And So It Begins

Today’s reading is Luke 22.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read the story or heard the story proclaimed. I know the victory with which the story will end. But there is always a part of me when we get to this part of Jesus’s story that wants it to take a different turn. Surely, this time all the people involved will realize how things ought to be. Judas will have learned his lesson and decide not to betray Jesus. Peter will have learned his lesson and decide not to deny Jesus. The Pharisees, scribes, chief Priests, and rulers of the Jews will have learned their lesson and decide not to crucify the Son of Man. Sometimes, I even want Jesus to teach them all a lesson, show them all who’s boss, and drop the bomb on them all. Yet, here I am reading for the thousandth time, and every one of these make the same mistakes over and over again. Well, Jesus wasn’t making a mistake. And, of course, that is the key. In this whole sordid mess, Jesus was the only one who knew what He was doing. And He was doing it for me. Because, as painful as it is for me to watch for the thousandth time, I am just like Judas, Peter, the Jewish leaders. You would think I had learned my lesson. But I have made the same mistakes over and over again. As a friend of mine reminds me, let’s not soften the blow. They weren’t mistakes, they were sins. I am a sinner, and I need what Jesus is giving. As much as I find it hard to read what Jesus is going to go through, it is the only thing that can save me. I need Him to keep making that choice. And so it begins. Judas is betraying Him. Peter is denying Him. The apostles are fleeing Him. The Jews are condemning Him. And it is all because I rebelled against Him, but He loves me anyway. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Luke 23.

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What Happened Next?

Today’s reading is Luke 21.

Is it just me or does the story about the poor widow seem incomplete? Shouldn’t the story go on to tell us how she left the temple complex and found a denarius on the ground or a treasure in a field? Or perhaps she got home to discover a long lost relative had looked her up and was providing her a large living? Or perhaps someone overheard Jesus’s praise of the woman, followed her home, adopted her into his family, and cared for her the rest of her life? Yet, we don’t see any of that. What happened next? Did she get to go home and eat or did she go home and starve? Did she continue to live in her home or did it get devoured by one of the scribes? We don’t know. I know what we want. We want a nice tidy picture in which this woman sacrificed for God, giving away all she had to live on, and by the end of the episode everything works out nicely for her as she receives an immediate reward from God. But you know what might have happened? Like the rich fool of Jesus’s story in Luke 12:16-21, she might have gone home and God said to her, “Tonight your soul is required of you.” She might have gone home and starved to death. If this is the case, then this account actually connects to another passage that on the surface may not seem to be connected, but really is. Luke 12:8-9 says the one who denies Jesus before men, Jesus will deny before God’s angels or messengers. But the one who acknowledges Jesus before men, Jesus will acknowledge before God’s angels/messengers. This widow was not making a verbal confession, but she was acknowledging God. She was acknowledging God’s care and love. What did Jesus do? He acknowledged her before God’s disciples, that is, His messengers. What a foreshadowing of what would happen for this woman once she died whether it was from starvation that week or of natural causes 20 years later after God provided an extended living for her. The great reward is not in this life, but in the next. Jesus doesn’t give us what we want here. The message is not give a large proportion of your income to God and then get blessed financially from some strange and shocking location. The message is put your hope completely in God because there is more to life than what is going on here on earth. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. But you know that in this moment, the best thing you can do is glorify God.

Monday’s reading is Luke 22.

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Repent or Perish

Today’s reading is Luke 13.

Pilate, the Gentile governor, had executed several Galileans. When Jesus says to His audience, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” He isn’t speaking about the final judgment. He is foretelling the coming judgment on the Jews. He is pointing out that if the Jews do not repent, God will bring judgment upon them via the Gentiles. In fact, this chapter ends with a promise of coming destruction of Jerusalem. All that being said, we still see an application for us today. We must not look at those who endure hardship or suffering and assume they were worse sinners than we are. We must not think because we are not facing hardship presently that we are escaping judgment. Rather, we need to realize we are sinners. We need a Savior just like everyone else. That, of course, is why Jesus came into the world. As with the inhabitants of Jerusalem, He does want to gather us under His wings, protecting and delivering us. However, we must repent. We must recognize how sinful we are. We must recognize what judgment we deserve. Only then will we surrender to the King. Only then will we turn our lives over to Him. Only then will we be saved. Judgment is coming. Repent and live.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 13.

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Who Am I?

Today’s reading is Luke 9.

Don’t miss this. Peter’s good confession in Luke 9:20 is significant. We have heard it our whole lives and might be tempted to rush through it, thinking, “Oh yeah! I know this part.” But this is what the entire book of Luke is about. This is what all four of the gospels are about. We tend to read these gospels like modern biographies. We want to hear about the birth, what was going on in the world, a chronology of events, a precise accounting of conversations and actions, leading to the subjects death. We get confused when each of the gospels gives a differing presentation of some of those facts. They change the order of events. They don’t give exact records of the conversations. They don’t give all the details of everyone who was involved. And they even do that in some pretty significant places and events. Ancient biographers were not interested in that kind of presentation. I don’t just mean the Bible authors, I mean ancient biographers in general. The gospel authors were writing biography the same way the ancients did. Don’t misunderstand. They didn’t make stuff up. They didn’t lie. They didn’t invent the stories. But they were not interested in giving a detailed chronology of events, actions, and conversations. Their goal was not to explain what the subject of the biography did or what people did around him. Their goal was to explain who the subject of the biography is. Therefore, they crafted the events, actions, and conversations together to make that point. That is what these gospels are about. Each is written from a different perspective, with a different audience in mind, driving home a slightly different nuance of meaning. But each one is designed to prompt this one conclusion: Jesus is the Christ of God. He is the anointed Lord, Savior, King, Priest. Follow Him. Become like Him. Keep reading Luke and see how every event, every action, every conversations points to this one fact: Jesus is the Christ of God. Then believe it and have life in His name.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 9.

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Wanted: Sinners!

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

I remember talking to a man who had decided to pursue Hinduism. He told me, “I wanted to be a Christian, but I’m not good enough for that.” I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have told Him about the Great Physician. As a doctor is looking for sick people, not well people, Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous, the holy, the godly, the good enough. He came looking for sinners. He came to call sinners. He came to call those who are not good enough. No doubt, He calls us unto repentance. He doesn’t call us to linger in our own sinfulness. But Jesus isn’t roaming the streets looking for the righteous. He’s looking for sinners like me. He’s looking for sinners like you. Praise the Lord! Let’s answer His call.

Next week’s reading is Luke 6.

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He Preached Good News

Today’s reading is Luke 3.

“With many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.” That’s what Luke says about John the son of Zechariah. However, did you actually read what he had just preached? “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Certainly, there is some good news in there for the wheat, but what about the chaff? In today’s climate, I’m not sure if this would qualify as good news. Not to mention, part of his preaching was specifically against sins like that which Herod and Herodias were committing. Not only did that get him arrested, it ultimately got him executed. This may not be what we would put on a marketing poster for the gospel, but while it is good news, not all of it is pleasant news. The good news includes salvation, but that is only good news because there is judgment from which we need to be saved. We may not like to hear about the wrath and fiery judgment, but without that bad news, the good news is just news. In fact, if it weren’t for the bad news, the good news wouldn’t even be news. Judgment is coming, but, praise God, Jesus came to gather the wheat and save those who would believe in Him from the judgment. That is good news. You can be part of it. Are you?

Next week’s reading is Luke 4.

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Good News of Great Joy

Today’s reading is Luke 2.

When Luke was written, “gospel” or “good news” was not a religious word. It was a political word. That is, “gospel” or “good news” usually referred to some great news about the emperor, the empire, or victory. It was the word used to describe the birth of the coming emperor or the ascension of a new emperor or the victory of the emperor over Rome’s enemies. When the angels used this word to describe the birth of Jesus, it was a powerful word for those Jewish shepherds. The anointed King of Israel, the descendant of David was born. He would be both Lord and Savior of the Jews. Rome would not be able to withstand this King. It was very much a challenge to the politics of the day. It was good news of great joy because finally the real King had been born, and victory over all enemies was coming. What good news of great joy this still is today. Our King was born. He lived. He conquered. He reigns. Follow Jesus today. He is the Savior. He is the Lord. He is the King. He is the Emperor. He is the only way to victory over and salvation from every enemy, including sin and death. And that is good news of great joy.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 2.

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