Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’

Luke 17:1-10 Forgiveness, Faith, and Obedience

September 25, 2009

Temptations to Sin

17:1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin [1] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. [2] 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Increase Our Faith

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Unworthy Servants

7 “Will any one of you who has a servant [3] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, [4] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; [5] we have only done what was our duty.’”

  • Humility.  This is the common thread that connects the sayings in this passage.  All true servants of Jesus Christ must learn humility.
  • Consider the warning about tripping people up.  “The little ones” may refer to the outcasts from the previous two chapters that Jesus was welcoming but whom the Pharisees were rejecting.
  • We will all be tested.  We will all face temptation.  Our faith will be tested, perhaps beyond what we can bear.  But we should be careful not to inflict such a test on someone else.  Consider the consequence.  When Jesus says it would be better to drown at the bottom of the sea with a large stone tied around your neck then face the punishment reserved for those who cause people to struggle in their faith.  It can’t be good.  This is a serious warning.
  • “Christian leaders and teachers need this warning on a regular basis.  It is possible for them to do and say things which make others think, ‘Well if that’s how God’s representatives behave, I suppose the whole things a waste of time!’  How can you avoid putting someone in that situation? Humility.” N.T. Wright
  • Now look at the call to repeated forgiveness.  To forgive someone once or twice is easy.  But to continually have to forgive someone over and over again can be quite challenging.  Why continue to forgive if the one forgiven keeps abusing your kindness?
  • Again the answer is humility.  To forgive someone is to become their servant, not their master.  It shouldn’t be harder and harder to forgive each time.  How often do we blow it and require God’s forgiveness?  All the time.  Does God struggle with forgiveness?  No!!!  This is the true source of humility.  God’s grace.  We must consider the amazing grace that God has demonstrated to us when we struggle to forgive others.
  • Of course the disciples realize that what Jesus is saying will require a lot of faith.  “Jesus is quick to respond.  It’s not great faith you need; it is faith in a great God.” N.T. Wright  This faith requires humility.  We are weak, God is strong.
  • “Finally, the shocking lesson that all we do, even the hard work we do for God, never for a moment puts God in our debt.” N.T. Wright  I am only a servant doing my duty.  When we serve God, we do it out of gratitude and not out of selfish ambition.  We should not desire to be acknowledged or praised before men but we should be content knowing that we will be acknowledged by God when the time comes.  Once again this requires great humility.
  • How humble am I?  This is not an easy question to answer.  The moment I say I am humble is the moment I am no longer really humble.   But am I causing others to stumble in their faith?  Am I struggling to forgive?  Do I have a little faith in a great and mighty God?  Do I have the heart of a servant?  These questions I can answer.

Luke 16:19-31 The Parable of the Richman and Lazarus

September 23, 2009

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. [1] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers [2]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

  • “We all know Lazarus.  He is our neighbor.  Some of us may be rich, well dressed and well fed, and walk past him without even noticing; others of us may not be so rich, or so finely clothed and fed, but compared with Lazarus we’re well off.  Hew would be glad to change places with us, and we would be horrified to share his life, even for a day.” N.T. Wright
  • A story of how wealth and poverty is reversed in the future life.  These types of stories were quite common in Jesus’ day.  However, Jesus’ story is different.  Most stories would allow for a message to be sent back to those people still alive on earth, but in Jesus’ story no such message is allowed.
  • This is a parable and not just a moral tale about wealth and poverty.  Some might argue that it is better for the poor to stay poor, since they will be rich in heaven.  That isn’t the point of the parable.
  • The key to the parable is in the last verse, “Neither will they be convinced, even if someone were to rise from the dead.”  Compare this to the parable of the prodigal son when the father says, “This brother was dead and is alive again.”  The older son was not convinced.  The older son is like the rich man in this passage.  They both don’t want to deal with the poor and ragged brother or neighbor.  But Jesus did want to deal with them.  He wanted to deal with them now.  Jesus was incorporating what was done in heaven in to his ministry on earth.  He was accepting the Lazarus’ and the prodigal  sons.
  • The Pharisees were behaving like the rich man.  They weren’t accepting the people Jesus was reaching out to.  Jesus was warning them to change their tune or else they will be sorry.
  • Not even someone rising from the dead will help them if they refuse to see how God is fulfilling the law and the prophets through Jesus.  This story points to Jesus himself and his death and resurrection.  Jesus did die  and did rise from the dead.
  • Am I like the rich man?  Am I walking past people and ignoring their needs both physically and spiritually?  Am I accepting/inviting all people into God’s kingdom?

Luke 16:1-9 Parable of the Shrewd Manager

September 16, 2009

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

16:1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures [1] of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures [2] of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world [3] are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, [4] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

  • What does this passage mean?  Ezekiel 18 teaches that it is wrong to make money by lending at interest.  “Was the Bible against making money out of other money, or was it – was Jesus, indeed – telling us we should use any sharp financial practices we could to get ourselves out of difficulties.” N.T. Wright
  • How does this story work? 1.  The master in the story was not totally innocent.  It was unlawful to lend money at interest, but to get around this you could lend in kind with commodities, such as oil and wheat.  2.  It seems that what the steward deducted from the bill was the interest, leaving only the principal to be paid.  In this way, the debtors would be happy and the master couldn’t fault the steward without revealing his shady business practices.  The master could only admire the clever steward.
  • Remember that this is a parable and not some piece of moral teaching about money and how to use it.  Although, there is a moral lesson to be learned.
  • OK then, let us dissect the parable.   The master in the story is God; the steward is Israel.  Israel is meant to be God’s property manager, the light of God’s world, responsible to God and set over his possessions.  But Israel has squandered God’s property and God is not pleased.  What should Israel do?
  • The Pharisees answer was to become more holy by micromanaging the law.  They created these strict rules to follow and forced all to follow them.  By doing this they were excluding the very same people Jesus was reaching out to.  From this parable, Jesus is telling the Pharisees that instead of pushing people away, they ought to make friends.  This was the only way to avoid the coming crisis.
  • Therefore, instead of being a greedy miser, we should be generous to all people in order to make friends for ourselves.
  • So what do we make of this passage in our day?  “Obviously it has nothing to do with commending sharp practice in business or personal finance.  Rather it advises us to sit light to the extra regulations which we impose on one another, not least in the church, which are over and above the gospel itself.” N.T. Wright
  • Am I excluding people from God’s kingdom?  Am I doing whatever I can to make friends?  Am I using all my resources to introduce people to the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Have I become a Pharisee that only follows a list of rules?  God has trusted me with his property.  Am I squandering it?

Luke 15:25-32 The Parable of the Prodigal: The Father and the Older Son

September 9, 2009
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni

"The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Pompeo Batoni

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

  • Sometimes we can miss the beauty in life because we are so focused on the ugly.  That was the problem with the older son.
  • The story of the older son was Jesus’ response to his critics.  They were so focused on the wickedness of the tax collectors and sinners and the fact that Jesus would eat and associate with them, that they could not see the light of God’s love shining through all of it.
  • The older son fails to refer to the younger son as his brother.  When talking to his father, he refers to the younger son as “this son of yours.”  But the father reminds him that the younger son is indeed his brother by replying, “this brother of yours.”
  • The older brother complains, “I’ve been slaving for you.”  When in fact, him and his father were working partners since the father had already divided up the inheritance.  The older son was really being greedy and selfish because he knew that since the younger brother’s share of the inheritance was already wasted, anything that was spent on his brother now would have to come out of his inheritance.
  • Next the older son boasts, “I’ve never disobeyed a single command of yours.”  “This was the Pharisees boast (compare Philippians 3:6); but the moral superiority which it appears to give melts like snow before the sunshine of God’s love.  Where resurrection is occurring – where new life is bursting out all around – it is only appropriate, it is necessary to celebrate (verse 32).  Not to do so, is to fail to meet generosity with gratitude.  It is to pretend that God has not after all been at work.  It is to look only at the garbage and refuse to smell the flowers.” N.T. Wright
  • The older son was selfish.  He was only focused on himself.  He shows no respect for his father when he lectures him in front of his guests.   And then he refuses his father’s plea to join the party.  Again, as with the younger son, the father is generous and gracious with his older son.  The point is that Jesus was trying to reason with the Pharisees and scribes telling them that yes God’s generosity was reaching the tax collectors and sinners but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any left for them.
  • “If they insist on staying out of the party because it isn’t the sort of thing they like, thats up to them; but it won’t be because God doesn’t love them as well.” N.T. Wright
  • This passage points forward to the eventual challenge that the early church would face when trying to integrate both Jewish and Gentile Christians.
  • How does this story end?  Does the older son join the party and reconcile with his younger brother?  Does the younger son remain faithful to his father?  Jesus doesn’t answer these questions.  He leaves it to us to think it through and see where we fit in the story.  Am I the younger son?  Am I the older son?  Am I the father?  I used to be the younger son, that is for sure.  However, have I slowly become the older son over time?  Am I celebrating with the father?  It is time to celebrate and welcome all into the kingdom of God.  There is no room for greed, selfishness, self-righteousness, or prejudice in this party.  Leave those things at the door and come on in.

Luke 14:12-24 The Parable of the Great Banquet

September 3, 2009

Somehow I skipped this passage so I’m posting it up now.

The Parable of the Great Banquet

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers [1] or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant [2] to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, [3] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

  • vs. 12-14 Once again, Jesus tells people to do something contrary to normal thinking.  Don’t invite family and friends, but invite the poor and disabled.
  • Jesus means for this advice to be taken literally.  This first part is not a parable, the parable follows in verses 15-24.  Who am I inviting to dinner?
  • vs 15-24 The parable of the great banquet.  Those who are invited to the party refuse to come.  They have excuses.  They may seem legitimate but they are unacceptable.  The master will have guests at his party and therefore goes and invites those in unconventional locations.
  • The first level of meaning.  Jesus has been traveling around inviting people to God’s great banquet.  But more often than not, he is refused.  Recall the parable of the sower, most of the seed falls on soil which is unfruitful.  However, some have accepted the invitation; the poor and disabled.
  • The second level of meaning.  The expected guests at God’s banquet are the Jewish people.  They are the invited ones.  But like the parable, they have too many excuses and refuse the invitation.  Of course, many Jewish people in Luke’s time did accept the invitation but the majority of them did not.  Therefore, God’s messengers went out to the Gentiles and to the entire world to invite people to the party.
  • The third level of meaning.  To join the party you have to accept and welcome all who are there.  God’s banquet is for all people.  There is no room for prejudice or self-righteousness.
  • “Once again, therefore, the challenge comes to us today.  Christians reading this, anywhere in the world, must work out in their own churches and families what it would mean to celebrate God’s kingdom so that the people at the bottom of the pile, at the end of the line, would find it good news.  It isn’t enough to say that we ourselves are the people dragged in from the country lanes, to our surprise, to enjoy God’s party.  That may be true; but party guests are then expected to become party hosts in their turn.” N.T. Wright
  • What a great quote.  Party guests are to become part hosts.  Am I just a guest or am I a host?  Am I being selective in who I invite to the party?  Do I see people at the party and wish they weren’t there?  These are serious questions I need to answer.  These are serious questions that any true disciple of Jesus Christ needs to answer.

Luke 15:1-10 The Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin

September 2, 2009

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, [1] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

  • One person’s celebration can be really annoying for someone else, especially if they don’t understand the reason for the party.” N.T. Wright
  • Jesus was celebrating.  The pharisees and the legal experts were annoyed.  Why was Jesus celebrating and why were the Pharisees annoyed?
  • The Pharisees and legal experts were annoyed because of who Jesus was celebrating with.  Tax-collectors and sinners.
  • The tax-collectors were disliked for obvious reasons.  No one really likes them.  They collected money for either Herod or the Romans, or both.  In addition they would most likely be in contact with Gentiles which would make them unclean.
  • The term sinners here in verse 1 could mean an assortment of people.  However, they were people who the self-appointed experts deemed irreligious and unrighteous according to their version of the Mosaic law.
  • Of course Jesus is not implying in this chapter that such people (tax-collectors and sinners) should be accepted as they stand.  They were expected to repent.  The lost sheep and lost coin were found.  However, Jesus’ understanding of repentance was different from his critics.
  • To the Pharisees repentance meant that people must adopt their standards of purity and law-observance.  To Jesus, one only had to follow him and follow his way.  Jesus also seems to be implying in this passage that the Pharisees and legal experts themselves need to repent.  Read verse 7, perhaps there is some sarcasm in this statement. The ninety-nine righteous persons who don’t need to repent.  Yeah right.
  • “The point of the parables is then clear.  This is why there’s a party going on: all heaven is having a party, the angels are joining in, and if we don’t have one as well we’ll be out of tune with God’s reality.” N.T. Wright
  • The Jews believed that heaven and earth were meant to be together.  What happened in heaven should happen on earth.  The closest the Jews could get to heaven was the Temple.  But only the priests could access the Temple and only through strict purity requirements.  The closest the non-priests could get to heaven was to maintain a strict purity and observance of the law in every aspect of their life.
  • Jesus was now declaring that heaven was having a great party every time a single sinner repented.  If we want to get close to heaven then we better have a party too.  That is exactly what Jesus was doing.
  • The sheep and coin weren’t themselves special.  However, they were lost.  Imagine how these parables made the repentant tax-collectors and sinners feel.  God went searching for them even though they were sinners.  And then celebrated when he found them.   How encouraging!!
  • “And what Jesus did – this is the deepest point of these parables, and the ultimate reason why the Pharisees objected to them – was what God was doing.  Jesus’ actions on earth correspond exactly to God’s love in the heavenly realm.”  N.T. Wright
  • Does the world see me celebrating and get annoyed?  Am I actively searching for those lost sheep and lost coins?  Do my actions on a day to day basis correspond with God’s love?  Its time to throw a party.

Luke 11:29-41 The Sign of Jonah

June 1, 2009

The Sign of Jonah

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

The Light in You

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

Woes to the Pharisees and Lawyers

37 While Jesus [1] was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table.38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

  • The whole world was being filled with the light of God’s power and love shining in the darkness.  Jesus was the light of the world.
  • Light brings hope but also brings judgement.  Light brings life but it also reveals the darkness for what it is.  There is a great warning in this passage.
  • The sign of Jonah.  Jonah is a sort of comical figure in the Old  Testament.  Yet, he preaches to Nineveh and they repent.  Jesus is not a comic figure.  Yet, he preaches and the people ignore him.  Jesus who is also greater than Solomon and his own people don’t listen to him.  Jesus then speaks of judgement.  The people of Nineveh and the Queen of the South would rise (resurrect) at the judgment and condemn this generation.
  • The light can not remain hidden but must shine everywhere.  Will I see the light when it is in my midst?  This passage about the eyes is a warning to the people to open their eyes and recognize the light that was right in front of them.  They should embrace and live by the light while they have time.
  • Finally, the pharisee and Jesus  have dinner together.  Jesus confronts the issue of outward piety versus inward piety.  Jesus says to give over our thoughts, intentions, and motivations of our heart to God for his use.  When you embrace the light it illuminates both the outside and the inside.
  • Am I allowing the light of Christ to illuminate every area of my life?  Am I reflecting this light into the world?

Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan

May 20, 2009
The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii [1] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”


  • “The best known stories are sometimes the hardest to understand.” N.T. Wright  This is true of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • General moral understanding – if you see someone in need, go and help them regardless of their race or religion.  But what did Jesus really mean?
  • The Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  Both claimed to be the true children of Abraham.  Both felt they had claim to the land.  They were bordering neighbors.  In fact people traveling to and from Jerusalem would go around Samaria, traveling a longer distance to avoid contact with Samaritans.
  • This route contained many twists and turns, and was an ideal place for outlaws and brigands to hide and prey on unsuspecting travelers.  Especially lonely travels like the man in Jesus’ story.
  • And for those who were left half dead, it would be difficult for those passing by to tell if the man was dead or alive.  This is why the Levite and priest just pass by.  If they touched the man and he was dead, they would be unclean and would not be able to serve in the temple.  They would rather preserve their purity than uphold God’s law of love.
  • The lawyer wanted to know who his “neighbor” was.  To him his fellow Jews were his neighbors.  To Jesus a neighbor is anyone in need.  Could the lawyer recognize the hated Samaritan as his neighbor?
  • Jesus is offering the way of peace, the way of grace.  The Jewish leaders were not inclined towards peace but towards confrontation.
  • Who are God’s people?  The Jews believed they were.  The Samaritans believed they were.  The lawyer tries to trick Jesus into saying something that would incriminate him in front of the people.  The lawyer wanted to justify himself.  He knew the scriptures, he already knew the answer, or so he thought.  Jesus turns the table on the lawyer by revealing that it is not enough to have the right answers.  Jesus shows that the true fulfillment of God’s commands is to recognize those in need and to help them.  To love them.  God’s people are those who live this way.
  • “What is at stake then and now is the question of whether we will use the God-given revelation of love and grace as a way of boosting our own sense of isolated security and purity, or whether we will see it as a call and challenge to extend that love and grace to the whole world.” N.T Wright
  • Have I limited my love to certain types of people?  Have I passed by half dead people?  Am I living like one of God’s true children?  I was half dead once, and someone came and took care of my wounds.  Have I now become the lawyer or the Levite and priest?  Do I recognize that this world is in need of God’s love and grace?  This is very convicting.  No one wants to think they are like the lawyer but how many people in need spiritually do I pass by each day and do nothing?  I need to go and do likewise!!

Luke 10:17-24 The Celebration of Jesus

May 18, 2009

The Return of the Seventy-Two

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. [1] 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

  • Luke reveals the nature of the battle that Jesus was waging.  This was a spiritual battle against the powers of darkness.  Jesus began his ministry with a private battle against Satan in the desert.  This victory Jesus won was now being experienced by the seventy.  
  • Satan – the accuser.  Satan tricks people into disobeying God and then accuses them.  Satan holds power because he has deceived this world.  
  • Jesus’ task is to defeat Satan, to break his power, to usher in God’s new creation where evil and death are no more.
  • Jesus has seen the victory.  Jesus has seen Satan fall.  Jesus knew the work of the seventy was indeed a part of this great victory which would be finalized on the cross.  However, he cautions them to not just be caught up in their new powers but to be focused on God’s purpose and that they are part of it.
  • Jesus celebrates the inclusiveness of God’s Kingdom.  Anyone could receive it.  It wasn’t just for the elite and intelligent.  The knowledge of God’s Kingdom was to be shared by all.  In the words of Paul, God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.  This was a special time and Israel’s rules and teachers were blind to it.
  • God’s purpose was moving forward.  A new people was being created.  Those that recognized Jesus as God’s son, the messiah and were learning to know God as the Father.

Luke 10:1-16 Jesus Sends Out the Seventy

May 15, 2009

The Harvest is plentiful.

The Harvest is plentiful.

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two [1] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say,11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

  • Wright compares the sense of urgency in this passage with a doctor who discovers a brain tumor in a patient and immediately admits them to the hospital for surgery.  To wait another day or two could mean the patients life.  That is the general mood of this passage.
  • Jesus has a sense of urgency.  He knows his time is short.  He sends the seventy to places he intends to visit, knowing he most likely would not visit those places again.  This was his last chance to warn the people.
  • The mission of the seventy is only recorded in Luke.  Some manuscripts say seventy two.  Any meaning to this number?  Wright suggests that Luke is again comparing Jesus to Moses.  In Numbers 11:16-25, Moses selects seventy elders of Israel to help him lead the people.  Jesus was sending out men to help in leading the “new” Exodus.
  • In the original Exodus, the Israelites grumbled, complained, and didn’t want to follow God.  Jesus faces the same attitudes.  The people just didn’t want to follow Jesus to where he was going.  
  • Jesus instructed his disciples to carry a message of peace.  “Peace to this house” and find a “child of peace”.  Jesus’ contemporaries were not wanting peace.  Not with the Romans and not with the Samaritans.  They wanted war.  They wanted God’s justice to eliminate their enemies.
  • Jesus had a different plan.  To lead a violent rebellion would be like going back to Egypt.  Jesus’ kingdom was all about God’s grace and his “astonishing, powerful, healing love.”
  • Jesus’ disciples also carried a message of warning to those who didn’t accept the offer of peace.  To reject Jesus’ message would mean throwing oneself into the hands of Pagan power.  Not fire falling from heaven but Roman invasion and destruction.  By rejecting the way of God’s peace, God’s people invited the Roman punishment.
  • This is why Jesus was so urgent.  This wasn’t just an offer of a nice life of happiness.  It was the last chance for people to turn to God and avoid destruction.  To reject Jesus now, was to reject God himself.  Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, time was running short.