Sunday, December 5, 2010

Luke 24, Part Two

His appearance to His disciples (vs. 36-53)--There were at least 11 separate appearances Jesus made to individuals after His resurrection. Luke records one here that none of the writers mention, except Paul in I Corinthians 15:5, if that is a reference to this event in Luke; it's not totally clear. Regardless, Jesus manifests Himself to His followers, and apparently in a miraculous manner. He seemed to suddenly materialize in their midst (v. 36), and some of them were "terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit" (v. 37). But Jesus comforts them and proves His true identity by showing them His hand and feet, and encourages them to touch Him: "for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (v. 39). The phrase (v. 41) "they still did not believe for joy" is a curious one; apparently they were so overcome and hopeful, that they just couldn't believe it was true. "Can it really be true? Really?" A joy so wonderful that they simply couldn't believe it was happening. But it was and Jesus gave further evidence by eating some fish and honeycomb (vs. 42-43).

Then He began to instruct them, explaining that He had told them these things before, that His life, death, and resurrection were among the "all things" which "must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (v. 44). The theme of the Old Testament is "Christ is coming," and that's what He tells them here. They began to understand (v. 45), but still had a long way to go. After fulfilling the prophetic pronouncements of His suffering and resurrection, now "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (v. 47). This is probably a direct reference to Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-3. The apostles were His witnesses (v. 48) and He tells them, in effect, that this is just the beginning: they should remain in Jerusalem "until you are endued with power from on high" (v. 49). That would happen soon, on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon them and guided them into all the truth.

He then took them near Bethany--in sight of it--to the the Mount of Olives. Bethany was on the eastern side of that mountain. Perhaps they did go all the way to Bethany for some reason, and then made the short trip back to the Mount of Olives. Regardless, for the latter location, He blessed them one more time (v. 51) and then ascended to heaven. Luke concludes his gospel with a general statement of their joy and worship of Him. The good doctor will begin the book of Acts where he leaves off here--with Christ's ascension up to heaven.

Thus ends the marvelous gospel of Luke. It's taken me almost 50 posts to get through it, and I certainly did not begin to cover all that this rich book imparts. The central theme that runs through the entire book is priorities (14:26-33, for example). What good does it do to gain the whole world and lose one's soul? Jesus had come down from heaven; He knew its joys and glories, and He was trying--and through His word still is--to get men to focus more clearly on the next life and not this one. Most people won't do that. But then, they will answer to God as to why they did not. And they will have no excuse because the Lord Jesus told us, in unmistakable words, the will and commands of God.

Luke's story will continue in the book of Acts. By the grace of God, some day in the near future, I will examine, in another blog, that book.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Luke 24, Part One

The resurrection of Jesus (vs. 1-12)--The very first thing that happens on the first day of the week is that Jesus rose from the dead. The first and the best--a common theme throughout Old Testament and New. None of the gospel writers tell the complete story, nor necessarily in the same order. Events are what are important here, not chronology, which is never the highest concern of ancient Oriental historians. Verse 1 says "certain other women" came to embalm the body; verse 10 mentions who these women were. Notice, they came to finish Christ's burial, not to look for a resurrected Messiah. The latter concept, because of the Jewish prejudice and teaching, was the farthest thing from their minds. And when they ran and told the apostles that Jesus was indeed alive, "their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them" (v. 11). Overcoming preconceptions can be an extremely difficult thing, which is why so many today refuse to accept baptism for the remission of sins or the concept of only one authorized church. It's just not what they've been taught all their lives. Because of the women's perplexity (v. 4), the two angels explained to them what had happened. Mary Magdalene still had trouble grasping the concept (John 20:11-15), but finally was convinced by Jesus Himself (v. 16). Peter (Luke 24:12), and John (John 20:3), no doubt in hope that the report of Jesus' resurrection was true, ran to the tomb, but Luke indicates that maybe Peter wasn't convinced yet. There was still doubt lingering for sure, however.

The conversation on the road to Emmaus (vs. 13-35)--"Two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem" (v. 13). We learn that the name of one of them was Cleopas (v. 18), the only mention of him in Scripture; the other disciple is not named, but whoever he was, he wasn't one of the eleven remaining apostles (v. 33). Jesus joined them (v. 15), but, probably miraculously, "their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him" (v. 16). It’s not impossible, however, that their preconceived notions were so strong that their “restrained eyes” were a natural event. Jesus converses with them and they express despair over His death, for "we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel" (v. 21). But, alas, they had been disappointed.  Over and over again we get this physical expectation of the Jews for Christ. The two men then communicate chagrin that Jesus' body had disappeared (v. 22), the women having "a vision of angels who said He was alive" (v. 23). A "vision," not reality. Unbelief still reigned in their hearts. Jesus rebukes them for their obstinance, and tells them that His resurrection was the message of the prophets (v. 25), that "the Christ" had to suffer "these things and to enter into His glory" (v. 26). He then explained the Old Testament to them (v. 27).

Apparently, they still didn't recognize Him, but when they drew near to Emmaus, it was "toward evening" (v. 29), and they asked Jesus to stay with them, the common hospitality of the day. Jesus did, ate with them (v. 30), and finally "their eyes were opened and they knew Him" (v. 31). He then "vanished from their sight," apparently another miraculous event. Because of their excitement, Cleopas and his companion immediately went back to Jerusalem--a two hour trip--"found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together" (v. 33). The two who had met Jesus reported that He was truly risen from the dead and had appeared to Peter (v. 34). They then recounted the events they had experienced that day.

The final passages of Luke need a section of their own and will be considered in my final post on this marvelous book.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Luke 23, Part Two

Jesus led to Calvary (vs. 26-33)--Jesus actually endured six trials during the night and early morning of Thursday and Friday. Luke covers three of them, especially the two most important--where the Jewish leaders found a reason to put Him to death and then brought a capital charge before Pilate, who, as Roman governor, had power of life or death over Jesus. If Jesus had been a Roman citizen, He could have appealed His case to Caesar, as Paul did in Acts 25:11. But Jesus didn't have that option, so off to the cross He went. He endured much mistreatment at the hands of the Romans (Mark 15:16-20), which wasn't unusual. Interestingly, all His disciples forsook Him, but His female friends remained loyal to Him to the end, apparently walking with Him to Calvary. In verses 28-31, Jesus spoke of the coming destruction of Jerusalem; if there were any doubt about that issue left (and there really wasn't), the city's doom was certainly sealed by this act of crucifying God's Son. "Do not weep for Me," Jesus told them, "but weep for yourselves and for your children" (v. 27). The two thieves crucified with Him are mentioned in verses 32-33, and that's important, as we shall talk about in the next section.

Jesus on the cross (vs. 34-49) The Lord's compassion, even for His malefactors, is evident in verse 34: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Jesus simply provides an example here of the kind of attitude we should have--always a forgiving heart. God will not forgive unless someone repents, which is exactly what Peter told these sinners to do in Acts 2:38. Jesus continued to be mocked by the religious leaders and Romans (vs. 35-38), but verse 35 has an interesting comment: "And the people stood looking on." It's possible that the multitudes who had supported Jesus were finally privy to what was happening, but were powerless to do anything. One of the thieves who was crucified at the same time as Jesus obviously had a change of heart during the process. Mark tells us (13:32) that "even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him." But while one of these malefactors obviously continued his obstinance, the other, realizing that his death and eternity were imminent, asked the Lord for redemption (v. 42). Jesus, who knows all hearts, responded, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (v. 43).

There are a couple of thoughts I'd like to expound upon briefly regarding the "thief on the cross." Some have tried to find salvation without baptism by pointing to this man; "he was saved without being baptized, so we can be as well." This shows a misunderstanding of the two covenants. The thief was living under the Law of Moses, where immersion for forgiveness was not required. Thus, he was under no obligation to obey a command that is application only under the Christian law and dispensation. Jesus' statement "today you will be with Me in Paradise" indicates a few things. After death, the saved go immediately to a place of Paradise. We don't know as much about that place as we wish, but it is nice to know that our journey there will be immediate. And obviously we will know that we are there, for how can it be Paradise if we have no cognizance of it? Jesus spent His three days of "death" in that location, and the penitent thief would be there, too. As will we, if we are faithful to the Lord.

Jesus died the "ninth hour," or 3 PM. Some amazing things happened when He did--"the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two." Matthew mentions some other strange events that took place as well. (Mt. 27:51-53). Jesus, rightly, committed His spirit to the Father (v. 46), and passed into Paradise (v. 46). A Roman centurion recognized the character of Jesus and commented on it (v. 47), while the masses who had followed Him were distressed (v. 48). But they left the scene, while "His acquaintances and the women who followed Him" stayed within watching distance, no doubt to see what would happen to His body (v. 49).

Preparation for His burial (vs. 50-56)--A man named Joseph, from the city of Aramathea, and "a council member, a good and just man," (v. 50), who had not approved of Jesus' condemnation, and "who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God" (v. 51), asked Pilate for the body of Christ. His request was granted and Jesus' physical remains were placed in Joseph's own tomb (v. 53). The hour being late, proper preparations for that burial could not be completed. The women, who "observed the tomb and how His body was laid" (v. 55), had to wait until after the Sabbath to continue that work (v. 56). They were to receive quite a surprise when they returned early Sunday morning.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Luke 23, Part One

Jesus before Pilate, number 1 (vs. 1-5)--Luke has it very nicely and very logically laid out for us. At the end of chapter 22, he explained the "justification" of the Jewish leaders for putting Christ to death. But as I noted, that wouldn't mean anything to the Romans, so here in the first part of chapter 23, when they bring Jesus before Pilate--who had power of life or death over Him--they accuse Christ of "saying that He Himself is Christ, a King" (v. 2). That was designed to get the governor's attention.

Yet, Pilate was suspicious. He asked Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews," to which Jesus answered in the affirmative (v. 3). But then Pilate told the Jews, "I find no fault in this Man" (v. 4). The only conclusion I've been able to come to is that the governor thought Jesus was a harmless nut. The Jews responded to this by accusing Jesus of stirring up the people, creating dissension and civil disorder (v. 5). That would bother the Romans, too, but it's possible that Pilate had never heard of Jesus, or if he had, had no evidence that He had been creating disturbances. Pilate recognized, as Matthew wrote, that the Jewish leaders were simply jealous of Jesus and therefore, that He had done nothing wrong, much less deserving of death.

Jesus before Herod (vs. 6-12)--Luke provides this part of Jesus' trial, which is omitted by the other writers. When Pilate learned that Jesus was a Galilean, and thus under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him there, hoping that Herod could handle the matter. Herod had long wanted to see Jesus, "and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him" (v. 8). There's no pure motive here. Herod questioned Jesus, and when the Lord wasn't forthcoming with what was wanted, "treated Him with contempt and mocked Him," (v. 11), and returned Him to Pilate. Luke adds the curious thought that, though Pilate and Herod had been at odds up to that time, they now became friends. Why? Who knows? Maybe they had a good laugh together. Barnes suggests that the civility Pilate showed to Herod in the case may have had something to do with it, but it looks to me like the Roman governor was simply trying to get rid of Jesus, not show Herod respect. It's something we don't know for sure.

Before Pilate, number two (vs. 13-25)--So Jesus' fate rests in the hands of Pontius Pilate. Pilate again states that he found no fault with Jesus, "neither did Herod...and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him" (v. 15). So, the governor was going to "chastise Him (a sop to the Jews, no doubt) and release Him" (v. 16). Pilate, who was not a good man (see my addendum at the end of Matthew 27, Part 1, for some history of the man), was, however, in this case being imminently fair--with the exception of having Jesus beaten. There was no cause for that. But the hatred and lack of control of the Jewish rabble that had been brought together by the chief priests caused the governor some concern. Luke plainly says that Pilate wanted to release Jesus (v. 20), but it had to have been equally obvious to him that by doing so, he would have small riot on this hands. Pilate was in a quandary. If he crucified an innocent man, the Roman government was going to want to know why; Roman law was fair on these matters. But if Pilate couldn't control the people he governed, Rome would want to know the answer to that one, too, and he would probably have been replaced. Finally, however, he bent to the will of the Jewish leaders and condemned Christ to death. It was the easy way out for the governor, and does not speak highly of his ruling abilities.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Luke 22, Part Two

Jesus predicts Peter's denial (vs. 31-34)--The Lord tenderly indicates that Peter will slip in his faith (vs. 31-32), but will return. Peter objects, saying "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death" (v. 33). Easier said than done, and Peter obviously didn't do it--at least while Jesus was alive. Peter sank very low, of course, but never completely fell away.

Prepare for the work (vs. 35-38)--Jesus' words in this section are a little confusing. When He first sent them out (the so-called “limited commission,” see Matthew 10), they didn't need anything--all was providentially provided for them (v. 35). Now He tells them that they must prepare, and in effect, be ready to--at least partially--take care of themselves, and even defend themselves--if you don't have a sword, buy one (v. 36). But then, when they show Him two swords, He says "It is enough" (v. 38). It's possible that Christ's rather curt answer was to end a conversation that His disciples surely didn't understand anyway. I think the major point here is, once again, priorities. You (apostles) will have needs, but don't emphasize the physical over the spiritual.

Jesus in the garden (vs. 39-46)--Jesus then went to the garden of Gethsemane, where He often went to pray, and which was located on the Mount of Olives right outside the city. Jesus asked His disciples to pray, and then withdrew from them "about a stone's throw." It's not exactly clear how far that was, but it was common saying among the ancients. His prayer was given an immediate response by an angel appearing from heaven, "strengthening Him" (v. 43). He prayed in agony (v. 44). The "great drops of blood" (v. 44) were not really blood but indicate the intensity of His feelings. The disciples had fallen asleep "from sorrow" (v. 45). They may not have understood what was about to happen to Jesus, but they no doubt caught His somber mood and were affected by it themselves.

Judas betrays Jesus (vs. 47-53)--The chief priests, etc., had brought a rabble with them to arrest Jesus (v. 47), in case there was resistance from the twelve. That rabble might not have recognized Christ, so Judas plants the most famous kiss in human history. Peter--it was he, so John tells us--was indeed disposed to fight (v. 49), but Jesus didn't allow it. Christ mocks the religious leaders in verses 52-53. They could have arrested Him at any time in a public place, but they didn't have the guts to do it. So, they get one of His followers to betray Him and do the nefarious deed under the cover of darkness. Other gospel writers tell us that when Jesus succumbed to willingly, His disciples fled (cf. Mark 14:50).

Peter's denial (vs. 54-62)—Jesus was taken initially to the high priest's house; his name was Caiaphas (Mt. 26:57). John tells us it was Annas (John 18:24). Annas had indeed been high priest for several years, but the Romans had deposed him. So, to the Jews, Annas was still the legitimate high priest. Mark wrote to a Roman audience so they would have recognized the Roman action of removing Annas from his position. Peter had followed Jesus and stood in the courtyard, watching the action. He was confronted three times with his association with Jesus, and as Christ had told him, he denied the Lord all three times. Verse 61 is gut-wrenching: "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter." Imagine how Peter felt. Well, he ought to have felt horribly for what he had just done. "Peter went out and wept bitterly" (v. 62).

Christ's conviction (vs. 63-71)--The Jews had no authority, under Roman law, to put someone to death, so they had to find a reason. First of all, however, they needed an excuse they could give to their own people. So they questioned Jesus until he confessed "Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God" (v. 69). To the Jewish leaders, this amounted to blasphemy which was a capital crime under their law--but not under Roman. Before Pilate, they will accuse Jesus of claiming to be a king--which would have been treason and punishable by death under Roman law.

Luke 22, Part One

Judas agrees to betray Jesus--Technically, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was (in the Jewish calendar) Nisan 14 (the first month, our April), and Passover was from the 15th-21st. But the dates were so close that the events were called after the Feast. There would have been at least 100,000 people in Jerusalem at the time, so finding Jesus would have been tough for His enemies. "Satan entered Judas" (v. 3), and he agreed to deliver Jesus privately, and at a time when the masses would not be aware of it, or, as Luke says, "in the absence of the multitude" (v. 6).

Preparing for the Passover meal (vs. 7-13)--This semi-strange event--Jesus sending the Peter and John who found the man who opened his home to them--appears to have been a pre-arranged matter. Jesus had probably talked to the fellow beforehand. Men carrying a jar (v. 10) was an unusual thing, so he would be easy to spot.

The Last Supper (vs. 14-23)--This is such an important event that all four gospel writers record it. My thoughts in Matthew 26 cover the basic events, but I won't reproduce them here because I want to talk about the procedure of the Passover supper itself. It started with a prayer, and then the first of four cups of wine (perhaps unfermented) was drunk, plus a dish of herbs with a bitter sauce was eaten. The story of the institution of the Passover was then recited and Psalm 113 sung. The second cup of wine followed, and the main course was eaten: roast lamb with unleavened bread and herbs. Then there was a third prayer, the third cup was drunk, Psalms 114-118 were sung, and then the final cup of wine. We obviously get this information from secular Jewish sources. Luke adds an interesting statement by Jesus regarding the wine: "Take this and divide it among yourselves" (v. 17). This perhaps indicates that each apostle had his own individual cup, rather than all of them drinking from the same vessel. Obviously, the juice came from one container, but it is possible--probably likely--that each participant drank from his own cup.

Who is the greatest? (vs. 24-30)--The disciples then get into a petty discussion over "which of them should be considered the greatest" (v. 24). With Jesus on the verge of the cross, they could think of nothing but their own glory. And, even omitting Christ's immediate future, what were they doing arguing about this self-centered topic at the most important spiritual event in Judaism? Such indicates a gross immaturity and obtuseness on their part. Jesus tells them the world argues about such things, but "not so among you" (v. 26). His disciples will find true greatness in serving others (v. 26). For again, the world thinks of the servant as inferior to the master (v. 27), but Jesus gave the example of service as being the course they should follow (v. 27). Yet, He does make a promise to the apostles that their devotion to mankind will indeed be rewarded (vs. 29-30). No doubt He means eternally.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Luke 21

The widow's mites (vs. 1-4)--This short story is found in Mark 12:41-44. Here is what I wrote there: "It’s interesting that Jesus was sitting close to the treasury and observing how much people put in it. The rich “put in much” (v. 41). But here comes a poor widow who tossed in all she had—two mites. “Mites” were the smallest coin used by the Jews. Its current value cannot now be easily estimated, probably less than a penny. But, according to Jesus, she gave more than all the rich, “for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood" (v. 44). She gave the Lord everything she had, and then trusted Him to take care of her. Jesus definitely notices when we do that. Indeed, one could say it sums up what our total response to God should be." Luke really adds nothing to Mark's account so I have no further comments to make.

The destruction of the temple (vs. 5-7)--For most of the rest of the chapter we have Luke's version of Jesus' prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.; the last few verses speak of the Second Coming. This passage is parallel to Matthew 24 and I wrote three blog articles on that chapter, going into great detail as to the meaning and history behind God's temporal punishment of the Jews by the Roman armies. From 70 A.D. until the mid-20th century the Jewish people were scattered from Palestine, the land God gave to Abraham. And still to this day, most Jews live outside of Israel. If the reader wants a very full rendition of Jesus' teaching here, then I suggest you read my posts on Matthew 24.

But I will briefly summarize Luke's teaching here. Jesus announces, in verse 6, that the temple will be razed. In verse 7, He was asked when would this happen and what would the signs be leading up to it. Notice there is nothing asked, as recorded by Luke, about Christ's Second Coming; the query is totally about the destruction of the temple, i.e., Jerusalem. And that is the question Jesus answers for most of the chapter.

News of world calamities (vs. 8-11)--The Roman empire would be shaken by "wars and commotions" (v. 9), and earthquakes, famines, and "pestilences" (v. 11). There would also be some heavenly disturbances (v. 11), but we don't know what these were. False Christs would arise (v. 8), but Jesus warns "take heed that you be not deceived." These are events that will precede the coming desolation of Jerusalem.

Persecution of the disciples (vs. 12-19)--His apostles would suffer grievous persecution at the hands of unbelievers, from both Jews and Romans (v. 12). Some of this is recorded in the book of Acts and some in later historical accounts. Even their parents and near kin would betray them, and "they will put some of you to death" (v. 16). The Lord would be with them, however, and give them the message He wanted preached (v. 15). The "not a hair of your head shall be lost" (v. 18) probably has reference to eternal glory since He had just said some of them will be killed. Patience was necessary through all of what they would endure (v. 19).

Jerusalem surrounded (vs. 20-24)--Matthew and Mark spoke of an obscure "abomination of desolation;" Luke simply tells his Greek audience that Jerusalem would be "surrounded by armies." That would be the final signal for the disciples to flee the city (v. 21). Those would be "the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled" (v. 22). The destruction of Jerusalem was prophesied about in the Old Testament. Those who would have difficulty traveling (v. 23) might be caught in the melee. "Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (v. 24), i.e., until Rome had accomplished God's purpose in punishing the city and the Jewish people.

The coming judgment on Jerusalem (vs. 25-28)--This judgment is stated, by Christ, in figurative, even apocalyptic, language. And here I must reference the reader to my detail discussion of Matthew's account of this section. Because of length, I won't reproduce exactly what I wrote, but here is a link to that section which fully explains Jesus' meaning in these verses. It's extremely important due to the misconceptions so many have of this passage.   Here's the link:  Matthew 24:29-31

The parable of the fig tree (vs. 29-33)--Just as one see the "signs" of coming fruit on a fig tree, be assured, Jesus says, that when you (disciples) see the signs He's just mentioned, that Jerusalem's destruction is near. In verse 31, Jesus says that "know that the kingdom of God is near." The Greek word for "near" can either close in place or time; in this case, it probably means "place." The kingdom had been established with the church, thus the destruction of Jerusalem is one more evidence (as spoken of in the Old Testament) that the kingdom had come. Don't look for it in the future, Jesus says. It's with you, near to you, right now. Verse 33 closes with the emphatic statement that these things are going to happen because Jesus' words can never be voided or gainsaid.

The Second Coming (vs. 34-36)--While Matthew spends a lot of time on this subject, including all of chapter 25, Luke mentions it only briefly, simply because he doesn't record the apostles' question on the topic as Matthew did. Yet, in contrast to the destruction of Jerusalem, where the signs were specific, the "signs" preceding Christ's visible Second Coming are vague and indistinct. Actually, there are no signs. Always be ready. "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (v. 36).

Jesus continues to teach in the temple (vs. 37-38)--As long as He was alive, He continued to teach where He could be most effective. Since the temple was a gathering place of the Jews, it would be the best place in Jerusalem to spread His message.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Luke 20, Part Two

"Render therefore to Caesar" (vs. 20-26)--From my thoughts on Matthew 22:15-22: "The Pharisees sent some Herodians to Christ “that they might entangle Him in His talk” (v. 16). The “Herodians” were a political party following the Herods, who were Roman lackeys governing parts of Judea. The question they ask, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (v. 17), was a trap—the Jews didn’t believe they should pay taxes to a foreign power. They got this from Deuteronomy 17:14-15, which says, "When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.” Some of the Jews deduced from the last sentence that they should never pay tribute to another nation, which, of course, they had been required to do, frequently, in their history, and were under the same compulsion in Jesus’ time because of the Romans. Still, the question was ingenious. If Jesus took the common Jewish view that “no, you shouldn’t pay taxes to Caesar,” then He would be in trouble with the Romans. If He said, “yes, do pay,” then He could lose influence with the masses who hated the Romans. So, frankly, the Pharisees/Herodians didn’t care how He answered. Except they got the one answer they didn’t expect: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (v. 21). How could anybody argue with that answer? Incidentally, Jesus knew it was a trap and exposed it as so: “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?” (v. 18). He wanted others who were listening to understand what was going on.

One last thought here on this section: Jesus did not come as a political agitator or a “community organizer.” He came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10), and “to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Politicians and political empires come and go, rise and fall, wax and wane, and Jesus knew it. But there is only one chance at eternal salvation, and that’s what Jesus died for. If Christ were in America today, He would not be stirring up support for Obamacare or marching in “tea parties”; He would be doing the same thing He did in the first century—preaching the gospel, trying to save the lost. Because 100 years from now, there aren’t very many of us alive today who are going to care if Obama’s health care plan gets passed or not. But we will care about the location of our eternal spirit."

Luke tells us (v. 20) that the Pharisees did not directly come to Jesus with this question, but "sent spies who pretended to be righteous."  The "spies" were the "Herodians" Matthew mentions.  Christ, of course, recognized the hypocrisy whethere the masses did or not.

The Sadducees and the resurrection (vs. 27-40)--Matthew 22:23-33: "Next, it was the Sadducees turn to try Jesus: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother” (v. 24). This is true. In fact, it was culturally true even before the Law of Moses. God killed a man named Onan in Genesis 38:10 because he wouldn’t do it. But then the Sadducees came up with an absurd example. A man marries a woman, but dies with no children. His brother marries her, but then he dies with no children. There are seven brothers. They all marry her, in turn, but none of them have any children. So, “in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her” (v. 28). Interesting question.

To understand their question, we must know that the Sadducees were the “modernists” of their time. They did not believe in angels, a spirit world, or in a resurrection after death. Hence, the conundrum they propose to Jesus. If there is a resurrection, since all seven brothers were married to this woman, who’s she going to be married to in the next life?

Jesus responded, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (v. 29). There were two things wrong with the Sadducees’ position. Number one, “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (v. 30), so there will be no problem about whose wife that woman would be. But the real point Jesus wanted to make was in opposition to the Sadducees’ doctrine of “no resurrection,” and it’s a very remarkable argument Christ makes: “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (vs. 31-32). Who did Jehovah say that to? He said it to Moses in Exodus 3:6, at least 300 years after Jacob was dead. And yet, “I am the God of Abraham,” etc., not “I was.” In other words, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still alive in Moses’ day—though they were, of course, dead to this earth. Jesus’ argument is based on the tense of a verb. No wonder, “when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching” (v. 33)."

The Pharisees (scribes) liked Jesus' response here (v. 39) because they agreed with Him. The doctrine of a resurrection had long been a matter of dispute between the two Jewish sects. So when Jesus agreed with Pharisaic doctrine, they commended Him. That didn't happen very often, but it also indicates that they weren't going to budge from their ideas because they accepted very little of the rest of Jesus' teaching.

David's Lord and son (vs. 41-44)--Matthew 22:41-45: "Christ had answered all of their queries, now He throws one at them: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" (v. 42). “The Son of David" (v. 43). Jesus then poses a perplexing problem: "How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying: The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool? "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?" (vs. 43-45). Nobody knew the answer, which is found in the dual nature of the Messiah. In His human nature, He was descended from David, which the Jews well knew. But in His divine nature, He is obviously David’s Lord. What this whole chapter demonstrates, as Jesus takes on all comers and puts them to flight, is Christ’s superior understanding and wisdom. None of His opponents could match Him. The multitudes saw it. The Pharisees couldn’t handle it. They had two options: join Him or kill Him. And we know which choice they made. Especially after chapter 23... "

A warning about the scribes (vs. 45-47)--Luke doesn't go into the detail of condemning the scribes and Pharisees that Matthew does in chapter 23 of his gospel; hence, the reference at the end of the previous section. What Luke gives us is a very brief summation of Jesus' scathing rebuke of the hypocritical religious leaders of His time. This leads into Luke 21, which is parallel to Matthew 24. Luke's Greek audience wouldn't have the background in some of these matters that Matthew's Jewish readers had, thus Luke doesn't spend as much time with them. A major theme of the first gospel is the conflict between the Jews and Christ leading to the destruction of Jerusalem. That wasn't as important to Luke's Gentile readers.

Luke 20, Part One

"By what authority?" (vs. 1-8)--Nearly all of Luke 20 is covered in the previous two gospels so I will spend most of this chapter reproducing thoughts from earlier blogs. Where Luke adds, I will, too.

This section is found, almost verbatim, in Matthew 12:23-27. It's an important passage on authority. Here is what I wrote there: "The conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders ratchets up significantly now; the rest of this chapter and the next two are given to this theme. As He went back into the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people asked Him by what authority He did His deeds (v. 23). Jesus turns it back on them: “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John--where was it from? From heaven or from men?" (vs. 24-25). He had them trapped. They had not submitted to John, either, so if they replied, “from heaven,” then Jesus would ask them “'Why then did you not believe him?'” (v. 25). But if they said “from men,” then “we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet" (v. 26). So they answered “We do not know” (v. 27), to which Jesus responded, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (v. 27). A key point in this section is to indicate to us that there are only two sources of religious authority: from heaven and from men. Obviously, we must have heaven’s approval for what we do. We must be careful, in all that we do, that we are not following the “commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9), for such constitutes vain service and worship to God."

Too many people today ground the authority for their religious acts in the words of men. Jesus plainly indicates here that such is not what God wants.

Parable of the vinedressers (vs. 9-18)--From Matthew 21:33-46 (also found in Mark 12:1-12): "A landowner planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country. At harvest time, he sent his servants to the vinedressers to receive the fruit. The vinedressers abused them all—“beat one, killed one, and stoned another” (v. 35). The landowner sent more servants, but “they [the vinedressers] did likewise to them” (v. 36). Finally, the landowners sent his son, “saying, ‘They will respect my son.” (v. 37). But the vinedressers killed him, thinking they could receive the inheritance. “Therefore,” Jesus asked His listeners, “when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do with those vinedressers?” (v. 40). And the response was the expected and correct one: “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons" (v. 41). Jesus then made the application: “Have you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD'S doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?” (v. 42). The kingdom of God would be taken from them and “given to a nation bearing the fruits worthy of it” (v. 44). The parable is pretty clear. The “landowner” is God, the “vinedressers” are the Jews, and the “servants” are the Old Testament prophets. The “son,” of course, is Jesus. Since the Jews never heeded God’s message through the prophets or Jesus, they would not be the leading citizens in the kingdom; the "nation worthy of it" would be the Gentiles. And that “stone” which the builders rejected is Jesus, of course. The religious leaders got the point: “Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them” (v. 45). But there was nothing they could do at the moment, “because they [the multitudes] took Him for a prophet” (v. 46). Jesus never lost His popularity with the masses; that’s why He had to be tried at night, illegally, and put on the cross before the people found out what was going on.”

It's interesting that Luke has one minor difference from Matthew and Mark. In verses 16, in answer to Jesus' statement that the owner would destroy the vinedresser, the Pharisees, et al, responded, "God forbid." And the context indicates that they recognized that the import of the parable was directed towards them and that God would take the kingdom from them and give it to Gentiles. But Jesus quotes an Old Testament passage which, in effect, supports His reasoning. There was no answer to that. Verse 18 means that those who follow the Lord will suffer some grievance and persecution, but that is much better than what will happen to those who do not.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Luke 19, Part Two

The triumphant entry into Jerusalem (vs. 28-40)--Here are my thoughts on this event as recorded in Matthew 21:1-11: "Jesus makes His final trip to Jerusalem. He sent His apostles after a donkey and colt, and rode into the city. A great multitude thronged Him and “spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road” (v. 8). They shouted praises to Him as well: “Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' Hosanna in the highest!" (v. 9). The word “Hosanna” means “save now,” or “save, we pray.” Jesus' entry into Jerusalem in this manner was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Matthew quotes Zechariah 9:9: “Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (v. 5). Interestingly, some people didn’t know Him (v. 10), but Jesus hadn’t spent much, if any, time in Jerusalem the previous two years."

Luke adds something in verses 39 and 40 that Matthew and Mark do not have. Anytime Jesus was honored by the multitudes, the Pharisees were incensed, so they asked Jesus to "rebuke" His disciples (v. 39). His response was "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out" (v. 40). "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord (Ps. 150:6), and in this case, Jesus says even the stones would do it. We see again here the prejudice of the Pharisees and the ignorance of their own book. As noted, this event was the fulfillment of prophecy. They should have been aware of that and recognized Jesus as their Messiah. But they didn't.

Weeping over Jerusalem (vs. 41-44)--Jerusalem had been God's city for almost 1,000, ever since David conquered it in the 10th century B.C. The people He had done so much for would reject Jesus. Even though the masses were still with Him, most of them, once they learned the true nature of His mission after His resurrection, would not accept Him. This constant, centuries long rebellion against God, with the final act being the crucifixion of the One Who came to redeem mankind, would lead to Jerusalem horrid destruction by the Roman armies in 70 A.D. Jesus references this in verses 43 and 44: "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another." He will go into more detail about this is chapter 21, which is Luke's parallel to Matthew 24 and Mark 13. "The things that make for your peace" (v. 41) was the acceptance of Christ, of course; they would not have been punished had they done so. But they did not know when He "visited" them, though they should have. They had no one to blame but themselves. And if we reject Him, the same is true.

Driving out the profit makers (vs. 45-48)--Jesus did this twice in His ministry. It obviously angered to see the calloused hearts that would make money, greedily, off the religious needs of others. And, for many who came and bought the animals being sold, it was convenient. They didn't have to sacrifice anything they owned; they could just buy what was offered when they arrived at the temple. His anger, and His teaching "daily in the temple" (v. 47), was simply more incentive for “the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders,” who “sought to destroy Him" (v. 47). But again, they were restrained from doing so, "for all the people were very attentive to hear Him" (v. 48). Their time would come, of course, and it would only be a few days in the future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Luke 19, Part One

Zaccheus, the rich tax collector (vs. 1-10)--Another lengthy chapter in Luke begins with the well-known story of "wee little Zaccheus." He was a "chief" tax collector (v. 2), which means he presided over others and passed their collections on to Rome--after taking his fair, or perhaps unfair, share. Yet there was something good in him, because "he sought to see who Jesus was" (v. 3), and the rest of the story indicates that this wasn't just idle curiosity. However, Zaccheus was a short man who couldn't glimpse Christ because of the crowds. So he used some ingenuity. Knowing the direction Jesus was headed, he went and climbed a tree (v. 4) so that he would be in a position to spot Jesus when He came by. The Lord knew him (v. 5), probably miraculously, and also knowing his heart, invited Himself to Zaccheus' house--something a little beyond the pale of hospitality, but the Lord can go anywhere He wants. Plus, He was about to convey a far greater blessing on Zaccheus than Zaccheus was to Him. The tax man "received Him joyfully" (v. 6). Because of Zaccheus' profession, "they" complained (v. 7); who the "they" were is not mentioned, but almost surely the same leaders who had been complaining about everything else Jesus had done. Zaccheus gave abundant evidence of his repentant attitude (v. 8), and Jesus blessed him with salvation. It's interesting that, unlike the rich ruler of chapter 18, Christ didn't require Zaccheus give up the totality of his wealth. God knows the heart and apparently realized that Zaccheus wasn't as tied to his money as the young ruler had been. The section closes with Jesus announcing to all who would/could hear why He chose to eat with someone most Jews despised: "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (v. 10). The Pharisees would never have touched Zaccheus; if left in their hands, he would have been lost. But it is the heart which is important to God, and anyone, regardless of how wicked, can be accepted if they truly repent.

The parable of the pounds (vs. 11-27)--The term "kingdom of God" can be somewhat confusing and often needs the context to identify it. In this case, Jesus is speaking of the eternal reign of God in heaven; the parable He tells indicates that. As noted many times in my blog articles, the Jews were expecting an earthly kingdom; their Messiah would bring that when He came. Thus, they anticipated Jesus would establish it and that was one reason so many of them were upset at Him--He didn't do it. Yet, many of the features of that expected earthly kingdom were the same, in principle, as the eternal reign in heaven--peace, protection, sustenance, worship of the one true God, and so forth. That kingdom was not near in time. Verse 12 indicates the "nobleman" (representing Christ) went into a "far country"--it would thus take him a long time to return. The "far country" represents Jesus' current abode, heaven, where He "receive[d] for himself a kingdom"--He now reigns over His earthly spiritual kingdom, the church (I Tim. 6:15; Col. 1:13). This also indicates the two uses of "kingdom"--Jesus went to heaven (the nobleman went to a far country) to receive a kingdom. He has that kingdom now and will return in the future to settle accounts with His servants; those who have been faithful will enter the eternal home where God reigns forever. Before he had left on his journey, the nobleman had laid responsibilities upon his servants to "do business till I come" (v. 13); we have a duty to work for the Lord while we are on this earth. Some of the nobleman's new "citizens" did not wish to have Him rule over them (v. 14); some people, in and out of the church simply do not desire to submit to the Lord. They will get theirs in the end.

This parable is similar to that of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Various amounts of money ("pounds" in the KJV, "minas" in the NKJV) had been left with various servants. Three servants are illustrated here (as in Matthew 25). The first two served well, the third did not. That which had been given to the third servant was transferred to the first (v. 24), indicating that the Lord will reward great service with even greater blessings; we cannot outgive God and He is fully aware of what we do for Him. The grand blessings we enjoy on earth, if not used properly, will not exist in eternal damnation (v. 26). And as for those who refused to let the nobleman serve as their king, "bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me" (v. 27). Failure to submit to Him will result in punishment when He does return. They will get what they deserve for refusing to recognize Him as King.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Luke 18, Part Two

The rich young ruler (vs. 18-30)--This story is also found in Matthew and Mark, and, since Luke really adds nothing substantial to those earlier accounts, I will reproduce here what I wrote in Matt. 19:

"This story actually continues into chapter 20, as we shall see. A young man, rich, and a ruler (according to Luke, though he doesn’t say a “ruler” of what; probably a synagogue) asks Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life (v. 16). What a great question. More people ought to be asking it. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments of the law he was living under (Moses). The young man responded that he had done that; “What do I still lack?” (v. 20). Jesus, “beholding him, loved him,” (Mark 10:21), and then told him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matt. 19:21). The young man went away sorrowfully because he had great wealth; he loved his money more than he loved his God. Jesus then said, “I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (v. 23) This astonished the disciples: “Who then can be saved?” (v. 25). They were operating under the Jewish assumption that the rich were the blessed of God; they must be the righteous because Jehovah had dealt so bountifully with them. It’s the poor who must be out of favor with God. So if the rich can’t be saved, who can? Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly; they’ll understand eventually. Peter then asks a rather self-serving question: “See, we have left all and followed you. Therefore what shall we have?” (v. 27). Jesus gives him two answers: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (v. 29). And the apostles actually will have a special place (v. 28). So, indeed, if we leave all and follow Jesus, we will be well taken care of by the Lord. But…”many who are first will be last, and the last first” (v. 30). Jesus’ second answer to Peter’s question is found in chapter 20, and we’ll look at it in that chapter summary."

Luke doesn't record the follow-up information of Matthew 20, so here is a link to that passage if the reader wishes to get the entire teaching.  Matthew 20:1-16

Christ's coming passion (vs. 31-34)--Jesus told His disciples repeatedly that He would be crucified and resurrected. "But they understood none of these things" (v. 34). So foreign to their thinking was the idea of a "crucified" Messiah that they simply could not comprehend what Jesus was saying. We have here a great example of the power of propaganda and false teaching. The Jews of the first century (and even today) have been taught that their Messiah would be an earthly conqueror, not a suffering Savior. What Jesus was speaking was something His apostles had never heard before or even considered. To how many today is the truth wholly incomprehensible, even if they were raised within a "Christian" environment, simply because they have been instructed in error their entire lives? But Jesus said that His coming death, etc., were things that were "written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man" (v. 31). The Jews wholly misunderstood and misinterpreted their own book. It is a danger we must earnestly guard against today.

Blind Bartimaeus (vs. 35-43)--Interestingly, each of the three gospel writers who record this event approach it somewhat differently. Matthew tells us that there were actually two blind men (Matt. 20:29-34). Marks mentions only one of them (Mark 10:46-52), but tells us that his name was Bartimaeus. Luke also writes of only one blind beggar but doesn't tell his name. Just because certain details are omitted by other writers doesn't make the passages contradictory; the purpose of the writer is what's important, and, by inspiration, each of the three evangelists chose what features he considered necessary and proper. The end result was the same. Jesus worked a great miracle, and "all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God" (v. 43). The multitudes were still with Christ, even though He is very near His time of death. It was the religious leaders who crucified Him, and they did it illegally, and at night, because of His popularity among the masses.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Luke 18, Part One

Pray and don't lose heart (vs. 1-8)--Sometimes it seems that God just doesn't answer our prayers. He always does, of course, always looking out for our best spiritual interests. But often the answer is delayed, and for an extended period of time. This context seems to deal with matters of persecution (vs. 7-8), but the principle of praying consistently and not losing heart is found elsewhere (cf. Lk. 11:1-13). Jesus tells a short parable to enforce the idea. A widow continued to plead her case before "a judge who did not fear God nor regard man" (v. 2). Finally, the widow so wearied him that he ruled in her favor, in effect just to shut her up (v. 5). The point is not that God is unjust or that we should “badger” Him; the teaching is that if an unjust judge will grant the request of someone whom he cares nothing for, how much more will a loving, holy God answer those who He cares much for, "though He bears long with them" (v. 7). It is easy sometimes to give up when we think God does not hear. Jesus teaches us not to do that, regardless of the circumstances and regardless of how long the answer is deferred. In verse 8, Jesus muses that, when He returns, will He find any fidelity on the earth? There won't be much, that's for sure (Matt. 7:13-14). Clarke applies this thought to the Jews and their homeland which is a possible interpretation.

The Pharisee and the publican (vs. 9-14)--Jesus, unlike many preachers today, did not avoid telling people what they needed to hear. There were a group listening to him "who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (v. 9). They weren't putting their hope in God, they believed they were so righteous that He owed them salvation. This wasn't an uncommon thought among the Jews of that day, viz., that they would be redeemed simply because they were Jews. Jesus, in this short section, forthrightly disabuses them of that notion. The Pharisee did many good things--he prayed, he wasn't an extortionist, unjust, and adulterer or even a "wicked" tax collector. He fasted and tithed. These were all proper matters for a Jew. But it was in these things that he trusted, not in God. His religion was not based on God's grace and goodness, but his own deeds. The despised publican was so humble he did not even feel worthy of "rais[ing] his eyes to heaven" (v. 13), did not announce to God his own goodness, but simply asked for mercy--"God, be merciful to me a sinner!" He acknowledged his need for a grace that he could not earn. And Jesus said "this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (v. 14). The extremity of Jesus' example was surely not lost on His hearers. The Jews could never believe that one who collected taxes for the hated Romans could ever be justified in God's sight. But humility and the heart are the first things God looks at. It is that individual He can do something with (Matt. 5:3-4). "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isaiah 66:2). That does not describe the Pharisee of this parable.

The necessity of humble faith (vs. 15-17)--This section is not unrelated to the previous one. Instead of the arrogant, self-righteous attitude exhibited by the Pharisees, we must have the humble, trusting demeanor of a child, if we wish to enter the kingdom of God. If the previous section immediately preceded this one, then the disciples hadn't gotten the point of the parable, either, for they rebuked people who wanted Jesus to bless their children (v. 15). Some like to see infant baptism in verse 17, but this cannot be. If "whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it" is literal, then no one past the childhood years could be saved. Obviously this is not Jesus' meaning. The attitude of humble faith is the meaning He is trying to convey.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Luke 17, Part Two

"The kingdom of God is within you" (vs. 20=37)--This is a difficult passage for reasons that I shall duly note. There are two main themes in it, and they are related--the kingdom and judgment. The Pharisees wanted to know when the kingdom would come (v. 20); in proper Jewish fashion, they were expecting a physical, earthly realm. Jesus informs them--and us--that the kingdom is not physical, it cannot be seen, it is within us (v. 21). The kingdom and the church are the same (Col. 1:13), but the kingdom is not synonymous with a church building, or necessarily all the people who appear inside it. Only God truly knows the heart, i.e., that which is "within" us, and thus only He can truly tell us who is part of His body. Physical existence in a physical kingdom can be identified; spiritual actuality cannot. Such is what makes premillennialism with its hope for an earthly kingdom improper and erroneous. Those who believe that doctrine have never truly understood the spiritual nature of God's true reign. It was the mistake of the Jews in the first century as well, and, as noted, the source of the question Jesus is asked here.

The Lord then turns His attention to His disciples for the rest of the discussion, which is the difficult part of this section. In verse 22, He intimates that there will come days when they will desire, in vain, the opportunities they now had of returning to God. He is speaking in general terms here; His disciples will follow Him and enjoy the blessings of a relationship with God, but too many Jews (and others) will not. Nearly all of the language Jesus uses in the remainder of this chapter (vs. 22-37) is the same as what He speaks in Matthew 24. The problem comes from the fact that some of Matthew 24 concerns the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and some of it with the Second Coming, and there is some of both in Luke 17:23-37. So is Jesus discussing the destruction of Jerusalem here, or His Second Coming? It's virtually impossible to tell. A general judgment might be in view--at some point, it will be too late to enter God's kingdom. In summary, He tells us not to be deceived by false Christs (v. 23); His judgments come swiftly, surely, and most men are usually unaware of them (v. 24). Before any final judgment takes place (either temporally upon the Jews or spiritually upon all men), the Lord will be crucified (v. 25). Most people, as noted, will be unaware of any coming judgment; they will be going about their daily activities, unconcerned about their spiritual welfare, just like in the days of Noah and Lot (vs. 26-29). Similar language in Matthew 24 applies to the Second Coming (Matt. 24:37-39). The reference to Lot is not found in Matthew 24 but makes the same point. "The day when the Son of Man is revealed" (v. 30) will be just like those days. Verse 31 is the really confusing verse because in Matthew 24, the same statement is found in reference to the coming destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:17-18). If Luke 17:31 refers to the Second Coming of Christ, there isn't going to be time to gather our goods or come in from the field; this would only be true if an imminent escape from earthly peril were necessary. So, as I mentioned, in this section Jesus borrows thoughts from both the coming destruction of Jerusalem and His Second Coming. Whatever the exact meaning, verse 33 perhaps is the most important concept: "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." When judgment comes, we must ready and prepare for it in this life. Some will be saved, some lost (vs. 34-35). "Where will this happen?" the apostles asked (v. 37). The Lord's answer is taken again from the destruction of Jerusalem reference (Matt. 24:28), but in this instance can be generically applied: wherever there is sin, there will be punishment.

The kingdom of God--the church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the sheep, whatever figure one wishes to use to describe the Lord's people--is not a visible thing. Where does the kingdom exist? Wherever there are faithful Christians. And the Lord warns us, in no uncertain terms, that judgment is coming. "Remember Lot’s wife" (v. 32). Don't look back and long for world. Keep moving forward in escaping the terrible judgment that will befall those who seek to save their lives for the pleasures of this world. Whatever else this passage teaches, it certainly teaches these great lessons.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Luke 17, Part One

Forgiving a brother (vs. 1-4)--Sin will be with us until the Lord comes back: "it is impossible that no offenses should come" (v. 1). If we lead others astray, woe be to us. We need to help one another on the heavenly journey. If our brother sins against us, we should "rebuke him." "Rebuke" is a harsh word, but hell is a harsh location, and saving a soul from eternal damnation is far more important than our passing feelings. Do what it takes to save the one who sins. Of course, all our actions should be done in love, with genuine concern for those who trespass.

But notice, Jesus says "if he repents, forgive him." We must always have a desire and heart to forgive, but if someone does not repent, we cannot forgive; we cannot be more magnanimous than God, and He bases His forgiveness upon our humble, contrite repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30). But as often as our brother sins and repents, so often we should forgive (v. 4). That is exactly what God does.

"Increase our faith" (vs. 5-10)--The apostles have a desire here that all of us should have--more faith in God. Faith comes from hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Jesus doesn't explain that here, He simply gives encouragement to have that greater faith. Even a small amount of faith can do wondrous things (v. 6). But it is a faith that must serve God, and not expect Him to serve us. The master of a manor does not wait on his servant when the latter comes in from the field; no, that master demands that he be served first. He certainly provides for his workers: "afterward [after the master has been served] you will eat and drink" (v. 8). Nor does the master thank his servant for his service; such is what the servant is supposed to do (v. 9). Thus, "when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'" (v. 10). Even after we have done all that the Lord commands us to do, we still fall far short of His holy and divine standard. Ask Him to thank us for what we do? How presumptuous can one get. Serve Him faithfully and appreciate what He gives and does for us.

"Where are the nine?" (vs. 11-19)--Speaking of ingratitude, here we have a marvelous example of it, and indeed, an illustration of the parable Jesus has just spoken. Ten lepers spot Him as He was on His journey to Jerusalem (vs. 11-12). They ask for mercy, i.e., that He might heal them of their dreaded disease (v. 13). The Lord commands, as the book of Leviticus describes (Lev. 13 and 14), that they go and let the priests examine them (v 14). On their way to Jerusalem, they were healed. One of them, a Samaritan, made the trek back to Christ and thanked Him (v. 16). Jesus expresses some amazement, and perhaps chagrin, that the other nine didn't have enough gratitude to express such to Him. Perhaps they didn't want to be bothered with the several mile journey back to Him, or perhaps, being Jews, they expected God to do these things for them. Regardless, Jesus told the one who returned, "your faith has made you well" (v. 19). This is an illustration of the power of faith, the thought of which Jesus had spoken back up in verse 6.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Luke 16, Part Two

The rich man and Lazarus (vs. 19-31)--This entire chapter relates to money, or more generally, worldly matters, that we simply must not allow these things to come between us and God and thus cost us our eternal soul. The rich man in the story that Jesus relates here did was guilty of that very thing. Whether this is a parable or not--a subject that has been debated, but the text doesn't tell us--is really a side issue to the point Jesus is making. The rich man neglected spiritual things for worldly pursuits and ended up in eternal torment. Lazarus, by implication, was righteous and would dwell forever in "Abraham's bosom." The Jews had no doubt that Abraham was in paradise, and surely that is so. They boasted of being his friend, and thus to be in his "bosom" eternally would be the highest honor they could have. So Jesus is using an illustration they would understand.

In verse 23, the word in the Greek is "hades," from which our English word "hades" comes. The KJV has "hell," while the ASV and NKJV use the term "Hades." This is apparently the realm of the dead as they await the final judgment. There is some reference to this also in II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. When we die, we go either to "paradise"--the realm Lazarus was in or "tartarus," the location of the rich man. "Tartarus" (again, literal Greek) is used in II Peter 2:4 regarding the location of "the angels who sinned." Since we are dealing with spiritual, eternal matters here, I think it behooves us not to be too dogmatic about it, but this seems to be the evidence we have at the moment.

But, we mustn't get distracted by that in this section. The rich man, in torments, wanted just a drop of water (v. 24), and asks Abraham to send Larazus with that blessing. Abraham said it can't be done because of the gulf between the two realms (v. 25). Notice that in his torment, the rich man could see the enjoyment of paradise; that surely made his suffering even worse. But it was his own fault; he had his chance to avoid that place, but he didn't avail himself of the opportunity. His next request was for Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn his five brothers because he knew that, in their present spiritual condition, they would join him (vs. 27-28). The message from eternal damnation is "obey the Lord." Abraham was blunt in his response: "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (v. 29). The Word of God tells them how to be saved and that's all they needed. That wasn't sufficient for the rich man; his brothers wouldn't believe that, but would believe if someone were raised from the dead (v. 30). And Abraham refutes that with an interesting comment: "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead" (v. 31). The issue is not one of evidence; the Bible provides plenty of proof that it is indeed God's Word and sufficient for our salvation. The problem was the heart. An honest and good heart will receive the word (Luke 8:15). The fact that a resurrection was insufficient for belief was evidenced--is evidenced even to this very day—in Jesus Himself. He was raised from the dead, yet was, and is, rejected by most people. His own case illustrates plainly that people won't believe on that basis alone. We don't need miracles today; we have the all-sufficient word (II Tim. 3:16-17). That is enough, if we will only hear and believe it.

Luke 16, Part One

The parable of the wicked, but wise, steward (vs. 1-13)--Verse 1 tells us the Jesus is now speaking to His disciples, and indeed, this parable is especially for those who follow Him. In sum, a man's steward was "wasting his [master’s] goods" (v. 1). The steward was fired (v. 2), but with no unemployment insurance, figured that he would end up destitute (v. 3). So he came up with a scheme that would put others in his debt (v. 4). He went to his master's creditors and had each of them pay less than he truly owed--in effect, cheating his master (vs. 5-7). Yet, "the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly" (v. 8). Jesus is not condoning what the man did; indeed He calls him "unjust." But His major point is found at the end of verse 8: "For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light." The man had acted astutely in preparing for his future, and unfortunately, too often the wicked show more care and prudence in providing for the necessities of this life than the righteous do in preparing for the next. This world is not our home, but too often we act like it is and don't demonstrate the proper wisdom in living for the day when we will no longer be on this earth. In verse 9 Jesus is instructing the wise use of the things of this world; we DO exist here, for a season, but the goods, the "unrighteous mammon" of this world is of no eternal value. Use these things only as they will aid us in being received "into an everlasting home" (v. 9). Money is a "little thing," and if we can't use the unimportant faithfully, then how will the Lord ever trust us with the greater, more valuable, spiritual riches of the kingdom? (vs. 10-12). There can be only one Master. Serve Him, rather than the world, and be wise in the use of this world's goods (v. 13). Again, Jesus emphasizes priorities. The things of this world are given to us, by God, for our use; He knows we need them. We must not become attached to them, however, for they will pass away. Prepare for the eternal life to come. That is true wisdom.

Jesus chides the Pharisees (vs. 14-18)--Yet the Pharisees, as always, were hanging around and heard what Jesus said about money. Being "lovers of money" they "derided Him" (v. 14). The spiritual shallowness and worldliness of these people are in evidence here. And they were the religious leaders of the day! No wonder Judaism was in such sad shape. Jesus comes right back at them, however, by denouncing their carnality. What they exalted (worldly things) is an abomination in the sight of God. The new dispensation draws nigh (v. 16), the kingdom of God, and it is worth fighting for. The idea of "everyone pressing into it," or "entereth violently into it" (KJV) is just that--the kingdom is worth every effort we can make to get into it, even if we have to be violent about it. We must not let anything keep us from salvation. The idea of "violence" is a hyperbole; the Lord doesn't want that kind of behavior in His people. But it illustrates just how valuable the kingdom of God is and how urgent our entrance into it is. The message Jesus was preaching was true; it summed up even the Jews’ own law (v. 17). The relation of verse 18 on marriage is a little obscure, but could be an example of how the Pharisees refused to obey important matters of the Law, regardless of their great pretensions to righteousness.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Luke 15

The parable of the lost sheep (vs. 1-7)--Jesus, as always, drew a crowd; in this case despised "tax collectors" and "sinners." The latter term describes all of us, of course, but perhaps this a noted group of wicked people. Regardless, another contingent of sinners--who didn't recognize that they were--condemned Jesus for Him improper associations. I speak here of the "Pharisees and scribes" (v. 3). They were so self-righteous in their demeanor that they had no intention of helping anyone. But Jesus came "to seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10), and thus any human being in that condition came under the purview of His mission. Which means, of course, every human being of accountable age and mind.

Jesus speaks three parables in response to the Pharisaic complaint. The first, in verses 4-7, indicates the deep concern the Lord has for every lost soul. A man who has 100 sheep, if he loses one, will search diligently until he finds it (v. 4). He rejoices when he does (v. 5), and invites his friends to share in his joy (v. 6). The application is found in verse 7: "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." Every single, solitary soul is precious to the Lord. The idea of "sheep" in this parable probably does not refer to those in the church who have wandered away; that will be covered in the last parable. The meaning here is that every helpless sinner is worthy of our exhausting all efforts to find and bring him back. How many of us truly do this? Jesus gave everything He had for the lost. Our efforts are meager indeed in comparison.

The parable of the lost coin (vs. 8-10)--This story has the same point as the previous one. There are those who do not even know they are lost, or at best, have no intention, on their own, of making the attempt required to be saved. We must seek them anyway. Keep in mind the initial context, the annoyance of the Pharisees that Jesus would associate with sinners. The Lord tells them that each soul is worth whatever endeavor is necessary to redeem them.

The lost boy (vs. 11-32)--More popularly, we call this boy the "prodigal son." He is in his father's house, doesn't appreciate it, and wants to leave (v. 12). The father, who represents God, of course, does not attempt to prevent the son from leaving; if we wish to go our own way, we have the freedom of choice to do so. Not surprisingly, back in sin, the son ends up in a pigpen (v. 16). But "he came to himself" (v. 17) and realized how good he had it back home. Not every wandering Christian makes that determination, but some do and this story certainly applies to them. The boy returns home. His father sees him "when he was still a great way off"--He's looking for us, hoping we will return (v. 20)--had compassion on him, and welcomed him home joyfully. The son was contrite, and correctly so (v. 21), but the father, in the story, paid no mind to that (v. 22) and prepared a great feast of rejoicing. Again, the sinner--whether non-Christian or fallen saint--always brings humanly inexplicable joy in heaven when they repent and come back to God.

Yet there were two sons in this story, an elder son who had remained at home, yet not with a proper attitude. When he heard the merriment of the feast, he inquired of its nature and was told that his brother had returned home (vs. 25-27). He was angry and would not attend the banquet that had been prepared for sibling (v. 28). The father came out "and pleaded with him" (v. 28). The eldest son complained that he had continued loyal to his father while his brother had "devoured your livelihood with harlots" (v. 30). The father had never given such a feast for him though he professed his faithfulness "these many years" (v. 29). His accusation was not totally true; he had the blessings of the household all the time--in other words, a "feast" every day. His attitude is indicated in verse 29 where five times he uses either I, me, or my. He wasn't thinking of his brother, he was thinking of himself. The father rightly points out that he should have joy that his lost brother had returned. And note, the younger brother was "dead" and "lost"--those words do not speak of the "impossibility of apostasy."

Some have seen here, in the older son, the Jews in general and in the younger son, the Gentiles. This is extremely problematic; the Gentiles had yet to be in the father's house so they could not have left it. Two points stand out in this parable. In contrast to the first two parables, where the sheep and the coin are sought after, there is no attempt in the third parable to go after the lost son. This indicates, as I noted earlier, that there are lost people who, in effect, do not know they are lost and thus we must seek to find them. But the boy in the third parable had been in God's house, knew of its blessings, and deliberately left. There's not much that can be done for such a soul. Now, the parable is not designed to teach that we should not try to restore the erring; parables do not teach every responsibility we have, and elsewhere in the New Testament, we are given instructions regarding Christians who have forsaken the Lord (cf. Gal. 6:1; James 5:19-20). We simply learn from this parable that, if we go, the Lord will not hinder us. We make our own choices.

The second point I'd like to make is that the elder son does not represent the Jewish people as a whole, but Jesus here is taking a slap at the scribes and Pharisees who actuated these stories in the first place. They weren't concerned about the lost, and Jesus' attempts to teach “tax collectors” and “sinners” were met with scorn. The religious leaders of Christ's day had a self-centered attitude just like the elder brother in the parable. Whether they got the point or not is not stated.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Luke 14, Part Two

The Great Feast (vs. 15-24)--That the previous section on humility is tied with the beginning of the chapter on Sabbath healing is further indicated by verse 15--Jesus is still at the dinner He had been invited to. Before getting further into the current section, let's ponder a moment as to why Jesus would have been invited to that dinner in the first place. He was dealing with suspicious Pharisees (v. 1) who didn't agree with what He said, so part of the reason for the invitation has to be the desire to entrap Him. But also, these Pharisees loved the praises and adoration of men; that was the foundation of verses 7-14. By being seen with Jesus, perhaps some of His popularity would rub off on them. There was no pure motive in the invitation. Jesus was being used by these religious leaders; of course, He turned the situation around and used them for some great teaching.

The attitude of the Jewish people in general was implied in the statement in verse 15 of one of the people at the dinner: "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" There is almost no doubt that the fellow meant only Jews. They had an earthly concept of the kingdom in which they, and their Messiah, would rule over the world. Thus, they would be the chosen in that kingdom. Jesus will, once again, in the parable He speaks, disabuse them of that notion. The man who gave the "great supper" (v. 16) represents God. It is overwhelming to think that Holy God is making a feast for Sinful Man. We ought to be serving Him, not visa-versa, and the fact that we have been invited, by Him, to enjoy the superlative blessings He can offer ought to humble us with a gratitude beyond human words to explain. But that isn't what happens with most people, of course. In the parable, the feast was prepared--the gospel age with its offering of forgiveness and salvation was "spread" before man, "for the Jew first and also for the Greek [Gentile]" (Romans 1:16). The man sent out his servants--probably representing the apostles--to bid those who had invited to "Come, for all things are now ready" (v. 17). But "they all with one accord began to make excuses" (v. 18). One went to inspect a piece of property he had bought (v. 18). A second wanted to tend to a yoke of oxen he had (v. 19). These first two fellows at least had the decency to ask to be excused. The third, in verse 20, simply said "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come," as if the supper were of absolutely no importance to him. Notice that none of these things, in their place, are wrong. They were not sinful, they were simply worldly things that got in the way of serving God. And Jesus said they were "excuses," not valid reasons. Once again, we are dealing with priorities. The master of the house--he who had prepared the feast--was understandably "angry"; how else would God react to man's rejection of the incredible, undeserved blessings He offers? We deserve hell; He freely offers us heaven. How disgusting and vile we are when we reject His offer, and how worthy we thus become of what we truly deserve. The master then bid his servants to go and invite others--"the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind" (v. 21). Harken back to verse 13 where Jesus counseled the religious leaders to do that very thing at the dinners they offered. God is concerned with the lowly; we must be, too. After the servants had done as bidden, "there is still room" (v. 22). So, they were to "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (v. 23). This is almost surely a reference to the Gentiles, because Jesus sums up the parable by having the master say, "For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper" (v. 24). Whether those at the dinner Jesus was attending got the point is not revealed, but they probably understood and weren't very happy about it. But, the Jews could not--and cannot--say that Jesus didn't warn them. He certainly did. And their rejection of Him is totally their own fault.

Priorities once again emphasized (vs. 25-33)--We find in the rest of chapter 14 some of the severest, strictest teaching Jesus ever delivered, and these words were spoken to "great multitudes." Everyone must understand the cost of Christianity. Yes, salvation is freely offered to man; it costs men nothing. But the great paradox of the religion costs men everything. When Jesus says in verse 26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple,” He is not speaking literally, of course. He is simply saying we can have no higher allegiance than Him. Follow Him—regardless of the cost. Count the cost (vs. 28-32), and if you cannot pay the price, don’t even start. “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (v. 33). We must be willing to give up anything that interferes with our total commitment to the Lord. If our family gets in the way…well, we must not allow them to do so, nor even our own lives. Jesus demands first place; nothing else will do.

But He’s God. He’s got every right to make that demand.

Not fit for the dunghill (vs. 34-35)—And if somebody does begin, but falls short, they are useless to the Lord. What good is savorless salt? (v. 34). It’s not even good enough to cast upon a dunghill (v. 35). Such is what the Lord thinks of a 99% committed Christian—not fit for a dunghill. It’s everything—or it might as well as well be nothing. It isn’t terribly surprising that most people find Christianity much too stringent and insistent for their tastes. But again, total, complete service is what we owe God and nothing less.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Luke 14, Part One

Healing on the Sabbath (vs. 1-6)--This story is very similar to the one in 13:10-17 with Jesus healing on the Sabbath and arguing from helping one's animal on the Sabbath. The fact that the people in attendance were actuated by less than pure motives is indicated in verse 1: "they were watching him," obviously to see if He would do something blameworthy. Jesus knew this, of course, challenged them, and shamed them.

Humility (vs. 7-14)--Verse 7 begins "So" (NKJV), or "And" (KJV, ASV), which indicates this section is tied to the previous one, which makes the whole context different from 13:10-17. Jesus realized that the great problem of the Pharisees was their pride and self-glorification; from thence came their hypocrisy. They opposed Jesus because they could not humble themselves before Him, not because they could answer His arguments or even deny the miracles He did. So Jesus aims at the heart here. Those who exalted themselves needed to be humbled, so Jesus spoke a parable to that effect. If you go into a dinner thinking you are someone of high esteem, yet "one more honorable than you" arrives, you will be humbled in spite of yourself (vs. 8-9). But if you begin with a humble attitude--and you should (v. 10)--then you are in a position to be exalted. And that's the whole point. "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (v. 11). Jesus follows through with the same theme for the rest of this section. He certainly does not mean, in verse 12, that we should never invite our friends or loved ones to eat with us. What He counsels here is charity to the poor, concern for those who are less fortunate, who are not able to repay. Again, with no governmental welfare system to provide for the needy, it was of paramount importance that someone take care of them. That would, of course, be the demesne of the rich--voluntary generosity which, in Old Testament and New, was required by God as a sign of pure religion. Of course, in Jesus' day, very few rich people did this, just as in ours; can you imagine the Kennedys inviting the homeless to eat in their dining room? Well, perhaps they do, I don't know for sure, but it's much easier to pawn such off on the government than to do it ourselves. In Jesus' day, there was no such option, thus the plight of the poor was all the more grave. Payment, Jesus says, will be "at the resurrection of the just" (v. 14). Humble yourself to be concerned with those of lower estate. Indeed, it would take humility to do so.  There is a marvelous example of this "poor and rich" ideal in Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus, which I will deal with at that point.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Luke 13, Part Two

"Are there few who are saved?" (vs. 22-30)--Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem (v. 22) which will result in His final confrontation with the religious leaders and His death. As He was journeying, someone asked Him an interesting question: "Lord, are there few who are saved?” (v. 23). It was a common idea among the Jews that only a few, indeed, would be saved, and nearly all of them Jews. On the first point—only a few saved--Jesus, in another location (Matt. 7:13-14) agreed; regarding the latter, mostly Jews, He never gave His endorsement. Regardless, in this context, He does not directly answer the question, but explains a far more important point, viz., how to be saved. One must "strive" to enter through the narrow ("strait," KJV, which is a better translation because it implies difficulty as well as narrowness) gate" (v. 24). The word "strive" derives from the Greek word agonidzomai, from which our English word "agonize" comes from. Jesus is saying here that we should "agonize" to get into heaven. He uses the present tense, imperative mood, which means a command to always be doing it. We must never let our guard down, but continue to struggle against sin, to literally agonize over it. And most people won't do that: "for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (v. 24). Jesus then illustrates the teaching with a parable about a householder who had his door open for awhile, but when he shut the door, the seeker will not be able to enter (v. 25). It will be too late. It doesn't matter that they call him "Lord" (v. 25), or claim that they have lived in his presence and accepted him (v. 26, which they had not truly done). They didn't enter the door when it was open, i.e., they did not continually to "strive" to be pleasing to him. Thus, they will hear "'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity'" (v. 27). Jesus then takes a slap at the "mostly Jews will be saved" doctrine in verse 28 when He says that, while Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be in heaven, many Jews would be "thrust out" and it will be Gentiles who "sit down in the kingdom of God" (v. 29). If anything, this strongly implies that most Jews will be lost and the majority of the saved will be non-Jews, but God will be the ultimate judge of that, of course. The idea the "there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last" (v. 30) indicates the same idea--the "last" (to be called) were the Gentiles and the "first" were the Jews. The mass rejection of Jesus by His people continues to this day.

Jesus' coming death in Jerusalem (vs. 31-35)--Exactly why Herod wanted to kill Jesus is not stated, but Christ's popularity, His resemblance to John (whom Herod had executed), and Jesus' claim to be a king (which would threaten the Herod family) would all be justifiable reasons, at least in Herod's mind. Jesus wasn't terribly afraid of Antipas: "And He said to them, 'Go, tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected'" (v. 32). Whether the "third day" was literal or not--and it probably only refers to a short period of time--it's not a reference to Jesus' resurrection three days after His death. Jesus would continue His ministry for a short time yet, then be killed in Jerusalem (v. 33). Jesus then expresses grief over the City of David's obstinacy at the word of God. The people of Jerusalem had killed God's prophets, and though Jesus "wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings," they "were not willing!" (v. 34). Thus, the Lord God would depart from His temple ("your house," now, not God's, v. 35), but they would see Him again at some point in the future, of which the text is not clear. "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'” (v. 35) is probably not the final judgment, because the lost are not going to be happy to see Him on that day. The reference is probably His "coming" to establish His church, which would truly be a blessing for all men, including those of Jesus' audience who accept Him.

Matthew has Jesus' statements in verses 34 and 35 in the context of His strong denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23). Whether He made these statements twice to different audiences, or whether Luke is simply extracting the Lord's teaching to fit his own plan for his book, is unknown and not especially of great concern. As I've noted before, preachers do preach the same sermons in more than one location, though in this case, I tend to the latter view that Luke is simply fulfilling his own purposes.