The Son of Man must suffer

And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9:21-22

Why would Jesus continue to tell people to remain silent about what He had done and who He is? Peter had just called Jesus “The Christ of God.” So why keep silent? I believe the reason is that the Jewish people had a wrong idea of what the Messiah would do when He came. They were looking for a conquer king like David had been. They wanted the Messiah to defeat Rome and set up the Kingdom of Israel once again.

God however had a different plan. God’s plan was two part. First Jesus needed to pay a price for our sinful nature and make a path for us to get back into a right relationship with God. That is what Jesus came for. Not to conquer the Romans but to conquer sin and death. The Jews were thinking worldly and here and now. God was thinking heavenly and eternally. They wanted earthly freedom and God wanted us to be eternally free.

To do what God wanted done Jesus had to die. As He tells the disciples “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Jesus came to replace the law that men had erected around God’s law. The people most resistant to this were the elders and chief priests and scribes. They were to ones who had the most invested in the old system. But it was this system that was keeping people from God.

Jesus had to be killed in order to make the sacrifice needed to pay the price for all of our sins. The old way of an annual animal sacrifice to pay for sins was not enough. It had to be repeated year after year. As soon as one sacrifice was made our sins continued. As good as the sacrificial animal was it was not good enough to free us from the wages of sin. Only a perfect sacrifice could do that. Only Jesus could do it. This would pay for our sins.

But Jesus came to do more than pay for our sins He also came to conquer death. He came so we could live forever with God. To do this we needed to get rid of our sinful flesh. Jesus shows us through his resurrection what our new bodies will be like. This new body will be like our old body but no longer infected with original sin. Rather than a fallen body we will have a new resurrected body. A body worthy of being in God’s presence.

The disciples would soon forget what Jesus told them this day. Peter would try to defend Jesus when the Jewish officials came to arrest Him. John would be the only one to be present at the crucifixion. All would run for cover and hide after Jesus was killed. Even after the resurrection some would be hesitant to believe. Eventually they would remember all that Jesus taught them and then they would be a force that would change the world.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Peter answered

Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” Luke 9:18-20

As I have written before I identify with Peter more than any person in the New Testament. Peter makes mistakes. He rushes off halfcocked. He is impulsive and he had doubts. But in today’s verses he is spot on. When Jesus asked the disciples “Who do the crowds say that I am?” they gave the answers we had seen before. Jesus was Elijah or John the Baptist come back to life or another of the prophets of old come back to life. But when Jesus asked His closest followers who did they think He was. Only Peter had an answer.

Mathew records that after Peter’s answer Jesus said “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 16:17 ESV) Peter showed great insight this time. However later Peter would deny Jesus and after the crucifixion would go into hiding. Yet after the resurrection Peter would be reborn as one of the two greatest evangelists for the new church. It was Peter’s preaching at Pentecost that brought thousands to Christ. It all started with this one question, “who do you say that I am?”

It is that question and the answer that separates Christianity from all other religions. Unless one accepts that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, then you are not following Jesus but some manmade image of Jesus. The Mormons follow Jesus. They will tell you Jesus is in the name of their church. But the Mormon Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible but just one more on their pantheon of gods. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a Jesus believe that is God’s only direct creation not God. Islam recognizes Jesus but only as a great prophet second only to Mohammed. Many believe Jesus was a great teacher and some that He never existed at all.

For the Christian Jesus is God, the promised Messiah and God’s perfect unblemished Lamb. It is the sinless life, the sacrificial death on a cross and the bodily resurrection that makes the Jesus of the Bible so much more than what all other religions believe He is. Son of God, Lamb of God, Savior and Redeemer all rolled into one. Fully man and fully God, that is Jesus. Peter recognized that early in Jesus ministry and then once again after Jesus resurrection. “The Christ of God.”

Have a blessed day,

David

PS Wednesday marked the fourth anniversary of my first blog post. In that time I have written over 900 of these short essays as well as some longer series. The daily essays are my thoughts and what I have learned about the verses for that day. I hope that they give you some food for thought and hopefully cause you to explore the verses in more detail.

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They all ate and were satisfied

On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:10-17

In today’s verses we read about the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. This recounting is a stable of children’s Sunday school classes and books. What sometimes gets left out is that the five thousand was only the men. Luke and the other Gospel writers leave out the women and children. So rather than five thousand there were probably at least ten thousand and possible more. Jesus with His new teachings and miracles was bringing people from all over to hear this new teacher which some were calling a prophet and others Elijah.

SO eager were these people to hear Jesus that it seems most forgot to bring food for the day. Maybe they thought Jesus would only teach for a few hours but as morning turned into late afternoon the disciples came to Jesus asking Him to send the crowd to the surrounding villages to find food and a place to stay. But instead of doing what they asked Jesus tells the disciples “You give them something to eat.” Sounds like Jesus was giving them an impossible task. But wait, didn’t Jesus just send them out with the power over demons and the power to heal?

I think the disciples had the power to do what Jesus did they just lacked the faith to do so. Jesus never gives us a task that we are unable to do. So if Jesus told the disciples to feed the crowd I think they had within them the ability to do so. Jesus asks each of us to do two things. Take up our cross and follow Him and go out into the world and spread the Good News. He gives each of us different abilities and gifts to do these things. It is up to each of us to use these abilities and gifts to further God’s kingdom.

Eventually the disciples will realize the gifts they have and put them to use. In today’s verse they were unsure of what they could do. We need to know that Jesus’ commands to us can be fulfilled by us. Each in our own way have the special abilities to fulfill His commands. All we need do is have faith that He will never ask us to do something we cannot do and then go out and in our own special way do it.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Who is this about whom I hear such things?

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him. Luke 9:7-9

People have been confused about Jesus from the beginning. In today’s verses we see that Herod the tetrarch was also confused as to who the man was that was going throughout his country working miracles. I think his biggest fear was that Jesus was really John the Baptist come back to life. It would be a bit disconcerting to think the man you had beheaded was alive again and moving with impunity throughout the land.

Herod was not the only one confused as to who Jesus was. Some of course said John the Baptist. Others though Jesus was Elijah come back to earth. Then there were some who were not ready to pick a specific prophet but were sure Jesus was one of the prophets of old. It seems like they were ready to pick anyone except for the promised Messiah. This in spite of the fact that Daniel had foretold that the Messiah would come at this time in history.

As I have written before, not much has changed in two thousand years. People today are still confused as to who Jesus is. Many are convinced that Jesus is just a great teacher. Not any different from Confucius or Buddha, just a man and nothing else. I think C.S. Lewis countered this view best in his book Mere Christianity when he wrote, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Some today who follow Mohammad this Jesus is a prophet, second in greatness to Mohammad. Others believe Jesus is an angel or maybe another God but not the God. Then there are some who believe Jesus never existed in spite of all the historical evidence to the contrary. All of them refuse to believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be the Messiah, God incarnate. To do so would mean all the other religions are wrong and in the pluralistic society we live in that is unacceptable. We are not allowed to tell anyone they are wrong with the sole exception of Christians. No one seems to have a problem telling us we are wrong.

Have a blessed day,

David

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He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1-6

The disciples did not spend all their time with Jesus. In today’s verses we see that Jesus sent the twelve out to proclaim the kingdom of God. Jesus also gave them the power and the authority over demons and to cure diseases. He also instructed them to do this with only the clothes they wore. No money, bread, staff or extra clothes. They were to stay with the people in the towns they entered.

Today, especially in the USA we think we have to have all manner of things in order to get the Gospel message across. No church is complete without high definition video, a band or orchestra and high production value videos. Even one on one encounters are filled with books, videos and other media. It seems we cannot proclaim the Gospel without making a production out of it.

Yet today we see a group of twelve go out to various cities in Israel with nothing more than their words. Yes they had authority over demons and could heal but these were to show they were from God and the message they had to share should be listened to. The healings and casting out of demons were not for entertainment but used only to show their bona fides. The real goal was the message of hope that the messiah had come.

The Gospel does not need embellishment. The truth of the message is all we need. That truth can be shared one on one or in a group without the need for electronic amplification. It is a simple message. God loves each and every one of us. All God wants is to have a relationship with us. To enable this He sent His Son to live among us living a sinless life. He willingly went to a horrible death on a cross in order to make a payment none of us could make. He took our punishment and our sins on Himself and in doing so freed those how believe in Him to live eternally with God. He rose from the grave to show us how we too will be raised bodily. A simple message with no need for theatrics.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Do not fear; only believe

While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:49-56

What do you fear? I have a slight fear of heights except when I have my camera in hand. I am not a big fan of rats especially after one jumped out of a box I was taking down from the rafters in my garage. Almost fell of the ladder. Snakes and spiders do not really bother me with the exception of the rattlesnake I encountered at the top of Guadalupe Mountain on afternoon when I was there by myself. Something I do not fear is my death. At least not since I fully realized what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

In first century Palestine death was to be feared. These people had no guarantee what would happen after they died. For all most of them knew this life was it and death was nothing more than rotting in a dark grave. When a loved one died they had no assurance they would ever see them again. It was this fear that drove Jairus to ask Jesus to heal his daughter. She was near death and after he had tried everything else he turned to Jesus for help.

It seems like that happened a lot. We try everything we can think of and only when all our efforts fail only then do we turn to Jesus. So Jesus is heading the Jairus’ house and they are met at the door with the news that Jesus is too late and the little girl has died. But Jesus who gives life told them that the girl was only sleeping. He was laughed at.

Jesus took her hand and told her to arise and the girl was alive again. It is amazing what can happen when we take Jesus’ hand. Believers are assured that our deaths here on earth are temporary. We too will rise again and then live for all eternity in the presence of God. Fear death? No Christian should ever fear death because rather than en ending it is only the beginning.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Someone touched me

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” Luke 8:40-48

“Someone touched me”, ever hear something similar from the back seat of your car? I know I have and after the third or fourth time my response would be “don’t make me stop this car.” I have to confess that I most likely was guilty of the “he touched me” refrain when I was a kid. It seems no matter how large the vehicle on a long road trip with young children you will hear that phrase at some time. Maybe not as much as “are we there yet” but it seems one or the other is always touching.

In today’s verses we see that Jesus has been approached by Jairus a leader in the local synagogue. Jairus’ daughter is sick and close to dying and as any father will do Jairus is seeking out someone who can help his child. Jesus went with Jairus to his house and a large crowd followed. It seemed everyone wanted to get close to Jesus. I imagine it was similar to celebrities today where everybody wants to shake their hand and just maybe get them to do something for them. Today it would be to get a photo with the celebrity but with the crowd around Jesus many were looking to be healed.

In this crowd was a woman who had been losing blood for twelve years. She had spent all her money on doctors but none of them were able to give her any relief. She just knew if she could only touch Jesus’ robe she would be healed. Eventually she managed to get that close and touched His robe. Jesus immediately asks who had touched Him. And Peter being Peter says Master we are in a crowd of course someone touched you. In fact many have touched you. Let’s face it you cannot be in a large crowd without being touched.

But this was more than a mere touch. This woman believed that all she had to do was get close to Jesus and she would be healed. We have no clue how many in the crowd touched Jesus but it seems only one had the faith to know that touch would bring healing. I imagine she was scared but she came forward to admit she had touched Jesus and to let them know she had been healed. The power of God had reached out from Jesus to heal this woman. But it was her faith that led her to Jesus to be healed. That same faith will lead every believer to eternal healing in heaven.

Have a blessed day,

David

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