We made it through Luke! Now for the very unique (yet still consistent) gospel of John. 🙂
But first! Some thoughts from Luke. And a few quotes highlighted or revisited from the book. 🙂
When Satan tempts Jesus, Jesus responds with Scripture.
The third time (assuming these temptations are recorded chronologically), it seems as though Satan “catches on” and starts to use the scriptures to make his argument to Jesus.
Of course, Jesus is able to recognize the deception of Satan.
But would we have recognized the clever deception of Satan in such a situation? How often do we seek our own fleshly desires – possibly even justifying them through misuse and misapplication of the scriptures?
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”
And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’
‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.
When Jesus told Simon to put his net in the water for a catch – which turned out, miraculously, to be hugely successful – this may have been His way of demonstrating “I can provide for you. Don’t worry about provision. Follow Me, and that will be attended to.”
And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
Have you been given much? Have you been raised with the truth of Christ, but rejected Him? Have you been raised hearing about Jesus – and you even go to church or try to act moral – but you reject relationship with Him? Reject His cross? Reject the acknowledgement of your state before Him?
The religious who know about Christ but don’t know Him – or who prevent others from knowing Him – will receive greater condemnation.
They are like the Jews who heard the word of God but did not perceive its meaning. Who heard the parables but were closed to the truth and message of them. Their hearts were already closed to God. Life was in front of them, but they did not receive it.
Or they are like the Pharisees who made their proselytes twice as much sons of hell as they were. To these leaders was given much responsibility – and they used their position to deceive.
Many church leaders do the same today.
Jesus came to cast fire upon the earth.
He came not to grant peace, but division – even within families. (The true family of God is not of biological inheritance or lineage, but a grafting in – an adoption – of those who hear the word of God and do it. These are His mother and brothers and sisters. [Luke 8:21, Mark 3:35])
Many expect Jesus to bring peace on earth when He returns.
These people are waiting for the antichrist, who will bring temporary peace.
And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
– Daniel 9:27
vs. 23-28 – The Narrow Door, Only a Few Saved
And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.
A warning to be sure where we stand with God.
Are we just “moral” and religious, or do we know Him in our souls? Do we know His voice when He speaks?
Do we think that getting sprinkled with water will save us?
Many are sprinkled and yet live lives completely separate from Christ. It is because they were never truly grafted into the Vine. No good works can come out of them because sprinkling did not, in fact, graft them into Christ’s true body – only into a religious cult.
vs. 25-35 – Counting the Cost of Following Jesus
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Would we be ready to walk away from all material possessions and cares of this world – even relationships – if necessary to follow Christ?
Would we be hesitant to identify as a follower of Christ if it meant losing our lives – because we were still attached to or concerned about someone or something in this world?
God’s Love For Sinners
There is more rejoicing over the lost who are found (one sinner who repents) than the “righteous” who “need no repentance”.
Never seen myself more clearly in reading this passage until now.
Although I always identified as a follower of Christ (since I was a child), I had a season of life where I largely sought satisfaction and life in the things of the world. Indeed, practically my whole life I have done this – to a greater or lesser extent.
But eventually, I became hungry and destitute. There was a famine in the land. God led me to leave my job (and my health was beginning to really suffer at that point), and then after that, the last ounce of health remaining was taken away. Even my efforts to study and learn eventually crumbled to the ground.
And all that I had left was to rest. To return home, to the feast of spiritual riches and fellowship that my Father freely gives. The feast that I had, in many ways, abandoned.
I tried to find lasting satisfaction in material goods, the approval of those who hate God, and “improved” outward image. I tried to find peace and validation in others’ impressions of me. I prided myself in my lofty “intellectualism”, while being blinded to the greater, higher wisdom of God, to which Man’s “reasoning”, in comparison, is as foolishness.
I sought an eternal feast in my dying flesh.
I sought lasting riches in elemental, corruptible goods.
I sought comfort for my soul from those who are perishing.
And yet all the Father’s servants are well-fed – how much more must be His sons!
All this time, a great feast was available to me, and yet I sought a poor imitation of that abundance in a land far from the Source of that abundance.
God made the world, and the blessings we receive in it. But when we seek the goods of the world apart from relationship with Him – the Source of that wealth – the well runs dry. Eventually, we run out of goods and encounter famine.
Yet if we just repent (repentance is “change of mind”, not outward perfection – inwardly we hate our sin, even though we struggle with it) and return to Him, He will rejoice over us and give to us the inheritance and blessing of a son.
No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
(Spoken in context of stewardship of money, and the Pharisees, who were lovers of money.)
v. 22 – In the parable, Lazarus appears to have had a more honorable “burial” than the rich man – he was carried away by angels.
vs. 27-31 If someone does not believe the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets – or the Law and the Prophets), then he will not believe or be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.
When Christians hear the story of the Prodigal Son – or of the rich man and Lazarus – often they don’t see themselves as the prodigal or the rich man.
We see the “heathens” as those who commit physical sexual immorality, while remaining blind to the equal weight of our pride, jealousy, selfishness, poor stewardship of wealth, gluttony, anger, and self-righteousness. And even our lust in our hearts.
Many who profess to be Christians think that they have been forgiven little. That they are somehow better than the “major sinners” whom Christ pursues.
They think that it is the outwardly immoral – the promiscuous or homosexual – who have been (or would be) forgiven the greater sin, and who receive the greater grace.
They think that because they themselves have “never” participated in those particular “extra grievous” sins, they are more holy as Christians, and they likewise label all who have abstained from sexual sins “pure”. What deception!
No one is good – no one is pure – but God alone.
Jesus said that whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart.
And hatred is murder.
So we are all guilty of adultery and murder.
We have all sinned with the members of our bodies – and sinned in our hearts, where all sin comes from.
Anyone who thinks they are “moral” enough that they do not need to repent and begin a relationship with Christ is in an infinitely worse situation than the prodigal with a broken and contrite heart.
Repentance is a change of mind. That change of mind comes from the Spirit. The Spirit is at war with the flesh.
When we repent, we will still struggle in the flesh, but God looks at the heart. Are we broken over our sin? Do we hate our sin? That is the Spirit at work.
Many “Christians” seek to change external behavior or do “good” deeds to get into heaven, without ever having a change of heart that comes from the Spirit. They never truly repent within.
They may even sing or recite words of brokenness over their sin at church, but they do not mean what they say, and sing or speak only for show or for some reassurance that they will be saved by their lip service.
And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Many use this passage as “proof” for the necessity of infant baptism (the doctrine of baptism for salvation of infants – or putting the infant on a path to salvation). However, if you’re going to read this passage as referring literally to infants and children being saved, you might also conclude that only children can be saved. That is, if you’re ignoring words like “such” and “like”.
Christ says that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. To those who receive the kingdom of God like a child. It is talking about our attitude toward the kingdom of God. Do we receive the truth and wisdom of God like children, or do we stubbornly resist it like “adults”?
We must accept that God is our Father, and He knows more than we do.
Besides all that, this passage doesn’t even mention baptism. So it seems a poor proof for infant baptism.
“Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
The things that were Caesar’s had his likeness and inscription. In the same way, we have the likeness (image) of God, and we live in His name, so we should render ourselves completely to Him.
vs. 45-47 – Warning About the Religious Leaders
And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
Such religious spirit and practice is still alive and well today.
v. 24 – Squabbles even at the last supper. Jesus died for friends who argued, wanted to be the greatest, and betrayed Him.
With that, we move on to John!! 🙂