Sunday, April 30, 2017


Jesus Rejoices

The context here is the return of the 72 disciples and their power over demons and sickness. After hearing their reports, Jesus rejoiced.

Notice that Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. Here we see all of the members of the Trinity mentioned. Jesus rejoiced. He did so in the Holy Spirit. He and the Holy Spirit rejoiced at something the Father did. So, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all mentioned.

That is opposed to Modalism, the idea that God is one but reveals (manifests) himself at different times as Father, Son and Spirit. The best known modern Modalists are Oneness Pentecostals. But here, all three persons of the Godhead interact. There is rejoicing, delegation of authority, and relational knowledge. If there were not three persons, Jesus was misleading those around him.

Why did Jesus rejoice?

He rejoiced for two reasons: first, that the Father hid these things from the wise and understanding and second, he revealed them to little children. (21) What are “these things”?

Since Jesus had just told them to rejoice in their salvation, he must mean the gospel, the good news of salvation.

God has always been concerned about the little guy. In the Old Testaments, the prophets condemned oppression of the poor, of widows and orphans and aliens. The Bible is replete with condemnations of the proud. For example, Isaiah prophesied that “the haughty looks of man shall be brought low and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day”. (Isaiah 2:11)

When John’s disciples asked Jesus if he was the Messiah, Jesus said “go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:25)

God’s care for the poor and powerless carried forward into the ministry of Jesus. The gospel was primarily preached to the poor and the poor primarily responded to it. That is why Paul could tell the Corinthians to “consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

God revealed the gospel to those who come to him in child-like faith. The disciples were those children, those who received Jesus and believed on him.

In contrast, the religious establishment, and the political establishment, did not understand and believe the gospel and rejected Jesus. God hid the secrets of the gospel from those who thought they were wise.

Although we receive Jesus, only God gets the glory for our salvation. That is why we are saved by grace and not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Jesus rejoiced and thanked God that he hid these things from those who were wise in the ways of the world. That may seem harsh to us, that God would hide understanding of the gospel from some. But Jesus said it was the Father’s gracious will. And Jesus always rejoiced when the Father’s will was done.

Since God is sovereign, he may reveal himself to whom he chooses. The passage says he handed that over to Jesus, the Son. And so no one knows the Father unless the Son chooses to reveal the Father to them. (22)

The Old Testament bears this out. God revealed himself to Abraham. As far as we know, he did not reveal himself to anyone else on the planet at that time. God revealed himself to Israel, but not Assyria or Egypt.

God does not have to reveal himself to anyone or save anyone. If he chooses to do so, it is an exercise of his grace.

Jesus told the disciples they were blessed to see what they saw and to hear what they heard. (23) He pointed out that prophets and kings in Old Testament days desired to see the coming of God’s salvation, but did not.

We are blessed as the disciples were. Although we did not see and hear Jesus in the flesh, he called us to himself and saved us. Then he gave us his Word to teach us more about him. We are most blessed and should, as Jesus instructed, rejoice that our names are written in heaven.

The Object Lesson: The Parable of the Good Samaritan

After teaching that God hid these things from the wise, Jesus gave them an object lesson. As he taught, a lawyer stood up and “put him to the test”. A lawyer in this context was a man who was educated in, and probably taught, the Old Covenant law.

The man asked Jesus a valid question, but evidently did so to argue with Jesus (to put him to the test). He asked “what shall I do to inherit eternal life”. (25)

Knowing the man was knowledgeable in the law, Jesus put the question back on the lawyer. Jesus asked what the law said in the opinion of the lawyer.

The lawyer knew the answer and gave it by quoting the Great Commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. This “commandment” is a combination of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. It is also a summary of the Ten Commandments. The first commandments tell us how we are to love God. The second set of commandments tell how we are to love our neighbors.

By giving that answer, the lawyer demonstrated his knowledge of the law and the requirements of the commandments, the requirements of God’s covenant with Israel. Jesus recognized this and said “you have answered correctly; do this and you will live”. (28) If the lawyer had stopped here, he would have come off looking good.

But the lawyer must have sensed something that New Testament believers know well: no one can keep the law. We all sin. So, the lawyer attempted to justify himself by narrowing the requirements. He wanted a list that made clear who were not neighbors. He asked “and who is my neighbor?”. (29)

And so the door is opened for Jesus to explain the law as God intended it to be obeyed. He told a story, a parable, to teach. In this story, a man traveled from Jericho to Jerusalem. Robbers attacked him, leaving him injured, mostly naked and half dead. (30)

Three people passed by the injured man. The first was a priest. He walked by on the other side of the road, like we often do when we see someone begging for money. A Levite did the same thing. Both of these men were special, chosen for service to God in the temple. But they did not help the injured man.

In contrast, someone very un-special came along, a Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans. But this Samaritan had compassion on the man. He doctored his woulds, set him on his donkey and took him to an inn. There he paid for the man to stay and heal.

At the conclusion of the story, Jesus asked who proved to be a neighbor to the injured man. Notice that Jesus has re-oriented the question. The lawyer asked who is his neighbor, who do I have to love. Jesus asked who acted as a neighbor, showing love.

The lawyer answered that the man who showed mercy proved himself to be a neighbor, thus fulfilling the commandment. Jesus agreed and said to go and do likewise. Jesus was not interested in limiting the field of those we minister to. He wants us to minister to those in need. This was the opposite of the answer the lawyer wanted. Instead of narrowing the requirements of the law, Jesus expanded them.

This is what Jesus did with the sermon on the mount. He stressed the spirit of the law where the Pharisees stressed the letter of the law. We cannot judge the lawyer too harshly, however, for we do the same. We are comfortable with people like us and uncomfortable with people who are different. We want to say we will not minister to some because they are not working, or addicts, or mentally ill. Yet, the command is to be a neighbor to those in need.

So, Jesus gave us good teaching on the spirit of the commandment. But he also gave us an object lesson. After saying that God hid the message of the kingdom from those who thought they were wise, he showed us one who thought he was wise, a man steeped in knowledge of the law but who did not understand spiritual things.

Believe in Jesus and be blessed with eternal life and spiritual understanding. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Sending the 72 Disciples: the 2nd mission trip.

After rebuffing some who wanted to follow him, Jesus appointed some from from among his disciples to send on a mission trip. Some versions say there were 72 disciples sent; some say 70. He sent them to the villages he would visit on his way to Jerusalem.

He sent them in pairs to support each other. He may also have had in mind the requirements of Deuteronomy 19:15, that a fact can only be established by two witnesses. The context of that rule was a criminal trial, but the concept seemed to have been expanded by the Jews to establish any fact. That is why the Jews accused Jesus of testifying to himself.

Jesus gave several instructions to these disciples.

First, he said to pray for laborers. Isn’t it interesting that he did not pray for people to receive him or for people to be saved. He said there were plenty of people. He used the metaphor of the harvest. He said the harvest is plentiful. (2) But the laborers are few. So, Jesus said to pray that God, the Lord of the harvest, would send out laborers. This seems to be a clear statement that the church is to go into the world and preach the gospel.

It also means God is in control of the harvest: he is Lord of the harvest.

This should be an encouragement to you. You are not a salesman charged with a quota of sales. You are a witness. Jesus will call to himself those he will save. He told Paul, as he approached the City of Corinth, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people”.  (Acts 18:9-10)

Who did Jesus have in Corinth? There were no Christians there. No Christian had gone there yet. Paul was the first. Jesus had the people he would call to himself through Paul’s preaching.

Years ago I went to Venezuela on a mission trip. My Spanish was weak. But I wanted the trip to count. I felt a burden for the lost in that country. I prayed for God to use me. One day in my quiet time, I came upon Acts 18. The Spirit led me to understand that God had people in Venezuela. He would use my witness to bring them to himself. And he did! By the time the week was over, I had led more than a dozen people to the Lord. It was amazing. There is a harvest out there. You are not a salesman. You are a harvester.  

The disciples would also go as lambs among wolves. (3) They were to be gentle and honest in sharing the gospel. They were not to employ worldly means of force, deception or guile. It should be the same with us. We are tempted always to attract people with a show in order for them to hear the gospel. But the apostle Paul wrote “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

But the presence of wolves also indicates danger. The Twelve were mostly executed as were many early Christians. Today in the Middle East, Christians have suffered and died in great numbers over the last few years. Right here in American, you may be opposed and ridiculed and, in certain places, beaten for sharing the gospel. There is a cost to proclaiming Jesus.

Second, Jesus instructed the disciples to travel light and accept the hospitality of those they encountered. They were not to carry extra money or shoes, no bag, and to refrain from greeting those they encountered on the road.

This instruction is a testimony that God will provide for those who go in his name. This was to be a quick trip for the disciples. It was important that they not get mired in thinking of their comfort.

Jesus said to accept the hospitality of the first home that welcomed them. (7) They were not to go home to home or to seek better accommodations. They were to eat whatever they were given. (8) This is often a challenge for missionaries. But, again, Jesus wanted them to focus on their mission, not on their food or their mattress.

In return for hospitality, they were to declare peace on the house. That peace would remain on those who welcomed them. In other words, God would reward those who showed hospitality to the disciples by bringing peace to their household. But if the person rejected them, the peace would not remain with the household.

This acceptance was tied to the message of the kingdom, the gospel. Those who accepted the message, and thus the disciples, were sons of peace. They received peace with God. Those who rejected the disciples and their message, brought judgment on themselves rather than peace.

The same is true today. When you knock on a door and share the gospel with the person living there, they are put into a dilemma. They may accept Jesus, his message and his messenger. If so, peace with God in eternal life is theirs. If not, the reject Jesus and face judgment for that rejection.

Third, Jesus said not to greet anyone on the road. Greetings in that culture and time could be lengthy. Jesus again established priorities: getting to the villages and preaching was their priority. It was their mission. They should let nothing get in the way of that.

Fourth, they were to heal the sick and preach the coming of the kingdom of God. The advent of Christ’s righteous rule was coming and the villagers needed to be ready to receive Christ. In addition to preaching, the disciples were to minister through healing. The disciples had been given the authority we saw in 9:1, to heal the sick and to drive out demons.

The healings blessed all of those who suffered with diseases. The healings were also signs that God was at work and that the kingdom was coming. It confirmed the truth of the disciples’ message. In fact, upon healing a person, the disciple was to say “the kingdom of God has come near to you”. These people would think, if Jesus’ disciples can do these things, they must represent God and his Anointed One, the Messiah or Christ.

People experience the kingdom of God by hearing the word of God preached. They also experience the kingdom of God through the ministry of believers who love them and care for them. Sometimes it is the act of loving service that creates the willingness to hear the gospel.

Fifth, Jesus had a special instruction regarding towns who did not receive the disciples. They were to wipe the dust of that town off their feet, showing they, and Jesus whom they represented, had nothing to do with the town. It was a judgment. Indeed, Jesus said that they rejected the kingdom of god and would receive a judgment worse that that of Sodom.

Jesus singled out two cities for this judgment for what they had already done. These cities were Chorazin and Bethsaida. (13) Jesus said they would be judged more severely than Tyre and Sidon, two pagan cities in Lebanon. Those cities, which were destroyed, would have repented had they seen the miracles of the disciples. Likewise Capernaum. Jesus had healed and driven out demons there, and fed the 5,000 near there, but had been rejected. Judgment will be harsh for those who have seen and heard, but rejected Christ.

As Jesus said, those who rejected the disciples rejected Jesus. And those who rejected Jesus rejected the Father. (16) Being Jewish would not save them. They were condemned for rejected Jesus. In John 3:18, Jesus said “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God”. That condemnation comes to final fruition at the judgment. (14)

The Return of the Missionaries

When the disciples returned, they were joyful. They were especially impressed that the demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name. Jesus acknowledged the defeat of Satan. He said he saw him fall like lightning from heaven. (18) This could also be translated as “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning”. The New American Standard Bible translates it that way.

The Greek verb translated as “I saw” or “I was watching” is “theoreo” It means to look closely at something, to make a careful observation of the details. It is used in connection with a meaningful even where you want to get an accurate view so you will understand the meaning of it.

What did Jesus mean? He could have meant several things. But he at least meant he saw the swift (as lightning) defeat of Satan and his power over people. Jesus had given them authority over all the power of the enemy, who is Satan. (10:19; 9:1)

Yet, as exciting as this was, Jesus told them not to dwell on it. They should instead rejoice in their salvation, that their names are written in heaven. (20)

Jesus' mission was to save people to eternal life. It is our mission to spread this message. Our salvation is also the most important thing we have. All else is secondary. Rejoice in your salvation!

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Turning Toward Jerusalem

Verse 51 marks a turning point in Luke. From here though 19:44, Luke writes of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Jesus “set his face” to go to Jerusalem and die. Luke writes of the timing: “when the days drew near for him to be taken up”. The time had come for Jesus to die for our sins. He knew it was coming. So he determined to go there. His journey would take several months. This is also why he has begun to tell his disciples that he will be killed.

But Jesus did not go to Jerusalem only to die. He also went to be raised from the dead. Luke said the time drew near “for him to be taken up”. (51) Jesus looked forward to resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Isaiah 50:4-11 is the third of the four “Servant Songs” in Isaiah. Verse 7 prophesies the words of the Servant:

But the Lord God helps me;
Therefore I have not been disgraced;
Therefore I have set my face like a flint,
And I know that I shall not be put to shame.

As Jesus began his journey, he and his disciples needed places to spend the night along the way. Since there were no hotels, it was customary for a traveling Jew to go into a town and wait for someone to take him in.

Since there were disciples traveling with Jesus, he sent messengers ahead to a village so they could prepare to receive all of them. However, the village was a Samaritan village. Samaritans and Jews did not associate with each other. In fact, Jews would often walk a longer road to avoid going through Samaria. The Samaritans in turn came to resent the Jews. The village refused to receive Jesus and the disciples because he was going to Jerusalem.

When James and John, the Sons of Thunder, heard of this rejection, they offered to call down fire on the village. Fire represents judgment. Remember when God destroyed Sodom by raining down sulfur and fire from heaven. (Genesis 19:23) This would be a judgment on the village for rejecting Christ. Or maybe they were thinking of Elijah calling down fire on the 50 soldiers sent to capture him. (2 Kings 1:9-10)

But Jesus rebuked them. It was not the time for judgment. It was not time for destroying enemies. It was the time for preaching the gospel. When Christ returns, it will be time for judgment and destruction of Christ’s enemies. Until then, it is time for mercy.

The Cost of Discipleship, Part 2

As Jesus began his final journey, some approached him and wanted to follow him. Jesus previously spoke about this, saying that if one wanted to come after him, he or she must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow him. (23) In response to these volunteers, Jesus spoke more about the requirements of discipleship.

The first person said “I will follow you wherever you go”. (57) That is a statement of a sincere desire to follow Jesus. But Jesus pointed out the difficulty. He said although animals and birds have homes, Jesus as the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head. (58) Jesus did not own property or even rent it. There was no room for him in the inn when he was born. A Samaritan village had just refused to put him up for the night.

Jesus’ devotion to his ministry caused him to do without many comforts. You know how you come back from a trip, even a fun one, and say “it is so good to back in my own bed”? Jesus never said that. He did not have a bed. He slept in other peoples homes or on the ground.

The second person was called by Jesus to follow. (59) That person wanted to wait to bury his father. This does not mean a funeral was pending. It meant his father was elderly and he wanted to take care of him until he died. He said “first” let me me and take care of my father. After that, he would follow Jesus. He wanted to negotiate the terms of his discipleship. He wanted to put his family commitments ahead of following Jesus. But Jesus told him to go and proclaim the kingdom of God. (60)

This is what Jesus did. His family tried to bring him home. They tried to halt his preaching. But Jesus refused and said his family consisted of those who obeyed and followed him.

This command my seem harsh. But remember who Jesus is. He is God, the second person of the Trinity, our savior and our Lord. He is above all commitments we have. He is our first duty.

The final encounter involved one who said he would follow Jesus, not waiting for anyone to die, but wanted to go and say farewell to the people at home. (61) Jesus knew something other than discipleship was first in the man’s heart. So, he told him not to look back, to follow immediately and completely. If you look back, you will want to go back.

This is a good day to examine your priorities. It is a good day to re-arrange priorities. Make sure you put Christ first in your life!

Monday, April 10, 2017

If we are honest, we must admit that we are not daily and consciously looking forward to Heaven, much less to a New Earth. We’ve reduced Heaven to an otherworldly state, and we’ve ignored the clear biblical promise of a redeemed universe over which we will serve as God’s delegated rulers. We’ve become blinded to the truth, and we’ve lost our vocabulary of wonder and our anticipation of the great and glorious plan that God has in store for us. Jesus said of the devil, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Some of Satan’s favorite lies are about Heaven.


Sunday, April 09, 2017


Casting a Demon From A Boy

There is a stark contrast here between the glory of Christ and the failure of man. Jesus came down the mountain after revealing his glory to Peter, James and John. There they met the other 9 disciples who had miserably failed to cast out a demon.

The Italian painter, Rafael, painted this scene between 1516 and 1520. It depicts Christ glorified on the mountain and the disciples struggling below. He called it The Transfiguration. It was originally commissioned for the Pope to give to a city in France. But, when Rafael died, he kept it. It is now in the Vatican Museum.

When Jesus arrived, a man approached him and begged for Jesus to help his son, his only child, who was possessed by a demon. (38) This demon had tortured the man’s son. He said it made him cry out, convulsed him so that he foamed at the mouth and shatters him.

This father had faith.

Sadly, the disciples had tried but failed to cast out the demon. The man said “And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not”. (40) This is surprising because Jesus had previously given the disciples power and authority over demons. (Luke 9:1)

Why did the disciples fail to cast out the demon? The answer is in the response of Jesus. He said “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” (41) The disciples did not believe Jesus. They did not believe they could cast out the demon. Jesus was grieved by this.

When Jesus called them a faithless and twisted generation, he made an Old Testament reference. As the Israelites were about to end their sojourn of 40 years in the wilderness and enter Canaan, Moses spoke to them and warned them that they would likely act corruptly and turn away from the covenant after Moses was gone. He said, although God was faithful and just, the Israelites were a crooked and twisted generation who rebelled against God. (Deuteronomy 32:5)

It was a stinging condemnation.

Although Jesus had dealt faithfully with his disciples, demonstrating his glory in his miracles and giving them the power to do them also, they continually failed to believe and act upon the things Jesus taught them.

You see real exasperation in Jesus here. He said “how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” . (41) Jesus knew his time was short. He did not have long to teach them. But it seemed long at times because he had to continually bear them in their unbelief and failure. That leads us to the thought that our unbelief in difficult situations grieves Jesus.

Jesus cast out the demon, who made one last attack on the boy, throwing him to the ground and convulsing him. Jesus cast him out with a simple word of rebuke, for demons are subject to him.

The lesson for us is to trust God to do the things only he can do. We do not have power over demons in ourselves. Jesus has power over them and we appropriate that power in his name.

God has the power to provide the means for us to do the things he calls us to do. That is why we sometimes accept ministries or jobs without knowing where the funds will come from or exactly how we will accomplish it.

People often make fun of churches, Baptists in particular, for having lots of committees to do things. While it is good to involve people in ministry, we must be careful not to rely solely on our own ability. It is the power of God that makes ministry work.

The reaction of the disciples and the crowd was one of astonishment. They were astonished at the majesty of God. (43) As Peter, James and John had been astonished at the visible glory of God on the mountain, all are astonished at the majesty of God revealed in his power over demons. Yet, this does not say that many were led to believe in Jesus or to follow him. You can stand amazed in his presence without bowing the knee and confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

Jesus Spoke Again About His Death

This is the second time Jesus spoke of his impending death. Rather than bask in the astonishment of the crowd, Jesus told his disciples that he was about to be delivered into the hands of men. (44) He wanted to words to sink into their ears. He wanted them to remember what he was focused on.

Although Jesus emphasized his words, God concealed their meaning from the disciples so that they would not perceive it. I think the meaning for this seeming contradiction is that God wanted the disciples to remember the words so that they would recall them after Jesus’ death.

They surely understood that Jesus said he would die at the hands of men, specifically the Jews, because Jesus had already told them this. (22) They did not really understand why and how the Messiah would be killed. And they were afraid to ask. (45) They did not want to know because it was frightening.

After the resurrection, they began to understand that it was God’s plan for Jesus to die to redeem them and us. Peter illustrates this point in his first sermon. He referred to Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23)

God reveals things to us through his Word and the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote that “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:10) He does not reveal everything to us. He does not give the same level of understanding to everyone. And, he does not reveal to us all that he will reveal at one time. He reveals what he will when he will. He can do that because he is the Sovereign God.

Note that the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus about his death. (45) They knew he was talking about his death, but they did not want to know more. They wanted to contemplate power and glory. They did not want to think about suffering and death. Lots of people are that way today. They do not want to look at the cross. They want to diminish its importance.

But the main part of the gospel is not Jesus’ power over demons, it is his death for us on the cross. Some do not want to look at the cross, at Jesus’ death and at the need for satisfaction of God’s wrath on sinners. Recently a pastor in Kentucky wrote an article denying the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the idea that Jesus died for our sins. To do so is to deny the gospel.

In contrast to this pastor, Paul wrote that he resolved to know nothing among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2) He would not boast of anything except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Galatians 6:14) The cross is the center of our faith.

Seeking Greatness

Next the disciples began to argue about who was the greatest disciple. Maybe this arose from Jesus’ selection the three disciples to go up on the mountain with him. But is so common to men and women. Wherever there is a group, even of Christians, there is a power struggle or a competition to be recognized as the best.

If the disciples had understood Jesus’ saying he must suffer and die, and that following him involved the same, they may have been less anxious to be the greatest of the group. But more likely they thought of the Messiah as conquering king and how cool it would be to be the head of his army and kingdom.

Jesus knew that they were up to. Verse 47 says he knew the reasoning of their hearts. Knowing this, he created an object lesson to show them the error in their thinking. He pulled a child to him and pointed out to the disciples. He said whoever receives this child in Jesus’ name receives Jesus. And, the one that is least is the one who is great.

Children were not held to be important in the culture of that time. A Rabbi would ignore a child completely. In contrast, Jesus brought the child close to himself and said receiving this child in his name would be the same as receiving Jesus.

It takes humility to welcome a child and have a relationship with him or her. Jesus always valued the powerless that society ignored. He received children, poor people, sick people and people outside the religious establishment. He did not seek out the rich and powerful. If we receive children, and others who are powerless, we receive Jesus.

Similarly, Jesus pointed to humility in leadership. He said the one who is least is great. Jesus values humility. He is not interested in competitions, or titles or anything whereby we exalt ourselves over one another. He values humility and service. Those two traits go together. Only humble people can serve the people Jesus served. Entitled or arrogant people cannot really serve other than to show themselves off.

The Wrong Enemy

John responded to Jesus’ lesson on humility by relating an occasion where the disciples stopped a man from casting out demons in his name.
They stopped him because he was not one of the disciples (“follow with us”)

After the lesson on humility, John seems to be saying “but aren’t we disciples special?”

But Jesus says they have it wrong again. They stopped the man out of their sense of self importance as Jesus’ disciples.  They should not stop the man because he is acting for Jesus and the kingdom, even if he is not one of their group.

There were 4 events related in these stories and 4 mistakes:
1. not trusting God to do what we cannot do
2. taking our eyes off the cross
3. seeking glory for ourselves
4. fighting the  wrong enemy

Let us not make the same mistakes.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

To fall in love with God is the greatest romance, to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.


Sunday, April 02, 2017

Muslim conversion story:



The Transfiguration

Luke begins this story with a time reference. He wrote that this event occurred about 8 days after “these sayings”. He refers to Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ (20), Jesus’ foretelling this death and resurrection (22) and his giving the requirements for following him (23).

Jesus went up onto the mountain to pray. He only took three of the disciples with him: Peter, James and John. They became an inner circle of disciples. This event appears to happen at night, as the three disciples fell asleep while Jesus prayed. (32) Also, they came down the from the mountain on the next day. (37)

Luke recorded Jesus praying before beginning each new phase of his ministry. From this point on, he will “set his face” to go to Jerusalem. (51)

As Jesus prayed, his face began to change and his clothing became dazzling white, literally as white as lightning. (29) Matthew actually used the word “transfigured”. He wrote: “And he was transfigured before them and his face shoe like the sun, and his clothes became white as light”. (Matthew 17:2) Jesus was illuminated with visible glory.

The disciples saw something of the glory Jesus had with the Father before the world began. (John 17:5) They had seen Jesus in his humility as a man. Here they saw him in his majesty as God the Son, the second person of the Trinity.

But the disciples not only saw something of the past, they saw something of the present that they had never seen. They saw what exists but is invisible to us in this present age. They saw something of the supernatural realm, the reality of glory that is hidden from us. They would never doubt from that moment that there is another world. It is the place in which God the Father dwells and in which Jesus now dwells in glory.

Finally, the disciples saw something of the future. Jesus had told them he would die. But after death, he would rise from the grave. (22) He would have a resurrection body in which he would ascend to heaven. There he sits on a throne at the right hand of the Father with glory. He also told of the more distant future, that of his second coming. Then he will come in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (26) That is a sight I would love to see.

After Jesus became gloriously radiant, Moses and Elijah appeared also. They appeared “in glory”, indicating they came from heaven to be with Jesus. They had been gone for a centuries, but were alive. It may not be the point of this event, but it shows us there is life after death. In this life after death, we will have a relationship with God and with each other. In some way, Moses and Elijah shared in Jesus’ glory. So will we.

Of all the people in heaven, why were Moses and Elijah sent? Moses stood for the law. He received the law from God and gave it to Israel. Elijah, who was a prophet, stands for the prophets. “The Law and the Prophets” was one way the Jews referred to the whole Old Testament. Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 5:17) They point to him. He is the culmination of the Old Testament story.  

Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about his departure. (31) Since Luke says he would accomplish his departure in Jerusalem, he meant Jesus’ death and resurrection. The use of the word “accomplish” affirms for us that Jesus did not die by accident or against his will. He went to die because it was part of his mission to die for us. He knew it would happen. He intended for it to happen. It was the Father’s will that it happen.

Jesus said “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I received from my father.” (John 10:18)

Peter, preaching to the crowd at Pentecost, said that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”. (Acts 2:23)

So, what happened here?

Jesus revealed his glory to these three disciples. Luke wrote that they “saw his glory”. (32) Although Jesus had demonstrated his deity by his miracles, here he allows them to actually see it. Now they know that he is God, that he is divine.

John referred to this event is the prologue to his gospel as he explained the deity of Jesus. He wrote “And 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.” (John 1:14)

Peter wrote: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”, we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven for we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)

The Bible shows us that all whom experience God’s glory are stunned. The disciples here are stunned also. James and John sit there in stunned silence. Peter, however, began to babble about building shelters and staying there with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Luke wrote that Peter did not know what he was saying. (33)

Peter was wrong to place Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus. They were great prophets, but Jesus is supreme as Savior and Lord. He is God; they are not. Christ deserves honor and worship. They do not.

Peter was also wrong to try and keep Jesus on the mountain. Jesus had already said he must go and die. Peter was wrong to interfere with God’s plan for salvation.

But God the Father did not stop at showing Christ’s glory. Not only did Jesus reveal his glory, the Father affirmed it. Just as Peter began to talk, a cloud overshadowed them. (34) It was no ordinary cloud, though, and the disciples became afraid as it covered them. It was the cloud of God’s presence, of his glory. It was an even greater manifestation of God’s glory than the transfigured Jesus.

We have seen this cloud before in the Bible. When God came down to Mount Sinai to give the law to Moses, a thick cloud came onto the mountain and God was in the cloud. (Exodus 19 & 24) And God spoke to Moses from within the cloud. The cloud descended on the tabernacle while Moses watched. (Exodus 40:34-35)

Solomon saw the cloud when God’s presence filled the temple. (2 Chronicles 7:1-3) Ezekiel saw it leave the temple. (Ezekiel 10)

God spoke to the three disciples from the cloud on this occasion. He said “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (35) The Father confirmed that Jesus was the divine second person of the Trinity when he called him “my Son”. The Father\Son relationship is how God chose to reveal to us the nature of their relationship within the Trinity.

The Father’s words “my Son” relate to Psalm 2:7, where David wrote “I will tell of the decree: the LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you”. That verse related to 2 Samuel 7:14, where God said he would take David’s heir as his son. When the Father said Jesus is his son, it is giving him a royal title. This indicates that Jesus fulfilled that promise. He is the King.

He also confirmed that Jesus was the one chosen to accomplish the work of redemption. The Father’s statement that Jesus is his Chosen One refers back to Isaiah 42:1-4, where the Father said “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my should delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” Isaiah 42 is the first of the four “Servant Songs”. Jesus fulfills this passage also, as he is the servant and Chosen One of God to accomplish salvation for God’s people. Isaiah wrote about the servant offering his life as a sacrifice for God’s people. (Isaiah 52-53) The Father confirmed what Jesus said about his rejection and death by calling him his servant.

When the Father commanded the disciples to listen to Jesus, he referred back to Deuteronomy 18:15, where Moses declared “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers-it is to him you shall listen…” The Jews came to understand this prophet to be the Messiah. That is why they asked Jesus if he was the prophet.

Following the confirmations, the Father issued a command: “Listen to him”. Peter was not to babble about things he knew nothing about. Rather he, and the other disciples, were to listen to Jesus, to pay attention to his words.

The disciples got the message. They quit talking. Verse 36 says they kept silent and told no one during those days, during the remainder of Jesus’ earthly life, what they had seen.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, they did talk and write about it. John wrote a prologue to his gospel to explain that Jesus was God. He wrote:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from he Father, full of grace and truth.”

Peter also wrote about it. 2 Peter 1:16-18 says:
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made know to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’, we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”

It is common for Christians to desire to stay where they experience the Lord. But that is not the Lord’s desire. He desires us to go and tell about him. He would soon send out 70 disciples on another preaching trip. He would also commission the church to go into the world and teach his words to others.

But we have a personal duty to listen to Jesus also. We must listen when he says to trust him, and only him, for eternal life. We must listen to the cost of following him and be willing to pay it. We must listen to him say he will be with us forever. That is our assurance.