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Rev. Raymond Cross is a powerhouse preacher in Tyler, Texas. Hear ye him.

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November 28, 1998
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Chapter 1: 32, 33, 35,36,37

1:32-33 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

This text focuses on a message given to the virgin Mary by the Angel Gabriel announcing that she would be a son who would be great in the sight of God.

Mary was engaged to marry Joseph and was a virgin. She received a message from the Angel Gabriel that she was to conceive and have a child and that he would be great. Six months earlier, an angel had spoken to a relative of Mary's, by the name of Elizabeth, and a similar message was given to her as well. Verse 15 records the message of the Lord speaking to Elizabeth's husband Zacharias telling him that his wife would bear a son in her old age. Moreover that the son "shall be great in the sight of the Lord." That son turned out to be John the Baptist who was respected and revered by thousands as a great teacher from God.

Mary's message was similar, but not only would her son be great in the sight of the Lord "he shall be called the son of the highest." Both young men would be great, but Jesus would be greater. Jesus would be given the eternal throne of David and would reign over the house of Jacob forever in the kingdom of heaven (v32-33) John would be great, but Jesus would be greater.

The annunciation of greatness in both of these passages typifies the nature of their greatness. Both would be great in the sight of the Lord. However, their greatness was not universally accepted. John was considered great only among some Jews. The Scribes and Pharisees feared him because the crowds loved him. He was not great by their standards. The Romans considered him a threat and they constantly watched him. The affluent considered him eccentric. He lived in the desert, a locust and wild honey for food and wore crude clothing. They considered him a bit weird, but certainly not great. While he was highly visible and vocal, the religious leaders or Romans did not consider John great. However, in the sight of the Lord, John was considered great because he carried out the will of God in a grand way.

Jesus wasn't considered great by everyone. At his birth, Herod perceived him as a threat and sought to have him killed. The religious leaders considered him a common criminal and blasphemer. The Romans considered him a nuisance, the center of a problem that would not go away. Even among his disciples there was one, Judas, that would not consider him great unless he used his potential to build himself a worldly kingdom. Otherwise, he was useless to the cause. Yet the angel Gabriel told Mary that "he shall be great."

At some unknown point in the life of John he decided to focus his life on doing those things which would be considered great in the sight of the Lord. He would not be bothered if his service to God lowered him in the eyes of some of those who knew him. Jesus in the wilderness, came to the same conclusion. His greatness would not come from the selfish pursuit of riches, power and glory but by doing the will of God. 

35-37. " And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

This text shows how an angel reassured Mary that though the circumstances surrounding her conception seemed unbelieveable, they were not only probable but also highly possible, with God.

Mary was told by an angel of the Lord that she would birth the Christ child into the world. That was highly unlikely, especially since Mary was engaged to be married and remained a virgin. Considering those facts in verse 34 Mary asked a question: "How can these things be?"

A great future was laid out before her that appeared impossible. The son she would birth would be called the Son of the Highest and he would inherit the throne of his father, David.

The terminology used may have been confusing to Mary just as many today who read the account are confused. In verse 32, Mary is told that King David is the father of child. That must have been confusing, because King David had been dead for several hundred years. The term "father" in verse 32 did not mean that David would be the literal father of the child, but as head of great royal line of the family of David all of his descendants are said to be his "children." In his lifetime, God had promised David that one from his family would reign forever. 2 Sam 7:16 "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." It appeared to be an empty promise because not only had the kingdom of Israel fallen from power but they were the subjects of the Roman Empire. The prospect of Mary birthing a child that would rule on David's throne was considered highly impossible, since there was no literal kingdom to rule.

In that same context, Elizabeth, in verse 36, is referred to as Mary's cousin. "Cousin" is a term synonymous with "countryman" not blood relatives as we know it today. Both Joseph, Mary and their parents were descendants of the house of David. Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron or the house of Levi (v5). They were not blood cousins but were persons of the same country.

All of this must have sounded impossible: An old woman she knew would have a child. She would have a child in her youth, but without sex. The child would be the Son of God. That must have had an impossible ring to it.

Mary learned that this string of impossible events was going to happen through the intervention of the "Holy Ghost" (v35) or the spiritual presence of God himself. If it all appeared confusing and impossible she was given one clear thought to ponder in verse 37: "For with God nothing shall be impossible." 

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Chapter 2: 8, 10, 11 

2:8 And there in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night

  Our text focuses on the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks by night. Shepherds had a burdensome responsibility. They had to keep watch over their flocks by both day and night to protect them from thieves and wild animals that would devour them. It was probably easy for them to keep the flocks in the day, but was more troublesome to keep the flocks  by night.
  The exact time of the setting of this text is not known. Though tradition places it in December, shepherds rarely kept the flocks in the open during the winter months. It was customary for them to send their flocks out after the passover to graze until the first rain in October or November. It is highly unlikely that there would be shepherds in the field at the end of December. There are 136 different scholarly opinions as to the exact date of this text
pin pointing the birth of Christ, but none of them point to late December. December 25th is simply a date selected to mark the unknown date of the birth of our Lord.
  What is known is that the shepherds were grazing their flocks "by night." Nobody knows what night, but it was at night!

2:10-11 "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.; For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. "

In Luke the Jewish people were enduring a tough and difficult time. Historically they were a subjugated people. They were little more than vassals in the Roman state. Once they were a great nation. Under David the nation was a military power. Under Solomon the nation was an example of peace time prosperity.

Now there was trouble in the land. They were the subjects of the Romans. They were treated as second class citizens. They endured racial discrimination and personal humiliation. Their poverty of substance and spirit increased almost to the point of unbearability. They were in a tough and difficult time.

Despite their tough time they received some good news.

An angel appeared to Shepherds in the fields and announced "good tidings" or good news that came even in the midst of their tough times. One who was promised by God many years ago has been born. The child would grow to fruition and would literally save the people from themselves. They were being destroyed by their own actions or failure to act. The man-child who was born in Bethlehem would be the literal source of their salvation.

The message in Luke seems to be good news part 1. The birth of Christ marked the beginning of the good news. It was the sign of hope that God had not forsaken his promise. However, while the birth of Christ was good news in that it initialed the final revealing of the great promise, it was the life, death and resurrection of Christ which was the rest of the story.

This is the same message that Paul delivered repeatedly to the Gentiles as he traveled. In Acts 13:33 Paul, who was on his first missionary journey, told everyone he met that he came to bring them good news. The good news is that Christ the savior has made his arrival, preached the gospel, died and has risen from the grave. It is news that eternally sets in motion those spiritual motivators that keep every believer alive in hope despite difficult times.

As Paul moved from city to city in his missionary journey, he began with the Christmas story but he ended with the risen Lord, announcing to the world that Jesus is alive. Despite the difficulties of the times ...there is good news!

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Chapter 3:3,4,5,6

3:3-6 "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Luke 3:3-6

This text focuses on the role of John The Baptist as the advance herald of Jesus Christ.

The fact that a savior-king would come to liberate the Jewish people was well known among biblical scholars. The people had awaited the coming of the savior for hundreds of years, because his coming had been predicted by its wise men for generation. John the Baptist, a rough cut outdoors man, was born for the expressed purpose of announcing or preparing the world for the public announcement of Jesus Christ.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus were relatively the same age, one being about six months older than the other. They were cousins. John described himself as a forerunner, not the light, but one who bares witness to the light. He preached in the wilderness of Judea and raised the consciousness of the people that righteousness, not allegiance to ceremony and tradition, is what is expected from God. He challenged them rise above appearances of morality while harboring sinful spirits. As a sign that of their renewed morality, John "Baptized" those who heeded his call in the Jordan river. Thus, he became known as "John the Baptist!"

Despite his popularity John made it clear that he did not perceive himself to be the savior or the liberator that people expected. He constantly pointed to another that was soon to announce his public ministry whose shoes he did not feel worthy to untie. That person was Jesus, who was maturing and waiting for the right moment to begin his ministry. The ministry of John had also been predicted. The prophet Isaiah (40:3-5) hundreds of years before had pointed out that the promised deliverer would be announced by the "voice of him that crieth in the wilderness." Isaiah's words came at a time when Israel had endured a terrible captivity. Its moral fibre and national spirit had been broken. Its state, at best, could only be described as barren, unproductive and dry. It was a wilderness.

Yet in this wilderness estate, Isaiah in 40:1 urged the people to "Comfort ye!" Depsite their wilderness condition there was a reason for the people to be at ease. There the words of hope to Jerusalem, the people of God, were that they had endured the worst of their "warfare." Some of their problems had been caused by their own sins, others by enemies. At any rate their wilderness condition represented the full punishment of God for their transgression, which came "double" at the hand of God. Not only were there the physical iniquities, the people also faced a spiritual void. Isaiah raised hope that the people would be returned from captivity and in this context also announced that they would be revived by a spiritual renewal as well.

The coming of this renewal would be introduced by one who would come forth out of the wilderness, challenging the people to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. John announced to the world that the day of the Lord had arrived. He prepared the world for great news! In effect he told the world, "Hold on to your hat!" There is good news about to come that will "Knock your socks off!" When Christ finally began his ministry, many were ready for his arrival. It had been announced! They had been prepared! Their hearts were ready for the coming of the Lord!

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Chapter 8: 52

8:52 " . . . And all wept, and bewailed her; but he said weep not;she is not dead, but sleepeth."

  This text considers that death is sleep if Christ is present.
  The ruler of the synagogue's daughter died. Christ learned of it and told the ruler that if he believed, his daughter would be made whole. As Jesus approached the house there were many standing outside who were grieving the loss of the lass. Jesus made his pronouncement.."She is not dead, she is asleep."
  Verse 53 informs us that they stopped crying, not because hope was on the way, or enthusiasm was abounding, or they believed the master of the universe had entered onto the scene, or anticipation of great things to come...but to laugh and make fun of Jesus' statement that she was not dead but asleep.(1)
  Martha had the same strange look in her eye when she remarked upon the death of Lazarus, "if you had been here by brother would not have died," Jesus told her that you will see your brother again. She responded "in the resurrection" and Jesus declared "I am the resurrection."
  Those who accept and invite the presence of Christ in their lives shall never die. The spiritual flame of those who reject Christ is extinguished the moment death comes, but those who accept him have an eternal flame.
  When the physical man or woman dies the spirit person within does not die, if Christ is present... it falls asleep.. and is swept away in the twinkling of an eye to be with Jesus and await the day of the general resurrection.
  Oh what a beautiful moment it must be when a soul which has languished and suffered and endured and tolerated on this finally swept up to meet the Lord and meet him face to face. 

Chapter 9: 23,24

9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."

   This text considers Jesus in one of  three circumstances: as he enquires what men think of him, as he considers his own suffering and death, and as he prompts his disciples to consider their sufferings for him.  In considering public opinion Jesus found that the public saw him in every image except the one he wanted to project. The public saw him as Elijah, John the Baptist or another great prophet, but his disciples recognized him as the Son of God. Concerning his sufferings, Christ told his disciples not to dwell on the fact that he was the Christ, his works through suffering, death and resurrection would testify to his deity. His disciples were told to prepare for a life of self denial and suffering, noting that any that were not willing to make sacrifices to help build the kingdom could make no claims to salvation.
  In these three instances Christ painted a picture of the nature of the work, the manner of the testimony and attitude of the disciple. The nature of the Christian service will often be misunderstood as the public forms its own opinion of what a Christian is supposed to be, regardless of the facts. Christ healed many, fed crowds, and performed miracles and public opinion put him in every category other than the one he wanted.He was often frustrated by what people thought but was consoled to know that those close to him understood the true nature of his work. Moreover, he encouraged his disciples not to devote their time to shaping his image because his deeds and eventual suffering on the cross would make his sonship evident to all. So he "straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing." He wanted the works to testify of his sonship in a way that the people came to conclude that he was Lord. Thirdly, he told his disiciples that if they were to share in the kingdom it would require considerable self denial on their part. The disciples took the challenge and went far beyond what Christ required and even gave their lives. The disciples and the Apostles that followed him knew the meaning of self denial and took it at face value:
   Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia. Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets. Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece. John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward branded at Patmos. Peter was crucified at Rome with his head upside down. James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem. James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller's club. Bartholomew was flayed alive. Andrew was bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died. Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies. Jude was shot to death with arrows. Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded. Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.  Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.     The public had no idea, but Jesus knew the cost of bearing the cross and he wanted each of his disciples to know that bearing the cross could be costly, but there was no reward unless they were willing go all the way.

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Chapter 10: 2

10:2 Therefore say unto them, the harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few."

Our text first considers Jesus as he prepares to send forth 82 preachers and healers all across the land to preach the Gospel and try to spread the good news about the kingdom.

These 82 were composed of the 12 disciples and 70 others that were appointed and commissioned to help carry the message. The prospects for a receptive audience for the message were great, but finding people to carry that message was a difficult and challenging task. At 9:57- Jesus demonstrated three examples of what would be required of those who would work the great harvest of souls awaiting the messengers.

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Chapter 11: 24,25,26

11:24-26 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came  out.And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

   This text focuses on Christ as he addresses the nature of true conversion as compared to a superficial change.
    On occasion in his travels Christ cast out devils from those who were haunted by the presence of demonic influences in their lives. A man who lived in the grave yard was haunted by evil spirits that called themselves "Legion" was cleansed after Christ cast out the devils. A man who was described as a lunatic was also cured. Others, on various occasions found that Jesus had power over Satanic forces.
    At verse 14 Jesus was once again casting out a devil that had caused a man to be dumb or unable to speak. Once cast out the man was able to speak again.
   The immediate response of those who observed the miracle of verse 14 was wonder and skepticism, though their skepticism was unspoken. Those who wondered were amazed at what they saw but they did not know exactly what to think. The dumb man spoke. That was a natural fact. How it occurred was another matter that remained to be proven.
   Those that were skeptical also wondered. However, their wonder caused them to suspect that Jesus was somehow a collaborator with Satan, holding a high position in the army of the evil one, such that he could command subordinates and they would yield to his authority. Jesus, reading their thoughts, said that it would have been counterproductive for him to cast out devils, if he himself were in league with the devil. It would defeat the purpose. A house divided cannot stand such would be the case if Jesus himself were of the devil.
    Jesus then tells those observing the difference between a truly converted man, who is free of the haunting presence of devils, and one who is reformed.
    The parable he told suggested that devils in a man decided to leave on their own. The man, without the presence of the devils had a clean appearance because it had been swept and was decorated or garnished in a pleasant manner.  Yet when the devil returned he found the house was clean and pretty but unoccupied. Thus,  the devil returned and brought with him seven other devils that now made the man's state worse than the first.
    Devils that are cast out do not return. This was the case in Mark 9:25 "When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him." Devils cast out by the power of God cannot return because the spiritual vacuum that would have been created by the devils absence has been filled by the spirit of God. Devils that leave on their own at the request of an individual, take a leave of absence, but soon return only to haunt the individual a worse way than before.
   True conversion is to be freed from evil influences by the power of God. Self reformation is temporary at the least.

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Chapter 14: 23 

14:23"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."

This text focuses on a parable in which Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is available to men and women of all walks of life.

This text is one of three of teachings in chapter 14 about the kinds of people who are invited to the kingdom of God and how they are to be treated. He had been invited to the home of one of the rulers of the Pharisees for dinner on the Sabbath. However, he noticed how they struggled among them for the finest and most important seats at the table.

Therefore in verse 8 he gave the first teaching in which he said persons invited to a feast should not seek the seats of importance but wait to be seated. "When ye are invited go and sit down in the lowest place." Doing so, he said, would save the embarrassment of having to move when someone of more importance enters. It is better to be asked up than to be asked down. In verse 12 he makes a second point by noting that those who plan banquets usually have an invited guests list, including some and excluding others.

However, he said they should invite even those people who are not favored guests who cannot repay the kindness with reciprocal banquet.

At verse 16 he told a parable that indicated the nature of the people who are invited into the kingdom of God. A certain man gave a supper and invited many people, who all, for one reason or the other began to make excuses for not attending. One said he had just bought a piece of ground and had to go see it. Another said he had just bought five yoke of oxen and he had to test them. Another said he was a newlywed and could not come.

Angered at their excuses the master sent out word for his servant to bring in the poor, maimed, lame and the blind. When that was not enough the master then ordered that he go into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, "that my house may be filled."

Initially the text shows how the opportunity to posses the Kingdom of God was initially presented to the Jews alone. However, the Jews rejected its message and it was thereby taken to the entire gentile world, to anyone who would hear. Secondly, it showed the importance of every person who comes to the banquet table of the Savior. Whether blind, lame, maim, Jew or Gentile, each is important and should be treated as such because they have a special invitation from the master.

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Chapter 15: 4 

15:4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

This text considers that there are many in God's creation. The numbers of his creatures stagger the imagination. But despite their numbers, God knows when those creatures have strayed away from his standard.

This point is illustrated clearly in the parable of the lost sheep.In this, the first of three parables, humanity is portrayed as sheep and our Lord is depicted as the shepherd. Like sheep, and occasionally unpredictable, often mindless, and occasionally stubborn. Humanity, like sheep, needs the presence of someone to guide it and protect it.

Our text indicates that the Good shepherd is familiar with all humanity and is cognizant when the smallest portion has drifted from the stated ideal. He notes that Good shepherd is so concerned about the loss of even this small segment of his creation that he would go seeking after that which was lost.

Through this parable our Lord projects his concern about the plight of those who have fallen away from the Word of God. We may name them atheist, anti-Christ, demagogues or Beelzebulbs, but they all compose that entity which this parable identifies as the lost sheep. Although these lost sheep have disassociated themselves from God, God has not divorced himself from them.

The message that Good Shepherd brings is one of forgiveness and compassion. It is the overt display of the olive branch of salvation to lost segment of God's creation. It says that the God whom we serve is a forgiving God. His forgiveness ignores our past failures and shortcoming and peers beyond our present miserable estate. God only cares that those who are lost are his children and he is willing to come the first mile to offer another chance to those who know him not. 

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Chapter 16: 5

16:5 "So he called every one of his lord's debtor's unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my Lord?"

This text gives insight into the actions of a sorry steward who tried to hide his slothfulness from his master's knowledge. This parable of Jesus' is usually called the parable of the "Unjust Steward" because it involves an overseer or steward who had been trusted to run the farm of a rich man but tried to cheat him in the process. The steward had a free hand in giving, collecting and enforcing contracts. His job was to maintain the land in a profitable manner for the owner. However, this steward had become lazy. He had not be frugal with the affairs of the land's owner and he feared that the master would discover his flaw and fire him. He pondered his choices if he were fired and concluded that he could not beg or resort to hard labor. He decided to cover his bases by making friends among the tenants insuring that someone would take him in if he were fired at worse, or that they would not tell of his laziness at best.

The steward called in all of the tenants and gave them new contracts. Some of the new contracts were as much as half of the original contracts. With collected new contracts in hand, the steward would have the appearance of having done a good job with the master's property. The master would never know because the tenants would not tell about their great fortune. If the master did discover his folly, certainly some among the tenants would glady take the steward in. It was a good plan and he pursued it carefully. He succeeded in fooling the master who commended him for his hard work. He was an unjust steward because he had misused the authority and property which his master gave him.

Jesus told his disciples that people who have been given small responsibilities as they are represented by our land, finances, time and talents are judged on the bases of how they are used. Those who "have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" If a man cannot be trusted to handle the small affairs of another, he should not ever expect to receive larger sums to manage under the same conditions of his own. 

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Chapter 19: 2,3,4,5,6,7 

19:2-7 "And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

This text brings focuses on Zacheaus, who, like Matthew, was also a publican. While Matthew as a big man with a small reputation. Zachaeus was a little man with a big reputation. Matthew was publican and a tax collector, but Zacheaus was the chief collector. While Matthew was one of many publicans, Zacheaus was one over many publicans.

The text finds Jesus walking through the press of the crowd and spotting the little man Zacheaus, who climbed into a Sycamore tree to get a better view. The Lord called out to him "Zacheaus" I need for you to come down, for I'm going to dine with you tonight.

Zacheaus had to run home in a hurry to get his house in order. There must have been a great excitement when he asked his servants the question "Guess who's coming to dinner?"

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Chapter 22:17,20

22:17 "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said take this and divide it among yourselves"

  Our text first considers Jesus on the occasion of the Passover supper.
  He had borrowed a special upper room from a man bearing a pitcher of water and all of his disciples had gathered to celebrate the Passover. It was a celebration rich with the history and heritage of his people. The words and ritual were repeated in exactly the same way in every home. The grace for the meal was also done in the same way. Three things are noted in the text verse: Jesus took the cup, offered thanks and then divided it with others.
   This special supper provides modern Christians with a clear cut challenge to do the same 1)Take the cup, 2)give thanks 3)divide it among others.
22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you!"
  Our text first considers Jesus as he nears the close of his ministry and shares in the Passover meal with his disciples. The Passover was the memorial meal of the Jews in which they remembered how God's death angel passed over
them in their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Jesus shared this observance with his disciples but took some of the elements used in the Passover and changed their symbolism to represent the new covenant with the Church.
   The bread of the meal, mostly unleavened, came to symbolize his body that would be given soon in crucifixion. The wine came to symbolze his blood that would be spilled as he died on the cross. The Passover also included a lamb and
Jesus himself would serve as the lamb provided by God. Each disciple was asked to remember the Savior and his sacrifice as often as he celebrated the Lord's Supper.
  After the supper Jesus held up a cup and told his disciples that it contained God's new promise or testament which could only be realized by the shedding of his blood. In a powerful and dramatic gesture he raised his cup and said "This  cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
  Why is the blood of Christ important to the life of the Christian? Because it is the life force of the Christian experience. Without it there would be no salvation, no atonement or hope of heavenly reward. The blood of Christ
is to spiritual man what physical blood is to mortal man. Consider what blood does:

Chapter 23:24,43,46

23:24 Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Christ forgave our ignorance while on the cross. In our ignorance we have failed to respond as we should. Often we have wasted many years chasing dreams without means just beyond measure. Our pursuit of life has been so vigorous that often we have ignored the things of God. Prayer, worship, Holy Living, many of these things have been placed on the back burner of life as we ignorantly pursue what appears to be important at the moment. As Charles Spurgeon notes, on the cross Christ prayed an "indistinctive" prayer. In asking God to forgive them he expanded his plea for mercy beyond those who placed him on the cross, the liars at his trial, the temple guards and even the soldiers who nailed him to the cross. "Them" is all of those who have lived ignorant of God's law and of his power to give new and abundant live. When he said father forgive "them" he included "us" in all of our ignorance today, for we know not what we do.

23:43 "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise"

   Christ rewards our faith. This saying of Christ is in response to the faith, even though in a dying hour of the thief on the cross. There were two thieves on the cross. John Piper notes that of the sinners on the cross represented one of two attitudes we can assume about God:  1) We can rail against God and say, "If you are such a great and powerful and loving God, who allowed my condition?" 2) Or we can acknowledge that we are sinners and don't deserve any good thing, and cry out for mercy and help in our time of desperation.
   Most of us have all these things in common with these two thieves: there has been, is, or will be suffering in our lives. And none of us will be able to say: "I do not deserve this."All of us want to be saved from death one way or the other. While both are the same in sin, they are not the same in their response to Christ. One is worldly, with no spirit of remorse and still thinks only of himself. The other is remorseful and asks for mercy. Those who come to Christ in remorse and faith, receive the same immortal words, "this day...paradise!"

23:46 "Father, into thy hands, I commit my spirit."

On the cross Jesus placed his life in God's hands. On the cross Jesus gave up the ghost.  Father, 'into Thy hands I commend My spirit' shows that He gave up His life when He wanted to and how He wanted to. No one took His life from Him; He gave it up when His work was finished. Morever, it shows that he placed his life in God's hand. Even today, believers must put their hands in God's hand. There is no safer walk than the walk we make when we put our hands in God's hand. When we are on the cross we should put our hands in God's hands. No wonder the song writer cries out "Precious Lord take my hand, lead me on let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn!"
    When the weight of life's miseries nails us firmly to the cross we should respond in the words of the hymn, "Father I stretch my hands to thee, no other help I know, if thou withdraw thyself from me, oh whether shall I go!"

1. Luke 8:53 (NIV) They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.

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