NEW! Lent 2016: A 40-day devotional, Led to the Cross

Lent 2016: February 10 through March 24th

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: We are well able to overcome it because He overcame it all!

Numbers 13

Giants represent great difficulties, and they stalk us everywhere. We must overcome them or they will devour us, just as the ancient Israelites feared those in Canan. Joshua and Caleb calmed the fears of the Israelites and told them, in effect, that “We will be stronger by overcoming them than if there had be no giants to defeat” (Numbers 14:9). -Adapted from Streams in the Desert

The Israelite spies saw giants, but Joshua and Caleb saw God! Those who doubt still say today, “We can’t attack..they are stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:31). Yet those who believe say, “We should go up and take possession…for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30).

There are no enemies to your growth in grace, or to your Christian work, that were not included in your Savior’s victory. Remember, “The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because…I will hand all of them, slain, over to you” (Joshua 11:6). Also recall the fact that when you revisit your enemies, they “will flee from you” (James 4:7). And remember what Joshua said to the people: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous” (Joshua 10:25). You are mighty because you are one with the Mightiest. So claim victory! -Adapted from Joshua, by F.B. Meyer

Jesus says that we are to come to Him with all of our weaknesses (physical, emotional, and spiritual) and turn those giants over to Him. He tells us to rest in the comfort of His Presence and to remember that nothing is impossible with Him. He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20) [-Adapted from selection in Jesus Calling]

I chose to introduce the Lent series with a reminder about our giants because I want to enter into Lent by first recognizing that everything we have is from Him, everything we are is because of Him, and everything we experience is ordained by Him. He was led to the cross for each one of us. His victory is our victory and because He overcame we are saved. Because He went to the cross we will overcome all of it. The battle is already won and because of that we can face our giants.

Lent begins February 10th with Ash Wednesday. My focus for this season of Lent is three-fold, using these 40 days to celebrate His sacrifice and my salvation, to purge distractions, and to find 40 ways to bless others. I’ll share what that looks like each week as it comes together because it is a work in progress (just like we all are!) and the first time I’ve ever done it. I’m also writing a daily wrap up and placing them inside a mason jar- I chose different shades of yellow paper because yellow symbolizes spring and re-birth to me- as a visual centerpiece of Lent.

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: 40 days of renewal

Lent-40-Days-Renewal

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. -John 3:16

Lent, the period of 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, is a period of reflection on the gift of salvation through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after His crucifixion.

Lent, then, is generally observed as a time for Christians to reflect, repent, and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter. Lent can also be a time of self improvement. Some Christians choose to give up a habit or behavior during Lent as an exercise in prayerful self-denial. Some Christians commit to a special devotional activity during lent- for example, daily Scripture reading, special prayer, or volunteer work. [Adapted from Bible Gateway]

On the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), some Christians mark their foreheads with ash as a symbol of sorrow and mourning over their sin. (See Job 42 for an example of ash used as a symbol of repentance.) Today commemorates the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert. During this time Jesus ate nothing and was tempted by the devil three times (Luke 4).

  • The devil tempted Jesus and told him to turn stone to bread to feed himself. Jesus responded and said “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone“. (Luke 4:4)
  • The devil tempted Jesus again showing him the all the kingdoms in the world and telling Jesus that it could all be his by bowing down to Satan. Jesus answered “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (Luke 4:8)
  • The devil tempted Jesus one last time to throw himself off of the highest point of the temple and summon angels to catch him. Jesus answered, It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke 4:12)

Jesus resists the devil, stands firm in His faith, and the devil leaves him, but only until “an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

We experience the same temptation today, and the devil still waits for “an opportune time” to pounce on us. 1st Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Yesterday I shared that I was going to approach Lent 2015 with three areas of self-improvement. Here’s what I’m working on:

1. Eliminating distractions: For me that looks like getting rid of 40 things each day. Yesterday I tossed 40 items from the junk drawer. Today I’m getting rid of 40 items from my hard drive that are outdated. Tomorrow I’m putting together a donation bag of 40 clothing items that I no longer need but can bless others. Clutter = distraction and if I can reduce the clutter and the distractions I am more available to His purposes.

2. Increasing devotional time: I am recommitting to my schedule of reading through the Bible in 365 days by adding 40 minutes of daily devo time to my schedule (do you want to read through the Bible in a year?). I have a few weeks of reading to make up but by doubling up on the reading I’ll be back on track mid-way through Lent. Each time Jesus answered the devil’s temptation He answered with a direct reference to Scripture. We know the devil prowls around us like a lion ready to leap so we need to be ready with our own answers based in Scripture.

3. 40 acts of kindness: I only set the goal to complete the acts of kindness but I did not formalize what they would be. Instead I’m remaining aware of what those around me need and being available for whatever that looks like. It may mean something different every day- I’m excited to see what doors God opens.

However you choose to celebrate Lent, there are 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord.

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: We Believe

Psalm-48-14

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)

This verse really hits it home- the devil is lurking about just waiting for the opportune time to strike. And sometimes, without even realizing it, we help to create that opportune time by feeding into insecurity, worry, and anxiety. When we let go of God and spiral down the rabbit hole it is almost an invitation announcing an opportune time. The solution sounds so simply, but it truly is- adjust the focus to total dependence on God.

Dr. Charles Stanley sums it all up:  “Throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit would temporarily come upon saints for a particular work. However, after Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Spirit to dwell permanently within each believer. Consider what this means: If you’re a Christian, God is living inside of you, available to help all through life by providing guidance, comfort, and empowerment.

Obedience to Christ is too difficult for anyone relying on his own strength. And discerning what to do in every situation is far too complicated for a fleshly mind. For some reason, though, Christians often try to live life by depending on their own energy and reasoning. Defeat and failure are unavoidable without His power in our lives.

Do you recognize your need for the Lord? Begin each day confessing your dependence upon Him. Ask to be filled with His Spirit so that all you think, do, and say will be an overflow from Him. Then trust Him to work in mighty ways through you. Watch what almighty God can do.” (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

God provides guidance: But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  (James 1:5)

God provides comfort: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

God provides empowerment: Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation
We believe, we believe. -Newsboys

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: the great Physician- preaching and persecution

He heals the broken

Yesterday we read about Jesus’ triumph over temptation after spending 40 days in the wilderness with the devil. 40 days of one temptation assault after another- 40 days with no nourishment, no encouragement, no support system or camaraderie. 40 days of satanic assault.  What happens next?

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues,and everyone praised him.(Luke 4:14)

After 40 days in the desert, and resisting the devil’s temptation, Jesus goes home and begins to preach and perform miracles.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: (Luke 4:16)

The act of Jesus receiving and opening the scroll fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 29:11 “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to take the book, and open the seals; for he can open, not the book only, but the understanding. ”

Jesus opens the scroll and reads from Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:16-19)

The very first words that Jesus chooses to share after returning from the desert explain his calling and his purpose. Jesus tells the men in the temple that He is anointed by God and sent to set the give sight to the blind, set the oppressed free, and proclaim the Lord’s favor.

Christ came to be a great Physician; for he was sent to heal the broken-hearted, to comfort and cure afflicted consciences, to give peace to those that were troubled and humbled for sins, and under a dread of God’s wrath against them for them, and to bring them to rest who were weary and heavy-laden, under the burden of guilt and corruption. (Matthew Henry)

How do those hearing that first message react? The persecution begins.

The mountains standing in Your strength
The oceans roaring out Your praise
All creation glorifies Your name. -Glory, Phil Wickham

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: He suffered and He is able to help us in our suffering

Genesis 41

We began the Lent series reading from Luke chapter 4:3 and we’ll read through Luke and the journey to the cross over the next 40 days. So far we’ve read about the 40 days that Jesus spent being tested in the wilderness, fasting as the devil assaulted Him with one temptation after another. After He triumphed over temptation He returned to Nazareth, taught in the synagogue, and read Isaiah 61:1 from Scripture. Let’s read about how Jesus, and his teaching, was received by those hearing it.

 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus, having just read from Scripture and beginning to fulfill prophecy, anticipated doubt or objections from those in the room. He expected that they would be pleased to hear His words, but that they would want Him to perform the miracles in their own town, for their own people. They expected their people to be healed, and to glean the benefits of His miracles- why should strangers and foreigners benefit?

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” (Luke 4:20-23)

Jesus explains that Nazareth will not be his home base because “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”. Familiarity breeds contempt.  Matthew Henry writes “Christ declined working miracles, or doing any thing extraordinary, at Nazareth, because of the rooted prejudices they had against him there.”

Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.  I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.  Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.  And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:25)

Jesus refers to the two most famous prophets in the Old Testament, Elijah and Elisha, and draws parallels between their choice to show favor to foreigners rather than their own countryman, no doubt by divine direction. Jesus uses these examples to substantiate his decision not to do anything extraordinary in Nazareth (Adapted from Matthew Henry, commentary).

Do the men in the temple respect Jesus’ decision? Do they rally around Him and encourage His mission and His journey? Do they place value on the Old Testament prophecy He is fulfilling? Tomorrow read about Jesus persecution in Nazareth.

Can you relate? Have you tried to explain your position to others, quoted chapter and verse to substantiate that position, only to be met with disbelief, contempt, or persecution? Jesus experienced persecution at Nazareth to fulfill prophecy, and as a mile marker on the road to the Cross for our salvation. He experienced persecution so we would be assured that He understands what we are going through when it happens to us.

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:18)

My mind found peace
My soul found hope
My heart found a home. -When Mercy Found Me, Rhett Walker Band

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Just Keep Going

SONY DSC

After Jesus taught in the temple He told his listeners why He would not be performing miracles in Nazareth, and provided Scripture references to substantiate His decision.

 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. (Luke 4:28-30)

The men in the synagogue were so angry when Jesus told them He would not perform any miracles in Nazareth that they became enraged, threw Him out of His home town as if He were unfit even to be there, and they planned to kill Him.

But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. (Luke 4:30)

Yet he escaped, because His hour was not yet come: He passed through the midst of them unhurt. Either He blinded their eyes, as God did those of the Sodomites and Syrians, or He bound their hands, or filled them with confusion, so that they could not do what they designed; for His work was not done, it was but just begun; His hour was not yet come, when it was come, He freely surrendered himself. They drove Him from them, and He went his way. He would have gathered Nazareth, but they would not, and therefore their house is left to them desolate. -Adapted from Matthew Henry’s commentary

After His rejection and persecution in Nazareth, Jesus went on His way. That is such an example for us in our own lives. Don’t let persecution deter your journey- just keep going on your way. When you feel like giving up- don’t, rely on Christ to strengthen you and just keep going.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures. -Come as you are, Crowder

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Grace Triumphs Over Devils

1 Corinthians 7

Jesus battled with the devil and assaults of temptation in the wilderness for 40 days and triumphed. After that He returned to Nazareth, His home, preached in the synagogue and read Scripture, and explained that He would not perform any miracles in Nazareth because familiarity breeds contempt. His listeners became furious with His position, persecuted Him, and tried to kill Him. But Jesus just kept going- next to Capernaum to triumph over devils.

Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people.  They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. (Luke 4:31-32)

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice,  “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! (Luke 4:33)

“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. (Luke 4:35)

The devil showed what he would have done, when he threw the man in the midst, with force and fury, as if he would have dashed him to pieces. Christ showed what a power he had over him, in that he not only forced him to leave him, but to leave him without so much as hurting him, without giving him a parting blow, a parting gripe. -Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. (Luke 4:36-37)

No one doubted the truth of the miracle; it was evident beyond contradiction, nor was any thing suggested to diminish the glory of it, for they were all amazed, saying, What a word is this! They that pretended to cast out devils did it with abundance of charms and spells, to pacify the devil, and lull him asleep, as it were; but Christ commanded them with authority and power, which they could not gainsay or resist.  -Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary

In the breaking of Satan’s power, both the enemy that is conquered shows his malice, and Christ, the conqueror, shows his over-ruling grace.  Whom Satan cannot destroy, he will do all the hurt he can to; but this is a comfort, he can harm them no further than Christ permits; he shall not do them any real harm. He came out, and hurt him not; that is, the poor man was perfectly well in an instant, though the devil left him with so much rage that all that were present thought he had torn him to pieces. Christ’s power over devils was universally acknowledged and adored (Luke 4:36).  -Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave. -Hillsong, Mighty to Save

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: He is the Great Healer

healer

Jesus battled with the devil and assaults of temptation in the wilderness for 40 days and triumphed. After that He returned to Nazareth, His home, preached in the synagogue and read Scripture, and explained that He would not perform any miracles in Nazareth because familiarity breeds contempt. His listeners became furious with His position, persecuted Him, and tried to kill Him. But Jesus just kept going- next to Capernaum to triumph over devils.

Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people.  They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. (Luke 4:31-32)

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice,  “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! (Luke 4:33)

“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. (Luke 4:35)

The devil showed what he would have done, when he threw the man in the midst, with force and fury, as if he would have dashed him to pieces. Christ showed what a power he had over him, in that he not only forced him to leave him, but to leave him without so much as hurting him, without giving him a parting blow, a parting gripe. -Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. (Luke 4:36-37)

No one doubted the truth of the miracle; it was evident beyond contradiction, nor was any thing suggested to diminish the glory of it, for they were all amazed, saying, What a word is this! They that pretended to cast out devils did it with abundance of charms and spells, to pacify the devil, and lull him asleep, as it were; but Christ commanded them with authority and power, which they could not gainsay or resist.  -Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary

In the breaking of Satan’s power, both the enemy that is conquered shows his malice, and Christ, the conqueror, shows his over-ruling grace.  Whom Satan cannot destroy, he will do all the hurt he can to; but this is a comfort, he can harm them no further than Christ permits; he shall not do them any real harm. He came out, and hurt him not; that is, the poor man was perfectly well in an instant, though the devil left him with so much rage that all that were present thought he had torn him to pieces. Christ’s power over devils was universally acknowledged and adored (Luke 4:36).  -Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave. -Hillsong, Mighty to Save

Lent 2015, Led to the Cross: Let Down the Nets

Luke 5

Jesus was tested in the wilderness. He was persecuted in Nazareth. He drove out spirits in Capernaum and healed many. He kept going- on to preach at synagogues in Judea. (Luke 4 summary).

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.  He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.  He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. (Luke 5:1-3)

Jesus is standing level with the crowd. He knows that His message will better reach the crowds from a higher vantage, but the area around the lake is level. So He speaks to the crowd from a boat, belonging to Simon and Andrew. The other boat belonged to Zebedee and his sons. [Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary]

Matthew 4:18 tells us that Simon and Andrew were fishing when Jesus began preaching. When Simon returns from casting his nets Jesus asks to use his boat as a pulpit. Andrew, Simon’s brother, had been with Jesus when John was baptized (John 1:40), they were with Jesus at the wedding in Cana (John 2:2), and in Judea (John 4:1). [Adapted from Matthew Henry commentary]

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:4-5)

Have you ever worked at something tirelessly, in the case of Simon and Andrew “all night”, and not had the result or blessing you wanted? Have you labored in vain? We all have. And Simon and Andrew are the example of the blessing that comes after inviting Jesus into your tasks, projects, or business and following His direction. This is the illustration of what happens when you don’t give up, when you follow Jesus’ plan, and when you cast your net deeper even though you haven’t caught anything yet. Just keep going.

 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. (Luke 5:6-7)

Following Jesus’ direction, Simon and Andrew cast their nets and catch so many fish that the nets begin to break. But notice that they don’t lose the fish, even though the nets begin to break. Jesus doesn’t need nets, or baskets, or any limitation to bless us. The boats filled with so many fish that they began to sink. Even the fish in the sea follow His direction.

Proverbs 24:10 Don’t give up and be helpless in times of trouble.”

He holds the stars and He holds my heart
With healing hands that bear the scars
The rugged cross where He died for me
My only hope, my everything. -(Jesus Loves Me, Chris Tomlin)

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Following the Leader

luke1-78-79

He wrestled the devil in the wilderness, preached at Nazareth and was persecuted, performed miracles of healing and driving out demons, and filled the empty nets of some defeated fishermen. The nets were so full of fish they were nearly breaking under the weight of the haul.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5: 9-11)

Peter’s reaction of feeling unworthy is spot on. On our own we are all so unworthy- of our salvation, of Jesus’ love, of the blessings poured over us minute by minute. His tender mercy lights up the path and guides our feet to the way of peace. Follow the Leader; His love never fails.

Lent 2015, Led to the Cross: A Treasure in the Arms of Christ

1-Corinthians-6-11

We are reading through the gospel of Luke during lent; following the Leader as He battles Satan in the wilderness, faces persecution in Nazareth, performs miracles of healing, calls His disciples, on his way to the cross.

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Luke 5:12)

Matthew Henry explains that leprosy, in the case of this miracle of healing, is symbolic of our spiritual leprosy and sin. Healing comes in seeking Jesus, just as this man did- humbling ourselves, falling on our faces and believing that Jesus can cleanse us.

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:13)

Jesus touched this man. He could have spoken the healing but He touched the man that no one would touch. Touched, cleansed, and healed in Love. He is willing to cleanse us of our sins.

 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:14-15)

Jesus instructed the man to be a living testimony, and we should be the same. And then Jesus “withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. Jesus didn’t need to retreat to avoid distraction. Matthew Henry explains that Jesus did this to be an example to his followers to take time of private devotion.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

We are forgiven and we are a treasure in the arms of Christ!

Lent 2015, Led to the Cross: Learning to be the Light

light-of-the-world

We are reading through the gospel of Luke during lent. We followed the Leader as He battled Satan in the wilderness, faced persecution in Nazareth, performed miracles of healing, called His disciples, and healed a leper on His way to the cross. And there is so much more to come…

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. (Luke 5:17-19)

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

This man had some amazing friends- friends who would stop at nothing to bring him to Jesus. Friends who carried him to the roof and lowered him carefully to the Savior. Friends who didn’t give in to discouragement or obstacles, but stopped at nothing to deliver their friend to Jesus.

Are we that kind of friend for someone? Is there someone in our lives who is unable to reach Jesus alone and needs us to carry them over obstacles? Is there someone that needs you to lead them to the Light?

When it all came crashing down
There was only darkness all around
But in the distance I could see
A flame. -Lyrics from “Learning to be the light”

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: A Living Testimony

forgiveness-quote8

We are reading through the gospel of Luke during lent; following the Leader as He battles Satan in the wilderness, faces persecution in Nazareth, performs miracles of healing, calls His disciples, on his way to the cross. Yesterday we read that Jesus healed a paralyzed man (who was blessed with some amazing friends) and sent him to be a living testimony. How were those who witnessed the healing impacted? Let’s read on in Luke 5:21:

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5:21-26)

These verses illustrate that our faith is to be urgent- it is every bit as much of a priority for us to reach Jesus, and be in His midst, as it was for the paralyzed man. We should help others reach Jesus, and be a living testimony- glorifying God for His healing, salvation, and love. We should share the remarkable things that we see, just like the Pharisees were told.

Gracious
Slow to anger
Abounding in love
Good to all
All who call upon You
You will rescue and forgive. -Lyrics from “That’s How You Forgive”

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: He Came for Sinners (another tax collector!)

m9-matthew9_13

I am blogging through the gospel of Luke during lent and following the Leader on His journey to the cross. We followed the Leader as He battled Satan in the wilderness, faced persecution in Nazareth, performed miracles of healing, called His disciples, healed a leper and a paralyzed man and told both, and those who observed the miracle, to learn to be the light, drawing others to Jesus. And there is so much more to come…

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Remember Zacchaeus the tax collector? Zacchaeus showed us that Jesus knows our name, wants to use us, came for the lost, forgives us, and makes us new.  Here Jesus seeks out and uses another tax collector, Levi. Jesus could have chosen to have kings and leaders as disciples, but he called fisherman and tax collectors. Matthew Henry writes that tax collectors were considered “men of ill fame”.

 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:28-32)

There is no heart too hard for the Spirit and grace of Christ to work upon, nor any difficulties in the way of a sinner’s conversion insuperable to his power. -Matthew Henry

We are His portion and
He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. -David Crowder band

Lent 2015, Led to the Cross: New Times Require Fresh Ways

New

They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” (Luke 5:33)

 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” (Luke 5:34-35)

 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:36-39)

Jesus Chris died for us so that our salvation could make us new. New times require fresh ways. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It was a wonder of his grace that Christ reserved the trials of his disciples for their latter times, when by his grace they were in some good measure better prepared and fitted for them than they were at first. Now they were as the children of the bride-chamber, when the bridegroom is with them, when they have plenty and joy, and every day is a festival. Christ was welcomed wherever he came, and they for his sake, and as yet they met with little or no opposition; but this will not last always. The days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them. When Christ shall leave them with their hearts full of sorrow, their hands full of work, and the world full of enmity and rage against them, then shall they fast, shall not be so well fed as they are now. -Matthew Henry

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Glorious Unfolding

1 kings

Someday we will understand that God has a reason behind every no he gives us through the course of our lives. Yet even in this life, he always makes it up to us. When God’s people are worried and concerned that their prayers are not being answered, how often we see him working to answer them in a far greater way! If only we had the faith not to rush into things but to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7)- waiting for his full explanation that will not be revealed until Jesus Christ comes again!

When has God ever taken anything from a person without restoring it many times over? Yet what are we to think if he does not immediately restore what has been taken? Is today his only day to work? Does he have any concerns beyond this little world of ours? Even if we confine our thinking to this life, it is true that God never touches the heart with a trial without intending to bestow a greater gift or compassionate blessing. The person who knows how to wait has grown to an exceptional degree in God’s grace. -Adapted from Streams in the Desert

Tomorrow we’ll jump into Luke 6 and read about blessing and woes, love for our enemies, judging others, and other illustrations to take to heart in adapting fresh ways for new times.

psalm 43

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold.

– Lyrics from Glorious Unfolding, Steven Curtis Chapman

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Jesus is Our Almighty Advocate, This Is His Doing

advocate

This is the lent series and we’re reading through Luke, from Jesus 40-days in the desert to His crucifixion and resurrection. We just finished reading Luke 4 and 5.  We read about how Jesus grace triumphed over temptation and evil. We read about after His preaching He met persecution, that He suffered to relate to our suffering, and that He came for sinners (tax collectors, fishermen, and us!). We understand that His miracles illustrate how we are to trust Him and live as a testimony. Today we pick up in Luke, chapter 6.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6: 1-5)

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled.  The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.  But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:6-11)

Who were the Pharisees? The Pharisees were one of three religious societies of Judaism at the time of the New Testament (Pharisees, Saducees, and Essenes). The Pharisees and the Saducees made up the ruling class of Israel. The Pharisees were middle class business men and had the “voice of the people” and were members of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of ancient Israel. The Pharisees were united with the Saducees and other members of the Sanhedrin to crucify Jesus. They did not like the concepts that Jesus taught; they didn’t like the vulnerability that Jesus represented and clung to their belief that tradition and Scripture were equal.

What should we learn from the Pharisees? Not to be like them- our relationship with God should not be reduced to a legalistic set of rules and rituals- we have fellowship with God (1 John 1:6). (Saul was a Pharisee- a ringleader on a mission to make Christianity extinct, was personally converted by Jesus after His resurrection on the road to Damascus. Saul became Paul the apostle post conversion and wrote a large part of the New Testament. We’ll read more about Saul’s conversion later so tuck that away.)

The Pharisees, whose practice it was to “feed deliciously on Sabbath days” (Matthew Henry), were pointing out unlawful activity in the disciples that they do themselves. The Pharisees, trying to deflect from their own bad behavior, or  rationalize it, were not only being hypocritical but also judging the disciples as unlawful.

Matthew Henry writes “Jesus Christ will justify his disciples when they are unjustly censured, and will own and accept of them in many a thing which men tell them it is not lawful for them to do. How well is it for us that men are not to be our judges, and that Christ will be our Advocate!”

Jesus tells the Pharisees that he is the “Lord of the Sabbath”. He is sovereign and every situation is His doing.

“My child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear…it is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being…”This is my doing”. Have you realized that whatever concerns you concerns me too? “For whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye” (Zechariah 2:8)…Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you..and push you aside? “This is my doing” I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident- you are exactly where I meant for you to be. Today I place a cup of holy oil in your hands…Anoint with it every new circumstance, every word that hurts you, every interruption that makes you impatient and every weakness you have. The pain will leave you as you learn to see me in all things. –Laura A. Barter Snow

Atoning sacrifice
Keeper of this life
Hallelujah, You are savior. -Lyrics from What A Savior, Laura Story

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Cast Your Crowns Before the Throne

crowns1

This is the lent series and we’re reading through Luke, from the 40-days Jesus spent in the in the desert triumphing over temptation to His crucifixion and resurrection. We just finished reading Luke 4 and 5 and are now reading through chapter 6.  We read that: Jesus grace triumphed over temptation and evil; about after His preaching He met persecution; that He suffered to relate to our suffering; that He came for sinners (tax collectors, fishermen, and us!). Today Jesus calls the 12 disciples, and tells us about how we are to cast our crowns before the throne and dedicate living our lives to His plans.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.  When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:  Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.(Luke 6:12-16)

Jesus went to be alone to pray. In fact, Jesus prayed for the entire night! At daybreak Jesus doesn’t sleep after being up all night; instead He gets on with the business of assembling his disciples and goes to preach about blessings and woes.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon,  who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured,  and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. (Luke 6: 17-20)

Jesus came to the crowd and He stood with them- He was on their level literally and figuratively. He healed all who came to hear Him, all who believed.

Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
 Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
 Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man. (Luke 6:17-22)

The disciples had left everything behind to follow Jesus. They were poor in property, but rich in their inheritance of the kingdom of God. The disciples were hungry because they worked hard, traveled with Jesus, and ate what they could when they were able to, but Jesus promised their eternal satisfaction. The disciples gave up their creature comforts to accompany Christ. They faced people who wanted to extinguish Christianity on a constant basis. The disciples knew they were storing up treasures in heaven, they cast their crowns before the throne, and they are our example of how to live today.

 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
 Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:23-26)

We fall down, and we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus. We acknowledge that we are here for His purposes. Holy is the Lamb.

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Love Your Enemies

trouble

This is the lent series and we’re reading through Luke, from the 40-days Jesus spent in the in the desert triumphing over temptation to His crucifixion and resurrection. We finished reading Luke 4 and 5 and are now reading through chapter 6.  We read that: Jesus grace triumphed over temptation and evil; after His preaching He met persecution; He suffered to relate to our suffering; He came for sinners (tax collectors, fishermen, and us!). Jesus called the 12 disciples, showed us how we are to cast our crowns before the throne, living and live our lives for His plans. We understand that His miracles illustrate how we are to trust Him and live as a testimony.  Today Jesus gives us direction to love our enemies, to bless them and to pray for them.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31)

We must be kind to those from whom we have received injuries. We must not only love our enemies, and bear a good will to them, but we must do good to them, be as ready to do any good office to them as to any other person, if their case call for it, and it be in the power of our hands to do it. We must study to make it appear, by positive acts, if there be an opportunity for them, that we bear them no malice, nor see revenge. Do they curse us, speak ill of us, and wish ill to us? Do they despitefully use us, in word or deed? Do they endeavour to make us contemptible or odious? Let us bless them, and pray for them, speak well of them, the best we can, wish well to them, especially to their souls, and be intercessors with God for them. -Matthew Henry

 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

There is no greater example for us as to how we are to treat our enemies than how Jesus treated his executioners. He prayed for their forgiveness in His final moments on the cross. The direction is pretty simple: this is a fallen world and in it we will have trouble, He has overcome the world, we are to love our enemies and to bless them and pray for them, and live our lives as a testimony, as a display of His love.

I don’t know about you but I have had, and continue to have, abundant opportunity to practice this and I usually derail right about, oh, step 1. I will try to remember the acronym: FOLD the next time so maybe I’ll get further along in the process. In the words of that famous theologian, Kenny Rogers, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em…”:

F: Fallen World [we live in a fallen world] (1 John 2:15)

O: Overcome [Jesus has overcome this world] (John 16:33)

L: Love my enemies [He tells me to love my enemies] (Luke 6:27)

D: Display [I am living as a testimony, a display of His love] (Acts 20:24)

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: What Jesus Says About Judging

Galatians 1

This is the lent series and we’re reading through Luke, from the 40-days Jesus spent in the in the desert triumphing over temptation to His crucifixion and resurrection. We have read through Luke 4 and 5 and today will finish chapter 6. In our reading we learned that: Jesus grace triumphed over temptation and evil;  He was persecuted in Nazareth for not performing miracles in his home town; He suffered to relate to our suffering; He came for sinners (tax collectors, fishermen, and us!); Jesus called the 12 disciples; showed us how we are to cast our crowns before the throne, living our lives for His plans. We understand that His miracles illustrate how we are to trust Him and live as a testimony.  Yesterday we read about Jesus’ direction to love our enemies, to bless them and to pray for them. Today we’ll finish Luke chapter 6 and read about Jesus’ direction regarding judging others, and our requirement to act on His directives- it’s not enough just to know what they are.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37-38) 

We ought to be very candid in our censures of others, because we need grains of allowance ourselves. They that are merciful to other people’s names shall find others merciful to theirs. -Matthew Henry.

Treat people with the compassion that you want to be treated with, be the example.

 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?  The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. (Luke 6:39)

Those who put themselves under the guidance of the ignorant and erroneous are likely to perish with them. Can the Pharisees, who are blinded with pride, prejudice, and bigotry,lead the blind people into the right way? Those that ignorantly, and at a venture, follow the multitude to do evil, follow the blind in the broad way that leads the many todestruction. -Matthew Henry

 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Luke 6: 40-42)

Those with a very ill grace censure the faults of others who are not aware of their own faults. It is very absurd for any to pretend to be so quick-sighted as to spy small faults in others, like a mote in the eye, when they are themselves so perfectly past feeling as not to perceive a beam in their own eye. -Matthew Henry

When you point the finger at someone, notice that your four other fingers are pointing back at yourself.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:43-45)

The heart is the tree, and the words and actions are fruit according to the nature of the tree. The heart is the treasure, and the words and actions are the expenses or produce from that treasure. You may, if you please, stick figs upon thorns, and hang a bunch of grapes upon a bramble, but they neither are, nor can be, the natural product of the trees; so neither can you expect any good conduct from those who have justly a bad character. If the fruit be good, you may conclude that the tree is so; if the conversation be holy, heavenly, and regular, though you cannot infallibly know the heart, yet you may charitably hope that it is upright with God; for every tree is known by its fruit. -Matthew Henry

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.  They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49)

It is not enough to hear the sayings of Christ, but we must do them; not enough to profess relation to him, as his servants, but we must make conscience of obeying him.

Tomorrow we’ll read through Luke 7; about John the Baptist, miraculous raising of the dead, and an alabaster flask of faith.

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Faith, Miracles, and an Alabaster Jar Filled with Love and Symbolism

Luke-747

This is the Lent series and we’re reading through Luke, from the 40-days Jesus spent in the in the desert triumphing over temptation to His crucifixion and resurrection. We have read through Luke 4-6. In our reading we learned that: Jesus grace triumphed over temptation and evil;  He was persecuted in Nazareth for not performing miracles in his home town; He suffered to relate to our suffering; He came for sinners (tax collectors, fishermen, and us!); Jesus called the 12 disciples; showed us how we are to cast our crowns before the throne, living our lives for His plans. We understand that His miracles illustrate how we are to trust Him and live as a testimony. We learned that we are to love our enemies, bless them and pray for them. Yesterday we learned that we are not to judge others and that we need to act on His directives- it’s not enough just to know what they are.

Today we’re reading Luke chapter 7. This chapter is all about faith and miracles. The Centurion had faith that Jesus would heal his beloved servant; the widow had faith that Jesus would raise her dead son, John the Baptist had faith in his prophecy and that Jesus was the Messiah, and the unnamed woman with the alabaster flask had faith that Jesus would forgive her sins and a love for Him that was shown by her display of giving Him all that she had.

The Faith of the Centurion (Luke 7:1-6)

This is the a miracle of healing. Jesus heals the Centurion’s servant. A Centurion was a Roman soldier. The passage describes how much the Centurion cares for his servant. This relationship between the Centurion and his servant is the epitome of the relationship that Paul describes in Colossians 4:1, one of duty, justice, equity, and kindness.

The Centurion sent elders on his behalf to beg Jesus, the Great Physician, to heal his servant. The elders that the went to Jesus on behalf of the Centurion were Jewish elders- this is unusual because at the time Roman soldiers weren’t fond of Jewish elders. This really demonstrates the desperation that the Centurion felt, reaching out to those we knew could help him reach Jesus, even though they probably didn’t have the best camaraderie.

The Centurion believed that he was unworthy to approach Jesus directly, because he was a Gentile, so he sent Jewish elders to Jesus to lobby on his behalf. Jesus responds to the elders pleas by going to the Centurion directly, establishing the Centurion’s worthiness for His visit because of the Centurion’s faith. The Centurion is humble and faithful, a reminder of how we are to approach Jesus. Jon Bloom (Desiring God) writes: Both Luke (Luke 7:9) and Matthew (Matthew 8:10) use the Greek word thaumazo (thou-mad’-zo) which we translate “marveled” or “amazed” to describe Jesus’ response to the centurion’s faith. The only time this word is used to describe Jesus’ response to others’ faith is in Mark 6:6, when he marvels at the lack of faith in the people of Nazareth, where he grew up.

Jesus raises the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17)

Jesus leaves the Centurion and his servant in Capernaum and travels to Nain, where that very next day He comes upon a young widow whose son has recently died. Jesus encounters a large crowd of the widow’s friends and neighbors who are attending the young man’s funeral.

Jesus shows compassion to the widow and shows His pity and power in raising her son. The large crowd gathered to attend a funeral witnessed a miracle of healing that day instead. The crowd was struck with wonder at what they had witnessed and glorified God.

Jesus and John the Baptist (Luke 7:18-35)

John the Baptist and his disciples had heard about Jesus and the miracles. John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the Messiah, or if they should expect someone else. Jesus had not yet publicly confirmed that He was the Messiah and John and his disciples wanted that confirmation. At the same time that John’s disciples were asking for confirmation, Jesus “cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind” (Luke 7:21).  Jesus answered the question with action and sent the disciples back to John to witness what they had seen.

Jesus then tells the crowd about John. Jesus describes John as unshakable prophet, more than a prophet, a forerunner to the Messiah, undeterred by the contempt that his preaching was often met with and the prejudices against him.

Jesus anointed by a sinful woman (the alabaster flask) (Luke 7: 36-50)

Some members of the Pharisees (my March 5 blog post includes a description of who the Pharisees were so if you’re not familiar with the Pharisees or their role in the crucifixion read through that post) invited Jesus to dinner. A woman who lived in the town, who had led a “sinful life”, brought an alabaster flask filled with fragrant perfume to the house. The woman kneeled at Jesus feet and wept. Her tears washed His feet, she dried His feet with her hair, and anointed His feet with her perfume.

The Pharisees mocked and muttered to themselves how could Jesus not know this woman is a sinner? Jesus uses the woman’s actions as an illustration of faith to the Pharisees and forgives the woman of her sins. The woman brought all of her value (the perfume in the jar), and all of her regrets and sorrow and gave them all to Jesus. Have we handed over our alabaster jar representing all of our value, treasures, worth, and sorrow and regrets to Jesus? Do we sit broken, like that alabaster jar, at Jesus feet? Bring it all to Jesus- for healing, forgiveness, and peace.

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50). They who know that their faith hath saved them may go in peace, may go on their way rejoicing (Matthew Henry). 

You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred
You are His
You’re beautiful -Lyrics by Mercy Me

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Faith, Miracles, and Scattered Seeds

parable of the sower

This is the Lent series and we’re reading through Luke, from the 40-days Jesus spent in the in the desert triumphing over temptation to His crucifixion and resurrection. We have read through Luke 4-7. Yesterday we read about faith and miracles. Today we’re reading through Luke 8.

In Luke 8 Jesus is joined by the 12 disciples, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others. Jesus teaches the parable of the sower, a lamp on a stand, drives out demons, raises the dead, heals the sick, and calms the storms in Luke 8.

The Parable of the Sower: Luke 8:1-16

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)

Our hearts determine how we receive the word of God. A heart hardened by sin may hear but does not understand the Word, and Satan plucks the message away. A cold and stony heart may receive the Word, but when trouble comes the fickle faith disappears. A thorny heart may seem to receive the Word, but it is quashed by wordly pleasures and lusts. A heart bathed in salvation receives the Word, retains the Word, and acts on the Word.

If you want to hear God speak, cultivate an open mind.

Rick Warren writes “Jesus explains in verse 12 that “the seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved.”

There are two characteristics of a footpath: It’s hardened, and it’s narrow. Do you know any minds like that? I know a lot of people who have a closed mind, a hard heart, and a narrow view of life. They don’t even give God a chance. Their minds are made up; they’re unwilling to listen.

The tragedy of a closed mind and a hard heart is that it’s barren. Nothing can grow there. Nothing can live there. Even if a little seed does happen to fall on a closed mind or a hardened heart, it can’t take root. People who have a closed mind are not really living; they just exist. But a bitter life is a wasted life. It just perpetuates the pain!

So how should you respond instead? The Bible says, “Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” (James 1:21 NLT). The opposite of a closed mind is an open mind. You need to say to God, “I can’t do it on my own. The ways I’ve tried haven’t worked. So I’m going to listen to you and open my heart and mind to your possibilities. God, I believe in you and want to hear from you!”

 A Lamp on a Stand

Let your light shine

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. (Luke 8:17)

As a Christian we are tasked with illuminating others with our faith and lighting their way to Jesus. God gave us talents and allows us to shine in good times and in difficult times because of our salvation, His love, and His peace.

 Jesus Calms the Storm

Jesus calms the storms

In our life we will encounter storms, figuratively and literally. The disciples were in danger, feared for their lives, and ran to wake Jesus when the storm came up on the lake. As Jesus calmed the sea, He asked the disciples “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:18).

Fear and anxiety will assault us, just as it assaulted the disciples. When the storms come, rest in your faith. Jesus calms the storms in our lives. He has redeemed us and called us His own.

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own. -Lyrics from “I am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe

Lent 2015, Led to the Cross: Who do you say that He is?

names for Jesus

This is the Lent 2016 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus overcoming temptation in the desert to His crucifixion and resurrection.

Today we’re reading from the first part of Luke 9, verses 1-27. Jesus sends out the disciples, performs the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Peter declares Jesus the Messiah, and Jesus predicts His death. Tomorrow we’ll complete Luke 9 and read about the Transfiguration, His miracles, and the cost of following Jesus.

Jesus expanded His Ministry and sent the 12 disciples out to share the Gospel and proclaim the Kingdom of God. He gave them the full authority to drive out demons and cure diseases. The disciples took nothing with them, and relied on the kindness of strangers. King Herod hears of the disciples ministry and fears that John the Baptist, whom Herod recently beheaded had come back from the dead, or that Elijah had returned. Miracles upon miracles were happening and Herod was worried.

Loaves and Fishes (Luke 9:10-17)

fish

Jesus and His disciples went to Bethsaida. A crowd of 5000 appeared to hear Jesus preach and witness miracles. As the day went on the disciples suggested that Jesus wrap it up so they could find lodging and food, but Jesus tells the disciples to feed the crowd instead. The disciples had 5 loaves of bread and two fish, scarcely enough food to feed themselves let alone a crowd of 5000. Jesus blessed the fish and bread and there was enough for all 5000 people to eat and 12 baskets left over. Jesus teaches us all to give thanks for what we have and rely on Him for our provision.

Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah (Luke 9:18-20)

who-is-jesus71 (1)

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them,“Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”

Who do we say He is? Are we living our life so that anyone looking at us could answer the question for us? Do our actions light up the path and show others that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God? What images are we reflecting?

Jesus Predicts His Death (Luke 9:24-27)

take up your cross

Jesus tells the disciples about the suffering that is ahead and of his death. Rather that prevent Jesus suffering, he explains that the disciples should prepare for their own suffering. He tells them to follow the Leader, to take up their crosses and follow him.

We take up our crosses. We invest in our future by storing up treasures in heaven instead of lusting after worldly things and focus on salvation and the health of our souls.

Take up your cross, and tell the world through your actions who He is.

You’re the Son of the Living God
The peace to calm the storm in us
The joy that can heal the broken world. -Lyrics from “Son of the Living God” by Citipointe

Lent 2016, Let to the Cross: Witness to His Majesty

majesty

This is the Lent 2015 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus overcoming temptation in the desert to His crucifixion and resurrection.

Today we’re reading from the middle part of Luke 9. We read through the first part of Luke 9 yesterday. We stopped right after Jesus predicted his own death. Here’s what happens next:

The Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)

 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem (Luke 9:28-32)

The transfiguration happened when Jesus prayed. It could have happened anytime anywhere but it happened when Jesus prayed. There is so much power in prayer!

Moses and Elijah appear in “glorious splendor”. Matthew Henry writes “It was said in Matthew and Mark that Moses and Elijah appeared to them; here it is said that they appeared in glory, to teach us that saints departed are in glory, are in a glorious state; they shine in glory. He being in glory, they appeared with him in glory, as all the saints shall shortly do.”

Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest prophets, talk with Jesus during the transfiguration. Scripture tells us that the three talked about Jesus’ departure, and the suffering that was to come.

Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.  As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) (Luke 9:32-33)

I have to wonder if the disciples fell asleep while Jesus was praying and missed part of the transfiguration, or if the disciples sleepy state was an intentional part of the transfiguration so as not to overwhelm them.  Either way the disciples are forever changed by what they witnessed.

 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen. (Luke 9:34-36)

I think if it would have been me I think I would have run down the mountain and told everyone what I had just seen and heard, but the disciples tell no one. Here’s what Matthew Henry writes about that decision: “The apostles are here said to have kept this vision private. They told no man in those days, reserving the discovery of it for another opportunity, when the evidences of Christ’s being the Son of God were completed in the pouring out of the Spirit, and that doctrine was to be published to all the world. As there is a time to speak, so there is a time to keep silence. Every thing is beautiful and useful in its season.”

Peter, John, and James were witnesses to His majesty. The transfiguration showed the disciples Jesus’ true nature as the Son of God and prepared them for the coming passion. God is with us on the mountaintops. He is with us in the valleys. He is with us on the plains.

In Your hands, You hold the universe
At your feet, the nations of the earth
All creation glorifies Your name. -Lyrics from Glory, by Phil Wickham

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Amazed at His Greatness

jeremiah-29-11

This is the Lent 2015 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus overcoming temptation in the desert to His crucifixion and resurrection.

Today we’re reading from the final section of Luke 9. We just finished reading out Jesus’ transfiguration and prediction of His death.

After His transfiguration, the majesty Peter, John, and James witnessed on the mountain, Jesus went right back to performing miracles and preaching about the Kingdom of God. Jesus drove out a demon, rebuking the impure spirit, and healing the boy. Those who witnessed this were “amazed at the greatness of God.” (Luke 9:37)

Jesus Predicts His Death A Second Time (Luke 9:44-50)

While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”  But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.  Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

Some people who Jesus and his disciples encountered were “amazed at the greatness of God” (Luke 9:37) and others were so threatened by Him that they wanted Him dead. In fact, after Jesus predicted His death the disciples went ahead to a Samaritan village to get things ready for Him and were so unwelcome by the villagers that the disciples asked Jesus if they should call down “fire from heaven to destroy them” (Luke 9:51). Jesus “rebuked them (the disciples) and they went to another village“.

Jesus reception is still very much the same today as it was in Luke 9. Some people are amazed at the greatness of God and others are unwelcoming. Jesus tells us that whoever welcomes Him welcomes the One who sent Him (Luke 9:48), and as He pointed to the young child who was standing next to Him as he spoke, by welcoming others we welcome Him. Our actions should not be centered around whether we are better than this person or that person, as the disciples bickered in Luke 9:46, but how we can welcome Jesus, and others in His name, and share our amazement at the greatness of God.

The Cost of Following Jesus (Luke 9:57-62)

Luke 9 ends with Jesus explaining the cost of following Him. In a word, everything. It costs everything to follow Jesus. The gain? In a word, everything.

This chapter refers to the excuses that we still make today as to whether or not to follow Jesus: we don’t have enough (money, provision, security, stability, education, power, experience, courage, stamina, value), Jesus says “follow me”; we don’t have time, Jesus says “follow me”; we have other obligations, Jesus says “follow me”.

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Following Jesus means looking ahead, not looking back. Here are a few verses about not looking back.

But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13)

Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

Why should we not look back? Because Jesus is ahead!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is Amazing Grace!

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Who are you in the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

parable

This is the Lent 2015 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus overcoming temptation in the desert to His crucifixion and resurrection. Who are you in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

Jesus expands His mission team, from the 12 disciples to 72 others whom He sent ahead two by two to every town that He planned to visit. He instructed them to take nothing and greet no one on the road to their destination, sending them out like “a lamb among wolves” (Luke 10:4). His instructions meant they should travel to the destination of His choosing, to do His work, without distractions, the same distractions that trip us up today: things, money,  people.

Jesus empowered the 72 to claim peace, heal the sick, and announce the Kingdom of God. When the 72 returned they testified with joy that ““Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17).

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

What prompts Jesus to tell this parable?                                                                                       Jesus tells this parable after a lawyer in the crowd asks Jesus how he inherits eternal life. The man tells Jesus that he understands he should  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” The man asks who his neighbor is and Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Have you been the lawyer? Have you wondered who in this world really is your “neighbor”- is there separation by color, status, nationality, opinion, belief, religion, gender, or is there equality.

Who is the victim?                                                                                                                                   A poor honest traveler who has been robbed and abused by his enemies. Not only did the robbers take his possession and beat him, they took his clothes so he couldn’t go after them. They left him vulnerable, hurt, broken, and alone. Have you been there?

Why does Jesus have the priest and the Levite walk by?                                                                 The priest and the Levite spotted the man. Not only were they his peers but they were obliged by their offices to have tenderness and compassion (Matthew Henry, commentary). Not only do they have neither, they cross to the other side of the road to get as far away from the victim as possible. The priest and the Levite heap more abuse on the man by choosing to withhold help. It’s easy to see times in our own lives when we have been the victim in this parable, but ask yourself if you’ve ever played the role of the priest or the Levite?

Why did the Samaritan stop to help?                                                                                                    First let’s establish who the Samaritans were. They were “members of a nation which were despised and detested and with whom the Jews would have no dealings” (Matthew Henry).  But the Samaritan had compassion, which neither the Levite nor the priest had. The Samaritan does three key things:

  • 1. He recognizes and consoles the man
  • 2. He offers healing, using his own linen, oil, and wine
  • 3. He offers what he has. He puts the man on his own donkey and takes him to an inn where the Samaritan pays for his lodging

Why did he care enough to have pity on the suffering man?                                                            The Samaritan had compassion. He demonstrates the compassion that we should have for others. He demonstrates the compassion that Jesus has for us. Satan leaves us broken, robbed, and beaten but Jesus triumphs and brings us consolation, healing, and rest. Jesus is the Good Samaritan.

Who are you in the parable of the Good Samaritan? Truth be told we’ve probably each played all the roles (lawyer, victim, priest/levite, Samaritan) at a point in our lives. The better question is, recognizing that we want to be the Good Samaritan, how we accomplish that more often?

At the Home of Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38-41)

Chapter 10 ends with Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary. Martha complains that she has so much to do and Mary isn’t lifting a finger to help her. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Sound familiar? How often have you been Martha? I have been Martha far more often than I care to recognize. It’s so easy to feel put upon. We have so much to do! So many people are depending on us! Sometimes it seems like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. But Jesus adjusts Martha’s perspective, and as we read the verse He adjusts our perspective too.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” 

Jesus tells Martha, and us, that there is no place for worry. Take your lead from Mary and choose Jesus.

From Hillsong, Mighty to Save

“Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me

Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations.”

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Jesus Teaches us to Pray

luke11-9

This is the Lent 2015 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus conquering temptation in the desert to the Passion, His crucifixion and resurrection. Today in Luke 11 let’s learn what Jesus teaches about prayer:

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.                                                                                                                                  Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:2-5)

Jesus then shows through parables that when we pray we are  to come to God with boldness and ask for what we need, and that God, with love for us as a father has for his son, will bless us, supply our needs, and forgive our sins. Matthew Henry writes about this verse:

That God has promised to give us what we ask of him. We have not only the goodness of nature to take comfort from, but the word which he has spoken (Luke 11:9,10): “Ask, and it shall be given you; either the thing itself you shall ask or that which is equivalent; either the thorn in the flesh removed, or grace sufficient given in.”—We had this before, Matt. 7:7, 8. I say unto you. We have it from Christ’s own mouth, who knows his Father’s mind, and in whom all promises are yea and amen. We must not only ask, but we must seek, in the use of means, must second our prayers with our endeavours; and, in asking and seeking, we must continue pressing, still knocking at the same door, and we shall at length prevail, not only by our prayers in concert, but by our particular prayers: Every one that asketh receiveth, even the meanest saint that asks in faith. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, Ps. 34:6. When we ask of God those things which Christ has here directed us to ask, that his name may be sanctified, that his kingdom may come, and his will be done, in these requests we must be importunate, must never hold our peace day or night; we must not keep silence, nor give God any rest, until he establish, until he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth, Isa. 62:6,7.”

During Lent we are reflecting on the Passion, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for us. The Lord’s prayer empowers our relationship with Him, and assures us that He will communicate with us, hear our prayers, provide for our needs, and forgive our sins. The Passion illustrates the components of the Lord’s prayer in the most spectacular and loving way.  Jesus’ sacrifice ensures relationship with us, He brings the Kingdom, provides for our needs, and ensures our forgiveness and salvation.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Jesus and Beelzebub

Matthew 12

This is the Lent 2015 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus conquering temptation in the desert to the Passion, His crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus and Beelzebub (Luke 11:14-28)

Who was Beelzebub? Beelzebub was a Philistine god worshiped in the city of Ekron in the time of the Old Testament. The translation of Beelzebub is “lord of the flies”, Baal was the Caananite fertility god. Zebub, Hebrew for flies, was often used as a name for Satan. He is mentioned in 2 Kings 1:2, when Azaziah sends his servant to ask the lord of the flies if he will recover from his back injury. It sounds ridiculous, but Azaziah must have been pretty confident in the lord of the flies, as confident as folks are today in the idols d’jour.  (Spoiler alert- Azaziah, presented with the opportunity to choose God and live, denies God and dies.)

As Jesus was casting out demons, naysayers who watched slandered Him and said that His powers were satanic. Jesus points out that his powers are from God, that casting out demons would certainly not help Satan, and says:

Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” (Luke 11:17)

Jesus tells His followers to expect similar slander as those watching Him perform miracles had just heaped out. Jesus conquered Satan time and again, in the desert, here in the events of Luke 11, and ultimately and triumphantly during the Passion. He says:

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.(Luke 11:23)

Both Jesus and those who follow Him will find persecution at the hands of those who oppose His message. The teachers of Jesus’ time referred to His work as coming from Beelzebub, essentially claiming His work was demonic. The followers of Jesus were also often persecuted. Church history claims that all but one of the apostles died for their faith, with the one remaining member (the apostle John) sentenced to exile on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). (Compelling Truth)

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28)

Choose God, be for Him and not against Him. We were made to be courageous!

Tomorrow we’ll finish Luke 11. We’ll pick up with the Jesus talking about the sign of Jonah. If you weren’t with us for the Jonah series “God answers our prayers, especially the “whale belly” ones!” you can read it here.

Lent 2015, Led to the Cross: The Sign of Jonah and Living in the Light 

eye on Jesus

This is the Lent 2016 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus conquering temptation in the desert to the Passion, His crucifixion and resurrection.

The Sign of Jonah (Luke 11:29-32)

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.  For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.  The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29-32)

Have you ever waited for a sign from God? People were waiting for a sign, in Luke 11, that Christ was the Messiah. I would have thought the raising of the dead, loaves and fishes, and casting out demons might have served as such a sign, but human nature being what it is, even those who witnessed these miracles firsthand were waiting for even greater signs. Jesus tells them that no sign will be given to the generation except the sign of Jonah. They will either get it, or they won’t.

Jonah was zipping along living his life and God popped in and told him to go to Ninevah. NINEVAH!? Yikes. No way, Jose. Jonah takes off and hightails it the other way. He literally jumps ship. While on the ship a huge storm, the result of Jonah’s disobedience, threatens the ship and all on it. Jonah is tossed overboard and picked up by a whale in which he spends some time reflecting on his choices. After his perspective is adjusted, he prays some “whale-belly” prayers and God delivers Jonah to get on to Ninevah and deliver the message. Even after all that Jonah struggles with selfishness and selfishness; but through it all God used Jonah. God uses everyone, right where we are, for His purpose. Read more about Jonah here.

Matthew Henry explains, ” Jonah being cast into the sea, and lying there three days, and then coming up alive and preaching repentance to the Ninevites, was a sign to them, upon which they turned from their evil way, so shall the death and resurrection of Christ, and the preaching of his gospel immediately after to the Gentile world, be the last warning to the Jewish nation. If they be provoked to a holy jealousy by this, well and good; but, if this do not work upon them, let them look for nothing but utter ruin: The Son of Man shall be a sign to this generation (Luke 11:30), a sign speaking to them, though a sign spoken against by them.

The Queen of the South mentioned in this verse is the Queen of Sheba, she was bold, gracious, and wise, and the subject of a new book by Liz Curtis Higgs. The Queen of Sheba was superior to the generation Jesus wrestled with in that she journeyed some 1,200 miles to hear and see Solomon, yet a greater than Solomon was in their midst and they would not listen to His God-given truths.

The Lamp of the Body

What sign does God expect from us to witness our belief in Him? Jesus explains that in Luke 11:33-36: see things clearly, aim at the truth, let your soul be filled with the light leaving no room for darkness, and know God so you’ll always walk in the Light.

 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.  Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.

Jesus, come and break my fear
Wake my heart and take my tears
Find your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide. -Lyrics from The Hurt & The Healer

Lent 2015, Led to the Cross: No More Fighting Battles You’ve Already Won for Me!

John1462

This is the Lent 2015 series. We’re reading through Luke, from Jesus conquering temptation in the desert to the Passion, His crucifixion and resurrection.

Woe on the Pharisees and Experts on the Law (Luke 11:37-54)

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. (Luke 11:46)

Matthew Henry writes about this verse, “You will not burden yourselves with them, nor be yourselves bound by those restraints with which you hamper others.” They would seem, by the hedges they pretended to make about the law, to be very strict for the observance of the law; but, if you could see their practices, you would find that they not only make nothing of those hedges themselves, but make nothing of the law itself neither.”

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)

Jesus is truth, and in this verse He tells us to seek knowledge, to empower others, and to encourage others toward Him.

 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions,  waiting to catch him in something he might say. (Luke 11:53-54)

The Pharisees were waiting, watching Jesus, hoping to trip Him up and pounce. The Pharisees embodied Psalm 56:5All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin.” Jesus sets the example for us by how He endured trials. Through tribulation, the hand of God leads.

That we may bear trials of this kind with patience, and get through them with prudence, let us consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself. (Matthew Henry)

Luke 11 wraps up with Jesus teaching us that we should be generous, humble, help others, encourage others, and seek knowledge. We should be lifting others up and encouraging them toward Jesus, not using power and position to cause mischief, scheme, or heap burdens on one another.

Tomorrow we’ll start Luke 12 and read about Jesus’ warnings and encouragement, how to steer clear of worry, and how to focus on peace.

No more chains, I’ve been set free
No more fighting battles You’ve won for me
Now in Christ, I stand complete. -Lyrics from All You’ve Ever Wanted, by Casting Crowns

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Grace Changes Everything

Grace changes everything

Luke 12 begins with Jesus instructing his disciples. He loved His disciples, they gave everything they had to follow Him. The direction that Jesus chose to give to those he loved so much is the same direction He wants us to follow. Jesus gives us hope, purpose and salvation and in Luke 12 1-12 He encourages us to:

  • Guard yourself against hypocrisy. Hypocrisy spreads like wildfire (Jesus actually compares it to yeast), it rises, it falls, it puffs up.
  • Guard your words. The truth always comes out. What you say in darkness will echo in the light. Nothing stays hidden so be truthful, rely on the truth, wait on the truth.
  • Guard your priorities. Be faithful. “Whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear, tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; what has been spoken to you, and you have talked of among yourselves, privately, and in corners, that do you preach publicly, whoever is offended; for, if you please men, you are not Christ’s servants, nor can you please him,” Gal. 1:10.
  • Guard your emotions. Do not be afraid. The power of your enemies is limited power. You are a friend of Christ, you do not have any need to fear your enemies. They are powerless over you- you are redeemed, and salvation is yours to claim.
  • Guard each other. Encourage others, encourage their relationship with God. God loves us, watches over us, protects us, and provides for us- even the very small and fragile sparrow. If He will do that for the sparrow, how much more will He do for you? How can your words change someone’s path by lighting it up and leading them to the Light?
  • Guard your experiences. Whatever trials they should be called out to, they should be sufficiently furnished for them, and honorably brought through them (Luke 12:11, 12).

Tomorrow we’ll finish Luke 12 and focus on Jesus’ directive not to worry. Practice it today…every time worry creeps in, shut it down and just say Jesus. There is power in the Name!

Whisper it now, or shout it out
However it comes out, He hears your cry
Out of nowhere He will come, you got to believe it
He will rescue you
Just call out to the Way, The Truth, The Light. -Lyrics from Just Say Jesus

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Where is your Treasure?

where your treasure is

The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21)

Yesterday we read about Jesus’ direction to the disciples, and to us, to guard ourselves against hypocrisy, to guard our words, priorities, emotions, and experiences, and to guard each other. Luke 12 continues with Jesus’ direction to the crowds:

  • Guard yourselves against greed. Store up treasures in heaven, because nothing on earth will satisfy. Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also. Life is not about an abundance of possessions; true wealth is in your relationship with Jesus and your salvation.

Do Not Worry (Luke 12: 22-34)

These 3 words are total game changers. We should treat this as we do the 10 commandments, visualize it as the 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Worry. Easier said than done, I know…but look at what Jesus says about this:

  • Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear” (Luke 22).                                                                                            So if we take life (health, death), food (provision), body (aches and pains, image), and clothes (presentation) off the table there is not too much left to worry about- I think those are the top “worry elements”.                                                                                              One of the lead stories on the news this morning was about the effects of stress, or worry, on our health including: losing sleep, shrinking (stress compresses your spine, impacts your posture), ringing ears, itchy skin, and upset stomach. Jesus tells us this in Luke 12 and He gives us the cure to all of that: stop worrying.
  • Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 25)                                              Worry zaps our resources, energy, and presence- we can’t be in the moment if we’re worried about the last moment or the next moment. The past is gone, it’s over, consider it flushed. The future is out there on the horizon, it may happen, it may not. What we have is this moment- the present. Worrying won’t change the past, or the future, but it can change the present in that it robs you of it. 
  • God knows our needs, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:31)                                                                                                                              God will provide for our needs, and dress us in beauty and splendor like the wild flowers. Trust God to provide for your needs and recognize that everything comes from Him. Trust Him especially in your trials.                                                                                     Paul never carried the gloom of a cemetery around with him, but a chorus of victorious praise. The more difficult his trial, the more he trusted and rejoiced shouting from the very altar of sacrifice. He said “Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you (Philippians 2:17), -From Days of Heaven upon Earth by A.B. Simpson
  • Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)                                                                                                                     There is nothing to fear, the Kingdom and all that is in it is yours. You are saved. You are free. The gift of righteousness and the abundance of grace is yours.
  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34) I remember a pastor saying “If you want to know what you love you only need to look at the register of your checkbook.” Where are you spending your money? Where are you spending your time? For many people the answer to those questions may be “worry”. Worry can even become so powerful in our lives that it can actually become an idol. Jesus tells us to knock it off.

You are His treasure. Clothed with the beauty of wildflowers. Provided for, celebrated, and having no cause for worry. Dance, laugh, smile, rest. Claim your gift of righteousness and the abundance of grace! There will be trials, and especially in those trials, trust God. Do not worry.

They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life. (Romans 5:17).

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Watchfulness, Fix My Eyes on You

ready and waiting

Yesterday we read Jesus’ direction “Do Not Worry”. I find that it really takes deliberate action and concentration to direct my thoughts away from worry.  I was behind a gal in the coffee shop who had an unusual tattoo, I admired it and asked her what the sign meant. She told me it was the sign for the Swahili “Hakuna Matata”, which translates to “no worries” [you might remember it from the song with the same name from Disney’s Lion King]. Timely, since I had written yesterday’s blog a few hours earlier.

This is the image: Hakuna Matata

It’s a beautiful image, it moves freely, there are no angles or sharp edges- the epitome of “worry free”.

Watchfulness: (Luke 12:35-47)

  • Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning (Luke 12:35).                           Stay vigilant, watchful, know your duty and do it. Jesus is coming again, so be ready.
  • From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47)
  • You will bear hardships and difficulty (Luke 12:51). Jesus brings peace to those who believe in Him, but preaching the Kingdom of God will result in division. Jesus explains this to his disciples as he prepares them for the hardship and difficulty that they will endure.

Interpreting the Times (Luke 12:54-59)

  • Know what God expects of you and plan accordingly. Jesus tells the crowd that just as they can predict the weather based on the sun and the wind, so too can they predict God’s treatment of them based on their belief and their actions.
  • Don’t be hypocritical. Don’t pretend to know things that you don’t, don’t pretend to know God if you don’t. Be authentic, seek truth, think critically, and judge for yourself. If someone tells you to do something that goes against the fundamentals of Christianity, don’t attempt to rationalize it, just walk away. If it isn’t in the light of Truth, it isn’t for you.
  • When you sin, seek forgiveness. When you do something wrong, fix it. When you make a mistake, own it. Likewise, when someone makes you angry or disappoints you, forgive them. Reconcile your relationships if it’s possible to do so.

The things of earth are dimming
In the light of Your glory and grace
I’ll set my sights upon Heaven
I’m fixing my eyes on You. -Lyrics from Fix My Eyes, by For King and Country

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: the Narrow Door

NarrowGate

In Luke 13 Jesus tells his followers to repent or perish and explains how to reach the Kingdom of God.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Luke 13:18)

Jesus used parables to teach big ideas and concepts in ways that the crowds who listened to him would understand.

The parable of the mustard seed explains the Kingdom of God. It started with one seed (Jesus), grew into a large tree (church), that birds perched on using its resources.

Jesus will reference the mustard seed again in Luke 17 when He talks about being strong in faith.

The Narrow Door (Luke 13:22-30)

Jesus talks about entering the Kingdom through the narrow door (or depending on your translation, gate) while He is in Jerusalem. Jesus is headed toward His destiny, the Passion.

On His way to Jerusalem someone asks him how many people will be saved. Jesus answers with a parable about a homeowner throwing a banquet. Guests are supposed to enter through the narrow door, those who do get in to enjoy the banquet. Those who do not are left outside the home knocking at the door, turned away by the host who announces that he does not know them because his guests, whom we knew, would have the directions about how to enter.

Jesus says that He is the way to the Kingdom- the narrow door we use to enter the banquet.

Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem (Luke 13:31-35)

The Pharisees found Jesus and told him to leave Jerusalem because Herod wanted to kill him.

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’  In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!(Luke 12:32-33)

Enter through the Narrow Gate, welcome the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord. -Lyrics from “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: The Invitation- did you RSVP?

the invitation

Jesus at a Pharisee’s House (Luke 14:1-15)

Jesus had dinner at the home of one of the Pharisees (if you’re not sure who the Pharisees were, or the role they play in the Passion, click here). He was eating with them on the Sabbath (remember in Luke 6, we read about the Pharisees asking Jesus about why He was teaching on the Sabbath?) and a sick man came to Jesus to be healed. Jesus asked the Pharisees if they believed it was lawful for Him to heal the sick man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees did not answer Him.

Jesus asked the question differently: “Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”  And they had nothing to say.” (Luke 14:5)

Jesus noticed how the guests at the dinner arranged themselves at the table, and He pointed out that when you are invited to someone’s home you should take the seat of lowest position and let the host move you to a better spot. Jesus also told them that when they host a banquet they should not focus on inviting rich and important people capable of repaying the gesture. Instead, Jesus said: “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:13-14). Jesus came for everyone- the rich and the poor, and his resurrection blesses us all equally.

The Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-23)

Jesus then tells the Pharisees a parable about a man who invited many guests to a feast that he had prepared. The guests all made excuses and none attended. The man told his servant “‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” (Luke 14:21). The servant did so and told the host that seats still remained at the table. Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.  I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” (Luke 14:23).

The master was offended that the guests he invited had no time for him, offered up excuse after excuse, and rejected the gifts that he had prepared for them. After the guests rejected his invitation he closed the door to them permanently.

In the Parable of the Great Banquet Jesus defines the importance of accepting His invitation, there are no excuses for not accepting the gift of salvation, and the door to the Kingdom of God is closed to those who have not accepted the invitation, Jesus.

Jesus is the narrow gate. Jesus invited each and every one of us into the Kingdom of God. Did you RSVP?

You were healing in the pain
You were shelter in the storm
Hallelujah You restore my soul. -Lyrics from “How Sweet the Sound” by Citizen Way

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Pass the salt

spring showers

The Cost of Being A Disciple (Luke 14:25-34)

Jesus explains that the cost of being a disciple is putting Him first. Christ alone, Cornerstone, Lord of All. They must give up family, pride, self, creature comforts, their own individual goals, and live a life sanctified to Him. The priority schedule of a disciple: Christ first, everything else second.

Jesus tells the disciples that they must be willing to carry heavy burdens, burdens that they did nothing to deserve but that they receive because of persecution. Jesus illustrates the commitment to finishing that the disciples must have with a parable of building a tower. You wouldn’t build a tower without first calculating the cost. The disciples are building up the Christian church, Jesus is the Tower, and the cost to the disciples is everything.

As Christ’s disciples we entered that same war that the disciples encountered: spiritual warfare, religious persecution, and a life that rejects a worldly hierarchy of priorities for a Christ-first approach.

Christ’s disciples are the salt of the earth. We’ve all heard that verse before- but when we meditate on it we realize the role that salt plays. Salt seasons, preserves, heals, irritates, penetrates, and causes thirst. The life that we live as a Christian embodies those same characteristics. We are the salt- stay salty, this is a thirsty world. Lead people, through your words and actions, to Jesus, the true Thirst Quencher.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Luke 14:34-35)

Tomorrow we’ll read through Luke 15, lost sheep, coins, and love will be found again- the Healer, the Restorer, the concept of being complete in Him. In preparation for Luke 15 think about this verse: “The LORD says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.” (Joel 2:25).

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Lost and Found

lost and found

Luke begins Chapter 16 by introducing who has gathered to hear Jesus: tax collectors (remember Zacchaeus and Levi?) , sinners, and Pharisees (if you’re not sure who the Pharisees are, or their role in the Passion, click here).  Jesus is speaking to everyone, from the sinners at the bottom of the social hierarchy to the Pharisees, teachers of the law, at the top of the social hierarchy, and everyone in between. The words of Jesus are intended for everyone and we see that in the roll call of who was present in Luke 16.

Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Pharisees muttered “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). The Pharisees scoffed under their breath, they mocked, criticized, ridiculed, talked behind His back, and plotted His demise. Jesus answers with the parable of the lost sheep and that when the one of us finds Him “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7). The lost have been found!

Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15: 8-10)

found 2

Jesus uses a different analogy to explain the jubilation that happens when sinners repent. In this parable He used a coin  instead of sheep- maybe the tax collectors related better to the explanation because it involved money. In the parable a woman has 10 coins and loses 1, the relief and joy she experiences when she finds the lost coin is how our Lord feels when we repent: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). The lost have been found!

Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-31)

found

This is the story of the prodigal son, and it represents how Jesus feels about each one of us.

The parable is about a man who had two sons. One son asked his father for his share of the estate, took his portion and left. The other son stayed behind and helped his father tend to their fields. The son who left squandered his inheritance and took a job feeding pigs. The young son is starving, dirty, and miserable. He returns home to throw himself on the mercy of his father in hopes of becoming one of his father’s hired hands knowing that they are treated much better than he is in his current pig-slop position.

The father sees the son approaching and is elated. He says to his servants ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24)

Not everyone was as thrilled as the father that the son had returned. Remember the other son, the one who stayed behind to tend the fields? He was hard at work when he heard the commotion around his brother’s return. He was angry and jealous that his father threw a banquet in honor of his brother and did not recognize his efforts and sacrifice. There are shades of Martha and Mary (remember how Jesus adjusted Martha’s perspective?), andJonah‘s (pouting over the Ninevites )in this parable.

The father adjusts his son’s perspective, as God often works to adjust ours when we fall prey to jealousy, anger, and pout.  “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:31)

He seeks the lost and celebrates when they are found. He gives us everlasting life, just as the father in the parable says “this brother of yours was dead and is alive again”. He restores all. You have been found!

Lord, restore the joy I had
And I have one to bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You. -Lyrics from Soul on Fire, Third Day

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Who are you serving?

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-15)

1 Timothy

Jesus explains the concept that we cannot serve two masters; either we serve Him, or we serve self: wealth, ego, pride. Jesus shares a parable about a manager who was about to lose his job. Concerned for how he would provide for himself he negotiated with his boss’s debtors, reducing the balance due, so that the debtors would like him and might either hire him or provide for him when he lost his job. The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewd actions because he made money for the master. But it is an empty reward based on dishonesty. Jesus said:

For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.  I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:8)

Jesus goes on to explain that people who are trusted with little can be trusted with much, and those who are dishonest with little will also be dishonest with much. Jesus sums up the parable by stating that you cannot serve both God and money.

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:14)

Know who you are by acknowledging who you are serving. Don’t worry about what other people think of you, or say about you, God will provide for you needs. Know who you are and be secure in that.

Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed,
And I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King.

-Lyrics from Hello, My Name Is, by Matthew West

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: How to Approach Jesus

always pray

Luke 18 shows us how to approach our relationship with Jesus: with humility, sincerity, repentance, and childlike dependence, relying on Him for all of our needs. When we are weak, God is faithful (Luke 18:1-8). When we are sinful, God forgives us (Luke 18:9-14). When we are childlike, He is our Father (Luke 18: 15-17).  Jesus tells us in Luke 18:1 to “always pray and never give up”.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18: 9-14)

 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus told this parable for thee self righteous, who look down on others, and are judgmental. I’m fairly certain I can speak for all of us when I say that these are traits that we all exhibit at least a few times in our lives, so Jesus is speaking to us.

Why did the Pharisee go to the temple? Pharisees were intent on discrediting Jesus and part of the Sanhedrin who demanded his crucifixion.

Matthew Henry says: “The Pharisee went to the temple to pray because it was a publicplace, more public than the corners of the streets, and therefore he should have many eyes upon him, who would applaud his devotion, which perhaps was more than was expected. The character Christ gave of the Pharisees, that all their works they did to be seen of men, gives us occasion for this suspicion. Note, Hypocrites keep up the external performances of religion only to save or gain credit. There are many whom we see every day at the temple, whom, it is to be feared, we shall not see in the great day at Christ’s right hand.”

So the Pharisee went to the temple for show and spoke empty words, he came to keep up appearances.

Why did the tax collector got to the temple? Tax collectors were the social lepers of the time.

The tax collector came to the temple because it was a place of prayer for all people. He came with sincerity, repentance, humility, and pure intentions. Jesus uses this parable to show that this is how we should approach Him and the church. The tax collector went home “justified before God” (Luke 18:14).

The Little Children and Jesus (Luke 18:15)

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

The mountains standing in Your strength
The oceans roaring out Your praise
All creation glorifies Your name. -Lyrics from Glory, by Phil Wickham

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Open My Eyes

psalm119-18

A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight (Luke 18:35-43)

Luke 18:35-43 fulfills the prophesy from Isaiah 35:5: Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Christ came not only to bring light to a dark world, and so to set before us the objects we are to have in view, but also to give sight to blind souls, and by healing the organ to enable them to view those objects. As a token of this, he cured many of their bodily blindness: we have now an account of one to whom he gave sight near Jericho. (Matthew Henry)

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:35-38)

Luke 18 describes the blind man as a poor beggar, sitting on the side of the road, at the mercy of those in the crowd to introduce him to Jesus. What a visual! It is the same for everyone who is not saved- blind, poor, begging for mercy, waiting for others to introduce us to Jesus.

 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,  “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. (Luke 18:39-41)

Despite being shut down by those who told him to be quiet, the blind man shouts even louder for Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus, hearing the blind man, stops in his tracks and asks the man what he wants Jesus to do for him. Jesus wants to help us just like He helped the blind man. He wants to give us mercy and open our eyes.

 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:42-43)

The people who say Jesus open the eyes of blind praised God. They witnessed a miracle from the Healer, received truth from God through witnessing the miracle, and praised God. Matthew Henry outlines the responsibility that we have to do the same:

“Spiritual growth is the result of practicing the truth you receive from God. He wants you to give away what He gives you–that is, by loving and serving others and sharing the truth of the gospel. Our example is Jesus, who said that He did not come to be served, but to serve even the lowest outcasts in His society (Matt. 20:28). He could have exalted Himself and spent all His time preaching and teaching. Instead, Jesus did only the Father’s will, which was to reveal His heart of love to a broken world. The Lord sacrificially involved Himself in people’s lives, and He calls us to follow in His footsteps.

God’s plan is to reach the world through you. If that weren’t the case, He would have taken you to heaven as soon as you were saved. But you are here for a purpose–to live out Christ’s life alongside hurting people who desperately need to experience His love.”

Water you turned into wine, opened the eyes of the blind there’s no one like you, none like You! -Lyrics from Our God, by Chris Tomlin

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Passion Sunday

PalmSundayThemeImage

As we begin Holy Week we’ll be reading through Luke 19-24. Luke 19 begins with the story of Zacchaeus, if you weren’t with us when I wrote the Zacchaeus series, A Little Man With A Big Story, you can read it here.

Jesus arrived in Jerusalem five days before Passover. This is Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday. It is the start of Holy Week- the week before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Passion Sunday follows Jesus’ path of miracles and begins His journey to the cross.

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King (Luke 19:28-44)

Jerusalem was crowded with people who were in town to celebrate Passover. Those people had heard of Jesus and the miracles that He was performing and they lined the streets to see him. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfilling the prophesy in Zechariah 9:9Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples walked ahead of Jesus singing and sharing the news of His arrival as Jesus rode behind on the donkey. The Pharisees told Jesus to quiet his disciples and Jesus responded: I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40).

Jesus knew that the Passion lay ahead. He knew how the next steps; and he grieved for those in Jerusalem who would reject Him, those who had not RSVP’d.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:42-44)

The same crowds who lined the streets to welcome Jesus on Palm Sunday, shouting “Hosanna” and waving palm branches, would line the streets shouting “crucify Him” less than a week later.

Jesus at the Temple (Luke 19:45-48)

After He entered the city of Jerusalem Jesus went to the temple. He found it filled with people who were selling hypocrisy. Jesus turned over the tables and said It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ (Luke 19:46). 

After Jesus restored purity in the temple He resumed teaching. “Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him.  Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.” (Luke 19:47-48).

The chief priests and scribes, and the chief of the people, the great Sanhedrin (click here to read more about who made up the Sanhedrin), that should have attended him, and summoned the people too to attend him, sought to destroy him, and put him to death. Till his hour was come his interest in the common people protected him; but, when his hour was come, the chief priests’ influence upon the common people delivered him up. (Matthew Henry, Commentary)

 Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Cornerstone

cornerstone

Luke 20 begins with Jesus teaching in the temple. Jesus was not only the preacher of His own gospel, He was the publisher of it- this is a great confirmation of the truth of the gospel, and gives abundant encouragement to us to receive it (adapted from Matthew Henry).

His enemies came upon Him and questioned His authority. In typical Pharisee fashion they showed up unannounced to capture the element of surprise, asked a question with the intention of startling Jesus and embarrassing Him in front of those who were listening to Him, discrediting Him and causing others to doubt Him. This practice didn’t end with the Pharisees, it’s alive and well today- Satan’s fingers are still trying to weave untruth and injustice. The Passion overcomes all of that;  “And so at last the poor have hope, and the snapping jaws of the wicked are shut.” (Job 5:16)

Jesus is, of course, not caught off guard by His enemies. He responds to their question with a question of His own and then a parable.

He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me:  John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’  But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Luke 20: 1-8)

The Parable of the Tenants (Luke 20:9-19)

Jesus expands on His response to the question of authority brought by His enemies with the Parable of the Tenants. His illustration features 6 main characters. The landowner of vineyard (God); the vineyard (Israel); the tenants (Sanhedrin; Pharisees); the servants of the landowner (prophets who followed God’s word and preached it to the Israelites); the son of the landowner (Jesus); and the other tenants (Gentiles).

The landowner was away during the harvest and rented his vineyard to tenants to harvest. The landowner sent his servants to the vineyard to collect his profits and the tenants beat them and sent them away empty-handed. The landowner sent his son to the vineyard to see what was going on and the tenants killed him, hoping that they would inherit the vineyard [the laws at that time support this- if there is no heir the property goes to those in possession of it (possession is 9/10 of the law)].

Let’s substitute the actual identities of the characters for those in the parable:

God was away during the harvest and turned Israel over to the Sanhedrin. God sent His prophets to Israel to collect His people and the Sanhedrin beat the prophets and sent them away empty-handed (Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and other prophets were beaten and killed during their mission) . God sent his Son to see what was going on and the Sanhedrin killed Him hoping that they would inherit Israel.

The parable illustrates the conspiracy by the Sanhedrin to commit Jesus’ murder. Jesus then turns the tables on His enemies, so that they are left to deduce their own miserable destiny, condemned for their disobedience.

 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone’?

 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. (Luke 20:17-19)

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Church. Are we like the tenants in the parable, rejecting the Him and living our life disobediently, on our own terms? Jesus’ entire mission, woven throughout Passion week beginning with this parable, is that He came to save us from our sins, provide our salvation, and bring us into the Kingdom of God.

Paying Taxes to Caesar (Luke 20:20-26)

The Pharisees were not thwarted by the Parable of the Tenants. The Pharisees sent spies to follow Jesus, pretend that they were interested in what he had to say, and try to trap Him.. The spies looked for a change to trip Jesus up in hopes of turning his followers against Him.

The spies questioned Him: Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:21)

Jesus saw right through them. He asked them to show him a Roman coin, and then asked them to tell Him whose image was on the coin. They answered that Caesar’s image was on the coin.

 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent (Luke 20:25-26)

Warnings against Teachers of the Law (Luke 20:45-46)

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.  They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” (Luke 20:45-46)

  • Be governed by the Truth, not by corruption. “Take heed of being drawn into sin by them, of learning their way, and going into their measures; beware of such a spirit as they are governed by. -Matthew Henry.
  • Stand for the Truth, don’t fall prey to corruption. Take heed of being brought into trouble by them,” in the same sense that he had said (Matt. 10:17), “Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils; beware of the scribes, for they will do so. (Matthew Henry).
  • Focus on the Truth, don’t be swayed by corruption. “They are covetous and oppressive, and make their religion, or structure “the law” as a defense to their corruption, a cloak and cover for crime.”
  • The corrupt prey on the weak; if you see this, intervene and help. They devour widows’ houses, get their estates into their hands, and then by some trick or other make them their own, or they live upon them, and eat up what they have; and widows are an easy prey to them. -Matthew Henry

Christ reads them their doom in a few words: These shall receive a more abundant judgment, a double damnation, both for their abuse of the poor widows, whose houses they devoured, and for their abuse of religion, and particularly of prayer, which they had made use of as a pretence for the more plausible and effectual carrying on of their worldly and wicked projects; for dissembled piety is double iniquity.

If you are being persecuted, or have fallen prey to corruption of any kind, be very deliberate in the voice that you choose to listen to- choose to follow and listen to the voice of Truth.

 Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: End of Times

Luke 21

The Widow’s Offering (Luke 21:1-4)

Jesus watched as rich people in the temple tithed from their wealth. He also saw a widow who tithed two small copper coins, all of what she had to live on. Jesus said  Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3-4).

Have you given all of your treasures, your time, and your talents to Jesus, or are you holding some things back?

Have you turned over your experiences, past and present, to Him to heal, plan, and prosper? Are you holding on to some sin because it seems too big for to forgive, or some anxiety because the problem seems insurmountable?

Are you giving your walk with Christ your all? He wants it all. Hold nothing back. “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, andall your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

The Destruction of the Temple and the Sign of End Times (Luke 21:5-37)

Jesus told His disciples about the signs of the end times. Gently woven throughout this message is His directive “don’t be frightened, don’t worry, stand firm in your faith and the truth and you will win life”.  (We’ll start a new series about these directives “God turns “what if” into “so what” after Easter)

  • The disciples were remarking about the beauty of the temple, adorned with stones and itself a gift to God. Jesus said,  “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” (Luke 21:1-6). The building that looks so attractive and the faith that it symbolizes will be torn down. The end will come. Here is what Jesus tells His disciples, and us, about that event.
  • “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them…Do not be frightened.” (Luke 21:8)
  • “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:10)
  • But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.  And so you will bear testimony to me.  But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. (Luke 21:12)
  • You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  Everyone will hate you because of me.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  Stand firm, and you will win life. (Luke 21:16)
  •  “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25)
  • “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33)
  • “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and theanxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” (Luke 21:34)
  •  “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

Luke 20 ends with the account of what Jesus did with the days between His arrival in Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) and the night that He was betrayed:

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives,  and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. (Luke 21:37-38)

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Betrayal and the Last Supper

lastsuppermural

Luke 22 begins with Judas betraying Jesus. Scripture says that Satan entered Judas. Judas went to the Pharisees who were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus and who were afraid of His followers.

And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.  They were delighted and agreed to give him money.  He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1-6)

Judas betrayed Jesus for money, the root of all evil and prestige, as he rubbed elbows with members of the Sanhedrin who were “delighted” with his offer of betrayal.

Judas was a man who had the blessing of knowing Jesus in the flesh; Judas sat with Him, talked with Him, touched Him. If Judas, who was close enough to Jesus to touch Him, could betray Him for money, prestige, self-promotion seemingly so easily, imagine how often that still happens to those who don’t know Jesus as well.

And Judas wasn’t the only disciple to betray Jesus. Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:34). 

Jesus was surrounded by betrayal, yet He washed their feet. He knew the extent of the pain and suffering He would soon endure, the living Sacrifice He would become, and He dined with them, trying again to explain the Kingdom of God.

The Last Supper (Luke 22:7-38)

The Last Supper, the Eucharist, Holy Communion- the last meal that Jesus shared with His Disciples before He was betrayed, arrested, tried, and crucified. During the meal Jesus announces that Peter will betray Him.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.  And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

Who can be saved? Do you know someone who feels that their sin is too big for salvation? Or someone who feels unworthy? We are all unworthy! That is the entire reason that Jesus came, the entire reason that the Passion happened! Heaven will be filled with sinners, and hell will be filled with good people who weren’t saved.

God, through Isaiah, issues an open invitation to “all . . . who are thirsty.” Anyone can eat and drink this meal, free of charge. The only requirement is that they come. In verse 6, Isaiah urges everyone to take this opportunity for forgiveness while it is so freely available. -Bible Gateway

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?

 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 19:23-30)

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Not My Will, But Yours Be Done

Luke 22

Jesus Prays at the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39-46)

After The Last Supper Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray. The Mount of Olives is on the east side of Jerusalem. Jesus visited the Mount of Olives at least three times during the Holy Week: when He arrived in Jerusalem riding the donkey on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:29-30); when He spoke about the end of times (Luke 21:5); and now following The Last Supper. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives each time He visited Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. The three lived in Bethany, a town above the Mount of Olives. (Adapted from Jesus: The Greatest Life of All, by Charles Swindoll).

Jesus walked to the garden with 11 of His disciples following behind; Judas had already left. He told his apostles to pray that “they would not fall into temptation” and He went to a private place to pray.

Jesus prayed Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:42)

Jesus must have been in agony- knowing what was ahead, knowing that those He loved would betray Him, knowing the suffering that He would endure on the Cross.

Jesus was not delivered from his sufferings, yet he was strengthened and supported under them, and that was equivalent. If God proportion the shoulders to the burden, we shall have no reason to complain, whatever he is pleased to lay upon us. David owns this a sufficient answer to his prayer, in the day of trouble, that God strengthened him with strength in his soul, and so does the son of David, Psalm 138:3: “As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength“. (Adapted from Matthew Henry)

God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus. The angels ministered to the Lord Jesus in his sufferings. He could have had legions of them to rescue him; this one could have done it, could have chased and conquered the whole band of men that came to take him; but he made use of his ministration only to strengthen him; and the very visit which this angel made him now in his grief, when his enemies were awake and his friends asleep, was such a seasonable token of the divine favour as would be a very great strengthening to him. Yet this was not all: he probably said something to him to strengthen him; put him in mind that his sufferings were in order to his Father’s glory, to his own glory, and to the salvation of those that were given him, represented to him the joy set before him, the seed he should see; with these and the like suggestions he encouraged him to go on cheerfully; and what is comforting is strengthening. Perhaps he did something to strengthen him, wiped away his sweat and tears, perhaps ministered some cordial to him, as after his temptation, or, it may be, took him by the arm, and helped him off the ground, or bore him up when he was ready to faint away; and in these services of the angel the Holy Spirit was enischyon autonputting strength into him; for so the word signifies. (Adapted from Matthew Henry)

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.  “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. (Luke 22:45)

Jesus Arrested (Luke 22:47-53)

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him,“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”  (Luke 22:47)

Judas led the enemies, members of the Sanhedrin who wanted to kill Jesus, right to Him- and then greeting Jesus with a kiss. If you ever think that Jesus can’t relate to your experiences of betrayal, loss, or disappointment- or that your burdens might be too big for salvation, you need only read about Judas. Jesus loved Judas, He chose Judas, He taught Judas, and He was turned over to His enemies by Judas.

The disciples saw what was about to happen and, in an effort to defend Jesus, cut off the ear of one of the guards. Jesus stopped them, healed the man, and turned to His enemies. “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:52-53)

Guards Mock Jesus (Luke 22:63-65)

Peter betrayed Jesus, as He predicted, three times after His arrest.

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him.  They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?”  And they said many other insulting things to him. (Luke 22:63-65)

Jesus before Pilate and Herod (Luke 22:66-71)

 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.  “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me,  and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Have you accepted His gift of salvation? Have you RSVP’d to His invitation?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

A major passage for understanding God’s grace, i.e., His kindness, unmerited favor and forgiving love. you have been saved. “Saved” has a wide range of meanings. It includes salvation from God’s wrath, which we all had incurred by our sinfulness. The tense of the verb (also in v. 5) suggests a completed action with emphasis on its present effect. through faith. See Romans 3:21-31  which establishes the necessity of faith in Christ as the only means of being made right with God. not from yourselves. No human effort can contribute to our salvation; it is the gracious gift of God. (The NIV 365-Day Devotional)

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: Good Friday- Forgiven

Good-Friday-Cross-2

They accused him before Herod. They misrepresented Him, and presented a malice filled indictment against Him to incite a riot. They succeeded in their plan, but He ultimately succeeded in His: The Passion.

We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” (Luke 23:1)

Pilate examines Jesus and finds no reason to hold Him.

But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” (Luke 23:5)

Pilate, learning Jesus was a Galilean, turned Him over to Herod, who was ruling Jerusalem at the time. They accused Him before Herod.

 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.  He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.  The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.  That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies. (Luke 23:8-12)

Christ is the great peace-maker; both Pilate and Herod owned his innocence, and their agreeing in this cured their disagreeing in other things. (Matthew Henry)

Pilate, finding no charges against Jesus, tells the crowd that He will be punished and released.

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) (Luke 23:18-19)

Rioting began. Jesus was rejected by the people in favor of a murderer.

Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.  But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:20)

Pilate again tells the people that He will punish and release Jesus. The rebellion persists.

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand.  He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. (Luke 23:23)

The Crucifixion of Christ 

We have here the blessed Jesus, the Lamb of God, led as a lamb to the slaughter, to the sacrifice. It is strange with what expedition they went through his trial; how they could do so much work in such a little time, though they had so many great men to deal with, attendance on whom is usually a work of time. He was brought before the chief priests at break of day (Luke 22:66), after that to Pilate, then to Herod, then to Pilate again; and there seems to have been a long struggle between Pilate and the people about him. He was scourged, and crowned with thorns, and all this was done in four or five hours’ time, or six at most, for he was crucified between nine o’clock and twelve. Christ’s persecutors resolve to lose no time, for fear lest his friends at the other end of the town should get notice of what they were doing, and should rise to rescue him. Never any one was so chased out of the world as Christ was. (Adapted from Matthew Henry)

Who was there? Luke identifies the following, and the Gospel of John also identifies that the disciples were present, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene (Adapted fromThe Crises of the Christ, Book V, Chapter XXIV, by G. Campbell Morgan.)

  • Simon: As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene,who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)
  • Mourners: A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. (Luke 23:27). These were “not only his friends and well-wishers, but the common people, that were not his enemies, and were moved with compassion towards him, because they had heard the fame of him, and what an excellent useful man he was, and had reason to think he suffered unjustly.” (Adapted from Matthew Henry)

Jesus speaks to the mourners on the way to the Cross. He tells them not to weep for Him, but for themselves and for their children: For behold sad times are coming upon your city; it will be destroyed, and you will be involved in the common destruction.”. He tells them that they would wish to be childless and buried alive then to see what is coming, the destruction of Jerusalem.

  • Mockers:  The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”  There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. (Luke 23:36-38)
  • Sinners: Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. (Luke 23:32). As the three hung on their crosses, one of the criminals “hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39). The other criminal rebuked the first criminal, professed Jesus innocence, and asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom.  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Who will be in heaven? Sinners who recognize Jesus, repent, and are saved- just like this man, identified in the Bible only as a criminal. Notice that Jesus did not tell the mourners that they would be with Him in paradise. Mourning the events of the Passion isn’t acceptance of the RSVP to Paradise. Knowing Jesus and accepting Him as your savior is.

Jesus final prayer from the Cross: (Luke 23:34)

Nine words. His final prayer during the Passion, the culmination of events leading up to His death, His prayer for humanity, came down to 9 words: Father forgive them, they know not what they do. It all boils down to forgiveness and salvation.

If they knew what they were doing, they surely would not have crucified Him.

The Death of Jesus (Luke 23:44-47)

 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,  for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”  When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.  But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance,watching these things.

Jesus’ last words were so symbolic. He borrowed these words from David (Psalm 31:5) “Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.” Jesus certainly didn’t need to have words put into his mouth, but he chose to make use of David’s words to show that it was the Spirit of Christ that testified in the Old-Testament prophets, and that he came to fulfill the scripture. Christ died with scripture in his mouth. (Adapted from Matthew Henry)

“Savior I come
I quiet my soul. Remember Redemption hill
Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom

Everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost
Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out

Bring me to my knees Lord
I lay me down
Rid me of myself I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross.” -Lyrics from “Lead Me To The Cross”

Lent 2016, Led to the Cross: the Burial of Jesus

burial tomb

(Photo: Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, proposed as the place of Jesus’ burial. Photo credit Goway.com)

Darkness fell, His friends scattered, hope seemed lost – But heaven just started counting to three. (Bob Goff)

Luke 23 provides us with an account of Christ’s burial; for he must be brought not only to death, but to the dust of death (“you lay me in the dust of death” Ps. 22:15), according to the sentence (Gen. 3:19), To the dust thou shalt return (Adapted from Matthew Henry).

Certainly Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are the main elements of the Passion, and our salvation. The details of Jesus’ burial are important because they fulfill Biblical prophesies.

The Burial of Jesus (Luke 23:50-55)

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

  • Who was there?

Joseph, described by Luke as a person of “good and upright man”, a member of the Sanhedrin, one of the elders of the Jewish church. He was a member of the council responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion but Joseph had voted against it (Luke 23:50-52). Joseph was wealthy and had the social standing to hold a meeting with Pilate, the Roman Governor.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee. His mother and Mary Magdalene watched from a distance. They did not have the money or the power to claim Jesus body (Luke 50:55). After they watched the removal of Jesus body from the cross and laid in the tomb, Luke tells us that they “went home and prepared spices and perfumes” for His embalming. Luke also includes the detail that the women “rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment” (Exodus 20:8).

The disciples were not present.

  • What did Joseph do?

He went to Pilate, the man who ordered Jesus’ death, and asked for His body. Joseph took Jesus’ body off the cross, by himself. Joseph removed the nails from Jesus’ hands and feet and removed His body from His cross. It had to have been messy; His body would have been heavy; the process would have been emotionally and physically exhausting, yet Joseph willingly petitioned for the chance to honor Jesus in this way. (Luke 23:53)

After Joseph removed Jesus’ body from the cross, he wrapped His body in linen burial clothes (Luke 23:53). Matthew Henry explains “that it was the manner of the Jews to rollthe bodies of the dead, as we do little children in their swaddling-clothes, and that the word here used signifies as much; so that the piece of fine linen, which he bought whole, he cut into many pieces for this purpose. It is said of Lazarus, He was bound hand and foot, John 11:44. Grave-clothes are to the saints as swaddling-clothes, which they shall out-grow and put off, when they come to the perfect man.

  • Where was Jesus buried?

Joseph placed Jesus’ body in his own tomb (Matthew 27:57-60). The tomb cut into rock, in which no one had yet been buried. (Luke 23:53).

Jesus would triumph over death and emerge from this grave!

  • Was this burial practice typical?

No! From a strictly human vantage point, the burial of Jesus’ body in the manner described above was a radically unusual procedure. Christ was crucified. According to the Latin poet, Horace, it was the Roman practice to leave a body upon the cross until it decayed. He spoke about crucified slaves “feeding crows on the cross” (Epistle 1.16.46-48) (Adapted from Christian Courier, the Burial of Christ’s Body).

Jesus’ body, according to the custom at that time, would have been buried in one of two mass burial tombs overseen by the Sanhedrin. “It was the custom of the Jews that any sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin was “not to be buried in the sepulchers of their fathers; but two burying places were appointed by the council, one for those that were slain by the sword and strangled, the other for those that were stoned who also were hanged and burnt” (Lightfoot, 2.374; emp. original). (Adapted from Christian Courier, the Burial of Christ’s Body).

  • What prophesy does the burial place of Jesus fulfill?

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:9)

Let’s break down the prophesy:

  • “Jesus was assigned a grave with the wicked,” According to the Roman custom at the time of Jesus’ death, criminals- and Jesus was charged a criminal when He was crucified, would be “assigned” one of two mass tombs by the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion which certainly classified them as wicked.
  • “and with the rich in his death,” Joseph was a rich man who took possession of Jesus’ body after He was crucified, personally removed it from the cross, wrapped it in fine linen, and buried it in his own personal grave.
  • though he had done no violence nor was there any deceit in his mouth” The Lamb of God; free of sin, violence, and deceit; crucified as a criminal, died on the cross and triumphed over death and sin for our salvation.
  • Other prophesies related to the death and burial of Jesus:

Before we get to the other two prophesies related to the death and burial of Jesus, reflect on the power of God behind each prophesy. Isaiah 46:10I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

Prophesy: His legs were not broken:

John 19:32-33 says, “Then came the soldiers, and broke the legs of the first [one of the thieves crucified with Christ], and of the other who was crucified with him, but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs.” Even in His death prophecy was fulfilled. Psalm 34:20 says explicitly of the dying Savior, “He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken.” We know that prophecy was intended for Jesus Christ because of the testimony of Scripture. John 19:36 says, “These things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.” (Grace to You: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ)

Prophesy: Three days behind His death and resurrection

Matthew 12:40  Jesus said, “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (NASB). Jesus predicted that there would be three days between His death and resurrection–that He would be in the earth for three days. (Grace to You: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ)

Easter Sunday: Remember His words…

It-Is-Empty

No tomb could contain what love was about to release. (Bob Goff)

Jesus has Risen (Luke 24:1-12)

 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (Luke 24:1)

As soon as they could, after the Sabbath, the “women” (Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and others) went to the tomb to tend to the body of Jesus.

[A little background about Joanna: “Joanna, along with Mary Magdalene and Susanna were among the “certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities” (Luke 8:2). Whether Joanna had been demon-possessed or suffered from some mental or physical disability we are not told. It is evident that this female of the upper class, restored to normal health by Christ, gave her life to Him. Chuza, the husband of Joanna, was the “steward” of Herod, which is the same word given as “tutor”.  She is one of the traveling company who went before Christ and the Twelve to arrange for their hospitable reception. Out of her own resources many expenses were met, and in this way she ministered unto Him of her substance. Having freely received His healing touch, she freely gave of herself and of her means for His welfare. (Adapted from: Bible Gateway, All the Women of the Bible)]

Tending to Him was the women’s first priority. They were mourning Him. Can you imagine the horror they witnessed as they watched Him beaten, flogged, enduring the walk to the cross, and then left hanging there to die? Bringing spices to tend to Jesus, to anoint His head and face, gave them purpose and they were eager to serve their purpose.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:2-3)

Although Jesus had told them that He would come again, the women did not immediately assume that is what the empty tomb represented. Instead they wondered what the empty tomb meant and where His body had been taken.

These faithful followers had a classic crisis of faith at the empty tomb. Can’t we all relate to that? Matthew Henry says “Good Christians often perplex themselves about that with which they should comfort and encourage themselves.”

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’  Then they remembered his words.(Luke 24:4-8)

He is risen! His words rang true because He IS Truth. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

We need to take steps to remember His words, to hide them on our hearts. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)

A seasonable remembrance of the words of Christ will help us to a right understanding of his providence. (Matthew Henry)

 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (Luke 24:9-11)

Of those present at the tomb, who are you most like? Are you like Peter, wondering what happened. Wondering. Pondering. Analyzing. Are you like the women at the grave, experiencing a crisis of faith. Or are you like the angels, telling others the Good News and reminding them of what He said? Be renewed, be revitalized, be blessed byremembering His words.  Revel in the miracle of His resurrection. He’s alive!

 

The road to Emmaus: Lost and Found, part 1

road to emmaus

The same day of Christ’s resurrection two people walked to Emmaus. It would be a two to three hour walk from Jerusalem. Who were the two? Where were they headed and why? What happened along the way?

On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-16)

 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. (Luke 24:13)

  • Who was there?

Luke writes that two people who were walking to Emmaus. He identifies one of them as the disciple Cleopas (Luke 24:18), and the other remains unnamed. Some people have asserted that the other person was Peter, but since Peter is part of the 11 that the two on the road to Emmaus return to and tell about the events that happen, that is not possible.

John 19:25 confirms that Mary, the wife of Cleopas, was present at the Crucifixion:  “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Matthew Henry puts forth the theory that Cleopas and his wife, Mary, were walking to Emmaus together and talking about Jesus’ crucifixion and that she was the person with him on the road to Emmaus.

I think Luke left the other person unnamed because it could be any one of us. We have all taken the road to Emmaus at one time in our lives.

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:14-16)

  • When did the walk to Emmaus happen?

The same day as Jesus’ resurrection. He rose, some believed, and some did not. Some, like these two, hightailed it out of there.

  • Why were they walking to Emmaus?

Cleopas and his companion must not have believed the Resurrection happened. They left the other disciples and walked alone to Emmaus. Perhaps concerned for their own safety. Likely overwhelmed and confused by the crucifixion and reports of Jesus’ resurrection, but clearly not believing that He rose from the dead. Instead of confirming the reports of His resurrection, the two headed home. Maybe they headed home for help and support from their family and friends after what they had seen. Maybe they headed home for provision, safety, or rest. Whatever the reason, they needed reassurance.

On the Road to Emmaus, Cleopus and his companion seem to have had a crisis of faith. To believe the unbelievable and have faith in the unseen, or to bolt and head to perceived safety. To make the statement of your faith and prepare to suffer the consequences, or hightail it out of town. Cleopas and his companion seem to have chosen the same route that Jonah did when God told him to go to Ninevah. They both said “Nope, not me, not happening, I’m going somewhere else entirely, and pulling the covers over my head.”

  • “What-ifs” on the Road to Emmaus

These two had an entire list of “what if’s” and they voiced them to Jesus.  “We hoped Jesus would redeem Israel- what if we were wrong?” “We hoped the resurrection would happen, but it seems so impossible, what if our faith was misplaced?” “What if the Jews capture us and we have to suffer for our faith?” “We love Jesus, what if we never see Him again?” “What if we were all wrong about Jesus and our faith was misplaced?” “What do we do now?

“What things?” he asked.About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet,powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.  The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;  but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.  In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning  but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.  Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” (Luke 23:19-24)

Crisis of faith- And then Jesus showed up. He met them right where they were, on the road to Emmaus, and He still meets us right where we are on our journeys.

Tomorrow: The Road to Emmaus, Lost and Found, part 2

The Road to Emmaus, Lost and Found, part 2

road to emmaus

The Road to Emmaus part 2:

  • What was Jesus’ response to the “what ifs”?

Jesus responds: He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

Jesus himself is sharing Scripture with them. He is explaining His own suffering. Still the two do not realize that Jesus is speaking to them.

  • When did the two realize it was Jesus who was with them?

They reached Emmaus and invited Jesus to dinner.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.  They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32)

Jesus gives thanks. Even in this moment He is teaching. Give thanks for the miraculous (loaves and fishes), give thanks for the sacrament (Eucharist (Last Supper)), give thanks for the bread you break after a long walk on the path of the crisis of faith. Give thanks always.

As Jesus gave thanks for the bread their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. Once this happened Jesus disappeared from their sight. They saw Him, recognized Him, and their faith was restored.

Then the two acknowledge that even though neither recognized Jesus on the road to Emmaus, and had no idea it was Him who was preaching to them, still their hearts were burning within them as He talked and opened the Scriptures to them. Things became clear to the two on the road to Emmaus when they listened to Jesus and then they were able to see Him.

This part of the passage is a great reminder to us to invite Jesus to dinner; to give thanks always, for His sacrifice, our salvation, and the provisions for our journey; to be open to hearing Him through Scripture, and to seeing Him at our table.

  • What did they do after they recognized Jesus?

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together  and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. (Luke 24:32-35)

They didn’t finish their dinner, fold the laundry, and check their email. They hightailed it right back to the disciples in Jerusalem and shared the news. They got right back to where they should have been- right back on track. They eagerly shared their faith with their loved ones.

When they hurried back to the disciples to share the news that Jesus had revealed himself to them they had no idea what they would fine. Skepticism? Doubts? Criticism for leaving the fold in the first place? Would the disciples even welcome them back? Regardless, they went.

What they found was the disciples gathered together talking about Jesus’ revelation to Simon. The two shared Jesus’ revelation to them at dinner and what happens next is even more amazing! Tomorrow: Jesus reveals himself to the disciples.

 

Jesus appears to the Disciples

sunrisefive

Jesus Appears to the Disciples (Luke 24:36-53)

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36)

It was the evening of Resurrection Day. Cleopus and his companion, who had seen Jesus after the walk on the Road to Emmaus, and the other 11 disciples were excitedly talking about Jesus’ appearance. Jesus had been seen five times that day since His Resurrection: by Mary Magdalene (John 20:14), by the women at the tomb (Matthew 28:9), by Peter (Luke 24:12), by the two on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), and now, that same evening, by the 11 disciples.

At that moment Jesus appeared to all of them, He met them right where they were, and He brought them Peace, and how did the disciples respond?

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”(Luke 24:37-39)

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.” The disciples knew about Jesus’ appearances, many of them had personal encounters that same day, yet when Jesus appeared again they were still “startled and frightened”. They were gathered comparing notes, trying to figure out what to do next, and Jesus shows up and changes everything (He has a way of doing that!).

Though they had very unkindly deserted him in his sufferings, yet he takes the first opportunity of seeing them together; for he deals not with us as we deserve. (Matthew Henry).

Grace showed up.

Jesus appears to the disciples in the flesh. In His flesh- marked with the scars of the crucifixion. Evidence- irrefutable evidence- and still the disciples, to many of whom Jesus had appeared earlier that very same day, doubted. Another example of the crisis of faith- the propensity to doubt rather than embrace faith. It was true in that room, by those closest to Jesus, and it is true today.

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate it in their presence.(Luke 24:41-43)

Jesus ate with His disciples to provide them comfort, to experience something that was familiar to them, to bring them Peace. Here is what Matthew Henry says about Luke 24:41, “He eats with them, to show that he had a real and true body, and that he was willing to converse freely and familiarly with his disciples, as one friend with another. Peter lays a great stress upon this (Acts 10:41): We did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.”

Tomorrow we’ll read about what the disciples experienced with Jesus after dinner.

There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday has disappeared
The dirt has washed away And now it’s clear. -Lyrics from Only Grace, by Matthew West

 

Everyday Easter: Jesus ascends to Heaven

Everyday Easter

The Easter events didn’t end on Sunday. After His resurrection Jesus appeared, in the flesh, to the disciples. He ate with the disciples and talked with them, encouraged and empowered them, and then He ascended to Heaven. The miracle of Easter, our salvation, our eternity- is every day. Everyday Easter, this is Amazing Grace.

 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44)

The Bible is filled with prophecies about Jesus’ birth, life, betrayal by His disciples, accusations, treatment by the Roman soldiers, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven. To learn more about the Biblical prophesies about Jesus visit 100prophesies.org.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:44-50)

The Ascension of Jesus (Luke 24:50-52)

 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

To protect privacy, thank you for not leaving feedback.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s