The synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – tell the story of Jesus’ life in a narrative form. Everything in Mark can be found in either Matthew or Luke, and many events can be found in all three. The Olivet Discourse, for example, occurs during Holy Week and begins in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. John’s Gospel is different. Continue reading
There is an old saying about Hindsight being 20/20. Thinking back on past events allows a clearer perspective than being in the midst of the present. It’s easy to imagine how we might have handled a particular situation, or to criticize others for what they they did wrong. It has to do with perspective. Being in the heat of the moment is not the same as looking at cold stats. Watching a game from the stands offers a different vantage point than being on the field. It also takes away pressure to perform, adrenaline rush and the intimidation factor of the opposing team. Your team always win when you coach from the recliner. The same is true when watching the game film. We’ve all heard people say “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Continue reading
Christmas was yesterday. The birth of Jesus is the greatest gift the world has ever known. The wise men brought valuable treasures to be sure, but the most precious gift was rocked to sleep by Mary. The first odd thought I had today, the day after Christmas, was about gift exchange. Although some gifts can and should be returned, the gift of God’s love is often swapped for things of lesser value. Exchanging God’s gift would be tragic. For those of us that have accepted, we are called to re-gift! Continue reading
Some of Jesus’ teachings were meant for multitudes of followers, while at other times he taught only his disciples. There are some occasions we cannot be sure who he was talking to, nor if he meant the present time or prophesied of future events. Did you know that sometimes the Apostles wondered about the same things?
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Luke 12:41-43 Continue reading
When Moses encounters the burning bush, he asks of God “Who am I, that I should speak to Pharaoh?” That’s a legitimate question. Who am I that I should preach the gospel? Who are any of us? We are those called by God into his service. He calls us, saves us, then equips us to do his work for the Kingdom. Moses was a herdsman, already wanted for murder. David was a shepherd when he was called, and only a child at that. Look at the disciples; blue collar workers at best, rejects and outcasts at their worst. But look at who God calls; every major character in the Bible was tragically flawed in some way. God takes the small, the broken and the unwanted and fixes them up. He then sends us into the world, a world that is fallen and broken. It may look great at times, but we live in a fallen world affected by the curse. God calls little children wrecked by sin into his service, to spread the gospel among all his other little sinwrecked children.
Click here for the original post Who Does God Call? (Sep. 14, 2008)
If we began a study of the first century church, 9 times out of 10 we would begin with Acts chapter 2. The Holy Spirit comes as promised, and Peter preaches a fiery message proclaiming Jesus is the Christ. Certainly by the end of Acts 2, we see the first Christian believers come together in an organized way. But if we back up a just a few chapters, Jesus gives the disciples instructions on what will happen next, going beyond his death, burial and resurrection.
Critics of Christianity, as an organized religion (the Church), even claim that Jesus had no intention of starting a new church or movement of any kind, but rather his followers started one in his name. To put it mildly, these critics have not studied the Bible. Continue reading
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel (28:16-20) Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commission. In Mark’s account (16:15), Jesus commands the disciples to “preach the gospel to all creation.” This was the first verse I ever memorized as a child. In the King James it reads “to every creature.” The wording in Matthew is a little different. We’re not just to preach the gospel, we are to make disciples. What’s the difference? Continue reading
UPDATE: this entry is from 2009. A newer post, with much more information, is this one from 2010.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. The triumphal entry of Jesus was to be the last time he went up to Jerusalem. He and his desciples were coming into the city to celebrate Passover. Thousands of Jews from around Aisa Minor, Africa and Europe were doing the same. Throughout his ministry, some listeners (among them the Zealots) expected Jesus to claim his throne on earth. Their idea of Messiah was a military leader, and Jesus was on the scene at the right time if he was going to throw the Romans out of Israel. Many Jews could hear Messianic things in what Jesus said, and here he was riding into Jerusalem. The crowd shouted “Hosanna,” and spread palm branches and even their coats along the highway. Hosanna is sort of like our hallelujah, but literally means save now. Jesus seemed poised to ride ahead into his greatest victory.
As we move into Holy Week, try to imagine the horror of these first century observers as Jesus was arrested and tried. What many followers witnessed, including his own 12 apsoltles, was a dramatic turnaround from first to last place. Some of the same Jews who shouted “Hosanna” would be shouting “Crucify him” by the end of the week. This is that week.
Hindsight is 20/20 means that anything you look back on is easier to understand that it was at the time. We make decisions in the now, then sometimes realize later we acted too quickly, neglected certain facts, or else were simply uninformed. Hindsight being 20/20, we would have done things differently if we could just have seen the big picture. Continue reading
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” -Mark 8:27-29
I want to unpack Peter’s statement here that Jesus is the Christ. There are two questions we need to answer; 1) What does Peter mean by saying that Jesus is Christ, and 2) What does it mean to us that Jesus is the Christ. Continue reading