Sunday – October 27, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 23:40 to 24:35 “Dealing with the Death of Jesus”

Sunday – October 27, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 27, 2019

Luke 23:50-52
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.”

We should be very interested in the story of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus. No one knows where Arimathea was located, but the designation helps distinguish him from other Josephs. He was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the body of 70 men who governed the religious and many of the civic matters in Israel. It was the Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus to death, although Joseph had not consented to their plan. Probably he had not spoken out as vigorously as he should have. John 19:38 tells us that he was a secret disciple of Jesus, for fear of the Jews. His fear had caused Joseph not to take a bold stand for Christ, even though in his heart he knew that he should have done so.

But now, after Jesus was dead, when His followers had gone into hiding, Joseph gathered up his courage (Mark 15:43), went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus so that he could give Him a proper burial. If he had not done so, Jesus’ body probably would have been thrown on a garbage heap and burned, robbing us of some of the major proofs of the resurrection, as we’ll see. We can thank Joseph for honoring Jesus with a proper burial and for giving us many evidences for our faith.

I believe Luke is commending the faith of Joseph and the women, seen by their concern for Jesus body and burial, at a time when this was a most unpopular, and even dangerous, thing to do. Faith in Christ requires an identification with Christ, which includes an identification with Him in His death. In their actions, they stood with Jesus, and apart from the Jewish religious leaders. Saving faith requires those saved from their sins stand apart from a world that has rejected Jesus, and stand with Him who was rejected and put to death. Joseph, Nicodemus, and the women are a picture of what faith requires by those who would be saved. Faith is expressed by an identification with the Jesus who died on the cross of Calvary. No wonder there is no focus on the eleven at this point, whose faith may not have failed, but whose faith surely is not praiseworthy at this point in time.

It does remind us that even when those who are chosen to lead fail to do so, God always has someone in the wings. Joseph was a man whom the disciples would never have considered a prospect for discipleship. He was a prominent member of the Council which, as a group, rejected Jesus. He was a man of influence and apparent wealth. And yet he was the one whom God had prepared so that the body of Jesus would be honored in death. God always has a person in place, but this is often not the person we would have expected to be God’s choice.

Sunday – October 6, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 23:1-25 Part 2 “Rejection of Israel’s Messiah”

Sunday – October 6, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 6, 2019

Luke 23:8-10
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.

We all make offers we really don’t expect others to accept. I believe Pilate made the leaders of Israel—the chief priests and rulers of the people—an offer they would never accept—but they did. The religious leaders of Israel brought Jesus to Pilate, accusing Him of being a criminal worthy of death. But Pilate did not see it this way at all. Eventually, he made these leaders an offer I think he was sure they would not accept. His offer was to release to them Barabbas, a thief, a revolutionary, and a murderer. Which would they choose—to turn Barabbas loose on their city—or Jesus? Jesus was a man of peace, a seemingly harmless fellow. Barabbas was a dangerous criminal. Surely they would leave Barabbas in prison, where he belonged, and be content to have Jesus found guilty of a crime and then pardoned.

When we read the account of the trial of our Lord before the political rulers of that day, it is like watching a table tennis match. On the one hand, Jesus is passed back and forth between Pilate and Herod. On the other, the dialogue between Pilate and the religious leaders bounces back, from one to the other. Pilate repeatedly pronounces Jesus innocent of any crime, but the Jewish religious leaders respond by even more vigorously affirming His guilt, demanding nothing less than the death penalty. One would think that Pilate, with the power of Rome behind him, would have little difficulty enforcing his will on the people, but such is not the case. We see that indeed the people prevail, and the story ends with Pilate giving them their way, even though this means the death of an innocent man.

Why does Luke include this incident with Herod while no other gospel writer does? I believe it is important to see that everyone rejected Jesus as the Messiah, including Herod. But it was absolutely necessary for Rome and the Gentiles to share in the rejection and the crucifixion of Christ so that all men, not just the Jews, might be guilty of His innocent blood. Herod does play a part, but this is the time for the Gentiles to show their own disdain for the Savior.

If men are so utterly angry with God that they will always hate, oppose, and reject Him, how can they ever be convinced, converted, and changed? It will not be through human might or methods, but only through the Holy Spirit of God. As we read the Book of Acts we learn that men were convinced and converted—miraculously so, such as Saul—but they were convinced and converted through the work of God’s Spirit, as He empowered men and their testimony for Christ. May we go about His work, dependent upon His Word and dependent upon His Spirit.

Sunday – August 18, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 21:5-24 “The Son of David”

Sunday – August 18, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 18, 2019

Luke 21:36
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.

According to a survey published by U.S. News and World Report in late 2017, two-thirds of American adults believe that Jesus someday will return to Earth. However, most who believe in Christ’s return placed it well beyond their lifetime, with 33 percent saying it will happen more than a few hundred years from now. Among us, I would guess that belief in Christ’s return is near 100 percent. Yet I wonder how much the awareness of His return affected your life this past week? Did it figure in how you spent your time? Did it fill you with hope as you faced a trial or crisis? Did it enable you to resist temptation, as you thought about what it will be like to stand before Him on that great day? Did it determine how you spent your money as a steward who will give an account? Or did you even think at all about Christ’s soon coming as you went about your week?

If the second coming of Jesus Christ is not a major factor in your normal Christian life, you are missing one of the most powerful biblical motivations to be a disciple of Christ. Our text does not deal with the question of whether there is a separate rapture of the church, but rather focuses on the second coming of Christ. If you believe that the church will be raptured some time before the second coming, then this text does not directly apply to you. But if you believe that there is only one second coming of Christ for His people, then it is quite applicable.

Though our Lord has little interest in satisfying the curiosity of His disciples concerning the timing of these events, He has a great interest in teaching them about their conduct in the light of these events. How different is His focus from our own. There are many differences and much debate about the timing and the sequence of events in matters of prophecy, but there can be little doubt as to what our Lord’s emphasis is here—on the disciple’s conduct. The conduct of the disciple can be summed up by saying be prepared.

In July of 1959, Queen Elizabeth was scheduled to visit Chicago. Elaborate preparations were made for her visit. The waterfront was readied for docking her ship, the city was cleaned and a red carpet was ready to be rolled out for her to walk on. Many hotels were alerted to be ready. But when they contacted the Drake Hotel, the manager said, “We are making no plans for the Queen. Our rooms are always ready for royalty.” That’s how our lives should be in light of Christ’s return. We shouldn’t have to make any special or unusual preparations. We should live each day alert and ready, dependent on Him in prayer, and obedient to His Word. When the world is gripped with fear because of frightening events, we should look up, filled with hope because our redemption draws near.

Sunday – August 11, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 21:1-4 “Mite or Mite Not”

Sunday – August 11, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 11, 2019

Luke 21:1-3
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them

The cults are growing rapidly, not because the unchurched are convinced of the correctness of their doctrinal positions, but because they are drawn by the fact that the needs they feel most strongly are being met outside of orthodoxy. Have you met anyone who has converted to Mormonism because they were so impressed by the life and ministry of Joseph Smith? Evangelicalism has committed several errors in its practices, and most of them relate to the use of money. In the past, major denominations took the social and physical needs of their fellow man seriously. They rightly grasped the obligation of the church to respond to those needs. But as these denominations became theologically more and more liberal, the emphasis fell almost totally on needs other than spiritual.

Rightly, evangelicals retreated from what have been called “social gospel” organizations. But we have wrongly retreated from the work of ministering to the material needs of people in our efforts to disassociate from those who preach a false gospel. The poor and the oppressed have come to view evangelical Christians as uncaring. Have we become so spiritually minded; we are of no earthly good? The cults and social gospelers have gained followers due to the disinterest of Christians in meeting material needs.

All of this demands that in a study of the work of the ministry, we must rethink the area of material ministry. We must seriously consider what the Word of God has to say about the ministry of money. There is a major misconception held by most Christians about money, which is at the root of our material malpractice. The evil of materialism can easily be confused with ministry that money can perform. We are sensitive about the subject of the use of money because many of us are not very skillful here, often linking faith with financial irresponsibility. We purchase items on the basis that God will provide the money to pay for it. Financially, we have jumped from the pinnacle of the temple, putting God to the test.

Confusion about the importance of money is also a byproduct of disproportionate emphasis on the part of those who proclaim the Scriptures. Some preachers never get off the subject of money. All of us have been turned off by this kind of pulpit pleading for funds. But some of us who preach the Scriptures are in error for not mentioning money at all. Usually this is because we don’t want to be associated with those who are perpetual solicitors of contributions. Also, we hesitate to mention money because to teach the whole counsel of God on this subject is to point out the obligation of Christians to bountifully provide for those who preach the Word (1 Corinthians 9:1–14). Because of this “conflict of interest” we avoid thorough teaching on biblical giving.

Sunday – August 4, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 20:41-47 “The Son of David”

Sunday – August 4, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 4, 2019

Luke 20:41-44
Then Jesus said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

In April of 1984, at 9:47 AM, hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Britons suddenly leaped in the air. They had been convinced by astronomer Patrick Moore on BBC radio that the planet Pluto would pass directly behind Jupiter at that moment, producing a gravitational pull on Earth that would make people feel lighter. Minutes after 9:47, the switchboards at BBC lighted up. One woman said that she and 11 guests had floated around the room. A man called in to say he had hit his head on the ceiling. Had any of the bounding multitudes looked at a calendar before they leaped, they would have realized it was the first day of April… (Reader’s Digest [4/85]).

That was a harmless and humorous deception. But one area where deception is neither harmless nor humorous is religion. Satan is a master deceiver. One of the most common complaints that you hear from those who avoid church is that the church is full of hypocrites. Of course, so is the world; but it is true: the church is full of hypocrites. Satan makes sure of that. He deceives many into thinking that they are right with God when really, they are not. He uses these hypocrites to keep others away from true Christianity. We need to make sure that we understand what true religion is and that we steer clear of false religion.

The intent of Jesus was to show His audience in the temple courtyard that neither they nor their teachers of the Law understood their own Scriptures. They rightly thought that Messiah would be the physical descendant of David, but they wrongly thought that he would be just a great man, a political Savior, who would bring in an age of peace and prosperity. Jesus wanted them to see that the Messiah (or Christ) would not only be David’s son, but also David’s Lord- God in human flesh. They needed a right view of Messiah so that they would not be deceived by false religion.

To know who Christ is—that He is both David’s son, a man born of the flesh; and, David’s Lord, the eternal God—is one thing. But each person must respond to this truth by trusting Christ as Savior and yielding to Him as Lord, even as David did. On this occasion, Jesus did not answer the question He posed nor did He call for a response. He just left His audience to ponder the implications of the question for themselves. But the clear implication is: If Jesus is the Messiah and Messiah is Lord over such a great man as King David, then should not I submit to Him as my Lord? True Christianity is not just believing intellectually that Jesus is the Messiah or that He is your Savior. True Christianity means believing in Jesus in the sense that you follow Him as Lord, so that in thought, word, and deed you are growing to be more and more like Him.

Sunday – July 28, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 20:27-40 “Seven Brothers for One Bride”

Sunday – July 28, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 28, 2019

Luke 20:37-39
“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB.  38 “Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”

Our knowledge of the Sadducees is a bit scanty and uncertain. We don’t know for sure the origin of the group or its name. They were mostly upper class, educated, rationalistic, religious conservatives who held to the supreme authority of the Torah (the first five books of Moses). They rejected the oral traditions of the Jewish rabbis. The high priest and many of his associates were Sadducees (Acts 5:17). In their denial of the resurrection and the existence of angels and spirits, they disagreed sharply with the Pharisees (Acts 23:6-9).

Consequently, they took little interest in religious matters and in many respects clashed with the Pharisees, especially as regards the Pharisees’ attachment to the ‘traditions of the elders’ which made Jewish religious life so intricate. Everything which, according to their views, was not taught by ‘the law of Moses’ (the first five books of the Old Testament) was rejected by the Sadducees as forbidden innovations. The letter of the Law in the first five books of the Torah was enough.

In the past, I would have called the Pharisees the “conservatives” and the Sadducees the “liberals,” which is somewhat true. But in terms of insisting that doctrine be grounded in biblical revelation, the Sadducees wanted “chapter and verse,” while the Pharisees were content to cite their traditions. If the Pharisees were the moving force behind the opposition to Jesus before His crucifixion, death, and resurrection, it is the Sadducees who take up this role afterwards, for now the issue of resurrection has become a crucial part of the gospel message. The main thing which Luke wants us to be aware of is that the Sadducees, who are pressing Jesus for an answer concerning the resurrection do not really believe in it themselves.

It is quite easy to look at the Sadducees with a very critical eye. How foolish, we might think, for them to reject the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, when it is so clearly taught in the Scriptures. But let me ask you, as I ask myself, how much do we believe in the resurrection of the dead? How does the certainty of our resurrection, and of the kingdom of God to come, impact our present lives? I still have many earthly desires for the future, and I do not yearn for heaven as I should. My lifestyle and my values betray my lack of faith in this area. Are we, like the Sadducees, so “blessed in this life” that we would set aside thoughts of the next?

Sunday – July 21, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 20:19-26 “God and Government”

Sunday – July 21, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 21, 2019

Luke 20:23-26

But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

With taxes and elections being a yearly occurrence, it is appropriate to talk about guile, government, and God. There is nothing like taxes to tempt us to fudge the truth! When you throw in religion on top of taxes and government, you’ve got a built-in formula for hypocrisy. Those three elements—taxes, government, and religion—all play a part in this exchange between the Jewish religious authorities and Jesus over the subject of paying taxes to Caesar. Sometimes a common enemy will bring together strange bedfellows. (FYI: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” East Indian proverb) Although Luke does not mention it, both Matthew and Mark report that the Herodians and the Pharisees joined forces in this attempt to bring Jesus down. But in order to get rid of Jesus, they teamed up to trap Jesus with a question designed to impale Him on the horns of a dilemma.

After some flattery, they asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” If Jesus answered, “Yes,” the Pharisees would accuse Him of being soft towards Rome and certainly not being the Messiah who could deliver the nation from Rome’s hated sovereignty. If He answered, “No,” the Herodians would report Him to Pilate as being opposed to Caesar’s rule, thus guilty of sedition. They thought that they had Him this time.

But Jesus’ answer stunned them. In one succinct sentence, He showed that God and Caesar each have legitimate realms of authority with corresponding responsibilities. But if there is a conflict between realms, God is supreme over Caesar. By asking His critics to produce the Roman coin, Jesus underscored the fact that they were enjoying the benefits of Caesar’s government: they used his coinage; they enjoyed many civil improvements and benefits that he provided. And so, they were obligated to give Caesar his due.

There are two extremes to be avoided in our outlook on government. The first is to see government as the enemy of God, and to be always opposing ourselves to it. The other extreme is to view government too highly, as man’s salvation and security. It is all too easy to look to government for those things which only God can give. It is all too easy to turn from God to government. Some Christians oppose government unnecessarily and unbiblically, using God as their pretext for rebellion and disobedience. Others seem to view government as the solution to all our earthly (and spiritual) problems. Some think that we can establish a righteous government on the earth and so clean it up that Messiah will come. I believe that only Messiah can clean up this mess, and that only after He comes will a righteous government exist. Let us keep government in perspective. It is not the enemy of God, but it is God’s agent. Let us obey government as to the Lord, in every way possible.

Sunday – July 14, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 19:45 to Luke 20:18 “Tempest in the Temple”

Sunday – July 14, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 14, 2019

Luke 20:1-2
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

The problem that the Jewish leaders faced was Jesus and His authority confronted their authority. Through the years they had their share of run-ins with Jesus. At the start of His ministry, Jesus had also gone up to Jerusalem and cleansed the temple (John 2:13-22). But then He left town and had pretty much kept to the north, while they had continued to run the religious establishment in Jerusalem. Jesus had come to town a few times and stirred things up, but He always had left and things had gone back to normal. But now things were coming to a head.

The problem the Jewish religious leaders faced is the same problem that every person who comes into contact with Jesus faces: His authority confronts my authority. At first, maybe it’s just an irritating sermon that makes you a bit uncomfortable. You don’t like it, but you brush it aside and continue on with your agenda for your life. Then a passage in the Bible steps on your toes. Your level of discomfort goes up a notch. You realize that if He takes over your life, there are going to be some radical changes, and you’re not sure that you want to relinquish that much control. So, you try and dodge the implications of who Jesus is by raising all sorts of intellectual questions. But Jesus keeps coming to town and confronting your authority to run your own life. Sooner or later, you come to a crisis point where you have to deal with the question that these Jewish religious leaders asked: “By what authority does Jesus say and do these things?”

If Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, who gave His life for you on the cross, then He is the absolute sovereign who has the supreme right to govern your life. Jesus the Christ could go into the temple, turn over the tables of the money-changers, drive out those who were selling, and confront the religious leaders because He was acting under the authority of the sovereign God. That same authority gives Him the right to confront you and me with the way we are living for ourselves, even if we cover it over with religiosity.

J.C. Ryle perceptively commented, “The ruin of thousands is simply this, that they deal dishonestly with their own souls. They allege pretended difficulties as the cause of their not serving Christ, while in reality they ‘love darkness rather than light,’ and have no honest desire to change.” The question for us today is, how do we respond when He suddenly upends our comfortable way of life? Do we challenge His right to confront us? Or, do we honestly face our own sinful selfishness, our insistence on running our lives on our terms? Do we yield to His rightful lordship? Since Jesus Christ is acting by God’s authority, we had better submit to Him!

Sunday – July 7, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 19:28-45 “Un-Triumphal Entry”

Sunday – July 7, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 7, 2019

Luke 19:39-40
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

One can hardly grasp the mood of many at that moment in history. The crowds were looking for the Messiah, and Jesus was a likely candidate. The moment was right. The people looked for Him, watching carefully for any indication of His identity. In contrast, the Pharisees and religious leaders were determined that He was not the Messiah, and that He would have no opportunity to attempt to be acclaimed such by the masses who would have wished He were their King.

The problem was no one really understood the meaning and significance of what they were doing as they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. John informs us that even the disciples did not understand what they or Jesus were doing until after He was glorified (John 12:16). The crowds had no idea who He was, thinking Jesus was only “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:10-11). Luke put in the picture “Jesus was praised for His miracles” (Luke 19:37). Just as Jesus could say that those who crucified Him “knew not what they were doing” (Luke 23:34), so we see that the crowds did not know what they were doing here either.

Some of the disciples did regard Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem as the entrance of Israel’s King, but they did not understand how His kingdom would be instituted. Many people simply did not know who He was, or what was happening. One wonders how many got caught up in the excitement and the activity, without knowing what was happening at all. The Pharisees and the religious leaders, of course, not only rejected Jesus’ deity, but also His identity as Messiah. How then, could they allow Him to be praised? They insisted that Jesus stop the people from praising Him. Yet Jesus refused, saying that if the people were silenced, the stones would cry out. Jesus was the Son of God. He not only deserved the praise and worship; it could not be silenced.

That is what you and I are to do now. If you acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God, to be your Savior, then He must be praised. How is it that a rainy day can keep us from joining others in praising Him? How is it that a beautiful day can do the same, by giving us a “day out on the lake,” rather than with the saints, praising Him? It is one thing for those who deny Jesus as Lord to fail to praise Him. It is another for those who name Him as Lord and King to refuse to worship Him. Heaven is an eternity of praise. When He comes as King, every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will utter His praise (Philippians 2:9-11). Let us not be guilty of keeping silent when we should be praising Him. And is not our bearing witness to Him a form of praise as well? Do we not refuse to praise Him when we fail to tell others of Him and of His love? Let us surpass the stones!