April 20, 2018
THE QUESTION OF AUTHORITY
When the leading priests, teachers and elders interrupted Jesus’ teaching in the Temple to ask the source of His authority, it was actually the source of theirs that came into question. For when He challenged them to answer whether John the Baptist’s authority was from heaven or from man, they balked. The very men that were supposedly set apart to judge whether a prophet was true or false were afraid to give an honest answer because they feared the people who believed in John’s calling from God. So, they lied saying they didn’t know. Their answer revealed their authority, or should I say the lack thereof. For their authority was merely human and dependent on keeping the right people happy. Jesus’ refusal to answer their question actually revealed that His authority was greater than theirs. He felt no obligation to answer to these people-pleasing hypocrites. So, these so-called leaders scurried away, with the tails of their robes tucked between their legs, back into their darkened rooms where they would plan their next scheme for ridding themselves of Jesus.
Jesus’ authority came from God. As the gospel of John quoted Jesus saying, “I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say” (John 12:49-50).
April 19, 2018
JESUS WEEPS OVER JERUSALEM
When Jesus looked at Jerusalem, it wasn’t the palm branch waving crowd nor the beauty of Mt. Zion that drew His attention. For He saw it not only with physical eyes but with prophetic vision. He knew the time had come for Daniel’s prophecy to be fulfilled. As Daniel wrote, “Messiah shall be cut off, the city and the Sanctuary destroyed, and desolations decreed” (Dan. 9:26). Jesus didn’t weep for Himself. He wept that His people didn’t recognize the time of God’s visitation.
April 16, 2018
THE SIMPLE YET POWERFUL PRAYER FOR MERCY
Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee and tax collector who went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee thanked God for his superior position above others in this life. He compared his own righteousness to that of those around him and considered himself right with God. The tax collector confessed that he was a sinner and prayed for God’s mercy. Whose prayer was answered? Both. The tax collector received the mercy from God he requested and went home in a right relationship with God, his sins forgiven. The Pharisee who asked nothing from God, for he felt self-satisfied and self-justified, went home having received nothing from God.
We live in a world where people are like the Pharisee. They are self-satisfied and self-justified. They see no need for God’s mercy. For they consider themselves as good. Yet, to those who confess their sin and admit their need for a Savior, Jesus will hear and answer their simple yet powerful prayer for mercy.
April 14, 2018
THIS IS NO PARABLE AND THERE IS NO PURGATORY
Jesus told a story concerning the eternal destiny of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. Some call this a parable, but it is no parable. A parable, according to the dictionary, “is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.” The Greek word, päräbolā’ (παραβολῇ ), literally means “to throw beside.” So, a parable is a simple story that “throws” or points to a deeper, spiritual truth. The rich man and Lazarus story does not follow this pattern. It begins and ends as a spiritual story that pulls back the curtain on our future eternal destiny and the importance of choosing to follow Jesus in this life.
So, it is not a parable. And it clearly shows that there is no purgatory. Those who believe in purgatory see it as “an intermediate state after physical death in which some of those ultimately destined for heaven must first undergo purification” (Wikipedia). Yet, Christ’s account of the afterlife shows this doctrine to be false. He says that there is a “great chasm” of separation between heaven and hades. There is no going back and forth between them. There is no second chance after death. What we choose to believe in this life, will determine our eternal destiny in the next.
April 13, 2018
DO YOU HAVE A PUBLIC PERSONA?
Jesus accused the Pharisees of being hypocrites. They liked to appear as righteous in public, but privately their true nature was revealed. Jesus saw through their public persona. He saw their true nature. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
One of the amazing gifts of salvation is our sanctification. We are being made holy. We are already counted as righteous the moment we receive Christ’s righteousness as our own. This is justification. Yet, our public and private lives are still in process. Part of being made holy is being made whole. So that we are the same through and through. Our public and private selves become indistinguishable. What you see is what you get. And what you get is a new heart and a new life that are in alignment with God’s.
April 12, 2018
SINNERS NEED JESUS
People who admit they are sinners are attracted to the Savior. They recognize their need for salvation. They aren’t attracted to religion and regulations. Those things only serve to make them feel more sinful. What they need is Jesus. He forgives and sets people free. So, instead of judgment and advice, give them Jesus. He is the only One who can save.
April 11, 2018
WHO ARE YOU INVITING TO THE PARTY?
While seated at a dinner, Jesus took note of the people the host had invited. He observed that he had invited his own circle of family and friends. The host must have been surprised to hear the advice that Jesus gave. Invite people that are different than you. Invite those who can’t invite you back. And the Lord will reward you.
The implications of Christ’s word to the host of the dinner are very troubling to us, aren’t they? Invite people to the table that are different than you. People that can’t pay you back. People that will not advance your social standing. In fact, invite people that will probably cause those of your own family and social class to shun you for even hanging out with these “other” people.
Why did Jesus teach this? Because that’s what the Father has done for us. He is the Host of Heaven and He has invited us–– “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” of this world to His banquet table.
April 10, 2018
WILL YOU BE FOUND IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
As Jesus was teaching in the towns and villages on His way to Jerusalem, someone asked Him how many would be saved. His answer must have been surprising to His Jewish hearers. For most of them thought that just being Jewish was enough. They were children of Abraham. They were circumcised on the eighth day. They went to the Temple for Jewish festivals. They were God’s chosen people. Surely, if anyone would enter the Kingdom, it would be them. But Jesus warned that many would knock at the door of the Kingdom, yet not be allowed entrance because the Lord would reply, “I don’t know you.”
Jesus named three individuals specifically that would definitely be found in the Kingdom–– Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This would not have surprised His Jewish audience. Of course they would be included. Then He said all the prophets would be there. “OK, that makes sense.” They must’ve thought, although there were quite a few that they didn’t listen to in that group. But finally, Jesus said that people from “all over the world” would be represented in the Kingdom. That was a big surprise!
“You mean people from Ninevah and Babylon?” They must have wondered. “Philistines and Moabites too?” They must have questioned. “Why in the world would you let them in and keep us out?” They must have asked.
Jesus had already given them the answer. They had to “know” Him and be known by Him. Being born Jewish was not enough. “You must be born again!” He told Nicodemus (John 3:7). Only those who have been born again of the Spirit will be found in the Kingdom of God.
April 9, 2018
CONSIDER YOUR OWN SINFULNESS
After hearing the news of certain Galileans being murdered by Pilate in Jerusalem and of those who died when the tower in Siloam fell, Jesus corrected the people’s assumption that those who died must have been the worst of sinners. Jesus asked, “Do you think this happened to them because they were the worst sinners?”
Jesus answered His own question with, “Not a all!” They didn’t die because their sin was worse than others. They perished because sin always brings suffering and death.
Jesus urged the people to stop focusing on the sins of others and to consider their own sinfulness. Stop thinking you’re good because someone else’s sin seems worse than yours. Instead, “repent” of your own sinfulness. Focus on your own condition. Admit your sin and ask God to help you repent of it. Turn away (“repent”) of your sin and turn to God.
God doesn’t measure you by calculating your good works vs. you evil works. Nor does He compare you to the righteousness/unrighteousness of others. God judges you according to His standard of righteousness. And only One person has measured up to this standard–– Jesus. Therefore, repenting of your sins is recognition of your desparate need of Jesus as Savior. And turning to God is surrendering your will to Jesus as Lord.
April 8, 2018
THE REWARD OF READINESS
Jesus told His disciples a parable about a master rewarding his servants because they were “ready and waiting for his return.” This is a parable about Christ’s return and the reward He will give to those who are “ready and waiting” for Him. He said that He will wait tables for them while they enjoy the banquet. Can you imagine this? Jesus leaning over you asking, “What would you like to drink? Can I get you some dessert?” O what a Master we serve! That He is willing even now to serve us. How we must be willing to serve others in His name!