April 6, 2018
WHY THIS GENERATION WAS HELD RESPONSIBLE
Jesus told the religious leaders of his day that their generation would be held responsible for all the prophets that God had sent them since creation. Why would God hold this generation responsible for all the prophets before them being murdered?
Jesus summarized the list of prophets killed beginning with Abel, whose murder was recorded in the first book, Genesis, and ending with the murder of Zechariah, whose stoning was recorded in 2 Chronicles, the last book according to the order of the Hebrew Bible. The first murder victim, Abel, was killed by his brother because he had “by faith offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain” (Heb. 11:4). Abel brought the firstborn of his flock as a sacrifice of blood, which in effect prophetically pointed to its fulfillment in Christ. God accepted Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s. And Cain murdered his own brother out of jealousy.
The last prophet recorded as being murdered in the Hebrew Bible was Zechariah, the son of the high priest, Jehoiada. King Joash conspired to have him stoned to death in the Temple courts because he had prophesied against him for forsaking the daily sacrifices and turning to idolatry (2 Chron. 24:15-22).
God had delayed His judgment against the Jews, so that the coming of the promised Seed, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, might be given to them and through them to the whole world. But this generation would reject and murder the very One to whom all the murdered prophets had pointed. And upon them God’s accumulated wrath would be spent. Indeed, this generation saw the fall of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, so that those that remained were dispersed among the nations.
April 5, 2018
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HEAR AND OBEY
A woman in the crowd that had gathered listening to Jesus teach, exclaimed, “God bless your mother!” To which Jesus replied, “Even more blessed are those who hear and obey God’s Word.” Surely, the blessing that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had received was great. The woman who cried out was correct. Jesus’ mother was blessed. Yet, Jesus would have the woman and everyone in the crowd know that an even greater blessing was available to them. For if they would only allow the seed of God’s Word to penetrate their hearts, they would be born again.
That the Son of God was born of woman is indeed a great blessing. That everyone who hears and obeys the good news about God’s Son will experience new birth themselves is an even greater blessing.
April 5, 2017
Hearing the words that Jesus taught, a woman in the crowd shouted out that the mother of such a son must surely be blessed. Jesus did not correct her, but he did redirect her to the true source of blessing, namely, the Word of God. Rather than visualizing what a blessing it would be to have been the mother of such a son, Jesus wanted the woman to hear and believe the Word of God that he was teaching. In other words, Jesus told the woman that she didn’t have to be his mother to be blessed, she, and all those present, could experience God’s blessing by hearing and keeping the Word.
Many today tend to focus on secondary details of the gospel. They recognize the goodness of Jesus and the excellence of his words and work. Perhaps they even imagine what it would have been like to be one of his disciples. Yet, they do not believe and receive his Word. If only they would “hear” and “keep” it, then they would become, as the woman in the crowd seemed to desire, Christ’s “brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).
April 4, 2017
Does God give good gifts when we ask? Can we trust His response to our prayers? If we give ourselves fully to Him in prayer, will He test us with things we don’t want and take away things that we do?
Jesus answered these implied questions by asking His own, “If a son asks any father among you for bread, or fish, or eggs, will he give a rock for bread, a serpent for fish, or a scorpion for an egg?”
I’m sure His hearers must’ve responded with laughter at the ridiculous imagery of His rhetorical questions. “Certainly not!” They no doubt replied.
Jesus taught us to ask, seek, and knock in prayer expecting the Father to answer. We need not worry whether such persistence might cause the Father to give us hurtful or undesirable gifts. For if a sinful, mortal father knows how to give good, certainly the righteous God will give not only good gifts, but even the “Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Never doubt the Father’s love and care for you. You can depend on Him to meet your needs when you ask. More than that, He knows your deepest need, namely, the Holy Spirit. For God has sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself, so that we might be adopted into His family by the Spirit of adoption, that we might truly be called children of God.
April 4, 2014
After teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus explained the importance of persistent prayer. The art of persistent asking seems to be something we’re born with, yet outgrow. Consider the child asking for a cookie. No one has to teach the child persistence. Even the mother with the most determined resolve finds herself giving in to the child’s repetitive request. Why does Jesus use so many “persistent” asking stories, such as the knocking neighbor (Luke 11:5-8) or the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), to illustrate how to pray? Is it because the Lord is hard of hearing? Or hesitant to respond? No. The Lord hears and the Lord loves to respond to us. The emphasis on persistence seems more likely to point to our own hearts. That we will be child-like in our dependence on God. The Kingdom economy is one of asking and receiving with childlike faith.
April 6, 2013
The Pharisees represented the highest attainment of human religion, yet their approach like all religious effort, affected only the exterior life, leaving the heart unchanged. Religion attempts to work from the outside-in, but the gospel works inside-out. The gospel is about relationship, not religion. It is about a relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord. Have you had your life turned inside-out by Him?
April 5, 2012
As Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days, so Jesus would be in the tomb before rising again. Jesus fulfilled every prophecy and prediction concerning His life, death and resurrection. In 3 days we will celebrate this historic truth!
April 4, 2012
The currency of the Kingdom is asking. You have not because you ask not. So hear the words of Jesus. Ask.