Wednesday Events – Passion Week – and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple

Luke 21:37-38

With Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approaching, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus

Matthew 26:3-5 Mark 14:1-2 Luke 22:1-2

Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price

Matthew 26:14-16 Mark 14:10-11 Luke 22:3-6

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

This is the final message in the series called Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. The aim has been to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.

My prayer is that, as these great historical vistas of God’s sovereignty over sin take their place in your renewed mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition. Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict. I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul.

History’s Most Spectacular Sin: The Murder of Jesus

The most spectacular sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world is the brutal murder of Jesus Christ, the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And probably the most despicable act in the process of this murder was the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus had personally chosen and who had been with Jesus during his entire public ministry. He had been entrusted with the moneybag for the whole group (John 13:29). He was close enough to Jesus at the Last Supper to be dipping bread with him in the same cup (Mark 14:20).

“Satan Entered into Judas”

On the night of the Last Supper, Luke tells us in Luke 22:3-6 that “Satan entered into Judas. . . . He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” Later he led the authorities to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). With that, Jesus’ death was sealed.

When Luke tells us in verse 3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” several questions come to our minds. 1) One is whether Satan simply mastered a good Judas or whether Judas was already walking in line with Satan and Satan simply decided that now is the time. 2) Another question is why Satan would do this since the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat, and there is good reason to think Satan knew that. 3) And the third and most important question is: Where was God when this happened? What was his role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever was? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

1) Satan’s Power in Judas’ Sinful Passions

When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a thief. When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $39,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $29,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus’ name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could by.

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan’s power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one.

2) Satan’s Role in His Own Destruction

The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Doesn’t he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11)? There’s good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshipping him (Matthew 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: Don’t walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you’re the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don’t go to the cross.

Then do you remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed and Peter rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that. Jesus did not commend him. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer: Satan saw his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross failing. Time after time, Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die, and Satan concludes that there is no stopping him. Therefore he resolves that if he can’t stop it, he will at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (see Luke 22:31-32). If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

3) God’s Role in the Murder of His Son

Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God’s role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?

To answer a question like that we should put our hands on our mouths and silence our philosophical speculations. Our opinions don’t count here. All that counts is what God himself as shown us in his word. And the first thing he shows us is that the details surrounding the death of Jesus are prophesied in God’s word hundreds of years before they happen.

The Scriptures prophesy that evil men will reject Jesus when he comes.

Matthew 21:42: “Jesus said to them (quoting Psalm 118:22), ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus must be hated.

In John 15:25, Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 and said, “The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that the disciples would abandon Jesus.

In Matthew 26:31, he quotes Zechariah 13:7: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus will be pierced but none of his bones will be broken.

John quotes Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 and says, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. . . . For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:34-37).

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

In John 13:18, Jesus cites Psalm 41:9 and says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”

And in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!”

And in Matthew 27:9-10, it says, “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’” (Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13).

And not only the Scriptures, but Jesus himself prophesies, down to the details, how he will be killed.

In Mark 10:33-34, he says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

And on that last night, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

According to His Sovereign Will

From all these prophesies, we know that God foresaw, and did not prevent, and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these are explicitly in God’s mind before they happen as things that he plans will happen to Jesus. These things did not just happen. They were foretold in God’s word. God knew they would happen and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t. So they happened according to his sovereign will.

And all of them were evil. They were sin. It is sin to reject, hate, abandon, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things. It is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in passages that say even more plainly that God brought these things to pass.

God Brought It to Pass

For example, in Isaiah 53:6 and 10, it says, “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. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” So behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the fall of Satan or any others. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in those very words.

The Hand and Plan of God

In Acts 4:27-28, we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God’s hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand (cheir) and your plan (boule) had predestined to take place.” Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God’s hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God’s “hand” predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here’s what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God’s exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with “plan” is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is plan that will be executed by God’s own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Or more literally, with the King James Version, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus’ own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God At Work in Death

Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you break God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ: The Work and Love of God

The reason why this series of messages matters is this. If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without in anyway becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was “divine child abuse.” You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will it receive as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have preached in vain.

© Desiring God

Reclame

Jesus: Who do you say that I am?

Once when Jesus was traveling with His disciples He asked them ‘Who do people say that I am?’ Wherever Jesus went, large crowds of people followed Him and they witnessed the miracles He performed and they observed the words He spoke in His sermons. Many of the people probably wondered who Jesus was.  But then in Luke 9:18-20 Jesus asks Peter, His disciple, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and Peter answers ‘God’s Messiah’! Peter spoke with lots of conviction, yet his faith had a long way to go, there would even come a point in his life later where he would deny that he even knew Jesus. Peter and the disciples would become men of faith after they saw the resurrected Christ and it was then they could profess that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

In every age since the first followers of Jesus made their profession of faith in him, men and women of faith have had to come to terms with who Jesus is and what he means for them.As we go into the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of the Messiah, take a little time to reflect on these passages that the Scriptures heralds about the deity of the Messiah. Who is Jesus Christ to you?

(The following list is posted from Tyndale’s Wilmington guide to the Bible pp.346-348, 616-618)

The Deity of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world- 

  1. His deity was declared by angels

  • Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-33)
  • by Gabriel to Joseph (Matthew 1:20-23)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some shepherds (Luke 2:8-11)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some women (Matthew 28:5-6)

2. His deity was declared by the Father

  • at his baptism (Matthew 3:16-17)
  • at his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5)
  • shortly before his passion (John 12:27-28)

3. His deity was declared by his mighty miracles (John 20:30,31: 21:25)

4. His deity was declared by his powerful sermons ((Luke 4:32; John 7:46)

5. His deity was declared by his accurate prophecies (Matthew 26:32)

6. His deity was declared by his sinless life

  • as attested by Pilate (John 19:4)
  • by Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19
  • by Judas (Matthew 27:4)
  • by the dying thief (Luke 23:41)
  • by the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47)

7. His deity was declared by demons

  • as he healed a maniac (Matthew 8:28-29)
  • as he healed a man in Capernaum (Luke 4:33-34)
  • as he healed many in Capernaum (Luke 4:41, Mark 3:11)

8. His deity was declared by those who worshipped him

  • the shepherds (Luke 2:15)
  • the wise men (Matthew 2:2,11)
  • a leper (Matthew 8:2)
  • a ruler (Matthew 9:18)
  • a Gentile mother (Matthew 15:25)
  • a Hebrew mother (Matthew 20:20)
  • a maniac (Mark 5:6)
  • a blind man (John 9:38)
  • an apostle (Thomas) (John 20:28)
  • all apostles (Matthew 14:38; 28:9)

9. His deity was declared by Satan (Matthew 4:3, 6)

10. His deity was declared by himself

  • He referred to himself as the Son of God (John 9:35; 10:36; 11:4)
  • He forgave sins (Mark 2:5, 10)
  • He is man’s judge (John 5:22, 27)
  • He is the author of life (John 5:24, 28, 29)
  • He is to be honored like the Father (John 5:23)
  • He alone can save (John 10:28; Luke 19:10; John 14:6

Passion Week – Thursday – The Last Supper in the Upper Room & Gethsemane

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Thursday?

With help from the ESV Study Bible, here’s an attempted harmony/chronology of the words and actions of Jesus in the final week of his pre-resurrection life.

Jesus instructs his disciples Peter and John to secure a large upper room in a house in Jerusalem and to prepare for the Passover meal

Matthew 26:17-19  Mark 14:12-16  Luke 22:7-13

In the evening Jesus eats the Passover meal with the Twelve, tells them of the coming betrayal, and institutes the Lord’s Supper

Mathew 26:20-29  Mark 14:17-23  Luke 22:14-30

After supper Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, interacts with them, and delivers the Upper Room Discourse

John 13:1-17:26  

Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn together (probably from Psalms 113–118), then depart to the Mount of OlivesMatthew 26:30    Mark 14:26  Luke 22:39

Jesus foretells Peter’s denials
Jesus gives his disciples practical commands about supplies and provisions

Jesus and the disciples go to Gethsemane, where he struggles in prayer and they struggle to stay awake late into the night

Matthew 26:36-46  Mark 14:32-42  Luke 22:40-46

The Last Supper

By Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.org: We find Luke’s account (and, the other gospel accounts as well) of the last supper amazingly brief and unembellished. Somewhere 30 to 50 years after our Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension, the gospel of Luke was written (depending upon which conservative scholar you read). In spite of all the time which passed, and of the great significance of the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion,” neither Luke nor any other gospel writer makes a great deal out of the celebration of the last Passover, just before our Lord’s death. I am not saying this celebration was unimportant, but rather that because of its importance, I would have expected it to have been a more detailed account. This brevity is the first of several “tensions of the text.”

There are other tensions as well. Why is nearly as much space devoted to the preparation for the Passover meal as for the partaking of it? Furthermore, why was Jesus so eager to partake of the Passover, when it preceded and even anticipated His death? Finally, why is there such confusion and consternation (including a deletion of some of the text) over Luke’s account of the Lord’s Table, in which it appears that the (traditional) order of the bread and wine may have been reversed?

Events Surrounding the Last Supper

Before we begin to look more closely at the partaking of the Passover, let us pause for just a moment to remind ourselves of the broader setting in which this event is found. The Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem have already determined that Jesus must die (not to mention Lazarus, John 11:47-53; 12:9-10).After the meal at the house of Simon the Leper, at which Mary anointed the feet of Jesus, “wasting” her expensive perfume on him, Judas decided to betray the Lord, approached the chief priests, and received an advance payment (Matthew 26:14-16Luke 22:1-6). Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and after He cleansed the temple, the sparks really began to fly, with the religious leaders making every effort to discredit Him, or to get Him into trouble with the Roman authorities (Luke 20:19-20). When these efforts, as well as their attempts to penetrate the ranks of our Lord’s disciples miserably failed, the chief priests were delighted to have Judas approach them with his offer. It was only a matter now of waiting for the right chance. This could have been the Lord’s celebration of the Passover, along with His disciples.

At the meal itself, a number of events took place. It would seem that the Lord’s washing of the feet of the disciples was the first item on the agenda (John 13:1-20). During the meal, once (cf. Matthew 26:20-25Mark 14:17-21), if not more (Luke 22:21-23), the Lord spoke of His betrayer. The meal seems to have included some (perhaps most all) of the traditional Passover elements, and in addition, the commencement of the Lord’s Supper, with words that I doubt the disciples had ever heard at a Passover meal (Luke 22:19-20). John’s gospel avoids giving us yet another description of this ceremony. He, unlike the other gospel writers, includes an extensive message known as the “upper room discourse” (John 14-16), concluded by the Lord’s “high priestly prayer” of intercession for His followers, which may have been prayed during the meal time, or perhaps later on in Gethsemane (John 17). The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) report the disciples’ argument about who would be the greatest, along with our Lord’s response (cf. Luke 22:24-3), the Lord’s specific words to the over-confident Peter (Luke 22:31-34), and then His words about being prepared to face a hostile world (Luke 22:35-38). With this the party is said to have sung a hymn and to have departed to the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Lord prayed, with little help from His disciples (Luke 22:39-46). The arrest of Jesus then follows, concluding in His being handed over for crucifixion.

The point in all of this is simply to remind you that the meal was a lengthy one, during which time the Passover was memorialized, and also the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated. It was also during this time that a great deal of teaching took place, as recorded primarily by John. Click here to read the entire article at Bible.org.

Jesus and the Martyr

by Stephen Witmer – Here is an article by Stephen Witmer posted at the Gospel Coalition on Jesus in the garden of Ghetsemane and His divine nature. (Jesus and the Martyrs.)

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:41-44).

In this passage, the eternal Son of God pleads with God the Father not to make him go to the cross, requires the help of an angel, and experiences great emotional upheaval in light of his approaching death. He is profoundly shaken. Early in church history, already in the second century, critics of Christianity were pointing to Jesus’ agonized prayer as reason to doubt that he was divine. The problem is heightened when we compare Jesus’ reaction in the face of death to other martyrs, ancient and modern, who appear to be more composed and able to face death with greater dignity than Jesus showed (see Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God for an insightful treatment of this). Here I provide three such examples.

Stephen Witmer gives examples of 3 ancient and modern  cases of martyrdom where the men involved appear to face death with a calm dignity and contrasts it with Jesus’ agonizing prayer.

He concludes-

first, the Gospel writers had to be honest, to include such passages of struggling by Jesus and

second, ‘ What sets Jesus’ death apart from the death of any other person in the history of the world is the spiritual component of his suffering’.

We have an indication of that terrible spiritual reality in Luke 22:42: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” To what “cup” is Jesus referring?

We get an answer in the Old Testament. Psalm 75:6-8 uses the imagery of a cup to refer to God’s judgment upon his enemies:

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.

Isaiah 51:17 makes explicit that the “cup” is the cup of God’s wrath: “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.”

The “cup” Jesus is going to drink on the cross is far worse than the horrific physical suffering of crucifixion he faces. Jesus’ “cup” is the infinite wrath and judgment of almighty God upon human sin. The wrath of God that Jesus will experience on the cross is, very literally, hell. On the cross, he will experience separation from God the Father. He will be cut off from God. He will be considered an enemy of God because our sins will be counted as his (2 Cor. 5:21).

This is why Jesus agonizes and struggles in the Garden—because he knows he will soon be crushed under the infinite weight of the wrath of God.

click here to read the entire article…

Passion Week – Wednesday Events and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple

Luke 21:37-38

With Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approaching, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus

Matthew 26:3-5 Mark 14:1-2 Luke 22:1-2

Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price

Matthew 26:14-16 Mark 14:10-11 Luke 22:3-6

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

This is the final message in the series called Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. The aim has been to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.

My prayer is that, as these great historical vistas of God’s sovereignty over sin take their place in your renewed mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition. Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict. I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul.

History’s Most Spectacular Sin: The Murder of Jesus

The most spectacular sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world is the brutal murder of Jesus Christ, the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And probably the most despicable act in the process of this murder was the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus had personally chosen and who had been with Jesus during his entire public ministry. He had been entrusted with the moneybag for the whole group (John 13:29). He was close enough to Jesus at the Last Supper to be dipping bread with him in the same cup (Mark 14:20).

“Satan Entered into Judas”

On the night of the Last Supper, Luke tells us in Luke 22:3-6 that “Satan entered into Judas. . . . He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” Later he led the authorities to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). With that, Jesus’ death was sealed.

When Luke tells us in verse 3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” several questions come to our minds. 1) One is whether Satan simply mastered a good Judas or whether Judas was already walking in line with Satan and Satan simply decided that now is the time. 2) Another question is why Satan would do this since the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat, and there is good reason to think Satan knew that. 3) And the third and most important question is: Where was God when this happened? What was his role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever was? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

1) Satan’s Power in Judas’ Sinful Passions

When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a thief. When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $39,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $29,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus’ name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could by.

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan’s power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one.

2) Satan’s Role in His Own Destruction

The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Doesn’t he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11)? There’s good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshipping him (Matthew 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: Don’t walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you’re the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don’t go to the cross.

Then do you remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed and Peter rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that. Jesus did not commend him. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer: Satan saw his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross failing. Time after time, Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die, and Satan concludes that there is no stopping him. Therefore he resolves that if he can’t stop it, he will at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (see Luke 22:31-32). If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

3) God’s Role in the Murder of His Son

Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God’s role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?

To answer a question like that we should put our hands on our mouths and silence our philosophical speculations. Our opinions don’t count here. All that counts is what God himself as shown us in his word. And the first thing he shows us is that the details surrounding the death of Jesus are prophesied in God’s word hundreds of years before they happen.

The Scriptures prophesy that evil men will reject Jesus when he comes.

Matthew 21:42: “Jesus said to them (quoting Psalm 118:22), ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus must be hated.

In John 15:25, Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 and said, “The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that the disciples would abandon Jesus.

In Matthew 26:31, he quotes Zechariah 13:7: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus will be pierced but none of his bones will be broken.

John quotes Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 and says, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. . . . For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:34-37).

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

In John 13:18, Jesus cites Psalm 41:9 and says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”

And in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!”

And in Matthew 27:9-10, it says, “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’” (Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13).

And not only the Scriptures, but Jesus himself prophesies, down to the details, how he will be killed.

In Mark 10:33-34, he says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

And on that last night, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

According to His Sovereign Will

From all these prophesies, we know that God foresaw, and did not prevent, and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these are explicitly in God’s mind before they happen as things that he plans will happen to Jesus. These things did not just happen. They were foretold in God’s word. God knew they would happen and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t. So they happened according to his sovereign will.

And all of them were evil. They were sin. It is sin to reject, hate, abandon, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things. It is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in passages that say even more plainly that God brought these things to pass.

God Brought It to Pass

For example, in Isaiah 53:6 and 10, it says, “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. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” So behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the fall of Satan or any others. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in those very words.

The Hand and Plan of God

In Acts 4:27-28, we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God’s hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand (cheir) and your plan (boule) had predestined to take place.” Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God’s hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God’s “hand” predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here’s what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God’s exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with “plan” is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is plan that will be executed by God’s own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Or more literally, with the King James Version, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus’ own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God At Work in Death

Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you break God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ: The Work and Love of God

The reason why this series of messages matters is this. If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without in anyway becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was “divine child abuse.” You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will it receive as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have preached in vain.

© Desiring God

What is the meaning of the Ascension of Jesus in the Gospels ?

By Bob Deffinbaugh via Bible.org Photo James Tissot 

Introduction

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Ascension_(L'Ascension)_-_James_Tissot

I had determined some time ago that this message on the ascension of Jesus Christ would be the conclusion of this series on the life and ministry of our Lord. When I began a serious study in preparing for this message, I came to a distressing realization: the ascension of the Savior was not considered worthy of emphasis by any of the gospel writers.

You will read the entire gospel of Matthew without finding any direct reference to the ascension. The same is true for John’s gospel. The book of Mark condenses this event into only one verse, and if you consult the commentaries, they will tell you that this verse may not be authentic. Luke’s gospel, in very general terms, relates this final event in the life of our Lord in one verse. I must conclude that for some reason the ascension was not considered essential to the purposes which compelled the gospel writers to record their accounts of the life and ministry of the Master. The purpose of this study is to answer the obvious question, “Why?” “Why do none of the gospel accounts make much of the ascension of Jesus Christ?”

Why Was the Ascension of Our Lord 
Not a More Important Theme in the Gospels?

Let me try to identify some of the reasons for this lack of emphasis on the ascension in the gospel accounts. While these reasons are largely inferential, they do help us to see this matter through the eyes of the gospel writers.

First and foremost, the purpose of the gospels is revealed in their title, ‘the gospel.’ That is, the authors of the gospels set out to present the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Technically speaking, the salvation was procured by the death of Christ and proved by the resurrection. The ascension did not directly contribute to the work of the cross in such a way as to be instrumental in achieving the salvation of men.233 In the light of the writers’ purpose to portray the good news of salvation, any part of Christ’s life and ministry which does not directly relate to their purpose would pale in the shadow of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. It is not that the ascension of Christ is unimportant, then, but that it is largely irrelevant to the purpose of the gospel accounts.

Second, the ascension of Christ was not a favorite topic for those who were so intimately involved with Him. As John put it,

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, …” (1 John 1:1-3).

Unlike Christians today, the disciples lived and walked and talked, and touched the Savior while He was on the earth in bodily form. Whenever He talked of departing them or leaving them, they were deeply distressed (cf.John 16:6,22). It was not something they wanted to happen, or that they wanted to think about.

Those of us who have had Christian loved ones die can understand the feelings of the disciples concerning the Lord’s ascension. While we know that God’s will has been done and that those who have died in Christ are with the Lord, we personally sense the loss of the presence of our loved ones who have departed, even though we anticipate spending eternity with them in the presence of our Lord. We do not, therefore, find great comfort or joy in reminiscing over the departure of our loved ones. So, too, I believe the gospel writers did not have any predisposition to write of our Lord’s departure to return to His Father.

Third, the ascension does not serve as a fitting conclusion to the life and ministry of our Lord. It somehow seems anti-climactic in the light of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It tends to conclude on a note of sorrow and separation rather than of joy, victory, and triumph.

What, Then, Is the Meaning of the Ascension?

We have seen that the gospel accounts hardly mention the ascension, and we have suggested several reasons for this to be the case. While the ascension may not be prominent in the gospels, it is paramount in the book of Acts. While Luke did not emphasize it at the conclusion of his first book (Luke), he highlighted it at the beginning of his second volume (Acts).

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:1-11).

One of the most significant words in the book of Acts is that little word “began” in verse one. The first account, which was the gospel of Luke, was the report of what Jesus began to do and to teach. The book of Acts records what our Lord continued to do and to teach through His body, the church.

We are guilty of misunderstanding the words of our Lord upon the cross, when He cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Savior could truly say “It is finished” with regard to the work of redemption, which was accomplished on the cross. According to the usage of this expression man’s debt for sin could be marked “paid in full.” But the Lord Jesus did not say, “I am finished” in the sense that His work on earth was completed. Only His work of procuring men’s salvation was finished. The work of proclaiming that salvation to men is still going on. That is what Luke meant when he spoke of what our Lord “began to do and teach” in the introduction of his second volume. The exciting thing to realize is that the ascension of our Lord was vital to the continuation of our Lord’s work on earth through His body, the church.

While the provision for man’s salvation was the work of our Lord which was completed on the cross of Calvary, the proclamation and application of the benefits of this work have continued through the centuries, through the church, the body of Christ. The ascension of Jesus Christ was central to the initiation and continuation of this work.

From a casual reading of the gospel accounts one would get the impression that Jesus ascended to His Father shortly after His resurrection. In Acts we learn that there was a period of 40 days that our Lord continued to manifest Himself to His disciples on the earth: “To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

The purpose of this forty-day period was three-fold as described in verses 3-5 of Acts chapter 1. First of all it was designed to convince the disciples of the fact of our Lord’s physical, bodily resurrection (cf. verse 3 above).

The remaining chapters of Acts reveal that the central truth of which the disciples were fully-convinced was that Jesus, though put to death, had risen from the grave:234

“This man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:23,24).

“But you disowned the Holy and Righteous one, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of Life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15; cf. also 1:22; 4:2,10; 5:30-32; 7:56-60).

‘Many convincing proofs’ which happened over a substantial period of time, in a variety of circumstances, to a diverse number of people (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:4-8), served well the purpose of convincing the disciples of the fact of our Lord’s resurrection.

A second purpose of the forty day period after the resurrection was to command the disciples.

“… appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, …” (Acts 1:3,4).

There was much that the disciples could not understand about the life and ministry of the Lord until after His death and resurrection. Now He could speak plainly of His work upon the cross and they could understand His teaching. But even now there were truths that they could not bear. Only after His departure, after the promised Holy Spirit came upon them, would they comprehend the great truths of the gospel. For this reason, Jesus commanded the disciples to wait until the promised Spirit was sent.

Third, the forty days enabled our Lord to clarify and correct certain misconceptions held by the disciples.

“And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth’” (Acts 1:6-8).

The Kingdom was a prominent theme in Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptist came before Jesus and introduced Him as the King of Israel (cf. Matthew 3:2Mark 1:2-3), as well as the Lamb of God. Jesus frequently spoke of the Kingdom (cf. Matthew 5-7,13). The disciples were preoccupied with the subject, and particularly their role in it (cf. Matthew 19:28Mark 10:37f.). The religious leaders accused Jesus of being a king or of claiming a kingdom (John 19:12) and this Pilate acknowledged (Matthew 27:37). The thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom (Luke 23:42).

Little wonder that the disciples should persist in bringing up the subject of the Kingdom after the resurrection. They were certain that it must be forthcoming. Our Lord found it necessary to clarify His teaching on the Kingdom that was to come.

Mark it well; Jesus corrected His disciples on the matter of the time of the Kingdom’s arrival, not on its essential nature. The commentators are much more critical of the disciples than Christ was. They would seek to change the disciples whole conception of the Kingdom; our Lord only dealt with the time of its inauguration. The disciples anticipated a literal, physical reign of our Lord upon the earth. Some Bible students would have us believe that such expectations were misguided. They suppose that Jesus spoke only of a spiritual reign in the hearts of men.

That’s a rather interesting thing, because our Lord does not correct the disciple’s concept of the Kingdom; He corrects their preoccupation with the timing of the Kingdom. Now if they were wrong in thinking there was a Kingdom to come after three years of teaching, they were also wrong after 40 days of post-graduate work. More than this, my friends, they were wrong after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Because one of the things you will discover later in the book of Acts is that when the apostles preached, they preached to the Jews that if they turned to Jesus as Messiah, there would be a restoration of the Kingdom.

Look, for example, in Acts chapter 3 after Pentecost. Peter and John are preaching as a result of the healing of the cripple who was outside of the temple, and who was healed. Peter says in verse 19: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

The expression ‘times of refreshing,’ was understood rightly by Israel as being the time of the restoration and the establishment of God’s Kingdom upon earth. “And that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:20-21).

In other words, that which the Old Testament prophets had been speaking, that which our Lord Jesus came to establish, that is the message which the apostles preached. Until 70 A.D., they offered to Israel the opportunity to turn to Jesus as the Messiah, and promised that if they did, the Kingdom would be ushered in. Obviously, the nation did not repent and believe. And you understand that Israel, trying to forcibly bring the Kingdom in unbelief by rebelling against Rome, brought the power of Rome down upon them. Because of Jewish insurrection, Rome sacked that city and there was a massacre that was absolutely incredible to read about. Millions of Jews, it seems, died at that time. My point is simply this, the disciples had come to believe in a literal kingdom as a result of the teaching of our Lord, both before and after His resurrection.

Understandably, then, the disciples put this question to our Lord: “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (verse 6).

I want to underline the phrase, “at this time.” That is the issue that our Lord calls to their attention, not the issue of the nature of the Kingdom. He is dealing not with their misconceptions about the Kingdom, but with their preoccupation with the time of its coming. That is where they were wrong.

Now you must understand the circumstances in which all of this occurred. Do you remember where this took place? Not Jerusalem. It was the city outside of Jerusalem—Bethany. Bethany is where the triumphal entry began (cf. John 12:1,9,12). This is where Jesus had raised Lazarus. People had gathered not only to see Jesus, but to behold Lazarus, and it was out of all of this that the crowd came to herald Jesus as the Messiah. So it was Bethany that was the point of origin for the triumphal entry.

Now can you imagine why the disciples would bring up the subject of the coming of the Kingdom? I suppose they thought, “Here we are at Bethany again. Maybe we’re going to have the real triumphal entry this time.”

One of the seminary students suggested that the Lord had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, and perhaps it was the fulfillment of this promise to which they also looked forward. That may be. Here they were, Jesus was raised from the dead, the subject of conversation had been the Kingdom. Now there is this promise for which they are to wait. And you know how our minds always run wild in speculation when we are waiting for something and we do not know exactly what it is. All of these things must have come together, and the disciples were almost ready to burst with anticipation. And so our Lord responded to them, not regarding their concept of the Kingdom, but regarding their preoccupation with its time: “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7).

You see, this is no correction concerning the anticipation of a physical, literal thousand-year reign. Our Lord granted that their understanding of the Kingdom was correct. He was simply saying, “Don’t get preoccupied with when it is to occur.”

There are Christians today who seem to be more interested about the precise timing of eschatological (that is, prophetic) events than they are with godly living (cf. 2 Peter 3:11-13). I am not saying we should not study prophecy. I am saying we should not become preoccupied with it to the point where we ignore our duty and our obligation to live godly lives and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is the thrust of our Lord’s words in Acts 1:7-8. They were not intended to know the exact time of the Lord’s return and the establishment of His Kingdom. But as a result of His departure, the Holy Spirit would come, bestowing power upon them, by which they would witness to Jesus Christ at home and abroad (cf. John 14:7ff.).

In one sense the ascension is the final answer of our Lord to the question raised by the apostles. We cannot view the ascension of the Savior apart from its context with the paragraph—a section which centers in the question of the disciples concerning the coming of the Kingdom.

Verse 9 informs us that after Jesus had spoken the words of verses 7 and 8 He was taken from their sight into the heavens. The last words of Jesus concerned the matter of the Kingdom and our present responsibilities. The conversation was terminated by Jesus’ departure.

But more than this the ascension itself was the most forceful and satisfying answer to the question of the disciples:

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).

The ascension was a glorious event. Our Lord disappeared into a cloud, not ‘into the clouds’ (cf. verse 9). It may well be that this cloud was no ordinary cloud, but rather a manifestation of the Shekinah glory, even as it took place in the transfiguration (cf. Matthew 16:27–17:9, especially verse 5). Since the transfiguration was a preview of the coming Kingdom, the Kingdom must be quite similar. Now, in Acts 1:11 we are told that the return of the Lord Jesus will be like that of His ascension. It, like the transfiguration, must have been glorious, but it was viewed by a larger number.

The ascension was a display of the splendor and glory of the coming Kingdom. As such it was a reassurance to the disciples that this Kingdom was the same as they had previously been instructed.

What a beautiful way to dovetail a two-fold response to this pressing question of the disciples. While they were not to be overly concerned about the timing of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, they were assured of its certainty and its splendor. What a gracious event the ascension was. It served as an assurance to the disciples that their hopes would be realized.

One last passage remains to be considered in our study of the ascension of Christ and its importance to us.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-12).

The ascension was the final, incontestable evidence that Jesus Christ was the victor over Satan and his hosts. It is the measure of His victory, but also the measure of the power which has been bestowed upon His saints to carry out His work on earth until He returns.

The ascension was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come upon the church (and individual believers) in a different way than in times past (John 16:7ff.). But it was also an indication of the extent of the power which was made available to complete the task set before us.

This was a desperately needed event for who but His most intimate followers would sense most deeply His bodily absence? Who most needed assurance of His spiritual presence and power? And surely those of us who have never walked the dusty roads with Him and heard Him speak or felt His touch need this assurance as well.

Conclusion

Taking the various threads of which the doctrine of the ascension of Christ is woven we can briefly summarize its reference and application to Christians:

(1) Separation. In one sense the ascension was the bodily separation of our Lord from His followers. But we must quickly add that the Scriptures never record any mourning or tears concerning this. Undoubtedly this is true because, ironic as it may seem, our Lord’s departure inaugurated a time of even greater intimacy through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

(2) Consummation. The ascension symbolized that the work which our Lord was sent to accomplish in His physical body on earth has been finished. “… when He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

(3) Glorification. When our Lord returned to the Father it was in splendor and glory. While His glory was somewhat veiled by His humble surroundings at His incarnation, His return was with even greater glory and honor because of the work He had accomplished. “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).

(4) Confirmation. The ascension was, in part, a confirmation of Christ’s person and work. He returned to the Father. In this His claim to have come from the Father was vindicated. While no one could actually witness the actual incarnation of Christ in the virgin birth, His return was visible to His followers. The ascension of Christ is also a confirmation of our faith and assurance in Christ: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchezedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

(5) Transition. The ascension serves as a connecting link: between the work of Christ in salvation and that in our sanctification; between the gospels and the epistles; between what has been accomplished by Christ and what is still being done through His Spirit. It is even a transition in the ministry of Christ as well. Having completed His work on the cross in His flesh, He now intercedes for us as a sympathetic High Priest, as One Who has experienced our afflictions:

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 5:14-16).

(6) Anticipation. The ascension also creates in our hearts a sense of expectation as we realize that He will return, just as He departed: “… This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11).

And so it is that we come to the importance of the ascension to Christians today. It is not primarily to be viewed as the conclusion of our Lord’s life and ministry, but as the introduction of a new phase of His ministry through His church, empowered by His Spirit. The assurance of His return and the measure of His presence and power in these intervening days is to be found, to a great extent, in His ascension. What a Savior!

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233 Lest anyone become upset by this statement, let me go on to say that it does have much to do with the application of men’s salvation, as we shall demonstrate later.

234 It is interesting to note that during His earthly life our Lord’s opposition came primarily from the scribes and Pharisees. These were men who believed in supernaturalism and such things as angels and resurrection. In the book of Acts the main thrust of the opposition came from the Sadducees, the liberals who did not believe in any resurrection (cf. Matthew 22:23Acts 4:11).

Ascension Day – Jesus’s ascension matters

Jesus_ascension_2

By Brian Tabb at DesiringGod.org

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Good Friday, when Jesus died for our sins, and Easter Sunday, when he was raised from the dead — but Jesus’s earthly ministry did not stop there.

After the resurrection, Jesus taught his disciples about God’s kingdom for forty days (Acts 1:3) and then he was “taken up” to heaven (Acts 1:2, 11). The cross and empty tomb are at the very heart of the gospel message proclaimed by Jesus’s followers throughout history (see 1 Corinthians 15:1–4). However, for many evangelical Christians and churches, Jesus’s ascension is simply an afterthought to Easter and Good Friday.

Here I want to highlight six aspects of Jesus’s ascension or exaltation, in hopes that this significant and climactic event in Jesus’s life will no longer be an afterthought for you.

1. Jesus continues to work after the ascension.

In Acts 1:1–2 we read, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up…” The small but important word began signals that Jesus’s ascension does not mark the cessationbut the continuation of his work as Lord and Messiah. That’s what Luke’s second book, is all about, the “Acts of the risen Lord Jesus,” which he works from heaven, through his people, by the Holy Spirit, for the accomplishment of God’s purposes.1

2. The ascended Lord Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to his people.

After his resurrection Jesus told his followers, “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).2 In his Pentecost sermon Peter explains, “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33). God promised in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,” and this promise is fulfilled by the exalted heavenly Lord Jesus. The ascended Lord sent the Spirit to be present with his people (John 14:16), to empower them for worldwide mission (Acts 1:8; 4:31), and to transform believers to live new lives reflecting their king (Romans 8:9–11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

3. Jesus’s ascension is his heavenly enthronement as King.

At Jesus’s ascension he is installed as the true king of the world. According to the Apostles’ Creed, he “ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” Jesus is taken up to heaven in a cloud (Acts 1:9–11), and Stephen declares that he sees the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). These texts suggest that Jesus’s ascension fulfills the important prophecy of Daniel 7:13–14:3

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Jesus’s kingdom cannot be destroyed and will not pass away! According to Revelation 3:21 Jesus conquered and sat down with his Father on his throne, where he receives unending praise (Revelation 5:6–13). Jesus will reign at God’s right hand until all enemies are subdued under his feet (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34–35; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13). Thus God’s kingdom has been inauguratedthrough the enthronement of Jesus, who now sits on heaven’s throne and will return to consummate his kingdom on earth as in heaven.

4. Jesus’s ascension is his return to his Father.

Before and after his death and resurrection Jesus declares that he was sent by his Father and must return to his Father:

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. (John 16:28; cf. 13:1, 3)

Jesus said to Mary, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)

There has been no sweeter reunion in the history of the world than Jesus’s return to his Father! Perhaps the closest analogy is a courageous, wounded soldier returning to his loved ones after a hard-fought victory. Jesus fully accomplished his mission and glorified the Father on earth, and at Jesus’s ascension the Father glorifies the Son in heaven (John 17:4–5). Take heart that Jesus’s homecoming to his Father prepares the way for our homecoming to be with Jesus forever (John 14:2–4).

5. The ascended Lord Jesus is our heavenly mediator and high priest.

Jesus is the unique mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). His death and resurrection secure our forgiveness, justification, and reconciliation with God (Romans 4:25–5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18–21). Note also that the exalted Lord Jesus is now in heaven interceding for his people as our true high priest and advocate (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:3; 7:25; 8:1; 1 John 2:1). During his earthly ministry Jesus’s work was geographically limited — he didn’t teach in Ethiopia while healing in China. But now he is at work everywhere and able to hear and respond to his people’s prayers no matter the time or place. He sympathizes with our struggles and promises to do whatever we ask in his name (John 14:13–14; Hebrews 4:15–16).

6. The ascended Lord Jesus will return as King and Judge.

In Acts 1:11 two angels explain to the disciples, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Jesus’s heavenly reign will one day be fully realized on earth (Revelation 11:15; 19:10–16; 22:3). This is the very thing we ask for when we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). At his return, the Lord Jesus will execute divine judgment, vindicating his downtrodden people and judging his enemies.4

What It Means for Our Lives

To sum up: Though often overlooked, the ascension completes Jesus’s earthly mission and signifies his enthronement as heavenly king. Jesus has completed his Father’s mission and he now rules with all authority and intercedes with all sympathy as our mediator and high priest. I close with four implications of Jesus’s ascension for our lives.

  1. Remember that Jesus is presently reigning as king and remains active and engaged in our world and our lives.
  2. Therefore live boldly, confidently, and strategically as servants of the exalted king of heaven. Know that your labors in the Lord Jesus are not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  3. Sufferers, take heart that Jesus is not indifferent to your struggle. He has endured great suffering and is thus the most merciful and sympathetic counselor and mediator. Take your cares to your ascended Lord who hears your prayers and can respond with all heaven’s authority.
  4. Finally hope in a glorious future. The ascended Lord will return as judge and king. He will abolish injustice, end suffering, and destroy death and set up his kingdom of truth, righteousness and love. Best of all, we will be withour king forever.

     

The Parables of Jesus Christ

Here is a handy list of all the parables that are actually named ‘Parables’ in the New testament by the Gospel writer. photo via http://thechurchsite.net/ For a complete list of Jesus’s 46 parables see list at the bottom of the article.

Mark 4:33-34

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus often taught in parables, an ancient Eastern literary genre. The prophet Ezekiel, for example, wrote in parables, such as the eagles and the vine (17:1-24) and the parable of the pot (24:1-14). The word parable in Hebrew מָשָׁל is present in both vignettes (17:2 and 24:3). A parable is a story that presents comparisons to teach an important moral lesson. The root meaning of the word parable means a placing side by side for the sake of comparison. A parable envisions the whole narrative to generate the spiritual message, whereas a proverb, metaphor, simile, or figure of speech focuses generally on a word, phrase or sentence. The Gospel writer identifies a narrative with a spiritual meaning by specifically calling the lesson a παραβολή (parable). At times the Gospel writer begins the story with the term like, as „The Kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard” (Matthew 20:1).

The Parables are recorded in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Some parables are common to all three Synoptic Gospels, such as the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:2-20, and Luke 8:4-15). Matthew relates ten Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven, seven of which occur in Chapter 13 and are central to his Gospel. Examples of parables unique to each Gospel are the Weeds Among the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30), the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16); the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29); the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31); and the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14) .

The word parable does not appear in the Gospel of John. The related word παροιμιαν (figure of speech) appears in 10:6 and refers to the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18). Jesus, by calling himself the Good Shepherd, recalls the imagery of Psalm 23, „The Lord is my Shepherd,” and the Prophets (Isaiah 40:1-11, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Ezekiel 34). By doing so, he fulfills Old Testament prophecy as he identifies himself as the Messiah. The word παροιμίαν also appears in John 16:25 and provides insight into the message of Jesus: „I have spoken to you in figures of speech; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures of speech, but tell you plainly of the Father.”

The following chart lists the important parables of Jesus Christ.
This list primarily includes those parables specifically named as such by a Gospel writer. (Via source JesusChristSavior.net)

THE PARABLES OF JESUS
PARABLE MATTHEW MARK LUKE
The Speck and The Log 7:1-5 6:37-42
New Cloth on Old Garment 9:16-17 2:21-22 5:36-39
The Divided Kingdom 12:24-30 3:23-27 11:14-23
The Sower 13:1-23 4:1-20 8:4-15
The Growing Seed 4:26-29
The Rich Fool 12:16-21
The Barren Fig Tree 13:6-9
The Weeds Among the Wheat 13:24-30
The Mustard Seed 13:31-32 4:30-34 13:18-19
The Leaven 13:33-34 13:20-21
Hidden Treasure 13:44
Pearl of Great Price 13:45-46
The Net 13:47-50
The Good Samaritan 10:29-37
The Invited Guests 14:7-24
The Heart of Man 15:1-20 7:1-23
The Lost Sheep 18:10-14 15:1-7
The Prodigal Son 15:11-32
The Rich Man and Lazarus 16:19-31
The Persistent Widow 18:1-8
The Pharisee and The Publican 18:9-14
Laborers in the Vineyard 20:1-16
The Tenants 21:33-45 12:1-12 20:9-19
The Wedding Feast 22:1-14 14:15-24
The Fig Tree 24:32-44 13:28-37 21:29-33
The Faithful or Wicked Servant 24:45-51 12:35-48
The Ten Virgins 25:1-13
Ten Talents or Gold Coins 25:14-30 19:11-27

source JesusChristSavior.net photo below via parables.png

and here is the complete list

  • The Sower and the Seeds (Mark 4:3-9; Matt 13:3-9; Luke 8:5-8)
  • The Grain of Wheat (John 12:24)
  • The Weeds in the Grain or the Tares (Matt 13:24-30)
  • The Net (Matthew 13:47-50)
  • The Seed Growing Secretly (Spontaneously) or The Patient Husbandman (Mark 4:26-29)
  • The Mustard Seed (Matt13:31f.;Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18 f.)
  • The Leaven (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20 f.)
  • The Budding Fig Tree (Matt 24:32 f.; Mark 13:28 f.; Luke 21:19-31)
  • The Barren Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9)
  • The Birds of Heaven (Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:24)
  • The Flowers of the Field (Matt 6:28-30; Luke 12:27f.)
  • The Vultures & the Carcass (Matt 24:28; Luke 17:37)
  • The Tree and its Fruits (Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:43-49)
  • The Weather Signs (Luke 12:54-56; cf. Matthew 26:2 f.; Mark 8:11-13)
  • The Closed Door (Luke 13:24-30)
  • The Doorkeeper (Mark 13:33-37; cf. Matt 24:42)
  • The Thief in the Night and the Faithful Servants (Matthew 24:42-51.; Luke 12:32-48.)
  • The Strong Man Bound (Matt.12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21 f.)
  • The Divided Realm (Mark 3:24-26; Luke 11:17-20)
  • The Unoccupied House or The Demon’s Invasion (Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26)
  • The Importunate Neighbor (Luke 11:5-8)
  • The Son’s Request (Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13)
  • The Unjust Judge or The Importunate Widow (Luke 18:1-8)
  • Master and Servant (Luke 17:7-10)
  • The Servant Entrusted with Authority or The Faithful and Unfaithful Servants (Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46)
  • The Waiting Servants (Luke 12:35-38; Mark 13:33-37)
  • The Laborers in the Vineyard or The Generous Employer (Matt.20:1-16)
  • The Money in Trust or The Talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27)
  • The Lamp (Matt 5:14-16; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16, 11:31) and The City Set on a Hill (Matt. 5:14b)
  • The Body’s Lamp (Matthew 6:22 f.; Luke 11:34-36)
  • The Discarded Salt (Matt 5:13; Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34 f.)
  • The Patch and the Wineskins (Matt. 9:16 f.; Mark 2:21 f.; Luke 5:36-39)
  • The Householder’s Treasure (Matthew 13:52)
  • The Dishonest Steward (Luke 16:1-12) Revised!
  • The Defendant (Luke 12:58 f.; Matthew 5:25 f.)
  • The Unforgiving Official or The Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:23-35)
  • The Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21)
  • The Wicked Vinedressers (Matthew 21:33-41; Mark 12:1-9; Luke 20:9-16)
  • The Two Builders (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49)
  • The Two Debtors (Luke 7:41-43)
  • The Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44)
  • The Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45 f.)
  • The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
  • The Prodigal Son or The Loving Father (Luke 15:11-32)
  • The Two Sons, The Apprentice Son, and The Slave and Son (Matthew 21:28-32; John 5:19-20a; John 3:35)
  • The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10)
  • The Lost Sheep (Matthew 28:12-14; Luke 15:4-7)
  • The Shepherd, the Thief, and the Doorkeeper (John 10:1-18)
  • The Doctor and the Sick (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5: 31 f.)
  • The Sulking Children or The Children in the Marketplace (Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35)
  • The Arrogant Guest (Luke 14:7-11)
  • The Bridegroom’s Friend (John 3:28)
  • The Bridegroom’s Attendants (Matt.9:15a; Mark 2:18 f.; Luke 5:34)
  • The Bride’s Girlfriends or Ten Virgins (Matt25:1-13)
  • The Tower Builder and The Warring King (Luke 14:28-32)
  • The Wedding Feast or The Unwilling Guests (Matt 22:1-10; Luke 14:16-24)
  • The Wedding Garment (Matthew 22:11-14)
  • The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
  • The Sower and the Seeds (Mark 4:3-9; Matt 13:3-9; Luke 8:5-8)
  • The Grain of Wheat (John 12:24)
  • The Weeds in the Grain or the Tares (Matt 13:24-30)
  • The Net (Matthew 13:47-50)
  • The Seed Growing Secretly (Spontaneously) or The Patient Husbandman (Mark 4:26-29)
  • The Mustard Seed (Matt13:31f.;Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18 f.)
  • The Leaven (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20 f.)
  • The Budding Fig Tree (Matt 24:32 f.; Mark 13:28 f.; Luke 21:19-31)
  • The Barren Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9)
  • The Birds of Heaven (Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:24)
  • The Flowers of the Field (Matt 6:28-30; Luke 12:27f.)
  • The Vultures & the Carcass (Matt 24:28; Luke 17:37)
  • The Tree and its Fruits (Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:43-49)
  • The Weather Signs (Luke 12:54-56; cf. Matthew 26:2 f.; Mark 8:11-13)

David Platt – from Secret Church – Overview of the Synoptic Gospels

DAVID PLATT Sermon PAGE here

For more in depth study, also watch – Who wrote the Gospels? Are there good reasons to attribute their authorship to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Essential Apologetics

Note: This clip is not from the recent Good Friday Secret Church event 2013, but of an older one.

David Platt itickets.comFrom a Secret Church event, David Platt, Pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, introduces Matthew, Mark, & Luke as the synoptic gospels & describes the characteristics that define each gospel message about the life of Jesus Christ.

Platt:

Three primary divisions:

  1. First of all as the story of the New Testament. About 60% of the New Testament is a story. It’s the first  5 books- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, tell us the story of the New Testament.
  2. Second is the letters of the New Testament. Those are epistles, letters that are written, that help us understand the story that’s going on in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Most of these letters are in context of what we see happening in Acts chapter 1 through Acts chapter 28. So you’ve got the stories of what’s happening, you’ve got the letters, and then
  3. The conclusion of the New Testament – Revelation, which is technically a letter, but is also a lot different.

There’s 2 categories in the New Testament:

1. The life and the ministry of Christ (from Matthew to John) 

All of these books- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John unites them as if they were all written for the same primary purpose. They were written to show us a picture of Christ and the Gospel. I want you to hear this. These books were not written to be biographies of Jesus, that go chronologically through his life. Some of these Gospels are not arranged chronologically at all. They were written for the primary purpose to show Christ to the people that were listening to them. Why we see some differences, why we see some different stories told by some different authors is because, yeah, they were written for the same primary purpose, but, they’re written from different viewpoints and for different  audiences. These are four different guys, with four different personalities, different perspectives, talking to different people.

Now, I want you to think about how the audience is going to affect the way you write. We’ve got to realize that in order to understand Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, we’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of the people Matthew was writing to. Cause, whenever you communicate with someone, you take into account what they already know, you take into account what they already understand, and this is the challenge for us 2,000 years later, to put ourselves in the shoes of Matthew’s readers and to realize what was already in their frame of reference in order to understand why Matthew was doing this or that. That’s why New Testament Biblical study is more than just reading through the Bible. Not to minimize reading through the Bible, but in order to understand it, we’ve got to dive into what this meant to the people who heard it at that time.

2. The life and the ministry of the Church

..which is basically part 2 of Luke’s Gospel. So, Luke wrote both the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts (4:00)

matthew

1. Gospel of Matthew 

Matthew was a jewish tax collector. Isn’t this great? The way that the New Testament starts- that God would decide the first author should be a guy who is known and suspected for taking advantage of His people. The least likely candidate for writing the first book of the New Testament is Matthew. Aren’t you glad we have a God who doesn’t choose the most likely candidates, but He chooses the least likely candidates. Praise God that He has poured out His grace on those who can never begin to deserve it. We see that from the very beginning, in even the author here. He wrote it in the 70’s to 80’s A.D.  which meant that he wrote soon after the destruction of the  temple.

Now, this is important. What we’re gonna see is that Matthew, in his writing, is in a battle for the hearts and souls of Judaism. You’ve got Judaism, that’s gonna go one way or the other. It’s either gonna go the way of the Pharisees, or it’s gonna go the way of Christ. And he is urging Jewish christians , or those Jews who were thinking about coming to faith in Christ, he is urging them to follow Christ. That’s why he gives us this picture in this book, he wants the heart of Judaism to realize  that Judaism has been fulfilled in the picture of Jesus Christ. So, that’s why he writes this whole book. The primary theme is that Jesus is the king of the jews. From the very beginning he is pointing out over and over again the kingship of Jesus.

Practical advice for study: I wanna encourage you to  look for the focus on the kingdom of God, all throughout Matthew. When you read through this book, you’ll see either the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven mentioned over, and over again. You see this outline, this structure that’s here. It’s emphasizing the kit. What it does, Matthew does this; He puts a lot of emphasis on the teachings of Christ, and there are 5 major blocks of teaching in each one of these parts of this outline- and then his actions, which show the meanings of those teachings. So that’s what Matthew’s doing, he’s not arranging things chronologically, he’s helping highlight what Christ is teaching. Probably Christ’s most famous teaching, at the very beginning of Matthew, in the ministry of Christ – the sermon on the mount. It’s an emphasis on the teaching of Christ, throughout this book.

I want to encourage you, if you read Matthew, look up cross references. That’s when the Bible is making references to different points, allusions, quotations. There’s 129 references or allusions to 25 of the 39 Old Testament books. You see why surveying the Old Testament was important? Cause in order to read Matthew, we’ve got to know the Old Testament. 12 different times in this book he talks about how this was fulfilled, or that was fulfilled.All throughout the beginning of the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, „It was fulfilled this, it was fulfilled that”- a strong link to the Old Testament.When reading about the teachings of Jesus remember to put yourselves in the hearers shows. We’ve got to get in the jewish mindset, in order to understand the book of Matthew.

mark

2. Gospel of Mark

This was written by John Mark, who was close to Peter. He wrote it between 65 and 70 A.D. So this was written before the fall of the temple. But, it was written during a time when there was a lot of insurrection between the Jewish people and the Roman empire over them. Obviously, if something is leading up to the battle in the temple, where the city of Jerusalem were going to be ravaged, that there’s some tension that leads up to that time. And so, Mark is writing to gentile christians that are in Rome suffering persecution. Mark’s writing to gentile christians in Rome who are suffering persecution. Obviously, there’s some conflict  between Rome and Judaism, christianity is this sect of Judaism, so to speak in some people’s eyes, and so, they are experiencing some major persecution in Rome, and he’s writing to them to encourage them.

Look at Mark 16, these believers are facing some very intense persecution, and many of them are wavering in their faith. When they start to get persecuted, they start to wonder: Is Christ real, should we really go on with this? Should we really move forward in our faith with Him? In Mark 16, you have the resurrection, and then look at verse 6. It says, „Don’t be alarmed”, this is a young man speaking to those who had come to the tomb, „Don’t be alarmed, you’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen. He is not here. See the place where they had laid Him. But, go, tell His disciples and Peter. He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you”.

If you are reading Mark for the first time, you are in a situation (where) you are tempted to read and be quiet, and not share your faith with anybody. Listen to where verse 8 leaves us, and this is that point where some people actually think the book of Mark stops. So let’s imagine if it does stop here. Verse 8- „Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled form the tomb, they said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” Now, what if the book stopped right there? You realize what kind of message that puts – what if the resurrection of Christ, nobody said anything because they were afraid? Mark is reminding us that this is something we must tell people. If it stops with us, then the resurrection of Christ is just a historical fact that doesn’t expand to the 2nd and 3rd century. But, praise God that the believers who read Mark did not walk away and say nothing to anyone. He wrote to these Jewish christians in Rome who were facing persecution.

The primary theme in the Book of Mark: Jesus is the suffering servant of God. We see suffering, over and over mentioned. We see the key verses there: Mark 8:31-38 is talking about the unexpected suffering, when Jesus told His disciples that He was going to experience suffering and Peter pulled Jesus aside and said, „Maybe you don’t know what you’re doing”. And Jesus said, „You don’t tell Me, I don’t know what I’m doing”. He says it pretty sternly.  And He says, „This is exactly what I’m doing”. All throughout Mark, you see what is called the Messianic secret. And this is a different point. Do you ever wonder why Jesus wanted to keep Himself a secret? As the demons start telling how He’s Jesus the Christ? And the demons recognize Him when nobody else does, and He’s like, „Shh, don’t tell anybody”. Or sometimes He heals people and He tells them, „Don’t tell anybody. Walk away, don’t say a thing”. Why is He doing that? Because He’s got a mission. He’s headed to the cross. It’s a much different mission than what everybody else had in mind for him. Everybody else’s agenda was to bring in Messiah, exalt Him, put Him up as king, and He’s gonna take Rome out. So, they were not expecting in any way this Messiah who was born to a girl named Mary. Raised in avery humble setting and then, least of all put on a cross. That’s not where the Messiah goes. So it made sense that people were not seeing Him as the Messiah. And so, when people did expose to that truth He said, „You wait, I’ve  got a mission that I’m on”.  So we see that over and over again.

Practical study advice: Keep up. Mark show Jesus constantly on the move – 41 times. If you ever think your life is busy, just pull out and read Mark chapter 1 and you’ll see a day in the life of Jesus. He starts preaching in the morning, finishes up the sermon there, and He goes home to some friends’ house,  the friend’s mom is sick so He heals her so she can get up and be a part of this afternoon, and then, all the town starts coming. And it says, the whole town lined up outside His door, to have demons cast out of them, to be healed of all their diseases, and so, all night He spent time healing everybody in the town. So, that’s one full day. The beauty of it is Mark 1:35 – Jesus got up very early in the morning and went to a solitary place, where He spent time with the Lord. That is the key. God help us to see Mark 1:35, that in the midst of a busy world, that we find ourselves in, that we go to a solitary place and that we spend time with the Father. Notice that almost 1/2 of his gospel is devoted to events of the last week of Jesus’s life. Overall structure, you see that based around the servant ministry.

Synoptic Gospels

basically, what synoptic means is to see together. And what we need to realize, when we come to the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke are very similar to each other. They see the life and ministry of Christ in a very similar way. John is sort of an oddball. The confusion, basically centers around a couple of different questions.

  1. Is Mark the primary source for Matthew and Luke? In other words, is Mark the anchor from which Matthew and Luke wrote? There’s some evidence that would seem to point to that. 97% of Mark’s words are in Matthew. Out of about 660 verses, 600 are there. If you’ve read Matthew, you’ve got Mark covered. Different perspectives, different things emphasized, but it’s pretty much Mark +  = Matthew. Then you’ve got Luke. 88% of Mark’s words are in Luke. Now, there’s another theory that there’s an unknown source. That there was a foundation for these books and they call that foundation Q. Well, we’re not sure. And obviously the life and ministry of Christ wasn’t confined to what Matthew, Mark, Luke was saying about it. But, the overall theme we need to realize is they do come together pretty clearly, those 3. Matthew Mark and Luke did not write their Gospels in isolation from one another. They were connected together. 

luke

The Gospel of Luke

Luke was written by Luke, a gentile physician, he’s the only gentile author of the Bible. But this idea that he’s a physician, let me show you something. Go with me to Mark 5. Now, if Mark was somewhat of a foundation, these books were written from different perspectives. Mark 5:25-28 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Jesus goes on to heal her. That’s the story that Mark gives. Now, go over to Luke 8 and hear Luke’s version of the story, and what I want you to see if there are any differences in what Mark said and Luke said. Luke 8:42 As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, Do you notice what Luke wrote that Mark did not? Mark said, „She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors”. So Luke takes this and tells the story- you don’t have to slam the doctors, and so you see that left out in Luke. Mark decides the detail is important, Luke decides, for his own reputation, maybe this is not gonna be included. So, you see the different personalities coming out in these different stories.

F. Passion Week – Thursday – The Last Supper in the Upper Rooom & Gethsemane

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Thursday?

With help from the ESV Study Bible, here’s an attempted harmony/chronology of the words and actions of Jesus in the final week of his pre-resurrection life.

Jesus instructs his disciples Peter and John to secure a large upper room in a house in Jerusalem and to prepare for the Passover meal

Matthew 26:17-19  Mark 14:12-16  Luke 22:7-13

In the evening Jesus eats the Passover meal with the Twelve, tells them of the coming betrayal, and institutes the Lord’s Supper

Mathew 26:20-29  Mark 14:17-23  Luke 22:14-30

After supper Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, interacts with them, and delivers the Upper Room Discourse

John 13:1-17:26  

Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn together (probably from Psalms 113–118), then depart to the Mount of OlivesMatthew 26:30    Mark 14:26  Luke 22:39

Jesus foretells Peter’s denials
Jesus gives his disciples practical commands about supplies and provisions

Jesus and the disciples go to Gethsemane, where he struggles in prayer and they struggle to stay awake late into the night

Matthew 26:36-46  Mark 14:32-42  Luke 22:40-46

The Last Supper

By Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.org: We find Luke’s account (and, the other gospel accounts as well) of the last supper amazingly brief and unembellished. Somewhere 30 to 50 years after our Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension, the gospel of Luke was written (depending upon which conservative scholar you read). In spite of all the time which passed, and of the great significance of the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion,” neither Luke nor any other gospel writer makes a great deal out of the celebration of the last Passover, just before our Lord’s death. I am not saying this celebration was unimportant, but rather that because of its importance, I would have expected it to have been a more detailed account. This brevity is the first of several “tensions of the text.”

There are other tensions as well. Why is nearly as much space devoted to the preparation for the Passover meal as for the partaking of it? Furthermore, why was Jesus so eager to partake of the Passover, when it preceded and even anticipated His death? Finally, why is there such confusion and consternation (including a deletion of some of the text) over Luke’s account of the Lord’s Table, in which it appears that the (traditional) order of the bread and wine may have been reversed?

Events Surrounding the Last Supper

Before we begin to look more closely at the partaking of the Passover, let us pause for just a moment to remind ourselves of the broader setting in which this event is found. The Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem have already determined that Jesus must die (not to mention Lazarus, John 11:47-53; 12:9-10).After the meal at the house of Simon the Leper, at which Mary anointed the feet of Jesus, “wasting” her expensive perfume on him, Judas decided to betray the Lord, approached the chief priests, and received an advance payment (Matthew 26:14-16Luke 22:1-6). Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and after He cleansed the temple, the sparks really began to fly, with the religious leaders making every effort to discredit Him, or to get Him into trouble with the Roman authorities (Luke 20:19-20). When these efforts, as well as their attempts to penetrate the ranks of our Lord’s disciples miserably failed, the chief priests were delighted to have Judas approach them with his offer. It was only a matter now of waiting for the right chance. This could have been the Lord’s celebration of the Passover, along with His disciples.

At the meal itself, a number of events took place. It would seem that the Lord’s washing of the feet of the disciples was the first item on the agenda (John 13:1-20). During the meal, once (cf. Matthew 26:20-25Mark 14:17-21), if not more (Luke 22:21-23), the Lord spoke of His betrayer. The meal seems to have included some (perhaps most all) of the traditional Passover elements, and in addition, the commencement of the Lord’s Supper, with words that I doubt the disciples had ever heard at a Passover meal (Luke 22:19-20). John’s gospel avoids giving us yet another description of this ceremony. He, unlike the other gospel writers, includes an extensive message known as the “upper room discourse” (John 14-16), concluded by the Lord’s “high priestly prayer” of intercession for His followers, which may have been prayed during the meal time, or perhaps later on in Gethsemane (John 17). The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) report the disciples’ argument about who would be the greatest, along with our Lord’s response (cf. Luke 22:24-3), the Lord’s specific words to the over-confident Peter (Luke 22:31-34), and then His words about being prepared to face a hostile world (Luke 22:35-38). With this the party is said to have sung a hymn and to have departed to the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Lord prayed, with little help from His disciples (Luke 22:39-46). The arrest of Jesus then follows, concluding in His being handed over for crucifixion.

The point in all of this is simply to remind you that the meal was a lengthy one, during which time the Passover was memorialized, and also the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated. It was also during this time that a great deal of teaching took place, as recorded primarily by John. Click here to read the entire article at Bible.org.

Jesus and the Martyr

by Stephen Witmer – Here is an article by Stephen Witmer posted at the Gospel Coalition on Jesus in the garden of Ghetsemane and His divine nature. (Jesus and the Martyrs.)

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:41-44).

In this passage, the eternal Son of God pleads with God the Father not to make him go to the cross, requires the help of an angel, and experiences great emotional upheaval in light of his approaching death. He is profoundly shaken. Early in church history, already in the second century, critics of Christianity were pointing to Jesus’ agonized prayer as reason to doubt that he was divine. The problem is heightened when we compare Jesus’ reaction in the face of death to other martyrs, ancient and modern, who appear to be more composed and able to face death with greater dignity than Jesus showed (see Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God for an insightful treatment of this). Here I provide three such examples.

Stephen Witmer gives examples of 3 ancient and modern  cases of martyrdom where the men involved appear to face death with a calm dignity and contrasts it with Jesus’ agonizing prayer.

He concludes-

first, the Gospel writers had to be honest, to include such passages of struggling by Jesus and

second, ‘ What sets Jesus’ death apart from the death of any other person in the history of the world is the spiritual component of his suffering’.

We have an indication of that terrible spiritual reality in Luke 22:42: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” To what “cup” is Jesus referring?

We get an answer in the Old Testament. Psalm 75:6-8 uses the imagery of a cup to refer to God’s judgment upon his enemies:

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.

Isaiah 51:17 makes explicit that the “cup” is the cup of God’s wrath: “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.”

The “cup” Jesus is going to drink on the cross is far worse than the horrific physical suffering of crucifixion he faces. Jesus’ “cup” is the infinite wrath and judgment of almighty God upon human sin. The wrath of God that Jesus will experience on the cross is, very literally, hell. On the cross, he will experience separation from God the Father. He will be cut off from God. He will be considered an enemy of God because our sins will be counted as his (2 Cor. 5:21).

This is why Jesus agonizes and struggles in the Garden—because he knows he will soon be crushed under the infinite weight of the wrath of God.

click here to read the entire article…

E. Passion Week – Wednesday Events and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple

Luke 21:37-38

With Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approaching, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus

Matthew 26:3-5 Mark 14:1-2 Luke 22:1-2

Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price

Matthew 26:14-16 Mark 14:10-11 Luke 22:3-6

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

This is the final message in the series called Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. The aim has been to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.

My prayer is that, as these great historical vistas of God’s sovereignty over sin take their place in your renewed mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition. Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict. I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul.

History’s Most Spectacular Sin: The Murder of Jesus

The most spectacular sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world is the brutal murder of Jesus Christ, the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And probably the most despicable act in the process of this murder was the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus had personally chosen and who had been with Jesus during his entire public ministry. He had been entrusted with the moneybag for the whole group (John 13:29). He was close enough to Jesus at the Last Supper to be dipping bread with him in the same cup (Mark 14:20).

“Satan Entered into Judas”

On the night of the Last Supper, Luke tells us in Luke 22:3-6 that “Satan entered into Judas. . . . He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” Later he led the authorities to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). With that, Jesus’ death was sealed.

When Luke tells us in verse 3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” several questions come to our minds. 1) One is whether Satan simply mastered a good Judas or whether Judas was already walking in line with Satan and Satan simply decided that now is the time. 2) Another question is why Satan would do this since the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat, and there is good reason to think Satan knew that. 3) And the third and most important question is: Where was God when this happened? What was his role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever was? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

1) Satan’s Power in Judas’ Sinful Passions

When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a thief. When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $39,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $29,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus’ name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could by.

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan’s power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one.

2) Satan’s Role in His Own Destruction

The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Doesn’t he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11)? There’s good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshipping him (Matthew 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: Don’t walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you’re the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don’t go to the cross.

Then do you remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed and Peter rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that. Jesus did not commend him. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer: Satan saw his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross failing. Time after time, Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die, and Satan concludes that there is no stopping him. Therefore he resolves that if he can’t stop it, he will at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (see Luke 22:31-32). If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

3) God’s Role in the Murder of His Son

Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God’s role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?

To answer a question like that we should put our hands on our mouths and silence our philosophical speculations. Our opinions don’t count here. All that counts is what God himself as shown us in his word. And the first thing he shows us is that the details surrounding the death of Jesus are prophesied in God’s word hundreds of years before they happen.

The Scriptures prophesy that evil men will reject Jesus when he comes.

Matthew 21:42: “Jesus said to them (quoting Psalm 118:22), ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus must be hated.

In John 15:25, Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 and said, “The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that the disciples would abandon Jesus.

In Matthew 26:31, he quotes Zechariah 13:7: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus will be pierced but none of his bones will be broken.

John quotes Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 and says, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. . . . For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:34-37).

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

In John 13:18, Jesus cites Psalm 41:9 and says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”

And in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!”

And in Matthew 27:9-10, it says, “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’” (Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13).

And not only the Scriptures, but Jesus himself prophesies, down to the details, how he will be killed.

In Mark 10:33-34, he says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

And on that last night, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

According to His Sovereign Will

From all these prophesies, we know that God foresaw, and did not prevent, and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these are explicitly in God’s mind before they happen as things that he plans will happen to Jesus. These things did not just happen. They were foretold in God’s word. God knew they would happen and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t. So they happened according to his sovereign will.

And all of them were evil. They were sin. It is sin to reject, hate, abandon, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things. It is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in passages that say even more plainly that God brought these things to pass.

God Brought It to Pass

For example, in Isaiah 53:6 and 10, it says, “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. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” So behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the fall of Satan or any others. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in those very words.

The Hand and Plan of God

In Acts 4:27-28, we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God’s hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand (cheir) and your plan (boule) had predestined to take place.” Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God’s hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God’s “hand” predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here’s what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God’s exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with “plan” is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is plan that will be executed by God’s own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Or more literally, with the King James Version, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus’ own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God At Work in Death

Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you break God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ: The Work and Love of God

The reason why this series of messages matters is this. If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without in anyway becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was “divine child abuse.” You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will it receive as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have preached in vain.

© Desiring God

Who wrote the Gospels? Are there good reasons to attribute their authorship to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Essential Apologetics

I have posted this about a year ago, and I think it is a very good study on Gospel authenticity, as it is very detailed, so I am reposting it here together with my transcript of the entire session. This is one of those MUST READ/WATCH lectures because in most colleges in the US, your son or daughter’s religion class will teach your children that the synoptic Gospels are not authentically written by their authors, and they will date them much later than most scholars have agreed to date them and present their view as historically accurate.

Matthew, Mark, Luke & John’s Gospels ‘wordled’ (TNIV version). Wordle – Someone generated this “word cloud” from the text of the 4 Gospels. The cloud gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

by Dr. Timothy McGrew (PhD Philosophy from Vanderbilt University), currently Professor, Department of Philosophy, Western Michigan University.

Video Intro from Dr. McGrew:

I teach at a secular university and one of  things that I see constantly is young people coming to university from our churches, good churches, Bible teaching churches, and falling away from their faith at the university. It is my contention that what we have given our young people is not what they needed: Bible stories, entertainment, even some devotional thoughts, but, they’re not being prepared for WAR. And, we’re sending them out with rubber swords and plastic armor and that is not enough. I always like to pick a Bible verse for a motto, and here I picked Deuteronomy 32:7: Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations, ask your father and he will show you, your elders and they will tell you

If you hop online, in 5 minutes, you can find some of the wildest theories that have ever been invented. In this lecture Dr. McGrew is trying to show the genuineness of the Gospels. He defines

Authenticity and Genuineness

  • an ancient historical work is authentic if it gives a substantially  truthful account of the events it reports.

Authenticity is what we want in an historical document; we want to know if what it says is substantially true.

  • an ancient historical work is genuine if it was actually written by the person to whom it is attributed.

Showing the document is genuine helps to establish that it is authentic because it helps to rule out rival theories (e.g. that the document is a late mythical composition)

Dr. McGrew does 2 things in this lecture. First, he examines the genuineness of the Gospel, of it being the product of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, „just like they say”. Second, he considers the principal arguments of some people who dispute the genuineness of the Gospels.

The way Dr. McGrew argues that the historical evidence favors the traditional position. In making his argument, Dr. McGrew does not depend at all on the inspiration of Scripture, although he does in fact believe that the Scripture is inspired by God, but, in making the argument, he appeals only to evidence and criteria that can be applied to any historical document. He does not use theology to support his arguments (which is what Christians need to learn to do when arguing with atheists/non believers).

Point of departure when you walk into a University

The two statements below, made by Bart Ehrman and Richard Dawkins are taken as „point of departure” (foundational) in universities.

Bart Ehrman – a former Pastor, now an apostate, who considers himself to be an agnostic inclined towards atheism. He is the principle guy people will go to if they are looking for a negative verdict on Scripture because he has been urning out enormously popular books aimed at sort of a church level audience, undermining fundamental points of faith. Here’s what he says about the Gospel: „Some books, such as the Gospels,… had been written anonymously, only later to be ascribed to certain authors, who probably did not write the (ascribed to apostles and friends of the apostles). From Jesus Interrupted 2009 pp 101-102

Richard Dawkins – (a) The Gospels are not reliable accounts of what happened in the history of the real world. All were written long after the death of Jesus and also after the epistles of Paul, which mention almost none of the alleged facts of Jesus’ life. (b) Nobody knows who the four evangelists were, but they almost certainly never met Jesus personally. From The God Delusion 2006.

About this video:

Dr. Timothy McGrew lays out the case for the traditional authorship of the Gospels, while countering Bart Ehrman’s claims that the Gospels are forgeries. This is one hour of content followed by twenty minutes of Q&A. Uploaded by 

Augustine Against Faustus  33 6 (~400 AD)

Around 400 AD, Faustus was the first to systematically challenge that the Gospels were written by the men to whom they are ascribed. Here’s Augustine’s criterion for authorship: „Why does no one doubt the genuineness of the books attributed to Hippocrates? Because there is a succession of testimonies to the books from the time of Hippocrates to the present day, which makes it unreasonable either now or in the hereafter to have any doubt on the subject. How do we know the authorship of the works by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Varro, and other similar writers, but by the unbroken chain of evidence? And the chain of evidence is exactly what he says we have for our Gospels. Here’s some of the evidence:

The Early Attestation of Authorship of the Gospels

  • Tertullian of Carthage (~207) Tertullian writes: „The Gospels were written by Matthew and John, who were apostles, and Luke and Mark, who were apostolic men. Mark’s Gospel is the record of Peter’s preaching. They tell the same basic facts about Jesus, including His virgin birth and his fulfillment of prophecy. They bore the names of their authors from antiquity and the ancient churches vouch for them and no others.” 

McGrew: So, Tertullian, writing just around the 200’s (AD) that „these books bear names and have been handed down to us, this is a tradition we received from far back”. And, that the ancient Church at Corinth, the Church at Rome, the churches that received letters from Paul (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians); these ancient churches vouch for these Gospels and the authorship of these Gospels.

Why is Tertullian saying this? He is criticizing a heretic sect founded by a fellow named Marcion, who really hated the Old Testament and hated Judaism. (McGrew talks about how in Matthew you can find many references to fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies as one example of what Marcion rejected in the Gospels). Marcion wanted nothing to do with the Old Testament or anything Jewish. So Marcion took the Gospel of Luke and trimmed out any OT or Jewish reference and published the rest of Luke in the 130’s AD. Marcion was very well off. He gathered a following and after his death, his followers kept on going. At around 200 AD Tertullian tells them they are following a false Gospel.

  • Clement of Alexandria (~180) Clement was a great teacher and head of a school in Alexandria, Egypt. He writes: Mark wrote his Gospel by request of his knowledge of Peter’s preaching at Rome. Matthew and Luke were published first; they are the Gospels that contain the genealogies. John’s Gospel was written at the urging of friends.
  • Irenaeus of Lyons (~180) Iraneus was a bishop in France (very far away from Egypt and Clement) He writes: Matthew’s Gospel was the first written, it was originally written in the „Hebrew dialect” (Aramaic). Mark, a disciple of Peter, handed down in his Gospel what Peter had preached. Luke, a companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Joh, the disciple of the Lord, published a Gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia.
  • Muratorion Fragment (~170) This is a damaged manuscript that gives us a catalog of books that tells us something about the authors. The first page or so is lost because it starts with saying  Thirdly, Luke.… and it keeps on going.  So, it’s a pretty good guess that the first 2 pages were probably about Matthew and Mark. He writes: Luke, the physician and companion of Paul, wrote his gospel from the reports of others, since he has not personally seen Jesus. John, who was an eyewitness, wrote his Gospel after the rest, at the urging of some friends.

McGrew: There is no dissenting views and virtually nothing contrary to show because there is no other tradition about the authors of the Gospels. The unanimous testimony of the Church coming down through the ages, coming towards the apostolic times is behind this traditional ascription to Matthew and Mark and Luke and John.

  • Justin Martyr (~150) Justin writes: The Christians possessed „memoirs” of Jesus which were so called „Gospels”. These were written by apostles and by those who were their followers. They tell us of such events as the visit of the Magi and His agony in Gethsemane. Justin’s pupil, Tatian, produced a harmony of the four Gospels, the Diatessaron.

McGrew: Up until the middle of the 19th century we didn’t have a copy that anybody knew about of the Diatessaron. In 1888 a copy surfaced. It was actually always around, however, no one ever translated it and therefore no one knew what it was until 1888. This document opens with, „In the beginning the word was …” and continues with John’s entire prologue and writes a harmony of the 4 Gospels. So, Justin Martyr was quoting from the Diatessaron, which means all four Gospels, including John’s (which is usually attacked as being written hundreds of years after the fact) are not only in existence before the year 150 , but in use.

The apostle John died right around the turn of the century (~100) at extreme old age. He was probably in his teens when he was a disciple of Jesus. So the first reference  comes within one generation of the life of the apostle John. We have to understand that we are at the mercy of whatever literature has survived. A lot of it was written on papyrus and time and weather are not kind to papyrus. Unless it is in an extremely dry environment, it deteriorates and it’s gone.

  • Papias of Hierapolis (~125) Papias is recorded for us in Eusebius’ History. Eusebius was a voracious librarian. He put together all kinds of sources, some of which we’ve now lost. except for what was preserved in him. He gives us a couple of fragments from Papias. Papias writes: Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down what Peter had preached accurately, though, not necessarily in order. Matthew wrote the oracles (a reference to his whole Gospel? to the sayings of Jesus?) in the Hebrew language.

Attestation of Authorship Summary of Facts

The attestation of authorship is not only significant and early, it is also geographically diverse, coming from every quarter of the Roman Empire:

– Tertullian in Carthage
– Clement in Alexandria
– Irenaus in France
– Papias in Asia Minor

Dr. McGrew: There is no rival tradition of authorship for any of the four Gospels.  In any field other than biblical studies that would be enough. The Bible is always held to a standard that is higher than the standard of any other work would be held to. So let’s look at more evidence:

Assessing Genuineness – External Tests

  • External Tests – Attributions of Authorship is strong and consistent.
  • Early use in other works –  Many early writers make use of the Gospel without naming or describing the authors (Ex. in preaching, or making exhortations, etc).This evidence takes us back even earlier than the evidence of attribution.

For these authors to make use of the Gospels as authoritative sources, means that they expected their audience to recognize their quotations and allusions and to accept them as authentic. Here’s some examples:

  1. Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp (~107): In all circumstances be ‘wise as a serpent’ and perpetually ‘harmless as a dove’. Cf Matthew 10:16.
  2. Polycarp, Letter to Philippians (~108): „Blessed are the poor and those persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of God”. Luke 6:20
  3. The witness of Basilides (~125) an agnostic heretic using quotes from the Gospel of John writes: that each man has his own appointed time, he (Basilides) says, ” The Savior sufficiently indicates when he says, ‘My hour has not yet come’„. John 2:4 and
  4. …this he (Basilides) says is what is mentioned in the Gospels, „He was the ‘light which lights every man coming into the world’„.Cf John 1:9
  • Early use – external evidence
  1. Polycarp, Letter to Philippians (~108) quotes from or alludes to verses from : Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 Peter. Polycarp sat at the feet of the apostle John when he was a young man. He then passed on the Gospel to his own disciples when he was an old man. One of Polycarp’s people was Iraneus of Lyons. This unbroken chain takes us back to the very disciples themselves (John).
  • Early use – summary of facts
  1. The four Gospels and Acts are used copiously by the early church fathers
  2. Even heretics tacitly acknowledged their genuineness, which they would not have done if they could help it.
  3. Justin Martyr, in his first Apology-on the reading of Scripture: „And, on the day called Sunday, all who live in the cities and in the country, gather together in one place and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits.” First Apology ch 67.  For the Gospels to be read as Scripture in weekly services, they must have been extremely highly regarded and well known to Christians throughout the world.

On a side note, did you know this author Thucydides c. 460 BC – c. 395 BC) was a Greek historian who is not mentioned once in any other writing for 250 years from the time of his existence? From a historical standpoint, the evidence for the Gospels isn’t just good, it’s great!

for more please visit The Library of Historical Apologetics at http://historicalapologetics.org/

After you view this video, you may want to read these  additional  articles:

  1. The Rationality of the Christian Worldview
  2. Does archaeology support the Synoptic Gospels I
  3. Does archaeology support the Synoptic Gospels II
  4. John Piper – How Are the Synoptics „Without Error”?
  5. The Real Roots of the Emergent Church (a documentary)
  6. Why I am not an atheist – Ravi Zacharias
  7. Belief in an age of skepticism – Tim Keller at University of California at Berkeley

Undesigned Coincidences – Evidence for the historicity of the Gospels Tim McGrew (via Logos Apologia)

Arial view of BETHSAIDA, Israel via http://jewishmag.com/

Video by Chris Putnam of LogosApologia

Do the Gospels contain internal and external evidence

that they are eyewitness accounts? 

One compelling line of evidence comes in the form of what is called „undesigned coincidences”. When one is telling a story, especially a story one has witnessed, one often hits the highlights and does not explain every detail. The focus is on what is important to the action. This is why two eyewitnesses will testify in different ways about the same event. Each person brings his own unique point of view in his description, due to his individual preferences and his predisposition. When telling a story, one gets caught up in what one actually remembers, and drops incidental references to significant facts. The sort of facts which are seemingly selected randomly by the memory of the individual. This is typical of the real memoirs, but not of legendary embellishments. When accounts from different eyewitnesses fill in the unknown details for each other, this is called an undesigned coincidence.

Here are 3 undesigned coincidences we are taking a look at, which show how the Gospels are pieces of an interlocking historic narration:

1. The miracles Jesus performed in Bethsaida

Such coincidences, especially when they are considered in their cumulative force, provide strong evidence for the integrity of the individual accounts. In Matthew 11:21 Jesus pronounces a curse on some cities in Galilee, saying, „Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”  So, the question naturally arises: What is Jesus talking about? What were the mighty works done in Chorazin and Bethsaida? For Chorazin, we really cannot say. It’s one of those cases, where we realize that Jesus did things that we do not have recorded in Scripture, and Bethsaida is never mentioned elsewhere in the Gospel of Matthew. In Mark and John, who do name Bethsaida a couple of times, tell us nothing that would make sense of Jesus’s words, as quoted in Matthew.

But, in Luke’s Gospel, we find the answer. Luke 9:10 reads „When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all they had done. And taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida.” Immediately after this verse, and set in the same geographic location, we have Luke’s account of the feeding of 5,000. Now, here we have an answer to our question, about the mighty work done in Bethsaida. It was there that Jesus fed the 5,000.

Now, a critic, trying to get around the force of this coincidence, might point out that Luke gives out both the location of the miracle, and in Luke 10:13, Jesus’s pronouncement was on Chorazin and Bethsaida. Might Matthew have simply copied form Luke, forgetting to include the reference to Bethsaida? Most scholars, traditional and liberal, think Matthew did not use Luke’s Gospel at all in writing his own. No one, not even an honest and observant eyewitness, can report every event in complete detail. So, the alternative hypothesis of chance and legendary elaboration does not really explain the coincidence at all. And modern scholarship makes the copying hypothesis very unlikely. The best explanation is Matthew was simply reporting facts, as he knew they had occurred.

2. Why does Jesus address Philip in the feeding of the 5,000?

In John 6:5 , Jesus is preparing to feed the 5,000. He turns to Philip and asks: Therefore, Jesus lifting up His eyes and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him said to Philip, „Where are we to buy bread that these may eat?” Philip is a minor figure in the Gospels. After the calling of the disciples, Jesus addresses Philip directly only once, that we hear of. Why then, does Jesus ask this question of Philip? Why not Peter, James, or John, who are much more prominent figures? Why not Judas, who kept the money? Presumably, when John told the story, he wasn’t concerned with the reason Jesus chose Philip. But, if someone were forging the story as fiction, crafting a legend, he would have a literary reason for selecting a particular disciple as a character in his fictional narrative. Accordingly, a fabricator of fiction would not select a character without making the reason clear to the audience.

So, why did Jesus choose Philip? John’s Gospel does not really say why. Keep in mind that we just learned in the previous undesigned coincidence that the miracle took place in Bethsaida- Luke 9:10. Then turn to John 12:20-21. Here is Jesus teaching and some Greeks approach and want to speak with him, asking permission from Jesus’s disciples. Now, casually, in the course of reporting the request, John remarks, „Now, there were certain Greeks among those that were going up to worship at the feast; these therefore came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.'”  

Now, here is a remarkable, interlocking  of the 2 passages in John and Luke-  BECAUSE PHILIP WAS FROM BETHSAIDA! (John 6:1-13; Luke 9:12-17: Matthew 11:21)There’s no other way that this could be explained, as having one of the authors copying from the other. John does not tell us where the miracle took place, and Luke never mentions Philip. And the coincidence is too tight and clear for a chance of a legendary elaboration to be a plausible explanation. (6:06) But, putting the 3 passages together, we find that they interlock, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This is what real history looks like. It has a ring of truth.

3. 

Two passages in Mark give us the setup for our third undesigned coincidence. In Mark 6:31, we find a reference to large crowds of people, so large and pressing, that they force Jesus and the disciples to withdraw. „And He said to them, ” Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) This passage sets the stage for the feeding of the 5,000. A little time later, Mark gives us another vivid description of the scene: Mark 6:39 „And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass.” Two questions arise form these passages.

  1. Why should there have been particularly large crowds, just then? We are entitled to demand an answer with the evidence of the historic faithfulness of the narrative, if we could find one. 
  2. It is a bit odd that the grass should be described as green. In Palestine, there’s only a short growing season. After that, dry heat turns the grass brown, and it remains brown throughout the summer.

But, in John’s description of this setting, for this same miracle, we find the detail that explains both of these facts. John 6:4 reads: „Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.” At Passover each year, thousands of Jews travelled each year to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. That would definitely explain why a Galilean town would be unusually crowded at the time. As it happens, Passover falls every year, in the middle of the year’s growing season, when the grass would be lush and green. John doesn’t mention the crowds or the green grass. Though he does note that there was much grass in that place, John 6:10. Mark doesn’t mention the season was Passover, but, putting the two accounts together, makes for an explanation that fits everything together. And, no other explanation does the job so well. This has a ring of true history.

Even skeptics believe that Gospels were written at different times and places. Where the accounts are obviously independent, the odds against some kind of subtle collusion are astronomical. The best explanation is that they were writing about something that actually occurred. This undesigned coincidence supports the historicity of all the different accounts. When we overlap the Gospels in this way, these undesigned coincidence provide evidence the Gospel accounts are eyewitness testimony of actual historical events.

John Lennox – Christmas for skeptics

Der Theologe und Philosoph John Lennox am 25. ...

Der Theologe und Philosoph John Lennox  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his first week of college, John Lennox was asked whether he believed in God by a student. Then the student said, „Oh wait, you’re Irish,” intimating that the Irish have been christians generation after generation. Ever since Lennox says that he has tried to engage with people that have a different worldview than his own. John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. In recent years he has debated some of the most famous atheists in the world like Richard Dawkins, who is also Professor of Zoology at Oxford. He also debated Christopher Hitchens and Peter Singer right before this lecture.

Some points from this video:

  • The atheists think that what they hold is not a faith. I smile and I say, „I thought you believed it.” It is so absurd, really. But, what they feel is that those of us who believe in God, we have a faith and they don’t because atheists hold the default position. I do not believe that. It’s not about what particular religions people come from . It’s about what is true.I suspect, like you, I don’t want to be fooled in life.

The Christmas story of a child, born i humble circumstances. Shepherds coming, and angels and kings. There’s something about that story that has inspired some of the world’s greatest music and some of the world’s greatest poetry ever written. But, not only that, it’s inspired millions of people’s lives.

I live in a world where the authority of the scripture is constantly undermined, in the name of advancing secularism. How is it that I, a Mathematics professor at Oxford, how is that I can believe that on a specific occasion, in a specific country, at a specific time in history God became human? It is the most astounding story ever told.

I want to think for a moment of one of the most brilliant historians of the ancient world had to say. Luke, Dr. Luke, he’s the only scientist that writes in the New Testament. And he wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the earliest history of the christian church- the Book of Acts. He starts his book like this: „In as much as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that were accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who were from the beginning witnesses and servants of the Word. It seemed fitting for me, as well, having investigated everything, currently from the beginning, to write it out for in the consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus. So that you may know the exact truth or the certainty about the things that you are being taught.”

Luke was presumably commissioned to write this GospelHe was commissioned to trace exactly what had happened from the beginning. To write it for, obviously a wealthy and powerful, influential man called Theophilus, to give him certainty about the things that he had been taught. The Gospel of Luke is a book about certainty. Even for people who have been taught the basic truths about Christianity. Because, as I travel around the world, I meet many people and they’ve been Christians for many years and still, there are doubts, there are questions, there are problems. And, indeed, if we are honest, all of us face major problems.

When Jesus came into the world, He came to the poor actually, didn’t He? The stable was a very humble place. The shepherds were the humblest of humble men. Ah, but there were kings who came. And so, to the poor and the rich God came into the world. Is that a fairy story?

It’s the specifics of Christianity that people object to. The story of Luke threatens to undermine the whole of secularism because it tells us that this world is not the only world that exists. That’s a very disturbing thing to you and I.

I used to listen to C.S.Lewis lecture in Cambridge. C.S. Lewis tells a wonderful story in his Narnia books. It was the witch that discovered that there might be a door into another world, and she was terrified. Oh yes, there is a door, because this world is not the only world there is. And the story of Christmas is the story of the other world, that preexisted our world, breaking into this world and God becoming human. It’s a big story, isn’t it?

The interesting thing is that Luke, and only Luke tells us two birth stories. He tells us of two conceptions that involved the supernatural, but, in different ways. First one is the conception and birth of John the Baptist. The second one is the conception and birth of the Lord Jesus. And he tells us the first one for a very specific reason. Luke says he checked everything thoroughly, he’s a medical doctor. He was an ancient version of a scientist. He lived in a world, by the way, where there were very clever people. We must not think that just in our contemporary world cleverness has been discovered. Luke was brilliant as a historian and as an observer.

Now, Luke has given us these 2 stories because he understood exactly what it is that people object to today. Luke understood a lot of the objections, so he tells us a story.(14:48)

The Prophecy of the Coming Messiah

this entire post is from http://www.angelfire.com

Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

„For to us a child is born” – This refers to the virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word birth signifies „humanity.” The promised Messiah had to be true humanity in order to bear the sins of the world. Therefore, the word „birth” refers to the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 1:16; „…..Mary, of whom was BORN Jesus, who is called the Christ (the Greek word for Jewish Messiah).

Matthew 1:18; „This is how the BIRTH of Jesus came about.”

Matthew 2:1; „After Jesus was BORN in Bethlehem in Judea.”

Matthew 2:2; „Where is the one who has been BORN king of the Jews?”

Matthew 2:4; „….where the Christ was to be BORN.”

Luke 1:14; „…..many shall rejoice at his BIRTH.” They are still doing that today. Every Christmas the world seems to go through a sort of metamorphosis. Through the music and the story of the Jewish Messiah, everyone seems to enjoy and appreciate this time of year, whether they are believers or unbelievers. We even use the phrase, „I have the Christmas spirit.” So when the Bible tells us that „many shall rejoice at His birth,” it’s not just talking about the land of Israel in 4-6 BC. It is referring to all generations of mankind.

Luke 1:35; „…the holy one to be BORN will be called the Son of God.”

Luke 2:11; „Today in the city of David a Savior has been BORN to you.”

John 3:16; „For God so loved the world that He gave His uniquely BORN Son.”

John 18:37; „Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was BORN.”

Therefore, the words „born” or „birth” refers to the humanity of Jesus Christ.

birth Christ JesusGod, not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), had promised a sign to identify this perfect righteous One when He appeared on the stage of human history. That sign is recorded in Isaiah 7:14; „Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign (a miracle, a supernatural occurrence), a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (meaning, God with us).”

The Hebrew word for „virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 is ALMAH. This Hebrew word is used for a virgin and a young woman. Skeptics of the Bible always refer to this word in an attempt to prove that there was no virgin birth, but that the concept of the virgin birth was invented by the Christian religion. But God never leaves His people in the dark about important issues. He always gives them the answers when they need them. In Matthew 1:22-23 it says, „Now all of this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, (Matthew now quotes Isaiah 7:14). „Behold, a VIRGIN shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

The Greek word for virgin is PARTHENOS, and means „a virgin, and nothing but a virgin.” The Greek word for young woman is NEOS in the femenine gender. So even though the Hebrew can be interpreted to be a „young woman,” God clarified this issue to the skeptics when He had the New Testment written in Greek. A language that is far superior than the Hebrew when it comes to clarifying issues. We should also note that when the Jewish scholars translated the Old Testament Hebrew into Greek about 200 years before the birth of Jesus (the Greek Old Testament is known as the Septuagint) they used the Greek word PARTHENOS to translate the Hebrew word ALMAH. This tells us that the ancient Jewish scholars knew and understood that the Messiah would be virgin born.

Therefore, since this individual experienced birth, and since He came from the womb of a woman, it could truly be said that „a child was born.” However, since no man was involved in the conception process, the sin nature was not passed down to Jesus at His birth. This was a very unique conception. It was the result of an obedient Jewish maiden by the name of Miriam (her proper name), and the Holy Spirit, who, in the words of doctor Luke, „Would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her.” (Luke 1:35). The result of the holy conception was a holy and perfect child. Here was perfect humanity in every sense of the word. But Jesus was much more than just perfect humanity.

„To us a son is given” – This phrase refers to undiminished deity. The first phrase in this verse „a child is born” tells us that Jesus experienced physical birth, just as any normal human being. And the second phrase „a son is given” tells us that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He existed before His physical birth. He was the preexistent Son of God. Concerning this latter statement, the prophet Micah said in Micah 5:2; „But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the clans of Judah, yet out of you shall he (Jesus) come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel, WHOSE GOINGS FORTH HAVE BEEN FROM OF OLD, FROM EVERLASTING.” Jesus Himself, in response to questions by the Jewish leadership, declared in John 8:58;„….Before Abraham was, I am.” This also acknowledges His preexistence.

Jesus was not only perfect humanity as the virgin born Son of Adam’s race, but He was also undiminished deity as the eternal Son of God given to redeem man from the fall. Theologians call this perfect merger of God and man the „Hypostatic Union.” Jesus is one hundred percent undiminished deity and one hundred percent perfect humanity. Isaiah the prophet wrote of this unique union with these words in Isaiah 7:14; „…the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son (humanity), and shall call his name Immanuel (meaning God with us) (deity).” The baby Jesus was also the One who spoke the universe into existence; the baby Jesus was the One who fashioned man from the dust of the ground; the baby Jesus was the One who breathed into man the breath of life, and the baby Jesus not only spoke the universe into existence, but even while He was in the manger in Bethlehem, He was sustaining everything that He created.

„For unto us a child is born (true humanity), to us a son is given (true deity).” These two phrases deal with His first advent. Beginning with the next phrase and going through verse seven deals with His second advent and the Millennial Kingdom.

„And the government shall be upon his shoulders” – This refers to inherent royalty. „The Government shall be upon his shoulders” is a quaint way of saying „HE IS GOING TO RULE.” Jesus Christ will rule when the world government rests upon His shoulders during His 1000 year reign. Again I want to remind you that within the framework of this one verse of Scripture the first and second comings of the Lord Jesus Christ are clearly outlined. „A child is born, and a son is given” occurred at His first coming more than nineteen hundred years ago. „And the government shall be upon his shoulders” awaits His second coming to the rebuilt Temple when He takes over the throne of David at Jerusalem.

„And his name shall be called” – This tells us of a unique identity. Biblical names were given to underscore a major characteristic or achievement of the individual who bore the name. The Son of God came to be a Savior, that was to be the major achievement at His first coming. So the angelic messenger commanded Joseph „to call his name Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). At the Lord’s second coming His major achievement will be to reign and bring human history to its divinely intended ending. A series of names are given to the Son of God to reveal attributes which He possesses and the character of His reign after His second coming. These names set Him apart from and infinitely higher than all other beings. Since He alone possesses these qualities to a perfect degree, none other can properly appropriate these names.

It is generally thought that five names are given in Isaiah 9:6 to describe the Lord’s character and reign. These five names are: „Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” But actually there are only four names, not five. The word „Wonderful” is not a name. It is simply modifying the word „Counselor.” So it should read„Wonderful Counselor.”

„And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor” – This refers to His faultless discernability. This should not suggest the imagery of a clergyman, or a lawyer, or a psychologist, or another professional in an office conferring counsel on someone. Rather, it is speaking of one of the Lord’s characteristics while governing during the Kingdom Age. Isaiah amplifies this concept in Isaiah 11:2-3; „And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, and the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of COUNSEL and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…….and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.” Men judge empirically, they see, they hear, and they evaluate and make decisions, and many times they are wrong. But because of the omniscient spirit resting upon Jesus, He will intuitively know right from wrong in everyone. He will not judge by what He sees or hears, but He will judge by what He knows about each individual. He will be „The Wonderful Counselor.” And as a result of this, „….righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his waist” (Isaiah 11:5).

„And his name shall be called The Mighty God” – This refers to absolute authority. One of the problems with the Old Testament Theocracy (God ruling through chosen men) was that they had limited strength. A man might ascend to the throne of Israel. He might be well-intentioned, but he did not possess absolute power. He was not omnipotent. His good intentions were not enough. They did not give him sufficient power to carry out all he had planned. Rebellion within the nation and opposition from without often frustrated the best intentions of a good king.

But when the government rests upon the shoulder’s of Jesus, „…..with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and shall reprove the lowly of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4). He alone possesses absolute authority and power because He is what the Hebrew says, EL GIBBOR,„The Mighty God.”

„And his name shall be called The Everlasting Father” – This refers to endless longevity.

On occasion a good king would come to the throne of Israel. Men like David, Solomon, or Josiah. For a time they brought a degree of freedom, prosperity, stability, blessings and peace. But invariably, the inevitable occurred. They died. They were succeeded by another king. Many times he was not a good king, and his policies did not follow that of his predecessor. So the government was subject to ebb and flow, as leaders came and went.

But when the government rests upon the shoulders of Jesus Christ, „Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever….” (Isaiah 9:7). Jesus Christ is„The Everlasting Father.” Or better, „The Father of Eternity.” He will not die, and there will be no ebb and flow in His government, only continuity of perfect rule.

„And his name shall be called The Prince of Peace” – This refers to enduring tranquility. Peace comes in two dimensions. There is a vertical peace between God and man, and there is a horizontal peace between man and man. Peace between men is impossible until there is peace with God. In other words, horizontal peace between members of the human race is impossible without peace with God. And the peace with God is impossible without the acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Savior. And because the majority of the people of the earth reject the salvation provided by Jesus Christ, mankind is doomed to the conflict of racial hatred, intolerance, inflexibility, crime, violence, and war. Mankind can never have true peace apart from God and His plan. And because mankind will not make peace with God, that means that there can be no peace between men on the earth. War and violence will continue all the way to the second advent of Jesus Christ.

peace with GodI should add at this point that the world will achieve a false or pseudo peace just before the return of Jesus Christ. This false or pseudo peace will reach its culmination under the dictator of Rome known as the antichrist. Paul refers to this in I Thessalonians 5:3; „For when they shall say, ‘Peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes upon them….” Everything you see transpiring in the world today to bring about world peace, will bring about the greatest war the world has ever seen. The war of Armageddon.

Jesus alone can and will bring peace to this unruly planet. And when He does, „The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling will feed together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child will put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain (a name for the government of God) because the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9).

Because Jesus is „The Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father,” He is also what the Hebrew calls, SAR SHALOM, „The Prince of Peace.” Men talk about peace constantly, but never achieve it and never will. But Jesus Christ, at His second coming, will make it a reality.

During this Christmas season, look back to the virgin born child, and thank God that He became humanity; then look at the cross, and thank God for the Son He gave who provided our „So great salvation.” All of that was involved in the first advent of Jesus Christ. „For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” But don’t stop there like so many do this time of year. We should also look ahead toward His second coming. Look ahead to what Jesus Christ is still going to accomplish when „the government will be on His shoulders.”

During this Christmas season, may the reality of His return give you as much peace as the celebration of His birth.

DTS Prof. Darrell Bock – What is the one thing preachers cannot afford to omit?

Here’s a short excerpt from this 12 minute video on the New testament books of Luke and Acts from Darrell Bock. Read the entire transcript directly below the video-

We tend to preach the Gospel as if it’s only about the forgiveness of sins. But, in fact, the whole point about having your sins forgiven is to reconnect you to God so that you can live the life He’s designed you to have. So, the gift of the Spirit is the enabler in that. And that was the missing dimension in the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament and the Mosaic Covenant, is that God was working with the law, but, He wasn’t working inside the heart. So, He promised a New Covenant in Jeremiah. He says, „I’m gonna put the law in your heart, I’m gonna bring it inside of you. That’s the Gospel and that is the message of Acts 2. I say, „Preach it!” 

Darrell Bock Preaching from CPX on Vimeo.

Darrell Bock on preaching from Luke and Acts:

I think it is very important to make God and Jesus the main actors in the stories. Sometimes when we preach, we make the focus of the story ‘US’. But, if we do that, we actually lose the interactive dimension of being responsive to God in the process. In everything, Luke-Acts is being by God’s plan, by God’s direction. So, keeping God at the center of the story is really important.

We call the second book Luke wrote ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. But, it really is the acts of God through Jesus Christ. And everything that’s happening is a response to God’s direction. Every key turning point: Paul’s conversion, the entry of Gentiles into the community through Peter’s preaching to Cornelius is directed by God. Even God’s protection of Paul as he goes to Rome. So keep God at the center of the story.

What are some of the key things that we need to feature highly in preaching?

A key theme, which at first doesn’t seem relevant, but actually is is the whole issue of legitimization. Luke-Acts is written to substantiate or legitimate the christian faith. Because, in the Greco Roman world a new religion was problematic. A new religion needed to be time tested in order to have value. So, Luke is actually explaining how the program of God in Jesus Christ- this is something new- it’s part of the promises that go back centuries. It goes back, in fact, millennia to Abraham. And so, this long connection is important. Even the idea of including Jews and Gentiles was an evidence of the reconciliation that God is bringing through salvation is legitimated and substantiated  by the way Luke tells the story. And that’s important because what it shows is the point of the Gospel is this reconciliation that is going on, which is one of the points of salvation. To reclaim the creation and put it back in alignment with itself.

And if you know the history of Jews and Gentiles, what the history was before the time of Christ, the Gentiles tried to wipe out the Jewish faith- there was a lot of hostility. The idea of trying to reconcile those two very hostile groups is actually quite an assignment that Luke is saying, God is taking on.

There is also the very presentation of Jesus in the 2 volumes. I think Luke tells the story of Jesus, primarily from the earth up. We understand that He’s the Messiah in the beginning, that He fits in to the promises that were made to Israel at the start. Certain covenant commitments, we can get our hands around that. But, as we move through the story, we see Him do things that points to an authority that means He’s more than a Messiah. He’s more than a prophet. And so, He does things like- He has authority over the Sabbath. Well, who’s responsible for the Sabbath? God was. It was the picture of His seventh day of resting. It was in the 10 commandments. Yet, Jesus says the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. He forgives sin. Well, who gets to forgive sins, but God alone? He calms the winds and the waves. Who’s able to do that? The Psalms tell us that God is responsible for calming the winds and the waves.

And then, there are other things. He changes the liturgy of Israel. The Exodus story, the passover gets changed into His own story. Well, who gives Him authority to do that? It’s one thing to write liturgy that expands on an event that is already in place. Jesus completely changes, He has the authority to do that. He walks into the temple and cleanses it. Who has the authority to do that and speak for God? And so, then, He finally says, „God’s gonna vindicate Me and give Me a seat with God in heaven.” Who gets to do that?

So, the whole point of Luke’s Gospel is to show how unique Jesus is and Acts shows Him pouring out the gift of salvation that is a sign of the new era of the Holy Spirit onto people, to claim a people for HImself and to enable and empower them to walk with God. That’s the story of Acts. The theme beyond Jesus-earth-up that’s important in Luke-Acts is how the Holy Spirit  and the coming of the Holy Spirit is the coming of a new era that comes through Jesus. And so, that makes Acts a pivot in the two volumes because that’s where the Spirit is poured out and that’s where Peter  and Israel can now know that God has made ‘this Jesus’ Lord and Christ. In other words, He’s made it evident that’s who He is.

What resonates with a modern audience from Luke-Acts?

There are all kinds of ethical dimensions to what Luke is doing in Luke-Acts that’s very important. I like to point out that in the very first chapter, when John the Baptist is introduced, in verses 16 & 17, it says ‘He’s gonna turn Israel to God’. Then, in the next verse it says ‘He’s gonna turn the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the righteous’. Normally, when you think of repentance, you think, „Well, that’s between me and God.” But, Luke is showing, „No, if you repent, there’s a response between you and God that’s gonna impact the way you’re relating to other people.” He reinforces this 2 chapters later in chap. 3:10-14, another unique part of Luke, where he’s discussing John the Baptist. We don’t have this in any of the other gospels.

And the people ask, „What are we supposed to do?’ after John asks them to „make fruit worthy of repentance”. The greek verb in both the statement and in the question is the same. It means to do or to make fruit. Every answer to the 3 different groups that ask the question has to do with how we are relating to other people and not how we’re relating to God. It actually reflects something we see in the Old Testament because the 10 commandments have 2 parts. There’s the part that deals with our relationship with God and there’s the part that deals with our relationship to others. And we’re supposed to see that as a whole. And even the 2 great commandments that Jesus taught go the same way: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus is saying, if there’s a transition in the way we live before God, that’s gonna impact the way we relate to others. So, He talks about how we relate to the poor, what we do with our possessions, how we deal with widows and people in need, so there are all kinds of acts of compassion. All this resonates at a core level in terms of what you can teach and preach in Luke-Acts.

How should you preach from Luke-Acts? 

I think you just present them, they are effective communication of what the message of the church is about. So, the preacher who preaches the sermons in Acts, in particular, and there a few sermons as well that Jesus gives, say, at the synagogue in Nazareth. Just present their content and make clear what it is that the speaker was getting at. I mean the whole idea of Acts 2- that the way we can know that the new era of God has come is by the gift of the Spirit that He gives to us as a result of forgiveness of sins. It makes a point of what the Gospel is.

This Gospel provides a life that is moral, it’s a life of integrity, it’s a life of quality, a life of giving. You’re not just taking. And you receive from God graciously, but because you understand what it is to receive- you give. And so, This is a very important part of the Gospel. Too much of our lives are oriented simply for being takers and taking in and consuming  and disposing. And then, everything else becomes an object that I utilize for my own purposes. Part of what happens in christianity is that you move outside yourself. And in moving outside yourself, you engage other people in a way that is completely different than the way they’re used to being engaged and you actually end up affirming them in the process if you do it well and if you do it with a good moral balance. So, it doesn’t suppress life at all. It actually releases life and it keeps you from destroying life.

Luke’s unique way of writing

I think we see an emphasis in the way Luke writes that is very important. We have hymns that shows how we praise God. We praise God by thanking Him for what He’s done. There’s a wonderful contrast between the hymns of the  material in which Mary praises God for reaching out to a humble girl like her. She was 13 years old or so when she becomes Joseph’s wife and has this child through the Holy Spirit. So, you’ve got that on the one hand. And the you’ve got the contrast with the Pharisee that says, „I thank you God that I’m such a great guy, that  I fast twice a week, and I tithe and I’m not like this sinner who’s over here, next to me praying. There’s a very stark difference in that and there’s a humility in that that Luke talks about that is a part of our worship.

When the centurion says to Jesus, through Jewish emissaries, „You don’t need  to come under my house, in order to heal, I’m not worthy to have You come in my house”. Or, when the sinful woman anoints Jesus, out of love and gratitude for the forgiveness of sins that Jesus has provided, that she couldn’t provide for herself. That humility, that lack of entitlement fills our spirit of worship, causes us to love God cause we appreciate the debt that He’s cancelled for us. In that love and in that devotion, there’s an allegiance that is a reflection of worship. That’s what Luke is getting at, in terms of how we respond to the message of the Gospel. And, certainly, that is something that should be emphasized as you preach through these 2 volumes.

Related articles

Outline of the Synoptic Gospels

Matthew: Jesus as King

IA. The King Arrives (1:1-2:23)

  • 1B. Genealogy and Birth (1:1-25)
  • 2B. Worship, Opposition, Rescue, and Return to Nazareth (2:1-23)

IIA. The King Preaches the Gospel of His Kingdom (3:1-7:29)

  • 1B. Narrative: Preparation for Ministry in the Kingdom (3:1-4:25)
  • 2B. Discourse: Righteousness in the Kingdom (5:1-7:29)

IIIA. The King Extends His Kingdom (8:1-11:1)

  • 1B. Narrative: A Demonstration of the Power of the King and His Kingdom (8:1-10:4)
  • 2B. Discourse: Go Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (10:5-11:1)

IVA. The King Experiences Opposition to Himself and His Kingdom (11:2-13:53)

  • 1B. Narrative: Doubt, Sabbath, Unpardonable Sin (11:2-12:50)
  • 2B. Discourse: The Parables of the Kingdom (13:1-53)

VA. The King Experiences Increasing Opposition and Polarity (13:54-19:2)

  • 1B. Narrative: Miracles, Traditions, and Transformation (13:54-17:27)
  • 2B. Discourse: Qualities of Kingdom Disciples (18:1-19:2)

VIA. The King and His Kingdom Are Officially Rejected (19:3-25:46)

  • 1B. Narrative: True Discipleship, Controversies, Warnings and Woes (19:3-23:39)
  • 2B. Discourse: Great Tribulation, Christ’s Return, Certain Judgment (24:1-25:46)

VIIA. The King’s Initial Vindication and Commission (26:1-28:20)

  • 1B. The King’s Passion (26:1-27:66)
  • 2B. The King’s Resurrection (Vindication) and Commission (28:1-20)

Mark: Jesus as Suffering Servant

IA. Beginning of The Servant’s Ministry (1:1-13)

  • 1B. Introduction (1:1)
  • 2B. The Preparation of John the Baptist (1:2-8)
  • 3B. The Baptism of Jesus (1:9-11)
  • 4B. The Temptation of Jesus (1:12-13)

IIA. The Servant’s Ministry in Galilee (1:14-6:6a)

  • 1B. Cycle One: Early Galilean—Saving Sinners and the Sabbath Controversy (1:14-3:6)
  • 2B. Cycle Two: Later Galilean—Withdrawal, Beelzebub, and Rejection (3:7-6:6a)

IIIA. The Servant’s Withdrawals from Galilee (6:6b-8:21)

  • 1B. The Catalyst: John Beheaded (6:6b-29)
  • 2B. Withdrawals and Miracles: Deserted Place, Tyre, Decapolis, Sea of Gal. (6:30-8:21)

IVA. The Servant’s Suffering: Passion Prediction #1—Caesarea Philippi (8:22-38)

VA. The Servant’s Journey to Jerusalem (9:1-10:52)

  • 1B. Lessons in Galilee: Passion Predication #2 (9:1-50)
  • 2B. Lessons in Perea and Judea: Passion Prediction #3 (10:1-52)

VIA. The Servant’s Ministry in Jerusalem (11:1-13:37)

  • 1B. Presentation of the Suffering Servant (11:1-11)
  • 2B. The Servants Judgment of the Nation in Symbols (11:12-26)
  • 3B. The Servant’s Confrontations with the Religious Leaders (11:27-12:44)
  • 4B. The Servant’s Judgment of the Nation in Prophecy (13:1-37)

VIIA. Culmination of the Servant’s Ministry (14:1-16:8)

  • 1B. Preparations for Death (14:1-52)
  • 2B. The Death of the Servant (14:53-15:47)
  • 3B. The Resurrection of the Servant (16:1-8)

Luke: Jesus as The Son True Man

IA. Prologue (1:1-4)

IIA. The Infancy and Growth of the Son of Man (1:5-2:52)

  • 1B. Two Pregnancies Predicted (1:5-56)
  • 2B. Two Sons Born (1:57-2:52)

IIIA. The Preparation for the Son of Man for Public Ministry (3:1-4:13)

IVA. The Son of Man’s Galilean Ministry (4:14-9:50)

VA. The Son of Man’s Journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27)

  • 1B. Instruction in Discipleship in Light of Jesus’ Ministry (9:51-11:13)
  • 2B. Confrontation with the Pharisees; 1st Cycle (11:14-54)
  • 3B. Instruction in Discipleship in Light of religious Leaders’ Rejection (12:1-13:35)
  • 4B. Confrontation with Pharisees: 2nd Cycle (14:1-24)
  • 5B. Instruction in Discipleship in Light of Jesus’ Impending Death (14:25-19:27)

VIA. The Son of Man’s Jerusalem Ministry (19:28-21:38)

  • 1B. Triumphal Entry (19:28-44)
  • 2B. Opposition in the Temple (19:45-21:38)

VIIA. The Death and Resurrection of the Son of Man (22:1-24:53)

  • 1B. Preparation for Death (22:1-53)
  • 2B. Death (22:54-23:56)
  • 3B. Resurrection (24:1-53)
 via http://www.bible.org

Ascension Day Post: Who do ‘you’ say that I am?

Once when Jesus was traveling with His disciples He asked them ‘Who do people say that I am?’ Wherever Jesus went, large crowds of people followed Him and they witnessed the miracles He performed and they observed the words He spoke in His sermons. Many of the people probably wondered who Jesus was.  But then in Luke 9:18-20 Jesus asks Peter, His disciple, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and Peter answers ‘God’s Messiah’! Peter spoke with lots of conviction, yet his faith had a long way to go,there would even come a point in his life later where he would deny that he even knew Jesus. Peter and the disciples would become men of faith after they saw the resurrected Christ and it was then they could profess that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

In every age since the first followers of Jesus made their profession of faith in him, men and women of faith have had to come to terms with who Jesus is and what he means for them.As we go into the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of the Messiah, take a little time to reflect on these passages that the Scriptures heralds about the deity of the Messiah. Who is Jesus Christ to you?

(The following list is posted from Tyndale’s Wilmington guide to the Bible pp.346-348, 616-618)

The Deity of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world-

  1. His deity was declared by angels
  • by Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-33)
  • by Gabriel to Joseph (Matthew 1:20-23)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some shepherds (Luke 2:8-11)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some women (Matthew 28:5-6)

2. His deity was declared by the Father

  • at his baptism (Matthew 3:16-17)
  • at his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5)
  • shortly before his passion (John 12:27-28)

3. His deity was declared by his mighty miracles (John 20:30,31: 21:25)

4. His deity was declared by his powerful sermons ((Luke 4:32; John 7:46)

5. His deity was declared by his accurate prophecies (Matthew 26:32)

6. His deity was declared by his sinless life

  • as attested by Pilate (John 19:4)
  • by Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19
  • by Judas (Matthew 27:4)
  • by the dying thief (Luke 23:41)
  • by the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47)

7. His deity was declared by demons

  • as he healed a maniac (Matthew 8:28-29)
  • as he healed a man in Capernaum (Luke 4:33-34)
  • as he healed many in Capernaum (Luke 4:41, Mark 3:11)

8. His deity was declared by those who worshipped him

  • the shepherds (Luke 2:15)
  • the wise men (Matthew 2:2,11)
  • a leper (Matthew 8:2)
  • a ruler (Matthew 9:18)
  • a Gentile mother (Matthew 15:25)
  • a Hebrew mother (Matthew 20:20)
  • a maniac (Mark 5:6)
  • a blind man (John 9:38)
  • an apostle (Thomas) (John 20:28)
  • all apostles (Matthew 14:38; 28:9)

9. His deity was declared by Satan (Matthew 4:3, 6)

10. His deity was declared by himself

  • He referred to himself as the Son of God (John 9:35; 10:36; 11:4)

  • He forgave sins (Mark 2:5, 10)
  • He is man’s judge (John 5:22, 27)
  • He is the author of life (John 5:24, 28, 29)
  • He is to be honored like the Father (John 5:23)
  • He alone can save (John 10:28; Luke 19:10; John 14:6

David Platt – Liberty University Convocation

At the conclusion of Luke 14 at verse 43 Jeuss says, „If anyone would come after me, he must give up everything he has”. So, there it is: Give up everything you have, pick up an instrument of torture (the cross) and hate your mom and dad. That’s a lot different than admit, believe, confess, and pray the prayer. You get to Luke chapter 18, an eager guy, a young guy with money comes up to Him. If anybody needs to be in, this guy needs to be in. Think of all that he can do for the kingdom. (If) this guy gets saved, you put him on the circuit…

Unfortunately, Jesus did not have the personal evangelism methods that we have today and He looked back at him and said, „Go sell everything you have. Give it all to the poor. Then come follow me”. And the man turned away. And Jesus, here’s what’s scary, Jesus seemed to be ok with that.

So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these people in the first century. What if Jesus said these things to us? Now, some people say, „Now Dave, you’ve got to be careful here, maybe we’re not all ready or mature enough to think about this”. Don’t miss it: This was the introduction to Jesus in the Gospels. So what if your introduction to Jesus- instead of repeating the words after me as you pray this prayer- what if your introduction to was: Go sell everything you have? And give it to the poor? and hate your mom and dad? or give up everything?

And this is where we come face to face with a frightening reality: Jesus HAS said these things to us. He has told everyone of us in this room to give up everything we have. He has told us to love Him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world, look like hate in comparison. And we don’t see in Scripture that He has commanded every single follower of His to sell everything they own. But the reality is that He COULD say this to any one of us in this room.
We don’t believe this. We take passages like this and we say, „What Jesus really means was…” And this is where  we need to be really careful because this is where we start redefining Christianity according to our own preferences. We start taking the Jesus of the Bible and saying, „Well, what He really meant was…” and we fill in the blank with the Jesus that we’re a little more comfortable with. A Jesus that fits our lifestyle a little better. A nice, middle class, American Jesus, who looks like us and thinks like us, a Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism, a Jesus who is ok with nominal and half hearted, lukewarm devotion. A Jesus who would not call us to dangerous extremes and for that matter, a Jesus who wants us to avoid danger altogether.

But here’s the real danger: Now, we’re taking the Jesus of the Bible and we’re twisting Him into our image, so He looks like us, and thinks like us and aligns with us and when we gather together in our churches and our worship services and we sing our songs and we lift up our hands, the reality is that we are not worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. We are singing to and worshiping ourselves. And we think we’re worshiping Jesus. So I want you to see in this text who Jesus is. He is the Savior who is worthy of all your trust.

Luke 9:57 – The Cost of Following Jesus

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

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David Platt – Liberty University Convocation, posted with vodpod

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