Friday, February 27, 2009

1 Corinthians, Chapter 11

Mankind can come up with some pretty silly things. This chapter is hard to write about because it is basically Paul trying to weed through the asinine arguments and judgments of the church in Corinth so he can re-direct them to focus on Christ again. As I read this, it really seems like the people of Corinth got caught up more in how something was done rather than the why. Nothing frustrates me more.

28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11:28-32

There is nothing wrong with a moment of self-reflection in prayer. I think sometimes that we get lost in presenting what we want done to God without taking a moment to reflect on what we need to change in our hearts. That is what I think this little moment is for. If we lose track of the sacrifice that Christ made for us we can easily lose our own faith. Considering the sacrifice for a moment re-orients us spiritually. It gets us back on the right path and steers us away from the petty arguments mentioned in this chapter.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 10

This chapter of 1 Corinthians can almost be summed up in two old clich├ęs: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" and "One cannot serve two masters." Both are mentioned in regards to resisting temptation to sin. I love Paul's take on this. He points out that temptation is something that everyone must face. Though each person's temptations are different, they are not unique as others have had to face the same temptations throughout history. That gives us a promise of never being alone in our fight against sin.

11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. – 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

My wife and I have discussed this in a way before. Everyone is susceptible to temptation, but it is not the same thing for everyone else. This also ties in with the statement that no sin is greater than another, and in combination with both it makes prejudice seem even more nearsighted. For some people, the temptation hey struggle with may be pornography. For the next person, they may be able to resist pornography with ease, but they struggle with alcohol. For a third person, they may be able to easily shrug off alcoholism and pornography, but they struggle with homosexuality. None of these is greater than the other, but they are still temptations. We do not face these alone, but our experience with temptation can be different than others.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1 Corinthians, Chapter 9

Today's chapter is another difficult one to write about. In it, Paul talks about his rights as an apostle. He almost goes out of his way to say he is fully entitled to all the perks of being an apostle, but he also denies that he needs him. To me, it is like he is trying to teach a lesson on getting caught up in titles. Many people thought he was an apostle in his time, but some disagreed that he was. In this chapter he tried to show that his title was not important. The important thing is that he followed his compulsion to preach regardless of the reward.

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. – 1Corinthians 9:12-14

A Christian walk is one of sacrifice. We know this because we are to follow Christ's example. His very life was a sacrifice so that we might be made Holy through His blood on the Cross. It is therefore our duty to spread that gospel regardless of the cost. How many martyrs have followed this example? Some are well known, while others passed their lives in quiet obscurity while simply serving the call.

This is an example that we must carry over to our own lives. Some are called to greater things and become great evangelists. In the eyes of God, however, they are no greater than the person that strives to bring just one person to Christ. I consider it the greatest honor of my life to have been used by god to reach my wife for Christ. That is just one person, but to me it gives my life purpose regardless of any reward I received for that work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

1 Corinthians, Chapter 8

It is hard to find a context in today's world for 1 Corinthians 8. Sacrificing food to idols is not exactly something that is commonplace in today's society. If anything, this short chapter has a point of expressing that something as simple as food cannot affect our relationship with God.

8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. – 1 Corinthians 8:8

It is almost like Paul is saying that food is simply food. I can picture him as frustrated because he was putting out another petty argument that took the focus off of Christ. Food cannot affect our relationship with our Savior. If we fall into the trap of believing that it affects us that is where we stumble. When we get sidetracked on silly little arguments like that it is where we find the roadblock to our faith.

Monday, February 23, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 7

I'm not really sure what to make of this latest chapter. In it, Paul talks about what we should do when it comes to marriage. It makes some very valid points, but he also argues against the institution of marriage in a way. He thinks that marriage is fine if you are already married or seeking marriage, but he also advises people not to be married because of the distractions it can bring. Still, he makes it a point to focus on having the Lord as the main purpose in one's life.

17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. – 1 Corinthians 7:17-20

Keeping God's commands is what counts. The simplicity of that statement is beautiful. In six words Paul sums up the entire human position. Ultimately, many of decisions and actions don't matter as long as they are in line with what God wants for us. For some, God does want them to remain unmarried and devoted solely to him. For others, he intends marriage. As long as these decisions do not supersede our relationship with Christ we can fulfill the purpose that we are put on this earth for. I love my wife, but I know I cannot possibly put her above my devotion to Christ.

As we see from this chapter, the bond of marriage can be used as a tool to further strengthen our relationship with Christ. A believing spouse is someone that we can study with, pray with, worship with, and use as encouragement. As one strengthens the other that strength is returned. It is the old "two heads are better than one" tactic. Conversely, if a spouse does not believe it can quickly become a burden for the believing partner.

Friday, February 20, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 6

Sanctified. This is such a powerful word. It appears here in 1 Corinthians 6 not by itself, but as a superlative to being cleansed. It is defined as being made holy or consecrated. We can cleanse our bodies with soap and water regardless of the level of filth we build up. To be sanctified, however, comes only from God. There are some pretty nasty things listed in this chapter, yet Paul mentions that we can be sanctified by all of them. All of this comes through the pure, cleansing blood of Christ on the Cross.

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Do you see the common thread here? No one was worthy of being sanctified. To be sanctified is to reach a level of cleanliness in our spirits that we cannot possibly reach on our own. Even if we somehow were worthy, which none are, it cannot be achieved without help. That help comes in Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. It is ironic that it is his blood that is the ultimate cleanser. If you get blood on a garment it is one of the most difficult stains to get out. Yet when we are washed in the blood of Christ it makes us cleaner spiritually than we can possibly get.

18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

This final section of the chapter is especially poignant because sexual immorality I one of the greatest temptations we face today. Few things can make us feels so filthy and in need of sanctification, yet we are told by society that it is okay to be sexually amoral. Things like homosexuality, pornography, and adultery are finding their way into everyday life and even are being accepted in some quarters. This is a hard temptation to resist, and as we see here it is something that affects us the most because it is a sin against the body. The only way to fight it is to make our bodies temples for Christ.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 5

Society's views of sex today disgust me. Everything is okay as long as both parties consent to it. The traditions of marriage and monogamy are a thing of the past, reserved for close-minded individuals who have lost touch with reality. This is simply wrong. Paul had to deal with this 2000 years ago, so it is no surprise that it is still an issue today. Paul touches on this in chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians.

4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Notice that he says that the man's sinful nature needs to be destroyed, not the man himself. Even in crusading against this immorality Paul still was focused on saving the man and driving out the sinful nature. He didn't condemn him as some would do. He does later say not to associate with men that are sexually immoral, but that is only so the sinful nature doesn't spread to others. We know from previous examples that Paul openly welcomes those who repent and turn away from immorality. Once again, he condemns the sin, not the sinner.

This is an extremely difficult attitude to have because of human nature. If we have been on the wrong end of sexual immorality, or any immorality for that matter, it is very difficult to forgive the person that wronged us. Not only does Christ exhibit a spirit of forgiveness in this matter, but we must be willing to submit to a spirit of forgiveness to those seeking it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 4

As I mentioned earlier when I began this study, I love reading about the life of Paul. I love not only the way he presents the message, but his attitude as well. He presents such an example of putting one's mission above the self. Paul faced abundant persecution and eventually suffered a martyr's death on the cross, yet he never once cared about his own well being. In this chapter he evens mentions that he gladly took the yoke of persecution so that other may know the peace of Christ.

14I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. – 1 Corinthians 4:14-17

I think this passage stresses the importance of having a spiritual father to guide us. Without one, we can become lost as the Corinthians had become lost. Lately I feel like I have been in need of a spiritual guide because I have lost all outside influence in my walk with Christ. Some of the great groups and people in my life that were strong sources of spiritual growth have moved on, while I feel like I have been standing still. This is not the only area of my life where I feel this, but it is one of the strongest.

So what does a spiritual father do? I believe they provide guidance and strength when we are seeking them. They hear what we have to say and can provide the wisdom that God has intended for us to receive. They are the people we turn to that always seem to have the right answer even if they don't know we need to hear what they have to say at that moment. It doesn't even need to be a pastor. Some of my favorite spiritual fathers have been friends that have arced in and out of my life over the years, yet they provide invaluable encouragement in guidance. If you are struggling today I advise you to seek out someone like this in your life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 3

What do you base your following of Christ on? Personally, it was my father who originally led me to Christ, but I owe the majority of my spiritual growth to pastor Daron Earlewine before he left our church to pursue other opportunities. In reading 1 Corinthians 3, however, I see that it is not them whom I should follow. Sometimes we make the mistake of following those who lead us to the faith. As we see in this chapter, this is not a new mistake. Those in Paul's time made the same mistake by saying they followed Paul or Apollos.

5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. – 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

I am currently trying to carry this over to my own life not just in matters spiritually, but in normal life. I tend to try and do everything. If a seed is planted I immediately become obsessed with how it is going to be watered and grown regardless of if it is within my capacity to do either. Right now a seed that is being planted is the discussion of when my wife and I will have children. We do not have any after four years of marriage, nor is it something that we definitely haf to face immediately, but the inexorable march of time is starting to catch up with us. We recognize that if it is going to happen, it will have to happen sooner rather than later because of numerous factors. I turn 30 this year and my wife hits it next year, so time is unfortunately one of the factors we must consider.

Lately I have asked myself the question of if I am ready for this. There is no guarantee it can even happen, yet I question if God has made me ready for this point in my life. That is where this allegory with the seeds come in to play. Ultimately, it is not I that will be doing the growing here. It is God that has to do the growing on all fronts. I am merely the field. If I try to wrap my head around this I quickly become so overwhelmed I can barely function. To me, it is the ultimate test of faith for us. I cannot handle it on my own, so I must trust God to handle it for me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

1 Corinthians, Chapter 2

One of the things I constantly seek is wisdom. My mind is not comfortable when I don't know what I am supposed to do. It's like as long as I have a task to complete, however small, I am comfortable because it is a goal to work for. When I don't have the wisdom of "What next?" I get very anxious. It sometimes gets to the point where I don't even function rationally. Lately, I have been going through a season like this. I have been stuck in a period where I don't know what to do next and I feel like what is coming is far beyond my scope of control. It tends to suck the joy of anything out of my life.

Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 2 when he speaks of the wisdom of the spirit. He first comes to his audience with an attitude of humility. He admits that he only knew of Christ crucified when he came to his audience. In a way, this is almost perfect ignorance. This is the most basic point of wisdom we can discover if we know of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Everything else branches from there.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. -1 Corinthians 2:10-13

Where does this wisdom of the Spirit come from? I think it comes in those quiet moments where when we are not even seeking it. One of the things I long for is peace in my spirit when it comes to this life. I don't care what I do, as long as I know it is in line with what the Holy Spirit has for me. I cannot find this peace on my own. Believe me, I have tried. Instead, I have to seek each day to find it in the Spirit. Only God can deliver the kind of peace I long for.

Friday, February 13, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 1

Now that we have finally finished the book of Luke I wanted to step away from the gospels one final time before tackling the book of John. It has been awhile since I have read a book written by Paul and I wanted to find one I haven’t written about yet. That’s why I decided to start reading 1 Corinthians. I already feel rewarded by stepping intot his book because of Paul’s words.

Paul has such a straightforward way of cutting through the distractions and putting the focus on the topic that we should focus on: Christ. 1 Corinthians is an example of that. The church in Corinth had become sidetracked by a variety of issues and Paul wrote this letter as encouragement and direction for them. I can almost picture him sitting there, shaking his head, before writing these words. I even picture a minor outburst where he shouts, “It’s Christ, people! Just focus on Him! It’s not that hard!”

13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16(Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. – 1 Corinthians 1:13-17

I can see where this is common. Those who become saved can be tempted to worship those that led them to Christ. Some in the church of Corinth had started following those that had led them to the faith instead of Christ Himself. I do not know the effect that this blog has had on some people. I don’t know if some have been saved by it or not, but this drives home one of my original points. What I write here is not about me. I do appreciate those that read it and hope they are led to the faith through it, but that power is not mine. I am not the focus here. Paul, in this chapter is saying the same thing by attempting to draw the focus back on Christ.

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. – 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

Isn’t this the epitome of the gospel. Every single person that has worked to expand the gospel of Christ was originally weak and unwise. That is human nature. Think of event he great evangelist of our day, Billy graham. He has been racked by maladies from Parkinson’s to cancer in recent years, but he still carries forth the gospel. He will until his dying breath. Look at Paul as well. He was a virulent hater of the original church, but eventually became the greatest evangelist the world has ever known. This proves there is nothing the power of Christ cannot do.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Luke, Chapter 24 part 2

Our final glimpse of Jesus in Luke 24 comes with His final act here on earth. To His disciples, it was a final miracle and pep talk to encourage them in continuing on His ministry. As we view it through the lens of history, we see it as a promise that was made and has yet to be fulfilled. It is interesting to see these verses because of what Jesus did for the disciples. They accomplished much in His name after the ascension, but as we see they did not do it in their own strength.

In their own strength they were filled with doubt as we are. As we can see, they doubted it was Jesus even as He stood risen in their presence. He had to open their minds spiritually to get them to fully understand t that point. He also states that they first must be sent power from upon high before they can go out and begin the task of continuing His ministry.

45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." – Luke 24:45-49

I find this amazing because we view the disciples as these great men that worked wonders. They did do that, but only once they were strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Time and again we see them as weak and faithless even when Jesus was with them. This teaches us that we must rely on the Holy Spirit for our own strength. When I try and rely on myself alone I find that I often stumble. In fact, I can't remember the last time I succeeded at anything without the Holy Spirit's guidance. It is my prayer today, as we finish the book of Luke, that this most important lesson is spread throughout the earth.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Luke, Chapter 24 part 1

What does the Resurrection mean to you? To me, it is a validation. It confirms Jesus’ entire message and makes everything we read in the Bible true. Think about that for a moment. If there was no resurrection, what meaning would there be in the rest of the message? There would be no purpose to the rest of the Word. Without this once for all sacrifice and the resurrection so that we can serve and worship a living person there would be no hope for us at all.

It is after the resurrection that Jesus does some of his most important teaching as well. When he meets two of his disciples along the road to Emmaus after the resurrection He helps them to see that his ministry was not about political power. All along they felt He would overthrow the Roman government and establish an earthly kingdom. Instead, Jesus gets them to see a far greater purpose.

25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.

30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" – Luke 24:25-32

There is no other way that Christ’s message could be fulfilled without the Crucifixion and resurrection. This is the only path to redemption to mankind. Because of its incredible nature there is little doubt left to its redemptive power as long as we believe it is all true. That is that hardest part in the whole equation. We have to act on faith that these words are accurate. We have to believe that 2000 years ago this actually took place.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Luke, Chapter 23 part 2

What if God doesn’t care? The last few days have been brutal on me. That single thought has echoed in my head as I have suffered a breakdown on several mental fronts. I won’t go into detail here because going into detail accomplishes nothing. If we believe what is written in today’s section, however, it is plain that God does indeed care. It’s that simple.

If you believe this section, then God cares because it presents the death of His Son on the cross for the sins of all mankind. This represents the sole hope for all of humanity. If it is not true, then we’re all lost and there is no hope. There is no middle ground here. The only way we can gain salvation and eternal life is through the death outlined in this section.

44It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. – Luke 23:44-46

This was only half of the equation. We later see that Jesus enjoyed victory over death, but the death itself is significant because He died as the perfect, sinless lamb. To this point, no one had ever led a sinless life, and no one has since. Under Jewish law, each sacrifice had to be a perfect sacrifice in order to atone for sins. If it wasn’t perfect, it would be thrown out. That is why Christ had to be the one to die for all humanity. He was perfect. With this death, the final victory was won. The rest was yet to be played out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Luke, Chapter 23 part 1

Please excuse my pessimistic nature this morning. Life did not treat me well yesterday, I didn't sleep well, and then I read something like this section of Luke 23 and I lose all hope for humanity. Today we deal with the trial of Jesus. If it happened today it would be drawn out over months with round the clock coverage on all the news networks. It was the biggest thing in Jerusalem in its day, and as we see it is only part of the greatest event in human history. It also represents the depth that humanity can sink to.

One of the most interesting figures in this trial is Pilate. I have long had a conflicting view of him, and it is only magnified by the slightly sympathetic view that Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ puts forth. Whereas Herod found Jesus as a mere curiosity, Pilate seems to have been at least somewhat moved by His plight. We even see Pilate ready to let Jesus go because He had done nothing wrong, but Pilate succumbed to the whims of the crowd and turned Him over to be crucified in order to stop civil unrest.

13Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16Therefore, I will punish him and then release him." – Luke 23:13-16

On the one hand I can see Pilate's plight. He wanted to avoid a scene and actually gave Jesus a fair trial. Likely knowing little of His life and thinking this was a local matter regarding a religion he barely knew or understood, he simply wanted to keep order. Remember, Pilate was the Roman authority. He came from an outside world and was governed by outside rules.

Still, he had the opportunity to take a stand and he failed. The other way of looking at it, however, is that someone had to condemn Jesus to die. How could we have salvation through His sacrifice if there was no sacrifice? Can we, therefore, not judge Pilate too harshly because someone had to play his role? This is especially true when he may not have known much about the situation before he was forced to get involved.

Where this becomes the most disgusting part in human history is that the Pharisees had completely lost touch with reality. They would rather have Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer, to be released instead of Jesus. I simply cannot fathom this. All of this stemmed from a disagreement and because the Pharisees refused to listen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Luke, Chapter 22 part 2

In this section of Luke 22 we see Jesus’ humanity in perhaps its largest display. As I sit here this morning with my cereal and juice, I can look at this two ways. I can look at is like a movie, with these as mere snacks before me as I watch the climactic scene in Jessu’ story. Or, I can look at it like it is. I can see Jesus’ fear because we all face similar fears each day.

Jesus, though He was fully God, also was fully man. He did not want to suffer the pain He was about to go through, but saw it was necessary to complete His mission. Just as we pray when we are fearful, Jesus prayed in this moment. It was an incredibly intense prayer as well. Can you imagine feeling the part of You that is God working directly in you as you prayed, or knowing that an angel from heaven was there directly to comfort you?

42"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." – Luke 22:42

This is such a simple part of Jesus’ prayer, but I have felt it resonate with me countless times. There have been times where I have prayed to get jobs, yet reversed it this way in case it was not God’s will. The same is true when I have had to face things that I didn’t want to face. To me, this is Jesus’ most humble moment. He didn’t want out of His mission, but He wanted to accomplish it in another way if it was possible.

60Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." – Luke 22:60-61

While the previous section showed Jesus in His most human light, this section shows how humanity alone cannot conquer our fears. Earlier, the disciples did not have the strength to pray in the garden. Here, Peter in all his braggadocio from hours earlier fails miserably right before Jesus. He failed Jesus when Jesus just needed his strength and companionship. That’s all Jesus wanted in that moment. Later, we see Peter become a great leader and the rock upon which Christ’s church is founded. Here however, He failed his first major test.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Luke, Chapter 22 part 1

I have always liked the last supper for the beauty and finality it represents. In a way, it is one of the most important events in human history. Jesus shows that He was ready to hand over His ministry, the most important work He did on this earth, to His disciples. This was an incredibly important task He was giving them. If they failed, Christ would likely be a footnote to history. For a year and a half he had lived and taught with these men. Now, they were ready to go out into the world and spread His gospel.

24Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. – Luke 22:24-26

Though Jesus certainly understood the gravity of the situation, the disciples did not. They still believed at this point Jesus was going to overthrow the establishment and set up an earthly kingdom. In doing so, they wanted power in that kingdom like any other man. It is amazing to see the power of God here in the gospel. At the moment Jesus was turning this huge responsibility over to them the disciples were having a petty argument about which of them was greater. There is no way this would have worked on a human scale if not for the power of God driving them.

Jesus uses this argument by giving them a final, ultimate lesson in humility. He reminds them that he came to serve, not to rule. If they truly were willing to follow Him they would be willing to serve as well. We see that eleven of the Twelve were willing to do so. Only Judas was in full disagreement and that would lead to his betrayal.