Sunday, January 24, 2016

Talk amongst yourselves....Luke 22:35-38

First, I want to point you to the scripture that Jesus is referring to that happened earlier in Luke.  This is found in Luke 10:1-20.  Below I have made both texts available in ESV.

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.


13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”


17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:1-20


35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”  Luke 22:35-38

I know that regarding the very last verse, the disciples almost certainly believed Jesus was pointing them to a shift that involved the "long awaited" violent warfare that would be involved in bringing  a physical kingdom.  They clearly understood later that this was not the case, but, in fact, it was much bigger than anything they had imagined.  I believe Luke and God left this in there to highlight the shift in understanding when it came later.  Obviously, Jesus already understood this.  The bigger issue for me comes within the first two verses.  What is this referring to?  I have some thoughts.  Some times I choose to share my thoughts in these "amongst yourselves" things, and sometimes, I do not.  I will share my thoughts on this one, but as always, the desire is to lead off with thoughts, observations, questions, and convictions held by those other than's get cracking.

As last time, I will try to carry on the primary conversation on facebook since it lends itself to a more interactive back and forth.  When the conversation ends, I will transfer all comments from facebook to this blog in the comments section for future perusal.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Acts Part 1 (Chapters 1-4)

These represent a few thoughts I have had recently as I have listened to (audio Bible) the book of Acts repeatedly in the past few weeks. 

Chapter 1
If you are unaware, the book of Acts is basically the gospel of Luke part deux.  Luke picks up basically right where he left off.  This is at the end of Jesus' time on Earth post-resurrection.  This post-resurrection time period lasted for 40 days.  The first thing to jump out to me is that the disciples are still somewhat clueless even now regarding the scope of how Jesus has redefined all of life as they know it and are still thinking that maybe now Jesus will re-establish the kingdom in the way they have always dreamed he would.  This ushers in what strikes me as an incredibly crucial point made by Jesus.

 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 

He says NOT this BUT that.  Even though, I actually believe that we may very well live in a generation that will see and has seen some fulfilment of signs that point to living in the "end times", this redirection would serve us all well.  I strongly believe that not only the disciples but all who follow Him in this age are called to expect to "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses...."  Note the primary purpose of receiving the power.  Can you honestly say you are walking in power?  I, for one, cannot. He is transforming me, but I don't see the kind of power at work within and through me that is alluded to here.  This admission humbles me, but only the power of God genuinely at work in our lives as Christians has the chance at transforming not only us but our generation before they are called to judgment.

The next thing that jumps out at me is their appointing of a replacement for Judas.  Peter points to a scriptural mandate and limits the options to one who has been with them from the beginning.

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The only quick point I want to make here is that even at this early stage, the disciples seemed to grasp the importance of guarding the integrity and accuracy of representing who Jesus was, what he had taught, what his work on the cross had accomplished, and, of course, the FACT that they had all seen Him resurrected.  

Chapter 2
Consider the genius providential hand at work to cause the day the Holy Spirit came down to coincide with one of the three original feast days within the Jewish calendar year.  Many, many devout Jews did not live in or even near Jerusalem at this time in history.  They had been scattered all around the Roman empire and beyond by the many conquests that had happened over the last several hundred years.  However, this was one of three weeks of the year that many of those Jews would take it upon themselves to travel into Jerusalem to observe the feast.  Also consider, as we will see later within Acts, that because this phenomenon of scattering the Jews had occurred, there were now synagogues or places of the teaching of the old testament in many of these areas because of this Jewish presence.  This perfectly placed and perfectly timed event is further made amazing because perhaps the key characteristic of the coming of the Holy Spirit was not only power, but specifically, the news of Jesus, the kingdom of God, and Jesus's resurrection was announced in the native tongues of these visiting Jews!  They were brought to the exact right place at the exact right time and told the news in the exact right language even though those who spoke it would not normally have been able to in their own understanding.  The number grew from 120 to 3000 the first day!....They immediately began being consumed with Jesus and their new found family and making sure everyone was taken care of.  Many more were added daily.......anyhoo, that's chapter 2.  :)

3 and 4
I obviously was trying to point out the supernatural intelligence and power of God in bringing about the events of chapter 2.  However, chapters 3 and 4 highlight what may very well be an even more amazing act by God.  Imagine if you would that your child was sent BY YOU to people to warn them and try to save them from a horrible event that was quickly coming their way.  Now imagine that after your child spent years in a far away country living in conditions that were hard and scary, these same people, including the very ones who were your child's closest friends, wrongfully convicted, tortured and killed your child.  This is what happened to God.  He was not caught off guard when it happened.  It was all part of His plan.  But it happened nevertheless, and no one was pulling the strings of the people who killed Jesus except the devil and their own sin. 

Now fast forward to two months later.  These EXACT same people are standing before Peter and John in chapters three and four.  What is God's message for these people?  Wrath?  Judgment? No, NO, NO!  He cries out to them by way of Peter to repent.  He STILL longs to save them!  Here some excerpts from 3 and 4.

Chapter 3
13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus  has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Chapter 4
 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants  to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

As you consider the book of Acts going forward in this and future posts, please, Please, PLEASE keep this one thing in mind.  God continues to pour out opportunities to any and all who will hear and respond again and again and again.  He does this IN SPITE of what they did to Jesus.  He does this in spite of how they beat, imprison, torture, and kill his disciples.  Right to the end, the book of Acts is first and foremost a jaw dropping example of God's mercy.  I am constantly challenged as I compare His ability to pour this out and my desire to constantly mete out "justice".  Again, I am being transformed by His Spirit, but I honestly am humbled and broken as I see the chasm between who He is and who I am.  What is genuinely amazing is that He calls us to become like Him in this respect also.  This I know.  That will only happen, even partially, by His power not mine.