Posts Tagged ‘Luke’

John 2

John 2 captures the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  He is at a wedding with His family at Cana in Galilee along with His disciples.  “When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  His mother is the one who brings the problem to His attention.  Jesus responds saying “Woman, what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come”.  Jesus says ‘not my problem’ and knows that He hasn’t yet begun to show the power that God has placed within Him as a man.  Yet He is compassionate and knows the importance of wine at this wedding feast.

So He instructs the servants, whom His mother had told to do whatever Jesus said, to fill a half dozen 20-30 gallon stone jars. “Fill the jars with water.”  Not sure how that is going to help, but it was Jesus’ instruction to them.  They do as they were told and then He asks them to take a bit out and serve it to the master of the feast – the man in charge.  He got quite a reaction from this guy who said “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now”.  Little did he know that Jesus had merely put water into the stone jars and it turned into wine.

This is the first of the signs that Jesus will do that show who He is and manifest His glory.  Jesus hadn’t planned on revealing that at this wedding feast, but responded with love to the circumstances He was involved in.  He could easily have said no to His mother, but after some short resistance, decides to quietly turn a situation that would have not only been embarrassing to the bridegroom and family who allowed the wine to run dry.  Does He always intervene in an embarrassing situation to change the outcome?  No, certainly not.  But He also is not oblivious to life and the little things that make it.  Jesus cares about us and what happens down to the details.

From the wedding, “he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples”.  They went to the temple and Jesus sees something that upsets Him – many were there selling animals and changing money and had turned the temple into a business.  This time He doesn’t quietly respond to the situation, but “making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen”.  Jesus can’t just ignore what is going on around Him.  He “poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables”.  Can you imagine the chaos.  He disrupts their economic system and says “do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. Not a popular thing to do for this newcomer to the Jerusalem scene.  Principle comes ahead of tradition and Jesus makes it clear He won’t stand by and watch things that are wrong.

John 1

John 1 has the author taking us back to the foundation of the world and giving us a lesson on how the world came to be.  The Gospel of John was written for a specific purpose: that we might believe.  “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made”.  John is referring to Jesus Christ, as one of the Trinity who was with God and the Spirit back at creation. The Father and the Son (Jesus is known here as the Word) are equally God, yet distinct in their Person. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. Yet they are equally God, with God the Holy Spirit making one God in three Persons.

John tells us that “In him was life, and the life was the light of men”.  Life comes to all of us through Jesus Christ.  The ancient Greek word translated life is ‘zoe’, which means “the life principle,” not bios, which is mere biological life. Therefore, without Jesus, we are dead and in darkness. We are lost spiritually and need a Savior.  John the Baptist comes to teach the world that Jesus is that light.  John “came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him”.  John wasn’t the light, but pointed the world toward Jesus Christ, the Word, who was.

John’s message is clear and gives us much hope.  We simply need to come to the Light and receive it.  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right  to become children of God”.  What a promise.  We can receive God’s provision of life through Christ and become a child of God.  Latch onto the power in those words.  Freely given through grace – we can become God’s son or daughter.  John proclaimed “the Word  became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth….from  his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace….the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”.

What a powerful set of truths.  Jesus was with God at the creation and all things were made through Him.  He is the author of life, and through Him we can receive that light and become truly alive.  As we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we become children of God.  As a child, we have ultimate security – God will always be our Father no matter how far we stray.  We may break the relationship, but we’ll never lose our place as a son or daughter of the King.  Grace covers all sin, and has been given freely to anyone who will receive.  What a glorious story from a loving God who planned it all from before the beginning of time!  Have you received that grace?  The next move is ours…..

Luke 24

Luke 24 begins on the morning of the third day after Jesus was crucified.  Some women went to the tomb to finish his burial preparation, and when they arrived “they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus”.  It was exactly as Jesus had told them – that on the third day He would rise.  The women were surprised, but two angels tell them “He is not here, but has risen”.  They ran back to tell the disciples what they had seen but “these words seemed to them an idle tale, and  they did not believe them”.  It didn’t seem possible but “Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened”.  He saw it with his very own eyes.

Two of them were going to a village named Emmaus and “While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them”.  These two guys were just walking along the road and Jesus comes alongside and joins the conversation, asking questions about what had happened in Jerusalem and getting the story through the eyes of two that were followers.  He walks with them until evening and they ask him to stay since it was late, but still had no idea of who He was.  Jesus was letting this discovery come slowly.

While they were eating and “he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight”.  Jesus reveals Himself, but then is gone. This was big news so “they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem”.  They brought the message to the eleven that Jesus was indeed risen and what the women and Peter had said was absolutely true.

The disciples were gathered together and Jesus shows up in the room with them.  At first they were overwhelmed, but He calmed them and showed His hands and feet.  He also ate a fish, which pretty well sealed the deal that He wasn’t some ghost or spirit but had indeed returned in human form.  Jesus reminded them that what had happened was the result of prophecy and had to occur.  And now, things were going to change as He was going to join the Father and the torch was being passed to them to be witnesses.  “While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven”.  Jesus had fulfilled prophecy and was on to His heavenly place leaving His disciples to carry the message!

Luke 20

Luke 20 has Jesus dealing with the religious leaders who are out to try and destroy Him.  Jesus uses a parable to illustrate their attack.  It was about a vineyard owner who sent servants to deal with those who were tending the vineyard for him.  In each case, these tenants beat the servant and sent him back to the owner empty handed.  So the owner decides to take a different approach – “? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him”.  Of course, this is a reference to God sending Jesus to us here on earth after the way His prophets had been treated for generations.

Unfortunately, the guys working the vineyard didn’t respond the way the owner had hoped.  “This is the heir.  Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours”.  Very flawed logic, but it’s exactly what happened to Jesus some 2000 years ago.  The owners response was predictable – “He will  come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others”.  We’re faced with the same question yet today.  God sent His Son to provide a way to overcome our sin – but we have to respond to Him.  What will you do with Jesus.

In that day, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. That cornerstone still stands and we have to respond to it yet today.  Of course, “The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people”.  The religious leaders of the day were not happy with Jesus.  He was challenging their system and disrupting their world.  They want Him dead, but they are afraid of the fallout.

Jesus becomes more vocal in warning the people about the status quo.  “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation”.  It isn’t our place in society that matters.  It is how we live based on what we have been entrusted with.  These religious leaders used their power and position for their own gain.  Jesus says those who have been granted more will be held to a higher account.  God expects us to live in a way that aligns with Him.  If we have been entrusted with much, much is expected!

Luke 18

In Luke 18, Jesus shares some parables and lessons. His first is around how we “ought always to pray and not lose heart”.  One part of prayer is persistence.  Jesus tells the story of a widow who kept coming over and over to the judge seeking justice.  God wants us to persevere in prayer.  When we do, Jesus says “will not God give justice to  his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily”.  Jesus makes it clear that we need to continue to pray and not give up.  Throughout scripture, we’re told that God listens and answers.  We merely need to keep asking.

The question comes to Jesus about how we should prayer.  He gives two examples – one on how not to pray – on on how to do it:

  • “The PhariseeGod, I thank you that I am not like other men
  • the tax collectorbe merciful to me, a sinner”!

Jesus makes it clear that it is the tax collector who will be saved – “this man went down to his house justified”.  It wasn’t the religious leader that He was speaking about.  It was the tax collector who humbly prayed to God as a sinner who needed mercy, not a prideful religious leader that feels like he is good enough on his own.

Jesus is among the people and parents are bringing their kids to Him.  “When the disciples saw it, they rebuked them”.  Jesus was too busy to spend time with kids.  He had more important things to do.  But Jesus has a different plan.  “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”.  Jesus was not only blessing the children but goes on to say “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”.  These little kids were the example of the kind of faith that is needed to gain eternal life.  True, complete faith.

A ruler came and asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life”?  Jesus gives him the first bar – “You know the commandments”.  The first thing is to obey what God has told us in His Word.  And when the ruler said he was good on that, Jesus gives him the second requirement.  “ One thing you still lack.  Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor”.  Obedience is one thing, but a willingness to give up control to all we have is another.  We have to put our faith and trust in Christ.  Unfortunately, “when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich”.  He wasn’t willing to let go of his ‘stuff’ and follow Jesus completely.

There is a cost to being a Christ Follower.  In fact, it costs us everything.  But Jesus makes it clear that “there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life”.  Following Jesus will cost you everything, but it will return even more.  We have to let go to be able to receive all.  It’s a difficult thing to do, but the rewards are beyond anything we can imagine!

Luke 16

In Luke 16 Jesus teaches His disciples about money.  He tells a story of the rich manager who was being fired from his job, and decides to call all the debtors to the business he was managing and offer them a reduced level of debt.  His logic was that it would build good will, and once he was fired and on the street it would provide him some friends and places to go.  The truth of the matter is that you can’t buy friendship.  But Jesus’ lesson was about much more – the importance of integrity and honesty.

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own”?  Jesus makes it clear that we are to be honest in all things we do.  And when we are not, there is a price to pay.  Our character matters and will cause issues if we don’t live it well.

He goes on to share an important principle.  “You cannot serve God and money”. He doesn’t say that money is evil.  But He does make it clear that it competes for our heart and can get in the way of our serving God.  The reality is that money can cause us to prioritize the wrong things, and put stuff ahead of God and people.  We can only have one Master in our life.  We can’t have split allegiance.  God doesn’t share that spot well, actually not at all.  He insists on being Lord, the King of Kings, and that means money has to serve Him, and what matters to Him.

Jesus finishes the teaching by telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, a poor man who suffered much on this earth but ended up sitting next to God.  The rich man could see him across the chasm from hell, and asks God to allow Lazarus to give him some relief from the very uncomfortable place he was.  God says no, and we need to heed the reality that there is a big difference in eternity between heaven and hell.  The rich man then asks that someone be sent to warn his family.  Jesus says “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead”.  We all face a very real judgment.  We’ll stand before God one day.  We need to listen and heed the truth that the Bible contains.  Sin is a real problem that will cause eternal separation from God.  We can avoid that, but we have to take action while we are living.  Are you ready?

Luke 14

Luke 14 has Jesus again dining at the house of one of the Pharisees.  And they were all watching Him carefully to see how they might trip Him up.  Jesus heals a man with dropsy on that Sabbath day, and of course is accused of violating the law.  But Jesus schools them on what is important, and how they ought to live – not focused on themselves – but on loving those in their patch.  He also teaches on humility: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”.  Scripture teaches much about pride and humility.  It is a quality that God desires each of us to have.

Jesus then gets personal with His host, and tells a parable about hospitality.  Jesus saw that His host chose his guests from a sense of exclusion and pride, rather than a general love for people around him.  We should not associate only with people who have the ability to do something for us.  That isn’t the basis for how we should interact.  Jesus teaches that we need to be centered on others and using what we have to bless those around us.  In His parable, the man invites a select few but “they all alike began to make excuses”:

  • I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused
  • I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused
  • I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come

The master is frustrated.  Excuses are made for convenience.  The offer was great, but the invited would not accept the invitation.

So the master instructs his servants to “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame”.  Jesus is beginning to make His point – that those who will be included in heaven’s banquet won’t be the people that the Pharisees think deserve to be invited, but redeemed sinners with the normal problems of life. Jesus points out God’s heart for man as the parable continues.  “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled”.  God desires His house to be full.  From an evangelistic perspective, Jesus is telling us to go where the people are and share the gospel story boldly.  People need to understand the invitation, but also the reality of failing to respond.

As Jesus wraps up His teaching in the chapter, He gets laser focused on what it means to be a disciple – a Christ Follower.  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple…. any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple”.  Following Jesus is about much more than saying yes to His offer of salvation through grace.

Jesus uses some strong illustrations here to drive home the point that being a Christ Follower or disciple is not simply responding to an invitation:

  1. It is focused on relationship.  Jesus must be first.  Other relationships must be of lower priority than the one with our Lord.
  2. It focused on being willing to die for Him. Carrying a cross always led to death on a cross. No one carried a cross for fun.
  3. It focused on giving up our rights and stuff.  There is a cost to following Christ.

Jesus made it clear that only cross-bearers can be His disciples. We sometimes may understate the demands of Jesus when we present the gospel. We can give people the impression that coming to Jesus is only to believe in His grace instead of a yielded life.  That’s the Lordship of Christ – that we are to be disciples or Christ Followers where He is first, and only, and all things are His.  Are you truly living as a follower of Jesus?

Luke 13

Luke 13 has Jesus teaching on the importance of repentance and salvation.  He talked about two recent disasters – one involving Pilate and his killing of a group of folks, and the second a tower that fell on 18 people – but the purpose was to make the point that “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”.  Jesus says that we all will die, we all have a sin problem, and no matter how it happens, we will stand before God and give account.  Thus we have to repent while we can or we face God’s judgment – we will perish.  It’s a direct message to the religious leaders that their attempt to earn their way to heaven was going to fall short.

Jesus illustrates the truth with a parable involving a fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit.  “Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground”?  God looks for fruit.  The fruit of our life shows what kind of person we really are. What fruit is God looking for? It certainly has to begin with the fruit of the Spirit, but then it moves toward bearing fruit by bringing others to Christ.  The farmer in the story illustrates patience from God’s judgment.  He gave the tree a second chance to reach its purpose to bear fruit.  He gave it special care.  God does the same in our life, but we have to respond to that love and care and begin to bear fruit.

Jesus teaches and heals in the synagogue, which doesn’t go without resistance.  He isn’t following the rules that the religious leaders have set and He is upsetting their apple cart both economically and following the law.  So they are out to get Him.  But he makes it clear that God’s plan is different than theirs.  Jesus illustrates and answers their question: “What is the kingdom of God like”?  He gives a couple different illustrations for them:

  1. “It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches
  2. It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in  three measures of flour, until it was  all leavened

These are really a picture of what the growth and influence of the church should be.

Jesus’ first example is that of a mustard seed that becomes a tree and paints a beautiful picture of the church growing so large that it provides refuge for all of the world.  It’s actually what the early church did, sprouting from the very seed of Jesus’ life, and becoming a rapidly growing place for Christ Followers to come together.  The second example involved leaven, where a little bit can impact the entire batch.  Jesus uses this to illustrate that corruption can get into the church and hide, yet impact the whole.

Jesus goes on to address the question about salvation with this response: ““For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able when once the master of the house has risen and shut the door”.  There will come a time when it is too late to enter; that is why we must have an urgency to enter now.  No one knows the day or time we’ll stand before God.  But there will come that day, and God’s love and mercy will only extend to a point.  We have to take action to receive the grace He has offered us through Jesus Christ so we are ready to enter rather than be denied.

Luke 10

Luke 10 gives us the plan Jesus has to reach the world – 2 by 2 evangelism.  He appointed 72 others and sent them out in pairs to spread the good news.  “The Lord appointed  seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go”.  John the Baptist was tasked with preparing the way of the Lord originally, but now, Jesus sends out groups of two into every town and place he is planning to go.  That was quite a group of preparers, but Jesus is kicking his ministry into high gear.

Why?  He makes it clear.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are fewTherefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”.  That hasn’t changed.  The harvest today is still plentiful – but we get so busy living our own lives and caught up in the chaos of the world that we don’t share the Good News with those in our patch.  Jesus warns his disciples: “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves”.   The world was a rough place back then, and it is no different today.  The enemy wants to destroy all Christ Followers, whether we’re doing the work of the ministry or not.

Jesus makes it clear that like the four kinds of soil that God’s Word can be sown upon, there are two kinds of towns that the disciples would encounter:

  1. “Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you
  2. But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near”.

As we share the Good News, we must never forget that we are not responsible for the response.  The harvest belongs to God.  Our job is to live our lives in a way that others can see Jesus in us, and to speak the Good News to those we come across in a way they can understand it.  It is up to them as to their response.  We will not see everyone receive it with joy.  But that isn’t what we are tasked with.  We are to go and share!

Jesus is asked a very important question – maybe the most important question of all that each of us need to know the answer to.  “Teacher, what shall I do to  inherit eternal life”?  A simple question, but profound in its impact.  Eternity is a very long time.  We need to know, with confidence and assurance, the answer to that question for our life.  Jesus told the man “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself”.  The two great commandments where Jesus summarizes all the law down to these things.  Unfortunately, we all fall short.  That’s why we need Jesus.  Christ alone is the way to eternal life.  There is no other path!

Luke 9

Luke 9 has Jesus sending the Twelve out to do ministry among the people.  He tells them “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart”. No preparation, no plan, just go and serve people.  Ministry is a pretty simple process for the Twelve – find the need and serve the people.  Jesus also made it clear that they shouldn’t waste time trying to convince people they need or want help.  “And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet  as a testimony against them”.

Jesus begins to prepare the Twelve for what is to come.  “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised”.  Notice the list of those who will reject Him – it isn’t the people – it is the religious leaders and those who are being impacted by His ministry.  Jesus is disrupting the status quo.  He’s messing with the economics of the day.  He is interfering with the power structure that was in place.  He has no regard for what has been, He only serves and loves the people.  That doesn’t sit well with those in power.  They will reject, punish and ultimately crucify Him.

Jesus talks with His disciples about what it means to be a Christ Follower.  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself”?  Here is the crux of being a Christ Follower – it isn’t about me – it is completely about Jesus.  We have to come to the point of denying self as being in charge, and put Jesus in the driver’s seat of our life.  It’s about making Jesus Lord, not sharing a bit of time with Him.  Being a Christ Follower is a daily thing – 24X7X365 – and we need to realize it is a choice we have to make daily and actively.

The disciples didn’t get it.  They were arguing about the complete opposite.  “An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest”.  Jesus had just finished explaining that following Him was not about their life, but His.  Yet they want to be known as the greatest of the disciples.  Then Jesus makes another run at trying to make it clear. “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great”.  It’s not about me, or you.  It’s all about Jesus and our relationship with Him.  He must be Lord of our life, not merely Savior.  Are you walking with Him in that way?

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