Luke 1

 The Gospel of Luke is a literary masterpiece. Luke (who also wrote the book of Acts) was a Gentile physician (Colossians 4:14) who accompanied Paul on many of his missionary journeys. Luke did his homework in presenting the life of Christ, he wanted to write an orderly account to a man named Theophilus, that he would know the certainty of Jesus and His mission, things that Theophilus had been instructed in. Some believe Theophilus to be Luke’s former owner, or master; others believe Theophilus to be a Roman official…it’s interesting to note that his name, Theophilus means, “lover of God.”

Some might be tired of the reminder, but from a general perspective I believe that Matthew was written to the Jews and presents Jesus as the King. Mark was written to the Romans and presents Jesus as a Servant. John was written to the world and presents Jesus as God. And Luke was written to the Greeks and presents Jesus as the perfect man (the Greeks were fascinated with the best of humanity). Since Jesus is presented as a man you will notice an emphasis on His prayer life and the need of the personal power of the Holy Spirit.

Since Luke is giving an orderly account, he must have conducted many interviews to get the story from the very beginning. After 400 years of silence the angel Gabriel appears to a priest named Zacharias who has been selected by lot to offer incense in the Holy Place. The angel informs Zacharias that he and his wife Elizabeth had been chosen to bear the forerunner to the Messiah. Zacharias unfortunately doubts the possibility, since he and his wife are much older, and Gabriel is forced to make Zacharias mute until the child is born. Why? I like what Sandy Adams said, “It is amazing how faith grows when we are forced to stop talking and start listening.”

6 months later the angel Gabriel is sent to a young lady named Mary who found favor with God and had been chosen to bear the Messiah. Mary didn’t doubt the possibility, but she did ask how this could happen since she was a virgin. Isn’t it beautiful the way the Triune God is involved in this conception? Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

Mary was open and willing; even though no one would believe her story, she was willing to lay down her life, “Behold the Maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your Word.”

We get a glimpse of Mary’s heart in that she went to Elizabeth to help her out in her pregnancy; and we get a glimpse of the joy of John when he leaps in the womb at the presence of Jesus.

Mary’s song magnifies the Lord her Savior (v. 47) and shows her spiritual maturity at such a young age (most believe her to have been in her early teens). John’s birth followed by his father’s prophecy reveal the amazing work of God springing into action – salvation was on its way in the miraculous conception and birth of two little boys.

Luke 2

The prophet Micah had predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), but Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth. At just the right time the Emperor issued a decree that a census was to take place; all the world would be taxed, and every man was to participate in this by returning to his hometown. Joseph and Mary therefore traveled the 90 miles or so, and there, in a stable of all places, the Savior of the world was born.

So much of this story is just mind-boggling. Did God tell Caesar Augustus to have the world registered? I don’t believe we’re puppets on strings, but somehow God is able to orchestrate His perfect plan without violating our free will. Another thing I wonder is why God didn’t have reservations at the royal inn for the birth of His Son…when they arrived in Bethlehem there was no room for them in the inn. Had God dropped the ball in His celestial planning? Of course not, it’s all part of His plan and the way He has come in complete humility. (Imagine laying your child in a feeding trough!)

We have another example of God choosing the weak things of the world as He sends the angelic host to the shepherds who are in the field. Warren Wiersbe said, “In that day, shepherds were looked upon with disdain; but God singled them out to be the first human messengers of Messiah’s birth.”What wonderful words were relayed to them, Luke 2:10-11, “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”

We’ll read a couple of times how Mary kept these things (events) in her heart (19, 51) and this was no doubt how Luke gathered his information.

When Jesus was presented in the Temple some very amazing things took place. First of all we get a glimpse of the poverty of this family because of the fact that Joseph and Mary couldn’t afford a lamb; exceptions were given in the Levitical law for the poor, and she offered small birds instead.

While all this was taking place, there was a man named Simeon who was just and devout, and somehow God had revealed to him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah. So one day, the Holy Spirit tells him to go to the Temple, and sure enough on this day he saw Jesus and he knew, this was the One. I love the way He simply sees Jesus as “salvation,” (v. 30). Salvation all bundled up in this baby, salvation provided in this Person. Not a process, not a program…just a Person, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then there’s the prophetess Anna. She fits the description of widows who should be provided for by the church in 1 Timothy 5:5. She served God by being at the Temple praying and fasting, day and night. When she saw Jesus she had that insight, she knew who He was and gave thanks to God, spreading the word, the Redeemer had arrived.

This is all we know about Jesus until the age of 12…where He’s in the temple cognizant of His calling. Equipping Himself with the Word and bound to His Father’s business.

Luke 3

Luke did his research, and by naming the rulers of the day, we are able to get an accurate dating of the timeframe this took place, John the Baptist bursts onto the scene in the year AD 28. It all began because the Word of God came to him, and the message was one of repentance for the remission of sins. John could be found in the region around the Jordan, and the people came to him, to identify with his message by being baptized.

It’s interesting that the coming of this prophet was prophesied in the Old Testament book of Isaiah 40:3-5, he was a voice crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, the Christ, the King is on His way.

In those days whenever a king would come to or through your town, you would clean it up, you would fill the pot-holes, trim the trees that might be obstructing the path, anything that might get in the way was taken away, for the king was coming. John did his best to prepare the people for the coming of Christ, John didn’t know who it was, all he knew was that God had sent him to baptize and when the Messiah showed up, God would show him who it was because John would see the Spirit descend and remain upon this person (John 1:33).

John the Baptist was definitely not a man-pleaser with his message! Imagine addressing the leaders in the denomination as a “Brood of Vipers!” John didn’t hold back, he warned everyone to stop playing church and to stop trusting in their ancestry, if anyone is the real deal, it’s not by mere profession, it’s not by lip service, we must bear fruits worthy of repentance. Everyone needs to search their hearts, to ask that question, “Have I truly changed?”

Just as John gave the people specific things to look for in their own lives, I believe God will do the same for us. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s listen for the Divine details. Yes, we’re saved by faith, but where there’s true salvation, there will be true works. If the root is right, the fruit must follow.

It’s crazy how easily rumors start, and the people were wondering if John was the Christ. But he set them straight – “I’m not even worthy to untie His shoes. I baptize with water (big deal) but when the Christ comes, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire!” (big difference)

Just as a quick side-note, have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire? The Holy Spirit give you power for ministry, He gives you power over sin; when you’re under the influence of the Holy Spirit there’s a passion for God and the Christian life “flows” and glows with the glory of God. Even Jesus needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is what we see took place when He was baptized…while He prayed, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and His Father spoke of His love and approval for His Son. Jesus had emptied Himself of His Divine privileges (Philippians 2:5-8) never ceasing to be God, but choosing to be dependent upon the Spirit. What a perfect example He is for us. Luke closes the chapter with Jesus’ genealogy through Mary, as the perfect man He’s traced all the way back to Adam.

Luke 4

Before Jesus begins His public ministry, He is filled with and led by the Spirit – to spend some secluded time (40 days) with His Father – AND – to be tempted by the devil. It’s so awesome to see the way He prevailed in power, how Jesus overcame each temptation by quoting and standing on Scripture – He swung His sword, and we need to do the same.

In reading this chapter I’m deeply convicted and reminded of the importance of fasting. May the Spirit lead us. Why don’t we have that power over temptation? Power over the enemy, power to preach, teach, and heal like Jesus? Sometimes it’s simply because we’re not seeking God with all of our heart.

When Jesus was done defeating the devil, He wasn’t drained, He was empowered. The Word began to spread, and Jesus’ teaching ministry began. We have a sample sermon in His hometown of Nazareth. Jesus is handed the scroll of Isaiah, He opens up to chapter 61 (back then they didn’t have chapter and verse – but Jesus knew exactly where to find this prophecy – Isaiah 61:1-2a). Jesus reads it and simply says, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

I’ve always loved this prophecy because it describes such a beautiful ministry to the people. Jesus Christ, anointed by the Spirit, to preach the gospel to the humble, sent (here it is) to heal the brokenhearted. Do you have a broken heart? Let Jesus heal it! Our Lord brings liberty to the captives – and there are so many in chains, and slaves to all sorts of sin; Jesus sets us free! He helps us see; He lifts the oppression, all rooted in the fact that we are “accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6) Jesus came to preach the “acceptable year of the LORD.”We often speak of accepting the Lord, and there is a ring of truth to that, but primarily the Bible speaks of the Lord accepting us, as we believe in and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s interesting that Jesus stopped reading where He did, because the prophecy in Isaiah goes on to speak of God’s judgment – it speaks of His Second Coming – the Day of Vengeance.

Tragically the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus as the Messiah. It didn’t fit their feeble minds, they knew Joseph, Mary, and the rest of the family, so how could He be the Messiah? They refused to believe. And in the very beginning we begin to see what would develop in the end, how Jesus would (generally speaking) be rejected by the Jews and embraced by the Gentiles (there was Biblical precedence). When Jesus brings up this truth in the Old Testament, they try to kill Him. Isn’t it insane how quickly people can be moved by Satan himself?

Jesus goes on to the beautiful city of Capernaum, teaching, casting out demons, and the people took note, they were amazed and spread the Word. Nothing was too big and nothing too small. I love the way He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (yes Peter was married) and by the end of the day many were brought to Jesus who proceeded to heal them and defeat every demon. The next day He rose early to pray (see Mark 1:35) and received His marching order from His Father – time to teach in other towns.

Luke 5

Can you imagine how awesome Jesus’ teachings were? The multitude was so impressed, they pressed about Him to hear the Word, they’re crowded in, cornered Him against the sea; so Jesus is basically forced to hop in a boat, asks the owner, Simon Peter to float out a little, so that He sits down and shares the Word with the people who are standing on the shore. Pretty cool!

We don’t have the content of this message because the emphasis of Luke at this point is the calling of Peter. After the message Jesus asks Peter to launch out farther and let his nets down for a catch. At first Peter resists, after all, he’d been fishing all night and caught nothing (have you ever worked all night?). He must have been tired, frustrated, maybe even mad – and then to top it off – he’d already spent that time cleaning his net. But somehow this burly fisherman had a certain respect for Jesus, and even though this wasn’t the time to fish, he was willing to submit to Jesus’ Word (think there’s a lesson there?). When he did, the catch was so crazy that their boat (and their friend’s boat) started to sink! Peter immediately knew he was in the presence of holiness and suddenly his sinfulness overwhelmed him. He fell down before Jesus with those heartfelt words, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” It’s as if he was saying the last thing someone who’s as good as You wants to do, is hang out with me! But Jesus commanded Him, not to be afraid – and Jesus called Him into the ministry – from now on you will catch men. And all these sinful filthy fishermen, finally, left everything behind to follow Him. And what an adventure it would be; I’m sure they had never seen lepers cleansed, but Jesus loved the leper so much, that He not only healed him, He touched him, and immediately the leprosy left Him.

After that, the multitude came to Jesus from every direction, it was a ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing. Here we have the account where the house was so full, there was no more room for anyone else. Four men had brought their friend to Jesus, but they couldn’t get in. Bummer, closed doors, right? Wrong! They were so determined to bring their friend to Jesus that they carry him up to the top of the house, dig through the roof and ceiling, and let their friend down to Jesus. Wow! Talk about some good friends. Jesus, of course is impressed by their faith and forgives the man of his sin. The religious leaders were thinking in their hearts. “Blasphemy, only God can forgive sin!” They were right…Jesus knew their thoughts, forgave the man, and healed him to prove He was God.

First fishermen, then tax collectors? Yep, Jesus calls Matthew, the terrible tax collector, to follow Him. Matthew does the same thing the fishermen did, he leaves it all behind to follow Jesus. Matthew invites Jesus over for dinner and Jesus says yes. Of course the Religious establishment finds fault with this, which provides a great teaching opportunity for them and us, Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous (there are none) – He came to call sinners to repentance…when was the last time we ate with sinners?

The Pharisees didn’t want to see the positive, only the negative; settle down fellas, the time will come when My followers will fast – and you missed your chance to be saved and serve God – gotta find new wineskins for the new wine (covenant).

Luke 6

Jesus is just living His life, He’s being led by the Spirit. Some say He was picking fights with the Pharisees, and that may be true because these religious leaders were rotten to the core, but I just see Jesus living His life freely. One day His disciples were hungry, they plucked the heads of grain and ate a little, it was a quick and simple snack to tide them over…but the Pharisees had defined thatas work, and the Law forbade work on the Sabbath Day…so they questioned, even challenged Jesus.

This brings up a huge issue for us to consider together. I’d like to give the Pharisees the benefit of the doubt, that in the beginning, all they wanted to do was to obey God’s Word. The 4th of the 10 Commandments says that no work was to be done on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11) but the big question is, “What is work?” In order to answer this for everyone, the Pharisees, in their aspiration to be obedient, took the 10 commandments and created 613 commandments out of them – defining everything meticulously, including what work is. Their relationship with God was ruined with a slew of rules and regulations. This is what legalism does; it goes beyond the Word of God and adds human traditions, it imposes upon other people our own personal convictions.

Warren Wiersbe said this, “People who live only by ‘Is it lawful?’ cannot understand our Lord’s principle, ‘Is it loving?’ The scribes and Pharisees had transformed the Sabbath from a day of blessing into a day of bondage, and Jesus deliberately healed on the Sabbath so He could challenge them. It is always right to do good and to meet human need (Mic. 6:8), for love fulfills the law (Rom. 13:8–10).”

I’m always blown away that Jesus spent all night in prayer, before He chose His Apostles (6:12-16). Was He asking the Father which ones to choose? Was He praying for them? Or was He simply spending the night, quality time with His Dad?

The rest of Luke 6 is what we call the Sermon on the Plain. It’s very similar to the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 6-8. This is the closest thing we have to a “Christian Manifesto.” This is how the Christian life is found and to be lived. We’re pretty sure that Jesus would go from town to town and share similar, circuit teachings on true and Godly living – if anyone wanted to be His disciple.

It begins with the beatitudes, the secrets to blessings (20-23) that’s followed by warnings to consider and take to heart (24-26). A tree is known by its fruit and love is the most important one of all. If the root is right-and-real you will love your enemies, do good to them and pray for them. If you only love those who love you and are nice to you – how can you call yourself a Christian? That’s the typical behavior of a non-believer! We are to be gracious in our giving, we are to practice the Golden Rule (31) – IF we are children of God, doesn’t it make sense since we have His DNA? Love is how God’s world continues to spin, it should be the secret and highlight to ours as well. Verses 37-38 remind us, what goes around comes around. Verses 39-40 reveal that leaders must follow Jesus with open eyes and hearts, and wemust follow leaders who follow Jesus! If we want to help others, let’s take the plank out of our own eye – and if we call Jesus Lord and want to be blessed – then we can’t be posers, we must live a life of overall obedience.

Luke 7

Wouldn’t you like to bless and impress Jesus? Let’s learn from this Roman centurion, some details on how to do that. For one, he cared. Not every boss cares for his employees – this one did. Secondly, he was humble; the Jews approached Jesus trying to sell the fact that the Centurion was worthy of the blessing, worthy of the miracle – and he did have a decent resume. He loved the nation of Israel and even built them a Synagogue! But the Centurion didn’t think he was worthy. He didn’t go to Jesus for that reason, and when he heard that Jesus was coming to his house, he sent messengers with that message, “Lord, I’m not worthy for You to come to my house.” He was asking for Jesus to heal his servant – not because he was worthy, but in spite of the fact that he was not worthy. And then finally and perhaps most impressively is the way the Centurion believed. “But say the word, and my servant will be healed…” Do we know that all Jesus has to do is say the word? My prayer is that one day I can put a smile on my Savior’s face and maybe even make Him “Marvel” because I wholeheartedly believe in Him not only as Savior and Lord, but as the One with All Authority who is able to intervene with His simple word.

Have you ever noticed that during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He pretty much breaks up every funeral He ever comes across? Here’s another example of Him defeating death as He raises the widow’s son from the dead – all these signs proving that He is indeed the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

And then there’s John the Baptist. He’s been thrown in prison for making a stand for righteousness. He didn’t know that was part of the plan. He was thinking, like everyone else, that when the Messiah comes He would set up His kingdom, so doubts start to creep into his heart. John therefore sends some of his disciples to Jesus with a shocking question, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Wait a minute – John was the one saw the Spirit descend on Jesus, that was the entire purpose of his ministry to point people to Jesus, and He did that, he knew He was the One, but after sitting in prison for what he thinks is way too long, he starts to doubt. Jesus sends his disciples back to the Baptist with the testimony of His sermons and signs, and then that message in v. 23, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” As we go through the tough times in life; things we don’t understand, things that just aren’t fair, may it not offend us (cause us to stumble). This can happen to any of us; John the Baptist was in Prison, and even he was tempted to lose heart – and lose faith. We all go through things that we don’t/won’t understand – trust Him (Romans 8:28) and don’t be offended. Jesus’ reference to the least in the Kingdom of God being greater than John simply speaks of the fact that the old covenant has come to a close, and the new has begun. We (NT Christians) are in one sense greater, only because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we can enter into the Holiest of Holies, and we have the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

It’s so sad to see that people actually can and do, reject the will of God for their lives (v. 30). The woman was probably a prostitute, and Jesus forgave her of all her sin, it’s for that reason she loved the Lord and worshipped Him. Lesson? Let’s not lessen our sin – the more we realize how much He’s forgiven us, the more we will love Him!

Luke 8

As Jesus continues to minister, Luke mentions the lovely ladies that support Him in every way. Thank God for the girls! What a fascinating combination – a formerly demon-possessed Mary Magdalene serving side-by-side with Joanna the wife of a high-ranking government official! I see it in El Monte as well, even with the guys serving in security – a man formerly controlled by demons, who did both the crime and the time, serving side-by-side with the former police officer who used to arrest him.

The Parable of the Sower, the Seed, and the Soils teaches us the importance of the condition of the heart. When we hear God’s Word, does it fall on hard hearts? Shallow hearts? Crowded hearts? Or open hearts with good ground, soft soil, ready and willing to hear and obey?

You definitely need to make sure you don’t simply “…believe for a while…” (v. 13). Pastor Chuck Smith comments on this passage, “…in the case of the seeds sown on the rock, they do spring forth into life, and ‘believe for a while.’ But they ultimately fall away. Were they saved and then lost? I don’t know, but it is something to think about.”

Luke 6:16 brings to mind Matthew 5:16,“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”Don’t hide the light of the Lord, go out, let it out, let Jesus express Himself through you!

When we hear the Word of God we are warned in Luke 6:18 HOW we hear and over in Mark 4:24 we are warned about WHAT we hear.

Mark 3:21 tells us that Jesus’ family thought He was out of His mind, that they came to take Him home – this is why Jesus didn’t go to them. I’ve seen this constantly throughout my life as a Christian, people who consider the church brothers and sisters more family than their biological families.

Who can this be that even the wind and waves obey Him? God! (Psalm 65:7; 89:9 107:25-29) All that Jesus did, His words and works, His message and miracles, it all pointed to Who He was (John 5:36; 14:11)

Why was there such a commotion, such spiritual opposition on the lake? Because on the other side was a man with a legion of demons and Jesus was on His way to set Him free. Aren’t you puzzled by the way the people asked Jesus to leave (37). As a perfect gentleman He obliged…and He still does to this day.

Next is a woman who has had a flow of blood for 12 years and a little 12 year-old-girl who was dying. The woman knew, all she had to do was touch the hem of His garment. What an example for us! Sandy Adams said, “The crowds bumped into Jesus, but the woman He healed grabbed Him with the grip of faith. Blessings are received, not from incidental contact with God, but from deliberate grasps of faith.”

If only we would take to heart the simple words of Jesus, “Do not be afraid, only believe.” (v. 50).

Luke 9

I’m fascinated with the way Jesus gave the 12 disciples (including Judas) power and authority over ALL demons and to cure diseases. Do you believe that same power is available to us today? I do. When Jesus sent them out He gave them some principles for ministry, to trust God for provision, to be content with their quarters, and not to take it personally if the people don’t receive the message, just shake the dust off your feet because you don’t want any part of the judgment headed their way.

Herod was curious about Christ, He wanted to see Him perform, but he wasn’t genuinely interested to logically follow the signs of the Savior; it’s for that reason that when Jesus did see him He didn’t speak a word (Luke 23:8-9)

The feeding of the 5,000 men (plus women and children – Matthew 14:21) is recorded in all 4 Gospels, for God wants to make sure we see the majesty and deity of Christ. Can you imagine feeding that many people (maybe 15,000) with just 5 loaves and 2 fish?

There’s plenty of opinions about Jesus, but who do you say He is? Peter got it right when he identified Him as the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King.

Jesus predicts the cross a couple of times in this chapter (verses 21-22; 43-45) and even told them to let these words sink down inside of them, but they get it and were too afraid to ask.

The very first invitation sent forth from the lips of our Lord is take up our cross and follow Him. It’s death to my desires, my dreams, from now on it’s “no” to me and yes to Jesus. But that’s okay, I have a hunch that His desires, dreams and destiny for me are a lot better than my own. I just have to keep in mind that crucifixion can be extremely painful!

Once again Luke highlights the prayer life of our Lord; Jesus is praying in v. 18, and He prays again in v. 29, this time He’s altered as He prays. That’s what happens when we truly spend time with God – others will see the glory, the beauty as Peter, James, and John did. Peter’s funny isn’t he? He reminds me of me. He shouldn’t have said anything because he didn’t know what to say (Mark 9:6), and even after he spoke he didn’t know what he said. Have you ever heard that saying, “It’s better not to say anything and let people think you’re a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Peter wanted to build 3 tabernacles, but that thought should have never taken place. Moses and Elijah were there representing the Law and the Prophets, but they were not to be put on par with Jesus. It’s for that reason the Father spoke and said, “This is My beloved Son, hear Him.”

Earlier they had the power to cast out demons (all demons), why not this time? They lacked faith. In Matthew 17:21 Jesus said that certain demons require a life prepared with prayer and fasting.

Can you imagine the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest? And yet I sense that that’s the heart of so many of our problems, insecurities, and anxieties. We’re comparing ourselves with others, with the neighbors, with the church down the street. Nowhere does the Bible say that the greatest is the biggest, or the best looking, or the one with more authority, let’s just have a heart to serve – even the one who others might consider to be the least, or most insignificant.

There are only 2 types of people in the world – those who are for Jesus, and those who are against Him, there is no middle ground. We need to be careful that we don’t shun believers who don’t attend our church.

What an amazing work God did in James and John. Here they are wanting to call fire down from heaven upon the city of Samaria (Elijah style) (no wonder Jesus called them Sons of Thunder – Mark 3:17) but they eventually understood the compassion and grace of Christ. James would become the first Apostle to die a martyr and John would eventually be known as “John the Beloved.” The salvation of Samaria was always on God’s radar (Acts 1:8) and what a beautiful thing to see it eventually come to pass (Acts 8).

As this chapter closes, we see some principles of ministry. There very well may be financial, family, and “first-me” sacrifices to be made.

Luke 10

We continue to learn tons about ministry as Jesus sends the 70 out to go before Him in all the cities and places where He Himself was about to travel. The reality is, there’s always a great harvest to reap, but a lack of laborers – Jesus teaches us to pray for more laborers. Ministry (in one sense) is spiritually dangerous, we’re lambs among wolves, so we better stay close to our Shepherd. What an important lesson to learn in this life, where God guides, God provides, so I’m not dependent on my “money-bag” or knapsack, I’m dependent on my provider. We learn on mission’s trips to be content with our food and lodging, and we learn as preachers, that we’re not to be discouraged if they reject the message, it’s not us they’re rejecting, it’s the Lord. We’re to make the message of salvation and/or judgment clear, woe to those people who spit in the face of our Savior, who choose not to receive His love and righteousness…and some people are more accountable than others.

When the 70 return, they’re dazzled by the fact that they have power over demons – and it’s true, we do, but we’re not to focus on that, our joy must not be anchored to what appears to be ministry success, our joy must come from our salvation (Psalm 51:12). Warren Wiersbe touched on this, “When the disciples rejoiced over their successful ministry, Jesus told them to rejoice because they were the citizens of heaven. After all, their work might not always be successful; but their salvation would never change.”

If you know the Lord, I pray you’d know the absolute miracle it is; that this is God’s grace revealing Himself to us, to be able to see the things we see, and to think, by far, most of us are very, very simple folks (21-24).

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is such a heavy, heavy, teaching. The lawyer (scribe) asks Jesus about eternal life, and Jesus turns the question around by asking him what he saw when he read the Bible? The lawyer mentioned the 2 greatest commandments, to love God and to love others. Jesus’ response is, “Yes, that’s the evidence of a saved soul – love!” So the lawyer wanted to hone in on this, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor that I’m called to love?” And it’s here where the conviction hits hard. It’s the one who’s in need, the people God puts in your path, who are brought to your attention, even if it’s someone you have a beef with (the Jews hated the Samaritans and vice versa). So, God is calling us to love everyone, even the ones we might have an inclination to hate. Some think they’re good with God because they serve in the ministry, they’re very busy, too busy to help, like the priest and Levite, they just passed by on the other side, but Jesus teaches us – that’s not love! We are to love in a very practical, tangible, and sacrificial love in order to prove we have eternal life. Wiersbe said this, “It is not difficult to discuss neighborliness in the abstract, but it costs something to be a real neighbor. Do you pause to help when you see injustice and hurt, or like the priest and the Levite, do you look for an escape? You are never more Christlike than when you feel another’s hurt and seek to help.”

Martha is another example of being too busy. This time the love was not towards a neighbor, but towards God. We must make sure that we’re not so busily distracted serving God, that we neglect that time to just sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His Word.

Luke 11

Out of all the things the disciples could have asked Jesus to teach them (how to heal, how to cast out demons, how to preach, etc.) it’s interesting that they only asked Him to teach them how to pray. I’m sure they knew that the key to Jesus’ life – was His prayer life. That’s the key for me too…and it’s okay to ask the Lord to teach us to pray.

Jesus gave us what we usually refer to as the “Model Prayer.” Try praying each line (and then elaborating on it). Let’s be well aware of Who we’re talking to – our Father – in heaven. Let’s pray for His will; ask Him for bread for both body and soul. Let’s get serious about confession and ask for forgiveness – making sure we settle accounts by forgiving others also (please see Matthew 6:15). One of the most important parts of our prayer is to plead that we’re not led into temptation; we sometimes forget to pray this and for God to deliver us from the evil one. I bet our days would be very different (our liveswould be different) if we prayed the way Jesus taught us to.

Jesus then encourages us to pray persistently. Warren Wiersbe comments on verses 5-8,“God is a loving Father, not a grouchy neighbor; He gives us what we need. He neither slumbers nor sleeps; and He doesn’t become irritated when we ask for help (James 1:5).”Keep askingfor the Holy Spirit, keep seekingGod Himself (Jeremiah 29:11-13) and keep knockingon those doors for ministry opportunities (1 Corinthians 16:9; Revelation 3:8).

You would figure that the spiritual leaders would be infinitely grateful that Jesus demonstrated absolute power in casting out demons, but they weren’t. They accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the devil. How foolish they were. Even we realize that if Satan is fighting himself, he’s doomed. Any kingdom (or home for that matter) divided against itself, will eventually fall. Jesus spends some time elaborating on the fact that the Kingdom of God had come upon them – Jesus simply overpowered the enemy who has tragically taken many people captive. The only way to be completely protected from demonic possession is to be possessed by God – when we place our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, and God would never, ever, ever be roommates with the devil or his demons.

The Roman Catholic church has venerated Mary the mother of Jesus, but when a woman in the crowd tried to do that in the presence Christ, He straight-out rejected that mindset, and opened the opportunity for all to be blessed by simply hearing and keeping the Word of God.

Every generation is evil, but it’s still hard to contemplate the generation that rejected God when He came in the flesh, to be with us, to love us, and then eventually to save us by dying for us. An evil generation is looking for signs, when we’ve already been given the Sign of all signs, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-40). What an evil generation we see in the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (there are many warnings here for all of us). I need to read vs. 42-52 very, very carefully. Jesus issues some heavy warnings to the Scribes and Pharisees who thought they were working for God, when in all reality they were instruments in the hands of Satan. They were extremely religious, but they just were not real.

Luke 12

Jesus issues many warnings in this chapter – beginning with hypocrisy. My prayer: “Lord, please help me NOT to be a hypocrite. Please help me to remember that You see and hear everything. Please help me to remember that I will give an account for every idle word I’ve spoken…and the day may come when my ways and words are shouted from the housetops.”Just the very word turns my stomach, “Hypocrite!”

If only we could always have that healthy balance between the fear of God (yes there is a hell, and our Father does discipline) and the love of God (He cares so much that He died to save us and watch over us to the point that He numbers every single one of our hairs). Getting back to Hell and the Lake of Fire, Jesus reveals the key, which is to confess Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life. If you’re ashamed of Him now, in time, He will be ashamed of you then, in eternity, and that’s a very fearful thought.

Imagine this guy interrupting a sermon because he’s so desperate to get the money. Jesus’ teaching about money is radically different than the world’s teaching (v. 15)! When we start to accumulate too much stuff, it’s time to start giving it away, not building bigger barns or renting more storage. If our focus is only on earthly riches, which are temporary, we will lose out on those spiritual riches which are eternal. God knows our hearts, and usually we do too, by looking at the way we spend His money.

As Christians we really have no reason to worry, whatsoever! Warren Wiersbe said, “The word translated ‘worry’ (v. 22) means “to be pulled apart,” and that is what worry does to you.”Worry is a sin because Jesus commands us notto worry. My prayer: “Lord, You know, that I don’t worry too much about food and clothing, (although I may be preoccupied with these things), but I do worry about my family, I do worry about the flock; it seems as if there are always “issues” that somehow surface and I have a choice, I can melt in fear, or I can pray over it, ask You for wisdom, and surrender it to You. Lord, please help me to trust You.”

Am I really ready for the return of the Lord? He can come at any time, even today, but if He doesn’t…I won’t ever regret living with that genuine possibility permeating my every day.

Luke (again) goes back to the place of punishment for the wicked. The more a person knows but chooses to suppress the Scriptures, in disobedient unbelief, the more that person will suffer. Just as there are degrees of reward in heaven, there are also degrees of punishment in hell. Make peace with God before it’s too late (vs. 57-59).

Sometimes being a committed Christian creates divisions in families; don’t be surprised by this or let it make you stumble. Hold your ground, love them, but love Jesus more; let there be no rival thrones, and prayerfully one day they too will follow Him. Sadly, over the years I’ve seen many Christians “undone” by a family member’s unbelief.

Have you noticed the times we’re living in? It’s the Times of the Signs – we see them everywhere. The religious leaders missed His First Coming, and I have a hunch a lot of religious folk are gonna miss His Second Coming. “O Lord, help me to always be ready.”

Luke 13

I remember when the Twin Towers were hit by terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; it was a horrible tragedy where almost 3,000 people died and 6,000 were injured. Immediately there was a group of “Christian” people who began identifying these New Yorkers as the worst sinners, saying that this was the reason for the tragedy. I stay clear from such conclusions and playing God in the tragedies and calamities of life – and part of the reason, is because I know how much of a sinner I am! In verses 1-5 Jesus points us to this type of mindset, let’s not be too quick to judge others, but let’s be swift in judging ourselves (in reference to personal repentance).

The fig tree was symbolic of Israel. They’d been given ample time, but still no fruit. Justice comments by saying it should be cut down, or at least judged, but Jesus says, let’s give it some more time. What’s true for Israel is true for all of us. God is looking for fruit (see Galatians 5:22-23) if we’re not bearing fruit, God is gracious to give us more time, but let’s not take that lightly, because if we don’t bear good fruit, the discipline or wrath of God will hit hard. Such was the case for Israel in A.D. 70 when 1.1 million Jews died.

It’s hard to believe the heart the ruler of the Synagogue had. In Cambodia I’ve seen women bent over to such an extreme I just couldn’t handle it. If only I had the power to heal like Jesus. But this religious man had elevated tradition over truth, he cared more about the petty rules and regulations than he did about people. Jesus exhibited His power over the enemy and disgust for man-made religion, by healing the woman.

The parables of the Mustard Seed and Leaven both point to that part of the Kingdom of God (the invisible Spiritual realm) where the church grows in exponential fashion. The shrub grows to a tree so that it becomes so big, that the birds of the air (the enemy) rest in its branches, and leaven (a type of sin, false doctrine, and hypocrisy) permeates the people. They may have been a reference to the future church, the present state of Judaism, or both.

Luke 13:24 was one of the first passages I ever memorized as a Christian, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate…” Of course we know that salvation is a free gift, we could never, ever earn it with our own efforts, but we must make sure we know the Lord and we should strive (make great efforts) in other ways . We must strive to resist legalism and traditions of men that are contrary to truth; we must strive to fight our flesh that viciously pulls us to the left and to the right; we must strive to cultivate a truly personal relationship with God, to listen to His voice, to know Him more and more, to experience God so that there will never be a day when we say, I never knew Him and walk away. We must examine our lives to make sure there is full-on fruit in our lives, because if there isn’t, how can we say that we truly know Him?

Jesus lamenting over the way the people were not willing to come to Him, is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in all of Scripture (Luke 13:34). God wanted them to be saved, but they “were not willing.” God’s heart and desire is that none would perish (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9) but we are all free to choose. How about you? Do you see His love? Have you honestly decided to follow Jesus? I pray that you have.

Luke 14

The leader of the local synagogue invited Jesus over to his house for dinner – but the table was only a trap. There just happened to be a man with dropsy at this dinner, and they were watching Jesus like a hawk to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath. When I read those words, “…they watched Him closely,” I thought to myself, if only they watched Him closely for the right reasons, not to find fault but to find God, love, freedom and forgiveness.

But they had a law that said healing was prohibited to do on the Sabbath (please show me in the Bible where it says that). They lacked any and all compassion.

Pastor Chuck Smith said, “Dropsy was a fatal disease where the capillaries break and the fluids cause great swelling and sagging of the skin.” Jesus humbly asked them if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath – but no one responded. Jesus would go on to heal the man and tried to reason with the Jews regarding the value of human life, but they wouldn’t have it, they were set in their ways, hard-hearts, minds made up, bound by the traditions of men, rather than the truths of God.

Jesus noticed the way they all jockeyed for position and seats of prominence at the dinner, so He gave them (and us) that wonderful principle found repeatedly in the Scriptures, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”– Luke 14:11

Another interesting lesson at dinner-time has to do with the people we invite. We usually invite our family and close friends, people who typically would return the favor. But Jesus challenges us to take our hospitality a step further – invite people who in all reality will not be able to do the same. Invite the poor, the handicapped, someone who can’t afford to “pay you back.” We don’t do it for the reward, but the reality is, we will be repaid by God at the resurrection of the just (the Bema Seat judgment).

One of the attendees at the dinner spoke up about the heavenly feasts in the age to come, but Jesus spoke a parable about the general reality of the Jewish rejection of Jesus. There are some Jews who have embraced their Messiah, but generally speaking, they have rejected Him. And not just the Jews, what percentage of the population would you say is truly saved; who are true-blue believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus said in Matthew 7:14 that there are fewwho enter through that narrow gate. So many excuses regarding relations, ambitions, and possessions. Many of those people who assume they’re going to heaven are not – often times they don’t even go to church service, or have a heart to pray, or read the Word, or reach out. How can such people think they’re saved?

Of course, God’s heart is that all would be saved (2 Peter 3:9) so He tells the workers to go out into the highways and byways and do everything they can to bring people in, so God’s house would be full. This challenges us to reach out with much more of an urgency.

Jesus saw the crowds begin to grow, but did they understand the nature of the call? When Jesus bids us to follow Him, He bids us to come and die. Sometimes people think that being a Christian means that my life is going to be everything I want it to be – but that’s not what Jesus said. There are to be no rival thrones – our love for Christ is to be so supreme, that there are no comparable loves – anywhere else. Do we know the cost of discipleship? Are we willing to pay the price? When we follow Jesus like this, our life will be radically different, our life will be like salt on the earth – working as a preservative and creating thirst for Jesus in the lives of others.

Luke 15

Christians need to be careful to avoid two extremes. On one hand there are those who live in a Christian bubble. They only interact, do business with, and over time the only people they know, are those who are saved. How can we be a light to the dark, or salt on the earth, or fishers of men if we stay within our Christian bubble?

The other extreme is worldly trouble. Some Christians make the mistake of getting too close to the edge. In their attempt to win the lost they compromise and rather than pulling them “up”, their worldly friends pull them “down” (which is easier to do). Jesus told us in John 17 that we are to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s okay for the boat to be in the water, we just don’t want too much water in the boat (we’ll sink).

I love the fact that Jesus was friends with sinners. In Luke 14 Jesus ate with the “saints,” but in Luke 15 He ate with sinners – even tax collectors (they were considered the worst). I have to search my heart, “Do I only interact with Christians? What about all the lost and hurting people out there, am I afraid to ‘contaminate’ myself by getting too close?” May it never be, after all I’m the chief of all sinners! (1 Timothy 1:15)

How ugly the heart of a legalistic Pharisee and how contrary to God they are. Sandy Adams said, “The Pharisees looked down their noses at the sinners who Jesus loved. They lived to draw distinctions that would keep people out of the Kingdom. Jesus lived to build bridges that would woo them in.”

In Luke 15 we have three Parables. One way of looking at them is, the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.

Some would say that the shepherd is representative of Jesus, leaving the 99 sheep safe-and-sound to go looking for that one which has strayed.

The lost coin is a story of how the Holy Spirit searches diligently for the valuable drachma (silver coin) – for everyone is infinitely valuable to God and the Holy Spirit is gathering a bride for Christ.

The parable of the Prodigal Son, might more aptly be called, the Parable of the Forgiving Father. The younger son asks for his inheritance NOW! In that culture this would be a terrible thing to do, it’s as if he was saying to his dad, “You’re as good as dead to me.” But the father obliged, sold half his estate, gave his son the wealth, and his son swiftly traveled to the city and blew it all on prodigal (wasteful) living. In this parable the Father didn’t go looking for His son, He no-doubt prayed and waited (we must all be led by God). His son proceeded to eat, drink, and be merry, spending his father’s hard-earned money on girls and apparently even prostitutes. We don’t know how long it was, but eventually there was a famine in the land and the son sank so low, that he would have gladly eaten pig-food, if only he could. But then, he came to himself (v. 17). He decided to go home, reasoning within himself that he could at least be a servant. The parable reveals that our heavenly Father will forgive anyone who returns to Him, He will even run to them, embrace them, and celebrate any prodigal with a heart to come back…it brings joy in heaven, in the presence of the angels, in the heart of God and it should’ve brought joy to the religious leaders (the older brother) but tragically it didn’t – selfish self-righteousness will do that to you every time.

Luke 16

In the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus kills at least two birds with one stone. He calls us as Christians to be wiser than the people of the world. The tragic tendency is for the “sons of the world” to be shrewder than the “sons of the light” (v. 8) when it should be the other way around. The way they “do their thing” for their kingdom, we should be doing God’s “thing” for His. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:16?

I believe another point of the parable is the wise use of money. As Warren Wiersbe said, “God wants us to enjoy His gifts (1 Tim. 6:17), but He also wants us to employ them wisely.”God help us to invest in His kingdom. How we spend and “steward” God’s money says a lot about us! If we can’t be faithful in that which is least, how can God entrust more to us? Sandy Adams wrote, “Jesus warns us if a man cannot handle money do not trust him with your soul.” Money is a great temptation – the Pharisees were lovers of it (v. 14) but Jesus warns us that no one can serve both God and money (v. 13). Money in-and-of-itself is not sinful, but the love of money is (1 Timothy 6:10).

In verses 14-18 of this chapter, Jesus mentions a few things that may seem unrelated, but I have a hunch that all these things would be relatable for the Pharisees – and Jesus is working His way towards a heavy, heavy warning. The Pharisees were putting on a good show in front of everyone, but God knew what was REALLY going on in their hearts (15). They knew the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) but they wanted to ignore the fulfillment of it in Christ – and yet every single prophecy that points to Jesus would not fail; too bad they weren’t willing to enter into the kingdom of God through the Gospel, as others were (16-17). Like today, there were many unbiblical divorces taking place, and people thought they could just go on with their lives without any type of consequences to suffer, but Jesus reveals the fact that they were living in adultery because there wasn’t even a sliver of repentance (18; see also Malachi 2:13-16).

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus was not a parable because Jesus never used names in parables – so that means this is a true and detailed account of what actually happened in history. Lazarus was a poor, pitiful beggar, but he was also a believer. The Rich man was not only rich, he was rotten, and he rejected the Gospel. When they died, they went to two different holding tanks. In Old Testament times the afterlife was a duplex. One side was the compartment of the saved, (Abraham’s Bosom – Abraham is representative of faith) – the other side was hell, with a gulf between them that no one could cross. You notice that the rich man had all five senses intact – and he was burning in the flames. The rich man had no relief available! Realizing he was doomed to this destiny, He asked Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead, to warn his brothers assuming they would believe if someone came to them who had risen from the dead. Abraham said the Scriptures were sufficient, and even if someone rose from the dead, if they rejected the Scriptures, they would still not believe (and they don’t believe Jesus to this day. Jesus spoke more about hell then He did about heaven – and He died so that now we have a choice. Today (after the cross) it’s different, when we die as Christians, we are immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Luke 17

Because we live in a fallen-world where men and women have free will, offenses will come. But don’t be discouraged, God has a way of working everything out for good for those who humbly come to Him – AND – one day justice will take place for all the offenders. Jesus issues an especially heavy warning to those who cause the children to stumble. This includes people such as child-molesters, child-abusers, and really anyone who in any way would steer these children wrong and break them at young ages when they’re so innocent and vulnerable and their little hearts are being formed (v. 2).

In verses 3 and 4 Jesus gives us some very practical commands – that we are to be people who rebuke, people who repent, and people who forgive, even as we’ve been forgiven. Can you imagine, seven times in one day? But doesn’t God forgive us much, much more than that? For that reason, Sandy Adams said, “Be as generous with your forgiveness as God has been with His.”

The Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith – and Jesus essentially said, it’s not the quantity of faith we need to look to, it’s the quality. Warren Wiersbe said, “Faith is like a seed: it seems small and weak, but it has life in it; and if it is cultivated, it will grow and release power.”

Serving for the right reason is vitally important for us as Christians. In Verses 7-10 Jesus makes us check our hearts, do we serve for a pat on the back? No, we are to serve because it is our calling from Christ, our daily duty, the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. I don’t think Jesus’ illustration is teaching that God doesn’t care for His workers or even that God is ungrateful, He just wants us to truly serve with a servant’s heart.

Leprosy was a horrible and incurable disease back in those days; not only was it a slow death, it was a disease that made you an absolute outcast of society, you were banished not only from the Temple and religious life (considered ritually unclean) but you were banished from the general population, forced to live outside the city walls and to maintain a distance of at least 30 feet from folks. So, imagine being healed of leprosy. Ten lepers were healed but only one returned to express appropriate worship and gratitude. Hmmm, the percentage of grateful people haven’t changed much over the years. The grateful leper was not only healed physically, but also spiritually. Which is more important?

The kingdom of God is present now (in one sense) in that it is within us. I like to tell people that there’s a throne in our hearts and my prayer is that Jesus sits on that throne and rules over my life. But the kingdom of God will literally be present one day when the King returns. This whole season of the Son’s Second Coming begins with the Rapture of the Church – which can happen at any time. Are we really ready? People will be living life as usual, it will be a regular day and it’s ok and necessary to live life, as long as we’re simultaneously living for the Lord, “watching, waiting, and knowing that today may be the Day of Jesus’ return. This world will be judged, so whatever you do don’t look back at it with longing eyes, lest you end up as a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife.

Luke 18

A large portion of this chapter has to do with prayer. If there’s one thing in life the enemy does not want us to do is to pray. It’s been said that, “The Devil trembles when he sees even the weakest saint on his knees.” The parable of the widow and the unjust judge is a persistent prayer life. Keep praying friend, don’t lose heart. As Warren Wiersbe said, “If an unjust judge helps a poor widow, how much more will a loving Father meet the needs of His children?” But the question is, do we have faith? A healthy prayer life usually reveals a man or woman who honestly believes.

But when we pray, we must pray also in humility. We can’t go to God and tell Him how great we are, “O Lord, thank You that I’m not like all those ugly sinners our there!” Actually, we are – and we are all, always in need of God’s mercy. The Pharisee went home without his prayers even heard by God, while the Tax Collector when home in right relationship with God, imagine that. What happens at the end of your prayers?

Don’t you just love the children? We can learn so much from them, especially the way they just believe. That’s how we’re saved, just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with the faith of a child. In v. 17 Jesus issues a heavy warning, if we don’t have that childlike faith, we won’t go to heaven!

The Rich Young Ruler had everything this world has to offer, but he knew he was still missing something – big time. He also knew His need was somehow connected to Christ, so he comes to Him. His biggest problem was that he didn’t realize Jesus was God; therefore Jesus tried to make him think, to realize that – if Jesus was good (and He is – John 10:11) then He is God. If the Rich Young Ruler had realized the deity of Christ, he would have been a lot more likely to follow the Lord.

I like what Sandy Adams said about this fellow, “The Rich Young Ruler would have been made a deacon in most churches. He had all the right qualifications – manners, morals, even money. The one thing he lacked was a heart sold out to God.”And Pastor Chuck said this about the RYR, “He lacked having God at the center of his being. What was at the center of His being? His riches. Whatever it is in a person’s life that is keeping him from following Jesus Christ, that is the thing that the Lord will lay His finger on.”And unless he came to his senses down the road, the Rich Young Ruler lost the opportunity – not only of a lifetime, but all eternity. I’m reminded of the words of Jim Elliott who said, “No man is a fool to give up that which he cannot keep, in order to gain that which he cannot lose.” Peter and the guys had left all to follow the Lord, and they would be rewarded one day.

Jesus tried to give the guys a word about the cross and resurrection, but their carnality, hard-hearts, and preconceived ideas blinded their eyes.

Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46) is a perfect picture of praying persistently and in humility. In the Greek language the first cry is fairly normal. When the people tried to silence him, he cried (prayed) even louder. The second cry is the cry of an animal. Do we pray like that? Jesus is not too busy to answer our prayers, the only question is, are we praying earnestly? Please, have mercy on me Lord.

Luke 19

Zacchaeus must have been extremely vertically challenged (short). He can’t see Jesus because he unable to see over the crowd around Him. Apparently, Zacchaeus has heard a lot about the Lord, he has a longing in his heart to see Him, to maybe even meet Him, so He does something very unorthodox. He runs ahead, and climbs a tree, just to get a view of Jesus! When was the last time you saw a grown man climb a tree? Jesus sees beyond the sins of the sinner, He sees a hurting heart, a seeking heart, so Jesus invites Himself to STAY at Zacchaeus’ house. Verse 10 is illustrated in the way Jesus saved this little man who was a big sinner, “The Son of Man has come {this is why He came} to seek and save that which was lost.”

Zacchaeus is legit in his conversion – we know this because of his vow to give half of his goods to the poor, and to restore four-fold anyone he had cheated as a tax collector. This is important, because as Pastor Chuck said, “If God is working in your life, there will be a definite change.”And C.H. Spurgeon said, “A faith that does not change my behavior, will never change my destiny.”Is there a change in your life? I’m not referring to religious stuff, but any character change? If not, your salvation may not be legit.

The people were under the impression that Jesus was just about to set up His Kingdom, but that time had not yet come – so Jesus shares a parable to illustrate this. That for us, it wasn’t time to rule, it was time to work. The parable of the Minas teaches us that we have all been given responsibilities to work and invest in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus returns we will give an account of our stewardship. If you’re faithful with God’s work, you’ll be rewarded with more work. As William MacDonald said, “It is a fixed principle in the spiritual life that those who love Him and serve Him passionately are given ever-widening areas of opportunity.”Or William Barclay, “The reward of work well done is more work to do.”We must guard our hearts from playing it safe and “protecting” our minas, no, God wants us to invest it for His glory. I like the way Warren Wiersbe summarizes the parable, “There are three possible relationships with the King. You can reject His rule and be an enemy, but that leads to judgment. You can accept His rule and be unfaithful, but that leads to loss of reward. Or you can accept His rule, do His will faithfully, and receive His reward.”

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem was a fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-25. After the command to restore and build Jerusalem, which took place on March 14, 445BC – till the day the Messiah officially presented Himself to Israel, it had been 69 “weeks,” 69 7-year periods, 173,880 days, and that takes you all the way to April 6, 32AD, the very DayJesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9).

Jesus wept because although the crowds rejoiced, He knew their cumulative voice would turn against Him, and in 70AD the Roman General Titus would surround Jerusalem and kill over a million Jews. They had missed their “Day” (v. 42). Make no mistake about it, God weeps over lost sinners who reject His mercy and grace and choose justice instead, because we ALL deserve judgment.

Jesus cleansed the Temple; they had turned it into a money-making business and had forgotten that it was to be a place of prayer, teaching the Word, and seeking the lost.

Luke 20

When Jesus was in Jerusalem He would teach the people daily in the Temple (Matthew 26:55; Mark 14:49; Luke 19:47). Eventually the religious leaders had had enough, so they challenged Him and asked Him by what authority He was doing these things. He hadn’t “graduated from their universities,” He hadn’t been approved or ordained by them, He had none of their usual Rabbinical qualifications, and yet the people flocked to Him. We’ll see in the end that envy was the key they used to kill Him (Mark 15:10).

Jesus, however, turns the tables on them. Sometimes we think we can bury the past, but we can’t. Warren Wiersbe put it this way, “They had rejected the ministry of John the Baptist, and that led to their refusal to trust Jesus Christ. You may forget your decisions, but they will not forget you. You may even try to bury them, but they will be resurrected to accuse you.”They refused to acknowledge the authority of John the Baptist and they would do the same for Jesus, even though both were undeniably ordained by God.

The parable of the wicked vinedressers came as a warning. They had been blessed with a responsibility as leaders in Israel. God wanted this nation to bear fruit, to be a witness to the world, but the leaders got possessive and forgot that the people didn’t belong to them; this led them to rejecting the prophets of God and eventually killing the Son of God – so what was God to do? He would punish them and lease the vineyard to others. The religious leaders knew Jesus spoke this parable about them, so they reverted back to their usual way of dealing with these things – murder.

Imagine trying to trick or trap God! I’ve always loved the question about the taxes, because not only does Jesus get the victory, He does so with such doctrinal depth and beauty. The coin had Caesar’s image so give it to him, but we are created in the image of God and we are to render to God the things that are God’s – our lives and everything about them. (Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9)

The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, or angels, or spirits, they were materialists (Acts 23:8) so they came to Jesus with what they thought was a slam-dunk situation about a woman who had had seven different husbands in obedience to the Law of the levirate marriage, but they all died, so if there IS a resurrection, whose wife will she be in heaven? Jesus responded by saying they didn’t know the Scriptures of the power of God (Matthew 22:29) that in heaven there is no marriage. There are some religions out there who teach that there is such a thing as celestial marriage; the Mormons teach that a man can become a god and father children on a new planet. The Muslims teach that a man who dies as a jihadist will go to seventh heaven and have 70 virgins to have sex with in the after-life. But the Bible says that there will be no sexual intimacy in heaven and no more repopulation taking place. That doesn’t mean that my wife Shelly and I can’t be best-friends in heaven, it’s just not marriage.

Jesus then stumps them with a question out of Psalm 110 which was clearly a Messianic Psalm. If David calls the Messiah Lord, how can the Messiah merely be his descendant? They had no answer. The truth is, King David had prophesied that the coming King was God!

Luke 21

It’s interesting that Jesus was watching as the people were giving in the Temple. God sees the way we give (Acts 10:4). Mark tells us, in his account, that the “rich put in much” (Mark 12:41-44) but it wasn’t impressive to God for we learn from Jesus that it’s not the portion, it’s the proportion we give. God takes into account the sacrifice not the sum; God sees not merely the amount we give, but the amount we have left over. The Widow gave only two mites, but she gave more than all the wealthy donors because she gave everything she had.

As they were leaving the Temple the disciples commented on the beauty of it, but again, God’s not impressed. As a matter of fact, Jesus told the guys (and us) that the day was coming, when not one stone would be left upon another. Now this was an amazing prophecy considering the fact that this Temple (beautified by Herod) was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Some of the stones were 20 feet tall and 40 feet wide; they were all cut perfectly, at a separate site, then transported and joined together, just so, so that there would be no mortar, no cement, no super-glue necessary to keepthem together. One stone recently excavated in Jerusalem was found to weigh 400 tons. Think about that, a modern-day crane can barely handle 5 tons…how did they do it? The gates were 130 feet high and made of pure brass. The temple itself stood 90 feet high. Josephus the historian said the temple was so magnificent that it was visible from 30 miles away. The gold was everywhere – as a matter of fact, they say the value of the gold in current currency – would have been – a trillion dollars!

Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple and the disciples proceed to ask 3 questions as described in Matthew 24:3, “Tell us, when will these things be? (about the Temple); What will be the sign of Your coming? And also, the signs of the end of the age?”

In looking at the signs, what we find is that they’re like birth pangs, that all these signs are increasing in frequency and intensity. God is letting us know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He’s almost here. Many teachers see the parable of the fig tree as the sign of Israel becoming a nation again, which took place in 1948 – what an amazing miracle we’re reminded of daily!

Prophecy is intended to purify our lives. How easily we fall prey into living life obliviously, carelessly, foolishly forgetting that Jesus can come at any time. We can get “weighed down” with a life focused on the cares of THIS life, and completely forgetting the life to come. Can’t help but think of Hebrews 12:1-2.

Luke 22

The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead. Judas had gone sour, south, and eventually to Satan. Imagine how horrible it was – that Satan “entered” Judas. God help us to never, ever dance or make deals with the Devil. Judas and the religious leaders agreed to have Jesus arrested “in the absence of the multitude.”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread culminated in the Passover. Isn’t the picture of the Passover Lamb absolutely amazing? This is why Jesus so deeply desired to eat this particular meal with them, it would be His last before He accomplished His mission of the cross and resurrection and celebrates with them in glory.

Communion and baptism are the only “institutions” Jesus has given to us as a church. Baptism is to be done once, when we’re old enough to clearly understand what it signifies, but communion is to be done frequently, in remembrance of Him, the bread symbolizes His broken body on the cross; the cup signifies His shed blood that washes away our sins. We should partake of communion frequently.

While the Creator of the universe is preparing His heart to stoop to the lowest place in that universe, isn’t it ludicrous that the disciples are arguing about who will be the greatest? Sounds a little like us, huh? Jesus tries so hard to teach us that the greatest is not the president or the pastor who’s over everyone; no, the greatest is the one willing to be the servant of all. Lord, please help me to have that heart.

Satan had been asking for Peter; it’s interesting that Satan needs permission even to tempt us. God gave him that permission, but God also prayed for Peter and the Lord knew the journey that would be ahead, Peter would fall, but he would also get back up, and through the prayers and encouraging words of Jesus – by the power of the Holy Spirit Who arrived on the Day of Pentecost – Peter would do just that.

In verses 35-38 Jesus teaches us that God had proven to them that ultimately, He was the provider and protector. Now, with that in our hearts He instructs the guys that we are not to test God on that; go ahead and make sure you have enough funds and the necessary protection you need for life and ministry.

Jesus prayed so hard that He experienced hematidrosis, a medical condition that takes place under extreme stress, when the blood enters into and out of the sweat pores. Sadly, while Jesus was praying the guys were not watching, they were sleeping. How many times have I fallen because I didn’t pray as I should have?

The whole story is a bit of a contrast between Peter and Judas. Judas kisses Jesus, Peter would deny Jesus. But time is the test of all things. Even though Peter did indeed deny the Lord, he truly learned his lesson, repented, was restored and in the end was a friend. Thank God for Jesus’ look of love (61) and the way He reached out to Peter to the very end (John 21). Judas ultimately went down as the Son of Perdition.

Jesus faced the Sanhedrin and spoke truth. He IS the Christ, the Son of God, He would be seated there in that place of power – and they killed Him for telling the truth.

Luke 23

The Jews did not have the authority to legally execute a criminal, so they bring Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, with false accusations. Pilate examined Jesus and not only found nothing deserving of death, he found no fault in Christ (v. 4). But the people pushed him.

When Pilate heard of Jesus’ connection to Galilee, he thought he could avoid having to make a decision, and sent Jesus to Herod, for Galilee was under his jurisdiction. Herod, was glad to see Jesus for he had heard many things about Him and wanted Him to perform, but Jesus did-and-spoke absolutely nothing for Herod. What a terrible place to be, so bad and beyond hope that God Himself no longer speaks to you! “Such a man has fallen pretty deep into sin when he gets to the point where Jesus has nothing to say to him.” – Pastor Chuck Smith

Jesus was then returned to Pilate, who caved and crumbled under the pressure of the crowd. Pilate knew full well that Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, but he made the final decision to crucify and Him and delivered Him to their will (V. 25). So Pilate ended up condemning an innocent man, releasing a guilty man, and making friends with a wicked man (v. 12) all in a day’s work. So much for Roman justice.

As Jesus is on His way to Calvary, having been beaten to a pulp by the Jewish guards and Roman soldiers; He’d been scourged and crowned with thorns, pain and blood everywhere, the ladies see Him and weep. But Jesus’ concern is not for Himself, it’s for them and the suffering they would endure. We’ll see as we go through this chapter that this act of love (Romans 5:8) is one wherein God thought only of others, His bride, the people He would save. This is the heart of Christ! Not at all interested in a sliver of sympathy, only, and solely, constantly consumed, with the welfare of others!

And there they crucified Him, driving the nails into His hands and feet, lifting Him up on the cross for all to see – God-Most-High, humiliated for all to see. His heart was all about forgiveness, wasn’t it? (v. 34) I find myself challenged in forgiving those who have wronged me in any way, but I’m inspired by Jesus who immediately forgives those who crucified Him. Shouldn’t we do the same? (Ephesians 4:32)

They were constantly tempting Him to save Himself (v. 35, 37, 39). “If You are the Christ, if You are the King of the Jews.” The Elders, the soldiers, the criminal and yet if He had chosen to save Himself, He would not have been able to save us. The thief on the cross, saw the love next to Him, He asked Jesus to remember Him when He arrived in heaven, and right there in that moment of time, he was saved. How simple, salvation, how simple the Gospel; the trust that takes place in the heart; the power of Jesus’ blood, able to save the worst sinner…a man who may have lived what can be described as a LIFE of sin – saved in a moment of time. What a wonderful promise! You will be with Me! (Luke 23:43; John 14:3).

Jesus’ loud cry was “it is finished” (debt paid in full) and the veil of separation between us and God was torn in two from top to bottom. Now in Christ, we can all enter in (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus was then laid in a borrowed grave, but only for the weekend.

Luke 24

These lovely ladies travel to the tomb in order to finish the job and give the Lord Jesus a proper burial – they planned to anoint His body with spices. Initially they were unsure how they would move the 2-ton stone that covered the tomb, but when they arrived, they found the stone rolled away. This allowed them to enter in and see – Jesus’ body wasn’t there. They were bewildered – what happened? Just then an angel explains everything, Jesus is not there, He has risen from the dead, just as He had said He would (if only, we’d listen)! After their memory was jogged, they then jogged (ran) to the eleven Apostles and told these things to them. The Apostles didn’t believe, but Peter and John did go down and check – confirmation the tomb was indeed empty…but an empty tomb is not enough, neither is the testimony of the ladies, maybe they were lying or hallucinating when they said that an angel had appeared and spoken to them.

That same day there were a couple of disciples on the road to Emmaus – they were discussing all of this, at which point Jesus Himself joins them. They can’t recognize Him because prior to seeing Him rise physically, God wants them to see Him rise Scripturally – so the conversation begins. I found it fascinating that they were disappointed with the work of Jesus explaining that fact that they were hoping it was He who was going to “redeem” Israel (v. 21). Like everyone else, they were only thinking about the physical, the temporal, the here-and-now political kind of redemption, when in all reality Jesus HAD redeemed them. He paid the price, He bought them back from Satan with the ransom of His blood. Isn’t it awesome how Jesus rebukes them in verses 25-26 and then proceeds to explain to them in verse 27 the many, many prophecies in the Old Testament – how the Messiah had to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead. Can you imagine what an amazing Bible study that must have been! There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming.

After the 7-mile walk comes to an end, they invited Jesus to stay with them for more fellowship, to break bread, to go deeper (that’s always a good thing to do). As Jesus prays for the meal, suddenly their eyes are opened, and they realize, this is Him – at which point He vanishes from their sight – mission accomplished. They talk amongst themselves, “Did your heart burn? Yes, my heart was exploding with joy when He talked with us on the road opening the Scriptures to us!” When that truly happens, you can’t keep it to yourselves, so the two disciples do something crazy (especially at night) they go back to Jerusalem, they make the 7-mile journey in order to tell everyone that they had seen the risen Lord. When God opens the Bible, and opens your heart, and opens your eyes, He will also open your mouth – it’s time to testify. Later Jesus would do the same thing with His disciples – He would appear to them and open their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures (v. 45).

Jesus appeared to His disciples – bodily – He even ate with them. The Bible had predicted the resurrection of the Messiah (Psalm 16:10) and it makes perfect sense to follow the One who conquered the coffin, gutted the grave, and defeated death. This is the only “sign” we will ever need, the risen Lord (see Matthew 12:39-40; 16:4; Luke 11:29-30; John 2:18-22). The cross is the payment for our sins and the resurrection is the receipt! All we need to do now is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, be empowered by the Spirit, and go out into the world and spread the Word! What do you say?

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…

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