Who Was David Talking About?

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11, from the writings of David. When we read Psalm 16, it certainly seems David was talking about himself. Of course, in talking about himself, we recognize there is hyperbole; that is, exaggeration used to clarify or highlight the point. David wasn’t saying he personally would never die or that his body would never be buried. In reference to himself, he was discussing the great blessing of life God gave David by protecting him and delivering him from his enemies. God delivered him from Goliath, from Saul, from Absalom, from so many enemies who would have dragged David down to death. However, we cannot apply these statements literally and absolutely to David. As Peter points out, he could actually take the Jews there in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost to the very spot where David was buried. Thus, Peter says, David wasn’t actually talking about himself, but was talking about the ultimate descendant of his that God would place on the throne. That descendant would not remain in the realm of the dead. That descendant would be raised from the dead. That descendant, Peter says, is Jesus. Peter was not asking the people to believe Jesus was raised from the dead because of what David said in Psalm 16. Rather, he was asking people to believe his testimony as an eye-witness and that the people should recognize Peter and the apostles as valid eye-witnesses because of the amazing miracles that had surrounded their preaching on that day. He is quoting David in Psalm 16 to say, “I know what I’m saying about Jesus sounds odd, but we should have known something like this would happen. David said it would. Believe David. Believe me. Believe the signs.” Who was David talking about? Now that we’ve seen Jesus rise from the dead, we know exactly who he was talking about. He was talking about Jesus. Believe Jesus.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 2.

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You Crucified; God Delivered

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter demonstrates the intersection of God’s foreknowledge and man’s action. Jesus’s crucifixion was not a shock to God. He had known it was going to happen. Not only that, He had planned for it to happen. Yet, Peter tells the Jews, “God delivered Jesus up, but you crucified Him.” When folks try to walk through the issues of foreknowledge philosophically, they get wrapped around the axle. Were the Jews bound to crucify Jesus? Of course not. If they hadn’t crucified Him, God would have foreknown something else. However, before our minds explode trying to keep all of this straight, can we simply notice what Peter, by inspiration of the Spirit, explains? Even though God foreknew this was going to happen, these Jews were still responsible for their actions. They chose their actions. They were not bound to those actions. They were not manipulated by God to accomplish those actions. They were not forced by God. In like manner, whatever God knows about us and our future, when we choose to do it, we are responsible for it. However, let us never think we are going to outsmart God. These folks crucified the Son of God, but they did nothing but accomplish what God wanted. We can fight all we want against God, He will be glorified in the end. He will either be glorified by our defeat as we try to fight against Him and fail, or He will be glorified by our surrender, as we give our lives up in service to Him and He saves us. No matter what, God is glorified. We might as well pursue the side that allows us salvation. Praise the Lord He has offered that option to us.

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

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Many Proofs

Today’s reading is Acts 1.

Sometimes what amazes me most about the Bible is not what it does say, but what it does not say. There are bits and pieces left out that to me seem really important. For instance, according to Luke, over 40 days Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles “by many proofs.” Why didn’t Luke share more of that? Certainly, a couple of those events are recorded in the gospels, but if there were many, why not show more? If I were a skeptic, I’d jump on that with a fervor saying they didn’t have many proofs. I’d say Luke was just making it all up. In fact, even as a believer, I’m a little drawn to that and start to have my doubts. However, something pulls me up short from running headlong down that trail. I ask myself, if I were making up this story of Jesus out of whole cloth, what would I do? Like Luke, I would want there to be many convincing proofs. Like Luke, I would think there needed to be many convincing proofs. Not just a couple, but many. Not just a handful, but many. If I were making up this story, I would make up many “proofs.” I’d start developing so many stories of Jesus appearing to the apostles and to others that the reader would have to cave under the pressure of all the proof. But oddly, Luke is satisfied with simply saying, “Oh yeah, there were many convincing proofs. I don’t have room to share them. But they were there.” Then he moves on with the story. Why? Because Luke isn’t making up the story. Since he isn’t, he doesn’t have that overwhelming psychological and emotional need to multiply proofs. As far as he’s concerned, the few he shared in the first volume is enough. As far as he’s concerned, telling the stories of Jesus’s impact on the disciples in the coming chapters is enough. That is a mark of people telling the truth. They don’t feel the need to multiply supposed proofs. And all of this reminds me that what Jesus is striving to produce in us is faith. As shocking as it is to us, when faith is the premium, there will always be room for doubt. But I ask you, does Luke write like an author who knows he is lying, making up stories, fabricating events to convince us to follow him as a religious leader? Or does he write like a man who believes, who knows he is simply telling the truth? I know what I see here. What about you?

Tomorrow’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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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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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.

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