Sunday, February 28, 2010

Luke 22:14-16; Excited

14-16When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God."

I love how the translation of the Message reads here. "You have no idea how much I have looked forward . . . " Can you imagine Jesus feeling giddy with excitement? Imagine the creator of the world anxiously anticipating something. Did he visualize it over and over before it happened? Did it feel like the day would never come? The way a bride looks forward to her wedding day, the way a couple looks forward to a birth, the way an athlete looks forward to a high-level competition, Jesus looked forward to the night of the Passover.

That night, something that God started almost 1500 years earlier reached completion. When Moses and the people of Israel started the Passover, he could see the day when it would take on its true meaning. The day when Jesus would become the lamb for each of his children . . . and he was excited about it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Luke 22:7-13; Predicted

Just when I can get comfortable with the future not being "set", Jesus explains what will happen in the future with exact precision. His apostles carry out his plans due to his instructions about what would happen.

So are there multiple options for the future or is there only one? Perhaps that question is the wrong one. Perhaps the question should be how am I using the opportunities facilitated to me by the future? Am I willing to follow the lead of Jesus in my future? Am I willing to be obedient to him as I proceed?

His apostles did and the world was forever changed because of it. My turn?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Luke 22:1-6; Entering Judas

Judas played such a key role in the death of Jesus. The enemies of Jesus wanted to end his career but they had no instrument to do it with . . . till Judas came along. I wonder how happy they were when he came for a visit? How they must have considered it good fortune. Probably they even thanked God for him.

Yet the eerie truth is given in the preceding verses that Judas was not led by God but Satan. The phrase "Then Satan entered Judas" seems to imply that Judas dropped all defenses, all pretenses and surrendered to Satan. Something changed that opened a pathway to his soul.

Was it a lack of focus on Judas' part? A lack of effort? Was it a turning to evil prompted by greed, or prestige or bitterness? So little is written but so much came from it. One person gave Satan entrance and everyone suffered.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Luke 21:20-38; Be careful

This entire section has been debated and argued over for years. Exactly what and when Jesus was talking about seems to elude most if not all of us. Yet there are teachings to take away from it.

Jesus continued to be counter cultural in his teaching. While talking about disaster he said that while everything is going bad, "lift up your head, your redemption is near." He also said to "be careful or your years will be weighed down with . . . the anxieties of life."

So in simple terms, what you see is not what you get. There is more to life than what meets the eye and if we forget that, we will be weighed down. If my perspective becomes that of the people around me, I have lost my spiritual vision.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Luke 21:5-19; Perspective

This section reads like two people looking at totally different things. Regarding the temple, the disciples see an amazing enduring structure while Jesus sees something about to be raised to the ground. Regarding going to trial, the disciples naturally felt fear but Jesus saw an opportunity for witness. Regarding death, most would see it as the end but Jesus does not equate death with perishing, i.e., it is not the end.

It is the last statement that stands out to me. ". . . they will put some of you to death. . . But not a hair on your head will perish." Death is not the same as perishing for those who follow Jesus.

How hard it is to keep his perspective in life. Yet what a great world his is -- a world where hard times can be a blessing and where death is not the end.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Luke 21:1-4, Giving to what

As Jesus' encounters with the rich and powerful continued, he even took note of their generosity. Those who gave out of wealth were not praised like the one who gave out of her poverty. Some gave because they had it to spare; she gave because it was who she was. She believed in the "system". She believed in worship at the temple, in giving a tithe of what she had, in coming together for prayer and in the promises made long ago. She believed even though the leaders of what she believed in were seeking fame instead of God, she still believed.

I am often amazed at how Jesus handled the overall picture of Judaism. He condemned the leaders for their bad hearts and called them to repent. Yet, he never stopped going to the synagogue or the temple. He never condemned Judaism per se rather he condemned those who corrupted it. Even after his ascension, his followers still met in the temple courts.

And so it was that day that Jesus did not cry out to the widow and tell her to quit giving to a lost cause. Rather he praised her heart while he continued to meet in the temple with those who had responded to his call.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Luke 22:41-47; Popular

I wonder how this would have sounded if Jesus had spoken it today. Maybe this is close.
"Beware of anyone using religion for popularity. Avoid those who speak of God simply to get fame or attention. Those who use religion to cloak pride will one day pay for it."

It was a slap to his enemies, i.e., the religious leaders of Jerusalem, but it rings down through the ages as a warning to us. We are drawn to those who have strong personalities and those with strong personalities are drawn to the limelight. He warns against both tendencies.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Luke 22:27-40; The Next Age

Jesus sounds very out of sync with today's religious norm . . . of course, he was out of sync with theirs also. It is so against the norm today to believe that someone might not make it to heaven and live in the next age. We have a belief that if God is good then he gives everyone a free pass through the pearly gates. That impression did not come from listening to Jesus.

"But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age . . ." Jesus makes no qualms about the fact that there will be some form of judgment. Some will be considered worthy while others will not. We will all be held accountable to some form of evaluation at the end of this age.

Being out of sync with the religious beliefs around him did not seem to bother Jesus. He was not changed by popularity or a need to conform. It makes me question how many of my beliefs come from conformity to popular thought and how many come from listening directly to him?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Luke 20:20-26; Home field advantage

After unsuccessful attempts to trap Jesus in the realm of religion and theology, his enemies decided to play on a different field. It is as if they concluded that he had home field advantage and therefore shifted to another area of life all-together. This question was about Rome in order to hand him over to the secular powers. Of course, the result was disastrous for them.

Jesus was the same person in all areas of life whether theology, government or relationship. He was honest while his enemies had to pretend to be honest. He was simple and straightforward while others were complicated and twisted.

It seems that a logical conclusion from this could be that when my life becomes twisted and complicated, there is something very wrong at the core of who I am.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Luke 20:9-19; Conflict

Jesus did not answer in a politically correct way to the teachers of the law and the priests. He then moved to an offensive posture and told a parable about them that basically called them dishonest and murderous. Again, not very politically correct.

To this blunt statement regarding their hearts and their future he added his interpretation of Psalm 118:22. His application was that whoever comes into contact with him will either be broken or crushed, humbled or destroyed.

Somehow we have lost our vision of this Jesus. We see him as the one who fills "a God shaped hole in your heart". We sing songs calling him the "darling of heaven". I might be wrong but I really don't think anyone listening to him that day would have used either of those terms for him. They are not wrong terms, they are just incomplete. It seems that from his own words, anyone coming to Jesus should expect some form of painful transformation.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Luke 20:1-8; Politically incorrect

There is no way that Jesus would be considered politically correct today. His response to the priests and teachers was anything but politically correct. He left them without an answer, did not clarify anything at all and probably confused some of the onlookers. This type of response would probably have been considered rude by church-goers today and could cost a preacher his job!

All that makes me wonder about how we do Jesus work now. We believe we need to explain everything to the extent that we will write a sermon that lasts thirty minutes from a sentence of Jesus' that lasted seconds. We write books on an explanation of a prayer that takes up one paragraph. We teach via long sermons with three points and very clear conclusions; he taught via short parables and concluded with "if you have ears to hear, then hear." Somehow there just seems to be a little difference in the way he did things and the way we do. I wonder what our churches would be like if we taught like he did?