Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 21:5-38 – What Does the Future Hold?

Grace For The Journey

I remember in the 70s hearing a song from the 50s that was sung by Doris Day entitled, “Que Sera, Sera,” which means “Whatever will be, will be.”  It was a song about the future . . .

When I was just a little boy

I asked my mother, what will I be

Will I be handsome, will I be rich

Here’s what she said to me:

Que Sera, Sera,

Whatever will be, will be

The future’s not ours, to see

Que Sera, Sera

What will be, will be.

We have in our study today a passage of Scripture that is often referred to as the “Olivet Discourse,” a passage that takes place while Jesus and His disciples are on the Mount of Olives, a mountain rising some 150 feet above Jerusalem, affording a breathtaking view of the Jewish Temple.  It is at this moment some of the disciples speak of the splendor and grandeur of the temple.  As they admire the scene before them, the disciples ask questions about the future and Jesus’ answer is quite different than “the future’s not ours to see,” but quite the contrary . . .

He tells them of two events that will

Most certainly occur in the future.

Since the time Jesus spoke those words one of the events has taken place just as Jesus said it would.  The other event awaits fulfillment and may take place during our lifetime.  Jesus speaks here in chapter 21 of the future.

Let’s take a walk together through this passage and then I will leave you with a few actions to take from it in response to the teaching of Jesus.

Verse 5 tells us that some of the disciples were simply awestruck by the beauty of the Jewish temple.  The temple was impressive; 46 years in the making (John 2:20), it would not be completed until AD 63, just three years before the future Emperor Titus and the Roman legions began surrounding it before ultimately destroying it in AD 70.  It was double the size of the Acropolis in Athens and the perimeter of the temple was a mile long and took up a space equivalent to one-sixth of the city of Jerusalem.  It was impressive.

The Jewish historian Josephus writes, “The exterior of the building lacked nothing that could astound either mind or eye” … “Covered on all sides with massive plates of gold, the sun was no sooner up than it radiated so fiery a flash that persons straining to look at it were compelled to avert their eyes…it appeared from a distance like a snow-clad mountain; for all that was not overlaid with gold was of purest white.”

But Jesus says in verse 6 that the whole thing will be destroyed, “The days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another,” a general way of saying one day the whole thing will come toppling down.  This leads the disciples to ask a question in verse 7, “So they asked Him, saying, ‘Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?’”  The disciples had heard before about future events and they ask Jesus about the specifics of the future.  The disciples seem to think the destruction of the temple will coincide with another future event, the end of time when God comes and fixes everything that is wrong.

I just want to note parenthetically that Jesus, while answering this question, does not give them specific dates, unlike the prophecy guys with their color-coded maps, charts, and diagrams.  Why?  Probably because He wants us to be ready and watching.

The disciples seem to think the destruction of the temple will occur at the same time as the Messiah’s second coming.  Jesus, in answering their question, teaches that these are two events occurring at different times.  Jesus teaches here about two future events: 1) the destruction of the Jewish Temple; and, 2) the Second Coming of Christ.   There are two future events . . .

An “immediate future”


A “distant future.”

The destruction of the temple serves as a type or foreshadow of the future coming judgment at the Second Coming of Christ.  The nearer event – the destruction of the temple – serves as a preview of the more distant event, the Second Coming.

Verses 8-19 tell what will happen before the destruction of the Jewish temple and verses 20-24 tell about the destruction itself.

Verse 8 tells us, “And He said: ‘Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.’”  Jesus warns that there will be future pretenders, but they are not the Christ.  You may recall Luke 17:23 that Jesus said, “And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’  Do not go after them or follow them.”  There will always be future false Messiahs. 

In verse 9 Jesus says,“But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”  These things will happen until Christ returns to redeem all of creation.

In verses 10-11 the Bible tells us, “Then He said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.”  History tells us that the first century saw a number of wars, earthquakes, and famines throughout the Roman Empire.  The historian Will Durant, writing in the 1960s in his book, The Lessons of History, observes that “in the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war.”  He goes to state that there have “only been 268 years of peace out of over 3,000 years.”

Jesus goes on to say in verses 12 and 13, “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.  But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.”  While the disciples would face persecution in the next few decades, it would give them an opportunity to bear witness to Jesus Christ.

In verses 14 through 18 Jesus says, “Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.  You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death (cf Luke 12:53, Luke 14:26, Luke 18:29).  And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But not a hair of your head shall be lost.”

This means that while some of God’s children will suffer physical death, none of God’s children will suffer eternal death.

In verse 19 Jesus concludes this section by saying, “By your patience possess your souls.”  Put another way: Jesus is telling His disciples, and us, “to persevere, endure suffering, stay committed to Him.”

Verses 8-19 describe what will occur before the destruction of Jerusalem, now we look at the destruction itself in verses 20-24.

In verse 21 Jesus says, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (cf Luke 19:43-44)This happened in AD 70 when Titus, acting under his father, Roman Emperor Vespasian, surrounded the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and ultimately the city.  Jesus predicted this event and said what to do when it happens in verses 21-23, “Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.  For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.”

A time of joy becomes a time of sorrow.  Josephus says that a million people died, and 100,000 prisoners taken.  The fact that Josephus, who was not a Christian, underscores the horror of the destruction.

This is confirmed in verse 24 where Jesus also says,“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”  Jerusalem’s being “trampled by the Gentiles” is a way of saying that non-Jews will conquer and dominate Jerusalem and the Jewish people until a future time when God puts an end to it.  This “trampling of the Gentiles” continues beyond AD 70.  The Romans, Persians, Franks, Turks, and the British have all “trampled” on Jerusalem.  Even today, where Jesus had been teaching (earlier in chapter 21) on that very spot is yet another fulfillment of verse 24.  Today the temple has been replaced by the huge mosque known as “The Dome of the Rock.”

The time of the Gentiles seems to suggest a time during which the Jewish people face persecution, a time that will not end until Christ returns (cf Romans 11:11-32).

Beginning in verse 25 and following, Jesus foretells the coming of the Son of Man, the Second Coming, the future event coinciding with the end of time.  By the way, if Jesus predicted the first event – the destruction of the temple in AD 70, and the first event occurred as prophesied, then you and I can be equally certain that what Jesus says will happen in verses 25 and following will happen exactly as prophesied.  It is a guarantee!

In verses 25 through 28 Jesus says, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”  Note the two different reactions in verses 26-28. 

  • Some men’s hearts will “fail them.”
  • And others will “look up and lift up their heads” because their “redemption draws near” (is coming to completion). 

At Christ’s second coming, will you be fearful or grateful? 

Verses 29 through 33 tell us, “Then He spoke to them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.  When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.  So you also, when you see these things happening (these signs in the sun and moon, etc.), know that the kingdom of God is near.  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place(this generation of people living on earth when the signs occur in the sky)Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

Jesus says these events will happen!  We have already on record that which He prophesied would take place in AD 70.  If Jesus got that one right, we can rest assured He will get this one right, too. 

In verse Jesus says,“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”  Jesus is telling us to be ready.  Do not let that day catch us in self-indulgence or allow ourselves to be swept away by the things of this present, fallen world, including the daily pressures caused by worry and anxiety.

He goes on to say in verses 35-36, “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  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.”  Then Luke tells us, “And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet.  Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.”

In light of these truths, here is the question . . .

How shall we face the future?

Because the Bible does not give us information about the future just to fill our heads or so that we will pull out the maps, and charts, and diagrams to be able to plot various points of interest and sell our books. 

The Bible gives us information

About the future to teach us

How to live in the present.

Note these practical guidelines . . .  

1) BE WITNESSING – Verses 12-15.

Remember verse 13?  Jesus told the disciples that the future difficulties they faced would give them an opportunity to bear witness to Christ.  He said in verse 13, “But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.”  This takes us back to what Jesus had said earlier in Luke 12:11-12: “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

We are to live our lives as witnesses to Christ.  Luke records this truth again in his second volume, the Book of Acts.  He records what Jesus says in Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses …”  In the context here of Luke 21, Jesus tells us that we are to witness to Christ when facing future difficulties. 

What a powerful witness to not

Fall away because of persecution,

But to draw nearer to Christ.

People are watching you when you face persecution.  How will you respond when the going gets tough?  Adrian Rogers used to say, “If you want to see what a man is made of shake him up really good and see what comes out.”  When you are shaken what comes out?  Dads, what do your children see when you face fire?  Moms, how do you handle adversity?  Young people, who will you witness to for Christ this week at school?

Jesus reminds us not to worry about what we will say. 

If we will live for Christ,

He will guide our words.

Verse 15 says, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.”  Trust in the Lord and you will witness for His glory.

How do we face the future?  How do we live this week?  Be witnessing.  Secondly . . .

2) BE WARNED!  Verses 34-35.

Remember the two different reactions to Christ’s Second Coming back in verses 26-28?  Jesus says some men’s hearts will “fail them” and others will “lift up their heads because their redemption” is coming to completion.  That idea is repeated in verses 34 and 35 – Jesus says, do not allow yourselves to be “weighed down with carousing, drunkness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”  Take heed how you live!

Here is a question: To whom is Jesus speaking here?  He is not speaking to religious, closed hearted Pharisees or Sadducees or a special group of Christians who will avoid all this by being whisked away to some vacation spot in the sky.  He is talking to His disciples.  “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”

On that day, there will be those who greet Jesus as Savior and those who meet Jesus as Judge.”  Which will it be for you?  At Christ’s Second Coming, will you be fearful or grateful?

How do we face the future?  How do we live this week?  Be witnessing.  Be warned.  Thirdly . . .

3) BE WATCHING!  Verse 36.

Jesus says in verse 36, “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.”  Don’t miss what Jesus is saying here – We are to watch and pray “that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things,” all what things?  What Jesus has said in the preceding verses – verses 34 and 35 – that Christ’s coming not catch us by surprise because our hearts were weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the worries of this life, living for this world only.

It is not always easy living the Christian life.  Sometimes we face persecution and great difficulties.  But remember that Jesus says, “Not a hair of our head will be lost” (verse 18).  I like that!  Remember what the Bible says in Romans 8:38-39, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When you face difficulties and trials and tribulation, watch and pray.  Look up to Jesus and ask for help:

Live by the truth of Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Maybe this causes you to think about the words of the song,  

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Most of you have heard of Chuck Colson.  He was the founder of Prison Fellowship and the former so-called political “Hatchet Man” for Richard Nixon and one of the major players in the Watergate scandal.  A friend of his, Tom Phillips, shortly after Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign in 1972, said Chuck had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.  He described how it happened.  Church called Tom and said he wanted to talk to him.  During their meeting Phillips read the section on pride from CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity.  Colson left despite Tom’s wanting him to stay and talk more.  It was his pride that made him leave, but God was breaking-through the pride.

Colson wrote about it later in his autobiographical book, Born Again: “As I drove out of Tom’s driveway, the tears were flowing uncontrollably.  There were no street lights, no moonlight. The car headlights were flooding illumination before my eyes, but I was crying so hard it was like trying to swim underwater.  I pulled to the side of the road not more than a hundred yards from the entrance to Tom’s driveway … I remember hoping that Tom and (his wife) wouldn’t hear my sobbing, the only sound other than the chirping of crickets penetrating the still of the night.  With my face cupped in my hands, head leaning forward against the wheel, I forgot about machismo, about pretenses, about fears of being weak.  And as I did, I began to experience a wonderful feeling of being released … And then I prayed my first real prayer. ‘God, I don’t know how to find you, but I’m going to try! I’m not much the way I am now, but somehow I want to give myself to You.’ I didn’t know how to say more, so I repeated over and over the words: Take me.

I had not ‘accepted’ Christ – I still didn’t know who he was. My mind told me it was important to find that out first, to be sure that I knew what I was doing, that I meant it and would stay with it. Only, that night, something inside me was urging me to surrender – to what or to whom I did not know.

I stayed there in the car, wet-eyed, praying, thinking, for perhaps half an hour, perhaps longer, alone in the quiet of the dark night.  Yet for the first time in my life I was not alone at all.”  (p.116-117)

When Christ returns, will you greet Him as Savior or meet Him as Judge?  Tell Him today, “Take me.”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain: Luke 21:1-6 – Cautions For Christ-Followers

Grace For The Journey

We are coming to the last three chapters of Luke.  There is a certain order in these chapters of the synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – that makes it easy to remember where to locate a few things.  In chapters 22, 23, 24 Luke deals with the Lord’s Supper, the crucifixion, and resurrection (the same is true for Mark 14-16, 14 is the Lord’s Supper, 15 is the crucifixion, and 16 is the resurrection; and Matthew 26, 27, 28; the Lord’s Supper, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.

As we enter these last three chapters of Luke’s Gospel one of the truths we will be focusing primarily upon will be Christ’s death.  Only two Gospels give us details of Christ’s birth, but all four Gospels give us many details about Christ’s death, because Christ’s death is the integral part of God’s crowning work of redemption.  Today’s study takes us through the first six verses of Luke 22.

Judas is something of a scary character in the Gospel narrative.  He is a striking illustration of what we mean when we speak of the doctrine of perseverance, or “perseverance of the saints.”  This doctrine teaches that all true believers persevere in their faith to the end.  Or to put it another way . . .

All who are

Chosen by God,

Redeemed by Christ,

And given faith

By the Holy Spirit

Are eternally saved. 

They are kept

In faith by the

Power of Almighty God

And thus persevere

To the end.

Some of you are familiar with the classic Christian allegory Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  Dads, get a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress and read it to your family, a chapter an evening.  It is a great story that illustrates what it means to live the Christian life.  Bunyan tells of a dream he had of a man named Christian and he perseveres in his faith along with his friend Hopeful.  When the two reach the gate of the celestial city at the end of their lives, the symbolism continues as they present “certificates” which stand for the saving grace they had received when they trusted Christ indicating that they belonged to God.  Christian and Hopeful are then escorted through the gate into heaven by two angels Bunyan calls “Shining Ones.”  Bunyan says in his dream he then saw that there was someone else trying to make it through the gate of heaven.  His name was Ignorance.  He writes: “Now while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and I saw Ignorance come up to the river” … “When he arrived at the gate” … ‘he began to knock, assuming that he would quickly gain entrance.  But the men who looked over the top of the gate asked, ‘Where did you come from?’ and ‘What do you want?’ He answered, ‘I have eaten and have drunk in the presence of the King, and He has taught in our streets.’  Then they asked him for his certificate, so that they might show it to the King; so he fumbled in his coat for one, and found none.  Then they said, ‘Have you none?’ And the man answered not a word.  So they told the King, but He would not come down to see the man. Instead, He commanded the two Shining Ones, who had conducted Christian and Hopeful to the city, to go out and bind Ignorance hand and foot and take him away” … Then Bunyan adds, “Then I realized that there was a way to hell even from the gates of heaven…”

Now that is an extraordinary statement, isn’t it?  Bunyan warns that not all those who refer to themselves as Christians are truly Christians.  Not everyone who uses religious language or does Christian work is necessarily a true believer.  In the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:12, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”  And such was the case of Judas Iscariot.  If we can learn anything from Judas we had better learn to examine ourselves as to whether we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  We may also learn from Judas how we, too, may be guilty of betraying Christ in a number of different ways.  Let’s consider that possibility as we study these verses a little more closely and then I will leave with three cautionary considerations. 

Verse1 says, “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.”  The very fact that Luke tells us that the Feast of Unleavened Bread “is called Passover” is another reason we know Luke, himself a Gentile, was writing primarily to Gentiles.  If he were writing to Jews – like Matthew was in his Gospel – then he would not have explained that this was called Passover, because his audience would be like, “Well, duh!”  It would be like telling you Kentucky is part of a larger country, which is called America. 

The question that we do need to answer is, “What is the Passover?” The Passover was the “opening-day feast” beginning the seven-day “Feast of Unleavened Bread.”  The Passover was a Jewish festival to be observed just once a year, a special time when the Jews would recall their miraculous deliverance from Egypt.  You will remember from reading through Exodus that the final plague sent by God to Pharaoh was the death of the firstborn.  The Jews protected themselves from the plague by smearing the blood of a sacrificial lamb upon their doorposts so that the Angel of Death would “pass over” their homes.  Unleavened bread was eaten to remind the people of their haste in fleeing Egypt, the bread did not have time to rise.  By the New Testament times thousands upon thousands of people would enter into Jerusalem for this annual feast. 

Verse 2 tells us, “And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people.”  This is not the first time we have read of the envy and anger of the religious leaders towards Jesus (See Luke 19:47, Luke 20:19).  They have now made their mind up that Jesus must go.  He must be killed.  The chief priests and the scribes, however, “feared the people.”  Remember this is Passover and there are a lot of people in town.  The Jewish historian Josephus estimates there may have been as many as 1-2 million people in Jerusalem during this observance.  Jesus has grown in popularity.  The religious leaders are looking for some way to kill Him without creating a riot (Mark 14:2).

Matthew and Mark, in their Gospels, underscore the conniving nature of these religious leaders, both of them writing, “… (plotted) sought how they might take Him by deception and (kill Him) put Him to death” (Matthew 26:4; Mark 14:1).  Who could have guessed that the answer to their dilemma would come from the very inner circle of Jesus’ followers? 

Verse 3 says, “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.”  Numbered among the 12, was Judas!  One of the 12.  It is not by accident that he is always listed last in order when you read the lists of the 12 disciples in the Gospels.  In fact, in their references to Judas the Gospel writers often append the statement, “Judas – who was to betray Christ.”  Judas had never really believed that Jesus was the Christ and Jesus knew this ahead of time.  The Bible says in John 6:64, “But there are some of you who do not believe.  For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.”  The Bible also tells us in John 6:70-71, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’  He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.”

Of course, the other disciples did not know this about Judas.  Later in Luke 22:23, when Jesus announces one of them will betray Him, the Bible tells us, “Then they began to question among themselves. Which of them it was who would do this thing.”

Verse 3 begins with the words, “Then Satan entered Judas.”  As we learned in Luke 4:13, “Now when he (Satan) had ended every temptation, he departed from Him (Jesus) until an opportune time.”  Now is that opportune time.  Satan is back.  Satan entered Judas, finding a comfortable place there as Judas’ sinful heart made him welcome.   Satan influences Judas to go to the religious leaders and agree to betray Jesus.  The Bible tells us in John 13:27 that Satan will “enter Judas” again at the time of the Last Supper. 

Verse 4 then says, “So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.”  Judas “went his way.”  It is not as though Judas is an unwilling pawn in a chess game played by God, a robot with no decision in the matter.  It is disturbing to hear that Judas welcomed Satan’s entering into his heart.  But that is the power of our sinful nature.  It is never turned to go God’s way.  We never read anywhere in the Bible that Judas had no control over his actions.  He made a willful choice.  Yes, there is a mystery here.  God has a plan and is working it out.  He is sovereign.  Jesus Christ had to die, but Judas did not have to be the one to make it happen.  He did not have to be the traitor.  But because he willingly chose to be the traitor, he opened the door and Satan came in.  His sinful heart made a welcome invitation for Satan to enter in.  Judas had already been under the influence of Satan.  Now he would be under an even greater influence of Satan.

Verse 5 says, “And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.”  Judas and the religious leaders negotiated a sum of money for Judas’ betraying Christ into their hands.  Matthew puts it this way in chapter 26, and verses 14-15, “Then Judas” … “went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’   And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.”  And, incidentally, this amount fulfills the Old Testament prophecy in Zechariah 11:12 as noted by Matthew. 

Verse 6 tells us, “So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.”  We will read, of course, that the “opportunity” will come in the cover of darkness (Luke 22:53).  It is nearly always easier to sin in the dark.  So Judas seeks an opportunity to betray Christ and we can imagine Jesus quoting from Psalm 41:9, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” 

What are to make of these six verses?  Are they preserved by God in Scripture only to serve as introductory remarks about the imminent death of Christ, or is there more here for our profit?  One of the benefits of going verse-by-verse through books of the Bible is that by doing so God provides for us not only easy sayings, but hard sayings, good and bad, pleasant and not-so pleasant. 

Sometimes God’s Word comforts us,

At other times it convicts us. 

Sometimes it challenges us


Other times it cautions us.

We have here some cautionary principles that surface from this passage.  The are three cautions for Christ-followers.  How many of you would say, “I’m a Christ-follower?” Three cautions for us . . . 

1)  Beware Of The Danger Of Religion.

Look at all the characters in these six verses.  You have the chief priests and the scribes on the one hand and Judas on the other.  All of them are religious.  But not one of them is a true believer.  Do not you find that remarkable?  Is that not a caution to us today?  You can be really close to Christ and be lost.  This could happen in our own household, in our own family.  The chief priests and scribes new a lot of Scripture, they knew religious language, but they were lost.  Judas was one of the 12 disciples, but he was lost.

We often say that . . .

Christianity is not a “religion,” but a “relationship.”

Christianity is about receiving Jesus Christ into our lives,

Believing He died on the cross for our sins,

Bearing the punishment we deserved,

Rising the third day so we may be declared

Righteous, justified by faith and therefore

At peace with God. 

Christian faith is not so much a religion, but a relationship – a living, vibrant, day-by-day relationship with God through faith in Christ.  Beware of the danger of religion – man’s attempts to please God and get right with Him.

2)  Beware Of The Danger Of Satan.

Never underestimate the influence of the one who “entered Judas.”  I am afraid we are often guilty of too quickly dismissing what happened to Judas as “demon possession,” something that can come only to an unbeliever and that is the end of our discussion.  But whether Judas was “demon possessed” in the technical sense of that term misses a greater point and blinds us to the very real possibility that when your heart is bent toward evil, evil will find you.

The Bible says in Proverbs 11:27, “Evil comes to him who searches for it.”  This is the way we ought to think of Judas.  It is not, “poor, old Judas,” as though Judas had no choice in the matter and Satan came along and entered in and took him over against his will.  No, Judas’ heart was bent toward evil.  It is not unlike what we read in Genesis 4 with Cain killing Abel.  How many of you think Cain made a choice when he killed his brother Abel?  Me, too.  In fact, the warning from God in Genesis 4:7 is, “Sin is crouching at your door (lying at your door).”  The truth Cain needed to understand was, “Sin desires to rule over you, Cain, but you must rule over it.”  Sin was crouching at the door and Cain opened the door.  He sinned.  He sinned willingly.

Peter does not underestimate the danger of Satan.  He writes in 1 Peter 5:8, “The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  Sin crouches at your door.  If your heart is inclined to sin, Satan will do his level best to come to you and pave for you a lovely road for you to walk down.  Beware.

Sin crouches at your door all the time.  Sin crouches at your door, men, in the form of lust and internet pornography.  And you make a decision whether to open the door when you decide whether to click that link.  Ladies, sin crouches at your door when you look at that man who is not your husband and you are looking for the wrong reason.  Sin crouches at your door, young people, when you are tempted to cheat on that exam.  Sin crouches at your door when you envy another person’s stuff, another person’s position, another person’s popularity – this can happen in ministry and often does – seeking the approval of others, forever expecting others to applaud your efforts.  And just in case you feel you would never stoop as low as Judas, the Bible warns in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Beware of the danger of religion, beware of the danger of Satan, thirdly . . .

3)  Beware Of The Danger Of Money.

How frequently we have read in Luke’s Gospel the warnings about money and the lure of riches. 

  • We read the Parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21),
  • The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31),
  • And the Parable of the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18-25).

Judas seems obsessed with money.  In John’s Gospel we have that story where Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with costly oil.  Judas complains, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor?”  That sounds real spiritual, but remember John adds, “He said this not because he was concerned for the poor, but because he was a thief and kept the money box and stole from it as he had need” (John 12:4-6).

He agreed to receive 30 pieces of silver in order to betray Christ.  This was an amount worth only about 4 months wages.  That is not really much when you consider who Christ is.  But it is an awful lot to a person who is greedy and whose god is money.     Judas loved money.  The love for money ensnared him, proving true the Bible’s warning in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Judas is one such example, an example of a person who “strayed from the faith in his greediness and pierced himself through with many sorrows.”

Yes . . .

It is possible to have money without loving it,


It is equally possible to love money without having it. 

Both rich and poor alike may be ensnared by money.

The problem is love placed on the wrong thing.  Being a true Christ-follower means we love Him more than anyone or anything.  He must be number one, the love of our lives!  The desires of your heart are to be like pieces of metal drawn like a magnet to the Lord Jesus.  Anything less is idolatry.  Beware, Christ-followers, beware of the danger of money.

Those are the warnings.  And how fitting that they should come in this passage in the context of the Passover, the annual event where a lamb was sacrificed as a reminder of God’s salvation.  Each lamb sacrificed at the Passover pointed forward to another Lamb, the one John the Baptist called, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the One Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ our Passover (who) was sacrificed for us.”

Christ’s death was the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover.  Like the blood of the lamb which saved God’s people from death in Egypt, Jesus Christ shed His blood to save us from spiritual death.  Have you received Him by faith into your life?  Is He your “Number One Love?”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 20:41-21:4 – Authentic Faith

Grace For The Journey

We are looking today at the final verses of Luke chapter 20 and the first four verses of chapter 21.  We will begin our study today at verse 41.  Remember the original Greek manuscripts do not have chapters, divisions, and verse numbers so we are going to roll right into the first four verses of chapter 21 as this seems to be the next logical break.

Jesus has been asked a couple of hostile questions.  Now it is His turn to do the questioning.  As you read this passage, listen for what Jesus teaches about authentic Christian faith.

I do not usually watch “Antiques Roadshow.”  One Sunday afternoon, during halftime of an NFL football game, I watched a segment of an episode where there was this lady who had this necklace of gold, diamonds, and turquoise.  She said she bought it 25 years ago as a gift to herself.  The guy she bought it from gave her a paper certifying that it was made in 1905 and that it contained authentic Turkish turquoise.  When asked what she paid for it 25 years ago she said she paid $20,000.

Now when I heard that, I just kind of had that feeling, you know.  Like, $20,000?!  The appraiser tells her, “Well, I have good news for you and I have bad news for you.”  That is not something you want to hear at the Antiques Roadshow!  The appraiser goes on a bit trying to cushion the blow by telling her how wonderful the necklace looks – which is the good news; and you know he is soften what he will say next, and you can see the woman bracing for the bad news.  Finally, the appraiser says, “It is not quite as old as you were led to believe.”  The appraiser tells the woman the necklace was made in the 60s and says a few more things before saying, “I would give it a current auction estimate in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $12,000.” The woman’s eyes bulge out like, “What?!”  The appraiser says, this “is somewhat less than you paid for it,” and the woman responds, “Significantly less!”  This poor woman had paid $20,000 for something 25 years ago that is today only worth $8000 to maybe $12,000.  She had been led to believe that she had this authentic piece of jewelry with Turkish turquoise, but she had something that was not authentic at all – looked like the real deal but was inauthentic.

It is always disappointing when what you think is real turns out to be false.  Everything looked so convincing, but those who are “in the know” expose the flaws and the inconsistencies.  We certainly would not think of Jesus as an appraiser nor would we think of the religious leaders of His day as people of some kind of intrinsic worth whose value was to be appraised.  But if we were looking for an example of those who present themselves as a people who seemed to be authentic but are not, then we have a found such a people in the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  Jesus exposes their utter hypocrisy by revealing to others who they really were.  In this exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders we learn a few things about what authentic faith should look like.

Let me pose this as a general question to guide our teaching this morning . . . 

What does authentic faith look like?

Our text suggests three marks of authentic Christian faith.  First, to possess authentic faith:

I.  We Understand Christ’s Identity – Verses 41-44.

More important than any question we will ever answer is the question, “Who is Jesus Christ” and then the accompanying follow-up question, “And what now will you do with Jesus?”  Who is Jesus Christ and what will you do with Him?  These are questions we must visit again and again as families who are interested in growing and being discipled.  Dads, moms, ask these questions today of your family. 

Verse 41 tells us, “And He said to them, ‘How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David?’”  Jesus is talking about the coming Messiah.  Remember that the word “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name!  It is the Greek word for Messiah.  The Jews were looking forward to a coming Messiah or Savior.  In this question in verse 41 Jesus is building on the common, general view that the coming Messiah and Savior would be David’s son, that is, a descendant of David.  This was the accepted conventional wisdom and there, of course, was biblical support for this.  But Jesus asks, “How can that be?  How can the Christ be the Son of David?” and His point is to stress the identity of Christ.  Jesus says in verses 42 through 44, “Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’  Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”

Jesus’ point is to teach and stress the identity of Christ.  Jesus quotes from one of the psalms that David wrote.  David was, of course, was the second king of Israel.  His descendants reigned on the throne of Judah until 587 BC when Jerusalem fell to Babylon.  David wrote over seventy of the Psalms, including this psalm from which Jesus is quoting, Psalm 110, a psalm about the Messiah.  Psalm 110 opens in verse 1 with, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” 

So, Jesus is asking, “What in the world is David talking about here? I mean he wrote this psalm a thousand years earlier and he says, “The LORD said to my Lord sit at my right hand.”  By the way, the “right hand” is the place of honor.  David is writing about the “LORD.”  Notice the word is in all caps.  When you see this word in all caps it is a reference to YHWH, the One True God of the Bible.  In the Old Testament the covenant name for God is YHWH.  What is God saying?  He says to David’s Lord – (Lower case letters here signify a particular person to be esteemed worthy of respect).  It was not unusual, for example, in Bible days for a son to address his father as Lord.  David is referring to someone higher than himself.  David writes, “The LORD said to my Lord” and Jesus is like, “To whom is David speaking?”

The answer is implied: David is speaking of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who, while a descendant of David is also David’s Lord.  This indicates that David’s future offspring has more authority than David.  And this statement about “sitting at the right hand” is a way of saying that this Messiah will share YHWH’s rule and reign.  Remember that angel Gabriel had said to Mary in the opening chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Luke 1:32-33, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  What is Gabriel’s point? 

Jesus Christ IS the Son of David,

But He is much, much more. 

He is also David’s Lord.

Who is Jesus for you?  How do you identify Him?  To have authentic faith we must understand Christ’s identity.  Is Jesus identified by you as merely a good man, a good teacher?  This is how many in Jesus’ day identified Him.  Many of the religious leaders identified Jesus as merely a teacher.  Who is the Christ?  Is He God-in-the-flesh, the Messiah, Savior, Son of David, SON OF GOD who is CO-EQUAL and CO-REIGNS with God the Father in heaven?  That is how the Bible identifies Jesus.  He is God-in-the flesh who came to us to die for our sins, was buried for our transgressions, and raised the third day that we may be justified – declared righteous.  You cannot be a Christian without believing this.  You must properly “ID” Christ.  And by the way, no other spiritual question you may ask really matters until you answer this question first.

Authentic faith means we understand Christ’s identity.  Secondly, authentic faith means:

II. We Avoid Ungodly Hypocrisy – Verses 45-47.

These religious leaders of Jesus’ day really wanted to look good in the eyes of others.  They always seemed to focus on the external rather than the internal.  Jesus warns His disciples about them.  Verse 45 says, “Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, ‘Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts.”  The word is “ostentatious.”  These guys loved to be seen by others.  They were like clowns in a parade.  They loved it when people watched them parade by.  They loved the long greetings folks gave them: “Why hello, most holy, reverend, highest, most-blessed, Father so-and-so

Jesus continues to describe their hypocrisy in verse 47, “Who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”  This last phrase is a reminder that we all will face a judgement, described here by Jesus with the word “condemnation.”  There is a judgment and there are degrees of judgment.  That Jesus says some will receive a “greater” condemnation means that others will receive a “lesser” one, but all will be judged.  Just as there are degrees of glory and reward in heaven, so are there degrees of loss of reward and condemnation in hell. 

Jesus says in verse 47 that these hypocritical teachers were “devouring widows houses” which probably means that they were cheating widows of their estates while they served as executors of their properties.  Unbelievable, isn’t it?!

In verse 47 Jesus says they also, “for a pretense make long prayers.”  It is not the long prayers that are the problem, it is the “pretense” of the long prayers.  The idea is that, for a show make lengthy prayers.  These guys were all about appearance and perception.  They looked really religious and devout, and they sounded really religious and devout.  Too many, they looked and sounded like the real thing.  But Jesus “appraises” their religiosity here and exposes their utter hypocrisy.  He had done this before.  He had laid bare their hypocritical hearts more than once before in Luke 16:15, “You (Pharisees) are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.  For what is highly esteemed among men is and abomination in the sight of God.”  Men may look at you and say, “Wow, what a spiritual giant!”  But God knows your heart.  Sit is not how you look on the outside or even how you sound on the outside.  It is who you are on the inside.

Why is Jesus saying this here in verses 46-47?  Does He wish to just slam these scribes?  No, He mentions this as a warning.  Who is Jesus warning here?  Verse 45 tells us – the disciples.   

Authentic faith means we understand Christ’s identity . . . Authentic faith means we avoid ungodly hypocrisy and, final . . . 

III.  We Are Known For Great Generosity – 21:1-4.

Verse one says, “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.”  Remember Jesus and the disciples are there at the temple.  Jesus is watching folks put their money into the temple treasury.  There were 13 collection chests or boxes in the Jewish temple.  These chests had trumpet-like openings.  Seven of the chests were for the temple tax and the remaining six were for freewill offerings.  Jesus is watching folks put their money in the chests.  The money made noises as they clanged down through the openings of the chests and often you could tell the greatness of the size of the gift by the greatness of the sound it made.  Everyone knew approximately who was giving what.  They did not write secret checks, nor was there a website where they could click to “give online.”  They gave publicly and everyone heard the size of your gift. 

Verse 2 tells us, “And He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.”  This coin was the lepton; the plural is lepta.  The lepton was the smallest coin used among the Jews in Jesus’ day.  The word “lepton” means “small or thin.”  The lepton was an extremely thin bronze or copper coin worth next to nothing, worth a very small fraction of a denarius.  We have learned about the denarius before in Luke’s Gospel as recently as verses 20-26 where Jesus calls for a denarius and asks whose image is on it and so forth.  A denarius represented about one day’s wages.  A lepton was worth about 1/128th of a denarius.

Jesus is watching as this poor widow puts into the temple treasure two small coins worth practically nothing.  He says in verse 3, “. . . Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all.”  We are like, “What?!  How can Jesus say that?!   Clearly this woman put in less than everyone else!”  But remember?  Jesus says, “It is not what everyone sees on the outside, it is what is going on on the inside.”  Just as Jesus could see and expose the heart of the hypocritical religious leaders so Jesus can see and expose the heart of this poor godly widow.  Jesus goes on in verse 4 and tells us what He means, “For all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

What do authentic Christians do?  They give sacrificially.  They give selflessly.  They give from the heart, a heart that loves and beats hard for Jesus Christ, the Lover of their souls.  It is not the amount this woman gave that is important.  It is highly unlikely anyone could even have heard the two coins as she dropped them into the chest.   These were paper thin coins worth basically nothing.  She dropped them into the chest and they did not clang, they floated and whispered.  It is not the amount.  It is the fact that she gave sacrificially, selflessly, from her heart, great generosity.

The main point appears to be that

God measures the gifts of his people

Not on the basis of their size but on

The basis of how much remains.

We must never forget that God owns everything.  He owns all of our stuff, all of our possessions, and all of our money.  He owns it all.  Lordship means we recognize and agree that He is Lord of everything.

When it comes to Christian stewardship and giving, our common statements are, unfortunately, not always helpful.   Someone says, “Tithing means you give God 10% and you get to keep 90%.”  So, the thought is 10% is His and 90% is yours.  But that is not what the Bible teaches – It actually teaches that 100% is God’s.  If we recognize this truth, then tithing – the biblical practice of returning to God from the top, the firstfruits – for the Christian is merely a place to begin in Christian giving.  You begin with returning 10% and then you grow to give more and more.

This woman did something very impractical: she sis not gave 10%, but 100%.  Everyone is bracing for, “Now you go and do likewise.”  Is that the point here?  Is that what we’re to do?  No, the principle is . . .

God measures the gifts of His people

Not on the basis of their size but

On the basis of how much remains.

Do you give sacrificially?  Are you known as a person of great generosity because nothing excites your heart more than Jesus?

What are you doing with your money?  Does it own you, possess you?  Are you always concerned about giving too much or not having enough?  It may be that money is your god and you do not even realize it.  It has got you in bondage.  Money can be your god whether you are rich or poor.

Authentic faith means we understand Christ’s identity, we avoid ungodly hypocrisy, and we are known for great generosity.  No other question matters more than what you think of Jesus and what you will do with that information.

This Is God Word’s

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 20:27-40 – Do You Know The God of the Living?

Grace For The Journey

We have this morning the third of three questions asked by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day . .

  • The first was, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things” (Luke 20:2)?
  • The second question was an attempt by the Pharisees to trap Jesus, back in Luke 20:22, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 
  • The question we will look at today is the second of two attempts to trap Jesus, this time by the Sadducees. 

The Pharisees had had their shot, so perhaps the Sadducees – not willing to be outdone in this contest of revealing one’s ignorance and ineptitude before Jesus – decide that they will have a go at it.

Maybe you have been questioned about your Christian faith by an unbelieving skeptic.  You have been asked something like, “Why does a good God allow bad things to happen?” Or, “If God is sovereign and knows all things and does according to the counsel of His will, then why pray?”  “Does prayer change God’s mind?” and so forth.  Asking questions is good if one really wants to know the answer, but sometimes people ask questions merely to get a reaction out of someone.  They do not really want an answer, they are just trying to make sport of someone and to trip them up in their response.  That certainly was the case with the Pharisees and now the Sadducees of Jesus’ day.

The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther who was known for his abrupt way in answering critics.  Luther was taking questions from skeptics and one skeptic – in an attempt to trip up Luther – said, “You say God created everything, so what was God doing before He created everything?” Luther replied, “He was thinking about creating hell for people like you who ask stupid questions!”

Let’s first study this question of the Sadducees and then I will leave you with a question or two of my own as we apply this truth to our lives.

Verse 27 says, Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him.”  As we consider this verse, I think is it important to mention a thing or two about the Sadducees.  We have looked at questions from the Pharisees, identified in chapter 20 by the phrase, “Chief priests and the scribes” (Luke 20:1; Luke 20:19).  These were religious leaders in Jesus’ day known as the Pharisees.  We are introduced here to another religious group known as the Sadducees, mentioned only here in Luke’s Gospel.

Luke tells us in verse 27 that one of the differences between these two groups is that the Sadducees, verse 27, “deny that there is a resurrection.”  The Sadducees did not believe in life beyond the grave.  This is why some remember them by the humorous phrase, “This is why they’re ‘Sad,’ you see.”

The Sadducees claimed to descend from Zadok, the high priest under King David (1 Kings 1:26).  In Jesus’ day the Sadducees were like this inner circle of wealthy, and smug aristocrats.  They did not get along with the Pharisees.  The two religious parties were bitter rivals and enemies.  The Sadducees are no longer around.  They died out sometime after the Jewish Temple was destroyed in AD 70.  The Pharisees are no longer around, either, at least not in the sense of being a religious group of Jews separate from everyone else.  Pharisaism in Jesus’ day eventually became rabbinic Judaism, which ultimately produced traditional Judaism of today.

Luke reminds us in verse 27 that the Sadducees “deny that there is a resurrection.”   They also denied any kind of life after death.  The Jewish historian Josephus says that the Sadducees believed that the soul perished along with the body (Antiquities).  They also denied the existence of angels and demons.  In fact, Luke, writing in the Book of Acts, writes of the differences between the Sadducees and the Pharisees in Acts 23:8 where he says, “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection – and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.”  The Sadducees also did not practice the teachings of anything in the Old Testament beyond the Pentateuch or the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.

I said there were no Sadducees today, but I mean the specific group of people that existed in Jesus’ day.  Because, there are “modern Sadducees” today, aren’t there?  Anyone who believes, “once you’re dead, you’re dead,” and by that they mean there is no life after death, this person is a modern Sadducee.  This is the belief system of the nihilist and of the atheistic existentialist. This is the way of anyone who denies the resurrection or the continuation of the soul at death.

I think it is very important for us as believers when we come up against this sort of thinking that we challenge folks to consider upon what authority they accept the idea of no resurrection or no life after death.  In other words, if our friend says to us, “Well, I just believe once you are dead, you are dead,” we then need to follow that up with the loving question, “And upon what authority to you believe that?  Did you learn it from reading a book or watching a movie?  Are you prepared to bank your eternity on a writer’s conjecturing?  Are you willing to stake your eternity on one man’s ideas?”  Then we take them lovingly to the Bible, our final authority.  We take them to Jesus.

Jesus believed in the resurrection.  You may remember in Luke 14:13-14 where Jesus says, “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  Jesus believed in a conscious life immediately after death, remember the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31?  How about Luke 23:39-43 where we will hear Jesus say to the thief on the cross, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Verses 28 to 40 tell us about the hypothetical situation the Sadducees create for Jesus.  In verse 28 they begin by saying, “Saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.”  This is true.  You can read it in Deuteronomy 25:5-6.  The purpose of this custom was to protect the family, to keep the name of the family alive and to maintain the family wealth, security, and honor.  The book of Ruth includes this custom in the telling of the history of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 1:11-13; 4:1-22).

In verse 29 the Sadducees continue, “Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children.”  The Sadducees are posing to Jesus a hypothetical question.  They are saying, “Let’s just say for the sake of argument that there is a resurrection.”  There were seven brothers.  The first marries, but dies without children.  They continue in verses 30 through 33, “And the second (brother) took her as wife, and he died childless.  Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died.  Last of all the woman died also.  Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”  This is really crazy, isn’t it?!  To what great lengths the Sadducees have gone to try to trap Jesus in some silly hypothetical situation.  They really do not care about Jesus’ answer because they do not even believe in the resurrection.  They had worked-out this question ahead of time, probably meeting in somebody’s basement, and plotting the whole thing and they just cannot wait to catch Jesus stumbling and stuttering in His reply.

You get the logic of their question, right?  They are like, “If there really is a resurrection, or if there really is a heaven, what do you do with a woman who has been married several times – 7 to be exact – and then she dies and goes to heaven – who will be her husband in heaven; she cannot be equally the wife of all seven, can she?”  The Sadducees believe this hypothetical situation refuted belief in the resurrection.  But you cannot “trip up” the Son of God.  Verse 34 tells us, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.’”  “The sons of this age” simply means, “Human beings in this present earthly life,” people living today in this world, people like you and me.  We are the people of “this age.”  You and I marry and are given in marriage.  Jesus continues in verse 35 by saying, “But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.”  Jesus says, “this age” and “that age” are quite different!  He may as well have said, “You guys go wrong at the point you begin to equate ‘this age’ with ‘that age.’  They are very different.  There is no death in the age to come so there is no need to procreate through marriage.  People in “that age,” people in the future state of heaven don’t need to procreate.  Genesis 1:28 is no longer necessary where God said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” 

Jesus goes on in verse 36 and says, “Nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”  The people of “that age,” the people of heaven and of the final state do not “die anymore.”   Jesus says “the are equal to the angels,” or “like the angels” in this sense that they are immortal.  They do not die.  This does not mean that people become angels!  Please dismiss any notion of that from your thinking!  We do not become angels, getting wings, and so forth!  We will always be people, people with glorified bodies, but people!  Jesus is talking about the fact that we will no longer need to procreate, the primary point of marriage.

The people of “that age” do not die, they live forever and are “sons of God,” being “sons of the resurrection.”  The Christian’s “sonship” or adoption is completed at the resurrection (Romans 8:23) when we receive a glorified body like the Lord’s.  Let me encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 as a refresher and read about the resurrection body that we will one day receive.  The Bible teaches that when the Christian dies, his soul immediately goes to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), absent from the body and present with the Lord.  Our soul immediately goes to heaven.  When Christ returns, He will raise up our mortal body and change it into a body like His, a glorified body that our soul will then inhabit forever and ever.

The way, the phrase that we will “neither marry nor be given in marriage” does not mean that we will not know our spouses in heaven or that we will not be able to be together.  This is an encouragement to most of us who are married – we will know one another in heaven! 

Jesus calls people by name when referring to the future state of heaven.  He says in Matthew 8:11, “Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”  We will know one another in heaven (see also Luke 9:30 and Luke 9:33).  And we will love our spouse more.  In fact, we will have a perfect love for our spouse and for all people.

Who will go to heaven?  Jesus tells us in verse 35, “those who are counted worthy to attain that age.”  How is one “counted worthy” to attain that age?  God saves him through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.  Those who enter into the Kingdom to Come (Luke 11:2) are those who have been saved by the power of the Gospel.

Now watch Jesus use the Scriptures to drive home the truth about heaven and about the One True God.  Verse 37 says, “But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’”  There was no chapter and verse in Jesus’ day like we have in our English Bibles.  When Jesus says, “In the burning bush” He is literally saying “at the bush.”  The burning bush passage is in Exodus 3:5-6.  God says to Moses, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  The passage goes on to tell us that Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

Jesus quotes from the part of the Old Testament with which the Sadducees would have been familiar, Exodus 3, and He points out that God says, ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’”  He does not say, “I was the God of Abraham,” but, “I am the God of Abraham.”  And then Jesus drives home His point in verse 38, when He says “For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.”  God is still their God, He is still the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because only living people can have a God.  He is not the God of the dead but of the living.  Jesus’ point . . . THERE IS A RESURRECTION.

Verses 39 and 40 tell us that the Pharisees are delighted to have Jesus on their side here, “Then some of the scribes answered and said, ‘Teacher, You have spoken well.’   But after that they dared not question Him anymore.”  Both group now have been silenced and this should have led them to be open to the teachings of Christ.

 Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we should consider more carefully what Jesus is teaching . . .

1) Am I Ready For “That Day?”

Remember from verse 35, we asked, “How is one counted worthy to attain that age?”  The answer is:

By receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,

Which means we repent from our sin and

We receive Christ as KING of our lives. 

He is number one and we live for Him.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  Are you ready for “that day?”  Have you made preparation for that day?  Theologian Charles Hodge, “It is important that when we come to die, we have nothing to do but die.” 

Are you ready?  If so, you will enter a place where you are equal to the angels, equal in the sense that you will be immortal, you will never die.  Of those in heaven, the Bible says in Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

2) Do I Truly Live For “That Day And For The “God Of The Living?”

Or, to put it another way, “Am I living a Christ-focused life?”  Does the way I live each day demonstrate that I am living for that day?  Is it reflected in the choices I make each day, in my job, at school, with my friends?  Am I truly living with eternity in view?  Remember, “this age” and “that age” are not equal!  That was the mistake in the Sadducees’ thinking.  So ask: “Am I more in love with “this age” than I am with “that age?”  “Do I truly live for ‘that age?” and for the “God of the Living?”

Adoniram Judson, Baptist missionary who labored for almost forty years in Burma, now known as Myanmar, lived for “that age.”  He looked forward to “that day” and “that age.”  He said, “When Christ calls me home I shall go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school.”  I can relate to that, can’t you?  I looked forward to school being out each day – except for the day we got our “Progress Reports!”  That day, as one person has said, “We would either take the short way home, the long way home, or we don’t go home at all.”  but most of the days like Adoniram Judson I bounded away from school heading home as quickly as possible!  Living for “That Age.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 20:20-26 – Giving Ourselves to God

Grace For The Journey

We are making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke.  We left off last time at verse 19 and so we will pick up right there at verse 20 and then go through verse 26.  The background here is this escalating tension between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day.  The religious leaders – who are not believers in Christ, who do not accept that He is the Messiah – these leaders are threatened by Christ and convicted by His teachings.

We looked last time at their questioning Jesus about His authority.  They did not like the way Jesus had “come into town,” so to speak, riding on a donkey, cleansing the temple, and teaching with authority.  They asked Him about His authority and Jesus tells a parable in verses 9-18 about the wicked vinedressers.  In the telling of the parable Jesus, in essence says, “My authority comes from the Heavenly Father, the One Who sent Me and refers to Me as, “The Beloved Son of God.”  Jesus goes on in the parable and pronounces a judgment upon those who reject Him, those like the religious leaders.

We left off at verse 19 where Luke writes that the chief priests and scribes connect the dots and figure out that Jesus “had spoken the parable against them.”  They are royally ticked off and they are going to do whatever they can to get Jesus out of the picture, to get Him arrested, to get Him carried away, to get Him killed.

This business of the chief priests and the scribes is a devilish attempt.  Luke tells us in verse 20 that they “watched” Jesus and they “sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words,” that is, that they might trap Jesus, get Him to say something incriminating in order to turn Him over to the authorities.  They are trying to get Jesus to trip over His words.   

Have you ever tripped over your words?  If you have ever been in a high-pressured situation, like testifying in court, you know how easy it is to get your words mixed up.  Sometimes it is the questioners themselves who hope to get you all mixed up.  You are asked a loaded question like the infamously classic, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”  Well, how are you going to answer that?!  It is a loaded question.  Like loaded dice, the question comes with a predictable outcome.  The questions assume a premise.  In this case, the premise is, “You have been in the practice of beating your wife.”   The question, “Have you stopped beating your wife” is a trap.  If you say, “Yes” or “No,” you admit to beating your wife.

Other examples of loaded questions:

  • “Have you stopped cheating on your taxes?”  What does that question assume?  You have been cheating.
  • “Do you enjoy taking advantage of your position as supervisor?”
  • A guy interviewing you for a job says, “Can you appreciate this wonderful opportunity we are making available to you?”
  • A teacher says, “Aren’t you ashamed of the little effort you are making in this class?”
  • A borderline loaded question comes from the cult classic film, “Napoleon Dynamite,” where Napoleon, referring to Deb’s milk at school says, “I see you’re drinking 1%. Is that ’cause you think you’re fat? ‘Cause you’re not. You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.” 

That question doesn’t have anything to do with this, I just wanted to share it cause I like that movie and have a weird sense of humor.

On what was probably Tuesday or Wednesday of the week leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus was confronted by a group of Pharisees and Herodians and asked a question about one of the most controversial issues of the day.  You see how these religious leaders were “out to get” Jesus? They set out to trap Him, to “seize on His words,” to catch Him.  Again, they realized that Jesus had spoken the parable of the wicked vinedressers “against them” (verse 19), so they now attempt to trap Jesus in His words so they can turn Him over to the authority of the governor, the governor being Pontius Pilate.

That is the background for these few short verses in our study today.  The religious leaders ask Jesus something of a loaded question, a question that cannot really be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” and we will study that question this morning.  We will make our way through these verses and then I will give you a few take-home principles for to learn and live by.

Verse 21 says, “Then they asked Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth.”  Such pretense!  Such flattery!  They are acting like they really appreciate Jesus.  What they say is true.  They speak truth here.  That Jesus spoke and taught truth is a true statement.  Jesus did, in fact, “teach rightly.”  In fact, the Greek word there is the word “orthos,” the Greek prefix for “straight,” as in “orthodontics (straightening the teeth).”  It is teaching that which is “straight” and “right.”  The other thing they said in verse 21 that was also true is the statement: “You do not show personal favoritism.”  Again, true!  The idea is, “You do not act one way to one person and another way to another person.  You treat everyone the same.”

But this is all a sham.  They are flattering Jesus.  This is flattery, pure and simple.  I think it is true, what has been said . . .

If gossip is saying behind a person’s back

What you would never say to his face,

Then flattery is saying to a person’s face

What you would never say behind his back.

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:5, “Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.”  Here comes the net, a loaded question, in verse 22, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar (Tiberius) or not?”

They want a “yes” or “no.”  If Jesus said, “No, it is not lawful,” then the religious leaders could accuse Jesus of sedition and could get Him into big-time trouble with the Roman authorities.  He would be arrested and carried away.  On the other hand, if Jesus says, “Yes, of course it is well and good to pay taxes to Caesar,” the religious leaders know that Jesus’ followers will not take too kindly to that response because they hated this poll tax that had been unfairly imposed upon them by the Romans.  This was an annual tax on their houses and land, other possessions.  The Jews despised the idea of having to pay tribute to their ungodly, pagan Roman oppressors.

They had hoped to trap Jesus by forcing Him to answer “yes” or “no.”  Now look: They cannot outsmart the Son of God!  In verse 23 it tells us, “But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ‘Why do you test Me?’”  The word for “craftiness” here is the same word used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3 to describe Satan’s “craftiness” in deceiving Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Jesus may have asked, “Why are you guys acting like Satan?!”  Jesus knew their thoughts (see also Luke 5:22 and Luke 6:8; also compare Luke 7:39-40).  Jesus knows all things.  He is God-in-the-flesh.

Now, watch this classic response – He is not going to answer with a quick “yes” or “no.”  What does He do?  Verse 24 tells us Jesus says, “Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” ¶ They answered and said, ‘Caesar’s.’”  The denarius was the common Roman coin in Jesus’ day.  One denarius was the usual pay for one day’s work.  On one side of the denarius is the image of Caesar.  In Jesus’ day the Caesar was Tiberius.  Tiberius’s image was on the coin and on that same side of the coin is a phrase that reads, “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus.” To have one of these coins in the pocket was like having a small idol in the pocket.

Jesus has them get out a coin. That they had one in their pockets or pouches showed that they were not opposed to carrying such a thing around, even if it had this blasphemous inscription on it.  It is pretty obvious that they needed the coin to buy, sell, and so forth.  Jesus is doing the questioning now.  Verses 25-26 tells us, “And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’  But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.”  In our day the value of a person’s entire political career often hinges on a hastily spoken soundbite absurdly taken out of context and replayed endlessly at full volume.  But this “soundbite” of Jesus is just perfect.  It cannot be improved upon! 

Jesus says, “Look, the coin represents the tribute that you are to give to Caesar.  It is a reasonable expectation of his that you give.  You live here, after all, and you benefit from the Roman government, so Caesar is right in demanding this tax from you.”  Jesus does not explain why Caesar has this authority.  Paul and Peter will do this later . . .

Romans 13:1-7 – “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.  Do you want to be unafraid of the authority?  Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is God’s minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.  Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

1 Peter 2:13-17 – “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.  Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

We are to obey the governing authorities.  We are not to disobey unless we are being forced to do something against Scripture, such was the case with Peter in Acts 5:29 when they were told to stop telling people about Jesus, “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

The last part of verse 26 tells us, “But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.”   There is a break in the conversation now as these religious leaders marveled at His answer and kept silent.  The one who is wiser than Solomon (Luke 11:31) has again silenced the opposition!

Now, let’s look a little more closely at this statement of our Lord’s in verse 25, “Render (or Give) therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  The denarius belonged to Caesar because it bore his image.   We belong to God because we bear HIS image (Genesis 1:27).  While what Jesus says is important insofar as rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s, He gives a much more important command in saying that every one of us – we who bear God’s image and likeness – must give ourselves go God.  Caesar and God are not equals.  What we give to God is more important than what we give to Caesar.  Yet so many Christians live their lives as though Caesar is more important than God!

With that thought, here are take-home principles for us to live by . . .

There are three lessons I immediately see from this passage which are applicable to us today.

Let’s examine each of these . . .

1) Awareness.

Jesus knew what the Herodians and Pharisees were up to.  Luke tells us that Jesus perceived their wickedness, and Matthew says Jesus called them “hypocrites,” (Matthew 22:18) and in a tone of rebuke, publicly challenged them to explain why they were tempting him.  When confronted with a challenge, including (and perhaps especially) when people attack us or try to “trap” us (as the Herodians and Pharisees were trying to do with Jesus), it is important that we have the awareness to know what’s going on.

Too often, we react emotionally rather than respond thoughtfully.  Awareness begins with a strong prayer life and a sensitivity to the spiritual aspects of life. We are, as the Bible tells us, engaged in spiritual warfare, wrestling “not against flesh and blood,” but rather against Satan and his forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12).  It is important that we understand the Enemy will use circumstances and people to trip us up, slow us down, discourage us, or defeat us.  We must also be aware of the people around us and the context in which we live and operate.

This is what Jesus was getting at when He said to His disciples: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)  This need for awareness is also bolstered by repeated biblical admonitions toward wisdom and discernment in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

In Jesus’ case, He knew that, while the Pharisees and Herodians had little in common, one of the things they did have in common was they saw Him as a threat. As the old saying goes: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  To be clear, the Herodians and Pharisees were cultural and political enemies.  The Pharisees were strict adherents of Jewish laws and traditions, and bristled at both the Herodian dynasty as well as Roman occupation.

The Herodians were members or supporters of King Herod’s family and dynasty. Herod was of course not a Jew, but an Edomite who owed his rule to Rome.  He was a merciless, wicked, and paranoid king responsible for great suffering in the kingdom. While Herod himself was dead by the time of Jesus, his descendants still ruled the region.  The Herodians were those Jews aligned with Herod’s family and who compromised and curried favor with Rome and were tied to and benefited from the political, social, and economic interests of the region.  This is why Jesus called the Pharisees “hypocrites.” They were casting aside their principles in order to gang up on Him.

Jesus was also aware that a straightforward “yes” or “no” answer to their question would simply play into their hands.  If He affirmed paying taxes to Caesar, then He would lose favor with the people and be associated with their Roman occupiers and the corrupt Herodians. On the other hand, if He said “no,” He would be subject to arrest by Roman authorities for sedition.

Quite often, Christians find themselves in similar no-win dilemmas today – in politics, in business, on social media, at family gatherings, and in everyday conversations.  Like Jesus, we need to strive to RISE ABOVE the fray.

This leads us to the second lesson . . .

2) Altitude.

Jesus’ answer lifts the very nature of the conversation to a whole new level.  He does not play their game.  He refuses to answer on their terms.  He refuses to let Himself be a pawn on their board or to easily play into their trap.  Note that the Pharisees and Herodians initiate this conversation.  They do so with a challenge.  Jesus responds by making clear He know what they’re up to by asking why they are tempting Him. And then.

Jesus establishes Himself as the leader in this exchange by getting them to respond to His question – a question that was obviously rhetorical, since Jesus (even in His incarnate humanity) would have known Roman coinage bears the image of the Roman emperor.  Getting them to say “Caesar” also sets up the statement that Jesus wants to make. They are now responding to Him and waiting on His answer. What is more, they have now said the name “Caesar” themselves, which trained teachers and public speakers know, will further “impact” what Jesus will say.  When a teacher, speaker, counselor, or coach echoes back the same words used by the student or listener, it sharpens the connection and primes the brain for deeper learning.

In case you’re missing my point about mirroring back words for greater impact, had the Pharisees and Herodians said “Tiberius” (who was the Roman Emperor at the time), Jesus would have almost certainly said, “Give to Tiberius what belongs to Tiberius and give to God what belongs to God.”  Jesus is the Master Teacher.  Looking through the Gospels, we can learn a great deal of how Jesus connected with His audiences – and how we can learn a thing or two from His example. Jesus’ answer worked, because rather than score a victory, His accusers “marveled at His answer and kept silent” (Luke 20:26). 

Our goal in human interaction, especially when we feel cornered or trapped, should be to provoke thought. Leave your readers or listeners with something to think on, to mull over, and to reflect on. Jesus did this routinely and masterfully.

Most importantly . . .

By answering them at a higher level,

Jesus transformed an attempt to trap Him

Into a teaching point that has stood

For 2000 years as part of recorded Scripture.

He took a question about taxes and answered with a principle much broader in scope.

And that leads us to the final lesson, which is from the teaching itself . . .

3) Attitude.

Jesus tells us the exact ATTITUDE we are supposed to have when it comes to our interactions with civil authorities.   It is the same attitude we should have when it comes to our interaction with God.  It is just that God’s scope is so much greater than anything on this earth and in this life.

But before we get to what we owe God (everything), let’s look at what we owe Caesar.  If you buy a house, you cannot get mad when the mortgage comes due. You need to honor that mortgage.  Same with buying a car.  You need to pay for that car – either with one big check or with payments over time.  If you go to work for XYZ, Inc, you need to work the hours you agreed to work, fulfill the duties you agreed to take on, and cooperate with company management.   

Likewise, if a first century citizen of Jerusalem chose to remain living in Jerusalem, and thus take advantage of all the benefits and privileges of living under the governing structure of that day, then such a citizen – to be consistent with his choice – should not begrudge paying taxes or cooperating with the civil authorities.  This is what Peter is getting at when he says we should “submit to every ordinance of man” (1 Peter 2:13) and “honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). It is what Paul means when he tells us to “subject unto the higher powers” (Romans 13:1), and “pay tribute” (Romans 13:6).  Paul really drives it home when he writes: “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:7)

Jesus, Peter, and Paul would all agree with the following statement . . .

If you’re going to live under Roman rule,

Then willingly cooperate with

Roman laws, taxes, and customs.

The only times we are allowed or expected to disobey or rebel against civil authorities is when God tells us to do so (Exodus 1-2, Acts 5:29, Daniel 2:21, Daniel 3, Daniel 6).

Civil government plays a role in this fallen world, and we as God’s people are expected to cooperate with that role.

As I write this, I am sitting in my office at church.  My children and grandchildren attend public schools. I am protected and served by the local police and fire departments. If a medical emergency happened, I can call 911, and an ambulance would come my way. The roads I drive on are maintained at taxpayer expense. The country in which I live is protected by an intelligence network, by national security measures, and by the men and women of our armed forces.  I can go on.  The fact is, I live in a stable, peaceful, family-friendly community in the freest, most prosperous nation in world history.  It is not too much to ask that I be a respectful, tax-paying, and law-abiding citizen.

I realize the United States is not perfect, and frankly I believe God did call upon many of His followers to engage in civil disobedience during some of the civil rights struggles in our nation’s history.  But, as a general rule, we should cooperate willingly with the society in which we live.  That is Jesus’ lesson in Matthew 22:21.

Of course, Jesus does not leave it there.  He does not stop with Caesar.  He adds that we should “give to God what belongs to God.” Well, what belongs to God?

Answer . . . Everything

God is sovereign over this entire universe.   Everything is under His authority and power. And that includes you and me.  Caesar Tiberius had his image inscribed on Roman coinage to assert his authority over the Roman economy.  When anyone transacted business in Rome, it was a reminder that they were conducting business in Caesar’s empire. (Caesar was the state).

Well, whose inscription is on us?  Answer: God Himself.  We are made in the image of God, and therefore we are God’s.  God owns this entire cosmos, and He owns Heaven. And He owns you and me.  He owns everyone and everything, and He is entitled to everyone and everything.

There are some things to which Caesar is not entitled – like, for example, worship.  But God is entitled to everything.  We owe Him our gratitude, our full allegiance, and our very lives.   By giving these things to Him willingly, we show Him our love.

And this is the crux of the lesson . . .

Whatever life may throw at us – whenever enemies may come against us – we must always remember that we are here to serve God.  And everything we do or say should be to advance His kingdom and to bring honor and glory to Him.  He alone is worthy of all that we have.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 20:1-19 – The Need To Accept Jesus As Savior

Grace For The Journey

We are continuing our series of studies, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke.  I believe the best way to studying and preaching is to go through Books of the Bible.  That is the best way to learn what Paul called “the whole counsel of God,” studying each passage carefully in context, and unfolding the meaning and application of the passage.  I believe God has a word for us each time we look into the Scriptures.

We have noted in recent weeks that as Jesus has made His way into Jerusalem He is coming up against a group of religious leaders who bristle at His authority.  He has been making His way steadfastly since Luke 9:51 on a straight course to Jerusalem and He has now arrived in the city, riding on a donkey which symbolizes His authority as king, and then He cleanses the temple of the profiteers and this, too, is an exercise of His authority to rule and reign and so this little band of insecure religious leaders is now going to do something about it.

If you have ever watched brick masons work you will notice how they do not just lay the bricks but examine them very carefully before they put them in place.  They have these pallets full of bricks and they will pick up the brick in one hand and chop at it with their trowel in the other hand, chipping off pieces so the bricks would fit properly in the structure, really an art form these guys have down.  Sometimes I have watched them, and they would pick up a brick or a stone and they would look it over and toss it aside, rejecting it for present use.  They might pick it up again later, but for the immediate task it was rejected.

This is a significant illustration because later on in our passage Jesus will refer to Himself as the Chief cornerstone.  Those of you who build things know about the importance of the cornerstone or the capstone of a building.  The cornerstone is the main stone that bears the weight and stress of two walls that are built upon it.  Without this key cornerstone the two walls collapse and come tumbling down like a house of cards.

Jesus is the key or chief cornerstone upon which everything is built.  Without Jesus, God’s building of the church collapses.  But the religious leaders in Jesus’ day were blind to Christ’s authority as King, were blind to the church He was building, and so they rejected Him the way a brick mason rejects a stone, tossing it aside or throwing it away as useless.

Now we will come back to this picture as we make our way through the passage, a passage I have broken down into two main considerations. 

First . . .

I.  Consider The Authority And Rule Of Christ.

In verses 1-8, Luke provides for our consideration Christ’s authority and rule.  We read in the opening two verses, “Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, ‘Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?’”

Remember that Jesus had come into Jerusalem riding a donkey, symbolically indicating His authority as King.  We also read in our last study of Jesus’ cleansing the temple like a man of authority.  Luke tells us in verse 1 that our Lord is teaching again in the temple, “He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel,” and you will remember how we read earlier in Luke’s Gospel that the people said Jesus taught like a man who had authority (Luke 4:32), so the chief priests and the scribes and the elders – people who were used to being in authority themselves – are like, “Hey, where do you get the authority to act this way?”

So, Jesus says in verses 3-4, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John – was it from heaven (that is, from God) or from men?”  Jesus is so good at answering questions with questions!  This is a great question because the Bible tells us that the entire ministry and message of John the Baptist was, in essence, “I am a voice heralding, a finger pointing, pointing to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  That was his message, so if the Jewish leaders could answer this question about John’s authority correctly, then they would have the answer to the other question, too.

Verses 5 and 6 tell us their response, “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’   But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.’”  The picture is that of a football team in the huddle, whispering among themselves, trying to come up with a game plan.  Verse 7 tells us, “So they answered that they did not know where it was from.”  We may counter that they knew where John’s authority was from, they just did not want to believe.  In any case, verse 8 says, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’”

Facing their hostility and exposing their ignorance Jesus is like, “Well, since you could not answer that question and you are all just standing around looking at one another, let Me tell you a parable that may help you out a little,” and then we have a parable in verses 9-19 as we come to the second main heading for our consideration today.


 II.  Consider The Abandonment And Rejection Of Christ.

Verse 9 tells us, “Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time.”

This is the last parable recorded in Luke’s Gospel, a parable that is found in all 3 synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This parable is like a short history of Israel, the history of Israel in a nutshell.  The parable describes God’s sending of prophets throughout the Old Testament period to turn the hearts of the people back to faithfulness to the One True God and how the rebellious people of Israel continually punished the prophets and, in the main, rejected their message.

Verse 9 describes Israel as a vineyard.  The vineyard symbolizes Israel’s blessings of being the chosen, privileged people of God (Isaiah 5:1-7; 27:2; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 19:10-14; Hosea 10:1-4; Psalm 80:8-13).  The vineyard is “leased to vinedressers” (or stewards of the vineyard), this would be the Jewish people in the main, but largely the religious leaders.  Then we read that the “certain man” … “went into a far country for a far time,” which means that God the Father entrusted the Jewish people and leaders with the blessings of being God’s chosen people, and that He blessed them with this special privilege for many, many years.

Verse 10 says, “Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed.”  The servant represents the Old Testament prophets.  The beating symbolizes Israel’s abuse of the Old Testament prophets.

Verse 11 and 12 tell us, “Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed.  And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out.”  We see that this parable pictures the way the people of God mistreated God’s messengers: beating them, casting them out, and ignoring their message.  Certain prophets come to mind from our reading through the Old Testament:

  • The people wanted to stone David back in 1 Samuel 30:6.
  • They stoned Adoram in 1 Kings 12:18
  • Naboth was stoned to death in 1 Kings 21:13
  • Zechariah was stoned to death in Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 24:21
  • John the Baptist, also a prophet of God, was beheaded in Matthew 14;1-12.
  • The writer of Hebrews summarizes the abuse of the Old Testament prophets in Hebrews 11:37-38. 

The rejection of God’s prophets continues in large measure even today.  In one sense we could say that God sends one prophet after another after another and yet, in the main, their message is rejected.  Preachers come and preachers go, preaching the eternal truths of the Gospel and yet, society remains woefully unchanged.  Churches remain – at least in current Western culture – largely unchanged.

Jesus says in verse 13, “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’”  The phrase, “My beloved Son” recalls the words spoken by the Father to Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:22; cf. Matt. 3:17) and identifies Jesus Christ as providentially sent by God the Father to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel, yet they rejected Him (John 1:9-11).

In a sense Jesus is saying, “Here is my authority.  I am not all these other prophets.  I am like them in one sense: I am a prophet, but I am unlike them in another sense: I am THE prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), I am the LAST prophet, I am the Son of God.”  The Jewish leaders had rejected and abandoned one prophet after another.  They refused to listen to one prophet after another after another.  Now here comes Jesus saying, “You asked about My authority earlier.  Do you see how I am unlike these previous prophets?   I am the beloved Son of God.”

Incidentally, this parable reminds us why people are comfortable with your Christian faith so long as you will go along with the ecumenical spirit of the so-called “interfaith community,” everyone just trying to improve their moral condition and improve the world situation – “Let’s all join hands and pray to our Higher Power, you pray to yours and I’ll pray to mine.”  But should you respectfully raise your hand and say, “But I believe Jesus Christ is the only way, He is the beloved Son of God,” and it’s “Game Over.”  Now you are branded an intolerant, fundamentalist, troublemaker.

It is the same reason Islam is comfortable with your Christianity so long as you think of Jesus merely as an Old Testament prophet.  They are fine with Jesus as a prophet.  They are NOT fine with Jesus’ being the beloved Son of God and LAST prophet.  You cannot say Jesus is the last prophet.  Oh, no!  Muslims believe Mohammad – who came 650 years later – is the last prophet, and the implication is, “So he is much more important!”  Without going into all of the inaccuracies of that statement and the historical problems of Islam and biblical inconsistencies ad infinitum, this parable of Jesus hits the target, doesn’t it?

Writing of the Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God, the writer of Hebrews says in his opening words, Hebrews 1:1-2. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.”  Jesus Christ is the last prophet.  He is the last prophet because He is more than a prophet.  Jesus Christ is the beloved Son of God.  But what do the vinedressers do to the owner’s son, the beloved son?  Verse 14 tells us, “But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.  So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.”

It is important to go from the parable to the truth being illustrated.  What do the vinedressers – the Jewish religious leaders – do with Jesus, the beloved Son?  They “cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.”  He is condemned in Jerusalem and cast out of the city and crucified on a hill at Golgotha.  Verses 15 and 16 state, “So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.  Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”  And when they heard it they said, ‘Certainly not!’”

The common people heard Jesus gladly (Mark 12:37), the Jews who believed in Christ and received the Gospel were shocked to hear that the privileged position of stewardship of the things of God would be taken away and given to others and that the vinedressers would be destroyed.  This is why they gasp at the end of verse 16, “Certainly not!”  But of course, this is exactly what would happen.  That the owner would “destroy the vinedressers” picks up on what Jesus had said previously about the destruction of Jerusalem back in Luke 19:43-44, the destruction of the temple fulfilled in AD 70 by Roman Emperor Titus.  The vineyard, then, is given to others, the vineyard of the “Kingdom of God” is now offered to the Gentiles.  You may read about this in greater detail in Acts 13:44-47.

 But this casting out of the beloved Son and judgment of God upon Israel in AD 70 finds a fuller sense of fulfillment at the final judgment.  Verse 17declares, “Then He looked at them and said, ‘What then is this that is written: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone?’”  The builders here are Israel’s leaders and they continually reject this stone because they do not even know what they are building!  And the rejected stone, the beloved Son of God, becomes the chief cornerstone, the Head of the church (Psalm 118:22; also Acts 4:11 and 1 Pet. 2:7). 

Verse 18 says, “Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”  The phrase in verse 18, “Whoever falls on that stone” (Isaiah 8:14–15;1 Peter 2:8) means everyone who stumbles at this stone, rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah and King.  Whoever falls on that stone will be broken.  And the phrase, “On whomever it falls” refers to Christ’s coming again, coming back in judgment.  He will come again and fall on those who reject Him, grinding him to powder.  That is certain judgment.

Now if there is any question about the interpretation of the parable in the way we have interpreted it, make no mistake: the Jewish leaders interpreted it the same way as the final verse indicates.  Verse 19 states, “And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people – for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.”  This verse shows us that the religious leaders “knew He had spoken this parable against them.”  I i’s fascinating, isn’t it?  They knew Jesus had spoken this parable against them, yet they refused to repent.

I often pray before I preach or teach, “Show us our sin, show us ourselves, and show us our Savior.”  Can you back up a few steps, backing away from the chief priests and the scribes and ask yourself, “Have I repented?  Am I submitting to the rule and reign of King Jesus?  Do I bow before His authority?”

 Here are a few take-home principles for you to ponder and live by this week . . .

  1. We Will Be Held Accountable For Having Heard The Preaching And Teaching Of The Word Of God.

Prophet after prophet after prophet was sent to the people of God to proclaim His message.  One messenger after another, down through the ages, each one coming to preach the message given by God.  The fact that God judges those for what they have heard is a stark reminder to us that God expects us to follow through with the preaching and teaching we receive every time we come together as the church to worship.

In one sense, going to a Bible teaching church is a dangerous endeavor.  In a Word-saturated church every time you hear the Word, God expects you and me to align ourselves under its teaching.  This is a clear principle surfacing from the parable.  God will hold accountable those who have heard the message of the prophets, the preachers, the teachers of the Word.  Secondly:

2) God’s Love Is Illustrated In His Patience.

The loving character of God is seen in this parable – a God who is willing to delay His judgment upon a people who deserved judgment ages ago.  Despite the ill-mannered treatment of His prophets, God just continues sending one prophet after another.  Why? The Bible reminds us in 2 Peter 3:9, the Lord “is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

 God is a loving God and a patient God.  However, this leads to principle 3 . . .

 3) We Must Not Mistake God’s Patience For Indifference.

God will judge.  God will execute His wrath.  God will demonstrate His anger upon a people who are rebellious of heart.  If that sounds unusual to you, just imagine a human analogy.  Imagine having a friend who never got angry at anything.  You say at first, “Well, that sounds like quite a friend.  I’d like a friend like that!”  Here is what I mean: he never gets angry at anything.  He is never angry when he turns on the TV and watches a documentary about social injustice across the world, atrocities in Sudan, killings in Afghanistan, the senseless tragedies and sudden deaths that happen to people in automobile accidents or the collapsing of a building that kills thousands of people.  Your friend just smiles and says, “Oh, that is terrible, but that is life!”  What kind of a friend is that who knows nothing of injustice and whose heart is cold to the incongruities of peace, war, hunger, famine, freedom, and oppression, a friend who winks at sin.

Thankfully our God is not that way.  He is a loving God, a patient God, but we must not mistake God’s patience for indifference.  In the mysterious workings of His grace, providence, sovereignty, and our freedom, God has demonstrated His righteous wrath by imputing all of the sin and injustices of a fallen world upon His own beloved Son on Calvary’s cross.  God has made a way for sinful humanity to be saved from future judgment.  We need only receive Christ.  Will we receive Him or reject Him? 

This leads to the final principle . . .

4) Ultimate Rejection Of Christ Means Ultimate Separation From Christ.

If you reject Christ as Lord and King of your life today, casting him aside like a stone that just does not work for you right now in the building of your life, then know you will be separated from Him forever and ever.  The Bible says in Paul 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9,  “… When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

Ultimate rejection of Christ means ultimate separation from Christ.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times – Luke 19:28-48 – Surrendered To King Jesus

Grace For The Journey

Since Luke 9:51 Jesus has been on His way steadfastly to Jerusalem.  We have read of His travels from that point in chapter 9 and now up to this point today in chapter 19 as Jesus enters into Jerusalem.  Jesus has just told a parable about His kingdom.  Jesus has come once as king and will return as king.  In the interim, Christ’s followers have entered into that kingdom.  We live during the “dash” between the first and second coming of King Jesus.  Now Luke tells us in verse 28, “When He had said this,” and what He had just said of course is in verse 27, the picture part of the parable; He has just said that there are some who did not want Christ to reign over Him.  He says in verse 27, “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them.”  It is significant to note that this statement precedes Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.  This passage is often referred to as Christ’s “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, His entry into Jerusalem as king. 

I do not know many fathers who have not wrestled with their boys as they are growing up in the house.  It seems a sort of manly ritual that nearly every dad and his boys find themselves doing from time to time – that is of course until those boys reach the age where they are not exactly boys anymore, at which point dad learns that he would rather be healthy and have a strong back than to pull any more muscles.  I have memories of my brother and I wrestling on the floor, and I would pin them down and give him the phrase he had to repeat in order to “tap out” and be free from my domination.  The phrase they had to repeat to show their submission was, “You are king!”  If he did not say, “You are king,” he could not get up. 

There is something about that title, “King,” that conveys absolute sovereign, power, reverence, rule, and reign.  While there are earthly kings, earthly rulers, leaders, and even fatherly king “wanna bees,” they are nothing like the supernal and supernatural “King Jesus.”  More and more I find this title – King – for Jesus to be perhaps the most helpful.  We speak most frequently of Jesus as “Lord,” and rightly so.  If He is not Lord “of all” He is not Lord “at all.”  If that is what Christians mean by addressing Christ as “Lord” then let us continue using this title.  I wonder, however, whether “Lord” is beginning to lose its meaning for many, whether it has just become a “part” of Christ’s name.  For this reason it is helpful when we come across biblical passages such as our text this morning that remind us that Jesus Christ is KING.  This is what Lordship means.  When we think of Christ as King, we separate real Christians from mere professors of Christ because it means we live under the reign and rule of Jesus Christ.  He is “Number One” of our lives.  He comes first, everything else is second.

This passage at the end of Luke 19, where Jesus enters into Jerusalem now as king reminds us of the importance of living under His rule and reign.  I want us to look at that this morning and give to you two main headings under which to arrange the material.  This is a descriptive outline, simply describing the first and second half of the text.  First, let us . . .

I. Consider The Majesty Of His Coming.

In verses 28-40 Luke describes the majestic and triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.  Jesus sends two of His disciples on ahead to “find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat” (verse 30).  He says to bring it back. if anyone asks, “Why are you loosing it,” they are to say, “The Lord has need of it” (verse 31).  We read that this is exactly what happens.  

Now because Jesus Christ is both human and divine it could well be that this whole arrangement was foreseen by the supernatural foreknowledge of God-in-the-flesh.  It certainly would not be the first time.  We read only a week or so ago of Christ’s knowing Zacchaeus by name and arranging the whole up-in-the-sycamore tree encounter.  At the same time, however, this securing of the colt could simply have been a prearrangement on the part of Jesus so that a colt was ready ahead of time for the two disciples to pick up and so that they would know the phrase to utter in order to receive it, “The Lord has need of Him.”

In either case, verse 35 says they brought the colt to Jesus and the disciples threw their clothes on it and set Jesus on the colt.  And as He went, verse 36 tells us, many spread their clothes on the road, all of this a way of welcoming a person of importance into the city.

The colt upon which Jesus rides into the city is significant for at least two reasons.  First, Luke tells us in verse 30 that it is a colt upon which “no one has ever sat.”  This description is especially significant in that it speaks of the kind of purity required in the Old Testament sacrificing of animals for worship.  Numbers 19:2, for example, speaks of the importance of securing an animal “in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.”  The colt upon which Jesus rides into the city is also significant in that it is a fulfillment of an earlier prophecy – given around 650 years before Christ – by the Prophet Zechariah who foretells the coming of the Messiah-King, the Messianic King, into the holy city of Jerusalem.  The prophet foretells in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey.”  Here is yet another fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the majesty of the coming of King Jesus – predicted in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament. 

Verses 37 and 38 tell us, “Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’”  Here also is a reference to the Old Testament.  The phrase, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” is a paraphrase of Psalm 118:26, a benediction pronounced upon festive worshipers entering into the city to worship at the temple.

When the people say, “Blessed is the King who comes,” they are welcoming the majesty of King Jesus.  Of course, we have noted that many in Jesus’ day, failed to understand His first coming.  The people thought of the Messiah as a coming national leader who would come to restore the nation of Israel to her former days of glory.  They were thinking only an “earthly king,” they were not thinking a “heavenly king.”  Remember this is why Jesus told the parable of the minas we looked at last in the passage we look at on Wednesday.  They had the wrong idea of the kingdom and Christ’s role as king.

It is easier for us to look back and understand Christ’s first coming.  We understand Christ came the first time to save and He will return to reign in His fulness, but He came first to suffer and to die as foretold in the Old Testament.  The old song says it best . . .

By faith the prophets saw a day

When the longed-for Messiah would appear

With the power to break the chains of sin and death

And rise triumphant from the grave

This is why Jesus came the first time.  He came to reign as king over sin and death.  He came to offer Himself a supreme, unblemished sacrifice to take away the guilt and punishment of your sin.  He will come again.  He will return as King to reign forever on earth.  In the meantime, we live between “the dash” of His first and second comings.

The people are cheering because, while they may not know all of this now, they certainly know that Jesus is King and they worship Him with loud cheering and praising, so much so, verse 39 says that “some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  Verse 40 tells us that Jesus answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”  These religious leaders, the Pharisees, they are the people Jesus illustrated back in the parable of the minas from last time, back up in verse 14?  These are the people who said, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”  The religious leaders are not interested in Jesus Christ as King.  They cry out to Jesus for Him to silence His disciples. 

But Jesus says, “If they should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”  I love that statement!  It is a reminder that Jesus Christ is King not only over all people of the earth, but over the entire earth itself.  He is Lord over every person, animal, horse, tree, blade of grass, drop of rain, and every rock.  The Bible says in Romans 8:19-22 that all creation “eagerly waits” for the consummation of King Jesus, “creation itself being delivered from the bondage of corruption,” looking forward to Christ’s eternal reign.  “Silence, My disciples,” says Jesus, “And I will see that these rocks cry out in praise!”  Imagine a bunch of rocks singing, “Rock of Ages!” 

We go now from “cheers” to “tears.”  Verse 41 says, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.”  This account occurs only in Luke’s Gospel as Luke challenges us now to . . .

II.  Consider The Measure Of His Compassion. 

We have read before of Christ’s compassion for the lost of Jerusalem back in Chapter 13.  Jesus had lamented earlier in Luke 13:34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”  Here He is now again, this time weeping as He enters the lost city of Jerusalem.  He says in verse 42, “Saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’”  Jesus laments that if only these lost people of the city knew “the things that make for their peace.”  But they do not know peace.  How ironic that they should live in “Jerusalem,” the city whose very name means, “Foundation of Peace.”  The word “Shalom” means “Peace,” and “Jeru” means “foundation of.”

They used this word “Shalom” all the time as a blessing of peace: “Shalom, Benjamin!”  “Shalom, Levi!”  The idea of shalom was more than just a sort of absence of conflict, the way we commonly use it.  In Hebrew, the word carries a positive blessing upon the one who receives it, including a blessing of right relationship with God.  Jesus laments that these inhabitants of the city do not know “the things that make for their peace.”  He says, “it has been hidden from their eyes.”  How ironic that people like the “blind” man of Luke 18:35-43 could see so clearly “the things that made for his peace,” while the religious elite could see nothing.

Then Jesus foretells the coming destruction of Jerusalem, a judgment upon them from Almighty God for their refusal to submit to the rule and reign of King Jesus.  Jesus says in verses 42  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, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”  In AD 70, six hundred thousand Jews were killed under Roman Emperor Titus’ onslaught.  All that remains today of the biblical city of 2,000 years ago is the famous western “Wailing Wall” you often see on TV where the Jews stand before the wall, face it, and pray towards it.  That is all that remains today of the ancient city of Jerusalem, the foundation of peace.  Jesus said this would happen and so it did happen some 40 years after He was crucified.

I am all for peace in Israel, and we should, as the psalmist enjoins in Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” but we need to understand that true peace will not come to Israel by political means.  These so-called “Peace Treaties” we rightly draw up are at best temporary and superficial.  No peace treaty will last in Israel because the peace necessary is a “peace in heaven” (verse 38).  Jesus said, “If only you had known the things that make for your peace.” 

The “things that make for our peace,”

Lasting peace are the things of Christ Jesus,

Submitting to His eternal reign as King of our lives!

Luke ends this chapter with Christ’s rightful re-entry into the Jewish Temple, the center of worship, the place where we would expect to find the Messiah-King.  We know this material well in verses 45-48, “Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, ‘It is written, My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’  And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.”  You remember all the way back in Chapter 2, Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus back in the city of Jerusalem during the Passover.  They return and make a search of the city and find Him in the temple.  Luke 2:48-49 says, “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’  And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’”

 The whole life of Jesus was to be about “His Father’s business.”  He returns to the temple again, again to do His “Father’s business,” coming to fulfill the Father’s plan to save us from sin and shame.  He has come to die for our sins and to reign over our lives – to reign as King.

Consider these points of application . . .  

1) Does My Heart Frequently Fill With Praise For King Jesus?

Followers of Jesus Christ cannot help but praise Him.  I do not mean just singing, though singing is one great way to praise Jesus.  Do you sing to Jesus as you walk to school or ride in the bus?  Do you sing to Jesus in your car as you drive down the road?  Keep your eyes open and keep one hand on the wheel!

Do you praise Him regularly as “King?”  I want to encourage you this week to address Jesus as King.  Call Him King in your prayers.  Try it.  See if it does not help you consider whether you are truly submitting to His reign over your live – over your finances, your job, your worries, your sickness, your stuff, and your relationships.  Is He really King?  Is He “Number One?”

You cannot really have praise for Christ if you do not have the peace of Christ.  The reason some professing Christians have difficulty showing praise for Christ is because they do not really have the peace of Christ.  You need to be saved from your sin to have true praise for God.

2) Do I Fully Realize The Measure Of Christ’s Compassion For Me?

Jesus laments and weeps for the lost people of the city He is entering.  Such compassion!  Do you realize the full measure of Christ’s compassion for lost souls?  Remember after Zacchaeus is saved what does Jesus say?  Back in verse 10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Christ came to save the lost.  He came to show the depth of His compassion for lost souls – souls in the city of Jerusalem and souls in the city in which you live. 

  • King Jesus has compassion for stay-at-home moms up to their elbows in dishes, for divorced and abandoned men and women,
  • King Jesus has compassion for the eager businessman who cannot see beyond the bottom-line of his profits. 
  • King Jesus has compassion for the young child, the teenager, the senior adult, and the ex-convict. 

He says, “If only you had known the things that make for your peace.”

The Son of God in tears

The wondering angels see.

Be thou astonished, O my soul,

He shed those tears for thee.  (G. Campell Morgan)

3)  How Can I Mirror That Same Compassion For The Lost People In My City? 

     From City?  From The “Community To The Continents?”

What are you doing missionally for the kingdom?  Will you tell someone about King Jesus today?  Will you show the compassion to others Jesus has shown to you?  Will you mirror that beautiful character of Christ?  Ask God to show you how to live under the reign and rule of King Jesus this week.  Where are you going this year for Jesus?  Where is your family going this year for Jesus? 

If we are true subjects of the King, then we will do as He says in Acts 1:8, “And you shall be My witnesses, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” – from the community to the continents. This is God’s Word …

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 19:11-27 – Gospel Investment Until Christ Returns

Grace For The Journey

We have been making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke and we are in Luke 19 today.  We will be studying verses 11-27.  I invite you to see this passage as it is intended to be seen . . .

Not as a parable about money and

About being good stewards of our money,

but as a parable about how to live

Our lives until Jesus Christ returns. 

That is what this parable is about.

Jesus has spoken about this matter of His Second Coming more than once in the Gospel of Luke.  He has told us to be prepared for that Day.  Just to jog our memory, all we need to do it look In Luke 12:35-40, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching” … “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  And in Luke 17:22-30, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it (in other words, My second coming will not happen during the lifetime of the twelve disciples.  It will occur much later).  And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation …”

Jesus has already said that His second coming will occur not during the lifetime of the twelve Disciples and, in fact, it will occur much later.  He makes the same point today in this parable in verses 11-27, a parable often referred to as the “Parable of the Minas.” A mina was a form of currency.  One mina equaled 3 months wages.  As we look at this parable about the Lord’s Second Coming note what Jesus teaches about how we are to live until Christ returns.

In my devotional reading this week, one morning this text spoke to me from 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”  I invite you to hear the Word of God the way the Thessalonians heard the Word of God.  They received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

It is often said that the most important thing in our lives is what we do with the “dash.”  The dash is a reference to the line on many tombstones, the line between birth and death.  We read a tombstone and it says something like, “John Smith; Born 1925 – (dash) – Died 1999.”  The dash on that tombstone represents the years John Smith lived.  So . . . “What are you doing with your ‘dash?’”

I think that is a helpful question, but I want to expand it so that we think in a bigger, more biblically-focused way.  Because . . .

Far more important than the dash

Of our own individual lives,

Is the greater dash that stands

Between Christ’s first coming

And His second coming.

This is the greater, bigger, more significant dash that affects every person in all of humanity in all of time.  Every dash of a human life is part of the greater dash of God’s redemptive work and perfect purposes in the life and death of Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to think this morning, as you think about the dash of your own life between birth and death, that you think about how your life fits into the greater dash between Christ’s first and second comings.  Because this passage is about living during that dash.  In fact, I really think that is the heading that would be best to place across the top of this parable in our Bibles.  You may have something like, “The Parable of the Minas” or something like that.  This is a parable of . . .

How we are to live during this delay


Christ’s first and second comings.

It is not a parable primarily about money or even Christian giving.  To be sure, there are implications here about giving, but the parable is primarily about Christian living.  Maybe that is a useful thing to write across the top of the parable: “Not about Giving, but really about Living.”  How to live during the delay between Christ’s first and second comings.

Verse 11 says, “Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.”  The phrase “as they heard these things” refers to Jesus’ conversation with Zacchaeus in verses 9-10.  Jesus’ audience likely thought that as Jesus made His way the remaining 17 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem that the Kingdom of God would be set up in all its fullness.  Many of them knew the Old Testament prophecies and perhaps they were even thinking, “Wow, we are getting closer and closer to Jerusalem.  Jesus is going to rule, reign, and defeat all our enemies at Jerusalem!”  Perhaps they were even reviewing some of the Old Testament prophecies like Zechariah 14:4, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west,” and Zechariah 14:3, “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.”  We are not left to wonder why Jesus told this parable.  Verses 11 and 12 tells us why: “He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.  Therefore He said: ‘A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.’”  Herod the Great in 40 BC, as well as his son Archelaus in 4 BC, went to Rome to receive confirmation of their roles as king.  While his son Archelaus was not granted the rule and reign he sought, Herod was granted the title king, king over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea.

Jesus continues in verse 13, “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’”  A mina equaled about 3 month’s wages.  Verse 14 says, “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’”  We noted earlier that history tells us Herod’s son was not granted by Rome the kingship he desired.  This was in part because, historian Josephus tells us, a delegation had been sent opposing his rule.

Let’s pause for just a moment and address what is clear when we read the parable and understand the context in which Jesus tells the story.  Jesus is telling a parable about Himself.  Jesus is the “certain nobleman” of verse 12.  He is the One who will be going away soon “into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom and to return.”  Jesus will go to Jerusalem to die for our sins, to rise from the dead, and to ascend to Heaven – having gone “into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom” and “to return.”  He will come again.  Second coming.  That is illustrated in verse 15 and following: “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.”  That is, “What did you do while I was away?”  What did you do during the “dash?”

Verses 16 and 17 says, “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’   And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’”  Unless I am mistaken this is a 1,000 % return!  This first servant made the most of his life during the time the king was away.  For this reason, he is rewarded in a big way.  Verse 18 tells us, “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  This servant gets a 500% return! 

Verses 19 through 21 say, “Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’  Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.  For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’”  The third servant makes excuses for the pitiful way he lived while the king was away.  He took what was entrusted to him and basically did – Nothing!  He makes excuses, trying to lay the blame on the king: “I was afraid because I respect your no-nonsense ways!”

Verse 22 and 23 tell us, “And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’”  This servant wraps up the mina in a handkerchief, keeps it nicely tucked inside, safely preserved. 

The Christian life for many today is just that – conservative, taking care of me and mine, comfortable.  I will attend worship Sunday mornings, I will either bring my children or send them along with others, I will be morally upright, I will have a biblical worldview.  I may even get a little radical, listening to Christian radio and put a bumper sticker on my car.  That is really nothing.  That is just taking what is yours and tucking it away in a napkin, preserving it, etc.

Verses 24 through 27 say, “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’  (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’)  For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”  If you reject the king you will have no place in the kingdom.

From these passage we learn about three Imperatives For Living During ‘The Dash’:

1) Be Devoted!

The first two servants are commended for being devoted to the king during the time he is away.  When the king returns, he commends them for their utter devotion.  Utter devotion, like Zacchaeus, true conversion changes everything – his giving, his witness, his life.

What are you living for?  What are you doing with the “dash” of your life?  Are you utterly devoted to the cause of Christ.  Have you ever taken stock of your life and asked yourself, What am I living for?  What do I really care about?  What is my life about?  If I put it all down and I was forced to put it on one sheet of 8.5 x 11, what would the sum of my life be about?  What is the legacy that I am leaving? Where do I think my satisfaction is going to come from?  The next time you’re in the stands during a game and you look around and there are thousands around you, or you are at the beach or you are at a condominium, or you are at a ski resort and there are hundreds and hundreds of people around you, if you are a Christian, one of the things that you ought to be every once in a while thinking about is – all of these people cheering around me, all of these people swimming around me, all of these people playing around me, all of these people skiing around me, those are not my people.  The people of God are my people.  And where they are getting satisfaction, their meaning met in life, is not where I get my meaning and my satisfaction met in life.  I am living for a different reason than so many of the people that are around me right now.  They have a different goal. They have a different purpose.  They have a different basis in their lives.  I am different.  I am not encouraging you to look around and sort of look down your nose at other people because we are all sinners, but I am asking you to say, “I am servant to a different King than so many of the people around me are servant to.  And does that show in how I live my life?”

2) Be Encouraged!

Christ’s Second Coming is providentially delayed.  It is not some accident that He has not returned for 2,000 years.  This parable encourages us to know that Christ has a plan.  He is “gone away” for a long time.  He will come again.  In the meantime, we can be devoted and be encouraged.  We can be encouraged because the Christian life can be difficult.  It is not a sprint it is a marathon.  It requires perseverance, endurance, and faithfulness.  Hang in there and persevere and God will reward your faithfulness.

Just as the returning king in the parable awards those who were faithful while he was away, so will Christ reward those of you who are faithful while He is away.  Sometimes it gets tough and rocky.  Some of you are going through tough and rocky times in your Christian life, hang in there and remember, as the Bible says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

3) Be Warned!

There is a warning here for both believer and unbeliever.  For the believer first: What are you doing with the Gospel?  We will be judged by our stewardship of this Good News.  It is not meant to be received only, but shared.  No excuses: “I was afraid” (verse 21).  Won’t work.  Afraid to give your life to Christ missionally, etc.?  Jesus is warning us not to be like wicked servants, keeping the Gospel to ourselves, sitting here in the comfort of our sanctuary, etc.

1 Corinthians 3:15, works tested through fire, works burnt up, he himself “…saved, yet so as through fire.”

For the unbeliever:  Verse 14 is a picture of how Jesus is rejected today.  Those who would not accept the king said in verse 14, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”  Refusing Christ is never entirely a matter of the head, it is a matter of the heart.  It is a matter of the will.  We “will not.”

There is a judgment day you will face.  Jesus says in verse 27, “Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.”  That is a picture of judgment.

A judgment day awaits us all.  There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge His people, and give to every one according to his works. The course of this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder, confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin, shall not always cover the face of the earth.  The great white throne shall be set up.  The Judge of all shall sit upon it.  The dead shall be raised from their graves. The living shall all be summoned to the bar.  The books shall be opened.  High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple, all shall at length give account to God, and shall all receive an eternal sentence.

Missionary CT Studd in his book, Only One Life, wrote: “Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; (this is like the guy who tucks one mina away in a handkerchief) I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell” (This is like those who invested their minas wisely).

 “Two little lines I heard one day,

Traveling along life’s busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart,

And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,

If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

Take a look at your calendars on your iPhone, computer, day-timer, or fridge; take a look at your checkbook, take a look at how you are using your time and your treasure.  Are you making good investment of the Gospel during the dash of your life?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 19:1-10 – Seeking Christ Who Seeks Us

Grace For The Journey

We have been studying our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke and we find ourselves this morning at the first ten verses of chapter 19.  I suppose most of us will be familiar with this passage, the account of a short man named Zacchaeus who climbs a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus.  How many of you have read or heard the story at least once?  Many of you know the children’s song . . .

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,

A wee little man was he,

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see

This happened as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the purpose of dying a sacrificial death on the cross so that those who believed in Him might be saved from their sins.  Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the purpose of accomplishing our salvation when Luke tells us about this man named Zacchaeus who is seeking Jesus.   But as we study these familiar verses, let me invite you to look at them with this question: “Who is seeking Whom?”

We do not usually think of heart surgery when we read the story of Zacchaeus.  It is not the first thing that enters our minds.  We read of a little guy climbing a tree and Jesus’ calling him down from the tree, salvation, and a happy ending.  We do not usually think of a guy lying on an operating table having his heart repaired or replaced.

In recent weeks we have been drawing comparisons and contrasts between the physical and the spiritual realm.  Last time we were studying Luke, we talked about the difference between seeing Jesus physically and seeing Jesus spiritually.  You can have good physical eyesight like the rich young ruler, but fail to be saved because of a love for riches that blinds you and keeps you from seeing Christ for Who He is.  On the other hand, you can be blind physically like the man at the end of chapter 18 last week and see Christ–really see Christ spiritually–believe in Him and be saved.

Think now about heart surgery.  If I have a physically bad heart and I need a new heart, I cannot fix myself.  I go to a doctor, and he puts me on a table and he cuts into my body, removes the bad heart and puts in a good heart; heart surgery.  And again, before the surgery, I can do nothing to fix my situation.  I may be able to do some temporary things to make myself feel better; take some medication or rest, but I cannot fix my bigger problem of needing a new heart.  I need someone else to do that for me.  I need a medical intervention.

Now, in the spiritual realm: when we are born into this world – a world plagued by darkness and depravity – a world whose sin originates in Genesis 3.  We are born into this fallen world with a nature bent to sin.  Our hearts – are they naturally good or naturally bad?  How many of you think, “Good?”  The Bibles says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”  Because of sin, we have a bad heart.  Because of sin, we need a new heart.  Because of sin, we need someone from the outside to perform surgery on the inside.  We need what the Bible refers to in Ezekiel 36:26 as a “heart of stone,” a dead heart, a heart unresponsive to the promptings of God and His Word.  We need this “heart of stone” to be replaced with a “heart of flesh,” a heart that is soft and responsive to the things of God.  And only when we get this new heart are we able to respond appropriately to the Word of God and the will of God.

Now what is extremely interesting to me is that God – in His love – sets His affection upon certain ones who themselves are dead in sin, possessing stony hearts, lost and undone – God comes along and sets His loving affection upon such as these.  There is nothing noteworthy about these certain ones, there is nothing really special about them, they are sinners.  But God takes the initiative and out of His electing love alone   performs His spiritual operation of heart surgery and gives and grants new hearts that are responsive to His Word and His ways.  This is why some of you reading this lesson right now would say, “You know, I have one of those hearts.  It is a new heart.  It is a heart that is soft and responsive to the things of God.  I did not get it myself.  It was given to me by God.”

We must not assume that everyone has this spiritual heart.  We look around and we are certain everyone we see has a physical heart.  Most of us know we have physical hearts and yet we dare not assume that everyone has a spiritual heart.

But this is important . . .

If we have one of these hearts, granted to us by God

Through the Gift of what is called regeneration

– If we have one of these hearts,

Soft & responsive to the things of God

– It is not because we did something to deserve it,

Not because we were worthy to receive it,

But only because God loved us and delighted to give it to us.

What does all this have to do with Zacchaeus?  Well, let’s see.  Why don’t we just make our way back through the verses together.  Verses one and two say, “Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.”  We are introduced to this guy, a tax collector, and not just a common everyday tax collector, but a “Chief tax collector.” That is a phrase found nowhere else in the entire New Testament.  The Roman Government, to support their vast and powerful empire, had to levy huge taxes upon the people.  A Jewish man could get a job as a tax collector for Rome, but he would be considered a traitor by his people.  What is more, tax collectors were despised because of the way in which they skimmed from the profits, pocketing sizable percentages for themselves.  As Jericho was a major toll collection point for commerce traveling east and west, we may imagine Zacchaeus had a very lucrative business operation.  The title, “Chief” tax collector suggests he had people working underneath him.

Verse three tells us, “And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.”  I like the phrase at the beginning of the verse, “He sought to see who Jesus was.”  Zacchaeus was curious.  Zacchaeus was inquisitive.  Zacchaeus was on an investigative journey into the spiritual realm.  In my study this week I found it helpful to trace the steps of Zacchaeus under three main headings.  First . . .

I. Consider His Investigation.

Zacchaeus is seeking Christ.  There can be no doubt about that.  It is precisely what Luke records here in verse 3, “And he sought to see who Jesus was.”  Zacchaeus is seeking Christ.  Zacchaeus is on an investigative journey into the spiritual realm.  He had heard about Jesus and now he is investigating the person Himself.  We may wonder what drew Zacchaeus to Jesus.  Why was he interested?  He had much in his life, did not he?  He had what so many of you want – riches, power, and influence.  What on earth does Zacchaeus want with a poor, Jewish messiah?  It is certainly not the main point of this encounter, but worthy of slowing our pace long enough to remind ourselves that all the money in the world is powerless to provide a sense of real meaning and purpose.  Zacchaeus was rich, but he was only rich.

He sought to see who Jesus was, but he had a problem.  What was his problem?  Luke tells us in verse 3 that Zacchaeus “could not (see Him) because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.”  The Greek word is mikros, from which we get “micro.”  He was a very small man!  What does Zacchaeus do that he might be able to see Jesus?  Verse 4 says, “So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.”  He climbs a tree that he might look down upon the crowd and see the approaching Jesus.  Picture this shrewd, wealthy, and well-dressed businessman running down Jericho’s Main Street and shimmying up a tree on the square to see this Jesus about Whom he had apparently heard much. 

Second . . .

II. Consider His Celebration.

Verse 5 tells us, “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’”  I wrote in my notes this week, “How did Jesus know Zacchaeus’ name?”  Think of it!  Jesus comes through Jericho and He stops right there at the tree and He looks up right there at Zacchaeus and then He calls Zacchaeus by name.  The whole encounter is guided by God’s hand.  He even says to Zacchaeus, “Today I must stay at your house.”  This is “Divine Necessity,” this is not an option.  I Must!

The encounter reminds us of Jesus’ seeing Nathaniel in John 1, verses 47-48, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’”  The encounter is guided by God’s hand.

Verse 6 says, “So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.”  This is now the eighth time Luke has used this verb usually translated “joyfully” or “rejoicing” in his Gospel (Luke 1:14; Luke 8:13; Luke 10:17; Luke 13:17; Luke 15:5, Luke 15:9, Luke 15:32; Luke 19:6).  Joy accompanies the response faith and repentance.

It is very likely that Zacchaeus has already at this point placed his faith in Christ.  The text does not tell us the exact moment Zacchaeus becomes a believer.  If he is not saved at this moment, he is very close as true joy is that which accompanies true salvation.  Zacchaeus “received Him joyfully.”

Jesus is interested in Zacchaeus!  Maybe this is the first time someone has taken an interest in him.  Others had shunned him, avoided him, and cursed him.  But here is this miracle-working mystery Man, a person Zacchaeus had heard was the promised Messiah, the One who opened the eyes of the blind and set the captives free.  Here is Jesus, Savior, Lord who says, “I must stay at your house.”

This is for Zacchaeus quite a celebration.  But as is frequently the case in Luke’s Gospel, we see that not all are celebrating.  Verse 7 says, “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’”  Zacchaeus had a reputation.  They knew him.  They knew he was a sinner.  Greek Scholar, A. T. Robertson, notes that the word translated, “complained” is an onomatopoetic word, a word that sounds like what it means.  These self-righteous religious folks did not want to defile themselves with sinners, but Jesus always drew these sinners to Himself for the purpose of revealing to them the Good News.

Thirdly . . .

III. Consider His Transformation.

Verse 8 tells us, “Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’”  Zacchaeus is a changed man, a transformed man.  He had previously ripped people off, skimmed the profits of his tax-collecting business, and made himself filthy rich.  Having encountered Christ, he is different now.  Money does not mean as much as it once did, proving the truth of what Jesus had said in an earlier chapter 15 and verse 15, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”  Zacchaeus gives half his goods, not just his salary.  He has liquidated his clothing, furniture, collectibles, and jewelry.  He is willing to do what the rich young ruler was unwilling to do in Luke 18:22, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

Jesus had said in Luke 18:24, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”  Hard, but not impossible!  Though “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” (Luke 18:25), God can make possible the impossible as illustrated here with the changed heart of Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus has a changed heart.  He is willing now to make restitution according to Old Testament Law (Exodus 22:1; 2 Samuel 12:6).  He says in verse 8, “I give,” and, “I restore.”  These verbs are in the present tense, indicating something Zacchaeus is now doing this.  He is now a changed man, doing things differently with his possessions from this point on.  Zacchaeus has traded out an old, worldly and temporary joy in riches for a new, eternal joy in Christ Jesus.

Verse 9 says, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.”  The idea Jesus is conveying here is that Zacchaeus has shown himself to be a true Jew in every way.  He is a true believer who has embraced his Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zacchaeus’ actions reveal that his faith and repentance are genuine.  If there has been a change on the inside, it will lead to a change on the outside.  Outside behavior indicates inside change.

As we apply this passage to our lives, lets consider these three questions . . . 

1) Do I Continue To Possess A Childlike Curiosity About Christ?

Zacchaeus did not care what people thought of his climbing a tree to find out more about Jesus.  He was naturally curious and was willing to do whatever it took to find out more about Jesus.  How about you?  Do you continue to possess a childlike curiosity about Christ?  Are you learning new things about Jesus?  Growing day by day in your study of the Word and your attendance in worship and Sunday school?

2) Do I Really Joy In The Things Of The Lord?

Zacchaeus proved that one’s life does not consist in the things that he possesses.  What causes your heart to flutter?  What do you joy in?  Seriously.  Do you find it more natural to joy in sports, recreation, ball games, parties, things, than Jesus Christ Himself?

3) Do I Live With Greater Commitment To Christ Each Day?

Zacchaeus was ready to give away half his stuff.  Here is a guy who has truly encountered Christ and is committed to trusting Him with all of His heart.  Do you trust God through your giving?  Do you tithe?  Do you live with greater commitment to Christ each day?

Zacchaeus had a change on the inside.  Zacchaeus had a heart-change.  Who changed Zacchaeus’ heart?  Look at verse 10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Think of it now: who is seeking whom?  Verse 13 says Zacchaeus sought Jesus, but verse says Jesus has come to seek Zacchaeus.  The very reason Jesus comes through Jericho and stops at that very tree, looks up, and calls Zacchaeus by name and says to Zacchaeus, “I MUST stay at your house,” is because Jesus has “come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

What was it that drew Zacchaeus to Jesus?  In a word: God.  God drew Zacchaeus to Jesus.  Jesus says in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”  In His infinite love God comes to men and women like Zacchaeus and performs spiritual “heart surgery” upon them and draws them to Himself through the saving power of the Gospel.  He comes to us.  He surgically removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh.  He changes us on the inside, and we begin to live differently on the outside.

If you have come to Christ it is because He first came to you.  The Bible says in 1 John 4:19, “We love Him because He first loved us.”  We never cease to marvel and be utterly amazed at this divine, electing love of God. 

 I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

  He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

  No, I was found of Thee.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 18:31-43 – How Is Your Spiritual Eyesight?

Grace For The Journey

I am going have to hold off on the extra study on the goodness of God.  Today we are going to look at a passage where Jesus again foretells the coming of His suffering, death, and crucifixion.  The third time that Jesus has foretold the coming of his suffering, death, and crucifixion (see Luke 9:22 and Luke 9:43-45).  This is sometimes called “the passion announcements” or “passion predictions.”  Our English term “passion” is derived from a Latin term, passiō, that means “to suffer.”  After Jesus makes the encouraging statement we looked at last time in verses 29-30 – about the blessing of what we receive in following Christ despite what some must leave behind to follow Him–families, homes – we then read that Jesus takes the 12 disciples aside and speaks privately to them about His soon coming suffering, death, and crucifixion.

Most of us can relate to the idea of “seeing without really seeing.”  Recently I looked for some item in the refrigerator, and I looked up and down and side to side, but I could not seem to find the ketchup.  I know it must be in there; I am fairly sure we used it just yesterday.  I look again, move some things around, and still nothing.  Finally I called my wife, Kay, “Hey, Babe, where is the ketchup?”  She hollers back, “In the fridge.”  “No, it’s not.”  “Yes, it is.”  “Well, you come find it.”  She comes over, open the door, looks to the right, bends down, picks it up and puts it on the counter and walks away, shaking their head.  It was there all along, I just did not see it.

So often the seemingly small and trivial things in this material world mirror something of the much larger and more important things of the spiritual world.  God is at work all around us, He is always and forever sustaining the universe He has created, forever guiding, upholding, and providing.  He is there, and yet, we do not always see Him.  We often wonder what it would have been like to have lived during the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  I have often wondered about that.  How beautiful that would have been to be right there with Him, seeing the miracles and listening to His teaching.  Then  again, we find this surprising truth time and again during the 3 1/2 years of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels . . .

Few people seem to

Really see Jesus

For who He is.

They are looking at Him, through Him, and are right there with Him, yet do not really see Him.

In our study today God is repeatedly pointing out this truth. We talked last time about “blind spots,” how we may not “see” things that lurk in our “spiritual side-view mirrors,” unidentified idols we allow to capture our love and we do not even realize this, we have given our hearts to something or someone other than Christ.  Such was the case in our last passage with the rich, young, ruler.  Here was a man who “saw” Jesus, but at the same time, did not really see Jesus because he was blinded by his riches.  He saw, but He did not really see.

Then we turn to these verses in verse 31 to the end of the chapter and we read of two more examples of “seeing without really seeing.”  My prayer today is simple: “God, give us eyes to see.”  Physical eyesight is a blessing and very important to us, but what is more important is spiritual eyesight.  Some can see and hear only physically.   May God grant to us the benefit of spiritual awareness and spiritual life, and help us then to see better with each passing day, improve our spiritual sight.

The material in our text – verses 31-43 – divides itself into two sections. 

I. Consider Christ’s Commitment – Verses 31-34.

In view here is Christ’s commitment to God’s eternal plan to accomplish our salvation.  Jesus is committed to the task.  We read nine chapters earlier His first passion prediction.  He says in Luke 9:22, “(I) must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be raised the third day.”  He said this again later to them and then Luke 9:51 says the time had now come for Him to die and so he “set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  That speaks of His determination, His steadfastness, and His commitment.  Nothing could stop Jesus from Calvary.

You will remember, for example, . . .

  • When He spoke of His suffering in terms like a baptism and He says in Luke 12:50, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!” 
  • Or later when He was warned that Herod was out to get Him, He said in Luke 13:33, “Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” 
  • And when we were studying recently about the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus said in Luke 17:25, “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

From the very beginning God has this plan to redeem lost souls through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is constantly reminding His followers of this truth.  His death on Calvary’s cross is not a mistake, a blunder, a fumble, or an accident.  Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross is the fulfillment of a plan to which Jesus Christ was utterly, totally, and completely committed.  He reminds them now for the third time in verse 31, “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.’”  The phrase “will be accomplished” is a divine passive.  That is, “God will bring this about.”  God has this plan . . . He will see it through.  It will happen.  It does not “just” happen.  God will fulfill His plan to redeem humanity through the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross.

For reasons known ultimately only to God Himself, God permitted what we refer to as “the fall.”  God allowed Adam and Eve to fall, to sin, and thereby bring sin into the world.     Because of the sin of our first parents, we too are sinners.  We are culpable.  We are spiritually separated from God.  But God also planned a means by which man could be saved from the fall and the effects of the fall – namely spiritual death – and that means by which man may be saved is through the work of Christ upon the cross.  Jesus comes as God-in-the-flesh to bear our sins upon Himself, to take the punishment we deserved and to grant to us the righteousness that belongs to Him – thereby being our substitute, the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for us.  This is that work to which Jesus Christ is committed and He tells His disciples this now for the third time.

Jesus says in verse 31 that “all the things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man) will be accomplished.”  The word “prophets” here in verse 31 is a reference to the entirety of the Old Testament.

I recall two of those prophetic passages in the Old Testament.  Remember that Jesus fulfills prophetic predictions of His coming.  These two passages are written anywhere from 700 years to 1,000 years before He came . . . Psalm 22:16-18, “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.  They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” and Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  When Jesus says in verse 31 that “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished” He has in mind Scriptures such as these. 

Jesus continues in verse 32, “For He will be delivered (again, another divine passive, i.e., this is all part of God’s perfect plan so He will see it to fulfillment) to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.  They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”  Now look at verse 34, “But they understood (how much?) none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.”  It is a lot easier for us to understand what Jesus was telling them.  We have the benefit of 2,000 years of Christian history and teaching.  Most of us have grown up in Christian homes or we have at least heard the story of Jesus’ coming as a suffering Messiah.  For the 12, however, and for the Jews in the main, the idea of a suffering Messiah was foreign to them.  They were thinking of the coming Savior as more of a political or earthly Savior, one who would come and reign on an elevated throne in a splendid palace and straighten everything out.  When Jesus goes to talking about being turned over to the Gentiles and being beaten and killed and rising on the third day, it is not that they could not repeat what Jesus had just said, it is that they simply did not understand what He meant.  I can see that if we put ourselves in their shoes and I think probably the most of us can see that, too.  Little wonder Jesus told them this three times!  I am certain later on they were like, “Oh, I get it now” (Luke 24:6-8)!

But . . .

We must also remember that if we are saved

It is only because we have been granted

The eyes of faith to see. 

If we see Christ for Who He really is,

It is because we see Him not with

Physical eyes, but with spiritual eyes.

There was a time when the meaning of His suffering, death, and resurrection was also hidden from us, hidden the same way it is hidden from your unbelieving family members, hidden from your neighbors, hidden from your friends.  Yet, this is the Gospel truth.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,” a Gospel that remains a stumbling block and foolishness to many spiritually blind today until God grants them the ability to see with eyes of faith.

Then by the working of God’s providence, the very next passage of Scripture tells us about a man who – though blind physically – can see quite well spiritually.  Verses 35-38 tell us, “Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.  And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.  So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.  And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Here is a blind man who knows Jesus as “Son of David,” a reference to His Messiahship.  The Messiah, the promised Savior in the Old Testament, was to come from the lineage of King David.  This blind man knows this.  Though blind physically, he sees well spiritually.

 I will expound more on this later in my blog.  More about that in a moment.  Right now, let’s look at the second main consideration in our passage . . .   

II. Consider Christ’s Compassion – Verses 35-43.

We read here of the compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ to heal this blind man.  Incidentally, the Gospel Writer Mark identifies this “certain blind man” by what name? His name is Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46).  He is sitting by the road begging, sitting there in hopes of receiving the mercy of a few coins now and again.  A blind man in Jesus’ day could do nothing more than beg for food and help.  He hears a crowd, a multitude, and he asks, “What’s going on?!”  Someone answers, “It’s Jesus of Nazareth passing by.”  The blind man had heard of Jesus.  That is unmistakably clear.  He knows Him as more than Jesus of Nazareth.  He knows Him as “Son of David,” the promised coming Messiah, Savior, Deliverer, and Healer.  Word about Jesus had gotten out.  It most likely began back in the synagogue in Nazareth – recorded in Luke 4 – where Jesus began His earthly ministry.  He stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah and read the words, “The spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18).”  Bartimaeus had heard about Jesus and is probably thinking, “If this Jesus of Nazareth, if this Jesus, Son of David, if this Messiah, Lord, God, ever comes to Jericho no one will be able to hold me down!”  And such is the case.  Verses 38 says, “He cried out!  ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’  Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

Bartimaeus is a believer.  He cries out because he believes.  He sees already!  He is persistent in his crying out to Christ because he has eyes of faith. The very phrase, “Son of David,” is a confession of faith, much as our today referring to Jesus as “Lord.”  He could not be silenced.  I suppose the disciples and others were embarrassed by his outbursts, but “he cried out all the more.”  When you see Jesus for who He really is, you really do not care what others think of you.  You are not embarrassed, you are not intimidated, you are not insecure.  You love the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, and you live for Him no matter what anyone else says, thinks, or does to you.

Now watch the compassion of Jesus in verses 40 and 41, “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’  He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.’”  Jesus is on a mission, He is deliberately, purposefully, heading toward Jerusalem to die for the sins of humanity.  Nothing will stop Him from keeping that commitment, but He pauses for a moment in a demonstration of loving, caring, and compassion.

Just 17 miles to Jerusalem and Christ will lay down His life on Calvary’s cross.  Just 17 miles to go, but wait!  The compassion of Jesus causes Him to pause, turn aside, and minister.  He pours out such love and compassion to demonstrate yet again the wonder-working power of a loving God who is not so big as to not take time to minister, a God who cares for you, who knows your every hurt, who meets your every need, and who loves you to the core of your being.  Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  Bartimaeus replies, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”  I think Bartimaeus is like, “O, that you would open my physical eyes that I may lovingly gaze upon the One I already see with my spiritual eyes!”

Consider Christ’s compassion.  He says in John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”  Are you in need of a touch from the Master?  Will you cry out to Him in prayer?  He may be busy, but He is never to busy to stop and minister His compassion to you. 

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

The compassion of Christ!

Verse 42 says, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.’”  The phrase “Receive your sight” is just one word in the Greek, literally, “See!”  Such power of Christ!  He simply says, “See!” and the man sees.  Then Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well.”  Literally again, “Your faith has saved you.”  He had saving faith.

Bartimaeus’ spiritual sight was the means by which he received the cure of physical sight.  He could already see in a way many of us who do see are really blind.  Some of us see Jesus, but do not see Jesus.  This blind man could not see Jesus, but could see Jesus.  Because the man already had spiritual eyes to see, he was able to trust Christ to give him physical eyes to see. 

Verse 43 tells us, “And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”  What a contrast to the rich young ruler in our last study.  The wealthy young ruler decided not to follow Christ.  He would rather have his money and his morality.  He was blinded by his riches!  But here is a blind beggar.  He has nothing really of any means.  He is saved and he gladly follows Christ, glorifying God.  The rich young ruler walks away spiritually blind while Bartimaeus walks after Christ seeing both physically and spiritually.

We end out study today by asking two questions as we apply these truths to where we are in our relationship with Christ . . .

1) Do I Presently Have Both Physical AND Spiritual Sight?

Spiritual is always more important than physical.  It means nothing at all if you can see physically, but you cannot see spiritually.  I read where Helen Keller was once asked about her being blind and how terrible it must have been for her.  She replied, “Better to be blind and see with your heart, than to have two good eyes and see nothing.”

Do you see Christ for who He is?  What of your neighbors, co-workers, and friends in school?  How many are right next to you and blind, waiting for you to shine the light of Christ upon them that they may see and be saved from the wrath to come?

What of the millions groping in spiritual darkness throughout the 10/40 window from Southeast Asia, into the Middle East and across North Africa?  Who will tell the unreached people groups dying in those areas of the world, who will tell them about the God who is committed to their eternal salvation if they will be receive Christ as Lord and King?

2) Is My Spiritual Sight Improving Daily?

It is not enough to have your eyes opened.  If our eyes are opened spiritually, if we have spiritual eyes of faith, then we will grow in our faith, our spiritual eyesight will improve with the passing of each day.  Examine yourself!  Are you truly saved?  If so . . .

Unlike your physical eyesight

Which weakens with age,

Your spiritual eyesight

Improves with age.

If you have been granted eyes to see you will, “follow Him” and “Glorify Him.”  You will grow in your faith.  You will follow Christ in obedience.  Do follow Christ the way this formerly blind man followed Christ?  Has God given you eyes to see?  If so, you will follow Him.  If not, you will not.  It is just that simple.

J. C. Ryle said it best: “Grateful love is the true spring of real obedience to Christ.  Men will never take up the cross and confess Jesus before the world, and live to Him, until they feel that they are indebted to Him for pardon, peace, and hope.  The ungodly are what they are, because they have no sense of sin, and no consciousness of being under any special obligation to Christ.  The godly are what they are, because they love Him who first loved them, and washed them from sin in His own blood.  Christ has healed them, and therefore they follow Christ.”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”