Introduction to Luke – Luke was a physician from Rome. He was not with Jesus during His 3 years of ministry, but was careful to interview people who were. He was also motivated to record events and quotes as accurately as possible and in chronological order. He addresses his book to Theophilus, who may have been an actual person or, as his name means, “one who loves God.” In the latter case, Luke’s Gospel was written to anyone who has or will have the love of God in their hearts.

I believe that all four Gospel Books were prophesied and mentioned in Ezekiel 1:5,10 and Revelation 4:7. In each case, we are given a glimpse into the spiritual world, which, in our terms, was rich in symbolism in order to convey a message to us that we could understand, but only with the Holy Spirit’s help. Four visions are described: 1) Lion, calf/bull/ox, man, and an eagle. The Lion (king of the beasts) represents Matthew’s Gospel because he emphasizes Jesus as being the King of the Jews. The calf/bull, or ox (workers) represents Mark’s Gospel because he emphasized Jesus as being the lowly servant. The man represents Luke’s Gospel because he portrayed Jesus as the Son of Man from Adam’s lineage. Finally, the eagle (soars high above all else; majestic) represents John’s Gospel because he presented Jesus as the Son of God with a lineage from eternity. These are the spirits that God used to give the Holy Words to these four gospel writers.

Luke 1:

v1-4: A unique and credible beginning. Luke, a physician from Rome, never saw Jesus. He interviewed people that knew Him, and was careful to put things in order. He conducted a “careful investigation” so that others may know the “exact truth” about what was taught. He also accompanied Paul and wrote the Book of Acts.

v5-10: John the Baptist’s parents – his father was a priest named Zacharias (or Zechariah) and his mom was Elizabeth from Aaron’s lineage. Both were good followers of God, but had no children and were advanced in years.

v11-17: The archangel Gabriel appears to Zacharias and predicts his son’s birth, describes his life’s ministry as being anointed similar to Elijah’s, thus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy from Malachi 4:5-6. These are the last two verses in the Old Testament. Four hundred years would pass until John the Baptist and Jesus.

v18-23: Zacharias doubts the message and is struck so he cannot speak until John’s birth.

v26-35: Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth and tells her that she is highly favored among women and will bear a son, and she will name Him Jesus. He will be great and the Son of the Most High God and His kingdom will have no end. Mary became confused because she was a virgin, but the angel said that the Holy Spirit will conceive the Child.

v37: Considering people in old age having a child and a virgin having a child in this context, the verse says, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

v38: Mary demonstrates great faith by responding, “Behold the Bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” She just 1-upped Zacharias. Both Mary and Zacharias questioned Gabriel, but only Zacharias was rebuked. Mary was initially confused but once she gained more information, her faith came through. Zacharias simply did not believe God’s Word to him.

v39-44: Mary travels to visit Elizabeth and they rejoiced in the joy of the Lord together over the children they were carrying. What a scene!

v46-55: Mary delivers a wonderful, worshipful, faith-filled speech, including identifying God as her savior (all sinners need a savior). The “Immaculate Conception” (Mary being conceived by the Holy Spirit in her mother’s womb without male human sperm) is a fabrication by the Roman Catholic Church and certainly has no basis in Holy Scripture, especially in light of Mary’s confession here in Luke 1:47. This abominable belief was needed to support the doctrine that Mary was sinless like Jesus and also ascended to Heaven like Jesus, but without dying. In essence they have deified Mary. The “Immaculate Conception” is often confused with “Mary’s Virgin Birth,” which claims that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb. Only Jesus “was from above” (John 8:23).

v57-65: The birth of John the Baptist – relatives did not want the name John because no one in the family had it. This is an example of man-made tradition trying to rule over God’s voice. Fortunately, Elizabeth insisted on the name John (Zacharias must have told her what Gabriel said). Then Zacharias was asked about the name and he wrote on a tablet, “John.” At once he could speak again and began to praise God. Awe filled the crowd.

v67-79: Zacharias delivers a wonderful, worshipful, faith-filled speech. In v71 it does not refer to this world since Jews and Christians have not been saved from enemies over 2,000 years of history. God sometimes does deliver His children from enemies, but not always. So this must refer to eternal life in His Kingdom.

v80: John the Baptist grew up and became strong in spirit, and lived in the desert until his ministry began. This man had the good kind of “tunnel vision.”

I deeply appreciate Luke’s efforts to give more info on the beginnings of the New Covenant. No other Gospel gives this much detail.

Luke 2:

v1-7: The birth of Jesus – The Old Testament prophet Micah (5:2) proclaimed that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem about 700 years before it happened. Mary and Joseph, however, were living in Nazareth when Mary was expecting. Then God demonstrates how He orchestrates situations. A census was suddenly ordered so all people had to return to their own city. For Joseph, being of King David’s lineage, it was Bethlehem. Being the accurate historian, Luke even mentions Caesar Augustus’ name as the leader who made this decree lending credibility to his Gospel writing. This lends historical credibility to Luke’s writings.

v8-18: Heavenly revelation and proclamations to some local shepherds…oh to be a humble shepherd at this time and place! Angels told them where to find the Messiah and they went and found Him on that first Christmas. They told Mary and Joseph about the grand things the angels said about their baby boy.

v19: Three cheers for Mary! After hearing all these great things about her son, she simply “treasured them in her heart and wondered.” How many moms do we know that never would brag just a little bit about their kids? I think this is one reason Mary “found favor with God.” He knew she would remain humble through it all. Quite an amazing thing. Jesus would later distance Himself from her and His brothers and sisters, however,  because He alone has always been the main attraction for mankind.

v22-23: The infant Jesus is brought to the Temple for dedication. This Scriptural practice is great. Parents promise to raise their child in the knowledge of God and trust that God will guide, protect, and anoint their child’s life. It’s the parents giving up ultimate ownership of their child to God who created him/her. They view themselves as temporary caretakers of what God has made – an awesome responsibility! Ironically, infant baptism, although well-intended, is not Scriptural and most churches practice it, while infant dedication is Scriptural, and few practice it.

v25-35: Divine revelation about Jesus to Simeon, a righteous and devout Jew. The Holy Spirit was upon him. The Lord reveled to him that he would not see death until he saw the Messiah and he knew, when he saw the baby Jesus, that He was the Messiah. He also knew that His truth and salvation would go beyond the Jewish nation to the Gentiles. He ended with a specific word for Mary – that this Child would cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, He would be automatically cause opposition to come His way, and a sword would pierce Mary’s soul, but this piercing would cause many hearts to be revealed. I do not think that Mary understood this, but probably tucked it away in her heart believing that it was all going to come about somehow. It’s a safe assumption that she had no idea about the crucifixion until it actually happened. We don’t even know when Jesus Himself realized that He would save souls via the crucifixion. I tend to think it was after He passed the three temptation test in the desert, but it really doesn’t matter.

v32: This describes two “nations” becoming one – Jews and Gentiles.

v34: “a sign to be opposed”… (or spoken against – see Acts 28:22).

v36-38: Anna the prophetess – very devout never left the Temple, fasted, prayed, widowed for most of her life, now at age 84. She followed Simeon’s prophetic message with more of what the Spirit was telling her. Quite a grand scene if you can imagine it. I wonder if some passers-by heard all this commotion and excitement then just looked down and shook their heads thinking that these people were crazy! It wouldn’t surprise me. Sad. They would have had no idea what they were missing.

v42-48: Jesus at age 12 – Every year His family would make the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. One year His parents left for home assuming He was with some friends or relatives in the caravan, but He actually stayed in the Temple talking to religious leaders who amazed at His understanding and the questions He was asking them. Jesus listened to them, asked them questions, and gave some answers (I wish knew every word exchanged here). His parents went a full day’s journey before they realized He wasn’t in the caravan. So they went all the way back. Upon finding Him in the Temple, they were astonished because He didn’t seem to be scared or worried about getting back to them. So Mary gently scolded Jesus for treating His parents in this way. But Jesus shows all indications of the anointing upon Him in this scene.

v49-50: Jesus’ response was simply, “Why were you searching for Me, did you not know that I would be about My Father’s business?” The fact that they did not understand Him reveals how much they had not realized just who He was…very understandable though.

v51-52: So Jesus subjected Himself to his parents and went home to Nazareth and grew in wisdom and stature, and found favor with God and man. In the meantime, Mary continued to treasure all these things in her heart. Something else, however, was beginning to occur here. Jesus was showing signs of future separation from His earthly parents.

There were many ways that the Son of God could have come to earth. There was some fanfare, yes, but yet in an extreme humble manner He came…no  room at the inn, so just a feeding trough for animals (manger) became His bed. The fanfare was not via any worldly government, man-made religious system, or elite educational institution. It was to common men and women who happened to be at a right place at a most right time. Our God is Something!

Luke 3:

v1: Lots of specific historical names of rulers and their regions of authority. Once a person told me that the Bible is a “nice story” but….” Obviously, this person never read it. There are loads of accurate historical connections with Biblical Scripture. Man-made stories do not include this type of information.

v3-14: The ministry of John the Baptist – his main message was repentance and the forgiveness of sins and to make ready for the Messiah. He quoted OT Scriptures. He rebuked religious hypocrites that came to listen saying that they could not depend on the fact that they were born of Jewish blood to save them because God could raise up stones to praise Him. These guys were apparently feigning repentance because they had no fruit (good change of behavior and attitude). John was proclaiming that God will not be fooled by them.

Application for Today: John’s message still has relevance for today. One of his target audiences would be the church-goers whose hearts are far from God and “go and give their dough for show.”

v15-17: Since the mood of the people was expecting a Messiah, John had to set the record straight by confessing that he was not the one, but One is coming that is far greater than himself and will baptize people in the Holy Spirit. This Messiah will have a winnowing fork in His hand and clean out His threshing floor, and then gather the wheat into His barn but burn up the remaining chaff. A winnowing fork was used by people to separate the valuable wheat from the worthless chaff. They would jam the fork into a freshly harvested bunch of wheat, throw the clump up into the air, the breeze would blow away the chaff while the valuable kernels of wheat fell onto the threshing floor. This means that Jesus, because of who He is, would effectively separate the saved from the unsaved souls on earth on the great Judgment Day.

v18-20: John exposes Herod’s sinful life and is imprisoned for it.

v21-23: Jesus is baptized to set the example for us to follow. Then the heavens opened up and an audible voice declared Him to be God’s Son with whom He is pleased.

v23-38: The genealogy of Jesus Christ. This is fascinating because: 1) it proves His claim of Messianic lineage according to OT prophecy, 2) it reveals how meticulous the Jewish records were kept, 3) we can trace His lineage all the way back to Adam. Jews today cannot produce proof of their lineage because all records were destroyed in 70 AD by Roman command (or perhaps destroyed earlier by Herod at the time of the slaughter of young ones in Bethlehem). Therefore anyone claiming to be the Messiah according to the Jewish prophecies cannot prove their lineages after that date in history. One of many ways that God works to preserve the Truth.

Note on Jesus’ genealogy: Most conservative Bible scholars assume Luke was recording Mary’s genealogy and Matthew was recording Joseph’s. Matthew is following the line of Joseph (Jesus’ legal father), through David’s son Solomon, while Luke is following the line of Mary (Jesus’ blood relative), through David’s son Nathan. There was no Greek word for “son-in-law,” and Joseph would have been considered a “son” of Heli through marrying Heli’s daughter Mary. Through either line, Jesus is a descendant of David and therefore eligible to be the Messiah. Tracing a genealogy through the mother’s side is unusual, but so was the virgin birth! Luke’s explanation is that Jesus was the son of Joseph, “so it was thought” (Luke 3:23). Source:

Luke 4:

v1-13: The Three Temptations of Christ – The Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to fast for 40 days, which is about the limit for a human. I assume that the Spirit knew that the devil would be coming to Jesus (probably because Jesus just received the anointing to perform miracles). Among the temptations, Satan claims that the domain of earth had been handed over to him, so he had the power to give Jesus power to rule over the earth. This claim is supported in 1 John 5:19. Apparently, when Adam and Eve sinned, they handed over power to the devil. But Jesus knew that all the devil wanted was to be worshiped (which would give him ALL authority!), so Jesus rebuked him with the Word, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Deuteronomy 6:13). In fact, Jesus’ weapon against the devil was the Scriptures.

Application for Today: If we start feeling depressed (attacked by our enemy), we can quote verses telling demons who we are in Christ and what wonderful things He has in store for us for eternity. We can simply worship Him using Scriptures from Psalms. Demons hate when we worship God. They usually do not hang around when we worship. James 4:7 declares that if we resist the devil (the father of all lies – John 8:44), he will flee from us. The more we marry our hearts to the Word of God, the more effective our prayers and fighting evil will be. The Word is our sword (Ephesians 6:17). Because our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood but supernatural powers, our weapons also must be spiritual in nature (Ephesians 6:6-16). Bottom line = use the Word to combat wrong thoughts…just like Jesus did in the wilderness.

v14-15: Jesus’ ministry takes off as He walked in the power of the Spirit from His wilderness experience.

v16-30: Rejected at Nazareth – Jesus read a scroll that was handed to Him in the synagogue. It happened to be a prophecy about Him from Isaiah 61. As He read it, all eyes were fixed on Him. Then He claimed He was fulfilling that Word. Up to that point, they seemed to like His words, but when He claimed to be of great importance, they reminded themselves that they knew his family so He must not be anything special. As rejection came His way, He began to rebuke their unbelief and used examples all from the OT Scriptures that had non-Jews or people apart from Israel being healed or helped by God in spite of many Jews living in Israel at the time. Because they all probably thought being Jewish was one big cut above everyone else, they harshly rejected Jesus at this point. They hauled Him outside of their city to a cliff in order to throw Him over. I guess there were few laws protecting people in those days. But because it wasn’t His time to be killed, He simply walked away in their midst. What a scene!

v32: People noticed that there was something different about Jesus’ teachings. He taught with authority. In other words, they got the idea that He wasn’t just making things up, despite having no education and despite not quoting other learned people of His day.

v33-37: In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon and the demon spoke through the man to Jesus. The first thing it said was that Jesus is “the Holy One of God” and wanted to know if He had come to destroy them. Demons know the power and authority of Jesus, but I do not believe they knew just HOW He would defeat them. Had they known, they may not have asked that question of Him. Jesus took control of this situation immediately and cast out the demon and people were amazed that some manifestation actually occurred.

v38-41: Jesus heals a woman with a fever and delivers others from demons while always commanding them not to speak.

Application for Today: I recall many years ago, listening to a certain man who had a “deliverance ministry.” In other words, he would cast out demons in people by the name of Jesus. That part was good. What bothered me, however, was that he conducted conversations with them in front of a group of onlookers. It seemed like he did it to underscore the reality of this realm to skeptical Christians and to learn more about the demonic domain. After a while, however, it seemed to me that he was just putting on a show to appear super spiritual to others, and I did not appreciate his ministry after that. I also thought that it is better to learn about demons and their domain by listening to the Holy Spirit, not the demons! I still believe in deliverance for believers, not because we can be possessed, but we can be oppressed in our souls or minds (not our spirits). The Word differentiates between soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23). True deliverance, however, needs to be done like Jesus did it – not allowing the demons to talk about what THEY wanted to talk about. We are NOT to put on a show for onlookers.

Luke 5:

v1-3: The area that Jesus is in becomes so crowded with people listening to Him by the Sea of Galilee that He uses Simon’s boat a bit from shore from which to speak.

v4-7: After speaking, Jesus told Simon to put the boat out to deeper water and cast out the nets. Simon says they worked hard all night and caught nothing, but he would do it because Jesus said so. They caught so many fish that the nets began to break but they got others to help with the catch.

Application for Today: Obey the Lord’s Word even if it does not make sense. Our efforts will fail, but His succeed. He gets the glory. It verifies our faith in Him. Also bear in mind that we do not know as much as we think we know about situations. God sees the whole picture puzzle and therefore He alone knows where all the pieces go and when to fit them in.

v8-11: Simon Peter melts with humility and awe in this scene and realizes how much of a sinner he is. Jesus says not to fear and from now on they would be catching souls of men. Peter, James, and John were all so filled with awe that they left everything behind to follow Jesus. This is a requirement to be a true disciple of Jesus – to be willing to give up whatever it takes in order to follow Him. Nothing can mean more to us than Him.

v12-16: Jesus reveals how willing God is to heal people as He healed a leper. News about Him spread quickly, but He would often slip away to lonely places in order to pray. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray?

v17-26: Now the Pharisees and teachers of The Law were being drawn to Jesus to check Him out. Friends of a paralyzed man showed great faith by lowering him through a hole in the roof so that he would be right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man that his sins were forgiven. That got the immediate attention of the religious leaders and they did not like it. They were saying that God alone forgives sins so Jesus was blaspheming (they were not yet quite into the Deity of Christ). Jesus then proclaimed that the power to heal this man proves that God is doing the work (because no one else could do this) and therefore the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. The true colors of the religious leaders begin to show through. They showed no happiness for the man who was healed. I’m sure they left frustrated, but the onlookers were praising God which was the proper response. The Holy Spirit has the ability to reveal the true heart of a person. When He shines His light, either one shrinks away or happily walks into it. There’s an old relevant saying that says, “The same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay.”

v27-34: Jesus calls Levi (Matthew), a Jewish tax-collector and he leaves everything behind to follow Jesus. Matthew then gives a big dinner party at his house for some of his tax collecting friends and other friends, along with Jesus. The Pharisees, however complained that Jesus was hanging out with “sinners.” I think in their minds, these people were “extra evil.” Jesus had a great retort – Only sick people need a doctor, and He came to call sinners to repentance. The leaders failed to see that they are counted among the sinners. They thought they were clean because they were Abraham’s physical offspring. Being of certain descent or having a certain religious background or partaking in religious ceremonies does nothing as far as obtaining eternal life is concerned. Only real faith works, whether during Old Testament times or New Testament times. God certainly knows who His real children are. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.”

v36-39: Jesus explains via parable that the New Covenant that God was about to usher in. He said you can’t put new wine into old wine skins because the skins will burst from the new wine. One must put new wine into new skins (so the skins will stretch with the wine and not break – if already stretched skins receive new wine, they can’t stretch any further and will burst as the wine ferments). With this, He declared the absolute necessity of the New Covenant because the Old One will not work, i.e. save souls. He finishes by saying, “And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.'” I think what He means is that people today who are into being religious and not into a close, loving, personal relationship with God cling to their belief that their condition is good enough so that they need not change. So they continue attending church and probably ignore reading the Bible, and miss the whole point of true Christianity…and they will die in their sins. It is difficult to witness to these types because they have “drunk the Old Wine” and they say it is good enough. False religion is when people trust in good works and or sacrificial rituals to earn hoped favor with God. The Jewish system encouraged this as well as churches that are nominally called Christian. It does not matter if we are born Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, or of no faith….we all need to realize that we have broken God’s laws and there’s only one way to get rid of that sin. Every human being is in desperate need of a Savior and must be born again in Christ to have eternal life (John 3:3).

Luke 6 – The Meaning Behind “Turn the Other Cheek”

v1-13: Jesus heals and picks grain to eat on the Sabbath so the Pharisees were complaining. Jesus cites David in the OT taking the bread belonging to the priests for himself and his men when they needed food (and the Pharisees were not complaining about that). He also said that it is okay to do good on the Sabbath. Religious people always add rules. God never intended the Sabbath Day to be treated like the Jews were doing. For example, orthodox Jews today teach that to walk more than .598 miles (3161.74 ft.) in any direction in the wilds outside your city limits on the Sabbath is “working’ therefore a sin. Over time, however, this distance was changed (lengthened) several times. Right after the Pharisees went away angrily and were plotting against Jesus, He went to a mountain alone and prayed all night long – probably to be strong in the spirit to choose the Twelve which He did that next morning.

v20-38: The Beatitudes – Lots of encouragement for believers here. We will be greatly blessed when 1) we hunger for righteousness, 2) we mourn and do not have much, 3) we are hated because we belong to Jesus (keeping in mind that the OT prophets were treated badly as well). Woes to people who are 1) rich and well-fed, 2) laugh from worldly interests, 3) being spoken well of by all (friend of this world and their fathers treated the false prophets in this way).

God’s way = love enemies, pray for those who persecute us, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, if they hit you, keep your stand which signifies that they cannot intimidate you while at the same time showing them that you will not resort to their base level because you do not want to hurt them. It takes more strength and courage to turn the other cheek than to slug it out with someone. It also shows that you have something that they do not have. If not them, maybe an onlooker will accept Christ based on what they see in us. We are also to give to others and do not demand back things that have been taken. This is difficult unless we have truly given all our things to God in our hearts. We should even lend without interest in order to be one-up on sinners who lend to gain. Remember that God’s heartbeat is conquering evil with good (Romans 12:19-21). Love has power over hate and must win in the end. It’s easy to love those who love us, even scoundrels do that much (Matthew 5:46). If we reflect our Father, we will love those who do not like us. We will also be merciful to others because we know how merciful our Father is with us. God will judge us the same way we judge others while on earth. So be merciful. Who else on earth can do this? By us doing these types of great things, we are pleasing God, winning souls, and gaining tremendous eternal rewards.

v31: The Golden Rule – Treat others the way in which you want them to treat you. By the way, in spite of what you have heard, all religions do not teach this.

v41-42: Do not spend time nitpicking at others because we have so many things wrong with us. We need to let God fix us first.

v43-49: A good tree produces good fruit and a person obeying God’s Word will also have good deeds (fruit). Whatever comes out, good or evil, it comes from the heart (soul) of the person. If we hear the Word but do not act upon it, we’ve built our house (life) on sand. If we heed the Word, we’ve built our house (life) on a rock, a sturdy support that will last forever.

Luke 7:

v1-10: The remarkable faith of the Roman centurion – In general, Roman soldiers disliked Jews and Jews disliked the soldiers. This man who had authority over as many as 100 men loved Israel so much that he built a local synagogue. He also loved one of his slaves who was very sick and about to die. He was so humble and full of faith that He sent word to Jesus for Him not to come where he was but to just say the word and the healing would happen. Jesus marveled at this man to the extent of saying he has more faith than anyone in Israel. Of course, the slave got well fast.

Controversy: Some gay activists assert that the centurion’s love for his male slave was a homosexual relationship, therefore Jesus thought that “gay love” was okay. There is a Greek word describing this relationship – “pais” – and it can mean gay, but it also can mean – boy, child, servant, slave. Therefore, to say for sure that “pais” meant “gay” is presumptuous to say the least. Furthermore, the centurion was loved by several Jews, who would have condemned any homosexual behavior in those days and probably would not give him such a high recommendation to Jesus. Finally, even if “pais” meant “gay,” Jesus often ministered to all kinds of sinners without endorsing their sin.

In conclusion, upon further investigation of the Scriptures, I have to reject the gay activist interpretation of Luke 7:2, not because I hate homosexuals, but because I love the Truth of the Scriptures – and sometimes that Truth tells me that I am seriously wrong in my behaviors and attitudes as well….but I still love it….because it’s Truth, and that will set me free (John 8:32). The wrong way to approach the interpretation of Scriptures is to start with a theory, belief, or bias and then search the Scriptures to support it. We need to empty our minds and pray to God that the Holy Spirit would help us understand what we need to understand. If we do this with a genuine love for God and Truth, even though it may be uncomfortable at times, we will know the truth and be free. He does reveal Himself to those who are open to Him (John 7:17).

v11-17: Jesus intervenes at a funeral – As Jesus approached the city of Nain, a dead man in a coffin was being carried out followed by many mourners. The man’s mother had lost her husband and this was her only son. Jesus felt much compassion for this woman so He touched the coffin and the dead man sat up and spoke. I’ve wondered if Jesus had this compassion for the woman because it was reminding Him of His Father’s emotions when He was killed on the cross (being His only son as well). Also, this may have been a way Jesus was showing what would happen to Him and that mourning will turn into great joy!

v18-23: John the Baptist seeks confirmation about Jesus – John sent word to Jesus asking if He really is the Messiah. This seems strange because earlier he seemed quite sure about who Jesus was. Jesus’ response was simply to tell John about all the miracles that He was performing. Jesus knew that this would convince him.

But WHY would John doubt considering all those great words he had said about Jesus earlier? One guess is that John was expecting Jesus to judge people soon and that Jesus would overthrow Rome’s rule over them. This was a common  misconception among Jesus’ disciples as well. So when John was imprisoned, and Rome was still ruling…he had some second thoughts.

v24-30: Jesus praises John the Baptist – John was more than a prophet, he was the forerunner to pave the way for the Messiah’s salvation provision to all people who believed. Jesus also said that he was the greatest person that ever lived. This is unbelievably great praise because this verse would have to put John ahead of Abraham, Moses, or even Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus! But even the least citizen in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than this Baptist. This speaks volumes for Heaven. The Pharisees and lawyers (experts in Mosaic Law) rejected this path as demonstrated by the fact that they did not allow themselves to be baptized by John.

v31-35: Jesus describes the people of His generation as ones who are never satisfied and who always finds fault rather than believing. Example – John ate no bread nor drank wine and was called crazy. Jesus came drinking and eating and was called a gluttonous drunkard and friend of the worst sinners. Some people are like this today.

v36-50: A surprise at a Pharisee’s house during dinner. Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus, among others, to his house for a meal. While reclining at the table, a certain “immoral” woman came in with expensive perfume weeping as she stood by behind Jesus. I’m sure some jaws dropped open at this point. Then her tears fell on Jesus’ feet and she kissed His feet while wiping them with her hair as she wept, and finished by pouring the costly perfume onto His feet. Now Simon was thinking that if Jesus were of God He would know what kind of sinner this person was (implying that He shouldn’t allow her to touch Him or be near Him). Jesus read his thoughts and told him that he never offered to wash His feet upon entering his house (apparently a nice gesture to do for folks back then) nor did he give a welcoming kiss (again, a cultural custom). Then He pointed out that this woman, although she had sinned, had done all these “courtesies” and then some. He shared a story with Simon describing two men, one owed a large sum of money, the other just a little. The person who was owed the money decided to forgive both debts. Jesus asked Simon which of the two men would love the forgiver more? And, of course Simon rightfully said “the one that was forgiven more.” Jesus’ point was that those people who realize how much God has forgiven them will love God to a high degree, but those who think they have not much in their life to be forgiven will love God little if at all. Every human being alive on earth today is represented by that woman. Unfortunately, only few realize it (Matt. 7:14).

Luke 8:

v1-3: Once again, Luke gives specific details that lend credibility to his writing. He reveals that several women followed Jesus and His disciples, and gave their own money for food and sustenance during the ministry years. Their names were Mary Magdalene (minus the 7 demons), Joanna (wife of Chuza who was Herod’s steward), and Susanna among others.

v5-15: Parable of the Seed and Soil – Also found in Matthew and Mark. Jesus reveals that there are only four categories of people and they reflect the condition of the heart (soul). When someone shares about Jesus and the Gospel, some reject it immediately because their heart is like a hard road surface and as the seeds (The Word of God) bounce off, dark forces quickly eat the seed. The second person’s heart is rocky soil so they believe for a while, but fade away due to lack of roots when temptation comes. The third person’s heart is full of thorns which represent the worries, riches, and pleasures of this world all having the power to choke out The Word so there is no fruit or maturity in the person. The fourth person’s heart is rich soil and they go forth and, with steadfastness, bring others into the Kingdom as well.

v16-18: The light that we have is Christ and the world needs to see it, so do not hide it. The more we follow Him and have His gifts, the more we will have in the future. If we have nothing in Christ, what we think we have will be taken away while others, who are more willing to do God’s will, will be given more to do therefore they will reap more reward. There’s a deep sense that total justice will occur on Judgment Day as nothing hidden shall remain hidden – both good and bad. No one gets away with anything. Those who did many kind acts “in secret” will have great reward because of their humility. God sees all, including the motivations of the heart.

v19-21: Jesus separates Himself from His earthly family. He says that His true mother and brothers are those “who hear the Word of God and do it.”

v22-25: Jesus calms a sea storm – while asleep in the boat, a storm erupted and had the disciples scared to death. After waking up, Jesus rebuked their lack of faith. I think He wanted them to know that when He is with them all is okay and safe. If they really knew who He was at that time, I would think they would not be in a panic here (easy for me to say while I enjoy the comforts and safety of my office).

v26-39: Jesus tangles with “Legion” (many demons in one man) – The Bible does not dwell much on Satan and the supernatural realm, so when It speaks about it, we’d better “milk it for all its worth.” This is what we can glean from these passages and other accounts:

1) demons are real
2) they can be inside humans
3) they know who Jesus is
4) they obey Jesus explicitly
5) a human can withstand many strong demons and remain alive while animals do not fair as well
6) some demons can make human extra strong physically
7) some demons can cause insanity, torment, and isolation
8) some can cause humans to gouge themselves causing bleeding
9) demons are aware of their ultimate defeat and will be sent to the abyss.

This event was so frightening to the villagers who saw this man clothed and in his right mind that they ordered Jesus to leave. So He did. This fear strongly suggests that they were not used to seeing something like this. If so, it was not going on before Jesus came despite the Jews having “exorcists” (Acts 19:13 and Matthew 12:27).

v40-56: More supernatural work – the daughter of a synagogue ruler died, but Jesus brings her back. As He was walking through a dense crowd, a woman with a 12-year-old bleeding problem reached out and touched Him, although He did not see her do this. He stopped because He felt healing power go out of Him to someone and he wanted to know who it was. We do not know from this that every time He healed someone that He could feel power leave Him.

Luke 9:1-26 Only:

v1-6: Jesus sends out His disciples to proclaim the Kingdom and gives them power over demons and to heal diseases. He tells them to take no provisions – maybe to teach them reliance on God.

v7-9: Herod “scratches his head.” He hears about Jesus and has no idea who He is, but wants to see Him.

v10-11: The disciples report back to Jesus and shared all that they had done. I assume it was all good. Jesus took them away to a private place. Maybe to keep them humble after such an expedition. But the people found out where they went, so He taught more on the Kingdom and healed many. “Humility 101” for His disciples may have been canceled due to overcrowding. This may explain why some of them were arguing about who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom shortly before the crucifixion. Jesus treasured time alone with the Twelve. Whatever He did not have time to do, the Holy Spirit would make up for later. This is not Scriptural – just some thoughts.

v18-22: Divine revelation hits Peter – Jesus asked His disciples who they think He is. Peter proclaimed He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. For some reason Luke does not share the details of this account as Matthew does. In any case, this marks the first time any human came out and said this essential truth, but Jesus warned them not to tell anyone because He was to suffer greatly at the hands of the religious leaders and be killed and raised on the third day. Even though this sounds very clear to us, we have the advantage of history (all the NT Scriptures) and the Holy Spirit. Apparently, the disciples couldn’t conceive of this happening literally, so they presumed it was another hard-to-understand parable. We should not criticize them here. Their idea of Messiah was most likely a conquering hero who would get Rome off the backs of the Jews. Remember Peter took out his sword against the arresting soldiers? In addition, Simon, the zealot wanted Rome to go as well. Jesus dying would be totally contrary to this paradigm.

There are probably several reasons why Jesus did not want the word out that He was the Messiah:

1) If Rome got wind of it, they would kill Him (or at least take Him away from the people) as they would view Him as an opposing king to Caesar.
2) His disciples may act wrongly – remember Peter took up his sword during the arrest.
3) Too many people might follow Him for power or an easy meal – remember He had to rebuke a bunch that followed Him across a lake because they just wanted free food rather than the Kingdom (John 6:26).

Jesus knew He had limited time to teach the Word about God’s Kingdom, and He would not allow anything to disrupt that brief window of opportunity.

v23-26: We must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to truly follow Jesus. At first glance this sounds like we all must leave all our goods and family behind and roam around the countryside preaching the Gospel relying on God to miraculously provide all our physical needs. Actually, I think it means that we need to shift from living for ourselves to living for Him which means we seek and desire His will rather than ours each day. We can do this while still married and owning homes and being committed to a job. It is realizing that, “LIFE’S NOT ABOUT US, IT’S ABOUT HIM.” If we do not do this, the only alternative is to live for ourselves – to gain what we want, seeking after what this world says is important. Jesus takes this to the extreme by saying that even if we gained the whole world (had anything we wanted at the clap of our hands – power, food, pleasures, safety, etc) but not have eternal life, we LOSE EVERYTHING. On the other hand, if we give up everything for Him, we GAIN EVERYTHING. The Bible is not clear on the details of the meaning of “everything,” but I know it goes beyond what we can imagine.

Application for Today: There are many people who believe in Jesus but are not following Him. We all need to die to self daily.

Luke 9:27-62:

v27: Tough one, see commentary on Mathew 16:28.

v28-36: The Transfiguration of Jesus – Jesus has a miraculous meeting with Elijah and Moses. Moses represented The Law, and Elijah represented the Prophets. Therefore, Jesus is the fulfillment of both. For some unknown reason they were talking to Jesus about his upcoming departure from earth. I’ve always wondered what was said. The scene ended with an audible voice affirming the credibility of Jesus.

v37-42: A man in the crowd shouted to Jesus that his son was possessed causing him to scream and have convulsions with foaming at the mouth. The disciples could not cast it out and Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith. He also said that generation was perverted. I wonder how He would describe the present generation?! Then Jesus got it out of the boy.

v43-45: A sobering comment – While all the people were marveling over Jesus’ miracles, He tells His disciples that He would be soon delivered into the hands of men. Here the Scripture reveals that God concealed the meaning from them and they were too afraid to ask Him anything about it. So WHY did God prevent The Twelve from understanding this at this point in time? Possibly because they might have done something prematurely such as run off to protect themselves. This was not supposed to happen until the arrest was made according to OT prophecy (Zechariah 13:7). Perhaps, like Peter, they would start to use weapons to fight and kill the people who would take Jesus. I imagine that Simon the Zealot could have rounded up a small army to go to battle on behalf of Jesus. No one knows for sure, but we can trust that God had good reasons.

v46-48: The disciples start arguing over who will be the greatest in Heaven. This must have broken Jesus’ heart, but He did not say, “Hey, you guys are flunking Part One of your Final Exam here!” He simply used a humble child and said in order to be great, you must serve “the least” of these. Talk about love, patience, and using teachable moments!

v51-56: As Jesus headed toward Jerusalem, they tried to stay over somewhere in Samaria, but the Samaritans (half-Jews) did not like Jews and Jews did not like Samaritans. So Jesus and His Twelve were sent away. Then James and John (sons of Thunder if you remember from John’s Gospel) wanted to command fire to come down from heaven and consume the Samaritans. I was always surprised that these two guys thought they had the authority to do this on their own. See what happens when God gives sinful humans some supernatural power? It can be a dangerous thing. God must be careful about who gets this power. Anyway, Jesus rebuked them by saying that they do not know the spirit that is working through them at that point. A good lesson for us who may be vulnerable to self-righteousness at times.

v57-62: Various people wanted to follow Jesus but their hearts were not totally sold out to Him as they had other priorities. Jesus, sensing this, declined their offering. This shows how high the Kingdom of God needs to be on our priority list in order to truly serve Him.

Luke 10:

v2: I think this means that many people are ready to get saved, but there is a shortage of believers who are willing to reach out and share the Gospel with them. So Jesus asks us to pray for more “laborers.”

v3-4: Jesus knows that He is sending out His “rookie” disciples among many evil people therefore He gives specific instructions, perhaps for their safety – i.e. do not greet anyone on the way to a city and stay in only one house. At the same time they will learn to trust Him for food and clothing along the way.

v5-9: As He sends them out, Jesus tells His disciples to accept hospitality by staying in one house that’s accepts them and to eat any kind of food set before them. In that house, they were to heal whoever needs it and to tell them that the Kingdom of God had come near to them.

v10-11: If a city rejected them, they were to shake off even the dust from their feet signifying that since they have rejected the Kingdom, they will have no part of that place clinging to them, in other words, complete separation.

v12-16: On Judgment Day, some will receive more condemnation than others. Since the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum saw Jesus in person and did not receive Him, they will have it worse than the people of Tyre and Sidon because they would have repented after seeing the miracles of Jesus. This shows how much God knows the hearts of all people and the time and place that individuals lived in. This latter factor determines the magnitude of truth to which people are exposed. If people reject our witness about Jesus, they are rejecting Him, not us. This should help us be more willing to tell the Gospel to others.

v17-18: The “road trip” was a huge success, even to the point of demons obeying the authority in the disciples. Jesus knew it was fairing well for them as He saw Satan falling from heaven like lightning. Not sure what Jesus “saw” here, but it is another brief but fascinating look into the supernatural realm. Perhaps Satan saw this damage being done and came to “rescue” his demons to some extent (i.e., “stop the bleeding”). It shows that when we move in the power of the Holy Spirit, it will get demonic attention and therefore there will be “reprisals,” but we are not to fear them because they cannot defeat us (Matthew 16:18). This demonstration of power over demons may also indicate that Jesus had bound Satan (perhaps partially). Jesus did say that the “strong man” has to be bound first before one can take away things from his house (Matthew 12:29). Revelation 20:1-3 may be describing what Jesus did here. However many theologians believe this binding happens in the future, but some think the 1,000 years millennium started here and the time period is not literal. More on this in my commentary on the Book of Revelation.

v20: Jesus emphasizes proper perspective on having this supernatural authority by saying, “Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” This humble attitude keeps us in line so that God can continue to use us. He knows that power corrupts humans too easily, so He has to warn us. When we do or say something that is good and right and has successful impact onto society or individuals, do we really give total glory to God or do we think that we played a big role and deserve respect as a result? The latter attitude will choke out future spiritual successes. This is why Jesus told us not to let our “left hand know what our right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3). I think this means that we should not keep a record mentally or on paper of all the good that we do.

v21-24: Jesus gets excited over the disciples’ success. He recognizes that His Father does not reveal and give power to the intelligent and worldly-wise people, but rather to “babes” (humble, everyday folks) and He saw that this pleased His Father, so it pleased Him. He perceived the wisdom of the Father in this. Jesus finished by telling the disciples that many godly people in the OT longed to hear and see what was going on at that time but couldn’t. That is how blessed they were.

v25-37: A lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. So Jesus tells him to obey the two most important commandments – Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. But this man had a narrow view of what “neighbor” meant. So Jesus tells him the “Good Samaritan Story” to reveal which people are neighbors. Conclusion from the story? Anyone is our neighbor, even if there has been a history of bad blood between you and them. We do not get to pick them or to define them.

v38-42: The Mary and Martha Contrast – Jesus was invited to the home of a woman named Martha. Her sister was Mary. Martha was so worried about doing things properly for her guest that she got mad at Mary for not helping serve the preparations. Instead, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to what He was saying. She finally told Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus response is classical – “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary…really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Great sermon material here. Do not let details of this life block us from giving Jesus first place in all things. Doing this, we can still get things done, but with the right spirit (attitude). He is not saying to not keep a clean house or not to serve guests. I think He is saying, if God is present in a special way ministering, then let all else go until He is done, or do not ignore it due to the distractions/concerns of this world.

Luke 11: 1-26 Only:

v1-4: The Lord’s Prayer – meant to be a template rather than a memorized ritual. 1) start with worship 2) value His Kingdom more than anything 3) ask for needs 4) ask for forgiveness 5) forgive all others who sin against us 6) lead us away from temptation.

Application for Today: There are many different words and other issues we can use when we talk with God. He wants relationship, not ritual.

V5-12: Jesus tells us to be persistent with our prayers and they will be answered.

v13: Jesus calls humans evil. I guess He did not study modern humanism which teaches we are basically good. Humanists, ironically, will say that Jesus was a good teacher. I assume they have not read all that He taught.

v14-20: Jesus deals with demons again. His enemies blasphemed the Holy Spirit when they exclaimed that Jesus’ power to cast out demons was from Satan himself. This doomed their fate. It is the only unforgivable sin. Only a horribly evil-hearted person could utter such a thing in my opinion. I also think they would never repent either. Jesus said that Satan is not casting out Satan because a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, but if He was doing this by God’s power, then the Kingdom of God had come upon them.

v21-26: Another brief glimpse into the supernatural realm. Before Jesus could cast out demons, He first had to bind the “strong man.” This could mean Satan himself or the strongest demon over the person. Once the “strong man” is bound, the binder has free reign to “clean house.” But if those demons that were cast out return to the man they came from and find his inside (heart or soul) clean but empty (no Jesus) that demon brings seven more demons into the man who is now worse off than he was before he met Jesus. I get the feeling that this was a reason why He did not spend all of His time casting out demons. He had to get God’s Word out to people because that would stabilize and protect their futures. Some believe that this was Jesus’ way of revealing that He had already bound up Satan and that His millennial rule would begin when He ascends to the Father and sits on the throne. In this interpretive approach, the millennium is not seen as a literal thousand years, but rather an unspecified long period of time, namely, the Church Age. Here Satan is bound so he cannot deceive the nations so the Gospel could spread like wildfire throughout earth – which it did. In this view, the “binding of Satan” is not stripping him of all power, but rather a change in the world for the Gospel’s sake. Jesus’ saints would rule with Him by calling on His name to do great exploits for the Kingdom during this time. The dispensational view is that none of this has happened yet and the millennium is a literal 1,000 reign with Christ visible on earth. But this view has never made much sense to me. It raises many questions with no good answers.

Luke11:27-28 Only: Luke is the only Gospel that gives fantastic details about the birth of Jesus and the experience that Mary had with Gabriel the archangel. These two verses, however, can spark much controversy. Since the Scriptures are God’s Words, not man’s, I will try to handle them fairly and accurately.

One day from the crowd a woman yelled out to Jesus and said, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which you nursed.” Jesus responded by saying, “On the contrary (or, more than that), blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.” Gabriel, however, said to Mary in Luke 1:28, “Hail favored one!” (other manuscripts say, “woman richly blessed” or “you are blessed among women”). Gabriel said Mary was blessed, but Jesus did not confirm this when given a chance to do so. Is there a contradiction here? The Bible is the inerrant Word of God and therefore contains not one contradiction, so the next step is to discern what each text meant.

First, let’s examine Gabriel’s address to Mary. According to God’s plan of becoming a human being, He had to choose some female to receive the Holy Seed or Zygote (egg + sperm). It was the only way to be linked to the human race without being tainted with Adam’s sinful blood. Whoever was going to be chosen needed to be a humble person and one who would believe God’s Word. Mary was the one, and for this she was very blessed. Gabriel had it correct. God does indeed bless people. This has to rank #1 among all women. Mary’s blood, however, never intermixed with the Baby Jesus (as we now know from embryology). Some Christians believe that God did not use an egg from Mary but rather used a separately created “fertilized egg” that the Holy Spirit implanted into Mary’s uterus. Others believe that God used an egg from Mary’s body but the sperm came from the Holy Spirit….a seed untainted by Adam’s sin. I believe an actual egg was used. That would make Jesus a fully human being which allowed Him to be tempted to sin. I don’t think Satan can tempt God the Father to sin, but when God became a human, then Satan had his chance!

So why did Jesus respond to that praise given to Mary by saying, “On the contrary”? The woman in the crowd was probably elevating Mary to a level that was unacceptable to Jesus because the first words out of His mouth were, “On the contrary” or “More than that.” This means He did not agree with her, or that there is something more to learn. Was this woman simply complimenting the fact that Jesus had a great woman to nurture him though childhood, or was this the beginning of adoring Mary so excessively that it interfered with the proper and deserving adoration and worship of God in the Flesh? This could, even unknowingly at first, lead to the worship or the making of someone Holy other than God Himself. Clearly, Jesus was correcting or at least adding revelation to what the woman yelled out. Therefore, there must be something different from what Gabriel meant and what this woman meant. Whether Jesus said “On the contrary” or “More than that,” He is moving away from what the woman shouted to Him. The contrast with what Gabriel told Mary is obvious. Gabriel called her “blessed,” and she was blessed mightily by God. To be the chosen female out of all history to give birth to the Messiah is difficult to top. Although Jesus had a great chance here to elevate Mary, or the position of anyone naturally (physically, at least in people’s eyes) related to Him, He moves away from putting her in any special position as He also did in Luke 8:21 (“My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”).

When people other than Jesus are elevated beyond what’s proper, other things tend to follow. People may pray to them thus disobeying 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” “Mediator” means “go between” or “one who connects two parties.” This includes the priesthood of the Old Covenant. A priest served as a go-between, but Jesus now fulfills this role. The Book of Hebrews confirms this. Priests are no longer needed. When we pray, we connect with God. Only the name of Jesus makes this essential connection. If I were facing Jesus, Mary, King David, Saint whomever, and Moses, I would go straight to Jesus. Why settle for anybody less? If God never bridged the gap between us and Him, I would certainly go to these others (if they could actually hear me…which I doubt because there is no Scripture that even implies this). Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes, after He conquered all our enemies and broke open Heaven’s door for us, how do you think He must feel when people turn to other names for guidance or support? When you really know Jesus, you know that you have everything and need no one else (1 John 2:23).

In conclusion, had Jesus not built upon the woman’s statement,  He may have indicated a unique position for Mary that the Scriptures do not support. Mary was mightily blessed by God, but that word “blessed” is a description, not a Holy position or person. Many others were blessed by God as well. When there are references to Jesus’ natural family members, however, He quickly deflects attention from them to Kingdom revelations. We must ALWAYS believe and follow the Holy Scriptures, not traditions made up by fallible humans.

Luke 11:29-54:

v29-32: Jesus has a frustrating time with the people of His generation. Judgment Day will be difficult for them because of the magnitude of God’s power and revelation was in front of them yet they were still demanding more proof. He compared them to people of OT times who repented when lesser revelation was presented before them, meaning that they would be in trouble on Judgment Day.

v33: I think this means that once we are enlightened by Jesus, we need to keep showing Him to others.

v34-36:TV? Jesus stresses the importance of the eye as it is the part that floods the inner soul. So we must be careful what we allow our eyes to watch. The eyes are the window of our souls and whatever we see, will influence us. We should not put any wicked thing before our eyes (Psalms 101:3)…TV? I find about 2% of TV is useful, the rest is junk. Many people think that they can watch sinful things and it has no bad affect on them. Adults do not want kids watching X-rated movies, but somehow, somewhere along some line…it magically becomes all right for adults to watch them. Why is it wrong for kids but okay for adults? Maybe the kids should speak up to those deceived folks and teach them a lesson from the “Emperor’s New Clothes” fable. I’d say if it is a steady diet of any bad thing, it will have a bad effect. First, with so little time given to us, why spend time with worthless things? (Ephesians 5:16). Watching sinful things can dull our senses so that what should bother or offend us doesn’t anymore. It could lead us to sin, or to be calloused to it. It can take us out of the Spirit and hurdle us into the flesh, even though we may not sin overtly. We may find ourselves even spending money on these things which are wrong. This gives more power to that which is wrong and detrimental to society.

In my younger years, God challenged me regarding the money I was spending on music albums that were not Christian. Some even had a song or two opposing Christ. After some time, I couldn’t buy those things any longer and I got rid of all my albums after the Spirit asked me, “Dave, IF I were to ask you to give up those albums for My sake, would you be willing?” Well, I couldn’t lie to God because I know He sees through it. The truth at that point in my walk with Him was that I was NOT willing. So I hung my head and told Him so, quickly followed by serious kneel time before the Lord asking Him to make my attitude right. He did, and then I was willing to part with all of them. I am not trying to say that Christians must rid themselves of all non-Christian music. In my case, however, those records had become an idol without me realizing it. I took quick notice that God did not demand that I give them up. Rather He lovingly probed my heart to show me where I needed some “tweaking.” And boy did I get tweaked! The other interesting part to this story is once I got rid of the records, I felt great. I wanted to cling to them because I would miss the music, but I never did. I felt that I had gained something, not lost something, and I still feel that freedom inside me today.

v42: On Tithing: Jesus was identifying the hypocrisy in the Pharisees. At one point He said that tithing is right to do, but does little for the person without a spirit of justice and love of God inside their souls. Some Christians justify not tithing to their church by saying it was just for the Old Testament Law. The truth is that tithing began before the Law was given and Jesus says here that we should tithe. But there is a good argument against making tithing a church rule. Without going into detail, suffice it to say here that being free from worldliness or selfishness will allow us to give more than 10% to the church and offer more things beyond that. This should be the goal of every living church. Tithing advocates cite Malachi 3:8-12 that says God will curse us if we don’t tithe, and if we do, He will bless us. If this becomes the main reason to get church people to tithe, I see lots of room for these people to give out of fear, not love for God and others. So it destroys proper motives. One thing my church does, which I love, is that it has a “Tithe & Offering box” on the wall near the exit door. Tithe collections during the service do not happen. People give quietly into that box whenever they can. Most others do not notice when they give like what happens during the passing of a plate in the service. I also like this policy so that when poor people come they will not feel bad that they can’t give anything. So mature churches and mature Christians need not hold to a 10% goal. Now if someone is not giving anything at all or a very low amount, they need to pray and ask God to help them be a better giver…all with the correct motivations. One thing that attracted me to my present church (I joined in 1978) is that it has never had money problems and the pastors have never begged for money.

v50-52: Since the Pharisees and scribes (experts in Jewish Law) had the same “heart problems” as earlier generations, Jesus said they are fully guilty of the sins of the past done by former leaders.

v53-54: How the Pharisees and scribes hated Jesus because He could put His finger right on where they were lacking and they, like folks today, did not like that truth. So they began to do what evil folks do to rid themselves of a problem – conspire to murder a person rather than admitting their wayward ways and seeking forgiveness from a willing God.

Luke 12:1-34 Only:

1-3: Every single thing we have done or thought is known to God, even those things that are covered up from people’s view or knowledge.

4-5: Do not fear those who can kill only our bodies, but only fear the one who can cast souls into Hell. Fear of man is one of our most common stumbling blocks in our walk with Christ. It is something that most likely needs continuous prayer to stand against. Years ago I was sweeping this fear under the carpet unknowingly. So God used a woman who falsely accused me of proselytizing her daughter in public school, and tried to get me fired. Since this was my second accusation involving the same issue, my superiors warned me of the seriousness of it and that I should get a lawyer from the teacher’s union. Fear of her and my superiors hit me and I knew I could not go to sleep that night. The Spirit led me to my living room to seek the Lord by myself. As I was on my knees, He gently spoke these three words, “Fear of man.” I then confessed to Him that it was sin in my life and asked Him to remove it and fill in the void with the power of the Holy Spirit. All my angst and worry instantly left and I slept well that night. Two weeks later (amid more good sleep), after the assistant superintendent interviewed me, the student, and her mom separately, I was completely exonerated from all formal accusations levied against me by this woman. I guess God wanted me to finish my career in Spencerport. Romans 8:28 came true once again.

6: Jesus assures us that we are extremely valuable to Him, much more than the sparrows of whom He is keenly aware. A teacher friend of mine did not like that fact that I go fishing because it causes harm to an animal. She’s a vegetarian and thinks that she is doing good “to the earth” by doing this. Ironically, as one might guess, she favors abortion rights for women. “Don’t kill the fish, but kill the human babies” (my words, not hers). She believes the Bible is just a nice story, but gets angry when people actually believe it. At one point she actually yelled at me to shut up when I was talking about what the Bible says. I’ll be the first to admit that some people get off-the-wall ideas from the Bible, but not the people who have a genuine love for Jesus and others. It’s sad and frustrating to see so many people with darkened minds with mixed up priorities. I’m good friends with this teacher so I felt at liberty to do this next thing. I called her up and told that I saved thousands of minnow lives that day. She was happy, and asked how I did it. I said, “I caught and killed a huge bass.”  She didn’t know what to say. (I actually lied. I’m a catch-and-release” fisherman…but I made a good point because she accused me of doing wrong because a hook in a fishes mouth causes pain. Uh, it’s my understanding that the nerve structure is not the same as ours. While I hate to see animals in pain, I don’t think fish are that bad off. One day, I caught the same fish on a lure twice, so it probably wasn’t in much pain).

7: God knows and cares for us much more than we realize.

8-9: If we state to other people that we believe in Jesus, He will confirm us in heaven before all the angels. But if we deny Him before men, He will deny us in front of the angels. He does not elaborate on the word “deny,” but it can’t be good. Yes, I know Peter denied Him and was still in good standing with Him…but I assume he repented and therefore made a nice comeback. It’s not the unforgivable sin.

10: Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. Luke does not give the context of this statement by Jesus. Matthew 12:22-32 does. When Jesus was casting out demons, the Pharisees who saw this accused Jesus of doing it by the power of Satan. I do not believe that an actual Christian would commit this sin. I do believe that anyone who does this is extremely evil-hearted and would never repent from sin and turn toward God to seek His forgiveness – too much pride and self-centeredness.

11-12: The Holy Spirit will give us the right words at the right time in situations when rulers and authorities come against us and we must give an account to them about what we have done, said, or believe.

13-31: A discourse on greed, possessions, and worldly thinking contrasted with Kingdom living and thinking. Our life does not consist of our possessions. In America, our culture tells us we must “succeed” to be happy or successful or to be of some value as a human being. Success is usually measured by how much money we earn and therefore how many nice possessions we can buy. I well remember when Dan Hinman who was my Best Man in my wedding, was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While his condition gradually worsened over the years, many friends and neighbors would pay him house visits to cheer him up. They all said that Dan cheered THEM up. Dan was never bitter and never complained about his plight. Instead, he wanted the best for others. He died several years ago leaving behind his beloved wife and five great children. The main thing I learned from Dan was that it is not things or worldly accomplishments that are important in this life, it’s how many people we have allowed God to touch through us before we die. We do not need lots of money to do this. All our money and possessions cannot be brought into the Kingdom of God. Therefore, God tells us not to worry about food, shelter, and clothing (teens, are you listening?) because if we seek first His Kingdom, He will make sure these needs are met for us.

32: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” This is so over our heads! Did I see the word “the” in front of kingdom?! Luke is the only place in the entire Bible that this revelation is written. It brings me to tears every time I meditate on it. It reminds me of the end of the “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” movie when Willy gives his entire factory to little humble (and forgiven) Charlie. Totally unexpected and overwhelming!

33-34: With all this in mind, Jesus encourages us to give away possessions and build our treasure in the eternal heaven rather than in this fading earth. He ends with a clincher statement, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Tough message for us materialistic Americans.

Luke 12:35-59: ALWAYS BE READY!

35-44: “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight.” Jesus is saying to be ready for His Second Coming. I think “Keep your lamps alight” means to be in tune spiritually and maintain strong inner faith in Him and His Word. Light is good for seeing reality and gaining guidance in the right direction. We are to live as though He is coming today. He wants to find us doing His work when He comes. If He does, He will be ready to serve us in His Kingdom and put us in charge of all His possessions. It is hard for me to grasp the idea of “all His possessions.” He owns everything. I suspect there are many things that He owns that we have no knowledge about. He will come when we do not expect it (so always be ready).

When Jesus talks like this, it always gives me the feeling that He really knows what He’s talking about. He did not get this from the Old Testament, it is all new. I can’t imagine some uneducated or educated person just making this up. No one would listen to him unless something was extraordinary about the person talking.

45-48: Different Judgments on That Day – The person who thinks the Lord’s Coming will be delayed and therefore gets lazy and does harm to others, God will destroy on the Big Day. The person who knows God’s will and does not do it will receive many lashes. The person who never knew His will and did deeds worthy of flogging, will receive only a few. Also, if God has given a person much (gifts, revelation), much is required. These people will be held accountable on that basis. When we consider all of history, some people knew more Truth than others depending on what era they lived in and what cultural background they came from. People who saw Jesus and His miracles in person, for example, are in bigger trouble if they rejected Him compared to someone who had never seen Him. People who lived in the Dark Ages when there were no Bibles to be read will be judged with this in consideration. Knowing God, all His judgments can be trusted to be correct, even though we can’t see it all now. His is never unjust.

49-50: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” I think Jesus is referring to the beginning of His Bride (the Church) and the start of the spreading of the Gospel into the world. But He knows that can’t happen until He goes through the horror of the crucifixion and He was very distressed about going through that. We are locked in time and struggle with having a real grasp of total history. The truth is that from the Fall of man to Jesus, nations were in terrible darkness due to Satan’s power and control. But this was bound by Jesus when He so that the Gospel about His everlasting Kingdom would be able to spread upon the earth. I believe this part of history is the “fire” to which Jesus is talking about here.

51-53: Jesus said He did not come to bring peace on the earth but rather a sword. The Christmas mantra of “He brings peace on earth and good will toward men” is premature. He knows that people will be strongly divided about who He is. Not only would wars begin over Him, but even members of the same household would be against each other over Him. The peace will not come to earth until He revamps it in the afterlife after all His enemies are put under His feet as He rules from the throne of God. I believe this process of Him ruling and putting enemies under His feet is going on as I type this. It is the Church Age, I believe.

54-59: Jesus says we are good predictors of earthly things such as weather. He actually made some accurate meteorological statements here, but we can’t see what’s about to happen in God’s realm as it relates to us on earth. I think in verse 58 He is saying that death comes unexpectedly so always be in good standing with your creator (judge) in order to avoid a nasty after death experience.

Luke 13:1-17 Only – Tragedies = Teachable Moments, Not Evidence Against God’s Existence

1-5: Jesus explains what we are to think when tragic death strikes. Pilate had killed some people from Galilee and a tower fell on eighteen men and killed them, so some people told Jesus about these things. He said that the victims were not worse sinners than anyone else (people have a tendency to judge harshly and wrongly). He also emphasized that unless people repent, they too will likewise perish. So He used tragedy, which is always ultimately caused by mankind’s sin, as a springboard to alert humans to what is really going on in this life and the next life. Perspective is everything. People today are too busy condemning God for allowing such tragedies rather than “getting His message.” Why? Because they love darkness more than light (John 3:19).

6-9: Not sure on this one, but I’ll try…the context from the previous verses is repenting (which also involves changing evil ways). Because Israel as a whole was not doing this, I think Jesus was saying that God was ready to destroy everything because no good was coming out of His so-called people. But the Son of God asked Him to wait and let him go down and do some “fertilizing” (extra revelation and demonstration of God to the people). I think Jesus was letting us know how frustrated God was with His people, and, at the same time, patient and merciful by coming into the world Himself to get the “good fruit” growing on earth and saving that promised remnant. Jesus really doesn’t explain it, He just goes on to something else in the next verse. Since Israel, as a whole, rejected God when He came face-to-face and loved, revealed Truth, served, and healed people (“fertilized”), it was cut down in 70 A.D.

11-17: For 18 years a spirit was causing a woman to be doubled over, unable to straighten up. Jesus healed her and the synagogue official was offended because Jesus “worked” on the Sabbath Day. Jesus pointed out his hypocrisy by saying that he leads his donkey to water on Sabbaths so why can’t God release someone from Satan on the Sabbath? The people loved it, the religious guy hated it.

Application for Today: The Bible says that the Sabbath was a rest day for man’s sake. Our physical bodies and mental faculties need rest one day out of seven. This is why I think that God rested after creating things for 6 days. It was to set the example for man. What the religious people had done over the years was to add many rules and definitions of “work” for the Sabbath, so they eventually couldn’t do many things. God never intended that, and Jesus set the record straight. I believe that people who want to pick a day to honor God is a good thing, whether it be Sunday, Saturday, or whatever day. By resting one day out of seven because God says to, is honoring His Word and trusting in His Word. But to create a bunch of dos and don’ts for a Sabbath day is not what pleases God. Colossians 2:16-23 sheds more light on this issue.

Luke 13:18-35:

18-21: Jesus explains what the Kingdom of God is like. It starts small and kind of hidden, which may be a reference to Him being just one man and people not realizing what He was accomplishing. Then, over time, it becomes huge with influence everywhere!

22-27: He seems to be saying that out of all the humans, only a small percent will be saved. He describes “the Way” as a narrow door that few enter although many will try. Then there will be an abrupt end to salvation opportunities as the end of time will come. Scary.

28-30: The weeping and gnashing of teeth will happen when unsaved people see Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac at peace in the Kingdom while they are cast out. Getting a glimpse of what they missed must be unbearable torment. In this realm, Jesus said some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last. I think this means that saved folks who thought themselves to be more important or better than others will be brought down and those who have been humble and possibly deemed by others as not so important will be rewarded with much.

31-35: Word gets to Jesus via the Pharisees that Herod wants to kill Him. Jesus basically says that Herod is no matter to Him, He must do certain things over the next three days and He will not be stopped. Since all the prophets had been killed in Jerusalem, He says that He must go there as well. He then laments over Jerusalem because its people have set themselves against God from the OT prophets to Him even though He wanted to gather them all in as a loving, caring, protective mother hen with her chicks. Then He pronounces frightening judgment against the city – destruction to the point of being left desolate. This was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jews were cast out of Israel. Not only was the city destroyed, but the Temple and animal sacrifice was destroyed as well, and neither has been restored despite Israel returning to the world map in 1948. All this, I believe, points to what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God. Namely that it would be taken away from the Jews and given to the Gentiles who would produce the right fruit (Matthew 21:43). The nation of Israel will not see Jesus until the time comes when they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” This sounds like End Time prophecy of some sort. I get frustrated at the disciples sometimes. I wish someone would ask Him what He means by these types of things. Maybe they did, but in God’s wisdom, everything did not get recorded for us. Be assured, however, that the Bible has plenty of information for us to do His will before we die. The more we read it and marry our hearts to every word, the better off we will be.

Luke 14:

7-11: Jesus illustrates how humility in this life pays off huge benefits in the after-life.

12-14: When we invite people for dinner, we should invite the poor who cannot repay us. In this way we have a better reward in the Kingdom. You know, I’ve been a Christian since 1971 and I’ve known thousands of believers, but I can only think of one Christian friend that has done this.

15-24: When a man at the dinner heard Jesus saying things about the Kingdom, he commented to Jesus that anyone who eats there is blessed. But Jesus responded with a story illustrating that many invitations go out to people but only a few accept. Many gave worldly excuses not to “go to the big dinner” (which represented the Kingdom of God in Jesus’ story).

26-33: Jesus describes the cost of being His disciple: 1) One must love Him more than anyone else. This love must be far greater than one’s love for immediate family members. So the love for family is like hate, but not literal hate. This is a measure of difference between love of God and love of family, 2) Self-denial (carry one’s own cross), 3) Give up (or renounce) all possessions. Without these three in place, we will not make it to the “finish line” as believers, and will be ridiculed by other non-believers. I do not know one Christian that has literally given up all their possessions, yet they still walk with Jesus and are saved. So what I think this means is to be willing to let all go for His sake. It’s a heart issue. I have heard of some Christians literally giving up all and their lives were blessed, so there is lots of room for a literal interpretation here as well as the heart issue explanation. So the question that the Holy Spirit is asking we Christians is, “Are we willing to give away _________?” You fill-in the blank.

I think for special high callings, some believers will have to literally give up possessions to follow Jesus to be effective in whatever ministry He gives them. For all other believers, no thing should ever be more important or dear to our hearts than God Himself. Why? Is God in need of our love? No. We are in need of His love, and it’s the way we can be filled with His righteousness.

v34-35: So if a so-called believer isn’t producing any fruit he/she is losing “saltiness” (“salt” symbolizes Christians being a preserver of righteousness and letting God do good things for others). so if there is no “fruit” or “salt,” then they are useless and will be “thrown out” (Lake of Fire judgment??). This all ends with a sobering statement...”He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Luke 15: Who Has the Best Chance of Getting Saved?

1-10: The Pharisees and scribes complained about Jesus hanging with tax collectors and non-religious Jews. To illustrate the joy that God has in doing this He told a story about a farmer who had 100 sheep but lost one. He left the 99 to search for that one sheep and when he found it, he rejoiced greatly. This same joy God has when one person repents and gets into the Kingdom of God. The angels rejoice with him as well.

Application for Today: Do not ignore or snub people based on their social status or outer appearance. Keep in mind that “down-and-outers” are usually more open to the Gospel of Hope than people who are well-off or religious people (just like in Jesus’ day).

11-32: The Prodigal Son Story – CLASSIC. This is pregnant with meaning and revelation about God. God’s compassion for us is well depicted in this story. We are that prodigal son. We have gone astray with our lives and if/when we return to God in repentance, He welcomes us with open arms. Now the son that remained faithful to the dad was never happy that his brother alive (they probably had not heard a word about him since he left). Instead he just became angry that his wayward brother was treated so well. When he complained, dad said that his brother was totally lost (dead) but now he is back (alive) so they must rejoice. In addition, all the dad owned was always available to this “faithful” son. He was not getting cheated out of anything. I think this angry son represents the religious Jews who thought they were so good, but their hearts were not pure. They were the ones who were “faithful” in keeping the Law (so they thought). They were the ones who preserved the Jewish religion and its traditions. They were the bearers of the truth of God. But they also were the ones that did not rejoice when Jesus healed people of terrible maladies. They thought they would be favored by God over these others. Not so, and it was difficult for them to accept this. If their hearts were right, however, they would rejoice over the good fortune of others and be happy for them. Like that second son, he showed no joy when he found out that his brother was still alive – remember, they had no cell phones back then. There was no way to tell whether or not that boy was alive.

Application for Today: Many folks who have made wrong choices with their lives are close to salvation, so let us not ignore or resent them.

Luke 16 – This chapter emphasizes that we cannot love money and serve in God’s Kingdom. Money, to God, means little. He says if we cannot handle something like money, how can we handle something of true value and importance such as Kingdom things. He further says that if we are faithful in just a little thing (such as handling money), it reflects a bigger faithfulness of the heart.

For example, I think this means that if we are unwilling to steal a pen from the office, then we will not cheat with bigger issues or temptations. In addition, if we are unfaithful in a little thing, our unrighteousness goes deeper than we think. For example, if we are willing to steal that pen for personal use, then we will be more apt to cheat on our income tax report. If we work hard on cutting our neighbor’s lawn even when the neighbor isn’t watching, we will probably be a good worker with other things. If we work hard only when the boss is watching, then we will have a poor work ethic when the boss is not looking. God has wonderful things for us to do in eternity and what and how we do things on earth may determine how much we do in heaven.

v9: This evil steward had the goal of living in comfort and ease after being fired. Jesus encourages His followers to be generous with their wealth in this life so that in the life to come their new friends will receive them “into eternal dwellings.” Jesus is saying that we should use money for good things according to the Kingdom of God. If we do, we will find everlasting comfort in heaven enjoying life even with those we have helped with our riches. Just as the unjust steward in the parable was “shrewd” in benefitting himself materially, so we should be “shrewd” in benefitting ourselves (and others) spiritually. We have been entrusted with material possessions, and we are to use them for the eternal benefit of others.

v14: The Pharisees, who loved money, immediately scoffed at Jesus upon hearing these things about earthly riches. Jesus, however, rebuked them by saying that despite their attempts of justifying their lifestyle and attitude before men, God knows their evil hearts, and what they esteem highly, God detests.

v16: Jesus said, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” One thing is clear, “John” refers to John the Baptist. According to Dr. Ralph F. Wilson,* the Greek word for “forcing his way into it” (biazo) has four possible definitions in this verse:

“(1) to inflict violence on, dominate, constrain, (2) to gain an objective by force, use force, (3) to go after something with enthusiasm, seek fervently, try hard, or (4) constrain (warmly). One of the most popular interpretations is the Kingdom suffers violence as its servants (e.g., John the Baptist and Jesus) are maltreated by the enemies of the Kingdom. Another interpretation is that Jesus is saying that people must actively, aggressively, forcibly seek entrance into the Kingdom. You don’t enter the Kingdom of God by osmosis or family tradition. A number of Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom indicate the radical nature of taking hold of the Kingdom.”

*Dr. Wilson heads up the “Jesus Walk Bible Study Series” from Southeastern University and offers free email Bible Studies.

Finally, some think that Jesus is saying that many people are now pressing into the Door of Salvation as it opens wide via the Messiah.

v19-31: Jesus also describes the afterlife in part. In this life, a rich man hogged the materialistic things for himself and never helped a poor man who had nothing. When both died, the rich man was in torment seeing off in the distance the poor man being comforted. Of course the formerly rich man wanted to cross over to the good place, but a chasm was set between them preventing not only the rich man to cross, but also the poor man from going to the rich man in the place of torment. Then the suffering man wanted to go back to warn his brothers about the afterlife, but Jesus said if they do not believe Moses and the Prophets (OT Word of God), then they will not believe someone who rises from the dead. There is definitely a “settling of the score” with God; no one gets away with anything.

Luke 17:

v1-2: Jesus states that temptations to sin (stumbling blocks) will come, but the one who does the tempting is in big trouble. As a former public school teacher, I’ve often thought about what God will say to humanistic teachers who have commented negatively to their young students about God’s Word or Christianity.

v3-4: If someone offends us several times and keeps coming back repenting, forgive him. God does this with us, so we should do this with others.

v5-6: The disciples ask Jesus for more faith, but He said you do not need much, just a tiny bit (mustard seeds are small). With just a little faith, God will do much.

v7-10: Jesus tells us the proper humble attitude we must have now and when we give an account to God on Judgment Day. We should say that we have simply done our duty (or what we were supposed to do). In other words, do not expect big rewards for what God has done through us. This does not mean that He will not be generous to us, it just keeps our attitude in the proper humble state. This is a heart issue and cannot be phony humility – God sees right through into our hearts.

v11-19: Jesus was asked by ten leprous men for healing, so He told them to go to the priests and show themselves to them (this was a law from Leviticus 13:49 and 14:2-3). On their way, they were all healed, but only one returned to glorify God and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet thanking Him. This man was a foreigner, a Samaritan whom Jews did not like because they were “half-breeds” (children of a Jewish/non-Jewish marriage). I think this was yet another illustration that many of God’s originally chosen people were not making it to eternal life, but many non-Jews would.

v20-22: Jesus was asked when was the Kingdom of God coming. He explained that it will not be obvious at first, no one will be able to pinpoint it by finding outward signs. Rather it was already within their midst. I think this means that as human hearts repent and receive Jesus, the kingdom expands a bit. It is a spiritual Kingdom permeating a physical earth and it lies in the hearts of children, men, and women. He adds that there is coming a time soon when they will long to see the Son of Man once again but will not be able. He is referring to His death, resurrection, and ascension. But following His ascension, He would send the Holy Spirit to get His church moving and He would establish a “government” on earth that will never end.

v23-35: The Signs of the End of this World – Jesus first warns us not to follow different people who claim He has returned because His return will be obvious to all. There have been many cult groups and self-proclaimed teachers of the Bible who have deadened society’s alarm button by making bogus Second Coming date predictions. I think this is Satan’s method of “crying wolf” so that when the time actually comes, people will laugh it off again. Here is a summary of what to look for:

1) False claims (fulfilled).
2) Messiah suffers and is killed (fulfilled).
3) People will be at ease unsuspecting as they were in the days of Noah before the flood hit. Many people today don’t even believe in the Flood despite Jesus talking about it as part of history (fulfilled).
4) When it happens, don’t go back to get things from your house or turn back for anything (remember what happened to Lot’s wife). If you seek to save your soul-life, you will lose it. Jesus is most likely referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. here. If so, it’s been fulfilled.

v36-37: Not sure what v37 means. Noted Bible commentator Matthew Henry says, “When Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, sinners will be found altogether regardless; for in like manner the sinners of every age go on securely in their evil ways, and remember not their latter end. But wherever the wicked are, who are marked for eternal ruin, they shall be found by the judgments of God.”

Perhaps a more intriguing interpretation is that “vultures” or “eagles” refers to the Roman Army emblems that surrounded Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and completely slaughtered the Jews and flattened the Temple (the stones were pried apart in order to get the melted gold thus fulfilling Jesus prediction that “not one stone will be left upon another”). This horrific event is described in more detail in Luke 21:21-24. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also has a detailed account of this tragedy. It marked the end of the Jewish nation and the animal sacrifices in the Temple. The Book of Hebrews lends credibility to this interpretation. This event seemed to fulfill God’s final judgment against a nation that rejected Him when He came to them. God had dealt with Jewish apostasy for centuries, but when it rejected His Son (Himself in person), that was the LAST STRAW. Even to this day, the Jews do not offer animal sacrifices which is extremely interesting when you consider that there are orthodox Jews living today who insist on doing everything according to “The Book.” God’s voice and power are speaking loud and clear on this issue. Fortunately for the Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem at that time knew that Jesus was talking about this time period. So when the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem, the believers prepared to flee. Miraculously, the Romans retreated to Rome possibly due to the death of Nero in 68 A.D. This gave the Christians a chance to flee, and flee they did to the town of Pella. The non-believing Jews remained in Jerusalem. The armies returned and the rest is tragic history.

Another solid interpretation comes from an article by Wayne Croley:

The Days of Noah

Christ compared the time of His Coming to the days of Noah. Christ discussed how people in Noah’s time lived life unaware of their impending doom before the flood. Similarly, many people in the end times will be living life unaware of their impending doom before Christ’s coming. Christ also added that some will be taken away while others will be left behind when He comes.

“(37) But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (38) For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, (39) And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (40) Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (41) Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matthew 24:37-41)

Many assume that the righteous will be taken away while the wicked will be left behind. But is that assumption correct?

Luke 17 also describes Christ talking about the days of Noah. Luke adds that the disciples asked Christ about the destination of those who will be taken. Christ gave a really interesting answer to His disciples’ question:

“(26) And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. (27) They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. […] (34) I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. (35) Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (36) Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (37) And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” (Luke 17:26-27, 34-37)

Luke 17:37: The Destination

Luke 17:37 says “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together”. The same statement is found in Matthew 24:28 except that the word “body” is replaced with “carcase”.

“(27) For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (28) For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” (Matthew 24:27-28)

We can deduce from Luke 17:37 and Matthew 24:28 that those taken will be sent to a place where there will be birds flying over dead bodies.

The Gathering of Birds

Where else in the Bible can we read about a gathering of birds to prey on a bunch of dead bodies during the end times? Ezekiel 39:17-19 and Revelation 19:17-18 each describe birds gathering to feast on wicked people who are about to be slaughtered:

“(17) And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. (18) Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. (19) And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.” (Ezekiel 39:17-19)

“(17) And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; (18) That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.” (Revelation 19:17-18)

Could it be possible that those taken are wicked people who will be sent to their doom?

The Harvest at the End of the Age

The idea that the wicked may be taken seems quite strange in an age where many teach that the wicked are the ones left behind. The righteous will indeed be taken at some point to meet Christ in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But, the passages above indicate that those taken will be sent to a place where birds will be ready to feast on a bunch of dead bodies.

Is there any other place in the Bible where we can find evidence that the wicked may be taken? There is…

Christ described the end time harvest of the earth in the parable of the wheat and tares. Christ described the wheat (the righteous) and tares (the wicked) both present on Earth until the harvest (at the end of the age):

“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30)

“(37) He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; (38) The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (39) The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” (Matthew 13:37-39)

Notice in Matthew 13:30 that the tares will be taken first: “gather ye together first the tares”. The tares will be taken to their doom according to Matthew 13:40-42:

“(40) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (41) The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (42) And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:40-42)

Putting the Pieces Together

Here are the key facts we have gathered up to this point:

  • Luke 17:37 and Matthew 24:28 indicate that some will be sent to a place where birds will be flying over dead bodies. Meanwhile, others will not join them on this journey (Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36).
  • Revelation 19:17-18 and Ezekiel 39:17-19 each describe a scene where birds will gather before a great slaughter of wicked people that have assembled.
  • Matthew 13:30, 37-42 indicate that the wicked will be gathered first at the end time harvest of the earth and will be taken to their doom.

Piecing these facts together, it’s likely that Luke 17:34-36 and Matthew 24:40-41 refer to the wicked who will be taken to their doom. The wicked will get slaughtered and become food for the birds that will gather to feast on dead bodies.

The Wicked

Who are the wicked? I propose that the wicked are those with the Mark of the Beast, and their slaughter will fulfill the promise given by the third of three angels mentioned in Revelation 14:

“(9) And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, (10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:” (Revelation 14:9-10)

The wicked being taken in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36 are likely those who did not already assemble to the battlefield described in Ezekiel 39:17-19 and Revelation 19:17-18. They will be taken to the scene so they can join others in their doom.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned, many assume that the righteous will be taken away while the wicked will be left behind when they read Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36. The passages I shared in this article suggest that the wicked will actually be taken first. I am not the only one who has reached this finding. I know of others who came to a similar conclusion and had their end time viewpoints completely transformed by it.

I know it’s not easy to accept the idea that the wicked are the ones taken in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:34-36. It took me over two years before I was ready to accept a proper view of these passages. I hope you will not take as long as me to reach the same conclusion I have.

End of Croley’s article.

Luke 18 – The Eye of a Needle?

1-8: Jesus promises us that God will answer prayer if we are persistent. He illustrated this by saying that if an evil man doesn’t want to help someone, but if that someone keeps bothering him, he will eventually help them just to stop them from bothering him. How much more will our loving Heavenly Father then give us what we need when we ask? Be careful to discern the difference between wants and needs, however, as well as God’s timing. Also, Jesus knows there will be faith on earth when He returns, so He is most likely encouraging individuals to keep the faith through it all.

9-14: Jesus shows how off-the-wall self-righteous people are. These kind of people will view others with contempt. Today, some people are proud of their church attendance and/or the money they have given to their church, and their social status within the church and/or community. They think they are better people than those who don’t do those things. But if one of those people simply admits they are a sinner in need of God’s mercy, they will go to heaven while the unredeemed, proud church-goer will not.

15-17: Jesus blesses little children and rejoices in their innocence and humility because this is the attitude necessary for adults to get saved and to walk successfully with God.

18-30: Jesus is hinting to this guy that he is calling Jesus God (good support for the deity of Christ). Then He tells the guy to keep the commandments to get saved. But He knows no one can. In fact, He purposely leaves out the commandments that this guy breaks big time. Sadly, he left and did not turn to Jesus repenting and asking for His help. Had he done this, he could have had eternal life granted to him. I don’t think Jesus is saying that in order to be saved we must literally sell all our possessions and give that money to the poor. But our hearts need to be there – willing if need be. This young man’s heart or willingness would never be there and Jesus, of course, knew it and simply brought it to light. In order for us to truly follow the Lord, the Kingdom of God must be the number one priority. Jesus must have the preeminence (Colossians 2:18).

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Some have said that in Jesus’ day, the eye of the needle was an opening through the city walls made only for people to enter after hours, so it was small and prevented the quick entry of enemy armies. Camels, therefore, had to kneel and unload all their baggage in order to go through. Kneeling and crawling is difficult for a camel but not impossible. Rich people often do not see their need for God and therefore are rarely saved.

The problem with this needle eye explanation is that there seems to be little or no foundation for it. Jesus used the Aramaic word “gamla” which can also be translated “rope.” Rope in those days was often made from camel’s hair. But the meaning of “gamla” depends on its context. If used with “riding” or “burden” it always means camel. If with “eye of the needle” it means rope. So the “eye of the needle” most likely meant a literal end of a sewing needle, and, it would then be impossible for a rope to go through. Would this then mean that rich people will not be saved? I don’t think so. Over the years wealthy people have been saved and Christ-confessing. Perhaps it is safer to say, that it is very difficult for rich people to be saved, but a few do (after all, Jesus later said in verse 26 that all things are possible with God). Many people living in the Bible lands at the time when the Gospels were written, erroneously believed that all wealth indicated God’s favor. If one was poor, then the people believed that he must surely be cursed by GOD. This is why the disciples were astonished to such a degree, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” (if not a rich man).

31-34: Jesus takes the Twelve aside to tell them that He will fulfill OT prophecy by being mocked, killed, and rising again. They understood nothing of this because God prevented it. Why? Maybe because they may have done something to stop it from happening or maybe they would have become too afraid and done something wrong.

35-43: Jesus heals a blind man as He approached Jericho. Many praised God because of this.

Luke 19:

1-10: The story of Zaccheus – Hated by the Jews because he collected taxes for Rome, this man converted (changed heart) when he met Jesus. He offered to give half of his possessions to the poor and to pay back 4X anyone he had ripped off. Hearing this, Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because, he too, is a son of Abraham.” Now we can assume that he was Jewish from his name, but I do not think that’s why Jesus called him a son of Abraham. Often when the Bible calls someone a “son of someone” it means that similar characteristics of the father (not physical, but assets of character) can be seen in the son. In this context, the “son” may not be a biological offspring. If you recall, Abraham was willing to give up anything for God, even if it meant his own son Isaac, whom he loved. This is a picture of God Himself willing to give up His only Son. The idea here is that if one is willing to do this, no thing would be withheld from others. THIS IS THE VERY HEART OF GOD, hence Abraham became the “father of God’s people.” I can understand why Jesus rejoiced at Zaccheus’ words. If we do not have this attitude in our hearts, we must, at all costs, get it in there. Remember the story of the “Pearl of Great Price” (Matthew 13:45-46) and always hold dear Psalms 84:11, a truly remarkable and insightful verse.

11-28: Because Jesus was heading for Jerusalem, the people who were following Him assumed that this meant the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. But Jesus told them a parable revealing that people would be given important tasks to do for Him for some time, and that they were supposed to bear good fruit (share God’s goodness with others, I think). Some did and some didn’t. Based on what they did with what God gave them, their eternal reward (or condemnation) was given. His parable ends with His enemies being slain before Him. I think this refers to His ultimate triumph over all evil, but that would take time. It would not happen immediately as the people of His day expected. In fact in verse 12, Jesus is the nobleman who went to a distant country (which represents His ascension into Heaven). The kingdom that the nobleman received was Jesus being sat down at the right hand of the Father on His throne following His victories over Satan, sin, and death. From this point on the current Church Age would begin. When verse 12 mentions the nobleman’s return, it is referring to the return of Christ to earth. Verses 13-26 describes the Judgment of what people did with Jesus Christ in their lives, and verse 27 probably refers to the Lake of Fire.

29-40: The first Palm Sunday – Jesus sent two disciples to fetch a certain colt that He seemed to know about. He rode into Jerusalem on its back fulfilling OT prophecy from Zechariah 9:9: “Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, even a colt, the foal of a donkey.” And the people indeed did rejoice, much to the consternation of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. In fact, they told Jesus to rebuke His disciples for this, but Jesus said if they were silenced, then the stones would cry out praise to God.

41-44: This high moment lasts but a few minutes. As He approached and saw Jerusalem, He wept over it because He knew He would be rejected there, and they would totally miss the visitation of their God that they had been following for generations. Furthermore, He knew of the terrible judgment awaiting the people of the city. They would be surrounded by an “abomination of desolation” and not one stone of the Temple would be left atop another. This was fulfilled in 70 A.D. In verse 42, He says something interesting, “If you had known in this day, the things which make for peace! But how they have been hidden from your eyes.” Why hidden? They loved darkness more than the Light (John 3:19). To this day, war and conflict has beset Israel. The fact that it still exists is a testimony of the Truth about the God of the Bible. So, what makes for peace on earth? Allowing the Prince of Peace to rule in human hearts. It is the only way to lasting peace. But our present world will never recognize this (John 1:5,10 and John 14:17).

45-48: Jesus drives out the thieves in the Temple because of His zeal for His house, and because they were not only sinning (unfair money exchange for out-of-towners) but their presence made it difficult for the Gentiles to enter their designated outer court to worship the True God. Any time corrupt religion prevents people from knowing God, He gets angry.

Luke 20:

1-8: Jesus answers the Pharisees’ trick question with a trick question of His own. The scheme of the Pharisees was to ask a loaded question to Jesus in front of others so that no matter what He said in response, the people would not like it. The question was, “By what authority do you do these things?” They were referring to the cleansing of the Temple. If Jesus said, “My own,” then people would think He is on some cultish ego trip. If He said, “God’s,” they would think the same. It looked like a no-win situation for Jesus. Onto their conniving, He asked them if John the Baptist’s ministry was from God or men. If they said, “men,” then the people would get mad because they thought John was a prophet of God. If they said, “God,” Jesus would ask them then why didn’t they believe him. So they weaseled out by saying they did not know. So Jesus countered with, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” A classic battle of wits and truth. I appreciate these types of confrontations because I learn more about human nature, especially when it does not want to believe in God’s great message.

9-18: The Parable of the Wicked Tenant Farmers – The “landowner” is God. His “journey” may represent His withdrawal from sinful mankind after Adam and Eve’s fall (farmers can’t see the landowner in this parable). The farmers are the Jews who were eventually put in charge of the land and were supposed to give back to the owner what he deserved. The landowner’s slaves were the Old Testament prophets sent by God at different times throughout Jewish history trying to correct their waywardness. The landowner’s son is Jesus (the heir to all). Casting Him “out of the vineyard” may represent the fact that Jesus was killed outside the city walls of Jerusalem. The “stone” is Jesus; the “builders” are the Jews; the “chief cornerstone” is Jesus raised to highest glory and authority and what holds the Church together. If we “fall onto this stone” we will be humbled but saved, but on whomever this stone falls, they will be destroyed in the Lake of Fire. (I think this interpretation has a fair chance of being accurate). But always bear in mind, parts of it are interpretations.

19-26: More trick questions via Pharisee “undercover agents.” Should they pay taxes? Jesus asked them whose picture is on the coin. It was Caesar’s. So He said His famous line that the world always cuts short thus leaving out the most important part of His statement: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The spirit of this world loves to demand things from us (especially taxes!), but does not like it when people give things to God because those kind of actions flow from God’s very heart to and through us. So, for the most part, the world hears only the first half of this verse. Sad to see truth suppressed (Romans 1:18).

27-40: Another tough question for Jesus. The Sadducees (Jewish leaders who did not believe in life after death) asked who is married to whom in heaven when a man’s wife dies prematurely and he remarries again while on earth. Jesus explains that people who will get to heaven will have no marriages because they will be like the angels at that point. This was new revelation. It does not come from the Old Testament as some of Jesus’ teachings do. Then Jesus dealt with their terribly wrong belief about life after death. For this, He quotes the OT when, after certain men of faith had already died, God spoke to Moses through the burning bush saying that He IS, not was, the God of those named men. Jesus ends by saying that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. That sealed it! Even the Sadducees admitted that He had answered well and did not have courage to ask another question.

41-47: Now it was Jesus’ turn to ask a tough question. If David called the Son of God his LORD, how then can He merely be his son? As revealed in OT prophecies, the Messiah was indeed to be born of David’s seed, hence the phrase “the son of David” became popular when people referred to the Messiah. But here, Jesus steps it up a huge notch. While the people were within an earshot, Jesus turned to His disciples warning them against the specific hypocrisies of the scribes. Scribes were religious Jews who were responsible for recopying the Holy Scriptures within no margin of error. If, near the end of a page they made a slight mistake, they threw away the entire page and started again. Scrolls wore out (no flash drives back then), so this was an important job – to preserve the Holy Word of God. I think the trouble was, and this may sound odd, they worshiped their work rather than God. Maybe they worshiped the Word Itself, but not God who inspired it. In any case, their reaction to Jesus revealed that something was seriously wrong within their hearts.

Luke 21A Bit of end-Time Revelation…and Controversy

1-4: All giving is not great in God’s sight. If we give out of surplus it is not in the same league as what the widow gave. But if we give of what little we have, this is noticed and praised by God.

5-7: The disciples were telling Jesus how beautiful the Temple was, but He said it would be destroyed soon (actually in 70 A.D.). They thought He was referring to the destruction of the world because the Temple meant everything to the Jews so they asked Him when this would happen.

8-28: The Signs of the End and His Return (remember, according to Acts and Hebrews, the Last Days started with Jesus coming to earth):

  1. Jesus’ disciples would be arrested and persecuted and brought before kings and governors for His sake. FULFILLED.
  2. Amidst their distress His disciples will have opportunity to give testimony to important people, but they were not to plan on what to say because the Holy Spirit would give them utterance and wisdom so that their opponents would be defeated in debate. FULFILLED.
  3. Disciples will be betrayed by family and some put to death and will be hated because of Jesus, but not a hair on their heads will perish. I think this means that they make a full and glorious recovery in the eternal realm because their flesh certainly perished. Their physical bodies did not ascend to Heaven. FULFILLED.
  4. Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies and the people must flee for their lives. In 70 A.D. Titus, a Roman General, surrounded the city and totally destroyed it. FULFILLED.
  5. Many of Jerusalem will die by the sword with this attack in #4 above and some will be led off as captives to all different nations, and Jerusalem would be trampled under foot by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Luke gave many reasons why Israel would be judged: it was filled with hypocrisy (11:37-54), had oppressed the poor (18:7; 20:47), had rejected Messiah (13:33-34; 20:13-18), had missed the day of visitation (19:44), had rejected the Gospel (Acts 13:46-48; 18:5-6; 28:25-28) and has slain God’s Son (Lk 9:22; 18:31-33; 19:47; 20:14-19; 22:1-2, 52; 23:1-25). From 70 AD to 1948 AD, the Gentiles ruled all of Israel. There was no “Israel” until 1948, and in the Miracle 6-Day War” in 1967, the Jews became the majority in Jerusalem for the first time since Titus. FULFILLED.
  6. False Christs will lead many astray. FULFILLED.
  7. False prophets will wrongly predict the End. FULFILLED.
  8. Wars among nations. FULFILLED.
  9. Earthquakes, plagues, and famines. FULFILLED.
  10. Signs in the sun, moon, and stars, dismay among the nations due to the roaring of the sea and the waves. This is God’s symbolic language He has consistently used throughout the Old and New Testament. It is saying that judgment is coming against governments and there will be much instability in the world. FULFILLED.
  11. Men will faint from fear of what is coming upon the world as the powers of heaven will be shaken. YET TO BE, although it may have started. Some believe this refers to the 70 A.D. horror.
  12. Then Jesus comes back. He encourages those during that time by saying to “straighten up” because their redemption is drawing near. YET TO BE.

I tried to place the above signs in some kind of chronological order according to what Jesus said in verse 12. Not sure if it’s all correct. Interestingly, in none of the four Gospels did Jesus ever talk about a specific Antichrist who is supposed to rule the world at the End Time. He only speaks of false Christs. Daniel, Paul, and John in Revelation describe Antichrists. There are three factions in Christian circles concerning the Anti-Christ: 1) He will be a future world leader, 2) A power position is the Anti-Christ which already has come represented by many men, been wounded, and made a comeback during church history – The Papacy, and 3) Nero fulfilled all Anti-Christ prophecies.

v20-26: This perfectly describes the 67-70 A.D. siege and destruction of Jerusalem (as does Matthew 24:15-28). The Roman governor in the Roman province of Syria, Cestius Gallus, invaded Israel in 66 A.D. to quell a Jewish revolt. He engaged in several battles before reaching Jerusalem. He laid siege to that city for 9 days, but suddenly retreated for seemingly no reason. One speculation was that he lost too much of siege equipment in earlier battles. So in any case, Jesus’ warning to the Apostles and other believing Jews was to “flee to the mountains” (v21) ASAP. So when Cestius retreated, those believers fled to the town of Pella and, according to Jewish historian Josephus, all Christians got out safely! Cestius died in 67 A.D. so Roman General Titus came back to Jerusalem with a vengeance! An estimated 1.1 millions Jews were slaughtered and the Temple totally destroyed with fire.

v27-28: There is good evidence that v27 actually describes the 70 A.D. destruction. Some think this was Jesus’ literal and visible Second Coming. However, the phrase “The Son of Man coming in the clouds” comes from several Old Testament verses and simply meant that judgment was coming. Also phrases mentioning the sun not giving light and moon turning red, and the Day of the Lord all meant the same thing. So “coming in the clouds” may mean coming in the spirit, not physically. But verse 28 clinches it because Jesus told his disciples to “lift up YOUR heads.”  So He was not describing some horrific event that has yet occurred.

29-33: Jesus tells a parable that explains the importance of people who are on earth knowing by these signs that the End is near. He said that “this generation will not pass away until all things take place.” Dispensational interpreters (futurists) include a footnote on the word “generation” claiming it could mean “race.” They do this because they want to believe that these verses apply to the future rather than event in the past. “Race” could therefore apply to the Jewish people, and they could say that since the Jews are still on earth, these predictions have can still occur. However, I’ve read that this is not a good rendering on this passage, especially considering that Jesus is talking to His disciples when He says, “When YOU [my emphasis] see….” Unfortunately, when people have a certain theory about Scripture, they can sometimes “bend” or add wording to support their beliefs. For example, dispensationalist Cyrus Scofield added the word “the” in Revelation 7:14 in front of “great tribulation” leading folks to believe that this is a futuristic event that is the worst ever seen in history. However, the King James Version does not include the word “the” because the verse is probably referring to horrible tribulation experienced throughout all of church history that involved perhaps millions of souls. The context later reveals that these people will hold a special place in heaven forever. To say that this special honor is for only people in the future totally disrespects what others have experienced throughout the centuries.

34-36: Jesus gives stern warnings to the people on earth to always be alert and ready for His Coming, not to be weighed down by the cares of this life or by drunkenness. They must pray to have the strength to escape these things and to stand before the Son of Man. “Strength to escape” is an interesting part of that verse. Many Christians believe that we will be raptured up into the sky and miss all the horrors on earth. Maybe it means that only the ones who keep strong in their faith will be raptured. If so, and it’s a big “IF,” it implies that some or many will not “endure to the end” to be saved.

v35: Now it seems to be describing events far into the future because it will affect “all those who dwell on the face of the earth.” The 70 A.D. tragedy did not do this. Preterists assert, however, that any phrase that include “the earth” refers to Israel, not the whole world. This is a very difficult issue, but proponents on varying sides do love the Lord. I only wish it didn’t create so much division in the Church.

37-38: People would get up in the morning and come to the Temple to hear Him teach. Jesus’ custom was to teach in the Temple by day, then retreat to Mount Olives by night. The Mount of Olives was (and still is) a few hundred yards from the old city boundary wall. I was there in August of 1977.

Luke 22:

v1-2: Passover was approaching and the chief priests and scribes were seeking how they could kill Jesus, but the thing that restrained them was their fear of the people. The people really liked Jesus. Passover was an annual ceremony where Jews would bring lambs (doves if poor) to be sacrificed by the high priest in the Temple. The shed blood of the innocent animal covered the sins of the people. This is why the Messiah had to be killed (sacrificed) during this time. The blood of animals was a temporary cover for sin. It represented the Old Covenant. The blood of a sinless man, however, was the ushering in of the New Covenant and His sacrifice washed away sin forever. The animal sacrificing was a foreshadowing of what God Himself would someday accomplish in the Body of Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant slowly prepared humans so they could understand the New Covenant (see Hebrews 8, especially verse 5).

v3-6: Another quick glimpse into that spiritual dimension – Satan entered Judas Iscariot. Judas then went away seeking the priests to strike a deal. He agreed to get Jesus turned over to them for some money. Matthew 26:15 reveals the specific amount of 30 pieces of silver. This fulfilled the OT prophecy from Zechariah 11:12.

v7-14: Preparation for the Last Supper – Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to prepare for the supper, and they found all that He explained to them and made the necessary arrangements.

v15-38: Content Outline for The Last Supper (in order):

1) Jesus said He would not eat again with them until all is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.
2) Jesus gave thanks for the drink and told His disciples to share it with each other, but He would not drink with them until all are in the Kingdom of God.
3) Jesus breaks the bread and gives it to all saying it is His body which is given for all, and they are told to do that in remembrance of Him.
4) Jesus does the same with the cup of wine.

Over a few centuries of the early church, the idea that the “bread and wine” became the literal body and blood of Jesus gradually evolved and became official in 1215 A.D. at the Council of the Lateran. Today, Roman Catholics believe that the bread literally turns into Jesus’ body and also the wine into His blood, but Protestants believe both elements are a symbol of the body and blood. My first question to my Catholic friends is: What happened to Catholic souls BEFORE 1215 A.D. if they did not believe in the literal interpretation? And how could anyone go to heaven unless they went through that part of the Mass AFTER 1215? According to John 6:53 we have no life unless we drink His blood and eat His flesh. So if Roman Catholicism is right on this doctrine, all Protestants who love and serve Jesus Christ (which includes me) are not saved. This I do not believe. There is no evidence, historical or Scriptural, that the first disciples believed in this doctrine of “transubstantiation.” Jesus often used symbolism and metaphors when describing Himself. Examples include: bread of life, light of the world, etc. He also said that His words are spirit and life within the context of “eating His flesh” and “drinking His blood” (John 6:63). I think the true meaning of what Jesus said here is that sinful humans need to realize they are sinners and can only find salvation by trusting in Jesus’ work on the cross to obtain forgiveness as well as inviting Jesus into their hearts and be willing to follow Him, allowing Him to be the Lord (boss) of their lives. This, I believe, describes the “born-again” experience Jesus said that must occur to have eternal life.
5) Jesus reveals that His betrayer is sitting at the table.
6) Jesus said His course has been determined but great woe will go to the traitor.
7) The disciples discuss among themselves trying to determine who the traitor is.
8) The disciples argue over who among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God (I can just see Jesus shaking His head on this one).
9) Facing the agony, embarrassment, and rejection of the cross, Jesus uses the immaturity of His disciples as a teachable moment as they argued about who would be the greatest. In short, He said the greatest will be the one who serves others the most.
10) Jesus praises His disciples for staying by Him during His trials, and promises them they will eat at His table in heaven and will sit on thrones judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
11) Jesus turns to Peter and tells him that Satan has asked and has been granted permission by God to sift him like wheat. This means that Peter is in for it! I think this refers to his three denials. Jesus, however, said He had prayed for Peter so that his faith would not fail, and once he has been turned again he would strengthen his brothers. Wow. I don’t think Peter understood all this at the time.
12) Peter claims he is ready to die for Jesus, but is told by Jesus that before the rooster crows in the morning, he will deny 3 times that he even knows Jesus. Peter did not say a word after this. Imagine how he must have felt.
13) Jesus reminds them that in days past they needed to bring nothing along when preaching the gospel to various towns, but now was going to be different. He said to bring money, supplies, and even a sword. He also reminds them of OT prophecy of Him that He was to be counted among criminals. Then Peter pipes up and tells Jesus they have two swords. Jesus said that was enough.

Was Jesus suddenly advocating violent and aggressive use of swords? No, because it directly contradicts what He told Peter in the Garden when Peter took his sword and sliced off the ear of Malchus who was one of the men coming to arrest Jesus. Jesus also said if you live by the sword you will die by the sword. Muslim extremists claim Jesus was a prophet but they do not obey His voice on this issue! The disciples only had two swords. If He meant sword literally, I don’t see how two little swords would help much against the Roman soldiers. Finally, there is no historical evidence or tradition that claims these disciples used earthly weapons to start and spread the Church of Jesus Christ. In fact tradition claims that all were martyred except John.

So what did He mean? Remember He said earlier that He did not come to earth to bring peace but rather a sword. He did not mean a literal sword here. Once again He uses a metaphor. The context reveals that the sword would be a divider of people, even among families concerning who He is. Before the Last Supper speech, things were not so tense for the disciples, but now they would be. Once Jesus is gone, it would get tough on them. Perhaps this is what He meant by supplying your own needs and packing swords. Another theory is that the context reminds the disciples that the Messiah would be counted among criminals, and swords (or weapons) were always associated with criminals thus linking Jesus further (beyond being killed with two criminals) with that specific OT prophecy.

v39-46: Jesus at Gethsemane – He tells His disciples to pray that they may not enter into temptation, then He withdraws from them to pray alone. He says, “Father your will be done, not Mine.” We need to pray this each day God gives us. An angel appears and strengthens Jesus. He was in such agony over what was about to happen to Him that His sweat became as drops of blood. Doctors now know that this is possible when under immense stress. When finished, Jesus finds His disciples asleep totally unaware of the peril and sudden change of events about to occur. Jesus begins His sufferings alone. Perhaps this was God’s will in order to ensure that His sufferings were as bad and as complete as possible – not even emotional support. Sin has its high price, and for an All-Supreme Ruler to be willing to go through it for us is far beyond awesome.

v47-53: The Arrest – Judas kisses Jesus in order to identify Him to the soldiers so that they would arrest the right person. I would assume, then, that none of these soldiers had ever seen Jesus before. This is not surprising. Most Roman soldiers thought that the Jewish religion was foolish. They, for the most part, probably could have cared less to listen to some Jewish man teach religious things. Peter, being suddenly alarmed, took out his sword and sliced off the ear of a slave of the high priest, but Jesus put a quick stop to that, and, most remarkably if you can imagine this scene, restores the ear back on the guy’s head! If I were that man, Jesus would be the LAST man I would want to arrest. I’ve often wondered what ever happened to that healed soldier. This scene is a good example of what Jesus’ Kingdom is NOT about – revenge and violence. One more point to make here – attacking a Roman guard carried the death penalty, but by Jesus healing and restoring that ear for Malchus all evidence was removed. That demonstrates the mercy and forgiveness of God  and how He deals with our sins.

v54-62: Peter’s Denial – Peter was following the arrested Jesus from a distance as Jesus was led to the high priest in Jerusalem. Three different people accused Peter of being one of Jesus’ followers but he denied each one of them just before the cock crowed. When he heard the crow, he went outside and wept bitterly. I can relate to Peter. There have been times where I have enjoyed being strengthened in the Spirit from good teaching or worship only to return to the world and not speak up for Jesus.

v63-71: Jesus begins to be mocked and beaten by the men holding Him in custody (so much for human rights then). When it was day, the Jewish council, called the Sanhedrin, “interviewed” Jesus. They asked Him directly if He claimed to be the Messiah, and He simply said if He said “Yes,” they would not believe Him.” Then when He said that the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God, they asked Him again if He was claiming to be the Messiah. He finally said “Yes.” This stung the Councilmen to fury. These evil-hearted men were more brave and direct with their questions and responses to Jesus because they had Him away from the people. They finally had Him where they wanted Him.

Luke 23: – Pilate and Abortion?

v1-7: Jesus before Pilate – three trumped up charges against Jesus were: 1) misleading Israel 2) refusing to pay taxes to Rome 3) claiming to be a rival king (against Rome; implied). The “king” charge got Pilate’s immediate attention because Rome would not tolerate anyone who was building a worldly kingdom in Roman territory. Jesus explained to Pilate that He was the King of the Jews and His Kingdom was not of this world. Pilate found no guilt in Him. Pilate’s wife had a terrible dream about an innocent man being brought to him and that he should not harm him (Matthew 27:19; verse 18 also tells us Pilate realized it was envy that motivated the priests and Pharisees to deliver up Jesus to him). These thoughts may have been going through his mind at this point. Then Pilate thought he could wash his hands from all this when he heard that Jesus came from Galilee. This was Herod’s jurisdiction, so he sent Jesus to him hoping that Herod would have to make the decision about Jesus.

v8-12: Jesus before Herod – This was Herod Antipas, the son of the Herod that killed the Bethlehem babies. This Herod had heard so much about Jesus that he was delighted to finally meet Him, and therefore questioned Him for quite some time but Jesus did not answer anything. Herod wanted a sign. Jesus gave none for two reasons I think: 1) He knew the evil in Herod’s heart and performing a miracle would accomplish nothing and may have even caused something worse – Herod keeping Jesus under lock and key for his own misuse of the power (kings are notorious for wanting more power), and 2) it was time for Jesus to lay down His power. So all that Herod’s court would do was to mock His kingship claim by putting on a seamless robe and a crown of thorns (this robe would later play a major role in OT prophecy fulfillment). Jesus was then sent back to Pilate.

v13-25: Pilate’s Decision – I can just see the look on Pilate’s face when he saw Jesus coming back to him. So, before a crowd that was heavily influenced by the Jewish leaders who hated Jesus, Pilate sought to release Him on the grounds that both he and Herod found nothing deserving of death. Previously, Pilate and Herod were enemies, but Jesus “brought them together” during this event. Pilate was probably appreciative of His “former enemy” also finding no fault in Jesus. So Pilate uses Herod’s name for leverage for his point of view. Shortly after Pilate’s second declaration of Jesus’ innocence, he has Him flogged thinking that it would satisfy the crowd. The Romans inflicted 39 lashes with a leaded whip (pieces of sharp bone added to tear flesh). This was so brutal that they believed 40 would kill the person, so they limited it to one less. Pilate then brought out the beaten up and bloodied Jesus before the hostile crowd, once again seeking to release Him. It did not work. As a last ditch effort, Pilate invoked a custom where one prisoner would be released for the Jews during the annual Passover Feast. I think at this point, Pilate selected Barabbas to be the opposing choice for the people. Barabbas was in jail for insurrection and murder. He was really bad. Surely, thought Pilate, they would ask for Jesus. What followed was one of the biggest ironies in the sordid history of mankind – the people demanded the life-taker to walk free in their midst while exterminating the Life-Giver! Pilate could no longer fight this powerful legion of Satan and demons working through these people at their opportune time, so he finally gave up and yielded to the crowd’s demands.

Insight for Today: I see the same spirit in radical pro-abortionists when they yell and scream at Pro-Lifers. Many radical pro-abortionists oppose the death penalty for murderers, but are in favor of killing innocent babies who, when grown up, give life to more humans.

Historical Note: One major reason Pilate gave up Jesus to that mob was that they began threatening his job. In other words, if he doesn’t condemn a rival, illegal king who is against Rome, then that would be treasonous. History indicates that shortly after Pilate’s decision to condemn Jesus, he lost his position with Rome. God has His ways.

v26-32: Jesus is led to crucifixion site – Many people followed Him. Women were mourning and weeping, but Jesus told them not to weep for Him but for them and their children because the near future is going to be bad for Israel due to their rejection of God (Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.). Jesus, when on His way to be crucified as women were following Him weeping as He went, warned the “daughters of Jerusalem” in Luke 23:26-31 by saying:

…daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed. Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?

Jesus was referring to Himself as “the green tree.” In other words, those people had the most important person ever possible to be in existence as Eternal Life flowed from Him, and they treated Him with scorn and rejection, and when He is gone (dry tree) how can things get better for them?.

v33-47: The Crucifixion – Outside the city wall there was a place called “The Skull” or, in Hebrew, Golgotha. I went to Israel in 1977 and there is a cliff with caves that seem to look like a skull from a distance. There is a low pit area at the base of this small cliff. If this is the crucifixion site, and some scholars believe it is, then Jesus was killed in a pit rather than atop of some hill. To me, this makes more sense. After all, the three men were all deemed criminals. Why would they put “bad, condemned” men up high? Being low, it would to the shame as passers-by would hurl down insults.

Jesus uttered the words that led me to give my life to Him at the end of 1970, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” This was a love I had never seen before. While suffering toward His death, the soldiers cast lots for His robe fulfilling OT prophecy. As people stood by, the rulers were sneering at Him saying that if He could save others why not save Himself if He is the Messiah. These words also fulfilled OT prophecy (Psalms 22:7-8). The entire 22nd Psalm describes the crucifixion 800 years before it came into existence.

The beginning of this Psalm is, “My God My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This is one reason why Jesus said these very words on the cross. He was alerting people that He was fulfilling that Psalm. The other reason He said this was because the Bible says He BECAME sin on the cross (2 Cor.5:21). God’s Spirit had to leave Him. Perhaps for the first time Jesus did not feel God’s presence.

One criminal repents, the other does not. This is a picture of all people. They were both criminals. So are all people (in God’s sight since we have broken His Commandments). Some people repent and get saved while others don’t.

Some strange phenomena occur – It gets dark during the day and the veil in the Temple was torn in two. In OT times, this veil separated man from God. Only the High Priest could go beyond this veil into the presence of God during the Passover and sprinkled in lamb’s blood. Any infraction of this would be death to the person. By dying once and for all for mankind’s sin, Jesus broke that barrier between God and man, hence the torn veil. This also supports the entire Book of Hebrews that makes the point that no priests are needed anymore with the New Covenant ushered in. Jesus is our High Priest. He is the only mediator we now need to be granted forgiveness from God.

Jesus dies and one guard was awestruck by Him. He knew there was something special about Jesus.

v48-56: The Aftermath – People returned to their homes beating their breasts in mourning. All of Jesus’ acquaintances and the women following Him from Galilee were there seeing the whole thing. Then a good man from the Jewish Council named Joseph of Arimathea, who did not agree with the plan to kill Jesus, came forward and asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. When Pilate was assured that Jesus was dead, he gave permission to Joseph. Joseph wrapped Jesus in linen and put Him into his own tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Then everyone rested as the Sabbath Day approached. No one was talking resurrection at this point. There was no expectation of a resurrection. Any recall of Jesus predicting His resurrection was most likely thought of as a parable they did not understand. All the believers in Jesus were horribly shaken by what they deemed as a shocking turn of events. We now have the advantage of looking back at history which can cause us to think the disciples were quite stupid or unbelieving at this point, but bear in mind that their concept of a Jewish Messiah was one of a worldly conqueror. Considering Rome’s oppression over Israel at this point in history, we can understand their expectations and how those assumptions hindered insight. Also God had closed their minds to the meaning of the Scriptural prophecies (Luke 9:44-45; 18:32-34) and Jesus later opened them (Luke 24:44-45).

Luke 24:

v1: The same women who saw Him die brought spices to prepare His body for burial. Again, no anticipation of resurrection. I make note of this because skeptics have theorized that the disciples were so enamored by Jesus that they psyched up themselves to some emotional state that caused them to hallucinate a live Jesus. There was no such state of mind depicted in the Scriptures.

v2-8: The Empty Tomb – Two angels appeared to the women and explained the resurrection and what Jesus had told them, then they remembered Jesus’ words about it. I cannot imagine any one moment in history more exciting than this. The Red Sea parting is right up there, but it had no assurance of giving us life after death to the degree that the resurrection has.

v9-11: These women returned to the disciples and told them about what they saw, but they all thought it was nonsense. What an emotional roller coaster these women were on!

v12: Peter, being the usual one to react impetuously, ran from the women to the tomb to see for himself and saw only the linen wrappings for Jesus’ body. Then he just went home marveling.

v13-32: The Emmaus Road – Two men were walking to Emmaus (located about 7 miles from Jerusalem) talking about Jesus. Suddenly Jesus is walking beside them but they were prevented from knowing who He was. Why? Maybe so that they could pay closer attention to what Jesus had said to them. If they knew at that time it really was a resurrected Messiah, they might have been too awestruck to remember anything He said! Just a far-out guess here. A bit of a humorous scene in verses 17-19 – when Jesus asked them what they were talking about and they said He must be the only person around who didn’t know what had happened recently (I wonder if Jesus smiled a bit at this one). Then He asked, “What things?” (still smiling?). Then the men sadly reported that they had hoped Jesus was the promised Messiah. Then Jesus explained the OT Scriptures and about the necessity of His death leading to resurrection. They invited Him to dinner and when they broke bread, they recognized Him. Their reaction is my favorite part of this story: they commented to each other about how their hearts were “burning within them” while Jesus explained the Scriptures to them. There are many people alive today, that if they would just hear the words of Jesus, their hearts too would burn within them. May the Holy Spirit lead us all to those lost sheep!

v33-35: The two men went back to Jerusalem that very hour (after a 7-mile hike away from Jerusalem) and found the disciples and told them that Jesus was indeed alive and that He had talked with them on the road to Emmaus.

v36-51: Jesus appears to them all – As the men from the Emmaus Road were still talking, Jesus suddenly appeared. They became frightened because they thought He was a ghost. So He let them see His wounds and touch His body proving to them He had risen bodily from the dead. He even ate some fish in front of them. He then reminded them again of what happened to Him was written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. This was a pivotal point for these guys. It is easy for us some 2,000 years later with the completed New Testament in front of us and the Holy Spirit totally available to those who ask for Him, to see and understand what the disciples could not understand while walking with Jesus. There are, however, many Scriptures outlining End-Time events, including Anti-Christ and the mysterious number 666, and we struggle to understand those. God even told Daniel to “seal them up” until the End Time. Some things are not supposed to be understood until the right time. So IF it is time, may we seek the Holy Spirit so that He will “open our minds to understand the Scriptures” as Jesus did for the Apostles.