Did Not Our Hearts Burn Within Us?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 23-24

“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?'” – Luke 24:32

“Did not our hearts burn within us?”

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus asked this of one another after they finally realized that it was Jesus talking to them as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus and had dinner together.

“Did not our hearts burn within us?”

In Luke 12:49, Jesus said he came to cast fire on the earth. I wrote about this in “What Is the Fire Jesus Casts on the Earth?” In the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus we have the first example of the fire that Jesus came to cast upon the earth.

The Greek word for burn is kaio. It means to set on fire, to kindle, to consume. According to An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, kaio means

  • to light, kindle
  • to set on fire, burn up, burn ( to burn, scorch of the sun or to be burnt or parched of fever)
  • to burn and destroy (in war), to waste with fire
  • to cauterize

In Luke 24:32, kaio is passive, meaning that the act of burning was done to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus by Jesus. Jesus burned their hearts.

Jesus used kaio in Matthew 13:40 when he said, “Just as the weeds are gathered and burned [kaio] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.”

And, he also used kaio in John 15:6, when he said, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned [kaio].”

Kaio is the root word of kaminos, which means a furnace. Jesus used this word in Matthew 13:41-42 when he said, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace.” Jesus said virtually the same thing in verse 50.

Kaio also is the root word for katakaio, which means to burn down, to burn completely, to consume wholly. John the Baptist used this word in regards to Jesus. Luke 3:16-17 says, “He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn [katakaio] with unquenchable fire.”

Jesus baptizes with fire. He burns the chaff. We should remember that the chaff comes from the wheat. Every single grain of wheat has chaff, or a husk, surrounding it. The wheat and the chaff do not represent two different groups of people. Every person is both wheat and chaff. Therefore , every person has chaff that needs to be burned away by Jesus’ unquenchable fire.

Therefore, Paul used katakaio in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up [katakaio], he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

So, Jesus used the same word and it derivatives throughout his life to describe the fire and the burning he was going to bring as Luke used to describe how the hearts of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus burned within them.

Why did their hearts burn within them?

Their hearts did not burn within them because they read the scriptures literally and understood them literally with their own reasoning and intelligence.

Instead, their hearts burned with them “while he talked to us on the road.” Their hearts were burned by Jesus when he talked to them. The two disciples heard Jesus’ voice.

What did Jesus speak to these two disciples?

“He opened to us the Scriptures.”

The Greek word for opened is dianoigo. It means to open, interpret, explain. Dianoigo means to open thoroughly, literally as a first born.

We first find dianogio in Mark 7:34 when Jesus proclaimed “Be opened” to the deaf ears, ears that could not hear, of a man.

Luke uses dianoigo in 2:23 to describe the opening of the womb by the first born male. Luke’s reference is to the reason Jesus was presented in the temple and called holy to the Lord. Jesus is the first born male that thoroughly opens the womb. Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation.” And Romans 8:29 says that Jesus would be “the firstborn among many brothers.” So, when Jesus opens our ears it is as if we are being born again and coming into a new reality.

Stephen used dianoigo when he was stone to death.

Acts 7:54-58 says, “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.”

When we hear Jesus, heaven is opened to us. We see the glory of God and Jesus. The result is that we become like Jesus. Stephen laid down his life. He did not fight. And, no one fought to defend him. And, Stephen cried out that Jesus would forgive them just as Jesus did from the cross. But, those who stopped their ears accused him, wrongfully, and stoned him to death. Those who stopped their ears took vengeance.

How did Jesus open the scriptures to the two disciples?

Luke 24:25-27 says, “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Jesus told them he had to suffer, be rejected, be crucified, and rise again three days later. He spoke this plainly to everyone during his life. These things were written in Moses and the Prophets. But, you will not see these things if you read Moses and the Prophets literally, word for word. Otherwise, Jesus would not be need to interpret them. Therefore, you can only understand the Scriptures, you can only understand what Jesus did and why he did it, and therefore you can only understand God, if Jesus interprets talks to you, interpreting the scriptures for you so that your hearing will be opened and you understand them truly.

To interpret, to translate, something means that you transform one language, one way of speaking, into a second language or another way of speaking. Again, you cannot understand the true meaning of the Scriptures, what they say about Jesus, unless he translates them for you.

Therefore, Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” God spoke in many different languages – creation, the exodus, the tabernacle, offerings, psalms, history, etc. – but today he speaks in Son. God’s language is Jesus. Jesus interprets for us all these other ways that God spoke. Therefore, “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Why does need to interpret the scriptures for us? Why does he need to open our ears and minds to the true message of the scriptures?

Because on the surface they seem to reveal a vengeful, angry, and violent God that destroys. But, that is just the outer husk, the chaff, that needs to be burned away from every grain of wheat.

The truth about God is something different. He suffers. He is rejected. He is crucified. He does not take vengeance. He forgives. He says, “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:36)

“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and the repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'”

Jesus interprets the scriptures and opens our understanding of them so that we will no longer proclaim a vengeful, violent, and angry God that will destroy you.

Jesus interprets and opens the scriptures so that we will proclaim repentance. We are to proclaim the changing of minds about who God is. Instead of the old and wrong view that God is angry, vengeful, and violent, waiting to destroy you, we are to proclaim that God is good, only good, loving, kind, merciful, forgiving, a life-giving spirit who suffers with you and dies for you.

And, Jesus does this so that we will proclaim forgiveness.

To all nations.

Every person.

Indiscriminately.

For all sin.

As many times as it takes for them to see God for who he really is – loving, merciful, forgiving, and peaceful.

When Jesus interpreted and opened the scriptures for the two disciples, their hearts were burned by Jesus’ unquenchable fire. The chaff around their grains of wheat was burned away. Every wrong idea they had of God was burned up.

Surely, as Jesus opened the scriptures to them they experienced pain as and sorrow concerning how badly they had misunderstood who God is. Yet, the end  result of their hearts being burned surely was an incredible joy as they immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples what had happened to them.

So, stop reading the Bible literally through your own understanding.

Let Jesus speak to you, interpret for you, and open up to you, the truth of the scriptures.

Let Jesus burn away all your false ideas about God.

Only Jesus can do this for you.

Have You Come Out as Against a Robber?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 21-22

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, ‘Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?'” – Luke 22:52

Jesus had just reminded his disciples how sent them out with no moneybag, knapsack, or sandals yet they did not lack anything. So, Jesus now sent the disciples out with a moneybag, a knapsack, and a sword.

However, Jesus was not telling the disciples this was a new way that he would send them out. This was not some new strategy of proclaiming the kingdom of God. Jesus reminded the disciples of how he sent them out previously to provide a contrast for what he was doing now.

And, what he was doing now was fulfilling scripture. Specifically, the scripture that says, “And he was numbered with the transgressors.” If you are out and about at night with a moneybag, a knapsack, and a sword, then you will look like a transgressor, a lawbreaker.

So, the chief priests, officers of the temple, and elders came out to arrest Jesus like a robber, a common criminal.

When Pilate offered to release to the Jews a man at the Passover, the Jews cried out, “‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:40)

When Jesus was crucified, “then two robbers were crucified with him, one one the right and one on the left.” (Matthew 27:38)

Of course, Jesus was not a robber. But, the chief priests, officers of the temple, and elders considered him one. Even though, the chief priests, scribes, and elders were the true robbers.

“And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be a house of prayer,” but you have it a den of robbers.'” The chief priests, and scribes, and principal men of the people sought to destroy Jesus for this.

So, the chief priests, scribes, and elders mapped onto Jesus, onto God, who they were. What they did they counted Jesus as and treated him as such.

This always seems to be the case. We map onto God the evil that we do or the good that we fail to do. Then, we blame God for all that is wrong and seek to destroy him for it.

Weo do this over and over until see Jesus, until we see God for who he really is.

Who Is Saved? What Does It Mean to Be Saved?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 19-20

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

Here is a simple, direct statement from Jesus about his mission. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. However, even though the statement is simple and direct, I believe the meaning has been totally missed by most. I know I missed it for a long time.

I think many, if not most, Christians think Jesus came to save sinners, which is typically understood to mean those who live an immoral life based on a specific code of conduct. This specific code of conduct would include sins such as drinking, swearing, lying, lusting, murdering (which is always said to be different than their own justified killing in war or killing by God), etc. If someone does not get in line with this personal code of conduct, then God is going to burn up him or her in hell. Therefore, Jesus saves us from our sin by making it possible for us to keep this specific code of conduct, thereby preventing our eternal destruction due to the wrath of God.

I used to believe this, but now I have come to understand who Jesus save and what it means to be saved in an entirely different way.

Who did Jesus come for? Who is saved?

The lost.

Who are the lost?

The Greek word for lost is apollymi. It derives from the word olethros, which means to destroy. The prefix apo in this case basically means completely. So, the essential meaning of apollymi is destroy utterly or completely.

But, the word apollymi can also mean to perish or lose. However, these meanings are reflexive. Reflexive means

  • directed or turned back on itself
  • of, relating to, characterized by, or being a relation that exists between an entity and itself (“is equal to” but not “is the father of”)
  • of, relating to, or constituting an action (“he perjured himself”) directed back on the agent or the grammatical subject
  • characterized by habitual and unthinking behavior

So, when apollymi means or is translated perished or lost it has the idea that the action of perishing and being lost is something that one does to themselves. In fact, if we study carefully the times when apollymi is translated perish or lost, then we will see this is true. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) Jesus says that if we take up the sword to defend and protect our lives or to get even with our enemy then we die cause ourselves to die by the sword.

In Luke 13:3 and 5, Jesus said, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus said this about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices and the eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell. Most understand the blood that Pilate shed in the temple as a military confrontation. The tower of Siloam was likely a part of the temple. Therefore, it’s likely that these two incidents are connected,especially since they are nowhere else mentioned in scripture or other historical writings.

So, Jesus asks if the people involved in this military confrontation were any worse sinners or offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem. Therefore, unless you repent of the your desire for military conflict then you cause yourself to perish too.

In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus said, “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger.” (Luke 15:17) The younger son realized that his father’s servants had plenty of food yet he causing himself to die of hunger because he refused to repent and go back to his father.

In John 3:16, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We know God’s love because of the cross. Jesus laid down his life there. He blessed all who persecuted him by forgiving all of his persecutors completely. If we do the same as Jesus, then we will not cause ourselves to perish.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) If we try to find, protect, keep, defend, our life then we will cause it be lost. However, if we cause our life to be lost by laying it down, forgiving others, blessing our enemies instead of seeking to kill them, for Jesus’ sake then we will find our lives.

Notice that in these cases it is our own evil that comes back upon us to destroy us. This theme is repeated throughout the Old Testament. Most prominently, the theme is found in Psalm 7:15-16, which says, “He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.”

Our own violence descends upon our skull. That’s an extremely important point when we consider where Jesus crucified by our own violence – Golgotha, the place of the skull. Where did the cross need to be driven into to stand upright? My skull. Therefore, the cross destroys my own violent tendencies.

When apollymi is translated destroyed, the destruction typically is done to someone else.

“For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.” (Romans 14:15)

“And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.” (1Corinthians 8:11)

Notice that we are the ones who destroy, not Jesus. Instead of destroying, Jesus died for these people.

Jesus does not destroy. The gospels repeatedly declare that the people wanted to destroy him.

Why do we destroy? Because we are of our father the devil as Jesus said in John 8:44. And, it has always been Satan that is behind every destructive act. Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 10:9-10, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” God was not destroying people in the wilderness after the exodus. Satan was.

Now, you might try to quote Jude 5, which says, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Translated this way, Jude 5 is in complete contradiction to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:9-10.

But, I believe this is a poor translation of Jude 5. The problem is the word “afterword.” It is the Greek word deuteros. Deuteros simply means second. Jude 5 literally says “a second” or “the second” destroyed those who did not believe. Translated that way, it was Jesus who saved a people out of Egypt but a/the second that destroyed those who did not believe. Translated this way Jude 5 fits in exactly with what Paul says.

So, the lost are those who are destroyed by Satan and by others. And, the lost are those who bring destruction upon themselves because they look to violence for the answer. They seek to repay their enemies evil for evil. But, their violence comes back on themselves. So, by taking the sword they die by the sword. The lost perish from their own violence.

It is the lost that Jesus came to save.

Therefore, we are saved when we do what Jesus said

  • love your enemies
  • do good to those who hate you
  • bless those who persecute you
  • show mercy
  • forgive as you have been forgiven

This is what the cross was all about. This is why the cross was symbolically driven into our own skulls on Golgotha. The cross, the self-sacrificing love of God that is merciful and forgiving to all, was meant to cause us to repent from violence, evil, and wickedness.

Jesus is our savior when we follow him and give up violence as a way to fix the world and make things right, as a means of justice.

There’s actually an ancient letter from a proconsul that uses the Greek word for savior in just this way. It says, “Providence, which governs the course of our lives, has shown attention and goodness and has provided for the most perfect good for life by producing the emperor [Augustus], whom it has filled with virtue in order to make him a benefactor of humanity. So it has sent to us and to others a savior [sotera] who has put an end to war and will restore order everywhere.” But, Augustus attempted to bring an end to war through war. Much like World War 1 was said to be the war to end all wars.

So, the term savior was applied to a Roman emperor, a warring and conquering military victor. This sheds light on why Paul said he was not ashamed by the gospel of his savior, his savior who died on the cross, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing [apollymi], but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

What is the word of the cross?

Forgiveness.

Love.

Laying down your life for others?

Dying.

Peace.

It is not violence, killing, murdering, war.

That’s why it is folly to those who are perishing, those who are destroying and being destroyed by their own violence. The perishing cannot understand how non-violence will solve anything. It’s complete and utter folly to them.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 4:3)

Again, the gospel is the message of the cross. It is Jesus’ message of self-sacrificial love. It is his message of non violence. The gospel is a message of loving enemies, not taking vengeance. But, it is veiled to those who are perishing, those who are destroying and being destroyed by their own violence. It is veiled to the lost.

Why is it veiled to them?

“In their case the god of this world [Satan, the Destroyer] has blinded the minds of unbelievers [those that don’t believe in the self-sacrificial love and non-violence of Jesus], to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

How is the veil removed?

“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” (2 Corinthians 3:16)

The veil in the temple was torn after Jesus proclaimed forgiveness on the cross. When we turn to the Lord and believe his message of self-sacrificial love for enemies and non-violence then the veil that hid God’s true nature from us is torn. Then, we are no longer blinded by Satan that the way to make things right is through violence. When the veil is torn and we know the truth about God’s ways, the we are saved.

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Satan uses all kinds of power to do false signs and wonders so that his way of violence, his murdering and lying, appears like the way we should go. Satan uses all sorts of wicked deception so that the perishing, the lost, the destroying and those being destroyed by their own violence, believe violence, hating enemies, and vengeance are the ways to make things right.

But, Satan can only do this when we refuse to love the truth, which is the message of the cross, the message of self-sacrificial love for enemies, even to the point of becoming a martyr if necessary.

So, who is saved?

The lost. Those that perish because of their own violence, evil, and wickedness. Those that are destroyed by Satan.

What does it mean to be saved?

It’s not simply following a moral code of conduct. To be saved means that we believe Jesus’ message from the cross. And, as a result of that message we practice self-sacrificial love, mercy, and forgiveness so that we can participate in the reconciliation of the world to God. The saved know that this is how we make things right.

Who Will Entrust to You the True?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 16-18

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the riches?” – Luke 16:10-11

I have heard this scripture used to say that if you are faithful with a little money then God will trust you be faithful with a lot of money. Or, substitute something else for money. So, we tend to think of “very little” and “much” in this scripture in terms of amounts of the same type of thing.

But, what if “very little” and “much” are talking about two different things and not less and more of the same thing?

The Greek word for very little is elachistos. It means insignificant, trivial, least, short.

The Greek word for much is polys. It means great, many, much.

Jesus says if you are faithful with very little then you will be faithful with much. Conversely, if you are unfaithful with very little then you be unfaithful with much. But, Jesus’ question reveals that he is talking about not less and then of the same thing but two different things.

For, he asks, “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” Unrighteous wealth is a completely different thing than true riches.

What Jesus is really saying is that if you are faithful with unrighteous wealth then you will  be faithful with true riches. But, if you are unfaithful with unrighteous wealth then you will be unfaithful with true riches.

Going back to the Greek words very little and much, Jesus is saying that if you are faithful with what is insignificant or trivial then you will be faithful with what is great and vice versa. How you manage trivial and insignificant things shows how you will manage great things.

Therefore, if you are not faithful with unrighteous wealth, money, which is an insignificant, trivial and very little thing, then who will entrust to you true riches, which are the great thing?

Interestingly, Jesus did not ask, “Who will entrust to you the true riches?”

In the Greek, he actually asked, “Who will entrust to you the true?”

The word riches was likely added because the Greek word for true, alethinos, is an adjective. So, the thought was alethinos as an adjective must be modifying something. And, since Jesus just mentioned unrighteous wealth then the translators added the noun riches for alethinos to modify.

There’s probably not anything wrong with that. I’m not a Greek scholar to argue with it anyway. But, what if we just took the question “Who will entrust to you the true?” as Jesus said it?

The true what?

Alethinos is used 28 times in the New Testament. Almost every single time it refers to Jesus or God.

Jesus is the true light. (John 1:9)

Jesus is the true bread from heaven. (John 6:32)

The one, God, who sent Jesus is true. (John 7:28)

Jesus is the true vine. (John 15:1)

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

The Thessalonians turn to God from idols (insignificant and trivial things) to serve the living and true God. (1 Thessalonians 1:9)

Jesus is a minister in the true tent or tabernacle that the Lord made, which is his body. (Hebrews 8:2, John 1:14)

Jesus is the true light already shining. (1 John 2:8)

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

Jesus is the true one. (Revelation 3:7)

Jesus is the amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. (Revelation 3:14)

The sovereign Lord is holy and true. (Revelation 6:10)

What is true?

Rather, who is true?

Jesus.

God.

If you are unfaithful with unrighteous money, that whis is trivial and insignificant, then who will entrust to you what, or who, is true, that is God and Jesus?

If you are not faithful in money, then you are actually serving money. For, if you are not faithful in money, then you are not above it and exercising control over it. You are not using money. Instead, you are under money and a slave to it. Money is using you. And, if you are unfaithful with money, under it, enslaved to it, then you cannot serve God.

Therefore, in Luke 16:13, Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money.” And, here again we see that Jesus is talking about two different things. The unrighteous wealth is money, which is “very little,” insignificant, and trivial. The true is God, he who is great.

Also, it is interesting to know that alethinos (and aletheia, which is the Greek noun meaning truth) are derived from the noun lanthano. Lanthano means to go unnoticed, to be unknown, or be forgotten. In Greek, the prefix “a” means not. So aletheia, the truth, and alethinos, that which is true is that which is not hidden, the uncovered, the unveiled.

Jesus is the truth because he unveiled God. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). And, he is the exact imprint of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3)

Where and how did Jesus unveil God?

On the cross.

Jesus died instead of killing. Then he forgave those who killed him. He showed the ultimate mercy.

And, it was after Jesus pronounced forgiveness that “the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” (Luke 23:45) The curtain, the veil, of the temple was what separated the holy place from the most holy place. The veil symbolizes that which kept God hidden from us. So, when Jesus was crucified and pronounced forgiveness he unveiled God. That is, Jesus showed the truth of God is. He dies instead of kills. God forgives. He is merciful.

This is the gospel. This is the truth. Jesus suffered. He was rejected. Then crucified. But, he rose three days later and spoke peace, not vengeance, continually.

If you are not faithful in the very little, the insignificant and trivial, money, then you cannot be trusted to be faithful in the great, the true, God, the truth, the gospel. Just read 1 Timothy 6:3-10.

However, if you are faithful in the very little, the insignificant and trivial, money, then you can be trusted to be faithful, not with more money, but in the great, the true, God, the truth, the gospel, the revelation that God forgives and is merciful.

Have You Renounced All to Follow Jesus?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 13-15

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:33

Jesus said if you don’t renounce everything you cannot be his disciples. If you hold on to anything, you cannot learn from him.

Have you renounced all to follow Jesus?

This question is ignored by the vast majority of Americans who say they follow Jesus. I only have to look at someone’s beliefs and words about America to know this.

Renounce means:

  1. to give up, refuse, or resign usually by formal declaration
  2. to refuse to follow, obey, or recognize any further

The Greek word translated renounce is apotasso. It means to renounce, to say farewell to, to set apart, to be detached. In the New Testament, it is generally used in terms of leaving the physical presence of other people, leaving one place to go to another.

But, it is Jesus telling us to physically leave the presence of every other person?

Of course not.

Jesus is telling us to leave everything that we are attached to, everything that we hold dear, everything that we deem important. In our hearts and minds, we have to let go every attachment to the everything and anything in this world if we want to follow him.

Keep in mind the definition of renounce above.

Have you renounced America?

Have you renounced your system of government?

Have you renounced your political party?

Have you  renounced your patriotism?

Have you renounced your family, its name and its heritage?

Have you refused these things and resigned from them by a formal declaration?

Have you refused to follow, obey, or recognize these things any further?

If you have been baptized, then this is what you have done. To be baptized is to enter into the death of Jesus. It is to say I have died to everything in this world so that I can follow Jesus. To be baptized is to make a formal declaration to everyone and everything, all the powers of this world, that you are no longer following, obeying, or recognizing them. Instead, you are only following, obeying, and recognizing, your only allegiance, is to Jesus.

To follow Jesus you need to renounce America, your democracy, your Republican or Democrat, your patriotic zeal, your last name. Everything.

Lest you think I’m going to far, listen to Paul. For he is the supreme example in this.

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh – though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:3-11)

The Greek word for loss used by Paul is zemia, which means loss, penalty, or fine. It probably is akin to the Greek word damazo, which means to tame, but with the idea of violence. Therefore, Paul says he has “suffered the loss of all things.”

The Greek word for suffered is in the passive tense, meaning that these sufferings were done to Paul. What did Paul suffer?

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)

All of these sufferings led Paul to count everything that he was, everything he deemed important in life, as worth nothing to him. He deemed all these things as only things worthy of being thrown away.

So, Jesus’ statement to renounce everything to follow him begs the question”Why?”

I recently saw a play about a Chinese shoe repairman whose shop was in Harlem. His name was Mr. Joy. In this play, you heard how Mr. Joy helped anyone and everyone in the neighborhood. You heard how there was always a twinkle in his eye. You heard how he worked tirelessly for others in his shoe shop.

But, Mr. Joy never appeared in the play.

In fact, every character in the play was acted out by one actress – a black woman. She played a young black girl, an old black woman, a black teenage boy, a black businessman, a middle-aged white woman, a young adult Chinese man, a transexual black man, and maybe one or two others that I’m forgetting. This woman played these characters very convincingly. She didn’t just change her voice, but she embodied the the spirit, the ethos, the energy of these people.

In every character, she drew out the person’s life to reveal how what they had gone through had hurt them. As I watched her amazing performance, the Spirit spoke to me about how she was doing it. In order to reveal each character’s pain she first had to understand them. And, to understand them, she had to have compassion for them.

The Spirit showed me that this was one of the greatest things about Jesus.

Jesus had compassion for everyone.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” – Matthew 14:14

“Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.'” – Matthew 15:32

“And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him, But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” – Mark 9:22

“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.'” – Luke 7:13

Jesus shows that a necessary requirement of helping others, of healing others, of participating in the reconciling of all things to God, is compassion.

But, if we still hold dear and deem important our country, our government, our patriotism, our family, our name, etc. then we will never be able to have the compassion that Jesus had.

If I’m holding on to being an American, then how can I have compassion, true compassion as Jesus, for the Chinese?

If I’m holding to being a Republican, then how I can true compassion on the Democrat?

If I’m holding on to democracy, then how can I have true compassion for those under communism?

If I’m holding on to my family, my name, then how can I have true compassion for those not of my name?

Therefore, if we do not renounce everything, then we cannot be Jesus’ disciples.

For in Christ, none of these differences exist.

Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there neither slave nor free, there no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In other words, there is no race, no class, and no gender that divides us because we are one in Christ. Read the previous verse and you will see that this is so because we have been baptized in Christ. That is, we have made a formal declaration renouncing everything about us so that we can have compassion on all, just as Paul did.

What Is the Fire Jesus Casts on the Earth?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 11-12

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” – Luke 12:49-51

“I came to cast fire on the earth.”

Many people immediately jump to conclusion that Jesus is going to burn up every person that hasn’t confessed his name and believed in him in a big ball of flaming fire. Therefore, Jesus’ statement of casting fire to the earth gets lumped in with an end times judgment that sends the evil and the wicked into the burning lake of fire forever and ever, an eternal conscious torment.

Is this what Jesus meant when he, “I came to cast fire on the earth?”

Hardly.

Luke 9:54-55 says, “And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them.”

Jesus and the disciples were heading to a village of the Samaritans. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews. They were half-breeds. The Samaritans were part Jew, part Gentile. The Jews believed that they did not worship the true God the way they died.

Jesus sent some messengers ahead of them to make preparations for him in this village. But, the Samaritans, the hated and despised people, did not receive Jesus.

Because they did not receive Jesus, James and John asked if they call fire down from heaven to destroy them. Some Bibles say that James and John asked if they should do just like Elijah did (see 2 Kings 1:9-12). They wanted to destroy with fire from heaven the Samaritans that had rejected Jesus just as Elijah did to the captains that Ahaziah sent to him.

But, in some translations (based on later manuscripts), in addition to saying that Jesus turned and rebuked James and John, Jesus said, “You do not know what kind of Spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

The spirit of James and John that wanted to call down fire to destroy those that rejected Jesus was not the Spirit of God. Rather, it was the spirit of the devil for he is the one who destroys (Who Says “I Destroy” – God or Satan?). The son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. So, the fire that the son of man brings saves. That is the Spirit of God.

Returning to Luke 12:49-51, Jesus says three basic things:

  1. I came to bring fire
  2. I have a baptism to be baptized with
  3. I came to bring division

The first and the third cause a lot of confusion for people. But, the second is very clear.

What is the baptism that Jesus was to be baptized with?

James and John asked sit on his right and left hand in Jesus’ glory. In Mark 10:38, Jesus said, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

The cup that Jesus was to drink is the same thing as the baptism he was going to be baptized with. And, both refer to Jesus’ crucifixion.

Indeed, in Mark 10:33-34, just before James and John asked Jesus if they could sit on his right and left hand, Jesus said, “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.” There is the cup that Jesus had to drink and the baptism he had to baptized with.

Why was the cross a baptism?

To be baptized means to be immersed. It was even used of dying a garment. So, it has the idea of infusing something into something else.

The cross was a baptism for Jesus because he was immersed in sin and death.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin.”

1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”

Jesus, in whom was the life of God (1 John 5:11), partook of death (Hebrews 2:14).

Jesus says this baptism is a great distress to him until it is accomplished. And, it was on the cross that Jesus said, “It is finished.” The word finished in John 19:30 is the same Greek word as accomplished in Luke 12:50.

Now, Jesus is speaking of the fire he came to cast down, the baptism he was to be baptized with, and the division he was to bring as the same. Therefore, we know that all three things refer to the cross.

The fire that Jesus came to bring was the cross. This is why Jesus said he wished that it was already kindled. He wished that the fire he was bringing would have already started burning and working.

So, how was the cross the fire that Jesus would bring?

The cross revealed that God did not kill. Rather, he was killed.

The cross revealed that God did not condemn. Rather, he was condemned.

The cross revealed that God did not do violence. Rather, violence was done to him.

The cross revealed that God did not take vengeance. Rather, forgiveness was given to all by him.

Therefore, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Despite all the evil, wickedness, and violence we could dish out toward Jesus, a perfectly innocent man and the son of God, Jesus forgave us. And, so did God.

When someone love you and forgives you undeservedly, it does something to your mind. It brings conviction to you. This is the burning coals, the fire, of God’s vengeance. Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Yes, it may be written that God takes vengeance, but to the contrary give food and drink to your enemy. In other words, instead of taking vengeance on your enemy, love them. Just as God does. That casts down the fire that Jesus was bringing.

What does this fire do?

Fire consumes. It purifies.

What is the fire Jesus cast down consuming and purifying?

We expect God to be a conquering warrior. We want him to smash our enemies with a great army. We want him to destroy, condemn, and kill all those that hate us and persecute us.

But, the cross reveals that God doesn’t do any of these things. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 says, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

The cross seems weak and foolish to men because it is not how they act and not how they expect God to act. But, the cross reveals the true nature of God. Therefore, the cross, which produces the fire that Jesus came to cast down on the earth, consumes all of wrong ideas, thoughts, and notions about God. The cross, this fire, purifies us of every impure thought about God.

So, the fire that Jesus came to bring was not to destroy men but to save them.

Is Eternal Life Inherited Now or After Death?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 9-10

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test saying, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'” – Luke 10:25

What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus answers the question with a question. He asks, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

The lawyer does not answer with the ten commandments. He does not answer with eating certain foods while abstaining from others. He does not answer with passing judgment on others who broke the law. He does not answer with keeping the feasts. He does not answer with tithing.

No, the lawyer’s reading, more literally his repetitive knowing, of the law said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” The lawyer understood the law the same way that Jesus taught it. The lawyer understood that everything in the law hung on love for God and love for neighbor.

Jesus said, “You have answered correctly.”

You inherit, receive, take possession of, eternal life when you love God and love your neighbor. There are no other steps, not other processes, no other commands.

But, Jesus told the lawyer that he must not only understand the law as love for God and love for your neighbor.

Jesus said, “Do this, and you will live.”

“Do this.”

Meaning, put this into practice right now. Act out loving God and loving your neighbor right now.

If you love God and love your neighbor, then “you will live.”

Meaning, you will inherit, receive, take possession of, eternal life, the life of the age, right now. Not in the future. Not when you die. But, now. You will live now.

Do now. Live now.

Eternal life is doing now Jesus’ understanding of the law – loving God and loving your neighbor.

We can see eternal life as something for now in another way.

You inherit something as a result of a death. Jesus literally died and became a life-giving spirit. Once he literally died, eternal life was available to be inherited. Because Jesus died, we do not have to die to receive eternal life. We only need to agree ourselves with his death.

Notice how Paul says it in Romans 6:3-11.

“Do you now know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus has died and cannot die again. Therefore, if we have died with him, then we are united with him in his resurrection ad believe that we will live with him. Jesus is living his life now to God. And, if we have died with him, then we are alive to God in Christ now. To be alive to God in Christ is to have eternal life. For God is eternal, of the age, ever present, always now.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5)

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him.” (Colossians 2:11-13)

Paul is speaking about all of this as a present reality to be experienced and lived now.We were dead. But, we have been raised, resurrected, just as Jesus was raised from his death. We have been made alive together with Christ. We have his life. His life is eternal life.

Jesus’ life is eternal life.

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:9-13)

God gave us eternal life. This life, eternal life, is in Jesus. Eternal life is Jesus’ life. If you have the son, Jesus, then you have eternal life. The Greek verbs for gave and have indicate that this giving and having of eternal life was done in the past. It is something that is already achieved, already accomplished. Therefore, we have eternal life now.

While Paul speaks of being baptized into the death and life of Jesus, John speaks of believing in his name to have eternal life. It is the same thing.

In Romans 7:6, Paul says, “We serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” John says it differently. For John, to believe in Jesus is to love God and love your neighbor.

But, they are saying the same thing. And, they are saying just what the lawyer understood the law to be, what he needed to do to inherit life. Which Jesus said if he did that he would live.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (1 John 5:1-2)

How do we know God’s love and thereby love one another?

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through through him.” (1 John 4:7-9)

If you love, you know God because God is love.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Eternal life is knowing God. If you love God and love neighbor, then you know God and have eternal life.

Not after you die.

Now.

How Do You Hear the Word of God?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 7-8

“Take care then how you hear.” – Luke 8:18

In almost every modern Bible I looked at, Luke 8:16-18 is under a heading that says “A Lamp Under a Jar” or “The Parable of the Lamp” or something to that effect. But, this heading breaks up the flow of Jesus’ teaching.

How so?

The heading makes it seem like Jesus’ words about lighting a lamp are a separate teaching. In reality, Jesus is still explaining the parable of the sower to the disciples. Really, Luke 8:4-18 is meant to be understood as one whole teaching.

In Luke 8:8, at the end of the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Then, in the explanation of the parable, Jesus uses the words hear, hearing, or heard five times. It is important to note that each of the four types of soil in the parable heard the word of God.

Therefore, we know that Jesus’ teaching on the lighting the lamp is still explaining the parable of the sower to the disciples because Jesus concludes his words on lighting the lamp by saying, “Take care how you hear.”

The parable of the lamp tells us why the sower is sowing his seed, the word of God. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The word of God is sown so that there will be a light to lead others in the darkness. No one would light a lamp and then cover it up. What purpose would that serve?

But, once he says you light a lamp for people to see the light, Jesus says, “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” The word of God is like. It has to be buried, put under ground, hidden. But, when a seed is buried under ground, no matter how you bury it, it always grow to the light. Eventually, what was hidden, the seed, comes to light. And, when it comes to light it becomes known.

Jesus is still explaining the parable of the sower. If you want the seed, the word of God, to produce something, it needs to be hidden, buried, in your heart, in order for it to produce.

Then, Jesus concludes his explanation of the parable of the sower by saying, “Take care then how you hear.” Remember, all four types of soil heard, but it is how you hear that matters.

How does the path hear?

The path is hard. Therefore, the seed can’t penetrate it. So, whenever the path hears a word, it immediately says, “You’re wrong,” “That’s not right,” “I don’t believe that,” “That’s not what I was taught,” “That’s not what my pastor said,” “That’s blasphemous,” “You’re a false teacher,” and so on.

If when you hear a word you immediately reject it, then you are hearing like the hard path.

How does the rock soil hear?

In rocky soil, there is a little bit of room for a seed to take root. Therefore, because the seed cannot send roots down at first, the seed sprouts up right away. So, whenever the rocky soil hears a word it gets very excited, takes great joy, is filled with happiness. The rock soil leaves church saying, “What a great word today,” “That word really touched me,” Powerful word today,” and so on. But, in a few days, the word is forgotten. “What did the pastor preach about last week?” Rocky soil goes with the initial excitement, but doesn’t meditate and ponder the word. So, the word hasn’t become their own. It has taken no root. So, they lose it.

If you when hear a word you get really excited but don’t follow it up with consideration and meditation, then you are hearing like the rocky soil.

How does the thorny soil hear?

In the thorny soil, the seed starts growing but it gets choked by life. Whenever this soil hears the word of God, it says “That’s not practical,” “Stop being idealistic,” “Get real,” “No one is expected to do that,” “That’s not possible for me,” and so on. The thorny soil hears and then gives example after example where that word could never happen or they should not be expected to do that. The thorny soil says “What about Hitler?” Or, “What if someone broke into your house…?”

If you hear a word and your thoughts immediately go to how it can’t be done and how it is not practical to do what the word says because of your cares, your concerns, your pleasures, your circumstances, then you are hearing like the thorny soil.

How does the good soil hear?

Whenever the good soil hears it hides and buries the word. It holds the word in the heart for consideration and meditation. The good soil is patient, waiting for the word to work. The good soil keeps thinking about the word it heard. It goes back to it again and again. Unlike the others, the good soil doesn’t react immediately.

If you hear a word and you consider it, think about it, mull it over in your mind for days, weeks, maybe even years, before reacting to it, then you are hearing like the good soil.

We have all heard like each of these four soils at some point in our life. And, it is likely that we still hear in all four ways at different times about different issues. But, we should take care how we hear so that more and more hear like the good soil.

For,  it’s only when we hear like the good soil that we will really hear the words of Jesus.

Is It Lawful on the Sabbath to Save Life of Destroy It?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 5-6

“I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” – Luke 6:9

On the Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and was teaching. He saw a man whose right hand was withered. Jesus knew the scribes and Pharisees were watching him, waiting to see if he would heal on the Sabbath so that they could accuse him of breaking the law. So, Jesus called the man with the withered hand forward and asked a simple question.

Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or destroy it?

At least it should be a simple question to answer.

Is it not obvious that doing good is better than doing harm?

Is it not obvious that saving life is better than destroying it?

So, why did the scribes and Pharisees remain silent? Why was it so hard for them to answer this seemingly simple and obvious question?

Traditions

Rules.

Laws.

Keeping traditions, rules, and laws had became the most important thing for them.

Keeping the Sabbath, doing no work on it, was paramount.

Because keeping traditions, rules, and laws was the most important thing, it was easy to rationalize that in some cases it was okay to do harm or destroy life. Perhaps it was easy for the scribes and Pharisees to justify not healing this man in their own minds because he had a withered right hand. In other words, he was not productive. He was a drain on society. He was of no use to them.

Now, you might be saying that just because the scribes and Pharisees did not want to heal on the Sabbath does not mean that they were doing harm to this man or destroying his life. But, the point that Jesus is making is that whenever we see someone in need and do not take action, regardless of the traditions, rules, and laws, then we are doing harm and we are destroying life.

In every situation, we have a choice.

Do good or do harm.

Save life or destroy it.

We are all guilty of this at some point. However, as organizations and institutions grow, they tend to become more beholden to keeping traditions, rules, and laws instead of seeking to do good and to save life regardless of the traditions, rules, and laws.

In this situation, Jesus shows that regardless of the traditions, rules, and laws that he does good, he saves life.

Jesus never does harm. Jesus never destroys life.

In the parallel account of the man with the withered hand in Mark, when the scribes and Pharisees were silent at his question, Jesus looked at them with anger and he was grieved by their hardness of heart.

When traditions, rules, and laws become more important than a man’s life and his healing, it reveals our hardness of heart. Further, it shows that we prefer to do harm rather good, destroy life rather than save it.

Mark 3:6 says, “The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.”

in John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

They would rather destroy Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, rather than admit to their hardness of heart and do good and save life.

So, the question becomes who are you unwilling to do good to, to save their life, because they are against your traditions, rules, and laws?

Who is unworthy of your love because they break your moral code?

Who is it okay to look past because somewhere in your mind you have deemed them a sinner?

We should not gloss over these questions, thinking, “I don’t do that. I love everyone.”

Instead, we need to seriously examine how our lives, not just our words, are a witness to Jesus’ question. We need to seriously examine the sorts of people that we have a hardness of heart towards thereby justifying not doing good to them and saving their life.

Just because we have become a Christian or say that we follow Jesus does not mean that all of our little biases and prejudices immediately disappear.

So, we need to think deeply about what Jesus is asking.

Does the whole of my life say that doing good and saving life is more important than any moral code, any tradition, any rule, or any law?

Do I love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Do I love others as Jesus loves me?

For, Jesus, and therefore God, continually broke the moral codes and traditions, rules, and laws to do good and to save life.

 

Why Is Jesus the 77th of God?

TODAY’S READING: LUKE 3-4

“Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son ( as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli…the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” – Luke 3:23, 38

Luke 3:23-38 gives the genealogy of Jesus in Luke’s gospel. According to this genealogy, Jesus is the 77th of God.

Why is Jesus the 77th of God? What is the significance of this?

Adam was made in the image of God. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, Adam was the first man, a living being, the natural man, from the earth, of the dust. As Adam was, so are we. We have borne the image of Adam.

But, Jesus was the last Adam, became a life-giving spirit, the spiritual man, the second man, from heaven. We will also bear the image of the man of heaven. Jesus is the image of God.

In essence, Paul is saying that Jesus is the revelation of the spiritually perfect man. Jesus is man as God had always intended him to be.

Virtually everyone that studies numbers in the Bible concludes that the number seven symbolizes spiritual perfection. Or, some consider the meaning of seven to be just perfection. It is also quite common to see that the duplication of a number, in this case 77, intensifies the meaning of the number. Therefore, Jesus as the 77th of God is an intensification of the spiritual perfection of man.

But, we can also see 77 as 7 x 11. Seven and eleven are the only two factors of 77.

Google the meaning of the number 11 in the Bible and you will find that most people say that it means it disorder, chaos, or incompleteness. And, in many ways, I believe this to be true. However, I think there is another meaning to the number 11 that is more applicable to Jesus.

The first time the number 11 is used in scripture is Genesis 32:22. In this story, Jacob receives a revelation from God and who he is as his name is changed from Jacob to Israel.

The second time we see the number 11 is in Genesis 37:9. The context of this passage is Joseph’s dream, or revelation, of who he is and what he will do.

Deuteronomy 1:2 says that it was an 11 day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea. Horeb means arid or desert. It was literally a dry place. Kadesh-barnea means the holy purifying wanderings or the holy place of the desert wandering. Kadesh-barnea was an oasis of watery place in the desert. So, it took 11 days to get from a dry place to a place of water. Water often represents spiritual of revelation. So, 11 days was the time it took get to a place of revelation.

Also, it was to the eleven disciples that Jesus, after his resurrection, gave the revelation of all Scripture, which was that the son of man, the Christ, had to suffer, be rejected, be crucified, and rise from the dead three days later.

So, the number 11 can be seen to have a meaning of revelation.

Therefore, as the 77th of God, Jesus is the revelation of of God in the spiritually perfect man. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” And, Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”

There is another important meaning to Jesus as the 77th of God.

Lamech was the seventh from Adam through Cain. We could think of Lamech as the perfection, or completeness, of the fallen line, the seed of the serpent.

What was the epitome of Lamech, of the fallen line?

Genesis 4:23-24 says, “Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.'”

Through Lamech, the fallen line of Cain, the seed the serpent, we see that 77 is related to complete and total vengeance. This vengeance even comes completely our proportion to the offense as Lamech would kill a man for merely striking him.

But, Jesus completely transforms the meaning of 77 to forgiveness from complete and total vengeance.

John the baptist came to prepare the way of Jesus. He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

How did he do this?

Luke 1:77 says that John the baptist was “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.”

“And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:3)

So, in Luke 4:18-19, Jesus announced his ministry by quoting Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

In these verses, the Greek word for liberty is the same word that is exclusively translated forgiveness everywhere else in the New Testament. Jesus’ ministry was one of forgiveness.

So, Jesus was the 77th of God, the revelation of the spiritually perfect man, the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of God’s nature, who transformed the complete and total vengeance of fallen man, seen in Lamech taking vengeance 77 fold, to complete and total forgiveness.

Therefore, Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against men, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

The end result of Jesus as the 77th of God, the perfect revelation God’s nature in man, was repentance and forgiveness of sins.

Luke 24:45-47 says, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.'”