Mon, Feb 24th - 10:23PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And when one of them that sat at dinner with Him hear these things, he said to Him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then He said to him, A certain man made a great supper, and invited many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were invited, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuses. The first said to him, I have bought a piece of land, and I must go and see it: I pray you excuse me. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray you excuse me. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I can't come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, and the maimed, and the crippled, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as you have commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said to the servant, God out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you, That none of those people which were invited shall taste of my supper (14:15-24)."
In this passage can be seen a picture of God's great invitation to all of mankind and the flimsy excuses people give for not accepting His invitation to come. The Great Marriage Feast of Matthew should be compared with this passage. This is the exact same meal that Jesus was invited to by one of the chief Pharisees. When Jesus had mentioned the resurrection in verse 14 one of the men there suddenly breaks silence by blessing anyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. He most certainly had in mind the Jewish picture of the great Messianic Feast, the one to be given by God to His People when He set up His kingdom here on earth. The orthodox Pharisee saw himself and the Jewish nation as the only ones to be invited to God's Great Supper. In the Pharisee mind no outsider, no Gentile or serious sinner would ever be an invited guest. Jesus already knowing full well the thoughts of the Pharisee mind set out to correct this misconception in three ways:
1) The Great Supper will be held. The Pharisee was correct in his picture of a great gathering and feast in "the resurrection."
2) The Great Supper will include guests from the highways and hedges of this world, not just Jews.
3) This parable can apply to Israel in verses 16-22, and to Gentiles in verses 23-24. But the parable has a strong personal message to all people everywhere: people are saved by responding to God's invitation to come, and they are lost by making excuses as to why they can't come. We must also notice that God is planning a huge feast where all who accept His invitation will be gathered together in His house. Once the guest list is filled, time will be no more; all things will end. The doors to His banquet hall will closed and locked forever to those who refused to come.
God issues the invitation to God's Great Supper to countless millions of people. God has made everything ready. Christ has already purchased redemption for every person through His death and resurrection. The provisions for the Great Supper have now been secured and are waiting for the guests to accept and come. Who are the "many?" It is all those who hear the gospel in church, from a preacher, from a witnessing believer, over television, radio, or internet, by reading, or through conscience. The many are all of those who hear, see, or read the gospel and who sense a personal invitation to join God at His great feast. The invitation is given more than just once. It has come in the past, it comes here in the present, and it will come in the future as well. This is seen in that the invitation was sent out to inform people of the upcoming Supper. Then it was followed up as soon as "all things were ready." Finally, the invitation was made two more times to the people at the fringes of society and to those far away.
Initially at the beginning the invitation is accepted by all. The servant was first sent to those that were invited at first. These guests ought to have known to come, but when the servant came to inform them that it was now time to come, they produced all sorts of excuses why they could not come. Had they ever intended to actually come? Or did they allow "more important" things to distract them? What were their real priorities in life? The bottom line was that they were not prepared to come to the feast. The first excuse came from the man who said he was too involved in business to come. He had just closed a real estate deal and needed to look after it. People can easily become too involved in any business, not just real estate. My business, profession, and personal affairs must not be allowed to take first priority in my life. God is to be the center of my life and He is that which all else revolves around. The second excuse came from a man who said he was too wrapped up in new livestock purchases. His oxen had just been bought. They were his new pride and joy and he couldn't wait to try them out as a team. So it is today with purchases such as houses, property, cars, boats, hunting/fishing equipment, books, flat panel TVs, sound systems, lawnmowers, and personal computers. Material things shouldn't keep me from God. The third excuse came from a person who said that he was too wrapped up in his new family. He was a newlywed, and it is most certainly true that marriage is ordained by God. But it is not to be put ahead of God. This man ought to have prepared for this Great Supper before becoming married. Nothing should be put before attending God's Great Supper.
At this point in the parable the master of the house becomes angry at the guests who claim to be too busy to come to his home. What is the lord's response? Those guests who rejected his invitation showed both unconcern and contempt for the good-faith invitation. They showed unconcern over the great cost to God in preparing and providing "all things". The great cost and price He paid was of little if any concern to them. They showed contempt in that they deceived the lord. They did not tell him upfront that they would not attend, they gave the impression that they were coming, even though they were not really preparing to come by cleaning themselves and dressing properly. They were consumed with doing other things. So the lord had good reason to become angry. These people had given no thought to the great expense that been gone to. Thus not a single one of these guests who rejected his invitation were allowed to even taste of His supper.
We must note that the lord sent out more invitations to other people quickly. God will not allow His plan to be changed or stopped. He has a planned feast and no one will be allowed to stop it by any of their actions. God is going to fill His banquet hall quickly. He sends His servant out saying, "Go quickly." Here is the challenge to all believers! God wants this job done quickly and not slowly or at a snail's pace. God's servant is to go out into the streets and lanes of the city. The servant is to leave the homes of the rich and luxurious, the self-sufficient and the worldly-minded, the religionists and the self-righteous. The servant is to go out from among the acceptable and established and reach out to the people of the streets and the highways. God's servant is to go to those who will require assistance in order to come; the servant is to go to those who know and readily admit that they need help in order to come. Importantly we must understand that the servant is commanded to "bring in" these to whom the servant is sent. Do we today feel that we are "sent" by God out into the world to "bring in" people to His Great Supper? I really hope so. Otherwise, why are we even Christians? We are to bring in the poor, those who will need new and appropriate clothing. Some of the poor will aceept the clothing. We are to bring in those who are maimed and crippled, for they will require support and perhaps to even be carried to the banquet hall. We are to bring in the blind, those who will need to be guided and directed.
Of course, not all of these people who are invited will come either. They are perhaps too prideful to accept, too embarrassed, too bitter or ashamed, or too self-pitying. What are we to do then? We are to go out into the highways and hedges and compel people to come. No longer are we being asked to politely invite people in order to not offend any, no, we are told to compel them to come. I interpret this to mean that we take the kid gloves off and we preach the Gospel boldly, unashamedly, courageously, and determinedly. No more time for beating around the bush. Announce that a radical new reality is being offered to them, one that will change their lives and give them new hope, one that requires a response from them immediately. Compel is not to be thought to be the application of physical force, for this is never condoned by Christ. It is to be the force of preaching and persuasion, by the power of the Holy Spirit reaching out through us. The question to be answered is this: Are we living in that last time where we must go out and compel people to come? Is time running out?
Finally, we arrive at the conclusion of the parable, and Christ's end point for the Pharisee and his guests. Those who reject God's invitation to come are excluded from coming later. There will be no second chance. We see this point made in Matthew 25:10, Mark 10:15, I Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:27, Jeremiah 8:20, and Hosea 9:17. God extends His hand in invitation, but if you or I choose to reject His invitation we are in serious danger of being excluded forever from entering into His banquet hall.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will look at the cost of discipleship once a person chooses to harken to the invitation. Grace and peace be yours in the name of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.
Fri, Feb 21st - 8:41PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And He spoke a parable to those which were invited, when He noticed how they chose out the chief rooms; saying to them, When you are invited of any man to a wedding, do not sit down in th highest room; in case a more honorable man than you be invited of him; And he that invited both you and him come and say to you, Give this man place; and you begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that invited you comes, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher: then shall you have worship in the presence of them that sit at dinner with you. For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. Then He said to him that had invited Him, When you make a dinner or a supper, do not call your friends, nor your brethren, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; in case they also invite you again, and a recompense be made you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense you: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (14:7-14)."
Here we find Jesus having been invited to eat at the house of a chief Pharisee. He does not immediately find Himself a seat at a table, but rather, He takes time to observe where everyone is eagerly seeking to sit. Jesus tells them all a parable to illustrate a spiritual truth. Two men are invited to a feast. The first man seeks out the place of highest honor but discovers that he is asked to surrender the seat of honor to someone of more honor than himself. He is forced to swallow humiliation, embarrassment, as he is sent to sit in the seat of least honor. The second man enters the feast and takes the least honorable seat. But the host notices him and invites him to go and take a seat of much higher honor, allowing him to enjoy the worship of others of such honor seated all around him while they eat dinner. One man attempts to exalt himself higher than he ought to and faces abasement while the other man humbles himself and ultimately is exalted. That is the first part of Christ's parable. The second part is directed at the chief Pharisee who had invited Jesus to come and eat with him. This man who others looked up to, he tended to only invite those people who could repay his hospitality with other favors in return. Jesus instructed him instead to go and invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind; for these people couldn't repay him with favors. To invite these sorts of people to come and share in his prosperity would bring blessing into his life and his ultimate reward would come at the resurrection of the just.
We have to stop to analyze this word, humility. It comes from the Greek tareinophrosune, meaning lowliness of mind. It is a word that was coined by the Christians. Before Christ, a humble man was looked upon as a coward: a cringing, unappealing, effeminate type of person. But after Christ, humility was elevated to the most praise-worthy level. When men looked at Christ, they saw the strength of humility through the influence of One Who was perfect in meekness and lowliness of heart. Humility means to walk as a servant to others, always ready and willing to help. It means to believe in an unassuming manner, not being showy or pretentious, prideful or haughty, arrogant or assertive. It mans to assume a spirit of lowliness and submission, of oneness and identification with others, not showing conceit or superiority or being boastful. It means to possess a sense of lowliness and unworthiness, to have a modest opinion of oneself, knowing that others are just as significant and valuable as you are.. It also means to come to God on a regular basis and confess one's spiritual need and unworthiness.
Today it can still be seen that people have a huge problem with humility. Why? It is because the world looks upon humility as a sign of weakness an cowardice. The world sees a humble person as a person who cowers and cringes before others, as a person who the world takes and uses, misuses, abuses, bypasses, shuns, despises, ignores, neglects, bullies, and enslaves. People generally fear humility. They fear humility will make them the object of contempt and abuse, causing them to be passed over for recognition and promotion. But the opposite is true for humility leads one to Christ and redemption, to realize one's full potential, to evaluate oneself an to work at improving oneself, to become all that one can and should be, to develop more healthy relationships with other people, and to a stronger and more productive community and world. When people consider others first, they win friends and influence people. They tend to build and strengthen everyone and everything involved.
So where can I discover humility? I can find it by measuring myself against the Lord Jesus Christ. In this way I am measuring how I stand up to Perfection, for Christ was without any sin (John 8:46; II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). When I measure myself against other people I may come away feeling that I am morally good, but God demands perfection. If I measure myself against myself I come away looking really, really, good; but God demands perfection. Measured against Christ I come away realizing how far short of God's glory I actually come. I have no room for pride in that equation. Humility also comes from a continued consciousness of God's presence. No person has anything, not in reality, for we can't ensure that we will never lose all that we have. All that crosses our path is held but for a very short time, for the end of our physical life comes ever so quickly. God holds the key to eternal life: we can only walk humbly before Him Humility also comes from knowing ourselves, just who we really are. This only comes from taking honest appraisal of ourselves. It takes much courage to look at ourselves and it takes much honesty to see ourselves as we really are: basically self-centered, a bundle of self-admiration and self-love. We tend to dramatize ourselves. We tend to see ourselves through rose-colored glasses.
That is all for today, beloved! A spirit of humbleness will ultimately be rewarded by God when He exalts those who live their lives with humility. Being meek and mild does not mean one is gullible, senseless, worthless, a lesser person, or without strength of character and determination. Christ was meek and mild, full of humility, and yet the chief religious rulers of the day feared Him greatly. They ended up not being able to successfully debate Him nor to catch Him in falsehood. They could not find any sort of sin in Him. I pray that I might attain such an inner humility of heart one day. I pray that you may also attain humility as Christ had. This would change the world. Grace and peace be yours this day!
Sat, Feb 15th - 10:23AM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And Jesus responding spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they remained quiet. And He took the man and healed him, and let him go. And answered them, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not immediately pull it out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer Him again to these things (14:3-6)."
Incredibly, religionists make their religious form more important than healing people. Their legalism tops the list of what is important in life. The man stricken with illness stood before Jesus and Jesus was touched by the man's needs. It was the sabbath day, a day when the Jews allowed no work to be done. Jesus used this moment to teach all of them an important truth: that healing and helping a needy person is much more important than religious form, ceremony, tradition, and rules.
Notice the question put to Jesus: Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? The Law said absolutely not. No work whatsoever could be done, not even cooking of a meal. They could only walk a very limited distance. They could not carry much of anything. What Jesus demonstrated was that the very purpose of God is the healing of people. God is seeking to save people, to reconcile people to Himself. Hence, the very object of true religion becomes the healing of people, not form and ceremony, not ritual and rules. Religionists have the strong tendency of always putting their program and practices before meeting the needs of people. People can be desperately in need of healing within just a few short miles of a church, yet the church members will shelter their services for only a few short hours each week while people never have shelter. Or they will feed their own congregation three meals per day while so many others eat less than one meal each day and countless others starve to death. Or they will clothe their own members in the latest fashion while so many others go cold, some even freezing to death at this time of the year. Or they will fill their own buildings with the finest facilities and warmth while so many others are cold, with broken down furniture. Or they will preach and teach the man, exalting messages of self-help and social improvement, while so many are dying without ever hearing of God's personal salvation for the human soul. They will observe their religious worship and format without ever repenting of their sin and turning back towards God in complete surrender and self-denial. Too often they place their trust in baptism, religious ceremony, church membership, family heritage, worship attendance, rules, and regulations instead of in Christ Jesus Himself.
In verse four we can see that these religionists refused to confess the truth taught by Christ. Jesus had asked them if it was lawful to heal a man on the sabbath and they said nothing. No matter how they responded to His question they would offend a large number of people and run the risk of losing their loyalty. If they agreed with Christ that it was lawful to heal on the sabbath, they risked losing the support of fellow religionists and being accused of being loose with the Law. If they disagreed with Christ that it was lawful to heal on the sabbath, they risked the chance that honest and thoughtful people would charge them with being hard and indifferent to human suffering. And so they remained silent, biting their tongues. They understood that to answer Christ was to entrap themselves, at a time when they were diligently seeking to entrap Him. We then see that after a brief pause Christ reached out and healed the sick man.
Why do so many of us today embrace religionism? Perhaps too many of us slip into a routine, a way of doing things and just continue in it because it is comfortable. Perhaps we fear change for it might mean we lose some people and their support. Perhaps we fear the loss of position and security. Perhaps we fear failure, the weakening of what we already have, of losing the loyalty of our followers to our own religious position and practices. Perhaps we have not read enough of Jesus' words and understood that He wants us to go out and help people who do not know Him at all, rather than hoarding the Gospel to ourselves. Perhaps we simply are uncomfortable in meeting people who are drastically different from us. Perhaps we simply have not surrendered ourselves competely to Christ's Holy Spirit within us, choosing instead to retain control over portions of our lives.
Nothing ought to keep us from meeting people's needs, from putting them and their needs first, before all religious ritual and rules. This is the only way the hearts of people can be reached and satisfied (Colossians 2:9-10; John 10:10). It is also the only way we can stop the loss of people, who are being mislead by the droves, from going out into eternity separated from God. Too many congregations today are experiencing people coming in the front door and others leaving out the back door just as quickly. Why? All because their needs aren't being met. Christians aren't asking the correct question today. It is not simply, "Are many coming to our services?" It must be "Are people really accepting Christ?" and are they then being taught to become disciples of Christ Jesus? Are we going out into the harvest to labor for our Lord, or are we content to sit in the pews each Sunday and Wednesday and ignore the harvest completely? Have we lost our sense of urgency? Are we deceiving ourselves into believing that we do not have to go out, that there are plenty of others who are doing it for us?
The basic need of people is to know and worship the Living God in an intimate, personal, way. Yet we continually put format, order, ritual, timeliness, before trying to genuinely reach out to people and allow them the opportunity to connect with Christ during our worship services. Hey, we simply can't run past one hour and half! We have never had a service run for more than that amount of time, and it just isn't going to happen now! We have never spent thirty minutes praying in the midst of our worship service! We have never given an open altar invitation at the end of our service, just isn't right! We do not emphasize the Gospel and Christ because all of us already know about both of those, it is simply not required! What all of us must recognize is that worship services exist for people to connect with God; organization exists for people; rules and rituals exist for people, and people do not exist for any of these.
Religionists fail to see the inconsistency in their belief and behavior. They failed to see this in Jesus' time, and they continue to experience this failure right up to today. Christ exposed the error in this sort of thinking. A person would set aside their religious rule to help get their oxen out of a deep ditch but not to help any people who were in need of help. Oxen were more important, of higher value, than people were. This continues in our day in the form of us spending time and money erecting newer and bigger buildings in which to meet once or twice each week. We stress attendance rather than stressing Christ Jesus. We stress social activism rather than Christ Jesus. We preach and teach physical well-being rather than spiritual salvation and peace of heart and mind. We still covet the latest styles in cars and clothing, hair-dos and furnishings. We desire better houses, positions, pay, and security.
The conclusion is that the religionists were silenced. What can any of us say against what Christ has just taught if we are truly honest and thoughtful? Too often I am guilty of taking my eyes off of the truly important goal in life: reaching others for Christ at whatever the cost.
Grace and peace be yours this day!
Thu, Feb 13th - 9:43PM
STUDY IN LUKE
Verse thirty-four of the previous passage of Scripture reveals the rejection of Christ by the religionists and the people. Jesus looked upon Jerusalem and He wept. He saw the city as the symbol of all formal religion and of all people who rejected His witness. This passage therefore is known as "Jesus' lament over Jerusalem." The religionists and people rejected, ridiculed, abused, persecuted, and outright killed God's prophets and messengers. Those who abuse and kill God's messengers need to remember something. God holds His messengers very dear; and He is extremely protective of them. To abuse and kill one of God's true followers is a very serious offense. Jerusalem and her residents were guilty of many sins, but this was the most condemning. If we stop and recall, it was primarily the grumbling of Israel in the wilderness against Moses and God that caused God to harshly judge that entire generation. Moses was a messenger and prophet of God. The people were guilty. We find here that the people rejected the Messiah's salvation. Despite continued rejection and even murder of the godly, God's enormous patience kept after the people. But we must take note of the continued patience and love of Christ. He would have saved them time and again for He desired to save them, not to condemn them. Yet we must also not overlook these tragic words: "But you would not." Christ would save them, but they would not be saved. They heard Christ and learned of Him, yet they still rejected Him. Their rejection was a deliberate decision.
Out of this comes the warning to all those people who choose to reject Christ. This warning is of two parts. 1) They and their house are to be forsaken by God. This may mean a literal house, a nation, a religious body, a city, a local group, it does not matter, for if they reject Christ time after time and reject the privileges that they have, God will leave them all alone. They will be deserted, left without the presence of God. A place without the presence of God is like a wilderness or a desert: deserted and left all alone to waste away. 2) There is to be a day when He will return and rule supremely. This definitely refers to Christ's return to earth. Everyone who rejected Him will see Him return. But it will be too late to be redeemed. He will be returning in judgment, to bow the knee of all those who rejected His supremacy. They will not be doing so out of love for Christ, it will be because they have absolutely no other choice left to them. They will not have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, simply bowing before His power and righteousness and divinity. Their heart of rebelliousness will still remain beating.
"And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched Him. And, behold, there was a certain man before Him which had the leprosy (Luke 14:1-2)."
It can be seen that the religionists "watched" Christ with critical eyes. The Greek word parateroumenoi means to observe with a sinister purpose: to look for something wrong, to search for the incorrect, to watch for error. The religionists sat there looking at Jesus, waiting for Him to commit errors, to do what was incorrect. Rather than people trying to learn of Christ they too often search for ways to deny Him. They seek for error in His Word and for wrong in His behavior in order to deny His claim upon their lives. They feel that if they can disprove His Word and Person, they are then free to live as they wish without any accountability. Scriptures to study that pertain to this sort of "watchfulness" can be found at Mark 3:2, Luke 20:20, Psalm 37:32, Isaiah 29:20, Jeremiah 20:10-13.
But the religionists overlooked that which was really needful. The man with leprosy was not an invited guest; he just appeared. Either he came looking for help from Jesus or else he was planted there by the religionists to see if Jesus would break the sabbath law. They revealed their own failure to comprehend what was really needed. They did not see the need of this man. He was a reject in their eyes, an abnormal person who was an outcast of their society, a man who was not to be associated with. They failed to recognize this man's need and to reach out to him with compassion and love. If they had chosen to plant him at this meal then their failure was even more severe, for they were attempting to use him and his disease for their own purposes rather than reaching out to help him however they could. So we can see that religionists go about their business and do not reach out to help the needy. They also tend to use the needy for their own purposes, to achieve their own goals. It could be to show that one is benevolent, or to ease one's conscience, or to add to the statistics by bringing them into church. Their motives are impure and regretful. These two verses ought to force each of us to ponder several critical questions. How many within the church ever see the needful? How many overlook the needful? How many of the needful, of those who are forced to live at the fringes of our society, walk into the church and have others sit away from them? How many have come to church for help and been sent away empty handed? How many churches sit empty for days upon days and are not in use while so many wander the streets cold and freezing each winter? Are they being overlooked deliberately? Or are the churches just ignoring and neglecting them? How many believers and churches have nice houses and buildings and plenty of food, yet their own communities or cities are full of needful people who are going hungry and unclothed and unsheltered? How many ever think about a world full of teeming millions who are desperately needful? Who are the ones suffering and lost, never having heard the gospel of Christ?
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will write about the religionists some more. I realize that it must seem that I am just hammering away at these people unmercifully. Yet, it is God who is pointing out their errors of choice in what to believe. Belief directly affects world view which then affects one's behavior. May grace and peace adorn you this day.
Sat, Feb 8th - 10:25PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying to Him, Get out, and depart from here: for Herod will kill You. And He said to them, You go, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I cure people today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk today and tomorrow, and the day following that: for it can't be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killed the prophets, and stoned them that are sent to you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate: and truly I say to you, You shall not see Me, until the time come when you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord (13:31-35)."
There are some rather unusual things about Jesus in this passage. Some Pharisees apparently cared enough about Jesus to warm Him. Herod plotted against Jesus. Jesus was none to subtle in calling Herod a "fox." Jesus knew how long He would live in His human body. Jesus knew the location of His death. Jesus deliberately walked into the trap set to ensnare Him. Jesus still lamented over those who had rejected Him and sought to kill Him. Jesus revealed that a future day was coming when there would be Godly supremacy over the entire world.
Jesus has always been rejected and despised by people. He has been and still is opposed by the ordinary person, the religionist, and the ruler. There is not a single class of people who run to Jesus out of true belief in Him. Opposition to Jesus runs from ignoring Him all the way to trying to stamp out His witness through His disciples. Some ridicule, belittle, and abuse the disciples of Christ, while others persecute and outright kill them.
But what of these "certain Pharisees" who came and warned Jesus? It reveals that not all Pharisees sought to kill Jesus, but that a few respected Him and were not hostile to Him and His teachings. They may not have been able to wrap their minds around His revelations and healings, but they were not seeking to kill Him. From what Scripture reveals, most Pharisees rejected and stood against Christ. When they looked at Christ they saw a good man, perhaps a prophet from God, maybe even the Messiah, maybe. From in Acts 6:7, 15:5, and 18:8,17 we know that some Pharisees did accept Jesus as the Messiah, so perhaps some of these were the ones who warned Jesus about Herod's plans.
King Herod plotted to kill Jesus. Herod could hardly allow someone purported to be the "King of the Jews" by the holy scriptures to go walking around spreading rebellion against him. He had to take steps. He had to take precautions to protect his claim to the throne. Stop and think about what was happening at this time. Jesus was walking around in Galilee and thousands of people were following Him around the entire region. The entire country was aroused with rumors of the Messiah having come! And when the subject of a Jewish Messiah came up, the authorities paid very close attention. History shows that when someone claimed to be the Messiah, uprisings and revolts of some kind took place. Herod was going to be paying very close attention and keeping an eye on these developments to prevent them from getting out of his control. We must observe here a lesson for us: The Pharisees who warned Jesus went against prevailing feelings. What they did was not popular among their peers, but still, they went ahead and did what they felt in their heart was the right thing to do. They stood up for Christ.
We must not forget one other thing about Herod. He had reacted against the righteousness of John the Baptist and had had him beheaded. King Herod was captive to what many political leaders today still experience:
* The fear of the people's first loyalty going to God instead of to the government.
* The fear of the teaching of Christ: the responsibility of people to God.
* The fear of true righteousness and justice and love. These often run contrary to what government leaders really want.
It is for these reasons that men try to erase the witness of Christ. Jesus called Herod "that fox." It is a symbol of:
* a sly person
* a subtle person
* a base person
* a crafty person
* a treacherous person
* a destructive person
People will attack the witness of Christ by being one or more of the above things.
Jesus said three things about these attacks against His witness. His ministry and witness would be "perfected" (teleioumai). This word means competed and finished. His ministry of delivering people spiritually and physically would not be stopped by any person, even rulers such as King Herod. His words "the third day I shall be perfected" mean that His witness and delivering power will be completed and finished. There was to be a definite time for it, then His witness would stop. It would be no more. But until that day comes, nothing can stop His ministry and witness. We now know that this was a reference to His death and resurrection on the third day. While on the cross He said that it was finished. In His resurrection is the perfection of His ministry. Death is conquered and mankind's salvation is completed. "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they killed and hanged on a tree: Him God raised the third day, and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after he arose from the dead (Acts 10:39-41)." "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every person in their own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming (I Corinthians 15:20-23)." "But for us also, to whom righteousness shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:24-25)." "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you (I Peter 1:3-4)."
Jesus said that His walk today, tomorrow, and the day after "must be." The word "must" (dei) means necessary, being necessary by the very nature of the case. Christ's witness was a divine necessity overseen and ordained by God, and it can't be stopped. Christ's walk and witness were directed by God the Father. This concept then leads to the inevitable question of "How many of us know the divine necessity of God to witness to others? How many of us walk today, tomorrow, and the day after under the direction of God? Tough questions.
Christ's death must happen inside Jerusalem. It was the capital of the nation Israel, the symbolic center of the nation's government, religion, and hopes for the future. It was in Jerusalem that the Temple stood and that their ruling body (the Sanhedrin) governed and judged the nation. If a prophet were to die, the decision for death was made no where else but in Jerusalem. Thus, Jesus said when the people kill Him, He must be killed in the place that symbolized all of the hopes and activities of the people. This was necessary to fulfill prophecy about the Messiah, to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.
That is all for today, beloved! May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ rest upon you! May each of us walk under the direction of God each and every day of our lives.
Sat, Feb 1st - 9:50PM
STUDY IN LUKE
Let's continue with the passage from last time. Verse 26 reveals to us that the saved are not citizens of so-called Christian nations nor members of certain denominations or fellowships or churches. We must take note of the exact language used here, "We have eaten and drunk in Your presence." They were where He was, in His very presence. They were where His Word was taught and preached. They were where His works were performed. "You have taught in our streets." They were citizens of nations which allowed His teaching and they allowed His teaching in their own streets, neighborhoods, cities, and homes. These are the people who only profess in believing; they are not genuine believers. They had all of the privileges of the gospel; some are even baptized church members and moral persons, but they never dedicated their whole being to strive after salvation. They continued to live worldly and unrighteous lives, seeking the possessions, comforts, and power of this world. "Not every one that says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but they that do the will of My Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21)." "They profess that they know God; but in works/deeds they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and reprobate to every good work (Titus 1:16)." "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth (I John 3:18)." "And they come to You as the people come, and they sit before You as my people, and they hear Your words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness. And, see, You are to them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: fo rthey hear Your words, but they do not do them (Ezekiel 33:31-32),"
After this are spoken words of judgment and rejection coming from God. The saved shall be separated from the unsaved, and the unsaved shall see them enter God's kingdom. God shall not "know" the unsaved nor where they come from. They had lived their lives in a different realm of existence, a different world of thought and behavior than God had. Their background will have been entirely different than that of God. Not having the righteousness of Christ to apply to their sin-nature, they shall remain outside of the kingdom of heaven for all eternity. It is seen here that God will have to reject the unsaved, because they have been "workers of iniquity." It is also seen that the unsaved will weep and gnash their teeth. The reason is that they will actually see their fathers, mothers, sisters, or brothers, entering into the kingdom. They will know that they shared a common heritage with these individuals but made different choices in what to believe. They will know without any doubt that they have been thrust out of the kingdom due to their unbelief. Stop and think about how many will observe godly parents, children, friends, neighbors, and coworkers enter God's kingdom, and find themselves shut out? How tragic for those individuals who chose to not strive for salvation, who claimed that it was pure foolishness! Just in case any of us wish to delude ourselves into thinking that weeping and gnashing of teeth signifies just a wee bit of unhappiness, brugmos means grinding, biting in hostility and bitterness and indignation; spitefully snapping the teeth; rage, fury, and despair because nothing can be done. The weeping means loud grief, mourning, groaning, wailing, with floods of tears.
Verses 29-30 reveal to us the Gentile call and conversion to Christ Jesus. The saved will come from all nations and classes of society. We live in the midst of this great Gentile revival and conversion today. We can see that the saved will come from every region of the earth, all compass points are covered. Salvation is of God, who rules over the entire earth, and it is by faith, by striving to enter into God's kingdom. "Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20)." "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17)." Look to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:22)." The saved will sit down in the Kingdom of God. The picture is that of the great marriage feast of the Messiah. The saved come from all walks of life, all professions, even from among those who are labeled as "last" by people. Class status does not matter to God. He is no respecter of persons, He plays no favorites. He saves any person who strives to enter salvation. Many who are first in the minds of themselves and others shall end up being last, or unsaved, and many who are considered as being last will end up being first into the kingdom. Are you considered to be first in the mind of God? If not, then you need to get cracking, open up that Word of God and strive to find the narrow gate and enter in. Broad is the way that the majority of people will choose to walk in life and it is the way that leads to utter destruction.
Next time I will look at the tragic rejection of Christ, the warning given Christ by the religionists of His day, and the return warning handed out by God to those who reject Jesus Christ. It is illuminating reading and causes the reader to stop and do some deep pondering about their own personal choices of belief. Grace and peace be with you and all of your loved ones.
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