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Luke 7-12

THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE SON OF MAN

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF LUKE

Introduction (1:1-4)
Jesus' human birth and childhood (1:15-2:52)
Jesus, a man of about thirty, prepares for ministry (3:1-4:13)
Jesus' ministry in Galilee (4:14-9:50)
Jesus heads to Jerusalem and to His death (9:51-19:27)
Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem (19:28-21:38)
Jesus' last days (22:1-24:53)

 

Introductory Information about the Book of Luke

1. The author: Although the author does not name himself in the book, evidence external to the book also names Luke as the author.  "Early church tradition has consistently named Luke as the author of these volumes [Luke and Acts].  Justin (Dialogues 103, 19), the Muratorian Canon, Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3:1.1; 3:14).1, the so-called Anti-Marcionite canon and Tertullian (Against Marcion, 4:2.2; 4.5.3) name  Luke as the author." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."

We learn in Luke 1:1-4 that Luke was not an eyewitness of what he writes in the Gospel of Luke, but he "carefully investigated" the reports of the "eyewitnesses."  We also learn in Colossians 4 that Luke was a Gentile and not a Jew.  We also learn from these verses in Colossians that he was a "doctor."  "Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings." (Colossians 4:11-14)  This means that Luke was the only Gentile author of a New Testament book.

From the "we" section in Acts, we learn that Luke traveled with Paul on some of the missionary journeys. See Acts 16:10-17, 20:5-21:18, 27:1-28:16

2. The recipient: We are told in 1:3-4 that the recipient is "Theophilus."  "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:3-4)  We are not given any information about this individual.  His Greek name indicates that he was a Gentile.  He may have been a government official—Luke may have referred to him as "most excellent Theophilus" because he was a government official who customarily was addressed in this fashion.

3. The theme:  The "emphasis on the human is the master-key which unlocks Luke's Gospel; it is the 'cipher-key' which interprets the inward meaning behind the outward story." "taken from Explore the Book by J. Sidlow Baxter. Copyright 1960 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Indeed, the humanside of Jesus is emphasized more in Luke than in the other Gospels.  The following are some examples of the Gospel of Luke's emphasis on the manhood of Jesus.  Jesus' genealogy in Luke 3:23-38 goes back to the first man Adam.  Luke mentions many individual men and women: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Zacchaeus, the widow of Nain, Jairus, the widow of Zarephath, Naaman the Syrian, Cleopos, Simon the Cyrenian, the centurion at the cross who believed and others.  Many are not mentioned in the other Gospels (Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Zacchaeus, etc.).  Luke is the only Gospel that describes the visit of the shepherds to the baby Jesus.  It is the only Gospel that describes Joseph and Mary taking the baby Jesus to the temple.  And Luke is the only Gospel that records Jesus' visit to the temple as a twelve year old boy.  Luke also is unique among the Gospels in the number of women that are mentioned: Elizabeth, Anna, Mary and Martha (10:38-42), Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susana (8:3), the widow of Nain (7:11-15), the sinful woman who anointed Jesus with perfume (7:36-50), and others. See also Lk. 23:27-29 There is also a parable of a persistent widow (18:1-8) and a parable about a woman looking for a lost coin (15:8-10).  We see Jesus' human compassion for those who were outcasts in their society—the tax-collector (18:13-14), Zacchaeus (19:1-19), the many widows, the Prodigal Son (15:11-32), and the thief on the cross (22:43).

 

THE MESSAGE OF LUKE

The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the human side of Jesus Christ.  Because  Luke emphasizes Jesus' humanity, be prepared to be drawn closer to Jesus the man.  Also, because Luke emphasizes Jesus' humanity, this Gospel also helps us to believe that Jesus understands our humanness.

Warren Wiersbe's commentary on Luke is titled Be Compassionate.  He believes, as I do, that Luke describes Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, reaching out to our world of people with great compassion.  He believes that the key verse in Luke is 19:10—and I agree with him.  "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)  He says the following about pity:  "Jesus has proved conclusively that pity is a sign of strength, not weakness; and that God's power flows through loving hearts. 'Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'" "Taken from Be Compassionate by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1998 by David C. Cook."

The Bible states that God is compassionate.  "But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." (Psalm 86:15)  "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made." (Psalm 145:8-9)  "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:11)

CONTINUED: JESUS' MINISTRY IN GALILEE (4:14-9:50)

Continued: 1. Jesus' ministry with the Twelve (6:12-8:56)

c. A centurion's servant is healed. (7:1-10)
"When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, 'This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.' So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: 'Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.' When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, 'I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.' Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well."

Thought Question:  What can we learn about increasing our faith from this Roman centurion?

 

 

"When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die."  Barclay gives the following explanation of the importance of the "centurion" in the Roman army.  "In the Roman military set-up there were first of all the legion.  It was a force of six thousand men and therefore was roughly equivalent to a division.  In every legion there were ten cohorts.  A cohort therefore had six hundred men and comes near to being the equivalent to a battalion.  The cohort was divided into centuries and over each century there was a centurion.  The century is therefore roughly equivalent to a company.  The parallel to a centurion in our military [British] is a company sergeant major.  These centurions were the backbone of the Roman army." "Taken from The Acts of the Apostles by William Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by the Westminster Press on Acts 10."

"These  Roman centurions always appear in a favorable light in the N.T. (Matt. 8:5; Luke 7:2; 23:47; Acts 10:1, 22:25, 27:3)."  "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament on Acts 10 by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."

"whom his master valued highly,"  This "centurion" cared about those that served him.  The usual attitude toward slaves was quite different than this centurion's attitude.  More typically, the slaves were seen "as a living tool." "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

The "centurion" heard of Jesus and sent some of the elders of the Jews to Him. asking Him to come and "heal his servant."  When they came to Jesus, "they pleaded earnestly with him, 'This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.'"  This "centurion" not only cared for his "servant," but he cared for the people his country Rome was ruling over.  This generosity toward the Jews may have been due to a receptivity by him to the God of the Jews.

"So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: 'Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you."  It is clear that God had prepared the heart of this "centurion" to be receptive to Jesus.  Life had not hardened his heart, but softened him.  He somehow realized that the Jews were God's people and that Jesus was, somehow, a spokesman for God.  He saw himself as unworthy to approach such a man as Jesus—he did "not deserve to have" Him even "come under" his "roof."  We are reminded of Peter's similar humility in 5:8: "When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, 'Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!'" (Luke 5:8) See also Acts 10:28. 11:2-3

This type of humility is a prerequisite to true faith.  The opposite type of attitude is present when we think that we are worthy.  This type of arrogance blinds us and prevents us from seeing our own unworthiness.

The "elders of the Jews" said, "This man deserves to have you do this."  The "centurion" says the very opposite: "I do not deserve to have you come under my roof."  This "centurion" recognized his sinfulness.  The prophets clearly stated that all men are sinful.  Jeremiah puts it this way:  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)  Isaiah puts it this way:  "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

The "centurion" got it right; the "elders of the Jews" were wrong.  No one deserves anything from God, but His righteous judgment.  But when we acknowledge our sins and our need for God's grace, He warmly responds to us as Jesus warmly responded to this "centurion."  The Bible, in many places, reveals that God warmly responds to the humble.  "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" (James 4:6)  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:17)  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

There is a difficulty in harmonizing the account in Matthew 8:5-13 with the account in Luke.  In Matthew 8, it appears that the "centurion" speaks directly to Jesus when he requests Him to heal his "servant" and when he describes his unworthiness.  "When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 'Lord,' he said, 'my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.' Jesus said to him, 'I will go and heal him.' The centurion replied, 'Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.'" (Matthew 8:5-8)  But, Luke tells us here that there was no direct contact with Jesus.  He describes all of the communications between the "centurion" and Jesus as being done through messengers.  Morris gives this explanation:  The best solution is "to see Matthew as abbreviating the story and leaving out details inessential to his purpose.  What a man does through agents he may be said to do himself.  So Matthew simply gives the gist of the centurion's communication to Jesus, whereas Luke in greater detail gives the actual sequence of events." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

"'But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.'"

Faith can be defined as seeing the unseen reality.  This "centurion" saw that Jesus' authority was superior to his own authority.  If soldiers did what he told them to do, Jesus could order his "servant" to be healed from any place and it would be done.

"When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, 'I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.' Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.'"  The Jews should have also seen to be true what this "centurion" saw to be true.  Instead, Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. See also Matt. 15:28

How does this centurion's "great faith" help us to also have this type of "faith"?  There are those, through the years, who have also been said to have had "great faith"—men like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor, for example.  What can we learn from this centurion's "great faith" to help us toward increasing our faith?  May we echo the disciples desired.  "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'" (Luke 17:5)

The "centurion" recognized that Jesus' great authority came from His having access to the highest authority over all.  This "centurion" lived his life daily under Rome's authority.  "The words set under ["under authority" in the NIV] are commonly understood to mean placed in a subordinate position; but this would be more accurately expressed by the perfect participle [something that took place in the past and continues to be true] . . .  The present participle [the verb form used here] indicates something operating daily and the centurion is describing not his appointed position so much as his daily course of life. . . . The words might be paraphrased thus: 'I am a man whose daily course of life and duty is appointed and arranged by superior authority.'" "Taken from Word Studies in the New Testament by M. R. Vincent.  Copyright 1972 by Associated Publishers and Authors."

How does this translate into "great faith" in our lives?  When we are serving and trusting God, we are authorized and enabled to do so by the highest authority.  Listen to Jesus' commissioning of us.  "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:18-20)  "Great faith" is seeing this unseen reality and pursuing God's objectives for us, to the last day of our life.

Paul was given this promise by Jesus.  "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them." (Acts 26:17)  So, Paul persevered through imprisonments, beatings, persecution, opposition, and ship wreck; because he believed that God would rescue him.  This is what he said at the end of his life.  "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (II Timothy 4:16-18)

May we also trust God as so many have before us.  And may we also do what Paul did.  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

"Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well."   It appears that though Luke tells us that the "centurion" did not speak directly to Jesus, that he did leave his home.  When he and the messengers returned, the centurion's "servant" was "well." 

This same Jesus who responded to this centurion's "faith," will also respond to all who venture out to serve Him.  George Mueller started orphanages in England; Hudson Taylor started a missionary outreach to other parts of the world.  God both led them and provided for their needs.  Our ventures may not seem to us to be as significant, but wherever God leads us, He will also enable us and provide for us.  Someone has said, "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you."  Jesus has that "authority," as a "centurion" of many years ago realized!

d. Jesus resurrects a dead widow's son. (7:11-17)
"Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don’t cry.' Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, 'Young man, I say to you, get up!' The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. 'A great prophet has appeared among us,' they said. 'God has come to help his people.' This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country."

Thought Question: What can we learn about God's compassion from Jesus' resurrection of the widow's son?

 

 

"Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don’t cry.''' 

"a town called Nain,"  "It is generally held that the site was the modern Nein, about 6 miles south-east of Nazareth on the slopes of the Little Hermon and a day's journey from Capernaum." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."  It is the only time this city is mentioned in the Bible, but for one lady it was a very significant visit that Jesus made to her village.

A "widow" in that village had just lost her "only son."  The funeral procession was leaving the village through "the town gate."  "Rock tombs outside the village exist there today." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."

The death of her "son" meant this "widow" was in a very needy state.  She had lost her two main sources of financial income, as well as their emotional support.  She surely felt all alone and was fearful about her future as she walked along with that funeral procession.

But she would soon find that she was not alone.  One of God's coincidences occurs here.  Jesus comes to the city just as the funeral procession is leaving the city.

"When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don’t cry.''  "His heart went out to her" translates a Greek word that can also be translated, "had compassion."  Barclay has this to say about this Greek word:  "There is no stronger word in the Greek language for sympathy and again and again in the gospel story it is used of Jesus (Matthew 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41, 8:2)." "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  The shortest verse in the Bible describes Jesus' depth of compassion.  "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

Here, we have Jesus' compassionate response to this "widow."  How can this event in history be of help to us today?  Is Jesus stoically observing us?  Is He unemotionally indifferent to our tough times?  Whenever we have genuine compassion for others, it is the Spirit of Jesus Christ in us that has given us this compassion.  He still looks on all that takes place with the compassion that He had as He looked on that funeral procession so many years ago.  "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

The words of the hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" speaks of Jesus' compassion toward us.  "In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there."

"Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, 'Young man, I say to you, get up!' The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."  What happened here, is every Christian's hope.  Does Jesus have the power to bring the dead back to life?  Paul put it this way: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (I Corinthians 15:17-19) See also I Kings 17:17-24; II Kings 4:8-37; Lk. 8:40-41, 49-56; Jn. 11:1-43 for other resurrections.

"touched the coffin,"  By doing this, Jesus became ceremonially unclean.  "Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days." (Numbers 19:16)  But, Jesus transformed the dead man who was unclean into an alive man who was no longer unclean.

"the coffin,"  "The man was probably carried in an open coffin, suggested by Jewish custom and the fact that he sat up in response to Jesus' command." "NIV Study Bible note."

"The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."  This widow's emotions completely changed at that moment from great sorrow and fear to great joy and hope.  In heaven, we will experience even greater joy as we are reunited with family and friends at the resurrection.  God also gives us times on earth where our sorrow is turned to joy.  "For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." (II Corinthians 7:5-7)

Thought Question:  Describe a time when God changed your sorrow to joy?

 

 

"They were all filled with awe and praised God. 'A great prophet has appeared among us,' they said. 'God has come to help his people.'  This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country."  The people were astounded by what they had just seen—a dead man sitting up and talking.  They recognized that a man of God was in their midst.  For as Elijah and Elisha raised a man from the dead, so had Jesus raised a young man from the dead.  They saw Him as "a great prophet."  A "great prophet" was predicted by Moses.  "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him." (Deuteronomy 18:15)  They appear to have believed that Jesus was that "great prophet."  But these villagers do not appear to have recognized that Jesus was also the Son of God. See also Lk. 24:19; Acts 3:22-23; Jn. 1:21, 7:37-44

e. John the Baptist learns that Jesus is the Promised One.  (7:18-35)

(1) John sends two disciples to ask Jesus if He is the Promised One. (7:18-23)
"John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' When the men came to Jesus, they said, 'John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”' At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, 'Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.'"

Thought Question: Name a time when things happened to you that did not make sense to you, and where you wished you could have sent messengers to Jesus so that He would explain it all to you?

 

 

"John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' When the men came to Jesus, they said, 'John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”'"

"John the Baptist" shows his humanness here.  He had proclaimed already that Jesus is the Messiah.  "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.'" (John 1:29-31)  Yet, here, "John the Baptist" begins to wonder if Jesus is the Messiah.  It is likely that he did not expect to end up in jail (and eventually die) if the Messiah was present in Israel.

Don't we also have times when something happens to us that seems inconsistent from what a loving and all-powerful God would allow to happen to us?  If we could send a messenger to God, at those times, with our question, we would.  That's what "John the Baptist" did.  He sent "two" messengers asking if Jesus is the Messiah. 

"So the imprisoned herald must been wondering.  'If Jesus is the Messiah, why does he not do something about my incarceration?" "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

As I type these words, there are Christians in prison in the Middle East, and they are there because they will not refute their belief in Jesus Christ.  They and we can ask, "Why does not an all-powerful and loving God do something?"  We are still asking the same type of questions that "John the Baptist" asked.  The answer, undoubtedly, is that He has eternal purposes for what He does that we do not understand now.  It is not that He does not have the power or the desire to rescue people from those that are evil, but that He has purposes that we do not know that will one day explain it all to us.  "John" certainly understands now. 

We saw in Luke 3:19-20 why "John" was in prison.  "But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison."

It is not unusual for great spiritual leaders to have their times of doubt and uncertainty.  Moses was ready to quit on one occasion (Numb. 11:10-15).  Elijah (I Kings 19) and Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7-9, 14-18) were also ready to give up.  Even Paul knew the meaning of despair (II Cor. 1:8-9).

"At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, 'Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.'"

In 7:17-18, we see that "John" already knew about the miracles.  "This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. John’s disciples told him about all these things. . . . " (Luke 7:17-18)  As Hendriksen mentions, it may be that he had not put the miracles together with the prophecies of the Messiah.   Here are some of those prophecies:  "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35:5-6)  "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners," (Isaiah 61:1)  "In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 29:18-19)  See also Isa. 42:1-7 

Barclay makes a good point.  "This is not the answer John expected.  If Jesus was God's anointed one, John would have expected him to say, 'My armies are amassing.  Caesarea, the headquarter of the Roman government is about to fall.  The sinners are being obliterated. And judgment has begun.'" "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."
"John the Baptist," the preacher of God's judgment, may have been expecting God's judgment and not His mercy.

"'Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.'"  Isaiah predicted that Jesus' type of ministry would be an obstacle for many.  "and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare." (Isaiah 8:14)  That is a prediction of Jesus Christ.  Paul quotes that verse in Romans 9:  "But Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the 'stumbling stone. As it is written: 'See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (Romans 9:31-33)

"John the Baptist" would be blessed if he continued to trust in Jesus; even though he was surprised that it turned out differently than he thought it would.

Sometimes, our perception is that God should do this or do that.  When He does not do what we believe that He should do, we can think that Jesus may not be the kind of God that we need.

We need to trust that God's ways are better than our ways, even when they do not make any sense to us.  We know now why Jesus came—to die on the cross and rise from the dead.  "John" did have that information.  Remember what he said of Jesus earlier.  "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" (John 1:29)  But, he did not have it as clear as it is to us today.

(2) Jesus tells the crowd that John the Baptist is more than a prophet from God. (7:24-28)
"After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: 'What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.'"

Thought Question:  How are we who are now "in the kingdom of God" "greater" than John?

 

 

 "After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: 'What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.'"

Robertson points out that these words begin what is very likely Jesus' "eulogy" of "John." See Matt. 14:1-12

"'What did you go out into the desert to see?'"  First of all, what type of person survives living in "the desert" or the wilderness?  It is a strong wilderness type of man.  "John the Baptist" was that type of man.  He was not a soft type of person at all.  He was not a person that vacillated with the current political winds of his day.  Paul described this commitment to the truth to be a sign of spiritual maturity.  "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." (Ephesians 4:14)

"John the Baptist" stood by the truth regardless of how much it cost him.  He was in prison at this time for rebuking the immoral behavior of the king and his wife.  John did not cater to those in power, but even rebuked them. 

"'But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”'"

I will again quote from the parallel passage in Matthew (11:9-10)  "'John' the Baptist was a 'prophet'—a spokesman for God.  But he was 'more than a prophet.'  Why?  He was the 'prophet,' who was the forerunner of the promised King, that was predicted in Malachi:  "'See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.'" (Malachi 3:1a) See also Isa. 40:3-5; Jn. 1:19-34

"'I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.'"  Bock gives a good answer to why we who are part of Christ's kingdom are "greater than John."  None of us are greater than him in boldness; nor will we have a greater impact on our world than he had; and none of us have a more important role in the world than he had.  So how, then, are we "greater"?  "Jesus is indicating how great the difference is between the old era of the prophets of promise and the new era of the kingdom tied to Jesus.  The greatest of the old era cannot touch the position of the lowest of the new! . . . . Other New Testament texts argue that the prophets and the angels longed for these days (Mt 13:17; I Pet 1:10-12).  The kingdom's presence elevates everyone who shares in it to a new status." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."

In short, would we rather be a prophet in the Old Testament times or a Christian in these New Testament times?  We have Christ in us and we know of the death and resurrection of Christ  We have the completed Bible.  "John" and the Old Testament prophets had none of these.  "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things." (1 Peter 1:10-12)

"John" himself recognized that the greater days were ahead of him.  "They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.' To this John replied, 'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.” The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.'" (John 3:26-30)

(3) Some believed Jesus' words about John and some did not. (7:29-30)
"(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)"

Thought Question:  What do you believe was the reason why the people received John the Baptist and the religious leaders rejected Him? 

 

 

"(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ [his] words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)"

There is an issue with whether of not the NIV presents these verses in a correct way.  The key issue is whether or not it is Jesus telling of the people's response to John's words or if it is Luke telling of the response to Jesus' words.  The Greek word "Jesus'" is not found in verses 7:29.  The NIV has added the word "Jesus."  The Disciples' Literal New Testament puts it this way: "And all the people having heard him [John]."  Then, in a note below there is this comment:  "That is, John, as Jesus comments on the reception given John." "Taken from note in Disciples' Literal New Testament by Michael Magill.  Copyright 2011 by Reyma Publishing."

The NIV and others see as a parenthetical comment by Luke, referring to the response to Jesus' words about John.  It appears to me, though, to be a continuation of Jesus' words about John.  At this point, Jesus is commenting about how some received John's ministry and some rejected his ministry.  I agree with Hendriksen, Robertson, Wiersbe, Morris, and Magill that it was not a parenthesis, but a continuation of Jesus' words about the reception of the people to "John."

"(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)"

What was the difference between those who rejected John's message and those who received it?   It appears that the difference was between those who were willing to acknowledge their sins and those who were not willing to acknowledge their sins.

Many did repent—"even the tax collectors"—and were "baptized" by John.  But the "Pharisees and experts in the law" did not repent and were not "baptized by John."  They did not see their need to repent. See Lk 18:9-14  See also Isa. 1:18-20, 55:1,6-7; Amos 5:14-15; Matt. 23:37; Acts 2:37-38, 3:19; II Pet. 3:9 where repentance is also emphasized.

(4) Jesus describes the people's unbelief in both John and Him (7:31-35)
"'To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.” For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by all her children.'"

Thought Question: According to Jesus' words here, what was His generation like? (How is it like our generation?)

 

 

"'To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.”'"  Jesus describes a group of "children" trying to play with another group of "children."  They tried to play a happy tune and the other "children" were not interested.  They tried to play a sad song and the other "children" were also not interested.  So, they gave up trying, for the other group of "children" were not interested in anything that they tried.  They criticized each attempt: one is "too silly," the other "too gloomy." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

Jesus is probably using the children to describe "the Pharisees and experts in the law."  For, the people had responded to "John," and now they were responding to Him.  The religious leaders rejected both "John" and Jesus.  No matter who came to them from God, they would always find fault—they were perpetual critics of God's spokespersons.

"'For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”'"  Both, John's life of self-denial was criticized and Jesus' life of socializing with ordinary people was criticized.

Once again, I will quote from my comments on the parallel passage in Matthew (11:18-19): "What does this tell us?  There will be many who will not be satisfied, no matter what we do.  So, the problem is not what we do.  The problem is elsewhere.  It was not what "John" and Jesus did that was the problem; for they were complete opposites.  The problem was the message that they both taught—for they both gave the same message.  The people rejected the message of the cross and God's truth no matter how it was presented.  What is the message for us?  It is a hard message to receive.  The world is going to be critical of us no matter what we do.  If we are very strict in our Christian walk, we will be called Puritan fundamentalists.  If we enjoy participating in a social life, people will point out that we are not acting as Christians should act.  If we think that we can satisfy the unbelieving world, we are heading toward a big disappointment.  We need to realize that following Christ is a hard road.  People will reject us and our message, just as they rejected "John" and Jesus and their message." "Digging for Gold on Matthew 11:18-19." 

"But wisdom is proved right by all her children.'"  But, in contrast to those who rejected Jesus and "John," there were those who responded to their "wisdom."  They would be the best proof that what they said was true.  Their lives were being transformed by God's "wisdom." 

Wisdom's "children" are those who choose to live by it.  They learned by experience that God's "wisdom" is the best way to live.  Living by God's "wisdom" leads to being blessed by God.  It results in blessed marriages, blessed church life, and a blessed relationship with God.

Those who reject God's truth can always find some way to criticize the messenger of God's truth.  But, those who receive God's truth will discover that God's ways are true and good, leading to an abundant life.  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  (John 10:10)

f. Jesus is anointed by a sinful woman. (7:36-50)

(1) The anointing of Jesus by the sinful woman (7:36-38)
"Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."

Thought Question: What have you done to express your appreciation for God's forgiveness of you through Jesus? (And/or what have you seen others do?)

 

 

"Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."

First of all, this is not the same event as another anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany at the end of Jesus' ministry and right before His death. See Matt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; and Jn. 12:1-8  Also, there is no evidence at all that this sinful woman is Mary Magdalene.

From what we know of meals like this, it was more of a public affair than dinners that we are accustomed to.  "She came in by a curious custom of that time that allowed strangers to enter a house uninvited at a feast, especially beggars seeking a gift." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."

With Jesus at the meal, people would come out of curiosity to listen to what He said.  Jesus would have been reclining at the table.  His sandals would have been off.  This "sinful" "woman" stood at His feet and began to weep.  "Her tears" fell down at His feet.

We are not told what her sin was.  But, it appears that she had in some way learned that Jesus had forgiven her; and, so, God had forgiven her.  In Matthew, Jesus gave the following invitation: "'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'" (Matthew 11:28-30)  She may have heard those words or other words that are not recorded for us and felt forgiven and accepted by Him.

"she brought an alabaster jar"  It was a container of perfume.  The neck of the container needed to be broken before the perfume could be poured out.

"she wiped them with her hair,"  It was considered to be socially unacceptable for women to loosen their hair in this way.  But, this woman was not focused on what people thought of her, but she was focused on her love for Jesus.

(2) The Pharisees' disgust at what she did. (7:39)
"When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.'"

The Pharisees' form of holiness separated them from those they considered to be sinners.  Jesus' form of holiness caused Him to reach out in love to sinners.

"'If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him . . . ."  Did this "Pharisee" want Jesus to be "a prophet"?  No, he was looking for any evidence that he could find to prove that He was not "a prophet."  This contact with the sinful "woman" provided that proof.  In his mind, Jesus should have shunned this woman like all truly religious people did.  But, what this "Pharisee" did not consider is whether or not she was a truly repentant "sinner."  The irony is that she was a repentant "sinner" and the "Pharisee" was not a repentant "sinner."

(3) Jesus' response to the Pharisee. (7:40-47)
"Jesus answered him, 'Simon, I have something to tell you.' 'Tell me, teacher,' he said. 'Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?' Simon replied, 'I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.' 'You have judged correctly,' Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.'"

Thought Question:  What insight do these verses give us as to why some are more motivated in the Christian life than others?

 

 

"Jesus answered him, 'Simon, I have something to tell you.' 'Tell me, teacher,' he said. 'Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?' Simon replied, 'I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.' 'You have judged correctly,' Jesus said."

Jesus, who the "Pharisee" had determined in his own mind was not "a prophet," read his mind and asks a question based on that prophetic knowledge.

Here is a modern-day version of Jesus' parable.  Two men owe money on their houses.  One owes a thousand dollars and another owes ten thousand dollars.  The bank cancels the debt on both.  Which man would most appreciate what the bank did, the one who owed a thousand dollars or the one who owed ten thousand dollars?  The answer is obvious. See Matt. 18:21-35

"I suppose"  Simon reluctantly gives the obvious answer.  "Simon replied, 'I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.'"

Jesus explains that the great love that this "sinful" "women" showed to Him was because she had acknowledged her great sinfulness and was overwhelmingly grateful for Jesus' forgiveness of her and His love for her.  Between Simon and this "woman," who was the greater "sinner"?  We do not know, but we do know that she was aware of her sinfulness and Jesus' forgiveness and Simon was not. See Lk. 18:9-14

"Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.'"

Jesus now applies His parable about those whose greater debt is forgiven as being the ones who love more, to the "sinful" "woman" and "Simon" the "Pharisee."  "Simon," who did not see himself as a "sinner" who needed Jesus' and God's forgiveness had shown none of the customary acts of hospitality shown to a guest, and especially he did not show the proper hospitality to such an honored guest.  By contrast, this "woman" had gone beyond what was customary.  Her welcome was abundant; Simon's welcome was miserly.

"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much."  God's grace is greater than all our sins.  "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" (James 4:6) See also Rom. 5:20-21

"for she loved much."  "Jesus is not saying that the woman's action had earned forgiveness, nor even that her love had merited it.  In line with his little parable and his later words (50), he is saying that her love is proof that she had already been forgiven." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."  "Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'" (Luke 7:50)  "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7) See also Eph. 2:8-9

Her love showed her faith.  "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6)  She realized that she had been cleansed of her sin, and her love for Jesus was an expression of that faith. See Ps. 103:12-13; Isa. 1:18; Mic. 7:19

(4) Jesus declares that her sins are forgiven. (7:48-50)
"Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'"

Thought Question:  How had this woman's faith saved her?

 

 

"Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'"  Jesus declares what she already knew to be true.  Otherwise, why was she so overflowing with gratitude?  His public declaration affirmed her forgiveness in the hearing of those who were present.  She was no longer the "sinful" "woman," but she was the "forgiven" "woman"!

"The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?'" See Lk. 5:21  They did not know that Jesus was "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)  He could forgive this woman's sin because He would soon die for her sins—and for our sins.  So, He can also say to us, "Your sins are forgiven."  And if we have "faith," like this "woman," our sins are also forgiven.

"Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'"  "In peace"  "The Greek is literally 'go into peace.'" "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."  All those who are "forgiven" go forward not into condemnation, but into "peace."

How had this woman's "faith" "saved" her?  She was the opposite of someone who arrogantly saw no need for God; but, instead, wanted to be in charge of his or her own life.  She was willing "to do God's will." (John 7:17) See also Jer. 29:13  As a result, her eyes were opened to God and she had "faith."

Who are we most like—the "Pharisee" or like this "sinful woman"?  Do we recognize our great sinfulness or are we a religious person who is not aware of a great need for forgiveness?  Paul was once like this "Pharisee," but was later like this "woman."  "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." (I Timothy 1:13-16) See also Lk 18:9-14

g. Jesus and the women who followed Him (8:1-3)
"After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means."

Thought Question: Do you believe that women are more receptive to Jesus than men?  Please give your reasons for your answer.

 

 

"After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;"

First of all, we see what Jesus' ministry was like—He "traveled about" "proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God."  The towns and villages of Galilee all had an opportunity to hear "the good news."  He took every opportunity to share "the good news."  Today, it is the same "good news."  Also, because of the death and resurrection that took place after this time, we have a more complete message of God's kingdom than was understood by those who heard Jesus.  We also need to take every opportunity to share "the good news."

Secondly, the "Twelve were with him."  They were constantly being taught, for one day, they would go on without Him.  They learned what they were to do by observing what He did.  We also need to have those who are with us as we minister, so that they can benefit from our example and go on without us.

Finally, Luke focuses on the "women" who were with Him.  Luke, in many cases, focuses on individual "women" by name: Elizabeth (1:39-45); Mary (1:26-56); Anna (2:36-38); the sinful woman 7:36-50); Martha and Mary (10:38-42); a crippled woman who was healed (13:10-17); the parable of the widow and the judge (18:1-18); and the widow's offering (21:1-4).  It was "women" who were the last ones at the cross and the first ones to visit Jesus' grave.  "A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.'" (Luke 23:27-28)  "The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb." (Luke 23:55-24:1)  "It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles." (Luke 24:10) See also Matt. 27:55-56

The Gospels' focus on "women" is very positive.  Luke mentions no "women" as being part of the conspiracy to arrest and kill Jesus.  It was always men who were described as being part of this plot.  Instead, there were "women" who stood with Jesus to the end.  The worldly at that time held "women" in low esteem.  Jesus and the Gospels writers put "women" in a high place of importance. See Matt. 14:1-12 for one description of wicked "women" in the Gospels.

Now, we look at the "women" that Luke mentions.  The first was "Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out."  The fact that "seven demons" were cast out of "Mary" "Magdalene" does not mean that she was a prostitute.  We are not told here anything about her moral character.  She was likely a very troubled woman who was tormented by "demons," until Jesus cast them out. See Mark 5:9 and Matt. 12:43-45 for examples of persons being indwelt by multiple "demons."

"Magdalene"  She appears to have been from Magdala, a city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

"She figures very prominently in all four Passion accounts.  She was one of the women who later: (a) watched the crucifixion (Matt. 27:55, 56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25); (b) saw where Christ's body was laid (Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47;  Luke 23:55) and (c) very early Sunday morning started out from their homes in order to anoint the body of the Lord (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).  Besides, she was going to be the first person to whom the Risen Christ would appear." (John 20:1-8)." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

Next, there was "Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household."  She, with her husband, held high social and political positions in Israel.  Yet, we learn here that she was one of the "women" who followed Jesus.  She was also at the tomb when it was discovered that Jesus had resurrected.  "On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”' Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles." (Luke 24:1-10) See also Jn. 4:46-53; Acts 13:1 for others in Herod's household that were associated with Jesus.

The final woman Luke mentions here by name is "Susanna."  We know nothing more about her.

"and many others."  "Many" "women" responded to Jesus' message and followed Him,  just like "many" "women" love Him and follow Him today.

"These women were helping to support them out of their own means."  How were Jesus and the Twelve able to travel and minister?  How were they able to eat?  We learn here that these "women" provided at least part of their support.  Robertson comments that they were "the first missionary society for support of missionaries of the Gospel." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."

h. Parables of the kingdom (8:4-18)

(1) The Parable of the Sower (8:4-15)

(a) The Parable (8:4-8)
"While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you think that Jesus used this story to communicate to His listeners?

 

 

"While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.'"

Though, "a large crowd" came to Him and followed Him, Jesus shows here that He was realistic about the nature of this "crowd."  He knew that most were not responding to His words—most were not good soil.  His preaching was always excellent, but the hearing of His preaching was not always excellent.  He tells a parable to explain what He knew was taking place.

"'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.'"  Jesus pictures a "farmer"  with a bag of "seed," throwing "seed" on to the ground.  Some of that "seed" would fall accidently on the hardened "path."  This "seed" did not have a chance of taking root and growing into a plant.  It would only lie on the surface of the "path" and not penetrate the hardened soil.  It would be "trampled on" or it would be eaten by "birds."

"'Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.'"  Some of the "seed" fell on "rock."  Matthew describes it as "rocky places" where the soil was shallow and over "rock."  Here, "the plants" grew quickly as the warmth of the "rock" helped it to germinate quickly; but "the plants" also died quickly as they had only thin soil to grow in and no water.

"'Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.'"  This is like trying to plant a garden without first removing the weeds.  The weeds will choke out the garden plants.  So, the "thorns," here, choke out "the plants" that grow up from the "seed."

"'Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.'"  Some "seed" hit ground where it could grow and even produce "a hundred times more than was sown."  Matthew and Mark add that some "seed" multiplied "thirty" and some "sixty" times.

"When he said this, he called out, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'"  Jesus knew that only some would understand this parable and how it applied to them. See also Matt. 11:15; Lk. 14:25; Rev. 2:7,11,17,29, 3:6,13,22

(b) The reason for the Parable (8:9-10)
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”'"

Thought Question:  What does Jesus tell us here about why He spoke in parables?

 

 

"His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”'"

The "secrets of the kingdom of God" or the mysteries "of the kingdom of God" are God giving us insight into how He is accomplishing His Divine goals to restore our place with Him.  God has revealed in the New Testament what was only partially revealed or was not revealed at all in the Old Testament.  " . . . the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:26-27)  These secret truths were revealed to Jesus' disciples, and they have revealed them to us.

But, why the parable?  The parables were profitable to those who had a searching heart.  They would ponder on them and seek to understand what Jesus was revealing in these stories.  But, those with hardened and calloused hearts, like the Pharisees, would hear them, but they would not try to understand them. See      Dan. 2:18-19, 27-30, 47; Rom. 11:25-26, 14:17, 16:25; I Cor. 1:18, 2:7, 4:1, 15:51; Eph. 1:9-10, 3:1-4, 7-12, 5:32, 6:19-20; Col. 1:24-27, 2:2-3, 4:3;
I Tim. 3:16; Rev. 1:29, 10:7, 17:5-8

"'“though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”'"  Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9.  Matthew gives a more complete quote of Isaiah 6:9 that also includes Isaiah 6:10.  "This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."'"
(Matthew 13:13-15)

(c) The meaning of the parable (8:11-15)
"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.'"

Thought Question: How does Jesus' explanation of the Parable of the Sower help us to understand what happens as we share the gospel with others?

 

 

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved."  A person with a hardened and calloused heart is a person who has become indifferent and disinterested in the truth—he or she sees no need for it.  For them, there is no need for a Savior—they see themselves as having no need to be saved.  We share the gospel with them and they may even agree that it is nice, but they see it as having no relevance to their lives.  They can use God's and Jesus' name as a swear word and not feel guilty about it—they do not feel that they have done anything wrong.  "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (II Corinthians 4:4)

"Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away."  These are those who believe in a half-hearted way.  The gospel reaches them intellectually or emotionally, but it does not impact their heart.  Many of us have known those who have appeared to have enthusiastically made a decision for Christ; but when trials or temptations came, they fell back into their old ways.  These are those who are the rocky soil.  They are those with a shallow heart.  "They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away." See I Jn. 2:19

"The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature."  This is a person who hears the gospel and receives it; but his or her heart is still filled with a selfish desire for the "riches" of the world.  Jesus said that we must choose His rule in our lives over the rule of the world's riches.  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)  "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24)  These are those with a crowded heart.

"It is characteristic of modern life that it becomes increasingly crowded and increasingly fast.  A man can become too busy to pray; he becomes so preoccupied with many things that he forgets to study the word of God. . . . . His business can take such a grip on him that he is too tired to think of anything else."  "Taken from The Gospel of Matthew Volume 2 pp. 60-61 by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

"Pleasures translates a Greek word from which our term 'hedonism" derived." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."
Paul predicts that this is what will happen in the last days when people will be "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (2 Timothy 3:4)  Demas was like this in Paul's day: "for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica." (2 Timothy 4:10)

"'But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.'"  This is the "soil" that sees the gospel for what it truly is—the greatest treasure of all!  They are those who pursue, above all, their relationship with God.  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)

They will produce a crop that far exceeds themselves.  They will impact many lives.  If each of us impacted one hundred who impacted another hundred, we can see how this would impact the world.  What prevents it from happening?  Not everyone is good soil.  We, of course, need to choose to be good soil by genuinely believing that God's ways are the ways to life, and pursue His "kingdom" "with a noble and good heart."

As we preach and teach God's word and share the gospel, we can be certain that those who are hearing it are different types of "soil."  But, what we need to remember is that there will also always be those who are "good soil."  So, we need to persevere in doing good and in teaching God's truths.  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)

(2) The Parable of the Lamp (8:16-18)
"'No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.'"

Thought Question#1: How can we hide the light?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does Jesus mean by, "'Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him'"?

 

 

"'No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.'"  There is much said in the Bible using "light" to explain it. See Matt. 5:14-16; 10:26-27; John 1:4-9, 8:12, 9:5, 12:46; Rom. 13:12-13; Phil. 2:14-16; Eph. 5:8-11; I Thess. 5:4-8; I Jn. 1:5-10

The world is in pitch black darkness. Jesus and His teaching turns the lights on to reveal what is true and what is false.  Since we who are Christians have this light, it makes no sense for us to put it under something so that the "light" cannot be seen.

Instead, our purpose is to shine the light.  We are to enlighten our world so that they can see what God is like, what is sin, what is truth, and what is error.  The Gospel of Matthew puts it this way.  "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Though people do not like the "light," we Christians are to "light" up our world so that people may know who God is, what love is, what people are meant to be like, what a marriage is supposed to be like, and what the gospel is.  Like the moon and the stars lighten a dark sky, so we are to lighten up a dark world.

"'For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.'"  We can believe that what we have kept hidden will remain hidden.  People can feel that what they have kept hidden will stay hidden.  But, that is not true.  "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:14)  "So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." (Matthew 10:26)  "This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares." (Romans 2:16) See also Eccles. 11:9; I Cor. 4:4-5

Once again, I will quote from my comments on the parallel section in Matthew (10:26-31).  "In our modern times, we are all confronted with three different versions of what the world is like:  (1) The fantasy version, where justice usually wins—in television shows and movies and in books, for example, there is usually a happy ending.  (2) The world we actually live and see, where justice and right do not usually win.  (3) The Bible version where we are told that in the end, justice will win.  Here, we are told that in the future, every injustice, lie, and wrong will be exposed for what it is.  Someday, everyone will know what is true and what is false.  They will know what is pure and what is impure.  Hidden agendas will no longer be hidden.  Someday, everyone that has fought and suffered for truth, for righteousness, and for the cause of Christ and suffered for it, will see that he or she has not suffered and fought in vain." "Digging for Gold on Matthew 10:26-31."

"'Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.'"  Jesus states a universal principle.  The professor who keeps learning in his field will continue to learn.  The professor who stops learning will start to lose what he has learned in the past.  The Christian who continues to learn God's word, meditate on it, and apply it to his or her life will grow deeper in God's word, deeper in his or her relationship with God, and deeper in experiencing the Christian life.  The Christian who slacks off will start to lose what he or she has gained.

I. Jesus' true family (8:19-21)
"Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.' He replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.'"

Thought Question:  What do Jesus' words tell us about who is and who is not His family?

 

 

"Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.' He replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.'"

We learn why His earthly family came to Him from Mark 3:21:  "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'"  At that time, His earthly family was obviously not in harmony with His purposes.  "Jesus’ brothers said to him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.' For even his own brothers did not believe in him." (John 7:3-5) See also Mk. 6:3; Acts 1:14; 15:13-21; I Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19 for other passages about his family.

According to Matthew and Mark, this event occurred after Jesus was accused of being in league with Satan. See Matt. 12:24 and Mk. 3:22  It appears that Luke put it here to fit the theme of what a correct response to God's word looks like—he places it here where it continues a theme, rather than putting it in its chronological order. 

"He replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.'"  His family probably wanted Jesus to come in line with their desires for Him, but Jesus' true family are those who come in line with Him—with God's will.

Many of us who are Christians are close to our family members, but our closest heart alliance is with fellow Christians.  For with them, we share a common understanding about the meaning of life   "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (Ephesians 1:9-10)  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

I was led to the Lord by my younger brother Lynn.  We are united in our earthly family, but our greatest common family is our spiritual and eternal family. 

Jesus' brothers James and Jude wrote the books in the Bible that are named after them.  James emphasized in his book what Jesus emphasizes here.  "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25)

We join Jesus' family when we accept Him for who He is—our Creator, Savior, and Lord.  "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." (John 1:11-13)

j. Jesus calms a storm (8:22-25)
"One day Jesus said to his disciples, 'Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.' So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Master, Master, we’re going to drown!' He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 'Where is your faith?' he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, 'Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.'"

Thought Question:  How can this story help us when we are in a storm?

 

 

"One day Jesus said to his disciples, 'Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.' So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger." 

"In one sense, this was a very ordinary scene on the Sea of Galilee.  The Sea of Galilee is small; it is only thirteen miles from north to south and eight miles from east to west at its widest.  The Jordan valley makes a deep cleft in the surface of the earth, and the Sea of Galilee is part of that cleft.  It is 680 feet below sea level.  That gives it a climate which is warm and gracious, but it also creates dangers.  On the west side there are hills with valleys and gullies; and, when a cold wind comes from the west, these valleys and gullies act like gigantic funnels.  The wind, as it were, becomes compressed in them, and rushes down upon the lake with savage violence and with startling suddenness, so that the calm of one moment can become the raging storm of the next.  The storms on the Sea of Galilee combine suddenness and violence in a unique way." "Taken from The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1 p, 314 by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by The Westminster Press."

This was the type of violent storm that suddenly hit the boat that Jesus and His followers were in on that day.  Mark tells us that it happened on the day that Jesus told the parables of the kingdom. See Mk. 4:3-35  He had been teaching all day and dealing with crowds of people.  So, probably to get some rest from the crowds, they went to the other side of the Sea.  On the boat, Jesus falls "asleep."    

Physically, He was fully human like us.  He also got tired and grew weary as we do.  So, He fell "asleep."

"The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Master, Master, we’re going to drown!' He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 'Where is your faith?' he asked his disciples." 

We see here a contrast between us very weak and limited humans and our response to storms and the unlimited and powerful God and His response to storms.  When we focus on our limitations, we respond to trials just like the disciples did.  We panic!  Great men of faith like Moses and Elijah panicked when their human limitations did not measure up to the storms that had come into their lives. See Numb. 11:11-15; I Kings 19:4

There have been many times, through the years, where my first inclination has been to see my troubles as great and my abilities as very weak—much weaker than my troubles.  At those times, I was just like these disciples.  And, if you are honest, you will admit that you have done it too.  I have found much comfort in the Psalms, for they describe the human struggles that we all experience.  But, they also demonstrate that when we shift our focus to God and His sufficiency to deal with our problems, we can experience peace in the midst of a storm.

So, in the same way, we not only see human insufficiency and inability here in Luke, we also see Divine sufficiency and ability.  Jesus shows emphatically and dynamically His power over this storm and over the storms in our lives.  So many times Jesus gently rebukes us as we panic in a storm.  He also says to us as He said there: "Where is your faith?"

"'He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.'"  Sometimes, "the wind" of the "storm" will stop and the "waters" will continue to rage for a while.  But, here, both the winds and the "waters" suddenly became calm.  It describes Jesus' total power over nature.  Oftentimes, though our circumstances may calm down, we have not yet calmed down on the inside.  We calm down when we put our faith in Jesus.  There is nothing that He does not have power over.

Years ago, our pastor at that time pointed out that we are fearful that everything will not go as we desire it to go; we are not fearful that it will not go as God wants it to go.  It's our plans that are threatened; not His plans that are threatened.  Faith is when we are focused and trusting in His love, His power, and His sovereignty over all; rather than focusing on our power, our selfishness, and our lack of control of it all.  He is always there in the darkest of storms; and He is above that storm and His power is greater than that storm.

"In fear and amazement they asked one another, 'Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.'"  It is clear that they did not expect Jesus to be in control of nature.  Yet, the Bible says that God is in control of nature.  "He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert." (Psalm 106:9)  "The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses." (Psalm 135:6-7)  "lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding," (Psalm 148:8)  Jesus is God, so nature was and is also under His control!

There are promises in the Bible about His love for us.  Yet, when the storms come into our lives, we can lose our faith In God's ability to continue with His purposes for our lives.  But, His promises remain, and His love and power have not changed from that day when the storm came on the Sea of Galilee. See Matt. 6:25-34; 28:18-20

k. Jesus heals a demon-possessed man (8:26-39)

(1) Jesus meets the demon-possessed man (8:26-31)
"They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!' For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' 'Legion,' he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss."

Thought Question:  Do you believe that demon possession still happens today?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee."  "Gerasenes" "Some manuscripts Gadarenes; other manuscripts Gergerenes." "NIV note."  "The country of the Gerasenes presents us with a problem, for Gerasa was about 40 miles south-east of the lake.  Matthew has 'the country of the Gadarenes', but Gadara is 6 miles away and separated by the deep gorge of Yarmuk." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

"Mark and Luke called this area "the country of the Gerasenes," but
Matthew called it the country of the Gadarenes. Gergesa (also referred to
as Gersa, Kersa, and Kursi) was a small village about midway on the
eastern shore of the lake. Gadara, one of the Decapolis cities, was a larger
town six miles southeast of the lake's southern end. This incident
apparently happened somewhere near both towns, on the southeast coast
of the lake." Dr. Constable's notes."  It is clear that our incomplete knowledge makes it hard to exactly locate where this event occurred.

"When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!' For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man."

We see here the effect the demons were having on this man and we also see the effect that Jesus had on the demons.  First of all, we see the effect the demons were having on the man. The demons had removed all order and normality from his life. See James 3:15-16  In Mark, we learn that he was also self-destructive.  "Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones." (Mark 5:5)

Some might say that this type of thing does not happen today.  But if the prisons and mental hospitals were emptied, and we no longer used any type of drug to control behavior, we may think again about this being absent from our modern-day world. 

Were demons only present in the primitive world of Jesus' time and before?  No!  They are very active today.  Evil is as present today as it was in Jesus' day.  We also are in a war against evil spirit beings who are still busy destroying lives.  Here is just one man of many who has experienced their devilish control.

Next, we look at the effect Jesus had on the demons.  "When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!'"  The evil spirit that was speaking through this man recognized the authority of "Jesus, Son of the Most High God."  He realized that he was evil and he realized that he was in the presence of total holiness.  Jesus had the total authority over this evil spirit to punish him and to do whatever He chose to do with him. See 4:34

The demon in control of the man falls at Jesus' feet and begs for mercy.  He knew that judgment is inevitable for those who choose to do evil in the presence of Almighty God.

"For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places."  This man was empowered with Satan's power to break "chains," but was powerless to break Satan's "chains" on his life.  Jesus had that power to break Satan's "chains," as we will soon see.

"Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' 'Legion,' he replied, because many demons had gone into him."  A "legion" in the army was about 6,000 soldiers.  it may be a way of saying that he had so many demons in him that they were too many to count.  Mark says that the demons that were cast out of him by Jesus went into "two thousand pigs."  "He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned." (Mark 5:13)

It appears that this demon was the spokes-demon for the other demons.  We are not told why this man became so demonized. 

"And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss."  Satan will be locked up in this "Abyss" for a thousand years. See Rev. 20:1-3  These demons realized that they would eventually face God's holy judgment.  At that time, though, they cried out and "begged him" that they would not be put into the "Abyss" before the final judgment.  Jude 6 and II Peter 2:4 appear to be describing this "Abyss," where the vilest demons are now held captive.  "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day." (Jude 6)  "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;" (2 Peter 2:4)  The apostle John predicts that these demons will be released in the future to wreak havoc on the earth. See Revel. 9:1-11  See also Rev. 11:7, 17:8

(2) Jesus casts the demons out of the man. (8:32-39)
"A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him."

Thought Question: Why do you believe that the townspeople wanted Jesus to leave?

 

 

"A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned."  These two verses raise a number of questions.  First of all, why was a large heard of pigs there when pigs are declared to be unclean in the Old Testament law?  "And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you." (Leviticus 11:7-8)  The answer is that "this was the Decapolis, a predominantly Gentile territory." "NIV Study Bible note."

A second question is, why did Jesus give the demons permission to go into the pigs?  Why should He be sympathetic at all to demons?  This brings up the question about why demons and Satan are allowed to exist at all, if God has complete control over them?  This is a question that we are given no answer to.  We can, though, be comforted by the fact that Satan and his demons are not able to do whatever they want to do.  They are only able to do what Jesus allows them to do.  "'Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.'" (Job 1:10-11) See also I Cor. 10:13

I am reminded of sections in the Bible that show that God is in control of these evil spirits and even uses them to accomplish His ultimate purposes.  "And the Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?' One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, 'I will entice him.' 'By what means?' the Lord asked. 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the Lord. 'Go and do it.' So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.'" (1 Kings 22:20-23) See also II Thessalonians 2:5-12

A third question is, why did Jesus allow these pigs to die?  Again, we are not given the answer.  But it did dramatize the deliverance of this man.  We see that he was not just suffering from some type of disease or a mental problem.  The demons were real.  It was obvious that they were real, for after they left him, they entered these pigs.  The demonic activity that the people were familiar with left him and went to the pigs.  Then, the man was no longer self-destructive, but the pigs became self-destructive.

We do not need to have answers to all our questions.   Instead, as often occurs, we must trust that God has His good reasons for what He does; even if it does not make sense to us.

"When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left." 

Why did these people want "Jesus to leave them"?  It may have been the loss of the "the two thousand" "pigs." (Mark 5:13)  Or, it may be that Jesus frightened them.  They were terrified at the supernatural battle and the fact that they stood in the presence of the Victor of that battle.

The evidence of Jesus' victory was the once "demon-possessed" man "sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind."  Instead of rejoicing at this man's deliverance, they were frightened for themselves and concerned about the loss of their "pigs." "We've seen enough of your destructive effect on our region, please leave!"

We see that this man was not a willing slave to these "demons."  For once he was delivered, he wanted to follow Jesus.  The man from whom the "demons" had gone "begged to go with him."  People whose human weakness has led to addictions may want to be freed from these addictions; and once they are freed, they may also want to become followers of Christ.

"but Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." 

Why did Jesus tell this man to go to his hometown and report all that God had "done for" him, but told other healed people not to tell anyone?  The answer as to why this man was told to tell everyone and those earlier people were told not to tell anyone could be that those former people were healed in Jewish territory and here the healed man is in Gentile territory.  Telling the Jews of His healings would have led to an attempt to make Him King.  That would have led to Him being arrested by those who were threatened by His popularity with the people.  As it was not time for Jesus' arrest and death, he told those He healed not to tell anyone.

For some reason, Jesus desires that this man to be a missionary to his own region.  Though he "begged to go" with Him, Jesus sent Him out as a missionary to his "home" people.  He was to tell what God had "done for" him.  So, we are to tell people what God has "done for" us.  May we do as well as this man did in reaching our "home" town. 

l. Jesus raises Jairus' daughter from the dead. (8:40-56)

(1) Jesus learns that Jairus' daughter is dying. (8:40-42a)
"Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about how God uses trials in our lives to bring us to God?

 

 

"Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying."

Here, we have a man who had attained a high position in Jewish society.  He was in charge of the local "synagogue."  He was the "ruler" over what took place in the local Jewish "synagogue."  What does it take to bring a man like this to seek Jesus?  Here, we see that it took the dying and eventual death of "his only daughter, a girl of about twelve."  God has, through the years, used crises to bring people like "Jairus" to Him.  It is crises that cause us to see that we are powerless and need Him.  This can happen in many ways.  With me, it was the realization of the meaninglessness of life without God.  And, also, I saw that I was powerless to do anything that would change that.  Shortly after that my brother, who had recently came to know Jesus, visited me.  Three weeks later I came to know the One who gives meaning to life.

(2) A woman is healed from her bleeding. (8:42b-48)
"As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 'Who touched me?' Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, 'Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.' But Jesus said, 'Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.' Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'"

Thought Question #1: Why do you think Jesus was unaware of who had touched Him? (Did His becoming a man limit His knowledge?  Did He know who touched Him, but was trying to encourage the woman to reveal herself?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  When have you, like this woman, felt uncomfortable in revealing your need to God? (Does this account help you to feel more comfortable in coming to Jesus with your need?)

 

 

"As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 'Who touched me?' Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, 'Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.' But Jesus said, 'Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'"

Because of her constant flow of blood, this "woman" was also constantly unclean. "When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening." (Leviticus 15:19)  "When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period." (Leviticus 15:25)

"touched the edge of his cloak,"  She "touched" "the tassel on the edge of the square garment that was thrown over the left shoulder and hung down the back (Nu 15:38ff.).  We should not think of the lower hem, as this could not be reached in the circumstances." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

According to Levitical law, her touching Jesus should have made Him unclean; but, instead, He made her clean.  "Immediately her bleeding stopped."

Mark 5 adds this information: "When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak," (Mark 5:27)  Anyone who has some condition that more than one doctor has been unable to provide a cure for knows how she felt.

"'Who touched me?'"  Jesus did not always possess omniscience—knowing everything.  Here, He did not know "who touched" Him. 

What her doctors were unable to do for "twelve years," Jesus did immediately.  And it was not when He touched her, but when she touched Him.

"Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'"

Suddenly, she is the center of attention.  It certainly was a scary time for her.  She "came trembling and fell at his feet."  She may have been concerned that she had offended Jesus and, because He was offended with her, He would take away her healing.  She may have thought, "Will Jesus disapprove of me as everyone else has?"  But, Jesus comforts her immediately by calling her, "Daughter."  Then he affirms her: "your faith has healed you."  Finally, He greatly encourages her:  "Go in peace."

(3) Jesus raises Jairus' daughter from the dead. (8:49-56)
"While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. 'Your daughter is dead,' he said. 'Don’t bother the teacher any more.' Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, 'Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.' When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. 'Stop wailing,' Jesus said. 'She is not dead but asleep.' They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, 'My child, get up!' Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened."

Thought Question #1:  When is a time when you felt that all was lost, but you believe that God intervened to help you?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you believe that we do not see people being raised from dead like this today?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Why do you believe Jesus only took three disciples with him into the house to witness the resurrection of the young girl?

 

 

"While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. 'Your daughter is dead,' he said. 'Don’t bother the teacher any more.' Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, 'Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.'" 

We have two people here with two completely different perspectives on what the future for Jairus and his daughter was going to be like.  First, there was the messenger of gloom that came to them from Jairus' house.  His message, with finality, was "It's over, she's dead, find something better to do than asking Jesus to help."  In short, "It's too late!"  Then, there is Jesus.  "'Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.'"

Are there times in all of our lives when it seems that all is lost?  Jesus' disciples felt like this between the cross and the resurrection.  Then, the resurrected Jesus appeared to them.  I can remember many dark moments in my life when it appeared that all was lost.  The other side of those dark times was some of the most memorable times in my life.  If you are in one of those dark times, I offer Jesus' words given here to Jairus: "Don’t be afraid; just believe."  The Psalms provide us with many encouragements.  Here are some words of encouragement from one Psalm:  "O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed." (Psalm 22:2-5)

"When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. 'Stop wailing,' Jesus said. 'She is not dead but asleep.'"

"The scene at the home would have discouraged anybody!  The professional mourners were already there, weeping and wailing, and a crowd of friends and neighbors had gathered.  Jewish people in that day lost no time or energy in showing and sharing their grief.  The body of the deceased would be buried that same day, after being washed and anointed." "Taken from Be Compassionate by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1998 by David C. Cook."

"he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother."  Peter followed a similar pattern in Acts 9:  "Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive." (Acts 9:40-41)

Why did Jesus take only this small group into the "house"?  Morris suggests that it was done for the sake of the "twelve" year old "girl."  When she came to life she would be in a room with a few people rather than finding "herself the centre of a gaping crowd." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

"They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, 'My child, get up!' Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened."

In a sense, what happened to Jairus' "daughter" will happen to all of us who have trusted in Jesus' death for our sins.  There will be a time when we will all fall "asleep."  But Jesus will take us "by the hand" and He will also raise us to life.  The resurrection of this little "girl" from the dead is proof that Jesus has the power to also raise us from the dead, as He has promised to raise us.  "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" (John 11:25-26)

"They laughed at him,"  It makes you wonder how genuine their mourning was, when they could so quickly go from mourning to laughter.  Another reason Jesus may have cleared the room was because He did not want the child to come to life in front of a group of laughing skeptics.

"Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat."  Jesus immediately deals with this child's needs—she had not eaten for some time and her tiny stomach was empty.  Jesus' kindness to her after she was raised from the dead would, from that time on, be etched in her mind.

"Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened."  We have dealt with the question of why He told the healed demoniac to tell others what Jesus had done for him, but told others not to tell others what He done for them.  Here, he ordered the "parents" of this resurrected "girl" "not to tell anyone what had happened."  It appears that they were "not to tell anyone" so that His popularity would not spread too quickly among the Jews, leading to His premature arrest and death. See Matt. 17:9

"Her spirit returned,"  "As the body without the spirit is dead . . . . "
(James 2:26)  So, when this child died, her "spirit" left her.  When "her spirit returned," she was brought from death to life."  Jesus raised her from the dead as easily as we wake up someone from being asleep.  That is certainly why Jesus said, "She is not dead but asleep."

Sleep is used as a euphemism to describe the death of believers.  "After he had said this, he went on to tell them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.' His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead'"
(John 11:11-14)  "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed." (I Corinthians 15:51)  "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope." (I Thessalonians 4:13) See also Acts 7:60

3. Jesus' ministry after He sends out the Twelve (9:1-50)

a. Jesus sends out the Twelve (9:1-6)
"When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: 'Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.' So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere."

Thought Question:  What is there that is described in these verses that is helpful for us today in our ministries?

 

 

"When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick."

Jesus came as the promised King to offer the Jews and eventually the Gentiles the opportunity to be part of His "kingdom."  Ultimately, His "kingdom" will reverse the results of the curse.  "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow." (Isaiah 35:5-7)  The miracles that Jesus performed predicted the coming of Jesus' "kingdom."  Jesus, here, gave his disciples the authority—the authority of the King—to work the same miracles that predicted His "kingdom."  Along with these signs, they were to "preach" the good news that Jesus' "kingdom" had come and the King had come.

"When Jesus had called the Twelve together,"  "We should not think that the disciples were together all the time.  Some of them had homes and families in Capernaum and we need not doubt that they spent some of the time at their homes." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

"He told them: 'Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic."  I quote from my comments on the parallel passage in Matthew (10:9-10):  "Jesus desired that His disciples absorb themselves completely in their mission.  As they focused on their mission, God would provide those who would provide for their needs." "DFG on Matthew 10:9-10."  

"They were to travel light.  That was simply because the man who travels light travels far and fast.  The more a man is cluttered up with material things the more he is shackled to one place." "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

"no staff,"  Mark 6:8 says, "These were his instructions: 'Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.'"  Morris observes that "so far no explanation seems really satisfactory [for one Gospel saying no staff and the other saying take a staff].  Perhaps both ways of putting it mean 'Go as you are.'" "Morris."  Another possibility is that Luke's "no staff" means "no extra staff."

"'Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.'"  In Matthew 10:11, we read how the disciples were to choose where to stay.  "Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave."  It is likely that there were those in these towns that had heard Jesus speak and because they were receptive to His teachings, they were also receptive to His disciples.  They were, then, to choose a person who was receptive to them and seek his or her hospitality.

Also, they were not to bounce from one house to the next in a single town.  "'Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.'"  They were not, after staying in one home, to decide that another home was more to their liking, and move to that home.  Since they traveled "two by two" (Mark 6:6), they probably also were staying in homes in this way.

"'If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.'"  "There was a rabbinic ideal that the dust of Gentiles' lands carried defilement, and strict Jews are said to have removed it from their shoes whenever they returned to Palestine from abroad." "Morris."

Those who reject the gospel face God's judgment.  If the disciples shared the gospel with them and they rejected it, the disciples could do no more.  Shaking "the dust off" their "feet" symbolized their being free of responsibility and the "town" now being wholly responsible for God's judgment on them. See Ezek. 33:1-9; Matt. 27:24-25; Acts 13:50-51, 18:5-6

"So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere." The Twelve did exactly what Jesus had been doing.  Jesus' ministry was multiplied by the additional ministry, now, of the Twelve.  As a result, this Jesus-like ministry was taking place all over Galilee.  This is a picture of what would happen after Jesus was gone—His ministry was multiplied many times and would take place all over the world.  And that is what is still taking place today—His ministry has multiplied and is taking place all over the world.

b. Herod's fear (9:7-9)
"Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, 'I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?' And he tried to see him."

Thought Question:  What do we learn from Herod about how the human conscience works?

 

 

"Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, 'I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?' And he tried to see him."

It appears that "Herod" (Herod Antipas) was tormented by a guilty conscience for beheading "John" the Baptist. See 3:19-20; Matt. 14:1-12  He knew that he had murdered a spokesman for God.  The success of Jesus and His follower was to him, as if "John" "had come back to life."  "But when Herod heard this, he said, 'John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!'" (Mark 6:16)

Like "Herod," we cannot do what is wrong without recognizing that it is wrong.  Though we tend to justify whatever we do, our conscience is not fooled (unless our conscience has become calloused by a constant hardening of ourselves to the truth). See I Cor. 4:3-5; I Tim. 1:5-7, 18-20; Acts 23:1

"Happy are those who have found the only cure for a bad conscience.  Nothing will ever heal it but the blood of Christ." "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels by J. C. Ryle."

"Elijah had appeared,"  It is predicted in the book of Malachi that "Elijah" will return before the Day of the Lord.  "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes." (Malachi 4:5) See also
Isa. 40:3-5

"and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life."  We see that the people of Israel of Jesus' time believed that prophets could "come back to life."  "Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, 'Who do the crowds say I am?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.'" (Luke 9:18-19)

c. Jesus feeds the five thousand. (9:10-17)
"When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, 'Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.' He replied, 'You give them something to eat.' They answered, 'We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.' (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, 'Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.' The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over."

Thought Question:  What do we learn from these verses about living by faith and living without faith?

 

 

"When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing."

"When the apostles returned,"  He calls them "apostles" and not disciples.  They had just earned that title, for they had just completed a tour where they were sent out by Jesus to speak and heal in His place. See also 6:13, 17:5, 22:14, 24:10  The word "apostles" comes from the Greek word that means "sent out."

"Bethsaida" was on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee and to the east of Capernaum.  Matthew explains Jesus' departure to the other side of the Sea of Galilee as follows: " When Jesus heard what had happened [the beheading of John the Baptist], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns." (Matthew 14:13)  We see an additional reason for Jesus crossing the lake in Mark 6:31-23.  "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place."

"but the crowds learned about it and followed him."  As they saying goes, "There is no rest for the weary."

"He welcomed them"  If He "welcomed" this crowd when, in His physical body He was tired, does He not "welcome" us when we go to Him with our needs?  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

May we also follow Jesus' example, and welcome those who come to us, whether it is a convenient time or an inconvenient time.  People's needs do not come only at a time that is convenient to us.  "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction." (II Timothy 4:2)

"Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, 'Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.' He replied, 'You give them something to eat.' They answered, 'We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.' (About five thousand men were there.)"

The disciples do here what we all tend to do: we look at our circumstance, but do not include God in how we look at our predicament.  The disciples, here, did accurately assessed the situation: (1) there were thousands of people, (2) it was late in the day, and (3) there was almost no "food."  So, Jesus should send the people out to get some "food."  What they missed was that the Creator of all "food" was standing right in front of them.  As they soon learned, He had another solution to their dilemma.

And, we can be like them.  We can look around at our world and see that no one is showing any interest in becoming a Christian.  Then, we can look at our own abilities and at our church full of other weak human beings and conclude that reaching our world is a hopeless task.  But in our assessment, we have left out God.  Listen to His promises to us.  "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20)  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

So, we also can go out depending on his power to use us to reach our world.  As Bock says, they did not have "fast food" then.  But, what comes next is "fast food."

"(About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, 'Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.' The disciples did so, and everybody sat down."  The fact that they sat "in groups of about fifty each" explains why they were so easily able to count the approximate number of men that were there. See also Mk. 6:40; Exod. 18:21; and Deut. 1:15

"'We have only five loaves of bread and two fish'"  In the Gospel of John, we learn that a small boy had this much food.  "'Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'"

"Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over."

This miracle of feeding the "five thousand" is found in all four Gospels. See also Matt. 14:13-21; Mk. 6:32-44; Jn. 6:5-13

"looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them."  Jesus looks "up to heaven," for the source of this miraculous provision of food came from heaven.  In John six, Jesus explains that He is the true "bread" from "heaven."  "Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'" (John 6:32-33)  "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" (John 6:35)

"They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over."  We do not know exactly when the miracle happened, but we do know that it did happen.  For example, did the miracle happen as He "broke" the "bread"?  Or, did it happens before He "broke" it?  Whatever the case, the miracle did happen.  And, in the end, there was more "food" than Jesus started with.  There was enough left over for each disciple to have his own basketful.

d. Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah (9:18-22)

(1) Peter's confession (9:18-20) (Luke skips what is described in Mark 6:45-8:26)
"Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, 'Who do the crowds say I am?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'The Christ of God.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that Jesus' question was an important one to ask at the time that He asked it?

 

 

"Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, 'Who do the crowds say I am?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.'"

In this part of Jesus' ministry, the focus is more on His closest disciples.  This is a final preparation period.  Hendriksen calls it "The Retirement Ministry."  Much of the time is spent to the north of Galilee where Jesus was able to be alone with His closest disciples.  It was what we call today, a spiritual retreat.  What these verses describe took place far to the north in Caesarea Philippi.  "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'" (Matthew 16:13)

"To be distinguished from the magnificent city of Caesarea, which Herod the great had built on the coast of the Mediterranean.  Caesarea Philippi, rebuilt by Herod's son Philip (who named it after Tiberius Caesar and himself), was north of the Sea of Galilee near the slopes of Mount Herman." "NIV Study Bible note on Matthew 16:13."

The question that Jesus asks His disciples is, without any question, the most important question of all.  In fact, today, it is still the most important question of all.  Who did the people of Jesus' time say that He was?  The Jews did recognize that He was not like other men.  They thought that He was "John the Baptist" raised from the dead. See also 9:7  "Others" thought that He was the promised "Elijah." "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. . . ." (Malachi 3:1a)  "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes." (Malachi 4:5)  "Still others" thought that He was "one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.'"  Matthew's Gospel mentions "Jeremiah" as a possibility.  "They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'" (Matthew 16:14)

Who do people today say that Jesus was and is?  Almost everyone holds Jesus in high esteem.  But most do not recognize or believe that He is the great "I am." See Jn. 8:58  Most do not acknowledge that He is God—that He is the very God who created the universe. See Jn. 1:1-3, 14; Heb. 1:1-4; Col. 1:15-20  Who we believe Jesus to be determines how we live our lives and where will spend eternity.  It is, without any question, the most important question of all.  Since Jesus was soon to leave His disciples and they would soon go on without His physical presence with them, they needed, above all, to know the correct answer to this question.

If Jesus had been seen as anything less than the Son of God, things would have turned out much differently!

"Once when Jesus was praying in private"  Now, we know at least part of what Jesus was "praying" about.  He was likely "praying" that The Father would reveal to His close disciples who He is.

"'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'The Christ of God.'"  Another way of putting it is that Peter said that he believed that Jesus was and is God's promised Messiah.  Simeon realized, when he saw the baby Jesus, that he was seeing God's promised Messiah.  "It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ." (Luke 2:26)

Matthew expands on what "Peter" said:  "Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matthew 16:16)  Then, Matthew records Jesus' words that explain how "Peter" was able to know that this was true.  "Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'" (Matthew 16:17)

Jesus was greater than a prophet.  "Peter" saw Him as the One anointed by God, and as it is stated in Matthew, he saw Him as God's own Son—the One who is the hope of Israel and the hope of mankind.  He was not just a human prophet, He is the very Son of God—God in human flesh.  And, as it says in Matthew 16:17, God's Spirit revealed that to him.  God's Spirit reveals this truth that Jesus is God's Son to each person who puts their faith in Him and becomes a born-again Christian.

Hendriksen adds the following insight to what has been said about this passage so far: "Since the question had been put to all, that is to the Twelve, and none objected to the answer, we may safely assume that here, as well as in the parallel passages (Matt. 16:16; Mark 8:29), Peter was the spokesman for all.  He often acted in this capacity (Matt. 15:15, 16; 19:27, 28; 26:35, 40, 41; Mark 1:36; Luke 8:45; 9:32, 33; 12:41; 18:28; John 6:67-69; Acts 1:15; 2:14, 37, 38; 5:29)." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

Jesus' closest followers were united in believing the true identity of Jesus.  This confession has united true Christians ever since.  Judas, of the Twelve, was not a true Christian.  He, silently, did not agree in his heart that Jesus was the Messiah.  Jesus was not Judas' Lord.  So, there are those in the church today who claim to be Christians; but, like Judas, Jesus is not their Lord.

(2) Jesus warns His disciples of His coming death and resurrection. (9:21-22)
"Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, 'The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.'"

Thought Question: Why do you think that Jesus did not, at this time, want them to tell anyone that He was the Messiah the Son of God?

 

 

"Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone."  Jesus did not come to start a mass movement of those who believed He was the Messiah, who had come to deliver them from the Romans.  He came to die for man's sins.  Also, if the word had gotten out that He was the Messiah, it would have led to a stronger need for the religious leaders to kill Him immediately. See also 5:14; Matt. 17:9; Jn. 6:14-15

"And he said, 'The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.'"  Jesus explains that He—the Messiah—would not be a victorious general, but One who would suffer, die, and resurrect from the dead.  Also, He would not be a popularly accepted Messiah, but He would be a rejected Messiah.  He would, in fact, be rejected by Israel—by Israel's religious establishment.  Furthermore, He would not just die, He would be murdered by them.

But, His death would not be the end for Him.  He would be "raised to life" "on the third day." See also Matt. 12:38-40; Lk. 9:43-45, 18:31-34  Even though Jesus' words are very clear, we know that His disciples did not expect Him to "be killed," and they did not expect Him to "be raised to life" on "the third day."  "'Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.' But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it." (Luke 9:44-45) See also Mk. 8:31-32  See Ps. 188:22; Isa 52:13-53:12 for predictions in the Old Testament that the Messiah would suffer and die.

e. The cost of discipleship I (9:23-27)
"Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.'"

Thought Question #1:  What is meant by "deny himself"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is meant by "take up his cross daily and follow me"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  How can we "lose" our "life" but "save it"?

 

 

"Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  Jesus is saying that if we want to be a true follower of His, we must do "daily" what He did.  That requires that we also "must deny" ourself as He denied Himself.  What does Jesus mean by "deny himself"?  We must "deny" living for ourself and all that involves.  If we put "self" in front of a few words, we get the ideal of what must go if we are to follow Christ: self-focused, self-indulgent, self-conceit, self-pity, self-possessed, self-prestige, selfish ambition, self-satisfied, self-defensive, self-directed, selfaholic, self-glory, and more.  We could add other words to this list: such words as hypersensitive, manipulative, hypercritical, bigoted, resentful, false humility, compulsive, fear of people, guilt-ridden, harsh, inferiority, emotional, blamers, critical, gossips, power-hungry, and more.  Can we think of any reason why any of this ought not to be denied?  This is the Christ-less person and also what we who are Christians need to see as ugly and worthless.  The Christ-less and self absorbed person is who we must "deny."

We cannot truly follow Christ and take any of this along.  We need to want to shed it like the filth it is.  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)  "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." (James 1:21) See also Rom. 6:19-23; Eph. 4:20-5:18; Col. 3:1-14

"take up his cross daily"  The "cross" pictured a shameful death.  The old life with its rule of self must die a shameful death.  Jesus died the shameful death that our self life deserves, so that our self life could come to an end.  We need to identify with this death of the old ________ (fill in your name) "daily."  If we are to follow Christ today, we need "deny" ourself and "take up" our cross today.  We are to pursue His pure, selfless, and sacrificial life "daily." 

"Deny" and "take up" are in the aorist tense describing a "daily" decision to follow Christ.  "Follow" is in the present tense, indicating that we are to continually follow Jesus.  To "follow" Christ, we "must" "daily" choose to "deny" the old self-centered and Christ-less way of life and sacrificially live for Him!  We are to be willing to pay whatever cost is necessary to follow Him.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"  It is an illusion to believe that living for ourself will bring happiness.  We can think that more money, possessions, power, self-indulgence, and prestige will also bring more happiness.  But living for ourselves leads to increasing our selfishness, not to increasing our happiness.  On the other hand, those who have died to all of this and have pursued God have found that their lives have grown fuller, deeper, and overflowing.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"  If someone has all the world offers, yet his or her soul is dead, what does that person have?  Total selfishness is also total emptiness and death.

It is our eternal soul that needs to be full.  If selfishness destroys our soul, then we have only gained eternal death.  If we pursue Jesus, we gain the eternal that He gives to us.  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."  The desire to please people results in a life of seeking to not do anything that anyone would not be pleased with.  In a crowd of unbelievers, where we know that there will be those who will not like us if we share about our faith in Jesus Christ, we are not to be "ashamed" to make it clear that we believe Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus says here that if we are "ashamed" of Him, he will be "ashamed" of us.  This should greatly concern us, for we want Him to be pleased with us when we see Him face to face.

We should seek to be like Paul.  "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)  It was the unashamed and fearless presentation of Jesus and His gospel that spread like a fire throughout the world, transforming people and the world.  May we be like them, as we unashamedly and fearlessly also share with others about Jesus, His death for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead.

"'I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.'"  One day, as Jesus stated in the previous verse, Jesus will come "in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."  Paul called this the "blessed hope": "while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ," (Titus 2:13)  We see in the next verses, that three of His disciples were about to experience His glory.  Although, we have yet to experience the full glory of God's kingdom, three disciples where about to get a taste of it—a taste of what it will be like for all of God's people one day.

f. The Transfiguration (9:28-36)
"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, 'Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.' When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen."

Thought Question #1: Why do you think that a "cloud" often accompanies appearances of God and beings from heaven?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do we learn about what it will be like in heaven from these verses?

 

 

"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning."

"About eight days" "is not in conflict with 'six days later' (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:3).  While Luke was probably using the inclusive method of time computation, including in his count both the day of Peter's confession and that of Christ's transfiguration, the other synoptists [Gospel writers] were likely referring only to the six intervening days.  Besides, Luke does not even intend to be precise, for he says 'about eight days.'" "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

"he took Peter, John and James with him"  Why did only these three disciples witness the glorified Jesus?  Why did Jesus choose only twelve to be His disciples?  Why did God choose the nation of Israel and not another nation?  We are not given answers to these questions.  We can know, though, that God chose whom He chose because it best fulfilled His purposes.  It appears that these three were His inner circle of leadership.  Peter and John wrote seven of the books of the New Testament.

Peter refers to this event in II Peter: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain."
(II Peter 1:16-18) See also 8:51; Matt. 26:37

"and went up onto a mountain to pray."  There is not agreement among all Bible scholars about which "mountain" is referred to here.  Most, though, believe it was Mount Herman, since Peter's confession took place near Caesarea Philippi.  Hendriksen, though, believes that it was a mountain to the north of the Sea of Galilee—Mount Jermuk.  Still others believe it was Mount Tabor—to the southeast of the Sea of Galilee.  The presence of a fort on the top of that "mountain" makes it unlikely that it was the "mountain."

"As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning."  Suddenly, Jesus' three disciples saw Jesus' glory.  My definition of faith is that it is the confidence that the reality described in the Bible is as real as the reality we experience by our senses.  Most of the time, we do not see God's glory and heaven's glory.  But, there are times when heaven's glory invades our world.  Moses had this happen to him a number of times.  "Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, 'I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.' When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, 'Moses! Moses!' And Moses said, 'Here I am.' 'Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.' Then he said, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.' At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God." (Exodus 3:1-6)  "On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him." (Exodus 19:16-19)

On this mountain in Jesus' time, the glory of heaven once more invaded earth.  They saw the glory of Jesus Christ unveiled.  "His face changed."  Matthew says, "his face shone like the sun." (Matthew 17:2)  "His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning."  We are reminded of the appearance of the resurrected and glorified Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus.  "About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions." (Acts 26:13)  Paul did not see Jesus' face.  It may be that Jesus was so bright, that to look straight at Him was even more blinding than looking straight at the sun. See also Revelation 1:12-18

Jesus had just described His Second Coming and its glory: "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:26-27)  The three disciples saw what we who are believers in Jesus Christ will one day see.  They saw God's glory.  The glory of Jesus that they saw was temporary, for shortly after that He was the Jesus that they were used to seeing.  But, Jesus is now restored to His former glory.  Jesus' prayer in John 17:5 has been answered with a "Yes."  "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (Jn. 17:5)  "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name," (Philippians 2:9)

We get the word "transfigured" from Matthew and Mark's accounts of this event.  "There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." (Matthew 17:2) See also Mk. 9:2  The Greek word that is translated "transfigured" is the Greek from which we get our English word "metamorphosis."  II Corinthians 3:18 also uses this word: "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

Jesus was immediately and gloriously transformed so His disciples could see who He truly is.  As we look on His glory, we also are slowly being transformed into His likeness.  "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:28-29)

"Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem."  "Moses" and "Elijah" are key figures in the Old Testament.  "Moses" was the man who received God's Law.  He was used by God to form a nation from the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  "Elijah" was the greatest of God's prophets.  Each of them had a mountain-top experience during the earthly life. See Exod. 19:20-23, 24:12; I Kings 19:8-18

"appeared in glorious splendor,"  They also were glorified.  We who have believed in Jesus Christ will one day also receive glorified bodies.  "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21) See also I Cor. 15:35-54

"They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem."  Luke tells us what "Moses" and "Elijah" were talking about.  Matthew and Mark only say that they were "talking with Jesus." (Matthew 17:3; Mk. 9:4)

The appearance of "Moses" and "Elijah" came at a very key time in history and in God's plan.  They had the great privilege of being there for Jesus just before His horrible death.  The three witnesses did not know the significance of what was about to happen.  No one that was with Jesus understood, but "Moses" and "Elijah" did understand.  It is possible that Mary did also.  See Jn. 12:1-8

"Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him."  Luke tells us that these three disciples were not awake when Jesus was praying.  We are reminded of how they would also fall asleep while Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. See Matt. 26:36-46  As Jesus said then, "the spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matt. 26:41)  They may have been weak and drowsy from the long hike and the climb up the mountain.  But, these disciples did awaken in time to see Jesus' glory and these two glorified visitors from Israel's past.

"As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, 'Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what he was saying.)"  I will quote from my comments on the parallel verse in Matthew (Matthew 17:4).

"Peter" was totally out of his element—he was a human in the midst of the supernatural.  He did not know what to do.  He should have done nothing, but "Peter" always did something.  Someone has said, some have something to say and some have to say something.  "Peter," on that mountain, was the latter.  We talk about not getting in the way of what God is doing.  That is exactly what 'Peter' did.  He tried to bring heaven down to earth, rather than allowing himself to be drawn up into this heavenly experience.  He invited "Moses and Elijah" to camp out on the mountain.  And they did not need to worry about the arrangements, for he would take care of that.  "Peter" was trying to get the glorified Jesus, "Moses," and "Elijah" to join him in his earthly way of life rather than seeking to be drawn into the heavenly reality that he was being blessed to see.

Mark adds: 'He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.' (Mark 9:6) See also Lk. 9:33  Luke tells also that 'Moses and Elijah' were in glorified bodies.  'Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor . . . .'  (Luke 9:30-31)

'If you wish, I will put up three shelters'  'Peter' also may have thought that the millennial kingdom was about to begin.  The Feast of Tabernacles was near.  It symbolized both the wilderness wanderings and the future millennial rule of the Messiah.  'So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.' (Leviticus 23:39-43)

The Feast of Tabernacles, where the people lived in temporary shelters as they did in the wilderness wandering, also pictured what would take place in the millennial kingdom.  'Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.' (Zechariah 14:16)  'Peter' may have thought that this time had begun." "DFG Matthew."

"(He did not know what he was saying.)"  Peter, in his sleepiness, in the urgency of the moment, and the glory before them, had not stopped and thought thoroughly through what he should say.

"While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.'"  No one has ever learned more quickly that it was not the time to talk, but the time to "listen," as Peter did on that mountain.

He was talking, but before Jesus could answer, he was interrupted by the voice of God the Father.  "Peter" stopped talking and started listening!

"While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud."  It says in Matthew, "a bright cloud enveloped them." (Matthew 17:5)  God spoke from a "cloud" or clouds on a number of occasions. See Exod. 13:21-22, 14:19, 19:16-19; 24:15-18, 40:34-38; I Kings 8:10-11; II Chron. 5:13-14; Ps. 104:3; Acts 1:9-11; I Thess. 4:17-18; Rev. 14:14-16

"'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.'"  This is the third time that God the Father affirms His Son's work on earth.  He spoke and affirmed His Son's ministry at Jesus' baptism.  So, this affirmation and Jesus' baptism was the Divinely-authorized beginning of Jesus' ministry.  "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3:17)

Here, He affirms His Son's work previous to the end of His ministry.  The third time the Father will affirm His Son's work will be just before His death. "'Father, glorify your name!' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.'" (John 12:28)

"my Son, whom I have chosen."  Psalm two predicts God's choosing of His Son.  "I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.'" (Psalm 2:7) See also Isa. 42:1-4; 61:1-3

To whom was the Father speaking to?  Certainly, He was speaking to the three disciples.  They were the ones present who needed to "listen" to Jesus.  Certainly, the Father got their attention and they would be fully attentive, afterwards, when Jesus spoke.

The voice also strengthened Jesus, as His mission was affirmed before the leaders of both the Old Testament time and the future leaders of the New Testament time.  In that short moment, we learn that the whole Bible is about Jesus, God's Son.

The Father's voice also made it clear that none of those on that "mountain""Moses," "Elijah," "Peter," "John," nor "James" were in the same category with Jesus, God's Son.  They were men; He was God!

"they were afraid as they entered the cloud."  Who "entered the cloud"?  The three main possibilities are as follows: (1) Jesus, "Moses," and "Elijah" "entered the cloud"; (2) "Moses" and "Elijah" "entered the cloud"; or 3) all six of them "entered the cloud."  It is difficult to give an answer to this question, but "Moses" and "Elijah" may have been taken away by the "cloud."  For, the next verse says that "Jesus was alone."

"When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen."  Matthew puts it as follows:  "When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. 'Get up,' he said. 'Don’t be afraid.' When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus."
(Matthew 17:6-8)

Suddenly, all was back to normal.  The mountain-top experience was over.  Certainly, though, these three's experience with heaven would impact the way that they lived on earth from that time forward.  There are two realities: the reality we see and the reality we do not see.  We are to live by faith that the reality that we do not see is as real as the reality that we do see.

 "The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen."  We learn in Mark's and Matthew's accounts that they were following Jesus' directions in not telling anyone "what they had seen."  "As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead." (Mark 9:9) See also Matt. 17:9  Only after the resurrection would others be ready to hear of the glory that these three saw on that "mountain."  One day, all who believe in Jesus will see the glory that these disciples witnessed that day.  The three that saw it that day are seeing it right now!

g. The healing of the demonized boy (9:37-45)
"The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, 'Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.' 'O unbelieving and perverse generation,' Jesus replied, 'how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.' Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 'Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.' But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it."

Thought Question:  Why do you think that the disciples were unable to heal this boy?

 

 

"The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, 'Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.'"

These verses provoke a number of questions.  First of all, this "man" describes his "only" "son"  as being tormented by "a spirit."  Matthew's Gospel describes him as having "seizures," which sounds like epilepsy. (Matthew 17:15)  Which is it that the "child" was troubled by—"seizures,' "a spirit," or both?  How did this "man" know it was "a spirit"?  We are not given the answer to these questions.  It is likely that the "seizures" were caused by "a spirit."  Luke is clear in 9:42 that it was "a spirit."  "Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father." (Luke 9:42)

This father's life was focused on his "only" "son."  At these times, people will try anything that might work.  This father came to Jesus in his great need.  Many of us fathers have come to Jesus out of concern for our children. See 8:26-29 and 13:11, 16 for examples of what demons produced in their victims.

"'O unbelieving and perverse generation,' Jesus replied, 'how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.'"  Certainly, Jesus was contrasting His heavenly time on that mountain-top with the very un-heavenly time that He experienced immediately on descending from the mountain. See Deut. 32:5, 20

Many of us Christians have gone on a retreat where we listened to noted Christian speakers, were surrounded by Christians, and were isolated from the media.  At times like these, we hate to leave and return to the world that we all know.  Jesus and these three disciples were back now in that world.

Here, Jesus describes the world the way it was and is—"unbelieving"!  Paul describes unbelief in the following way: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:18-21)  Unbelief is choosing to eliminate God and belief in Him from our lives.  "Godlessness" means not wanting for there to be a God.

"perverse"  The Greek word means "completely twisted."  "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice."
(James 3:16)

"Jesus replied, 'how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?"  All of us who are Christians have felt this emotion.  We have felt this emotion when learn about a government run by entrenched self-interested politicians who appear to make decisions primarily based on whether or not it will lead to their own reelection.  We feel this way when we learn of such atrocities as the slave trade of human beings to be used for some people's sordid desires.  And we could go on.  But each Christian has felt what Jesus felt.

But, why did His disciples' failure to heal this boy produce these types of emotions in Jesus?  We can only speculate, as we seek to answer this question.  So, let us consider what Jesus may have been deeply saddened by on that day.  Contained in all our prayers is unbelief and selfishness.  We may think that God is really not interested in our prayers, but we pray anyway. See Matt. 25:24-25  Our prayers may be primarily for selfish gain, but they are couched in spiritual terms.  "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3)  "Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'" (Mark 9:24)

These disciples of Jesus may have thought that if they repeated the formula that worked for them when they were sent out by Jesus, that the demon would flee and the people would be impressed. See Lk. 9:1, 10:17  But, their formula probably did not work because they were relying on themselves and their words and not on God.

"'Bring your son here.' Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God."  The fact that the convulsion took place right as he was about to come to Jesus, indicates that the his problem was demonic.  Also, we are told that "the demon threw him to the ground." 

"But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father."  When we pray in Jesus' name, we are going to God not because of who we are nor because of some authority we have earned, but because of God's grace given to us through Jesus Christ.  It was Jesus' authority as the Son of God that this "demon" could not resist.  When we pray today, we are to pray that God's will be done.  We are not to pray that our will be done.  We are praying in Jesus' name and not our name.  And when something happens that is good, God deserves all the glory.

"He replied, 'This kind can come out only by prayer.'" (Mark 9:29)
"'It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.' '“If you can?”' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for him who believes.'" (Mark 9:22-23)

"And they were all amazed at the greatness of God"  In Acts 12, the new Christians were praying for Peter to be released from jail.  Peter, then, was released from jail by an angel.  When the released Peter appeared at the door of the house where these Christians were praying, a servant girl named Rhoda answered the door.  In her excitement, she closed the door in front of Peter and ran back to tell the people praying that their prayers were answered.  They did not believe her, showing that they did not really believe that God was going to answer their prayers. See Acts 12:1-19  We can be just like this crowd witnessing Jesus' miracle and like those who prayed for Peter; we can be "amazed" when God answers our prayers.  We can focus on the circumstances and not on the greatness of God.  "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

"While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 'Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.' But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it."

Jesus' glory on the mountain and His miracle at the bottom of the mountain will not prevent what Jesus had already predicted—He was "going to be betrayed" and evil men were going to have their way with Him.

One form of treatment for alcoholism deals primarily with the denial of the inevitable consequences of alcoholism.  Alcoholics, typically, deny that their use of alcohol will, in the end, have the same result as what happens to other alcoholics.  Here, the disciples deny what they do not want to hear—that Jesus is not heading toward triumph, but He is heading, instead, toward His death at the "hands" of evil men.

It says here that "it was hidden from them."  And, it appears that God was hiding it from them.  Jesus just told them that it would happen, but God is also hiding it from them.  Why?  Hendriksen offers John 16:12-13 as the answer.  "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:12-13)  They were not able to "bear" this truth at that time.  Jesus tells them, as recorded in John, that when the Spirit comes to them, they will be able to "bear" this truth.

h. Jesus' disciples argue over who will be the greatest. (9:46-50)
"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, 'Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.' 'Master,' said John, 'we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said, 'for whoever is not against you is for you.'"

Thought Question:  What do Jesus' words here tell us about how greatness in the world differs from greatness in His kingdom?

 

 

"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, 'Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.'"

We can venture an educated guess as to why they were arguing over which of them "would be the greatest."  According to the Gospel of Matthew, Peter had just been singled out.  "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18)  Also, only three had just gone up on the mountain with Jesus.  The extra attention given to some by Jesus may have stirred up jealousy among them.  But, as Jesus teaches here, greatness in His kingdom is much different than greatness in the world.  In the world, those who are great have climbed to the top of another mountain—they are the wealthiest of the wealthy, the most powerful of the powerful, the most idolized of those idolized, and the best of the best.  But, in Jesus' kingdom, we are not to seek to be first, but we need to be willing to be last.

Jesus uses "a little child" to explain how we are to become great in His kingdom. 
"Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me."  The least sought after positions in churches tend to be the children's ministries.  It is usually not difficult to find someone to teach an adult Sunday School class—it is a position of status before adults.  On the other hand, teaching children is not a position of status; and it is difficult to find those who will teach children's Sunday School and children's church.  Adults can be impressed with their teacher's knowledge of the Bible.  Those who teach children are less likely to be status seekers.  They are, rather, usually humble Christian servants. 

J. C. Ryle has these helpful words to say on the human malady of pride:  "Of all sins there is not against which we have such need to watch and pray, as pride.  It is a pestilence that walks in darkness, and a sickness that destroys at noon-day.  No sin is so deeply rooted in our nature.  It cleaves to us like sin.  Its roots never entirely die.  They are ready, at any moment, to spring up, and exhibit a most pernicious vitality.  No sin in so senseless and deceitful.  It can wear the garb of humility itself.  It can lurk in the hearts of the ignorant, the ungifted, and the poor, as well as in the minds of the great, the learned, and the rich.  It is a quaint and homely saying, but only too true, that no pope has ever received such honor as pope 'self." "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels by J. C. Ryle."

In short, the one who is great is the one who does not seek his own greatness, but humbly serves God even in roles that gain no earthly recognition.  "Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, 'If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.'" (Mark 9:35)  People's best and God's glory are of prime importance to the truly great.  "As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 'I tell you the truth,' he said, 'this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'" (Luke 21:1-4)

"and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.'"  It is a message throughout the Bible that our hearts unite with God's heart when they are not filled with pride.  "He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble." (Proverbs 3:34)  "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'" (Luke 18:9-140  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)  Let us seek to recognize that pride prevents us from having a heart to heart relationship with God, and humility leads us toward a closer relationship with God.

"'Master,' said John, 'we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said, 'for whoever is not against you is for you.'"  Can God use people who are "not one of us"—people who are not part of our denomination or church?  Here, "John" is disturbed that he was unable to control someone who was not in their group—"we tried to stop him."

What lesson do we gain from Jesus' words: "for whoever is not against you is for you"?  Ryle shares these words in answer to that question:  "The plain truth is, that we are all too ready to say, 'we' are the men and wisdom shall die with us.' (Job 12:2)  We forget that no individual church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom, and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us.  We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the gospel preached, and the devil's kingdom pulled down, though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like.  We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ, and yet for some wise reason may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do.  Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified—no matter who the preacher may be, and to what Church he may belong.  Happy are those who can say with Paul, "if Christ be preached, I rejoice, yes and will rejoice.' (Phil. 1:18)" "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels by J. C. Ryle."

May we humbly acknowledge that those outside of our exact way of thinking and outside of our Christian acquaintances may also truly love the Lord and may also be dedicated to serving Him.

JESUS HEADS TOWARD JERUSALEM AND TO HIS DEATH (9:51-19:27)

1. Rejection in Samaria (9:51-56)
"As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, 'Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?' But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that it was okay for Elijah to call down fire from heaven on his enemies but James and John were not allowed to do it?

 

 

"As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem."  The next nearly ten chapters in Luke describe Jesus' last journey to "Jerusalem."  In "Jerusalem," Jesus knew that He would be murdered and resurrected from the dead.  Luke, writing after all this occurred, writes his Gospel with all of Jesus' ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension in his past. See also 13:22, 17:11, 18:31-33, 19:11 that also describe Jesus' journey to Jerusalem.

How much does Jesus love us?  We see it here.  Never before in eternity had the Son done what would happen to Him during the coming weekend.  Before Him was "the betrayal, the mockery, the scourging, the crown of thorns, the spitting, the nails, the spear, the agony on the cross—all were doubtless spread before His mind's eye, like a picture." "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels by   J. C. Ryle."  But He, nevertheless, resolved to head toward Jerusalem and all that it meant would happen there.  And, He did if for one reason: His love for us!

"And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem."  Samaria was a land between Galilee to the north and Judea to the south.  Israel was divided into a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom under King Solomon's son Rehoboam. See I Kings 12  The northern kingdom wandered away from God and into idolatry and wickedness.  As a result of their rebellion against God and His ways, they were conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC.  The Assyrians' strategy of conquest was to move some of the people from a conquered land into another conquered land.  Therefore, people from other conquered lands were moved into Samaria and people from Israel were moved into other lands.  When the Israelites intermarried with those who came to them from other lands, they formed a mongrel race—the Samaritans.  Later, Galilee was resettled by the Jews, but Samaria remained a mongrel people who were hated by the Jews. See II Kings 17:23-33; Neh. 4

"because he was heading for Jerusalem."  The hatred went two ways.  The Samaritans also hated the Jews, and Jesus was hated at this time because "he was heading for Jerusalem," the capital city of Israel.  They would not help anyone who was on a trip to hated "Jerusalem."

"James and John"  Mark describes these two brothers as follows: "James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder);" (Mark 3:17)  "James" died as a martyr. see Acts 12:1-2  "John" went on to author the Gospel of John, the book of Revelation, I John, II John, and III John.  But, during the early years of their ministry, we learn here that they were explosive in their anger and quick to make judgments. See also 9:49

It appears that they felt that what Elijah did to the soldiers of Israel, who were envoys of a king of Israel who favored the false god Baal over Jehovah, should happen to these Samaritans.  "Elijah answered the captain, 'If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!' Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, 'Man of God, this is what the king says, “Come down at once!”' If I am a man of God,' Elijah replied, 'may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!' Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men." (II Kings 1:10-12)  "James and John" had just seen Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

"But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village."  What had "James and John" done that was wrong?  After all, had not this "Samaritan village" rejected the Messiah?  God is the One who decides when it is too late for someone to receive the Messiah.  "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)  Jesus described Israel's rejection of Him in a much different spirit than "James and John's" spirit.  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37)

What "James and John" did here has sadly been a pattern through the history of the church.  Thousands have died because they crossed those in leadership in the church.  Jesus, Himself, died because He offended the religious leaders of Israel.  The Roman Catholic church put to death many whose teachings differed from theirs.  Our purpose, though, is not to be man's final judge, but to offer salvation to all men.  The offer is still available to each person while that person is still alive.  Jesus said the following:  "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." (John 12:47)  "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

2. A description of those who were unwilling to pay the cost of following Jesus to the cross (9:57-26)
"As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.' He said to another man, 'Follow me.' But the man replied, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' Still another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.' Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'"

Thought Question: What do Jesus' words tell us about what we should do before we choose to follow Him?

 

 

"As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'"  The "man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.'"  Matthew's Gospel says he was "a teacher of the law." (Matthew 8:19)  Christians I have known have followed Jesus to Haiti, Uganda, jails, nursing homes, Union Gospel Missions, and many more places.  Was this "man" willing to "go" "wherever" Jesus would "go"

Jesus' answer indicates that He knew that this "man," in his heart, loved personal comfort and security more than Jesus.  He would follow Jesus as long as it did not mean a loss of comfort and person security.

"Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'"  "Foxes" and "birds" had their homes, but while Jesus was on earth He could not choose a comfortable place to live.  He did not come to earth to look for a comfortable place to live.  Instead, He was on a mission to offer God's rule to mankind.  For God to rule in our lives, He needed to spread the message to all who would listen, even though He knew that it would end in His death.  While He was on that mission, there was no place for comfort, security, or the pursuit of personal prestige.  Hendriksen summarizes how Jesus' ministry prevented Him from having a place to call home.  "Judea rejects him (John 5:18), Galilee casts him out (John 6:66), Gadara begs him to leave its district (Matt. 8:34), Samaria refuses him lodging (Luke 9:53), earth will not have him (Matt. 27:23), and finally even heaven forsakes him (Matt. 27:46)." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

Well, what about His hometown of Nazareth?  Here is what happened there.  "All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way." (Luke 4:28-30)

Jesus had a mission on earth.  That mission came before earthly comfort and security.  Are we willing to choose Jesus' mission for us over personal comfort and security?  Also, as people rejected Jesus, they will reject those who carry the message of Jesus.  Following Jesus also means that we need to be willing to pay the cost that following Him requires.

"He said to another man, 'Follow me.' But the man replied, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.'"  This "man" was not saying that his father had just died and he needed to bury him.  For if his father had just died, he would not have been with Jesus; he would have been at the funeral.  For, in Israel the dead were buried on the same day that they died. See Jn. 11:14,17; Acts 5:6,10 

This son felt that he could not follow Jesus right then; he had another priority.  He either felt that he needed to honor his father by remaining with him until he died, or he was concerned about making sure he got the inheritance he would receive when his father died.  Many are kept from following Christ because they choose to follow family traditions and personal interests rather than following Christ.  Jesus said the following with regard to this tendency to put family above Him: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

Jesus' response to him, at first, seems harsh.  "'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.'"  He must, though, be speaking of the spiritually dead, for the physically dead cannot do anything.  But the spiritually dead can teach in universities, run large business, be soldiers and policemen, and bury people.  But, it is only the spiritually alive that can spread the gospel. See I Kings 19:19-21

"Still another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.' Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'"  There are times when it is good to do something and other times when it is not good.  For example, the fire alarm goes off in the firehouse.  One fireman says, "I will come as soon as I balance my checkbook."  There is nothing wrong with balancing a checkbook, but there is a wrong time to do it.  This fireman would be showing that his personal affairs took precedence over his job.  I heard once about a student in a college ministry that was dedicated to that ministry unless there was a track meet taking place.  In his life, track meets had precedence over God's work. 

When we choose to follow Christ, there is to be no turning back.  As the words of the famous hymn say: "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back."  The Israelites followed God in the wilderness, but then when they faced a lack of water and food in the wilderness, they looked back to Egypt.  "The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, 'If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.' (Exodus 16:1-3)

The man plowing out in the field needs to keep his eyes focused ahead of him; for if he looks back to see how he is doing, he will cease to "plow" in a straight line.  So, when we choose to follow Christ, we are not to look back at the life we once lived before we became a Christian.  When the Christian life gets tough, we need to look ahead.  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (Hebrews 12:1-4)

Jesus did not look back, nor should we. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14) See also Gen. 19:1-26

3. Jesus sends out the seventy (10:1-24)

a. Instructions to the selected missionaries (10:1-12)
"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God is near you.” But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.” I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.'"

Thought Question:  Tell of a time when you were a part of a ministry that reached out into a community and found "a man of peace"? 

 

 

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'"

"Textual evidence (both here and in verse 17) is insufficient to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, whether 'seventy' or 'seventy-two' is correct." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

The number "seventy" was a common number to the Jews.  God directed Moses to choose "seventy" elders to assist him in leading Israel. See Numb. 11:16-17  "It was the number of the Sanhedrin the supreme council of the Jews." "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  It is the number, traditionally, of the number of translators of the Septuagint—the Greek Old Testament.

An argument for "seventy-two" is that 72 is a multiple of 12 X 6.  It would be the symbolic of "12" six times.

"sent them two by two"  On occasion I have gone out on a mission with a partner.  As a new Christian, I was trained at the Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters in Arrowhead Springs, California.  We went out sharing the gospel at the Rose Bowl parade.  I have gone out on the college campus on many occasions with a partner.  Also, I have gone out many times to visit newcomers in churches with a partner.  Going out with a partner strengthens us.  "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:" (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

Also, the witness of 'two" is more likely to be received than the witness of one. See Matt. 18:16; Jn. 8:16-17  This also became the pattern of the earliest missionaries to the Gentile world.  Paul and Barnabas,  and later Paul and Silas, were "sent" out on the great missionary journey to the Gentiles that began the Gentile church.

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others"  Some believe that missionary work and evangelism of the lost is only the work of the professional.  But, here, Jesus sends out ordinary folks.  Even the Twelve were mostly fisherman.  I believe that evangelism is the adrenalin of the church.  Without evangelism, our Christian lives can become a humdrum routine with little risk and few new converts.  The church still needs those like these "seventy-two" who are willing to go into the harvest fields.

"He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" See also Matt. 9:35-38; Jn. 4:35  For anyone who has spent time on the mission field in other parts of the world, it becomes obvious that only a very few are being reached with the gospel message.  Even in the U. S., most of the people we see around us do not understand the gospel message.  Also, as our education system more and more eliminates any positive perspective on the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the church, even more are becoming ignorant of the Bible and what it teaches.  Still, though, "the harvest is plentiful."  God uses this fallen world to break hardened hearts—as they encounter every type of emptiness, the negative effects of sin, and the absence of genuine love in their lives.  There are always those who have a hunger for love, truth, meaning, and an answer to sin's control on their lives.  "The harvest is" still "plentiful"!

"'but the workers are few.'"  Seeking to reach the world is hard work.  If we do only what is comfortable, without risk, and easiest to do, we will also not be a worker in "the harvest field."  There is a need for us to pray that those who are Christians also become "workers" in God's "harvest field."  May we say, with Isaiah, "Here   am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8b)  May we not say what Moses said at first: "But Moses said, 'O Lord, please send someone else to do it.'" (Exodus 4:13)

"'Ask the Lord of the harvest,'"  Prayer, according to Jesus here, is a critical part of the work we need to do to reach the world.  Paul asks for prayer so that he could effectively reach the lost.  "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should." (Colossians 4:2-4)  "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (Ephesians 6:19-20)

Prayer is something that any Christian can do.  We can pray for open doors for us.  We can pray for open doors for other Christians and missionaries around the world.  We can pray that the lost will be saved.  "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—"
(I Timothy 2:1)  "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:3-4)

"'Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.'"  What they would have liked for Jesus to have said is that they were being sent out like lions among wolves.  A lion can easily handle a wolf.  But a lamb does not stand a chance against a vicious wolf.  Religious types can become "wolves."  Wolf-like people who called themselves Christians committed the horrible atrocities that occurred during the Spanish Inquisition.  Paul made this prediction in Acts 20:29-30: "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20:29-30)  But, we are to seek to be "lambs," not "wolves."

David was like a lamb, when he was chased by the wolf-like Saul.  An opportunity arose when he could have killed him, but he only "cut off a corner of Saul's robe." (I Samuel 24:4).  There are many times that are recorded in the Bible where godly men are chased by "wolves."  For example, Jezebel chased Elijah (see I Kings 19:1-2); Haman chased Mordecai (see Esther 3:1); and the Jewish religious leaders chased Paul (see Acts 13-23).

But, the Bible is clear, we are to pursue after gentleness, humility, a servant's heart, and love.  "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (I Timothy 1:5)  "And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 2:24-25)  "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5)

Though many may choose to assault us in many ways with wolf-like ferocity; we are to seek to respond in lamb-like gentleness.  The Pharisees attacked Jesus with wolf-like ferocity; He responded in lamb-like gentleness.  He was firm and He fearlessly spoke the truth; but, His gentleness provided them an opportunity to voluntarily choose to follow Him.  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37)  His goal was their salvation, not their judgment.  "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

In our time, we are also to be "like lambs among wolves."  Martin Luther said, "'Cain will murder Abel, if he can, to the very end of the world.'" "Quoted by J. C. Ryle."  "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels."  "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (II Timothy 3:12)

"'Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.'"  Years ago, my brother was pastor of a college group in a large church.  They planned occasionally to have lunch at the church after the morning service.  But, after a while my brother realized that planning those times was becoming a major enterprise and was crowding out their ministry objectives.  So, my brother brought all that to an end by announcing that everyone would bring a sack lunch.  It appears that Jesus wanted those who went on this ministry tour to also keep it simple.  One of Jesus' ministry principles is to put His goals first and trust God to provide for our needs.  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)

"'sandals;'"  They were not to take an extra pair of "sandals."

"'and do not greet anyone on the road.'"  In other words, do not allow long visits with people that you meet "on the road" to prevent you from completing your task.

"Oriental salutations are tedious and complicated . . . . 'These instructions were intended to reprove another propensity which an Oriental can hardly resist, no matter how urgent his business.  If he meets an acquaintance, he must stop and make an endless number of inquiries and answer as many.  If they come upon men making a bargain, or discussing any other matter, they must pause and intrude their own ides, and enter keenly into the business, though it in nowise concerns them; and, more especially, an Oriental can never resist the temptation to assist when accounts are being settled or money counted out.  The clink of a coin has a positive fascination to them." "Taken from Word Studies in the New Testament by M. R. Vincent.  Copyright 1972 by Associated Publishers and Authors.  Vincent quotes from Thomson, Land and Book."

Elijah gave similar instructions to his servant.  "Elisha said to Gehazi, 'Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.'" (II Kings 4:29)

This verse warns us also that the worries of this life and the activities of this life are to take a back seat to God's work.  We can be so concerned with the busyness of living that we have little time left over for serving God and carrying out His mission on this earth.  When Jesus' disciples were at one time concerned that He had not eaten yet, He answered with these words.  "Meanwhile his disciples urged him, 'Rabbi, eat something.' But he said to them, 'I have food to eat that you know nothing about.' Then his disciples said to each other, 'Could someone have brought him food?' 'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.'" (John 4:31-35)  His disciples were busy going after food.  He was busy reaching a village in Samaria through a woman He had just met at a well.

"'When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.'"

My brother now has a ministry reaching into neighborhoods with Christian service and with the gospel message.  A goal of their ministry is to find "a man of peace" in the neighborhood that they are reaching out to.  Years ago, I was involved in an outreach ministry on the San Jose State College campus with Campus Crusade for Christ.  In a dorm, we found "a man of peace."  He was not a Christian, but he gathered everyone in the dorm, so that we could share our Christian testimonies.  "Men of peace" are those who are receptive to God and also are receptive to God's messengers.  We will not know, though, that there are "men of peace" out there if we do not courageously go out into our communities.  The hard part, though, is that when we go out into our communities, we will also find those there that are clearly not people of "peace"—those who are not receptive to our message and who are not receptive to us.  Jesus' "seventy-two" met both.

"'if not, it will return to you.'"  In the East at that time, words—which included blessings of "peace"—were treated like objects that could be given and received, or rejected and taken back.

"'Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you,'"  These disciples were to focus on the ministry and be satisfied with whatever was given to them for food and lodging.  They were not to leave the first home that they stayed at and go looking for a better home with better accommodations and food.  Most missionaries in foreign countries know this experience—the ministry takes precedence over the type of accommodations.  They learn to enjoy sharing in the lifestyle of those they are ministering to.  One of the requirements that Shirley and I were told was necessary for us to do while we were in Uganda was to eat grasshoppers.  We did it and, believe it or not, it was one of the highlights of our missions trip.

"for the worker deserves his wages."  Paul quotes these words in I Timothy 5:18.  "For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.'"  He quotes both Deuteronomy 15:4 and this verse in Luke, and precedes these quotes with "For the Scripture says."  Paul, therefore, states that Luke's writings are "Scripture," and he put them in the same category as Moses' book of Deuteronomy.

The disciples did not need to be ashamed to receive food and lodging, for they were laborers in God's work.  Nor should those who have been called to fulltime ministry feel ashamed that their "wages" come from the giving of Christian supporters of their ministry.

"'When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God is near you.” But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you.”'"

These disciples needed to know beforehand that there were going to be those who would reject their message and reject them.  So, Jesus prepares them by giving them directions on how to handle the rejections that they would receive.  They were to put the responsibility for the rejection on those who rejected their ministry.  When people reject our ministry, we can look at ourselves and wonder, "What is wrong with us?" or "What is wrong with me?"  Sometimes that may be true.  But, often, we are rejected because those that reject us are rejecting God and His message to them.   Primarily, they are rejecting God and not us. See also Deuteronomy 20:10-18

An illustration from sports will help at this point.  A pitcher who loses a game must completely forget that game so that he can do his best in the next game.  Also, a quarterback who throws an interception must completely put that behind him in the next set of plays.  So, the Christian servant must put the person who has rejected the gospel behind him when he seeks to share the gospel the next time.  Otherwise, the rejections will pile up and discourage us from going forth to share with others about God's grace and how it has changed our lives.

I just heard about a major league batter who struck out four times.  But, what happened on his fifth time at bat?  He hit a grand-slam home run.  We may be rejected a number of times, but the next person we share with may respond warmly to the gospel message.  Everyone who is a born-again Christian became a Christian when he or she responded warmly to the gospel message when it was shared with them.  We need to not let the times we are rejected by those who reject God to discourage us from sharing with the next person.  That next person may be one who will respond warmly to our message.

"'Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God is near you.”'"  They had the authority to "heal the sick," which was a sign that "the kingdom of God" was "near" them.  Ultimately, God's "kingdom" will result in the complete removal of the curse.  The miracles were a sign that God's "kingdom" was present and "near."  It was "near" because the King was "near." See Lk. 7;22; Isa. 29:18-21, 35:5-10, 61:1

"'eat what is set before you.'"  This may have referred to food that was ceremonially unclean being put "before" them.  They were to eat it anyway.  In reaching people with the gospel, we can find ourselves in difficult circumstances.  Certainly, everyone that they stayed with then were not fastidious Jews.  Peter, later, would be told to go into a Gentile home where everything was ceremonially unclean.  But, he was go there to preach the gospel to a gathering of the unclean Gentiles that were there.  "He said to them: 'You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.'" (Acts 10:28)  See also Acts 10:1-11:18

"'“Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.” I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.'"  When the disciples wiped "the dust" off their "feet," they were to include in their warning that "the kingdom of God is near."  Their message about God's "kingdom" being "near" did not change if the message was received or rejected.  It was not up for a vote.  So, our gospel message is no less true if thirty people in a row reject it.  They will, though, be condemned if they reject it.  "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." (John 3:18)  "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

"'I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.'"  What "day" is the "day" that Jesus is referring to here?  It is most certainly the "day" of judgment predicted throughout the Bible.  "God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed."
(2 Thessalonians 1:6-10a) See also Matt. 7:22, 12:36; II Tim. 1:12, 18, 4:8

"'it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.'"  Sodom's judgment is described in Genesis 19.  "Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land." (Genesis 19:24-25)

"Sodom" did not reject the same opportunities that the cities of Jesus' time had.  "Sodom" rejected God and His ways.  The cities of Jesus' time rejected God's Son and the miracles of healing that He performed in their midst.

Is Jesus here stating that there will be degrees of punishment?  Hendriksen gives this answer:  "As there are degrees of glory (I Cor. 15:41, 42) [see also I Cor. 3:12-15], so there are also degrees of punishment (Luke 12:47, 48).  Sodom, to be sure sinned grievously (Gen. 13:13, 19:9, 13; Isa. 3:9; Lam. 4:6; II Pet. 2:6, 7; Jude 7); but the cities selected by the Lord Jesus Christ for receiving the very special privilege of having his personal representatives sent to them with a pleading and urgent appeal will have sinned even more grievously if they reject their golden opportunity.  Therefore, in the day of final judgment their sentence will be even more terrifying than that which will then be pronounced on Sodom." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

b. Warnings to the cities of Galilee (10:13-16)
"'Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that "Tyre and Sidon" would have repented if they had witnessed "the miracles that were performed" in the cities Jesus visited?

 

 

"'Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.'"  (The following are my comments on the parallel verses in the Gospel of Matthew (11:20-24).  The wording is very similar.)

"There are only two times that 'Korazin' is mentioned in the Bible—here and in Lk. 10:13.  We have no record of any miracles performed in 'Korazin.'  At the very end of John, we read these words.  'Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.' (John 21:25)  The miracles at 'Korazin' were some of the 'many other things' that Jesus did that were not 'written down.'

'Bethsaida' was the home town of Philip, Andrew, and Peter. See Jn. 1:44, 12:21  According to Lk. 9:10-17, the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 occurred there or near there. See also Mk. 6:45, 8:22-26  Neither 'Korazin' and 'Bethsaida' exist today.

'Woe to you,'  Barclay has these enlightening words about the meaning of 'woe.'  'the Greek word for woe . . . is ouai; ouai expresses sorrowful pity at least as much as it does anger.  This is not the accent of one who is in a temper because his self esteem has been touched; it is not the accent of one who is blazingly angry because he has been insulted.  It is the accent of sorrow, the accent of one who offered men the most precious thing in the world and saw it disregarded.  Jesus' condemnation of sin is holy anger, but the anger comes not from outraged pride, but from a broken heart.' "Taken from The Gospel of Matthew by William Barclay Volume 2.  Copyright 1975 by The Westminster Press."

'“If ["For if" in Luke] the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”'  Prophets in the Old Testament described the wickedness of 'Tyre and Sidon.' These cities were in Phoenicia—the home of Jezebel, the wife of Israel's wicked king Ahab.  Whole chapters in the Old Testament describe God's judgment on 'Tyre and Sidon.'  They were judged by God because of their wickedness. See Isa. 23; Ezek. 26-27

Why would they have repented if they had seen the miracles that Jesus did in 'Korazin' and 'Bethsaida'?  Jesus knew that these cities were not as hardened as these two Jewish cities had become.

Why is Jesus warning them?  It is apparent that He is warning them because they could have repented and still could repent.  Calvinism teaches that because people are spiritually dead, they cannot repent—any more than a dead corpse can make a decision—unless they are first born again and made alive by God's Spirit.  Jesus is clearly stating here that they could have repented and should have repented, but they chose not to repent.

Would Jesus have said, 'woe' to them if they could not repent?  He said 'woe' to them because they would not repent, not because they could not repent.

Jesus' words also teach us that there will be some judgments on people in eternity that will be worse than the judgments on others.  Here, we learn that these people who saw Jesus and the miracles He performed and rejected Him will experience a more severe judgment than the citizens of 'Tyre and Sidon' who did not see Him. See also Matt. 12:41; Lk. 12:47-48

What does this mean to us today?  If we have a greater opportunity to learn about God and His way than others, we also have a greater responsibility.  Our opportunity and how we have responded to it will be included in God's righteous judgment of us.  This should be very humbling to us and motivate us not to squelch the opportunity and opportunities that we have.

'“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. [Matthew adds the following words] If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”'

'Capernaum' was Jesus' home at this time.  Many of His miracles were performed there.  "Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali." (Matthew 4:13)  If any city should have repented and turned to Jesus, it was the city in which He lived as an adult—the city where He performed many miracles.  Because of this unique privilege, the judgment against them would be greater than the judgment against 'Sodom.'

'Sodom' is known for its decline in morality, ultimately reaching the point where God could no longer tolerate its existence and destroyed the city. See Gen. 18-19  Yet, 'Capernaum' will be judged in God's final judgment to be worse than 'Sodom.'

How can this be?  Again, 'Sodom' had not seen Jesus or His miracles.  They had not heard His words of truth and wisdom.  They had not heard His claims.  'Capernaum' saw and heard it all; yet they rejected it all.  Jesus says here [in Matthew 11:23] that if 'Sodom' had heard what 'Capernaum' heard, they would have repented and their city 'would have remained.'  ["Korazin" and "Bethsaida" no longer exist and only the ruins of "Capernaum" remain.]

Obviously, we have much more revelation from God available to us today than 'Tyre,' 'Sidon,' and 'Sodom.'  We need to respond to Jesus' words today, so that He will not say to us what He said to the cities where He performed miracles.

'repented'  The word describes someone who has a change of mind about their sin and willful unbelief in Jesus—he or she mourns over their sin and comes to believe in Jesus.   This change of mind and belief produces a turn toward Him and His ways—a turn that produces a desire to follow Him in both words and deeds." (This concludes my comments on the parallel verses in Matthew)

'“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”'  The warnings Jesus issued to these cities also applied to those who rejected His followers:  Jesus' words put a heavy responsibility on those of us who represent Jesus and on those who listen to us.  Our heavy responsibility is that we need to be careful to say what He wants us to say.  And if we do, those who reject our message also reject the One who sends us. See also Matt. 10:40; Jn. 13:20, 20:21; II Cor. 5:18-20

e. The return of the missionaries (10:17-24)

(1) The missionaries' joy (10:17)
"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.'"

What is described here provokes two questions.  The first question is, why were they so excited about the authority they were given over "demons"?  It may be that they were not expecting to have this power over them.  In the description of their mission (the mission of the seventy), this authority over "demons" is not mentioned by Jesus.  "Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.'" (Luke 10:9)  It may also have been the most exciting part of their ministry.  The second question is, why was Jesus not pleased with their excitement?  That question will be dealt with in Jesus' respond to their excitement.

2) Jesus' concern about their joy (10:18-20)
"He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'"

Thought Question:  What did Jesus mean by, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven"?

 

 

"He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.'"  Satan's goal has been the very opposite of what Jesus describes here.  "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit." (Isaiah 14:12-15)

It appears to me that Jesus is describing here, in a few words, the fall of Satan.  The cross would be another part of Satan's fall.  "Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:31-32)  "having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Colossians 2:14-15)  "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Jesus' people defeat Satan by preaching the gospel message.  Revelation 12:10-12 describes this victory in the last days.  "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.'"

Ultimately, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire.  "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10) See also Romans 16:20

"'Like lightning from heaven'" describes Satan's whole existence from his very bright and shining start to his sudden and complete fall.  The cause of Satan's fall was pride.  Jesus appears to be warning His disciples not to exalt themselves as Satan did, for this will also lead to their tragic fall.  "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18) See also Prov. 29:23; I Tim. 3:16  As Ryle said, "Most of Christ's laborers probably have as much success as their souls can bear." "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels by J. C. Ryle."

"'I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.'"  Is Jesus here speaking of actual "snakes and scorpions"? See Mark 16:18 and Acts 28:3-6  Or is Jesus using "snakes and scorpions" to symbolize demons?  I agree with Hendriksen's interpretation that Jesus was speaking figuratively here rather than literally.  The context fits a figurative interpretation—the discussion is about the disciples' victories over "demons," and in verse 20 Jesus is still speaking of "spirits."
 
What, then, did Jesus mean?  Jesus appears to be speaking of the "authority" over Satan that Jesus gave them.  It was this "authority" that enabled them to be victorious over Satan and his evil forces.  As they went out, they were like an unstoppable army triumphing over their enemy—as Jesus strengthened them to do it. 

How does this apply to us?  If we engage in this battle in God's way, we can also expect to be victorious.  We are to do battle clothed in God's armor. See Eph. 6:10-18  We are to fight with God's weapons.  "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." (II Corinthians 10:3-4)  And God will empower us to be victorious.  "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him."
(II Corinthians 2:14)  "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18)

That does not mean that the road will be easy.  Paul and Barnabas said these words shortly after Paul had been stoned by his enemies.  "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said." (Acts 14:22)

"'However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'"  It is very human for us to get excited about what we can see that is temporary, rather than getting excited about that which we cannot see that is eternal.  These disciples were excited about their spiritual victories over evil "spirits." Jesus cautions them that this was not their mission.  They were eternal members of God's kingdom who were to tell others how they could also become members of God's eternal kingdom.  Instead, they were excited about the fascinating power God had given to them.

This can happen to us today, as well.  We can also get excited about some exciting experience and become so fixated on this momentary event that we forget what is truly the most amazing reality of all—that we will spend eternity with God as members of His family.

The casting out of "demons" is over for those disciples, but the fact that their "names are written in heaven" is much more important to them right now.  So, it is also true for us.  The message we have to share is much more important than even a miracle that God performs.

"'your names are written in heaven.'"  There is much said in the Bible about God's books. See Exod. 32:32-33; Ps. 69:28; Dan. 7:10;  Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5, 20:12,15, 21:27

"'but rejoice'"  "The present imperative for rejoice (chareite) in verse 20 indicates that they should constantly rejoice in the fact that the great census of God contains their names.  Jesus alludes to the 'book of life.'" "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."

"are written in heaven.'"  "Are written" is in the perfect tense, indicating that our "names" were "written" there in the past and continue to be "written" there today.

(3) Jesus' joy (10:21-24)
"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.' Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.'"

Thought Question:  Why can we also "praise" God for what Jesus praised God for in these verses?

 

 

"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."

Nothing is more relevant to us than these few words of Jesus.  It is about who will and who will not receive God's good news and His wisdom.  There are some who are hungry for His message and His truth—"the little children."  And there are those who have no use for God's message and His truth—the "wise and learned." 

The following is quoted from my comments on the parallel verses in Matthew (Matt. 11:25-27).  "The wise and learned" are those who believed that they had superior knowledge to Jesus—they thought they knew more than God.  The 'children' are those who are like baby chicks with their mouths open to receive the food that the mother bird brings to them—they were eager and hungry for Jesus' wisdom from God.  Jesus praised the Father that the arrogant were not able to understand His teachings, but the humble were able to understand Him.  Ryle points to the predictive words of Mary the mother of Jesus about who would and who would not receive Jesus.  'He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.' (Luke 1:53)  Those who keenly feel their need for Jesus' wisdom, receive it; and those who believe that they are already wise, reject it.  The 'little children' are those who are hungry, thirsty, the good soil for the word, the poor in spirit, and those who mourn. See Matt. 5:3-7, 13:8, 23" "DFG  Matthew."

"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit,"  "What was the cause of our Lord's joy?  It was the conversion of souls.  It was the reception of the Gospel by the weak and lowly among the Jews." "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels by J. C. Ryle."

What gives us "joy through the Holy Spirit"  Is it not when someone, in true humility, receives the gospel message and becomes a new person in Christ.  "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
(III John 4)

"full of joy through the Holy Spirit,"  Here, we have the mystery of Jesus the Son of God in the flesh and the mystery of the Trinity.  Why did Jesus, who is God, need "the Holy Spirit" to give Him "joy"?  At His baptism, "the Holy Spirit" came down on Him.  "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him." (Matthew 3:16)  In His manhood, "the Holy Spirit" played an essential role in empowering Him and encouraging Him.  Here, "the Holy Spirit" gives Him "joy," as He reflected on the success of these seventy-two missionaries.
"Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."  Here, we have the divine Son speaking to God the "Father."  A heresy in the past is called "modalistic monarchianism."  It is the idea that the one God expresses Himself sometimes as the "Father," sometimes as the Son, and sometimes as "the Holy Spirit"; but, all three are not present at the same time.  This view of the Trinity is illustrated by using water—water is sometimes liquid, sometimes water vapor, and sometimes ice.  But, here we have God the Son talking to God the "Father"—both Persons are present at the same time.  In the Bible, God describes Himself as three Persons and as one God.  We do not understand the Trinity, but we believe that the Bible teaches that God is one and three.

"The Holy Spirit's role in Jesus' ministry was another special interest of Luke's.  The record of Jesus' similar prayer in Matthew 11:25-26 lacks the references to joy and the Holy Spirit.  The phrase 'rejoiced . . . . in the Holy Spirit (NASB) probably means that the Holy Spirit was the source of Jesus' joy (cf. Acts 13:52).  He gave it to Jesus.  This notation strengthens the force of what Jesus proceeded to say.  All three members of the Trinity appear in this verse.  The Son empowered by the Spirit addressed His Father.  This, too, points to a very significant statement to follow.  Jesus praised God for something the Father had done.  He addressed God intimately as 'my Father' (Gr. pater, the equivalent of the Aramaic abba, cf. 11:2).  The title 'Lord of heaven and earth' was a common one for Jews to use.  It came from Genesis 14:9 and 22, and it draws attention to God's sovereignty." "Dr. Constable's notes."

"Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."  God the "Father" sovereignly enabled this to happen according to His wisdom—it pleased Him to do it this way.  "He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—" (Ephesians 1:5)  God designed His plan for reaching the world in such a way that that those who see their need for a relationship with Him come to Him and those who see no need for Him are repulsed by the gospel.  This, of course, is still true today.  Happy are those who come to Him.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'"  In the last verse, Jesus explained that the humble receive the gospel and the proud reject the gospel.  Who we choose to be—to be humble or to be proud—plays a significant role in who becomes a Christian and who does not.  Then, in verse 22, we see the role God's sovereignty plays: "No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'"  "No one" comes to God unless Jesus "chooses to reveal" the "Father" to him or her.

So, which is true—do we choose God or does God choose us?  I believe that the Bible and these verses teach us that the answer is "both"—we choose God, and He chooses us.  How can we explain how both can be true?  As it says here, God chooses to reveal Himself to those who are willing to humble themselves.  In the next verses in Matthew in the parallel section, Jesus invites all to come.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
(Matthew 11:28)  "All" can come, but not all will come.  Those who do come were chosen by God from before the world began.  "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Ephesians 1:4-6) See also Jn. 6:37, 44, 14:6; Acts 4:12

"No one knows who the Son is except the Father,"  God the "Father" has revealed to us who "the Son is."  "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3:17)  "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'"
(Matthew 17:5)  Jesus said the following: "Jesus answered: 'Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?'" (John 14:9)  We have begun to know "the Son" as the "Father" has revealed Him to us.  Then, in heaven we will know Him fully.  "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (I Corinthians 13:12)

"Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.'"

We can feel that men like Moses, Isaiah, and Elijah were more blessed than us.  But, we know so much that they did not know.  They did not know about the life of Jesus recorded for us in the Gospels.  They did not have the New Testament.  They did not know the history of the church.  They did not know about the Spirit-indwelt church.  The Old Testament "prophets and kings" wanted to know what we now know.

The "disciples" actually saw and heard the Promised One.  The saw the One whom the "prophets" predicted.  Jesus wanted His followers to know the great privilege that was theirs.  So, we need to know the great privilege that is ours. See I Pet. 1:10-12

4. The Parable of the Good Samaritan (10:25-37)

a. The question that led Jesus to tell the Parable (10:25-29)
"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'What is written in the Law?' he replied. 'How do you read it?' He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.' But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'"

Thought Question: Is "eternal life" the life that Christians experience after we die or is it a type of "life" that we can experience before we die?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?'"  This "expert in the law" asked this question in an attempt to lure Jesus into a trap.  He likely knew that Jesus' plan for salvation was different from the plan of salvation that was taught by the Jewish religious experts.  He was probably hoping to expose Jesus as a false teacher.

"what must I do?"  I have heard recently of a simple gospel presentation that compares "do" with "done."  "Do" speaks of what we must "do" to earn our salvation—we must earn our salvation through some type of religious works.  "Done" focuses on what Jesus has "done" for us.  The Jewish religious experts were the "do" people.  This "expert in the law" had probably heard enough of Jesus' teaching to know that Jesus did not teach that a person could be good enough "to inherit eternal life."  "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)

"eternal life?'"  This "eternal life" is not just a life that lasts forever.  A miserable type of life that lasted forever would not be a blessing.  Rather, it is the quality of life that is experienced in God's "eternal" kingdom.  Jesus summarized this life in John 17:3: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)  The book of I John describes this "eternal life" throughout the book.  "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)  "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:12)  "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (I John 5:11-12)  "Eternal life" is God's type of "life."  It is a quality of life that is experienced by those who have God's life in them and are walking in that life right now. See John 15:1-5

"'What is written in the Law?' he replied. 'How do you read it?'"  Jesus sometimes responded to those who were trying to trick him with hard questions, by responding to their hard questions with harder questions. See Lk. 20:1-8 

"He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.'"  The "expert in the law" answered correctly from the law.  The "love the Lord your God" part of his answer is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:5, and the "love you neighbor as yourself" part is from Leviticus 19:18. See also Matt. 22:37-40; Mk. 12:28-34

"Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.'"  Perfect obedience to the law will result in life.  It will result in an "eternal" type of "life."  For, if we could love God and others in the way taught in "the law," we would also be experiencing the type of "life" God wants us to experience; and the type of life we will experience in heaven.  The trouble, of course, is that we are incapable loving God and others like this.  God gave us "the law" to expose our selfish nature—our humanness that is "hostile" to God's ways.  "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature [the flesh] cannot please God." (Romans 8:7-8)

We would experience life if we obeyed God.  Jesus said the same in John 13:  "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
(John 13:17)  The problem is the word, "if."  Jesus says the same here in Luke: if we do it, we "will live."

"But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'"  Rather than acknowledging his sinful inability to obey God's "law," this "expert in the law" seeks to skirt the issue by asking Jesus a question.  When we sin, we can admit it and seek God's forgiveness or we can seek, in some way, to divert the issue away from our sin.  There are a number of methods of avoiding our guilt before God.  We can minimize our sin.  We can compare ourselves to someone that we consider to be a greater sinner than we are.  We can, as this man does, try to turn it into an intellectual argument.  This is a common practice.  In chemical dependency treatment.  It is called intellectualizing.  The woman at the well in John 4 did this.  She tried to avoid discussing her sinfulness by seeking to get Jesus into an argument about where the proper place to worship is. See Jn. 4:16-26

This "expert in the law" may have been seeking to avoid the subject of whether or not he had fully loved God and others by diverting the subject to talking about "who is my neighbor?"  Some at that time said that one's "neighbor" was limited to the Israelites and only those Israelites who were not one's enemy.  So, he felt, he would debate Jesus on this side issue and the conversation would not be focused so personally on whether or not he had obeyed God's law by loving God and others.

b. The Parable (10:30-37)
"In reply Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'"

Thought Question:  Give a time when someone treated you like the Good Samaritan treated this man in need.

 

 

"In reply Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead."

Barclay tells us about what this road "from Jerusalem to Jericho" was like at that time.  "The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was a notoriously dangerous road.  Jerusalem is about 2,300 feet above sea-level; the Dead Sea, near which Jericho stood is 1,300 feet below sea level.  So then, in somewhat less than 20 miles, this road dropped 3,600 feet.  It was a road of narrow, rocky defiles, and of sudden turnings which made it the happy hunting-ground of brigands." "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  So, what happened in this story was probably a common occurrence on this road.

"A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side."  The "priest" purposely went to the other side of the road, probably to avoid becoming ceremonially contaminated by the dead man. See Lev. 21:1-4; Numb. 19:11  The Old Testament also, though, contained instructions explaining that we have a responsibility to be merciful to those in need. See Exod. 23:4-5; Lev. 19:33-34; Mic. 6:8

The "Levite" was the tribe chosen by God to serve at the temple and to assist the priests. See Numb. 1:53, 3:12-13, 8:5-26  So, the men of God that this beaten man would have most expected to help him, passed him by. 

Wiersbe offers some excuses that these two religious men could have used: "The priest had been serving God at the temple all week and was anxious to get home.  Perhaps the bandits were still lurking in the vicinity and using the victim as 'bait.'  Why take a chance?  Anyway, it was not his fault the man was attacked.  The road was busy, so somebody else was bound to come along and help the man." "Taken from Be Compassionate by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1998 by David C. Cook."  It is possible that this "expert in the law" had actually done something like what the two religious people in the story did.  Maybe, he had walked by and not helped someone in need.

I heard recently of a guest speaker who dressed up like a derelict and hung around outside of the church where he was going to preach.  Then, he entered the church and got up to speak on this parable.  From what I understand, he was treated in much the same way as the man who was robbed in this parable.

"But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him."  Samaria was part of the northern kingdom of Israel that was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.  The Assyrian strategy of conquest was to remove people from a conquered country and force them to go to another conquered country.  Then, they brought into the newly conquered country, people from another conquered country.  That is what happened in Samaria.  Over time, the people from Samaria intermarried with the people brought into their country, creating the half-breeds called Samaritans.  They were hated by the Jewish people of Judea to the south and by the Jewish Galileans to the north.

This "Samaritan" had every reason to pass by this needy man without helping him.  For the robbed and beaten man was a Jew who hated Samaritans like him. See 9:51-55; Jn. 4:9, 8:48;

"he took pity on him."  In contrast to the "priest" and the "Levite" whose hearts were hard and insensitive to his needs, this "Samaritan" genuinely felt his pain as if it were his own.

"He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”'"

I recently heard of an Indian from a low-cast in India who was near death.  No one cared.  He could not even get into the hospital.  Then, a nurse who was a secret Christian, embraced him, brought him into the hospital, and whispered to him about Jesus' love for him.  This woman's love for him was greatly needed and introduced him to the love of God.

The beaten man in the parable would have felt the same way as that Indian man felt, as this good "Samaritan" "bandaged his wounds," "put" him "on his own donkey," and "took him to an inn."

"pouring on oil and wine."  "He immediately administers first aid by washing his wounds with wine (because of its alcohol being a disinfectant and antiseptic), and by pouring into them soothing oil, acting as a kind of salve." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

"two silver coins" "Two days wages, which would keep a man up to two months in an inn." "NIV Study Bible note."  Since the "Samaritan" would return and pay any additional charges, the beaten man could stay at the "inn" until he was able to travel.

"'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?'"  A parable has been called an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  It is story that pictures some heavenly truth.  We tend to more easily forget some abstract truth, but we are more likely to remember stories.  This story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well-known and remembered of Jesus' teachings.  A parable, in most cases, had one main point.  Here, Jesus asks this "expert in the law" to tell Him the one main point of the story—who is our "neighbor"

"The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'"  The man who was beaten saw the "priest" coming and probably felt grateful that this religious man happened to be on the same road as him in his time of great need.  But, the "priest" did not draw close to help him, but got as far away on the road from him as possible.  The "Levite" did the same.  The "Samaritan" is the last person he would have expected to help him, but he treated him like he was his "neighbor."

Years ago, our family camped on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.  When we unpacked, we noticed a family in the campsite next to ours.  Then, we drove from the campsite to Stampede Pass on a curvy road.  On the way back, something went wrong with our steering.  After driving carefully with our impaired steering, we got to camp.  We noticed that the family was no longer in the campsite next to ours.  Our young daughter said, "Maybe they did not like us."  The next day, I went looking for a mechanic to fix our steering.  I tried one place.  They were busy, but he directed me to a mechanic on the other side of town.  When I met the mechanic, he asked where we were staying.  When I explained where we were camping, he said that they had camped there during the last weekend.  As it turned out, they were the family that had left while we were on our drive.  Because we were his "neighbor," he gave us a reduced price that made it possible for us to complete our vacation.  We are to treat each person who is in need like we would treat our "neighbor." 

This story of the Good Samaritan has so impacted our world that hospitals all over the world are called by the name, "Good Samaritan Hospital."  Also, an international ministry of mercy is called "Samaritan's Purse."

"Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'"  Jesus is not saying that loving in this way will earn us "eternal life."  Rather, it reveals what "eternal life" looks like when we have it.  God's "law" revealed to this "expert in the law" what he could not do apart from God's grace and God's life in him.  It may be that he realized, after hearing the story, that he was like the "Priest" and the "Levite" and not like the "Samaritan."  That could have humbled him and led him to seeking God's grace to help him.  Jesus describes what it looks like when we fulfill the "law."  As Christians saved by grace and indwelt by Jesus Christ, it should also describe what we are like.

5. Mary and Martha—worship or worry? (10:38-42)
"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"

Thought Question #1:  When have you acted like "Martha" did here?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  When have you acted like "Mary" did here?

 

 

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made."

Many years ago, I taught on these verses.  I taught, at that time, mainly on how "Mary" was right in the priority that she chose—worship—and "Martha" was wrong in the priority she chose—to worry about the details of the meal.  A young college lady was quite strong in defending "Martha" and voicing her opinion that I was  wrong in the way I was portraying her.  In response to her criticism, I will try to be fairer to "Martha."  First of all, she did open "her home to" Jesus.  She obviously loved Him and was one who received both His message and Him.  She was a "person of peace." (10:6)

Also, in inviting Jesus to her home for a meal, she was putting on a meal for at least 13 people.  We can understand that she had taken on a big responsibility.

We learn of her faith in John 11:21-22, 25-27  "'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.'" (John 11:21-22)  "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' 'Yes, Lord,' she told him, 'I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.'" (John 11:25-27)

But, we will also learn that "Mary" chose to focus on the "one thing" that "is better." (10:42)  Also, we will see that "Martha" rebuked Jesus for not sending "Mary" away from Him so she could "help" her with the preparations.  At this point, "Martha" was doing what is good, but "Mary" was focused on what was "better."

"But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'"  Most of us have been praying and have realized that we are giving orders to God.  "You need to do such and such.  Then, we have quickly turned our prayer into a request, and stopped making it a demand.  What we want God to do is not always what is best.  At this time, "Martha" believed that Jesus should tell "Mary" to stop listening to and fellowshipping with Him.  He should tell her to get to work.

She told Him this because she "was distracted by all the preparations."  Martha's mind was pulled in many directions by her many concerns.  That led her to conclude that "Mary" should join her in "the preparations," so that she would have less to worry about.  But Mary's mind was only pulled toward Jesus.

"She came to him"  Robertson comments that the aorist tense "really means stepping up to or bursting in upon Jesus." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."  "Martha" had burst in on Jesus.

In her anxiety, "Martha" burst into Jesus' presence while "Mary" was quietly listening to Him.  Hendriksen puts it this way.  "All this work, and Mary just sits there . . . doing nothing!  Martha explodes with anger.  She is exasperated.  She feels that she has good reason to be thoroughly annoyed.  In her outburst she finds fault not only with Mary but also with Jesus for allowing Mary to sit there . . . idly." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

"my sister has left me"  "The aorist . . . did leave, indicating that she had been assisting before she was drawn off by Jesus' presence." "Taken from Word Studies in the New Testament by M. R. Vincent.  Copyright 1972 by Associated Publishers and Authors."

"'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things,'"  "The expression Martha, Martha reveals marked disapproval, to be sure, but also tender affection and grave concern." "Hendriksen."

"are worried" In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us to trust Him rather than worry.  "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (Matthew 6:25)  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)  Jesus desires that we put our energies into seeking Him and his kingdom and not put our energy into worrying.

"upset"  The Greek word is similar to our word "turbulence."  She was "worried" and the worries had led her to being in a turbulent state. 

Why do we, like "Martha," worry about so "many things"?  A pastor friend stated in a message that we do not worry that things will not work out in the way that God wants them to work out, but we worry that things will not work out the way we want them to work out.  We feel like it is on our shoulders to make it work out the way we want it to be.  We worry because we do not have adequate resources to make it all happen the way we want it to happen.  God does have adequate resources to make it turn out as He wants it to turn out.

Philippians 4:6-7 teaches us that we are to worry about nothing.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) See also I Pet. 5:7

"but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"  What is the "one thing" that "Mary" had "chosen"?  Whereas, "Martha," was concerned "about" "many things,"  "Mary" was concerned about "one thing."  The "one thing" that "Mary" was concerned about was her relationship with Jesus, and all that was involved in that relationship.  Primarily, it is the grace of God through Jesus Christ that is that "one thing."  If we have that right now, we have what is most important in life right now.  If we have that wrong, we have everything in our life wrong.

Everything in our life can be falling apart, but if our relationship with God is good, by God's grace, we are okay.  If we get Jesus into proper focus in our lives, everything else also comes into focus. 

"Mary has chosen what is better,"  We see in 9:51 that Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem.  "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem."  The opportunity to learn personally and face-to-face from Jesus would soon be over.  "Mary" may have sensed that her time with Jesus was nearly over, and she was going to take full advantage of every moment He was with her.  When "Mary" anointed Jesus' feet with perfume, she did appear to understand that He soon would die.  "'Leave her alone,' Jesus replied. 'It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.'" (John 12:7-8)

"and it will not be taken away from her.'"  Some things are eternal and some things are temporary.  That meal was temporary, Mary's relationship with the eternal Son of God was eternal  Her individual time with Jesus is something that "Mary" prizes even today.  There is so much in this life that is only of temporary value—money, prestige, possessions, trophies, success, and more.  But there also is much in this life that is eternal—God, God's truth, love, family relationships, relationships with fellow believers, holiness, and more.  What should we pursue?  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)  "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (II Timothy 2:22)  See also Phil. 3:7-14

All can be taken away from us, but if we still have an eternal relationship with God by His grace through Jesus, we are okay!

6. Teaching on prayer (11:1-13)

a. The model prayer (11:1-4)
"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.' He said to them, 'When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.”'"

Thought Question:  How can we apply Jesus' model prayer to our prayers?

 

 

"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.' He said to them, 'When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come."

Luke has recorded much that Jesus taught on prayer that is not found in the other Gospels.  The parable that comes next is one of those teachings on prayer by Jesus that is not in the other Gospels.  The model prayer that Jesus describes in these verses, though, is found in the Gospel of Matthew.  Luke's model prayer, given here, is a repeat of what Jesus taught earlier in His ministry—it is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13.

Proper prayer requires that we understand the One to whom we are praying.  Though we can never fully understand Him, Jesus gives us, here, two attributes of God that need to be understood before we can approach Him in a proper way.  First of all, he is our "Father."  We come to One who is the perfect "Father."  What a wonderful truth.  My human father came to the end of his life two years ago.  I was blessed to have a loving and very caring father.  God is our perfect "Father."  He cares for us like the perfect "Father" that He is.  So, when we come to Him, we come to One who personally cares for us.  He loves us so much "that he gave his one and only Son" for us. (John 3:16)  He wants us to approach Him as a child approaches his or her dad.  "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:15)  "Abba" is like our "papa."

Next, God is absolutely holy.  He deserves our awe and reverence.  "Hallowed be your name" expresses our desire that God will receive the glory that He deserves to receive.  In our country, there are those who want to remove any mention of our God from our government, our schools, and any public activity.  That is the opposite of "hallowed be your name."  They want to more and more marginalize Him rather than give Him the exalted place He deserves.  After all, those that want to remove God from our society were also created by God. 

In our prayers, though, we can give God the exalted place He deserves—the exalted place that is appropriate for Almighty God.  We can pray that our world will wake up to the truth about who God is, before it is too late.  Revival occurs when there is a wonderful acknowledging of God's greatness and holiness  It is accompanied by a recognition of how we, in our pride, were hardening ourselves to this truth—an acknowledging of our littleness and sinfulness.  We are amazed at God's patience, mercy, and grace in response to how much we do that is insulting to Him.  Yet, He is love, and He has loved us even when we hated Him.

"Hallowed be your name,"  "Name" is a short way of expressing all that a person is.  When I say Abraham Lincoln, you think of all that he was.  That single name results in our thinking of everything we know about him.  So, the "name" of God entails in it all that He is, all that He has done, and all that He means to us. See II Chron. 7:14; Ps. 9:10; Ezek. 36:23, 39:7; Zech. 14:9

"Your kingdom come."  God's "kingdom" is happening in our individual lives to the degree that the King is ruling in each of our hearts.  God's "kingdom" can refer to His rule in the Millennial "kingdom" (Matthew 19:28; Luke 21:31); His future rule in heaven (Matthew 25:46; I Corinthians 15:24-28; Philippians 2:9-11); and His rule in our hearts today (Matthew 6:24, 33; Luke 17:20-21; Rom. 14:17; Colossians 1:13).

"Give us each day our daily bread."  These few words summarize a prayer for our daily needs.  During Jesus' time, they often worked for a daily wage.  Here, Jesus taught us to pray that our daily needs would be met by God's daily provision for us.  In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said the following: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)  We are to seek daily that God will meet our needs.  Those in the third-world countries have a better idea of what Jesus meant.  But, we also need to recognize that we are not far from being needy just like them.  We also need God's daily provision—"our daily bread."

"The continuous present, 'keep giving', and the each day make it clear that we should look to God constantly, not ask for provision for a lengthy period and then proceed to forget him.  Christians live in a state of continual dependence on God." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

"each day"  The Greek word translated here as "each day" is, according to Morris and others, "a very rare word . . . The most favored meanings are daily (RSV), 'for the morrow' (Moffat), and "the food we need' (GNB; cf. Pr. 30:8).  The first mentioned fits the term and harmonizes best with the tenor of the prayer." "Morris."

"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us."  It appears that the spirit of this prayer is that we who are asking for God's forgiveness are also forgiving others as we are asking God to forgive us.  We cannot pray this prayer if we are holding on to a grudge against another person.  We also see this pattern in Paul's words in the New Testament.  "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:12-13)  "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)  We can pray the words of this part of Jesus' prayer only as we are forgiving others.

"'“And lead us not into temptation.”'"  This part of the prayer is a recognition by us of how susceptible we are to temptation.  It is an acknowledgement of our human weakness.  We are to ask God to lead us away from temptations that we might succumb to.  We are urged in the Bible to flee from certain temptations.  We are to flee because these sins can be very strong inducements to us to do what is evil.  "Flee from sexual immorality. . . ." (I Corinthians 6:18a)  "Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry." (I Corinthians 10:14)  "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." (I Timothy 6:11)  "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (II Timothy 2:22) See also Jn. 17:15

We are to pray that God will "lead us" away from "temptation."  And He certainly will never lead us into "temptation."  "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone." (James 1:13)  He may take us through periods of testing and trials, but He never tempts us to do evil. See Deut. 8:2-5

b. The importance of boldness in prayer (11:5-8)
"Then he said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.” Then the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.”  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.'"

Thought Question: How does Jesus' story help you in your prayer life?

 

 

"Then he said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.” Then the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything." I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.'"

In Jesus' story, the host did not have sufficient food to feed his surprise guest, so he goes and asks a neighbor.  But the neighbor was comfortably settled in for the night with his family and he does not want to get up.  Also, "most ancient homes had only one room.  Waking the father would mean risking waking the family . . . Anyone who has children knows what it takes to get them to bed." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press." 

The host persists with his plea until the neighbor finally relents and gives him "the bread."  "yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.'"  Here is where Jesus teaches His disciples about how they should "pray."  As we will see in the next verses, we are to be persistent and bold in our prayers.  We are to keep on asking until the prayer is answered.

Jesus does not mean that God is like the neighbor who was reluctant to give and only gave because it was give or be badgered to give all night.  God is, instead, receptive to our prayers.  "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer . . . ." (1 Peter 3:12a)

"Christ was teaching here by contrast.  If even an unwilling friend can be moved by the persistent intercession, how much more will God be moved by persistence of an intercessor!" "Taken from The Parables of Jesus by Dwight Pentecost P.78.  Copyright 1982 by The Zondervan Corporation."

Jesus here endorses the type of prayer that we make for our family members who do not know the Lord.  We shamelessly, boldly, and persistently pray for them until they believe. (Of course, we continue to pray for them after that, but then we pray for them as fellow Christians.)  Morris sums up the meaning of the parable in this way.  "If we do want what we are asking for enough to be persistent, we do want it very much." "Morris."  Jesus repeats this teaching in another parable later in Luke. "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1)  Paul taught on prayer in a similar way.  "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)  "pray continually" (I Thessalonians 5:17)

c. The type of prayer that moves the heart of God (11:9-10)
"'So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.'"

Thought Question:  List answers to prayer that you have persevered in prayer for, and God has answered your persistent prayer.

 

 

"'So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.'"

The "ask," "seek," and "knock" are in the present tense—indicating a continual and persistent asking, seeking, and knocking.  Those who pursue God and pursue His will for the world, will receive from God an answer to their persistent prayers.  "And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:15)  " . . . The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16b)

I will quote at this time from my comments on the parallel verses in Matthew  (7:7-8)  "These verses, though, pose a very obvious question: do these verses mean that God will give us what we desire if we persist in asking, seeking, and knocking until we have it?  I can look back on my life and remember praying for something to happen that at the time I thought was absolutely essential for my life and that it happen exactly as I prayed that it would happen.  Now, as I look back I realize that God had a much better plan for me than I had for myself at that time.  You may also look back and also realize that you are glad that your prayers were not answered exactly as you prayed for them.  So, Jesus is not talking about a selfish seeking after what we want from God.  What, then, should we be seeking after so persistently?" "DFG Matthew."

The following verses help us to see what we should pursue.  "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) See also Phil. 3:7-14  If we pursue after a better relationship with God and after His will for us with persistence, He will give us what we pursue.

This persistent praying is not what Jesus forbids in Matthew 6:7-8.  "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."  We are not trying to gain God's attention by a repetition of sounds.  He already knows what we need.  God is not like a disinterested parent, so that we need to cause a ruckus to get His attention.  Rather, in our pursuit of God, our motives are purified as we focus on God and His will.  Our persistent prayer reveals how strongly we desire that God's will be done.  Prayers also help us to recognize our dependence on God.  For, God's will can only take place as He does it.  Prayer is our desires coming in line with God's desires until God's will is done on earth as it is done in heaven. See Matt. 6:10

It is a pattern in the Bible that there is a delay between when we ask for something and when we get it.  Here are some examples of this pattern that are given to us in Scripture.  "Then he [an angel] continued, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.'" (Daniel 10:12-14) See also   Lk. 2:36-38; II Cor. 7:5-7; II Pet. 3:9

d. How the Father gives (11:11-13)
"'Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'"

Thought Question:  How will knowing that God is a perfectly loving Father help us in our prayer life?

 

 

"'Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'"

An essential part of prayer is knowing the One we are praying to.  We can have many misconceptions of God.  We can feel He is indifferent to our needs, way above our petty concerns, unforgiving, sharp, harsh, impatient, has given up on us, and more.  If we have these feelings about God, it will obviously affect our prayers, affect how often we pray,  or even affect whether we pray at all.  On the other hand, if we believe that God is our loving "Father," that also will affect our prayers, affect how often we pray, and affect whether we pray.  Here, we learn that like a loving human father who gives "good"  things to his "children," so our "Father in heaven" always gives us what is "good."

Our greatest need is to be brought from spiritual death to spiritual life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  If we ask God for forgiveness and salvation, God will begin our eternal life with Him by giving us "the Holy Spirit."  As we seek God's kingdom, we can count on God giving us the power of God's "Spirit" to live this new life of love and purity.  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23) 

"though you are evil,"  This is a hard reality to face.  We look at a tiny child, and they seem so innocent.  But, we are all born selfish.  Our daughter, early in her marriage, said, "I did not realize how selfish I was until I got married."  A big factor that created an awareness of my need for God was the awareness I came to that I and everyone else are totally wrapped up in ourselves.  Before it became real to me, it had already been described as true in the Bible.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)  "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)  "What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.'" (Romans 3:9-12) See also Eccles. 7:20; Isa. 6:5; Eph. 2:1-3, 4:17-19; Rom. 1:18-32

Many or most within the charismatic movement teach that these words about Jesus giving "the Holy Spirit" refer to another giving of "the Holy Spirit" after one has already been born again.  This giving of "the Holy Spirit," they believe, is given to empower a Christian to operate in the gifts of "the Holy Spirit"—referring, particularly, to the gift of tongues.  But, Jesus was speaking to Jewish believers who had not received the new birth.  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39)

7. A teaching on what takes place in the invisible demonic world (11:14-26)

a. An evil accusation (11:14-16)
"Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, 'By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.' Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven."

Thought Question:  How can men and women see something good and then call it evil?

 

 

"Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, 'By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.'"  We see here how pride results in a blindness and a purposeful denial of what is obvious.  Jesus was doing good.  The miraculous victories over an evil spirit should have caused those who saw it happen to at least consider the possibility that God was working through Jesus.  But, "some of them" concluded that He was empowered to do this good by Satan's power rather than by God's power.

"'By Beelzebub, the prince of demons,"  "Beelzebub" is mentioned in
II Kings 1:2-3, 6,16.  There he is described as the "god of Ekron."  "Beelzebub" was a name of ridicule and scorn given to Baal.  It meant "lord of flies" or lord of dung.  The name came to be used to describe Satan.  When Jesus responds to this twisted accusation, He takes it to be referring to Satan. See also Matt. 9:32-34, 12:22-37  Mark's account even says, "He is possessed by Beelzebub."  Mark says that those who made this accusation were "teachers of the law" and Matthew says that they were "Pharisees." (Mk. 3:22 and Matt. 12:24)

How could these religious leaders have made such an inaccurate and vile accusation?  They were saying that the Holy One was possessed and empowered by Satan—the most unholy one.  What frame of mind could cause someone to see holy and call it evil and unholy?  For someone to make this twisted accusation, they must also have been twisting the truth in such a way that they were able to see their unholy state as good and Jesus' holiness as bad.  It is the very opposite of acknowledging our sinfulness before a holy God; it is, instead, stating that God's holiness is evil.  What could be worse?  It is the opposite of Isaiah's perspective on himself when he was in the presence of God's holiness.  "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'" (Isaiah 6:5)  Isaiah saw God as holy and himself as unholy.  The religious leaders, in their pride, were doing the exact opposite.  They saw the Holy One as unholy and these unholy ones saw themselves as holy.

"a demon that was mute."  Matthew says that he "was blind and mute."      (Matt. 12:22)  The Bible does teach that demons can cause physical problems: lying (I Kings 22:20-23), dumbness (here), and crippling (Luke 13:10-17).

"Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven."  This was not a request but a demand.  They were not submitting to Him as their Lord, but demanding that He submit Himself to them.  His response to their demands is found in 11:29-30.

b. Jesus' response to their accusation (11:17-26)
"Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: 'Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.'"

Thought Question:  Why did the religious leaders' accusation of Jesus make no sense?

 

 

"Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: 'Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?'" 

What these religious leaders were proposing made no sense.  It would be as if the leader of the enemy forces was about to attack the United States, but then he starts attacking his own army.  Then, that army will have so weakened itself that it will be easily defeated.  Its own soldiers will not know who the enemy is.

It appears that because Jesus' miracles were such a great threat to these religious leaders that they resorted to an irrational and senseless attack on Him—using the vilest description of Him that they could come up with.  Jesus, it appears, calmly pointed out that what they were calling Him made no sense at all.  Why would Satan attack His own demons?

"Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges."  They probably supported Jewish exorcists who cast out demons.  Jesus asked them if they also cast out "demons by Beelzebub."  Here, again, is a situation where the religious leaders who opposed Jesus found themselves in a situation where no matter how they answered Jesus' question, they would find themselves in a predicament.  If they said that the Jewish exorcists cast out demons by the power of Satan, then Jesus could ask, "Why do you support them?"  If they said that the Jewish exorcists did not "drive" out "demons" by "Beelzebub," then Jesus could ask how He was different than them.

"So then, they will be your judges."  The Jewish exorcists will feel that the Jewish religious leaders are also opposed to them and their work of exorcizing of  "demons."  They will respond by judging them.

"But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you."  Now, Jesus describes what actually was happening.  He said what these Jewish religious leaders did not want to hear: God's power was enabling Him to "drive out demons."  So, the "kingdom of God" promised to them was present in the midst of them.  And, they were calling it Satan's kingdom.

There is a dynamic drama that was being played out before their eyes.  Satan was ruling on earth.  Then, the heavenly King appears and begins clashing with Satan's kingdom—and Satan's army was being defeated.  These religious leaders completely missed it.  They missed it because there was no room in their hearts for the heavenly King.  They had no desire to submit to Jesus as Lord over them.  Rather, Satan was their king.  "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)

"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils."  What these religious leaders were seeing before their eyes was a heavenly battle between God and Satan, and Jesus the Son of God was winning.  Why was He winning?  It could only be because He is stronger than Satan—the "strong man." 

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters."  There are two spiritual forces in the world.  One is God and the other opposes God.  False religion comes in many forms, but they all give a false message about God, Jesus, and salvation.  Then, there is also secular worldliness, which also gives a false message about God, Jesus, and salvation—their message is that God does not exist, Jesus was a great man who died as a martyr, and we do not need to be saved.  Opposition to Jesus at that time united the legalistic religious people and the liberals.  Both were equally opposed to Jesus.  The same is true today.  False religion and secular liberals are united in their opposition to evangelical Christianity.  God's ultimate purpose is found in Ephesians 1:9-10: "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."  We are either seeking to bring men under Christ's Lordship or we are those who are seeking to eliminate Jesus' rightful claim of Lordship.  There is no third position.

What is our choice?  Are we "with" Jesus or "against" Him?  Everybody is on one side or the other.  Joshua put it well.  "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”" (Joshua 24:15) See also I Kings 18:21; Matt. 6:24; Rev. 3:14-16

J. C. Ryle put it well: "Let it be the settled determination of our minds that we will serve Christ with all our hearts, if we serve Him at all.  Let there be no reserve, no compromise, no half-heartedness, no attempt to reconcile God and mammon [riches] in our Christianity.  Let us resolve, by God's help, to be 'with Christ,' and 'gather' by Christ's side, and allow the world to say and do what it will." "Taken from Expository Thoughts of the Gospels by J. C. Ryle."

"'When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.'"

In Matthew 12:43-45, Matthew's account of Jesus' words is the same as in Luke, except that he adds the following words that Luke does not include. "That is how it will be with this wicked generation.'"  Here are my comments on these words of Jesus from my comments on the verses in Matthew.  "Jesus compares Israel to a man who has a demon leave him, but does not fill that void with a relationship with God.  So, the original 'evil spirit' returns to find that everything in the life of the formally demonized man is neat and tidy, but there is still nothing in his life to replace the demon.  So, the demon decides to return, and invites 'seven other spirits more wicked than itself' to come on in along with him.  Israel had cleansed themselves of Idolatry and Greek philosophy, but they had not replaced idolatry with a relationship with God—they even rejected their Messiah Jesus when He came to them.  In the end, what replaced the idolatry was worse than the idolatry.  For, what could be worse than murdering Jesus, the Son of God?" "DFG Matthew."

When was Israel like a "house swept clean and put in order"?  Hendriksen suggests that Jesus may have been describing the effects of John the Baptist's ministry.  Israel may have repented from sin, but they had not turned to Jesus.  As a result, Satan took advantage of the vacuum that was left.  His demons took residence in the hearts of unbelieving Israel.  It was these demonic-empowered Jews who murdered Jesus and Stephen and chased the apostle Paul all over the world.

These verses obviously also bring up the whole topic of demons inhabiting a person.  Can a demon take up residence in a person's life?  The answer must be, "Yes," for Jesus describes it here as something that can occur.  The Bible is clear that there are demons.  The Bible is also clear that they are able to indwell a person and control him or her.  Paul cast a demon out of a woman that was troubling him and his ministry. See Acts 16:16-18

Can this happen today?  It certainly can and certainly does happen.  Demonic indwelling of people is behind false religion. "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving," (1 Timothy 4:1-4) See also I Jn. 4:1-3; II Cor. 1:4; James 3:14-16 

It is behind black magic.  "They sacrificed to demons, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear." (Deuteronomy 32:17)  It is behind some mental disorders. See Lk. 8:26-30  It can torment people.  "Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed." (Acts 5:16)  It is behind the greatest evil in our world.  Men filled by Satan commit unimaginable evils. See Rev. 18:2-3, 24; I Jn 3:12

"it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it."  The life of a demon is empty, like living in an "arid" wilderness. See Isa. 13:21-22

How does all of this apply to us today?  We need to go beyond religious reform.  Religious people have committed some of the greatest evils in history—the murder of Jesus and Stephen, the Spanish Inquisition, 9/11, the martyrdom of many Christians, and more.  False religion has propagated all type of false doctrines.  Instead, we need to humble ourselves before God and seek to be filled with His life.  That, undoubtedly, was the problem when James and Jesus said the following words: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:7-10)  "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:19-20)

Barclay compares a God-filled life to a garden so filled with flowers that there is no room for weeds to grow.

"The message to us is that the Christian life is more than turning from sin, it is turning to Christ to empower us to live a godly life.  'To cast out the unclean is of no lasting value, unless there follow new possession by the clean.'  "Taken from The Gospel According to Matthew by G. Campbell Morgan.  Copyright 1929 by Fleming H. Revell Company."  Mere religion is not what is needed, but we are to pursue a vital relationship with God, beginning with being born of the Spirit.  'Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.' (II Timothy 2:22)" "DFG Matthew."

8. Those whom God blesses (11:27-28)
"As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, 'Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.' He replied, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.'"  Apart from reading and believing the Bible, we tend to see only what is visible to our earthly eyes.  From our limited human perspective, our closest relationships are our family relationships.  But, Jesus saw with heavenly eyes.  From that perspective, the closest relationships are those who are united by obedience to God and are members together of God's family. See also 8:21

9. Jesus reply to a demand for a sign (11:29-32)
"As the crowds increased, Jesus said, 'This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.'"

Thought Question: Why were they "wicked" for asking "for a miraculous sign"

 

 

"As the crowds increased, Jesus said, 'This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation."

Why were they "wicked" for asking "for a miraculous sign"?  They were "wicked" because they really were not receptive to the possibility that He might be from God.  "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." (John 12:37)  He was performing miracles in front of them, speaking great wisdom, and living a holy life.  But, they did not see that He was God's Son; rather, they wanted to treat Him as a personal amusement who would perform miracles at their beckoning—perform for us, impress us, and prove to us who you are.  Their reception to the promised King was the opposite from what it should have been.  "Jews demand miraculous signs." (I Corinthians 1:22a)

Rather, Peter's response to one of Jesus' miracles was the proper response.  "When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, 'Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!'" (Luke 5:8)

"It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation."  Just as "Jonah" was rescued by God after three days in the belly of a great fish, so God was about to rescue Jesus from the belly of the earth.  "Nineveh," the capital of the Assyrian Empire repented at the preaching of the prophet "Jonah" after he emerged alive from three days in the fish.  Israel would not repent even when One much greater than "Jonah" was among them, also preaching repentance.  The "sign" may be the resurrection event or the resurrected Jesus, or both. See Matt. 12:40; Jn. 2:18-20; Jonah 1-3

"The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.'"

We learn in I Kings 10 and I Chronicles 9, that this "Queen" was from Sheba.  "Sheba was in southern Arabia, the modern Yemen." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

This foreign "Queen" recognized God's hand on "Solomon," and she benefitted from his "wisdom."  I Kings 10:1-13 and II Chron. 9:1-12describes how this "Queen" traveled many miles because she had heard of Solomon's "wisdom."    Then, when she asked "hard questions" (II Chron. 9:1) and his answers demonstrated he had "wisdom" from God, she believed what she had heard about him.  "Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness." (1 Kings 10:9)

But, here, Jesus comes to them, and because He is the Son of God, He is much "greater than Solomon."  Yet, they, unlike the "Queen of the South," do not believe in Him.  This "Queen," who believed, will be there as their judge "at the" final "judgment."   

"The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.'"  Israel was God's country and they had the benefit of His relationship with them through the years.  They had the Scriptures, the prophets, and now God's Son had come to them. Yet, they as a nation chose not to believe in Him.  "Nineveh" was a pagan nation with none of these privileges.  Yet, they repented and Israel did not.  These "men of Nineveh" who believed will be Israel's judges "at the judgment." 

"and now one greater than Jonah is here.'"  The One speaking to them was not just a man, He was God in human flesh.  "Jonah" was a man who was a reluctant prophet.  Jesus, thank God, was not reluctant to follow God's will even though it cost Him more than we will ever know.  This is the One Israel rejected.

Israel felt that they were superior to the Gentiles because of their religious zeal.  But, as Jesus points out here, there were Gentiles that were more receptive to God than they were.

10. How a lamp pictures our relationship with God (11:33-36)
"'No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.'"

Thought Question:  How can the "light" "within" us be "darkness"?

 

 

"'No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light." See also 8:16; Matt. 5:14-16, 6:22-23  Light's purpose is to be seen.  We do not tape cardboard over the light fixture in a room.  If we did that, why would we even have a light in that room?  Light ceases to have a purpose if it cannot be seen.  So, our purpose is to illuminate a dark world.  We are to turn the light on to enable others to see what is true and what is not true.  If a room is dark, we turn on the "light" to enable us to see clearly where everything is so that we are able to walk around without running into something.  We are to "become children of light (John 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:3-6; Eph. 5:8-14)." "Taken from Be Compassionate by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1998 by David C. Cook."  We are to have the same effect on our dark world as light has on a dark room.

But, we first of all need to be receptive to God's light.  "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness."  If our soul is dark with selfishness, greed, pride, and lust; we are looking at God with dark, selfish, greedy, prideful, and lustful eyes.  Then, we are not receptive to the "light."  Our eyes are closed to the "light" because of the "darkness" in us.  Then, our "body" is also "full of darkness."

"when your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light."  When are our "eyes" "good"?  It is when our motives are pure and selfless.  Then, when we see God, we see clearly His moral purity and purely yearn that He would fill our lives with His type of pure life.  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8)

"It is possible for the eye to be sound (where the Greek means 'single').  One's eye may be single-mindedly fixed on the good: then the whole person is full of light (cf. Ps. 18:28)." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

"See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness."  Most of this world is in "darkness."  "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:17-19)  But Jesus is speaking here of "the light within" us.  We must be careful that what is in us is pure.  This indicates that it is our choice as to what our motives are.

James gives a similar message.  "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:13-17)  Then, in chapter four, James tells his readers how to purify our hearts.  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:7-10)

"Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.'"  This state of being "full of light" should be the goal of every Christian.  When our eyes are open, a lit "lamp" fills everything with "light" so that we can see everything clearly.  When our heart is open and pure, God's "light" makes everything clear, so we can clearly discern between what is right and wrong, and so that we can clearly see the difference between what is loving and what is unloving.

11. Woe to the Pharisees (11:37-54)

a. Introduction to the woes (11:37-41)
"When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you."

Thought Question:  What should we do to not be like these Pharisees?

 

 

"When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you."

Now, Jesus describes those who were not purely receiving God's light.  Sadly, they were the religious leaders of Israel—the "Pharisees."  Jesus was invited to the house of "a Pharisee" "to eat."  But the "Pharisee" was shocked and probably offended that Jesus "did not first wash before the meal." See also Mk. 7:1-23 or Matt. 15:1-20

Barclay describes the way the "Pharisees" required that hands be washed.  "First the water must be poured over the hands beginning at the tips of the fingers and running right up to the wrist.  Then the palms of hand must be cleansed by rubbing the fist of the other into it.  Finally, water must again be poured over the hands, this time beginning at the wrist and running down the finger tips.  To the Pharisee, to omit the slightest detail was to sin." "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

The "Pharisees" obeyed the letter of the law, but missed the spirit of the law.  The outward ceremonies in the old Testament pictured inward and spiritual realities.  For example, ceremonial cleanness pointed to the need for spiritual and moral cleanness.  The "Pharisees," for the most part, emphasized being ceremonially clean, but deemphasized being spiritually and morally clean.  They had missed the message of the Old Testament about the need to be spiritually and morally clean before God. See Lev. 11-15 for the teachings on the need to be ceremonially clean.  The "Pharisees" religiously practiced the rules for being ceremonially clean, while their hearts were not clean before God.  They had even added detail upon detail to what the Old Testament taught on the subject of being ceremonially clean; while not having the same type of diligent concern about purifying their own hearts.

Yet, the need to purify one's heart was clearly emphasized in the Old Testament.  "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)  They thought that God was pleased with them because of their ceremonial diligence, but as Jesus shows here, God was repulsed by them because of their moral uncleanness and selfish motives.

"Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?"  If we, when we washed the dishes, only washed the outside of our cups and bowls, that would be absurd and it would not accomplish anything.  We would, then, be continually eating out of dishes that were still dirty on the inside.  So, it is absurd to focus on outward religious rituals, but not do anything about the filthiness in our hearts.  The Old Testament makes the same point as Jesus makes here.  "When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" (Isaiah 1:15-18) See also Isa. 58:5-14; Micah 6:6-8

"But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you."  It appears that Jesus is saying something similar to what Hosea says in Hosea 6:6: "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6)

The Pharisees' focus was on ritual and ceremony.  True religion, though, focuses on what is on the inside of us—our hearts—and on reaching out to the needy.  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

a. The first woe (11:42)
"'Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.'"

"Woe"  "The Greek word for woe is ouai; it is hard to translate for it includes not only wrath, but also sorrow.  There is righteous anger here, but it is the anger of the heart of love, broken by the stubborn blindness of man." "Taken from The Gospel of Matthew on Matthew 23:13 by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

Jesus' condemnation is not because they tithed, and not even because they meticulously tithed even their tiny garden spices; but He condemns them for majoring on the minors and neglecting the majors.  Tithing of crops is clearly commanded in the Old Testament.  "A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord." (Leviticus 27:30) See also Deut. 14:22

But, they were neglecting the major concerns of God's law—"justice and the love of God.  "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8) See also Matt. 23:23

Can we do this today?  Yes, we can.  Here are some examples.  We can emphasize church attendance, but not reach out to the needy inside and outside the church.  We can be more concerned about the impressive presentation of a message by a pastor than understanding and applying the message to our lives.  Yes, it is very possible for us to major on the minors and to minor on the majors.

c. The second woe (11:43)
"'Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.'"

A person can choose to become a doctor because it will give him or her the opportunity to help and serve people.  But someone can also choose to become a doctor because it will give him or her a respected higher position in our society.  The "Pharisees" were like the latter person.  They liked being admired. See also Matt. 23:6-7

"the most important seats"  Robertson described what "the most important seats" looked like at that time.  They were found on a "semi-circular bench" that "faced the congregation." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."

This bench focused the spotlight on them.  They basked in the special attention that they got.  They believed that they had risen to this place of admiration due to their diligence and great piety.

Won't we all admit that there is a part of us that desires to be seen as being superior to others.  This tendency was present in the early disciples.  " . . . a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest." (Luke 22:24) See also Lk. 22:25-27; Matt. 20:20-28

But it was a much different group after Jesus died, resurrected, and ascended to heaven.  Then, they saw themselves as not deserving to be admired.  God uses people who do not want to be admired, but want God to be admired.  "'but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:24)  "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14) See also Gal. 6:3; I Cor. 4:7

d. The third woe (11:44)
"'Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.'" See also Matt. 23:27-28  Jesus says here that instead of these "Pharisees" deserving to be admired, they were like hidden "graves."  According to the teaching of the law, Jews could become unclean by touching a grave.  "Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days." (Numbers 19:16) See also Numb. 19:11-22  So, if a grave was not marked, someone could "walk over" a "grave" and become unclean "without knowing it."

How were these "Pharisees" "like unmarked graves"?  Their uncleanness of heart was hidden from men.  Outwardly, they looked good and clean, but inwardly they were "full of greed and wickedness." (11:39)  The people who were led by them were being taken away from God rather than being led to Him; yet, they were unaware that they were being led by those who were unclean in heart.

It is obvious that "Jesus' view of the Pharisees is exactly opposite of their self-image." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."  So, we should not be surprised at what comes next.

e. The fourth woe (11:45-46)
"One of the experts in the law answered him, 'Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.' Jesus replied, 'And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.'"

Thought Question: Can we be effective in God's work if we never offend anyone?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"One of the experts in the law answered him, 'Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.'"  "The experts in the law" were the Scribes.  Although they were not the "Pharisees" that Jesus had been addressing, this scribe recognized that they were also included in Jesus' very strong rebuke.  He, as well as the "Pharisees," was insulted by Jesus' words of "woe." See 5:17,21,30, 6:7, 11:53, and 15:2 for times that teachers of the law and Pharisees are mentioned together.

"Many of them ["the experts in the law"] were Pharisees.  There was a difference in that the lawyer was a member of a learned profession and the Pharisee of a religious party." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."  In these verses, you also see that they were united in their opposition to Jesus.

Jesus did not carefully gauge what He said so that He would not offend anyone.  He spoke the truth, whether or not it offended those who were listening to Him.  We can see that this is true by what He said after this expert in the law warned Him that He was offending those who were listening to Him.

An obvious application to this is, do we shrink back from speaking the truth when we believe that the truth will offend someone?  This can be one reason we do not share the gospel—we are concerned that it might offend someone.  The church that is mostly concerned that it not offend someone, will not speak forth the humbling message about all of our need for a Savior.  The early church both offended people and reached people with the gospel. 

"Jesus replied, 'And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.'" See also Matt. 23:4

These "experts in the law" did the very opposite of what God did.  God gives us both law and grace.  He clearly reveals to us His requirements, but He also gives us grace through Jesus Christ to deal with our fallen state; and He gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey Him.  The scribes gave out a tome of their regulations and their meticulous interpretations of the law.  They gave out law and endless additional requirements, but they gave no help to deal with the people's failures.  Bock says that they were "quick to point the finger, but slow to lend a helping hand." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."

We can do the same thing if we require others to measure up to our perceived level of achievement.  We have become someone else's conscience, seeking to make them feel guilty for not measuring up to our requirements.  We can be like the scribes, if we are just concerned with others not living up to our standards, but are not concerned that people learn of God's grace and help that is available to all to enable us to become who we were created to be.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

f. The fifth woe (11:47-51)
"'Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.” Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.'"

Thought Question: How do you believe these religious leaders were unable to see that they were not like the prophets, but like the ones who killed the prophets?

 

 

"'Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.'" See Matt. 23:29-32

"Outwardly the lawyers built tombs for the prophets whom their fathers (forefathers) killed as if they disapproved of what their forefathers did.  But in reality they neglect and oppose what the prophets teach just as their forefathers did." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."

They pretended that they sided with the prophets" and not with those who killed them.  But, by their rejection of the prophet's teaching and by their response to Jesus, they were showing that they were no different than the murderers of "the prophets."  "The only prophets they admired were dead." "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  If one of those "prophets" were alive, they would have opposed and killed him.

Certainly, we want to be like the prophets and not to be like those that murdered the prophets; nor do we want to be like these religious leaders who murdered the Son of God.  We must ask ourselves if there is any motive in us to advance ourselves above others.  This is the greed and wickedness that leads to a cold heart toward those who get in our way.  Obviously, it can still happen in the religious world today, as well. See Lk 18:9-14

"'Because of this, God in his wisdom said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.” Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.'"

Jesus has just revealed that what was in the hearts of the people who "killed" the "prophets" was also in their hearts.  What, then, was in their future?  They would do the same type of thing that was done by their "forefathers," and even worse.  They would murder their Messiah, the Son of God; and they would kill and persecute the apostles and prophets of the early church. See Acts 12:1-2, 13:45, 50, 14:2-5, 19, 17:5-9, 13, 18:12-13, 20:3, 21:27-36, 23:1-5

"God in his wisdom said, “I will send them prophets and apostles,"  Why was God wise in sending them the "prophets"?  The "prophets" revealed to them what was in their hearts.  They could no longer fool people about the ugliness in them.

But, was it fair for them to "be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world"—to "be held responsible for it all."?  An example may help us to answer this question.  When there is a wrong done to a group in a society that continues generation after generation, the new generation not only sees the wrong that is being done in their time, but they know that this wrong has continued for many generations.  This generation, then, is responsible to correct what has been done for generations.  If they do nothing and continue the wrong, then, they are responsible for allowing it to continue.  The examples of this type of wrong that has continued for generations are many—slavery in the U.S., apartheid in South Africa, the caste system in India, forced child labor in some parts of the world, and more. See  Prov. 29:1

"from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary."  "Abel" was murdered by his brother Cain.  "Abel" was the first righteous person murdered because of his righteousness. See Gen. 4:8; I Jn. 3:12 

Zechariah's death is described in II Chronicles 24:20-24.  Genesis is the first book in the Hebrew Bible and II Chronicles is the last book.  So, Jesus is tracing Old Testament history from beginning to end.  The unrighteous had murdered the righteous from the beginning of the Old Testament to its end.

g. The sixth woe (11:52-54)
"'Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.' When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say."

Thought Question:  How, do you believe, the "experts in the law" had "taken away the key to knowledge"?

 

 

"'Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.'"  We see here that religious leaders who are supposed to be leading people to God can actually be leading people away from God.  There is a vast difference between those whom Jesus pronounces as being "blessed" in the Beatitudes and those to whom Jesus says, "Woe to you."  Those who are "blessed" are the humble and pure in heart.  Those to whom Jesus says "woe" are arrogant and impure in heart.  The obvious problem is that it is the latter who were in high positions in their religious system, and they are those who were supposed to be leading people to God and not away from God.

Can this happen today?  Can people who are religious leaders actually by hindering people from coming to God?  We also need to be careful that we are humbly acknowledging our complete need for God's forgiveness and our complete inability to do anything for pure reasons apart from His enabling Spirit within us.  These religious leaders felt, that as a result of their scholarship and diligence, they had climbed up to a higher position with God than other people.  They gave the impression that only Bible scholars like themselves could interpret the Bible.  In their intellectual prowess, they were blind to the simple meaning of the Bible—the truth that we are all sinners and that we all need God's grace.

True understanding of the Bible, though, should lead to a greater awareness of our sinfulness and of our need for God's grace and strength. See Rom. 2:17-24, 3:9-20; Phil. 3:1-9

 "When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say."  Jesus had boldly told them the shameful truth about themselves.  Did they humble themselves and repent?  No, they became "fiercely" hostile toward Him.  We tend to gauge the success or failure of a sermon by whether or not there is a positive response to it.  By that measure, Jesus' message to these religious leaders was a complete failure—they hated His message to them rather than loving it, and they hated Him rather than loving Him.

"waiting to catch him in something he might say."  They were trying to bait Him with their poisonous questions, so they could turn the people against Him.  "Catch him"is the Greek word thereusai, meaning "to ensnare, to catch in hunting, to hunt." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1930 Broadman Press."

12. Warning and encouragement to Jesus' disciples (12:1-12)

b. Warning: Be on your guard against the Pharisees (12:1-3)
"Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.'"

Thought Question: What can we do so that we will not be like these "Pharisees"?

 

 

"Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

"Meanwhile,"  This event occurred after the dinner in the Pharisee's house.  Here, Jesus is in the midst of "a crowd of many thousands," but His words are directed toward "his disciples": "'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

The "Pharisees" had become good religious actors.  As Jesus said in 11:39-40, their focus was on the outside of the cup and not on the inside of the cup.  They were highly esteemed because they did a good job of acting like religious leaders.  Today, there are also those who are good religious actors.  This religiosity can spread like "yeast" spreads in a loaf of bread.  Christians, then, end up being little more than good religious actors.  We become good at acting like we are God-loving people.  The sad part occurs when people discover what is really true about us.  The truth is that we are all very fallen creatures.  We are all very much in need of God's grace, God's strength, each other's grace, and each other's support.  We are like those suffering from terminal cancer who are under a treatment that is slowly healing the cancer.  We have the treatment, but it is wrong to give the impression that we never had the cancer and that we still do not have the cancer—that we are cured of sinfulness.  This occurred at a different occasion from the time when Jesus said the same words in Matt. 16:6 and Mk. 8:15.  These words recorded in Matthew 16 and Mark 8 took place earlier.

"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs."

Acting like we are something that we are not is doomed to failure.  Eventually, the truth will come out.  Then, what is really true of us will be trumpeted by those who despise our hypocrisy. See also 8:17; Matt. 10:26  Also, what does not come out in the open on earth will come out in the open at the final judgment. See Eccl. 12:14; Rom. 2:16; I Cor. 3:13

b. Encouragement: Do not fear those who can only kill the body. (12:4-7)
"'I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.'"

Thought Question:  How do these verses help us to be bold and courageous in sharing God's truth in our unbelieving world?

 

 

"'I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.'"

One of the reasons we can yield to religious hypocrites is a fear of man.  It can also be a reason for us to pretend that we are better than we are.  We can fear being criticized and spoken poorly of, so we pretend that we do not have any faults.  We are fearing men rather than fearing God—so, we are not transparent before men.  James, however, exhorted the readers of his letter, " . . . confess your sins to each other . . . . " (James 5:16)

Jesus teaches here that we are not to fear men who can, at the worst, kill us.  But, instead, we should fear God who has much greater power.  He can throw those who hate Him into "hell."

The Greek word translated "hell" is geenna (or Gehenna).  It speaks of a place where children were once sacrificed to the pagan god Molech.  It later became a garbage dump where the fire continually burned. See II Kings 23:10; II Chron. 28:3, 33:6; Jer. 7:30-8:3, 19:6, 32:35  So, Gehenna is "hell," the place of final punishment for those who refuse God's grace through Jesus Christ.

So, we have a choice always before us: will we fear man or will we fear God?  What determines the choices we make—our fear of man or our fear of God?  Why was the early church able to have such an impact on their world?  It is because Jesus' disciples feared God and not men.  "The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?' Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: 'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.' When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:5-13)

"It was said of John Knox, as his body was being lowered into the grave, 'Here lies one who feared God so much that he never feared the face of man.'" "Taken from The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay. Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."    May we be like the early apostles and like John Knox.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered." See also    Matt. 10:29-30

In an infinite universe and a world full of millions of people, we can feel that most of what happens to us goes unnoticed by God.  Jesus tells us clearly here that there is no detail of life that God is not fully aware of.  He does not forget even the sparrow and He knows the exact number of "hairs" on our "head" (even though that number is changing daily).

c. Warning: Do not disown Jesus (12:8-10)
"'I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.'"

Thought Question:  What would you say to someone who was worried that he or she had committed the blasphemy "against the Holy Spirit"?

 

 

"'I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.'"  We see a description of just what Jesus is promising in Acts 7.  While Stephen is acknowledging Jesus before men, Jesus is acknowledging "him before the angels of God."  First of all, we see Stephen acknowledging Jesus:  "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him." (Acts 7:51-52)  Then, Stephen sees that Jesus is standing up for Him.  "When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'" (Acts 7:54-56)  So, He also stands for us and acknowledges us when we stand up for Him. See Also Job 1:8; Matt. 10:32

Today, there is a need to proclaim the truth about Jesus, even to those who despise Him.  Sometimes, silence is not golden, it is yellow.  There are times when it is better to say nothing, but there are also times when we need to declare boldly our faith in Jesus, even though we think it will not be received well.  Then, Jesus will acknowledge us in heaven as one who is not ashamed of Him before men. See Dan. 7:9-10 for a description of God and His angels in heaven.

"But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God."  They and we could not have received a stronger warning.  Do we want Jesus to disown us "before the angels of God"?  Mark records a similar statement by Jesus.  "'If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.'" (Mark 8:38) See also II Tim. 2:11-13

"'And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.'"  This is certainly the most fearful warning found in the Bible.  It is, though, still a warning.  Those who had listened to Him with hardened hearts, had already spoken "against" Him.  But, they were still able to be forgiven.  But, Jesus warned them that they could do something that would be unforgivable.

What is this blasphemy "against the Holy Spirit"?  Even when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He asked that those who had hung Him there be forgiven.  "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' . . . " (Luke 23:34)  But, it would be different if God's Spirit had opened their eyes and they did know what they were doing and still did it.  Paul's eyes were not opened by God's Spirit when he participated in the murder of Stephen. See Acts 8:1  He did it in unbelief.  "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief." (I Timothy 1:13)

The blasphemy of "the Holy Spirit" occurs when a final hardness against God sets in as one resists "the Holy Spirit" and fully rejects God's Son and what He did for us on the cross.  If someone worries that they have blasphemed "the Holy Spirit," then they have not yet reached that stage of hardness.  Peter denied Jesus, but he was forgiven when he repented. See also II Chron. 33:10-13

Anyone who genuinely repents is forgiven.  The blasphemy of "the Holy Spirit" occurs when a person has so rejected God's Spirit that he or she is in a final stage of hardness where he or she will never repent.  These Jewish leaders were heading toward that stage, but had not yet reached it.  They were doing what Stephen described in Acts 7:51.  "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 7:51)  Their sin would only become unforgivable if they reached a stage of final hardening where they knew, by the Holy Spirit's enlightening, that what they were doing they were doing to God's Son; and they still did it. See also I Jn. 5:16; Heb. 6:4-8, 10:26-31

e. Encouragement: God will be with them when they are brought before government leaders because of their faith. (12:11-12)
"'When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.'" 

These disciples did trust God's Spirit to give them the words to say when they were in the types of situations that Jesus describes here. See Acts 4:1-22, 5:20-32  Last evening I saw this take place.  A church leader was put in a very awkward position.  He could have gotten emotional and defensive.  Instead, he obviously trusted in God's Spirit to give him the right words to say.  He maintained his dignity and turned this very awkward situation in a good direction.  As Jesus says here, he needed to get God's Spirit's direction at that moment, for he was caught completely by surprise by what happened.

13. The Parable of the Rich Fool (12:13-21)
"Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.' Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?' Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.' And he told them this parable: 'The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.'"

Thought Question:  How does this parable help us to see wealth from a heavenly perspective?

 

 

"Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.' Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?'" See also Deut. 21:15-17; Numb. 27:8-11, 36:1-13

Jesus refuses to get involved in an issue between two brothers over an "inheritance"  "It should be noted that the brother does not want an arbiter but an advocate on his behalf: 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.'" "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."  "Someone has said, 'When there is an inheritance 99 percent of the people become wolves." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."

Jesus chooses to not get in the middle of it as two greedy brothers argue over their inheritance.  Instead, He gets to the real issue.  Besides, as He points out, He had no governmental authority to solve their problem.  

"Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'"  Jesus recognized that this man who wanted a bigger cut of the "inheritance" or some of the "inheritance" undoubtedly believed that if he had more money, then, he would be happy.  Greed can be defined as wanting more, more, and still more. "The Greek word for greed is very descriptive.  Literally it means: the thirst for having more, always having more and more and still more." "Hendriksen." See also I Tim. 6:6-10; Prov. 30:7-9

Jesus points out here that we will not find happiness and fullness of life through possessing more and more possessions. See also 4:4, 9:25, 18:18-30

"And he told them this parable: 'The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”'"

Often, hard work leads to wealth.  The problem that Jesus presents is not with those that work hard, but his problem is with what the man in the parable does with the wealth that he gets from the hard work.  In this case, the rich man sees the wealth as being all his—for me, myself, and I.  There was no thought of how it could help others.  It was mine, mine, and mine.  The more I grow, the more there is "for me."  And this man sees that his new crops were large enough so he would be taken care of "for many years."  So, he predicts that for the rest of his life he would be able to "eat, drink and be merry."  "He can relax into a totally self-indulgent life of ease." "Bock."  He is also self-congratulatory—he takes full credit for his abundance and does not thank God.

We Americans, when compared to the rest of the world, are for the most part "rich."  The man in this parable is really typical of a large number of us in the United States—we also have many possessions.  We, like the man in the parable, can also think of our possessions only in terms of what they can do for us.  And we, like the man in the parable, can also not see our possessions as blessings from God. 

The "rich man" in the parable already had his "barns" filled, so he had no place to put the new grain.  So, instead of seeing that his surplus grain could benefit others who were not as well off as he was, he builds "bigger" "barns" so he can have more grain for himself.  Notice the "I"s, "my"s, and "I'll"s in these verses.

"'But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”'"  This man had not considered his own mortality.  God has given us life.  It is not under our control as to how long we have it.  The man in the parable believed that the purpose of life was for him to have pleasure.  "Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."  He was a "fool" because he wasted an opportunity to show God's type of love to his fellow humans.  His money could have been used to lead people into a relationship with God.  But, he thought that it was only about him and what he could get for himself.  He did not realize that his self-indulgent life would be over that day.

"Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”  He had gained riches only for himself.  He did not want others to have what he had earned.  So, Jesus predicts that in one day all his self-indulgent plans for himself would be gone.  Then, others would enjoy what he had worked for.

There are those, though, who do think of others and gladly give their hard-earned money to those in need.  A close friend of ours gave thousands to her close friends in the Lord.  The executor of her estate said it gave her great joy to know that her friends would be blessed by her gifts.

"'This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.'"  Jesus, here, reveals to us what it means to be truly "rich."  Wealth can come and then go, but having a "rich" life of serving God will last forever.  "'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19-20)  "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (I Timothy 6:18-19)

What are the riches that are ours because of our relationship with God?  Here are some of them: forgiveness, love, peace, hope, security, joy in all circumstances, true friendships, and more.  Can money provide these riches?  And, to make it worse, we can lose our money quickly as the man in the parable did.  The man who wanted an "inheritance" could choose to pursue an "inheritance" or he could choose to pursue God—he could pursue after being "rich toward God."  We do not know what he chose.  We can know, though, what we will choose.  May we choose to pursue being "rich toward God."

14. Do not worry (12:22-34)
"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'"

Thought Question:  How do Jesus' words help you not to "worry"? (List as many ways as you can.)

 

 

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!"

There are two primary ways of looking at our lives.  First of all, we can look at life from our narrow perspective.  Then, we see only our needs and our resources.  Often, our resources can seem smaller than our needs.  The roof starts to leak; the car starts to make noises it is not supposed to make; we are going to be audited; and more.  The human tendency is to see the problem as being more than we can handle with our limited resources.  And, so, we worry.

The second way to look at life is look at God's resources and how much He cares for us when these same types of troubles come into our lives.  We, then, cast our cares on God.  "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
(I Peter 5:7) See also Rom. 8:32

"Consider the ravens: . . . God feeds them. "  God both created birds and He also has provided for their needs.  So, is He not even more concerned for us who are made in His image?  Another way of putting this is to ask this question: "If a good farmer takes good care of his animals, will he not take even better care of his children?"

"'Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'"  Someone has said that "worrying" is like rocking in a rocking chair.  It takes effort, but it does not get you anywhere.  "'Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, said Corrie ten Boom, 'it empties today of its strength.'" "Taken from Be Compassionate by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1998 by David C. Cook."

What, then, can replace worry in our lives?  "The opposite of worry is trust." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."
It is believing that God cares for us like a father cares for His children.  Also, because He is God, He has all things under control.  A pastor friend once said, "We do not worry that God's plans will not work out as He wants them to, but that our plans will not work out as we want them to."

There is an issue about whether Jesus was speaking here of "worry" not adding to our height or to our lifespan.  Either is a possibility.  But, adding to our lifespan seems more likely, as adding a cubit or foot and a half to our height seems not be something that we would "worry" about.  Whereas, we might worry about the length of our "life." 

"'Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'"  If "worry" will not do the small thing of adding a short amount of time to our life, why worry about anything?  It is a waste of time and energy that accomplishes nothing.  As nature, abhors a vacuum, so we must replace "worry" with something.  Paul gives us these instructions about how to replace "worry" with trust.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

"'Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.'"

Thought Question:  What is there in Jesus' words here that helps you not to worry?

 

 

"'Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!"

We have a friend who is a landscaper.  I have gone on hikes with him into the wilds of Washington state.  He would often marvel at God's landscaping, as we saw the varieties of flowers as we hiked on a trail.  God, who was the Designer of the intricate beauty of these tiny flowers, also cares for us.  If He cares for these tiny flowers, certainly He cares for us.

"Solomon in all his splendor"  No matter how a man or woman dresses up in man-made clothes, he or she will still not match the splendor of these tiny flowers that attained their beauty without any effort on their part. 

"the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire,"  "The lilies of the field were the scarlet poppies and anemones.  They bloomed one day on the hillsides of Palestine; and yet in their brief life they were clothed with a beauty which surpassed the beauty of the robes of kings.  When they died they were used for nothing better than for burning.  The point is this.  The Palestinian oven was made of clay.  It was like a clay box set on bricks over the fire.  When it was desired to raise the temperature of it especially quickly, some handfuls of dried grasses and wild flowers were flung inside the oven and set alight.  The flowers had but one day of life; and then they were set alight to help a woman to heat an oven when she was baking in a hurry; and yet God clothes them with a beauty which is beyond man's power to imitate.  If God gives such beauty to a short-lived flower, how much more will He care for man?" "Taken from The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1 p. 257 by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by Westminster Press."

"O you of little faith!"  What is "little faith"?  Years ago, I heard a speaker say that someone made the following introduction to what he was going to say to him: "under the circumstances."  This speaker said to him:  "What are you doing under there?"  We have "little faith" when our God and what He promises to us are smaller than our circumstances.  Our problems loom larger in our minds than God's solutions to our problems.  One of the promises in the Bible that we can put our faith in is found in Philippians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  God's word says that we are to worry about nothing and pray about everything.  And, then, as a result of our faith that God will lovingly respond to our prayers, we no longer need to worry about what we have prayed for.  We will experience "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding."  When we trust God with our worries, we have great faith; when we continue to worry about them, we have "little faith." 

"And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.'"

Life without God can be little more than working so we can eat; and then, after we have eaten, worrying that we might not be able to do this tomorrow, the next month, or the next year.  In other words, without a belief in God, there is no certainty that we will have enough of what we need at some time in the future.  So, there is a constant inner and hidden anxiety about our uncertain future.  And so, this uncertainty, fear, and worry is what the heart of the unbeliever is focused on.

The partying unbelieving college student worries about his or her future.  "Will I get a job?"  "Will I meet the right man or woman?"  "Will I be able to pay tuition?"  The partying numbs them to the fear for a while, but the next day the uncertainty of the future is before him or her again.  I know, because many years ago, what I am describing here described me. 

Jesus gives another way to live life.  "Your Father knows that you need them.  But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."  The Creator of the universe, who knows the exact number of hairs on our head, "knows" about our needs.  Our needs and problems may be big to us; even overwhelming to us, but they are not big and overwhelming to God.  We may be biting our fingernails over our concerns and perplexities, but He is not anxiously biting His fingernails.  His resources dwarf our problems:  "Your Father knows that you need them."

"But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."  We learn here that we are to put all our energies into focusing on one thing; and, then, God promises to take care of the rest.  What are we to focus on?  We are to focus on wanting Jesus to have His way in our lives.  "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)  Our job is to keep seeking His rule in our lives, and His job is to provide for our needs.

At the time I am typing these words, I have been a Christian for about 47 years.  Jesus promise that if we seek God's kingdom, He will take care of us has come true in our lives for 47 years.  It has not always been easy.  But even the tough times have provided me with a number of remarkable stories.  The bottom line, though, is that God has been faithfully taking care of us for all my years and the 44 years of our marriage; starting with babysitting three homes in the first two years of our marriage.

"Seek" We pursue many goals in life.  We may pursue a college degree; we pursue a job; we pursue a mate; and we pursue happiness.  But Jesus tells us here that one pursuit is most important.  We are to pursue a relationship with God; and once we have a relationship with God, we are to pursue a closer relationship with Him. See Isa. 55:6-7; Jer. 29:13; Matt. 7:7-8, Phil. 3:7-14

"'Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'"

Thought Question:  What is the difference between treasures on earth and treasures in heaven?

 

 

We learn here what God delights to do.  He is "pleased to give" us His "kingdom."  For, we are His "little flock."  We are His sheep and He is our Shepherd.  And, as His weak and fearful sheep, He wants us to know that we need not be afraid. See Ps. 23; Jn. 10:1-18

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor." See 18:22  "As to the meaning of this passage, it has at times been grossly misinterpreted, as if Jesus said to all his followers, 'Sell all your possessions and give the entire proceeds to the poor.'  The result would be that very soon the church would become a burden to society." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."  Morris said that this would "produce a class of holy paupers." "Taken from Luke by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1946 by Intervarsity Press."

The meaning of Jesus' words is that our possessions are to be available to be used by the needy.  We are not to be greedily holding on to them like the rich fool in the parable.  Jesus "is emphasizing that believers must not be dominated by their possessions." "Morris."

"Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'" See also           Matt. 6:19-21

Where are our treasures?  Are the treasures we are building and collecting in heaven or on earth?  How can we tell?  Are we focused on worldly fame and on worldly possessions?  Or, are we focused on what is valued by God and on what has eternal value?

What does have eternal value?  When we do that which reveals to our world what God is like and leads people into an eternal relationship with Him, that has eternal value.  We can tell what is most important to us by what we are willing to give up.  Would we give up our ministry in our church if a better paying job came along or would we give up the better paying job because we do not want to give up our ministry? (Of course, it isn't always that simple.  For, we may need the better paying job to meet our basic needs.)  Would we give up a well-paying job if we were required to do something immoral, illegal, or deceptive to keep the job?  The answer to these questions would be determined by where our "treasure" is.

" purses . . . . that will not wear out"  Our treasures on earth grow rusty, are stolen, are dented, become faded, and "wear out."  But, what we earn "in heaven" never will "wear out." 

15. Be alert and watchful (12:35-48)
"'Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.'"

Thought Question:  How do you believe that Jesus' words here apply to us who live some two thousand years after He said them?

 

 

"'Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.'"

Jesus uses the image of a "wedding banquet" to describe how we should act while waiting for His return.  "Such a banquet was of indeterminate length.  The banquet might consist only of a single meal; but if the host were a person of wealth, the feasting could continue for days.  When the master of the servants attended a wedding banquet, he would be absent from the household for an indeterminate length of time.  Because of the uncertainty a servant might neglect normal responsibilities and become lazy.  Such a servant would be faithless." "Taken from The Parables of Jesus by Dwight Pentecost.  Copyright 1982 by The Zondervan Corporation."

We are the "servants" waiting for our Master's return.  Because the Master is slow in returning, we can get lazy.  Instead, we need to keep" our "lamps burning" all of the time that He is gone—we need to be alert and busy doing what He wants us to be doing, even though He is gone right now.

"But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into."  Jesus changes figures of speech briefly.  We are to be ready at all times, for we do not know when Jesus will return. See also I Thess. 5:2; II Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3, 16:15

"even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night."  "The exact time is uncertain because it is not clear if Luke intends a Jewish three-watch or a Roman four-watch schedule.  Either way the time frame is 'deep night,' somewhere between midnight (Roman time) and 2:00 a.m. (Jewish time)." "Taken from Luke by Darrell Bock. Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press."  By either schedule, it pictures Jesus as coming at an unexpected time.

"It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them."  The master of that time would not serve his servants.  But, Jesus tells us here that He will be a Master who will serve those who have faithfully served Him during His absence. See Jn. 13:1-15  We serve now; but we learn here, to our amazement, that Jesus promises that He will one day award our service by greeting us and serving us.  He has already served us by giving His life for us. See Phil. 2:5-8  One day, He will serve us when we go to His home.

"Peter asked, 'Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?' The Lord answered, 'Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.'"

Thought Question:  What do you believe is Jesus' answer to Peter's question, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?"  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Peter asked, 'Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?' The Lord answered, 'Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.'"

Why did "Peter" ask this question?  Hendriksen gives this possible reason:  "Did the Master mean, then, that even among his disciples there would be those not ready to welcome him?" "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House."  If Jesus were speaking to the crowds, then, some of them would be the unready ones.  Because Jesus uses a "manager of servants" in His answer, it appears that He was referring to the disciples—they were leaders of Jesus' "servants."  They are urged to be faithful after He leaves them.

It does not appear that Jesus gave a direct answer to Peter's question.  "What Jesus seems to be saying, then, is this, 'Never mind asking question stemming from curiosity pure and simple.  What you should do is try very hard to be a faithful and sensitive manager.'" "Hendriksen."

"'I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.'"

Jesus describes here both a "faithful and wise manager" of His servants and an unfaithful "manager" of His servants.  The "faithful and wise manager" gives  
Jesus' "servants" "their food allowance at the proper time."  In other words, "the faithful and wise" disciples will make sure that Jesus' servants—Christians—are watched over and cared for.  Since the original disciples have gone, there have been other shepherds of God's flock who have watched over Jesus' sheep.  They also have had the responsibility to do it right until Jesus returns.  Those who are like this "faithful and wise manager" will be rewarded by being "put" "in charge of all his possessions."

What does this mean to us?  It is similar to how the parable in Luke 19 ends.  "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'" (Luke 19:17)  We do not know exactly what all this means, but we can be sure that faithful service here will mean greater responsibilities and rewards in heaven. See Jn. 21:15-17

All Christians have a realm of spiritual stewardship.  Parents are responsible to faithfully pass on their faith to their children.  All Christians are to pass on their faith to others through witnessing, children's ministries, Bible studies, visitation, encouraging, and building up other Christians.  What we faithfully do here will lead, in some way, to greater responsibilities when Jesus returns. See I Cor. 6:2-3; Rev. 3:21, 20:4

"'But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.'" See also Matt. 25:41-46; I Cor. 3:16-17

Notice that this person "says to himself, “My master is taking a long . . . ."  This reveals his true motives.  Basically, he is saying, "I can get by with mistreating those under my care, because 'my master' will not be here in time to know about it." See Prov. 23:7  A person's true character is revealed by what they do and think when no one is watching them.

"'He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.'"    What is very characteristic of our world is the absence of a fear of God.  People are ignoring God by hardening their hearts and consciences and participating in all kinds of wickedness, believing that there will be no consequences or very little consequences.  Here, we see that we do not want to face Jesus' anger and fury.  The Bible is filled with warnings about the time when arrogant and hard-hearted people will face His righteous wrath.  It will happen!  And, then, everyone who has not cried out for God's mercy will face His holy fury.  "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, 'Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.'"
(Revelation 19:11-18) See also II Thess. 1:5-10; Isa. 2:9-22, 13:9-11, 63:1-4

"'The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Thought Question:  What is there in these verses that should lead those who misuse their positions of authority in God's church to change their attitudes? 

 

 

"'That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.'"  Here, we see the punishment for disobedience to God will be based on what we have had the opportunity to know about God.  Surely, no American can say before Jesus, "I did not know anything about you?"  In this country, only the willfully disobedient are ignorant.  They choose not to know and they choose not to seek God, though knowledge about Him is available everywhere—in churches, through Christians, in books, in DVDs, on the internet, and in many other ways.

The Bible teaches that there are "degrees of suffering in hell." "Taken from Luke by William Hendriksen. Copyright 1978 by Baker Book House." See Numb. 15;22-31; Matt. 10:14-15, 11:20-24; Acts 3:17; I Tim. 1:13

"But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows."  There are those who are less responsible for the wrong they do.  There is a difference between a person raised in a Christian home in the United States and a person raised in a pagan home in a third world country.  Both may do the same actions, but the punishment that they receive will not be the same. See Matt. 11:20-24

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."  This is certainly relevant for us Americans, for we have "much," and so "much" is required of us by God.  Half-heartedness in our Christian life is completely inappropriate.

16. Expect to cause divisions and not peace (12:49-53)
"'I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.'"

Thought Question:  Why must following Jesus lead to division from others?

 

 

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!"  What is the "fire on the earth" that Jesus speaks of here?  It is the "fire" of judgment.  "See, the Lord is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword the Lord will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the Lord." (Isaiah 66:15-16) See also Lk. 3:9,17; Amos 1:7, 10-14, 2:2,5; II Thess. 1:7-9

What did Jesus meant by "I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is competed"?  In Mark 10:38, we learn that Jesus said these words right before His crucifixion:  "'You don’t know what you are asking,' Jesus said. 'Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?'" (Mark 10:38)  There, He was using "baptism" to describe the cross and all that would come before it—the arrest, the mockery of a trial, the beatings, and the mocking of the crowd.  Jesus always knew that it was coming.  The decision for Him to die for our sins was made before His earthly life began.  "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (Revelation 13:8)  Here, we learn that Jesus was "distressed" at what He would face one day.

"and how I wish it were already kindled!"  Jesus appears to be wishing that the time of judgment would start immediately.  Isaiah put it this way.  "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you." (Isaiah 64:1-3)  But, Jesus could also could have been referring to God's judgment on our sins that took place when He took our punishment on the cross. See Heb. 12:2

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."  Jesus often used shocking statements that immediately caught the attention of those listening to Him—shocking statements that also immediately catch our attention.  For example, He said, "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." (Luke 6:21)  Here, the "Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6) says that He will bring war.  Does not the Bible emphasize that we are to be peacemakers? See Matt. 5:9; Lk. 2:14; Rom. 12:17-18; James 3:17-18

Even though we are to seek to be at "peace" with everyone, that does not mean that everyone will welcome the Jesus Christ that we profess.  Those who reject Him will also reject us. See Matt. 10:34-36  Those who reject the gospel message will also reject us.  The more clearly they see the difference between us and them, the more they will divide themselves from us.  Our message says we are sinners moving away from God and not toward Him—we are not people who are evolving into being better people.  Our message will always be an unpopular one, even to church people.  Just because someone attends church does not mean that they see themselves as sinners totally in need of God's forgiveness, grace, and strength.

"'From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.'"

Jesus warns us that following Him whole-heartedly will divide us even from "family" members.  It will divide us from whichever "family" members do not choose to follow Christ.  Following Christ can divide us from those that we love most.  Jesus' word in Matthew 10:37 tells us, in these cases, what we will need to do.  "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."  We must choose to follow Jesus Christ even if it puts us at odds with our parents or our own children. See Jn. 7:12, 40-43, 9:16, and 10:19 for times when Jesus caused division.

17. Recognize the signs of the time (12:54-56)
"He said to the crowd: 'When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “It’s going to rain,” and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to be hot,” and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?'"

Thought Question: What are some signs that predict where our world is heading toward in the future?

 

 

"He said to the crowd: 'When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “It’s going to rain,” and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to be hot,” and it is.'"  We have learned to read the signs that predict which weather is coming.  Dark clouds moving toward us predicts rain and "wind" from a desert area predicts hot weather.  We should, then, be able to read the signs that tell us what direction our culture is going and why it is going in that direction.  In Israel, if westerly clouds were coming in from the Mediterranean Sea, it predicted rain; whereas, if southerly winds were coming in from the desert to the "south," it predicted hot weather.  They easily read these signs.  They should also have been able to read the signs that showed Israel's future based on what direction their country was going.

"'Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?'"  The people listening to Jesus were hardened to the significance of Jesus.  We know that He is the Son of God who came to die for our sins and to usher in the universal church that would be indwelt by Him.  For the most part, the people of Israel at that time saw Him as an interesting oddity.  He attracted their interest, but not their devotion.  The religious leaders did not want Him to be the Son of God whose coming would change everything for them.  They wanted to keep the status quo.  They liked their power, their status in society, and the riches they had gained.  They purposely ignored the signs that God was doing something new through Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls them, "hypocrites," for they were not like our professional weatherpersons who accurately predict the weather.  These Jewish religious leader were only pretending to be experts on what God was doing.  They, in fact, had missed the most important action of God in man's history.  They had missed recognizing that Jesus was God in the flesh.

How are we doing today at reading the signs of the times?  Are we not again at very crucial time in the history of the world?  Will we recognize that we need to be careful that we are not in the current of our culture that is moving farther and father away from God?  "But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (I Thessalonians 5:4-8)

18. Quickly seek reconciliation (12:57-59)
"'Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.'"

Thought Question: How do Jesus' words here fit the immediate context? (Why did He say these words at this time?)

 

 

"'Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.'"

How do Jesus' word fit the immediate context?  In Matthew 5:25-26, Jesus says similar words.  There, though, the emphasis is on our relationship with others—we should settle matters out of court if we can.  We should seek quickly to be reconciled with others.  Seeking reconciliation is better than seeking for justice to be done.  Here, in Luke, Jesus appears to be speaking of our relationship with God.  Again, we should humbly seek to be reconciled to God.  This is much preferred to our experiencing His full justice against us.  Much better for us to cry out for mercy than for us to get justice.

And, so, how do we apply Jesus' words to our lives today?  We need to humbly cry out for God's mercy before it is too late.  If we do not cry out for mercy, we will need to face His judgment.  That mercy is available to us because Jesus took our punishment on the cross.  Also, if we have become a Christian by faith in Christ, but have not been walking with Him lately, we need to confess our sins and turn back to Him.  We need to confess our sin and receive God's forgiveness so that we will not face His discipline.  "But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment." (I Corinthians 11:31) See also I Jn. 1:9; James 5:16

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION  ® .   NIV  ®   Copyright ©    1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Studies in Luke