Sunday, July 16, 2017


Lament Over Jerusalem

While Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees came to warn him that he should leave because Herod wanted to kill him. It makes you wonder if Herod really wanted to kill him or if the Pharisees were trying to get rid of him.

Nonetheless, Jesus was undeterred. It is hard to deter one who has a mission and is not afraid to die for it.

Jesus referred to Herod as a fox. That is because the Jews thought of foxes as cunning and sly. His message for Herod was that he had a mission to accomplish and a timetable for it. He would not change that even for the king. He would continue to cast out demons and heal until it was time for him to go to Jerusalem.

This was his work: delivering people from the Satan spiritually and physically. He was bringing his kingdom to the people and giving them a picture of life in the kingdom in eternity where there is no evil, no sin and no physical suffering.

This work was also the will of the Father. Jesus said “my food is to do he will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34) Jesus was obedient to the Father, doing all that was necessary for our redemption, as he had agreed to with the Father in “eternity past”. This is sometimes called the eternal covenant. Jesus would do all that was required, all that the Father willed and all he had agreed to do.

Jesus is a good example for us. We get tired. We get discouraged. But Jesus finished his work despite fatigue, opposition and knowing how bad his death would be. We, too, need to finish strong, not giving up or giving in. Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

But he had to go to Jerusalem when it was time. He knew that it was there he would be killed.

When Jesus said “it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem” in verse 33, he referred to the fact that the Sanhedrin met there. The leaders of the Jews would decide to eliminate him. They would lead Israel to reject their Messiah.

Jesus referred to Jerusalem as the city that kills the prophets and stones them. (34) Many of the prophets were killed. Zechariah was indeed stoned in the temple courtyard at the command of King Joash. (2 Chronicles 24:21)

The Jews were in continual rebellion against God with only a few periods of faithfulness. Jesus said he tried to gather their children together, to bring them to himself. But they were unwilling. (34) They rejected him.

What a terrible paradox it was that God’s prophets and God’s Son would be killed in the city God had designated for his worship.

There were some who believed, as we have seen. Jesus had followers. He had disciples. But the leaders of the nation and most of the nation rejected him. Because of that, Jesus issued judgment upon them. He said “your house is forsaken”. (35) That judgment came with the Romans, who destroyed the city and the temple.

Jesus also said, to the Pharisees, they would not see him again until they said “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. (35) This is a reference to Psalm 118:26. Psalm 118 is the last of the Passover Psalms. It was recited or sung at the Passover and may have been the last Psalm of the liturgy or ceremony.

Passover was a memorial to God’s redemption of Israel from Egypt. Specifically, it commemorated the angel of death passing over the houses of Israel because they took the blood of a lamb and smeared it on the door frames. (Exodus 12) God instructed them to observe the Passover every year.

So what did Jesus mean? Some think he was referring to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem when people lined the road and shouted this verse. But the Pharisees were not saying that and Jesus said they would not see him until they said it.

When will they say that? There are two options. They will say it if they came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. At the judgment, they will be forced to acknowledge it. This is similar to Paul writing that at the judgment, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2:10) The Pharisees who reject Christ will be forced to acknowledge him at the judgment.

Luke 14

Another Healing on the Sabbath

Jesus healed again on the Sabbath. This time he was eating dinner at the house of an important Pharisee. Evidently, a man with dropsy was brought in for the purpose of testing Jesus. Luke wrote “they were watching him carefully”. (1)

Jesus again contrasted the Pharisees’ lack of compassion for sick people to their concern for their animals. Again, they had no reply.

The contest over the meaning of the Sabbath continued. It was also a battle between grace and legalism.

Parable - Wedding Feast

After the healing, Jesus told the dinner crowd two parables. The first, was about humility. In the story, a guest took a place of honor, then was told to move to a lesser place. That would be humiliating. Instead, take a low place so that the host will move you up to a better seat and you will be honored before the other guests.

Jesus summed up the lesson by saying he who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (11) This principle resonates throughout the Bible. God values humility. He abhors pride. If we are humble, he will exalt us in eternity. This is a matter of pleasing God rather than ourselves. But if we please him now, he will reward us later.

The second parable involved a great banquet. Jesus first said to invite those who are poor, or disabled or blind and cannot repay you. If you do, God will repay you at the resurrection. (14)

In my city, when the rich and famous host an event, they invite a photographer from the local newspaper to attend. The photographer takes pictures of all the important people and puts them in the paper the next day. Thus the guest feels important because the paper shows all the important people attending his or her event. You do not see such an event with pictures of the poor and disabled. Again, you can be rewarded by men now or by God later.

One of the Pharisees at the dinner decided to sound spiritual. He said “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God”. (15) Jesus could have said “amen” because it was true. Instead, he used it to transition to another story about a great banquet.

It was customary in that day for a wealthy person to invite guests two times to a great feast. He would send a servant to the guests’ homes. The servant would tell them when and where the feast would be. Then, when everything was ready for the feast to begin, the servants would go out again to tell the guests it was time to come over.

In this case, the guests did not come. Rather they made lame excuses. One said he could not come because he bought a field and needed to go see it. (18) The guests would have laughed at this, because no one would buy a field without looking at it first.

The second said he had just bought some oxen and needed to go examine them. (19) Again no one would do that.

The third said he had just married and could not come. But a man with an invitation from wealthy and important man would not decline because he had just married. In that society dominated by men, especially among Pharisees, he would have attended along with other important men. So, the excuses were all without validity. They would have insulted the host.

Indeed, the master of the house did get angry in the story.”(21) He sent the servant out to invite the poor and disabled. He kept sending the servant out until the house was full.

In his anger, the host also said that none of the men originally invited would taste his banquet. (24)

The master of the house represents God. The banquet represents the kingdom of God, especially in eternity. The invited guests were the Pharisees. The Pharisees certainly believed they would be in the kingdom of God and would be prominent in it.

However, the Pharisees refused God’s invitation to the banquet. That invitation was to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God and savior. Because they refused to believe, they would be excluded from the kingdom.

In their place would be all those the Pharisees did not believe would be in the kingdom. They believed the poor and disabled were in their condition because they were not worthy of the kingdom. Yet, Jesus extended the invitation to eternal life to those very people and those who believed joined him in heaven.

Yet, the house was still not full. So the Master sent his servants further out, to the highways, to compel people to come in.

Part of the group the Pharisees did not believe worthy of the kingdom was the Gentile peoples. Yet, they were invited and came in. In Romans 11, Paul used the image of an olive tree. Branches were broken off because of unbelief, meaning unbelieving Jews who rejected Jesus. Gentiles were grafted in.

We are descendants of those Gentiles! We thank God for extending the invitation to come into his kingdom.

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