginning” – only Matthew gives us any other insight into the birth narratives of John the Baptist ans Jesus. The reason for Luke beginning at the birth, brings in specific dates and personalities of the time. One such question of Luke’s accuracy was the “first census” of Quirinius as governor. It was thought for centuries that Luke was mistaken, however, historical records show that Luke the historian is right.

The birth narratives provide Christianity with the humble beginning of our Savior. The point of the narratives, that God was at work in History bringing salvation to the world. The incarnation of Jesus, the Christ is essential to all that follows in His ministry and sacrificial death and resurrection. If Jesus is but a mere man, birth like anyone else, much of our Gospel becomes myth and folklore.

The Son of God became a man; He [the creator] “Put on humanity.” While the virgin conception is paramount for Jesus to be the incarnate Christ, it is also imperative that we know that Jesus is completely flesh and blood like you and I. Jesus was tempted in all points like you and I, but without sin. Jesus is more that a symbol, he the exact representation of the Father to us. Jesus could say – “he who has seen me has seen the Father; I and the Father are one.”

This may seem like a very boring subject; however the Church Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, met for settling the issue whether Jesus was God. The Council affirmed that Jesus was “of like substance” as the Father; co-equal with God.

Luke uses a transition word of “Now” all throughout his Gospel. It notes a change, or an event that occurs. His Gospel is a chronologically formatted writing, in other words sequenced on how things actually happened time wise.

Beginning with the Forerunner, John the Baptist; Luke gives us the background of how the birth of both the “one like Elijah” and the Messiah came to be. Jesus and John are cousins, which in itself is quite interesting; for we learn that John started his own ministry, as if He didn’t know that Jesus was the Messiah. Anyway – John the voice crying in the wilderness after 400 years of silence captures the notice of the people.

The nativity narratives bring angels, shepherds and ordinary – yet favored people to life. The prophecies of the Old Testament are included to bring coherence to the scriptures.  God is at work in time and people to bring about His salvation plan. The characters of the “Christmas story” are well-known. The story doesn’t end really until we get to the Temple scene where we meet Simeon and Anna; two godly people advanced in years waiting for the “consolation of Israel.”

The Christmas story of Luke is much more joy filled than that of Matthew with the cruel King Herod and the infanticide tragedy. The joy is captured for us by the songs of Mary and Zacharias and Simeon. The Angels sing, the people sing, the historical coming of Jesus in real-time and place cannot be denied and is readily confirmed by Luke for us. This baby, miraculous as His birth was clearly establishes that “God has visited earth is His beloved Son.” The promised Messiah, announced and affirmed by Luke establishes the “Now” ministry of Jesus.

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