Conformers, Reformers, or Transformers

February 28, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Luke, parables | Leave a comment
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And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.

Luke 5:29

Levi, who was a tax collector, would become Matthew the Gospel writer. The “publicans” were his fellow tax collectors.

But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?

Luke 5:30

The scribes and Pharisees were grumbling and complaining to Jesus’s disciples ABOUT Jesus, but not directly TO Jesus.

And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.

Luke 5:31

If you are tempted to talk negatively about someone behind his back, you need to remember that God can hear you, even if the person can’t. What do you think the Pharisees took from Jesus’s statement about only sick people needing a doctor? They probably thought, “At least He’s admitting that these publican are sin-sick.” What SHOULD they have taken from it, though? They should have understood that He was saying that they themselves were sin-sick too!

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?

Luke 5:32-33

The followers of John the Baptist probably fasted frequently in imitation of John’s nazarite vow, but this response showed the attitude of the Pharisees concerning the “outwardness” of the Law. Do you see the two sides to the same dangerous coin here? Some people think that Jesus is only for those who aren’t too bad – hard-working honest folks who seem basically good, so it would be a shame for them to go to hell because they haven’t trusted Jesus. You can even throw in drug addicts and poor people because they’re down on their luck, and He’s their only hope. On the other side, they think Jesus can’t really be the answer for child molesters and especially bad criminals and terrorists, because those types of people really deserve to go to hell.

Neither of those views, nor any variations on them, are the Gospel. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Who falls into the category of “sinners?” In the Pharisees’ view “sinners” were gentiles and Jewish people who didn’t even try to keep the Law. But in Jesus’s view everyone fits into that category. This background sets the stage for two short parables that conclude Luke Chapter 5.

And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.

Luke 5:36

People didn’t put patches on torn clothes in those days because clothes weren’t “pre-shrunk” the way they are now. A new patch on an old garment would tear the garment and shrink the patch. Both would be ruined.

And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.

Luke 5:37

I don’t know much about the fermenting process, but it produces some kind of gas, and old “bottles” made from the skin of an animal would be brittle, causing it to burst with the expanding gas, thereby causing the loss of a nice bottle, as well as the wine.

But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

Luke 5:38-39

It’s in our nature to hang on to what we’re familiar with, but Jesus brings radical new life. It was scary for some people back then, and it’s scary for some today, but it’s less scary for “publicans and sinners.” When they are saved by Christ, they leave behind, in most cases, misery and unfulfillment. They find joy and acceptance in Christ, and their rejection by the world seems to them a small price to pay. It’s not always “easy” for them, but it’s not nearly as scary for them as it can be for someone who thought that he “had it all” before he met Jesus.

The Pharisees and the followers of John the Baptist faced two different predicaments when confronted with the “newness” of Jesus. The Pharisees were “conformers.” They were comfortable with the old. If something “new” showed up it had better look a lot like the old – or at least be able to be “conformable” to the old (like old wineskins). The disciples of John the Baptist, on the other hand, were not “conformers,” but they saw themselves as “reformers.” They knew the old wasn’t working, but thought it could be “patched up” (like old garments). Jesus, however, wasn’t a “conformer” or a “reformer.” He was a “transformer.”

No, not like the cars that turn into robots! Jesus brought in the “new,” not by “destroying” the old, but by “fulfilling” the old. The “old” was always meant to point to the “new,” and it had a “metamorphosis date.” Are we, as Christians, making the mistake of trying to conform? To fit our “newness” in Christ into our old life? Or are we trying to “reform?” To merely patch up our ways so that we don’t lose our identity? Both are in error. We need to be willing to be “transformed” – to live like new creatures in Christ, putting away the old man and the lusts thereof, and putting on the righteousness of Christ so we look like Him and not like our old selves any more.


What Do You Have to Do with God?

February 8, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

Luke 4:33

The description “unclean devil” sounds redundant, but Luke the physician was interested in the cause of illness.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

Luke 4:34-35

Jesus sometimes warned others against making a proclamation about Who He truly was during His earthly ministry. Satan, whether or not he knew that Jesus’s great act of salvation would come “in the fullness of time” and that He was on a God-ordained schedule as He headed toward the Cross, did seem to have a desire to see Jesus arrested by the religious authorities sooner rather than later. Therefore, Jesus rebuked the demons to stop them from calling Him “the Holy One of God,” although that’s Who He truly was.

Their question, “What have we to do with thee?” was a plea to postpone their inevitable judgment, but the way it is worded in our English translation makes it sound to our modern ears like a challenge for us to consider how we are to interact with Him. In one sense, it sounds like what we say when we don’t want to be bothered by someone else: “I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” But in the other sense it sounds like we have a problem to deal with: “Now, young man, what am I going to do with you?” Let’s take a brief look at three times in Scripture when similar wording is used.

What do you “have to do do” with God?

1. You have to live in His presence and to give an account of your life to Him.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Hebrews 4:13


God is omniscient, but His omniscience is not a cold distant omniscience. He is also omnipresent, and His omnipresence is an intense searching omnipresence. One day, everything we’ve done will be “manifested” before Him – brought out into the open. All our deeds will be naked and open.

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

Luke 5:17-21

The scribes and the Pharisees weren’t interested in the power to heal. They were worried about how this healing prophet could forgive sins – because that would mean He knew what those sins were.

But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

Luke 5:22 (emphasis added)

That He could “perceive their thoughts” is exactly what they feared!

Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

Luke 5:23-25

Not all sickness is in a one-to-one ratio with sin in the life of the sick person, but a person – like this man who was sick with palsy, and his friends – would not be deterred by pride. God forgives the sins of those who humble themselves in repentance and confess their sins. Our sins cannot be hidden from God. He knows about them already. Yet they still need to be confessed to Him.

2. You have to give an account to your loved ones of why you love Him and fear Him.

And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?

Joshua 22:24

The was a dispute between the tribes of Israel over an altar, and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh protested their innocence and appealed to their future posterity as proof that they recognized their part of the Covenant with God. The people you go to church with know you (hopefully), and the people you work with know you, and your neighbors and the parents of your kids’ friends know you, but nobody (except God) knows you like your family. If someone asked your kids, “What does your dad ‘have to do with God?’” (and you weren’t there to monitor the answer) what would they say? If someone asked your spouse, “What does your spouse ‘have to do with God?'” (and you weren’t there to monitor the answer) what would he or she say?

In Luke 5 Jesus was teaching and preaching on Peter’s fishing boat, And He commanded Peter to launch out into the deep where it was unlikely they would catch fish during the day. Peter obeyed and let down the net even though he had been fishing all night the night before and hadn’t caught anything. When he did this he caught so many that the net broke.

For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.  And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Luke 5:9-11 (emphasis added)

And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 

Luke 5:27-28 (emphasis added)

What do you think they told their families? What do you think their families thought that they “had to do” with Jesus? They forsook all for Him. He said “follow Me,” and there was no doubt in their minds about whether they should “follow,” because they had caught a revelation of the “Me.”

3. You have to tremble before His holiness.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

Mark 1:24

Peter and the Disciples were going to follow Jesus, but they weren’t going to be “partners.” As already noted, they were more motivated by the “Me” than by the “follow.”

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Luke 5:8

The most glaring difference between Peter and Jesus is the same glaring difference between Jesus and me. Jesus never sinned; I sin all the time. Peter recognized that Jesus was God and immediately became horrified over his own sin. Maybe the better question than what do “I” have to do with God, and even better than what do I “HAVE” to do with God, is what do I have to do with GOD? Is He my kind and loving Heavenly Father? Yes! Is He merciful and gracious toward me? Yes! Is He longsuffering and patient with me time and time again? Yes! But He is also the sovereign Lord of Glory, the maker of Heaven and Earth, the Alpha and Omega – beginning and end – and I dare not forget that He holds me in a hand so holy, so righteous, so worthy, so powerful – that I it would dangerous to lapse into a careless familiarity, or to casually presume upon His grace.

Lord, help us to love and to fear you. In Jesus’s name. Amen.


The Scandal of Jesus’s Shocking Message and Ministry

January 25, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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Jesus began to teach in the synagogues and to get famous. Then He went back to His home town.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Luke 4:16

It was common at the local synagogues for a visiting rabbi to take on the task of teaching the week’s lesson.

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luke 4:17-19

The Gospel is for everyone, but Jesus came to preach it – during His earthly ministry – specifically to the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, and the bruised.

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Luke 4:20

The Jewish scholars in attendance and even the regular congregants familiar with the writings of the prophets would have recognized the passage that we call Isaiah 61:1-2. You can almost sense their anticipation, as they wait for what comes next: “Okay, Jesus of Nazareth, what are you going to do with that text?”

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 4:21

How astonished they must have been! “He’s saying that prophecy is all about him!”

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

Luke 4:22

Perhaps they thought, “That’s absurd! We KNOW him! He can’t be the Messiah!”

People who think they’re okay don’t want to hear about a Savior, but those who are hopeless, helpless, and huntedTHEY want to hear about a Savior.

But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

Luke 4:25-26

To emphasize Jesus’s ministry to the outcasts of Jewish society, He used the example of God’s ministry through the prophet Elijah to someone who was a: (1) woman; (2) gentile; (3) widow. Then, He pointed to Elisha’s healing of a gentile leper.

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

Luke 4:27

What was the reaction of the synagogue’s leaders to the kindness and compassion and mercy and goodness of God? They wanted to kill Him!

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

Luke 4:28-30

And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

Luke 4:33-35

We start to get a picture very early on in Jesus’s ministry of one of the reasons that the Jewish religious leaders were so offended by Him. He advocated helping gentiles, women, widows, lepers, and demon-possessed people. To whom would He minister next? “Before you know it,” they must have thought, “Jesus will want to save gang members, pedophiles, people with different skin colors, serial killers, maybe even liberal politicians and activists!”

The Temptation of the Last Adam

January 2, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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The first Adam (Adam from Genesis, the first human being) failed to obey God. When he was tempted by Satan, and tested, he failed the test. The “last Adam” (Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God) was tempted by Satan also, but He passed the test with flying colors. The contrast is even more striking when we list the advantages that the first Adam had alongside the disadvantages that the last Adam had.

The first Adam’s temptation occurred in a garden paradise. He had access to the unmediated presence of God and ultimate security and safety. The last’s Adam’s temptation took place in a stark and daunting wilderness, a land ravaged by 2000 years of the effects of sin, a land of rocky crags, treacherous pits and ravines, venomous serpents and scorpions, and wild untamed beasts.

The first Adam’s temptation occurred in a place of plentiful nourishment, where both food and water were easily accessible. The last Adam’s temptation occurred after 40 days of fasting and desperate thirst.

The first Adam had the benefit of a helper. Admittedly, Eve proved more of a hindrance than a help, but she still provided human companionship. The last Adam was utterly deprived of human friendship and succor when His temptation began.

Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:2-4 (emphasis added)

I sincerely hope that you are regularly reading the Word of God – especially if you are a Christian – but here Jesus reminded us that, beyond merely reading it, we are supposed to be LIVING by it.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

Luke 4:5-6 (emphasis added)

Here, Satan tempted Jesus with a shortcut to glory. We must soberly ask ourselves: What brings more glory to God – quick blessings or perseverance through suffering?

If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Luke 4:7-8 (emphasis added)

Many celebrity preachers like to make themselves out to be big bad devil-fighters, blustering about how much they hate him and how he won’t intimidate them and how they’ll trounce him in spiritual battle, but Jesus rebuked Satan with a simple command to, “Get thee behind me.” The way to defeat the devil is to stay close to God. Satan isn’t afraid of the sheep. He’s afraid of the Shepherd. Jesus reminded him that God shall not receive a second-rate worship. He demands our complete and total allegiance and service. Satan is prideful, deceitful, and divisive. He is the one who loves impure mixtures.

And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Luke 4:9-12 (emphasis added)

Satan partially quoted Psalm 91:11-12 when tempting Christ, but he left out the phrase “in all thy ways.” Our ways are not to fly through the air – at least not without a plane or a parachute!

The Humanity of Jesus

December 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 2 Comments
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At the most festive time of the year, make sure that you intentionally discuss with your children some of the most wonderful Biblical truths about Jesus’s birth, such as:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
4. The Virgin Birth
5. The Humanity of Jesus

“…[L]ittle Lord Jesus, no crying He makes…” go the words to a popular Christmas carol. But is this an accurate representation of the infant Christ? Christmas is a great time to explain to kids that Jesus, in His earthly incarnation, was indeed FULLY human. He experienced human emotions. He felt hunger, fatigue, joy, sadness, and the full range of feelings, although never sinfully.

Popular Christian art has tended to picture baby Jesus as serene, often times surrounded by a halo or corona of light, but the image of a child who stares blissfully and knowingly at all the adults around Him, never crying or giggling, seems more creepy than holy. Your kids might be fascinated to think of baby Jesus learning to walk, needing to wear a bib, and even needing a diaper change from time to time. The idea that the God of the universe would subject Himself to the limits, awkwardness, and temptations of humanity, further demonstrates His great love for us.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

John 4:6

Jesus wept.

John 11:35

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

John 19:28

Next time we will consider the purpose of Jesus’s birth.

The Virgin Birth

December 19, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 5 Comments
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In the ongoing series of theological concepts to discuss with our kids during the holidays, we have mentioned:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
Now we come to:
4. The Virgin Birth

This can be a tricky one with kids, and – especially when it comes to really young kids – you may want to leave the subject of virginity alone, or at least use a tremendous amount of tact and delicacy. Use your own judgment. You will know what your own kids can and can’t handle and understand. However, the miracle of Mary’s pregnancy, despite having no husband and having never “known” a man (Luke 1:34), is a crucial doctrine of the Christian faith.

First, it shows the miraculous power of God, because babies just aren’t conceived this way apart from His supernatural action. Second, Jesus Christ, although conceived in the womb of a sinner, was not “conceived in sin” the way every other human being (sons and daughters of Adam) has been. Jesus was not only holy, sinless, and righteous in all His earthly deeds, thoughts, intentions, and words, but was sinless in His essence and “person.”

Perhaps you could explain to your children that the appearance of a newborn baby requires a mommy and daddy, except for this one time – which we celebrate at Christmas – when a baby was born whose Father was God.

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:26-37

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

We will continue the series by looking at the humanity of Jesus next time.


December 15, 2017 at 9:01 am | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 5 Comments
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December is a great time for Christian parents to talk with our children about some of the great theological concepts associated with Christ’s:
1. Incarnation
2. Advent

As we get older, it seems like December 25 comes faster and faster each year. The agony and expectancy of having to wait for the opening of presents and the sharing of goodies makes the period between Thanksgiving and “the big day” seem like an eternity to little kids. For us adults, who have full schedules and obligations, it seems like Christmas comes the day after Labor Day!

“Advent” means the arrival of something important, and it has taken on the connotation of waiting for something with the sort of longing that makes it seem like a long time in coming. In Christian theology, though, it has a specific reference to the appearance of Jesus Christ at his birth in Bethlehem (His first Advent) and His imminent return, for which we are still waiting (His second Advent). Christmas is a good time to explain to kids that faithful Old Testament believers knew what it feels like to wait with great anticipation for Christmas morning. The prophecies that a Messiah would come to save them from the punishment for their sins and to set them free to enjoy the favor and goodness of God began way back in Genesis 3:15 and continued for centuries and centuries. Kids who are antsy about the arrival of Christmas are the perfect candidates to hear about the stories of Simeon and Anna.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:25-38.

See also:

And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:13-14

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2

Next time we will take a look at the Condescension.

When We Can’t Wait to Celebrate

December 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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When the prodigal son returned to his father, there is no doubt that he was exceedingly sorrowful over not just the deplorable, debauched, and destitute condition into which he had fallen during his season of sin, but he was even more sorrowful over the fact that he HAD sinned against both his father and his God.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

Just as the son is beginning to address his own unworthiness, though, we get the impression that he is cut off, midthought, by his father, whose joy over the repentance and return of his son demands a joyful celebration, not a recounting of past wrongs.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

New clothes, feasting, and merriment are what he wants, not a trial period of wait-and-see probation to determine whether the wayward boy is truly sorry, or whether he is just hungry and manipulative.

If we take the father’s exuberance as our cue, how much more should we be ready and anxious to celebrate when someone we know returns from wandering in the fields of sin and despair, and comes back home to Christ? Let joy and praise be our default mode, rather than skepticism and wariness, if we wish to imitate our Heavenly Father Who delights in repentance!

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:32

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Luke 15:10

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Micah 7:18

Tempted, but not Wandering, in the Wilderness

November 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Luke 4:1

At first glance it may seem very strange that Jesus would be led BY THE SPIRIT into a place of temptation rather than straight into His public ministry. Believers today receive the Holy Spirit upon salvation. One of the Old Testament pictures of our salvation was when the Israelites left Egypt and went out into the wilderness before getting to enter the promised land. That sequence may also have been arranged by God partly to foreshadow Christ’s foray into the wilderness after He received the Spirit.

In Matthew we are shown Jesus going to Egypt for safety the way that Jacob and his sons did after Joseph was taken there, but Luke did not record that event in His life.

Jesus did not go into the wilderness because He was being chastened for provoking God the way the Old Testament Israelites did. He did go into the wilderness to be tested, though.

Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

Luke 4:2-3

Satan is always subtly playing to our pride. He knows the power of pride because it led to his own downfall. One of the reasons that the devil is often depicted today as this caricature in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork is because there was a time when it was thought that the best way to combat him was to attack his pride by making him look silly. The Bible does not portray him as being that easily defeated. Christ defeated Satan, and withstood his temptations, by exercising humility and proclaiming the Word of God.

Introducing God

November 8, 2017 at 11:11 am | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

Luke 3:1

The details found in the New Testament manuscripts really reinforce their historicity. Luke documented real people, who lived in a real time and real places, charged with real authority over real geographical provinces.

Luke Chapter 3 introduces us to the ministry of John the Baptist.

And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Luke 3:3-4

John was the herald who went before the King, making proclamations about His coming, and making sure the metaphorical roads were smooth for His appearing. He was baptizing people in the Jordan River. It was the custom to baptize those who had converted to Judaism. This baptism symbolized cleansing from defilement and sin, which helps to see why baptizing those who had been born Jewish would have been so scandalous to the religious leaders. Many of the people who came to John to be baptized, and who responded to his message of repentance, were harlots, publicans, open sinners – the outcasts of society. They had been told that the Kingdom of God was closed to them, so you can imagine their enthusiasm when they found out it was open to them!

John addressed the religious elite who came out to see what he was doing, and he told them that they were like snakes. His biting comment was that even snakes will crawl into the river to avoid a fire!

Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Luke 3:7-9

John did not cater to the falsely secure or the hypocritically religious, but he also wanted to make it very clear that he was not the Christ.

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

Luke 3:15-17

The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind in Scripture. Those who trust in Christ receive the Holy Spirit, and the process of practical sanctification begins. The “chaff” – that which is useless and unprofitable for the Christian’s spiritual growth – is separated out and blown away to be burned, the way a literal wheat thresher uses a tool (“fan”) to gather only the “fruitful” and useful part of the wheat.

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:21-22

This is a shocking moment in the history of the world – and a fulfilling one for those who seek to know God. The “who is like God?” question from the Old Testament is finally answered, and light is shed on the mystery of the great “I AM,” as God reveals Himself to be triune – Father, Son, and Spirit – and indicates that what the Son will do in His incarnation will be our best look at the true character and nature of God.

The rest of Luke Chapter 3, beginning in Verse 23, is the genealogy of Jesus, going backwards, all the way to Adam. In Luke the humanity of Jesus is stressed, and the truth that Jesus is the Savior of gentiles as well as Jews. Matthew starts with Abraham, but Luke goes all the way back to Adam.

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