November 28, 1998
Chapter 1: 32, 33,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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
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
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
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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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
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
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
Oh what a beautiful moment it must be when a soul which has
languished and suffered and endured and tolerated on this earth...is 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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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
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
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
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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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
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 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
is to spiritual man what physical blood is to mortal man. Consider
what blood does:
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
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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