Luke 24

Vs. 6, “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.”  A most comforting message to the faithful women who came to honor the body of Jesus after the Sabbath Day (vs. 1-12).  In a world that seems to be male dominated, the first witnesses of Jesus’ victory over death would be women!  We take for granted the Resurrection, but for everyone at that time, it was inconceivable that Jesus could have resurrected on His own.  The Road to Emmaus (vs. 13-35) is an account unique to Luke’s Gospel and grants us incredible details!  The two men (one named Cleopas) are traveling back home after the traumatic events of the Cross.  Jesus’ appearance to them serves the purpose of informing all of us that these events were not happenchance, but planned by God (vs. 25-27).  As the disciples converge to share their testimonies that Jesus is risen, Jesus Himself appears (vs. 36-53).  It is a shocking time of the disciples and Jesus ensures that He is not coming back as a spirit, but in flesh for He asks to eat something (vs. 40-43). Their obedient witness continues to this day as we remember Jesus words.

Regarding application…Open Our Minds.  Vs. 45, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”  Notice it was Jesus who opened their minds to the Scriptures.  This is a perfect example of why the writer of Hebrews tell us that the Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12).  The disciples grew up learning scripture and even spent over three years with Jesus, yet there was still more for them to learn from Scripture.  That’s what is so amazing about reading God’s word daily!  There is a sense of awe and excitement we should have because God’s word is not words put on paper.  God can transform these words of Scripture and open our minds to His good and perfect will!  Take time today to open your mind and heart to remember how we can bear witness of Jesus in our lives!

Luke 23

Vs. 46, “Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”  Jesus’ commitment to the cross is something I don’t know if I’ll ever understand.  The trials (vs. 1-25) in the morning were a mockery of justice.  Three times Pilate announced Jesus innocent, yet did not have the courage to stand against the angry mob.  Pilate even sent Jesus to Herod (vs. 6-12), but Jesus would not respond to the man who had John the Baptist beheaded.  Because it was customary to release one prisoner at Passover, Pilate thought surely they would choose Jesus over Barabbas (vs. 13-25).  But, the prophecy of the Lamb of God who was to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29) needed to come to pass.  Due to Jesus’ intense beatings, He was unable to carry the cross on His own (vs. 26).  Yet, in Jesus’ suffering, He was thinking of others (vs. 27-31).  We see a stark contrast between the two thieves who hung with Jesus (vs. 32-43).  And lastly, we see the sacrifice that Joseph of Arimathea (vs. 50-56) did for Jesus with the help of Nicodemus (John 19:38) and the women.

Regarding application…Forgiveness.  Vs. 34, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”  Question: What is forgiveness?  Forgiveness is extending a pardon.   It is paying a debt that is owed.   Question: If God forgives sin, why is there Hell?  If a person defiantly sins without remorse and does not accept the Gospel, they are essentially rejecting the forgiveness extended from the Cross and Resurrection.  It is a mystery to even begin grasping the love of Christ (Romans 8).  Yet, it is also a mystery to me why people would not accept forgiveness from the Lord.  Take time today to thank the Lord for this gift that we tend to take for granted.

Luke 22

Vs. 3, “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.”  What an ominous statement!  I can imagine all the fallen angels ghoulishly clapping with glee.  One thing that sticks out in this chapter is that Jesus is completely in control of the events that will transpire over the next twenty-four hours.  The chief priests and officers of the temple guard surely believed it was game over for Jesus (vs. 1-6).  However, having just encouraged His disciples to not lose heart in our previous chapter, Jesus carries on with His mission to save the world!  The Last Supper (vs. 7-20) is Jesus’ opportunity to honor the Passover meal and introduce the foundation for the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11:17-34).  We are given much insight to the conversation that evening after the supper (vs. 21-38).  To the disciples shock, Jesus informs them there is a betrayer in their midst (vs. 21-23).  Somehow, the speculation on whom it might be transited to who was the greatest (vs. 24-30).  Jesus also would shock them again by stating that Peter (their verbal leader) would be the one to deny Christ three times before the rooster crows (vs. 31-38).  We now change venues as Jesus and the disciples arrive at the Mount of Olives to pray (vs. 39-46).  It is a poignant scene of total dependence and anguish where we see Jesus crying out to God!  Judas now comes back to Jesus, only this time with an entourage of soldiers, chief priests and elders (vs. 47-53).  Upon being arrested, we sadly see the prophecies of Jesus come true in Peter disowning Him (vs. 54-62).  Yet there is silver lining in this failure, for Jesus would forgive and restore Peter (John 21).  And lastly, we begin to see the horrific injustice done upon our Lord and Savior (vs. 63-71).

Regarding application…It’s Not About Me.  Vs. 42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  I want us to chew on this application.  We grow up in our churches declaring the wonderful loving attributes of our God, and rightly so!  Certainly God loves us and Jesus is that demonstration of love on the cross.  We know this by our minds and our hearts.  Yet, Jesus would remind us that we too must take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  Our loving Father will ask us to do things that we don’t want to do.  Question: Did you get that?  I’m not talking about mundane things like getting good grades, finding a good career, and being a good example to others.  God will ask you to do things in your life that are not only unpleasant, but outright ridiculous.  Leave your comfortable life and live by faith, be faithful in church even when others are not, don’t conform to the pattern of this world, be willing to die to yourself so that Christ may live, etc.  Until we can begin understanding the heart of Jesus’ prayer, we too will be like the scattered disciples that night in the garden.  I pray you would soberly take time to reflect upon Jesus’ fateful night.  There are times in life for every type of emotion, but that night in the garden was a time for anguish and faith that can only come from above.

Luke 21

Vs. 5, “Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said.”  Before we address Jesus’ response to the awe the disciples had at the temple, we are reminded of the humble attitude the poor widow had as she offered two small copper coins (vs. 1-4).  This is a wonderful reminder that nothing is insignificant when it comes to giving to the Lord.  It seemed impossible to the disciples that such a beautiful structure like the temple could be destroyed (vs. 5-28).  These comments by the disciples give Jesus the chance to speak of signs that are to come regarding trials and tribulations.  The Gospels of Matthew and Mark also give another vantage point of this discussion.  Jesus words of warning and destruction to come are both relevant to the audience at that time (fall of Jerusalem 70 AD) and applies to the events tied to the book of Revelation.  To illustrate this, Jesus shares a parable about the fig tree and other trees (vs.  29-31).  We know summer is coming as the budding of the trees begins.  Likewise, the Lord has given us warnings and signs to see He is coming soon.

Regarding application…Watchful Prayer.  Vs. 36, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Question: What should our response be?  Whether Jesus comes back in our lifetime or not, it is the responsibility of every believer in all ages to watch and pray.  Jesus reminds us that the troubles of this world can weigh us down (vs. 34).  Question: Is there anything weighing you down?  Jesus of all people could relate to such weight, for He would soon take the weight of all of our sins!  Take time today to lay whatever it is that is causing you anxiety or worry and bring it to Jesus.  Know that the Lord is faithful and true.

Luke 20

Vs. 2, “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”  The Jews had relished the authority they exercised under the Mosaic Law, so they confidently come to challenge Jesus’ authority (vs. 1-8).  However, Jesus wisely looks past their disrespectful tone and turns their question to his own question for them regarding John the Baptist.  Jesus goes on to share with the Jews the Parable of the Tenants (vs. 9-19) in which He utilities the vineyard as a picture of Israel.  In this parable, Jesus exposes the Jews for they were the tenants who beat the servants and even killed the owner’s son.  Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22 (vs. 17) which was a Messianic psalm and the Jews were infuriated because they knew this Parable was exposing them.  The Jewish leaders continue to plot and devise a plan they are sure will work.  They will challenge Jesus with questioning whether it is right for Jews to pay taxes to Caesar (vs. 20-26).  If Jesus supports Rome, they can question Jesus’ allegiance to Israel.  If Jesus supports the Jews, they can bring Rome upon Him.  Jesus masterfully answers their trap (vs. 25).  Now the Sadducees also come with their own challenge as they question Jesus on resurrection and marriage (vs. 27-40).  It’s important to note that the Sadducees only believed the first five books (Pentateuch) and did not believe in angels, spirits, and the resurrection of the dead.  Their hypothetical question is nearly absurd as the oldest brother of seven marries and dies.  Due to the levirate law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10), the next brother in line marries the woman.  However, in their hypothetical, she ends up marrying each of the seven brothers because each one dies early.  When the supposed resurrection comes (since they did believe this either) who is she married to?  But, Jesus points out that the eternal life will not be like our temporary life on earth.  Jesus now directs a question to them about Christ being the son of David, yet David calling Christ the Lord (vs. 41-44).  The question challenged their knowledge of Scripture for in it they had to admit that the Christ was both God and man at the same time.  Lastly, Jesus warns His disciples (vs. 45-47) of the errors of the teachers of the law.

Regarding application…Stern Warning.  Vs. 46, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.”  This was a stern warning indeed, for these men would seemingly win as their plot to have Jesus killed succeeded.  The disciples grew up all their lives respecting such men with their knowledge and titles.  It was time for them to have a paradigm shift in their thinking.  Question: Who are our teachers of the law today?  Certainly, I’m reminded of Jesus warning that false prophets will come like sheep, but they are really wolves (Matthew 7:15).  Brothers and sisters, not only are their false religions, but there are false teachings even in the church.  The more you know God’s word, the better you will be equipped to have a discerning heart and mind.  Let us exercise our freedom in Christ with knowing God’s word!  Happy 4th of July!

Luke 19

Vs. 10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”  This was Jesus’ response to Zacchaeus the tax collector after seeing his repentant heart (vs. 1-10).  We are reminded that ironically it was Jesus who really sought Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus’ heart was ready and upon meeting Jesus, he went from lost to saved in an instant!  The Parable of the Ten Minas (vs. 11-27) illustrates Jesus’ response to those who believed that the kingdom of God would be fulfilled in its entirety immediately.  The Parable of Minas (Pounds) is different than the Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14-3) for here there are ten servants and each are given the same amount.  Question: Why was the one servant unfaithful?  His heart and attitude toward the king was distorted.  We live in a time where we too are awaiting the return of our King.  We now begin the last week of Jesus’ life as we see the triumphant entry into Jerusalem (vs. 28-40).   Jesus was fulfilling prophecy (Zechariah 9:9), but sadly the people did not realize that the cross would come before the ultimate triumph.  It’s no coincidence that Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem on Passover, and Jesus would be the Passover lamb.  We see a beautiful example of Jesus’ love for Israel as He wept over them (vs. 41-44).  And lastly, we are reminded how Jesus spent His last few days clearing the temple (vs. 45-48) and teaching there.

Regarding application…Right Perspective of God.  Vs. 21, “I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.”  This is a response of a person who did not know the master’s heart.  Question: Do you know God?  The servant did not trust the master.  The servant did not feel like he owed anything to the master.  I can imagine that Judas Iscariot would have been a perfect example in this.  He called himself a servant, but did not really know Jesus or love Him.  We must be careful not to allow our perspective of God be based on our own understanding of other relationships in our lives.  For example, people who have distant fathers have a struggle understanding the love and grace of our Heavenly Father.  Take time to consider your perspective of the Lord in your life.  Let us respond not out of works, but with an overflowing love.

Luke 18

Vs. 1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  The Parable of the Persistent Widow (vs. 1-8) continues to illustrate what we should be doing while we wait upon the Lord’s return.  Question: What does this most interesting parable teach us?  Because God is just, we should seek to have an enduring faith.  The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (vs. 9-14) is a stark contrast between the two types of attitudes we have towards prayer, others, and ourselves.  Question: Which one are you?  Jesus uses this opportunity of teaching humility by using the babies and children as true examples (vs. 15-17).  Children and babies are completely dependent on their parents, and we should be dependent upon our Father in heaven.  The encounter with the rich (young) ruler (vs. 18-30) was also recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 19.  Indeed, it is a sad result, for this rich man’s love of what the world offers is microcosm of how people generally respond to the Gospel.  But be rest assured, the treasures and hope of heaven are far more than what the world offers.   Though the disciples did not understand Jesus’ road to the cross (vs. 31-34), they would see that Jesus lived what He taught.  And lastly, we see a wonderful miracle of a blind man receiving his sight (vs. 35-43).  The Gospel of Matthew mentions there were two.  What a contrast response from the rich ruler to the blind beggers!

Regarding application…Pride vs. Humility.  Vs. 14, “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Question: If pride and humility were people in a boxing match, who is winning the rounds so far?  Pride has humility against the ropes.  Pride is seeming to get all the cheers.  But humility has the right trainer in its corner.  And when the final round begins, the knockout punch is going to be delivered!  Question: Which side are you on?  Take time today to consider if there is some pride that needs to be trimmed off of your life.

Luke 17

Vs. 5, “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  As Jesus and the disciples were making their way to Jerusalem, He took the time to teach them many things.  In our passage today, Jesus expounds upon practical things of discipleship (vs. 1-10).  It is one thing to stumble in our own sin, but we must be very cautious about causing others to sin (vs. 1-2).   But, Jesus is quick to point out that if we are wronged because of such things, we should always forgive (vs. 3-4).  It takes faith to let go of sin and forgive (vs. 5-6).  As a servant obeys his master in all things, how much more should we obey Jesus (vs. 7-10)?  We are then given a surprise story of ten healed; yet only one would return and he was a Samaritan (vs. 11-19).  And lastly, Jesus answers a question posed by the Pharisees regarding when the Kingdom of God is coming (vs. 20-37).  Jesus gives the Pharisees a short answer, but expounds directly to His disciples.  Jesus reminds us that the most important thing is to be prepared, for we won’t know when He will come back.

Regarding application…Are You Thankful?  Vs. 18, “Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  I was reading an article online today that addressed how most people are not happy in their jobs.  “Working for the man” and the grind of weekly work can take its toll on people.  There is always the danger of taking our lives for granted.  This Samaritan leper is humbling reminder of having a thankful heart.  Notice that the other nine who also had leprosy did not return to give thanks.  Question: Are you a thankful person?  This is a convicting question.  As we get ready to celebrate 4th of July, it should remind us to be thankful for the freedoms we have been given by those who have died for us.  Perhaps some of you saw the tragedy of 19 firemen in Arizona who lost their lives protecting people’s homes and lives.  Let’s not just be thankful in times of tragedy and loss, but make it a habit of being thankful daily!

Luke 16

Vs. 13, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Luke now directs his attention in this chapter to Jesus’ teaching on the issue of money.  The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (vs. 1-15) is a difficult one to understand.  Jesus had just finished contrasting the prodigal son who wasted his wealth to the frugal son who saved his wealth (Luke 15).  Now, we see Jesus share a parable how to responsibly use money.  There are two main ways; the manager was dishonest, but shrewd or the manager was previously dishonest and now is cutting his own commission.  As believers, we are to use wealth (vs. 9) for the growing of His kingdom (tithe, offerings, etc.)  In the end, we must make a definitive choice to put God first over money (easier said than done).  Because the Pharisees were listening in, Jesus directs the next few comments directly to them (vs. 14-18) before sharing another example of the danger of money (vs. 19-31).  I say example with Lazarus and the rich man because nowhere are we explicitly told this is a parable.  This is a striking story of what happens when we make riches and the love of money our God.

Regarding application…Unbelief to Faith.  Vs. 31, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”  No amount of evidence or miracles will ever turn an unbelieving heart to faith. Such a leap from the chasm of death to life can only be done by a leap of faith.  The rich man still foolishly thought that if someone would rise from the dead, this would turn his five brothers to faith.  Brothers and sisters, while taking the time to show the archeological proof of Jesus is beneficial, that will not turn a person to faith.  As great as apologetics can be to help defend the faith, again this will not turn a person to faith.  Our part is to pray and love people with the Jesus’ love.

Luke 15

Vs. 2, “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Sadly, the Pharisee’s didn’t realize that they were the “sinners.”  Jesus goes on to share with us three very powerful parables about the lost.  People have different views on how God approaches His relationship with His creation.  In the examples of the sheep and coin (vs. 1-10), we see God making the assertive effort to find the lost.  In the prodigal son, we see the son making the effort to turn back to the Father.  It is important to note that in all three: sheep, coin, son, we understand how valuable they are to God.  Each of us have high value when it comes to how God sees us!

Regarding application…When God Ran.  Vs. 20, “So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  Phillips, Craig & Dean wrote and sang this very powerful song called “When God Ran”!  This story of the prodigal son cuts deep into my heart.  In a time where families all over the world struggle with relationships and absent Fathers, we are poignantly reminded of the Father’s love.  There are lessons to be learned in the response of the younger son and the older son, but the parable really is about the Father.