Friday, April 3, 2020

Friday - Luke 24 - Perplexed, Afraid, Amazed and Joyful

ON'T you just love reading about the reactions of the disciples to the resurrection of Christ? Talk about a final chapter that reconciles a whole book & makes the story good, nothing compares to the triumphant resurrection of the hero of the Book of Luke. At first Jesus' followers were puzzled. They were perplexed, confused & frustrated (vs. 4 & 22). In fact, the disciples had already been rather bumfuzzled by the death of Christ. They had thought He was the Messiah; the Redeemer of Israel (vs. 21). Even though He had told them about His coming death & resurrection, they just didn't see it coming. How could He rescue His people if He was dead? So, when Christ's tomb ended up empty, wild thoughts began to fill their heads & hearts (vs. 38).

When these same disciples began to "see things" that they had never seen before, inexplicable things, they were downright scared. Angels in Jesus' empty sepulcher, Christ's disappearance from the supper table in Emmaus & His reappearance to the 11 apostles in Jerusalem – these were strange & unexpected occurrences (vs. 4, 31 & 36). Jesus had no desire to frighten His children, but their own doubts & sinfulness stood in the way of spiritual wisdom. But, when the disciples began to realize what had happened, naturally they were astonished & thrilled. The return of their leader after His death was a tremendous surprise & relief. Add to that the message that He bore, & the obvious spiritual power that He possessed, & we can see how the joy of the disciples became understandably boundless (vs. 32-35, 39-41, 45 & 52-53). They worshipped Him with gladness & wonder!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Thursday - Luke 23 - Savage Sounds

S you read this chapter, be smitten by the many references to the sounds that surrounded Christ's trial & execution. Allow the descriptions of what happened on that day to scream loudly in you mind. The sounds are acrid; hostile; savage. These are the sounds of an enraged race, rebelling against authority; hell-bent on destroying its Maker.

Can you hear the accusatory tone of Jesus' enemies (vs. 2)? As they mixed truth with lies in an effort to get a conviction, these men spat out words that were dripping with malevolence & vitriol. In stark contrast with the mild words of Christ, these hate-mongers' words were biting, cruel and fierce (vs. 5).

Then, listen to the prodding questions of Herod as he continually barrages the silent Christ with his selfish & senseless babble. Herod was trying to incite Jesus to try some of His "magic" – that is, to put on a show for him. And this, while the most religious of all Jews continued to vehemently accuse their Messiah of evil (vs. 9-10).

When Pilate attempted to release Jesus (due to a lack of evidence and the absolute absence of a cause), the mob erupted into frenzied shouts. They required that Jesus be killed; destroyed; crucified (vs. 18 & 21). Their chant was loud & demonic (vs. 23).

They were persistent and insistent. Their tone was demanding & harsh. Hear the agony of Christ bearing His own cross; the gruff conscription of Simon to help Jesus carry it (Luke 23:26); the roar of the crowd; the wailing of the women who lamented & cried as they saw Christ's suffering – & on we could go.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wednesday - Luke 22 - The Least and the Greatest

HERE are places in the Scripture where it is taught that the way to be great is to be small (Luke 22:26 is one of these places). The way to live is to die, the way to have is to give, the way to lead is to serve, the way to save is to lose, the way up is down, etc. From a simpler perspective though, there are many contrasts in the Scripture that lead us to think about the significance of one thing & the relative irrelevance of another; the goodness of one thing & the evilness of another.

In verses 2 & 4, it was the "great" people who wanted to kill Christ. The common folk did not – at least not initially. In verses 3, 21 & 22, we see that Satan & Judas were the opponents of Christ: evil against good. And, there are other comparisons & contrasts in this text, but the part that stands out most to me is verses 23-24. The twelve apostles were unsure concerning which one among them would stoop to betraying Christ. This issue then evidently led to an argument about who was the greatest of the twelve. Jesus rebuked them for even having this discussion (vs. 25-27). Basically, Jesus said that if HE was willing to serve, then the rest of us should be willing to serve as well. After all, it's our place in the heavenly millennial kingdom that matters, not our place in the current earthly kingdom of Babylon (vs. 29-30).

Now, Peter thought that he was great (vs. 33). Jesus edited Peter's opinion of himself.  Jesus shared with Peter that he was standing in Satan's crosshairs (vs. 31). Jesus informed Peter that his greatness was yet future, & that some things would have to change before that greatness would be realized (vs. 32). Again, Christ went on to encourage Peter to pray for strength (vs. 40 & 46). We know, of course, that Jesus prayed for Peter (vs. 32). No surprise, when it came time to pray, the strength of Christ & the weakness of the apostles became very evident indeed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tuesday - Luke 21 - An Expiration Date

HE temple (in which Jesus preached) had a date with destiny (vs. 6). It was sure to be destroyed. But, that's not all. The whole earth has an expiration date.  We just don't know when that day will come. That doesn't mean there won't be any indications of its proximity though.  We aren't speaking of the rapture here. We are looking at the Second Coming of Christ; not for His church, but with all His saints; not to rescue His bride, but to conquer His enemies and deliver Israel once & for all.

So, what are the signs of the end? Here Jesus said that there will be antichrists, wars, drama, earthquakes, famines, diseases, dangers, strong anti-Semitism & (most specifically) Jerusalem surrounded by armies. Of course, if we are already seeing these things around us, then it seems reasonable that the rapture of the church is just that much closer. Still, we haven't seen anything yet, at least not like that which will be common during the Tribulation (vs. 25-26). Luke 21:22 says, "For these be the days of vengeance..." I’m so grateful that I will not be here for it. God has not appointed us to wrath, but instead to obtain salvation; rescue!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Monday - Luke 20 - Authority

UTHORITY is an interesting thing. Those who relish having it are apt to misuse & abuse it. Some avoid it, & thereby miss out on great opportunities. Others accept it & bring upon themselves grave & wonderful responsibilities. From a different angle, many resist being under authority. This they do to their own destruction. All authority is distributed from God's hands. Apart from Him, there is no authority. Human governments (good &evil) are beholding to God in this regard. Parents, pastors, businessmen; anyone with authority – all owe God allegiance & gratitude for any position of influence that we possess. It is a privilege & a trust.

There has never been anyone who had as much authority as Jesus Christ. He was the Maker of all things; the eternal son of God; the manifestation of the Father. He was the son of David, the last Adam, the sinless Savior, the perfect Prophet, the rightful King, the sufficient Sacrifice, the Great High Priest, the Capitan of our salvation, the friend of sinners & the Redeemer of Israel. But His contemporaries didn't like his claims. They criticized Him & asked for His credentials (vs. 2). Knowing their evil hearts, He asked them about John's authority. He knew they wouldn't touch that one. Jesus was the source of Israel's significance. He was their true Master & Lord, yet they had only rebellion to offer to Him.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday - Luke 19 - Wanting to Hear Jesus

UKE 19 begins and ends with Jesus being desired. It starts with Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a wee little man who climbed up in a tree in order to see the Lord. Zacchaeus wanted to see Christ. He sought after Him. There were others who stood between him and the Lord, but He pursued Him anyway. So, when Christ invited Himself over to Zacchaeus' house, Zacchaeus was thrilled. And, the influence of Christ was immediate. Zacchaeus (who had been quite a crook), determined to restore the things that he had taken unjustly.  Not only did his heart incline in that direction, but publicly he made his intentions known. This would have done a couple of things. It made Him accountable, but beyond that it spoke of the change that had occurred in Zacchaeus' heart. Jesus said that salvation had come to Zacchaeus' house (Luke 19:9). Zacchaeus sought for Christ, and Christ found Him (Luke 19:10).

This chapter concludes with an account of Jesus' triumphal entry and His cleansing of the temple (Luke 19:28-48). Both events were enough to infuriate His enemies, and to instigate a violent resistance against Him. In fact, these events did lead into Christ's Passion and death. One reason why there wasn't an immediate execution of Christ is because there were a significant number of people who were still seeking to hear Him (Luke 19:48. They wanted to listen to His words. They were seeking after Him. They were interested in His doctrine. Like Zacchaeus, they desired the Lord (Haggai 2:7).

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thursday - Luke 18 - Coming to God

F course, we all know that God came to us first. He is the great initiator. If He didn't seek for us, then we could never (and would never) seek for Him. We are expected to respond to His advances. We are invited, obligated and responsible to respond positively to Him. We are supposed to come to God. If we love Him, we love Him because He first loved us. But beyond that, just how is it that we come to God? We come through Christ, that's for sure. But what should our spirit look like as we approach? Can a person come defiantly; in unbelief and cursing? Is God willing to accept a man if he has no faith and no repentance? Hardly!

So, what should our coming look like? We should come to God persistently; or at least, consistently. Pray. Always. And don't faint; these were Jesus' words. We should never give up on God. Part of faith is patience. Part of faith is continuity & continuance (vs. 8).

Humility and repentance should also characterize our approach. We should come as a child comes. Another ingredient addressed here is loyalty.  What  man  would  take  a  wife who also desired to marry 10 other men on the same day – or just 1 other man for that matter?  No!  I want all of her, or I want none of her.  This is not unreasonable. Neither is it unreasonable for God to demand sincerity and exclusivity (Isaiah 48:11). Will coming to God require sacrifice? Sure! We must let go of one thing in order to grasp the other. God is a jealous God. He is willing to share His grace with His children, but He is NOT willing to share His children with the devil.