Thursday, February 28, 2013

Luke 14 - Sabbath Healing, All Invited to God's Feast, and the Cost of Discipleship

LINK: Luke 14

BACKGROUND

155. Jesus heals a man with swollen limbs: Luke 14:1-6

The man had dropsy, a medical condition that we now call edema which is a buildup of fluid in the tissues.  Many commentators believe that the Pharisees asked this man to the dinner in order to trap him because a person could be arrested for healing on the Sabbath. Jesus did heal the man because it was appropriate to do so regardless of what day it was.

156. Jesus teaches about seeking honor: Luke 14:7-14

Jesus taught that we should not seek honor of any kind. The Son of man came to serve and give his life for the ransom of many (Mark 10:45), and we should do the same.  He also taught that we should not be exclusive and that God opens His kingdom to everyone. I am sure that was shocking for the Pharisees to hear!

157. Jesus tells the parable of the great festival: Luke 14:15-24

Many of the people at the home of the Pharisee probably thought they were a shoe-in for presence in God's kingdom, but Jesus was explaining in this parable that many of the people would not be there and that Gentiles and outcasts would take their places!  

It was customary to send two invitations to an event. One was to announce it, and the other was to tell the guests that everything was ready. God's first invitation came with Moses and the prophets. The Pharisees accepted this invitation. The second came with his Son telling them that the kingdom of God was at hand, but they rejected Him. The master in the parable sent his servant out to invite the needy to the banquet, so God sent His only Son for the whole world of needy people, including the Gentiles!

158. Jesus teaches about the cost of being a disciple: Luke 14:25-35

Jesus taught that discipleship is costly. He was not saying that one must literally "hate" his or her family because this would violate the Law (and He came to fulfill it). He meant that loyalty to Him was more important than loyalty to family or even to their own life!

Jesus exhorted that one must "carry his cross." This has an interesting background:

When the Roman Empire crucified a criminal or captive, the victim was often forced to carry his cross part of the way to the crucifixion site. Carrying his cross through the heart of the city was supposed to be a tacit admission that the Roman Empire was correct in the sentence of death imposed on him, an admission that Rome was right and he was wrong. So when Jesus enjoined His followers to carry their crosses and follow Him, He was referring to a public display before others that Jesus was right and that the disciples were following Him even to their deaths. This is exactly what the religious leaders refused to do. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, p. 243)

He concluded with three word pictures about building a tower, going to war, and salt that illustrate discipleship includes planning and sacrifice in order to have true impact and value. 

REFLECTION

I never hated my family, but I did not grow up in a Christ-centered home. Sometimes following Christ was tough at family gatherings when the alcohol flowed and the dirty jokes ensued. I did not always like it.

One Christmas, after a dirty joke was told at the meal. I excused myself and went to cry in my grandmother's bathroom. My mother followed. My mom was the only one who was sympathetic to my desire to follow God with all my heart. I cried and poured my heart out to her out about how I did not fit in my family anymore. 

She looked at me and said, "Carol, don't you think God put you in this family for a reason?" 

Over the course of the next few years, my mom, dad, and one of my brothers came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and started walking with Him. I did not testify to them perfectly, but I did love Jesus more than them, and it made all the difference. 

APPLICATION

Have you counted the cost of following Jesus?

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for giving us life through our parents. I pray for anyone reading this to continue to persevere in prayer for their unbelieving family members and to continue to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. In His name I pray, Amen.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Luke 13 - Teaching the Inner Circle Continued

LINK: Luke 13

BACKGROUND

145. Jesus calls the people to repent: Luke 13:1-9

Jesus answered their political question with a question and some stories. Jesus' point here is that whether one is killed or not is no indication of a person's righteous standing before God. It is by God's grace that we live because we are all sinners and deserve death. None of us get out of here alive. Therefore, we need to repent and fall on His grace and mercy.

The parable of the fig trees illustrates that if fruit does not come, judgment will eventually come. In the Old Testament, a fruitful tree often symbolized Godly living (Psalm 1, Jeremiah 17:7,8). Fruit must be present in a person's life. If there is no change, the person is judged. 

Leviticus 19:23-25 states that fruit was not eaten from a newly planted tree for three years and the fourth year's fruit was dedicated to the Lord. Therefore, there would be no harvest for five years, and this man had already waited seven. It was time for fruit! But Jesus does not tell us the ending to the story. Perhaps He was counting on the choice of His listeners for that determination.

146. Jesus heals the crippled woman: Luke 13:10-17

This is the last time that Jesus taught in a synagogue in the gospel of Luke. The key word in this narrative is "hypocrites." The leaders would care for their animals on the Sabbath but not a crippled woman bound by Satan. Jesus humiliated them, but the people were delighted! 

147. Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God: Luke 13:18-21 

Matthew 13:31-33 and Mark 4:30-32 contain similar teachings to this given at another time and place.

Mustard seeds are not the smallest seeds in the world, but they were probably the smallest that the Jews would have sown at that time. From a small seed, the mustard plant grows to 12-15 feet! Believers in the kingdom would be small in the beginning but grow rapidly. Jesus began with 12 well-trained (but imperfect) disciples and later there were 500 believers (1 Corinthians 15:6). Then there were 3,000 at Pentecost (Acts 2).  Read Acts to read about spontaneous growth! Read Revelation 5:9 for where it is going!

Leaven is small and hidden, but it grows spontaneously also. In a recent post, you will recall that the "leaven of the Pharisees" was evil. Here it is a positive thing! (Some commentators disagree on this, but I disagree with them!)


153. Jesus teaches about entering the Kingdom: Luke 13:22-30

The events from Luke 13:22 - 17:10 took place in Perea as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. Jesus turned the theological question of how many would be saved into something personal. The issue is not how many will be saved but if YOU will be saved! 

Salvation and entrance into the God's kingdom is through a very narrow gate. We sometimes have to walk away from a wider path that does not lead toward Him. We need to trust Him with all our hearts and without delay to enter the kingdom. 

154. Jesus grieves over Jerusalem: Luke 13:31-35

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. The Pharisees here are not protecting Him but trying to keep Him from accomplishing His goal of going to Jerusalem, but He knew He must because Jerusalem was the center of the nation, the city of God. Jerusalem had always rejected prophets (1 Kings 19:10; 2 Chronicles 24:19; Jeremiah 2:30; 26:20-23) and would reject Him. 

For this He mourned over it and left it "abandoned." He quoted Psalm 118:26. They quoted it at the entry into Jerusalem, but this was not approved by the religious leaders. Many believe He is referring to His Second Coming when He will be recognized and received as the Messiah.  


REFLECTION
God is seeking fruit. He will accept no substitutes, and the time to repent is NOW. The next time you hear about a tragedy that claims many lives, ask yourself, “Am I just taking up space, or am I bearing fruit to God’s glory?” 
(The Bible Exposition Commentary, Lk 13:1)

APPLICATION

.Are you just taking up space, or are you bearing fruit for God's glory?"

Here is the result of a word study on "fruit." Pay particular attention to the five kinds of fruit at the end and evaluate your life using the list:
KARPOS (καρπός , (2590)), fruit, is used . . . (II) metaphorically, (a) of works or deeds, fruit being the visible expression of power working inwardly and invisibly, the character of the fruit being evidence of the character of the power producing it, Matt. 7:16. As the visible expressions of hidden lusts are the works of the flesh, so the invisible power of the Holy Spirit in those who are brought into living union with Christ (John 15:2-8, 16) produces “the fruit of the Spirit,” Gal. 5:22, the singular form suggesting the unity of the character of the Lord as reproduced in them, namely, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance,” all in contrast with the confused and often mutually antagonistic “works of the flesh.” So in Phil. 1:11 . . . “fruit of righteousness.” In Heb. 12:11, the fruit of righteousness is described as “peaceable fruit,” the outward effect of Divine chastening; “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace,” Jas. 3:18, i.e., the seed contains the fruit; those who make peace, produce a harvest of righteousness; in Eph. 5:9, “the fruit of the light”. . . is seen in “goodness and righteousness and truth,” as the expression of the union of the Christian with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); for God is good, Mark 10:18, the Son is “the righteous One,” Acts 7:52, the Spirit is “the Spirit of truth,” John 16:13;  (b) of advantage, profit, consisting (1) of converts as the result of evangelistic ministry, John 4:36; Rom. 1:13; Phil. 1:22; (2) of sanctification, through deliverance from a life of sin and through service to God, Rom. 6:22, in contrast to (3) the absence of anything regarded as advantageous as the result of former sins, ver. 21; (4) of the reward for ministration to servants of God, Phil. 4:17; (5) of the effect of making confession to God’s Name by the sacrifice of praise, Heb. 13:15. 

(Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words, 2:133-134)

Try your own word study:


PRAYER

Lord, draw us to You, a God of mercy and grace. Thank You for Your awesome forgiveness and for the blood of Jesus that makes us righteous. Search our hearts and help us to repent of any hurtful way in us. Lead us to bear fruit for Your glory. In Jesus' name we pray, claiming His righteousness. Amen. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Luke 12 - Teaching the Inner Circle

LINK: Luke 12 (read over the next two days)

BACKGROUND

139. Jesus speaks against hypocrisy: Luke 12:1-12

The word hypocrite comes from a a Greek word that means "an actor." Jesus spoke of hypocrisy being something that starts small but grows quickly, infecting the whole person. Hypocrisy puffs the ego up like bread dough (1 Corinthians 4:6; 18-19; 5:2).  Jesus taught that the cause of hypocrisy was the fear of man. We fear what others will say about us or do to us, so we work hard to impress them and gain their approval. Pharisees focused on their reputation, but God wants us to focus on our character! He wants us to fear Him, not man!

Jesus was preparing His disciples for a time when they would be persecuted for following Him and continuing the work of the kingdom on earth. They need not fear man but God and depend on the Holy Spirit to give them words when the hour of their testing comes. 

140. Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool: Luke 12:13-21

This is a parable about greed. Gordon Gekko in Wall Street was wrong: Greed is NOT good! Richness toward God is what is important. 

141. Jesus warns about worry: Luke 12:22-34

Jesus gave a similar teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25-34). This is one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. We need never be anxious because it accomplishes nothing. Our cure for anxiety is seeking God first!

142. Jesus warns about preparing for His coming: Luke 12:35-48

We need to be ready for the Son of Man when He comes. This is also a way to conquer hypocrisy, greed, and anxiety because when you are living with eternity in mind, the things of this world grow "strangely dim" in the light of our future with Him!

143. Jesus warns about coming division: Luke 12:49-53

His coming divided even the most intimate of circles. 

144. Jesus warns about the future crisis: Luke 12:54-59

The people did not interpret the signs that pointed to Jesus being the Messiah. They needed to understand who He was and be reconciled to God.  

REFLECTION

The fear of man always brings a snare (Proverbs 29:25)! I had some interactions the past couple of days that made me realize how much I still fear man rather than God. I must walk in fear of God today and not be ensnared by other's opinion of me. George Muller once said:
There was a day when I died, utterly died — died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends — and since then I have only to show myself approved to God. 
George Muller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith by A. T. Pierson. 
APPLICATION

Evaluate your day. How much of what you did was motivated by a fear of man rather than God?

PRAYER

Lord, help us to die to man's approval so that we might live for YOU!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Luke 11 - Prayer, Opposition, and Being Receptive to the Light

LINK: Luke 11

BACKGROUND

134. Jesus teaches his disciples about prayer: Luke 11:1-13

Jesus prayed at all the crucial times of His life (Luke 3:21; 6:12; 5:16; 9:18; 9:28-29). The disciples saw this, and they wanted to learn how to pray.  Consequently, He gave them a model prayer we call the "Lord's Prayer." We don not have to follow it in a rote matter, but we can learn a framework for prayer!

First of all, Jesus addressed His prayer to the Father implying an intimate relationship. 

Then he made five requests:

1) That God's name would be "hallowed" - This means "set apart or sanctified." It implies worship! 

2) That God's kingdom would come - We have heard about the kingdom of God (or heaven) coming from John the Baptist, Jesus, the Twelve and the 72. We heard about the kingdom in the many parables. They were all about proclaiming the kingdom to people. 

3) For daily bread - literally "bread for the coming day or needful bread." It implies praying for what we need rather than what we want! 

4) For forgiveness of sins and acknowledgement that we forgive others in the same way. 

5) That we not be led into temptation - Deliverance from situations that would cause us to sin. We are always easily drawn into sin. We 
need God's help!

The rest of this section contains two parables that illustrate persistence in prayer and that the Father is the giver of good gifts. The most important gift for followers of Jesus is the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). 

135. Jesus answers hostile accusations: Luke 11:14-28

Some commentators believe that this is a separate event from the one reported in Matthew 12:22-45 and Mark 3:20-30 because the Luke event occurred in Judea while the other one took place in Galilee. In Luke, he spoke to the crowds. In Matthew and Mark, he accused the Pharisees.  They are similar which lead other commentators to believe it is the same event.

The term "demon(s)" occurs 16 times, and the term "evil spirit(s)/unclean spirit(s)" occurs eight times in Luke's gospel account. Jesus authenticated Himself by demonstrating His power to cast them out. He was accused of doing this by the prince of demons, Beelzebub (Satan). 

He responded the same way He did in the Matthew and Mark accounts: Firstly, it would be absurd for Satan to drive out his own demons because it would weaken his power, position, and kingdom. Secondly, since the followers of the Pharisees drove out demons and claimed it was done by the power of God, they were not only accusing Jesus but their followers as well!

The parable of the strong man can be confusing. The best interpretation is that the strong man refers to Satan, and the stronger man to Christ. The point of the parable is that Jesus is the stronger. He will eventually bind Satan and dispose of him forever (See Revelation 20:2, 10). 

Luke 11:28 is significant. Jesus was saying that the gospel is not limited to Israel but for all who put faith in Christ. This was so contrary to what the Jews had always believed. 

136. Jesus warns against unbelief: Luke 11:29-32

Asking for a sign was a indication of unbelief (1 Corinthians 1:22). I would think that they would have had enough proof by now after all the miracles, healing, and deliverance that Jesus had performed. 

Jesus responded to their challenge by talking about Jonah, who was a Jewish prophet sent to Gentiles, and the Queen of Sheba who was a Gentile who came to visit a Solomon, a Jew (2 Chronicles 9:1-12). Jonah was to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Just as Jonah experienced death, burial, and resurrection in the belly of a whale on his way to delivering that message, Jesus was predicting that He, too, would experience death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus was saying that His kingdom would be greater than Solomon's. Gentile Nineveh repented and the Queen of Sheba traveled a long way to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but they could not even see that someone great was right there under their noses!

137. Jesus teaches about the light within: Luke 11:33-36

Jesus' teaching was light to them. Their "eyes" were to be receptive to the light so they could see clearly and then shine their light to the world. If they were receptive to the light of His teaching (and aware of and shun darkness that was not of Him), they would be full of light (Psalm 119:130; John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Ephesians 5:8-14). Even the bright sun will not benefit a blind man, they needed to take in that light. 

138. Jesus criticizes the religious leaders: Luke 11:37-54

Jesus made it clear that external actions do not produce inner righteousness. He used the example of giving to drive home this point. The only way to make the outside pure is by making the inside pure first. A clean heart produces good fruit. 

Jesus give six "woes" (declarations of condemnation) here that parallel Matthew 23. The first three condemn the Pharisees for majoring on the minor things, following little rules rather than having big hearts of love and justice (Micah 6:7-8). The next three were woes upon the Law experts by placing burdens on the people that kept them away from Jesus' teaching. They hypocritically build tombs for prophets that their fathers had killed! They reject the prophets teaching that point to Jesus. They killed innocent people from Abel (Genesis 4:8) to Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24:20-21). A to Z, first innocent person to the last in the Old Testament. 

This made them even angrier and they continued to plot against Him. 


REFLECTION (written in March 2010)

Today, I was hurt very deeply. I feel like I am being "persecuted for doing what is right."  It really upset me too. I cried buckets between 2 and 4 p.m.

As I was in the bathroom crying, I said out loud, "Watch out 'so and so' because when you hurt me, you get bombarded by prayer! It is the best day of your life."  Then, I went to battle for that person's soul. I went into warfare prayer with my friends Kim and Teala too (without them even knowing the name of the person so that it was totally anonymous). It is definitely a blessed day for that person! 

I have no desire for revenge. I just want healing of our relationship and healing of that person's very hard heart. I guess I have always known for a long time of her hardness as I saw her hurt others, but I had never been the target.

She is not in a good place. She has had a trail of broken relationships recently, and I refuse to be another body on that trail that the enemy has laid out for that person. It only leads to that person becoming a very bitter person consumed by hate.

I will fight the battle on my knees!  Deliver us from evil, Lord Jesus!

APPLICATION

Reflect on the Lord's Prayer today. How does your prayer life reflect what Jesus modeled to His followers?

PRAYER

Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by Your name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is 
In heaven

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation 
But deliver us from evil

For Yours is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory
Forever

Amen

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Luke 10 - Ambassadors, Neighbors, and Worshipers

LINK: Luke 10

BACKGROUND

Warren Wiersbe asserts that the "three scenes in Luke 10 illustrate the threefold ministry of every Christian believer, and answer the question, "What  in the world does a Christian do" (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Luke 10). I couldn't agree more. These three scenes illustrate we are all the Lord's ambassadors, neighbors, and worshipers. I have structured Luke 10 according to Wiersbe's headings. 

130. Jesus sends out 72 messengers: Luke 10:1-16

Ambassadors: Representing the Lord in the Harvest

These instructions are similar to those given in Event #93 (Luke 9:1-6; Matthew 10:1-15; Mark 6:7-13), but this passage includes an anonymous group of disciples sent into Judea and not the 12 Apostles sent into Galilee.

Jesus sent them out (the Greek word apostellō means "sent away") two by two as His ambassadors. Different from Luke 9, these pairs went to every city and place where Jesus would be going, preparing the way for Him. He asked them to pray for more workers to prepare the way for Him (just as we can be doing now) by proclaiming that "The kingdom of God has come near you." In the midst of this, they would be persecuted (Luke 10:3) and they needed to travel light (10:4). 


I will talk more about the "man of peace" in the reflection section.

He sent "woes" (judgment) for Korazin/Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. All three of these towns had been witnesses to His miracles in His early ministry. They would be more harshly judged than pagan towns who had not had the benefit of miracles!

131. The 72 messengers return: Luke 10:17-24

They came back having seen many things happen, and Jesus saw the big picture of the overthrow and defeat of Satan. We can put on the full armor against the enemy now (Ephesians 6:10-17). 

Jesus told them that the fact that their names were written in the book of life in heaven was more important than all the victories that they experienced as ambassadors (Revelations 20:12-15).

132. Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37

Neighbors: Imitating the Lord on the Highway

An expert in the Law wanted to test Jesus by asking him what needed to be done to inherit eternal life. Again, Jesus answered with a question. The Law said it was all about loving God and loving others.  The lawyer's response of "Who is my neighbor?" was a debate tactic that basically said, "Define your terms!"  This way, he avoided looking at his own heart.

Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to "define" who is our neighbor, and He used a man from a race despised by the Jews, a Samaritan, to help a Jew when two religious Jews ignored him!

The Law required mercy and love to all (Exodus 23:4-5, Leviticus 19:33-34; Micah 6:8), and this, no doubt, convicted all who listened. 

Read the results of the Good Samaritan Experiment HERE. Note the people who were making haste to deliver a message about the Good Samaritan! I would be disgusted, but I am not so sure I would not do the same thing being that I am pretty goal-oriented. How convicting!

133. Jesus visits Mary and Martha: Luke 10:38-42

Worshipers: Listening to the Lord in the Home of our Hearts

This is the key to being an ambassador and neighbor: Love, compassion, and mercy flow out of a love for God. 

Martha complained that Mary was not helping her, but Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the one needful thing. I do not think this is a knock to Martha because if service isn't flowing out of worship then it isn't true worship!


I love this stanza from a Charles Wesley hymn that says it best:
Faithful to my Lord's commands, 
I still would choose the better part; 
Service with careful Martha's hands,
And loving Mary's heart. 
It is all about balance isn't it? 

REFLECTION 

The Man of Peace Principle

Jesus talked about the "man of peace" in Luke 10:6 when he sent out the 72 and a "worthy" man when he sent out the 12 (Matthew 10:11).  This principle is being applied in the world, and the fruit is amazing. 

Here are some principles about the person of peace:
• A person of peace can be a man, woman, young person or child who is willing to listen to Christ’s disciples. 
• A person of peace is the individual whom God has prepared to welcome the disciples when Christ is about to visit a community. 
• A person of peace is hospitable. 
• A person of peace is usually someone who is known in the community and has influence. 
• The person of peace is an insider who opens the door to the sent one in a given community. 
• If a person of peace is not found, the ones sent out should not share the Gospel in that community. The implication is that Christ is not yet to visit that community. 
• Once a person of peace is found, the ones sent out need to demonstrate the Gospel both in words and deeds in the context of relationships. 
• A person of peace is someone who is “worthy” of receiving the Gospel. I do not know how many times I have cheapened the Gospel by begging people to receive it when they were not ‘worthy’ of it. They felt they were doing God and me a favor by listening.
How can we find the person of peace in a community? Now that we know what we are looking for, we need to:
• Pray to the Lord for the man of peace to be discovered in a particular region.
• Serve a community in need so that the person of peace has a chance to be manifested.
• Search for this worthy person by meeting new people in a community
• If a person of peace is not found, we must go somewhere else.
The concept of the person of peace calls us to depend fully on God; trusting that He has already been working in a community and has prepared the soil for the workers to plant His precious seed. By following this principle we are delivered from sterile evangelistic efforts which consume unnecessary energy and resources. Finding the man of peace is a proven successful church planting strategy given to us by Jesus himself and followed by the early church. Discovering the man of peace is looking for God’s fingerprints in a community. Where God is working is where we need to be!
(From CPM Journal, January - March 2006, p. 51-52) 
 A nice acronym for remembering what to look for in a person of peace is WOOL: 
Welcomes (often feeding) 
Opens up their 
Oikos (the Greek word for family/network/group) 
Listens to the message  
APPLICATION
1) Become an ambassador by praying for a "person of peace" (POP) to pop out at you and begin investing in them! 
2) Become a good neighbor by praying for opportunities to be a Good Samaritan! Participate in "Pay It Forward" in April.  
3) Before you do either of these, become a worshiper and sit at His feet to listen to what you should do next!
PRAYER

Lord, help us first to be worshipers who sit at your feet. May that overflow into our service in our neighborhood and work in the world. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Luke 9 - Discipleship Training and Testing

 http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm
LINKS: Luke 9

BACKGROUND


93. Jesus sends out the twelve disciples: Matthew 10:1-15, Mark 6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6


During this time, His ministry focus shifted more toward the disciples as He sent them out (the Greek word apostellō means "sent away") two by two as His authorized representatives to preach repentance, drive out demons, and heal the sick. This was their "practical training" time! They were to go to "worthy" houses, and we will talk more about that when we get to Luke 10 when Jesus sends out the 72 messengers.  Stay tuned!


95. Herod kills John the Baptist: Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9

Sometimes the way I do inductive study is by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how questions of the passage. So, I will write some of my questions from this chapter:

Who was Herod? 

This is not the Herod who caused Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus in order to avoid the slaying of the baby boys around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18).That was Herod the Great who ruled from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. and was an Edomite (descendant of Esau) and hostile toward the Jews (Gen. 25:19ff). He had nine wives and would slay any one of them or one of his sons if they got in his way. 

The Herod in this event was Herod the Great's son. He was a "tetrarch" meaning that he ruled over a fourth of Palestine, including Galilee and Perea. He ruled from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39.

There are two more Herods: Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, who imprisoned Peter and killed James (Acts 12), and Herod Agrippa who tried Paul (Acts 25:13ff).

Why did this Herod not like John the Baptist?

Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21 say that it is abhorrent to take your brother's wife. John knew Herod was wrong in taking Herodias from his half-brother, Philip I. Herod was also wrong for divorcing his wife and sending her back to her father, the king of Petra.  First, John was imprisoned in the fortress of Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. Herod was too afraid to put him to death, but Mark 6:19 tells us that Herodias held a grudge against John. So, he was doomed. 


What was Herod's attitude toward Jesus?

He thought that Jesus was John the Baptist coming back to haunt him. So, he wanted to kill Him (Luke 13:31-32). 

What was Jesus' response to John the Baptist's death?

He withdrew to a remote place. From this time on, the focus of His ministry is His disciples (See John 6:3) because He would be leaving them soon. The crowds did follow, and He still felt compassion for them. He met their needs by feeding the 5000 and healing the sick, but the focus of His teaching would be for His disciples. 

96. Jesus feeds 5,000: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13

This is the only miracle recorded in all four accounts of the gospel. The book of John records this event as the fourth sign (sēmeionattesting miracle) that points to Jesus as the Messiah. It was more than 5,000 people. It was really closer to 15,000-20,000 people when the women and children are counted. The amount that would have been needed to feed all those people would have been eight months of wages! How exciting for that little boy to see Jesus multiply his food!

After this sign, the people recognized Jesus as the Prophet promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses had led them out of Egyptian bondage and fed them manna from heaven. Jesus had fed them bread and would lead them out of Roman bondage. Consequently, the people wanted to seize Jesus and make Him King. Jesus has reached the pinnacle of His popularity with the multitudes. Jesus was the rightful King (Psalm 2:7-12; Daniel 7:13-14), but He could not become the Lion (Revelation 5:5) without first becoming the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). That is why He needed to explain the deeper meaning behind meeting their physical hunger by explaining that He was the Bread of Life in John 6:22-40. Luke's gospel does not provide an explanation. That is why it is good to cross-reference with other gospel accounts. 

(Several events occur between this event and the next. To get a chronological feel, you can check this out: http://gospelharmonybookclub.blogspot.com/ )


109. Peter says Jesus is the Messiah: Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 9:18-20

This event marks a new phase of Jesus' ministry. He withdrew more from Jewish dominated regions to predominantly Gentile ones in order to avoid large crowds and Jewish opposition and concentrate more on investing in the disciples who would carry on His work. Caesarea-Philippi (#13 on the map) was ruled by Herod Philip who was a more just ruler than his half brothers Archelaus and Antipas, and he had no reason to be suspicious like Antipas (see Event #95). 

Before He begins this more intense investment for the future, He makes sure they understand who He is! Peter responds that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah; "the anointed One." The Old Testament made clear that the Messiah was God (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2). This is an amazing declaration by Peter, and was the green light for Jesus to proceed with His plan!

Peter (Petros, masculine in Greek) was strong like a rock. Jesus said that "on this rock (petra, feminine in Greek) He would build His church. Jesus praised Peter for understanding that He was the Messiah, and He introduced His work of building the church (first occurrence of this word in the New Testament) with Himself as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). He proceeded to tell the disciples that not even his physical death would prevent the building of the church. 

The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Revelation 1:18, Revelation 3:7) can be understood as Jesus giving Peter authority like a master would give the key to his treasures to his faithful steward. Peter and the disciples were given the authority to steward and carry on the work of spreading the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 

"Binding and loosing" was a common phrase to the Jews and means "forbidding or permitting."  The religious leaders thought they had the "keys" (authority) to forbid and permit, but Jesus gave that authority to the disciples! It would not be according to unreasonable, man-made traditions but according to the will and word of God. 

110. Jesus predicts his death the first time: Matthew 16:21-28, Mark 8:31-9:1, Luke 9:21-27

The next section confirms that Peter could NOT be the "rock" of the church that many interpreters believe because he challenged Jesus prediction of His death and resurrection! Jesus rebuked him for it! 

Now that the disciples have an idea of who Jesus is and what would come in the future. He invited them into the life of costly discipleship: denying self, taking up one's cross, and following Him.  It was a life of complete devotion!

The end of this section indicates that they will see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom before they taste death. Since all the disciples died before Christ's return, this is either referring to the transfiguration in the next chapter or Pentecost (Acts 2) where certain disciples were eyewitnesses to Christ's power and glory!

111. Jesus is Transfigured on the Mountain: Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36

Matthew and Mark say that this took place "six days" and Luke says "some eight days," but apparently "some" connotes "about a week" in the Jewish equivalent. 

The disciples had so much to think about in that week! Peter verbally acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah. Consequently, Jesus introduced them to the concept of "church" and predicted, for the first time, His death and resurrection. What a prologue to the Transfiguration!


Traditionally, the mountain has been believed to be Mt. Tabor (near #2 on the map), but there are two reasons this is unlikely:

1) It is too far from Caesarea-Philippi (#13) where they were previously located and Capernaum (#15) where they will be going. 
2) It is unlikely Jesus would have gone up to a place of heathen worship.
Mt. Hermon seems to be a better choice because it is a "high mountain" and it is closer to Caesarea-Philippi and Capernaum/Galilee. 

The Greek word for transfigured is metemorphōthē. It is where we get our English word, metamorphosis. I encourage meditating on the description of Jesus here and basking in His light as part of your application today. 


The appearance of Moses and Elijah are significant because Moses represented the Law and Elijah, the prophets. Jesus, after His resurrection would explain to the two on the road to Emmaus, "all the things concerning Him beginning with Moses and with all the prophets" (Luke 24:27). Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law (by being all-righteousness) and the prophecies concerning Him! If you have not joined us for the Bible Book Club, I encourage you to do so in order to see how The Scarlet Thread of Redemption about Jesus is woven throughout the Law and the prophets!


Peter wanted to build tabernacles to extend the visit for Moses (lawgiver), Elijah (prophet), and Jesus (Messiah). God's intervention tells us that Jesus fulfilled all of this. and all they needed to see was Jesus. Plus, now was not the time for building tabernacles because Jesus had to go and finish His work by going to the cross. 


Many years later, Peter (one of three eyewitnesses), tells us the significance of that high mountain miracle:
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:17-18) 
In faith, Peter had made profession of Jesus as Messiah, and this experience confirmed it!

 Another eyewitness, John, wrote:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) 
Jesus unveiled His glory and gave a sneak peek into heaven, the glory of the kingdom, and even the glory of the cross (Luke 9:31)! 

112. Jesus heals a demon-possessed boy: Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43

Jesus came down from the mountain top to deliver this boy. Why couldn't the disciples drive out the demon?  That is the beauty of studying all three accounts!

According to Warren Wiersbe, there were two things lacking in their lives:

First on the list was faith (Matt. 17:19–20); they were part of an unbelieving generation and had lost the confidence that they needed in order to use their power. But prayer and fasting were also lacking (Mark 9:29), which indicates that the nine men had allowed their devotional disciplines to erode during their Lord’s brief absence. No matter what spiritual gifts we may have, their exercise is never automatic. (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Lk 9:37)

113. Jesus predicts his death the second time: Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:30-32, Luke 9:44-45


From the region of Caesarea Philippi and northeast Palestine, Jesus began to head through Galilee and Perea to Judea and into Jerusalem where He would face His crucifixion and resurrection six months later. He needed to prepare His disciples now, even though they would not fully comprehend it until later.

115. The disciples argue about who would be the greatest: Matthew 18:1-6, Mark 9:33-37, Luke 9:46-48

Rank was important to the Jews, but Jesus taught that the essence of true
greatness was learning to be a servant of all. The Greek word here is diakonos which means "one who attends to the needs of others freely" as opposed to doulos which means a slave who is in a servile position. The road to glory is via service not self-exaltation. Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of this. 


116. The disciples forbid another to use Jesus' name: Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50

Most commentators believe the disciples were jealous of the man who healed in Jesus' name when they could not, and he was doing it in an unauthorized way rather than the man misusing Jesus' name. (see Acts 19:13-16 for an example of this).  Even though the verses involve different events, Mark 9:40, "For he who is not against us is for us" can be compared to Matthew 12:30, "He who is not with Me is against Me." If you are working for Jesus, you cannot be working against Him also. The man may have not done it the "right" way according to the disciples, but he did it for Jesus, and that is all that mattered. Boy, this is such a lesson for today when established patterns of doing things in the church do not make way for new ways!  

122. Jesus teaches about the cost of following him: Matthew 8:18-22, Luke 9:51-62

In the chronological account, Jesus had already predicted his death two times (Luke 9:21-27, 44-45). Jesus knew that His ministry days were numbered, and He needed to leave a band of followers 100% committed to His work. So, He taught them about the cost of following Him.


What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus? It involves being willing to give up everything. Jesus' response to the teacher of the Law revealed that the man wanted fame because he was following this "rising star" rabbi named Jesus. Jesus revealed it would not involve fame or prominence. His response to the second man demonstrated that discipleship was a full-time, full-life occupation, costing everything. 

REFLECTION

While meditating on the cost of following Jesus, I thought of a T.S. Eliot quote about the life of faith:

A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding" V in Four Quartets
I had a friend calligraphy this for me back in the 80s, and I hung it in my office to remind me what this life of faith is really all about! The cost is high, but it is the only way to live. 

APPLICATION from The Daily Walk
What would be different about your life if you were a "drastic disciple" of Jesus Christ? 
The lessons for disciples and tests of discipleship that are contained in chapter 9 do not make for easy reading. They are painfully pointed, calling for commitment in matters of allegiance, lifestyle, and goals. Jesus made the terms of discipleship unmistakably clear. Read the following verses prayerfully, asking yourself, "How do I need to change if my life is to reflect that kind of commitment?" 
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (9:23). 
"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him" (9:26). 
"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (9:62).   
God deserves the same place in your heart that He holds in the universe. 
(October 18, 2008, p. 24)
For further reading:

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman 


PRAYER


Lord, we exalt You as Lord of universe, and we give You that place in our hearts. Amen.