Archive for January, 2009

February 1st, 2009 – Luke 5:1-11

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

The Call of the First Disciples

Luke 5:1‐11

Introduction

At the baptism of Jesus, John the baptizer had announced about Him, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). Two of John’s disciples immediately began to follow Jesus – Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, the other not identified by name – though many believe it was John, the gospel writer. After their initial encounter with the Lord, Andrew sought out his brother, Simon. When Simon came into the presence of the Lord he was informed that he would no longer be called by his Aramaic name, Simon, but rather by the Greek, Peter. The next day Jesus went into Galilee and found Philip who in turn found his brother, Nathanael. These men – and perhaps some of the others who had been disciples of John, initially followed more out of curiosity than anything else – though they soon believed in Him as the Christ of God.

Some of these disciples – particularly James and John, Peter and Andrew continued with their family businesses as fishermen. They had attended the wedding at Cana with Jesus (John 2:1‐11), but had not yet left the family business as committed disciples – for that would be what a committed disciple would later do (see Matt. 19:27; Luke 5:11, 28; 14:25‐34).1 It was during His early Galilean ministry that Jesus went to the seashore – both to proclaim the word of God and to encounter these hardworking disciples!

Our Study of the Text

  1. SETTING THE SCENE (5:1‐3).

    It is interesting how often the Lord seems to choose those areas of our life in which we feel the most competent and comfortable to test our faith. And if there was any place where these men should have felt expert and confident in their abilities, it was certainly on the lake of Gennesaret – they had spent their entire lives there as fishermen!

    Later our Lord would utilize this same venue to continue to test their faith (see Luke 8:22‐25; John 6:15‐21).

  2. TESTING THEIR FAITH (5:4‐7).

    Peter is representative of the group and their spokesman. Our Lord directs His directive to him. Would Peter obey? Why, or why not?

    Having listened to Jesus teach and having witnessed His authenticating miracles at Cana and the surrounding areas, and in spite of his current experience – Peter had fished all night and caught nothing, he had nonetheless developed enough confidence in who Jesus was to trust and obey Him – as did his colleagues (see 5:11).

  3. GAINING THEIR COMMITMENT (5:8‐11).

    This is a unique appeal – one to committed discipleship. As described in the footnote, such commitment meant leaving everything to follow Him. This example should not be construed as a so‐called “call to full‐time Christian service.” Because of a person’s giftedness, they may have a strong desire to serve the Church in a vocational role – giftedness and desire to utilize that gift seem to go hand‐in‐hand, but that is not the same as the example before us.

    Also, the example of fishing should not be pushed too far. In those days fishing was not done by hook, line and sinker. It was done by net. The textual reference to the men’s vocation as fishermen was not to provide a paradigm for evangelism; rather, it was an indication to them that they are about to make a career change – one which they would later learn was to result in preparation for the task of laying the foundation for the Church Age (see Eph. 2:20‐22).

  4. POINTS TO PONDER.
    • Jesus Christ is God’s promised Messiah‐Savior and we are obligated to obey and serve Him.
    • Though all believers are to faithfully obey and serve our Lord Jesus Christ – there is no such thing as “part‐time” obedience or service; some, because of giftedness and opportunity, may choose to serve the Church in a vocational role. But that in itself is not an indicator of greater spirituality or commitment to our Lord!
    • As with these men, our Lord may very well chose an area of our lives in which we feel the most competent and comfortable to test our faith.

References

1Discipleship as it is presented in the Gospels is different from that which his seen in the Church Age. There are three groups identified as disciples of Jesus in the Gospels: 1. those we might call the curious – they were attracted to Him in a more utilitarian way (to be healed, fed, etc. cf. John 6:1‐71), but did not believe in Him; 2. those we might call the convinced – they were those who believed in Him (e.g., John 1:12; 19:38); 3. those we will call the committed – they left everything to follow and serve Him (e.g. Matt. 19:27). It is from this third group that Jesus chose the twelve whom He called apostles (see Luke 6:12‐16). In the Church Age, the term disciple became synonymous with Christian (e.g. Acts 11:26). In fact, the term disciple does not appear in any of the epistles of the New Testament.

January 25th, 2009 – Luke 4:14-30

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Jesus’ First Sermon

Luke 4:14‐30

Introduction

Following His baptism and time of testing, our Lord embarked on a mission of ministry that included both teaching and healing. His mission first took Him to the region of Galilee. On the way, He taught in various synagogues and was being well received by all. Soon He arrived in His own home town, the city in which He had grown up, Nazareth. On the Sabbath He entered the synagogue where He was welcomed and afforded the opportunity to read the Scriptures publicly. His presentation and the people’s response demand our attention!

Our Study of the Text

  1. THE FIRST RECORDED SERMON OF OUR LORD (4:16‐27).

    John Martin explains the context:

    “Jesus initially was a popular Teacher, so when He went back to His hometown, it was natural for Him to teach in synagogues. It was the custom in the synagogue for a man to stand while he was reading the Scriptures but then to sit while explaining the portion he had read. The portion of Scripture Jesus read was Isaiah 61:1‐2, a messianic passage. He concluded His reading with the words, ‘to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor‘ – stopping in the middle of the verse without reading the next line in Isaiah 61:2 about God’s vengeance. When Jesus added, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,‘ the implication was clear. Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah who could bring the kingdom of God which had been promised for so long – but His First Advent was not His time for judgment. The crowd was fascinated at His teaching – ‘The eyes of everyone . . . were fastened on Him‘ (Luke 4:20). Jesus’ words plainly stated that the offer of the favorable year of the Lord (i.e., the kingdom time) was being made to them through Him (v. 21).”1

    It is no wonder that those who heard Him were immediately struck with the same question: By what authority does this young man say such things? Isn’t this Joseph’s son?

    Jesus’ response was straight forward and to the point: Israel was not the only object of God’s plan of redemption, so were the Gentiles! His mention of Gentiles having God’s blessings rather than Jews was totally unsuspected – even though the covenant God had made with Abraham had clearly stated that that would be the case: “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3b). He illustrated His point by referring to two Old Testament events: when God sent Elijah the prophet to Zarephath to minister to a widow and her son (1 Kings 17:8‐24); and when Elisha the prophet healed Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1‐14). Both the widow and the captain were Gentiles – and the objects of divine favor!

  2. THE RESPONSE OF THE HOME CROWD (4:28)

    There is a saying that might be worth considering here: People and circumstances do not create your spirit, they only reveal it.

    Such is clearly the case with the folks in Nazareth. They no doubt considered themselves to be people of faith and in good standing with God. After all, were they not in synagogue to worship? Were they not the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Were they not to be the recipients of God’s favor? But their response to the suggestion that the Gentiles would also be the recipients of divine favor clearly indicated where their hearts were!

    The term filled (Gr. pimplēmi), when used as a metaphor, has this sense: to be controlled and dominated by something or someone. Here, the people of Nazareth were controlled by the emotion of rage – so much so that they were willing to commit murder (4:29)!

  3. POINTS TO PONDER.
    • Jesus Christ is God’s promised Messiah‐Savior.
    • The ministry of the Word often meets with mixed responses – don’t be discouraged by opposition to it!
    • As servants of Christ, we serve people of every stripe (”Love your neighbor as yourself”; “Love your enemies”) – even those with whom we do not agree, and those who may have unusual personalities.
    • God is sovereign over all and is not under obligation to any: “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:14‐16).

References

1Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983‐c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:25). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

January 18th, 2009 – Luke 3:21-22, 4:1-13

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

The Baptism and Testing of the Christ

Luke 3:21‐22; 4:1‐13

Introduction

The inauguration of the public ministry of Christ was marked by two significant events: His baptism – a public event; and a time of testing – a private event. To properly understand them, some background information will be essential. It will also be important not to read back into these events our own developed traditions. We must take the language of the Scriptures in its normal and plain sense.

Our Study of the Text

  1. THE BAPTISM OF THE CHRIST (3:21‐22).It is a surprise for many to learn that the act of baptism does not appear in the Old Testament. The word baptism (Gr. baptizō) does appear twice in the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (2 Kings 5:14; Isa. 21:4), but in neither case does it refer to the act of baptism. It is an interesting observation, too, that John the baptizer (that is the way he is addressed in the Gospels) was never instructed by God to baptize – at least such instruction is not recorded in Scripture. So the best we can surmise is that baptism was a cultural symbol of identification that was utilized to identify a person with a particular religion or commitment to a religious belief. That cultural symbol was utilized by John to publically identify those who made a commitment to his message. It was later utilized by the disciples of Jesus (e.g. John 4:1‐2), and later was incorporated into the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19‐20) – to publically identify those who had put their confident trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life.1

    John the baptizer came proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. The Old Testament clearly taught that only the righteous would enter that kingdom (e.g. Psm. 24; Ezek. 36:22‐36). The Jews of that day needed to change their thinking about their attitude of self‐righteousness (the meaning of repentance) and turn from their sin. Being baptized by John would publicly identify them as having made such a response to John’s message. But what about Jesus? Why was it necessary for Him to be baptized?

    As stated previously, the Law included no requirements about baptism, so Jesus could not have had in view anything pertaining to Levitical righteousness. But John’s message was a message of repentance, and those experiencing it were looking forward to a coming Messiah who would be righteous and who would bring in righteousness. If Messiah were to provide righteousness for sinners, He must be identified with sinners. It was therefore in the will of God for Him to be baptized by John in order to be identified (the real meaning of the word “baptized”) with sinners.2

    The significant thing about the baptism of Jesus was the authentication from heaven. As Jesus came up out of the water . . . the Spirit of God came down on Him in the form of a dove. As One went up, the Other came down. A voice from heaven—the voice of God the Father—said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (cf. Eph. 1:6; Col. 1:13). God repeated these words about Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). All three Persons of the Godhead were present at this event: the Father who spoke of His Son, the Son who was being baptized, and the Spirit who descended on the Son as a dove. This verified for John that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:32‐34). It was also in keeping with Isaiah’s prophecy that the Spirit would rest on the Messiah (Isa. 11:2). The descent of the Holy Spirit empowered the Son, the Messiah, for His ministry among people.3

  2. THE TESTING OF THE CHRIST (4:1‐13).In the title of this point we have used the term testing rather than temptation for a very important reason: “For God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13b).

    The miracle of the incarnation is that God took upon himself humanity without diminishing in any way His divinity. It would be inconsistent with who He is to say that Jesus “could have sinned but chose not to.” The truth is He could not have sinned – He could not even be tempted to sin – because it would be inconsistent with His perfect nature as God.

    James 1:14 informs us that temptation is something that goes on inside of a person in response to life. James puts it this way: “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” Our Lord had no such evil desire within Himself – it would have been contrary to His nature.

    Further, in the language of the New Testament the meaning of the term (Gr. noun peirasmos; verb peirazō) can either be test or trial, or temptation – depending upon the context in which it is used. Temptation occurs when our internal lust patterns bait or lure us – in the same way a fisherman puts bait on a hook to entice a fish. Even if we choose not to follow through and “take the bait”, it is what went on inside of us – not what was outside of us – that constituted the temptation!

    In contexts where the term should be understood as a test or trial, Greek lexicons indicate that the purpose is “an attempt to learn the nature or character of something.”4 We can see it used this way in James 1:2 where believers are told to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” The testing of the believer’s faith (the trials of life do that) reveals how the character of that believer is developing as he becomes conformed to the image of Christ. It should also be understood that way in the texts where the testing of our Lord is described (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). In such cases, the purpose of the tests was to reveal His nature and character. The context of both passages is discussing His preparation and qualification as our great high priest – One who must be able to “sympathize with our weaknesses.”

    In the Luke passage before us the purpose is to demonstrate His sinlessness – to demonstrate His value as an acceptable sacrifice for our sin. Further, it was intended to allow Him to experience the full weight of Satan’s appeal (remember, there was no internal desire for personal gratification), in order for Him to learn what help we, as His brothers and sisters, would need when we are attacked by Satan (e.g. 1 Cor. 10:13).

    It is worth noting, too, that the areas of testing for our Lord were the same as those we customarily face – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (see 1 John 2:16).

  3. POINTS TO PONDER.
    • Jesus Christ is God’s promised Messiah‐Savior.
    • Jesus Christ is our great high priest. He knows what we need in times of testing; therefore, we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

References

1Paul also utilized the term baptize to indicate Israel’s identification with Moses through crossing the Red Sea and following the cloud in the wilderness (see 1 Cor. 10:2).
2Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983‐c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:25). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
3Ibid.
4Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek‐English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. “Based on Walter Bauer’s Griechisch‐deutsches Wrterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der frhchristlichen [sic] Literatur, sixth edition, ed. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, with Viktor Reichmann and on previous English editions by W.F. Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and F.W. Danker.” (3rd ed.) (793). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

January 11th, 2009 – Luke 2:39-52

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

It’s a Tough Job!

Luke 2:39‐52

Introduction

The Bible provides little information about our Lord’s life from the time of His birth until He began His public ministry. Because Jesus is referred to as a carpenter in Matt. 13:55 and Mark 6:3, much has been speculated about his early life in Nazareth. But, quite frankly, the most we can know for certain is what Matthew and Luke tell us about the events between his birth and the time His family established residency in Nazareth when He was still a young child. Luke also adds a short glimpse of His early life – the text says that he was twelve at the time (2:42), by recording a side event that took place at the time of a Passover celebration in Jerusalem (2:39‐52).

Our Study of the Text

  1. INSIGHT FROM THE “BOOKENDS” (2:39b; 51‐52).
    The main story before us is the occasion when Jesus, being twelve years old at the time, interacts with the religious leaders of the day – “and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (2:47). But on either end of the passage are verses that provide important insight into our Lord’s early life.

    1. He “became strong”; “increased in stature.”
      During the time of the incarnation Jesus suspended the independent exercise of his non‐moral attributes (see Phil. 2:5‐8), e.g. omnipotence and omniscience vs. holiness or love– everything he did was by the enablement of the Holy Spirit (see, for example, Matt. 12:28; Luke 4:1), so he could be prepared as our great high priest (see Heb. 2:10‐18).

      The main point here is to understand that even as a God‐man it was necessary for Jesus to go through the same growth process as any other person.

    2. He was “becoming full of wisdom”; “increasing in wisdom.”

      Growing up certainly involves more than just increasing in physical size and strength. It is also expected that a person will make appropriate advance in intellect and wisdom – not only in cognitive understanding, but also in the skillful application of that knowledge.

    3. He “continued in subjection to them” – Joseph and Mary.

      This characteristic gives us a clear example of the structure of authority established by God for the home (see Deut. 6:1‐25; Eph. 6:1‐4). Jesus was submissive to the authority of his parents – who had the primary responsibility (on the human plane) for his education and training.

    4. He experienced increasing “favor (lit. “grace”) with God and men”; “the grace of God was upon Him.”

      Remember, Jesus was both God and man. Not a half‐god, half‐man out of Greek mythology, but One who was at once both fully God and fully man. Everything He did He did as a God‐man. He did not do something as God and something else as man. Everything He did He did as a God‐man. But as the Son of God, He was also taught and trained by His heavenly Father (see John 8:28; 14:10‐11).

      It is important to note as well that He had a good reputation and the admiration of the community.

  2. INTERACTING WITH THE SCHOLORS (2:41‐50).

    Growing up is serious business. But how are we coming along in the process? Certainly if given the opportunity to interact with those who are “expert” in some discipline of life we could soon gain the sense of our advancement, or the lack thereof – and so could any others who might be there at the time!

    1. The occasion (2:41‐46).

      The Feast of the Passover was prescribed by God in Exodus 12. It was to commemorate the last plague in Egypt when the Israelites were instructed to place the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their houses so that the death angle would “pass over” their houses and not bring death to the first born of their families.

      The irony here is that the One who was to become our “Passover sacrifice” (see 1 Cor. 5:6‐8) was on that occasion interacting with the religious leaders. But what was the discussion about? We are not told, so we are left to speculate – and it’s not difficult to imagine that the subject may well have been the meaning of the Passover itself.

      Jesus clearly understood that He had come into the world on a mission – a mission that neither Joseph nor Mary fully comprehended.

    2. The response (2:47‐50).

      We need to be clear: this was not a debate, neither was it confrontational. The tone is such that we get the sense that it involved an intense discussion of significant theological issues. Our Lord asked them questions and He answered theirs.

      The teachers were amazed at His understanding. The term for understanding (Gr. sunesis) conveys the sense of insight and comprehension of application.

      Jesus’ statement to Joseph and Mary, “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” was not understood by them. The term used of their lack of understanding (Gr. suniēmi) is different from the positive affirmation of Jesus’ understanding. It means they did not comprehend the significance of His words – they simply didn’t get it!

  3. POINTS TO PONDER.
    • Jesus Christ is God’s promised Messiah – both God and man united in one person forever.
    • Jesus Christ provides us with the example of how we are to grow up and develop as God’s children.