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Weekly Word

Entries in Rebuke (2)

Tuesday
Aug262014

Misunderstanding Greatness

Luke 9 is filled with situations that deal with the issue of greatness: the greatness of Jesus, the greatness of his disciples, and the world’s idea of what greatness means.  Today’s passage is Luke 9:51-56 and focuses on Jesus being rejected by a Samaritan village.  When Jesus is rejected several of the disciples want to destroy the village.  This story forces us to ask the question, “How should a great person react to rejection?”  Isn’t greatness defined by how many people receive you?  In truth, Jesus was great.  The crowds initially flocked to him for self-interest.  But, the closer he came to the cross the fewer people there were around him.  So let’s look at this passage.

The Resolution of Jesus

It says in verse 51 that when Jesus knew it was time to be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.  This Hebrew idiom of setting ones face towards something is a picture of resolve.  If you want to go somewhere you first turn yourself in that direction.  Christ intentionally headed towards Jerusalem and his crucifixion.  It was the next major stop along his destination of sitting at the right hand of the Father.  However, this Samaritan village was along the way.

Now let me just point out that when it says Jesus was to be received up (also to be taken up) it is pointing to the ascension into heaven.  This same word is used in 1 Timothy 3:16, “He was…taken up into glory.”  It is easy sometimes to know the wonderful things ahead of ourselves and not pay attention to the difficult things that lie in the path to it.  Jesus is headed towards ascension, but rejection and crucifixion lie on the path to it.  It takes firm resolve and a steadfast spirit to stay on such a path.  In order to be glorified our Lord must first be killed.  He bravely marches towards his death because he knows it is a necessary step towards the heavenly work he is doing now.  If he is not crucified and resurrected, then he will not be able to be that high priest who intercedes for us before the Father.  Thus, it is important for us, as believers in Jesus, to understand the purpose of God in this day and age.  We have a glorious future ahead of us that God has promised.  And yet, there are many difficult things that we will encounter throughout our life on our way to that glory.  We may not understand all that they are as Christ did.  However, we must prepare ourselves to be resolute and steadfast.  I have to learn to firmly march towards things that I do not want to deal with in order to reach the good things that God has for me on the other side.

A Samaritan Village Rejects Jesus

Though John 4 records the Samaritan village of Sychar receiving Jesus, here we have the opposite.  As Jesus is headed towards Jerusalem, certain ones are sent ahead to prepare a place to stop, rest, eat, and most likely minister as well.  This would prevent a situation where they all arrive weary and hungry while someone looks for a place to stay.  Plus, it would enable the word to get out to the surrounding area that Jesus would be there.  He could minister to far more that way.  Yet, at some point, the destination of Jesus comes up and the villagers are not happy.  Jesus is headed to Jerusalem.

The racial and religious difference between the Samaritans and the Jews comes to a head here.  The wall of hostility between the two was because of the attitudes of both sides.  They were willing to embrace Messiah if he promoted their side of the religious argument.  Of course Jesus was not a partisan in this debate.  He pointed out the errors of the Samaritans and the Jews.  In fact, the religious Jews were rejecting Jesus for many of the same reasons.  He wasn’t supporting their view.

Now it is most likely that it was the elders of the village who were standing in the way of Jesus staying there.  Either way, the effect of that decision is that they will miss out on a blessing.  The blessing of healings, being set free from sin, and salvation, could have come to this village.  Pride and stubbornness often cause us to miss out on blessings that God has for us.  He is not going to force them upon us.  Yet, we push them away because of things we are not willing to experience.  Are you so tied up in the interpretations and traditions of your ancestors that you are missing what God is trying to do today?  Even the secular world has its own traditions and views of life.  Yet, whether for religious or non-religious reasons, our pride and stubbornness can wall us off from God’s blessing.

James And John Rebuked

James and John’s violent reaction to the offense of rejection is rebuked by Jesus.  But let’s look a little deeper here.  Why would James and John be so offended that they want to destroy the village?  We are given no description of what is going on inside of James and John.  However in Mark 3:17 we are told that Jesus had nicknamed these two, “Sons of Thunder.”  They both seem to have had stormy, quick tempered personalities.  We definitely see such here.  There is probably some bigotry going on here as well.  Jesus had been rejected in other places too.  But this Samaritan village receives their greater wrath.

Either way, James and John ask Jesus if they can call down fire from heaven and destroy the village.  Yes, they were probably offended on behalf of Jesus.  But they were men just like you and I.  They were offended on their own behalf too.  They don’t want to scare the villagers, or give them a sign to impress them.  Rather, they want to destroy them.  They ask Jesus because he is the master and because it is in keeping with what happened earlier in Luke 9.  Jesus had given his disciples authority to heal, cast out demons, and proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  He hadn’t given them authority to do this.  Thus they are more than asking permission.  They don’t have the ability to bring fire from heaven.  They are asking for God to back up their pronouncement.  Have you ever prayed such a prayer?  “Lord, give me the power and strength to crush and destroy those who stand against me!”  We need only look at how our Lord responded to those who stood against him to know his response to us.

Now the newer translations only say that Jesus rebuked them and they left.  This has to do with the fact that when the older translations were done we didn’t have all the manuscripts we do today.  It seems that early on some notes were added (whether by Luke or others we do not know) to explain further. 

So, the words “like Elijah” appear to have been inserted.  This explains the reason the disciples would have thought of such a drastic action.  They are clearly thinking back to the story of the prophet Elijah in 2 Kings 1.  After Ahab’s death, Ahaziah ruled.  One day he falls and is injured.  So he sends messengers to the false god Baal-Zebub in the Philistine city of Ekron for a prophetic word concerning whether he would recover or not.  Elijah intercepts the messengers and tells them to tell Ahaziah that he is going to die.  When Ahaziah hears the news he is angry and sends 50 troops out to capture Elijah.  The captain of the troops refers to Elijah as “man of God.”  To which Elijah responds, “If I am a man of God then may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.”  Fire does come down from heaven.  Ahaziah sends out another 50 men with the same results again: fire comes down and consumes them all.  When Ahaziah sends out a third group of fifty soldiers, the captain is a humble man.  He tells Elijah why he has been sent but also begs for his life and the life of his men.  Elijah then relents and goes with him.  In this story Elijah represents God’s Law and is not going to be killed by Israel’s king.  When we approach God in arrogance and the might of men we can only expect to be judged by His law. But when the man approached in humility and begged for grace, he was received.

Now that situation is very different from the Samaritan village.  We can be too quick to use examples of godly men for our own justification.  Christ had been rejected before and no such thing was ever encouraged.  He had told them when he sent them out that if they are rejected they are to shake the dust off of their feet and move on.  In the case of Elijah they sought to apprehend the man of God outside of God’s will.  But, here they do not want to apprehend Jesus.  They are simply saying, “Go somewhere else.”

Jesus rebukes this attitude.  Whether these words were added or not, anyone who has studied the teachings of Jesus knows that this is exactly the reason he would rebuke them.  The spirit of Christ was not motivating them to destroy the villagers, but rather it was the spirit of Satan.  What manner of spirit am I?  That is a powerful question.  The Bible says in Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”  They wanted to judge quickly out of hurt pride and revenge.  This is not how God judges mankind.  When God’s judgment comes it will not come out of pride and hurt.  It will come from a pure holy understanding that nothing more can be done to reason with those who have chosen rebellion.

Even the teachings of Christ stand in opposition to this vengeful request.  Love your enemies.  Do good to those who do you wrong.  Bless them that curse you.  Jesus commands this, not because it is okay.  But, he commands it precisely because the long suffering judgment of God has been appointed for a specific day and it will come upon them.  This is the day of God’s grace.  This is the day where God wrestles with man and cries out, “Why will you die?  Come let us reason!”  The spirit of this world is quick to judge and quick to destroy.  But, the Spirit of God is slow to judge in order to leave room for repentance.

Thus Jesus rebukes his disciples because he is here to save people not destroy.  It is impossible for fallen men to perfectly perform the judgment of God.  Only Jesus can do that.  He is the one whom God will send to judge the world and many will be destroyed in that judgment.  Judgment is final and we are too quick to pronounce eternal judgments.  There is no overturning it and no coming back from it.  Thus God is slow to judge.  Don’t let your emotions misrepresent God.  We too often get God’s greatness mixed up with our own.  Jesus says to us, “Pick up your cross and follow me.”  This will take a steadfast resolve and a humble understanding of what a great person does when they are rejected. 

Misunderstanding Greatness Audio

Tuesday
Apr152014

The Triumphal Entry

Today we are going to pause in our study of the Gospel of Luke and look at what is called the Triumphal Entry of Jesus in Luke 19:28-44.  It is called the Triumphal Entry because Jesus is celebrated and declared to be the Messiah as He comes to Jerusalem in the week before He is killed.  In some ways it is oddly named because in 3-4 days the crowds will be crying out, “Crucify him!”  I guess it all comes down to what you call a “triumph.”  This day is not a triumph from the perspective of Jesus and heaven.  It is actually a tragic failure because the people are only fair weather friends who will largely reject Him when He embraces going to the cross.  This is not the kind of savior they were seeking.  Thus from heaven’s perspective the Triumphal entry would be either His resurrection day or we could fast-forward to the Second Coming in Revelation 19 and point to it as His true triumphal entry.  Let’s look at the story.

Jesus Heads For Jerusalem

Jesus often went to Jerusalem, but this time is unique.  Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the last time in order to offer himself up as the Lamb of God for the sins of Israel and for the whole world.  Up till now it was not His time.  But now it is.  Up till now He could not be touched by the authorities, but now they will succeed in taking Him and killing Him.  This passage says that Jesus “went on ahead” up to Jerusalem.  This is intended to mean that Jesus led His disciples, not that He left them.  Rather, He is not hiding among the herd of disciples to protect himself.  Instead, He is out front leading the way. It was He that would bear the blow in the days ahead not them.  He is the one who is our shield and strength.  If He lets anything touch us, it is because it cannot truly hurt us; that is if we keep our eyes upon Him.

Loosing Of The Colt

When they reach two small villages on the east side of the Mount of Olives, Jesus gives His disciples some instructions.  He wants a young donkey who has never been ridden to be His transportation to rest of the way.  This is not because He is tired.  Jesus is doing these things on purpose in order to teach us.  Let’s look deeper.

Many skeptics have read these verses and accused Jesus of trying to steal the donkey.  Is this theft or something else?  Why doesn’t Jesus just ask for the donkey first?  What you have to understand is that Jesus is acting out a prophecy in order to teach Israel something about His Messiahship.  Thus this is not theft, but symbolism.  In fact Jesus knew they would be asked why they were taking the colt.  He is going to act out a prophecy that would not only speak to all the people of Jerusalem, but would also declare truth to the rebellious, spiritual forces that were holding mankind captive.

In Zechariah 9:9 there is a specific prophecy that tells Israel that her King (the Messiah) would come to her having justice and salvation, humbly riding on a donkey.  In this sense Jesus was purposefully fulfilling this prophecy.  Now some accuse Jesus of doing this with all of the prophecies in the Old Testament.  However, many of the prophecies had to do with His birth and lineage.  Thus most of the prophecies about Jesus were not ones He could plot to fulfill.  So this accusation is unfounded.  By purposefully fulfilling this prophecy, Jesus was, without a doubt, declaring His kingship over Israel.  He was ready to go public.  Yet, this prophecy emphasizes that the mode of operation (MO) of the Messiah would be justice, salvation, and a humble king riding on a humble beast.  This can be contrasted with the 2nd Coming of Christ in Revelation 19, where He comes back gloriously and riding on a white horse, with the armies of heaven at His back.

The symbolism in this section is critical.  The donkey represents not the strong leaders and kings of Israel.  But the simple people of Israel.  Jesus had come to set free the people who had been tied up (brought into bondage) by the leaders of Israel.  Thus Jesus does not need to ask permission to untie the people because they are His by right.  Notice however the objection.  The religious leaders objected to the person, teaching, and ministry of Jesus.  They did not want the people free.  They enjoyed the privileged place they had and the benefits they received from having the people in bondage.  Also, the dark forces of the spirit world also objected to any freeing of people.

The answer that is given is that “the Lord has need of him.”  Why did God come down to save simple people out from under the great elite of this world?  Why did God, over the top of natural and spiritual objections, set free the lowly of this world from the powerful?  It is because He has need of us….of you.  The next time you are tempted to put yourself down as nothing, remember that He has need of you.  God doesn’t need the pomp, pride, and power of man.  What He needs is man to humble himself.  Here is the King of Israel, but He offers himself in humility.  If I am to be your king it is going to be a humble administration.  Rejoice today that the Lord has need of you.  He wants your companionship.  He wants your love.  He wants your willing heart.  He wants you!  What a precious thing that we should remind ourselves during times of doubt.

Lastly notice that Jesus is carried by the colt.  In the New Testament we are told that clothing often symbolizes righteous works.  The disciples cover the colt with their outer garments as a picture of how Jesus would use them to teach the humble believers how to take the righteousness of Christ upon themselves, so that they could then become “bearers” of Jesus wherever they go.  Now Christ is the one directing the colt.  Thus we are to live clothed in the righteousness of Jesus (versus our own ideas of righteousness) directed by our Lord.  So Jesus “rides” upon us to the work that He wants to do through us and with us, as we submit to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles.

The Celebration of Jesus

Now it is the Passover week, which would have lots of travelers on the road to Jerusalem. So as Jesus and His disciples crest the Mount of Olives they begin to head down into the valley between it and the Temple Mount.  It is then that the people begin to notice that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem on a donkey.  They break out into celebration because many had come to believe that He must be the messiah.  They get the message that He is sending.  The King is coming!

They then throw their outer garments onto the road for Christ to ride over.  This honoring of Jesus is simultaneously a humbling of yourself (and your own righteousness).  They are rolling out the red carpet for Christ.  If you are going to receive Jesus as your king, then you are going to have to lay down your righteousness and seek to be clothed with His righteousness alone. 

They people also use the words of Psalm 118 as their celebratory cry, “Save us!  Save us!  Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord!”  It would be worth your while to meditate on that Psalm this week.  It was understood to be speaking of the Messiah.  By the way, you may notice that in Psalm 118, the next thing after this cry for salvation are these words:  “Bind the sacrifice to the altar with cords.”  What cords bound Jesus to the cross?  Was it not the ties of His love for us, for you?

The Rebuke

Now all of this is being seen by Satan’s spiritual powers and the leaders of Israel who had come under their influence.  They do not like what they are seeing.  Thus the Pharisees and lawyers begin to object to Jesus.  Remember that this is the very thing that the symbolism of the objection to untying the colt was pointing to.  Jesus has come to untie the people from their sins and the wicked do not like it.  Why?  They do so because they want to keep the people in bondage.  They have worked too hard to have it all lost.  Know this, that the elite men and the spiritual forces of this world have a vested interest in keeping mankind bound in sin and under their authority.  But, Christ has set us free from all that.  Thus we live in an age of great deception.  Many Christians are being deceived to the truth of Christ that would really set them free and give them different leaders.  Thus Jesus is told to rebuke His disciples and keep them from proclaiming Him as Messiah.

Jesus points out that if they didn’t cry out then the rocks would.  Know this:  God will be praised.  The question is will you be a part of it?  The rocks will praise me.  This is a common theme throughout the prophets.  In Isaiah 55 we see the trees clapping their hands and the mountains will break forth before Him.  This reveals that the natural world will glorify God by doing what it was made to do.  But man is different.  Man has an ability to choose something other than what he was made for.

Jesus Weeps

Like He wept over the death of Lazarus, so Jesus weeps over Jerusalem as He looks out over it and its people.  Jesus weeps because He knows what is coming, what didn’t have to be.  He was there and could stop it, if they would allow.  But sadly they would not.  Yes today they rejoice, but shortly they will change their mind when He chooses a path that is contrary to what their flesh and heart desire.

Jesus says that only if they knew where their peace comes from.  Even today Israel and most of the world do not know where their peace comes from.  Only God can give us peace.  No amount of ambassadors, great sounding words, powerful militaries, and amazing leaders can give us peace.  No amount of cool movies, seductive actors, amusements, or wealth can give us peace.  Everything we plunge after only takes us further away from what would give us peace—Jesus.  The world as a whole rejects the offer of peace from God because it thinks it can create its own peace.  This is why God weeps.  He knows that this is a pipe dream that leads to the slavery of mankind and ends up in the destruction of mankind.

Jesus says that the significance and understanding of these things would be hidden from the eyes of Israel. The apostle Paul picks this theme up in Romans 11:25.  He states that this blindness of Israel to the messiah would not last forever.  Also in 2 Corinthians 3, he states that the blindness of Israel was like a veil over the eyes.  Yet, the good news is that though God may blind us because of our unbelief and wickedness, He will have mercy.  He will bring us back around again to see once again what we refused to believe before.

Lastly Jesus refers to this as the time of Israel’s visitation.  Israel was in bondage to the “Beast” kingdom of Rome.  They had cried out for deliverance for years.  Now, in Jesus, God was visiting them, in order to deliver them.  Their cry had not failed to reach God.  Though God has a different time schedule than us, He does hear our cries.  He is hurting over our injustices, and wounding of each other.  He weeps over the bondage that we continue under and longs to come and offer Himself to us.  In Jesus that day has come.  For the last 2,000 years God has been carried around by lowly Christians who offer to them the peace of Christ.  But there is a day of visitation coming; a day when it will be critical that we have eyes to see the truth.  The antichrist will come forth offering a false peace that leads to destruction, but the true Christ will come forth offering a true peace that leads to life.  Choose Jesus today!

The Triumphal Entry mp3