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Entries in Resurrection (18)


The Blessing of God's Word

Today we are going to look at the passage in Luke 11:27-32.

Have you ever noticed that it is easy to see the blessings that others have and overlook our own?  Whether it is self-pity, or the ignorance we have of the lives of others, we get stuck in blindness towards what true blessing is.  In fact, that is the case even when we have the best of motivations.  However, we often are envious of what others have and too greedy to be content with what we have.  This only makes the situation worse.  May God help us to be thankful for the portion we have received from Him and to put it to good use.

The context of this passage involves Jesus ministering in miracles and in teaching the Word of God.  His powerful command over an evil spirit and knowledgeable teach about how evil spirits operate amazed the crowd.  This leads to a woman in the crowd crying out how blessed Mary, the mother of Jesus, must be.  She is so smiled on by God.  She is so lucky.  I wish this was my son!  Of course, I don’t know what all is in this woman’s heart.  But the greatness of Jesus caused her to think about how nice it would be to be his mother.  Jesus takes advantage of this interruption to teach them and us something about what really makes us blessed by God.

We Misunderstand God’s Blessings

This woman and her outburst is a good illustration of the natural condition of our human hearts.  We so easily overlook the blessings that God has given us.  Yet we have “hyper-sight” of the blessings of others.  This spontaneous exclamation gives us insight into what is happening in our hearts as humans all the time.  Although we may have learned to control our words and outbursts, we all have the same visceral reactions to life.  “How lucky that person is!  I wish I was even half as blessed as them!  God sure blessed them.  Why doesn’t He bless me?”  When we think this way we are truly thinking foolishly.

This woman ends up comparing and contrasting her situation with that of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  When she sees Jesus she sees what she doesn’t have- a son who is amazing the people of Israel.  Even if her sons had turned out great and had good reputations, they couldn’t compare to Jesus.  “What must it be like to have such a great son?  That Mary is so blessed!”  Yet, the truth of Mary’s blessing is far more complicated than that.  In Luke 2:35-36, when Joseph and Mary brought the eight day old Jesus to the Temple, the prophet Simeon said to her, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  Mary had good times.  But she would also have extreme soul-piercing times as well and most likely far more than this woman would ever have.  In 2 Corinthians 10:12 we are told that we are not wise to compare ourselves to others.  We can’t know the half of what it is like to walk in their shoes.  We need to learn to focus upon our self and not by contrast with others.

James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of Lights.  He is the source of our blessings.  The “woe is me” attitude causes us to look down upon the blessings that God has given us, which is looking down upon Him.  This woman misses the reality of her own blessing.  In fact, we today can be envious of the fact that she got to physically see and hear Jesus.  Yet, later Jesus would say, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Please catch the fact that we do not understand what a blessing is.  We look to all the wrong things and say that is a blessing.  Yet, Jesus corrects us and points us back to what our true blessing is.  This woman misses the reality of her own blessing because she is looking at Mary’s lesser one.  We focus on what we think are big blessings, when all along we are overlooking those that really are big.  Mary was blessed, but not any more than her.  Even to this day groups within Christianity will look to Mary in awe because she was the “Mother of God.”  Of course that statement misrepresents the reality that Mary only mothered the physical flesh that God took upon Himself in Christ.  Mary was not near to God because she birthed the Messiah.  In fact, we can end up with a heart that has to have a son who is Jesus in order to be content.  Does God have to do such and such in order for you to believe that He has blessed you?  Does God have to bless you with a certain something in order for you to be happy?  Be careful, because that thing has become an idol in your life.

Jesus answers the woman with the truth about who was blessed.  The Word of God is the greatest blessing that we can receive.  In that sense they were all just as blessed as Mary.  Many who have had material blessing in this life will go into eternity lost and ill prepared for judgment.  Don’t envy the material blessings at all.  They cannot save you and are not proof that God loves those people.

Yet, the Word of God must always be mixed with faith; belief.  Think of it this way.  Was Judas blessed?  Yes, in that God gave him a great position in His band of followers.  Yet, in the end Judas wasn’t blessed because he failed to trust Jesus.  Thus Jesus emphasizes hearing and keeping the Word of God.  The word “keep” means to guard, watch over, and nurture.  It is also in the present tense.  Blessed are those who are hearing the Word of God and keeping it.  Are you guarding God’s Word to you this morning, or are you allowing the evil one to use every manner of tricks to plunder it?  Get this deep into your heart.  When you truly understand blessing, you will understand that the greatest blessing is simply receiving the Word of God and then doing it.  This is what brings us near to the heart of God.

The Evil Generation

Jesus then turns to speak about the generation of Israel in His day.  It was an evil or bad generation.  Of course, not every single individual was bad.  But overall they did not trust the Word of God.  Rather they trusted the word of men.  They lack faith in God and obedience to Him.  Are we part of an evil generation here in America?  Forget about Iran or ISIS.  What about us?  I think it is clear that we too have crossed a threshold where we as a people have decided that God has nothing to say to us.  We can figure it out for ourselves. 

Jesus says that an evil generation looks for signs and wonders.  They demand spectacular proof from God.  Now Jesus did many miracles, but they weren’t enough.  They always wanted Him to do something greater.  In that sense our desire for God’s miracles can come from a place of hypocrisy.  We want God to jump through our hoops in a very specific way and then we will believe.  However, we never get to belief because our unbelief keeps asking for something greater.  You can never please or convince a person who doesn’t want to believe.  Even if it takes a ridiculous argument, they will come up with reasons why your argument isn’t enough, or why God hasn’t done enough.

Yet, it is God who chooses the signs we will receive.  God will not put himself in a position of scrambling to please every whim and desire of those who refuse to believe Him.  He chooses the signs and gives enough to those who want to believe.  We are not in control He is.  If you want to be blessed then be quick to trust Him rather than continually challenging His love and care for you.  If His commands lead you to a cross then say, “Your will be done.”

Jesus tells them that the sign they are going to get from God is the sign of Jonah.  Although in Luke this phrase is not explained, in Matthew 12:40 we are told, “as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  Now the story of Jonah being swallowed by a large fish or sea creature is an amazing one.  When you read Jonah chapter 2 and the prayer that Jonah prays when he has been swallowed, you get the impression that Jonah may have actually died.   Whether he did or not, God miraculously causes him to be transported and regurgitated onto the beach.  Having spent 3 days in stomach acids he must have been a sight to behold.  He was probably pale and lacked any hair on his body.  Whether or not there were any witnesses to his projection onto the beach, he would have looked like he had been in the belly of a fish.  Thus he is a picture of a prophet of God coming back from the dead to proclaim the Word of God.  This picture corresponds to the Resurrection of Jesus.  That is the main sign that God would give to their generation and to ours.

Now Jesus then points to other generations that the people of Israel would have thought of as evil.  In the time of Solomon, the Queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon and believed in him.  But Jesus had brought greater wisdom to that generation and most did not believe in him.  Yes, they were amazed, but most did not mix it with faith.  Are we guilty of this today?  Do we scour the internet and the whole world for wisdom and yet look down upon the Word of God, or never even give it a hearing?  Jesus wasn’t in some far off country.  He had brought the Wisdom of God right to them and yet they were rejecting it.  Jesus said that the Queen of Sheba would be Exhibit A in the case against them.  Even if we try to say, “but God you can’t expect me to believe that,” He need only point to those who responded to far less.

Another example of this is the Ninevites.  The Ninevites repented when Jonah warned them of the coming Judgment.  Yet, Jesus was greater than Jonah and preached a greater message, yet few repented.

We are swimming in the blessing of God in this world.  The gospel has gone out to the world.  Especially here in the West, we have God’s Word everywhere.  God’s Word has never been more prevalent and more accessible to mankind, and yet we persist in demanding greater proof and refuse to seek it out; refuse to repent.  Even though we think our reasoning is air-tight, God need only point to those many people through each generation who believed with far less than us.  No, we truly are an evil generation.  Judgment hangs over us.  But you can be spared.  Jesus calls you to come, pick up your cross, and follow Him.  Join the band of people who not only heard God’s Word but also mixed it with faith.


Blessing of God's Word audio


The True Jesus: Authority Over Death

Last week we saw how Jesus had authority over a terminal sickness.  The next section in Luke 7:11-17, shows that even if someone dies, Jesus still has authority over even death.

The story takes place about 12 miles up into the hills from the Sea of Galilee near Nazareth at the city of Nain.  Jesus and his disciples had left Capernaum and walked up to this city.  They were also followed by a large crowd that wanted to see what Jesus would do and hear what He would teach.

His Authority Over Death

As Jesus, disciples, and crowd approach the town of Nain, they are met by a funeral procession coming out of the city.  This tragic scene would be sad enough.  But, we are told that the situation gets worse.  The woman was a widow.  So she had already dealt with a tragedy of losing her husband.  Now she has the increased tragedy of losing her son and having to bury him.  Yet, even worse, this was her only son.  That means the woman would also be worrying about how she is going to live.  Who will take care of her?  Like Naomi in the book of Ruth, she has suffered great bitterness and yet we do not know if this woman has a Ruth like Naomi did.

It is in this moment that we are told that Jesus had compassion on the woman.  Now compassion is sometimes referring to the act of helping someone without regard to the emotions behind it.  But, here it is describing an inner emotion of love and pity that Jesus feels towards her.  This emotion leads Him to decide to do an act of compassion.  Jesus was not an unfeeling being that mysteriously did miracles.  Rather, he had compassion upon those who were bound by sin and sickness.  You might recall that when Jesus hears that Lazarus, His friend, had died that He wept.  So Jesus tells the woman to not weep.  Weeping and grieving is normal and God is not against it.   However, Jesus is about to turn her weeping into Joy.  He is giving her hope.  When the miracle worker says don’t cry, you begin to hope that He means He is going to help you.

Next Jesus steps up to the open coffin and simply speaks to the dead corpse.  This resurrection scene demonstrates the power of Jesus.  He does not require great build up and multiple attempts.  When you contrast this simple action to Elisha’s resurrection of the young boy in 2 Kings 4, you see the tremendous command that Jesus has over death.  This is not to put down Elisha, but rather to lift up the Truth about Jesus.  Jesus simply commands the young man to rise up.  This amazing power of speaking a word and flesh coming to life is parallel with God in the creation of Adam.  There he forms the man and then breathes life into the form.  The words of Jesus cause life to enter this dead body and further more heals the original problem that led to a death in the first place.  Thus God not only has the power to create, but also to recreate. 

Like the resurrection of Lazarus, this young man is brought back to life in a mortal body.  He is not immortal like Jesus was after his resurrection, but rather, restored to normal life.  He will eventually grow old and die of something else and at that point Jesus won’t be there.  The power of this story is not the hope that we can escape death if we have enough faith.  God does not show up in miraculous power in most of the sorrows of our life.  Even this woman could wonder where Jesus was when her husband died.  Yet, we see here that despite all of that Jesus does care.  God does care about the sorrow of mankind.  Part of the work of Jesus is to give man the evidence he needs to believe that God will overcome all those sorrows, even death.

In John 11 Jesus promises that a greater day of Resurrection is coming on the Last Day of this Age.  This is a day when Christ will command all the righteous to be raised from the dead and have eternal, spiritual bodies.  They are called spiritual because they are created by the Spirit of God.  But don’t be confused.  They are material bodies.

The apostles also pointed to this great promise as the Great Hope of all believers:  that we will be resurrected by Christ on the last day.  It is what makes all our sacrifices and difficulties in this life bearable.  Paul gives the most description of this event in 1 Corinthians 15 if you want to understand it more.  Let me just list some of these apostolic encouragements.  “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.  “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. 

The People Are Amazed

There is a part of us all that longs to have been there or to see something as dramatic as this.  But the reality is that our faith is not made better or worse for having not seen it.  Many in the Bible who saw the miraculous went on to not believe God.  Thus God gives us evidence, but don’t fool yourself that it isn’t real just because you didn’t see it.

It says that fear came upon them.  In general this is a fear of realizing that this is no mere man.  Who is he?  What is he?  Yet, it also points to a fear of the Lord because the people began to give the glory and honor of this event to God.  His power and ability was so far beyond them that they were humbled in reverence and respect.  This was not a man to be trifled with.

They glorified God.  To whom do we give glory of all the amazing things that are happening in our day?  Don’t we glorify ourselves?  Even our technology is made possible by the glories of God’s creative genius.  Yet, we do not praise Him for His wisdom.  Instead we laugh at such quaint notions as a God, and praise ourselves.  The generation that doesn’t stand in awe at the greatness of God expressed through His creation, brings judgment upon itself.

They also declared Jesus a true prophet and a visitation from God.  Prophet is meant here in that most of the prophets did miracles to help the nation believe that what they said was from God.  But the emphasis was on the fact that they spoke for God.  Through this resurrection the people of Nain recognize Jesus as a prophet.  One who is truly sent by God to speak to His people and direct them.  However, we are warned in Scripture not to accept miracles as proof of the Truth.  So how do we know?  First the miraculous gets our attention.  Next we take the teaching of the “prophet” and we compare it to the teachings of the Bible.  If they do not match then we don’t listen to the prophet because they are not from God.  Lastly, if they predict something and it doesn’t come to pass then we know for sure that they are not a true prophet.  Was the teaching of Jesus true to the Old Testament?  The New Testament makes the case that He was the ultimate prophet of God.

Lastly, the “visitation from God” is a reference to the fact that God doesn’t always seem to be active in our life.  From time to time, however, He shows up.  These visitations can be good or bad, it depends on us.  Israel had been suffering under one empire after another and were longing for deliverance from God.  It seemed like He was not showing up.  They longed for a visitation of deliverance.  However, if we are not living right and crucify the deliverer when He shows up, then we are going to have a visitation of judgment.  The good news is that Jesus took the Judgment of God upon Himself so that those who put their faith in Him could avoid it.  That truly is amazing.  The amazing grace of God can be ours by picking up our cross (the things we have to die to) and following Jesus in faith.  God promises us eternal life in glorified bodies, but in His time.  Can you trust Him?  Turn to Jesus today.

Authority Over Death Audio


The Victorious Jesus

Today we are going to look at the passage in Isaiah 52:13—53:12.  This section has been referred to as the Holy of Holies of the Old Testament because in it we see the ultimate Truth that lies behind the whole sacrificial system that God gave to Israel.

It is easy for people in the modern world to take “pot shots” at God in regards to the “senseless” killing of so many animals.  Yet, even the Bible itself tells us that God did not take pleasure in the killing of animals.  No, animals are not equivalent to humans.  They were not made in the image of God; with the ability to reflect God’s nature.  However, neither was God pleased by their mere deaths.  We might ask ourselves the question, “If God wanted to communicate with man then what would the problems be?”  Think about it.

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The Ongoing Meaning of Jesus

For the next several Sundays we will be looking at what meaning Jesus has for today.  In a world that loves to take things from the past and give them whatever meaning it wants, we need to challenge ourselves.  Am I satisfied using Jesus for the meaning I want or do I want to know the True meaning God intended for him to have in my life?  People who have used Jesus for their own personal meaning over the years can grow tired and walk away from Jesus as if he has no meaning for today.  But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Today we will look at Acts 2:22-32, as Peter explains to the people of Jerusalem what was going on.  Jesus had been crucified around 40 days earlier.  In that sense many people had moved on.  “Well, he must not have been the messiah.”  However, there were rumors of a “resurrection.”  But in reality Jesus had ceased to have any meaning.  He was a possibility that proved false.  “Let’s move on.”  It is in this environment that the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples.  As they walk out onto the streets of Jerusalem rejoicing and praising God, the crowd notices that they are speaking in many languages that is impossible.  In fact they assume the people are merely drunk and out of their mind.  But in this environment, Peter speaks to the crowd.  Let’s look at what he says.

Peter Reminds Them About Jesus

Peter begins by reminding the crowd that the recent life of Jesus was one that was spectacular.  He says that Jesus was attested by God.  This literally means that Jesus was “exhibited” or “pointed out” by God.  The life of Jesus was highlighted with things that could not be overlooked.  God’s hand and power was clearly evident in it.  Peter mentions the miracles (literally the powerful actions), the wonders (that which causes you to stop and look), and signs (activity that points to something.  Jesus fed 1,000’s of people with just one lunch.  Jesus had healed people who had been blind, mute, or lame for long periods of times, even from birth.  These were not charades.  These were events that left people with their mouths open saying, “who is this?”  But Jesus was not just “wowing” the crowd.  The miracles had a purpose.  They pointed to something.  When Jesus fed the crowds out in the wilderness it was pointing back to how God fed Israel in the wilderness with Moses.  It was a Sign that was making them remember the power of God in Israel’s past.  They were supposed to make the connection.  Even the cross itself was a sign that was pointing back to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, especially the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham.  So with so much evidence of God’s hand of Jesus, how could he be killed?

Peter says that God had given Jesus into the hands of Israel.  This is a term that is used when we turn someone in to the authorities.  Yes Jesus was a gift, but he was also delivered into the hands of the authorities.  They had no power to take his life from him.  But God allowed them to exercise such power.  Why?  He had a “determined purpose.”  Jesus was to be his sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  He was to be the means of taking away the sins of sinners.  Also, Peter mentions God’s foreknowledge.  God knew that Israel would become so captive to sin that even though they were given truth, in the Law, they would be so corrupt that they would kill God if they could.  In Jesus they could.  So the death of Jesus was not proof that he wasn’t the messiah.  Rather, it was proof that God was doing something different with the messiah than they thought.

Peter then reminds them that the execution of Jesus was done unlawfully.  Now there was a trial and, even though it stretched the bounds of the law, it had the appearance of being lawful.  However, the truth was that this was an unlawful execution.  Throughout history man has operated within the boundaries of the law to do “unlawful” things.  These things are wrong by the laws of God, but also by the spirit of the law.  When we use the law to hurt others we are abusing the law and using it lawlessly.  So this is not a “legal” point in the courts of men.  It was a legal point in the courts of God.  They were lawless and guilty before God whether they “felt” guilty or not.  They did this over the top of God’s witness. 

It Is Impossible For Jesus To Remain Dead

Peter, in verses 24 and following, moves to the resurrection.  Jesus was raised from the dead because it was impossible for death to hold him.  The pictures are beautiful.  He was “loosed” from the birth pangs of death.  This reminds us of how Lazarus was loosed from the grave clothes that held him.  But here Jesus is having the “pains” of death unwrapped off of him.  It has been pointed out that for Jesus the tomb became the womb of the resurrected life to which he was going to be raised up.

Why is it impossible?  Peter answers that by quoting from Psalm 16:8-11.  However, if I were to sum it up, I would say that it was because of the relationship that Jesus had with the Father.  David’s close relationship with God brought him to a point where he not only realized that God would not leave him in the grave, but that God would not let the coming Messiah even see corruption, which is a clear reference to physical decay.   Jesus as the eternal Word of God had been in relationship with the Father before the worlds were ever created.  It was impossible for him to be “extinguished” by the mere death of his humanity upon a cross.  God would not let his promises to David go unfulfilled and He would not completely turn away from His Son.

In fact Peter states that the disciples were witnesses of these things.  Not just the 11 plus Matthias, but over 500 followers of Jesus saw him at one time; along with his multiple appearances to many different groups at many different times.  Peter and the other believers were witnesses of the fact that Jesus was resurrected and alive.  Though Jerusalem had moved on past Jesus, Jesus was not done with them.

Final Thoughts

The modern world has relegated Jesus to a thing of the past that is dead and gone.  Even many of those who do “believe” in Jesus, do so without believing that anything in the Bible was literally true.  They look to it as an inspiring story for what I want to do today.  But Jesus didn’t die to just be your inspiration.  It is impossible for Jesus to remain irrelevant to the politics and entertainments of this world.  Why? Jesus cannot remain irrelevant forever, precisely because he is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the command to come and judge the nations of the world.  Are you ready?  Jesus must not continue to be irrelevant in your life, precisely because if he does then you will have to face God with the guilt of your rebellion against Him hanging over your head.  He is not relevant because you have a good feeling about him.  He is relevant because He is The Truth, The Way, and the only one who can give you Life.  Don’t wait another day without asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and taking your place in his kingdom of hearts by following his word.


Ongoing Meaning audio