He called his disciples and chose from them twelve

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:12-16

When we think about Jesus disciples we usually just think about the twelve mentioned in today’s verses but Luke tells us that there were more than just twelve and that Jesus singled out the twelve to be apostles. The word used in the New Testament is ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), meaning one who is sent away and sometimes messenger is used as a synonym. After the resurrection Jesus would send the apostles out into the world to spread the Gospel. Jesus also sent them out during His ministry to preach to the Jews in Palestine.

Jesus would go on to personally instruct the twelve in the Gospel so that they would be able to go out into the world and continue Jesus’ ministry. I have a hard time imagining how special it would feel to sit at Jesus feet and be taught by Him. Yet even though we cannot literally sit at Jesus’ feet and be taught by Him, He has through the apostles and the New Testament sent His word down to the centuries to each of us.

When you hold the Bible in your hands you are getting ready to sit at the feet of God and hear what He wants to teach you. These lessons do not stop with a single reading but continue with each successive reading. I believe I could read the Bible a thousand times and when I had finished the thousandth reading I would still find something new in God’s word. Not because His Word changed but because I had changed and was ready to absorb additional knowledge. The more I learn the more I am able to learn.

That is why I always encourage every Christian to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. And then do it again. In fact every time I write one of these essays I find some new insight I had not noticed before. I would be willing to bet that if I started writing all over again what I write about each verse would be slightly different. That is the beauty of God’s Word. You can learn all you need for salvation in a single reading but as you mature God reveals more to you each time. The words never change but we do.

Have a blessed day,

David

I have not said this recently but something I read yesterday brought it to mind. Whatever I write in these essays are my words not God’s and everything I write needs to be vouched by God’s word. If I write something that does not jibe with God’s word please let me know immediately so I can correct my error. Only God’s word is inerrant. Mine is not.

Thanks again for all your encouragement and taking time to read what I write.

David

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They were filled with fury

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6:6-11

The Pharisees had a pretty good thing going. They interpreted and defined the law for all of the Jewish people. In doing so they had surrounded God’s Law with so many manmade rules that the Jews were really following man’s laws rather than God’s. As we saw last time the Pharisees had so defined work as to virtually eliminate any type of physical activity. As we see today they may even wanted to eliminate even no physical activity. We do not know how much healing by Jesus required physical exertion but I imagine not much.

From the descriptions it appears that Jesus for lack of a better term, willed healing and it happened. Sometimes Jesus would touch the person and one time He made mud to spread on a blind man’s eyes but as in today’s verse it appears Jesus did nothing more than command the man to stretch out his hand and be healed. Maybe it was this stretching the Pharisees objected to?

Whatever reason they objected to the Sabbath healing we see today that they were now convinced that something had to be done with this Jesus. He was upsetting the status quo and those in power never like that to happen. They had a good thing going. All the people looked up to them and the Romans allowed them to remain in power so long as order was maintained. They got the good seats at the synagogues and I imagine the best tables at the best restaurants. They sat at the honored place at functions. Life was good and it was good to be a Pharisee.

Now comes Jesus with His different teachings and new ways of interpreting God’s Word. He heals people and has a growing following. Jesus is stepping on their turf. People are starting to realize that there is a better way to worship and relate to God. Neither the priests or the Pharisees are comfortable with this new order. So they start to plan on what to do with this new rabbi that claims to be from God and has made claims that He is indeed God.

Even today people have a hard time believing that this man Jesus is God. They want Him to be a great moral teacher. They are ok with Him being a revolutionary but God? That they cannot wrap their minds around. He can be God or He can be man but not both. Yet that is exactly what Jesus claimed and the New Testament proclaims Jesus is fully man and fully God. God with us. Maybe I cannot fully understand or explain it to you but that does not make it false. The evidence for Jesus claim to divinity is there for all to see. All one need do is have a mind open to the possibility and they can obtain the gift of eternal life.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Lord of the Sabbath

On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:1-5

Today’s verses are a prime example of how the Pharisees and the Jewish rabbis had over the centuries so covered God’s law that it was virtually unrecognizable. God through Moses gave the entire Law in three books of Our Old Testament, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. The Law does not fill any of these three books. Yet if one looks at the Jewish Talmuds they are over 6,000 pages. In one of my studies I was required to read what the Babylonian Talmud said about cleaning a house to remove all the leavening in preparation of Passover, specifically how a woman could know if she had cleaned properly. The discourse went over 30 pages on just this one topic.

If these writing were just commentaries then that would not have been an issue. The problem is that the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day were using these layers of commentary and debate to cover over God’s Law. They insisted that the Jewish people not only obey God’s Law but the layers they had placed on top. In fact these manmade rules disallowed so much that as we see in today’s verses even the rubbing of some heads of grain in order to separate the grain was considered work and therefore not allowed. These restrictions included how far one could walk from their home before it was considered work. Or what one could and could not carry before one was considered working. This leads to the creation of eruvs, essentially frames or wires connecting building in order to make them one building, so they could carry things such as house keys, canes, babies, etc. from home to the synagogue on the Sabbath. What one rule prohibited another allowed a circumvention.

Jesus tells the Pharisees that He is lord of the Sabbath. In fact we learn from the Bible that Jesus taught that the Sabbath was created for man not man for the Sabbath. God rested on the seventh day after the six days of creation. Now God did not need to rest in the sense that we need rest. God’s rest was the ending of His creation of the universe and everything in it. It marked the end of creation and the beginning of life after creation. Just as God rested from His labor of creation so He wanted us to rest after a week of labor. He wanted us to have the time to worship and contemplate Him. He wants us to take time from the day to day worries and refresh ourselves. What God does not want is to make the Sabbath so rule filled that we are constantly worries about breaking a rule so that we no longer can concentrate on the real purpose of a Sabbath.

The Pharisees had made the Sabbath into what they thought it should be not what God wants it to be. Jesus in today’s verses is reclaiming the Sabbath for God and for us.

Have a blessed day,

David

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He also told them a parable

He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ ” Luke 5:36-39

Jesus often taught using parables. Using a story to impart some important fact or information makes it easier for the listener to remember the point the speaker is trying to make. Sometimes today we find Jesus’ parables difficult to understand but taking in first century Jewish context the audiences understood what Jesus was telling them. We can see this by the reaction of the Pharisees to many of Jesus parables. I have always found it easier to remember what a speaker said when they use a story rather that use fact after dry fact.

So what was Jesus telling the people in today’s verses? Jesus was about to let the people of Israel something new and something different from what they had believed for centuries. He would tell them about how to have a personal relationship with God. Yet Jesus also knew how strongly we hold on to our old tried and true traditions. Even past the point where they are useful. We hate giving up things we are comfortable with. Even when we accept the new we try our best to integrate the new with the old usually at the expense of the new.

Jesus was letting his listeners know that sometimes the new just does not match up well with the old. In the case of the garment, why would you tear up a new garment in order to patch on old one. Even when you do the new does not fir the old and sticks out. Now you have two garments neither of which looks good. Then there is the wine. Many times when one is putting new wine into a container there is still a bit of sugar and yeast present. When this happens the wine continues to ferment and as the CO2 gas builds up it will burst the old wineskins that have lost its strength through age. To avoid this, the new wine is put into ne skins. Jesus was about to bring a new way to worship and relate to God and it would not fit with the old ways.

Many people refuse to come to Jesus because in order to do so they have to give up the old in order to embrace the new. We have to put aside our old selves. Sometime we need to put aside or old friends because they or not compatible with our new Christian life. Many times we need to avoid our old haunts in order not to slide back into our old ways. This is a lot to give up and many refuse to do so. But, while we may give up a lot to accept Jesus we gain so much more. We give up an old life to gain a new eternal life. What a bargain.

Have a blessed day,

David

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10 hrs ago Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”  Luke 5:33-35

John had taken a Nazarite vow and so he abstained from drinking wine and according to today’s verses John also frequently fasted. Jesus on the other hand had just come from a meal at Levi’s house and it appears that the Pharisees had not seen Jesus fast. Of course we know that before Jesus began His ministry He fasted for forty days. The Pharisees made great show of their fasts as well as praying and other outward shows of their religious piety. They wanted to make sure everyone knew just religious they were.

I think the Pharisees were more concerned with whom Jesus ate rather than if He fasted or not. In fact I believe that had Jesus just finished a fast the Pharisees would have come up with another reason to question Him. Jesus just did not fit their idea of how a religious Jew should act and especially how the Messiah should act. They wanted to create the Messiah and therefore God in their image rather than accept God as He is.

Things have not changed much. Too many people including professing Christians want God to conform to our image of God rather than conform to what God wants us to be. So we redefine sin so we can fit in with the culture rather than stand firm and conform the culture to God. We want to be politically correct and accepted by all the right people so we water down God’s Word to make it more palatable in today’s world. People spend so much time trying to make the church look like the world they forget that we are not to conform to the world. Then they wonder why people drift away from or never visit a church.

Jesus came not to conform to the Jewish religion of the day but to change it. If the Jews had been doing everything correctly and in accord with God’s Word and Law then there would have been no reason for Jesus to come. Even though the Pharisees thought they were doing everything right and doing what God wanted they had drifted far from God. In fact they had concealed God’s Word with man’s rules that one could barely recognize the Law.

The Bible is not really that difficult to comprehend and that I believe is part of the problem. It is not that we do not understand what God is saying it is that we do not like what God says. SO like the Pharisees we pick fault. We tell ourselves that if only God had written the Bible today He would have said things differently. Then things we find comfortable would no longer be a sin and we can go merrily on our way.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Those who are well have no need of a physician

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

How many doctors do you have? I have seven that I see on a semi regular basis with five of them at least once a year. I have my primary care doctor that I see for the various minor illnesses. I seem him at least once a year. Then there are the specialists. I see my gastroenterologist annually as well as my optometrist and my dermatologist, the dermatologist mostly because I grew up at a time when we were sold tanning oils rather than sunscreen. Finally because I live in the Houston area I see an ear, nose and throat doctor usually once a year. I have an orthopedic surgeon who every three or four years give me a shot in the shoulder for my bursitis. And about three years ago I saw a cardiologist at my gastroenterologist recommendation. It seems that as I get older I add more and more doctors. Up until I turned forty I saw a primary care doctor maybe every two or three years and sometime not even that often.

One thing is certain; I do not go to this many doctors because I am well. Every one of them came into my life because of an illness. I do not enjoy sitting in a waiting room for an hour and reading the National Geographic’s from six years ago. No, most of us only go to a doctor when we are sick. Some of us will not go to a doctor even if we are sick. My dad was like that. He hated going to doctors and would only go is the pain or symptoms got too bad to bear.  There is also a doctor many people never go to see, the great healer, Jesus. As Luke relates in today’s verses, Jesus came not for the righteous but for the sinner. The Pharisees were getting on Jesus because He was eating with and surrounding Himself with the wrong type of people, sinners. The Jews hated tax collectors because they collected for the oppressive Roman government.

What the Pharisees missed is that they too were in need of a doctor. They were so sure they were living a righteous life that they could not see the sin in their own lives. They saw no need for Jesus as they believed they were leading a life according to the law. In doing so they looked down on those they felt fell short of the law.

Throughout my life I have had need of various doctors to keep me healthy and treat various ailments and injuries. But for all they have done for me over the years their work is only temporary. My bodily needs for a doctor pale in comparison for my spiritual needs of the Great Physician. Jesus’ healing is what I desperately need. Jesus came offering healing that is eternal. He still offers this healing today. Some people will accept what Jesus offers and others feel that they are living a good life and have no need for Jesus as they think their good outweighs the bad. The problem is no matter how much good we do it can never cover the sin we do.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Who can forgive sins but God alone?

On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Luke 5:17-26

Today Luke recounts the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered down through a roof by his friends in order for Jesus to heal him. Jesus had been teaching and healing people all over Galilee and people were coming from all over the region to see Jesus and in many cases have Jesus heal them. But Jesus does something different with this paralyzed man. Rather than heal him Jesus forgives the man’s sins.

This forgiveness of sin causes an uproar among the Pharisees. They had been ok with all the healings and they seem at this point to be ok with what Jesus was teaching but for them Jesus had stepped over the line with this forgiveness business. They were right of course because only God can forgive our sins. They saw a man who claimed to have the same power to forgive sin as God does. So Jesus answers them with the question as to which is harder to forgive sin or heal.

Jesus then clearly identifies Himself with God by saying that so they would know He had the power and authority to forgive sins He would heal the man. The man than gets up takes the stretcher/mat he had been lowered on and walks away. The was no came back in a week to see how you are doing healing but instantaneous healing. Everyone was amazed but what they had just witnessed. I would guess that the Pharisees on the other hand may have been more concerned with what Jesus had claimed than any healing that happened.

The question I would like to pose is what did this man really need? Whatever healing he received from Jesus was only temporary. What I mean by that is this man was going to ultimately die. Every healing that was ever done either by God or man only put death off no did away with it. What the man really needed is what Jesus did first for him, forgiveness of his sins. That forgiveness is eternal. The healing was only for this life. Healing is great and when God heals we all need to give a big halleluiah. But the biggest halleluiah should come when a person accepts the forgiveness of their sins from Jesus. That is an eternal halleluiah.

Have a blessed day,

David

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