Category Archives: Theology

Jesus wants YOU! (Luke 18:31-43)

Intro: I asked my kids to help me think of an example of a time they weren’t listening or I wasn’t listening. They said, “what?”

Text:

[Luk 18:31-34 ESV] 31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See[!], we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And [after] flogging [him], they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp [comprehend] what was said.

[Luk 18:35-43 ESV] 35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him,

Thesis: Jesus is not just hiding out, waiting for us to bother him until he decides to come back. He is seeking us and wants to hear our needs.

Think of the context of the earlier parts of Luke 18.

  1. Jesus wants to prepare us, even if we can’t understand
    1. We have seen this in context (preparing for his coming [by being humble], accepting the kingdom as a child, meaninglessness of keeping property).
    2. He is a prophet par excellence
      1. [Mat 27:26-31 ESV] 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
    3. Here, he wants the disciples to understand, if not now, then later.
      1. This is not just a Jerusalem trip. This is the one in which everything will be accomplished.
        1. He had been speaking to large crowds, answering questions. Now he pulls the twelve aside, out of the crowd, and warns them of what’s to come. This is it. There are no future trips. This is the one that is the culmination of the prophets.
      2. We are also aware that Judas is with him, and this would surely later resonate in his mind.
    4. The disciples do not understand. Why?
      1. This saying was hidden (concealed) from them
        1. [Mat 11:25 ESV] 25 At that time Jesus declared, “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;”
      2. Matthew Henry “Their prejudices were so strong that they would not understand them literally, and they could not understand them otherwise, so that they did not understand them at all. “
        1. Henry goes on to warn that we too quickly accept the promises of God regarding the “glorious state of the church in the latter days. But we overlook its wilderness, sackcloth state.” In Acts, we see the Paul and Barnabas reminding others that “[Act 14:22 NIV] “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,”
        2. Isaiah warns: Isaiah 30:9-10 (NCV) These people are like children who lie and refuse to obey; / they refuse to listen to the Lord’s teachings. / They tell the seers, / “Don’t see any more visions!” / They say to the prophets, / “Don’t tell us the truth! / Say things that will make us feel good; / see only good things for us.’
      3. They didn’t have to understand in order to be able to follow him
  2. Jesus wants us to cry out in hope
    1. The road to and from Jericho. There are similar stories in the other gospels. It is no surprise that this road is known for beggars and robbers. Think of the story of the good Samaritan told earlier.
    2. This is a place for the hopeless to gather.
      1. We are not told why Jesus is going to and from Jericho, but he is aware of the people on the way. Likewise, the blind man is aware in the changing cacophony of his environment. (He inquired what this meant)
      2. We should be aware that Christ is near and wants to do for us.
      3. Remember the story of the unjust judge he just told? He wants to hear our needs!
    3. Hear his cry, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” … But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
      1. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. Deliverance of Jah, Messiah-king, have mercy.
      2. We are reminded of the tax collector in the recent parable.
      3. Maybe we think we are not in need like this man? Jesus says [Jhn 9:41 ESV] 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
      4. Admit our blindness and need for his mercy! This is accepting the kingdom of God as a child.
  3. Jesus wants to make us whole
    1. Your faith has saved/delivered/rescued you (from the ailment). This is what faith does, makes people whole (KJV). This is not “mere health.”
    2. Look at how many connections there are between health and the forgiveness of sin!
      1. [Jas 5:14-16 ESV] 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
      2. [Isa 53:5 NIV] 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
      3. [1Pe 2:24 ESV] 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
      4. [2Ch 7:14 ESV] 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
      5. [Psa 41:4 ESV] 4 As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
      6. [Hos 14:4 NIV] 4 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.
      7. [Mat 9:2, 5-6 ESV] 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” … 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he then said to the paralytic–“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
    3. All physical healing is temporary, but Jesus knows the huge impact it can have on our minds and spirits. We are not disconnected but need to give our whole selves over to him.
    4. Resurrection is the final healing.

Conclusion:   Every miracle is followed by a funeral. Every funeral is followed by a resurrection.

-Pray that we’re driven by faith and not fear.
-Pray for people who have been impacted by this virus around the world.
-Pray for our missionary family and global partners.
-Pray for the Church to seize ministry opportunities.
-Pray Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”


Change the World

I apologize for any amount of plagiarism that may show up here. None of these thoughts is original, but they have been floating around in my mind of late.

We will never be able to vote the world into a better state than we find our own heart.

We cannot expect more righteousness from the world than we are willing to live ourselves.

We cannot expect peace in the world until we have peace in our own hearts.

If we believe in the Holy Spirit, then we believe in prayer because we know he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Therefore, prayer is action.

We will never find reconciliation unless we are firstly able to forgive everyone who has wronged us and secondly able to forgive everyone who has wronged people like us.

Let us be thankful for our enemies as they are more willing to speak the truth about us than our friends are.

If we can make it through an entire day without condemning someone in our hearts, we are probably saints (worthy of a holiday), and we probably won’t even notice it happened.

It is impossible to love God and hate those made in his image.

 


Evolution of John 3:16

Evolution of John 3:16 from the first Old English translations to the 1611 King James:

Anglo-Saxon gospels (c.1000): God lufode middan-eard swa þt he sealde his ancennendan (sic) sunu. þt nán ne forwurðe þe on hine gelyfð. ac hæbbe þt ece líf;

Wycliffe (1395): For God louede so the world, that he yaf his `oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.

Tyndale (1525): For God so loveth the worlde yt he hath geven his only sonne that none that beleve in him shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe.

Coverdale (1535): For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his onely sonne, that who so euer beleueth in hi, shulde not perishe, but haue euerlastinge life.

Great Bible (1540): For God so loue þe worlde, that, he gaue is only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlastyng lyfe.

Matthew’s Bible (1549): For God so loueth the worlde, þt he hath geuen his only sonne, that none that beleue in him, should perishe: but should haue euerlastinge lyfe.

Bishop’s Bible (1568): For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in hym, shoulde not perishe, but haue euerlastyng lyfe.

Rheims NT (1582): For so God loued the vvorld, that he gaue his only-begotten sonne: that eury one that beleeueth in him, perish not, but may haue life euerlasting.

Geneva Bible (1587): For God so loued the worlde, that hee hath giuen his onely begotten Sonne, that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.

King James (1611): For God so loued ye world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.

So what did Jesus actually say?

Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν  θεὸς τὸν κόσμον ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν
αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν ἵνα πᾶς  πιστεύων εἰς
αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ᾽ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

Or more probably,

ܗܟܢܐ ܓܝܪ ܐܚܒ ܐܠܗܐ ܠܥܠܡܐ ܐܝܟܢܐ ܕܠܒܪܗ ܝܚܝܕܝܐ ܢܬܠ ܕܟܠ ܡܢ ܕܡܗܝܡܢ ܒܗ ܠܐ ܢܐܒܕ ܐܠܐ ܢܗܘܘܢ ܠܗ ܚܝܐ ܕܠܥܠܡ


New Covenant, a.k.a. The Way

pexels-photo-1578750John 14:3-7, 9 [NIV] “3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” … 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me [. . .] Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

The Way, the Truth, or the Life?

I have heard the verse “I am the way and the truth and the life…” many times in my life, and I often feel the context and application is lost. Usually, it shows up in some discussion on the nature of truth. “Jesus is ‘The Truth'” the retort usually says. This is correct, but this is not what this passage is about.

Early followers of Jesus were called the followers of “The Way.” This is apparent as early as the Acts of the Apostles. In John’s gospel above, we see why. Disciples are, by definition, followers, and disciples of Jesus are followers of The Way Himself.

The grammatical structure of this series “the way the truth and the life” is sometimes called “adjectival.” In other words, Jesus is primarily stating that he is “The Way,” then He goes on to describe what sort of “way” He is. He is the way that is true and alive! In other words, His path is the one based in truth that leads to true and everlasting life.

See the context: He is telling the disciples of their eventual reunion (and the implication is certainly marital) in His Father’s house. However, most brides know where their future father-in-law lives. In this case, the disciples haven’t the first clue. Jesus comforts them, “Don’t worry! I will show you the way there, and it is the way of truth that I have already been laying out.”

Later in the same conversation, Jesus says:

John 14:16-18 [NIV] “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

He is leaving, coming back, and showing the way, but that’s not all. He’s giving us the guide to walk with us along the way. The (Holy) Spirit, who comes from this same truth, guides along the way to the Father’s house.

What does this Way look like?

The answer is the clear theme of Paul’s letters, but it is oddly easy to miss. The answer to this question is the main difference between Old Testament and New Testament–what moves us from one covenant to the next. It is Spirit versus Flesh, Grace versus Law, Holy of Holies versus outer courts kind of stuff.

The old covenant was driven by Law. Do this, don’t do that, and you will be blessed. Break these laws and you will be cut off. What is the new covenant? We are told what it will be during the old covenant.

Jeremiah 31:33 [NIV] ” ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ “

Paul reminds us (in Romans 2) that this opens up the covenant to Gentiles who have this law written on their hearts rather than on pages.

The old covenant was a set of rules designed to keep us in line. The new covenant is emphatically not a new set of rules. It is Spirit, Life, and Truth.

You ask for a rule; you are given the Holy Spirit. You ask for guidance, you are given conscience. You ask for a babysitter, and you are given a Father!

This is all over the place in the New Testament, but one of my favorite places to watch this happen is in Galatians 5. How can you tell you are living by the Spirit? There will be fruit:

vv. 22-23 [NIV] “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control…”

How do you know you are living by flesh, violating the Law because you are acting under your own authority? There will be fruit:

vv. 13, 19-21 [NIV] 13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. … 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What does your life look like? Are you on The Way? You can’t get there by yourself, because Jesus himself is the way, and it is by Jesus that we are given the Spirit to guide us in The Way.

2 Corinthians 5:17 [NIV] “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

How do you know that your actions are right?

Galatians 5:14 [NIV] “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “

When’s the wedding?

So, Jesus is The Way, and we must have Him to be on the right “Way.” This is why moral principles themselves do not save and that no amount of self-imposed righteousness can get us to the Father’s house.

Think of it this way, there are plenty of well behaved people in the world that I did not chose to marry. The one that I brought into my home is the one who wanted me, who would love me, and whom I could love for eternity. She is the one I have a covenant with, and it is not based on her good behavior, though there are some general expectations. She is mine because she will have me and I will have her.

You are Christ’s because He will have you and you will have Him. He is to be in your heart as you are to be in His. He has met the requirements of the law and it is now our job to trust him. To say, “nothing more, nothing less,” sounds off here, because trusting him is not a mere mental assent. It involves everything we have. My love for my wife is not an occasional thing, it must be all-defining. It must be moreso for our Saviour.

He is the Way to Life, after all!


Humble yourself

pexels-photo-963486Intro: Don’t pray for humility, or better yet, do.

Text:   [Luk 14:1-14 NIV] 1 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way. 5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Thesis: Any place you go, pause to put yourself in the mindset of the Lord and of the people you are with. Do this not out of anxiety, but out of love.

Trans:  There is no parallel to this passage in the other gospels. These details from Journey to Jerusalem are unique to Luke.

Trust the Lord for discernment

  1. Trust the Lord when going into difficulty. This takes a humility of mind, a lack of presumptuousness.
    1. Jesus is being watched, and he knows it. Willfully chooses to go to the home of a leader of the Pharisees.
    2. The man with dropsy was probably brought in by the Pharisees in order to test Jesus.
  2. Discern the true need of the moment – healing was the need, not a tradition. Jesus discerned the intent of his hosts and addressed it.
    1. This takes the Holy Spirit. Are we in prayer and submission to Him?
  3. Discern between your own habits and the commands of God
    1. David Guzik: “When Jesus healed the man, His accusers believed that He workedon the Sabbath, and violated God’s command, but that wasn’t true. With this question, Jesus reminded them that there was no command against healing on the Sabbath. Jesus never broke the commandments of God, but He often offended man’s traditions that surrounded and extended the commandments of God. The commandments of God are enough, and we should never make the traditions of man – even good traditions – equal to the commandments of God (Mark 7:8-9).”

Trans:  Tell my own chair story

Don’t take the nice chair

  1. [Phl 2:5-11 NIV] 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
  2. What is a mindset of humility?
    1. Others-focused
    2. Not false-humility (narcissism)
    3. Joy/gratitude-based

Trans:  When we are grateful, we are generous. When have we given to someone who could not repay us?

Invite the poor

  1. An evidence of humility in our lives is an eagerness to honor those of humble position
  2. [Pro 19:17 NIV] 17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.
    1. This is very much what v. 14 says, the Lord who sees what is done in secret will honor and repay us
  3. [Pro 16:19 NIV] 19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
    1. To act justly bears greater reward than to seek financial gain as the first order of our lives.
  4. [Rom 12:16 NIV] 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
    1. Why do we have conflict? Pride, ego, a need to defend our own rights.
    2. Defend the rights of others, not our own.

Trans:  Jesus was having a table set before him in the presence of his enemies. Despite this, he knew exactly what to say.

Conclusion: Jesus faces the deep challenge of those who hate him by listening to their hearts, caring for those in need, and teaching on the need for humility.