Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’

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 19

Luke 19 has Jesus coming across a short guy named Zacchaeus, who wanted to see Jesus so “he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way”.  This tax collector knew he needed a Savior, and he did what he had to in order to be able to see Him.  “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today”.  Jesus invites himself to go and have a meal with this man, even though he was not highly thought of at all.

Of course, the religious leaders had a different view and “when they saw it, they all grumbled”.  They couldn’t understand why Jesus would associate with a sinner like Zacchaeus, who cheated people and took their money wrongfully.  But he repented and offered to give half what he had to the poor and repay those he had taken advantage of.  In that day, a tax collector had much power and could charge people whatever he wanted for the most part.  Zacchaeus knew he was wrong, and so did Jesus.  But the Savior, when challenged by the religious leaders, said “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”.  Jesus came to save those who need a Savior.

He goes on to tell a parable about ten servants who were each given a mina.  Then the owner leaves, and when he returns his servants come and share what they have done with his money.  One made 10X, one 5X, and one just hid it returning it as it was given.  Jesus makes it clear that the servants who took the money and turned it into more were the ones who did what was expected.  He said “Well done, good servant! Because you have been  faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities”.  Not only did they make a return, they were rewarded with the opportunity to take care of much more.  God wants us to use all that He entrusts to us to maximize the impact.

Jesus comes to the temple and finds that they are selling all sorts of things there.  So “he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers”.  Jesus knows the scripture and He holds those accountable who were violating it.  Of course, this upsets the religious leaders as their source of funding was being threatened.  “The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words”.  But with each of the confrontations He has with these leaders, they become more determined to take Him out.

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 17

Luke 17 has Jesus teaching His disciples about sin.  He says “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come”! How we live matters.  Temptation is a reality of life.  We face a very real enemy that seeks to kill, steal and destroy, and temptation is part of his strategy to pull us away from living God’s way.  But Jesus makes it clear that we should not be part of the tempting.  And He goes on to tell us that when sin happens, we need to forgive.  “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him”.

Forgiveness is a difficult choice.  It is a choice, not a feeling.  Jesus teaches us over and over that forgiveness is a way of living that we need to embrace and choose.  People will fail us.  We need to set them free through forgiveness.  Jesus goes on to talk about the power of faith.  “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you”.  We have so much power available to us through faith.  But we have to truly believe, and live based on that faith.  We can do great and amazing things through Christ, but not based on our own ability or power.

Jesus tells the story of the ten lepers who he met on the road.  They asked for healing, and Jesus granted it.  But notice how He does it. Scripture tells us “as they went they were cleansed”.  It didn’t happen while they were speaking to Him.  It happened as they believed it and were heading toward the priests where they could be declared clean.  Healing came as they believed and had faith in what Jesus had told them.  All ten were healed, yet only one came back to tell Jesus thank you.  When we experience the power of God’s hand, we need to be sure we’re like the one who returned to say thanks.

Jesus ends talking about eternity and the end times.  He makes it clear that no one will know when that time will come.  It will happen like it did in the days of Noah or Lot – people were living life and then it happened as God moved.  The lesson is we need to be prepared and ready, and when we see it move toward God.  We must not turn back or try to preserve life as we know it.  “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it”. It is through letting go and trusting God that we’ll experience life in its fulness!

Luke 15

Luke 15 has Jesus teaching in parables.  The Pharisees and scribes are upset because “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him”.  They didn’t think Jesus should hang out with that kind of crowd.  So Jesus tells them a parable about the man with a hundred sheep, and the woman who lost one coin.  The lesson from both was that God rejoices over each one.  In the parable of the sheep, He says “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”.  God is in the business of saving us.

Jesus goes on to tell one of the most famous parables in all of scripture – the story of the Prodigal Son.  A young son comes to his father and asks for his share of the inheritance.  “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me”.  Legacy is about far more than what we do with our stuff, but in this story, the young man is focused on getting what he believes belongs to him.  In those days a father could either grant the inheritance before or after his death, but it was usually done after he passed away. But in this case, the younger son asked for a special exception, motivated by foolishness and greed.  He wants to take what is his and live wildly so “he squandered his property in reckless living”.

His father knew that this was going to happen.  This son wanted his independence, but he wasn’t ready to be alone and on his own.  Yet the father allowed it to happen.  Sometimes it is only through experiencing the school of hard knocks that we learn things.  After a fairly short time, the money was gone and this kid was feeding pigs.  “When he  came to himself, he said….my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger”.  It’s not going well for him. This isn’t the dream life that he had in mind.

So he decides to go back home and tell his father “I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants”.  He knew that being with his father would be better than anyplace he could be on his own.  His father had never given up hope that he would come to his senses.  He was always watching and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him”.  He didn’t wait for him to arrive – he ran to greet him.  He didn’t scold him for his foolishness – the father welcomed him with open arms.

It becomes a major celebration as “the father said to his servants, Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate….my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found”.  God rejoices when we come back to Him from our life of sin.  He is waiting and watching, not only ready to welcome us back, but ready to throw a party about our return.  God is in the restoration business – He wants to restore us into relationship with Him.  We leave through our sin.  We return through our repentance.  He is there ready to welcome us home!

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.

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