Category Archives: Luke

Study 12 – Luke 19:28-48 (41-44)

The King Has Come

Context

Luke has not let us forget that Jesus is heading to Jerusalem. Having fixed his eyes on that destination in Luke 9:51 we finally have arrived with Jesus. On his journey to this place he has taught about the nature of discipleship and the urgency to separate oneself from this world and commit to God’s kingdom now. But we have been told that on arrival into Jerusalem, Jesus will be arrested, handed over to the Romans, mocked and killed but three days later he will rise from the dead. Many, including his disciples, had thought that when Jesus arrived, he would usher in the kingdom of God right there and then.

Jesus is at the doorstep of Jerusalem and crowds have followed him. Among the crowds are the disciples who have left everything to follow him, others who have embraced Jesus as Lord, general onlookers who are enjoying the healings and teachings but have perhaps not yet jumped on board with Jesus. And then there are the Pharisees. We leave this whole series on Luke here with the anticipated arrival into Jerusalem.

Read Luke 19:28-48 (41-44)

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”

32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”t

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Observation

Structure

  • 28-31 Jesus sends an advance party
  • 32-40 Jesus’ reception
  • 41-44 Jesus weeps over Jerusalem
  • 45-48 Jesus stirs the pot

 

28-31 Jesus sends an advance party

“Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives…” Bethphage is a village on the Mount of Olives near the road from Jericho to Jerusalem and near Bethany. So, Jesus stops here first before entering the city of Jerusalem itself. Bethany is about 3km from Jerusalem. This is where Mary, Martha and Lazarus live. Also the home of Simon the Lepar where Jesus’ was anointed with perfume (Mark 14:3-9). The Mount of Olives was frequented by Jesus (Luke 21:37; 22:39; see also Matt 24:3; 26:30).

“…you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.” Jesus’ instructions to the two disciples are quite precise, including his prediction of what they might be asked and how to answer. Either Jesus had arranged this colt with the owner on a previous visit or, he is the Sovereign God who knows stuff like this, just like he knew the name of Zacchaeus and that he’d be sitting in a figtree waiting for him. Jesus is deliberately fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. This is a donkey which the Messiah will enter Jerusalem on in victory. As we will see by the response of the people, Jesus is preparing Jerusalem to view Jesus as their King.

“…say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” As just mentioned, Jesus is priming everyone to notice what is happening as he enters. He doesn’t wish to sneak in quietly this time like times before. This entrance into Jerusalem is the one when he comes to be anointed as King.

32-40 Jesus’ reception

“As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.” The two disciples that went ahead of Jesus with the message that “The Lord needs the colt” seems like enough info to get a welcoming crowd to respond with a makeshift red carpet welcome! This is a scene like a true kingly reception. Huge crowds had been attracted to Jesus’ teaching while he travelled toward Jerusalem, so word may have easily reached the city that Jesus was on his way.

“When he came to the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives…” At this point, the journey into Jerusalem becomes real. The road coming out from the Mount of Olives down into the Royal City of David pushes out from the trees to reveal the city in full view. I found a tourist website which contains images of a track down this mountain (important not to wear flip-flops on this road!). https://www.verywellfit.com/mount-of-olives-palm-sunday-and-holy-thursday-walk-4020347

“…the crowd whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God…” As Jerusalem bursts into view, the disciples in the crowd burst into cheer. It is the travelling company of Jesus who have been part of his background crew who stimulate the praise and worship session. It is an exciting moment as they arrive at the city. This is likely to be more than the 12 disciples but those in the crowd who are buzzing for Christ to arrive in Jerusalem.

“…for all the miracles they had seen…” Their witness is of all the amazing things they had seen Jesus do. What accompanied Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God was the affirmation from God through signs and wonders that the Messiah had come. They saw the blind see and the lame walk and they believed that this is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! See Psalm 118:26; Luke 13:35. Psalm 118 is a resounding song of national victory as all of Israel are called to praise the LORD for his victory.

“…Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” Some Pharisees were unimpressed by apparent blasphemy and gave Jesus the opportunity to correct his disciples. IF, for some weird reason, Jesus had accidently chosen the wrong animal to ride into Jerusalem on and give the wrong impression, now was the time for Jesus to apologise and set the record straight with, “I am not the Messiah, sorry to steer you all wrong!” But instead, he says,

“…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” An exaggeration from Jesus to make the point that the disciples are only doing what the world and creation ought to be doing! They are exactly right for saying what they say and for getting excited. They are using the correct emotion for the occasion. Besides, the rocks were relieved that people had finally got something right! See Isaiah 55:12. It is no small moment for the promised King of Israel to finally arrive in the Holy City to claim His eternal throne. We should not overlook this moment as though it is a day like any other day. Jesus is on the move! His face was set on Jerusalem, to win victory for his people, and he is now arriving. The week that follows this arrival will be a week that changes the world.

41-44 Jesus weeps over Jerusalem

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” While the crowd of disciples were celebrating and praising God, Jesus was mourning. He not only knows what is laying ahead for him but he knows that Jerusalem has already been left desolate by God (Luke 13:35). Although the disciples are responding correctly with their joy, Jesus is also correct to be sorrowful for the city that He has been preaching to and shepherding for 1000 years since David took it from the Jebusites and shepherding its people for 1000 years longer when he called Abraham to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldeans and move to the promised land.

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace…” The Kingdom of God has been spoken of in secret all this time. Only after the cross and resurrection, did the converted apostles understand all that had been written about God, the Messiah and the people of Israel. The revelation began in Genesis 3:15 and has been sprinkled across the pages of the Old Testament. The people wanted the Messiah to come to bring peace but the way it would come was not expected by anybody.

“…but now it is hidden from your eyes.” In God’s sovereignty, the people who receive him with gladness today, will either flee or join in on the cries to crucify Jesus in less than a week’s time. They see a triumphant King riding into Jerusalem, but peace will come when that same King gives up his last breath on the cross.

“The days will come upon you when…they will not leave one stone on another…” Jesus must be referring to the destruction of the Temple which took place in 70AD. The Jews who were waiting for the Messiah and did not see him arrive on that day (did not recognise Him as the Messiah) but crucified the carpentar from Nazareth, will have their place of worship taken from them. It is on par with the exile of the people into Babylon. Many still wait for the Messiah to return and are buried on the Mount of Olives so that when he finally arrives, they will rise to life and march into the city. But, the Kingdom of God has already come and it has left the building! When Jesus rose from the dead he instructed his disciples to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. This Temple has no purpose for God any longer and it never will.

“…because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.” Once Christ has risen, his kingdom will expand to the ends of the world and many in Israel saw the Messiah but did not recognise him.

45-48 Jesus stirs the pot

“…Jesus entered the temple courts…every day he was teaching at the temple.” Jesus has come to his Temple and stands right in the heart of Yahweh worship to teach people. His ministry is not secretive and he is not preaching in upper rooms or small villages any longer.

“…he began to drive out those who were selling.” People had found a money making venture at the place of prayer and worship. Isaiah 56:7 describes the true purpose of the Temple. It was not an exclusive place but for all to come with welcomed sacrifices. Trading money for acceptable sacrifice had become a profitable trade. This robs the place of God of its true purpose.

“But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him.” It is just too sad a state of affairs. All of the people listed were to be shepherds to Israel, leading them to repentance and true worship but instead, they want to put the Messiah to death. The betrayal of Jesus illustrates how damning our human race is and how loving God is to put up with us.

“Yet they could not find any way to do it, because the people hung on his words.” So ironic. If only they would hang on his every word too! Don’t you just wish the world would stop speaking for a day and listen to the word of God! This also helps us to see why they needed to find a secret way to arrest Jesus and put him on trial at a secret hour.

Meaning

When Jesus arranged for a donkey to be ridden into Jerusalem, he was making the statement that the Messiah has come. The crowd with him were praising God and giving testimony to the many great things they had seen Jesus do. Returning to the house of prayer every day, the Word of God was present in the Holy City, but rather than being embraced by the leaders, he is hated. Jerusalem will not see the King that is right in its midst. Jesus will bring peace despite Jerusalem’s blindness and hate. The city will be destroyed, but the Messiah will bring the victory of Yahweh and extend peace throughout the world.

 

Application

Topic A: Considering the Holy Land. Jerusalem was the place that God himself had allocated as the position of the Temple. The Temple was the place that God had allocated to meet with His people. The Mount of Olives was the place where Jesus was baptised (tradition holds in the Jordan just passed the Mount of Olives), where he raised Lazarus from the dead (in Bethany), where he arrived victoriously into Jerusalem, where he spent many nights sleeping and praying and where he prayed in anguish the night of his arrest. But the gospel has moved on from there. God dwells with man through the Holy Spirit and by his Word. Where two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, he is there with them. Jerusalem and the surrounding places now serve as historic sites but they are no longer where Jesus has his throne now will it be for there will be a new Jerusalem and a new heaven and a new earth.

Topic B: Praising God with joy! Read through Psalm 118 and spend time rejoicing that God has won the victory over sin and death through Jesus. The day Jesus arrived into Jerusalem is remembered as Palm Sunday because of the other gospels which mention palms as well as cloaks. A joyful Sunday because Jesus actively pronounced himself as King that day and arrived to fulfill prophecy.

Topic C: Hanging off the words of Jesus. We will love Jesus and know Jesus, know God and love God, follow Him and obey Him when we listen to Him. A closed heart, closed ears and closed bible will bring a rebellious response to God. Come to the Lord and listen to him before it is too late.

Study 11 – Luke 18:31-19:27 (19:11-27)

The Time is Coming

Context

It was Peter, back in Chapter 9 who declared that Jesus is God’s Messiah. In that same chapter, Jesus forewarned his disciples on what to expect when they go to Jerusalem (9:22, 44). Jesus and his twelve disciples have been travelling toward Jerusalem for these past 9 chapters. A common theme in this travelling narrative has been about what kind of a person will choose to follow Jesus. Now, in Chapter 18 Verse 28, Peter declared that he and the disciples had left everything to follow him. He made this announcement because Jesus watched a rich man choose wealth ahead of the kingdom of God. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,” said Jesus, “than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

As Jesus and the twelve come close to Jerusalem, is there an example of what it looks like to follow Jesus when he calls?

Read

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

17 “ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

25 “ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’ ”

Observation

I suggest reading the whole passage as a Growth Group to get the big picture and then focus in on either 18:31-43; 19:1-10; or 19:11-27.

Growth Group Leader Tip: think about how much context and info is needed to deliver to your group in order to let the group discuss your selected text for themselves. As leaders, we are trying to encourage group discussions and, when the discussions have landed well, praise the group and let them know that they have done a good job. What 20% material do you need to provide in the form of context, recapping and orientation and discussion guiding SO THAT your group speaks for 80% of the time?

Structure

 

  • 18:31-43 – What has been told will be seen and praised

 

      • 31-34 – The disciples do not see what Jesus is saying
      • 35-43 – A blind man shows everybody what he sees

 

  • 19:1-10 – A little story of big faith

 

    • 1-4  – Zacchaeus investigates Jesus
    • 5-7 – Jesus meets with Zacchaeus – a sinner
    • 8-10 – Zacchaeus accepted by God
  • 19:11-27 – A Mina story of big rewards
    • 11 – 15a – The parable begins in two stages
    • 15b-19 – The faithful servants
    • 20-23 – The bad servant
    • 24-27 – Rewards and punishments

 

18:31-43 – What has been told will be seen and praised

31-34 – The disciples do not see what Jesus is saying

“…everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.” That there is a remarkable statement! The disciples are given notice that they are about to witness the fulfillment of generations of prophecies where God promises to come to Zion and redeem it! What parts of the bible is he referencing? Well, that’s like looking at a cup of tea and asking which part has the tea flavour in it!!! The most interesting and jaw dropping lesson that a Christian can do is to sit under a teacher of Biblical Theology (God’s Big Picture is an example of this teaching) and get a handle on how the entire bible speaks of Jesus. Sometimes, the prophecies are clear and obvious (2 Samuel 7) but often the lessons are part of a greater theme that travels across the whole bible. Three key features emerge when reading all of the prophets:

  1. The ultimate solution to the problem of sin and judgment in Israel and all the world is for God himself to come and do something about it! (Malachi 3:1)
  2. When God saves, it will be through the line of David. (2 Samuel 7)
  3. This king who is promised will be a suffering servant. (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53)

One thing is certain, when the prophets spoke the word of the LORD in the Old Testament, they were not simply telling Jews how to be Jewish! They were proclaiming the works of the LORD, the sinfulness of man, the coming judgment and need to repent, and the promise of a saviour greater than Moses, David and Elijah.

“He will be delivered over to the Gentiles…” Gentiles is synonymous with Nations. In the story of God’s salvation plan (the Old Testament), the nations represent the rest of the world that lives outside the boundaries of the promised land of Israel. They were not living in direct blessing as Israel was. When God was angry with Israel, the ultimate judgment was being exiled from Israel into all the nations. When Jesus gets handed over to the Gentiles (Pilate and the Romans), this is yet another strike of shame and judgment illustrated in the person of Jesus. When he dies on the cross, he is undergoing the shame and judgment that God would deal out on Israel.

“They will…kill him…he will rise again.” We’ve been saying that Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem and knew that this would mean his death. The accounts of Jesus present us with a man who knew the future and knew why he was walking directly into it. He also knew that what he was accomplashing was not just an example to others of laying down your life for love but that it was a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets. We put our trust in Jesus as LORD for such a deep and well founded bunch of reasons. The more we know about this man, the more convinced we become of who he really is.

“The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden…” Peculiar that although they were told bluntly with their own native language what was about to happen, with no obscure riddle or parable to veil it, and yet the meaning was hidden from them. Are we being told that they didn’t understand because of their own blindness or are we being told that even direct communication can be made muddy by the work of the Spirit? If the latter, then God may very well be protecting them and the mission of God while also laying out the plans for later revelation. Mark 9:32 gives the impression that they were confused by Jesus’ words and that they were too frightened to ask him about it. They later understood all too well what he meant (Acts 2:23).

As we leave this paragraph, notice that we are reminded that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and he knows that he must go to Jerusalem to conquer the grave but his disciples are blind to see all that he is talking about. The next story Luke gives us is of a blind man who saw more than all the crowds did.

35-43 – A blind man shows everybody what he sees

“As Jesus approached Jericho…” In the next story we will see that he arrives in Jericho where we meet Zacchaeus. Jericho was the famous location where the people of Israel first entered the promised land and defeated the city by marching around it and blowing their trumpets. I see no importance to the mention of this city other than to locate us about 27km outside of Jerusalem and on our way to see Zacchaeus.

“…a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.” Incredibly, the moments that Jesus heals blind people, are often paralleled with stories of the disciples or the Pharisees being blind even though they see.

“They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”” Well, it may not seem like much but this is a pointed moment in the story. See, the crowd refer to Jesus as the Jesus of Nazareth. This is no big deal at all. Of course, everyone knew that this Jesus was a teacher and healer but he is given only an earthly name. Jesus was a common name and so the Nazareth is added to be specific. We’ve just left the last paragraph telling us that Jesus is this ‘Son of Man’ and the fulfillment of the Old Testament! Notice how the blind man refers to him!

“Son of David, have mercy on me!” This blind man must have heard all the reports about Jesus and believed in his heart that this man is the promised descendant of David. This is a Messianic title (Luke 20:41). David was the king of Israel – God’s anointed king. His throne was promised to endure forever (2 Sam 7). The man does not name him Jesus of Nazareth as he was told, but Son of David. He cries out for the Messiah to stop and show him mercy and healing. The legend of Jesus as a healer was well known.

“Lord, I want to see.” When asked by Jesus what he wanted, he declared that he wanted to see. He did not doubt that Jesus was a healer. If Jesus willed, then he could be healed.

“…your faith has healed you.” Not the amount of faith but the object of his faith. This man believed who Jesus was and that Jesus could heal. We are told that if we believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he was raised from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). This man believed that Jesus was the son of David – the Christ – and that he could heal with his will.

“When all the people saw it…” Notice this theme of the crowd beginning to see who Jesus is rather than just the blind man receiving sight. As readers of Luke’s account, we can see who Jesus is, who sent him, what he has come to do, what he is about to do in the story, how people ought to respond and what Jesus has to offer: the Kingdom of God.

19:1-10 – A little story of big faith

1-4  – Zacchaeus investigates Jesus

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.” Luke mentions this town for a second time and yet tells us that Jesus is passing through. Obviously he is heading to Jerusalem – we get that! But his encounter with the blind man and now with a tax collector seem almost too wonderful to be acts of ‘passing through.’ We have learned that those who have eyes to see (and ears to hear) will see that Jesus is the Christ who has come to show mercy and conquer the grave. Now, we will see the story of how the kingdom of God is open to all sinners and what a sinner will do once they have ‘seen’ Jesus.

“A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus…” The blind man was not named but we know this little man’s name. He has gone down in history as a brilliant example of the response of a saved sinner. He will show us that God is not looking for good people but that once you are saved you will no longer regard the things of this world the same again.

“…he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.” Jesus has spoken against rich as a hindrance to the kingdom of God (Luke 6:24; 8:1412:16ff; 16:19ff; 18:24-25). Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector but a chief tax collector, presumably having a network working below him. Tradition tells us that his position leant to dishonest gain but he is referred to as a sinner because of his workings with the Roman empire to collect taxes for them. When he is converted, he says IF I have cheated anybody. Not an argument for him being an innocent man but only as corrupt as he was expected to be in his occupation. We need to be able to see ourselves in this character without turning him into some Mafia thug.

“…he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see [Jesus]…” I’ve often wondered why the height of this man is important or even why climbing a tree was significant. It makes for a cute story and good children’s illustrations but what is Luke telling us this for? Although wealthy and powerful (money brings power), he was noticeably short. Not an impressive man. He was not a fast rolling Tom Selleck kind of guy or impressively awesome like King Saul was described. He was a nobody who had money. A sycamore tree was very common (1 Kings 10:27). Finally, and probably most importantly, Zacchaeus was keen to meet Jesus and went out of his way to get a look. He was beyond curious. When Jesus came near, Zacchaeus went to meet him.

5-7 – Jesus meets with Zacchaeus – a sinner

“…[Jesus] looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus…’” It seems like Jesus knew that this sinner was ready to become a Christian. Zacchaeus was curious and made a move but Jesus already knew him, calling him by name, and said, it’s time that we spoke. What an amazing picture of a Christian’s conversion moment. It’s not that we come to Jesus but that he comes to us. He sees us from afar. He knew Zac before he was even born. Ephesians 1:4.

“…the guest of a sinner.” Jesus did not come to save the righteous but sinners. How often we fall into the headspace of the people in this story though! We may get that God saves sinners and we are all sinners, but what about THAT guy?!! No, God shows no favouritism.

8-10 – Zacchaeus accepted by God

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord…” The ‘But’ in Verse 8 ties Zac’s response to the remarks of the people in Verse 7. Although they were poo-pooing what they were seeing, Zach says No way man! I’m changed and I’m for the Kingdom of God now!

“…half of my possessions to the poor…” Remember the parable of the shrewd manager (Luke 16:1-15)? Zach has put money in its place! He is not selling everything but he has taken his account and shown generosity – radical generosity. Like, maybe instead of sitting on $1M, he will now live of $500K, or whatever. If he was a very wealthy man, then 50% of his wealth is probably still a good amount to live off – practical and still able to continue to do good in his position.

“…I will pay back four times the amount.” His repentance is certainly not half-hearted. What a turn-around for this guy! What a difference Jesus makes to people! We cannot serve both God and money.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house…’” It is not his generosity that has saved him but this is the outworking of his faith. All of his hope is in Jesus now. His hopes and desires are for God and his Messiah. He is no longer to be called a sinner but a son of Abraham. His title and reputation in the sight of God has been changed.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” He is like the shepherd who travels to find his sheep. Our God is compassionate and abundant in mercy. We remember that Jesus also said that this Son of Man will arrive in Jerusalem to be handed over to the Gentiles to be mocked and killed and three days later rise again. Salvation will be via the cross but salvation will be personal too, like this intimate story of Jesus and a lost sinner. Zac was lost, but now he is found.

19:11-27 – A Mina story of big rewards

11 – 15a – The parable begins in two stages

“While they were listening…” I think it’s kinda cool to picture the teaching of Jesus happening in the presence of Zacchaeus, in his house, knowing that he is approved by Jesus because of his faith. This story is not a Zacc attack.

“…because…people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” Jesus is about to reach Jerusalem and many thought that, if Jesus is the Son of David, then this is the time for God to fulfill all prophecy and usher in the kingdom of God. A kingdom where the whole world will be in awe and come from the ends of the earth to see the Messiah ruling. Jesus is going to show them that the fulfillment will not happen so neatly.

“…A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.” As the parable continues, it seems clear that Jesus is the appointed king. But, to map the details too neatly onto Jesus becomes tricky. Parables are like an artist’s impression of something and is given to make a point. In history, Herod the Great travelled to Mark Antony to receive his kingship over the Jewish region. So, the hearers would understand this principles of this parable. Jesus, however, left which place to be appointed King? Which servants in the place that he left, did he leave a task to be good stewards? This parable is dealing with the time between Jesus first and second coming. Before His kingship is totally realised, he will leave his stewards to manage in his absence.

“But his subjects hate him…we don’t want this man to be our king.” Historically, Archelaus was appointed ethnarch, rather than king, of Judea, Samaria and Idumea because the Jews sent a delegation to Augustus protest his rule. This is true of Jesus’ kingship and will be a reality when he arrives in Jerusalem. Although he is destined to be the King, he will be rejected and mocked and sent to the cross to be killed – eliminated from kingship.

“He was made king, however, and returned home.” Jesus will not be stopped as king and his kingship is a reality now (Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; 12:2; Rev 3:21). His crowning moment was at the resurrection (Romans 4:1). His return is the second coming. Recall the parable of the shrewd manager who had to give an account of his management. This parable shares a similar tone. The emphasis, in this parable, however, is on the servant who failed to be faithful.

15b-19 – The faithful servants

“…he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money…” The ten minas that ten of his servants had received was about 4 months worth of wage. Not an amazing amount. On Jesus’ return, he first deals with the servants that he had given responsibility to manage while he was gone.

“Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” The first servant has doubled the kings property. His reward is to be given the command of ten cities. Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…”

“Sire, your mina has earned five more.” The second servant increases the kings wealth by 50% of what he received and is rewarded with a proportion worthy of his stewardship. He is still congratulated. This reward is not a punishment but a proportional reward. Do we get different rewards in heaven (I hear people asking in Growth Groups)? What the rewards in heaven equate to is unclear and not important. We know that all Christians are promised to be co-heirs with Christ to share in His glory. What else could we want on top of that?! The language of rewards and great rewards is an earthly way of motivating us to persevere in the faith. In this life, Christians will seem to not gain much or any credit for their works. But they do not go unnoticed by God. We are not saved by grace in order to be slothful for the kingdom. God has saved us in order to mature fully in Christ. Be for the kingdom and be active for the kingdom. Whether we double what God has given or if we are small workers in the kingdom, we are sure that the God who graced us with salvation will continue to bless us in the age to come.

20-23 – The bad servant

“…here is your mina…I was afraid of you.” This poor servant has done nothing with the King’s riches. He will also be judged for his slothfulness due to his disengagement with the king’s work. He gives a pathetic excuse for doing nothing for the king.

“…you wicked servant!” It is true that a person is either for Jesus or they are against Him. Many who believe they are safe because they believe in God will be judged as wicked by Christ because they did not pursue Him, serve Him, love Him, or know Him.

“Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit…” Remember that a parable is a story in it’s own right – obeying it’s own storyline rules – that we don’t need to pair everything up with everything else – that is not a parable but allegory. Having said that, I wonder if a disciple of Christ who loves Jesus but doesn’t know how to grow the kingdom, is shy to speak with people, feels inadequate to evangelise, but invests in their church and in others who are gifted to expand the gospel – would that fit the scenario of the servant who at least put the mina in the bank?

24-27 – Rewards and punishments

“Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas…even what they have will be taken away.” He is no longer treated as a trusted servant at all but is treated like the wicked. Can Christians lose their salvation? A true Christian reveals their conversion by their response to serve. The false Christian – one who mimics the saved without actually having a renewed heart – will reveal their true colours too by what they do. Their fruit will prove their faith. The Holy Spirit encourages us to persevere through the word of God as we are encouraged with rewards and warned of consequences. Some may read this parable and declare that the last servant has not lost their salvation but is simply shamed in the kingdom. Well, I suspect that this is not the case but that this parable is given as a warning to us to invest in the kingdom of God and not to be lazy or wicked.

“But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king….kill them in front of me.” The kingdom of God will not be established when Jesus enters Jerusalem. At that point he will inaugurate his kingship and return to his throne to intercede for us. But when he returns, he will reward his faithful servants and remove all of his enemy. We live now in that time between the first and second coming – where Jesus Christ is King, and we are left to be faithful while we await his return.

Meaning

Jesus of Nazareth, born and lived 2000 years ago, is the appointed King of God’s kingdom as foretold by the prophets. He is the Son of David who has come in the first place to invite people into the kingdom of God. The first stage is to go to the cross. The true servants of God – his disciples – you and me – are given responsibility to manage what is his. The faithful will be rewarded while the wicked will be rebuked and excluded from the kingdom. We are to be like the blind man who, although he did not see Jesus, he knew who he was. We are to be like Zacchaeus who, although had worldly wealth, surrendered it all to Christ in joy because he was lost but now is found.

 

Application

Topic A: Calling Jesus LORD. The crowds were referring to Jesus as the man from Nazareth. But the blind man referred to him as the Messiah (Son of David) and Lord. Where are you with Jesus. He is still a strange figure of history, is he a character in the bible stories, or is he, in your mind, the Son of God, King of kings and LORD of Lords? When did you come to see that? In what ways do you acknowledge this in your life?

Topic B: The faith of Zacchaeus. This little man expressed his joy in becoming friends with Jesus by making radical reductions to his worldly wealth. He didn’t get rid of everything, which is a helpful bit of detail, but he was radically generous. I wonder how far we can stretch our generosity as a direct response to belonging to the kingdom of God?

Topic C: The work of a king’s servant. What is it that Jesus left his disciples to do while he was gone? Matthew 28:18-20 and Luke 24:47-48 give the leaving commands of Jesus to his disciples. The teaching of the kingdom of God which is about Jesus being king, calling people to repent and enter the kingdom today and to testify across the globe that Jesus Christ is Lord. Well, where do you find yourself in that order? What is your plans for serving Christ with this call?

Study 10 – Luke 17:11-18:30 (17:20-37)

The Coming Kingdom

Context

An overarching theme in the middle section of Luke is the question: ‘Who is worthy of the kingdom of God?’ Back in Chapter 9, a Samaritan village rejected Jesus on the basis that he was a Jew heading toward Jerusalem. The Pharisees were outraged at Jesus’ association with ‘sinners’ and insulted at his teachings against them. The challenges were given to choose between money or God; and family or God. Jesus also described the kingdom as abounding in forgiveness and the reality that the unworthy are invited.

One question remaining is, “When will this kingdom come?” What is the urgency to follow Jesus? Can we choose money now and leave the kingdom for later? Can we embrace this world with all it has to offer and concern ourselves with the next life in our third stage of life?

This study will focus on Luke 17:20-37, therefore, you may choose to read the whole section or just read the text we are delving in to.

Read

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosyh met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” [36]

37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.

He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Observation

What an impressive collection of teachings from Jesus! As Jesus travels toward Jerusalem (17:11), we see the theme of discipleship continue. He highlights a Samaritan as the example among the lepers; he says that the kingdom of God is not something you can observe like a walled city, but there are people already in the kingdom now and they might be picking grain in the field right next to you; the faithful disciple will pray continually while they wait for the Son of Man to return (exercising prayer is an indication of exercising faith); God expects sinners to be more aware of the kingdom than self-righteous folk; the humility and dependence of a child is a good example of kingdom people; the rich will find it almost impossible to enter but those who have given up everything to be in it will be rewarded because they have chosen the greater treasure.

We are going to look at 17:20-37 only; the words that Jesus spoke about his first and second coming.

Structure

  • 17:20-21 A question from the vultures.
  • 17:22-25 The Son of Man must leave us behind.
  • 17:26-30 Comparing the second coming to The Flood and Sodom.
  • 17:31-36 Already left behind.
  • 37 A question for the vultures.

17:20-21 A question from the vultures.

“Once…” Not necessarily chronological but Luke places this account here for thematic reasons.

“…on being asked by the Pharisees…” I’ve titled this section, “a question from the vultures” mainly because it feeds into the imagery of Verse 37 and since our interaction with the Pharisees has been growing in negativity – wanting to trap Jesus rather than join him. They would like to see Jesus fail and die. (See Luke 5:21; 6:7, 11; 7:30; 11:42, 43, 53; 12:1; 14:1; 16:14).

“…when [will] the kingdom of God would come…” So, the question of this narrative is about when the kingdom will come. Not what, or who, but when. Many will be satisfied to simply consider their question as meaning, ‘when will we see a kingdom like David and Solomon again as promised?’ That is, a kingdom that you can see and approach but has the power and blessing of Almighty God to build it and sustain it, rather than the power of men. It is worth noting, however, that the whole of the bible can be threaded together on the theme of Kingdom. This is the concept that God reigns and he promises to establish an eternal kingdom that will never end. 2 Samuel Chapter 7 is one of the most significant passages in the bible where God promises to establish the kingdom of David forever and his throne will endure without end. But how will this happen since Israel is now run under Roman rule? The question from the Pharisees sets Jesus up to describe a kingdom that is not in the future but is in the present but cannot be described with walls and a castle.

Jesus came to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:1; 9:2, 27; 10:9; 11:20; 13:18, 20; 16:16; 17:20, 21; 18:29, 30; 19:11; 21:31) but he was also aware that not everyone would understand him and enter (Luke 8:10; 9:60, 62). Some heard and responded with open ears (Luke 9:11; 13:29; 18:16, 17; 23:51) while others who were given the option will reject it (Luke 10:11; 13:28; 18:24, 25). The question of when is wrapped up in the work that Christ is will on the cross and at the resurrection to establish the kingdom – not that he is not already the king, but he is yet to redeem his people to bring them in (Luke 21:31; 22:16, 18).

“…not something that can be observed…because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” This is Jesus’ answer. Understand what he is saying and you’ve understood the kingdom. He will go on in Verses 22-36 to expand on this and flesh it out but unless we grasp the concept that you don’t travel to the kingdom of God, it comes to you, we will never get it. You can’t poke at it or measure it. But the entry point is Jesus, the centre of it is Jesus, the owner of it is God the Father who has put all things under the feet of Jesus and the seal of entry or membership is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All this is fleshed out in the remaining pages of the New Testament as the Apostles explain how the kingdom has come in Jesus Christ (Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 1:8; James 2:5).

17:22-25 The Son of Man must leave us behind.

“…to his disciples…” Notice his changing attention away from those who are not in the kingdom to those he is entrusting the kingdom to. Also note that I am not condemning every individual Pharisee but the body of people who the gospels label as being against him almost from the beginning. Nicodemus was a Pharisee who appears to have heard Jesus teaching and entered the Kingdom of God (John 3; 7:50ff; 19:39).

“The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.” The Son of Man is a title that Jesus uses of himself and it is a reference to God’s chosen One who will reign on his right hand side. See Daniel 7 and Psalm 80:14-19. The disciples are with Jesus now but he speaks of a time coming when they will long to see him again. Commentators debate about when these ‘days of the Son of Man’ refer to and most conclude that it is the second coming. While this fits with the context and truth, I feel like it is too clean. They are not longing for that time as they are listening to Jesus speak to them. He is with them. He is talking about a future when he will be gone from this earth (ascended) and his disciples will long to be with Jesus again. This then refers both to the Second Coming when that happens, but also to the raw desire for his disciples, including all who will follow Jesus, to long to be with Jesus again. The disciples did not see those days once Jesus had ascended. Perhaps we will or perhaps a future generation will see his coming. We live now in the same longing state that the disciples found themselves in once Jesus had ascended to heaven. Some theologians will put emphasis on what the world looks like leading up to the second coming and call those the days when the disciples long for the days of the Son of Man, but I am not convinced that there will be a unique period like that – I hold the view that we are in the last days and have been for 2000 years.

“…the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning…” God only knows how this will come to pass, but the fact and truth is that when Christ returns, there won’t be a soul who is unaware of it. The analogy is like the lightning which is seen across the sky. It is a singular sparked event that does not go unnoticed. Don’t be mislead by rumours of secret knowledge of his coming.

“But first he must suffer…and be rejected.” The cross. The fact that he must suffer before he is exalted speaks about the sin of humanity. Why our King and Creator must undergo suffering in order to win us back is because we rejected his authority and power from the beginning. And even the disciples who hear him speak about his coming kingdom will struggle to stand beside him. This generation will reject him but future generations will long to see him return in victory.

17:26-30 Comparing the second coming to The Flood and Sodom.

“People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day…” What warning did the people in Noah’s day get about the coming flood except in observing Noah prepare for it. Noah did not see any signs of the coming except for God’s word coming to him and I suppose the miracle of all those animals being gathered as God had asked. We live in days like that! Eating, drinking, marrying, and expecting generations to come after us. But we have the knowledge of his second coming to prepare for. We have the knowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and that everybody must give an account of what they have done with Jesus.

“It was the same in the days of Lot.” The story of the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19 has the same lesson. Nobody saw any signs that the city would be destroyed. The second coming of Jesus Christ will not be preceded by 6 consecutive signs except that he has already come and shown us the kingdom of God and how to enter it. If we are not in it when he returns, then it is too late.

“But the day Lot left Sodom…it will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” The chosen people of God will not suffer on the last day. Just as Noah and Lot were spared from the disaster, so too the children of God who have entered the Kingdom of God will not endure the terrible time of judgment. Here is where raptures and stories of ‘left behind’ find their traction. The day of Judgment will be swift and quick, however (2 Thess 2:8; 2 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 20:11-15).

17:31-36 Already left behind.

“Remember Lot’s wife!” When the Day of the Lord comes, the true disciple will abandon all of this temporary stuff and be glad that it is here. Our kingdom is already established in our minds and in our hearts and this world we are in is just temporary. Genesis 19:26.

“Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it…” This is not a thought to have stored in a glass case and broken open on the Day of the Lord. Our mind must already be on putting to death this earthly home and treasuring the kingdom of God. If we try to save our life we will lost it. Nobody holds on to a sinking ship, but they cling to the life raft! Jesus is that life raft and we are living on the Titanic. This is a basic understanding of the Kingdom of God – we cannot serve two masters, we cannot postpone the RSVP to come, unless we give our life to Christ, we cannot be called a disciple.

“…two people will be in one bed; one taken and the other left [behind]…” The question that the vultures/Pharisees asked was when will the Kingdom of God appear. The answer is that it already has appeared (although Christ must first go to the cross and conquer sin and death). Two people can be sharing their life together here on earth and yet one of them is in the Kingdom and the other is not. When the Day of the Lord comes, the one who is left behind will get a shock. Books and movies have been generated over this illustration and I fear that they take a clear and startling picture from Jesus and push it into a franchise. The point is to be in the kingdom now! Don’t wait for Jesus to turn up again! Be one of the disciples who have put aside the things of this earth and are longing for the day when Christ will return – the days of the Son of Man.

37 A question for the vultures.

“Where, Lord?” My first question is: where what? Do they want to know where the Kingdom of God will be? Where Jesus will return? Do they want to know where the righteous will be taken? Or do they want to know where the other people will be left? That is, where they will be judged. The response that Jesus gives concerning vultures leads us to view this as a judgment question. What happens to those that are not part of the kingdom?

“Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Isn’t it true that sometimes things that sound profound can take time to truly understand? This is an image of death. Classically, you might visualise an old Western scene with someone seeing vultures circling and they conclude quite easily that death and a finished battle lies beneath. The vultures come after the shooting. The answer that Jesus gives is layered. He is saying, everywhere. He is saying, when judgment comes, it’ll be final. Those who were not taken will not have a second chance. He is saying, leave the answer to that question to the likes of vultures. But you, be concerned about entering the Kingdom of God.

Meaning

Jesus is asked about the when and where of the Kingdom of God. His answer is that it is everywhere now and those who are in the Kingdom will be ready when Christ returns. When that Day comes, it will be too late. Nobody will miss it and everybody will be either saved like Noah and Lot or they will undergo death that is swift and everywhere.

Application

Topic A: Remember Lot’s wife. How quickly can you walk away from your possessions in your mind? The things we have in this life serve their purposes and when we lose them it can be quite heartbreaking or sad to say the least. But if you had to walk away from it right now for the sake of keeping the Kingdom of God, could you do it? Lot’s wife knew she had to get out of the city and run for her life but she turned around and is remembered to this day as a metaphor for looking back instead of looking forward at the goal. As we grow in our Christian faith, we can continue to test ourselves on what we are clinging hardest to – the things of this world or are we running hard for Christ and His kingdom. Perhaps you can share as a group how you respond to this.

Topic B: Remember Noah. The world around Noah were mostly unaware and uncaring about the judgment to come. If only they had known and believed beforehand that their entire existence would be wiped out by water. Well, Noah knew. And he told his family. He preached to others in his day, presumably that the wrath of God was coming (2 Peter 2:5). If Lot’s wife is a metaphor for not looking back, Noah is a metaphor for being sure of what is coming. And if we are convinced that Jesus will return like a thief in the night and that time will be over then for people to repent – what do we do about that? If you knew everyone was dying of a deadly virus and only our church had the antidote for the cure, would we keep that to ourselves?

Topic C: Left behind theology. This is not a salvation issue, but the way we view the end days can make a difference in the way that we form our faith and communicate to others about it. The ‘Left Behind’ theology which was famous back in the 1990’s and has made a very small comeback with a new movie, does have quite a large following with high profile American preachers. Two issues that I see is a) the difference between being fearful of Christ’s return or looking forward to it and b) how we can allow one theory of the future invade our reading of the bible. On the first issue, the bible, particularly in this passage, states that we need to be ready and eager for the days of the Son of Man now. That’s it. No more story. No more epic battle at the end of the age where we fight for the name of Christ. Jesus has come, paid for our sins, and is ready to return at his will to take us home. Those who remain are left for the vultures. On the second issue, the bible must interpret the bible and feed our doctrine and conclusions. Our conclusions must not feed our reading of the bible as if we must force a pre taught, preconceived, spectacular idea of the end of time into every passage that talks about the end days. This point is about reading the bible well rather than being lead by the most attractive argument that preachers put forward. Do you know how to read the bible for all it’s worth or do you rely on preachers to convince you of their point of view. If the latter, then I hope that they are good, grounded, born again AND well trained teachers who, although have a big church behind them, could do with some better reflection on the end of days theology.