Don’t Just Accept, Proclaim

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Jesus didn’t die merely so we could accept Him and receive forgiveness. He died so we could proclaim repentance and forgiveness. The world is happy with us to keep our “little religious convictions” inside our church buildings or isolated to our private lives. However, when you have a message that leads to forgiveness and salvation, how can we keep it contained? Of course, Luke is setting the stage for what we will see in his sequel: The Acts of the Apostles. But the story of this proclamation continues all the way to our day. Jesus rose from the dead and that means something. It means we need to be telling people. Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed!

Next week’s reading is Acts 1.

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The Resurrection Changes Everything

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

Do you ever look back at the crowds of Jesus’s day and wonder why they didn’t get it? To me, it just seems so obvious Jesus is the fulfillment the Old Testament. Not only are there specific prophecies that line up, Jesus’s life mirrors whole story arcs, themes, and patterns from the Old Testament. How could they miss it? That is actually the wrong question. The better question is: Why can I see it? The answer: the Resurrection. Jesus’s interaction with the disciples on the road to Emmaus is a profound explanation. Jesus is right in front of these two disciples. They see Him, but they don’t. They hear Him, but they don’t. He is hidden from them. It was not until the breaking of the bread that they truly recognized Him. When they did, they reinterpreted their entire experience with Him, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” That is to say, “How could we have missed who He was? Wasn’t it really obvious the whole time?” Notice, this recognition of Jesus is tied to the opening of the Scriptures. At this same moment that Jesus was hidden and then revealed to them, even though He was actually there the whole time, what had been hidden in the Scriptures from them was now revealed to them, even though it had been there the whole time. “He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” I wish I could have heard that lesson. But this explains why I can see it. The resurrection changes everything. It is the central moment in history through which everything before it and after it needs to be interpreted. When we accept that Jesus was in fact resurrected from the dead, that sends ripples throughout all time. And it causes some of us to look at the Old Testament and say, “There He was all the time. Why didn’t we see it before?” I can see it now because the resurrection changes everything, it lifts the veil, it redirects my gaze, it refocuses the message. Praise the Lord, He is risen indeed!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 24.

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You Just Don’t Make This Stuff Up, Folks

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

It is not so shocking to us today. So we likely read right past it. The first witnesses to the empty tomb were women. The first proclaimers of the resurrected Savior were women. And, of course, the men treated them just like men of that day often did treat women. They thought it was an idle tale. But here is what we need to recognize. If Luke were making up this story (or any of the other gospel writers), the very last thing any of them would do is make the first witnesses women. Women were not respected. My understanding is their word was not considered as strong as a man’s. If Luke were making this stuff up, why would he put the very first report of the empty tomb and the resurrected Savior in the mouths of women? You just don’t make this stuff up, folks. But when this is simply the way it happened, you record it. And that is what Luke is doing. He isn’t involved in creative writing. He is involved in record keeping. Jesus rose from the dead. The women knew. The disciples will come to know it. We can know it. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 24.

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He Is Not Here, But Has Risen

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

“While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'”

What else do we need to say?

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 24.

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Wait! Is This a Contradiction?

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

At the end of last week’s reading, we learned some women, having seen where Jesus was buried, prepared spices and ointments for His burial. Then in Luke 24:1, they were coming to the tomb early on the first day of the week with those prepared spices, presumably to perform the Jewish burial customs on Jesus’s body. Wait! Is this a contradiction? According to John 19:39-40, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus bound Jesus’s body in linen cloths and prepared it with spices and ointments as was the burial custom of the Jews. Can the Bible authors not get it straight? What a great place for us to see how the Bible works. Granted, any time you have eye-witnesses recalling past events, you will find that they emphasize different aspects, one person will leave out details someone else includes, they tell the story from different perspectives based on what was important to each author. Further, when ancients were writing history, their goal was not to give us a moment by moment breakdown of what happened, but to get across what was the important takeaway from what happened. In any event, this is not a contradiction at all. Allow me to explain. Each of the gospel authors include different bits of this burial and resurrection event. Luke records that Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. He even mentions Joseph wrapped Jesus in a linen shroud. Luke doesn’t mention Nicodemus or the spices. Is that a contradiction? Not at all. Leaving out information is not the same as providing contradictory information. I think a key bit of information found in Mark 16:3 removes the worry of contradiction here. In Mark 16:3, the women on the way to the tomb were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us?” This reveals the women were not cooperating with Joseph of Arimathea. Had they been working together with him, they would have had him there to remove the stone and they wouldn’t have worried about it at all. As it is, they had followed along and seen where Jesus was buried, but they had not communicated with Joseph or Nicodemus. They didn’t know what the men had done regarding Jesus’s body. It seems they assumed the men had not had time to properly prepare Jesus for burial. Therefore, early on the first day of the week, they were coming to take care of that custom. Their preparations were, it turns out, unnecessary, not because the men had already taken care of it, but because Jesus arose from the tomb and wasn’t even there. But that is for another post. No, it is not a contradiction. Don’t let people distract you from the truth of God’s Word with false claims about contradictions. Keep reading. Keep studying. Keep learning. Jesus arose: Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 24.

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Simon: A Picture of Discipleship

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

Yesterday’s picture of discipleship was great, wasn’t it? Learning that Barabbas is us and we are Barabbas is just awesome. Jesus died in my place so I don’t have to. Wow! Today’s picture is just as great, but we rarely see it that way. In fact, this is a picture many Christians forget and ignore. We love the picture of Barabbas. We rush through the picture of Simon of Cyrene. Here is a fellow seized by the Romans to bear a burden because they could do that to subject people. Now imagine in your mind’s eye watching these two men walking up Golgotha’s hill–Jesus leading the way with Simon following in His footsteps while carrying a cross. That is discipleship. Discipleship is not waving at Jesus as He walks up Calvary and then heading on our merry way. Discipleship is placing the cross on our shoulders and falling in line behind Jesus. He is still the one that does the dying, praise the Lord, but we carry the cross. We walk in His footsteps. We follow Him wherever He goes, even if it is up the hill of death. Bearing the cross is not merely going through some hardship. Bearing our cross is walking in Jesus’s footsteps. In today’s story and yesterday’s, we find the complete picture of discipleship, confessing Jesus as both Savior (the picture of Barabbas) and Lord (the picture of Simon). We take comfort in the salvation from His sacrifice, and we willingly lift up the cross to bring glory to His name.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 23.

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What’s Up with Barabbas?

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

What on earth is this about a guy named Barabbas? Okay, okay, you may have read the other gospel accounts about this guy and understand what is going on. But imagine for a moment that this was your first exposure to the gospel story. Luke doesn’t give us many details. All we have is some rebellious, murdering insurrectionist who gets to go free because the people ask that he be set free while innocent Jesus gets executed essentially for the same kinds of crimes Barabbas actually committed. And in this trade off, we see a powerful picture of what is actually happening as Jesus dies on the cross. A man, whose name literally means “son of the Father” by the way, guilty of insurrection and murder should go to the cross. He should be executed for his crimes. However, he doesn’t. On the other hand, a man, whose name means “God is salvation” by the way, completely innocent should never see a cross. But He does. Barabbas is us. We are the children of the Father who are guilty. We deserve the death. However, we are released. Jesus endures the death in our place. The one contrast between us and Barabbas is he was freed because the word of the people prevailed, we are freed because the Word of God prevailed. I often wonder how Barabbas behaved after witnessing Jesus condemned for his crimes and sins. How should he have behaved? How should he have thought of and related to Jesus from that day forward? That leads me to wonder about me. How should I behave? How should I relate to Jesus? What about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 23.

Continue reading “What’s Up with Barabbas?”