Tag: biblical theology
(PODCAST)A TIME WHEN THERE WAS NO TEENAGER’S
An extension of the wider mercy view of salvation. What you need to know!
THE SHEPHERDS VIEW OF CHRISTMAS
Extended reading: Luke 2:8-18
Devotional reading: v. 15,17-18
In the time of Christ’s birth, shepherds were viewed as “unclean” in the community of God’s people because of the type of work they did. They were constantly in contact with dirty, smelly sheep, their manure, their blood from cuts and scrapes, and the many insects that buzzed around them. This meant that shepherds were virtually never clean enough to worship with God’s people in God’s presence. So they were generally treated as outsiders.
Yet, “Bethlehem was nearby Jerusalem, and many of the sheep used in the temple sacrifices came from there. The surrounding hills were prime grazing land, and shepherds worked in the area day and night, all year round.”
It is to this group of people that the angel of the Lord appeared one night. Suddenly, and surrounded with amazing light, the angel stood before them (v.9). He gave to them “good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” He tells them of the “saviors” birth, right there in the city of David! He even tells them where to find this heavenly child, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (v. 12). And then, as if that is not to much already, a multitude of the “heavenly host” appear and are praising God!
That had to be one amazing night. A lowly group of shepherds, angels in the sky all around them praising God and revealing His birth; a divine gift to men! Imagine how you and I might have reacted to such a sight.
Confusion, perhaps disbelief?
They were afraid, in fact, “terribly frightened” (v. 9). The Greek word used for “terribly “ is (megas). It can mean exceedingly, over abundant, or great. But just as in other times when an angel appeared to men, He encouraged them to fear not (1:11-13; 1:30). When the angels leave and go back to heaven (v. 15) we begin to get a pretty good idea of the shepherds view of Christmas!
Faith overcame fear- “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made know to us” (v.15).
Excitement overcame distance- “So they came in a hurry and found where Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger” (v. 16). Just as the angel said!
Joy overcame silence- “They made known the statement which had been told them about this child” (v. 17).
Praise and worship filled their hearts- “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them!”
The shepherds view of Christmas was one of faith, excitement, and joy. What they “seen” and “heard” ultimately gave them a new spring in their step and a new song in their hearts!
This is only the second view of Christmas that we looked at (the first was Mary’s), but each one of them has given me a renewed joy and heart of praise for a time of the year that our materialistic culture so actively seeks to control.
What’s your view of Christmas?
THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS QUESTIONED
BRIEF INTRO: As we look into these passages, we notice Something odd. The questions that the chief priests, scribes, and elders are asking Jesus are the wrong questions! Rather than asking, “by what authority are (you) doing these things?”They should have asked each other, “why aren’t (we) doing these things?”
Have you ever asked the wrong question? In some ways, I can relate to this problem. If you are married, you understand what I mean. I am not using that example to be sarcastic or discourteous towards our spouses, but it is within such a relationship that we are most prone to realize that we have struggled in much the same way.
The problem here, however, is that they are asking the wrong questions of the Lord, not a spouse. And in so doing, they reveal that they are ignorant of the truth, self-serving, and hypocritical because they are not genuinely seeking to understand but instead want to “destroy Him” (v. 18).
Remember, back in vv. 15-16, Jesus cleansed the temple. He cast out (drove away) those people that were changing the “Roman money the pilgrims brought to Jerusalem into the Tyrian currency (closest thing to the old Hebrew shekel), since the annual temple tax had to be paid in that currency.” He turned over the seats of those selling the doves. These things originally were done for the “convenience” of the pilgrims, but had defaulted into a money-making scheme. They should not have been done inside the temple court.
So by His cleansing of the temple, Jesus directly challenged their authority since it was by their authorization that these things took place within the temple. That is one reason they want to destroy Him (v. 18) and why they would not answer Him (v. 33).
27 And they *came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple area, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders *came to Him, 28 and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” 29 But Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” 31 And they began considering the implications among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 32 But should we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the [a]people, for they all considered John to have been a real prophet. 33 Answering Jesus, they *said, “We do not know.” And Jesus *said to them, “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.”
FOCUS ONE: Jesus has “all” authority
Within those verses, I highlighted the main issue; what authority does Jesus have to cleanse the temple? How drastic the cleansing was the previous day certainly got their attention. That is why all three groups are present this day in the temple when Jesus returns (v.27). With intentional laser-like focus, they approach Him and ask the question, “by what authority? Their hope was that by His answer Jesus would be brought into disrepute (rejected by the people) with the people and thereby clear the way for their arresting Him.” But once again, Jesus turns their intentions back on their heads! “You answer my question first, then I’ll answer yours” (v.28). Jesus is the master of debate!
The question He asks is about whether or not God was behind John the Baptist’s mission. Think about the implications. “John had clearly testified to the divine source of Jesus’ mission. If they recognized the divine authority of John’s mission, they would be forced to recognize Jesus’ also and His cleansing of the temple as the legitimate exercise of His authority.”
The implications were obvious. It was too much for them to handle. So, they reasoned among themselves how to wiggle their way out of answering it. “We do not know” (v. 33). One commentator has said of their reply, “to save face they pleaded ignorance.” I can relate to that as well.
So Jesus, upon hearing their response, refuses to answer their question. Even so, They got the answer, didn’t they?
12 And He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and put a [a]fence around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and leased it to [b]vine-growers and went on a journey. 2 And at the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive his share of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. 3 And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 And again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. 6 He had one more man to send, a beloved son; he sent him to them last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’8 And they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the [c]owner of the vineyard do? He will come and put the vine-growers to death, and give the vineyard to others.
FOCUS TWO: Jesus has divine authority as the Son of God
Now Jesus begins to speak in parabolic language and, in this way, answers the question of His authority. It seems logical that these religious leaders are the “them” referenced in (12:1; cr. 12:12). The parable is easy to understand once we recognize the key components.
The “man” represents God. The vineyard symbolizes Israel, possibly the leaders of Israel. Slaves are the prophets, and the “beloved son” is Jesus.
Jesus, in using this parable, is in some way relating to the history of Israel. They rejected and killed the prophets of God, and they rejected and killed the Son of God (Acts 7:52). In sending the son the parable underscores the serious view of the owner of the vineyard.
To draw out the parable’s meaning, Jesus asks them a question (funny in a way, cr. 11:33), and then answers it Himself. His answer is frightening-judgment is coming! (Most bible scholars believe this happened in A.D. 70 at the fall of Jerusalem when the Romans destroyed the city and sacked the temple).
10 Have you not even read this Scripture:
‘A stone which the builders rejected,
This has become the [a]chief cornerstone;
11 This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the [b]people, for they understood that He told the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.
FOCUS THREE: Jesus has divine authority as the chosen cornerstone of God
The observations we make are amazing when we take the time to look. How much have we missed in our reading of the Bible? This study and what we are observing is simply one case of that very thing. At first glance, Jesus did not answer their question (11:33). But that is not the complete picture we see in this section. He did not answer them “outright,” but take notice that in the parable we just looked at, and now by citing Psalm 118:22-23, He is giving them a clear, understandable answer to their question. They understood His answer (v. 12)!
In quoting those verses in Psalm 118, Jesus is speaking of Himself as the Stone. Like in the parable before this, He (the Son) was rejected. But in this quote, we learn that what was rejected has become the key component that holds the building together. This “stone” language was very familiar in early Christianity, as shown by Acts 4:11 and 1st Peter 2:7. Something counted as worthless (like a particular stone) becomes invaluable (and now it holds the building together)!
The application of the Old Testament quote was unmistakable, but once again, the leaders could not grab hold of Jesus to destroy Him (11:18) because they were afraid of the people. This is the second time in these two chapters that we are told they fear the people (11:18; 12:12).
And so what else is there to do when your opponent has the better hand, and you fear the reprisal of the crowd? “and so they left Him and went away” (v. 12).
The Expositors Bible Commentary, pg, 730
GRIEF HAS ITS SEASON
Extended reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
Devotional reading: Verse 4
“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
It’s ok to grieve. You’re not alone and you’re not abnormal. You are a healthy person expressing deep anguish over the heart-rending loss of someone near and dear to you. The emotional turmoil you are facing is normal and healthy, but it needs to be worked through in a biblical way.
The writer of these lines is using sharp contrasts to express an important reality. From crying to laughing and grieving to dancing we can acknowledge a vast distance between the two.
None of them are forever. We may laugh and dance during the celebration of a wedding or graduation. But laughing and dancing is only for a season. Then, at some point in our earthly existence, we experience the death of someone we love and cherish.
Our laughter turns into crying and our dancing into grieving. Such things are inevitable BUT not insurmountable!
In these eight verses the writer directs our thoughts to a higher plane, a better place. He reminds us that God is in complete control of everything that happens, even the death of a spouse or other ones we love (v.14). He is the One who set the times for all these events.
I believe we grieve so deeply, not only because of our loss, but also because we do not understand the “full scope” of God’s eternal plans (v. 11). We cannot change what God has allowed, but we shouldn’t let those things we don’t understand drag us down and hold us there.
We can have hope and confidence in this: Just like our season of dancing at some point will turn into grieving, so too will our crying turn into laughter once again (v. 12-13).
GOING TO JERUSALEM
BRIEF INTRO: This section of Mark ten is very important to the writing as a whole (context), and I want to take some time and “zoom” into it. I know we have heard these words repeatedly, that Jesus was going to Jerusalem where He would be delivered into the hands of men and be killed and rise again, but where repetition is in play, we need to look closer.
Jerusalem is mentioned several times in this gospel. The first couple is references regarding various people coming from Jerusalem (Mark 1:5; 3:8; 3:22; 7:1). The other three, the ones mentioned after the shift in Christ’s focus and travels, are found in the latter part of his writing (Mark 10:32-34; 11:1-27; 15:41).
But Jerusalem is only one part of the picture that Christ highlighted for His disciples, as we will see in our first focus point.
33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be [a]handed over to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will [b]hand Him over to the Gentiles.
FOCUS ONE: The backstory
Jerusalem is vital to the storyline because, geographically, that is the place the passion events will take place. But, other scriptures explain to His disciples what would transpire when they got there!
Mark 9:9-12 is the first mention of Jesus’ suffering and death. At the Transfiguration, Jesus does not lay it out in great detail, as He does later, but He does tell Peter, James, and John that He “will suffer many things” and “the Son of man should rise from the dead.” Later, in Mark 9:31, Jesus instructs all of the disciples and tells them that He would be delivered into the hands of men, and they would kill Him, and He would rise again.
Mark 10:33-34 is the most complete statement of Jesus regarding what will happen to Him in Jerusalem. He tells them that “we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be (delivered) to the chief priests and the scribes; they will condemn Him to death, and will (deliver Him) to the Gentiles.” “They will mock Him and spit upon Him and scourge Him and kill Him and three days later He will rise again.”
In Mark 12:1-11, we find Jesus using a parable to teach. This parable is about the nation of Israel rejecting Him and killing Him. Yes, the ones Jesus said He would be “delivered over to.” Don’t forget that the gentiles also played a part in this (10:33b).
As this narrative keeps moving forward, we read about the Lord instituting “the Lord’s supper.” Mark 14:21-25 is where that is located and is a direct result of what is coming. It is a memorial for those who trust in Christ to “remember” what He bore on our behalf this day (suffering, death, bloodshed, and resurrection)!
And then, Just as Jesus told these men repeatedly, He is handed over to chief priests, Mark 14:45-53.
FOCUS TWO: Time is running out
Jesus graciously and patiently sought to prepare these twelve men for this event and its aftermath. But sadly, they missed the mark when it came to comprehending what Jesus was telling them. They didn’t get it, but I don’t believe we would have either. Most people cannot stay focused long enough to grasp hold of what matters in a sermon, lecture, or seminar. We are not disciplined enough to be focused. This holds true even today in churches all around the globe.
Here are a few of the disciples “didn’t get it verses:”
In Mark 4:10-13, Jesus is relaying His first parable. A parable is a rhetorical device used to explain the truth. Christ utilized this parable to teach these men that the way into the kingdom was by the gospel. Or, as stated elsewhere, “the foolishness of preaching.” This parable teaches that there is only one good ground that the gospel penetrates and produces fruit. All others will not provide gospel fruit. Many people may “hear” the gospel, but few will “accept” it and bear fruit (v. 20). Various reasons are given for this in the parable. They didn’t understand, and Jesus rebuked them.
Another place is in Mark 6: 34-37. The twelve had just come back from the mission Jesus sent them on (6:12). They did wonderful things by His power, and here we read that they do not comprehend who He is or His power and authority.
In Mark 6:52, Jesus walked on water. Sadly, we read, “they gained no insight from the incident because their heart was hardened.” Time and time again, we witness this sad truth. Here are a few others you can look up in your own study.
Mark 7:17-Regarding clean and unclean (The heart)
Mark 8 17-18 Leaven of Pharisees not understood (bread)
Mark 9:32 -Regarding His death and resurrection
Mark 10:35-Another evidence of a lack of understanding (James and John sit on the right and left)
After these, the events unfold much faster, and the time for preparation has ended!
34 And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him; and three days later He will rise from the dead.
FOCUS THREE: The school of experience
As mentioned earlier, these words give a more detailed account of what is about to happen to Jesus in Jerusalem. Those words should have struck a chord with those men. “Condemn,” “mock,” “spit upon,” “scourge,” and “kill” are words that should have awakened their minds and hearts to what is coming. But, as the following verses reveal, that didn’t appear to happen.
We will delve into that account in our next post, but for now, let’s try to grasp the seriousness of the hour. Their travels will shortly find them in Jerusalem (11:1). There, they will be overtaken by the speed at which things begin to transpire. No more prep time. Jesus will enter that city, marking the “official” presentation of Himself to the nation of Israel as the rightful Son of David! He arrived precisely at the time Daniel prophesied (Daniel 9:25-26)!
It won’t be much longer until “the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him” (14:21). Many such writings come from the Psalms, but from Genesis 3:15 onward throughout Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, and others we read about all the things Jesus had spoken of! And better still, Jesus fulfilled every one of them; He is the only person that could!
It is then, amid all the turmoil, that these men will “get it.” Oh, there will be some setbacks, such as when they all flee the garden of Gethsemane after Judas betrays Jesus. Peter will deny Christ just as Christ told Him he would (14:30). But resurrection day comes, and these men are forever changed! The world will forevermore be changed because of their zeal for their messiah! They finally “get it!”
I hope and pray that the same can be said of us. I hope that the area of influence each of us has will be changed and will continue to be because of the life-transforming work of grace in our hearts. We, like the disciples of Jesus, should be forever changed! And that change should produce a zeal in our hearts that leads us to be faithful ministers of the gospel to those around us.
THE DANGER OF PROCRASTINATING
Extended reading: Luke 14:16-21
Devotional reading: 2 Corinthians 6:2
” For God says, at just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation I helped you.” Indeed, for God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.
Perhaps as you read the title of this devotional you uttered a semi- deep sigh and admitted, to yourself, that you are indeed a procrastinator. Thoughts of various situations flood your mind. The school report that was due before the semesters end, and you still didn’t start it. Two days left! Spring house cleaning. Wow, summer got here fast! Even setting up that doctor appointment that is very much needed.
Procrastinator’s are people that put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done. Does this definition describe you? Sure, we get frustrated with ourselves about this glitch in our lifestyle: even laugh about it at times. But is it something to be made light of?
Paul makes it clear to the Corinthians, and to us, that salvation is not something that we want to procrastinate over. Today is the day! God’s ready to save you. Putting His offer of forgiveness off as if it’s like some other school paper won’t work out well for you. You will end up like those people in Luke 14, mentioned above. Missing out on even the “smallest taste” of what God has prepared for those who come to Him in faith.
What He offers those who believe in Him is the forgiveness of their sins and a reconciled relationship with Him, their creator. So they can know Him and enjoy Him forever.
Today is the day- tomorrow may be to late- don’t procrastinate, God never does
How to enter the kingdom of God
“What must I do to be saved?” This is the million dollar question! From the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts eight, the jailer in Acts sixteen, and myriads of people ever since, that particular question has been asked time and time again. But that is not the issue in question in these scriptures. In this study, we will read about two different kinds of people. Those who are (like) the little children who came to Jesus in innocent trust; and those who are (like) the wealthy young man who trusted in his wealth and his righteousness.
Packed inside, the apparent contrast between the children and the rich young man is this question: How can I enter the kingdom of God? What does Mark want us to learn by sharing this account with us?
13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He would touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was (indignant) and said to them, “Allow the children to come to Me; do not [a]forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
FOCUS ONE: The little children (13-16)
So, what is going on in these scriptures? It appears that the parents, most likely, are bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing. Perhaps some aunts and uncles are included in that group; we are not sure. The word “they” is not very specific in this case. We know from verse one that the crowds had gathered around Him as He entered the region and began to teach them.
These children’s ages most likely ranged from being infants to others in their pre-teen years (paidia used in Marks account, Brephe used in Luke 18:15). They brought the children to Jesus because they wanted Him to lay His hands on them and place a blessing upon them. The disciples “rebuke” (forbid, censure) the parents for doing so. Perhaps they only desired to protect Jesus from potential trouble or more fatigue since they had just arrived in town. Still, Jesus was “indignant” (very displeased, angry)) that anyone would think that children are unimportant. Jesus tells them not to hinder the children from coming to Him. At this point, the story becomes fascinating!
There are two statements in these verses that define the main point:
- The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these (v. 14)
- Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter at all (v. 15).
What characteristics is Jesus talking about? Is He saying only children will be in the kingdom of God? How does a person receive the kingdom of God as a child?
The answer to those questions becomes more apparent when we think about children! After all, they are the objects of the lesson that Jesus seeks to communicate. And what characteristic is at the heart of childhood that Jesus emphasizes? Innocent, simple trust In Him! “God’s present spiritual rule in people’s lives belongs as a possession to such as these.”
“It is not so much the innocence and humility of children (for children are not invariably either innocent or humble): it is rather the fact that children are unselfconscious, receptive, and content to be dependent on other’s care and bounty; it is in such a spirit that the kingdom must be received.”
Coming to Jesus as a person that recognizes and humbly acknowledges that you have nothing to give but simple trust in Him is the heart-work of God that makes people “kingdom ready!”
These words are instructive as well as soothing to our souls when we think about the innocence of children. BUT, I say again stronger, BUT, do not miss the next statement of Jesus. His warning must be heeded: “whoever DOES NOT receive the kingdom of God like these children shall not enter it at all.”
Our manner of approach to Christ MATTERS A LOT!
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do so that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus showed love to him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But he [a]was deeply dismayed by [b]these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
FOCUS TWO: The encounter with the rich young man (17-22)
He was self-righteous and selfish—he thought he could earn his way into Heaven. He trusted in himself while the children with simple faith trusted in Jesus! In this, we observe the obvious and rather instructive lesson of complete surrender!
The rich young man ran up to Jesus and knelt before Him, an expression of respect for the “good teacher.” Jesus’ response seems abrupt. Calvin understands this to be “it’s as if He had said, ‘thou falsely calleth me a good master (teacher), unless thou acknowledges that I have come from God.” “In other words, Jesus is saying, before you address me with such a title, you had better think soberly about what the implications are, and especially what they are for you.”
He wants to know how to enter eternal life- Jesus knows he is referring to works, so He lays out the second table of the law before the man (Relating to others).
The man states that he kept it all from his youth (self-righteousness). Sometimes wealth and our own achievements can blind us to our needs. But to keep things in their proper order, and this mans thinking in line with the belief of his day, we need to realize that “it was a firm Jewish belief, based on Old Testament teaching, that the man who kept the law would live (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). So, that is why Jesus begins there.
The man’s answer is a confident one. From youth “probably refers to the age of thirteen, when every Jewish boy became bar miswah (son of the commandment). At that point in a Jewish boy’s life, he became responsible to live by God’s commands.”
This is why he spoke sincerely. The problem was that he believed his obedience to the law was only an external matter, whereas the law also required inner obedience, which no person could comply with. He needed to understand his need before he could be helped
He needed to become like a little child and exercise simple innocent trust in Christ. He needed to acknowledge his pride and self-righteousness, cast it off, and turn to Jesus!
Jesus, with great love for him, pointed out the issue with his heart and told him what he needed to do (v. 21). He needed to humble himself and forsake the security that he clung to with his wealth, and the critical part here is “come follow me.”
At first, we wonder why Jesus would take such an approach to this man’s question about gaining eternal life. Many professing Christians would probably have started talking with him about God’s love and How he wants to bless everybody. They probably would have told him to “ask Jesus into his heart” and that he would be made right by doing so.
But Jesus used the law to help the young man realize his need (Galatians 3:24). The one thing that prevented this man from gaining eternal life was the security he had in his wealth. He didn’t want to surrender that and take hold of Christ by faith. By using the law Jesus sought to help the man realize and repent of his covetousness (Genesis 20:17).
“The only way to life is through the narrow gate of full surrender, and through that gate we may take, not what we want, but only what God allows.” Repentance and faith are what he needs, just like the rest of us! Sadly, he went away grieved, unwilling to part with his property.
This does not mean that everybody who comes to Jesus must give up everything they have. But it does mean that we need to be willing to!
23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus responded again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were even more astonished, and said to Him, “[a]Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
FOCUS THREE: Jesus teaches the disciples (23-27)
As the disciples witness the sad exit of the young man unwilling to come to Christ and inherit eternal life, Jesus profoundly executes another teaching moment! “How hard it will be” for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. At this statement, the disciples exhibit amazement. Why? Honestly, it reflects their Jewish background, “which placed emphasis on the privileged position of the rich. To be wealthy was sure evidence of having the blessing of God.”
But Jesus, as always, and with incredible insight, seeks to penetrate through this false ideology by showing how such wealth and privilege could keep someone from putting their faith in the only means of salvation, namely the person of Christ!
There is some encouragement in what Jesus is saying. Take notice that He says, “it is hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God (v. 23) and again in verse twenty-four. He also states that “it is easier to go through the eye of a needle (v.25) than for a wealthy person to enter the kingdom of God. So where is the encouragement? It is found in the simple fact that Jesus does not say it is impossible!
So, what is the point Jesus is making? That salvation is a work of God, not man. Apart from His grace, it is impossible for anyone, especially a rich man, to enter God’s kingdom. Our efforts cannot save us. All our wealth cannot purchase salvation for us. What we cannot do for ourselves, God did for us in the person of Jesus Christ (v. 27; John 3:16)!
28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and have followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms [lands], for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 [a]but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in [b]the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
FOCUS FOUR: Peter speaks up; “But we did all that” (v.28).
I can relate to Peter! I can picture myself at first shocked at Jesus’ statement and then utterly confounded at the reality that I did all that. The logical and very emotional response would be: “So what does that man do for me? I did all that you said.” But, Peter is most likely thinking in the material realm rather than the spiritual realm. A problem plagues them throughout their time with Christ pre-cross and through the resurrection.
Again, with great love and patience, Jesus responds to Peter’s statement without rebuke. Honestly, the response of Jesus is a bit hard to understand, at least in part. What does it mean that in this life, such people would receive those things forsaken for Christ a hundredfold? I don’t know anyone in church history who has had that happen except possibly Job.
The best answer may be “understood in the context of the new community into which the believer in Jesus comes. There [they] find multiplication of relationships, often closer and more spiritually meaningful than blood ties.” In other words, God takes nothing away that He does not restore in new and unique ways!
BUT, along with great blessings comes “persecutions” (v. 30). Wouldn’t we rather avoid this part? Ever hear the song with these words: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden?” That’s what we have going on in our text. No believer in Christ was ever promised a pain-free, persecution-free, problem-free life. He told us that as they persecuted Him, they will persecute those who follow Him (John 15:18). BUT, it will be worth it when we see Jesus, our savior!
He laid aside temporarily more than we will ever be called to. He suffered more than we can fathom, and He did all that for “the joy set before Him.” Obedient unto the Father even unto death on a cross; a death that was for the “propitiation” for sinners like us, and through it reconciling us with Him so we can enjoy Him forever! It will be worth whatever we must leave behind in this life.
The Expositors Bible. Commentary, pg. 713
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1John 4:10).
I can remember several moments in my life where I was “blown away” by something completely unexpected happening or being said in a particular situation.
An unexpected gift from a relative that went well beyond what I hoped for. A very complimentary job review and pay raise when the meeting was completely unexpected and the raise exceeding any others previously given. Surviving an accident in my truck when I rolled it over three times. My wonderful wife offering me forgiveness rather than harboring unforgiveness
What I mean when I use the expression “blown away” is that I was thoroughly impressed, overwhelmed, or excited by something. The things I mentioned earlier have done that, but all of them combined come nowhere close to what Jesus did for me!
Nothing blows me away more than God, the creator of everything, sending and giving His Son to be my substitute and there by satisfying His wrath against my sin.
God sending and giving His Son in this way for a vile, wretched sinner like me, while daily sinning against Him, is an amazing act of love that can never be matched.
Are you looking for love? Unbridled, unending, sacrificial love? There is only one place, one person in which you can find such love, His name is Jesus! Perhaps it’s time to stop “looking for love in all the wrong places” and look to Him. There is no greater expression of love than the cross of Christ.