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Studies in the Gospel of Christ according to Luke, 1

 

 

CHRIST, THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

 

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Abd al-Masih and Colleagues

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(Luke 1:1 - 2:12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Waters-of-Life


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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065 – Version 27.3.2004

English Title: Christ, the Savior of the World, 1 - Luke 1:1 - 2:12

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INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST ACCORDING TO LUKE

 

Our human language is not wide enough to contain the riches of the Savior of the World. This is why the Holy Spirit led certain men to clarify the unique Gospel in several ways and to produce four distinctive portraits of the person Jesus Christ, also to proclaim his victory over distresses, diseases, sins, death, Satan, and the wrath of God. 

In the guidance of the inspiring Spirit, the evangelist Matthew proved to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth who came from the despised Galilee was indeed the promised Christ who fulfilled the Old Testament predictions and the laws of God in his life and resurrection.

The evangelist Mark, an associate of Peter, explained to the believers in Rome who were surrounded with thousands of gods and idols, that Christ Jesus was the true Son of God and the Lord of Lords who reigns over all the powers opposite to God.

Luke, the Greek physician, presented Christ as a merciful Savior to all mankind, who established by his coming God’s peace on earth and a new era to the world.

And the evangelist John expressed in the words of the Greek philosophy the deep love of God made incarnate in Christ to enable us to obtain eternal life though living faith.

Each one of the four evangelists bore witness to a certain circle of people and conditions. Yet, Jesus Christ is the decisive answer to their numerous questions and abstract problems.

 

Who is the Evangelist Luke?

The other three evangelists were Jewish believers, Aramaic speakers, of Hebrew standpoint. They all translated the words and historic events of Jesus into Greek. However, the evangelist Luke was Greek of Gentile origin. He did not belong to the culture of the Old Testament. This experienced physician and cultured man of travel had command in clarifying the message of the gospel in Greek. His fluent and effective use of language sometimes surpassed that of the apostle Paul.

It is possible that Luke lived for a considerable period in Antioch and participated in raising the church formed of believers of Gentile origin (Acts 11:20-24). He knew Paul from the beginning of his missionary journeys and accompanied him personally on his second voyage from Troas to Philippi where he stayed to strengthen the new church (Acts 16:10). When Paul came back from his third journey and passed by Philippi (Acts 20:6), he took his spiritual brother with him on his long voyage to Jerusalem (Acts 21:17). During Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea (AD 58-60) Luke drew together material, which he later used in the composition of his gospel. At last, the physician Luke accompanied the apostle Paul during his last journey to Rome sharing his shipwreck and remaining with him until he died by martyrdom. During those three periods of the apostle Paul’s company, Luke depicted the events employing the first person “we”, as Paul’s student, eyewitness and companion.

Paul himself mentioned Luke three times by name and called him his beloved and faithful fellow laborer (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11), which clarifies to us the deep impression of Paul’s theological thoughts about justification by grace on Luke’s gospel which testified complete salvation to all mankind (2:14; 3:4-6; 24:26). This privilege of grace can only be obtained by faith (7:50; 15:1; 17:10; 18:14; 19:1-10; 23:34,43). Whoever enters into this grace finds in it the spring of everlasting joy (1:46-47; 6:23; 13:17; 15:5-10, 23; 19:6; 24:41,52).

 

How Did Luke Write His Gospel?

The wise physician wanted to know more accurately about the life of Christ than he had heard from Paul and the early Christians in Antioch. He accompanied his teacher (in AD 58) to Jerusalem and met James, Jesus’ brother, whom he joined in companionship as a child in one family. Furthermore, the evangelist sought details from Peter and the other apostles also from many eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus about their experiences with the merciful Lord (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8,21; John 15:26).

First of all, Luke found in Jerusalem a collection of Jesus’ sayings and events compiled under supervision of the apostles and probably translated into Greek by Matthew, Andrews and Philips to establish the believers of Jewish pilgrims who did not learn Aramaic in their distant homes (Acts 2:42; John 12:20; Luke 1:1-4). Luke extracted verbally much of what was contained in that source common to the three earlier gospels, but unfortunately absent from us today. However these contents are made available to us through those three earlier gospels. This is why Luke’s account is in full agreement with that of the earlier evangelists.

The characteristic of Luke’s gospel is that he who describes the person of Jesus is an experienced physician who was much interested to know the miracle of Jesus’ conception of the Holy Spirit and his birth of the Virgin Mary whom he had most probably met in person and inquired about these events. It is a special blessing, that the Holy Spirit guides a physician to discover through his own efforts this great mystery and to cover this unknown link of the history of Jesus Christ.

We also find in his gospel an expert description of the miracles of Jesus, which the wise physician was completely unable to do by himself: giving sight to the blind, cleansing the lepers and raising the dead. Discerningly, Luke draws our attention to Christ’s great compassion and kind mercy so that we may see the source of his power originating only from the divine mercy.

Luke was especially interested in the body of him who was raised from the dead that he questioned eyewitnesses about strange details which we do not find in such clarity in the other gospels: Christ asked his disciples to touch him with their hands in order that they might feel that he was not a ghost but flesh and blood. He also ate before their eyes to overcome their unbelief.

 

Who is the Receiver of This Message?

Luke states the name of the receiver. It is Theophilus (lover of God) whom he calls (most excellent) or (noble), a magisterial designation also given to Felix, the Roman governor of Judea and Festus who succeeded him (Acts 23:20; 24:3; 26:25). Theophilus was probably a prominent Roman official of high rank who once ruled Antioch and knew that region and Italy accurately, but needed wide clarifications about all the places and customs of Palestine and Greece which were strange to him. Theophilus was probably near to the first church in Antioch and had consecrated, under the name of that church, his palaces and dedicated them to the meetings of the believers as we find in the traditional information about this person. Then he was transferred to Rome and there he wanted to gain a just conception of the progress of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, the capital. This is the historical password of Luke’s report which is composed of two parts: the first one is his Gospel in which he tells us how the Savior of the world completed his way from Bethlehem to Nazareth, Capernaum and Jerusalem where the salvation of the world was completed.

And the second part of his report is the Acts of the Apostles in which Luke shows us how the kingdom of God spread out immediately from Jerusalem to Samaria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece and Rome and was also prepared to reach Spain. 

By these purposes, Luke did not compose a limited gospel for the believers of the Jewish nation, but preached all the nations with the divine salvation in the widest manner as Paul did. Luke did not present a Jesus Christ promised only to the Jews, but a Savior, Founder and Proprietor of the world, giving peace to the whole world, and preaching God’s pleasure with the repenting sinners, for the only true Savior has overcome all the distresses, diseases and the power of death with its cause that is sin as well as the temptations of the devil which prompt us to disobey God. Christ is the Victor and the Lord of Peace to all nations. This is the keynote of Luke’s gospel.

The astonishing thing is that Luke’s gospel and the Acts of the Apostles were not written to the public, but to the edification of one person so that this official of high rank might continue in faith, receive new insight for his social duties, be just and merciful toward the poor and confine the carelessness of the rich who deserve God’s wrath because of their hard hearts. Luke shows us that Christ does not only save us from our sins, but also qualifies us to practice love and help to the poor. We therefore realize that Luke’s gospel has a practical social characteristic.

 

Analysis of Luke’s Gospel

Appearance of Christ                                       1:1 - 4:13

Galilean Campaign                                           4:14 - 9:50

Voyage to Jerusalem                                       9:51 - 18:30

Ministry in Jerusalem until Christ's death          18:31 – 23:56

Reports of Christ’s resurrection                               24

 

If you follow the steps of Jesus, through your deep penetration into Luke’s gospel, you will receive a great power and divine motive to preach the nations, for Luke was a preacher with the apostle Paul filled with love and the Holy Spirit. Pray and listen to the Spirit of the Lord through his servant Luke.

QUESTION 1: What are the different characteristics of the four gospels?

QUESTION 2: What do you know about the life of the evangelist Luke?

QUESTION 3: How did Luke write his gospel?

QUESTION 4: Who was the receiver of Luke’s gospel?

QUESTION 5: How was Luke’s gospel divided?

 

 


The Introduction of the Evangelist

 

LUKE 1:1-4

1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

The Savior of the world was truly born. He lived among us and was openly crucified, and then he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Those were the things, which had been fulfilled among his followers who received the gift of the great Holy Spirit through their faith.

This Spirit came out of them and prompted them to publish the good news of salvation all around the world. Many have written letters and books to clarify the unique person Jesus Christ to the public. All true reports about Jesus signify a gospel. This significance is rather more exact than that of the word “gospel” which was originally used in the house of Roman Caesar for official announcements, i.e. when a child was born to him, or when he won victory over the enemies. You have the right and the privilege to spread the good news of Christ’s birth and victory in the world.

When Theophilus, the Roman governor had heard much about the King of kings and Lord of lords, he wanted to know every thing exactly about the chronological events covering the Lord’s birth, death and unique resurrection. Luke, the Greek physician traveled to meet the eyewitnesses in Christ’s company and asked them about the whole details. He did not begin his gospel with the baptism of Christ at the hands of John the Baptist, but examined the mysteries of Christ’s birth carefully and traced up his life with great attention. Our faith is founded not on ideologies or philosophical ideas, but on a living person who had exerted an open and clear influence on the history of mankind.

Luke found a collection of Jesus’ sayings gathered by the apostles, the ministers of the word, and translated by them from Aramaic into Greek with all exactness and carefulness. Today, we do not have the mother of all those gospels in Aramaic. However they appear clearly in the first three gospels with power and great glory. Luke added to these sayings the reports and parables of the eyewitnesses whom he had visited and searched until he extracted, through his diligence, the precious words of Christ, which are not found in the other gospels.

We thank our Lord Jesus Christ who through his Holy Spirit guided the Greek physician Luke to write his gospel, for in his diligence the objective work becomes accurately united with the power of inspiration and the world traveler’s insight with the simple faith in God’s mercy which is the foundation of Christ’s peace to all humans.

Luke wrote his gospel to confirm to the spiritual student governor what he had learned about the incidents of Christ, not only historically, but spiritually first, so that he might be filled with God’s joy and gladness. You may also obtain this through studying the gospel if you read it with continuous prayer.

PRAYER: Our Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you because you rose from the dead and live and reign with the Father in one essence. We glorify you because you guided your servant Luke and many to write your gospel accurately. Please help us to hear you in their words, understand your intents, believe in your kindness, do your will, convey your salvation to others and tell them that you are the Savior of the world who preaches us personally in his unequalled gospel.

QUESTION 6: What were the principles adopted by Luke in writing his gospel?

 


PART I

HISTORICAL EVENTS ASSOCIATED WITH

 CHRIST'S BIRTH

(Luke 1:5 - 2:52)

 

 

THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF JOHN THE BAPTIST'S BIRTH
(Luke 1:5-25)

 

LUKE 1:5-7

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

Herod, the First, was a ruthless cruel king who came from Edom and reigned over the Jews. He helped the Romans in their battle in Egypt, and by subtle flattery and timely support, won the imperial favor as their agent, which made him bitterly hated by his people. Herod was well-known to the Roman officials, for he flattered Caesar and built cities under his name in the Greek fashion thus sucking the funds of his people whom he terrified though he had built the glorious temple to flatter them.

In the midst of hatred, colonization and clamorous currents, the priests of God lived in humility and offered daily sacrifices to God in order to reconcile the sinful nation with him knowing that the wrath of the Holy One is revealed against all ungodliness of men. One thousand years before Christ, King David divided the priests into 24 groups each one of which officiated day and night for a complete week before God to atone for the sinners. The eighth of those was that of Abijah of the middle rank, which was not responsible for administering all priestly ceremonies.

Zacharias, the priest whose name signifies “God remembers” was married to Elizabeth “God is my oath” who was herself of priestly lineage, of the daughters of Aaron, Moses’ brother. Zacharias’ family was blessed with the justification of daily sacrifices, for no man is righteous of himself. 

Their piety and love to God appeared in their wise walking in the commandments of the Lord according to the Law and its interpretation. Thus they lived in humility praying and serving. Their neighbors honored and loved this family out of which the blessing of the Lord came to others. It is a happy thing when those who are joined to each other in marriage are both joined to the Lord. Grace for grace comes out of this couple to those around them.

No sanctification without keeping the commandments, and no justification without sacrifice. Through these principles of the Old Testament: sanctification and justification Luke leads us to the faith of the New Testament which is in front of that of the old, for Christ justified us by his sacrifice and the Holy Spirit sanctifies us to keep the commandments.

Luke began his gospel with a report around the temple and ended it (Luke 24:53) inside the temple, showing reverence towards the “house” or dwelling of God in the Old Testament until the Jews refused the reconciliation in Christ and the Romans ruined the temple entirely when God had left it according to the prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel.

During their prayers, Zacharias and Elizabeth felt the coming wrath of God several times, for he did not give them children. They suffered from their loneness in their old age and considered their barrenness as a shame on them. Yet in their particular daily brokenness they remained righteous. They did not walk arrogantly because of their own righteousness, but laid their hope completely upon the grace. God does not leave the humble prayer, but knows the cries of his heart and answers him in due time.

PRAYER: Our Lord, we thank you for your saints in the Old Testament who walked before you in broken hearts and believed in their sanctification through sacrifices. Please forgive us our haughtiness and help us in your coming wrath for the sake of the sacrifice of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

QUESTION 7: How did Luke arrange his gospel in relation to the Old Testament?

 

LUKE 1:8-17

8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the alter of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Public worships were attended at the temple of the Lord every day at nine o’clock in the morning before making the burnt offering and at three o’clock in the afternoon after the same offering (Acts 3:1). During both occasions many prayers met to praise altogether the glory of the Holy One and to pour their hearts before him. It occurred that the eighth priestly division stayed for a complete week in Jerusalem to perform all the services of the temple.

The Lord chose Zacharias by lot to minister at the alter and make the offering of incense in the temple. As the people joined in hymns of prayer, the elder moved forward to the holy place and burnt the incense in token of their prayers and praises ascending to the Lord (Psalms 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). However, the ministering priest fell down in adoration to the near All-Hearing God, summing up in ritual words the communal pleas. He had the privilege of bringing sacred personal pleas before the Lord. God answered his prayer in a wonderful way. The elder immediately saw a luminous angel standing in bright glory on the right side of the alter out of which the smell of incense ascended in the midst of the darkness of the holy room. And then the priest was troubled, for any appearance of a spiritual person signified punishment and judgment. None is righteous of himself before God. So do not ask your Lord for the appearance of angels or Christ, but repent as long as it is called “Today” and believe in Christ so that he may fill you with his Holy Spirit who is God himself.

The angel did not come for judgment, but gave good tidings to Zacharias of the beginning of the age of God’s grace. No man can realize the principle change in his Lord’s plan, therefore God sent an angel in order that Zacharias might realize the spiritual change to come. The brilliant angel comforted the troubled priest and ordered him not to be afraid. The statement, “Do not be afraid” appears 365 times in the Holy Bible. It orders us according to the number of the days of the year not to be afraid at all.

The reporter confirmed that God answers prayers maybe late according to our feeling, but punctually according to his prudent loving will. Then rest assured that no word or statement of your prayers is forgotten. The good Father does not neglect the pressing needs of his children, but answers in prudence and due time. Do you believe that each word of your pleas is answered according to the will of your Lord’s mercy?

The angel was a person speaking understandable words. He brought us good tidings of days of joy and gladness, for the meaning of the name “John” is the Lord is gracious. The Creator healed the sick body of Elizabeth so that she might be able to conceive. Would that the Lord touches the dry bodies of churches so that they might be filled and the children of God be multiplied.

Many promises of the Old Testament had their accomplishment in the coming of John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1,23,24; Isaiah 40:1-4).  All angels and believers rejoiced at his coming, for his appearance indicated a new age in the entire creation of God. Since childhood, John was devoted, consecrated and engaged to the Holy God who filled the forerunner of his Son with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb so that he might be able to carry out his hard service. Thus John was the greatest among those born of women. He surpassed philosophers, kings and prophets. Yet, in spite of his excellence, he was not born of the Holy Spirit, but in a normal manner of Zacharias his father. He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the great.

God had prepared two services for the Baptist: First he had to call the multitudes to repentance so that they might discover their sins, and to baptize the brokenhearted with the baptism of forgiveness in the Jordan. So John cultivated all the people with his sharp word, prepared the hearts for the new plant and kindled the great movement of repentance. Here his second service began. He did not call himself Christ or founder of a new age, but confessed that he was only a forerunner in the hands of the coming Lord to guide people to him. He taught all the Jews that a prophet in the spirit and power of Elijah should be sent before the day of the Lord. Later on Jesus testified openly that the spirit and power of Elijah worked in the Baptist as an indication of the truth of Christ (Matthew 17:11-13).

The Holy Spirit led those prepared of the elders who were deep-rooted in the Law into conversion that they might follow the new generation following Christ and enter altogether into the open doors of the age of grace.

At the same time, the Holy Spirit broke the obstinacy of disobedient young people and led them into God-fearing, humility and obedience. In this manner, the Spirit of the Lord calls you to repentance and conversion so that you may please God by accepting the Gospel. He who realizes his sins, confesses them penitently and forsakes them by accepting Christ’s salvation becomes a living member of the people of God who are spread in all nations and tongues that are called today Christians. Are you a servant of the Lord in your surroundings distinguished in humility and activity?

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for sending John the Baptist and opening the age of grace through him. Please lead us to true repentance so that we may be converted and filled with your Spirit and become living members of your holy people.

QUESTION 8: How did the angel appear to Zacharias?

QUESTION 9: What are the promises of the Old Testament for John the Baptist?

QUESTION 10: What are the principles of his service?

 

LUKE 1:18-25

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” 21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 22 But when he came out, and could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless. 23 And so it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

The holy Creator honors those who pray and speaks to them through the Holy Bible, his faithful witnesses and ministering angels. Do you believe in the speaking of the Most High? Do you submit to his call? Do you accept his promises joyfully? God himself comes to you through his word. He who doubts his statements accuses God of lying. He who refuses his word refuses the All-Ruling himself.

Do you believe that your prayers are answered? Zacharias prayed, but his ministry became a priestly custom. He did not wholeheartedly believe that his petitions would be answered, but believed in his own experiences and in the principles of nature rather than he trusted the All-Ruling Creator. The priest doubted the word of the Lord and did not immediately realize that the appearance of the angel was the guarantee of accomplishment of God’s promise. In this manner many believers do not trust completely the word of Christ, for they do not realize that the Crucified One is the unique guarantee of accomplishment of his Father’s promises. Would that we do not refuse God’s promises or let our hearts be like the stones which refuse the water that is brought to it, but accept and receive them immediately thanking God for them in faith, which can never be shaken.

When doubt appeared in the priest, the angel became angry in his holiness and said, “Behold, I am present. Do you not see me and notice that God is speaking to you personally through me and has chosen you and authorized you giving you a sign, which is beyond human understanding? I represent God’s omnipotence and am coming from the glorious throne to you, sinning elder, in the midst of the darkness of your world, to bring you glad tidings of great joy. Do you not believe? This shows that you are a hardhearted priest in spite of your apparent piety and prayers.

Dear brother, do you believe in the words of the Lord addressed to you? Do you harden your heart against his drawing love? Believe and do not be late lest the grace of God is changed into fury poured on those who doubt and are slow to believe.

The herald smote the priest’s tongue with muteness. He did not destroy him, but punished him in grace to leave for him the opportunity to consider the revelations of God’s ambassador to him. The word of God is full of grace. It creates a life of love and punishes the disobedient violently. Yet, the design of God’s mercy does not fall forever. The Holy One carries out the plan of his love precisely. Your Savior will complete his way with you if you devote your self to him and do not object against his word intentionally.

While the angel and the frightened priest were engaged in conversation, the people stayed in the courtyard expecting Zacharias to come out of the temple, because he was to pronounce the blessing upon them. Now observe that he who lives without the blessing of the Mediator between the Most High and men falls into temptation and condemnation. However, the poor priest was now speechless because of his unbelief. He could not pronounce the blessing because God punished him. Unfortunately, we find today many ministers who are good speakers, but their words are empty and dead because of their unbelief in the complete word of God. Their blessings are nothing but a powerless ritual veil, for the hand of Christ does not support them, but punishes them because of their hypocrisy, selfishness and doubts. Does the power of God for joy come out of you? Do you look like a weak, silent, mute priest that is void of the Spirit of God?

PRAYER: My Lord, declare your word to me. Demand unconditional faith from me. Forgive me every delay in accepting your word and strengthen my little faith so that I may trust completely that many spiritual children of our nation are born to you and become mature in your blessings.

QUESTION 11: How did God nourish the priest in full trust?

 

 

THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF JESUS CHRIST'S BIRTH
(Luke 1:26-38)

 

LUKE 1:26-33

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

The name of the city of Nazareth does not appear at all in the Old Testament, for God’s triumph became clear only in the New Testament. The pious Jews called Galilee with contempt “the circuit of backward Gentiles” (Isaiah 9:1). However, God, in his design, intended to reveal his glory in thick darkness. The coming of Christ did not take place in the temple and its clamor, but in a simple house on the outlying areas of the town. Today, the angel of the Lord does not reveal the design of the Holy One only in capitals and churches, but also in village caves and nomad tents. He often finds more obedience of faith with the simple and the lowly than with the clever, rich and religious.

Mary was a virgin of the tribe of David. We do not know much about her past. However, her name signifies in Hebrew “bitterness” or “sorrow”. Her father probably so called her because she did not have a child. He was not aware that God’s promise was revealed from the beginning and that the long-expected Messiah was to be born of a woman and not of a man (Genesis 3:16). Mary was a true woman representing our troubles and sorrows. We all went astray. There is none who does good, no, not one. Christ said, “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19).

Yet, there is a great difference between Mary and us. Our hearts are hard, whereas her heart was prepared to believe and hear the word of God and to obey his Spirit. Mary took power from the Scriptures and continued as pure virgin expecting God’s guidance. She agreed to be betrothed in the city of Nazareth to Joseph, the carpenter who was also a son of the same royal family of King David like her. Both of them were worthy of participating in God’s promises to this seed (2 Samuel 7:12,14). The angel of God entered into the house of Mary and prepared her to accept the mother of all miracles, to listen to the word of the Lord, believe it and accept it, for Christ is born only of the word of God in which the Virgin believed.

The first two words of the divine herald sounded as if the door of heaven was opened wide, for the messenger of God testified peace and grace to the world as a foundation for the New Testament as all the other evangelists did in the beginning of their gospels. Mary was highly favored and chosen by God among all mortal women to bear the Eternal One down her heart. All the blessings of heaven and the fullness of the Godhead centered and dwelt in her fetus. Christ was not filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb as John the Baptist was, but was practically God himself with Mary. Until now, God is near to men, but hidden. However, Mary began her powerful new communion with God, which indicates that Christ resides in our hearts through faith.

Mary was not perfect in herself like Christ who spoke with the angels as his ministers, but became troubled and afraid, because the light of God uncovered all her humanity. However she did not speak quickly, but kept silent and thought as quick as lightning of what this wonderful salutation could mean. Would that all humans hear God’s call quickly and consider it prayerfully so that they may receive from the Holy One a more profound and clear answer than what they heard in the first call.

The angel knew the Virgin’s thoughts and confirmed to her that she found favor with the Holy One. She was not the spring of all favors, but God’s favor was made incarnate in her child. This is why the angel suggested to her that she should not be afraid of the mighty angel who takes revenge and judges, but should cast all fear and embrace his grace and love. Mary sought the living God Throughout her life until she received the fruits of her prayers and yearnings.

Mary perfected her trust in God and laid her hope completely on grace trusting God’s pure love and holy protection.

At this certain faith, the angel revealed to her seven secrets about her coming child:

- That her child would not be a daughter but a son who is known before his birth and a reason for her great joy.

- That his name was Jesus which means “God’s help and salvation” as the motto of the new age.

- That he was great before God not as John was but as a divine person of the Godhead.

- That he is the Son of God in person. God from God. Light from light. True God from the true God. Begotten, not created, in one essence with the Father.

- That he was appointed as a king according to the promises given to David the Psalmist who was anointed with the Spirit of God.

- That Jesus was of David’s seed lawfully and bodily, for Luke calls Mary’s father as Joseph’s father (Luke 3:23). Thus Mary and Joseph are the king’s descendants and Jesus was a true man from a true man. He was not a ghost or a traveling spirit.

- That the kingdom of Christ is not temporal or earthly like David’s, but spiritual and everlasting as Jesus confessed before Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world… For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:36-37). However, most of the Jews did not want to hear the voice of God, and they crucified their king. Yet, the Lord can submit to himself this obstinate people in order that they should kneel before him and worship the one whom they have pierced.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You are my King and I am your unprofitable servant. Please forgive all my unbelief and teach me the true faith in your divinity, birth and humanity so that I may consider your words and accept them immediately upon hearing them and your power may become greater in my weakness.

QUESTION 12: What is the meaning of the angel’s salutation to Mary?

QUESTION 13: What is the difference between Jesus and John?

 

LUKE 1:34-38

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

When the angel announced the promise to Zacharias, the latter doubted and wondered, “How shall I know this?” (1:18) though he had seen the glorious herald and heard his clear words. Yet, Mary did not doubt, but asked the angel, “How can this be?” She believed, understood and trembled in humanity at the impossible thing. Gabriel did not consider her question as doubt, but as an inquiry concerning the way and manner how the miracle should be made. Only God is qualified to answer such a question. It is not impermissible to ask God to clarify his ways in your life if you did not object to his designs. 

For the sake of Mary’s obedient preparedness the angel revealed the secret of incarnation of the Holy Spirit in Christ, that is the Spirit of God himself with all his powers, abilities and glories was determined to dwell as a fetus in her. The fullness of the Godhead dwelt in the Son and the Holy Spirit himself was his essence. Man! Did you know that all the Holy Trinity was participant when the Savior of the world dwelt in the Virgin Mary? Our language is unable to express this culmination of human history and our mind is so small to realize how God loved us that he clothed his Son with the sufferings of the world and was embodied in flesh. Worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the One God, and love him with all your heart, for his love for the corrupt humans was the only motive and reason for the conception of Christ.

There was neither lust, nor sin, nor selfishness, nor impurity in this miracle, for the Holy God appeared in the Holy Christ who was in himself full of holiness and void of inherited sin. Even all the sinful motives of the seed of his father David and his followers that were found in Mary were overcome and changed into complete purity, divine power and eternal truth.

Man cannot realize the mystery of this moment without the Holy Spirit. Those who are not born of the love of God blaspheme on Christ and say that he was born of a human being. Yet, he who was renewed in repentance and received everlasting life from the word of the Gospel worships God the Father who sent to us his Son in the form of flesh.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is a true man from a true man and true God from the true God. He did not need a second spiritual birth. He is the Life-Giver who offers us, justified, his life through faith in him in order that we may become by his power children of God looking forward to his imminent coming which is our certain hope.

The strong angel gave the frightened Mary a clear sign so that she could believe what was impossible to believe, for the blessed one thought how could it be possible for a creature to conceive the Creator of the world in her womb. The angel showed her the divine miracle in Elizabeth her relative who was not of the house of David and became pregnant though she was barren. This was a further encouragement to her faith, which prepared Mary for the decisive word of the Lord.

Is anything impossible with God? Dear brother, do you believe in God’s unlimited power in your life, church and nation? Then do not give the lie to God and do not cheat yourself with human thoughts. Do you believe in God’s absolute power? Did you put yourself, your mind, diseases, friends and enemies before the throne of grace committing yourself in the hands of the Highest? Where is your love for him? How true is your faith? Take hold of God, and set your love upon him, for he is the Almighty who wants to save and is able to make salvation. He practically saves according to your faith. You are the door through which the grace of God is willing to enter into your surroundings.

Mary believed in the omnipotence of her Lord and opened herself to the will of love. Christ did not dwell in her without her consent. Through her humble submission she fulfilled the designs of the Highest. If Mary hesitated at that moment or refused the word of God, the world would fall and we would remain in our sins, reprobate and condemned by God. Yet, the Virgin was deep-rooted in the Old Testament obeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit in her life. She believed the prophecies and was able to accept Christ, the present of God to the world.

By her spiritual consent, Mary washed the shame attributed to woman since the fall of Eve and changed her weakness into glory. The Virgin suffered a lot for the Son of God who was placed in her heart. However, she bore the shame of accusation with patience, faith and thankfulness to her Lord throughout her life.

PRAYER: Our Father in heaven, we worship you because you gave birth to Christ with all holiness of your love in your maidservant Mary. We are prayerfully astonished at the miracle of your dwelling. Please renew us all so that we may immediately believe in your word addressed to us trusting that you change and renew, through our faith, our unfair surroundings.

QUESTION 14: How did the Virgin become pregnant with Christ? (1:34-38)

 

 

MARY'S VISIT TO ELIZABETH
(Luke 1:39-56)

 

LUKE 1:39-45

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Virgin Mary turned with her flowing heart to her compassionate big friend in a city unknown to us today, to tell her of her secrets seeking encouragement for her faith through common prayers, being unable to tell any body in her town, Nazareth, about her miracle. She was thankful to the angel who showed her a way out of her trouble. So she hastened away to Elizabeth who lived in a town in south Jerusalem, 100 kilometers away from her town Nazareth. The Holy Spirit confirmed to Mary her obedience of faith and comforted her warmly when she arrived at the house of the priest. At the same time, he revealed to the old Elizabeth a clarification of the mother of all miracles before the virgin revealed her secret. The priest’s wife became filled with the Holy Spirit who gave her the power of prediction and revealed to her secrets that would not come to human’s mind.

The prophetical spirit let Elizabeth’s tongue utter a wonderful salutation to Mary who had saluted her using the customary tokens of affectionate salutation. Elizabeth was not alone in hearing those words, which were filled with the power of God, but her fetus also leaped joyfully, for John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb and was then given to understand that Christ, the incarnate divine Spirit was at hand. The Holy Spirit does not need human ears, eyes and senses to know and witness. He feels immediately with unperceivable depths and reveals secrets that are beyond our understandings. Through the apparent power of the Spirit, Elizabeth immediately knew the secrets of Mary without being informed by anybody.

Now, the power of God exploded through the words of the prophetess. Her tongue cried unconsciously and the Spirit of God testified through her saying, “You, young Mary, are greater than I am. You are not great in yourself, but the glory of your fetus lights you and his blessings make you more blessed than all women.” Yet, these blessings were not of her but of her child, the stream of all blessings.

Elizabeth immediately called Jesus Lord, for the Holy Spirit revealed to her that God, the Lord dwelt in Mary. She trembled in her heart because of her approach to God, for the Holy Spirit in her sensed his union with the Son. The great old woman bowed before the humble virgin for the Holy Spirit reveals the secrets to the believer who opens himself to his directions. The divine herald revealed to Elizabeth the essential worthiness in Mary through which she became an example to us. The Virgin believed unconditionally the word of God. Through her obedience of faith, the things, which were impossible, became possible. This is her honor, privilege and right. Mary’s faith was the door through which the Son of God came to our evil world. 

Today, your faith is the means by which Christ prevails in you and around you. Do you follow the mother of Jesus according to her effectual faith?

 

Then you will hear the same words of Elizabeth of which she told Mary: that what God had already said be done. You do not have to do God’s will in your weakness. He will complete it through your acquiescence in his will. So let the Holy Spirit release you from your doubts, sins and personal ability. Be firm in the trust, chastity and power of your Lord. Adhere to Christ so that he may let his Spirit flow in you as the juice of the vine flows into the branches creating leaves and fruits. Blessed is he who believes and becomes united with Christ with the bond of love in his heart. This is the first beatification in the Holy Bible.

PRAYER: Holy Lord, we worship you because you move the believers with your Spirit as you wish, preparing their ways and revealing to them your secrets. Forgive us all tattling, backbiting and perjury; and help us into purity and truthfulness in the communion of saints.

QUESTION 15: Why did Elizabeth beatify Mary?

 

LUKE 1:46-50

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

Mary’s praises are the crown of the psalms of the Old Testament and a glorious beginning of all the joys of the New Testament. The Holy Spirit spoke through Mary and revealed the secrets of God’s judgment in the simple words of the Virgin. The past of mankind met in these words. Our future is clarified through the words of the Holy Spirit, and God’s church harmonizes everywhere in Mary’s song of thankfulness, for the aim of all the revelation and realization of salvation is to glorify the holy God out of an undivided heart.

Mary’s words, which reached us in the New Testament, were very few (Luke 1:34,38; 2:48; John 2:3,5). This is why her saying here deserves all our attention, wherein we find familiar statements from the Old Testament and the Psalms which indicates that the Virgin penetrated deeply into the word of her Lord, kept his verses and lived them. The Holy Spirit united the treasures hidden in them for great praise to God.

Do you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit? He glorifies God and declares that man is small. The joy of the knowledge of God is so great. The peace of God covers the believer so that his soul does not move haughtily but glorifies the Lord. As such the spirit rejoices, for the pleasure of God is revealed to it and no sorrow disturbs it. Do you rejoice in your mind? Are you sad? He who is sad cares for himself, but he who is glad lives for God and becomes free from his selfishness, for God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

Dear brother, come to your Lord so that he may fill you with his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not found in man out of his nature. Mary confessed openly that God was her Savior from her distresses. Mary is not the Savior of the world. God has saved the mother of Jesus. The Holy Spirit does not lie. All those who magnify themselves and other selves are foolish; for the heavenly Illuminator shows us corruption in our humanity and at the same time draws us up to the faithful love of God.

We are not worthy to be called servants of God, for we are sinners. However, the Holy Spirit confirms to us that the Lord accepted us and overcame the sin inherited in us by grace. All those that are highly favored bow down to the dust, worship to their Savior, kiss his feet, and put themselves at his disposal for everlasting service. Are you an independent master and lord in your life, or a lowly servant to your Lord? Humble yourself as Mary who called herself the maidservant of the Lord. The Holy Spirit wants to break your pride and release yourself from haughtiness.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Mary experienced this principle of the Spirit of God, for when she had confessed her need to God’s salvation as the maidservant of the Lord, God exalted her so that she might receive joy for joy and grace for grace.

Yet, her way in this world was full of bitterness, despise, and accusation, for her fiancé and parents knew nothing about her conception of the Holy Spirit. But God himself justified and guided her (Matthew 1:18). Her child was born in an awful stable, while the angels’ storm of praises broke out in heaven. The Magi worshiped to the newborn child of the manger who fled after a while with his parents to Egypt. Mary stood sorrowfully under the cross of her son. Yet, she saw him who was raised from the dead prevailing and ruling the worlds. She remained together with the disciples expecting the promise of the Father and was filled with them with the Holy Spirit of God on the Day of Pentecost. She abided in Christ forever, for he who believes in him, though he may die, he shall live; and all those living who believe in him shall never die. We beatify Mary with all those renewed in Christ, for they live as children of God in everlasting gladness.

Dear brother, can you pronounce Mary’s words in faith? Dare and pronounce in faith the words of the Holy Spirit: “He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation” (1:49).

Mary did not take lessons in theology, but the Holy Spirit revealed to her the essence of God as merciful and holy according to her own experiences. Would that all the nations accept this revelation of the Holy Spirit from the Virgin’s mouth. Our God is like a consuming fire, which burns all sins and unrepentant humans. Yet, the heart of his holiness is love and nothing but love. He who follows the right way and submits to the Spirit of God accepting Christ as a Savior, will be drawn to the holiness of God’s love, for Christ’s birth had no other design but to make of you a saint filled with the love of God (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:4).

PRAYER: Our Holy Father, we praise you, worship you, love you, and magnify you because of your many great things also because you saved us in your Son Jesus Christ. You did not reject us for our faults, but sanctified us and filled us with your love. Please keep us in Christ’s humility so that we may not fall from the grace, which surpasses all understanding.

QUESTION 16: How do we know that Mary was humble?

QUESTION 17: What names and attributes of God did the Virgin make apparent in her song?

 

LUKE 1:51-56

51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, 55 as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

God is not an incomprehensible far-away mighty spirit. He interferes in the history of the world. His characteristics are not a logical conception, but are practically apparent in the lives of humans. God does not sleep, but works. Since humanity fell in sin, the Holy One has restlessly been saving, asking and working for the salvation of the world.

Study God’s ruling of the world on Mary’s mouth, and penetrate deeply into the mightiness of his work according to the nine verbs mentioned in the second part of the Virgin’s praise, and then you will be more cognizant than those who hold diplomas in sociology or sciences.

God is the power, as Christ testified to the essence of his Father during the last trial before the Jews (Matthew 26:64). He is the only positive and constructive power in the world. By his power he created the world. It is wise to worship the Creator when you penetrate deeply into the mysteries of his creation during your physical, chemical, and biological courses, for all sciences reveal the great, beautiful, and mighty power of God.

Man became haughty in Satan’s temptations and God drove him away from his nearness, for whoever separates himself from his source becomes an enemy of the Creator in his mind. Blessed are you when you realize that all humans are disobedient, for the spirit of Satan works in them  (Ephesians 2:1-5). This is why we became the children of wrath, given up to the lusts of our hearts. The history of mankind is a revelation of God’s waves of wrath on us (Romans 1:18; Revelation 6:17).

God’s condemnation upon all haughtiness and lust is more effective than you know. The Holy One gave man a chance to live in the fear of God according to his redemptive plan. Yet, he who becomes haughty and does not put his gifts, money, and ability at God’s disposal will fall down from his illusory seat to shame, dislike, and destruction. Did you realize how the simple Virgin condemned the kings, leaders, great and fanciful people through her words given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit?

She confessed in her discernment that he who is lowly will participate in government with God, and he who is meek will own the earth. God will have mercy upon you if you continue patient, gentle, and regarding your enemies better than yourself. Christ’s way is humility. This is why God has highly exalted him (Philippians 2:5-11). If God exalted you, and gave you blessings, gifts, and success, do you continue lowly and simple as a child of the Lord, or do you become haughty as other creatures, thinking you are quite something? The Holy Spirit teaches you to die to yourself and live for God alone.

Now observe how God blesses you disobedient, and gives you bread abundantly. He is our Father and Provider who would not destroy us quickly though we deserve his wrath. Would that people turn to their Creator, see his blessings and multiply them. Unfortunately, countries make out of these blessings exorbitantly expensive weapons. It is to be mentioned that the price of one warplane is sufficient to satisfy the needs of millions of human beings. As such people waste the gifts of the Provider who enriches us with his riches. However, selfishness makes the rich poor, for they destroy themselves given up to their lust according to the wrath of God.

The people of wilderness knew how God filled them with his providence and brought down to them manna and quails. Yet, they complained against their Provider and did not understand the drawing of his Spirit to make of them a holy nation, but fell in his wrath. However, the Lord did not destroy his adversaries entirely in spite of his continuous punishments throughout centuries, which indicates that he would not end or annul his grace with us, for he remains merciful in the midst of his fairness, holiness, and wrath.

God is faithful to his promises, which he gave to Abraham, and the fathers of faith and to their followers. What was the worthiness of those fathers? It was their faith. They heard the word of God and held fast to his promise faithfully and trustfully, and this faith was accounted to them for righteousness. Because of this faith, God dealt with them, and he would never change his words for he is faithful.

Did you realize the deep secrets, which the Holy Spirit crystallized in Mary? Open yourself to the voice of God, without hatred or haughtiness, so that you may listen to reason and see God working in the midst of the disorder of our distant world.

As it was time for Elizabeth, the prophetess to give birth to her son, Mary came back trusting that God would guard her, guide her, and care much for her.

She experienced his unrecognizable providence. Nevertheless, Mary’s way remained the way of striving and faithful patience so that the God’s strength might be made perfect in our weakness.

PRAYER: Our Lord, the Highest, I am fool. I do not realize your ways of ruling the world as you see them. Please forgive me my short prudence and illuminate me with your Holy Spirit of humility so that I may walk according to your love and truth, and avoid your wrath, holding fast your directions, and obeying your words every day.

QUESTION 18: What does God do in his management of the world?

 

 

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
(Luke 1:57-80)

 

LUKE 1:57-66

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. 59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father -- what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

The grace of God develops gradually in the life of the elect, and nobody can stop it. John, who was filled with the Spirit, was born of a barren mother. In this manner the forerunner of Christ who prepared the way of his Lord was found, and the greatest among those born of women appeared. The relatives and neighbors rejoiced deeply at the mercy of God who granted the mute priest an offspring to succeed him. They glorified God and rejoiced at his favor. Then the boy was duly received in his nation through the accustomed rites of circumcising and naming the newborn child. Those present marveled when the mother asked, on behalf of her mute husband, that her child be called John, instead of Zacharias, contrary their customs. Why would that woman break the rule of her people? Zacharias was a nice name meaning “God has remembered us”. The neighbors were very upset and asked the mute father to speak or to express his opinion in signs. The poor father had been mute for nine months in the school of the Holy Spirit keeping his secrets into his heart. However, from the beginning of his muteness, he wrote to his wife in brief on a writing tablet what the angel told him to do. Both Zacharias and his wife were pleased when the mother became pregnant. Thus John, before his birth, became his father’s preacher of repentance. The blessing became a reproach. Zacharias penetrated deeply into the scriptures and prayed continuously, knowing that his disease signified a punishment from God for his unbelief.

Zacharias also knew that the impediment of his tongue would be loosed when his child, given by God, is born. Yet, when the child was born and his tongue remained unloosed, he doubted: Could his faith be untrue, and his prayers unanswered? But the child was brought to express the work of grace. The father decided, according to the angel’s order, to avoid all human opinions, and to place his hope completely on grace. So he wrote on the tablet that the name of his firstborn child should be John as an emblem of the age of grace to come.

Having held fast to God’s promises and command, Zacharias passed the last exam of faith and the impediment of his tongue was loosed. His imprisoned words dashed out easily and gracefully praising the Lord from the innermost recesses of his heart. Zacharias glorified God, revealed the secrets of his child’s birth, told those present about the angel and his words, and showed them how God interfered in his life.

Thereupon, the people became afraid for they knew from their own history that God created children in strange ways before making radical changes in the course of their nation’s life, the same as he had created Isaac, Moses, and Samuel. Whereas the motto of the angel’s revelation was the coming of Christ whose way should be prepared by John, the religious and politicians became frightened at the designs of God about to happen. Some of them wished repentance, renewal, justice, and raising of the dead in their nation when Christ came. Others rejoiced in themselves and hoped they would be delivered from the yoke of occupation. They did not realize at all that Christ does not build his kingdom on weapons and armies but through the pouring of the Holy Spirit who created repentance, conversion, and renewal of hearts by his grace.

The birth of the Baptist resulted in a deep movement in the holy land before he began to speak the words of his message.

PRAYER: Lord! Teach me faith, especially when your directions are not easily understood to me. Help me to testify according to your word when people contradict me, so that I may praise you forever, for your salvation is coming, your kingdom is apparent, and your Spirit renews millions. Thank you for you have begotten us in the age of grace.

QUESTION 19: Why was it necessary for Zacharias to wait until the impediment of his tongue was loosed in order to call his son John?

 

LUKE 1:67-75

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, 70 as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, 72 to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, 73 the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. 

The word “Holy Spirit” appears four times in Chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel (15, 35, 41 and 67), which includes the preparatory period of Christ’s birth. The physician Luke realized clearly that the first role in Christ’s coming was that of God and not of men, for his Spirit revealed the divine designs, drove away the doubts, guided the obedient, and filled the weak with his power. Did you realize how the love of God creates knowledge, faith, and fruits in those who willingly align with the redemptive plan of God? Open yourself to the Spirit of Christ and you will experience miracles in the brokenness of your pride for the sake of glorifying your Lord in your surroundings.

Zacharias kept silent for nine months penetrating deeply into the words of the angel. Then Mary entered into the house of Zacharias. His wife cried in the joy of the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin testified to the old priest how the angel Gabriel appeared before her.

Then Zacharias realized that neither he, nor his wife, nor his child nor Mary were the center of the history of God and of all those heavenly movements, but Mary’s fetus alone was the eternal promised one. At that moment, the priest who was well experienced in the scriptures knew that Christ was coming. This knowledge was like an electric shock in his mind. He forgot himself and his house, and glorified God for the coming of his Spirit for incarnation.

Great was the song of the old priest who recovered the use of his speech, and had, throughout his life, reconciled his wicked people with the Holy One through his sacrifices. He realized that the faraway Glorified One was coming to them in Christ to visit those who were suffering, and that he truly came to them.

This divine coming to men does not signify judgment, destruction, and annihilation in his shining light, but kind grace, merciful salvation, and everlasting redemption. The doubtful old priest experienced this principle in himself, for God had forgiven him his unbelief and deep doubts, and filled him with his Holy Spirit. Therefore, he magnified the grace and drew his hearers to the power of God’s love. Dear brother, are you tongue-tied, or released and praising the grace of God?

The expression “horn of salvation” refers to the eminence or small projection called “horn” on each of the four corners of the Jewish alter. To this persons might flee for safety when in danger of avengers, and be safe. As the sacrifice was burnt the refugees stood under it considering it as a substitute for them in order that they might receive life. As such the experienced priest realized that Jesus was the horn of salvation to all sinners, and whoever took hold of him should not be destroyed in the wrath of God who takes revenge on all sins, but should be justified looking at him who was slain as a substitute for us in Golgotha. Do you hold fast the horn of salvation?

All those spiritual gifts were not immediately poured on us. They have a long story and deep reason, which the prophets had already foretold. In the Holy Spirit, they saw the coming Christ as a unique person and Savior of the world. Their testimony is true. It is gradually coming true, crystallized in us, and made perfect in the glorious coming of Christ.

The fathers of faith trusted the living God. They are now seeing the fruits of their faith, for our God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. They rejoiced in paradise on the day of Christ’s birth, magnified God with thanksgiving for the resurrection of the Crucified One, received him who ascended to heaven, and acclaimed for he sat down in the throne.

They saw that Christ was he who guaranteed the covenant with God, for no man or nation could make a covenant with the Holy God, but the blood of the Son of God cleanses us and qualifies us to come near to God and live with him in a new covenant, which includes us forever with grace and innocence.

God’s oath before Abraham, the faithful Bedouin, who in his obedience to God was prepared to sacrifice his firstborn child Isaac, found its accomplishment in Christ. In this preparedness he was too near to the love of God who gave his only begotten Son on the cross for us. God had sworn to the broken and obedient Abraham that Christ should come of his seed and that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed (Genesis 22:16-17).

Zacharias understood this spiritual plan in the Old Testament, for he was a conversant priest. However, he was wrong in his Jewish opinion that the coming Christ would establish the kingdom of God by force and make Jerusalem the capital center of the world. The priest Zacharias yearned for two things: First, cleansing of the sinful people. Second, the nation’s triumph over the foreign enemy.

In spite of this latter earthly yearning, he did not yearn for riches, welfare, and dignity, but for free public worship and guidance of his nation. He realized the design of the unique coming of Christ as worship for the entire nation, so that all should come near to God in repentance, cleansing, sanctification, and supplication, in the holiness of his truth and divine righteousness. Christ came to us with those two characteristics, which are beyond our human understanding. He who sets his love upon the Son of God is divinely justified, and he who abides in him is filled with the Holy Spirit with complete and everlasting holiness.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we magnify you because of the incarnate Christ who came with hope and universal salvation to men. Please redeem us from all our earthly longings and make us fast in your righteousness and holiness so that we may praise you throughout our life.

QUESTION 20: What are the origins and aims of our salvation?

 

LUKE 1:76-80

76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, 78 through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

The old priest was about to forget his son in his praise to God, for the insight of the history of the love of God and its designs refreshed his spirit. Then he turned to his son John, the symbol of the Lord’s grace, and foretold his essence, job, strength, and fruits.

John was not the Son of the Highest, but his prophet, created of dust, and filled with the Holy Spirit as the other prophets before him. His distinction was that he came at a time when Jesus Christ was about to come; and therefore the Baptist became the forerunner of the Lord who prepared his way, administered baptism to him, and witnessed his glory.

Zacharias realized through the Holy Spirit in all revelations that Mary’s child was the Lord himself. The introductory of the angel and the motives of the Holy Spirit illuminated him into this testimony which was dangerous to declare among the Jews: that the Lord should visit the earth and walk among people, and that John should prepare his way. That was the great revolution in creation, for the Creator comes now to his creatures to examine, save, and finish. Are you prepared to receive him? How is your relation with God? Are you worthy of meeting him? Get ready to his presence soon.  

Zacharias knew that no man was worthy of meeting God or in fact to worship to Christ in the manger, for we are all sinners. The most important thing in the Baptist’s ministry was leading people to true and faithful repentance, so that they might realize that they could only obtain salvation by remission of sins. Are your sins forgiven, dear brother? Have you become holy, pure, and acceptable? Examine yourself in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and confess your lies, thefts, laziness, and all kinds of injustice and disgrace. Your knowledge of yourself and your confession openly of your sins is the only way in which you prepare the way of God into your heart. Come and bow down before your Creator and do not cheat yourself, for you are unsuccessful. Confess your sins and ask your Lord’s forgiveness.

Then, you will know the miracle of God’s love, for the Son came from his heaven to our impure darkness, and the foretokens of his righteousness shone as the glorious sun in our dark night. Open your mind and your subconscious completely to the mercy of God apparent in Christ, so that you may wake up, get up, and praise God in the morning and in the evening.

In Christ alone, the disagreement between you and God ends in your heart, divine peace begins, and you live in complete harmony with the will of your Lord. Then, you would not run like a wild ass motivated by your careless lusts, nor would you quarrel with every man because of your excessive sensitivity, but abandon your rights, forgive your enemies openly, and bear patiently those that are difficult to bear, for Christ’s redemption gives you the ability to do that which is impossible, so that you may die to yourself and God may live in you.

John grew older in years, bodily and spiritually. He isolated himself from the superficial world, with its bitter temptations and shallowness, and prepared himself praying to God. He might have joined the Essenes in Qumran, so that he might be ready to answer the voice of the Highest when he calls him to bear witness to his people. Similarly, we wish you advancement in spirit and in body, in our God’s Sun of righteousness, so that you may become witness of Christ’s power, and guide your surroundings to the Savior of the world.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for you supported John as your servant, and sent him to prepare the way of your Son. Please cleanse us from our sins and renew our minds so that we may prepare his way in our surroundings and get ready to his imminent advent.

QUESTION 21: What did Zacharias tell more that the angel told him about his son?

 

 

THE BIRTH OF JESUS IN BETHLEHEM
(Luke 2:1-20)

 

LUKE 2:1-7

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Every country is in need of an abundant supply of money to equip a strong army, organize state departments all around the country, and build grandiose palaces. This is why the Roman state regulated the law of census once every fourteen years, where all people of the entire Roman Empire should be registered with all their properties to enable tax collectors to control and collect the taxes. The governors registered all trees, houses, animals, and men by force and scolding. They spread their spies everywhere to arrest those who might abstain from giving exact numbers, in order to raise the taxation for the coming years taking no consideration of the harvest, death, or other considerations. Thus, grudge and curse grew increasingly in the hearts of many because of that injustice at the time of Christ’s birth. All citizens hated this census, and everyone raced to his homeland and birthplace to be registered there out of fear of severe punishment.

In compliance with the order of the Caesar, Joseph, the carpenter accompanied his fiancée Mary from Nazareth toward the south of the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem signifies the house of bread; a proper place for him to be born in who is the Bread of life, the Bread that came down from heaven.

Joseph took the trouble of that long journey of 170 kilometers with his fiancé among the mountains, hills, and robbers who lurked to attack the travelers, rob them, and kill them. Joseph was not pleased with this journey with his fiancé who was pregnant in her last days.  However, he was required by the government to take this inescapable procedure.

Here, we may find a distinguishing feature of the account of Christ’s birth: that God employed the great Caesar Augustus, who called himself the wonderful savior of the world, to move the officials of his state all around the world, in order to accomplish the promise that was summed up in the Book of Micah that the true Savior of the world should be born in Bethlehem and not in the shining Rome, or Nazareth, or the pious Jerusalem, or the holy temple, but in a despised village, in the solitude of the world. Thus God begins his great things quietly with small things. He employs kings and countries to fulfill his redemptive plan, and reaches the goal of his designs away from those that are great and important in human societies.

When Joseph arrived at his town late, all the houses and inns were overcrowded with the newcomers who came from everywhere because of the census. He could not find a place to sleep. At such hard times, none but those that are rich and notable could find a house to receive them and provide them with food. The Son of Mary was born in an awful stable. From the first day of his birth he looked like those who had no refuge. From his first day he began to face the calamities of our world. His contemptible birth indicates that God has no place in the world of man, for the dislike of the selfish drives away the love of the Eternal One to a place which is not appropriate for him, such as the stable that is filled with microbes and bad smells. However, the mother looked after beloved child and wrapped him in swaddling cloths to keep him warm. Joseph must have probably put straw and hay in the manger, and covered them two nights before the child’s birth, and thus the stable was changed into a home of love, which lighted and overcame all poorness and distress.

The arrival of the Son of God to the stable means not only comfort to men, but also hope to animals, for all creatures expected the revealing of the Son of God and the appearance of the new creation (Romans 8:19-23). The Son of God came down from the glory of his heaven immediately to include in his redemption all the creation even animals.

Thus the Son of the Highest was born, and nine months of spiritual striving around faith and trust in Mary and Joseph ended, for the impossible and wonderful thing, that is the incarnation of the Spirit of God, was beyond the understanding of the Virgin and her fiancé. Yet, both the angel and the Holy Spirit confirmed with all clarity that the fetus in Mary was truly the Son of the living God. He was not a daughter, but a firstborn son. What joy, thankfulness, and hope were sent out around the poor manger!

The fullness of time was now come, when God visited the world, reconciling it to himself. Let us not forget that God’s descending took place in a stable and not in a palace, in order that all men should realize that God comes down and does not require of us to go up. The Holy One seeks those that are sinful, going astray, unsuccessful, and repentant, not those that are content, clever, rich, proud, and pious.

How does your heart look like? Does it look like a stable full of faults and sins, having no comfort but bad smell? Have you become a poor manger prepared for Jesus? No doubt, all people are filled with mud, but when Christ enters into one’s heart, divine cleansing begins, and the Son of God puts in us love, thankfulness, and hope. There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. So prepare your heart as it is so that Christ may dwell in you and sanctify you, and his presence illuminates your mind and your heart be filled with the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER: Thank you Christ, for you became a man. We ask forgiveness, for we had only a dirty stable. Please possess me and cleanse my heart so that it may become a manger for you and you may continue in me in your divinity forever.

QUESTION 22: Why was Christ born in a stable?

 

LUKE 2: 8-12

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Some nomads were warming themselves around the fire, which they lighted in a dark night on the hill of Bethlehem, while their sheep grazed under the open sky. The shepherds chatted and passed the time with conversation that drifted from one topic to another. They talked about their town, which became overcrowded with those people who came from everywhere to be registered with their families in the official count of population. The shepherds saw many of their friends and neighbors who came to this town with many others. Some of the shepherds began to curse the Roman occupation and wish for the coming of the Savior. Then one of them took the rebec and played expressing his longing for the forthcoming Christ.

Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared in the midst of them as a flash of lightening, making the night as bright as day. His rays pierced their hearts, and they were exceedingly afraid and frightened. Their mouths became dry, and their sins became apparent before them. They were convicted by their conscience for their thefts, lies, impurities, and all unfairness, thinking it was the Day of Judgment.

But a gentle voice went out of the fullness of the shining light saying, “Do not be afraid.” Undoubtedly, the shepherds were, as other humans, thieves in proportion to God’s holiness. However, the Most Generous Benefactor was not determined to destroy them as they thought, but to save them. The angel did not only bring them joyful news, but also furnished them with abundant matter for joy, that is the great joy of God. All true believers swim in the sea of joy for they received the good tidings of salvation from the merciful Creator. God loves, delivers, and helps us. Hence, darkness disappears and distress ends.

To evangelize is to preach the gospel of victory and to bring the good tidings of the divine peace, the performances of the power of the Holy Spirit, and the presence of Christ. Do you bring good or bad tidings? Do you cause, in the name of God, comfort, hope, and spiritual revival? Or do you break your friends with the burden of laws and ordinances, which neither they nor you can observe?

Christ was born for all of us. The eternal Holy One is no more a far revengeful Judge. He offered himself unconditionally though we are sinful. The love of God surpasses our understanding. Believe in the angel’s good tidings, for Christ was born for you as well. God himself offers himself to you.

The word “today” which the angel said to the shepherds put to them a decisive limit in the history of mankind. It means to us the coming of divinity into our life, i.e. the second birth, for when man is drawn into the sea of God’s love, a new life begins in him. Was Christ born for you today? Did you accept God’s present for the great feast? Do you still live with no aim or meaning in life? The Savior is born for you today. Believe, realize, and worship, holding fast your divine right.

The angel described to the frightened shepherds in exact terms the meaning of the Son of God’s coming to men:

- He was born in the city of David, as his successor, according to the promise in (2 Samuel 7:12-13). The child of the manger is the diving King whose kingdom is at hand.

- He who is born in a stable is the Savior of the world, and the hero who does not save us by means of politics and peace, but redeems us from the chains of sin, the power of death, the temptations of the devil, and the wrath of God in the last judgment.

- The Son of Mary is the true Christ who is anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He is the incarnate Word of God, divine Announcer, and Forgiver of sins to the uttermost, who was raised from the dead after he had sacrificed himself a ransom for many. Christ is the slain Lamb of God who is worthy of all worship and praise, having reconciled us with the Father, on the cross. When will you magnify his holy names entrusting yourself to him in an eternal new commitment?

Christ, the Savior is the Lord himself who created the world. He is the Ruler who has control over the history of mankind, the One who made the covenant in the Old Testament, and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father reigning with him in the union of the Holy Spirit and blessing us with the fullness of blessings in heaven. Did you realize the meaning of Christ’s birth? The righteous Holy One is love. He loves you and intends to dwell in you to continue in you so that you may become a divine man, full of the spirit of love, and that you may embody the words said by a preacher: “If Christ was born thousand times in Bethlehem and not in you, then you would remain reprobate forever.”

PRAYER: O divine love, you became incarnate and came down to us saving and redeeming. Fill my heart with your essence so that I may live for you and you in me. I thank you with all saints for your birth and coming to us.

QUESTION 23: Why did the angel command the shepherds not to be afraid, but to rejoice?

QUESTION 24: What are the meanings of the titles of Christ in the angel’s statement?

 

LUKE 2:13-14

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

As the shepherds heard the titles of Christ from the angel’s mouth, they became spellbound out of astonishment. The words of the divine announcer pierced their hearts. However, in order that they should understand what God meant by his Son’s birth, the shining angel gave them a clear sign which could be touched with their hands and seen with their eyes: a newborn child wrapped in ordinary cloths and lying in a poor manger.

It was necessary for those simple shepherds to realize that the great Lord became a meek child. He did not remain a glorious Spirit, but became a body so loaded with the infirmities of our being that he needed to be wrapped like a child. He could not speak in the manger, but was committed into his maidservant’s hands. The Son of the Highest became small, poor, and lowly. This is the meaning of God’s coming down in the New Testament. This is the opposite of haughtiness. He Great One did not remain mighty and haughty, but humbled himself and became near to us. This is our God: Love embodied in flesh.

When this initial thought entered into the minds of the unwise, they sank and fell to the ground, for heavens became wide, the light shone brightly, and a multitude of angels appeared, thousands and ten thousands praising and rejoicing joyfully and gladly, for the true Savior has now entered the wicked world. Suddenly the shepherds heard a storm of praise blowing from heaven, and carrying song and chants in the lights of glory. The divine voices sang with all clarity proclaiming the glory, majesty, and splendor of our God to whom pertain the kingdom, the power, the honor, the wisdom, the worship, and thankfulness. He has everything, and everything refers to him. The suns are his footstool, and the saints sing before him.

The sight of the glory of the Holy One did not burn those spellbound shepherds, but opened to them certain hope and promise of all God’s revelations: peace on earth as in heaven. The eternal divine peace with no disagreement, dislike, or war.

God sent his Christ to represent peace on our tired, sick earth. Today, the Holy Spirit accomplishes this true peace in Jesus’ followers. Did you know that the peace of the Holy One began in the world in those who opened themselves to his pleasure? Yet, whoever closes himself against the message of the manger and the cross, becomes disturbed and goes astray, for there is no peace for the unbelievers. Wherever the remission of sins dwells and the power of the Holy Spirit works, there begins Christ’s peace on earth.

The design of God’s grace is fulfilled in all those whose hearts became a cradle for Jesus and who answered the message of salvation thankfully and prayerfully. Did you realize the pleasure of God offered to all men? Did you follow the Prince of Peace and become a peacemaker? The pleasure of the Holy One pours out on you and dwells in you. You may ask how. Well! The Babe of the manger is the proof. God is with you. He wants to dwell in you so that eternal peace may begin in your life.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, We worship you because your glory is greater than the sun, which you created with your word. Please raise my hands toward the rays of your love so that I may be filled with your peace and truth, for your pleasure is coming to me, and is determined to dwell in many. 

QUESTION 25: How did the child of the manger proclaim God’s glory?

 


LUKE 2:15-20

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

When the waves of the dark night crashed and rippled around the nomads, darkness did not enter their hearts, for the word of God let the light of hope go into them. They saw the glories of heaven and heard the good tidings of salvation from the angels’ mouths.

The shepherds jumped up and ran quickly. They probably stumbled in the dark, but they continued their way toward Bethlehem, investigating and searching until they found Jesus. Then they saw nothing but a lowly manger, ordinary wrappings, a babe in a stable with animals, a simple woman, and a poor man. They saw no angels, no glory, and no indication of well being or divinity. However, they caught the same smell of sheep, which was familiar to them.

Then they fell on their knees in submission, knowing that God has come to the world, and particularly to them, unwise, despised shepherds. They were of the first seers of the babe who changed the world. Yet, they were not slow in believing the words of the angel, but saw the King in the manger and recognized him in spite of the poor condition.

Dear brother, did you hear the Lord’s call? Did you realize it completely? Take firm hold of it and complete it. Then you will meet your Lord personally, and find that he is gentle and lowly in heart. He will make you lowly and you will find rest for your soul.

When the shepherds fell on their knees before their Lord in faithful thankfulness, they testified with great joy what they saw in the fields, and all those who heard them were amazed, especially Mary and Joseph who, once again received, through this news, a divine confirmation of their obedience of faith. Mary said nothing, but heard, believed, and compared the newly announced names of her Son with those he already had. She kept those treasures of the Holy Spirit in her heart, and probably told Luke personally of these incidents, which he exclusively reported, and consequently became the expressive spokesman and trumpeter of Mary’s reports.

When the shepherds left the stable, they filled the town with their wonderful news. The people were greatly astonished, and considered the story as fable fabricated by the shepherds. None of the people paid attention to the whole story. They had neither interest nor time to visit the stable because of their businesses and greed to earn money from the travelers who filled all the houses. Therefore, the Bethlehemites did not run to the manger, nor did they worship to the King who was in the midst of them. None of them came to see Christ, neither the mayor, nor the traders, nor the prominent, nor the teachers, nor the boys, nor the mothers. None of them looked for Jesus, because of their engagement in earning money. They served mammon, and consequently remained wandering about in their darkness.

The shepherds turned their backs to the shallow-minded people, and went away glorifying and praising God, back to their place on the hill. They moved back to their flocks, praising God and singing hymns to him. They heard his word and believed it. They saw the Promised One, honored him and bore witness to him. Thus they magnified God and continued in grace.

Dear reader, what is your attitude? Whom do you look like in this story? Are you still in the night of sins, as the shepherds were before the angel appeared to them? Are you still superficial as the Bethlehemites were upon hearing the good tidings of salvation? Did you hear the living word of your Lord, believe it, run to the center of the world, and find Christ living? Then he will fill you with his peace, and send you to the world so that you may become a witness to his humility. Do you testify the incarnate love of God among people? Do you magnify the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Did you become a shepherd testifying the riches of the grace of God? Magnify your heavenly Father by your faith and faithfulness, for there is born to you this day the Savior who is Christ the Lord. Do you believe in him with commitment, thankfully and cheerfully?

PRAYER: We shout with joy and applaud you, our King who is born in a stable. We thank you for reaching our lowliness. Please push us with your Holy Spirit to you and fill us with the thankfulness of your joy, so that we may communicate the current of your power to others, and not love money, but adhere to you faithfully and prayerfully.

QUESTION 26: What is the intimation of the shepherds’ moving to the manger and proceeding from it to the world?

 

 

JESUS CIRCUMCISED
AND PRESENTED TO GOD IN THE TEMPLE
(Luke 2:21-38)

 

LUKE 2:21-24

21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

The Son of God is delivered from the law, for in his unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit he put all the laws and their judgments from eternity, to lead the sinners into repentance and faith through the sacrifice. Christ is the Lawmaker and the Lord of the Sabbath. He has the right to change and to fulfill the judgments. But as the Son of Man and the Deputy of mankind, he was subject to the ordinances of the law, bore our sins, and suffered from the wrath of God, as Paul wrote in (Galatians 4:4-5) about his birth.

In the Old Testament, circumcision means three things:

- Man’s confession of his corruption as inherent in him from birth, for every man is a sinner from childhood and deserves immediate death and destruction.

- He who becomes circumcised is admitted into covenant with God, and is also admitted into the people of grace, for the pure sacrifice atoned for his sin (Romans 3:25).

- Voluntary separation from self-will, and from living apart from God, by committing himself to the Lord’s service as a member in the holy nation.

If we apply these three principles to Jesus, we will see that in performing this rite he accepted to die in the wrath of God for our sins. As our representative he opened the door of entering into covenant with God, for he who was chosen from the beginning continued in his covenant with his Father, and did not need a new acceptance. Furthermore, in his circumcision he proved giving up his self-will voluntarily to his Father’s praise service in his chosen ones who are the new family of God (John 1:12; 1 Peter 1:8-22).

Study these lawful secrets, and you will find their summary in the name of Jesus, which he was given during this rite. His name means that God helps the world only through reconciliation in Christ, which began on the day of circumcision. People only called him “Jesus” after the lamb of redemption was put on him. Then the name of the Holy One appeared.

Joseph had his adopted Son Jesus circumcised and given his name eight days after his birth in Bethlehem.

However, Mary, his mother had to perform the rite of purification according to the Old Testament. Forty days after their isolation, the holy family traveled to Jerusalem, where Mary brought two pigeons for herself: one as a burnt offering, and the other as a sin offering (Leviticus 12:8). The sin offering symbolizes that all people are born in sins and need God’s forgiveness. By Mary’s making this offering she showed her poverty, for the rich were required to offer a lamb for a burnt offering, whereas the poor were permitted to slay two pigeons; and Mary offered this sacrifice voluntarily, in proportion to the financial ability of the family.  Though the Savior was pure from any moral defilement in his conception and birth, Mary knew her situation as a human being, and brought the sin offering for herself.

In these words, we also read about fulfillment of a third ordinance of the law, that is redeeming Jesus from the office of priesthood, for every first-born male child was regarded as “holy” to the Lord, and was dedicated to minister to him in the temple as long as he lived. However, all the firstborn were delivered from this service through the appointment of the tribe of Levi in the place of the eldest sons, to serve in the sanctuary (Numbers 3:13,40). In remembrance of this truth, that every firstborn is automatically made holy to God, a firstborn male child was to be presented in front of the face of God, and his parents had to pay the redemption-money for him, five shekels, equivalent to a carpenter’s wages for forty days (Numbers 3:47).

In spite of Jesus’ redemption from priesthood ministry, he remained the High Priest to all people, and had always consecrated himself to God, for all the provisions of the law were not only fulfilled in him, but he himself fulfilled them through his love, truth, and sacrifice more than all people and deeper than the letters of the law could speak.

PRAYER: Our Lord Jesus, we thank you because you fulfilled the law by your circumcision and redemption in the temple, and delivered us from the judgments of the Old Testament to so that we may serve God’s love under the sprinkling of your holy blood.

QUESTION 27: How did Jesus’ parents fulfill the law of the Old Testament?

 

LUKE 2:25-35

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 for my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” 33 And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

The Holy Spirit promises his prophets as he wishes. In Jerusalem, there was an aged man called Simeon who regularly attended the service of the synagogue, and was justified through his faith in daily offerings. He walked humbly in the ways of the Lord, and because of his many prayers the Lord gave him insight so that he might penetrate deeply into the Old Testament to realize beforehand the essence of Christ, and to look forward to the Coming One, for all those who penetrate deeply into Christ, the Savior yearn for his coming.

The holy aged man had a special revelation from God that he would not die before he had seen Christ. The divine Spirit led him into the temple when Joseph and Mary came in with the child to present him to the Lord. Neither their clothes were luxurious, nor the child appeared as a hero. Yet, when Simeon came near to the holy family, the Holy Spirit shook him and enlightened his eyes until he saw, among the crowded people, the Unique One who was, simultaneously, a god and man. The aged man came, in faith and in cheer at the power of God, to Jesus’ parents, took the child up out of the arms of his astonished mother, bowed down with submission to him, and praised God in words including the innermost depths of the New Testament. Figuratively, all the fathers of faith bowed down in the person of old Simeon worshipping to the divine child and giving much praise to God. This is a symbolic indication that all the New Testament is subject to the Founder of the New Testament. 

The word “now”, to all those who were waiting, meant the arrival of God, and the end of their expectation. God has communicated with men. This is the aged man’s statement that he had achieved his end, and that he was prepared to die joyfully, for he feasted his eyes on the Savior. He did not call him a Savior, but immediately saw complete salvation flowing in him. He saw all the powers and blesses pouring out of him, and confessed the peace of God on all the creation. Simeon did not only seek his own peace, but yearned for the salvation of the whole world. He was a true pious who contained, in the love of God, all those who were going astray.

This aged Simeon was, according to the confirmations of the New Testament, the first Jew who, through his deep penetration into the Old Testament, realized, more than all other scribes and Pharisees, that Christ was not only Savior of his own people, but also the Savior of all the nations (Isaiah 52:10). The Jewish commentators passed over this verse and did not clarify its meaning. They also neglected the truth that Jesus would open the eyes and the hearts of all the nations to cure them with his salvation. However, the Holy Spirit revealed in the word of God’s spiritual two-edged sword that Christ is the Savior of the world, as our comfort to, truth, and eternal power.

Yet, the blessing Spirit did not refuse the people of the Old Testament, but testified to them that they had not value except in Christ, for all men are sinners, but the Savior could bring back the glory of God in those who went astray, for the Son is the incarnate glory of God. The Jews without Christ are void of God’s glory and blessings, and are falling in condemnation and wrath.

Jesus’ parents did not understand those strong words, and were amazed. However, Mary got used to keep the prophecies of the Holy Spirit, and was prepared to accept bitterness in the interest of the Savior’s coming. The prophet Simeon blessed Jesus’ parents so that they might realize and bear the revelations of the Holy Spirit. He went on saying in discernment:

“Do not think that God’s Christ comes with soft, merry, and cheerful love; for his coming means spiritual war, radical separation, and wrestling between heaven and hell. Christ is like a rock in the wide river of nations, which divides them into two parties: First, those who refuse the Son of God and fall into destruction and hell. Second, those who see the Redeemer, become saved by him, and rise from the dead spiritually now and physically thereafter. This principle was realized at the time of Christ in his people and is still being realized in all the nations. Nobody can ignore Christ. You can either refuse him and fall into hell, or love him and become a member of his spiritual body and then go to heaven. What is your attitude toward Christ? Do you submit to him, or do you disobey his love?

Mary had to bear the waves of hatred poured out on her Son. She did not die with a sword that pierced her body, but the sufferings of her Son on the cross broke her last hope and her self-reliance. She asked herself if the prophecies of the angels, the words of Elizabeth, the statement of the shepherds, and Simeon’s discernment were wrong! She also wondered what the divinity of her Son meant. But he who was raised from the dead revealed to her that he had to suffer as a ransom for us, and that all believers were crucified with him in order that they should not be proud of their own dignity, but live out of the flow of the Savior’s salvation. Mary’s spiritual death was made in the cross, and her renewal in the resurrection of the Victor. She believed in the truth.  Yet, the cross does not mean uncovering fearful thoughts only in Mary, but also in us all. Judas, Peter, Caiaphas, Pilate, and all the people became unveiled during Jesus’ trial. In front of his holiness our hearts are made manifest, and we can only confess that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

PRAYER: Holy God, we worship you because you called us in your Son, saved, and sanctified us. We ask you to lighten the minds of many, so that they may come into your salvation and not be perished. Overcome all our pride, selfishness, evil thought, and evil intent; so that we may live a holy life before you without disobedience.

QUESTION 28: What did the Holy Spirit reveal, through the aged Simeon, about Jesus, the Savior?

 

LUKE 2:36-38

36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

The Holy Spirit does not dwell only in men, but also in women. Not only in virgins, but also in those that are married and widowed. A widow came from the east north. She realized, after her peaceful marital life, that life disappears and vanishes away as a cloud. Only with God we find our rest and warm pleasure.

This widow remained night and day near the house of God, praying for the coming of Christ, and asking for preparedness of his people to receive him. Yet, when this woman found that her prayers did not change much in the nation, she fasted so that the hungry nerves of her belly might represent continuous crying to the answering, living God. Then the Holy Spirit led this maidservant of the Lord to Jesus, and she realized in the Child, the incarnate Lord and his glory. The words in which she praised God were not reported to us as those of Zacharias and Simeon. Yet, we find the pleasant report that she was not satisfied with songs and praises, but she communicated the knowledge of God in Christ to all those who waited for him. Imagine this strange thing: that the Holy Spirit made out of an aged widow of 84 years an effectual preacher. This blessed Spirit had also employed the despised shepherds as informers of the diving joy. Where are your mouth, feet, and heart in order to glorify God before all those who seek him?

The Son of God came into the temple, but the scribes, leaders, and priests did not notice him at all, for the gift of prophecy was put out in them. However God honored the aged elders who were waiting for the Lord’s coming through seeing his humble Son. The Holy Spirit led them into faith and praise.

 

 

Jesus’ Childhood

(Luke 2:39-52)

 

LUKE 2:39-40

39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

After Mary and Joseph fulfilled the judgments of the law, they went back to Nazareth with the child Jesus. They had been away from their city for about two months. What a wonderful thing that had happened during that short time: the heavens parted, and the Son of God was born. The mother returned with her babe, and she kept him with all her care, love, and prayers.

We know but a little about Jesus’ childhood and youth. Certainly, he did not form creatures out of clay and blow into them in order that they might live. Nor did he bring down foods from heaven. However, he was born in a wonderful way, but grew up in an ordinary human way. God’s Spirit and angels kept him in order that the spiritual characteristics might overcome the inherited physical effects, so that he might not be affected by any defect because of the devil’s plots. Therefore, he remained healthy in body, soul, and spirit; and appeared as all the children around him, of moderate stature, with black hair, dark eyes, smooth, thin body, and muscles, which were not weak. The distinguishing feature in his infancy was his rich wisdom. He appeared full of the incarnate divine wisdom, and his judgment was penetrating.

All the people saw his purity, truthfulness, love and power; and the grace of the Lord shadowed him.

His heavenly Father guarded him as the apple of his eye, for this Son of Man was the only Son of God, God from God, Light from light, True God from the True God, begotten, not created, in one essence with the Father. He had no golden halo around his head, nor did he become haughty. He trained himself in gentleness and was lowly in heart.

PRAYER: Our Holy Father, we worship you because your pure Spirit fills all those who are prepared for you so that he may lead them to Jesus whom you filled with your wisdom and shadowed with grace. Please let every man who is prepared to meet you be filled with the virtues of your Holy Spirit.

QUESTION 29: What are the characters and qualities of the boy Jesus? How can you achieve and realize them in yourself?

 

LUKE 2:41-52

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought you anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you ask Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

According to the law of the Old Testament, all males at the age of twelve, were required to visit the Holy Land three times a year, at the feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:14-17; 34:23). But because of the long journey, many were not able to travel but once a year. The Passover became the greatest of the three feasts to the entire nation.

When Jesus was twelve years old, he was required to go for the first time to Jerusalem, the center of the world, and the dwelling place of the one God who has not partner, to whom the boy Jesus longed for God was the aim of his heart and the end of his hopes.

What did he see in Jerusalem? Thousands of slain lambs, for all the pilgrims went to Jerusalem to remember God’s wrath that passed by them. The thought of “the Lamb of God” had a deep impression in the boy’s mind. He understood the principle that no one could come near to God without blood. Sacrifice became the motto of his life, for he was designated as the Lamb of God who would open for us the door to the Father.

Jesus lived a sinless life, and was holy at all times. He was drawn with all his heart to God, his origin, and forgot his father and mother by adoption, and all the world and nature. He took up knowledge from the teachers of righteousness who interpreted the Torah and the Prophets to pilgrims in the porches of the temple. Those teachers were also prepared to answer the boys who asked important questions.

Jesus asked the priests with all attention, and answered their questions in way, which drew their attention to him. So the teachers raced to converse with him, and the boy became the center of attraction in the temple, without haughtiness, for the adults felt automatically that the wisdom of God spoke through that genius and exceptional boy. Some of them were impressed by his character. They took him home with them, gave him food to eat, and completed the conversation with him until the nightfall, for the boy’s soul was deeply penetrated into the word of God. 

At that time, his parents thought that he was traveling together with his friends in the caravan to Nazareth, alongside of the Jordan. They became obviously worried and afraid when they did not find him with their kindred and acquaintance, and knew that he did not tell his uncles and aunts where he was. Then his parents turned back again and went up to Jerusalem seeking him, and when they did not find him with their relatives, they went toward the temple where they found him surrounded with the scribes and scholars. They were afraid for him for they were not much educated. They were simple villagers who lived in a high mountainous region, and were not accustomed to the noise of capital cities.

Joseph said nothing so that he might not explode with anger, or for he was not the strong person in the family. Mary did not want to oppose the boy’s enthusiasm for the word of God, or to disparage blaming him for his disobedience. She clarified her trouble and told him how ill his father Joseph took it: how he became extremely afraid with her for the boy might have been stolen, lost in the desert, or ravened by beasts. Then the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, contested the unbelief of his parents and asked them, “Why are you searching for me? Did you not know that I am under my Father’s care and protection?  I have come to his house to worship to him, and he will not leave me. He is my protection, my fortress, and my rock.

Furthermore, Jesus was certain, through his study of the Torah, that the great, creating, and All-Ruling God was not far from him or strange to him, but was his true and essential Father. No man in the Old Testament dared to call God his own Father except Jesus, for this statement was only privileged to the long-awaited Christ (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalms 2:7; 89:27). The people considered themselves as the servant of God, and the called the Eternal One their Father. But this means a true birth of God only figuratively.  

When he was twelve years old, Jesus spoke the supreme revelation of the New Testament that God is not fearful and distant, but he is his Father. In that age, he knew clearly the mystery of the Holy Trinity, his own sonship, and God’s adoption. With this word, he overcame the Old Testament and all religions in principle, and opened for us the way to God, that we may, after reconciliation, call God our Father in heaven. Flesh and blood did not reveal this truth to him. But his near Father did.

God, praise be to him, gave him not only the knowledge of his fatherhood, but also the power to abide in him. Jesus knew that he should continue constantly in his Father’s business. His love, joy, peace, kindness, truth, and power were all the spiritual expanses in which Jesus lived. God’s power and complete divinity appeared in the boy when he was twelve years old. Did you realize the motto of your life? Did you remain in your past about your Father’s business, or did you not realize yet your Father? Penetrate deeply into the word of Jesus so that you may live forever.

Mary said to Jesus that Joseph was his father, and the boy answered her rightfully that his only Father was God. It was not the voice of the twelve years old young man that spoke those words, but the Holy Spirit who dwelt in him. This same Spirit directed the newborn child of God to be immediately dutiful and obedient to his father by adoption, and go with him not resentfully, but humbly, obediently, and agreeably. They went down together to the deep Jordan Valley as a symbol of his coming down from his communion with God to the level of human life in family and village, also to be engaged in the trade he learnt, and to work with his father at the trade of a carpenter. 

From that time and until the age of thirty, Jesus retired into obscurity, growing up in the power of God, his Father, without leaving his wide expanses. And when Joseph, his father by adoption died, he was still in obscurity, taking upon himself the duty of providing the family, working with his hands and trusting his Father’s providence, as we read in (Matthew 6:19-34). Jesus did not become an intellectual, or philosopher, but a continuing worker in the power of the Holy Spirit, beloved by all men. Is this the second motto for your life: not to become haughty and wish for climbing the stairs of life, but to remain humble and industrious in the profession which God put you in?

PRAYER: Holy God, you are the mighty, righteous, Eternal One. We are unprofitable, but in Christ Jesus you became our true Father. Please forgive us our sins, and fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may hallow your Fatherly name, by word and deed, in our prayers and faith.

QUESTION 30: Why did Jesus say, “I must be about my Father’s business”? What does this mean?


 

QUIZ

How Christ Was Born

 

Dear reader,

If you studied carefully the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel, you would be able to answer easily 24 questions out of the 30 questions stated hereunder. If you mail us correct answers to these questions we will send you the next part of this series on the gospel of Luke:

 

  1.   What are the different characteristics of the four gospels?

  2.   What do you know about the life of the evangelist Luke?

  3.   How did Luke write his gospel?

  4.   Who was the receiver of Luke’s gospel?

  5.   How was Luke’s gospel divided?

  6.   What were the principles adopted by Luke in writing his gospel? (1:1-4)

  7.   How did Luke arrange his gospel in relation to the Old Testament? (1:5-7)

  8.   How did the angel appear to Zacharias? (1:8-16)

  9.   What are the promises of the Old Testament for John the Baptist? (1:8-17)

10.   What are the principles of his service?

11.   How did God nourish the priest in full trust? (1:18-25)

12.   What is the meaning of the angel’s salutation to Mary? (1:26-33)

13.   What is the difference between Jesus and John? (1:26-33)

14.   How did the Virgin become pregnant with Christ? (1:34-38)

15.   Why did Elizabeth beatify Mary? (1:39-45)

16.   How do we know that Mary was humble? (1:46-50)

17.   What names and attributes of God did the Virgin make apparent in her song? (1:46-55)

18.   What does God do in his management of the world? (1:51-56)

19.   Why was it necessary for Zacharias to wait until the impediment of his tongue was loosed in order to call his son John? (1:57-66)

20.   What are the origins and aims of our salvation?

21.   What did Zacharias tell more that the angel told him about his son?

22.   Why was Christ born in a stable?

23.   Why did the angel command the shepherds not to be afraid, but to rejoice?

24.   What are the meanings of the titles of Christ in the angel’s statement?

25.   How did the child of the manger proclaim God’s glory?

26.   What is the intimation of the shepherds’ moving to the manger and proceeding from it to the world?

27.   How did Jesus’ parents fulfill the law of the Old Testament?

28.   What did the Holy Spirit reveal, through the aged Simeon, about Jesus, the Savior?

29.   What are the characters and qualities of the boy Jesus? How can you achieve and realize them in yourself?

30.   Why did Jesus say, “I must be about my Father’s business”? What does this mean?

 

Send us your name and address clearly written along with your reply and write to the following address:

WATERS-OF-LIFE • P.O. BOX 15755

PITTSBURGH, PA 15244

USA


PART II

THE PREPARATION FOR

THE WORK OF CHRIST IN PUBLIC

(Luke 3:1 - 4:13)

 

 

DEMONSTRATING AND PREACHING REPENTANCE

 

THE ACTS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

(Luke 3:1-20)

 

LUKE 3:1-5

1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

The wheel of history turns toward its end. At that time, Augustus Caesar had died in AD 14 after he reigned 45 years over the Mediterranean, calling himself the savior of the world (B.C. 31 to AD 14). Tiberius Caesar succeeded him in Rome, and was filled with spite, hatred, and distrust toward all the people. He reigned from AD 14 to AD 37 and during his dominion all the events reported in the gospel took place.

The physician Luke particularly focused on the year AD 28/29, for in that year John the Baptist, Christ’s forerunner went out of his ascetic isolation in the wilderness. The then political and religious situations were so bad, for Satan reigned over the whole country. 

At that time, the bloody Herod, killer of the children of Bethlehem had died. Antipas and Philips, sons of Herod had divided with Lysanias the kingdom of Herod who was an agent to Rome. They were no less proud, haughty, and adulterous in their grandiose palaces, which were full of adultery, than their father was.

During the disorder that took place after Herod’s death, Rome abolished the liberty of Judea, and appointed governors with unrestricted authority. The second governor over Judea was Pontius Pilate, a violent, cold, conscienceless ruler who once mixed his enemies’ blood with that of the sacrifices offered in the temple, to abuse the rites, laws, and faith of the people.

The governor who preceded him had deposed Annas, the high priest in AD 15 and appointed in his place some of his relation whom he also deposed thereafter, until he found in Caiaphas, the attorney general, his obedient person who would do his will. Caiaphas, on his part, delivered legal opinions in agreement with Pilate’s policy toward the Jewish law and customs. The Jewish law had appointed that there should be but one high priest at a time, but here were two, to serve some ill turn or other.  

Consequently, the situations became worse, and the hearts of people became like a burnt desert having no water. Yet, particularly, in the midst of public corruption, God began to save mankind, not in the temple, but in the wilderness. There the word of the Lord came to John, the son of Zacharias, and not vice versa, for man in unable to establish salvation through his own prayers and acts, but God pierces the wall of our sins with his word, and lightens our stupid minds with his gospel. This is the consolation in the beginning of the year and at all times. The word of God comes to you and fills you, so that you may become like a holy carriage loaded with the word of your Lord and running toward the world causing a new age to shine.

John, the greatest of all prophets, preached those who were thirst for righteousness with a small word of six letters: “repent” (turn back to your Lord. Turn away from your worldly designs and seek God. Change your mind and realize the Holy One so that you may know your terrible sins. He, who lives without his Lord, remains superficial and aimless, in spite of his high diplomas and good manners. Penetrate deeply into the gospel, and confess all your sins, asking God’s forgiveness, so that the power of Lord may dwell in you.

John came, in the name of God, with baptism, in token of repentance, for drowning in the Jordan symbolized the drowning and burial of the thief, whereas his coming out of water signified consecration of the purified one to the holy service of God. Did you realize the meaning of your baptism? Did you die to yourself and resurrect in the Spirit of your Lord?

How astonishing! The gospel does not only command you to repent and to deny yourself, but guides you, first of all, to the ancient prophecy in (Isaiah 3:4-5) which Luke writes in the Septuagint. The motive in this prophecy was to reveal the coming of the Lord. To John, the preaching of repentance, baptism, and remission of sin was preparation of the way of the Lord, for the Holy One visited mankind in his Son. Are you ready to meet your Lord, with your heart prepared to receive him?

You cannot come to your Lord while you are unclean. The Holy Spirit leads you to straighten your crooked ways, break the mountain of your haughtiness, and fill the valleys of your abominations and the trenches of your error with the grace of God. However, if you try to reform yourself, you will experience, in fact, that you are unable to prepare the way of the Lord. So, we advise you to commit your sinful soul in Christ’s hands from the first day of this year, so that he may give you the power of the Holy Spirit who practices in you useful repentance, overcomes your corrupt sins, and fills you with God’s salvation. Repent, dear brother, for your Lord is coming to you.

PRAYER: O Holy One, I do not deserve to hear your voice. Cleanse my hearing, and sanctify my heart, so that I may understand your saying, and separate my self from the corrupt world to prepare myself for your service. Make your way up into my heart, and fill my mind with your gospel so that I may become filled with the gospel of your salvation, calling the world to you.

QUESTION 31: When did John the Baptist begin his ministry, and what is the meaning of his baptism?

 

LUKE 3:7-14

7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” 11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

Whoever belongs to a noble family, is proud of his origin. The members of the Old Testament called themselves the Children of Abraham, thinking that they could be justified by his blessings, and strengthened by his spirit. However, John called those who raced to him from everywhere the “brood of vipers”, meaning the devil who poured of his spirit out on humans and misled them into doubting the love of God, and separation from him in obstinate haughtiness, so that men, poisoned with the spirit of hypocrisy and self-conceit, would not return to their source. What are you, my dear brother? Are you a repenting sinner, or an evil hypocrite? Which spirit reigns in you: pride, or humility?

Woe to the faiths, religions, and churches, which teach their followers that fanaticism, prayers, fasting, and own works justify those who are pious. Whoever builds himself on his own worthiness falls into the last judgment, for we are all idle, inactive, and even criminal in the rays of love of the Holy One. The Day of Judgment is certainly coming, when the Holy Lord uncovers all your faults. The hour of his wrath is at hand, as all faithful prophets testified (Malachi 4:1-5). Then you will stand shamefully without an excuse, for your heart is a nest of vipers, full of evil thoughts and bad recollections.

Do not think that the imaginations of your repentance, or the sorrows of your soul satisfy God, for the eternal Judge does not only require your feeling, wishes, and prayers; but a complete change which produces good works. God, in compassion to you, is prepared to change your entire life, knowing that you are unable to reform yourself. Then, do not think indifferently that the Lord will neglect your faults, for no prophet, even Abraham himself, will save you.

John said addressing the people of the covenant, “God has no need of you, or of your services, for he can raise to himself many children out of the many stones in this wilderness. If you do not repent, and turn to him completely penitent you will be destroyed. Whoever hardens his heart toward the call of God, makes his heart petrified; but he who listens to the word of the Creator receives a new heart and a divine power. Thank God who changes many, and renews millions all around the world.

Every nation that does not turn to God is like a barren tree whose owner is standing beside it with his ax in his raised hand to cut the idle tree. What good fruits does God find in you and your nation? Will the cutting ax fall on you, or it will be interrupted because the Highest sees your preparedness to repentance and knows your longing for purity and truth?

Many of John’s hearers truly repented, confessed their sins openly, and practiced the baptism of forgiveness as a token of God’s condemnation on them. The Baptist said to those brokenhearted, “Love is fulfillment of the law. If you love God, distribute your clothes, give the poor, share your bread and money with them, prepare work for them, and give the poor in your class auxiliary lessons freely. If you had to ask for money in the name of your company, or to sell goods and trade, do not ask for more than what is required indeed. Content yourself with the minimum in order that you should not fall into the pride of riches. The Baptist told the soldiers who defend their country not to be violent or false witnesses, but to live in contentment without pomp. The forerunner did not call them to leave their job in order to serve Christ in the unsociableness of wilderness, but sent them to their different jobs and commanded them to practice love, truthfulness, and humility so that they may prepare the way of the Lord in their practical life.

PRAYER: Lord, you know if I were the child of your Spirit, or the child of the wicked viper. Please forgive me all my haughtiness, and cure me of self-conceit and hypocrisy. I confess all my sins before you, and I ask you to overcome my abstinence and lusts, so that I may live contentedly, with lowliness and holiness in the power of your word.

QUESTION 32: Why did John call men, “the children of the devil”? What are the true fruits that are worthy of repentance?

 

LUKE 3:15-20

15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.

John the Baptist had a great influence on his hearers, for he preached powerfully as someone who had authority from God, feared nobody, criticized the acts of Herod Antipas, and rebuked him for living in incest with his brother’s wife, showing a bad example to his people.

The people wondered at his courage, and thought he was the Christ to come. However John continued in his faithfulness, and disowned all pretensions to the honor of being himself the Christ, though all the people expected the coming of the promised One who would make radical reforms to the corrupt state of the Jews.

The Baptist revealed to the people his essence and the nature of his message that is to prepare the way of Christ through self-denial in genuine repentance. In comparison between John and Christ, he said he was not worthy to untie the thongs of Christ’s sandals. John consigned his followers, and turned them over from himself to Jesus Christ, setting a great example in humility to all ministers of the Lord.

Then he clarified to the public that the baptism with water is not sufficient for salvation, for it is only an indication of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire, which Christ administers in his divine power. Did the Holy Spirit dwell in you through your faith in the Savior? Do you know the only power that renews hearts and minds? Do not be afraid of the Holy Spirit, for he is not a consuming fire, but a paradise, which refines your heart and comforts your mind. This gentle Spirit is God himself. The Father and the Son want to live in you and in every believer. Christ came to reconcile us with his Father, so that the Holy Spirit may dwell in those justified and confirm them in communion with God forever. Then the believer bears fruits worthy of repentance, for we cannot fulfill the law unless we are born of God, and his love is continued in us through the Holy Spirit. This is the only way to bear many good fruits and your fruits remain.

John saw Christ as a harvester in the threshing floor of the world, who, in the storm of God’s judgment, separates the weighty wheat from the flying chaff. As such Christ, at the end of time, will separate the believers who work in love from those that are not filled with the Holy Spirit, but are living carelessly, for the power of the Spirit of Christ alone makes us righteous and accepted. Without this power we are evil and dust, and must be burnt in the fire of God’s condemnation. So open yourself today to the Spirit of the Lord, so that he may purify you in the fire of his divine love and you may humble yourself as John did, glorify the power of Christ, bow down before him, and worship him thankfully and repentantly.

Satan and his followers hated John because of his frank testimony, powerful fruits, and straight behavior. When John completed his testimony, God allowed that his messenger be put in the prison of Herod, the adulterer, in order to examine the prophet’s faith, and show his continuing faithfulness even to death. Thus John became, even in his sufferings, a forerunner and symbol of the Christ to come.

PRAYER: O Lord, you are the Spirit. You came to our world to baptize us with your Holy Spirit. Force all evil spirits out of our souls, and purify us completely, so that we may be filled with your love and that we may appear on the Day of Judgment with the fruits of your power which become clear today in humility, faith, and hope, especially in critical days.

QUESTION 33: What is baptism with the Holy Spirit?

 

 

CHRIST'S BAPTISM, CONSECRATION AS CHRIST,
AND GENEALOGY

 (Luke 3:21-38)

 

LUKE 3:21-22

21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

The Judge of all, the Lord of the worlds of whom John the Baptist prophesied, is Jesus of Nazareth who mixed with the multitudes of people who crowded at the banks of the Jordan without being noticed by anyone. The astonishing thing is that the Holy One, though sinless himself, classed himself with the sinners, and submitted to the baptism of John, as if he needed to be purified from sins. However, Christ, the pure Holy One lived constantly a sinless life, continued in love and patience, and was baptized for us in the Jordan, for he bore our sins. From the beginning of his appearance, he came out as the Lamb of God; and in his baptism, he clarified to us beforehand what he was determined to finish on the cross.

He who was born of the Holy Spirit did not go out of his isolation through an exciting miracle, or a loud-voiced speech, but in the symbol of the baptism of redemption to all men, confirming the meaning of his mission and his harmony with God’s design. After his baptism, he spoke with his Father about this redemptive design, praying and making himself of no reputation. Then the closed heavens parted, and the Holy Spirit came down, not as a destroying thunderbolt over the corrupt mankind, but in the form of a dove (a symbol of innocence and harmlessness, a messenger of peace), as an indication of reconciliation with God. Christ was not in need of baptism with the Holy Spirit, for he himself is the Spirit of God made incarnate. However his Father spread through him the fullness of his Spirit, to confirm and support him for his redemptive mission, and to reveal his harmonization with the Holy Spirit in the unity of the Holy Trinity. God completely seeks our salvation. Did you thank him for this unequalled revelation?

God revealed his glory not only to the eyes of Jesus and the Baptist, but also to their ears, for the word of God contains all his authority expressed in meanings made understandable to our minds. The Father testified his own Fatherhood, Jesus’ sonship, and their complete unity in joyful love. Therefore the little words revealed after Christ’s baptism show us the glory of the essence of the Holy Trinity more than all human philosophies do. There is no enmity, disturbance, or sorrow between the Father and the Son, for Christ has always done his Father’s will. Our God is the God of peace, of love, and of pleasure.

These principles reveal to us the aim of Christ’s redemption, for he wishes to make all the believers partners in the characteristics of his essence, so that God may become our Father in heaven, and we become filled with his Holy Spirit, living in harmony with his will for the Father’s pleasure, and continuing in his love and peace. Which spirit works in you? Were you baptized with the Holy Spirit indeed? Did you fulfill his design in his mighty power? Then God says to you, “You are my beloved son; in you I am well pleased.”

PRAYER: Our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hallowed be your name through our baptism with your love, and our fullness and continuance in your pleasure. Please forgive us our selfishness and independence from you. Urge us to deny ourselves, and put ourselves at reconciliation service for many, so that the heavens may part over our nation, raining many blessings on us.

QUESTION 34: What do we learn from Christ’s baptism?

 

LUKE 3:23-38

23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, 27 the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

The genealogy of Jesus, which contains seventy-seven names, declares that he is the Son of Adam, as well as the Son of God. Jesus’ baptism underlines his divine sonship. However Luke carries the line back to Adam to emphasize Jesus’ descent from the first father of the human race. Both divine and human descent of Jesus have inspired the church with its faith that he is a true God and a true Man.

As a partner of human beings in blood and flesh, Jesus was a man like us. He responded to the voice of the blood like any other man, tasted the pleasure of family relations, and also felt their burdens. Furthermore, he was attached to the destiny of his nation, in language, customs, history, faith, and covenant with God.

Luke shows us clearly that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, as his neighbors thought, but God is his Father indeed. The evangelist traces his descent from Adam who was in a peculiar manner the son of God, being, more immediately than any of his offspring, the offspring of God by creation. This demonstrates that Jesus does not only belong to the people of the Old Testament, but also to all mankind. Thus Christ is an international, and not national, person. He belongs to the whole world and not to a specified country or nation.

Paul called Christ the last Adam; beginning with a new generation formed of the children of God, for the first Adam who was created in the glorious image of God lost his privilege because of his haughtiness and disobedience, and became perishable and mortal; whereas Jesus, the man who was born of the Holy Spirit was the true Son of God. He continued in humility, made his glory of no reputation to save the evil humans whom he reconciled with God to make them partners in his sonship and in the life of his resurrection. In Christ alone we can be children of God.

Christ began his redemptive ministry when he was about 30 years old. He abstained from marriage, family, ease, and prominence choosing degradation and the love of enemies whom he bore their sins, and sacrificed his life for, in the fullness of the power of his life as a young man, an offering acceptable to God. Is this not the perfect type for you: not to live for yourself, but to put your life at the service of reconciling the world with God who sends you to spread his salvation?

PRAYER: Our Lord Jesus Christ, you are a true God, and a true Man. Help us, sinners, to be children of God, to follow you, and to sacrifice our lives for the salvation of many. Overcome all our inheritances of human descent, and sanctify our characters so that we may bear many fruits of your Spirit.

QUESTION 35: What is the purpose of writing the genealogy of Jesus in Luke’s gospel?

 

 

THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS

(John 4:1-14)

 

LUKE 4:1-4

1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

After his baptism, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and was longing for isolation with his heavenly Father, to converse with him about the secrets of his salvational ministry on earth, for the Son did nothing of himself, but what the Father showed him. This converse with his Father in the wilderness of our world was so important to him that he did not care for food and drink, for the communion with God makes even the desert a paradise. The Holy Spirit, at all moments, directed the thoughts of the Son and his conversation with God, and sealed the beginning of his ministry, while he prayed and fasted for forty days and nights in his isolation in the wilderness.

The wicked devil stole into holy place of Jesus with the aim of finding out a weak point in him, to snatch him from the communion of his Father, and abolish the cross and the redemption of the world. The evil one found no gap to attack Christ but his hungry body. Therefore, he opened the eyes of the hungry Son to the millions of stones around him, and inspired him to create bread out of them. The devil believed in the authority of the Son, as the Creator of the universe, who is able to change the matter into something else.

However the poison of the devil was in the question and not only in the purpose of the temptation. The evil one did not say, “you are the Son of God”, but “if you are the Son of God do so and so” putting Christ’s sonship and the Father’s fatherhood in question, as if he were not certain, and in need of a proof. However, the Son realized the voice of the genius deceiver. He did not want to win the world through bread, but chose the way of the cross.

Jesus hit the devil with the word “it is written” though he was able to compose another expressive and indicative word, but he humbled himself under the previous revelation of God, showing us that man lives essentially by the word of God, for this word confirms to us our communion with the Holy One. Christ humbled himself too much and called himself a true man who needed daily bread to live, and needed more the word of God, which is the spiritual nourishment of the soul. 

Did you realize how Jesus triumphed over the devil? He did not doubt his spiritual sonship, nor did he obey the voice of the tempter, but refused to satisfy the world with performance of good deeds and exciting miracles, and chose to listen to the written word of God as the only way to continue in eternal life. Dear brother, do not listen to the thousands of voices in our world, and do not give up to the aims of mankind, but read every day the word of God attentively. Do not fall into temptation, for this is the heavenly nourishment, which gives you the power to overcome the devil. Blessed are you, if you appoint five to fifteen minutes every morning and every evening to pray and to read in the Holy Bible. Then you will enrich yourself spiritually, and be sanctified by your humility, knowing that there is no solution to the problems of our world but in the cross of Christ who leads us into communion with God, the Father, and establishes us more firmly in him.

PRAYER: Our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for you opposed the devil from the first moment, and did not doubt the fatherhood of God and your certain sonship to him, but chose the way of the cross, listening to the written word. Open our ears so that we may listen to the voice of your guidance, obey you, and pluck up courage to overcome all spiritual, psychological, and physical temptations. 

QUESTION 36: Why did Jesus not make bread out of the stones in the wilderness?

 

LUKE 4:5-13

5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” 8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You,’ 11 and ‘in their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash your foot against a stone.’” 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” 13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

The devil did not stop at the first temptation, but offered much of his enticements to cut the Son from his Father’s communion, and abolish the salvation of the world. The evil one led the Holy One to a high mountain, and showed him all the countries, houses, treasures, animals, armies, technology, mightiness, and power of the earth, that Jesus, to whom all things have been delivered, called him thereafter “the ruler of this world”.

The father of all liars alleged that the whole world was delivered to him, that he had the power to dispose of it and all its glory, and that he was prepared to give Jesus whatever he wished if he fell down and worshiped him. Jesus came to this world to return the corrupt world to God and to reconcile the disobedient with his Father. Now Satan is offering to Jesus to win the world without sufferings or death, on condition that one of the persons of the Holy Spirit should be enslaved by the spirit of the evil one.

Jesus, without delay, refused all riches, fame, and authority. He chose the written word, adhered to his Father with whom he was in continuous communion of love, and ordered the enemy, with a divine authority, to submit himself to God and worship the Creator, putting an end to his enmity through a sincere repentance. At this moment, heaven became out of breath, and all the chambers of hell trembled, for the Son of God ordered the devil to obey the faith.

However, the devil pretended to be deaf. He hardened his heart against the order of God, the Highest, showing his preparedness to accompany Christ to the temple to worship before God. He set Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple that overlooked the pious prayers in the holy temple; and then the accursed deceiver whispered into Christ’s ear, saying, “If you are the Son of God, proclaim your full glory, and throw yourself down from here, and the angels of God will race to bear you up on their hands, then you will show the power of God, according to your faith, and the multitudes will be filled with wonder, and acknowledge with shouts that this is the true Christ. They will worship to you willingly, hoping for the resurrection of the dead; and nothing wrong will happen to you for your faith will save you.

But Christ chose the way of the cross, knowing that his second glorious coming cannot take place without the cross, for God is not willing that any reprobate should be condemned by his glory, but that all should come to repentance and be saved. Jesus did not want to fascinate the harmless with incredible miracles, but to lead them to conversion and renewal of their minds. Christ refused the temptation of the devil in order not to lose his communion with his heavenly Father, or set his kingdom before the thought became ripe in the believers. Christ called that thought which was against the will of the Holy One “a temptation of God”. He continued obediently, chose the way of the cross, and refused to make bread, put on authority, and show his glory.    

What do you do in the temptation of the devil? Do you respond to your lusts, and become enslaved by your thoughts? Do you fall into the deception of riches and worship money in your subconscious? Do you want to put into effect the ways of God in your own power, without his guidance? Then you will become a follower of the devil, and lose your communion with God. Dear brother, choose to read the word of God everyday, content yourself with what you have, and pray to your Lord so that he may help you to understand his word with divine wisdom, and to carry it out in your social life, for the devil also knows the Bible, and he inspires you with the words of God in twisted manner. Make every effort to understand the word of your Lord truthfully, and continue in your sonship, in order that nothing separates you from God, your Father who filled you with his gentle Spirit so that you may complete the way of faith.

PRAYER: O Mighty Lord, I am so weak to resist the tricks of the devil. Do not enter me into temptation, but make me firm in the expanses of Christ, and deliver me from the devil, in order that the evil enemy may not have authority in me, but I continue in communion with you and with our heavenly Father forever.

QUESTION 37: Why did Jesus did not accept the riches of the world, and refused to show himself in the glory of his Father in the midst of the temple?

 

 

 

 


PART III

JESUS' MINISTRY IN GALILEE

(Luke 4:14 - 9:50)

 

 

JESUS PREACHES IN NAZARETH
AND IS REFUSED BY ITS PEOPLE
(Luke 4:14-30)

 

 

LUKE 4: 14-21

14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. 15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Christ went from the deep Jordan Valley up to the mountains of Galilee, passing by Jerusalem, the capital. He chose Nazareth, his despised hometown, and entered into its synagogues where the mature interpreted the Torah one to another in small circles. Jesus gained a great reputation as a teacher, though he was not past thirty, for the power of God came out of him and moved the hearts.

He went into the synagogue of his city on the Sabbath day, where the place appointed to be read that day was in the prophecy of Isaiah (61:1-2), in which the prophet gradually explains Christ’s essence and works. When Jesus read that paragraph, everyone in the synagogue gazed at him intently, for they had known him from childhood, and were all expecting the political savior who would liberate the country, not only spiritually, but also socially.

The Son of God saw in this brief prophecy an evident demonstration of his heart, principles, and rights that he declared with determination “Today, these promises are fulfilled in truth before you. He explained the seven characteristics of Christ in this text, not in a wrong political manner, but in relation to God’s salvation, according to the revelation of the Holy Spirit at all times, saying:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me: Whereas the Spirit of God is God himself, therefore all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in the man Jesus bodily, and the Holy Trinity appeared in him. He received his authority by the anointment of the Spirit, for the name “Christ” signifies the “Anointed”. Anciently kings and prophets and the high priest were set apart to their work by anointing with the oil of dedication, by God’s order, so that all important offices of the Old Testament might continue in connection with God. Christ contained all offices, powers, knowledge, and authorities in his person, for the Highest himself spoke and reigned through him. Christ is the true Prophet, the King of Kings, and the High Priest who reconciled us with God by giving his life for us. All these meanings are found in the name of Christ.

Christ did not come to those that are rich, clever, arrogant, and self-satisfied with their own righteousness, but to the poor, repentant, ignorant, and mobs, for those are in need of him, whereas the others are self-sufficient, particularly the pious who think themselves upright. Those are the hypocrites in fact. The Son of God did not come for judgment or for destroying the sinners, but for encouragement and comfort, as a reason for joy and hope to those who believe.

Christ heals the brokenhearted. He healed the sick, and raised the dead; but he knew that the damage and great loss in man is his wicked heart. When man loses hope, knows his sin, becomes disturbed about himself, and broken in his pride, Christ becomes greatly merciful toward him. If you confess your failure, Christ will firmly and faithfully lift you, and set you in his grace.

Christ calls us to believe in the possibility of deliverance from the prison of sin and from the bonds of death. He does not immediately deliver us from this bondage, but he gives us his promise demanding from us to believe his word, and confirming to us deliverance from all involvements and laws, so that we may decide, determine and want to become free, for Christ does not make of you a dominated slave, but delivers you and makes you participant in responsibility. Are you prepared to accept Christ’s salvation, and to trust your Savior, submitting your will to him?

Christ opens the eyes of the blind in body and in spirit. No one could recover sight to the blind except Jesus, by the word of his power. Thus he opens our spiritual eyes that are clinging to sin, so that we may see God, our Father. Christ enlightens our deep-black darkness with his shining love, for he is the Light of the World.

Christ sets free those who are downtrodden, for whoever enters into Jesus’ care and healing, becomes gradually developed in mind toward true deliverance from the bondage of the devil. When a man is mentally or psychologically unfit or troubled by an evil spirit of an antichrist religion, his enslaved state comes to an end by virtue of Christ’s interference, and he becomes free in heart, and happy in spirit, for the Lord is a Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord may be, there will be freedom.

The voice of the love of God in Christ fulfilled the acceptable year of the Lord. Now we live in the age of grace. God’s wrath has gone away, and his love became open to all. It was an order in the Old Testament, once every fifty years, that the slaves were set at liberty and relieved, mortgaged properties returned to their original owners, and all the people enjoyed the fruits of the fields equally. In the New Testament, the age of grace comes to deliver us from sin and death, to make us partners in the powers and the rights of God, and to give us spiritual nourishment out of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. As the fiftieth year of the Old Testament began with the great Feast of Atonement, so the age of grace began with Christ’s death on the cross. Did you partake in the acceptable year of the Lord? Is the Spirit of the Lord upon you, because he anointed you?

PRAYER: O Lord, we glorify you because you are true God from the true God, anointed with all the fullness of the Holy Spirit, delivering mankind from the bondage of sins and death, and developing complicated minds into the fullness of God’s love. Please help us to repent, and commit ourselves to the treatment of your kindness.

QUESTION 38: What is the essence of Christ and his works, which made the souls grow gradually?

 

LUKE 4:22-30

22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” 23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow, 27 and many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. 30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

The unenlightened minds of the Nazarene could not realize Christ’s birth of the Holy Spirit. The men and boys in the synagogue were naturalist and not spiritual. They called Jesus the Son of Joseph and not the Son of God. They were blind without the Holy Spirit, corrupt, and arrogant in the quarrelsome spirit of their city.

The People of Nazareth suffered the condition of being held in contempt by other famous cities, as Capernaum and Jerusalem. They expected that Jesus should work miracles among them which might bring them fame and riches. They were also prepared to bear their native on their shoulders if he acceded to their proposal, improving their situations and causing their fame to rise.

Joseph, Jesus’ father by adoption had probably died at that time, and Mary moved with her family into a poor stage. The Nazarene said to Jesus, “Make well your situation first. Build a palace, cause your relatives to become well-known, provide your town with wide roads and water, raise our civil, not spiritual, state; and then we will make you the center of our civilization, the prince of your homeland, and confess that you are the true Christ. What do you have so that we may follow you?” 

However, Jesus had no money, no properties, and no armies, except the Spirit, mercy, and light. He did not come with dominion, advanced civilization, or earthly honor, but presented to the world holiness, comfort, and renewal of hearts. Christ kept from the pride of riches and the fading away celebrity, and chose self-denial, humility, and meekness. The overwhelming majority of the people of the Old Testament were not prepared to walk in this way of the Holy Spirit. They refused Jesus for he did not enrich them, and they hated him for he called to repentance and heartbrokenness.

It has always been the same: When the people felt Christ’s kindness, tongue, and humility, they shouted in the beginning “Hosanna!” but when they got no money, political triumph, or bright honor, they shouted “Crucify! Crucify!” In the end, they chose Barabbas, the murderer and rebel, and rejected Jesus, the meek Lamb of God. Which one do you choose? Think attentively of the aims of your life, and decide your future.

The strange inversion from zeal to dislike was intentionally caused by Jesus himself, to disclose what was hidden in the hearts of the people. He said to the Nazarene, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me”, which signifies that he was a true prophet who did not agree to the demands of his city. History has often proved that God’s help most easily reached the despised heathens that are not chosen, rather than the unrepentant pious of the Old Testament. Christ could not help and save if the hearts were not broken, and the souls were not fearful of the holiness of their Lord, knowing that they were not worthy of his mercy. Nevertheless, the Nazarene agitators sought victory not repentance, and hoped for pomp not confession. Therefore they angrily and furiously pushed Jesus, and brought him out of the synagogue to throw him down over the cliff so that he might be torn to pieces. 

The people of Nazareth were known for robbery, highway robbery, and indifference, whether in spiritualities or in state affairs, in spite of their hypocritical professing and observances. When Christ made clear to them that the Spirit of God would not dwell in a city dressed in such a spirit of robbery, and called them to brokenness of their pride, the devil insinuated into their minds that they should kill the Savior of the world before he finished his redemption of the world on the cross.

Jesus went with them to the brow of the hill. And as he turned back and looked at them, his eyesight pierced their hearts. He condemned them with his sharp sight without saying a word. Their hearts became exposed, and their bodies motionless, as they realized that he was God. Christ, on his part, left his killers and relatives stilled in their passions, and arrested in their purposes, and passed silently through them. That was his wonderful miracle in Nazareth: that he revealed, by his spiritual majesty, their satanic impurity.

This occasion brought to light another miracle: that the Son of God was brought up as a child among demons, and remained in spite of that holy and sinless. God kept his Son until he completed his message on the cross. Dear brother, do you live in a town that is full of demons? Do not be afraid. Commit yourself to your Lord, and he will keep you, sanctify you, and complete your message to the end. Then nobody can have power over you.

PRAYER: O Lord, You know my heart. Please forgive me my greed for wealth, fame, and earthly wishes. Guide me to repentance, confession, and self-denial. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Save many in my surroundings, so that they may save their old souls, and your Holy Spirit may dwell in them richly and joyfully. 

QUESTION 39: Why did the wretched superficial Nazarene hate their native Jesus?

 

 

JESUS' MINISTRY IN CAPERNAUM
AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
(Luke 4:31-44)

 

LUKE 4:31-37

31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.
33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice,
34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy One of God!” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. 36 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 37 And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

The children of Nazareth did not recognize the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit. They did not understand the preaching of the Savior, closed themselves against his teaching and person, hated him because he rebuked their hardness, and wanted to kill him. So Jesus finally departed from his hometown, and chose Capernaum, a small city on the northwest corner of the Sea of Tiberias, as the main center of his activity, where he dwelt in the house of Peter, the eldest of his disciples. In Capernaum, Jesus went every Sabbath to the synagogue, where the praying seekers of God met, and he taught them with mighty authority, for God, himself, who dwelt in him, spoke through him, and they were all cut to the heart. The familiar words in the Torah became in his mouth full of light and power, piercing the hearts with God’s judgment, and comforting the hopeless with the love of the Highest. Jesus’ teaching was not logical, objective, or classical, but spiritual and direct, which hit the foundation of subconscious.

A man possessed by an unclean spirit, whom nobody could release, came into the synagogue, and when the evil spirit felt God’s presence, he cried frightfully, “What do you want of me? I do not want to join myself to you. Keep away from me. The time has not come yet for judgment. Why are you coming early? I know you exactly Man, Jesus of the wicked Nazareth. You are the Holy One of God.” The demons know Jesus, believe in him, and tremble at his holiness. All hell fears this unique name “Jesus” the Man of God. They did not see his love, kindness, help, and salvation, for his glorious mercy was concealed from them. They trembled at his holy, authoritative majesty, for God’s holiness hides the glory of his love. The devil did not see the innermost essence of Jesus, but only realized the rays of his shining truth.

Jesus did not allow the devil to speak any more, for his saying was an initial lying even if it appeared as the most truthful saying. Jesus is certainly the Holy One and the Judge of the world, but his heart is full of love for salvation, healing, deliverance, comfort, and giving life. The Spirit of the Lord in Christ intended to redeem the world, and not to destroy it. However, the devil did not declare this truth, but wanted to let mankind fall into fear of Jesus, just as his fear of Jesus was disturbed and confused.

Jesus had mercy upon the suffering demon-possessed, and commanded the unclean spirit with a word’s speaking to go out. When God decides something, no one can object. With a cry of fear, the demon went out of its residence, which he had captured, and threw the man to the floor with force and fury, as if he would have dashed him to pieces; but he could not hurt him, for the Son of God enclosed the poor man with his merciful power.

Then those who stood by kept in place, and their back nerves became numb, seeing the struggle between heaven and hell. They realized the authoritative means in Jesus, that is his powerful word. Did you realize by which means the authority of Christ comes to us? It only comes by means of his gospel. Open yourself completely to the words of Christ, so that all the powers of God may dwell in you, uncovering all your sins, forgiving you all your sins, and overcoming all unclean spirits in you. Christ is the Triumphant even over your thoughts, spirit, and body, if you open yourself to him willingly.

PRAYER: O Lord, I come to you with an unclean, troubled heart. Heal me. Cleanse me. Forgive me my thoughts and works. Cast out all unclean spirits in me, so that they may never come back to me. Dwell with your Holy Spirit in me, in order that I should commit myself to you completely once and forever. I want nothing but to serve, glorify, and thank you.

QUESTION 40: How, and why did Jesus cast out the unclean spirit from the demon-possessed?

 

LUKE 4:38-41

38 Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. 39 So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. 40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.

Jesus returned from the midst of the spiritual battle in the synagogue to the house of Peter, his eldest disciple, who was an inhabitant of Bethsaida (John 1:44), but subsequently dwelt with his family at Capernaum following Christ. Jesus did not ask his disciple to divorce his wife when he believed in him, but blessed all his house and filled him with the power of his Spirit.

When the dangerous fever attacked Peter’s mother-in-law who dwelt with him, both of them together with all the disciples asked Jesus to heal her. Their common faith and lowly demand moved the arm of God. Did you realize the mystery of the power of common prayer before Jesus?

Then Jesus stood over the bed of the feverish patient, took her by hand, and with a word’s speaking commanded the microbe away from her cells. The word of the Creator contains the power of excluding any disease, for wherever Christ comes, eternal life, healing, and Paradise begin. In his presence the hearts, bodies, and minds become cured. Come to Jesus with all your hardships. Commit your life to him so that his strength may be made perfect in your weakness.

Peter’s mother-in-law experienced Christ’s triumph and power, for she immediately arose with certainty and confidence, and ministered to the audience. She became the symbol of the faithful, for he who is cured by Christ in his innermost heart and is renewed, immediately becomes a servant of Christ and of all the people, just as Jesus made himself a servant of all humanity. Are a sick man, or a servant?

People raced to Peter’s house, carrying the patients on their beds, and mothers came with their children on their arms, asking Jesus to heal them with his power. Christ did not reject anyone, but put his divine, blessed hands on each of them and delivered them from the power of sickness. His healing was not magic. It was the power of God that flowed out of his merciful heart into the innermost depths of the believer.

The sun’s setting in the end of that Sabbath day granted those who were bound by the law the freedom to bring their patients to Jesus. They brought them on donkeys, carriages, and horses, for they knew that healing was at hand and given freely to everyone.

It appeared that a considerable part of the sick were not attacked by pathological microbes, but were possessed by demons. Woe to those who go to fortune-tellers, consult the dead, deal with tarot cards, buy a blue bead for protection, or decorate their cars with a heart pierced with an arrow. Such loathsome behaviors make them join themselves immediately with demons, for they believe in their effectual power. Come to Jesus, with your evil spirit and huge bonds, for he delivers you from the power of Satan, moves you into his expanses, and keeps you safe under the protection of the living God.

The demons know Jesus well. They know that he is the Son of God. This knowledge is not under question or investigation, but is a reason for their fear and trembling. Unfortunately, many people are blind to the truth of God and his Son. They know neither God, nor his Son who was born of his Spirit. They look like the blind who do not find the way leading to life, and do not give themselves up to those endowed with eyesight that may lead them into deliverance. He who sees Christ sees his Father, for the Son is one with him and is continuous in him.

Jesus rebuked the demons, so that they might not reveal his mystery that he is the true Christ, in order that they should not incite the political zeal in the multitudes, for he was willing to leave the occasion to them that they might recognize his true picture, as he had revealed to them in the synagogue of Nazareth, as an emblem to all his services. Christ built the faith of his followers not on the testimony of demons, but on his love, truth, and mercy. He delivered those who suffered from their bondage, and carried them to the freedom of the redeemed of the Lord. Did you become firm in his expanses?

PRAYER: Lord of Lords, we worship to you, for you are true God from the true God, Light from the eternal Light. Forgive us our sins and affection for unclean spirits. Deliver us from the fever of our lusts. Loose the bonds of our slavery to evil spirits, and make us firm in your merciful kingdom.

QUESTION 41: Why did Christ prevent the evil spirits from speaking, and how did he heal the sick?

 

LUKE 4:41-44

42 Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; 43 but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” 44 And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

Jesus was a true man. He was tired of his saving efforts and works, and was tempted into haughtiness for his bright results and the strong demonic revelations. He departed from the multitudes, and left his disciples, to be alone with his Father, to whom he prayed, pouring out and emptying his heart before him, and seeking his guidance, wisdom, power, authority, patience, love, and continuous kindness. Jesus prayed in the morning, putting his long day at his Father’s service. He would not do any miracle of himself, but everything he did was in full harmony with his Father: “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does” (John 5:19-20).

Jesus’ prayer had the same thing that he taught us: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” He did not say to us: “God forces you to get the blessing. Go and embrace as much as you wish of treasures. All the doors are opened to you.” No! He would not say that, but he awakes in us the effort to pray, the striving to believe, and the patience to supplicate. To him, the straying multitudes, their accumulating troubles, the complexes that chained their souls, and the bondage of their minds to spirits were not subject to philosophized thoughts, or a reason for criticism and contempt; but he loved the poor, and prayed for them. He stood in the midst of the world disasters, and overcame them. Jesus was a faithful prayer. This was the reason for his triumph over all evil authorities, for God continues in him because of his thankfulness and faithful prayer. Without prayer there is no fellowship with the highest. How do you pray? Do you pray continuously for the others, or do you only mention yourself?

The people of Capernaum followed Christ to his place of solitude in the wilderness, and sought him, for they experienced the power of his authority, and wished to secure themselves. The same spirit of the Nazarene appeared once again in the people of Capernaum. As for the Nazarene, Christ could not help them, because of their unbelief. However, in spite of the earthly ambition of the people of Capernaum, Christ revealed to them the motive of his heart, the love of God, for he left heaven and became a man to save the repentant.

The love of the Holy One in him made his preaching a holy necessity and duty. Undoubtedly, God is not compelled, but free. However his essence compels him to carry out his will, for his holiness must condemn the evil. His love prompts him to sacrifice himself as a substitute for them. Christ lived in the commitment of divine necessity, which many people do not understand, because they do not actually know God’s essence in his love and holiness.  

Jesus went to many towns, making them partners in the power of God, and bringing to them the gospel of salvation. The healing of the sick was not motto of his ministry, but the strange good tidings about the kingdom of God present among men. His heavenly Father is the All-Possessor, and not Satan, the liar. The Son strived to make people turn to God, so that they might leave willingly the bondage of sin, and become filled with the love of the Highest. The possibilities of the kingdom of the Father were included and hidden in Christ. As the seeds contain their leaves, flowers, and fruits, so the kingdom of grace is today hidden in the believers. God calls all the creatures to submit willingly, for God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Have you become a citizen of the kingdom of God, submitting yourself to its Proprietor?

As the Father sent his Son to spread the kingdom of truth, so the King of Kings calls you so that he may equip you with his power and make you a partner in carrying out his constitution, as he declared in Nazareth (4:18-19). Did you realize and memorize Christ’s program, and are you carrying it out?

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, you are my Lord, King, and Owner. Please forgive me my selfishness, my seeking to become independent from you, and my disobedience. Teach me spiritual submission. Let the Spirit of your love fill me, and prompt me to preach the world, as you, yourself, were a great preacher.

QUESTION 42: What are the mysteries of the effectual ministry of Christ?

 

 

CHRIST TEACHES FROM SIMON'S BOAT,
THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES,
AND THE CALLING OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES

Luke 5:1-11

 

LUKE 5:1-11

1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

All men hunger for the Spirit of God’s word and salvation. Every body thirsts for the remission of his sins in his innermost being. So open your mouth and preach grace. Depict Christ before the eyes of your friends and colleagues, for they are craving for Paradise, even if they pretended to the contrary. Every man craves in his heart for the house of his heavenly Father.

The multitudes raced toward Christ, and pressed upon him. He was crowded, and in danger of being crowded into the water: What must he do? He got into one of the boats that belonged to Simon, and asked Simon with all lowliness and gentleness to help him in his preaching, that he would thrust out a little from the multitudes so that everyone might see and hear him. He sat down as the divine Teacher who teaches ignorant men how to enter into the kingdom of God through conversion, and tuning their hearts to the power of eternal love. The great multitudes sat down on the shore of the lake, listening silently to this unique voice. Nothing could be heard but the words of Jesus and the whispers of the waves.

When Jesus had stopped speaking, he commanded Peter to fish. It was daytime, when all the fish went down to the cooler waters deep in the lake. Though Peter was most impressed with Jesus’ sermon, and called Jesus “Master”, his experience, as a fisherman, made him quite sure that they would catch nothing. He showed discomfort, for he had toiled all the night, and had taken nothing. Nevertheless he was ready to believe the Master’s word even in matters in which Jesus would not naturally be considered an expert. For the sake of Christ’s demand, he was prepared to do anything, even though he understood no meaning to, even though his partners would laugh at him. However, Christ was willing to break his servant in his experience, and show him that his professional skill is useless to him in the kingdom of God where the laws and powers of the Holy Spirit apply.

Today, Christ is calling people to run into the depth of the sea of mankind, and let down in it the net of the word of God, probably at a time that seems completely inconvenient. But Christ sees the hidden developments in the depths of peoples. Listen to Christ’s command, and pay attention to one thing: Be cautious to let down the whole net of the word of God, and not only a part of it, also be careful that your net should not have holes in belief, in order that the fish should not flee from it. Clean your net and get ready for fishing.

The disciples obeyed Christ’s command. In this obedience of faith, we find a reason for God’s triumph. If Peter had not obeyed Christ’s word, he would have not become his disciple. Now, Jesus’ will has pushed a great multitude of fish into the net of the experienced fisherman that his net was about to break. Dear brother: Today is the day of fishing in our nation. Today the great number of fish is running toward the word of God. Where are you now to win a great number of your friends, through your testimony, words, and messages? Obey Christ with lowliness. Be encouraged, listening to the guidance of the Savior, and then you will draw many to his light, so that they may enter into eternal life, from death in darkness. Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

Peter was not stubborn and greedy, but divided the fish among them all, and advised his partners to cooperate. This is the duty of believers today: not only to fill their own boat, but also the others’ boats. Do not become sad if a member of your church entered into another church, for Christ will give you many new members, if you spread the fullness of the word of God clearly.

In this fishing, Peter realized that Jesus is God. He probably prayed during the night, and sang hymns with his co-workers, asking God to fill their nets. But when they had taken nothing, they complained and blasphemed. But now Jesus has answered their prayers in another way greater than they had thought. Peter became ashamed of his unbelief, complaint, obstinacy, and blaspheming. He fell down at the Son of God’s knees, trembling, and confessing his sins, for the Holy Spirit uncovered his corruption and malice by revealing Christ as the All-Ruling, who controls the fish in the depths of the sea, and sees the secrets of the hearts. Peter did not give thanks for the given fish, but was ashamed of his wicked heart. Does the grace of God shake in your life? For he blessed you when you deserved afflictions, and granted you grace when you were to die because of your crime.

Jesus thrust the fear of the selfish Peter, commanded him to be converted, so that he might not think of himself anymore, and called him to serve God, and to serve people as well. In his brokenness, Peter became prepared to enter into the kingdom of God. In this way the Son of God calls you to die to your selfish interests, and turn to your fellow human being to fish him, not with artifice and deception, but with lowliness and love, so that he may not die on the shore, but enter into the fullness of God’s power and life. In truth, every man is dead in trespasses, but whoever enters into the net of the word of God lives.

Peter and his co-workers heard Christ’s decisive call, and they were prepared in their hearts by virtue of the John the Baptist’s preaching. At the moment of getting a lot of fish, they left all their riches, and chose the way of Christ’s poorness and persecution with him, to make their fellow human beings partners in the glory of the Son of God. Christ called you to his service. Then pray, and obey all his commands.

PRAYER: O Lord, I am not worthy of the favor of your presence with me, for I am a sinful man in all my being. Thank you for your favor, for you honor me with grace for grace. You keep me in your blessing, and do not cast me out. Please send many to fish men in our nation and all around the world today.

QUESTION 43: Why did Peter tremble from Christ?

 

 

JESUS CLEANSES A LEPER
AND WITHRAWS INTO THE DESERT
(Luke 5:12-16)

 

LUKE 5:12-16

12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.” 15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

In the Old Testament, leprosy was considered as a divine punishment for hidden sins in man. The leprous man was, in order to avoid contagion, very properly separated from the congregation.  The poor lepers lived as “walking tombs”, and their relatives, ashamedly and cautiously, looked after them. A leper was to cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn all not to defile themselves by approaching him.

One of the lepers, who had heard about Christ’s wonderful power, came cautiously near Jesus, and immediately the multitudes moved away angrily from him, getting ready to drive him away. But he fell down before Jesus, knowing that no man could help him, for he was in an advanced stage of leprosy and some members of his body had fallen off.

The leper openly confessed his faith in Jesus, as the Almighty who has complete power over everything, even leprosy. Do you believe in the power of Christ in your life? The leper was uncertain that the Holy One of God would help him in spite of his sins that were apparent through his leprosy. He asked Jesus with lowliness if he would accept to heal him, putting all his hope and strong longing in this plea; and Christ gave him a divine answer: he embraced him –according to the original Greek text-without being afraid of infection and slow dead, for he was the Prince of Life, who embraced all the corrupt mankind through his incarnation. The poor leper realized that Christ entered him into the love of God. Do you come to Jesus with your hardships, and confess openly? He does not reject you because of your sins, but embraces you and surrounds you with all his love.

Then the Son of God testified of the mystery of his saving will, saying, “ I will save you. I will heal you. I will make you clean.” If you ask yourself, “Will God help and save me?” Christ will answer you, “I will.” Do you believe in his answer? We are all living in the age of grace. Enter into the pleasure of God and wish what he wishes so that you may receive the fullness of his power. The Lord does not mean first to improve your financial position, or your professional interests. His goal is your wicked heart. When you completely submit to the hands of Jesus, he will also help you in your healthy matters, school problems, and professional developments, for the main stream of the will of God is love, blessing, strengthening, and social reviving.

Jesus commanded the leper to recover, and urged him to become active by a strong will. By his word he gave him the power to get well. The Creator’s command broke the authority of the disease, and loosed the chains of sin in the innermost depth of the patient. The love of Christ overcame all the troubles in this poor man who committed himself into the hands of Jesus. Now a divine current flew into his members and skin. They grew up once again, and the leprosy fell as scabs from his skin. Not gradually, but immediately, once and forever the outcast who was rejected from society became healthy and sound.

Jesus sent the cleansed man to the priests according to the law, to bring an offer in the temple (Leviticus 13:49; 14:10), also in order that those mediators between God and the people of the covenant should officially confirm that Christ is the divine Physician who released people from incurable diseases.

The multitudes felt the presence of the divine messenger who delivered them from the chains and consequences of sin, so they gathered, and heard the gospel. They drank out of the fullness of Christ, and felt that the kingdom of God had begun. Sin and its consequences faded away through Christ and his power.

Observe that the more Jesus did miracles, the more he prayed, making himself of no reputation, and delivering all glory to his Father. He was not isolated, but prayed constantly, for his faith was but a prayer. He did nothing apart from God. Every movement of his hand and every word he said were in harmony with the Spirit of his Father. Do you pray and speak to your heavenly Father about all the concerns of your life? You can do nothing without him. As he abides in you and you in him, you bear much fruit.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we glorify you because you healed the leper and purified him from his sins. Please cleanse me of all my sins, and sanctify me completely. I believe in your will and in your preparedness to heal me. I submit myself to you, and thank you for your love and salvation to all humanity

QUESTION 44: What is the will of God?

 

 

ENCOUNTERS WITH STRICTS RELIGIOUS LEADERS
(Luke 5:17 - 6:11)

 

LUKE 5:17-26

17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. 20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of God has power on earth to forgive sin” -- He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have see strange things today!”

God is the Power, and Christ is the Power of the Lord, out of whom rivers of blessing flowed by word, deed, and prayer. Many began to follow Christ. 

Those in charge of religious bodies having had doubts about his personality, for Jesus had not studied in their schools, nor had he ever joined any of their parties, watched him and sent spies to him that they might seize on his words and acts. The proud Pharisees were known for insisting that the law of God be observed as the scribes interpreted it and were considered as the experts, or doctors of the law. They both wanted to know the mystery of Jesus’ power; censoring every word he said to pick up something on which to ground a reproach or accusation.

It was the will of God’s wisdom, at that moment, that some men should bring a paralyzed man to Jesus. That was the most beautiful and powerful symbol of preaching. When the men could not reach Jesus, they went up on the roof upon him, took off some tiles and lowered the paralyzed man down into the room in front of Jesus, without saying any word. Their act was unmistakably a cry of faith, prayer, and hope. Jesus was pleased with this interruption and disturbance during his teaching, for he loved faith, and saw in it the hope of the believer, which pierces hardships. Do you immediately come in supplication? Do you become pressing and stubborn in your love in order that Jesus should save your spiritually paralyzed friend?

Christ knows the reason for all the diseases of our sins. There is no certain sin, which usually causes a certain disease, but our life that is faraway from God is the reason for our distresses and the cause of all the disasters of the world. Jesus’ untying the psychological bonds of the sick man was an introduction to healing his body. Did you hear Jesus’ word, “Your sins are forgiven you”? Fall on your knees and bow your head before the Son of God. Take firm hold of his promise immediately. This essential word belongs to every man who longs for purity, righteousness, and peace with God. Your sins are forgiven you. Believe in this gospel and you will be saved. Christ speaks to you personally, and looses the bonds of your sins. Believe in the word of your Lord, and thank him so that you may enter into a covenant with him, and his peace may flow in you. Christ himself is the Guarantor of his divine saying which belongs to all humanity.

When the spies of religious bodies heard this forgiving word, they thought that none could forgive sins but God. They were right, and therefore they considered this word from Jesus’ mouth as blasphemy, and that Jesus deserved death. They were blind to his divinity, and did not sense the power of the Holy Spirit flowing out from the person of Jesus, but hated him, for he was different from them. He was from above, and they were from beneath.

Perceiving their thoughts, and reading their hatred in their eyes, Jesus disclosed their condemning pride, and showed clearly their shortsightedness. He asked them why they had such evil thoughts in their hearts, brought his adversaries over to repentance, and provided them with a proof of his power, so that they might learn and love faith, and receive remission of their sins.

The Man Jesus testified of his authority: that he had the prerogative and the power to forgive sins. None of the prophets of the Old Testament foretold such characteristics of Christ. Now the Son of God reveals his privilege as participant in the power of God. By that he showed that he stood at the same level with God, one with him, and abiding in him. This testimony causes our minds to explode. However, Christ hid his divinity, and called himself the Son of Man so that his hearers might realize the mother of all miracles: that God himself was incarnate among them, remitting their sins by his grace.

After this fundamental discussion, Jesus gave the frightened multitude and the objecting haters a tangible proof which he had revealed to them before bringing it into effect: he commanded the paralyzed man, by an utterance of his tongue, to arise. Those present, out of breath, saw him who became delivered from sin, rising up, because he felt the love of Christ, and grasped the word of forgiveness. The joy of the Lord came into his heart. He jumped, in the name of Christ, from his bed, tried his parts which were stiff and rigid for many years, took up his tearful bed, and walked on his feet indeed, praising God cheerfully, and glorifying Jesus, his Savior.

The multitudes became frightened, and they prayed in their hearts. And the doctors of the law became silent, for the power of the Lord openly triumphed over sins and diseases. Those who were defeated boiled over, flaming up with rage, and thought of killing Christ, for in this very occasion he showed his truth and the essence of his work before those spies. His initial preaching in Nazareth of the prophecy in (Isaiah 61) found its accomplishment with more clarification, and all the hearts were shaken by a spiritual quake. Did the power of God touch you? Did you become certain of the remission of your sins? Worship to your Lord, for he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, my Savior and my Lord. Thank you for you pardoned all my sins, and atoned for my malice, in the greatness of your grace and loving kindnesses. I kiss your feet, worship to you, and love you, and thank you, because you bring us to eternal life. Please keep me in your righteousness, and make my life praise to our God, and service to people.

QUESTION 45: Why did Jesus forgive the paralyzed his sins?

 

LUKE 5:27-32

27 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. 30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Many people were confused in Jesus’ presence, impressed with his power, and convicted by their conscience. The cheating tax collector called Levi was also hit in his innermost being by the word of Christ. He had been deceived by his thought, but now he is willing to become free from his sin. He believed in the word of Jesus and the remission of his sins, and was deeply attracted to the Savior, but his profession and its bad reputation kept him away from the Righteous One, for the tax collectors who were employed by the occupying authority were considered as unclean, criminal bloodsuckers, and were officially rejected and disrespected by the nation.

Yet, Christ knows the thoughts in the hearts of people. He saw how the heart of Levi, the tax collector, was opened completely to the good news of the gospel. Jesus went forth and saw him. He commanded him using only two words, “Follow me”. When God speaks, he makes something new. This command made out of the sinful Levi, the apostle and evangelist Matthew who compiled the historical sayings and events of Jesus, for he mastered several languages, and wrote the origin of the gospels in Aramaic under supervision of the other apostles; then he translated it into Greek. Christ took him out of the factory of sins into the freedom of the Lord. Did you hear the voice of Jesus, or are you still a slave of money and of earthly aims? Do you follow Christ with an undivided heart? Get up and follow the Savior of the world, and you will become a tree of grace full of fruits, as Matthew became a reason for salvation of many.

He, who was called, left his money, records, and office all at once, for he realized that the Son of God had called him. When Christ passed by him, he took hold of his divine gown, and considered everything else in the world as foul and rubbish. Matthew invited the Highest to his house, and made him a great feast. He immediately unveiled his apostolic spirit, and invited all his friends so that Christ might enter into their hard hearts. In fact many of those disqualified and contemptible came wondering at the great honor conferred on them by the man of God.

The professors and lawyers hated Jesus, because he broke the good custom, and dealt with tax collectors, agents of the Romans, whom he openly accepted, and dined with them in a great banquet. The fanatic and the experts in the law set a trap for Christ to discover the motives and aims of his work. They were blind to Jesus’ mercy, and not prepared to see their hard hearts. Yet, Jesus stabbed their pride, and unveiled their hypocrisy through their own statement, which they used to quote in support of their arguments, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The tax collectors were, in fact, sick in spirit and in soul, and in need of the Savior and his power, without realizing that. However it is a fault not to speak with the corrupt, for they are in urgent need of salvation, deliverance, and instruction.

Jesus also uncovered the hypocrisy of the professors who thought that they had no need of forgiveness or the Savior, for they saw in themselves righteousness and truthfulness of instruction, as well as uprightness of behavior. Woe to the proud righteous, and those that are self-complacent, for they neither know God, nor fear him. None is righteous in from of God. They have all turned aside. They have together become corrupt. There is none who does a good or righteous work. This is the most terrible self-deceit. Study God’s holiness and love so that you may know your own state. You are sinful and guilty. The more you get near to the glory of God, the more you discover your evil heart and disqualified mind. Confess your abominable works before Christ. Give testimony of all your evil deeds: stealing, lying, impurity, and haughtiness, and of every moment in which you caused damage to anyone, so that you may know your need of the salvation of Christ, crying, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, do not cast me off. Then, you will realize Christ’s love and merciful kindness, and experience how he cleanses your subconscious, and gives you peace and divine righteousness.

However, if you go too far in thinking yourself righteous and acceptable because of your prayers, sacrifices, and fasting, you will be cheating your self. You will not be justified in your conscience, and you will not enter into heaven, for God only accepts the purified repentant, and the sinner who is justified and saved by the blood of Christ, and made perfect through his intercession. Listen please, my dear brother: Christ has come. He is present, and prepared to save practically. He will truly redeem you, if you become broken before him, and confess all your corruption. Do not hesitate! Come on and uncover the thoughts within you before him. Have recourse to his mercy.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, you have known me with all my unclean thoughts, harsh words, and evil deeds. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Cleanse me from all sin, and sanctify my subconscious, so that I may be saved by the sprinkling of your precious blood, and I may complete the faithfulness of your intercession. Draw me by your word to your continuous fellowship.

QUESTION 46: Why can Christ not save the unrepentant?

 

LUKE 5:33-39

33 Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” 34 And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.” 36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear; and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, “The old is better.”

Christ did not come as a gloomy prophet, preparing people for God through fasts and laws. He is rather like the bridegroom who brings about joy for all his companions and adherents. The Son of Man came from heaven to be united with humanity in a pure spiritual union. His motive was the love of God, his dress was his holiness, his motto was his meekness, and his power was his patience.

The divine Bridegroom asked for his bride who was not mindful about him, but indulged in her sexual immorality with the low spirits of this world. Yet, the lover did not reject the sinful bride, but purified her with his blood, and sanctified her with his Spirit. The church is a purified bride of the Son of God. How does joy not prevail in human race as long as heaven is united with earth, and God with men?

In the past, the repentant fasted, and flagellated their bodies to make God bestow plentiful blessings upon them. But now, God has appeared, through Christ, among men. He came with the abundance of his love to the obstinate disobedient, and caused eternal joy to enter into them. Thus fasting ended, and sad prayers of gloomy faces did not ascend to heaven any longer. On the contrary, trilling cries of joy spread everywhere, for God arrived at the earth. Does your heart participate in the heavenly joy, because the Eternal One appeared in fact among the mortal human beings?

The fanatic Pharisees did not realize the mystery of the Son of Man, but criticized the joyfulness of his disciples. The followers of John the Baptist also knit their brows, and shook their heads at the new godliness of Christians, who lived ordinarily and realistically, ate and drank satisfactorily as all other people, and did not exercise corporal penances to win the kingdom of God.

Those who clung fanatically to the law, though they worked for the sake of pleasing God, did not realize Christ, in whom all the fullness of heavenly blessings dwelt freely among us; but wanted to continue in their human good deeds, law-abiding behaviors, and gloomy righteousness, so that they might be justified and sanctified. Yet, such was impossible and unworkable.

There is a very great difference between the godliness of the Old Testament, and the righteousness of the New Testament. Men of old considered themselves righteous, dressing themselves up with their own deeds as if they were dressed in an ostentatiously bright dress. Such a dress would soon become torn and old, as every man is sinful before his Lord. But Christ came to us with his own righteousness, purified us with his blood, and dressed us up with the fruits of his Spirit. Because of his gracious kindness, every Christian wears the eternal pure white wedding garment. It is impossible to mistake the human and the heavenly gowns one for another. You have either to prepare yourself for God’s wedding in your old, torn gown made of your sinful own righteousness, or to be completely sanctified only with the blood of Christ.

Christ compared the spirit of his age to new wine that does not agree with old bottles weaved with thousands of law threads. The love of Christ tears all superficial human judgments, and consecrates man to the service of God and the needy. The holy consecration to the service of love is the new godliness at the age of Christ, where the Spirit of the Lord does not break us with prohibitions, commandments, and judgments; but encourages us to a new life in which love is the perfection of law. However, the old-fashioned are used to their hard judgments and gloomy repentance. They do not want to leave that atmosphere, but to sip their laws as mature wine, and refresh themselves with that (wine!). They do not know the power of God’s love. Moreover, they do not know the new wine that entered into the world through the blood of Christ which works in our bellies, and minds, driving out all filthiness away from us. Thus Christ called his disciples to new ways of life, and to a unique divine power, and delivered them from lifeless rites and fanciful judgments. Did you prepare yourself for the wedding of the Son of God? Do you associate with him in his service to the needy and the mobs? Enter into the joy of your Lord and ask for the poor, and then you will find the divine Bridegroom with them.

PRAYER: O Lord, your Holy Spirit delivers us from our selves, and from the measures of men. Your precious blood dresses us with your righteousness, purity, and majesty. Please help us to continue in your love and peace, so that we may become lively members of your bride church, and decorate us with all good deeds originated from your great grace.

QUESTION 47: Why did Christ call himself Bridegroom, and rejected the order of fasting of the Old Testament?

 

LUKE 6:1-11

1 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” 5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” 6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I sill ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” 10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 11 But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

One Sabbath, Jesus and his disciples walked through the golden grain fields. The disciples became hungry, for their Master was not wealthy, but he used to ask his heavenly Father for the minimum necessary bread to support every day’s life, with all simplicity and humility. Some of the disciples plucked the heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate their delicious kernels. According to the law of the Old Testament, the poor and the needy were allowed to pick grains or fruits for immediate consumption. Therefore the Pharisees complained of the disciples for violating the Sabbath, and not any rights of property. They considered the rubbing of grain heads a work comparable to harvesting.

However, Christ explained the meaning of the law to those extremists, referring to David, the anointed king who entered into the holy tabernacle of meeting and ate together with his hungry companions the showbread that was consecrated to God and his priesthood, for their satisfaction was more essential than observing rites. Laws are made to serve man, and man is not a servant of them. Thus Christ made a fundamental change in the meaning of the law, and revealed himself as the divine Lawmaker who explained the old principles in a new manner, and summed them up in the unique commandment of love. By this powerful work, Christ delivered us from formal keeping of the law, into the thought and work of love, as Paul said many times, that no man can keep the law out of himself, but he that is righteous by the blood of Christ receives the power of the Holy Spirit who leads him to keep the commandments. In the New Testament, the sword of law is not hanging over your head to destroy you. It has become the motive of power and joyfulness in you.

It is regrettable that the Sabbath Day Adventists and those of their faith still keep the Sabbath in the Jewish spirit. They keep their Sabbaths as a symbol of the day of God’s rest when he had created his creation, without realizing that Christ tired for our salvation, and made new creation, showing his eternal life in his resurrection. In the New Testament, our Lord did not command us at all to keep any specified day, but he sanctified man himself, in order that all his days should be holy. Every day the Christian partakes of God’s rest in his conscience, for Christ’s life dwelt in him, and consequently we have become justified freely by grace through the faith, and not by keeping the law.

Yet, lawyers had no ears to hear the voices of the life of grace. They spied on Christ to condemn him, but the Lord showed them their blindness rightfully, saying to them, “Which is the most important: to keep the Sabbath without mercifulness, or to break the Sabbath for the sake of mercifulness?” Jesus Christ pierced the dead Pharisees one after the other with his sharp sight, and abolished with his question their twisted principles, emphasizing the necessity of performing good deeds all the days without exception, and avoiding evil deeds all the days without exception. Thus he showed us that the Sabbath, in the New Testament, has no advantage over any other day of the week, for love alone makes all the days kept for God, as Paul said, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men”. In this manner, the life of man is made completely for the service of God, praising his glorious salvation, and not only a certain day of the week.

When Jesus healed, in this new spirit, the withered hand, with a word’s speaking, in the midst of the Sabbath meeting in the synagogue, the lawyers became enraged so much the more against him, for they immediately realized, in their intelligence, that Christ did not only tear the tent of their judgments by his divine love, but also condemned them personally, at the same time, for they knew the good, and restrained men from doing good by their laws.

Many churches and several religions seek to bring their followers into heaven through keeping the laws. They, in fact, are bringing them down into the lower parts of hell. Keeping the law can never save us. Only Christ saves us. He inserts his law into our hearts, through his Holy Spirit, so that the sensibility of his love may guide us, and we may live holy at all times. Did you become free from the law, or are you still enslaved to it? Did the law of Christ dwell in you, and you walked in the fullness of his love with lowliness all the days of your life?

PRAYER: O Heavenly Father, we are filled with sins, impurity, blindness, and abominable fanaticism. Please forgive us our hard hearts, deliver us from our self-righteousness, and break our law spirit, so that we may glorify you with praise, love, and service to all men, at all times.

QUESTION 48: What is the meaning of the statement, “Christ is the Householder”, and why do Christians celebrate Sunday joyfully instead of the Sabbath?

 

 

THE TWELVE APOSTLES ARE CHOSEN
AND MANY ARE HEALED
(Luke 6:12-19)

 

LUKE 6:12-19

12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. 17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.    

Jesus reached a decisive stage in his ministry: the lawyers, his adversaries, organized themselves to destroy him, while his fame spread abroad, and multitudes raced to him from the capital city Jerusalem, also from all the villages of Judea, and even from the Phoenician regions of Tyre and Sidon. They all came to hear his wisdom, be cured by his power, and seek power from him, for he healed all those who believed in him.

What did Christ do in this distinctive stage? He prayed, separated himself from the multitudes who sought him, and left his disciples. He did not care about his enemies, but resorted to God, his Father, and stayed with him in prayer. Luke called this deep prayer in the Greek text “the Prayer of God” which has no equal in the whole New Testament. This prayer was ended with most beautiful harmony with his Father, and has resulted in full clarification of the future. Did you fall into suffocating crises? Did increasingly heavy duties and burdens press on you? Then separate yourself into the isolation of prayer, for by prayer alone you may receive guidance, direction, wisdom, and authority. 

What was the guidance that was clarified in the Son through his prayer and conversation with his Father? When Jesus had returned from a long night prayer, he chose twelve apostles. He had already been followed by overcrowded multitudes. But now the Savior of the world appoints twelve disciples that they may accompany him at all times, learn his experiences, see his patience, realize his wisdom, and get used to his designs. Thus he began to train a select group of leaders for his future church. Those leaders were to bring his eternal life to the world. 

Christ knew that he had to die, and God showed him those who should carry his power, one by one, to spread the kingdom of God until the end of the world. Jesus did not ask many, “Do you want to become apostles?” but he called each one of them by his name out of the multitudes. The call of God changed them into apostles of Christ. They were no better than the others, but the Holy Spirit found in them starting points that they might be prepared and changed into the image of Christ.

They were all unsuccessful. But the Holy Spirit made them authorities of the power of God who changed the world. Until now, we are living from Christ’s call to them. Did you keep their names by heart, as long as you believe in their faith, and know Christ through their testimony, and are strengthened by their prayer, which they offered when they were in this world?

Twelve is a holy number in the Old Testament. It symbolizes the conjunction between heaven and earth. Three symbolizes God, the Holy trinity, and four the four quarters of the earth. If we multiply three by four, both numbers, which indicate the fullness of God, mixed with our low world, become in harmony. The twelve became the fathers of the people of the Old Testament.

Christ did not immediately empower those he called, nor did he send them at once to the evil world, but taught them insight. What did they see? They saw Jesus and no one else.

Did you realize the person of Christ? See how people raced to him. After that night prayer he did not lay his hands on the sick, but all those who believed in him touched his garment, and were cured by that touching. The physician Luke inquired with all exactness about the details of that event, and testified of it. All disasters of mankind disappeared by his word and his power. Come to Jesus, and stay with him in a thankful prayer. He wants to call you, touch you, and send you.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, please forgive me my poor prayer. Teach me to see you, believe in you, love you, and worship to you, so that my life might be your own. Teach me obedience, and fill me with your insight that I may do what you will, stand where you call me, and go to whom your Spirit guides me. Thank you for you do not despise me, but call me to your fellowship and service. Amen.

QUESTION 49: Why did Christ call the twelve disciples, and how did he choose them?

 

 

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
(Luke 6:20-49)

 

LUKE 6:20-23

20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

Now, having showed us the first stage of the life history of the Savior Jesus, Luke places us in the midst of the preaching of the Son of God, who addresses people, looking particularly to his newly called disciples. Do you see, my dear brother, Christ’s eyes looking at you? Do you hear his holy words addressed to you in person? He beatifies you for you are poor and needy. Because all men are poor and needy in relation to the glory of God, we all die, but he lives. We are all imperfect, but he is the Perfect One. We are evil, and he is Righteousness. We are all unclean, and he is holy. We are sick spiritually and bodily, but he is the source of health and safety. We are unwise, but he is wise. We are characterized by treachery, but he is called Faithful. Compare your life with God, O man, and confess your sins, faults, evil, and ungodliness, so that the word of Christ “Blessed are you poor” may reach you. Jesus does not beatify only the poor in money and mind, but all men, for we are beggars, living from the crumbs of the grace of God.

Now, Christ has appeared among us. The fullness of Godhead dwelt in him bodily, and the powers of heaven come out of him. The multitudes touched him, and the riches of the love of God flow out of him to all people. He has given his life for the poor evil world. In him we obtain all blessings of heaven. He is the King who reigns in the kingdom of God, and his kingdom is present in him as a plant in its seed. Whoever accepts him becomes rich, righteous, and blessed as God is. Do you wish to become as rich as the Creator? Look at Christ. Take hold of him eternally, and he will beatify you indeed.

All men hunger for God. They do not know that truth, but seek to quench their thirst to peace through amusement, movies, and drugs. Did you hear love songs by radio? They are all but one cry for true love, hunger for mercy, and longing to God who is hidden from them. All men seek the Highest, but they are blind, and do not know what they are looking for. They clearly strayed from the right path, and were about to die out of thirst for that peace. Blessed are you if you realized that your soul thirsts for the word of God, and your heart hungers for the spirit of grace. You ask for remission of your sins, reconciliation with your Lord, and comfort for your hopelessness. If you seek God, Christ will assure you of heavenly happiness, for he is willing to be personally your spiritual nourishment, as he offers himself to you in the Lord’s Supper. By his word he satisfies your hunger for the knowledge of righteousness, and gives your soul its pleasure. The hunger of body is for a season and a time, but the hunger of heart is forever. Eat Jesus and you will be filled, for he is the Bread of Life for many.

Did you ever weep over your sins? Did your own mud ever disgust you? Do you suffer from your haughtiness? Are you frightened of the coming judgment on the world? Blessed are you if your offenses tormented you, and you felt the judgment of God by your own affection. Then when you become broken to your self, and cry, “Help! Help!” Christ leans toward you, saying, “Your sins are forgiven you. You have been justified and sanctified by grace. Believe on your Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. Accept what he offers you of peace, atonement, and purification, and you will be delivered from the power of sin, and will dive into God’s peace and eternal joy. We do certify to you that the cross of Christ is the Sabbath of our peacefulness. We laugh in hardship, and are consoled in death, for God is with us, and Christ in centered in our hearts.

His love prompted us to follow him, and his power qualified us to serve. Do you want to become a servant of Christ? Then poverty will be waiting for you, in addition to contempt, and hatred. You will be mocked, and your old friends will leave you. Your family will probably throw you out. Never mind! Jesus Christ commands you to leap joyfully, and to continue in gladness, for your reward is God himself. His glory will be your dress. Be delighted at his virtues, for his love made you love, and his patience renewed you into a meek lamb. Then you will be looking forward to the coming of Jesus who will come again for your complete redemption. Are you waiting for this unique moment, the moment of supplication and joyfulness? He is coming quickly.

PRAYER: O Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only speak a word, and my soul will be healed. We are all not worthy of your visit. But only speak one word, and we will be filled with your peace, and the power of your love.

QUESTION 50: Who are the poor, hungry, and weepers in Christ’s beatitudes, and did he promise them?

 

LUKE 6:24-26

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

Woe to those who think themselves rich in money, spirit, and experience; for they, in fact, are foolish, haughty, and thieves. God alone is the Rich, the Possessor, and the Wise. He who does not repent before God, and becomes broken to his haughtiness belongs to those who think themselves rich, but are poor.

What would you ask in exchange for your left eye, if someone blind came to you asking you to give him your eye that he might recover? Would you deliver your eye for one thousand, or hundreds of thousands? Do you realize the full extent of your riches? The value of your body equals to millions, and you have not yet thanked your Lord for creating you. We are all God’s possession, and agents of his properties. He who lives without God falls into hell, for he is a thief, inasmuch as he did not return the deposit to its owner. Whoever lives without God does not find rest for his conscience, or comfort for his heart, for mammon became his god. He becomes out of health, and death lurks about him. Woe to the rich that are poor, and blessed are the poor that are rich in Christ. To which these two parties do you belong?

Christ says, “Woe to those that are gluttonous and drunkards who suppress the cries of their hungry souls with wine and roast meat without listening to the plea of the poor beggar. Woe to fornicators and sodomites out of whose bellies flow unclean lusts, who tread on their, and on others’ consciences. They will run after the word of God, but they will not find it. They will seek comfort with demons, with the dead, and with fortunetellers. They will gradually fall into hopelessness more and more. The tables that are filled with food, and the warehouses that are filled with grains and metals are not the riches of people, but the word of God alone. The blessing of this word can open the poor nations. Those that are hungry will soon attack those that are filled and fasten them to crosses to enjoy themselves with their wealth before them.

Did you ever hear a drunkard laughing? He behaves without restraint, showing his corruption from within. Did you ever listen to your friends or co-workers laughing at dirty jests? A dirty jest is like a nail inside your soul. It will torment you if you are unable to give up completely your impurity, out of yourself. Did you ever see how those that are strong and triumphant mock and smile sarcastically at those whom they defeated? They are all subject to death. Their loud bursts of laughter stop in their throats when they realize that the seed of death was within them at all times. Did you prepare yourself for your death? Moses taught us the wise prayer, saying, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The most heinous deception in mankind is hypocrisy. People say one to another that they are smart, good, talented, and pious. They believe this flattering compliment, smile, and bow one to another, acknowledging applause and expressing thanks, for each one of them considers himself as a minor god. Such are demons. They do not know their sins, for none is righteous, beautiful, and wise except God and his Anointed. Repent, and call to repentance. Let peacocks pack their feathers, and wolves take off the lamb furs, seeking the death of their wolfish heart that they may be filled with the spirit of meek lambs. What are you, then: haughty, or lowly in grace?

PRAYER: God, be merciful to me a sinner! Deliver me from my self-deceit. Free me from my stealing, teach me to number my days, lead me into repentance by your Holy Spirit, and put my evil heart to death, so that I may gain your meekness, humility, and the fullness of your kind love.

QUESTION 51: Why does Christ express woefulness to the rich, overstuffed bellies, and those who laugh, particularly the hypocrite?

 

LUKE 6:27-36

27 ”But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. 32 But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

In some philosophies and religions of the world, you may find a constitution for the love of God and men. But you may not find such a constitution for unconditional forgiveness of enemies, for the followers of those beliefs are not certain of God’s remission of their sins. They are uncertain and doubtful about his mercy. Their depiction of their god stamps their culture, and seals their characters.

Yet, our God is Love. His mercy is limitless. He has given his only begotten Son so that we might be delivered for his sonship. This redemption of our God changed our insight, and turned our principles: we love as he loves us, and forgive as he forgives us. He was patient on us, and did not destroy us when we blasphemed against him angrily. He did good to us when we enraged him, and blessed us when we overstepped his limits.

Christ is the image of our God. He was stricken, but remained silent. He was crowned with thorns, but blessed his tormenters. His blood was shed, and he was spat in his face. He loved the ungodly and adulterers, and prayed while hanged on the infamous tree, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Don’t you see that Christ is the good example for to all mankind? Unfortunately, none of us is righteous. We are all corrupt, wicked, and evil. But Christ died for us that we might be healed by his death. He gave us his Spirit, in order that the love of God should dwell in our hearts. He participated us in the right of his sonship, that we might call God “our Father”. Do you realize your privilege? God loves you, though you are his enemy, inasmuch as he gave his only begotten Son in order that you, disobedient, should become his dear son. When will you thank his love, and respond to it, committing yourself completely, and obeying your eternal thankfulness to him?

Listen, faithful brother: Christ pulls you out of the corruption of your humanity to the highest degree of your thankfulness, for he commands you, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” Are you not frightened of this commandment? Do not be afraid, for the mercy of your Father is considerably great. He offers you power that you may be merciful to all, just as your Father is merciful. Ho does this happen? It happens only through believing in Christ and his justification. The Holy Spirit dwells in your heart. This merciful Spirit is your Father’s Spirit. Essence from his essence, and light from his light. Does the Spirit of God dwell in you? Come to Christ, and ask him to change your stony heart with a merciful heart. Then you will love all men, forgive your enemies, and bear those that are difficult in your Father’s patience. The mercy of God in your heart is not only an emotional feeling, but it urges you to sacrifice. Words are often cheap, but money, bread, and clothes are valuable. How much do you sacrifice monthly? Your sacrifice in comparison with your income shows your love. You are not compelled to help the poor, or to contribute to your church, for love does not know obligation, but privilege in sacrifice. If the Spirit of your Father dwelt in you, you will prepare jobs for the jobless, lend those that are in hardship, and pray for helping mobs in practical ways. If you serve your church in the name of Christ, you will receive a great wage, for your Lord will increase your power for service, multiply people’s contempt against you, and increases your sufferings in order that you should become more close to the image of his love and forgiveness. God himself is the wages of those who bear the cross.

In all your diligence in bringing up the new generation, and in helping the poor, you will soon know that charities are important, but heart salvation is more important. The capital of believers is almost small in many instances, but the power of their prayer is great. The continuous contributions of the poor accompanied with their prayers are more powerful than the large and considerable contributions that might be offered by the rich. God knows your heart. Are you merciful, as your Father is?

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, my heart is like a stone. I love myself first. Please forgive me my selfishness, change my heart, and renew my mind, in order that money should not be my god, but you crucified. Dye my characters with your meekness, and seal me within, that I may see you hanged bleeding on the cross, and that I may also sacrifice myself for love. Be merciful to me that I may also become merciful. 

QUESTION 52: Why do Christians love all their enemies?

 

LUKE 6:37-42

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” 39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from you own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

Every man is foolish in many instances, when he thinks he can realize everything. What is more horrible than superficiality? Who can know the heart of a man, his past, his inner background, the elements he inherited from others, the effects that surrounded him and took part in his formation since childhood and their consequences on his development, on his experiences with demons, and on his complicated present? Do not judge any man, and do not reject any sinner, for you do not know what flows out of you if you were in his position.

If you were obliged to give your opinion about someone, be cautious not to criticize him harshly without love, Recognize his good and negative gifts at one time, and make up an opinion to yourself, keeping in mind that God alone knows best about him, for you only see the outer layers of his soul. Do you rather know yourself? Then how do you judge the mobs and enemies, as long as you are not omniscient and do not know the mystery of life and death? Man! Know your limits, and confess your folly, so that you may give your heart wisdom and humility, and you may ask your Lord, in every respect, what he wants, and what you have to say and to do, according to the gospel of his constructive love.

God is Mercy, Forgiveness, Provider, and Love, giving us grace for grace. If you abide in him, you will love all in your Father’s affection, and his Holy Spirit will urge you to lovingkindness and tender mercies. Under this deepness, there will be no place for hurtful criticism, or rejection of the poor in your heart, for your Father in heaven forgave their iniquities when he gave his Son on the cross. How then can you judge those who have been forgiven and released? There are no unforgiven iniquities in the world except refusing Christ and his righteousness.

Nevertheless we must judge the evil spirit who is working in people, nations, and faiths; but we must love the man who is pressed by such spirit, for God desires all men to be saved. The sea of love flows from God to release the slaves of the evil one. Are you of the evil spirit? Do you despise other people? Are you yourself in need of liberation, or were you broken to your haughtiness, and are helping God in releasing those that are bound by the devil?

The agent of God’s mercy who wants to embody him in you is like a flood, for God is love, and is determined to put the fullness of his love in you, that you may become the source of kindness in your surroundings.

But if you remained blind to the folly of your malice, you cannot lead another man to God at all, and you have no right to teach people any sciences or theology, for you have not realized yet that every normal man is blind, ignorant, and poor. However, as Christ’s forgiveness opened the eyes of your heart, and you participated in the great flowing of his power, and the knowledge of his love, you have become a lampstand in your dark surroundings. Do not think that you are something, for all the good in you is from God. We have nothing to be proud of. We have only to thank him who made us good. You are nothing, but your Lord is everything. He desires to make you exactly like his own vision.

He, who lives near brothers and sisters in Christ, soon sees their small mistakes. And he, who thinks himself an expert in the ways of the Holy Spirit, and boasts as if he were mighty to save the brothers, begins to remove the speck from their eyes, which causes acute pain. Alas! Those that are godly in particular rarely see that they are wicked in their souls, for they are blinded with spiritual haughtiness, which deprives them from seeing their many sins. We recommend, dear brother, that you do not criticize the others’ faults, but reform yourself first, and then pray continuously for your enemies. Be aware that you are the smallest and the most needy in your community. To confess your infirmity is not failing. It is a divine power. So criticize yourself, and judge your sins. Do not judge them superficially. Then you may become merciful to your brother’s infirmities.   

PRAYER: O Holy Lord, You have known my heart and mind, and have condemned my haughtiness and my hard soul. Please rebuke the censorious evil spirit in me, forgive me my iniquities, and fill me with your love, patience, wisdom, and spirit of discerning, that I may testify of the truth, love those that are going astray as you love me, and forgive them their iniquities as you forgive me my iniquities. Thank you for the sea of your love that is flowing over us.

QUESTION 53: Why does Christ prevent us from criticizing others?

 

LUKE 6:43-46

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by it s own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 46 But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?”

Paul explained to us the meaning of the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:19-26). It goes without saying that no man is righteous, bearing good fruit. Do you know the unclean works even in a well-mannered, polite man? Did you smell rotten pride in the professors of all religions? An ordinary man is corrupt before God, and is good for nothing. He looks like an unfruitful tree, and should rather be cut down and thrown into the fire.

But when Christ purifies us with his word, and cleans our hearts with his blood, the power of the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and makes us good. In the humility of Christ’s love an unprofitable man becomes profitable, for the Lord’s joy and peace urge us to be patient. Study the fruits of the Holy Spirit attentively, and then you will know what the Lord is willing to do of you.

Do not deceive yourself! Nobody is good in himself. All have turned aside, together become corrupt, and lost the glory of God freely given to them. Of course, if your compare yourself with others, you will be neither worst, nor better than they are. But if you take Christ as a measure for your life, you will certainly see the truth of your ugliness. The teaching about good man is the greatest lying in present and in past. The devil insinuates this deception into churches, religions, philosophies, and schools; as if man is capable of cultivation and correction. Man, at his best, is in fact like a tamed beast. But from inside, he is filled with rejection, hatred, and spite.

There is none good but God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, also those who crucify their selfishness in repentance that they may be filled with the love of the Eternal One. The goodness in a believer is not out of him, but out of God who stimulates your talents, and calls up your powers that he may employ them in the large stream of his love.  

Did you become a good divine tree, or are you still a bad poisonous weed? You must know the answer out of your speech and writing. What kind of speech comes out of you: love, purity, truthfulness, self-control, and divine power, or imaginations, lies, passion, mockery, and hatred? Examine yourself that you may know your maturity, or condemnation in God’s judgment.

Do you address Christ, your Lord? What are your behaviors, which prove to your neighbors the fact that Jesus is your Lord and King? Do you carry out his will? Do you magnify his power in your weakness? How do you submit to his love? Are you really walking in his Spirit-control? Christ wants you to realize your faith practically, for belief without consequences is of no avail. But when Christ is centered in your heart, you become meek, good, and chaste, not of your ability, but out of your Lord’s power.

Faith without good works is dead, but the love of God overcomes our characters. We believe that Christ newly creates us, and we experience his sanctification, for God himself makes us perfect, blameless, and established in love until the forthcoming advent of Christ.

PRAYER: O Lord, I am an unprofitable servant. Please do not reject me from your neighborhood, but change my mind into your truth, and fill my heart with your mercy, so that I may thank you for establishing me in you, bear much fruit, and magnify you, for your salvation is our living hope.

QUESTION 54: Who is righteous?

 

LUKE 6:47-49

47 “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

Jesus was a carpenter and builder. He took part in building many houses, and saw with his experienced eye which houses were well established, and which were without a foundation. He had already seen fallen houses and firmly established houses in the midst of the sweeping flood.

Jesus compared the life of man to a house that is built step by step, beautifully decorated, and provided with valuable furniture. Yet, all these fine appearances are useless, if the house did not have a solid foundation to enable it to stand firm in the days of disasters. What is the foundation of the house of your life?

Christ is the eternal foundation to every believer. He comes to us with his word, and from here the difference between the wise and the unwise arises. The wise believer hears the gospel of Christ, and opens his heart to his speech. This speech moves his heart, his pride becomes broken, and he actually repents. Then the word of Christ can convert him, creating a new man, founded on Christ who fills him with his power and love, that he may do what the Holy Spirit wills. This man became wise for he built himself on the power of God. Christ became the foundation of his being at present, and his intercessor on the Day of Judgment. The Holy Spirit also became the engine of his motives. The connection between man and God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is not superficial, but firm. It continues in death and forever, for the blood of Christ is our righteousness, and his Spirit our comfort.

The unwise may also hear the word of Christ, but does not care much about it, for his heart is full of thoughts and problems. He accepts some of the thoughts of the Son of God to build his life, but does not repent originally, or change morally and radically. His faith remains superficial and traditional, without the works of the love of God. In the days of trouble and old age this man will not find strength and comfort, but death will smile at him like a fearful ghoul, in spite of his baptism, and the judgment of God will lie in wait for him like a hungry lion. Great will be the fall of this man, for he heard the word of God, but did not really open himself to the instrument of his Lord’s power, neglecting his favor.

The flood of God’s wrath is inescapably coming, and his judgment is certainly imminent. Are you firmly established in Christ? Or are you still relying on yourself? Does the Holy Spirit produce in you the fruit of his goodness, or do you look like a dirty container filled with garbage? Resort to Christ, and repent truly, so that he may be your only Lord, and his love may overcome your iniquities. Hurry to the Savior of the world that he may save you and sanctify you while it is called “Today.”

PRAYER: O Lord, We worship to you for you became the foundation of our life; and made us deep-rooted in you, changed us, and helped us to hear and realize your word. Please keep us in your love, strengthen us in your purity, and guide us to your truth that we may abide in you, and do what you say with your help. 

QUESTION 55: How do we found the house of our life faithfully, in spite of the disasters of time and the Last Judgment?

 

 

THE HEALING OF THE CENTURION'S SERVANT
(Luke 7:1-10)

 

LUKE 7:1-10

1 Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. 3 So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, 5 “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.” 6 Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter into my roof. 7 Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” 10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick. 

The city of Capernaum was under authority of King Herod Antipas.  The Romans stationed a garrison in that important commercial center, in order that the Jews should not surprisingly rise in rebellion against authority. The centurion of the detachment quartered there was a wise officer who did not dominate over the foreign enemy nation by force and violence, but understood them and loved them, for he realized that their religion, which calls to belief in the One God, is the right religion that is filled with power. He honored this belief, and built for them a new, wide, spacious synagogue, which became more famous and honored in heavens and on earth than the Temple of Jerusalem, for Jesus made it the center of his ministry in which he frequently taught, healed the sick, and drove out demons from the demon-possessed.

When Christ’s enemies had organized themselves to destroy him, and after he had chosen his disciples to preach, the representative of the pagan commander came to him seeking his help. The centurion had already heard about the wonderful works of Jesus. He sent his spies to him, and knew exactly that Jesus was not a fearful rebel who led the racing multitudes into a riot, but that he was overflowing with love, and filled with the power of God. His healings and casting out demons confirmed to the centurion his noble designs.

The cautious heathen commander recognized the voice of God more than the blind Pharisees themselves who, through their fanatic clinging to the law, became far away from the truth. The centurion believed in Christ without seeing him. He had his sayings and words translated, and then he examined them exactly and understood the message of the Prince of peace. He knew that his kingdom was not of this world, and was not founded on swords and taxes.

The good thought of the centurion appeared in his genuine affection for his sick servant. He did not leave him neglected, but looked after him, and when he was ready to die, his master found no means and help except in Jesus, the greatest Physician. But as a heathen, he was prohibited from receiving the teachers of religion into his house, so he sent messengers and elders of the synagogue to Jesus, to mediate before him for his sick servant. Those went pleasantly to carry out the centurion’s will, and told Jesus that he was worthy of his help, though he was unclean according to their faith. When Christ did not respond immediately to their demand, they insisted on him, and testified repeatedly of the kindness and favor of that respectable commander. In fact the love of God responds to every honest human service. Jesus went, though he was prohibited from visiting a heathen according to the law. He was determined to enter into the centurion’s house even if the Jews considered it a sin.   

However the centurion had a sensitivity that made him feel that it was impossible for Jesus to enter his house. He expressed his great faith in words, saying, “I am not worthy that you should enter my house.” Imagine how the commander of the occupying authority humbled himself and submitted to that extent to the judgments of the Jewish nations, calling himself “not worthy” in the full meaning of that word, in spite of the elders’ testimony of his worthiness, “he is worthy.” This is the mystery of greatness in any great person. He that is worthy considers himself unworthy. Unfortunately, today he who is unworthy declares himself as worthy. How do you see yourself man?

Thus the centurion confessed his faith in the power of Jesus, believing that he could command the angels to overcome demons and disease, as the officer commands his soldiers to destroy the enemies and rebels. This foreign commander realized deeply Jesus and his essence. He did not only call him “Master”, but officially called him “Lord”, as we stated expressly in the original Greek text. No Jewish dared at that time to pronounce this title, for such a testimony implied a confession of Christ’s divinity in his human being.

Jesus accepted this faith immediately, wondering about the work of the Holy Spirit in this foreign man. He also marveled because of the unbelief in Nazareth (Mark 6:6). The Son of Man openly declared the beginning of the age of preaching the Gentiles, when the faith of the pagan commander appeared greater, holier, deeper, and more effectual than the faith of all his disciples, followers, and professing multitudes. He healed the servant immediately, for the power of Christ became completely evident through the centurion’s faith, even at a distance.

How does your faith appear? Do you only believe for yourself, or do you also pray for others? Where your love and faith come, in harmony with your unworthiness, near to Jesus, and you submit completely to him, the power of the Son of God appears with greatest expression in the salvation of your friends, even if they were distant from you. How does your prayer come out now, with selfishness, or with love for others?

PRAYER: O Lord, I am not worthy that you should come near to me, for I am selfish and unclean. Please forgive me my iniquities and little love for others. Heal me and save me. Heal them and save them. I do believe that your power overcomes me together with my friends whose names are before you. You are our Lord and Savior. To you we worship.

QUESTION 56: Why did Jesus praise the centurion’s faith?

 

 

JESUS RAISES THE SON OF THE WIDOW OF NAIN
(Luke 7:11-17)

 

LUKE 7:11-17

11 Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. 12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. 16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” 17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region. 

Guided by the Holy Spirit, Jesus went to the city of Nain, 50 km. from Capernaum. Nain signifies “delightful”, but death attacked this delightful, beautiful town as a monster, and cut off a young man. To the Jews, the death of a man in the prime of youth was considered as a divine judgment (Psalms 55:23; 102:26). Though the young man was the only son of his widowed mother, and the hope of his clan for the continuance of their seed, his death was considered as a punishment to all his house. His mother had already suffered the death of her husband, and now the second heavy blow hits her innermost being. She saw in those afflictions the proclamation of God’s condemnation on her, and was crushed, faithful, and God fearing. Many of the people of her town accompanied her in the funeral of her only child. The mother wept, shed tears, and tore out her hair. The procession of death went on to the open tomb to receive the dead body of the young man.

Opposite to this hopeless procession came the procession of life in the Prince of Life. Jesus saw the mother’s repentant heart, which neither complained nor blasphemed against God, but only complained about the sorrows of the mother who wept bitterly and penitently. The weeping of the repentant mother moved the heart of God. Christ said to her his comforting word, “Do not weep.” The Son of Man says this kind, tender, and powerful word to all those who weep in the world if they repented, for he comes to them with the full comfort of the power of God present in his person.

Jesus Christ came silently toward the coffin and touched it. The procession of death stopped. Then Christ followed his consoling, merciful word with his saving authoritative work. Christ did not call God to help and support him, but immediately commanded the dead man in his own name and authority, “I say to you, arise.” This word pierced the kingdom of the dead, and the dead man heard the call of his Lord. The word of the Creator breathed the powers of life into the dead body, and the man stood up and did not need anybody to support him. His spirit and his soul came back to him, and he spoke and lived as if he had never died. Christ raised the young man quickly from his coffin, as the father raises his sleeping son from his bed. Christ’s dominion is considerably great.

The crowds attending Christ became frightened, and those attending the funeral fixed their eyes stunningly on Christ’s mouth when they heard his words and saw the dead man starting up alive out of his coffin. They all felt the presence of God among them, trembled, and glorified the Holy One saying, “The prophet promised by Moses has truly come (Deuteronomy 18:15,18). He will make an new covenant with our God, and will guide his straying people into salvation.” They thought that Jesus was Christ himself, for every Jewish was aware that the raising of the dead is one of the signs of Christ; so some of them dared to say, “God himself is present among us in the man Jesus, for he has visited his despised people.” The report about the raising of the dead spread everywhere like a thunderbolt, and excited the hearts and minds.

Dear brother, did you realize the meaning of raising the dead at the hand of Christ? Whoever realizes and confesses that Jesus is Lord over death, must say with boldness and testimony that he is the true God and the Son of the Highest, filled with the Spirit, for God alone can raise the dead.

Did you realize the meaning of raising the young man before the walls of Nain with relation to yourself? You are like the young man in his coffin, full of corrupt thoughts and rotten sins, with the seed of death fixed to you. Now, Jesus Christ stands personally before you, blocks your way to the open tomb, touches you and says, “Young man, I say to you arise.” And you arise and live full of the power of God, and serve your Lord and Savior, thankfully and living forever.

PRAYER: We glorify you O Lord, and praise you joyfully and gladly for you raised the young man in Nain, raised us to life from the death of sins, and gave us eternal life. We worship to you Victor, and drink of the water of your life. Please call thousands of young men of our nation to the process of your triumphal procession. Amen. 

QUESTION 57: How could Jesus raise the dead young man?

 

 

THE DELEGATION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST,
JESUS' ANSWER, AND HIS TESTIMONY OF THE BAPTIST (Luke 7:18-35)

 

LUKE 7:18-23

18 Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. 19 And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 20 When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’”
21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. 22 The Jesus answered and said to them, “God and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.
23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

The reports about the wonderful works of Jesus spread, even into the dark cells of Herod’s prison. John the Baptist who baptized Jesus, and saw the Spirit descending on the Lamb of God, thought too much about Christ, the Anointed with the Spirit, and looked forward to his appearance as a Victor and King who would reform the nation, and change the face of the world. At the same time, he hoped that Jesus would release him from the deadly prison, for he saw it was impossible for the Lord to abandon his forerunner who confessed him openly when nobody knew him. John expected a gesture of gratitude from Jesus.

All the members of the Old Testament waited for Christ. Some of them wanted him a political hero, and others an ardent professor. All thoughts centered on the person of the coming Christ, the Judge of the world who raises the dead. John wanted to bring Jesus gradually to declare himself openly to be indeed the Christ, by asking him about that, for he believed in him, but without steadiness. He wanted to extinguish his doubts that overflowed out of him during his long waiting in the deep prison.

However Jesus preached and healed many people. The word, “many” which is often found in our reading, indicates the greatness of the love of Christ, his merciful kindness, and indefatigable mighty power. Did you ever reflect on the signification of Jesus’ healing many of the blind only by an utterance of his mouth, without any operation? None but the Creator can open the eyes of men and give them sight after their long darkness.  Imagine the joy that dwelt in the blind that were endowed with eyesight! How the people magnified God aloud! How the eyes absorbed Jesus’ image and sucked his impressing exceptional sweetness into their innermost depths at first glance! Dear brother, Does Christ’s image have the deepest impression in yourself? Do you see him in his love, kindness, power, mercy, and effort as the Savior of the world and the servant of all? Did Christ become the model of your life, the emblem of your future, and your saving Redeemer?

Christ answered John’s messengers, “Tell him who is imprisoned all what you see and hear, for this is in fact the kingdom of God that flourishes among you. I have not come with sword, money, and honor; but with forgiveness of sins, driving out demons, and raising the dead.” Please think once again, my dear brother: Who can forgive sins? Who is he that is stronger than the devil? And who can take the prey out of the mouth of death? God alone is the Almighty, and Christ stands before you in the authority of his Father, God from God. Light from light. True God from the true God, in one essence with the Father.

John expected another Christ: a champion who judges and manages. But Christ was embodied love. His power became great in the faith of the weak. The poor hear the gospel. Their holding fast to the Savior saves them, and often brings them into the kingdom of God, overcoming in them the temptations of hell. Christ made clearer to John’s messengers that he does not change the situations, but the hearts in the repentant; and he reconciles those that are prepared with God. He does not force the adulterer into everlasting life. He who seeks an earthly savior may choose an earthly Caesar, king, or leader; and fall with him into fire. But he, who longs for a heavenly Christ, must participate in his contempt, death, and life; and be with him from today in Paradise.

Jesus did not beatify John the Baptist, but all those who accept the meekness of the Lamb of God. Whoever asks Christ for promotion in office, school, allowances, and reputation, soon stumbles in Christ; but whoever repents, seeks only love, and forgets himself, enters into the kingdom of God, and abides in the power of his love. Thus Jesus put John before the choice that he might believe in his divinity, especially that he did not release him from prison.

PRAYER: O Lord, forgive us if we took more interest in earthly things than that of your kingdom and righteousness. Open our eyes to your loving kindness, and joyfulness of your glory, that we may see you, worship to you, and tell all people that you are God the Lord who leads us into self-denial.

QUESTION 58: What do we learn from Jesus’ deeds and words?

 

LUKE 7:24-30

24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ 28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

Jesus did not keep the striving of faith away from John, for it is the act of faith that justifies and not repentance, knowledge, and godliness. Christ loved his forerunner, and showed respect towards him openly. He said that the Baptist was not movable as a reed shaken with the wind, but hard toward the proud and sinful, strict against the soft and haughty, and harsh toward the adulterous king. He pierced their hearts. John was the true harbinger, and faithful guard to his nation, who called all to repentance and returning.

John did not only speak with his mouth pressing on his hearers with heavy burdens which he did not bear, but he lived what he said, and denied himself. He did not give way to ease and comfort, nor did he seek pleasure in the midst of the flood of sin in his people, but repented instead of them all, had his clothing of camel’s hair, and lived on locusts and wild honey in the wilderness. Thus he was the embodied call to repentance.

Nevertheless, John was not only the greatest of all prophets in the history of mankind, but was also more important than all the leaders and priests of the Old Testament. He surpassed Moses, David, and all philosophers and founders of religions in the world, for he foreran the Lord immediately before his coming, prepared his way, and cultivated, with the power of a divine angel, the hearts of the people that they might be prepared to accept the sowing of the gospel. Christ bore witness to his power, and confirmed that he prepared his way rightfully, and lived in faithfulness, lowliness, and power. This is the high encomium, which Christ gave of John the Baptist. Would that we hear, at the end of our effort, a warm admiration for our faithful service from Christ that has been raised from the dead.

Christ clarified to his hearers, in relation to the kingdom of God, that he that is least among those born of the Holy Spirit is greater than John, who is the greatest of all those that are born of dust. It goes without saying that the believers of the New Testament are not in themselves better than John. Moreover they cannot do any good of themselves. However, God became their Father through Christ’s reconciliation, and the Holy Spirit made them partners in eternal life. In fact, if you believe in Christ, you will become, by grace, greater than a prophet; i.e. you will become a child of God with all the rights and power given freely to you. But you are also called to participate in Christ’s sufferings, to deny yourself, to bear your cross everyday patiently, and not to doubt your Father’s love which cares for you at all times.

The multitudes of sinners confessed their sins openly during the baptism on the Jordan. They bowed down under God’s judgment, confessing that they deserved destruction, and asking forgiveness only for the sake of grace. As to the professors and scribes, they embraced their own righteousness and trivial dignity, rejected John’s baptism, and did not enter into the redemptive plan of God. They hid their sins in themselves, thinking that their good deeds caused God’s blessing forever. By this principle, they transgressed God’s plan of grace, and instigated the people against John and Jesus, in order that their deceiving teaching should not move from the law, and that the people may remain imprisoned in the nets of their deception.

 

LUKE 7:31-35

31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Christ likened the hardhearted rulers and elders of the people to arrogant stubborn children who invite others to play, and then quarrel with those who do not dance in tune with their flute, attributing to themselves the right opinion and the highest word for weeping or rejoicing. When the ascetic John demanded worthy repentance weeping, the lawyers rejected his call, for their Pharisaic flute was tuned to rejoicing in keeping the law. They called him who called to repentance a devil. And when Jesus, the complete Man, came calling men to the joy of grace, living an ordinary life in the spirit of his kindness, loving all people, and merciful to the sinners and evildoers, the lawyers hated him, for his love surpassed their teachings, and his righteousness came to them with grace from God, and not from their hypocrite works, and called him a reveler, and participant of thieves. If John and Jesus had kissed the hands of the rulers of the people and did what they demanded of them, they would have received great honor; but they called to repentance of all men, and therefore the rulers of the people felt indignant about the Lord’s call and closed their minds and hearts against it. They were like the stubborn children who do not obey their parents’ call.

Yet all those who were prudent gained from John and Jesus the greatest wisdom, which intimates seeking the Lord, hating sins, and freely justification by Christ. He who likewise responds to God’s wisdom becomes filled with the powers and will of our heavenly Father, the All-Wise. Did you become worthy of the kingdom of the Lord, or do you look like the stubborn children who ask others to dance in tune with their principles?

PRAYER: O Lord, I am not worthy to be your child. But you guided me with your gospel into repentance, sanctified me with the blood of your Son, and gave birth to me again of your Spirit. I thank you with all my heart, and ask you to release my thought from the bondage of the law, in order that I should not reject or judge anybody, but love all in your Holy Spirit.

QUESTION 59: Why did Jesus call John the greatest among all prophets and those that are born of women? Why is he who is least in the kingdom of heaven greater than John?

 

 

JESUS ANOINTED BY A SINFUL WOMAN
(Luke 7:36-50)

 

LUKE 7:36-50

36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.
37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Jesus loved his enemies, and did not reject the invitation of the censorious proud Pharisee to eat with him, though he was aware that his party had evil intents against Jesus.

The host was probably looking forward to seeing a miracle done by Christ in his own house. May be he wanted to examine Jesus: who he was? Or meant to intervene between him and his fanatic society. Anyhow, this Pharisee did not treat Jesus as a friend, nor did he offer him water to wash his feet from the dust of the road. And when Jesus entered into his house, he did not kiss him as a righteous brother, nor did he anoint his head with perfumed oil to honor him as a respectable guest; but remained reticent with him as mediator between two parties.

When the guests sat down to eat, the Holy Spirit led an unclean sinful woman who was despised by the people of the town. This woman came into the house to get near to the Savior, for she had already heard his preaching, and received forgiveness of her sins by faith. Her heart overflowed with thankfulness and love, and she shed her tears ashamedly and repentantly on Jesus’ feet, then soon wiped his feet with her loosened hair and kissed them as a symbol of her worship to her Holy Lord. She also broke a bottle of perfume to make an offering of thankfulness and praise to God, for she knew who he was that has comforted her heart with his blessed gospel.

Then the householder, clean Simon became disturbed, when he saw how the unclean woman was allowed to touch his feet, supposing that he would become polluted by her touch, and would consequently fall from his divine communion. That was a Pharisaic examination of Jesus by Simon who thought within his heart that the Nazarene was not a prophet, since he did not realize the secrets of men’s hearts. But Christ read the proud man’s thoughts, and showed him how the Son of God could read all the thoughts of hearts, and hit them all with a piercing reply that condemns the proud and comforts the repentant.

Jesus led the Pharisee to judge himself, for the latter thought that his sins were little and he did not need a savior. Therefore he did not like Jesus. However, the great sinful woman whom Jesus released from the bonds of sin thanked the Lord with a true heart. Do you love Jesus? The extent of your love appears in your thankfulness for the forgiveness of your sins. Your heart is probably still hard, and you did not know yet that you are an invalid corrupt criminal.

Christ taught the professor to realize in the justified sinful woman the reason for true love. She received forgiveness of her sins not by a work of righteousness, which she had done, but contrarily according to her love for her Savior who delivered her from her malice.

It is not necessary to commit serious sins and then love God after having forgiven you them. You have rather to ask your Lord to open your eyes that you may know the thoughts of your heart, that you are adulterer, thief, self-conceited, disobedient, transgressor against God, and worthy of immediate destruction. We are all sinners of the race of dirty sin. Blessed are you if you accepted your justification in Christ, and became sanctified by your faith, loving Christ joyfully, and serving him gladly.

Jesus clearly taught the lawyers this principle of the Holy Spirit. The Son of God forgave the sins in case people returned to him moved by the power of his preaching. He could not say to the self-loving professor, “Your sins are forgiven you”, for he did not repent. But he gave the repentant sinful woman the fullness of salvation freely, for her faith saved her. Jesus confirmed her faith and her preference over the unrepentant householder. And she went back joyfully justified, whereas the self-conceited professor flamed up with rage, and remained deprived of God’s comfort. Where did you reach in Christ’s knowledge and salvation? Do you thank him for forgiving your sins? What do you do to show your love to him?

PRAYER: O Lord, you are love. You do not despise me, but raise me up to you. I am ashamed of my sins. Please forgive me my sins, untie the bonds of my soul, and sanctify me in your communion, so that I may preach everybody with your salvation, and kiss your feet in your next coming. You, and no one else, are my Lord and my God.

QUESTION 60: Why did Christ say to the loving woman, “Your faith has saved you”?

 

 

JESUS' CONSTANT COMPANIONS

(Luke 8:1-3)

 

LUKE 8:1-3

1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,
2 And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. 

Luke is the only evangelist who reports the way in which Jesus Christ obtained money for his living and dressing, he and his disciples. The Lord refused to make bread miraculously out of stones, so the women whom he healed gave him of their money to facilitate the ministry of the Lord and his apostles. Some of them accompanied the procession of salvation, without being rejected by the Lord, for the majesty of his power and the holiness of his person kept them together with his disciples in purity. No impurity ever broke out near Christ, which indicates the kind of love in heaven, where there is no sexual relation, but thankfulness, holy love, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

It is a great privilege in Christianity that not only men are faithful, but women are as well. Those noble maidservants did not talk much, but devoted their attention, with their practical mind, to useful food and clean dress.

Many women in the world, through Christ, became free from contempt as being creatures in a degree beneath that of men, for Christ forgives them their sins as he forgives men, all the same, placing them at the same level in redemptive salvation. Even today, Christ offers the fullness of the gospel to all women and girls, that is half of human beings. He who hears his voice comes to him, becomes sanctified, and serves him practically, as the respectable ladies served him at that time.

 

 

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER
AND THE FIELD WITH ITS FOUR KINDS
(Luke 8:4-15)

 

LUKE 8:4-8

4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Do you want to hear more about grounds in Christ’s parables? Did you exactly understand his saying? His disciples did not understand Christ’s sayings exactly and profoundly, and they asked their Master to give them more explanation. Yet, the public satisfied themselves with the interesting story. They left Jesus, the Sower and did not understand their sowing, nor did they understand their own heart. A superficial man spontaneously hardens his heart and bears no fruit.

 

LUKE 8:9-10

9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” 10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing the may not understand.’”

Such is the case, my dear brother, with those multitudes. But you are more interested in hearing about the gospel of Christ. You ask him with lowliness and prudence, and he opens your eyes, and cultivates your heart that you may accept the seed of the word of God. Hear the explication of Christ prayerfully, and you will see the danger that surrounds you, and the promises, which the Son of God gave you for your deliverance.

 

LUKE 8:11-15

11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Did your heart become hard as a street through much listening to the radio, or to your own occupied thoughts, that there is no place for the word of God within you? Are you like a stone in the midst of a river, into which no wetness comes? Ask your Lord for brokenness of your hard heart, in order that you should not become like a road paved with cement, but like a fertile ground, good for the sowing of the word of God. If you did not repent, the devil would come personally, and take away the holy seed from you. The evil one, first of all, wants you to forget the powerful word of God. He makes you busy, after your listening to sermons, with idle babblings, exciting clamor, excessive pastime, and futile imaginations in order that your listening to the word should be in vain. Be watchful how to hear! Keep the word of the Lord with determination and steadiness, and memorize many verses. Do not think that your knowledge of the Lord’s counsel is enough. You are just a novice.

Keep away from enthusiasm in following Christ. You are not righteous and skillful enough, nor are you worthy of serving him. He wants first to change your heart, and crush your mind completely, that you may penetrate deeply into his words, and take power from them. Do not be superficial, but open your heart completely to the grace of God, for its power can keep you in the times of trouble, so that you may become patient and love your enemies. Ask your Lord to break your superficiality, imaginations, and self-righteousness that you may become righteous.

Do you love both money and the Lord simultaneously?  Are you trying to gain honor and self-denial simultaneously? Do you trust the All-Ruling and wish to manage your life simultaneously? Are you satisfied with the joy of Christ, or are you also searching in the mud of amusement? Christ wants you to be perfect to him. He does not crown a divided heart. If you do not give up yourself completely and forever to Christ, the spirit of the world will choke you, and worries will overburden you. Then you will not find power in yourself, for Christ is the only Deliverer and Savior.

No man has a good, clean heart as a good ground, but the word of Christ makes us useful, and prepares us for hearing, believing, and good working. Be aware that the fruits of the Holy Spirit do not grow in one day in a heart that was already filled with evil. In order to strengthen your faith, you need patience, longsuffering, and constant confidence in the mercy of God, for it is he who bears you. Abide in him and he in you that you may bear much fruit.

PRAYER: O Lord, you know my heart. Please plow it deep. Break the indifference in me. Cause superficiality to explode. Take away from me all inclination to money and amusement. Overcome the worries and doubts. Sow your love in me, and teach me patience in looking at you. 

QUESTION 61: What are the four kinds of men’s hearts that Jesus saw with his hearers? Why does only one kind of them bear good fruit?

 

 

THE MYSTERIS OF THE FAMILY OF GOD

(Luke 8:16-21)

 

Luke 8:16-18

16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

Christ enlightened the minds of his disciples with his gospel that they might become shining light in the darkness of the world, by word, deed, and behavior. The religion of Christ has a call that is not living for itself, but is prepared to spread the riches of the knowledge of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit throughout all the people.

However, preaching on roads and public squares is sometimes prevented under certain conditions. Christ points out to the picture of the family which meets inside the house around the lamp of the gospel. This signifies that if someone visited you at home, let him observe that the comfort of the gospel is the glory of your home.

Christ called his followers the light of the world, the salt of earth, and the leaven of the dough. It is impossible for you to hide your faith before your neighbors. They feel your love, peace, and joy unless your faith has died and become a conserved tradition. Never force anyone in your surroundings to accept your faith, but prepare yourself, at all times, to answer frankly, with prudence and lowliness whoever asks you about your faith, for our religion is not secret circles, but is opened to every convert.    

Everyone is invited to hear the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but not everyone understands them. Christ invites all, but few come. The lightening of man happens by direct interference of God. Yet those whom God opens their hearts to the meaning of his words are not the clever and proud, or the professors who hold the tradition, but those who hear with lowliness and thirst for righteousness. Christ says frankly, “Take heed how you hear.” He, who listens to the word of God, thinks of it, moves it into his heart, and discusses it with others, becomes lightened with the power of God. If he prayed according to the meanings that are new to him, he would receive a divine power, and live in fellowship with God, for man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He who listens to Christ watchfully becomes more and more enriched, for, in the kingdom of God, there is a principle of spontaneous growth in love, in the knowledge of God, and in the power of the Spirit. This positive development in the believer only depends on hearing the gospel.

Unfortunately, there is also the principle of spontaneous failure where the faculty of perceiving becomes weak, and the mentioning of the gospel becomes little. He who neglects the word of God forgets his Lord, becomes empty from the power of God, and loses all what he had of divine things. If someone listened to the gospel proudly, mocked at Christ, and censored his words sarcastically, he rejects the gospel willingly, loses grace, and becomes filled with an unclean spirit. Do not forget that the devil has only one purpose: to wipe off the word from you, take away your interest in praying and reading, and help you to forget its impressions quickly. Take heed therefore how you hear the words of Jesus, for your salvation depends on your hearing the gospel.

Do you hear it, understand it, live it, and tell others about it?

 


LUKE 8:19-21

19 Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. 20 And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” 21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Jesus lived in fellowship with his disciples, leaving his beloved mother and brothers. And when his enemies cast him away as a deceiver, warned people from following him, and officially rejected his message, his family came to him, and insisted on him to abstain from preaching, in order that he and his family should not be driven out of the nation. But Christ, with the sword of the Spirit, cut the temptation of blood, and called all hearers of the word of the Spirit of God his brothers and his sisters, if they did what they heard from him. With these words, the Savior revealed the mystery of the family of God, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the divine kingdom, except those that are born of the word of their Lord.

Mary heard this decisive word with a wounded heart, but she understood its meaning when she was filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. She probably told Luke personally of this event, and Luke on his part reported it to us to us in addition to other reports, which he had learnt from Mary.

PRAYER: Our reporting Lord, we thank you for your holy word, our spiritual nourishment. Teach us to read your word constantly and understand it, so that we may long for more hearing, and grow in peace and faith. Release us from the bonds of sin in order that nothing should separate us from your word, which is the power of our life.

QUESTION 62: How do we become rich in God?

 


QUIZ

The Preparation For the Work of Christ in Public

and Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee

 

Dear reader,

If you studied carefully Chapters 3 to 8 of the Gospel of Luke, you would be able to answer easily 24 questions out of the following 32 questions. If you mail us correct answers to these questions we will send you the next part of this series on the gospel of Luke:

 

31.   When did John the Baptist begin his ministry, and what is the meaning of his baptism?

32.   Why did John call men, “the children of the devil”? What are the true fruits that are worthy of repentance?

33.   What is baptism with the Holy Spirit?

34.   What do we learn from Christ’s baptism?

35.   What is the purpose of writing the genealogy of Jesus in Luke’s gospel?

36.   Why did Jesus not make bread out of the stones in the wilderness?

37.   Why did Jesus did not accept the riches of the world, and refused to show himself in the glory of his Father in the midst of the temple?

38.   What is the essence of Christ and his works, which made the souls grow gradually?

39.   Why did the wretched superficial Nazarene hate their native Jesus?

40.   How, and why did Jesus cast out the unclean spirit from the demon-possessed?

41.   Why did Christ prevent the evil spirits from speaking, and how did he heal the sick?

42.   What are the mysteries of the effectual ministry of Christ?

43.   Why did Peter tremble from Christ?

44.   What is the will of God?

45.   Why did Jesus forgive the paralyzed his sins?

46.   Why can Christ not save the unrepentant?

47.   Why did Christ call himself Bridegroom, and rejected the order of fasting of the Old Testament?

48.   What is the meaning of the statement, “Christ is the Householder”, and why do Christians celebrate Sunday joyfully instead of the Sabbath?

49.   Why did Christ call the twelve disciples, and how did he choose them?

50.   Who are the poor, hungry, and weepers in Christ’s beatitudes, and did he promise them?

51.   Why does Christ express woefulness to the rich, overstuffed bellies, and those who laugh, particularly the hypocrite?

52.   Why do Christians love all their enemies?

53.   Why does Christ prevent us from criticizing others?

54.   Who is righteous?

55.   How do we found the house of our life faithfully, in spite of the disasters of time and the Last Judgment?

56.   Why did Jesus praise the centurion’s faith?

57.   How could Jesus raise the dead young man?

58.   What do we learn from Jesus’ deeds and words?

59.   Why did Jesus call John the greatest among all prophets and those that are born of women? Why is he who is least in the kingdom of heaven greater than John?

60.   Why did Christ say to the loving woman, “Your faith has saved you”?

61.   What are the four kinds of men’s hearts that Jesus saw with his hearers? Why does only one kind of them bear good fruit?

62.   How do we become rich in God?

 

Send us your name and address clearly written along with your reply and write to the following address:

 

WATERS-OF-LIFE

P.O. BOX 15755

PITTSBURGH, PA 15244

USA

 

CHRIST'S POWER OVER THE STORM,
THE DEVILS AND DEATH
(Luk 8:22-56)

 

LUKE 8:22-25

22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Jesus continued his way alongside of Capernaum, for his enemies were willing to kill him. He began wandering about unsteadily, passed by all the villages of the region, and slept in the wilderness in order that nobody should know his place, for the hour of his death had not come yet. Christ himself appointed the place and time for his victory.

When Jesus went over the lake in a boat, the devil tried to destroy the Son of God and his followers by drowning him in the rough waves. But Jesus slept calmly and serenely, with a pure conscience, preserved with the protective care of his Father. His Spirit dwelt in God, and his will was in full harmony with his Father’s. He did not fear death, nor was he frightened of its danger. Nevertheless, the fatigue of his ministry had worn him out. He had walked many kilometers, and his soul had starved greatly in prayers, faith, love, and enduring difficult people. The Man Jesus slept peacefully in spite of the waves, which clashed against the boat.

The disciples, as experienced fishermen who knew every mood of the lake, made every effort to hold out against the storm, but the devil’s attack surpassed their human ability, and the boat became gradually filled with water. So they tried to empty the boat from the water that dashed into it, but the storm was violent, and the waves became very high. Yet, Jesus remained asleep. The wind blew, the sail split apart, and they were greatly afraid. Yet, Christ was soundly asleep, feeling safe in the hands of his Father.

Then the disciples came to him who was asleep, awoke him, confessed their inability, and screamed in the midst of the storm fearing death when a billow came toward them as an overwhelming mountain to devour them. Christ got up. He did not preach the hopeless for half an hour or more, nor did he discuss with them the reason for the storm, but cried out one word against the guffaw of demons, and immediately the winds and the waves became completely calm. The Creator ordered his creation, and his creation obeyed him. The Lord of the spirits commanded the wind and it became silent.

In the silence of frightened hell, Jesus began to speak to his disciples. He gave them a rebuke for their inordinate fear, and asked them about their faith; but they drew back fearfully, for they felt that the Lord of the spirits was standing before them. Yet, Jesus is not a devil, but he is the incarnate love of God. He is not covenanted with Satan, but he is the Savior of the world who demands of us to believe in his divinity. Without this faith, we cannot be saved, nor can we find help and blessing, for the living faith means to be engaged and covenanted with Jesus forever. Do you believe in the Son of God? Then his holy powers drive out your hopelessness, and you gain heavenly power, for our faith is not lifeless doctrine, or logical proofs of books, but holding fast to the Lord that has been raised from the dead, conquering all grave powers.

The fellowship of faithful fishermen on Christ’s boat is a token of the church at all times. Today, we are not living in the quietness of heaven, but are crossing the rough sea of humans, and the devil is determined to destroy all those who believe in Christ. But if we lived with Christ on one boat, he would embrace us, for he forgave us our sins and sanctified our characters that we might not fall as long as we are in his Father’s communion. He allows us to seek his help in hardships and dangers, not fearfully and hopelessly, but trustfully and thankfully, for he protects us in the eruption of elements, and keeps us safe from the hatred and rage of hell. Do you abide by Christ’s fellowship on the boat of church? Did you experience the presence of God’s peace in your heart when the peace of Christ had silenced the troubled waves within you?

PRAYER: Our Lord Jesus Christ, we worship to you, for you are the Lord of lords, having authority over all powers, elements, and spirits. Please forgive us our little faith, fear, and hopelessness, and teach us to continue in faith, and become assured in the calmness of the Holy Spirit so that we may continue in the fellowship of saints, and experience your presence with us forever.

 

LUKE 8:26-39

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” 29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. 30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him, 31 and they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. 32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. And they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. 33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. 34 When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed.  37 Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned. 38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Jesus was the incarnate Spirit of God in whom the fullness of the power of the Creator dwelt. The holiness of the Holy Spirit appeared in him, and the love of the Holy Trinity moved him.

When Jesus arrived at the eastern shore of Lake Tiberias, a pagan region, wishing to find rest and pray there with his disciples, away from the overcrowded multitudes, a man possessed with unclean spirits hurried to him, and was attracted to Christ as a piece of iron is attracted to a magnet. The man who had devils had bothered all the country, and was causing endless troubles to himself. He had found refuge not in a house, but among the tombs with the dead, running without clothes in the fields, and cutting all the chains with which people bound him. The evil spirits in that tormented man knew Jesus immediately, and cried fearfully, “Woe to us! You have come before the due time. You are the Son of God. Begotten, not created. Filled with the holiness of God. You are Power of the Highest. We are perished. You have the power and the right to torment us.”

Would that the scales of blindness fall from the eyes of foolish men, the locks fly away from the ears of the deaf, and the stony hearts explode, that they may realize that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, and not a mere prophet. The devil has vaccinated millions with his antichrist spirit, and filled their minds and subconscious with repudiation of Jesus’ divinity, that they became rigid in their hatred and refusal. Though this deceitful spirit, the father of all liars knows exactly that his doctrine is lying, he purposely deceives the multitudes. Jesus called him the ruler of this world. Yet where Christ comes in person, and when the apostles of his Holy Spirit pray in loving lowliness, and preach willingly with fasting, there the devil’s authority fades away, and his power is defeated, for Christ is the Savior of the world, and his name drives out all demons without delay. Come to the divine Victor and you will be secure forever.

Thousands of hosts of wickedness resided in that poor man, calling themselves “Legion”, which signifies in the language of the ancient Roman army a division of 3,000-6,000 soldiers. These unclean spirits cried sharply and explosively like dogs, for fear that the eternal Judge might drive them out immediately into the deep chasm, having heard the gnashing of hell, and known the place of everlasting punishment. Dear brother, in these satanic confessions, you may see the future of the reprobates. So repent, as long as there is time, unless you are cast together with the followers of Satan into the lake of fire prepared for the enemy of God and his angels. Christ loves you, and is willing to save you. Believe in your Lord, and abide in the gospel of salvation that you may become sanctified, flee from the spirit of Satan, and stand safe under the sprinkling of the blood of Christ.

Disturbed unclean spirits seek shelter in human bodies, but they destroy their shelter automatically, for they are, by all means, destructive. Christ cast them out of the patient, and allowed them to enter into a herd of swine. The falling of the herd into the abyss and the lake is a token of the final judgment. Do you belong to those who behave like pigs, or do you sit at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in your right mind?

What a beautiful depiction of the event: He, out of whom the devils were departed, sat at the feet of Jesus all peaceful, calm, and rational, as a consequence of Christ’s triumph. Today, you can see groups of disordered, restless, furious, and wicked young people. You know that those are driven by unclean spirits. On the other hand, you can see others neat, pleasing, favored with Jesus’ blessing, in their right minds, and enjoying great divine joyfulness. Those are driven by the Holy Spirit, and are made secure in Christ’s expanses. Do you belong to them?

Then Jesus sends you, as a token and witness of his salvational work, to testify to all the people of your country that Christ drove all unclean spirits out of your breast with his holy word. You should be a witness of the Savior even if all the people of your country rejected Christ. The Lord goes wherever the people reject him. Yet, he loves those who reject him, in spite of their ignorance, and sends his witnesses to them. Are you a witness of the great God into your low surroundings?

PRAYER: O Lord, you are my Savior. Thank you for saving me from the power of all evil spirits, for your Holy Spirit resides in me. Forgive me my sins, and help me to become properly clothed for you, neat and clean in all my behavior, a faithful witness of your word, and light in my idolatrous neighborhood. 

 

LUKE 8:40-56

40 So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. 41 And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. 43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, 44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 46 But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”
47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. 48 And He said to her, “ Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. God in peace.” 49 While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to Him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the teacher.” 50 But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” 51 When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. 52 Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” 53 And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” 55 Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. 56 And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.

The Heathen, fearfully, sent Jesus, the Savior of the world away from the circle of their town. But the believers of the Old Testament waited for him. The ruler of the synagogue believed in him, sought him, came to him, bowed down before him, and threw himself down in submission to him. He heard much of Christ’s sayings, saw his miracles in the synagogue, and dared to believe that the power of God went out of this man, and that the Highest who is present in him is worthy of worship. The ruler asked Jesus, the Savior to come to his house and heal his daughter who was dying, and Jesus immediately accompanied him.

At that very moment, a sick woman drew close to the Savior to take power from him by touching his garment. Her faith was so great that the power of Christ went into her as an electric shock. It healed her sick body at once, and stopped the flow of her blood. This woman had been subjected for many years to pain, hardship, and shyness before many physicians, as if afflicted by God. But now, she has recovered by touching him, and her twelve years of suffering came to an end.

When she had recovered, Christ wanted to raise her to high faith. He asked about the unknown person who touched him willfully with faith and drew the power of the Holy Spirit out of him into himself.

In his prudence, he led the woman to confess her faith and testify her hardship and what Christ did to her in words of thankfulness. Furthermore, the Lord strengthened her trust and said to her his strange words, “Your faith has made you well.” He did not say to her, “I healed you.” But he referred the healing to her faith. This contact with him made heaven enter into her heart. He gave her divine peace and sanctification of mind, and said to her, “Now, I give you the peace of the Highest. Accept everlasting cure, and fullness of blessings. Go in peace.”

During this conversation, the ruler of the synagogue stood up boiling with impatience, for his only daughter was struggling with death, and the Only Physician was late because of an unclean woman, as if such a woman were better than him, righteous ruler of the synagogue. When he heard that his daughter was dead, he wanted in his deep sorrow and resentment to ask Jesus not to continue his way to his house. But the Lord, in his kindness, outstripped him, raised him to the highest degree in faith, and prevented the brokenhearted from becoming afraid, just as he prevents you from every fear, and demands of you more faith. Christ guarantees your salvation if you believe, and he secures triumph in you and around you if you continue in your trust humility.

Jesus chose three of his disciples that these selected ones might see his glory, and their faith be fed. Everyone in the house was sad, weeping, and wailing. Suddenly they who wept began to laugh when Jesus said that the girl was not dead, but sleeping, for they were knew for sure that she was dead. Christ commanded them not to weep, for he, the Prince of life, was present among them. Why do people weep when someone dies? Do they not know everlasting life? As a bishop stood at a wall ready to be shot by unbelievers who had sentenced him to death, he cried out his last words to the poor soldiers, saying to them, “Adieu, dead! Now I am going to the living. Every true Christian knows that death is the gate to life.” Are you afraid of death, or do you live untroubled in Christ?

Death is not the absolute end. With regard to our bodies, death is like sleeping, for our spirits remain awake for judgment, either in disturbance because of sins, or in peace in the bosom of the Savior. Christ, who lives from everlasting to everlasting, took the girl by his creating hand, and said to her in a gentle voice, “Get up, child!” This is the raising word, which Christ speaks. You will hear this word when Christ comes again, if you were one of his beloved. Then he will take your body out immediately raised with glory and you will live with your Lord forever joyfully and peacefully.

The girl was still on earth. Her spirit returned from the world of spirits, and came again into the dead body. She was no longer sick or weak, but opened her eyes wonderfully, and got up immediately from the bed. How astonishing that Christ did not say to her at that moment, “Worship to your Lord, and commit yourself to me your Savior”, but turned back to her lost and disturbed parents and commanded them to give her something to eat. Our Creator confirms the earthly life, and is fully aware of all our ordinary practical needs.

Then Christ commanded the parents with calmness to glorify God, and realize him who overcomes the devil, diseases, and death.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for you are the Prince of life, out of whom life-giving rivers flow. Please open my heart to your love, and my mind to your power, that I may live today faithfully with all those who hold fast to you. Help me to hear, when you come, your invitation to your glory.

 

 

CHRIST SENDS OUT HIS TWELVE DISCIPLES TO PREACH

(Luke 9:1-9)

 

LUKE 9:1-6

1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Jesus gathered his disciples and empowered them after they had heard his words for a long time, seen his works, and become strong in faith through his presence, until they received his power, and understood his designs. Christ wished to multiply the glory of his love, so he commanded his followers not only to preach, but also to cast out demons, and cure diseases. He gave them authority over all unclean spirits and all diseases, and sent them as the Father had sent him filled with the powers of the Holy Spirit to effectuate the kingdom of God, where Christ himself is King, Center, and Source of all power, for out of him power flowed to those who had no authority, and grace to those who were unworthy.

Dear brother, the command of our King is needful, and the time in which we can behave openly is short. Who hears Christ’s call to ministry? Who comes preparedly to him? Is your faith growing so that Christ may send you and equip you as a delegate to your surroundings? Do not preach philosophies, but communicate the power of Christ to those that are dead in sins that they may rise in truth and truthfulness. Set free in the name of Jesus the prisoners of the devil that they may enter into the light, and leave darkness. The fullness of the kingdom dwells in all those who obey the gospel. All humble followers of Christ, with all the saints who had fallen asleep are the kingdom of God that is passing through time and present among us.

Christ gave practical remarks to his servants that they might know how to behave wisely in their service. First he prevented them from worrying about money and bread, and commanded them not to bear treasures, loads, or weapons in their missionary journeys, so that they might be able to travel easily and not become exposed to theft. The kingdom of Christ is not out of this world, but is spiritual. This is why the gifts of Christ are spiritual and not material. Christ did not give his apostles salaries, cars, or earthly equipment, but said to them, “Wherever you may be, eat and drink what is offered to you by your hearers.” This command belongs to the people of the Old Testament in the first place, for that people was used to look after the ministers of the Lord with respect to their sustenance and food.

Christ made his disciples understand beforehand that they should experience the same as he had experienced: that some hearers would accept them, and others would reject them with dislike. It was advisable to keep the truth for the firstfruits of faith into whatsoever village they passed by, even if rich and clever friends were renewed thereafter and offered them more comfortable shelter, for faithfulness is the principle in ministering.  

But where the hatred of hell hardens the hearts, the apostles should not compel the rejecters to accept the blessing, but they should go out simply shaking off all the dust from their clothes in token of the knowledge that they would not partake of God’s condemnation, which falls on all those who reject the gospel. Woe to the house, town, city, or country that rejects Christ and his salvation. The Lord’s condemnation and deadly wars will destroy them.

The apostles obeyed the words of their Lord, and walked to the towns, two by two. They revealed the triumph of Christ, preached with what they saw and heard, put their hands on the sick and healed them in the name of Christ, and experienced that the Lord himself accompanied them without their knowledge. His power was made perfect in their weakness.

 

LUKE 9:7-9

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. 9 And Herod said, “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” So he sought to see Him.

Now, Herod had executed the Baptist whose preparatory ministry ended, and Christ has sent his apostles to spread the kingdom of God. Yet, the murderous king who was convicted by his conscience, heard of Jesus, and supposed that the spirit of John came to his palace to take revenge. His retinue tried to calm him down and said to him that Christ was the prophet to whom Moses referred, or the expected Elijah. Everyone wondered about the mystery of the person of the great Son of God. Herod desired to meet him, but Christ did not lower himself to political atmospheres, nor was he willing to please or gratify anybody. His disciples testified of his power by word and deed. They did not teach lifeless thoughts, but guided their hearers to Jesus of Nazareth, the divine Victor.

PRAYER: O Lord, we thank you with all our hearts for today you call your messengers, train them, equip them, educate them, and then send them, and empower them for several services that they may spread your great kingdom of love in our nation and throughout the world. Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.

 

 

THE END OF CHRIST'S MINISTRY
IN THE MOUNTAINOUS REGION OF GALILEE

(Luke 9:10-50)

 

LUKE 9:10-17

10 And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11 But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. 12 When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”
13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” 15 And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17 So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.

Events followed one another quickly. The disciples returned and told Christ of the miracles of his power done by their words and with their hands upon mentioning his name. These reports came at the same time to the ears of the king who brought John, the forerunner of Christ to death. This king had probably begun to search thoroughly throughout his region for all those who were baptized at the hands of the Baptist.

Then Jesus took his apostles and walked out of his country towards the kingdom of Philips, brother of the murderous Herod Antipas, where Jesus desired to deepen his disciples’ experiences, and guide them to pray and give thanks that they might humble themselves and glorify God alone, keeping in mind that they were nothing, and that their Lord is everything.

When the multitudes in Capernaum observed that the Savior of the world was about to leave their country with his followers, they followed him in droves. And as Christ moved on a boat to the other bank of the lake, five thousand men followed him on foot and on boats to partake of the power of his blessings. Thereafter they found Jesus in the wilderness, and listened comfortably to his message about the diving kingdom in which peace and truth prevail, and no sin, injustice, or murder enter. This kingdom of God begins today in whoever repents to Jesus, the Possessor who qualified us, by his blood, to receive the power of his Spirit which establishes us in the services of divine love, and in the fellowship of the divine kingdom. Did you become a member of it, or are you just neutrally listening to the words of Christ outside the kingdom of God?

When the sun went down, the multitudes became hungry, and worried. The disciples also became disturbed about them. They were afraid of embezzlement, quarrels, fainting, and hatred; so they asked Jesus to end the preaching and healing, and send the five thousand people away. But the Lord looked at his apostles and was determined to give them an unforgettable lesson in order that they should never become puffed up because of their experiences in preaching, as long as they were unprofitable servants in spite of all the miracles they had done.

Christ commanded his disciples to feed that great multitude of people, but they confessed their inability having nothing but few to offer. Such crushing confession is the principle foundation to every servant of the Lord. Be aware that you and I are nothing. We have nothing, and we know but few of the knowledge given to us by the grace of the Creator. All physicians, philosophers, scientists, and geniuses know nothing, understand nothing, and can do nothing except that which is granted and made available to them by their Lord’s grace. Did you know that you are nothing but a breath of your Lord’s grace?

When Christ had overcharged them, their minds began to think and compute: how could they manage to satisfy such a great multitude in a human way? They had a look on their moneybox, and counted the number of camels, donkeys, and ships required to carry food to them. Consequently they realized that it was impossible for them to solve this problem for they thought according to their earthly power. But Christ thought in a heavenly manner. He commanded the multitudes to divide themselves into one hundred groups of fifty, for the kingdom of God does not accept disorder, or confusion. They sat according to Jesus’ commanded, fixing their eyes on him to see what he might do while their stomachs growled and gurgled hungrily.

Jesus Christ took the five loaves and the two fishes in his hands, put them before the face of God, and thanked him for this gift. His thanksgiving and looking at his Father, together with his trust in his great providence, and love for his lost hearers, mixed with constant praise were the mystery of this miracle and the power of performing it. The bread became automatically multiplied in his hands as well as the fish, until the entire multitude was filled. The disciples and the multitudes altogether were astonished, and some of them mumbled prayers giving thanks to their Lord. What about you? Do you thank your Lord for the little that is given freely to you? Do you share it out with others, or do you withhold it from them? Where is your faith? Where is your thankfulness? Where is your love?  

In the beginning of his ministry, Christ did not agree, in his temptation by the devil, to make out of the stones, bread for himself. But he was moved with compassion toward his hungry followers who had suffered long for the sake of spiritual nourishment, when they had listened to him for a long time. He was prepared to fill their bellies when they had penetrated deeply into divine things, and not vice versa, for Christ is not a king of bread. However, fleshly blessings shall be added to him who seeks first his kingdom and righteousness. The Lord did not make for his hearers a cake, chickens, and wine; but bread and fish only. The multitudes drank water from the neighboring lake and springs, and when they were all filled of food, they filled twelve baskets of bread and fish, which were more that what was at hand in the beginning. Christ commanded them to gather the pieces that were left over, in order that nothing of the grace might be perished.

Then the honorable apostles and all the public realized that Christ is the Creator, His Majesty, the Almighty, and the Conqueror of all elements who multiplies by his love what is in hand. He alone can solve the problems of the future of mankind. Such management happens not through international contributions or monetary aids, but through the spiritual Lord’s Supper. Jesus gave his body and his blood to his repentant disciples as nourishment for their road in the desert of the world. The filling of the five thousand men in Galilee was a token of the Lord’s Supper everywhere, where the Son of Man sacrifices his life, feeds those who thirst for righteousness, and give them life through his Spirit. Did you enjoy God’s spiritual nourishment, where the King gives himself to fill his chosen citizens of the world?

PRAYER: O Lord, How great you are! I am sinful, and am filled with complaint, worries, doubt, and unbelief. Please open my eyes to your love and power that I may believe in your ability, and carry out of your fullness to all those who hunger for righteousness; thus, we receive grace for grace.

 

LUKE 9:18-22

18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” 20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”

After the top of Christ’s ministry in Galilee, represented by filling the five thousand men with two fish and five loaves, the Son of Man withdrew with his disciples to pray. Did you realize that Jesus was a prayer, and that he did nothing and said nothing without continuous prayers? In this leading spirit, the Lord examined his disciples and drew them into confessing his essence. During this conversation, it appeared that the multitudes of his hearers did not realize his truth, for they supposed he was one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, or Elijah who was to precede the “day of the Lord”, or even John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod but the other day. The people’s knowledge was still superficial, and related with fearful expectation of death and spirits.

However, Christ wished to guide his disciples to take a decisive decision. He pierced their hearts and asked them directly, “Who do you say that I am?” If the Lord Christ asked you this question, what would you answer him? What would you say to your friend? Who is Christ? A schoolgirl wrote on her copybook in answer to this question: “He is my Savior.” This is the most correct answer. There is no better answer than that, for this word bears the experience of salvation and the power of Christ. Did you experience personally your Savior’s salvation?

This answer was not possible before the death of Christ, for salvation was not done yet. Peter dared, contrary to the people’s opinion, and in opposition to the Pharisees’ spies, and said in the name of all the disciples, “You are the promised Christ, Son of the living God.” In the origination of this knowledge, the Holy Spirit wiped off all the doubts and questions in Peter, and created in him the faith, which was not originated by men, but by their Lord. No one can say that Jesus is Lord and Christ except by the Holy Spirit. Grace becomes realized whenever a sinner knows Jesus’ essence and holds fast to his divinity.

What did Peter understand when his lips uttered this unique name, “Christ”? The Old Testament says that he is the Anointed with the Holy Spirit, who bears all the powers of God in him, and unifies all the offices of the Old Testament in himself; and that he is promised by God to set up an everlasting kingdom on earth whose center is Jerusalem. The Jews looked forward to the coming of this Promise One that he might establish the kingdom of peace, raise the dead, overcome injustice, and spread freedom all around the country that was burdened with the bondage of colonization. These expectations became earthly political and not spiritual. The majority of the people rejected the preaching of John the Baptist, for he preached a coming solemn Christ who judges severely, and requires conversion and radical repentance.

The Pharisees alleged that the Messiah would only come if all the Jews kept the commandment of the Sabbath without a fault. The Zealots, on their part, expected a fighting Messiah who would drive out the Romans with sword, and make truth prevails by force and violence.

For these reasons, Christ prevented his disciples from speaking about his Messianism, lest false victories should break out about his person. He did not reject Peter’s testimony, but confirmed it with his silent consent; asking him to continue in faith, without giving him a proof and an express consent. He did not say to him, “Yes, Peter, you are right, I am the expected Christ.” But he prevented him from confessing this faith openly before his death on the cross.

And yet, Jesus began to spread the knowledge of the true Christ in the hearts of the disciples: the Son of the Highest has come to set up the kingdom of God. But he cannot establish this holy kingdom out of sinners in faults and offences, for the kingdom of the Holy One is formed of saints, as he said, “You shall be holy, for I am Holy”. Christ made clear this word to us by his saying, “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” This divine kingdom is a Fatherly kingdom formed of the children of his Holy Spirit.

No man in the world is filled with this Spirit, for sin has separated us from out Lord. Christ came to purify, justify, and sanctify the people of his kingdom. The kingdom could not come before the crucifixion. Jesus began to tell his messengers that the true Christ came to suffer, die, and atone for the sin of the world as the Lamb of God. He could not build his kingdom with sinners on earth unless they are sanctified.

This essential knowledge did not enter into the minds of the disciples. They expected an eloquent-speaking prominent champion who would rouse the feelings and emotions of the multitudes and reign over the spirits and elements. Their thoughts were filled with the authority of Jesus. They did not observe his way down to death, nor did it occur to them that the religious leaders of the nation would bring the Christ of God to death or even partake of his death. After filling the five thousand, and after Peter’s testimony, Christ’s recurrent phrase to his disciples was that the Son of Man must die, in order to prove to his followers that he was certain of his triumph and that he was in harmony with the will of God.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, we worship to you for you are the Christ of God, and in you dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Forgive us our superficial faith, and teach us the necessity of your sufferings and death that we may partake of your obedience of faith, and your triumphant resurrection.

 

LUKE 9:23-27

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

Do you wish to follow Christ and become a member of his kingdom? Do you long for changing into his image, and becoming a child of God that the name of your Father may be hallowed in your behavior? Then your sins will be clarified in Christ’s presence. In these verses, the words self, and life appear four times, and the pronouns me, and my appear five times, which places us face to face before Christ. His holiness reveals your impurity, so confess your corruption openly, deny yourself, and hate your dissolution. Do not show appreciation of yourself, but keep away from it. Do not listen to the cry of the flesh, but overcome your selfish sensitivity, stab your self-pity, and consider yourself as nothing that Christ may become everything.

How do you deny yourself practically? Christ said, “Take up your cross”, and not, “Take up my own cross.” He means to prepare you to accept your death sentence because of your sins, for the cross signifies the most horrible death penalty, which is prepared for runaway slaves, and despised criminals. Christ suggests to you, slave of sin, and runaway from God’s expanses into the fellowship of the disobedient, that you should bow your head to the due rewards of death that the Spirit of God may condemn you without mercy. Then you will not like your corrupt self, but you will despise it. You will also know that you have unmistakably lost it, and that it has no more value, but is going into destructive death.

This self-denial does not take place for one time only, but is realized daily by following Christ. Your Lord did not say, “Deny yourself for one time only and you will be saved”, but he wants you to practice your self-denial daily, to continue in judging yourself at all times, and to bear your death penalty constantly.

In fact, nobody can deny and deaden himself, and live at the same time, except those who follow Christ. In him we learn how to reject our sins, tread on our haughtiness, and hear at the same time his call to the true life that is filled with joy, happiness, and love.

The following of Christ is like a trip on the top of a series of mountains, where on the right and the left there are bottomless chasms. But in faith, we set our love on our Leader, and follow him step by step, neither quicker nor slower, neither before him nor behind him, but side by side with him, at the same speed, according to his will, looking unto him, not caring about ourselves, but focusing all our attention on him that we may forget ourselves and win him.

Christ stabs you further in your own self, saying to you, “If you wished to praise your manners and your continuous ease, and to make prominent your noble origin, you would soon fade away and become corrupt because of this selfishness, as all clever and rich nations disappeared through their boastfulness. But if you worshiped Christ, and became poor for the sake of his service, seeking not your self but him, then his power and Spirit would flow in you, and his life would compensate your losing self and give you an eternal being.

Unfortunately, people think that they are reforming the society with its schools, education, and morals. The are actually deceiving themselves. What we need, in fact, is to kill the ego, and not to boast of the customary morals, but to reject false humanity to win Christ alone. It is possible for a man, family, or people to prosper, and become so rich, clever, famous, and great that all the world may profit through him; but then he will come to the top of the slope and begin to fall down, for whoever turns to himself with the aim of winning the whole world, deviates from God, moves away from him, and loses everlasting life, for Christ said, “No one can serve two masters.” Christ understood this crafty temptation of the devil from the beginning, and refused to possess the world choosing the cross. This is why today he possesses the world and the heavenly places, and lives forever (Also compare John 12:25; Luke 17:23; Matthew 10:33).

Do you love Christ? Come to him and ask him to heal your losing soul. He is the Savior of the world, and is prepared to care for you that you may become cured and follow him. See the absolute loss of your soul, and confess it before Christ, asking him for your salvation that he may change your falling into sublimity, and your corruption into holiness. Hurry up and save yourself, for Christ is your Savior. 

Do you love Jesus? Then tell the others about your Savior, for the bridegroom who does not tell about his beloved bride or address her does not love her, and the Christian who does not read daily Christ’s messages and tell others of his reports does not love his Savior at all. Are you ashamed of bringing the word of your Lord before your friends? Who is greater, Christ or men? Do you love yourself or your Lord?

Christ will come in doubled glory, for he denied himself on the cross and won it, having been given by his Father all authority in heaven and on earth. The Son will come in the glory of the Lamb of God, in the full glory of the Father and of all the holy angels who will be attending him. Then the kingdom of God will appear openly and become realized practically. Did you deny yourself, and become worthy for the kingdom of God in Christ’s blood and Spirit?

Christ knows that no man is worthy of entering into the kingdom of God. But whoever participates in renewing the universe receives the power of eternal life in the midst of our abysmal age, and passes from death into everlasting life. Since the Day of Pentecost, millions of people have lived heavenly life, over whom death has no power, for they have denied and condemned themselves, bringing honor only to Christ, the beloved Redeemer, and looking forward to his coming prayerfully.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, You are my Savior, my Measure, and my Aim. Forgive me my selfishness, put to death in your kindness my corrupt self, and create in me a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Bind me to yourself that I may follow your Spirit wherever you will.

 

LUKE 9:28-36

28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. 30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”-- not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days of the things they had seen.

Jesus called his disciples to put to death their selves, and take up the cross continuously, for he chose this way for himself, making himself of no reputation, and died for us on the cross of the infamous and accursed cross. There is no other way for salvation except that of the Lamb of God.

This way is but a transition period whose aim is to glorify God in the unity of love. Jesus chose his mature disciples, and showed them the true glory in God’s communion that they might clearly realize the aim of their self-denial, for this is the motto of all mature believers: To glory through the cross.

This glory is not received through a gift or ownership from God, but through humble prayer. Luke showed us more than the other evangelists that Jesus was a holy prayer, and a model to all prayers. As he spoke with his Father, the appearance of his face became different, for God is the center and direction of the prayer. He created man in his image, and therefore this image can easily be realized in praying. 

In Christ’s harmonization with God, his appearance and his robe changed into light. Moses, the founder of the Old Testament had bright skin after his meeting with God. But Jesus, the founder of the New Testament was the Holy One himself, and therefore the glory that appeared in him was complete and unveiled (Compare 2 Corinthians 3:4-18).

Open your eyes and observe what is strange and impossible: the dead are alive. Moses is the founder of the law, and Elijah is the symbol of the prophets. This indicates that Christ, in his prophecies about his death was in full harmony with all the principles of the Old Testament, for Christ did not set up his kingdom by human power and ability, but by sufferings, cross, and resurrection.

Probably the two glorious apostles of God had to tell the incarnate Son about the mysteries and difficulties of his planned sacrificial death, for such metaphysical significations with all their details and consequences on the whole universe were beyond human understanding. Therefore the Son prepared himself to die crowned with shame purposely and intentionally to reconcile men with the Holy One.

This transfiguration took place that the three disciples might also understand the way of the cross as the only way to the reserved glory. However Peter did not see the cross, but only glory, and while his Lord was talking to everyone about the hour of his death, his subconscious mumbled about his wish: to cling to those three holy men so that Paradise might become into the world, and he might go into it without sufferings and worries. It was not easy to the disciples to see the shining glory of Christ, for they slept in a state of extreme exaltation, shining light and beauty. Their human spirits could not bear the appearance of God’s glory. They also slept in Gethsemane when the fullness of God’s wrath, and all the temptations of the devil descended upon Jesus. But the three eyewitnesses on the Mount of Transfiguration were granted to keep a little awake to see with open eyes and with astonishment the God of light who dazzled them with his splendor more than the brightness of the midday sun did (John 1:14).

In this sleeplike or half-conscious state, there came the cloud of the light of God, which accompanied the people in the wilderness, and which Ezekiel saw fearfully, for it was the veil of the glory of the Holy One. Fear fell upon those creatures, and their offences burnt in to their consciences. But the Creator did not come to judge his Son’s witnesses, for their faith had saved them. He brought good tidings to those who were afraid, and showed them the way to complete salvation. The Holy Bible does not contain many divine words with which God directly addressed his creatures; therefore it is necessary to penetrate deeply into each letter of his words and say them in our prayers to God.

The holy God called Jesus his Son, because he humbled and denied himself, and chose the way of the cross. This was the will of the Father. The essence of the Father appears in the Son’s meekness. Christ is not a created prophet, but he proceeded from the Father before all the ages, and was an eternal, holy, and glorious one of the three divine persons. 

The Son of God became incarnate because of our unclean state. His Father kept him as the apple of his eye since childhood, and the Holy Spirit developed his human talents with his heavenly power. Thus the Man Jesus became the perfect Man who determined in his love to die for others, for he alone was worthy to die as a substitute for us.

He was the incarnate Word of God, and the best Revelation of his true eternal will. God commands you to hear Jesus’ word daily and accept it, for it is filled with the creative power, divine authority, and spiritual comfort. Christ’s word offers you eternal life.

When the disciples heard God’s revelation and commandment and accepted them, they realized who Jesus was, and knew that he was not a political savior, but the Son of God in flesh, and an designated Lamb for the cross. At this moment, the vision stopped and the voice became silent, and they saw Jesus alone. This is the summary of our faith: We do not need any angels, saints, bishops, or churches, for Jesus is our Savior, and our faith in him delivers us. You will never see anyone of help to you except Christ. Bind yourself to him, for God says to you, “This is my beloved Son. Hear him.”

PRAYER: O Father, we thank you for sending your Son to our evil world to save us. Clean our ears and hearts that we may listen to his words and keep them, that we may realize his divinity, respond to your Fatherhood, and glorify you for his death on the cross with pure and wise behavior.

 

LUKE 9:37-43

37 Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him.
38 Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.
40 So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the majesty of God.

Christ went with his disciples from the highness of transfiguration on the majestic and sacred Mount Hermon down to the deep Jordan Valley of disasters, tribulation, and offences. He newly entered into fellowship with men where unclean spirits dominate.

Christ’s followers themselves were defective and weak in their faith. Though they had already driven out demons in the name of Christ (Luke 10:17), they could not heal the demon-possessed boy who was afflicted with epilepsy. The physician Luke described this boy as possessed by a demon. Yet, not all diseases are as such, therefore we must be cautious not to judge any disease superficially. It is through faithful prayers in Christ’s fellowship, and silent fasting that the unclean spirit is forced to get out and leave the temple, which he had already occupied, to the power of Christ.

Jesus was exceedingly sorrowful to smell the unclean spirit, and see the weakness of his disciples when he had approached his Father, and abided in the glory of his love. He pierced their unbelief, and we can hear in his reproach to them the voice of the Holy Spirit, sorrowful for our malice, and revealing our perverseness and unbelief. The Spirit of the Lord resists our hard hearts, and feels sorrow for our incomplete trust. God was with men, but they did not believe in his present power. Christ remains with us all the days; so who abides in him and triumphs in his name? The Holy Spirit dwells with his fullness in the believers. Then where is the abundance of his love in them?

God’s holiness prompts him to leave and destroy us, for our unbelief is the greatest sin. But his love is patient. It has mercy upon us, and heals our evil hearts. It is good to you to distinguish exactly between yourself and Christ. He is from heaven, but we are subject to falling into hell. He is holy, and we are of corrupt minds. He is Love, and we are selfish and ungrateful. Jesus made himself of no reputation and was given all the authority of his Father, but we do not deny ourselves, and consequently we fall down failing and weak continuously. Be aware that God wants you to decide that you must believe, and to complete your commitment to his eternal fellowship. Leave the world, and keep away from false spirits, deceitfulness of riches, and superficiality of civilization that you may win Christ, the Son of God. Set your love upon him for he loves you and drives away your darkness.

The evil spirit in the sick boy perceived the narrowness of Christ, so he became angry and afraid, for the glory of God came to him. And when the disciples came to Jesus with the furious patient, the demon tried to tear the demon-possessed boy, then Jesus ordered the evil spirit to leave his prey, and thus he won the sick boy to the living God. Did you observe Christ’s attention to that poor boy, and how he used his power to save him? Did you realize the meaning of this deed? Even today, Jesus Christ looks after every sick boy in your country and all around the world. I a spiritual father cried out, “O Lord, have mercy on my son.” Do you cry out by grace for others, or do you still pray for yourself only?

Blessed are those who pray for others, for the greatness of God appears through their faithful love. Christ is willing to triumph through your faith too. So come to your Lord that he may cure you of the dictates of your evil heart, and fill you with his faith in order that his power should become perfect in your simplicity.

PRAYER: O Father, your love is great, and your power is endless. Forgive me my terrible unbelief, and all detested selfishness. Prevail against me for obedience to the faith that I may pray for others. Save every boy and girl in our surroundings who long to become free from their impurities and lying, and sanctify us completely with your grace.

 

LUKE 9:43-45

43 But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, 44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.

In the three examples explaining the words of Christ about the faithless and perverse generation, Luke shows us that the disciples themselves could not believe. Their thought was opposite to the counsel of God. They were blind and foolish, and did not perceive the way of God. Christ said to them, “Open your ears to my words.” But their minds were as deaf stones, and their understanding was not tuned to the Spirit of God. Though they were near to Jesus and chosen, they did not understand the necessity of Christ’s cross at all, and could not realize that the Son of God would be condemned by men as the rejected Son of Man. Nevertheless they were cognizant of the meaning of “the Son of Man”. This word is attributed to the eternal Judge, according to the Book of Daniel. Then how could defendants judge their Judge? How did the Almighty allow his mortal creatures and servants to torment him? This great mystery cannot be perceived by any human being today, unless the Holy Spirit helps him and opens his mind, revealing to him Christ’s humility, and uncovering God’s plan of love in his beloved Son.

At that time, the disciples were ignorant, perverse, and uncertain. So what about you? Do you dare to confess before your Lord the renewal of your mind, asking him to reveal his way and his aim for you and your church, or do you remain deaf and foolish to the mentioning of the Lord’s name?

 

LUKE 9:46-48

46 Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. 47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”

The disciples were not only poor in knowledge, but were also haughty. They thought they were quite something. This is the destructive sin inside churches, that some brothers think themselves cleverer, more gifted, and more important than the others. However, Christ dislikes this original evil spirit. He set a child among those men, and explained to them that that child, in spite of his youthfulness, was greater than them all. It goes without saying that the child was not profitable in himself, for he was sinful as others are, but his life became valuable and meaningful because of Christ’s love and response to him. The important thing is not what you are, or what you have, but it is the thing itself. God loves you, and Christ died for you, and his Spirit prompts you to do good. Your value is not within you, but without you. It is in the grace of God.

The setting of a child in the midst of men indicated his need of someone who would bring him up. May be he was parentless. By such a parable, Christ shows us that we are in urgent need of our heavenly Father, and that we cannot live without God. The child’s trust in his earthly father represents the faith humility in the believer who places his in his heavenly Father.

In his love, Christ looked after this forsaken child, and provided him with a shelter. This word of Christ has found shelters for thousands of the forsaken, for many poor believers sacrificed their lives to receive homeless people. They do not receive any reward for that, but Christ and his Father in the holy unity dwell in them, for God loves the small, and all those who consider themselves small and needy. Woe to the proud! They are in hell with the devils. What are you aiming at in your life? To be a simple servant in your meetings, or puffed up and proud? A faithful servant is better than the self-conceited great.

 

LUKE 9:49-50

49 Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

The disciples and we are not only foolish and proud, but are also selfish and violent. John who became thereafter the messenger of the love of God was angry when he saw a believer in Christ healing the sick and driving out demons in the name of the Savior, because that man was not of the company of the chosen apostles. John was adherent to the privilege of his being chosen, and was prepared to discount the work of that believer completely, by forbidding him from making use of the power of the name of Jesus in healing the sick. But Jesus broke the selfishness that was the central point of the young disciple, and allowed many services in his name outside the centers and organizations he appointed, for it is not the capacity of our relation to a certain church that entitles and empowers us to render spiritual services, but our faith in Christ alone. In this manner, the Son of God provided us with a great measure for our behavior toward the believers: not to oppose their good deeds. Every brother, who works in the name of Christ and lives as a servant to the world, is a true and acceptable brother to Christ, even though he does not follow with us or belongs to our societies. Beware dear brother of the profession about the law, for the kingdom of God does not end at the door of your church, but it works wherever the name of Christ is mentioned with love.

PRAYER: O Lord, I confess my foolishness in perceiving your ways. I am ashamed of my haughtiness toward others, and am regretting my siding with my society, as if we were better than other believers. Please set me free into your love, humility, and wide insight that I may hear your words, and realize mercifulness. Thank you for every forsaken child who found a shelter in your name for the sake of this blessed word. Amen.

 


Part IV

JESUS' MINISTRY

DURING HIS JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM

(Luke 9:51 - 19:27)

 

 

THE STINGY SAMARITANS
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE LORD'S JOURNEY

(Luke 9:51-56)

Teaching Against Bigotry

 

LUKE 9:51-56

51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

Christ had not yet finished training his disciples, when the time appointed by the will of God approached for him to suffer and give himself a ransom for the world. The Son of the Highest knew that his disciples did not understand him completely, for their hearts were still bound by sin, and the Holy Spirit had not yet abided in them. So he went toward Jerusalem to reconcile men with God on the cross, and then ascend, through his triumph on Golgotha, to heavens to bring down to us needy the power of his Father that it might bring us to knowledge, humility, love, and patience.

Beginning from this reading, Luke tells us how Jesus left Galilee, his homeland, and started his long journey knowing that he would not come back, but die there. He was thirty years old, and the world was in need of his words and healings. However the Son of Man knew that his death was more essential than his life on earth, therefore he denied himself, took up his cross, and gave his life a ransom for many.

Christ did not allow sorrows to prevail in him, but he organized his procession of love, and sent the apostles to the villages to prepare shelter and food, which entails that the guidance by the Spirit does not avoid organization in the life of individuals and churches, for our God is not the God of disorder, but the Lord of good order and organization.

They who traveled straight from Galilee to Jerusalem at that time had no alternative but to pass by Samaria, which was inhabited by people mixed with remnants of the tribes of Israel, as well as those whom the Assyrians put up in the promised land, and whose religion also became mixed, which made the Jews despise them and consider them unclean. The Samaritans, in return, despised the Jews, and caused harm and injury to travelers and incomers. Thus a state of enmity and deep-rooted hatred prevailed over them.

This spitefulness exploded in John, the apostle of love, and his brother James, when the Samaritans rejected Christ, the Lord of the world, and his companions, and prevented them from passing and sleeping, maybe for fear that the considerable number of pilgrims might enter the village, rob it, and destroy in their zealous spirit their beloved Samaritan gods.

John wanted to answer this insult with a holy vengeance. He resented the slight, and wanted to avenge the Son of God, by commanding fire to come down from heaven and consume them, justifying his zeal by referring to the case of Elijah and the condemnation of his anger upon the enemies of God. But Jesus rebuked John and his brother in the presence of all the disciples, in the same power as he had already rebuked the fever in a sick man, silenced the storm, and drove out demons. In all these events, we find the word “rebuked” revealing the flaming wrath of God. Thus we know that Christ did not wreak his wrath upon the ignorant, sinful Samaritans, but rebuked his two disciples who became open to the spirit of vengeance and spite, for all those who repay evil for evil belong to the Old Testament. Yet Jesus renders good for evil, forgives his enemies all their offences, and loves those who curse him in order that they should repent and turn to him and be saved.

The Son of the Highest does his Father’s will: he saves, blesses, and endures. He neither condemns, nor destroys, nor rejects, even if he were slighted or insulted. The love of God is beyond our minds. Of what spirit are you born? Are you born of the spirit of the world, affected by the Old Testament, where the dominating principle is “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth”, or are you born of the spirit of heaven and the power of the New Testament, passing silently wherever you are rejected, cursed, or betrayed, and loving when treated badly? So when Christ was refused by the Samaritans, he departed from them and went toward another village in which he was received warmly. We see that John and all the company did not forget this teaching as long as they lived because of its meekness.

PRAYER: O kind heavenly Father, please forgive me all my anger, spite, hatred, and rejection. I thank you for your kindness and patience, and ask you for a true spiritual birth in order that I may not think of destroying people, but bear them patiently, love them, and guide them to you, in your name and your power.

 

 

JESUS THREE FOLLOWERS OF DIFFERENT TEMPERS

(Luke 9:57-62)

 

LUKE 9:57-58

57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

During his journey to Jerusalem to deliver himself to crucifixion, Jesus spoke with many people. One of the scribes was impressed with Jesus’ wisdom, and extremely forward to follow him immediately. He found in him the teacher that is gifted with God’s insight. His longing for truth and righteousness was true. But Jesus showed him that the way to the Son of God was not paved; moreover, his companions were not of the highborn, and he had no earthly distinction or money, but was poor, and subject to despise and persecution. The enemies of the wandering Christ lurked for him to kill him; therefore he slept in forests and wilderness so that nobody might know where he was. Thus the Creator of the world became poorer than the alarmed animals. Cunning foxes dug holes to protect their children, but the Son of Man had no handmade house. Birds flew freely in the sky, and put their eggs into warm nests, but the Savior of the world could not find a shelter for his followers, for he himself was homeless, and rejected by his nation. He who follows him will meet in this world bitter contempt and extortion of his essential rights in life. Do you want to follow Christ any longer? Think attentively before you decide.

 

LUKE 9:59-60

59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

This other man was not forward to follow Christ as that ardent expert in the Scriptures, but was slow in taking his decision, though his heart was flaming with love for the Nazarene. The Omniscient saw the thoughts of his heart, and wanted to help him in piercing the screens of his hesitation. So he ended his hesitation saying to him, “Follow me.” But he, who was given the call, did not obey the unique word of God. He was phlegmatic, and burdened with tribal duties. As his beloved father died, he began to think of leaving Jesus’ procession to sink into the waves of sorrow at home. Yet, Jesus did not desire to leave this beginner in faith sinking in his hopelessness and tears, but wanted to take him out into the kingdom of his joy, and establish him in the family of God. This is why the Prince of life called all the living dead, for all men are dead in sins and are carrying in them the seeds of death. Every living man, through his earthly help to others, is burying them, for he is preparing their way, not to heaven, but to the destruction tomb. The true Christian is like the unique Life-Giver, for Christ made him a partner in his power that he might carry those that are dead in trespasses to everlasting life through the word of the gospel. He who believes shall live, and he who does not believe shall die.

Christ asked him, who was given the call, to do something strange and impossible for any human being. He asked him to break the customs and deny his duty to his relations that he might immediately receive the fullness of God’s life, and become a tree of grace. Christ did not direct this command to all men, but to a certain individual. So you do not have to refuse to bury your dear father when he dies, but you must rather live before your family in Christ’s joy and serving humility that your father might ask you about the power working in your life, and then becomes renewed through your prayers and communication of the gospel. Are you a witness of everlasting life, or a dead man burying the dead living?

 

LUKE 9:61-62

61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

A third man wanted to follow Jesus with all his heart, but the word “but” is a knife that cuts the tie between many who are prepared to believe and Jesus, their Lord. What separates your from following Jesus completely? Your relation with your family, or your daily needs? Your Lord asks you to separate yourself completely from your lower clan, and prepare yourself poverty, hunger, and self-denial. The following of Jesus does not happen except by holy decision, and complete determination. You cannot serve two masters.

Christ warns those who began to follow him not to look back at their corrupt past, in order that they should not be like the plowman who puts his hand strongly to the plough, but at the same time looks behind, and then he makes balks with his plough, or the plough may be broken on a rock. Direct your heart completely to Christ’s grace, separate yourself entirely from your old spirit, and dare to enter into the kingdom of God that you may become the wise plowman of God, and bear much fruit.

PRAYER: O holy Lord, I am not worthy to follow you. You know my heart, which is foolish and ardent while it needs caution and thinking, delaying when having to follow you immediately without delay, and hesitating when decided determination is required. Lord, give me a new heart, which loves you over all, and does your will immediately.

 

 

CHRIST SENDS OUT THE SEVENTY OF HIS FOLLOWERS THROUGHOUT HIS COUNTRY

(Luke 10:1-16)

 

LUKE 10:1-2

1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. 2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

The harvest truly is plenteous, and the world is ripe for judgment, to be reaped by the angel of the Lord for destruction. However God in his grace did not destroy men as yet, but he sends them messengers of peace, time after time, that the powerful gospel may dwell in prepared hearts, and bear a hundredfold. Christ testifies to you in his divine insight that the harvest today is also great, for many people are responding to the word of God, putting on its power, and doing the will of Christ.

 

Christ’s harvest does not happen theoretically or emotionally, nor do his reapers lie relaxed on couches. But Christ chooses hardworking laborers and sends them to the tiresome harvest. They neither rest nor strut, but overwork and overexert themselves without limitation of working hours, as long as the sun shines on them.

Are you a laborer of Christ? Then ask him for partners who are full of humility, characterized by resolution, devoting their full strength and concentrated attention to the service, and accepting the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus this Spirit in Christ has given us the most important order in preaching. Your Lord does not want you to work hard even to death, but to pray for sending qualified laborers for his harvest that they may altogether gather his ears to his stores and not to their own stores. What about you? For whom do you work, for yourself, or for Christ? Do you thank your Lord for all your co-workers, or do you complain about them? Do you ask your Lord to send enough faithful servants for work in your country?

Today, Christ is calling you to serve him, as he had sent out the seventy men for a preaching mission. He symbolized by their number the great Sanhedrin, or council of the Jewish nation, and the elders of the Old Testament that they might become elders in his New Testament, filled with his Spirit (24:1 and 9; Numbers 11:16 and 25; Exodus 1:5).

Christ did not send them one by one to each village, but two by two to divers villages that they might strengthen and encourage one another, and not vie in boasting. If one speaks, the other will pray; and if one sleeps, the other will stay awake. Thus Christ gave different gifts to his followers that they may need one another, and train themselves in loving lowliness. Dear brother, consider yourself the least in your company, for your co-worker needs to be more patient to bear you, just as you also need patience to bear him.

 

 

LUKE 10:3-4

3 “Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.

Christ sent his followers as lambs among wolves. Imagine what would happen if a sheep came among a bevy of hungry wolves! They would raven the poor sheep in one second. As such Christ explains the ministry of his apostles. The world is full of evil spirits who hate those that are born of Christ’s Spirit. This is why your Savior sends you out to the evil demon-possessed that they may be changed through your meekness and become meek lambs, as Jesus himself was the meek Lamb of God who was ravened by the authorities of darkness. His death has changed us into God’s fellowship, and prepared us to die for the evil world.

If you understood your walk and aim in this way, you would not worry any further about money, clothing, rest, and food, nor take interest in movies, nor be late in your missionary work speaking meaningless words; but you would choose poverty, and go forward to dangers, for the Lord personally would accompany you and protect you. God is your only reward. Did you realize what Christ would offer you if you served him? Persecution, poverty, death? Instead of them all his great appearance. He has chosen you, and is sending you now and guiding you. He is responsible for you, and no one is able to snatch you out of his hand. He puts his hand shutting the mouths of hungry wolves until your service is finished completely.

 

LUKE 10:5-7

5 “But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.”

Christ does not send you to the whole world, but to certain groups and families. In fact, he offers the gospel to all men, but only special groups turn to the blessings of God’s peace. To preach individuals is not always the purpose of our service, but we often mean to win complete families. Take up the power of God’s peace in your words to the hearts of fathers, mothers, and brothers that the faith in the Crucified One may fill the atmosphere of the house, and draws all the relations to the spirit of peace.

But if a house became hardened mocking at the Son of God, do not be astonished and take revenge, but go out in peace, for the condemnation of God will fall upon that house. Seek first the family that is hungry for the peace of God, and stay with them. Do not be shy of living from their donations, but eat until you are filled as long as you serve them, and work hard praying for them.

 

LUKE 10:8-11

8 “Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as they are set before you. 9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’”

Do you pray for a certain town or village, and do you include your town in your continuous prayers? The spirit dwelling in the people of a town often decides whether to accept or refuse the gospel. Sometimes we find the people of a whole town hardened against the power of the ministers of the Lord. So do not strive for a long time, but make your way to other villages that are prepared for the gospel, where many commit themselves to Christ winning his everlasting life. Great capital cities are not often written in the book of heavenly life, contrary to some villages that are despised in our world but praised in heavens. Thank God for we sometimes find faith and godliness in some quarters, where there is paradise in the midst of corruption, while there are villages in which hell prevails. Be watchful when you preach trusting the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and do not be obstinate in your service. Go wherever the Spirit of God’s love may lead you.

 

LUKE 10:12-16

12 “But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for the city. 13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be thrust down to Hades. 16 He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”    

God’s condemnation falls upon every individual, family, and city that rejects the Son of Man and his apostles; and destruction has several stages. Not only malice and lying decide the magnitude of punishment, but unbelief, and refusing to accept the gospel in the first place. On the Day of Judgment, the godly cities of Galilee will stand ashamedly before the people of Phoenician cities because of their belief in corrupt gods, for the people of Galilee did not receive the Son of Man with open arms. Sodom was burnt with fire from heaven, because of the pederasty that spread throughout the city. Yet every city, which does not accept Christ, will be more condemned, for unbelief and incomplete commitment to Christ are more sinful than any great impurity. Capernaum was Christ’s chosen city in which he wrought most of his miracles. But all its people will be afflicted with the severest torment, for they did not repent sincerely or become converted. Dear brother, did you hear the voice of the eternal Judge? Did you truly repent and believe completely in the gospel of salvation?

Wherever those who believe in Christ move and confess the Name of names, they are not alone or forsaken, but are accompanied by their Lord personally, in good and in evil. He considers their words as his, and he deals with them. Any insult, rejection, or torment that falls on his apostles directly burns his heart, as he said to Saul of Tarsus who persecuted the Christians, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Whereas Jesus and his Father are one in Spirit and in truth, therefore any aggression against Christ’s witnesses is an aggression against God himself. God, the Highest will be your shield and reward, if you continue faithful in bearing witness to the Savior. 

PRAYER: O Lord, we worship to you, for you called us to your harvest. Please forgive us our laziness, fear, and slackness; and teach us to fight with the gospel of peace boldly so that wolves may be turned into lambs, and evil families into islands of peace. Thank you for you are in and with us always, even to the end of the age.

 

 

JESUS' CALL OF JOY
UPON THE RETURN OF THE SEVENTY

 (Luke 10:17-24)

 

LUKE 10:17-20

17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

The seventy disciples returned to Christ without being ravened by the wolves of the world. Even the demons fled away from those who were possessed when the disciples drew near them. The presence of Christ in his ministers is stronger and greater than all the authorities of darkness. He who is protected in his expanses becomes a meek lamb, but stronger than the most violent wolves. Are you glad at the authority given to you in the name of Christ? Did you realize the triumph of the Son of God through his servants?

Christ limited the joy of his disciples that they might not rely on themselves in their triumph, but realize the power of the enemy and the greatness of their Lord. Because of Christ’s faithfulness in his behavior in the world, and his redemption on the cross, he prevailed on Satan and cast him down from heaven. Thus his power vanished through the testimonies of the honorable disciples. Anyhow, beware, for the evil one is still on earth intending to destroy the children of God.

None of us is able to overcome the devil and the hosts of evil. Christ is the true God, and his glorious authority overcomes the world with meekness and humility. He who comes into the fellowship of the Son of God becomes free from his own selfishness and from the authority of the evil one. He can, in the name of Christ, overcomes the artful enemy. The battle is fierce, and victory was won on the cross. Believe only and you will participate in Christ’s triumph. Ask your Lord to cast all demons out of your friends and of yourself, and be careful not to leave Christ’s fellowship lest the evil enemy finds authority over you.

Christ says to you that the goal of the redemptive plan is not the result of your service, or your own fame, or any bright spiritual fruits, but God’s knowledge of you. He is your Father, and this is the essential thing. Your name is engraved on the tablet of God’s memory. He keeps you because of his faithfulness. The essence of our faith is not our competence and results of our service, but the knowledge that God is our Father. His righteousness if manifested in his children, and Christ’s power in his followers.

 

LUKE 10:21-24

21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” 23 Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; 24 for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”

When Christ saw God’s victory over the kingdom of Satan, he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, for this was the design of the coming of the Son of the Highest to the world: to destroy the works of Satan, deliver the lost humans from their severe bonds, and carry them to the family of God. Christ magnified the name of his Father wholeheartedly, praised him as the Lord of heaven and earth who created everything in his grace, and manifested his authority in all creatures, small and big. God also manifested his authority in Christ’s helpers, for they believed in him and received his everlasting power and might. However the scribes, Pharisees, chief priests, philosophers, kings, and rulers realized neither God nor his Son. This is the miracle: that man’s mind and experiences did not realize Christ spontaneously, but only through faith. He, who commits himself into the hands of the Savior, knows his glory in his humility and kindness. But he who does not put off his pride and sciences, or even his weak mind, does not know God who sent his Son to the world when he had made his glorious self of no reputation to win the world by love, not by philosophy, sword, or delights of sense.

Because of this altruism, and self-denial God delivered all authority in heaven and on earth to his Son. And whereas the Son gave his life a ransom for many, therefore his Father gave him all humans, earth, and universe altogether. Christ redeemed us to God by his blood, and we became his own. Capitalists and socialists, without distinction, deceive themselves supposing that the individual, or nation possesses the universe; for Christ alone is the Possessor of all things. His Father has delivered all things to him. All those who do not know God are going astray in their life.

But who knows God? None does, but the Son and the Holy Spirit, for they are one. Christ came to our world to tell us who God is, for the ancient name “God” is a thick screen before the concealed truth of the Highest. Do you know who God himself is? Christ taught us to say, “Our Father in heaven”. O heart, hold fast to this word. O mind, acknowledge decidedly this truth, for the Almighty is your Father, your spiritual Father. He is love, as deep as the ocean.

Whence do we know this revelation? We only know it in the person of Christ. Look at Jesus, and you will see God. No one can realize Christ except by the Holy Spirit. No man calls God his Father except by the will of Christ. It is not your good deeds, contributions, or arguments that bring you near to God, but Christ’s designs alone. Our faith is a gift of the Benefactor, and not a deserved right. 

Having glorified his Father, Christ beatified his disciples, for they say God in flesh in his lowliness, and experienced his victory through his ministry. The kingdom of God began among them, and this was the great desire of the fathers of faith and faithful true prophets. For this purpose, they suffered, cried, and were tortured. Now Christ, the divine King appeared among men, and his words became heard to all longing hearts, for God spoke to men in his Son, as a father to his children, and a brother to his brothers. Do you see God, and hear Christ?

PRAYER: O God, Trinity in unity, we worship to you, for we are not afraid of your hidden majesty, but are coming near to you as children, and you as our Father. Your Son revealed your essence to us, and we believed his words, and received the power and the right to become your children. Please keep us in your mind, and deliver us from the evil one.

 

 

THE GOOD SAMARITAN

(Luke 10:25-37)

 

LUKE 10:25-28

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” 27 So he answered and said, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” 

In this event, Christ shows us how God hid the essence of his kingdom from the prudent and educated, but revealed it to the children and harmless. An expert expounder of the Mosaic Law came to Jesus, and asked him in the spirit of the law, “What must I do to inherit Paradise?”  This man wanted to make every effort and hard work, not for God but for himself, in order to gain a great inheritance. The poor one wanted to win heaven by his own means, knowing not his sin and faults.

The Lord immediately led this expert in the law, who tempted Jesus to a wrong interpretation, into the heart of the law, and fished him with his net of law, that he had to confess that man’s love to God means eternal life. Then, how do you love God? How many times do you think of him during your day? How much of your strength, time, and money do you practically sacrifice for your Creator? Do not deceive yourself. You turn around yourself, and your problems take your entire attention. God is not the center of your universe. This is why you are criminal, for you made of yourself a minor god, stealing the glory from your Lord. Repent, ask for your Lord truly, and love him with all your heart that you may forget yourself, and suddenly find your poor man brother, for God meets with you in the needy.

The same as you previously loved yourself, the love of God changes you into a bent on lover of all those that are afflicted; and as your thoughts were previously centered on pleasing your self and your unclean wishes, so they become changed now, thinking of God’s mercy to the distresses of your friends, praying and caring for them, seeking those who are going astray, and sacrificing your time for the mob, for what you do to the least of these, you do to God. Love is perfection of law. If you do not love, you do not truly live. Turn soon to the love of God that the firebrand of his tender mercy may make you sunk in love.

 

 

 

LUKE 10:29-37

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

This expert in the religious teachings of the Mosaic Law did not like the act of love, but argument, and conversation. He was not willing to turn his hard heart and stony mind in repentance into the fire of the love of Christ, but persisted in argument to try the Holy One, and derive knowledge from him in the limits of love. Christ answered him in divine authority that he clearly realized the depth of the law, but this knowledge is not sufficient, for it is to be applied. The Son of Man showed him what the heavenly Father wanted us to do practically.

In this parable, we are all like this poor traveler who fell among thieves, for life is merciless, and each one is trying to steal the other’s shirt. If an accident happened to a driver at night, and no one of the passers-by stopped in spite of his signals made to them, the poor driver would suffer spitefully. If a confused young man sought some brother to hear his complaint, give advice him advice, and pray with him, and none of the brothers responded to him, he would despair of all brothers to seek them anymore. He would also curse them. If rich peoples let themselves go in their imaginations and relax, and did not help in building poor peoples, God’s unavoidable wrath would come.

Have you ever hoped that some friend would help you in a bitter insolvency, and this friend did not turn to you, but denied you and pretended not to know you? How did you feel? Know this selfish man to be your own heart, for the way of your life is paved with the crushed and the poor who had expected your help, but you passed by them mercilessly.

Do you want them to curse you before God for your hardheartedness? Do you abstain from visiting the sick for fear of microbes? Do you feel disgust at dirtiness and do not enter the huts of refugees? Are you clever to an extent, which prevents you from speaking with the ignorant whom God has chosen to inherit his kingdom? Do you want today only to sing with the choir of your church, or also to speak with your friends about God? Do you not have enough time to succor and relieve a dirty beggar knocking at your door? By leaving out such a neglected man, you have left out God, your Lord, for the loving Holy One and the rejected poor man are one.

The despised Samaritan became an example to the entire world and a token of Christ himself who was merciful to all men, secured them to the end, and gave his precious blood as a price for our salvation. Thus Christ taught us how to answer the lawyer’s question, by correcting his question and then answering it. It is not necessary to ask about the duties by which we may please God, for this is the wondering of the cold and selfish. But he who loves asks about those in need of help that he may hurry to them and help them. Christ completely changed the purport of the question about neighbor. None is my neighbor, except he who did not pass by me, but had compassion on me and saved me. In this manner, we love him as he loved us, and we become neighbors to all men.

PRAYER: O Lord, forgive me the knowledge of my duties that are lacking kind acts. Change my heart that I may become a neighbor to the afflicted, hurry to them and help them, as you hurry to me and save me. Fill my heart with your love that I may love you and love all men at all times, and serve them in practical services.

 

 

JESUS ENTERTAINED BY MARTHA AND MARY

(Luke 10:38-42)

 

LUKE 10:38-42

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

In the previous reading, Christ showed us how loving God without loving our brother man is of no avail. Now we are about to hear the contrary: Charities are necessary, but keeping quiet for hearing the word of God is more necessary. We need an attentive ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit that we may know the time and the place required for helping man. Where and when we must keep quiet for hearing the word of God. Christ has fulfilled both things, for he healed and preached in the world, and remained communicated with his Father at all times, as Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing”, even during everyday work.

When Jesus entered into a certain village, he walked toward a house in which two faithful sisters lived. They were Lazarus’ sisters. Martha was cumbered about serving the guests and providing for their entertainment, while Mary sat with the guests, and listened to the gospel of Christ, for her soul hungered for the word of God.

Martha, overpowered with the excess of her business, exploded with complaint against her sister, and said to the Lord, “How do you let my sister sit lazily at your feet, while I am alone exhausting myself to prepare everything? Tell her to get up and help me so that she may stop her fanciful meditations, and serve love practically with me.

But Jesus reproved Martha severely, and said to her, “Sister, you are about to lose salvation, for you are overworking to offer us your delicious gifts. Be quiet, and let me first give you the blessing and spiritual gifts. I am the Provider, and no one else. I know your need. Certainly, the human body needs some care, but the soul is more important. Now I, Savior of the souls, am present, so limit your housework, and do only what is necessary that you may have time to listen to the gospel of salvation and pray.

Mary also was at the point of danger. She listened only, and did nothing but praying. Nevertheless, Jesus beatified her, for she observed that one thing only was important, that is Jesus Christ. Everything in the world is passing away, even our perishable bodies. But salvation in Christ continues. Thus, man, first of all you need not a house, clothes, job, health, or school, but Jesus alone without whom you will perish. Seek first the Savior of the world and his righteousness, and all your other needs shall be added to you.

It is conspicuously wrong to say that Mary is good and Martha is bad, since both of them loved and honored God, and needed to sanctify their manners. Martha was in need of quietness to listen, and Martha was in need of the motive that would induce her to act in a practical way. It goes without saying that listening to the word of God is more essential than continuous work. Jesus honored Martha, especially in (John 11:5), where we find the strange thing: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”  He mentioned the name of Martha before the names of her brother and sister, for she was the most significant person at home. She put her daily work under the gospel of Christ, attaining from it power for faith, and giving it a high place within herself.

How frequently do you hear the word of God, and bring it into effect in your service?

PRAYER: O Lord, we thank you for you come to us in your word. Teach us how to listen to you with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds. Give our heart heavenly power, and our bodies heavenly peace that we may become revived and able to do all necessary works in the guidance of your Holy Spirit.

 

 

THE PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER

(Luke 11:1-13)

 

LUKE 11:1-4

1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

Never was any prayer in the whole world so loaded with much meaning, power, and wisdom, expressing much in few words as the Lord’s Prayer. Keep these words by heart, for this fatherly prayer is the mother of all prayers, and the true exercise on thankfulness, confession, petition, and supplication. It is the high school for all true theological courses. If you wish to be smart, pray the Lord’s Prayer with consciousness and intent.

The first word, “Our Father” is the most important word in the whole gospel. It is through this word that Christ reveals to us who God is. The Holy One is not concealed from us, but he is our Father. Believe in this one word and you will become a true Christian. Speak this word willingly and you will become a child of God. Christ has made you a partner in his truth. It is for the sake of his grace that you should not fear God, but go forward to him with praise and supplication.

The first petition, “Hallowed be your name” means that God is glorified when many spiritual children are born of him all around the world, for a father is not in fact a father unless he has children. His children will honor him if they walk according to the spirit of his love in truth and uprightness, as Christ lived glorifying his Father, at all times, by word, by deed, and by thought.

The second petition, “Your kingdom come” means that the kingdoms of this world pass away, but the kingdom of our Father comes. Did you realize that the kingdom of God is the kingdom of our Father, and that Christ, your Brother, is the true King? Pray soon that this kingdom of peace may begin in your surroundings, and that the antichrist spirits may disappear, and the victory of his authority may come true in your loving lowliness.

In the third petition, we ask that our Father’s will be done on earth as it is done at all times in heaven. This petition delivers us from fearing destiny. We are not unfree to choose, but are endowed with a free will, for God is our Father, and he wants only to bless, save, and sanctify us. In this petition, we ask for our guidance, and obedience of the will of his love that it may become perfect in and around us.

 “Give us day by day our daily bread.” After giving glory to the name of the Father, his kingdom come, and his fatherly will be done, Christ teaches us to ask the Provider of the world for sufficient bread for us, our neighbors, and all men. The word “bread,” here, denotes everything necessary to sustain life; i.e. work, job, clothes, and pure pleasures; for your Father cares for you. But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Then we seek forgiveness of all our sins. Our greatest sin is unbelief, little faith, incomplete trust in the love of our Father, and halfhearted love toward him and toward all people. Your heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins entirely on the cross of his Son. In this petition, you ask that this forgiveness made through the Holy Spirit be realized in your life. Listen carefully to these words, for you are asking your Lord to forgive you because you have already forgiven your enemies, which entails that unless you forgive others, God will not forgive you. God is love. He is willing to forgive you on one condition: that you also become love and willing to forgive all men.

 “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” No doubt, our heavenly Father does not lead us into temptation. But if you always oppose his guidance, and love your favorite sin more than loving him and his Son, he will leave you sinking in your sinful flood, for you are responsible for your walk. The Lord gives up those who disobey him to the lusts of their hearts that they may destroy themselves by themselves. In this petition, we ask our heavenly Father to submit us to the guidance of his Spirit that we may not fall in sin because of our obstinacy, and the evil enemy finds authority in us. Christ protects us in his blood. He will deliver you in his name from all evil authority, if you hold fast to him in faith. So ask the Lord, for yourself and for all men, to send Christ soon, and put an end to the authority of the kingdom of Satan that all the obedient in the Holy Spirit may be saved. Did you notice the first and the last words in the Lord’s Prayer? They are “Our Father” and “the evil one”. Your life goes between those names. Which of them do you follow?

PRAYER: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

 

LUKE 11:5-13

5 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’”? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Christ taught us to pray that we may know to whom we pray, how we pray, what we say in prayer, for whom we pray, and his answer to our prayer. Every man is your friend. Sometimes you meet a dear friend by chance, and you discover that he is hungry for love, truth, forgiveness, and eternal life; but you are poor, and cannot forgive any man or open his eyes to God and his love. Then you are like a man who goes to ask his neighbor for bread for his friend that came unexpectedly to him. Do you come to God and ask him for the bread of life for others, or do you ask only for yourself? Are you cold and selfish, or did you realize that the Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of supplication for others that is filled with love and directed to your brother man?

Sometimes it appears as if God is absent from his creatures, or asleep and not concerned about you. In fact he has many children in his eternal rest and joy of his glory, therefore he does not need you. He has more essential interests and works than you crying. Here faith begins, your love appears, and your hope continues. Ask your Lord to hear you. Make persistent and pressing requests until he answers. Knock at his door until he opens to you. If he did not open, knock strongly until he accepts you and gives you the bread of life for your friends. This persistent supplication is the foundation of God’s response, as Christ promised.

The verses including the absolute promise of answering requests are few in the Holy Bible. So keep them by heart, and understand the meaning of their words. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Christ encourages you to ask blessings for others and for yourself too, and to believe that God hears what you say, answers the cries of your heart, and showers you with the fullness of his grace. Do not forget that God is your Father. He loves you in person, and answers wherever love speaks. But he who prays in the way of selfishness is like a man who dials a wrong telephone number. Examine your prayers, and ask forgiveness of your sins during your prayer that your petitions may be filled with the love of God, and you may realize the stages of prayers and their increased necessity which we are taught by the Holy Spirit: Ask. Seek. Knock. Each one is stronger than its precedent. Ask your heavenly Father for the grace that he may grant you and your friends forgiveness. Seek his answer in the Holy Bible and he shows you that God is your Father. Knock at the door of his heart with the prayer of repentance that he may pour out on you the Spirit of his love. Do you frequently, or rarely pray? The apostle Paul said many times, “Continue earnestly in prayer. Pray without ceasing.” May your hearts be filled with the spirit of prayer.

Christ said in one word that all men are evil. So have no right to pray, or to have our prayers answered. God is greater than our injustice. He offers himself to us through his Holy Spirit. This surpasses our understandings, and explodes the limits of our recognition. Neither bread, nor money, nor jobs are the goals of the Holy Spirit, which he wants us to ask for. He guides us to ask one for another that he may be poured in us. Repent and say, “O Lord, I am evil. Forgive me my sins for the sake of Christ’s death on the cross, and fill my purified heart with your kind Spirit.” Continue in this petition, and you will certainly receive everlasting life. He who cries, “Father, my brother man is ruined because of his pride. He is evil as I was. Please open his mind to your glory, and forgive him his malice.” He, who asks in this manner, will see how the Holy Spirit works in the man prayed for. Where the prayer continues, the Holy Spirit comes down on the repentant, and drives the evil spirit out of him, renewing his mind, and filling him with the love of God. So where is your prayer for the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in you and your friend?

PRAYER: O Father, you are the Most Gracious. Please forgive me my selfish prayers, and be merciful to my neighbors that they may repent as I repent to you. I believe that you will fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit. We will not leave you until you have blessed us.

 

 

CHRIST'S DEFENSE
AGAINST ACCUSING HIM OF LEAGUING WITH SATAN

(Luke 11:14-28)

 

LUKE 11:14-28

14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” 16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. 17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. 22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. 23 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 24 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” 27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Whoever denies the presence of Satan makes Jesus and his apostles liars, for our Lord cast out by his word many demons. And when Jesus came near the demon-possessed they cried frightfully, “You are the Son of the Holy God.”

When Jesus saved one of the demon-possessed, the audience became astonished, but some of them blasphemed, accusing Christ of leaguing with the ruler of the demons in whose name he cast out demons. They called this ruler, “Beelzebub” i.e. “Lord of flies” who seemingly had spirits as countless as the flies of the world. The multitudes encouraged Jesus to make a miracle or a work above mere human power, other than his ordinary healings to try his divine power that he might rebut the charge of his relation with demons.

But Christ pierced his enemies with his reply, and revealed to them some secrets of hell that are so simple that any human mind could understand them. A demon cannot cast out a demon, for unclean spirits are a fearful union. In spite of their hatred, yearning for independence, and intent to destroy all men, they cannot do what they will, but are prepared “in Satan” who is the spirit of the antichrist authority. This evil one is not divisible against himself. He dwells in his followers, and binds them in eternal bondage in his kingdom of destruction.

In the Old Testament, the Jews cast out demons in the name of the Lord God, for Satan runs away if men came near to God. The evil one moves away where man is faithful to his Lord. Christ testified of the righteous power of the believers of the Old Testament who will condemn those who deny Christ in the Last Judgment, for they rejected the signs of his divine power.

Then Jesus described how he cast out demons. He is the King of the worlds and heavens, sitting in the throne of his glory who does not utter any word in the face of Satan, but with mere movement of his finger, the hosts of evil run away quickly drifted into hell, leaving the demon-possessed. In this parable, Christ mocked at the power of Satan who was like an army equipped with the latest weapons, guarding his barracks, imprisoning and enslaving whoever comes near his expanses. Today, he entices millions of people into unbelief in God, worship of modern idols, and blasphemy that they may be filled with his evil spirit and become his slaves, as Christ said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

But now, everything is changed, for Christ came to our world, overcame the evil ruler, took from him all his armour: haughtiness, selfishness, injustice, impurity, hatred, and lying, and released his slaves. Every believer in Christ is delivered from the authority of Satan, and armed with the weapons of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, humility, service, faith, abstinence, and truth. As the followers of Satan are an evil union, so we became in Christ a holy union. Every believer is secured and protected forever. Did you resort to Christ and abide in your Savior?

The Jews of the Old Testament could cast out demons in the name of the Lord, but they neither overcame the evil one himself, nor gave the delivered a new power. So he that was delivered became fresh again in body and in spirit, but later on the evil spirit would come back to him, accompanied with seven other spirits even worse than himself, and they come and live in that poor man. So when it is all over, that man is in worse state than he was at the beginning. In (Luke 8:26-39) we read Luke’s report about a possessed man whom Christ delivered completely. Christ granted us complete redemption from Satan. He can cast demons into hell (4:34; 8:31), and establish his Holy Spirit instead of unclean spirits in men, and thus their bodies become filled with the Spirit of the Lord with no empty place for foreign spirits. Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? Which spirit dwells in you?

In the midst of this struggle between the spirits, a woman of the company beatified the Virgin Mary, his mother. Christ did not reject this beatitude, but demonstrated the true glory in those who heard the words of the living God, moved them into their hearts, kept them, and lived accordingly. Satan is overcome not by Mary, but by Christ alone. Christ does not teach us to follow his mother, but to penetrate deeply into his words that their power may convert us, deliver us from Satan, and strengthen us to overcome the demons around us in his name.

PRAYER: O Lord, I am weak and sinful, but you are the Triumphant and the Holy One. Surround me and my house with your name, and deliver me from every evil spirit that your love may fill me, and we may worship to you, for you have overcome Satan completely on the cross. We ask you who sit in the throne of glory to move your finger in order to cast droves of evil spirits out of people around us that they may become filled with your Holy Spirit.

 

 

JESUS OPPOSES THE DEMAND FOR A MIRACLE

(Luke 11:29-36)

 

LUKE 11:29-36

29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the end of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 33 No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”

Christ Jesus is the unique Victor over Satan and death. In the state of human weakness, he was led to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Yet he disagreed to the temptation, and overcame Satan with his weakness. Christ also submitted himself to death, and truly died on the cross, but he pulled authority out of death, and truly rose from the dead. Christ, in his weakness, is stronger that Satan and death in their strength. Jesus tried to explain this principle to his enemies, but they did not understand it. Their hearts became dark, and they hated him who was born of the Spirit of God.

In spite of that, Christ answered their questions, and said the truth in their faces that they were very wicked. This denotation covered men, women and children as well as the leaders, professors, and superficial. All men became wicked. This is why death devoured them, for the old reaper has authority over sinners. This is the clear sign to the evil: that Christ is risen from the dead, proving that he is righteous and sinless. God alone is the Righteous One. By his resurrection, Christ provided us with the proof of his divinity, holiness, and almightiness.

However, the hard hearts expected other signs, such as showering Manna in the wilderness, or bringing down fire from heaven, as Elijah did. But Christ himself is the unique Sign of God. Did you realize that the Son of God is the Sign of God for you too?

The queen of the South came, but she did not see a sign from Solomon. She only heard his wisdom, and traveled away to see this anointed with the Spirit of God. This queen will complain in the Last Judgment against the Jews and their followers who did not believe in the incarnate Word of God. Heathen men from Nineveh will also rise up and speak out against the unbelief of men at the time of Jesus, for the Ninevites repented to their Lord without miracles, when God spoke to them by the mouth of the prophet Jonah. As for us, the Holy One has given us an identifying mark: He that was raised from the dead. Do you worship to him, and preach his name?

Christ is the Light of God in the world. He gives light to whoever comes to him. Did you become light or are you still dark? Your eyes tell about your inner self, for they are the windows of your inside. Your anger, love, joy, purity are reflected on your eyes. If you were a simple man, your eye would be blessed, but if you followed your lust, cunning, and hatred, darkness would spread in you.

Sometimes the glamour of joy, holiness, and purity grows from those that are big and small in Christ. Such glamour is not out of our world, but is originated from heaven. In this manner, our body becomes light as the Son of God is light, and his forgiveness and cleanness are pure as lightning. No mortal can bear such shining glory, just as no one can stare at the sun. Yet, he who is in Christ will shine more beautifully than the sun, for Christ in us is the hope of glory.

Because of this great design, Christ asks you to examine the light in you. Are you dark or shining? What dwells in you: the joy of the love of God, or the selfishness of hatred and the rejection of people? Did Christ forgive you all your impurity, haughtiness, and lying, or do you hide some stolen goods in your house? Did you pay your debts even to the last penny, or do you bear the burden of your sins in your conscience? Ask Christ to show you who your entire life becomes light, lest you look dark on the day of his coming.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, You rose from the dead, overcame Satan, death, and all darkness, and sit today to the right hand of the Father in glory. I confess my sins before you, and ask you to help me to return all stolen goods in my hands to their owners, and arrange my life in your Spirit. Purify me that I may be enlightened in your light forever. 

 

 

JESUS' SERMON AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE PHARISEES AND THE SCRIBES

(Luke 11:37-54)

 

LUKE 11: 37-44

37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner. 39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.
40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. 42 But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.” 

Christ did not prevent people from cleaning, but objected to the thought that washing purifies man as the then professors believed, and supported their worship with such washings. He said to the Pharisees, “You deceive yourselves, ignorant, thinking of keeping the law by external ceremonies, while your hearts are full of enmity, stinginess, jealousy, evil, and impurity. Realize your hypocrisy; be converted; ask your Lord for illumination, for he knows you both within and without; be ashamed of the state of your hearts that the light of the Lord may overcome you; return all the goods you have stolen from people to their owners; and divide the profit among the poor. It is not the tithe, which you sacrifice that saves you, but the gospel alone, which teaches you compassion to the needy.

Our heart will show great love whenever the power of God changes it, and then you will not sacrifice only the tithe, but your whole life will become a sacrifice, as Christ sacrificed his life for us. So what about your sacrifice? How does it appear?

Be aware, dear brother, that Christ is not satisfied with your tithe, but he wants to sanctify your whole life as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. All your thoughts, diplomas, and deeds are unavailing to you. If you hated someone, your heart would become disobedient, and then you would stop the power of God’s love. Forgive your enemy immediately and completely. Pardon him, love him, and sacrifice for him and for everybody as much as you can. Live for Christ, God’s sacrifice who redeemed the world by his death. By that, you strive for truth by your prayers, and clean the atmosphere in your job. Do not struggle with your fist uttering obscenities and curses, but with your humility, practical suggestions, and humble patience. Spread the knowledge of Christ who is the incarnate truth that your friends may know their sins in his righteousness, and obtain their sanctification in his Spirit. Penetrating deeply into Christ alone saves you and your people.

A boy stood before a mirror, and looked for a few minutes at himself. He loved himself and did not see his sins, for he was self-conceited. As such people strut and swagger like a peacock in the streets. They become puffed up when they read their names in newspapers. Their eyes flash and blink when they are invited to a banquet, if they won a game, or if they were honored or seated in the front seats at festivals. They greet people in the streets pompously, and wish people to greet them and bow to them. They look forward to receiving many letters from their admirers. They become inflated from within, but pretend humility falsely and hypocritically. They are the monkeys of Satan who became proud and fell from heaven. Blessed are you if you did not deceive yourself and imagine yourself to be important, distinct, and righteous. We are all unrighteous. Look at the glory of God that you may not ignore the truth of his kingdom.

In the past, it was considered as impurity to touch a tomb with one’s foot. However some tombs were overgrown with grass, and the people who walked over them were unaware of them. So if anyone treaded on it by ignorance, he was considered impure for one week, and had to purify himself before God. Christ considered the professors of his time not only impure, for passing over some commandments, but also a reason for making others impure just as concealed tombs. From outside, the Pharisees looked like saints, but their hearts were filled with death, malice, lying, hatred, and covetousness. With this spirit they infected others, and spread the disease of spiritual deadness concealed artfully with false profession of devotion.

This was the first part of Jesus’ statement to his host during the feast. Do you consider it inconvenient that the Son of God so loved his enemies that he spoke the truth openly before them to save them? Do you flatter your enemies and friends, or do you help them honestly by telling them the truth?

PRAYER: O Lord, I am full of whoredom, pride, and artifice. I am a hypocrite. Please put to death my evil heart, and cast out of me the deceitful, hypocrite spirit that I may be filled with your love and righteousness based on your grace, sacrifice my money, and offer all my life a sacrifice to your and to others.

 

LUKE 11:45-54

45 Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, “Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.”
46 And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ 50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the alter and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” 53 And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.

Do you preach the gospel, or the law? He, who brings the gospel to the poor, says to them, “God loves you, Christ saves you, and his Spirit sanctifies you.” By that the preacher testifies the work of the effectual power of God. But he who preaches the law, reproaches his hearers saying to them, “You must pray, you must believe, you are required to offer sacrifice, honor your parents, and live in a pure manner; for if you do not do the duties you will fall into hell.” Woe to the lawyers who teach only commandments, and never know the saving power of God. They are dashing down to the lowest level for they do not do what they require others to do. Therefore we are all sinners in need of God’s grace.

The law leads sinners into repentance, and brokenness; and he who is renewed receives the Holy Spirit who is the divine power for keeping the commandments, for the law is not only a mirror for the sinners, but also our motive to sanctification.

Dear brother, do you ask people to do something you yourself do not do, or do you preach beside the law the power of God, which overcomes sins? Do you look like the strict judge, or the merciful Savior?

Those that are filled with excessive and often misguided enthusiasm for the law are the descendants of killers, for their fathers persecuted and stoned the godly that called for repentance, from the blood of Abel (Genesis 4:8-10) to the prophet Zechariah (2 Chronicles 24:20-22) according to the order of books in the Hebrew Bible, which, unlike the English Bible, ends with Chronicles. These two indications in Christ’s statement mean that the revolution of the professors against God’s Spirit dressed in zealous hypocritical godliness is a characteristic of all the professors of the Old Testament. Imagine the meaning of this statement from the mouth of Christ in front of the dissembling, experienced scribes, “Your fathers were killers, and you are buriers of the killed, for you are continuing their murders in the spirit of disobedience, not preaching mercy or repentance, but persecuting the prophets and truthful messengers who preach the Spirit of God and love. You feel your weakness before their power. Yet because of your deceitful spirit that is versed in the Holy Bible, God’s condemnation will mercilessly fall upon you.

Christ pierced the knowledge of those men learned in the law who invented many meanings out of the letters, and twisted the original meanings of the words. They did not know God in fact, nor did they let the multitudes search freely in the old books, but they reserved the right of interpretation for themselves, and imagined themselves to be greater than the public. Yet, they had already lost the key of the knowledge of God, and were unable to enter into the expanses of God’s wisdom because of their false and hollow profession of religion. Furthermore, they stopped all the people from coming willingly to God. This appeared clearly in their refusal of Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They were blind to his divinity, though they learnt the prophecies of the Old Testament by heart. On top of that, they instigated the people, and prevented them from following Christ, calling him a deceiver, and a false prophet. They went astray too far.

Woe to us if we do not present to people our Lord Christ, the only Way to God, the Truth that uncovers our sins, the clear Righteousness of our comfort, and the Power of everlasting life. Woe to us if we bring human personal, and political opinions, technologies, or deceitful, illusive philosophies, and have recourse to the law and burdensome commandments. Woe to us if we do not testify the imminent coming of Christ, and the coming of the antichrist before him who will deceive all those who do not expect Christ, their Savior with diving love. Did you experience the power of God? Did you experience conversion, and second birth? Did your pride become broken? Did the disobedience of your independence end through your faith in God? We testify to you that Christ is the Savior and the Judge. So never go past him or ignore him.

The then professors contrived to draw Jesus into the snare of their laws. But today Christ calls those that are particularly pious and thoroughly acquainted with and skilled in the Holy Bible to repent lest they think themselves better than the others except by the grace given to them everyday by Christ.

PRAYER: O Lord, I teach the Holy Bible to others. I am but a fool. I do not understand completely your law and your ways. Please change my heart and my mind, and fill me with your love that I may not deceive anybody, but lead all men to you Truth with great glory that they may repent, and receive forgiveness and everlasting life by faith.

 

 

 

CHRIST'S WARNING TO HIS DISCIPLES

(Luke 12:1-12)

 

LUKE 12:1-3

1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

Lying is a heinous sin, and hypocrisy is its firstborn daughter. When someone thinks something in his heart, or teaches it, but at the same time speaks contrarily, pretending kindness and compassion toward his enemy whom he intends to destroy, he commits the mother of all sins. And when a man pretends to be solicitous toward God about his commandments, showing devised holiness, but remains within himself impure, deceitful, and lover of money, he certainly falls into the condemnation of God. The believer has also to beware of hypocrisy lest he believes within himself and denies his Lord with his mouth, saying as Peter said in his temptation, “I do not know this man.”

So beware of hypocrisy, for all your concealed thoughts, backbiting whisperings, and aggressive acts will certainly appear on the Last Day, and sometimes in this world. At that time you will die of shame, for over all, it will appear that your hypocrisy affected others and made them fall as an infectious microbe. Hypocrisy enters into all areas of life, as a leaven leavens the whole lump. A hypocrite does not only hurt himself, but also hurts others. He hurts the whole society, and partakes of allowing all to fall, contrary to his reformative and righteous appearance.

 

 

LUKE 12:4-9

4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 8 Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Christ strives more strongly against the spirit of hypocrisy among believers. When you intend to guide a person to Christ, do not speak to him about thousands of things, but confess your faith with lowliness, and testify God’s salvation, in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in order that your methods should not appear as trickery. Say to your friends, “Christ redeemed me and saved you too. Accept this or reject it. However, the Lord is living, and he loves you.”

Do not be afraid of any man, and if you became afraid of any man, look at God who is greater than all his creatures. The important thing is not our earthly life, but our being in Christ. Your everlasting life that is the Holy Spirit poured in your heart will not die if you abide in the truth. So choose to die in your body rather than to deny Christ, for judgment is certainly coming, and the examination of your confession is coming upon you. Christ, the Savior is prepared to recognize himself as your brother, Lord, and Redeemer, and to cover and blot out all your transgressions, but he will not support you if you deny him on earth, and do not tell others about him. Your witness to Christ shows the amount of your love and faith.

Let us not forget that Christ speaks to his followers, and not to the unbelievers, about falling into hell. He who knows God, and fears men rather than God, will be destroyed grievously. God’s holiness is like a dissecting knife which cuts off all the liars out of his kingdom, destroys all the hypocrite among his followers, and casts them into hell which is not an imagination, but truth. Christ commands us to fear God lest we sin. Moreover, he commands us to trust God as children trust their father, and he accepts those who confess Christ and his salvation. Your heavenly Father is the Omniscient God who knows your secret thoughts, and the number of the hairs on your head, those that have fallen and the remaining that will certainly fall. If the valueless birds are known to him and numbered, how much more would he love you and care for you of little faith if you confessed him in public, and became in harmony with his will in order that all men should be saved and brought to the knowledge of the truth. Ask that you may realize the true ways of preaching, stop your superficial enthusiasm, and serve your Lord in the lowliness of his Spirit, for Jesus is living, and he instructs you in his love.

 

LUKE 12:10-12

10 “And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. 11 Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

If a believer willfully denied his Savior, and blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, when he had tasted the sweetness of his life, and already felt the love of God, then this man would intentionally become separated from God, having no forgiveness after that. All sins are forgivable except tenacious disobedience against the gentle drawing of the Holy Spirit, for such obstinacy, which is of the spirit of hell, leads the unbeliever into extremity until he blasphemes against God, his Father, Savior, and Comforter to such an extent that he wishes to destroy him. Thus he who resorts to an enemy and cooperates with him against God condemns himself by himself.

But he who reciprocates God’s faithfulness, and attributes it to God himself, in the midst of persecution and torture, experiences the authority of the Holy Spirit who inspires the harmless with the witness of God’s wisdom, and supports the lowly with the power of Christ. Felix, the Roman ruler became frightened of the bound Paul when the latter announced Christ’s triumph before him. The Holy Bible is overflowing with wonderful testimonies of simple believers as Peter, John, and Stephen, who shook with their testimonies, anointed with the Spirit, the prominent people of their nation who judged them.

You are not a dangerous man led to the king or tribunal. But your school, family, or workshop is like a legislative council, which examines your spirit. So ask your Lord to support your weakness with the Holy Spirit who inspires you with the piercing words based on love and truth in order to win some of those who reject Christ into his salvation that they may believe. Be aware that you are Christ’s representative in this evil world. Your Lord is watching you, and his power continues in you; so pray, speak, and do not keep silent. Your Lord is responsible for you. If you work hard for him he will preserve you, guide you, and favorably sustain you.

PRAYER: O Lord, you know my cowardliness, and weakness. Please reveal your glory in the gospel before me that I may see you at all times, love you, and witness to you with all wisdom, in order that many should be saved, and should not say that I am hypocrite, deceitful, or unprofitable on the Day of Judgment for having concealed your grace from them. I thank you because you know each one of my hairs, and all my daily things and needs.

 

 

OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD EARTHBORN CARES

(Luke 12:13-34)

 

LUKE 12:13-21

13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for ones life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Christ did not love money and property, for no one can serve two masters. The Lord saw in divine insight how money rules the world, and how most people are servants of their money, trusting the state stamped papers rather than the eternal God. Men and women’s eyes blink, and their hands tremble when they receive paper money of big amounts. The charm of money makes many sinful. They sell themselves for hush money, and deny their faith for the sake of office.

The fruit that is poisoned with money confusion is covetousness, where man desires to gain beyond what is necessary for his wants. He does not become satisfied, for a miser always considers himself poor, needy, and afraid of distress. However, Christ teaches us to give generously, spend freely, sacrifice, and love the poor, and not to take, gain illicitly, or become stingy. The Lord became angry when one of his hearers desired him to interpose between him and his brother in a matter that concerned the estate of the family, for he had already taught: “If someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. And if someone robs you, give him furthermore.” Thus Christ prevents every division of money by force. He also refuses the selfish desire to take money from others.

God is love, and he does not live for himself. If he were stingy, we would not live in freedom, but would be his slaves. The Creator gives both the evil and the good his sun, air, water, and earth elements that they may live from his blessings, and learn to give others richly out of his grace. Did you realize the principle in God’s will? He wants to offer, bless, give generously, and fill all his creatures with his blessings that we may also learn to give generously, offer, and bless all men out of his fullness.

There was an experienced and skillful hardworking man whose covetousness made him worldly-minded, selfish and rough. He thought in the end only of his fruits, barns, soul, and riches, and forgot thinking about God and other people. Thus he became enslaved to his planning and possessions. Read in Christ’s parable how many times this foolish rich man spoke the first person “I”.

Is this a sin? Did the Lord not bless him? The Lord did. Yet, he did not thank his Lord, but made his plans apart from him. He pulled down his old barns and built greater. He was an able, economical manager. Is this a sin? He became enjoyed beforehand with the blessings given to him, and wanted to relax after his long toil. Is this unfair?  No, for God wanted us to submit all the earth and its creatures.

But the diligent manager, and rich owner forgot God, and his poor neighbor. He did not train himself to love, but multiplied everything for himself. This is why God called him a fool, though he was gifted and diligent. Beware! The Highest personally calls every rich man a fool, for he lacks divine life and love. All diplomas, cars, bank accounts, and funds will be useless and helpless to you on the hour of death, but your love and prayer remain forever. So turn to God that Christ may wash you from your sins and give you everlasting riches, for where the Savior of the world saves you from the demon of money, he fills you with the Spirit of his love. Otherwise, you will remain enslaved, poor, disturbed, and walking toward destruction.

PRAYER: O Lord, please forgive me my lovelessness toward you and others. Free me from my financial worries, and deliver me from stinginess, covetousness, and the love of money that I may present as you present and give without taking. Thank you for Christ is the riches of our life, and you have granted us in him all the blessings of heaven freely.

 

 

LUKE 12:22-24

22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about you life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”

Your heavenly Father loves you. His being is the guarantee of his providence, having given his Son for you and written your name in the Book of Life. He knows your weakness and unprofitableness, and has sent you his Spirit to strengthen your faith. Do you doubt any longer the faithfulness of God’s love for you?

Thank your heavenly Father for his faithful care, and prove this gratitude by overcoming all your worries. Many people stare at the ghost of unemployment, disease, and death with profound fear. But Christ commands you not to worry, for the Father is present with you. Feel refreshed and free as the flying ravens, which receive God’s grace everyday in spite of their black color. You have become white and pure in Christ’s blood, so believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even in your profession, school, and family. Do not forget to give thanks to your heavenly Father for your life, bodily strength, and human mind. Commit your way to the Lord, trusting him joyfully, and you will live in safety and providence.

 

LUKE 12:25-28

25 “And which of you by worrying can add cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?”

May be you are old, ugly, or short. However, Christ commands you to consider the red lilies in the fields, how they glow like fire before the sun of spring. The glory of God is reflected on all his creatures. If God gave a simple plant more glory than that of Wise Solomon who was known for his riches and purple clothes, then do you think that your life is void of beauty and glory? Have you ever considered your eyes, which look like a wonderful mirror? Or your voice, which is different from all other voices, that no animal is able to speak like you? Have you ever thought of your legs? No plant in the whole world can move like you. The glory of God is revealed in you, and you have endless reasons for thankfulness in your gifted soul, body, and spirit.

He who penetrates deeply into the wonders of nature, through Physics, Biology, and Chemistry, and realizes our miraculous human body, worships to God and thanks him for the life given to us and the power developed in it. How astonishing that all scientists, even today, do not know the mystery of life, or the ways and motives of growth. But we confess that God is the Almighty and All-Ruling. You can neither create yourself, nor speed up your growth. This is why Christ guides you to faith that you may trust in God’s gentle intervention in your life. He loves you and cares for you, so where is your faith? The Highest gives you power that you may work hard and know the way of bringing food and clothing, so where is your thanking for the power given to you?

 

LUKE 12:29-31

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Having shown his disciples that they were unable to do anything regarding their creation and growth, Christ instructs them not to worry about food and drink, or be afraid of famine and wars, for fear is a token of the Gentiles, taking into consideration that Christ freed his followers from hopelessness and misery, and directed them toward God, their Father. My dear brother, hold fast to Christ’s revelation that God is our Father, and we his children. Realize the meaning of this word, and rely on it that your heart may feel assured. If then earthly fathers look after their children at all times, how much more will your heavenly Father guard you, expect your trust, prayers, and thanking, answer you in his overflowing love, secure your future, and bless your neighbors? Turn to your Lord, leave your worries and problems, cling to the will of the Highest, and wish as he wishes that all your life may be arranged by his Spirit, and you may become free, lovely, wise, and righteous in his presence. Do you pray to your Father? He knows your hardship before you speak, but he expects your request and thanking.

In addition to that, Christ tells you that the kingdom of God is coming, and in it is no darkness at all. On that day, nobody will despise you, or torment you, or even deceive you, for your Father is the Possessor of this kingdom, and your brother is the king. Then your problems disappear. Forget your worries, and care about your Father’s things, and the Merciful will arrange all your things in his kindness.

PRAYER: O Father, I thank you, and worship to you joyfully, for you became for Christ’s sake our true Father. Forgive me my little faith and unfaith. Strengthen my trust in your righteousness. Let your kingdom come today into our country and the whole world that faith in your salvation may cover the world, and many may become free from their worries through their trust in your fatherhood.

 

LUKE 12:32-34

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Christ taught his disciples to have absolute confidence in God. He promised the little flock of the harmless, despised, and persecuted, to inherit the fullness of the kingdom of God, and that the Holy One himself would dwell in them. In this excessive supplication, Jesus asked them to dispense with their holding of earthly possessions, and to give alms and help to the poor in prudent ways. God is their reward, treasure, and future. They can free themselves from earthly guarantees, and learn to give, grant, and offer generously, according to God’s designs, following the example of his Son, the source of generosity, donation, and excellent gifts.

He who despises his earthly possession, and makes the needy participants in it, becomes in harmony with God who gave us criminals in his Son all that he had. He wants to establish us in his love so that we may never fall. In Christ’s spiritual expanses there is neither rust, nor thieves, nor microbes, nor any kind of degeneration, but there prevail truth, faithfulness, and sincerity. So where is your treasure, on earth, or in heaven where Christ is? If you imagined earthly things, you would fade away like this world and burn in hell, but if you considered the things of heaven, you would continue forever as your Lord is eternal.

 

 

THE CALL TO WATCH OUT
AND BE READY FOR THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

(Luke 12:35-48)

 

LUKE 12:35-38

35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

Christ is coming soon. Are you expecting him eagerly? Even demons know that this coming will inevitably happen, and they tremble, whereas those that are superficial are captivated by the appearances of technology, worldly development, and perishable inventions. They are moving gradually away from God and forgetting him. Their consciences are becoming numbed, and their unclean sins are the emblem of their life.

Blessed is he who expects the coming of the Son of God, keeps watching in the evening of our time, serves all men as a servant of Christ, and answers quickly the commands of his Spirit. Such faithful servant is like a servant who lights a lamp at night waiting for his master to light to him upon his blessed entering. The wise servant knows that his Lord does not come alone, but brings his bride with him. He wants to light the way to her into the house, and welcome her rejoicingly.

Christ makes a promise to all those who expect his coming in this manner, which is the greatest promise in all the Bible: upon his coming, Christ will ask all his servants who serve him and his bride church faithfully, and prepare his way through the services of their humility, to sit, be comforted, and dine, and the Bridegroom himself will serve them dressed as a servant. Do you understand what the Son of God says to you? He is a bridegroom and servant at one time. Our God is love and not a dictator. He gave his life for us on the cross, and is continuing his ministry in heaven. So, man, throw yourself to dust, destroy your pride, and be immediately a servant like God, for you are but a servant.

 

LUKE 12:39-40

39 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Christ teaches his disciples awareness, and complete consciousness in case of weakness and drowsiness. He prepares them for his coming using another parable. He says he will come silently and unexpectedly as a thief at night, neither in the first watch, nor in the fourth watch, but around midnight, when people are sleeping deeply. Then, in the midst of the night of the human history, Christ comes unexpectedly, silently, neither hastily, nor lately. Therefore, we have to wait for him eagerly. The Holy Spirit prepares us for this waiting.

 

LUKE 12:41-48

41 Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is the servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

Christ gives us another parable to illustrate his coming. Are you a steward made responsible by God for supplying spiritual nourishment for others? Do you take the fullness of nourishment for your hearers from the word of God? Do you pray faithfully for them? Your Lord will beatify you if you do so, and then he will increase your gifts, and put his authority in your hands if you continue in his faithfulness in small things.

But woe to you, if you lived for yourself, and did not care for those whom you are responsible for, having your honesty numbed and infiltrated with the poison of politics and the smoke of philosophy, forgetting your people, and not offering to them the body of Christ as bread and blood for eternal life. Then your Lord will condemn you on the day of his coming, and cut you in eternity, and you will be always disturbed, finding yourself in your deep-black darkness.

Woe to every believer who knows his Lord’s will and does not do it. Both of us represent this unprofitable servant, and will be beaten painfully on the Day of Judgment, unless we repent, become broken to our satisfaction, and ask Jesus what he wants us to do today, saying: “Strengthen me to do your will quickly.” Then he forgives us our offences, and qualifies us newly for effectual service.

If you know nothing about Christ’s salvation and certain coming, and do not serve your brother man in love, your punishment will be certain, for God is love, and his love is the reason for your condemnation. However your condemnation will be less than that of the believers who became a stumbling stone to their brothers.

Do not aspire after great gifts, for then you will be much required. Be faithful in your existent state, and serve the Lord with all that you have of health, mind, money, and knowledge of God, for these are the gifts given to you by your Lord. You will give account of every idle word you may speak or write, of every penny, and every minute you spend uselessly. God has enriched you. So how do you redeem the time? What do you do for God with your strong muscles? Can you not employ your intelligence in teaching the ignorant the knowledge of God? Do you not wish to sacrifice your money for your Lord practically today? The Holy Spirit is shaking you. When are you going to do Christ’s will, and prepare his way? Your Lord is coming quickly. Are you vigilantly awake to receive him?

PRAYER: O Lord, you are faithful, but I am lazy, living for myself, and rendered insensible by means of the world’s temptations. Wake me and make me conscious and extended to the day of your coming. Fill my cold heart with your love, purify me of my sins, and guide me in order that my life may become praise and thankfulness with all those who pray humbly to you and glorify you. 

 

 

CHRIST SENDS FIRE ON THE EARTH

(Luke 12:49-50)

 

LUKE 12:49-50

49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”

Christ has accepted you. Did you accept him too? Christ has borne the fire of God’s wrath on the cross, that red supernatural baptism of the Lamb of the Holy God. Because of his sufferings, he could send the fire of the Holy Spirit on the earth after his resurrection. Christ has done every thing for you. But what have you done for him? He forgave you your sins, so how do you thank your Redeemer? The Holy Spirit is present and working in the world. He means to fill your heart, so when are you going to dedicate yourself to your Savior and faithful Intercessor? Today, the fire of the love of God is coming into the hearts of millions of people to overcome their selfish mind that they may serve the love of Christ. When are you going to join the procession of the redeemed? 

 

LUKE 12:51-53

51 “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

The acceptance of Christ sometimes causes quarrels in families, for the light of God struggles against darkness, love opposes hatred, and the truth is hard against lying. Thus the peace of God must bring war where peace and not war is desired, and Christ’s humility suffers from the haughtiness of the world. When the Holy Spirit, heavenly light dwells in a man’s heart, this man becomes strange to this world, and worthy of the kingdom of God. He that is sanctified in Christ is not he who struggles against his neighbors. But the family hates the member who was born again of the Spirit of God, and hurts him. Yet, these sufferings for Christ’s sake purify your faith, refine your love, and cleanse your hope, for the Lord himself stands by you, partakes of your suffering, and bears with you your contempt and afflictions. Having accepted you in the family of God, he cares for you. This faith does not signify abolition of the Ten Commandments, but we have to honor our father and our mother, love them, serve them more than before, and surround them with our prayers, as a faithful daughter said: “My father loves me because of my pure behavior. He hates me because of my Christian faith. But he curses my brother because of his corrupt behavior, and loves him because of his old faith. Therefore, I am thoroughly careful to continue in the holiness of life lest my parents find a reason for complaining against me, so that the love of Christ in me may become the testimony of my faith.

 

LUKE 12:54-59

54 Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. 55 And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is.
56 Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time? 57 Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? 58 When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite.”  

The western wind brings rain to Palestine, whereas the wind of the south brings on it sandstorms and oppressive heat. Every peasant knows this fact from his earliest youth, and acts accordingly. Yet, when John came with his hot preaching of repentance, and Christ rained on the thirsty with the rain of the gospel, the multitudes did not understand the symbols of time, and remained foolish and stony. Christ called them “hypocrites”, for they raced to John and accepted the baptism, but the were not converted, and they did not live according to the Spirit of God.

Today, this holy storm blows against our nation, and many other nations of the world. The rain of grace will fall on him who allows the word of God to cultivate his heart that he may bear much fruit. But he who neglects the age of grace has to get ready for God’s judgment including its hotness and accountability. The signs of time are clear. Do you discern them, dear brother? Today you live in the age of grace, but the hour of judgment is approaching. What are you going to do?

Christ is giving you the last advice before the coming of the Day of Judgment: Get rid of your offenses toward God while there is still time. Do you hate anyone, or have you sinned to anyone? Hurry to him and become reconciled with him. Bow down and ask God and men’ forgiveness. Christ died on the cross, forgave your sins, and finished the salvation of the world. Accept his redemption, live faithfully in Christ, and rejoice prayerfully in your brokenness, for God is still bestowing favors upon you and upon all those who seek him.

But whenever you neglect the time of grace, condemnation comes upon you as death. The Lord’s ministers will bring you from your hiding place, and your faults will appear clearly before the throne of God. Nothing of your good deeds will remain before him but sins, for God is holy. Choose the absolute grace in Christ’s blood and Spirit, and you will receive God’s righteousness and become his own. If you continue in your negligence and obstinacy, you will bring upon yourself destruction, torment, and hell for refusing the grace, hardheartedness, and incomplete preparedness for reconciliation. Repent. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, thank you for your gospel, your reconciliation, and your holy love. We glorify you because you are the only Savior. Fill me with your Spirit that I may accept your grace completely. Open my eyes to the flow of your power that I may live in your name. Bless my neighbors and friends one by one that they may be saved with me and changed in their behavior into the purity of love and revealed truth. Amen.


QUIZ

How Jesus Came Into Conflict With the Professing Lawyers

 

 

Dear reader,

If you studied carefully chapters 9-12 of Luke’s gospel, you would be able to answer easily 22 questions out of the following 27 questions. If you mail us correct answers to these questions we will send you the next part of this series on the gospel of Luke:

 

  1.   What is the signification of Christ’s silencing the violent storm?

  2.   How did the demon-possessed live before and after meeting Christ?

  3.   Why did Christ say to the girl’s father, “Do not be afraid, only believe,” though death took place actually in his house?

  4.   How did Christ send his apostles?

  5.   Why did Jesus make food for five thousand people and satisfied them?

  6.   Who was the Christ expected by each group of the Jews? Why had the true Christ to die and rise from the dead?

  7.   How do we deny ourselves?

  8.   Why did Jesus show his disciples his eternal glory?

  9.   Why did Christ call his disciples and all men a “faithless and perverse generation”?

10.   What are the three spiritual diseases that Jesus detected in his disciples?

11.   Why did Christ reproach his chosen disciples?

12.   What was Jesus’ wisdom in healing his three different followers?

13.   Why does Christ command you to ask God to send laborers for his harvest?

14.   Why did Christ rejoice when his seventy helpers returned to him?

15.   Who is your neighbor?

16.   Why did Jesus reproach the hardworking Martha, and praised Mary for listening to him?

17.   Why is the name of the Father the most important word in the Lord’s Prayer?

18.   Why are most of the prayers selfish?

19.   How did Christ overcome (and still overcomes) Satan even today?

20.   Why did Christ not give the people a notable sign but the sign of Jonas the prophet?

21.   Why did Christ punish his host in that magnitude?

22.   Why did Christ condemn the experts in the Torah severely?

23.   Why does Christ consider those who do not confess his name as hypocrites among the believers?

24.   Why did God call the economical, diligent rich man poor and foolish?

25.   Why does Christ command us not to worry? What is the difference between the unworried and the dependent?

26.   How will Christ come to his church? What happens next?

27.   What is the meaning of the fire sent from heaven, and the sword of Christ?

 

Send us your name and address clearly written along with your reply and write to the following address:

 

WATERS-OF-LIFE

P.O. BOX 15755

PITTSBURGH, PA 15244

USA
JESUS' CALL TO REPENTANCE

(Luke 13:1-9)

 

LUKE 13:1-5

1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Do you read newspapers and are frightened at the reports of collisions, disasters, wars, and scandals? Then be aware that accidents happen at all seasons. How astonishing that Jesus did not speak about the fault of those who caused distresses, knowing that every evildoer will be punished justly by God, even the kings, rulers, and governors, such as Pontius Pilate who mocked at the people, trod on there sacred feeling, and despised God, laughing at the sacrifice of atonement. So Jesus knew that injustice does not remain without punishment.

Christ guided his hearers to think: Why did the disaster happen only to a small number of certain people? They ought to have deserved death, for every man is condemned with sickness, distress, and death because of his disgusting sins. Thus we have no right to survive or enjoy, but are brought about step by step toward God’s destroying condemnation. Do not deceive yourself about your bad situation, for no man is good or righteous. All men live without God, corrupt in their thoughts and behavior. You and I deserve death this very moment. This, and nothing else, is the evident truth. 

Jesus made apparent that those who were killed in the event were not more murderous than the others, though he confirmed that their punishment came directly from God. Nothing happens on our planet apart from his divine will. The history of mankind is often the history of God’s wrath.

Christ confirmed to us that there is no difference between big sinners and less sinful, between the godly and the evil, between the righteous and the unbelievers. Before God every man is abominable in nature, for his heart is full of evil thoughts. The impurity hidden in your mind is considered before the Holy One as dissolute fornication. So do not think yourself better than any criminal, for if you hate or reject anybody, you will be considered in the Lord’s eye as an evil murderer.

Be aware that each one of your sins is a transgression against the holiness of God himself, as he said, “Be holy, for I am holy.” The Lord considers all your faults by thought, word, and deed as disobedience and mutiny against his eternal will. You are personally guilty before God in all your human nature.

Jesus guided his hearers to another thought: Why does God give them time, and not destroy them immediately, as he destroyed those upon whom the tower fell and were killed? Thus, in warning them about God’s wrath, he showed them a way out of the coming destruction. What do you think is the way out of wrath, condemnation, and destruction? There is no way but to return to God, discard pride, and confess with crushed heart: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Are you still haughty, and self-assertive, or are you seeking God with repentance and shyness? Do you criticize anyone around you, and judge your enemies with discontent, or do you know within yourself that you are the greatest sinner?

Christ does not only warn you about haughtiness, but he warns all men and peoples, calling them to return, for if we do not repent quickly, and change the situations of our society, then a new world war will devour us all, and stand us before the throne of the eternal Judge. Did you forgive your enemies their sins, and returned every penny you stole from others? Arrange your life as long as you live, for death is smiling at the door of your room.

PRAYER: O holy Lord, I thank you because you did not consume me yet. Be merciful to me a sinner. You know my past. So cleanse me from all iniquity, and sanctify me with your patience that I may guide all my friends to repentance lest your wrath devours us.

 

LUKE 13:6-9

6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’” 

God has a vineyard that is the world, in which there are precious trees. Each man is supposed to bear fruits worthy of the spirit of heaven, also the trees of the vineyard are to bear their fruits at all times. But God found nothing in men but wars, boastfulness, fornication, bigotry, and scandals, so he decided in his heart to consume the evil kind.

Our present society is no better than the Jewish society at the time of Jesus. Jesus did not find at his time holy fruits for God in his nation, and he knew that God was determined to consume the nation.

Jesus describes himself, in this parable, as the interceding vineyard-keeper who asks God for a delay of one more year before he cuts and exterminates the nation, though it uses the earth to no avail. Perhaps another nation takes its place and bears fruits better than it. They deserved to be consumed, but Christ asked for them one more year for repentance, saying: “I want to do everything to correct them, to cultivate their hearts with the words of judgment which are like the cleaving plowshare, and to revive them with the blessings of my power that they may repent, believe truly, and love practically. If this people does not ripen during this year and return to their Lord, let him cut them in pieces. In fact, God inflicted the Jews as a nation, pulled them up by the roots, and burnt them for hundreds of years in the furnace of his angry judgment.

We must not feel secure about God’s wrath, for transmitted news report to us everyday the facts of pride, hatred, impurity, and lying. The whole world became like a tent of adultery, where the Spirit of God only dwells in few persons. Till when, do you think, God will bear with us? We all deserve destruction, but Christ’s intercession for his church, and the power of the Holy Spirit who is working in the believers prevent God’s wrath. Christ had cultivated peoples for one thousand nine hundred years with the word of his holiness, and fertilized it with the power of his Holy Spirit. Does God become satisfied with the shallow fruit of little believers? Or does the Lord stand with his high ax to inflict the last blow on us, and consume men, for they disobeyed his Soul running after every strutting leader who will certainly perish?

We all live from Christ’s intercession and faithfulness. We wish with all our hearts that his last word in us would not be to cut us, but that we may bear fruit to his satisfaction. Do not imagine the coming of good days, but repent, and ask spiritual repentance for your people, not with undulations of sentimental feelings, or repentance with lying tears, but let the Lord renew the hearts practically, convert the minds, and establish the works of his love through filling the hearts with his gospel.

PRAYER: O interceding Lord, we thank you for your love to all men, and for interceding for us before the Father. Forgive us our selfishness and covetousness, consecrate us to serve love in purity, have patience with us and with all men, and help us to surround our friends and neighbors with our prayers, and preach them with the gospel that they may bear holy fruit.

 

 

THE HEALING OF THE CRIPPLED WOMAN

(Luke 13:10-17)

 

LUKE 13:10-17

10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound -- think of it -- for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

The evangelist Luke shows us how Jesus served his people in his journey to Jerusalem, according to the parable of the fig tree and the vineyard-keeper. He dug, cultivated, and blessed the hearts to save them from the coming condemnation of God. He also bent to the poor and to those who were going astray. Do you feel with the sick, suffer with them, and wish them restoration to health? Jesus was full of compassion toward the woman who had been bent over for eighteen years and could not straighten up, for the segments of her backbone were bent and removed from their fixed position, and her muscles were weak. Eighteen years is a long portion of time: it exceeds 7500 days filled with sufferings, pains, and despair. In spite of that, the poor woman went to church, because she found comfort only with God. Though she was unable to lift up her head, she lifted up her heart to her merciful Lord.

Jesus came. He heard the cry of faith out of the suffering heart, and perceived her hardship in her features. So he called her willingly, and assured to her, her cure of her infirmity. That was in the midst of the crowded multitudes of prayers. She was away from him at a corner of the church. Yet her heart did not immediately grasp the word of God, for she was bound in herself through her belief in devilish insinuation. She might have once resorted to a diviner, or a conjuror, and her body was bound by the destructive dominion of Satan. This is why Jesus called her to him, and put his creative hands on the poor crooked woman, whose back immediately cracked, and her muscles became strong. Then she lifted up her head and stood erect, for the power of God forgave her all her sins, and loosed her from the bonds of the evil spirit, and she was cured in body, soul, and spirit. This deep change was a victory to Christ, for the redeemed woman magnified God in public, and her heart flowed over with praise, because all her bodily pains and mental stress disappeared.

Facing this joy for God’s prevalence, the narrow-sighted unfair spirit appeared without feeling or pity in the ruler of the synagogue who understood and kept his law literally. Accordingly he forbade most of the works on the Sabbath, to satisfy those who worship to God by keeping commandments and judgments. Through such worship he and his congregation became empty from love, for they thought only of themselves, and considered their selfish security of their own salvation. So they became inactive and dull in their hard spirit, embracing the formalities and superficialities of the law. They were prepared to sacrifice anyone for their principles’ sake. The law became an idol, and not a servant to men. In spite of that, they were unrealistic that they allowed some hard works on the Sabbath, fed, and watered their animals. That was just, but as they allowed service to animals they prohibited it to men. Consequently, they considered their animals more essential and better than man. This is why Christ called them “hypocrites.”

Even today, some peasants consider their fields more important than their household. Many fathers spend money on their cars more than they spend on their children. We can see merchants nailed for long hours in their shops without caring for their families. Most of employees kill their free time amusing themselves in cafes and spoiling things. They do not bring their children up in good training and instruction, nor do they spend any time to look after their neighbors who need their advice.

However, Christ showed the Jews that men are more important than animals, especially that they are descents of Abraham, and having God’s image in their forms. Likewise, Christ says to you too: “All your schoolmates and fellow workers are more important than your bright diplomas, or your bank account. Your aim in life is not your personal success, but your love for your poor brother man whom you meet today. Christ calls every prayer a hypocrite, if he did not truly love his relatives and neighbors. So think of your friends, look after your brothers, and serve your parents. Feel with them, help them in practice, and pray for them strongly that the Lord’s blessing may dwell in them. If you pretend godliness before men, and do not truly serve them, then God will call you a hypocrite bound by the chains of Satan, and must be loosed from your repulsive selfishness.

PRAYER: O Lord of love, I confess that my heart is cold, because I think first of my work, my intents, and myself. Please forgive me my selfishness. Thank you for you loose us from the bonds of Satan, and consecrate us to your pity and dedicate us to serve joyfully and pray constantly. Bless my friends, neighbors, and relatives that they may become free from the bonds of Satan, and glad in the experience of your power.

 

 

THE TWO PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

(Luke 13:18-21)

 

LUKE 13:18-21

18 Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
20 And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

The atom bomb is very strong, but the spiritual power in any world belief is stronger than it, for every culture rushes and becomes dyed with its own spirit. The greatest power in the world is the word of Jesus Christ, for it has changed the face of the world in principle. Jesus is like a man who comes to his garden and casts into it a grain of mustard seed, which grows in the course of time silently and noiselessly, and becomes a great tree. As such Jesus cast the gospel into the field of the world, which belongs personally to him, and not to Satan. And this simple word, which works without twinkling eloquence, became in two thousand years a huge tree whose branches reached half of the earth. The word of the Lord is still strong winning individuals even at the uttermost parts of the world. So do not despair if you were an isolated believer surrounded with unbelievers, or if only two or three met with you around the Holy Bible. The gospel is promised, even today, to grow and become a large tree, for the power of God is working in it. It revives dead hearts, and gives light to ignorant minds. Believe in the power of the gospel that you may experience how it changes the hearts of many. 

Be wary! A bird perching on a tree, or lodging in its branches is not a branch of the tree. Similarly, not all those who hear the gospel and come to your meetings become changed in essence, and accept to be engrafted into the root of the tree. There are people who come and partake of the rays of peace, and the blessings of God’s protection, without committing themselves truly to the power of grace, or continuing in God. Many philosophers, poets, leaders, and economists learnt the Holy Bible, and were most impressed therewith. They derived much benefit from it, without any change in their subconscious; and then they flew away as birds having a leaf of the tree of God in their beaks. Dear brother, be a branch, and not a flying bird in the tree of Christ so that his power may flow in you without interruption.

In another parable, our Lord Jesus shows us the working power in the kingdom of God. He likens it to the leaven, which leavens the dough and makes it fit to be made bread. The raising of dough signifies as chemical change. It tells us how the power of the kingdom of God changes the essence of man, making the selfish unselfish, and impure pure. As we see in the growing of the mustard seed into a large tree an example of the spreading of the kingdom of God without any barrier, the parable of the leaven also shows us the essential change in man through the word of Christ who develops his kingdom in number and in essence. He who loves his becomes sanctified, and he who follows him serves all men. Christ himself is like the leaven, which leavens, ripens, and changes the whole world according to his pure Spirit.

Did the power of Christ impress you, change you into the image of his humility, and make you a reason for changing others? If you want to be within the frame of impression of the power of Christ, and participate in communicating it to the world, you will not need human wisdom, or fabricated tricks; all that you need is to open yourself to the gospel, and you will become a profitable man, bearing the word of God in your heart, and spreading it among your friends and surroundings. Trust in the power of Christ, which overturns the situations. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Thanksgiving and praise be to him.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, we worship to you because you touched us with your word, included us in your kingdom, and you change us into your image. We thank you because your kingdom grows like a flourishing tree in sun and in ice, in storm and in silence; and none can oppose it. We worship you because you sanctify your household with great silence, and without noisy propaganda that they may become the reason for life for many.

 

 

CHRIST'S EXPERIENCE ON HIS WAY TO JERUSALEM

(Luke 13:22-35)

 

LUKE 13:22-30

22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.
30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”

The evangelist Luke recorded to us uncorrelated sentences of Christ’s many statements, which he said during his journey to Jerusalem, the town of his death. Jesus might have expressed more thoughts than those recorded by the evangelist, but the recorded things are the cream and summary of all that Jesus said in this journey and was capable of being grasped in the physician Luke’s mind.

The question addressed to Christ by one of his followers was not: “Are there many who are saved?” But on the contrary, he asked about the few that might be saved, for the people at that time began to withdraw from Jesus step by step. They wanted him to bring them bread and miracles which would help them in their life, but neglected repentance. The spiritual leaders of the nation decided to kill Jesus of Nazareth, and Christ was aware of that. The disciples also expected bitter persecutions to swoop down mercilessly on the little flock.

Keeping this in mind, and before he was asked, Christ gave them a promise that the kingdom of God would grow in spite of the hardships as a mustard seed which becomes a full tree, and that the gospel would work as a good leaven in the dough.

Then Christ commanded the questioner to turn his sight from the falling away multitudes and look into himself that he might repent, become sanctified, and continue in the kingdom of God. As such he described the aim of every believer’s walk that is to enter through the narrow gate. People enter through this narrow gate one by one and not in droves. No one can enter at it with many loadings, but every newcomer must be light and empty from his earthly possessions and burdens. Christ is the narrow gate, and people come to him not as crowded multitudes but as individuals. Whoever enters into his happy expanses must get rid of his offences, worries, problems, rights, books, and luxurious clothes. Come to Jesus as you are without veils.

Your commitment to him means self-denial, complete confession of the offences, and abandonment of the obstinate faults, requiring all your efforts, sacrifices, certain determination, and decision.

Do not hesitate over your love of yourself and commitment to Jesus, for the chance to repent soon disappears, and the Lord closes the door. Then many seekers try to accept Christ, but they cannot, because they neglected the time of grace and deceived themselves about God. Christ wants you to express your willingness, sacrifice your money, give your time, and be strongly determined to become worthy and worker in the kingdom of God. It is not sufficient to eat the bread of grace from the hand of Christ, and hear his beautiful words without moving and working effectually in the field of the Lord. Faith requires of you absolute repentance, and radical conversion as a result of your meditation on the gospel. Do not content yourself with your imaginations about God’s entity, and pray: “O Lord! O Lord!” for Christ wants to see in you the works of his love, the fruit of his righteousness, the words of his truthfulness, and the thoughts of his Spirit coming out of his fellowship with you in eternal life today. 

Every man in whom the power of Christ is not at work remains unjust to himself, and doing injustice. He is not from God, but from the spirit of the evil one. Jesus does not know him, and his name is not written in the Book of Life. Christ, the Son of Man is asking you, today, “Where are you from? From God, or from the evil one? Do you belong to the fellowship of Christ where the Shepherd knows each one by name, or are you unknown to God? Examine yourself, strive to get free from your sins, and enter to Christ who will by no means cast out whoever comes to him brokenly and repentantly. 

But he who arrives at the narrow gate, and then deviates from it with superficial faith, embracing only the blessing of the past fathers, will fall into hell in spite of his external godliness. His abode is Hell, an evil refuge indeed!

This vault is filled with continuous fear of the hosts of evil, and with the cries of penitence for late repentance. It also overflows with bitter blaspheming against the holy God. This place of painful darkness is not completely separated from heaven. But the reprobates see the fathers of faith, true prophets, and every humble saint sitting down near to God, where order prevails, peace dwells, joy spreads, and love continues in everyone in the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

Jesus said to the unrepentant Jews, “You will fall into hell, and millions of nations will come from the east, and from the west, instead of you, entering through the narrow gate, and partaking of all the blessings of heaven. They will meet with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the truthful, faithful prophets, and speak with them about the miracles of the love of God in their lives. They will also enquire of the apostles about the truths and meanings of their gospels and epistles, and meet with the dead and the living in Christ, for they are altogether the family of our heavenly Father. Do you belong to this family, or you sit down afar.

The Jews who rejected the gospel of Christ and became hardhearted will suffer acutely. They, who were the first in choice, became the last, having no other chance but to repent and accept Christ at the end of time. However the small-numbered, despised church that is considered backward by the Jews, became the first having been filled with the Holy Spirit and entered into the bosoms and glories of its Lord.

PRAYER: Our Lord Jesus, You are the gate leading to God the Father. Teach us to put off all our sins and worries, and abandon our wishes and money to repent, become sanctified with your blood and Spirit, and enter into your joy. Let many of our friends and relatives enter into your paradise. Let your kingdom come today, and your will be present and working among us. Thanks and glory to you. Amen.

 

 

 

 

LUKE 13:31-35

31 On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem. 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

During his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jesus entered within the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas who was stupid, wasteful of his money, and ill tempered, having committed many crimes though he was continuously convicted by his conscience (Matthew 2:16; Luke 3:19; 9:7; 23:11). May be he sought to satisfy the Pharisees, having known that they hated Jesus and wanted to drive him out of their surroundings, so he promised them to use his few guards for this purpose. The Pharisees designed to lessen Christ’s reputation by frightening him and showing the people that he was coward, lover of his life, and afraid of death. Herod probably wanted further to satisfy the Roman occupying authority by delivering up to them a rebel popular leader, to prove his submission and loyalty to the authority.

Jesus perceived the machination of the king and his allies, and called the king a fox, for he knew his conspirative thoughts and designs, condemning and making fun of them. Nevertheless Jesus officially informed the stupid Herod of his works that he might know him well who was serving in his territory. Christ is the Victor over all demons. In his contacts with evil spirits, Herod was afraid of their unjust dominion, and used to tremble with fear. But Jesus cast out the evil authorities by an utterance of his tongue. With these powers he healed the poor and the tormented. His divine love was the motive of his ability.

And yet Jesus testified that no man, even the king himself, could kill him without the will of God who appointed the time and place of his mission, which Jesus had to finish completely. God is the Possessor of the world, and no king or vile leader can hinder, or oppose the establishment of the kingdom of God through his artifice and human power.

Jesus knew beforehand that his way led to the cross. He called his death of the infamous tree perfection of his mission and character. Was Jesus not perfect at all times? Undoubtedly, all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily. But his ministry was perfected on the cross, reconciling the world with God. His human body had to bear the unperceivable last temptation. The Spirit of god made the weak man Jesus an almighty man who united the world with God by his precious blood, and was worthy of being raised bodily from the tomb. Today, this glorified human body is sitting down at the right hand of God.

Jesus knew that the last hour of his life on earth would only be in Jerusalem. He obeyed the instruction of the Holy Spirit to die there on the altar of the world.

The Son of God suffered, at the same time, from the devilry of this city, for he who was murderer from the beginning found in the center of the Jewish culture a wide place for his crimes. Jesus called the City of Peace “the one who kills the prophets”. Jesus was not dazzled by the splendor of the capital, nor was he captured by the majestic dresses of spiritual and civil leaders. He smiled at the deadly weapons of the occupying forces, and despised the riches of the development of civilization. Instead of these perishable appearances, Jesus tried to unify the ignorant people who long for God in this city through the power of his love that they might stand secure near him and receive everlasting life. He called them, ran after them, and worked laboriously for them. But the people of the city, especially the professors, did not want at all to follow the Physician who came from the underdeveloped village. So they hardened their minds toward the call of God, and became ripe for the fearful judgment.

Woe to the village, city, and country whose people shut their ears against the voice of the love of God. The coming grievous judgment is inescapable. Wars must come because of men’s unbelief in Christ. Why do multitudes wonder at the commotions, disasters, and wars in our world?

God’s condemnation continues, and spiritual blindness increases, for the light of the gospel is being veiled and darkened. Woe to the city or country from which the Spirit of Christ departs, because its people did not open their hearts willingly to him. Then evil spirits come from the south and all sides to exercise deception, mastery, fornication, disorder, hatred, and fear.

Thus Christ showed the haughty professors the judgment to come on their nations. But he left for them the dawn of hope shining on the horizon of history, and directed them to his second coming, and the probable repentance of the people of the Old Testament who would mumble frightfully in his heavenly shining glory, reiterating the words quoted from Psalm 118:26) applied to the coming of the High Priest into his temple, and crying with tears, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, we worship to you, for your faithful love and your truthful truth. Please forgive us our slow heart if we did not follow your gentle, merciful voice. Forgive all those who hardened their hearts against your Holy Spirit, and call them again to resort to you before the day of the great destruction. Thank you for treating us forbearingly, and tolerating us patiently.

 

 

CHRIST AT A PHARISEE'S HOUSE

(Luke 14:1-24)

 

LUKE 14:1-6

1 Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. 2 And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 4 But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. 5 Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6 And they could not answer Him regarding these things.

Why did the Jews observe the Sabbath for rest and worship with all adherence and exaggeration that it was expressly forbidden to kindle fire for cooking, heal the sick, or cover a long distance in traveling, in addition to more than one hundred other prohibitions? In keeping the law they saw the way to God, and by emphasizing the judgments they intended to gain heaven. They also prohibited traveling on the Sabbath. Even today, some of their professors stone any car running on a Sabbath, believing that the awaited Christ will not come to earth and establish his kingdom of peace unless all the people of the Old Testament keep the judgments of the Sabbath without transgression.

In this way they did a big mistake in understanding the love of God, refused the mercy of God, and hoped for salvation through their own power. They did not accept the free redemption in Christ, and made their ears deaf to the invitation of the Holy Spirit who confirms to us our inability to keep the law by ourselves, and reveals to us our corruption in his wonderful light. So let us resort to Christ’s grace and power, and never rely on our own righteousness.

The Pharisees who invited Jesus to a feast in the house of one of their chiefs, were not already filled with hatred toward their respectable guest, but were willing to examine him, and watch him to know him and explore him, or see a wonderful miracle. Yet Christ saw their proud hearts, and asked them which was more important, the flowing of the power of God’s love to the world, or keeping the law in a selfish way to gain one’s own righteousness. The observers and the owner of the house became ashamed for they still had the sense and cautiousness to perceive the importance of the love of God. The might have also felt the authority of Christ is his word, bowed their heads reverently, and said nothing.

Christ broke the lying of their understanding of keeping the Sabbath through healing the man who was suffering from dropsy. He showed them that God delivers the poor everyday, for in the New Testament everyday became a day of grace. The love of God delivered us from holding fast to our righteousness, and consecrated us to the service of love willfully. Jesus took the man, whose skin was swollen, for his heart and kidneys were unable to secrete the water out of the body. With his creative power, Jesus cured the sick man whom no physician could cure, without any surgery, or suggestion, but with the word of his power. The currents of divine powers came out from the person of Christ until the patient’s nature became organized and made up through his faith.

Christ cured the sick not only in body, but also in spirit, and showed them once again by human examples about saving a son from a well, or pulling an ass out of a pit that every normal man, in his wits, would always be prepared to save those that are in hardship, even on the Sabbath day, for the thought of helping and our motive to serve bring us near to the image of God who helps, blesses, serves, and saves incessantly those who are going astray.

Examine yourself! Do you only meditate and pray on Sunday for yourself and for the growth of your knowledge, and your soul towers in the atmosphere of worship and hymns, or do you think practically how to help your disturbed brother man? Is the arrogant “I” your aim in your life, or did you find in serving every man the goal intended in your life? Christ intends to convert your mind, and renew your intents to reinforce his essence in your heart, for God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

PRAYER: O Lord, we thank you for your love, and worship to you because of your exceptional and redeeming power. Forgive us our little love and self-seeking. Dedicate us to the spirit of service, and train us to serve every man. Cure our friends that they may become healthy in body, in soul, and in spirit.

 

LUKE 14:7-11

7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them,
8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus sat down in the atmosphere of the feast. He watched the people and their behaviors, and soon noticed how they crowded around their chief that he might see them, salute them, and kiss them, for they thought they would receive his help thereafter. There is nothing more evil than flattery, when it nests hatred, jealousy, and despise inside the heart. Keep away from all kinds of hypocrisy, and prefer to be small among men lest you become haughty. Then God considers you great indeed.

Christ came down from God’s nearness, and became a simple man like you are. He bore our sins as a rejected, crucified slave; and God exalted and glorified him as no man was ever glorified before or after him. He who follows Christ becomes changed into his lowliness, for the Son of God said, “I am lowly in heart.” There was nothing in his heart but lowliness. What about your conscience? Do you seek honor, ostentation, fame, and esteem from the public, or do you wish to remain unknown, serving the poor and the mobs? Christ did not go to the kings, rulers, and chiefs; but sought the sick that longed for purity and truth. Are you prepared to follow Christ practically?

Know yourself. Every normal man wishes to become proud as a peacock. This spirit is found even in little children: A five years old girl said, “I wish I were a towering statue in a public square so that all men may see me far above.”

Realize yourself, deny your evil nature, and ask Christ to bring you down from your pride and show you that you are nothing, know nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing. Then he purifies you with his precious blood, and fills you with his Holy Spirit, and you will proceed to the highest step of humanity and become a child of God, for you humbled yourself, repented truly, and believed that you are nothing, and therefore the Spirit of God dwelt in you, and raised you to him.

But the poor one who thinks he is something, and runs haughtily in societies, thinking himself a minor god, and seeking leadership in his surroundings, will fall to the failure of his dirty sins, become a slave of his lusts, lose his untroubled conscience, and neglect God’s grace in his haughtiness, for he opened himself to the spirit of Satan who is the first of the haughty, contrary to Christ who made himself of no reputation, and was completely and truly humble.

Dear brother, are you haughty or lowly in heart? Your straightforward answer shows you the way you are going to hell or to heaven. Do not go your way indifferently, but take back every movement that suggests pride, and ask Jesus to pour out his Spirit on you that you may not live for yourself any further, but hide your name in the name of the Lord, serve the poor, sacrifice your money, and build the kingdom of God by obeying Christ. Pray to Christ insistently that he may eradicate every inclination of your heart to haughtiness, condemn your selfish sensitivity, and deliver you from the original spirit of Satan.

 

LUKE 14:12-14

12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.
14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Christ told the rich and the chiefs not to think in themselves that they are better than the harmless, lest they fall in usual temptation by meeting in circles at their social level only. Woe to the rich, thinkers, and pious in their stupid circles. They do not know that they are not better than the poor, ignorant, and sinners. We all live from the mercy of God, the Highest. So seek the despised needy, and not the satiated and filled. Seek those who labor, and leave the lazy. Do not look at the sport stars, but look at the maimed, and the blind, for Christ meets you in the poor and not in the esteemed. Who are your friends? Are they the good, the handsome, the genius, and the smart? Certainly not! Christ consoled the sick and the hopeless, sat with the repentant adulterers, and saved the sinners who sought God. There with those people is your right place. Do not think that you are better than the beetles. But tell them the word of God that their hearts may be pleased, and help them with food and advice that they may listen to reason and serve God as you do.

Christ says: you have poor people at all times. So seek and serve them that are poor that you may gain the crown of glory at the resurrection, when the servants of the Lord will shine as the sun, while deep-black darkness will spread over the rich and the smart that disbelieve.

PRAYER: O Lord, the Highest, You Humble, Meek, Loving, and Merciful, forgive me my haughtiness, purify me from all pride and every form of pride, and fill my heart with the spirit of service and love for the poor that I may become a servant as you serve all men.

 

LUKE 14:15-24

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,
17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”

Have you ever received an invitation to a feast with the notable people of your town? He who spoke in Jesus’ presence during the feast thought that the invitation to the heaven’s feast was secured for him and in his possession. But Jesus explained to that proud Pharisee that not every invitee comes to God, for thousands of preventions stand in the way of his going to the fellowship of God. All the Jews were invited, but only few of them came to Jesus, and consequently the kingdom of heaven was given to the Gentiles.

In Christ’s parable, we read about four different invitations: First, the master of the house announced to everyone that he would make a party in honor of his son, and suggested to many that they should not forget the date of this feast. As such Christ invites you with many other people to be prepared to become the guest of God.

Second, an official invitation was directed to the individuals, when animals were slaughtered, and the delicious table was prepared full of spices, kabob, cooked food, fruits, sweets, and all tasteful food. Here we read the well-known statement: “Come, for all things are now ready.” It was not necessary for the guests to bring any food with them, for the host had prepared every thing abundantly. This picture indicates the sacrifice of Christ who finished on the cross the salvation of the whole world. The apostles of the gospel tell you to come, for all things are now ready. It is not necessary to bring with you any of your own works, prayers, rites, fasting, or excuses to become worthy of entering into the fellowship of God. The Lord has fulfilled all the requirements, which qualify you to enter into his fellowship. Then come, for all things are now ready. This is the gist of the gospel, and the image of unconditional mercy.

How strange! All those who were invited in the town did not come, but made excuses in superficial words. They were all busy with themselves, and therefore despised, neglected, and pretended to have forgotten the Lord’s invitation. They, being full, satisfied, and self-conceited refused the Lord’s invitation rudely. The first loved his riches, possessions and ability, and sought insurance of his future. The second desired to buy strong oxen to get through them a good product, plentiful crop, and great returns. The third fell in love. He loved himself in his lusts, and had no time for God and men. In these three, we see the attractive temptations, which are about to carry us with their current. Every one longs helplessly for possessions, riches, social security, and high esteem. Many people die to have a brand-new car with a strong engine provided with great horsepower to run it speedily and crazily that people may applaud and shout after him. In this manner, the world is becoming more and more ugly, absorbed in lust and movies, heedless, and dissolute. How astonishing! No one spends any time for his Lord, and they all know in their innermost beings something about God’s invitation. They do not refuse it at all, but at the critical moment, when the Lord invites them to meet him and leave their trivialities, they turn the head, and pay no attention to him, considering that money, success, and passion are more important. Such a decision suggests disrespect for God. As a result of refusing his fellowship, the Lord, in his wrath, will definitely refuse every invitee who heard God’s invitation and did not respond to it.

The host refused those who turned away from him indifferently, and invited the despised in his surroundings. So be cautious! The third time he will invite the poor, the worn-clothed, the mobs, and the rebellious, then the sick, the blind, and the weak who are unable to walk. The master’s servant carried the poor, helped them to reach the palace, carpeted the floor for them, and placed them on soft beds that they might find rest. They did not feel disgust at their wounds, and bad smells because they had no bathrooms. The Lord preferred the lower to the notable. He valued them highly because they obeyed his invitation. They were probably ashamed of entering into the light and glory, but the servants encouraged them to enter with good words. This makes clear to us that those who will experience and join God’s fellowship are not the professors, the self-righteous, the respected, the clever, and the great, but the disqualified, the despised, the sinful, and those that are unable to wear the garment of salvation. To which party do you belong?

God’s house is wide and limitless. The fourth time, the master invited all the strangers, the unclean, and the passers-by to enter into his joy. If the inviter to this feast had been living at our time, he would have sent cars, planes, and vessels to bring all those who long for this global feast. But who will believe this invitation? Every one can enter without condition, without price, and without effort, to eat and enjoy his meal. As such God sends a general invitation to every single one to enter into his kingdom. The Lord commanded his messengers to convince the self-willed and the doubtful, and drag them if possible, for God himself is waiting for them. It is to be noted here that the aim of our hope is not food and drink, but the glorious fellowship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The gospel tells you that all things are now ready. So come on!

PRAYER: We worship to you Father, for you have perfected our salvation through the death of your Son, and invited us through the word of your gospel to participate in the glorious Lord’s Supper that we may be strengthened with the bread of life, and purified with the blood of Christ. We glorify your name, thank you for your invitation, and ask you to tell our neighbors and relatives to come to you.

 

 

THE REQUIREMENTS OF FOLLOWING JESUS

(Luke 14:25-35)

 

LUKE 14:25-27

25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Many people heard Christ’s call and followed him in droves. But Christ knew their hearts, and sifted them as wheat. He said to the believers: “When the blood and sentiment relationship prevents you from following me completely, you must leave those earthly relationships; and even if you were compelled to hate your beloved family in order that you should not separate yourselves from me, Lord of heaven, then do. You have to choose between God and your relatives. Furthermore, Christ asks you to deny yourself, your love, your laziness, and your habits, and to condemn yourself, and consider yourself deserving the shameful death of the cross. Keep condemning yourself everyday in this manner that you may die to your proud, sinful nature, and become in following Christ in his likeness. He who does not part with the sons of this world, even those whom he loves, and denies his soul, which incites him to evil, cannot become a child of God. Give all the glory to your Lord alone.

This commandment of Christ does not abolish his commandment of loving the neighbor, nor does it dim the matrimonial bond, nor does it lessen the honoring of parents, but it decides priority to God, for he, and no one else, is the center, aim, and source of your life. He sends you to your brother man that you may serve him in the name of the Lord, as if God visits him through you. Thus the Highest delivers you from your secular involvements, and sends you to the world as his ambassador. He is in you, and his word is on your tongue.

 

LUKE 14:28-30

28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”

Christ calls you to participate in setting up the kingdom of God, which is similar to a high tower. But he asks you to meditate and pray before you begin to take part in the service of the Lord. Are you prepared to pay the high price of contribution in building the tower of God, or do you prefer to keep secure in your family rather than following Christ? Think out to whom would you offer your service? Do you worship to your clan as a worshipped god, or are you prepared to sacrifice your money, time, thoughts, and relationship for strange people who are not grateful for your service? Make your decision if you were prepared to sacrifice to this extent for the evil world, for you cannot serve God and mammon, nor can you love Christ just as it is right for him and love your family at the same time.

Also confess that your own ability and power are not sufficient to set up the kingdom of God. But when the Lord is with you and his word dwells in you, you are worthy to begin your worthless service. The Lord makes you perfect and helps you.

 

LUKE 14:31-33

31 “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

He who serves God alone prospers greatly. Christ shows you in his war parable that setting up the kingdom of God is like the holy war where the hosts of wickedness and the armies of the devil intend to destroy and consume all those who believe. Do you believe that the invisible angels of the Lord with us overcome the frightful power of the enemy? Do not tremble before the governments, laws, detectives, and torture to death, and know certainly that none of Christ’s followers will be crowned with the crown of victory except those who trust the Lord completely and wholeheartedly. You cannot protect or defend yourself, but he who trusts Christ’s blood and free justification boasts and says: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Examine yourself. Is Christ your only comfort and the foundation of your power, or are you willing to win victory in the holy war through your clever tricks, eloquence, or physical power? Do not forget that your faith has saved you and not your money or your relatives’ mediation. The Lord says to you: “Not through power and ability, but through my Spirit and body.” Are you prepared to dispense with all human means for your help and give the opportunity to Christ alone? Woe to you if you entered into a covenant with philosophy or cunning mediators, or relied on your money. Then you would lose Christ’s authority and become a slave of your helpers.

Be aware that God stood experienced brothers beside you, and gave you a fruitful mind. So do not plunge in your imagination into spiritual services that are beyond your ability and gifts. Keep small, humble, and unknown, and be faithful in the duty given to you by God that you may win and continue.

 

LUKE 14:34-35

34 “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Christ said, “You are the salt of the earth.” This substance is of great use. It is used for seasoning, preserving food and meat, fertilizing the soil, and for other purposes. People cannot live without salts, and Christ considers his followers so important that without them the world becomes flavorless, and senseless, and repentance ends. Did a small particle of salt ever enter into an open wound in your body, or into your eye? It burns and causes much pain. In this manner, your testimony of the truth and your calling people to turn to God must hit them, make them disturbed, and urge them to be converted.

If you neglect Christ’s command to deny yourself, you will become worthless, and cheaper than the dung, which is applied to the soil. Christ sends out those worthless people that they may be caught as prey by the power of the devil.

 

Did you hear the call of God? Are you still prepared to deny the blood relationship, and enter into the holy war? Testify of the truth of the gospel without limitation. But if you were not completely prepared to devote yourself to Christ, you should rather not begin to follow him, for our Lord vomits the lukewarm out of his mouth.

PRAYER: O Lord, You are the exalted King, and the Builder of your kingdom. I am but a beginning worker. Please deliver me from loving myself and my blood relationships that I may become your devoted and faithful worker. Keep me in your grace, and fill all your followers with the spirit of your testimony.

 

 

PARABLES ABOUT THE LOVE OF GOD
WHICH SEEKS SINNERS

(Luke 15:1-32)

 

LUKE 15:1-10

1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear Him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8 Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

God seeks man, why? It is because he loves him. Is man righteous, beautiful, and precious that God may benefit from him? No, on the contrary, every man is devious, disobedient, corrupt, not seeking God, and running away from him. Then, is not necessary for the holiness of God to punish the sinner and consume him? Yes, it is. But God is love, and he tries with great patience to save those who are going astray. He does not consume us immediately, nor does he refuse us entirely, but he calls us, seeks us, works for us, and tires to find every lost one.

The professors of the Old Testament did not understand this deep principle in the love of God, and thought contrarily that man should seek God to please him. Thus they penetrated deeply into the law, kept their customs forcefully, hardened their hearts toward the sinners, rejected the mobs, made themselves blind to the love of God, and did not understand that the Holy One is the loving Father who longs for his straying children, does everything to bring them back, and strives to save them as long as there is time.

This is why Jesus left heaven, not to seek the good and the godly, but to look for the evil and bring them back. In his following parables, Christ explains this movement of God’s love:

A shepherd had one hundred sheep. They were all obedient, good, and right, following him with their meek bleat. One evening, he counted them and found that one of them was lost. He immediately knew which one was lost, for a good shepherd knows every sheep by name. The “obstinate one” had fled once again thinking that its master did not lead him beside green pastures, and still waters. It wanted to search for the mysteries of life by itself, and to enjoy himself away from watchers. Due to its lack of experience, it lost its way in the wilderness, and fell from above into the pit. Except for a bramble bush it would have fallen on the rocks and died. But it clung to the blackberry branches over the open-mouthed pit, heard the howling of wolves and jackals, and frightfully felt the danger, for it was away from that united fellowship. Now, it was unable to return, for it became a prisoner of the painful bush. Darkness came down on the hopeless sheep. It cried frightfully, but heard nothing except the resounding echo of its cry.

After some time, he listened with attention, for he heard a soft and gentle voice calling him from afar, and understood immediately what the voice was. It was the voice of the good shepherd who called the lost sheep by its name, and the sheep, which was shut up among the thorns, answered him with all its strength, “Help! Help! I, lost, hopeless, and evil am here. Please save me, and forgive me my obstinacy.”  The good shepherd went down into the pit of venture, tired, and drew the sheep, which was lost, to him, with sweat exuding through the pores of his front, his clothes torn by thorns, and his wounds bleeding. Finally, he lifted the bruised sheep up, laid it on his shoulders, and went back with it to the fold, exhaustedly and out of breath because of the hard act of saving and the far distance. However he took pleasure, in spite of tiredness, for he had found the obstinate, lost one, and saved the repentant evil one.

As such Jesus seeks you, my dear brother fleeing in obstinacy from God, shut up among the thorns of sin, and hanged over the pit of destruction, with wolves howling around you in the deep-black night. Do you hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and cry out to him, “Save me O Lord”? Lift up your heart to your Savior, for his help is near. He shed his blood to redeem you, and is not ashamed to make every effort to save you. Commit your life to his hand that he may lift you, bear you on his shoulders in the midst of the night of our world, and carry you back to his fellowship. Are you prosperous in Christ, or lost in the world? Be aware that God, heaven, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church on earth, and all angels rejoice and leap for joy because of your return. But if you remained obstinate, away from your Lord, they would be greatly sorrowful.

In the second parable, Jesus shows us the value of the lost man through the diligence of the woman who turned all her house upside down to find the lost coin. She swept under all wardrobes, dusted off all carpets, and searched in pockets and corners all day long, until she found the lost coin. Be sure, dear brother, that God searches for you even if you do not seek him. Christ symbolizes the love of God who came to seek you and save you lost one. Be aware that the motive of God’s work is not your good deeds, or your sounding prayers; nor do your boastful intents establish your salvation. But only the pleasure of God is the reason for your salvation. The Eternal One spares no effort to make you transient mortal man eternal as he is. You do not seek your Lord, but he searches for you. Yet when your will becomes in harmony with God’s will, and the prayer of your heart becomes an echo of his call, joy fills heaven and earth. This joy is greater than all the joy known to men. Enter into the joy of your Lord who wishes to make his joy perfect in us.

PRAYER: O good Lord, I am not worthy that you should search for me, but your love is greater than my sins, and your patience is stronger than my obstinacy. Forgive me the revolt of my thoughts, and take me back to your fellowship. Seek all my friends and co-workers, and set up their salvation soon that they may enter your joy with us. We glorify your great love, for your help is near.

 

LUKE 15:11-24 (The Lost Son)

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

Keep this parable well, for it shows you the essence of man and the innermost heart of God. We call this chapter the golden chapter of the Holy Bible, for it clearly shows us the way of salvation.

A young man chose to leave his father’s house, relying on his ability and mind, having received several gifts from his father of intelligence, beauty, and power. Be aware that your share from God is also great, for your eyes, heart, and lungs are the Creator’s gift to you. We have nothing of ourselves. All things are from our heavenly Father.

When the young man wanted to separate himself from his father, the loving father asked him to remain with him, saying to him, “Stay with me. I love you, and help you, and bless you. Do not go away from me. There is no mercy in the world.” The Almighty God speaks to you such kind words. Do you hear his voice?

But the young man insisted on separation and living independently to practice his own power and seek success. So his father gave him journey provision and his part of the estate, and let him set out, but with tears. In this manner God does not force anyone to stay with him, for love allows freedom and never results in slavery. 

The young man plunged into the world away from his father, living from his funds a life of luxury, extravagance, and dissipation. He had many friends as long as he had money and good health. But when the prodigal son became poor and sick, no one helped him, and everyone left him. So do not completely rely on any man, for out of one thousand friends in need, you may find one friend indeed.

In this way, the son of the rich man fell to feed swine. This portrays the truth of his dissolute, muddy soul, with the difference that the swine filled their bellies with the husks, but he was hungry in body, in soul, and in spirit.

The lost son must have received many letters from his father. But he did not open them, for he had already known their contents: “Come back, I love you.” Moreover the father sent messengers to his son, but he did not receive them. Now, having suffered hunger, with pimples and boils filling his body, he recalled the love of his father, and was deadly ashamed. Do you believe in God’s love for you, even if you neglected his love?

After a long struggle with his soul, the lost son overcame his soul and decided to go back to his father, and confess his failure before him. He was broken within himself and terribly ashamed. That was the turning point of his life, for the image of the father appeared out of his subconscious and came out before his eyes, and he held fast to it in his heart. Did you realize that the holy God is your merciful Father? He is not willing to punish your or torment you, but to save you completely. This is the will of God. Come to your Father who is waiting for you at all times.

The way was long, and the repentance tears were bitter. Yet when the lost son became near his father’s house, his father saw him. He was eagerly watching for the return of the wayward boy.  The father left his house immediately, ran to his coming son, fell on his neck, kissed him, and covered his defects with the robe of his love. He did not speak any word against him, but the movements of his love spoke more eloquently than the most beautiful speech in the world. Be assured that in this very manner God will run to you and receive you joyfully if you get up and go to him.

When the son felt the love of his father, he became entirely broken to his pride, and mumbled with tears: “I am not worthy to be called your son. Forgive me, and let me work with you, for I am hungry.” Then the father’s heart rejoiced, for the son’s confession showed self-denial; trust in the father, and beginning of the new life.

The returning son did not confess before a bishop, priest, or clergyman, but before his father alone. So confess all your sins before God the Father in the presence of Christ, and say: “I am the lost son, the thief, the sinner. You know all my sins and faults. I am not worthy to be called your son. Forgive me my sins. Do not cast me out. Purify me and save me that I may live with you in purity and peace, and never leave move away from you.

When the son confessed, the father began to move. He ordered his servants to bring him the white garment of salvation, put the ring of glory on his hand, gave him the shoes of preparation for the gospel, and killed for him the fattest calf in the house to satisfy his hunger. The father ordered every one in the house to be merry. Do you realize the meanings of these representations? The Father gives you the garment of salvation in purifying you from your sins. He seals you with his Holy Spirit, and authorize you formerly thief to preach his salvation in your surroundings. All of this because he was himself the sacrifice that satisfies the world and centers in us that his life, power, and will may dwell in our hearts. Does Christ dwell in you?

Then the father began to be merry, and expressed his joy out of his loving heart, saying: “My son was dead in sins and faults. But now look; he is living through his trust in my love. He returned repentant and broken, and he will soon recover in my house in body, in soul, and in spirit. My beloved one was lost in his obstinacy and pride, but the ropes of my love brought him back. He is secured with me forever.”

Dear brother, is the hymn of joy of your heavenly Father for you heard in heaven? Are you united with God your Father? Is your heart filled with joy? Do you believe that you are the son of God, and he is your faithful Father? Do not forget that the lost son remained his father’s son even when he was away in his sin; also his father remained his father at all times, even when his child did not think of him. Be sure that you are really a son of God, and the eternal Creator is your Father continually. Do not keep away from him. Come back to him that your choice may become true, and the joy of peace may become firm between him and you. Your heavenly Father is still waiting for you. Will you come back to him?

PRAYER: O heavenly Father, I am not worthy to be called your son. You know my sins, failure, and fate. Please take me up to you and receive me as you received the lost son and did not reject him.

 

LUKE 14:25-32

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ 28 But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

As a coin has two faces, so the story of the lost son has two sides: the older son remained with his father faithful, hardworking, submissive, and godly. He worked in the field by the sweat of his brow, and did not surrender to ease and laziness at home. In the example of the elder son, Christ refers to the Jews of the Old Testament, who kept the law diligently, and served God with pains, determination, and godliness to gain paradise. But when Christ saved the adulterers and sinners, without gaining salvation through their good deeds, the Pharisees complained greatly.

As the elder son came back in the evening, tired from his work in the field, he suddenly heard noise, music, and dancing, and was astonished for no party or wedding were expected in the house. But when he heard that those things happened because his young brother returned, and his father received him gladly and joyfully, and invited all the house to rejoice and become merry, he showed his displeasure, flamed up with rage, and demanded in his heart that the prodigal be condemned, refused, and consumed, for he had impaired the family’s reputation. He was bitter over receiving his brother in that manner without any condition or punishment, which he regarded as an injustice. He probably thought in his heart: “How I wish I could bring that thief into my field to teach him toil and labor that he may forget his lusts and ease.” The professing son hated the merciful father and all those who participated in the joy. So he disobediently did not enter the house, and separated himself from his Lord.

Then the strange thing that is the second miracle of the golden chapter happened. The father remained merciful to the hard lawyer, and did not refuse him. He arose that night, and went to his obstinate son who kept away from him. He spoke to him with kindness, and tried to win his heart, and fill it with love toward his returning brother.

But the angry professor complained sharply against his father. He did not call him “father” any further, but began his speech with “I”, showing his empty ego, claiming his rights, and bringing into view his worthiness, seeing nothing but his illusory uprightness, and making himself a measure for everyone. He did not observe that his returning brother who was lost became righteous, whereas he the faithful and godly turned, through his disobedience, into a falling, ungrateful, lost one. Then the angry one did not call his returning brother “brother”, but threw the evil word “this son of yours” in his father’s face, “I have nothing to do with this adulterer and criminal, for I am clean, and he is adulterous. You have polluted our house by receiving this criminal. You have killed the most valuable calf in our field for this beggar. I the content and humble have enjoyed nothing, living cheerlessly and brokenheartedly, and now you become merry and rejoice.

The heart of the father was probably troubled by the harsh words of his son who stroke his joyful heart as if with a hammer. But in his holy patience, the wise father wished also for the deliverance of his older son, and endeavored to gain his love. He did not call him mutinous, obstinate, or rebellious, but called him, “son”, which is the kindest word a father says to his child. He wanted to break his hatred with this kind call. Furthermore, he proved that he did not speak only out of passion, but in the meanings of truth, saying, “You are always with me.” There is no greater than this word, which God says to man. Immediately the father went on saying, “All that I have is yours.” Arise O heart! Worship O soul! God does not say to you disobedient, “Depart from me, you cursed.” But he provides you with all his riches, rights, power, and future developments. That is all yours. All that is God’s is yours and more. This statement from the mouth of God means: I am yours for love’s sake. I am to you as a father is to his child.

Dear brother, if you did not recognize yet who God is in the New Testament, read the whole story (from v. 11 to v. 31) once again, and pray that you may know that God does not only teach himself to the righteous, but also gives himself to the lost, the sinful, the hardhearted professors to the same extent, for God is love, and his rich mercy is endless.

The father continued his speech to his turning away son: “Whether you understand or not, we must celebrate the return of your brother. Today, this means to you that every man is your brother. He must turn to God, and you must partake of communicating the gospel of salvation to others. Every sinner who repents is like a dead man who rises from the dead, and every sinful who becomes renewed by the word of the Holy Spirit is more important than the angels, for God has found a child in him. Today, waves of joy and gladness are spread all around the world, for millions of people are repenting and born again. Do you enjoy with us, or complain in your problems?

PRAYER: Praise, thanks, and worship be to you, heavenly Father, for your love, patience, and kindness. For you do not immediately break the disobedient, or leave them alone, but you seek them, speak to them, and present yourself to them. Forgive us our hard-heartedness, and fill our sentiments with your love that we may rejoice at every renewed man, and preach your fatherly name at all times.

 

 

ADVICE AND WARNINGS ON USING MONEY

(Luke 16:1-18)

 

LUKE 16:1-18

1 He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. 2 So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ 3 Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, a hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. 9 And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Christ did not only deepen his disciples into the love of the heavenly Father, but also taught them how they should deal with money on earth that the order of heaven might overcome the disorder of our world. The words “unrighteous” and “unjust” appear five times in this reading, for possession and management of money are more attributable to unrighteousness than anything else.

God is the Possessor of everything, and all men are his stewards (15:31). Therefore the simplest service we can do to God is to build his eternal kingdom by our money, times, minds, and possessions. Every man who lives for himself robs God, and every spiritual shepherd who shepherds himself and not the flock, which is committed into his hands, is unjust. We are all like the unjust steward, for we toil first for our own benefit, and then we think a little of what is God’s. Man builds houses, and spends his money and time for his planning, but he rarely makes setting up the kingdom of God and hallowing his fatherly name his first aim.

Woe to us unjust stewards! We have to give an account, for we are guilty debtors. Yet the unjust steward, in Christ’s parable, was so clever that he made friends to himself by the money deposited to him, for fear of the consequences of the judgment to come. Since all your money are God’s property in principle, the Lord suggests that you should give at least a part of the money to the needy that you may win friends. Abandon a part of the money they owe you, give them a sufficient work and not alms, help the sick until he recovers, pray that the Holy Spirit may fill you with light, for you have to sacrifice tangibly for the sake of preaching the kingdom of heaven. All your money is God’s. When are you going to use it according to his will?

Jesus called all kinds of money “unrighteous mammon”, for curses, cheat, tears, and injustice are stuck to every paper money or coin. Depart soon from unrighteous mammon lest you abide in the darkness of evil. Christ commands you to offer practical sacrifices that you may carry out the services of love by means of unrighteous mammon, for through offerings unrighteous mammon becomes sanctified. But do not think that yourself to be good through offerings, and do not try to win paradise through great sacrifices, for your donations are not true sacrifices on the ground that all what you have is God’s possession. So if you present some of it, you have used some the money according to his will, and this does not help to justify you, nor does it concede to you the reward of heaven, for that is a duty.

However, if you do not sacrifice your money, time, and strength for Christ, many of the poor and needy will complain against you in eternity, and say to their Lord: “This stingy man lived for himself, having a hard heart. He did not see us or care for us, though you put in his hands a lot of money and times.”

You may say, “But I must live and earn money to provide for my family, then how can I sacrifice what I have?” The Lord says to you, “First, be aware that you are a small steward of God, and all your services in the factory, school, and family are divine worship. So be faithful in spending every penny, for your dealing with big amounts does not show your characters, but your dealing with small amounts shows what you are. What do you do with the stamps, nails, apples, and other things, which belong to your employer? Are you faithful in what is least with respect to your handwriting, clothes, and arrangement of your office works? Is all your life arranged through the Holy Spirit who is also the Spirit of arrangement? The faithfulness of God is willing to arrange all your life that you may become faithful as he is, so examine all your past and present matters, for your future on earth and in heaven depends on your fidelity in small matters. Every experienced manager examines his employees and workers throughout the years, how they deal with small matters, before he gives them jobs involving more trust and responsibility. Similarly, the Lord of heaven first gives you simple services in his kingdom, and watches your faithfulness in your prayer for others, how you prepare for Sunday school, and how often you advise your friends to edify themselves on the strength of faith. Faithfulness in what is least is the essence of heaven dwelling in the heart of believer.

Christ pierces you to your innermost depth, saying, “Do not love money, but love me. I am the security of your life. Money does not help you, but I save you. Do not rely on your muscles, your mind experience, or your funds, but hold fast to me as a branch in a vine. Do not collect money to build your future, and do not fall into the claws of the devil. Money rules the world. He who centers himself in money leaves Christ and soon hates him. No one can serve two masters. You will either be a servant of money or a child of God.

PRAYER: O Lord, we are all unjust stewards. We did not use your money and our gifts according to the will of your love. Forgive us our stinginess, and teach us sacrifice that your money may practically reach the needy, and we may give them work with prudence. Deliver us from every form of love of money, and make us faithful and wise in dealing with small amounts. Arrange all our life that we may love you and become justified in your name. Amen.

 

LUKE 16:14-18

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. 16 The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. 18 Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

At the time of Christ, there were two types of people in the Jewish nation: the adulterers, tax collectors, sinners, impure, and ignorant. Facing them there were the educated, and professing who despised the first demagogic group, and considered themselves alone as noble, righteous, good, and brought near to God.

Whenever Jesus came into a town, the same thing happened: the poor, sinful, and harmless repented and became justified, but the professors, proud, prayers, and self-satisfied became hardened and did not repent. The miracle happened: the sinners were justified, while the professors remained sinners.

Jesus hit their forms of hypocritical rites, attacked their worship to money, and unveiled their bondage in their golden chains. Those who became exposed and unmasked derided Jesus, but he condemned their hypocritical mind severely, and told them that the Omniscient God had seen their pride and covetousness, and known all their innermost hearts. Do you know that the Omniscient God perceives all your thought, and records all your works in heaven? Are you still thinking yourself as precious, good, and champion? Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, for the Omniscient God opposes those who exalt themselves. No created man is, in fact, important. We are all small compared to God the Great One. It is blasphemy to deify a man, to raise his image in our rooms and streets, and to place our confidence and assurance on him as if he were able to change the situations in our society. God alone is the Pantokrator “the All-Ruling”, who has control over all, before whom we look like miserable worms. Would you like to be famous, intelligent, and experienced to be highly esteemed among men, and then you would certainly fall into hell? Or would you prefer to remain small, humble, and hardworking servant unknown in societies, refusing riches and pride, and then Jesus would stand by you, and be himself your treasure, protection, and future?

Jesus pulls down the pride of the upright. He shows them that no one gains the kingdom of God through his own deeds. The believer alone enters into the door of heaven. It was a shock to the lawyers to hear that the adulterers and robbers become justified through their faith alone, having nothing to offer to God but debts, sins, repentance, and tears. But the Omniscient God prefers to answer the prayer of their broken hearts one thousand times rather than hearing the hymns of the proud who despise the evil. He who accepts the word and promises of Jesus receives the key of the door of heaven freely, opens it, enters by faith into the kingdom of God, and wonders how the love of God made easy for us to come to the Holy One. Your faith has made you well.

Then the Pharisees rejoiced within their hearts, thinking they had now arrested Jesus, for he said that every man presses into the kingdom of God through faith alone. He caused them to understand that the Holy One wanted to say to them, “You fool who lack understanding, a believer is justified by grace, but this grace plants all the law, at the same time, into his heart, and then he keeps the law not of his own righteousness, but of gratitude and praise for the righteousness gifted to him. The believer of the New Testament raises the law higher than the members of the Old Testament do. Those who follow Christ love their enemies more than commanded by the law, and become purified in their hearts by grace. They do not only keep the commandment of prohibiting adultery, but the believer becomes completely chaste through the Holy Spirit.

Thereafter, with the sword of his word, Jesus condemned the Pharisees’ deceitful way of divorcing who allowed divorce if the complainant came with two witnesses in support of his claim. Christ confirmed that marriage is not subject to divorce, since the husband and the wife had become a spiritual union subconsciously established and deep-rooted. They do not only become one body, but are also united in soul, for the woman does not understand the world but through the eyes of her man, and the man leaves his father and mother and becomes joined to his wife. Therefore he who unties the deep tie between two hearts, and does not lead those in disagreement into forgiveness, humility, and peace, participates in breaking the matrimonial bond and becomes guilty with them.

Jesus leads us to a higher stage: He does not say that the divorced became free, but they remained bound by their hearts. He who marries a divorced woman imputes guilt unjustly to her previous matrimonial bond, even if she was officially divorced. The order of the law is more deeply related to the nature of God than our minds can understand. Yet man does not find rest unless he lives within the exactness of the love of God.

Even now, we can find two kinds of people: the haughty, lovers of money, living in whoredom, and covering their pollution with the dress of hypocritical profession of religion and external righteousness; and those whom the Holy Spirit led into humility, delivered them from worries and covetousness, and encouraged them into Christ’s purity, who confess their sins taking off the veil of their false profession, and only justified by the blood of Christ. To which party do you belong? Will you remain a proud Pharisee? Or will be become a humble sinner whom the Holy Spirit led to believe in Christ and his salvation, and entered into the open door of heaven?

PRAYER: O Lord, keep us away from hypocrisy, love of money, and pride, and lead us to confess and be delivered from impurity. You are the Holy One who walked holily on earth. We worship to you, love you, and ask you to change thousands of our nation through faith in you that they may press into the kingdom of God and be filled with love.

 

 

THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND POOR LAZARUS

(Luke 16:19-31)

 

LUKE 16:19-31

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ 27 Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

Christ shook our hearts with his description of heaven and hell now and hereafter. The rich man was arrogant. He clothed in luxurious bright clothes, strutted like a peacock, and had always many guests singing and growing wanton. Nevertheless, he was an ordinary man and had never committed an apparently abominable sin. But he had never done good. This was his sin, for he was a steward responsible for all his possessions before God. He did not make to himself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness (16:1-13), and therefore his heart became hard because of his love for money, and did not see the sick and poor man who was laid at the passage leading to his gate.

The name of that poor man was Lazarus, which means “ a man destitute of help”. It also signifies “the help of God”. This poor man was rejected by his relatives and friends because of the bad smell of the incurable sores that filled his body. They laid him at the rich man’s gate as an appeal to his sympathy. They probably thought that the rich man would look after him, not out of mercy, but to get rid of the ugly view before his gate. But the hardhearted man said within himself, “If I began to help one, then all my house would become a hospital for the sick and a restaurant for the hungry.” So he left him alone in his miserable condition that even the dogs, as if moved by pity, came and licked his sores. Weakened because of hunger, he became very thin as a ragged cloth, and then died and crumbled.

We are all like this rich man who did not commit an evil, but neglected kindness. Our hard heart is our prominent sin. Do you have mercy on the poor, the foolish, the sick, and the harmless? Or do you strut as a peacock in your surroundings, seeing nothing but yourself and your problems, and showing no practical mercy on the poor laid at your gate?

Poor Lazarus died. He was buried with no ceremony. They dug a hole anywhere, and tumbled his body in, without any solemnity. However, his name was written in heaven. Then the rich man and his retinue heaved a deep sigh at the death of the ugly one, for there would be no bad smell any longer at the gate. But soon the prominent, rich man died in consequence of his wanton profusion and drunkenness, and a pompous funeral with a train of mourners followed his golden coffin, which was raised on hands. The entire town followed him, but the angels of God did not care about him, for his name was not known in heaven at all. While the angels of God carried poor Lazarus immediately into the wide expanses of God, where the faithful dead rest in peace looking for the glorious resurrection, the rich man fell empty from any penny he had had, and stripped of all his purple clothes, into a place full of fiery smoke, where the evil dead are tormented. Their portions were changed, and their shares went from one to another. What a contrast! Just after the poor man was in hell on earth, he became in paradise with God, while the rich man who was rolling in wealth in an earthly paradise entered immediately into the flaming hell. We do not read that the poor man was a believer, but his entrance into the rest of God shows us that he was justified by his faith, which empowered him to extreme patience in his sufferings. However, the rich man had no love, for he had no faith.

Do you know hell? Because of the brokenness of your soul, Christ opened some of the lowered veil between you and the other world. So pay attention particularly to the verbs, which the rich man spoke after death, and you will observe with fear that the dead can see, think, know, speak, ask, hope, and want. They are not senseless nonexistence, but they feel, thirst, look for the reduction of severity of their torment, and suffer too much in the ocean of flames. These are not images and superstitions, for Jesus is not a liar, but he is warning you by this revelation and unveiling to you the mystery of hell that you may be prepared during your life for the afterlife.

The formerly rich man – now poor - saw the formerly poor man – now rich - preserved in God’s rest. “Abraham’s bosom” was the Jews’ expression of the happiness of the righteous at death, for Abraham was the father of the faithful, and those of his faith must come back to him. The once arrogant rich man, who treated Lazarus in the world as less than a dog, is now begging Lazarus for mercy through Abraham. Now observe that Abraham is living. He lives forever in his heavenly being, but he cannot help his lost son, even if he asked for his help, for there is a great gulf fixed between heaven and hell, an impassable one, a great chasm, that so there can be no communication at all between glorified saints and damned sinners. Whoever falls into hell remains in it, and whoever enters into heaven abides in God forever.

The torment of those in hell becomes greater, for they see and hear the truth with exactness, and recollect the evil things they committed in their life on earth. They also know that they had neglected the good. Their intense regret for the opportunities they had lost without availing themselves of them in good deeds is more painful than their shame for their offences. Love alone realizes the others’ distress and helps them. Any shortcoming in carrying out the services is an indication of lacking of love. Where is the pride of your righteousness? Cry today that you may not cry tomorrow. Penetrate deeply into the Holy Bible that your heart may be filled with love and it may prompt you to be merciful to the lost, then you deny yourself, forget it, and sink in the ocean of the love of God, serving all men at all times.  

When the desperate rich man knew that the severity of his torment had no reduction, and that he had no hope for salvation, he remembered frightfully that he had also failed to inform his five brothers about salvation and the life to come. They were all unbelievers. Now, the reprobate is asking the blessed Abraham to send the blissful Lazarus to those brothers who are still living in the world to warn them that they may immediately repent and turn. The rich man was probably involved in contacts with unclean spirits during his life on earth, and therefore he hoped that his brothers could see a twinkling light from heaven thrown on them to shake their hearts that they may be converted.

But Abraham repeated his decisive word twice, deciding that neither heavenly revelation, nor divination, nor contacting with the dead could save or reform men, except the word of God alone. No miracle or sentimental undulations can ever change your wicked heart except the law and the gospel alone. The testimony of the word of God is creative and is able to save every wicked, lost man.

Dear brother, Study the word of Christ faithfully every day, for it is the unequalled way to countenance your heart, and change your future from hell to continuance in heaven. Overcome prayerfully your innermost refusing to read in the Holy Bible, for the word of God fills your spirit like the bread which nourishes your body, and the gospel quenches your thirst like cold water.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, You are the Prince of Life, giving life with your love to whoever believes in you. We are all dead in selfishness. Put our death to death that we may live in your life, love the needy, and serve them quickly and completely. Forgive us our last good opportunity, which we had neglected, fill us with your Holy Spirit, and let your love raise us to your level.

 

 

CHRIST'S DISCOURSES WITH HIS DISCIPLES

(Luke 17:1-10)

 

LUKE 17:1-3a

1 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3 Take heed to yourselves.”

O Lord, your word breaks the rock like a hammer, and parts the innermost self like a sword. The world is full of evil, and every evil one causes hatred. Lust excites lust, stinginess instigates people to collect money, and revenge is followed by a series of fight. Christ said: “It is impossible but that offences will come, for the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one, and men are drunk with the evil spirit. He who continues in the spirit of his self-love, hurts others through his bad example and unclean works, and does not help them into salvation and purity, corrupts greatly the creatures of God, while condemnation lies in wait for him. By way of explanation for the punishment prepared for such a man after his death, Christ states that it is more terrible than hanging a millstone about his neck, taking him on a boat, and casting him into the sea where he becomes food for the fish.

All children bear within themselves the inheritance of evil and inclination to sin. But woe to him who wakes these motives and characters in them, and makes them used to lying, cursing, anger, impurity, prostitution, robbery, hardheartedness, and all that is dirty in the eyes of the Lord. Woe to us parents, if we are not holy and humble example to our children. Woe to every teacher, uncle, relative, mayor, and priest, who does not walk cleanly and brokenly before God, producing a bad effect on his surroundings. Did you notice how Christ portrayed in his words the condemnation against you?

 

Luke 17:3b-4

3 “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

Do you wish for brokenness of your pride in Christ’s grace, and for serving him in his Holy Spirit? Then warn every brother in Spirit who is about to commit a sin not to fall into it. Remember that you are originally a criminal, but God gifted you with justification. If one of your relatives or co-workers did evil to you, they pray immediately to God to change his heart and light his mind that he may feel sorrow and repent. Forgive him who repents completely, even if he showed but a simple indication of regret about his action. It is good that you beg his pardon first, for you are not better than he is, especially that you are engaged in the problem. You are not perfect. So bow first in Spirit, ask your enemy’s pardon not up to seven times a day, but up to seventy times seven. Forgive him more times if you noticed his regret for his evil work. Do not hate him at all, even if he did not repent, but love him and pray for him that you may become a fountain of blessing in the midst of hatred and fight.

 

 

LUKE 17:5-6

5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

When the Pharisees heard the new law of the love of Christ, they became silent and could not bring any proof against the teaching of the Son of God, for the new law with regard to the old law is like heaven above the earth. But the apostles asked Christ trembling, “O Lord, increase our faith, and give us a working faith in love, which does not neglect the good, and does not cause offences, but forgives as God does.” Then Christ answered them striking on their trembling hearts, “If you have very little faith, you can do impossible things. You can say to the fruitless mulberry tree, which is like the Jewish people, ‘Be pulled up by the roots,’ through the testimony of your faith, and then you carry it to the sea of nations that it may bear its fruit in this sea, the fruit which was not produced on good earth.” The apostles’ though became frozen through astonishment. They did not understand what Christ meant, nor did they realize the aim of every true faith. So Christ had to make them understand that salvation is not only limited to them, but is also given to every man who believes in him. Today, the Holy Spirit leads us to missionary prayer and services in testimony that the sea of nations may be filled with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and millions of people may bear the fruit, which the Jews should have borne if they had confessed Jesus, and accepted the message of the gospel.

Are you a believer? If yes, then lift up the prayer of faith to your heavenly Father, and ask him to plant his eternal life into the wilderness of your surroundings. This is impossible for the human mind, but is possible with God. Pray and do not doubt, for Christ intercedes for the faithful prayer that it may avail much. Then you will see how the love of the Father becomes poured out into the hearts of the repentant, and they become filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not causing offences, but forgiving their enemies’ iniquities at all times.

 

LUKE 17:7-10

7 “And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was out duty to do.’”

Our striving for faith and struggle for preaching entail great exertion and pains. They also require our complete dedication. Then you are like the plowman who turns up the earth, and the shepherd who tends his herd. Likewise the servants of the Lord must preach his kingdom, keeping in mind that they are unprofitable and unsuccessful, but their Lord is the fountain of power whom they serve as servants of his love. Their work on earth is not limited to time and hours, but their service is giving thanks for Golgotha. Their Lord does not have to thank them for their services, and present to them a precious reward, for their service is thanksgiving and worshiping for the grace, which they have received freely. The best of them confess without hypocrisy that all their services are nothing, and that they themselves are unprofitable servants, for their Lord is the only Savior, and they are but his followers. Faithful servants are qualified to say this word of humility if they completed accurately all their service commanded by the Lord. Yet we who did less than we are commanded to do are less than unprofitable servants. It is necessary for us servants of the Lord to be completely broken every day lest we find some worthiness in ourselves other than the right of serving as the privilege of the grace, which forgave us our sins after we had confessed them.

PRAYER: O Lord, you are the Holy and Perfect One in love and truth. Your judgment is just, and my faith is little. Thank you for your love is working in my heart. I cry out to you and ask you to establish the preparedness for forgiveness, the spirit of peace, and the brokenness of humility in thousands of our brothers. Please fill us with your love. Amen.

THE CURE OF TEN LEPERS

(Luke 17:11-19)

 

LUKE 17:11-19

11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 The as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.

Christ Jesus is the strong Savior who causes the ruined world to be organized wisely, and sets up the kingdom of heaven on earth. His then followers did not realize his global aim, but felt that the current of God’s power went out of the Nazarene, and he raised the dead, stilled the storm, cleansed the lepers, and offered his mercy to all the poor who resorted to him. He became widely known even in the village where he met ten castaway lepers who lived on the borderline between Galilee and Samaria. One of the lepers was a despised Samaritan. But their common distress united them in spite of their racial difference.

When this miserable group heard that Jesus would shortly pass near to them, they went up to a high place, which enabled them to see him and call him from afar without causing annoyance to the multitude that followed him. Their hope turned into strong longing and abiding trust. They put all their hearts into their cry when they called, “Jesus, have mercy on us.” Do you know this cry in your heart?

Jesus has always answered whoever cried out to him attentively for mercy. Accordingly, Jesus stopped, looked at the hopeless, saw their disturbed faith, and called them saying his only one strange statement, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” Christ did not say to them, “Be cleansed”, but “Go and believe in me and in my word that you may experience your cure gradually as far as you believe.” This group set out slowly and hopefully. They had the courage trusting Christ’s word, but were afraid of the ridicule and punishment of the public. Yet as they started their journey, they began to become cured. The more they moved forward, the more their skin became renewed and their lost fingers began to grow. So they ran and rejoiced. They experienced that their faith in Christ had cleansed them. This wonderful event was a miracle. Here was a cure by wholesale, for ten men were cured all at once and became renewed in Jesus Christ.

They hurried to the priests to bring a certificate from them that they were clean so that they might again be restored to the society of their relatives and friends. But one of them, a strange Samaritan, thought contrarily. He knew gradually that a divine miracle had been made in him, and that that Nazarene was not an ordinary man, but God himself. As he became convinced of this, he turned back immediately toward Jesus glorifying God for forgiving him his sins and curing him completely. He did not go to the priests first, nor did he fear that the disease would return to him for disobeying Christ’s command, but he wanted to see his Savior, and give thanks to him. So when he approached the Nazarene, he fell down on his face, and worshiped to him confessing his full commitment, as if he were saying to him, “Master! You are my Lord and I am your own. Do to me as you wish.” His thanking was his full commitment.

Jesus did not refuse the man’s worship, his self-offering, and his great thanking, for Christ is true God from the true God, and is worthy of receiving worship, honor, and glory. Jesus did not become proud because of this honoring, or because of his success in the world, for he was lowly in heart. He rather had deep sorrow in his heart, for only one of the ten, that is the strange and ignorant one, knew who Jesus was, forgot himself, came to him, and honored him with his worship and prayer. Jesus inquired about the nine Jews who did not thank him for his help. They were drowned with joy and forgot to give thanks. Out appeal to God is easy, and the response is certain. It is rather a great joy. But our thanks are little. In the world, there are two astonishing reasons: God’s continuous love in spite of men’s ingratitude. An example of this is men’s continuous ingratitude in spite of the blessed love of God.

Jesus addressed him who worshipped to him personally saying to him, “Your faith has made you well.” This word does not indicate the incomplete belief of the Samaritan, but his hearty engagement with Jesus through hope, trust, boldness of faith, experience of the power of God, and praiseful thanking in his full commitment. Christ assured this man of complete salvation, for he became sure of the love of God. This leper was not good in himself, but was a token of all impurity. He did not offer any sacrifice or good deeds for his salvation, except his trust in Jesus. He experienced the power of the word of God in the Nazarene’s words. As such we advise you to hold fast to Jesus, and thank him for all his gifts that you may be filled with power, joy, and gladness. Do not remain unthankful, but give thanks, and give careful consideration to every response to your prayers, and blessing from God that you may not lack the property of thanking. Praise your Lord with all your heart, and do not be slow in praising him. 

PRAYER: O heavenly Father, thank you because you gave your only Son for us that we unthankful might become qualified to give thanks. We worship to you, and commit ourselves into your hands, now and forever, and confess that Jesus Christ is true God, and his Spirit dwells in our hearts. Preserve us that all our lives may become praiseful glorification for your grace.

 

 


STATEMENTS ABOUT
THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD,
AND THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

(Luke 17:20-37)

 

LUKE 17:20-21

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The first design of Christianity is neither the cross, nor the conversion of individuals, nor their entrance into heaven, but the proclamation of the kingdom of God in glory. The Jews at the time of Jesus watched the coming of this kingdom with longing and disturbance, knowing that the coming king of God would change the world, raise the dead, remove all the kingdoms of the world, and set up honor, truth, and glory on earth (Daniel 7:27). The natural man, in his spiritual blindness, often expects future improvement of situations, and not renewal of hearts. But the kingdom of God, on the contrary, comes and changes the hearts first. Then it appears in public.

Christ answered the Pharisees’ question about the beginning of the kingdom of heaven on earth, in two ways: This kingdom does not come uncovered and apparent with horses, with chariots, with armies, and with deadly weapons, but invisibly and spiritually as a divine power. You cannot perceive the kingdom of God through the touch or sight, but you can learn its greatness through faith alone, abiding in the Holy Spirit, the motive in this kingdom.

When Jesus had explained the essence of the kingdom of God, he also answered the serious question about the time of the beginning of God’s dominion on earth, saying: “The kingdom is presently among you”. By this word, he referred to himself, for Christ is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. In him all the powers, wisdom, and glory of God are found. The love and patience of God are the essence of his kingdom. His Father has given to him all authority in heaven and on earth after he had reconciled the sinners with the Holy One.

This reconciliation is the bridge on which the Holy Spirit crosses into the hearts of the disciples, and fills all the faithful. Where the Spirit of God dwells, God himself is found. And where God abides in man, the kingdom reveals itself clearly in the man. In this manner, the kingdom of the Lord today is hidden in all true churches, and in all individual believers. Are you a newborn member of the kingdom of Christ? Or are you standing outside his expanses in the darkness? If you were a qualified member of the kingdom of your heavenly Father, what are you doing practically to spread and establish the kingdom of love in your surroundings?

 

LUKE 17:22-25

22 Then He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them. 24 For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His days. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

When the disciples heard that the kingdom of God appeared among them, they rejoiced and distributed within themselves the ministry offices. Jesus warned them of earthly thought, and indicated to them their severe suffering as a result of his ascension to heaven, for then they would be forsaken, without apparent presence and protection of their King, only trusting his promises, and believing in his power centered in their hearts. The kingdom of God does not spread openly in the world, but is hidden, as it was in Christ. You do not see Jesus’ followers having shining crowns, bright clothes, or glorious authority, but suffering distress, contempt, persecution, and smallness in number, to cry at last while in the painful nightmare, “Come, Lord Jesus!” 

The tribulations of the last days will produce in them longing for the coming of Christ that they will try to find out every small sign that indicates his arrival, expecting the rapture at all times. But Jesus warns them saying, “Do not be superficial, and accepting quickly every information. I shall not come hidden as a ghost, or as an ordinary man, or as an earthly power, but my second coming is like the explosion of the glory of God in all its honor in the midst of the darkness of this age. Then heaven will part, the light of glory of the Holy One will dazzle all men, the appearance of the Son of Man will shine as amazing lightning, and the rays of his glory will pierce all materials more forcefully than the electric rays used by physicians. Even on the other side of the globe, where there is darkness, the light of Christ will shine on them with a new day.

Our comfort in that great day to come is that he who comes is not a strange god, or a destructive angel, but the Son of Man who is Jesus Christ. Christ is not unknown. He is one of our human race. He comes not to destroy the faithful, but to catch them up to him, for he wants us to be with him at all times. We, who bore his Spirit, characters, and power in us, are the representatives of his kingdom in this unjust world.

Then his disciples did understand Christ’s sayings. They did not perceive his suffering and death at all, for they thought of an earthly kingdom, without change of hearts, while Christ explained to them the way to glory leading to sufferings first. Without atonement and forgiveness man is not admitted into fellowship with God. The cross is the door to the kingdom of the Lord, for without purification by grace you cannot enjoy membership in heaven. But he who enters the expanses of God faithfully and thankfully stands fast today between the truth of complete salvation on Golgotha, and the emanation of salvation apparent in the second coming of Christ. Until now, all the faithful bear the kingdom of God in their hearts. You can easily know them by their countenance, for the essence of the kingdom is LOVE.

PRAYER: Come, Lord Jesus! For you love your followers, having reconciled us with God the Holy One, and put your clean Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee of your kingdom. We long for you, and beg you to spread your kingdom all around the world that you may find at your coming prepared hearts everywhere.

 

LUKE 17:26-30

26 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

How will the world appear at Christ’s coming? Will the kingdom of God have changed the hearts of all men? No, on the contrary, the multitudes will be living without God, neglectful and concerned about themselves, except some watchful and cautious individuals who will expect the coming of their Lord impatiently.

Is it a sin to eat, drink, and make love? No! Is it unfair to buy, sell, plant, and build? Absolutely not. But the people who are preoccupied with these things are in fact sinners, for they do not think of God, but prove to be are slaves of their selfishness, thinking only of themselves, and not of the everlasting Creator. As sensuality prevailed exceedingly in the days of Noah and Lot, until God sent the flood of water and the rains of fire and destroyed the corrupt men, so the world multitudes live today criminal and impure like the first ones, but they belittle their crimes and impurities, having not known God in their hearts, or worshiped to him with respect and commitment. Thus they lost reverence, and fell into false freedom. They are senseless, becoming corrupt in an unimaginable way.

Since Jesus has described the time shortly before his coming, and likened it to the days of Noah and Lot, therefore we have to expect people, at the end of the world, to be overcrowded in big cities and capitals, with all kinds and forms of indifference, prostitution, and licentiousness spread among them, as initiated today.

It is to be mentioned that Noah and Lot were saved in the last day, at the last moment, when Noah entered into the ark with his family, and Lot, guided by the angel, fled out of Sodom into the wilderness. Even so will we expect to be caught up to meet Christ a few moments before his coming, in salvation and deliverance of the faithful, and in manifestation of their divine life residing in them.

 

LUKE 17:31-33

31 “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

Are you prepared for the coming of Christ? In this corrupt world, there is a choice of the called that overcame their lusts by the Holy Spirit. They work, build, and plant as others, but are waiting for their Lord at every moment. Marriage and work are not a sin, but he who marries and works without Christ is a reprobate sinner. The Lord is the first and the last in our life. He is our aim and hope. This principle will appear openly at his coming, for his own will come to him joyfully, while the unjust unbelievers will ask for protection from his shining light, but they will not find it. Some of them will try, at the last moment, to save their relatives and get their valuables, not certainly knowing what may occur after the coming of Christ. This is why Christ commands us to observe the maxim: Leave everything and meet with God. Do not turn back like Lot’s wife who longed for her people and her enjoyment, and became frozen in her yearning after earthly material things, but forget everything and come to your Lord. Will you keep yourself, at that moment, out of sight until you have quickly prepared yourself more properly to meet Christ, and then you waste away in the fiery storm condemnation? Or will you rise in faith and feel assured in the fire, as the three courageous men walked in the fiery furnace in Iraq at the time of Nebuchadnezzar? As such you will live trusting in Christ’s blood and Holy Spirit, for God’s life in us is not woven of gold, material, and flesh, but with the Spirit, life, and light. So abide in Christ and he in you, and then you will deny yourself, and gain from now on your Lord who is coming to this world.

 

LUKE 17:34-37

34 “I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord?” So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

The coming of Christ means a clear separation between the world and the hidden kingdom of God. Today, you cannot exactly distinguish who God is, and who Satan is. But at Christ’s coming, there will be two men sleeping in one room in the midst of the night; one of them will wake up at the glittering of the shining light of Christ, get up and go to his Lord mumbling joyfully, and the other will be burnt hopelessly in the rays of God’s condemnation. If two women were grinding at the mill and conversing together in the midst of the day; one of them will rise uttering trilling cries of joy, and go to her Lord quickly, having expected him everyday, while the other will wish she could cease to exist, for her faults have appeared openly in the light of God.

Do you hide a certain sin? Are you bound to a low human habit? Ask Christ to purify you, to sanctify you, and to redeem you, for now is the time of preparation. Do not think that the coming of Christ will give an opportunity for quick purification, for your essence will suddenly appear, and you will be either light or darkness.

Eagles live in the wilderness. They discover and smell the prey from afar, and come prematurely if they felt that a sick animal is about to die, or a thirsty man is about to give up the ghost. Similarly the eagles hovering about your heads are a token of the imminent end. In his Spirit Christ saw the eagles hovering about his nation, and he warned them, particularly his disciples, of the coming hour of judgment. Today also Christ sees men’s dissolution, corruption, hatred, and envy. He also sees how the shining planes fly in the air like eagles. They will shortly pounce upon the swaggering men and crumble their bodies, for shortly before the coming of Christ the pains of giving birth to judgment and hopeless darkness will increase as a sign to the saints that the Lord is near, and that their heavenly happiness is drawing near to them.

Dear brother, save yourself today. Come to Christ that you may be untroubled in the pains of judgment. Accept his life that you may not die but bear his power in you. Christ in you is the hope of glory.

PRAYER: O Lord, we thank you for your love and salvation, and become rejoiced beforehand for your imminent, glorious coming. The sins are becoming accumulated in our world like a high mountain, and the atmosphere is poisoned with lies that are piercing our minds, but your Holy Spirit is centered in us, and your power prompts us to do the works of love. Strengthen our hope that we may be prepared for your presence.

 

 

THE PARABLE OF THE UNJUST JUDGE
AND THE PERSISTENT WIDOW

(Luke 18:1-8)

 

LUKE 18:1-8

1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

Do you wait for the coming of Christ and the shining of his kingdom? Do you beg your Lord to fulfill his promises to his own elect? May be you will not understand the said parable unless you long within yourself for the coming of Christ, and wait for the revelation of his glory which removes all injustice, cures all diseases, and destroys death. Do you think much of the dwelling of heaven on earth, or are you of the negligent, and cold-hearted who do not cry to God in the continuous prayers ascending from churches for the speedy coming of Christ.

The parable is clarified by Christ’s explanation that God is willing to help his elect in finding the fulfillment of the promises, which became to them an established truth (v. 7). He loves them and longs for them, but time is still unripe. The gospel has not reached the last tribe and tongue in the world, and evil has not yet become fully incarnate in the person of the antichrist. This is why the presence of the truth of God promised to the saints is delayed. However they cry day and night to their heavenly Father in harmony with the motivating Holy Spirit in them who called, lighted, renewed them, and filled them with his love that their longing for unification with the Father and the Son may be increased in them in the midst of hatred and persecution more than the longing of a woman for her husband who is far away from her from whom she had not heard any news since long that the neighbors said he was dead and she a widow. The coming of Christ is delayed, and the waiting of the elect is falling down. So Christ commands his church to pray persistently, holding fast the image of the faithful Father, for sometimes the believers think that God is not their Father any longer, but that he is an unjust, severe judge who does not answer their prayers. God is not unjust, but love and truth. He bends with all his lovingkindness on the redeemed of his Son, even if they did not realize his care. God hears all your prayers, even if he did not respond to them according to your wishes. He knows in his love all your needs before you ask him, and he helps you soon when the time is ripe. Thus the heavenly Father knows that the world is in dire need of the second coming of Christ, for there is no salvation from sin, disease, and death except through the coming of the kingdom of God to our evil world. Do you wish that the peace of God be spread all around the world? Then pray faithfully and persistently that Christ may come. Begin today, and be sure that God hears your prayer and definitely answers it even if his answer were late. Christ is certainly coming and revealing his true kingdom on our globe.

The widow in the parable is like the church that has been living since Christ’s ascension to heaven without the presence of her Lord visibly in her. She cries and prays persistently asking for his coming, persevering in her crying until he responds to her. Christ gives us the spiritual meaning of the woman’s persistence to get justice done to her: We have to pray persistently the fervent petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come” that the King may come appearing among us.

Now you may have understood Christ’s important question. Is it possible for the Son of Man to find such faith on earth at his coming? Who is waiting for him ardently, not only with longing, love, and hope, but also with prayers knocking at the door of the truth promised to us beggars? Who is studying exactly God’s promises in the Holy Bible, and holding fast this truth promised to the church, insisting on his Lord with persistent cries to send his Son again to save us that we may obtain his kingdom, which he builds, for his elects? We do not have to wait for him simply watching him fancifully and failing to take action. The Lord invites us to participate in his coming, and pray effectually, approaching him continuously to open his heaven, renew the earth, and reveal his glory. Where is your prayer? Where is your love for Christ? Where is your faith based on the promises of the Holy Bible? Where is your great hope? Where in your heart was the guarantee of the Spirit poured out? Where is your faithfulness in supplication? The aim of this parable is to pray persistently and incessantly: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, you are the true God, and the Possessor of your kingdom. We worship to you rejoicingly, and ask you to come soon. Teach us your love, strengthen our hope for your coming, and direct your church toward your coming that we may be waiting for you in all our concerns.

 

 

THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR
PRAYING IN THE TEMPLE

(Luke 18:9-14)

 

LUKE 18:9-14

9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men -- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How do the elect of God pray for the coming of Christ and the shining of his kingdom? Are those saints good, perfect, and prepared for his coming, or are they lacking godliness, righteousness, and love?

Jesus shows us a Pharisee who went into the temple during the time specified for praying (usually 09.00 A.M. and 03.00 P.M) to glorify God. The prayer had a great conceit of himself and trust in his own abilities rather than he had in God. This proud man was convinced with his own righteousness. It did not cross his mind that he might be a sinner, for he had kept strictly the law with its interpretation, and held worthless, insignificant particles and external performances. His mouth spoke words full of disrespect for men, for he loved nobody but himself, and turned at all times around his own person, glorifying himself. He was selfish even in prayer, though he came to pray with good intent, but his subconscious was full of selfishness that he forgot God. And when he had uttered his first words in the beginning of his prayer, he stood up proudly and boastfully like a turkey, moving some steps away from the other prayers, and began to pray to God using low words according to the principles of the rites, “God, I thank you”. It is certainly fit to glorify God for his being and blessed works. Would that our life becomes entirely thankfulness for his salvation. But that Pharisee, full of himself and his own goodness, began to mention his good deeds before the Omniscient, making clear his fat “I”, becoming higher than the others whom he despised, condemned, and called extortioners, unjust, adulterers, and disreputable, as he had experienced them several times in his life. He did not find in himself any stain of a sin, but praised his uprightness apparent first in keeping the law.

He fasted twice a week (Tuesday and Friday), in addition to the once-a-year-fasting required in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 16:29). All the Pharisees made more a matter of merit of such supererogatory performance, because it was voluntary, and therefore they expected the righteousness of God to come down forcibly on him. His worship was not only theoretical but also included his money. He tithed not only his land and livestock, according to the rites of the law, but also all his possessions, even the smallest matters for the support the service of the Levites in the temple of the Lord. He stood before the Holy One giving him the account memorized from the lists of his virtues with all self-esteem and arrogance, as if he expected God to say to him admiringly: “Well done, smart, righteous, great one, and worthy of paradise.” Yet if we look in fact, we will see that this prayer did not praise God in his prayer but praised himself, and therefore his prayer became blasphemy against the merciful Creator.

While this Pharisee prayed apart from the other prayers in the temple, a deceitful tax collector also stood away from the multitudes. He was ashamed of himself for he knew that all those present looked scornfully upon him and condemned him. They were right, for he was humbled himself and showed humility in his prayer. Not daring to call God, he smote upon his breast feeling sorry for his evil work, and confessing his wicked heart. This man bent brokenly before God. He experienced the nearness of the Holy One within his conscience, and almost melted away from his evil deeds.

Thank God for the corrupt one remembered the name of his true God, and prayed to the Holy Trinity, believing that the only God is in three persons. He did not say: “O God”, but: “Elohim,” (which is ordinarily translated “God”) convinced that the Holy Trinity would hear his shy words, and not reject him or justly consume him. As such the wicked one held fast to grace seeking mercy, for he could never produce good deeds, nor did he find in himself the strength to give promises to reform himself or to practice such reformation and repentance. In holding fast the mercy of God, he muttered the incredible word, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” He did not say, “.. me one of the sinners”, as most of the people say, but, “.. Be merciful to me a sinner and corrupt more than everyone, worthy of death and immediate extermination.”

He who confessed his condition did not lose hope, but put himself into the hands of God, trusting his eternal grace and taking firm hold of his true love. Then Jesus said, delighted in him: “This repentant was justified. He experienced in his heart the comfort of the Holy Spirit, for the generous God answered his prayer and forgave him his sin completely.

This parable became a tangible explanation of the Pauline theology of justification, with which Luke, as a student of Paul, was quite familiar. It is to be mentioned that Luke was the only evangelist who recorded this parable, to clarify to us the justification of the brokenhearted and the grace poured out on the repentant without particular works. Keep the essence of this story in your heart.

The Pharisee continued in his arrogance and cheated himself, for his own righteousness was useless. At the revelation of the kingdom of God he will appear small, unjust, and avoided down, while God will raise the sincere repentant, humble sinner to his level, having answered his prayers, and cleansed him from all sins with the high-priced, precious blood of Christ. 

Thus Jesus teaches us how to make our stand and attitude in prayer that we may not pray haughtily, convinced with our own godliness, but trust in the cross alone, living from God alone.

PRAYER: We glorify you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for you raised the repentant sinners and justified them when they came to you brokenly in their own thoughts. Teach me, O Lord of knowledge, that I am the sinner, and establish me holding fast your grace that I may say the complete prayer: “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

 

 

JESUS BLESSES LITTLE CHILDREN

(Luke 18:15-17)

 

LUKE 18:15-17

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

In this incident, Jesus shows us in another way how we can come to his in our prayers, not on account of our merit, but as simple children with all trust and joy, keeping in mind that the children did not come personally to Jesus, but their mothers carried them, for little children were not yet able to walk. Therefore the children had no merit in the blessing given to them, but it was only a grace and gift.

The disciples desired that the hearers should not be annoyed by the cries of little children, thinking that the infants were unable to understand anything. If the old could hardly understand the most exalted teachings, then how could the little do? The disciples drove out the mothers who were careful to bring blessing, power, and lightening to their children through a gracious touch of Christ’s.

But Jesus pierced the proud, ignorant hearts of his disciples, and showed them that their humility as incompetent children, and not their advancement in years or in mind made them qualified for the kingdom of God. Jesus preached his self-conceited disciples through blessing, kissing, and embracing the children.

The kingdom of heaven and of God is something great. It is the summary of God’s thoughts. Neither the principles nor the motives of this kingdom can be understood by a natural man, except through the lightening of the Holy Spirit in the forgiveness of our sins, which qualifies us to enter the eternal expanses. God does not choose first the great, the strong, and the godly, but whomever he wishes. He prefers the weak children and those who trust in him with tears, for they are prepared to accept his grace. They wish to win it, and do not hinder the way of God into their hearts, for they are broken and not proud.

Do you stop God from coming to you? This story is not intended to refer to or to support the baptism of little children, but it directs us how to pray and how to come to Christ. It also reminds us that we must teach our children according to their understanding of the meanings of the gospel, and that we must represent to them this gospel through our good example. In the wonderful experience, we see that the Holy Spirit had many times touched the hearts of little children and infants, creating in them a deep recognition of God, and a trustful faith in his fatherhood, which sometimes surpassed the faith of adults. Jesus guides us to the conditions of admittance into the kingdom of God: to become childlike in faith, in trust, and in coming to our heavenly Father.

PRAYER: O heavenly Father, You are my Father, and you love all men. Please preserve me in your Sonship, and make all men children of you, particularly our hard neighbors, and all my classmates. Thank you heavenly Father, for you love me. Amen.

 

 


THE RICH RULER AND THE DANGER OF RICHES

(Luke 18:18-30)

 

LUKE 18:18-23

18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

The teacher of righteousness came to Jesus to enquire what he should do in addition to the law ordinances in order to gain eternal life. Than God! This man was deeply rooted in the word of God, believing in eternal life, and knowing that no man lives spontaneously forever, for the divine life is but a blessing from God. Those that are dead without having their sins forgiven are not living in fact, but are feeble-minded, and disturbed within their perishable being, but those that are blessed and established in the gospel, are bearing the life of God and his light which is lighting in them.

In his first word, Jesus broke the question of the teacher who was confident of his scientific degree, and showed him how he spoke superficially and not according to the Bible. None is good, except God. This was Jesus’ indirect question to the man, as if he asked him: “Since you call me good, do you believe that I am God?” Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and goodness made incarnate. Jesus’ answer to this ruler was an evident proof of his divinity, and his oneness with his heavenly Father.

This ruler was not aware that God himself was standing before him in Christ, and knowing himself more than he did. He was not satisfied with Christ’s confuting questions, so he remained waiting for special revelations leading him into a better way to God.

Jesus did not say to him, “Believe in me”, but “Fulfill the law completely, and then you may know that you are a great sinner. You may also realize that I am your faithful Savior.” In order to clarify these spiritual principles, Jesus, the eternal Lawgiver changed the succession of the Ten Commandments, and mentioned first the commandment of complete purification, to uncover the questioner’s heart that was filled with lust and sins. But he who took firm hold of the law did not know that the Ten Commandments condemned him, but claimed that he had kept those letters from his youth. It was true that he had neither touched a strange woman, nor killed anyone, nor stole anything for he was rich, nor lied willfully. But he had always honored his parents. That was why he believed he was good and perfect. Yet in spite of this belief, he felt in his innermost being that he lacked something, which was probably the very life and power of God. Jesus told him what he exactly felt: “You lack one thing, which is the most important.” The wise Jesus did not say to him: “You lack the knowledge of your sins”, or “You lack faith in forgiveness of sins” But he immediately showed him the golden chain with which he chained himself that is money. This rich, educated man was in need of liberation from his money chains in order that he should become poor, trust in God alone, and not build his life on a weak foundation through holding fast to his riches. In his discourse with him Jesus wanted him to understand the following points: “You love yourself, seeking eternal life for your own self, without caring about the poor, or the love of your Lord. So be cautious! For love is eternal life. The more you love, the more you help the poor and the harmless. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will become rich in love, God being your lot in Spirit.  

As this rich teacher heard Jesus’ words, he resented tremblingly, and trembled resentfully, for he thought that Jesus would not hit him also on that side. He wished to have treasure in heaven in addition to his earthly treasure, and hoped to teach the word of God without becoming poor. So he neither followed Jesus, nor put his money in the heavenly bank. Consequently, he lost his earthly treasure in his death, and did not receive everlasting life in the other world, for he loved little, and did not sacrifice. Yet he who loves much lives in fact. Some are poor though they are rich, and others rich in spite of their poverty.

 

LUKE 18:24-27

24 And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For 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.” 26 And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Jesus directly penetrated his disciples deeply into the principle of liberation from money as a condition for entering the kingdom of God, and showed them through the parable of the camel that could not enter through the eye of a needle the impossibility for him who has riches to get to God and please him. God is love. He spends all that he has and offers his gifts richly. The Eternal One does not live for himself, but serves his creatures. Whoever wants to abide in him, let him love, give as God gives, and serve incessantly.

Do not forget that you are rich in your gifts of spirit, of soul, and of body. At what price would you sell your heart, if someone sick came to you asking your heart to be transferred into him? You have more valuable things than millions, which you are unaware of. In other words, do you still have your heart for your own, or did you offer it in fact to Jesus Christ?

When the disciples understood Jesus’ command, they also became afraid like that rich ruler, and mumbled saying, “Who then can be saved?” They knew they still loved money, and designed to become, in future, the senior ministers responsible for controlling government policy in the kingdom of God. They were willing not to decrease their material income, but to increase it, and secure the future of their families.

Christ in his mercy testified to them that the power of God could deliver them from all the sins and bonds of Satan. No man can gain material life through his personal sacrifices, but God in his grace offers it freely. There is none who does good. God did what cannot be done, and made his Son a man that the evil might become children of God. The Holy Spirit, who is today God’s life in the believers, creates in us love for the poor and the needy that we may feel deep affection for sacrifice, and put our money at Jesus Christ’s disposal. So did you submit your wallet completely to your Lord? Which poor man in your surrounding have you helped practically and continuously?

 

LUKE 18:28-30

28 Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 29 So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life.”

What did you leave for the sake of following Jesus? Did you follow him to receive an advantage, or riches, and other privileges, or because you were fascinated by his character? Jesus confirms to every faithful follower, the same as he had already said to his apostles, who left practically their jobs, relatives, and possessions, that they would find at his home brothers, sisters, children, and fullness of blessings, in addition to the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of everlasting life. But listen carefully to this important question: What do you have in mind by following Jesus? Do you want to improve your financial position, and secure your earthly future, or take advantage of any social benefit? If so, then you will be exposed to the risk of losing your share of the kingdom of God, for he is the power of love, and the way of sacrifice and money-denial. The Lord does not prevail by power and might, but through his Spirit working in your faith. Following Jesus changes your life radically. It makes you a stranger in this world, but worthy of the kingdom of God. Are you prepared for such radical, ideological conversion?

PRAYER: O Lord, please deliver me from my worldly thoughts and financial bonds. Fill me with your love that I may walk today in your everlasting life, and sacrifice all my money, times, and strengths for you, who meet me with the poor and the needy. Be merciful to me O Lord, and do impossible things in me that I may have affection as you do to all the poor.

 

 

CHRIST CONFIRMS HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION

(Luke 18:31-34)

 

LUKE 18:31-34

31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. 33 They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” 34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.

Jesus met separately with his twelve disciples. He took them aside from the multitudes, and distinguished them for the third time with important news about the mystery of the top of his being. The King of God was prepared to die. He was not willing to consume his enemies with the sword, as earthly politicians do, or to seize power with the help of angels, but prepared himself to die for the evil, and decided to reconcile the sinners with God, and went toward the cross with determination. As he was preparing himself to die denying himself, his disciples conversed about the amount of the reward and their jobs. They thought of earthly matters. But Christ thought of heavenly matters, and tried, in vain, to draw his disciples to the level of thoughts. They did not understand how the power of God should look weak, and how he who prevailed over diseases, death, and Satan should surrender without defense, and agree to be slain, silently, as a sheep in the hands of its shearers, without opening his mouth.

Christ depicted before their eyes the truth of his suffering, death, and resurrection with all clarity that they might not be moved in their faith if events attacked them. He did not build them only on his own predictions, but established them first on the texts of the Old Testament, which cleared his suffering and death in advance, for the Holy Spirit had been oriented since hundreds of years toward this decisive hour of human history, that is the hour of the world’s redemption, and the true prophets had taken the cross of Christ as a center of their prophecies (Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53; Zechariah 11:12; 12:10; 13:7; Psalms 22; et al.)

The King, who was ready to die, prepared his ignorant disciples for the most difficult hour in his life and in theirs. He did not say to them, “Behold, I go up in the midst of the wild mountains to the high Jerusalem”, but said, “Behold, we go up, for you will participate with me in contempt, persecution, and weeping, as you fall immediately into the shaking sieve of Satan, for he intends to destroy you, my future apostles.

Christ called the greatest distress coming on him as “his being delivered to the Gentiles”, for such delivery to an unbelieving authority was considered as a great shame to the believing Jews, as if God forsook him who had surrendered, and did not protect him any longer. His separation from his Father on the cross from the beginning is the mystery of the true cross, about which Jesus was sad, knowing that his Father would hide his face from him, and become separated from his beloved Son, to pour out all his wrath on the Lamb of God, and condemn him instead of the sinners.

All the other sufferings, mentioned beforehand, are an explanation of this divine forsaking. They mean serial temptation to Jesus that he might hate those who oppressed him, and fall into sin; thus losing his worthiness of dying sacrificially for us, as the unique Lamb of God. But he continued in eternal love, blessing those who oppressed him, and praying with all his heart. He cried out his first words on the cross, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

The destruction of the Holy One of God was the design of Satan, and the man Jesus was delivered to him. The slaves of Satan preyed upon Jesus’ body with their whips, which consisted of leather thongs each of which was loaded with small pieces of iron tied into it at intervals, for tearing the flesh out of the bones. In the end, they crucified him that his muscles might be torn under the weight of his body, and consequently die by himself. His torn body became motionless, and his heart stopped; but his Spirit continued alive, for he had committed it into his Father’s hands.

Christ remained sinless, even on the cross, suffering devilish temptations. With his kind humility, he overcame the cunning devil and all his power. Yet he who remained sinless shall not die, for the wages of sin is death. Christ rose from the dead. He left death as a torn dress, and his soul prevailed over sin, Satan, and death that he pacified God’s anger, and reconciled all men with the Holy One. Jesus’ resurrection is the symbol of his triumph, and the picture of our hope. Let us not forget that Jesus had foretold his death before his resurrection, confirming that the life of God would not die in him.

Nevertheless, the disciples did not understand the mysteries of Jesus’ character and office. They not only became blind to the meanings of his suffering, death, and resurrection; but also considered such events impossible, and thought that he had given an untrue parable. The Holy Spirit was not poured out yet into their hearts, neither was the redemptive plan of God revealed to them. Thus they were blind, though they had followed their Lord since long. Are you also still blind, or do you worship the Lamb of God?

PRAYER: O Holy Lord, we thank you for you became a man to suffer and die instead of us. We also thank you for bearing contempt, scourging, spitting, strokes, and death that we may participate in your resurrection and everlasting life. Please open our friends’ eyes that they may find your life in your cross.

 

 


THE HEALING OF A BLIND MAN IN JERICHO

(Luke 18:35-43)

 

LUKE 18:35-43

35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, 41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” 42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Most of Jesus’ followers did not understand who he really was. They called him “Master”, “Lord”, “Prophet”, or “Nazarene”. But few dared to say he was Christ, the King coming from God. When the blind man who sat by the wayside in Jericho asked and knew that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by with his followers, he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” The poor blind man knew three things and said them: First, that Jesus was the promised inheritor of David. Second, that Jesus was the one to whom God decided to be a Father. Third, that God guaranteed to him his Father’s throne forever. With this faith, the blind man interpreted the promise written in (2 Samuel 7:12-14), and understood the conformity of its meanings with Jesus, the wonderful Physician, trusting that all the blessings and powers of God flowed from him.

When the multitudes following Jesus heard the crying, they tried to silence that parasite, but he cried so much the more, for he knew with the eyes of his heart, in spite of his blind sight, who Jesus of Nazareth was. He confessed his faith in him, and did not yield to the multitudes’ warnings to him; but thought within himself: Now is the chance of my lifetime, which will pass if I do not make use of it. So let me cry as loud as I can.

In this certainty, he believed that David’s successor was merciful, and not an arrogant sultan; and that he cared for the poor, and had enough time for a despised blind man whom he had mercy on in the mercy of the Merciful.

Jesus stood with all his following multitude, lingering on his way to the cross, toward this poor believer, and commanded him to be brought to him. The multitude stood speechless, seeing how Jesus did not refuse this call to him as Christ, the Son of David, thus admitting the truth that he was really the Son of David, and the Son of Man at the same time.

And when the blind man stood before Jesus, he heard his tender voice, saying to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus, having called up all the blind man’s expectations that he might rest on his healing power, the blind man requested neither heaven, nor money, nor eternal life, nor forgiveness, but simply that he might receive his sight, which was exactly what Jesus wanted his disciples to ask him for. He thought they had understood everything and seen all the mysteries, but they were blind in spirit, in spite of their open eyes. Would that we observe our limited minds, our little knowledge of the word of God, and the weak works of love, and become prepared for the question of God’s love: “What do you want Me to do for you?” How do you answer this question of Jesus? Do you answer it as that blind believer did, saying: “Open my eyes”? Do you pray for opening the eyes of your friends and enemies, or are you satisfied with your sight and insight? Ask the Almighty Lord to show you the selfishness of your heart that the scales of your blindness may fall from your eyes, and you may look at the world with compassion and mercy as Jesus looks in his divine love.

The Son of God said his authoritative word to the blind man: “Receive your sight.” In this command, he put his creative power in the will of the blind man, gave live to his nerves, and encouraged him to obey his royal command, employing all the dormant powers in the poor man. Jesus also commands you to be seeing, aware of the wonders of the redemptive plan of God, and seeing first the unique person of JESUS. The first experience that impressed the healed man deeply when he received his sight was seeing the face of Jesus Christ before him. When he saw that face that is full of kindness, love, and truth, he immediately understood: “This is my King, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.”

Before the healed man and the people exploded with the storm of praise and thanks, Jesus said to the sighted man: “Your faith has saved you.” This faith began with the poor man’s deep penetration into God’s promises given to David. He realized them in Jesus, trusting that he was the merciful Holy One. He had seen him more clearly with the eyes of his heart. And when he heard about his coming, he cried to him faithfully, humbly, and determinedly, clinging to the gown of his Savior who was passing by. Such faith saves. Read the Holy Bible that you may see Jesus in all his beauty, and receive his great power. 

The healed man followed his Master Jesus immediately, for the restoration of his sight suddenly was an indisputable proof of the authority of Christ. His eyes did not hurt him anymore. He did not have to bind them up with bandages, as after a surgical operation, for Jesus healed him with one word. Jesus is the creating God present among men, for God had visited them beginning with setting up his kingdom. But all those followers were blind, for they did not grasp that Jesus was on his way to the cross, where those who were presently glad about him would crucify him.

PRAYER: O Lord, I am blind, and do not see your footsteps in the history of our age. Open my eyes that I may see you, realize my wicked heart, and hold fast to your kindness. Strengthen my faith and help me to come to you with all my friends that you may open our eyes to see the blind around us, and bring them to you living crucified and resurrected Son of God. You are willing to give us sight and enlightenment.

 

 


JESUS VISITS ZACCHAEUS

(Luke 19:1-10)

 

LUKE 19:1-10

1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was a short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.
7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

As Jesus walked into the center of Jericho, “the city of palm trees”, the superficial multitudes rejoiced. But he was determined to perform a profound surgery on their spiritually blind eyes that they might see who the Son of David was. He was not only the merciful, mighty Physician; but also the Savior of the sinners, who has mercy on the unholy, and seeks those that are disqualified and rejected by the society.

At the crossroad of the Jordan Valley, in the city of Jericho, there lived a chief tax collector called “Zacchaeus”. This man was a deceiver, as all his colleagues, who pressed out the people to extract taxes from them under the command of the occupying authority. They gathered from the people more than the government required, and then they pocketed the excess amount. Yet Zacchaeus’ conscience woke and pricked him. Knowing that all his deceptions enraged God, he wanted to see Jesus who might be able to help him and make his conscience comfortable. As Zacchaeus was short, and unable to see Jesus, for the multitude was crowded and giving no attention to this despised cheater, he ran before, got ahead of Jesus’ procession, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him secretly from a short distance, knowing that the crowds of the procession were certainly to pass that way. The most wonderful thing was that Jesus had already known his heart, his name, and his condition. He looked into his eyes, in the midst of his hidden place among the branches, and called him by name, which was known by all the people of the city as criminal, agent, and robber. Jesus spoke to him a statement which does not appear but in this place of the Holy Bible: “Come down from your hidden place, for today I Son of God, and Son of David must visit you and dine at your house.” The word “must” here signifies Jesus’ determination to make clear to the public that he did not only love the good and the godly, but sought first those who were going astray to save them.

As soon as he showed this principle, the self-righteous enraged openly, and hated Christ, for he did not visit any of notable persons in their city, but made his stop at the house of the apostate, traitor, robber, and mercenary tax collector who worked for a foreign oppressor of the Jewish people. Some of them wondered: “Is he looking for riches? Does he not know in his prophetic insight that Zacchaeus is a sinful tax collector?” The situations turned about. They denied Jesus’ sonship to David and his prophethood, and arguments continued in coffeehouses, parks, and houses until midnight during all that week.

Thus Jesus deemed it necessary within himself to deliver the multitudes from superficial zeal, and lead them into the design of his coming. He was willing to meet Zacchaeus who was hungry for peace with God and with men, knowing that Zacchaeus himself had not other chance but that very day on which he met Jesus. So Christ had to go into the house of that despised, and rejected man.

Zacchaeus soon came down from the tree, and opened his house joyfully. He immediately understood Christ’s intent, felt his love poured out on him who was sinful and lost, and thanked him from his innermost being, for he preferred him to the multitudes of the godly, and left them to save him first. With that knowledge and joy, an abiding faith grew up in him that Christ had justified and favored him. This faith immediately ripened in him true fruit and works in love. Zacchaeus knew that he could not hide any lie or robbery in the presence of Christ. Therefore he opened his heart completely to Jesus, separating himself from his false riches, and decided to distribute half of his possessions to the poor of the city, as a due gift, and restore the other half to those who were injured by his deliberate embezzlements. He was also prepared to pay more than commanded by the Law of the Lord (Leviticus 5:16; Exodus 22:1; 22:3-9) Do you have any vessels, furniture, or other things in your house, which you have stolen? Take them out of your house, immediately, in the name of Christ; restore them to their proper owners; and organize your life, for every stolen penny will burn you in the flaming furnace of hell.

Then Jesus said that such courageous works of faith do not make Zacchaeus’ house poor, but really rich. He was delivered from unrighteous mammon, and his heart was filled with the love of God. The Spirit of the Lord dwelt in the believer, who opened his door wide to Jesus and his apostles, complying immediately with the drawing of the Holy Spirit. Such faith saves not only few individuals, but also complete houses and families. Faith enters successively into the whole family: the mother, the children, the servants, the relatives; for the Spirit of God is the purifying and sanctifying power in the world.

The result of the faith that appeared in Zacchaeus was Jesus’ testimony against the complaining multitudes, for he had proved to them the King of God changes the hearts, and makes the sinners righteous that each one of them may pay his dues, and give the poor openly of his riches. Once again, the entire city talked about Jesus, for he had showed them how he made of the corrupt man a respectable son of Abraham, the father of the faithful. Jesus attained the design of his behavior by making the multitudes understand that the Son of Man had come to seek and to save that which was lost. The conversion of Zacchaeus was the greatest interpretation, and explicit expression of this statement.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord Jesus, for you knew, discovered, and visited Zacchaeus, in spite of the complaining multitudes. This gives us courage and confidence that you also visit us, and do not pass by us. I despised one open my heart and my house to you joyfully. I give back everything I have stolen, and confess all unjust acts I have made, asking your forgiveness.

 

 

THE PARABLE OF THE MINAS

(Luke 19:11-27)

 

LUKE 19:11-27

11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.
12 Therefore He said: A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.
13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ 15 And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’
22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas. 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”

All the people of Jericho spoke about Jesus. Some of them honored him and most of them rejected him, for he ate with a sinner, and violated the customs of the lawyers. They did not grasp his faithful love, nor did they wish this meek man who overstepped the traditions of the nation to be a king over them. They wanted a mighty king with sword and spear, and not a merciful one bowing down over the small and the brokenhearted. So they hated and refused him. They probably prayed to God within their hearts, saying: “O Lord, would that this Jesus might not become a king over us!”

Some of them showed enthusiasm to Jesus and his power, thinking that the kingdom of God would come as soon as he had entered Jerusalem. By this parable, Jesus made clear to his disciples that the coming of the kingdom would be too late. He also explained to his enemies that his kingdom would come in spite of their obstinacy, when he had ascended to his Father to receive the kingdom of the universe, the power of the Highest, and the great glory.

His followers were like the ten servants whom their master gave each one pound that they might do business while he was gone. He gave each one of them equally the same amount, which indicates that Jesus had given each believer equally the same amount in forgiveness, grace, and power that we might move, work, and serve through them, not as masters dominating over others, but as faithful servants experienced in tiny things. Jesus had given you small gifts; so what are you doing for him? Do you move, or sleep? Do you hate your Lord, or do you love him?

When the master was crowned a king over his city, in spite of its people’s refusal, he came back late, and took his kingdom with one masterstroke. As such Jesus comes and reaps the entire world with one stroke. Then all the nations will have to stand before his great throne and each one will give account for what he had done with the gifts deposited to him by God.

The faithful servants came joyfully, and presented their profits. The first had gained a great profit. Yet, he did not say: “I have worked with prudence”, but testified the power and ability of his master’s gift. We are not successful in ourselves on the day of judgment, but it is the power of our Lord that willed, by grace, that we should be made perfect in our weakness. We can, through our slow hearts, stop the flowing of grace, but we cannot originate it and make it flow. It does everything good spontaneously, in and around us, even in small services at home and in society, if we responded, and did not object to it.

The Lord said to the obedient, faithful servant: “The whole grace worked in you. You became faithful in a very little, and obedient to the spiritual drawing in treating the poor and the harmless. Now I give you authority over ten states, not only over a hundred or thousand pounds, but also over millions and thousands. Your faithfulness and diligence in the way of grace qualify you to bear the responsibility of mercy for wide distances and regions. Christ gives his authority, power, and might to each humble and faithful worker that his kingdom may come and grow through faithful services.

When the second faithful servant came to his master, he did the same as the first one. He made apparent not his own activity, but the power of grace alone. And Jesus gave him authority over five states in his kingdom according to his faithfulness and diligence in small things.

Did you know that God, in his kingdom, entrusts his faithful people with gradual, progressive jobs and services? Such authorization depends on the amount of faithfulness, condescension, commitment, constant praying, and striving for faith. Do you tell people continuously about Jesus, and care for their spiritual life? Do you distribute pamphlets rightly, and sacrifice your time continuously? Do you love your enemies and pray for your adversary?

Your zeal in the beginning of your services does not judge the fruit of grace in you, but your perseverance in small things, your faithfulness, and your patience originate your success in the kingdom of your Lord.

The third servant was careless and lazy. He was afraid of the glory of his king, and had probably cooperated a little with the king’s enemies and hated him, for he had to serve him without any apparent reward. He was not free so as to live as he wished, so he hid the money of his lord and did not use it for himself, as the other seven servants did. He took no care about it, forgot it, and lived indifferently. And when his master came back, he became disturbed, and then confessed his negligence openly. This confession did not help him, for he did not like the king and did not dare to use his gift. Therefore his lord took the grace from him, and called him a wicked servant. He did not punish him with strokes, but took from him what remained of the grace in his hand; and he became penniless. This lazy man wanted to remain neutral, keeping pace with his lord and the world, for and against God, and thus he lost all grace. Dear brother, do you fear God? Study and carry on his will. Do you know your many gifts, the mind, muscles, money, strength, and time? Use them for the service of others, lest your Lord takes them from you. Do not forget that your prayers deposited in the bank of the love of God bring a great profit, and result in the everlasting fruit.

He who does not work in the way of love, becomes automatically selfish, and unfit for a profitable service. In the kingdom of God, we find a fearful law with respect to the growth and deficiency in grace: he who is faithful in a very little, becomes rich in Spirit, more gifted, and abundantly blessed; but he who serves two masters, and takes no care about the service given to him, becomes lukewarm in his prayers, loses faith, and his love dies. Consequently he becomes empty, dead, and corrupt, judging himself by himself. Are you growing up, or are you becoming deficient?

Jesus’ enemies will definitely suffer severe torment, for Christ is not only love, but also righteousness, holiness, and truth. Whoever refuses his love, requires his judgment. The Merciful God is just and austere. He condemns his enemies without pity, consumes, and destroys them. The judgment of God will not immediately come, but it will become perfect in the second coming of Christ. Then his glory results in grace for the faithful, and destruction for the selfish and the lazy.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for the gifts you have favored me with. All your favors are good, workable, and blessed. Guide me to several services, and to respond to the drawing of your Spirit that I may glorify you in the morning and in the evening. Appoint for every city and village a faithful praying servant that your kingdom may come.

 

 


PART V

CHRIST'S TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM

(Luke 19:28-21:38)

 

 

CHRIST'S APPROACH TO THE CAPITAL
AND HIS RECEPTION WITH REJOICING

(Luke 19:28-44)

 

LUKE 19:28-40

28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when He came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as your enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose him and bring him here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”
35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus was aware that his kingdom would appear with glory and triumph, not on his entry into Jerusalem, but on his second coming to the earth. He knew that his entry into Jerusalem would cause contempt, sufferings, and death. Nevertheless, he was so forward and willing to suffer and die for us that he was the foremost of the company on his way to the place of his crucifixion.

The city of Jericho lies on the deep Jordan River. It is about 1000 m. lower than Jerusalem, which lies behind the Mount of Olives, the mountain which salutes with its towers and twinkling lights from afar the pilgrims coming in the midst of the desert to visit the “City of Peace”.

When Jesus arrived at the eastern side of the Mount of Olives, the Holy Spirit prompted him to fulfill the prophecy in (Zechariah 9:9), which mentions that the King of Glory is coming to the city of God not on a horse, or a camel, or on foot; but riding on a donkey. Jesus was so poor that he had no donkey. So he trusted that the Holy Spirit would provide a suitable donkey for him; and thus the prophecy had its accomplishment in order that everyone should realize that Jesus is the promise, just, triumphant, and meek Christ.

Christ, in his spiritual insight, saw the colt from afar. He sent two of his disciples and commanded them to loose the animal, providing them in advance with their answer to the owner that he might allow them to receive it. In this prophetic statement, Jesus revealed his truth, calling himself “the Lord”. He was not only Master, King, and Christ; but also God himself. This name, which was like an electric shock in the minds of the messengers, gave them courage that they passed it on and confessed that the Lord himself had come to his people in Jesus of Nazareth, who is worthy of all acclamation and worship. 

Jesus did not come as an arrogant great Lord, but was lowly and gentle. He summed up these meanings in his saying: “the Lord has need.” Undoubtedly, the Lord has no need at all, for he had emptied himself, and became humble, when he became incarnate in our world, in human likeness. In his love, he became so poor that he had no money, property, or animals. Thus he wanted to show us that the divine glory is not splendor, money, and luxurious buildings; but love, holiness, and spiritual authority.

In his exciting announcement, Christ confessed that he was not willing to enter his capital just as an ordinary man, but he required from his nation submission, obedience, and worship in spite of his poverty and lowliness.

The two disciples immediately testified their complete submission to their Lord, for when they had come with the colt, they took off their garments, and placed them before the colt on which Christ rode, as a token of their subjection to the Lord of Lords, showing their preparedness to spread the road with their own bodies for the glory of the power of God. Then the followers knew the critical hour. They also participated in this unique, subjection token, committing themselves completely to Jesus the Lord. They came one after the other and put their clothes that the procession of their Lord might walk on them, until the procession arrived at the summit of the Mount of Olives, where the holy city came into their sights with its golden towers, shining domes, great wall, and wide yard where the Temple was, God’s dwelling in his creation.

As they saw this full and magnificent view of the city, the multitudes began to praise and utter trilling cries of joy for the entry of the King; and when they went down to the Kidron valley, which separates between the Mount of Olives and the holy city. Pilgrims raced from all directions, participating in and joining Jesus’ procession, singing psalms and hymns, praising God for all the miracles Jesus had wrought, counting those miracles loudly in manifestation of the glory of him who comes, and thanking God for his blessing and his favor.

Dear brother, do you participate in the procession of joy and praise? How many biblical miracles and verses have you learnt by heart, and are able to mention before your friends and arguers? How many miracles have you experienced personally in your life, when Jesus entered it, received it, changed you, filled you with his blessings, and practically became the Lord of your life? Do you praise God for the coming of his Son, or is your heart still silent, your mouth closed, and your mind paralyzed, in spite of the entry of the love of God into the world of hatred and death?

Then the Holy Spirit guided those who sang and praised God to begin with the hymn of reception designated for the entry of the king into his capital. They knew that Jesus came not only in his own name, but also in his heavenly Father’s name, and that all the power, goodness, and justice of the Holy Spirit dwelt in the Nazarene. The joy of heaven’s pleasure spread over the earth that was tried of wars, and the glory of God came back to the colonized capital.

Jesus did not object or stop this acclamation, which was as clear as the sun. He did not refuse his royal title in their acclamation, but entered his capital as Master and Lord. But when some of the Pharisees who accompanied this joyful procession heard these holy titles of Jesus, they became troubled, afraid, and angry; and thought of the colonial power which was prepared to attack and crush every notion of proclaiming a king over the multitudes. Thus the professors were angry with Jesus because he was agreeable to and was pleased with this crowning acclamation. They asked him severely to silence those who accompanied him, and reject these divine titles; but Christ answered them, and hit them with the irrefutable proof that if those harmless believers should not acclaim now, the stones of dead creatures would immediately cry out, for their Creator moved on them riding.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, You are our Lord, King, and Savior; and are worthy of all worship. I commit my life to you now and forever. Accept and sanctify me, for I am a sinner. Keep me in your name that I may become faithful to you, and not fall away at the terrible hour of temptation.  

 

LUKE 19:41-44

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jesus was not dazzled with the loud shouts and acclamations that surrounded him, but he saw prophetically the end and the ruin of the city lying before him. His heart was broken, and he was bathed in tears. Yes, Jesus wept, and burst into tears, for he saw the hard hearts aroused against him, while he bore in himself the love of God which sought night and day to bring back the lost to repentance, but in vain, for their ears were deaf to the divine call, and their blind eyes could not perceive him who prevailed over death and Satan. Even today, most of the eyes of the children of Abraham are still covered with a veil. Though Jerusalem (Uru-shalim) means the “City of Peace”, the peace of the Highest did not dwell in it, and had always parted with it. Today, Jesus is still crying over this city, which God had chosen as a center of peace for the whole world.

The Lord saw beforehand how the Jews would refuse him, and deliver him to the hands of the Gentiles to kill him. The Son of God let the children of his nation persecute him, and forgave those who opposed him all their offences. Yet he knew that if they did not accept the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells after his death, they would immediately fall into condemnation. The Lord wept when all about him were rejoicing, and he foretold in a loud voice their fall into destruction.

The divine love saw with exact insight how the Romans would dig a trench, build an embankment around the city with its soil and stones to besiege it, ruin its high walls, and occupy the city quarter by quarter, making lawful all the plundering and impurities a spiteful, furious conqueror could do. They even took the babies of the Jews and beat them against the walls breaking their heads into pieces, and they burnt the Temple of God after they stole its golden and silver contents in 70 A.M. Then after the last unsuccessful revolution in 132 A.M. the Romans tore down all the walls of the city, and proud Jerusalem became a wasteland.

Jesus saw all these details coming on his adversaries. He wept in compassion and love for them, and did not say rejoicing at their misfortune: “It is good to have the city attacked so fiercely. May God consume this rejecting people!” But the King of love wept for the unbelief, hardheartedness, and blindness of the people. Does Jesus also weep over you and your hard heart? Does he foresee condemnation coming on your nation? Do you participate with him weeping compassionately over the dirty humans, or do you hate the wicked?

 

 

JESUS CLEARS THE TEMPLE OF THE MONEY CHANGERS

(Luke 19:45-48)

 

LUKE 19:45-48

45 Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” 47 And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, 48 and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.

Luke did not mention anything about the manner in which Jesus entered the city, for this evangelist was frightfully aware of the condemnation to come on the hard hearts. God’s condemnations come slowly, but when they come they destroy.

Jesus did not go to the representative of the colonizing authority, nor did he visit the chief priest, or find a place for himself and his disciples to sleep; but went straight to the Temple of God, the residence of his Father’s glory for which he longed and to which his heart was drawn. But his Spirit felt bitter, for he could not find comfort and quietness to worship, give thanks, and pray, because of the noise of the traders, and the smell of the sacrificial animals which was spread in all the floors. So in his holy wrath he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and their precious money on the ground, and drove the superficial out of the Temple. He was willing to initiate his work with establishing comprehensive quietness for true prayer. Every nation in which prayer does not work vigorously as the strong heart beats in the human body is by all means a dead and perishable nation.

Do your city men pray? Do you meet them in meeting rooms, in coffeehouses and cinemas, or in factories and shops? Did the entire world not become a den of thieves and highwaymen, though it was originally intended as a residence of God? What would Jesus drive out of your life to clear your heart that your body might become a temple of the Holy Spirit? Does God reside in you, or are you still a den of thieves?

Jesus taught the multitudes of crowded pilgrims in the midst of the Temple as one who sells living water in the midst of desert to refresh those who are thirsty with true copious drops. The word of life from Jesus quenches the burning thirst of hearts. It was not long until the multitudes raced to Jesus, and listened to his words for hours.

The chief priests, leaders of the people, and experts of the Torah, on their part, watched Jesus with aggravated rage, for he neither visited nor honored them, nor asked their permission. So they hated the Galilean countryman, and tried to kill him using violent tricks during the noisy days of the Passover. Those zealous leaders were probably afraid of the interference of the occupying power, which was centered in the barracks of the grand Tower of Antonia, where the Roman soldiers watched all the movements in the wide yard of the Temple.

Jesus’ hour had not come yet. The multitudes were hung upon him to hear him, and the wicked enemy could not find any means to reach him. So Jesus taught without fear, and called the lost sheep of the people to him the Good Shepherd and King of his fellowship.

PRAYER: O Lord, you are the true God who is full of love, holiness, and patience. You weep over me and over all men, for you see our malice, folly, and the condemnation coming on us. Please be patient, and teach us the word of life that many may be saved.

 

 

THE SANHEDRIN QUESTIONS JESUS ABOUT
THE SOURCE OF HIS AUTHORITY

(Luke 20:1-8)

 

LUKE 20:1-8

1 Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him 2 and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” 3 But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: 4 The baptism of John -- was it from heaven or from men?” 5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe Him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it was from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Jesus loved the foolish people. He went to the temple every day, rushing into the dangers of death, taught, and preached the multitudes that waited for him with interest. With this teaching, he established his hearers who began to believe in him and in his heavenly Father. His preaching was a piercing invitation to those who were far away from God to return to the heavenly Father, confess their sins, and become broken to their haughtiness. Jesus did not only preach the law, but also revealed to his hearers the good news of the love of God. He explained to them his own presence, and informed them about his triumph over sin so that hope, faith, and love might grow up in them. The multitudes felt that the dominion of God was present among them, and that the heaven was open, and the grace had appeared.

Yet, when the leaders of the people saw how the multitudes held fast to Jesus, they got ready to attack and take counsel together against him, willing to catch Jesus in their net. So the Sanhedrists met together to test Jesus and arrest him. We read here about “chief priests” in the plural, which indicates their breach of the law, which stipulated that only one priestly chief should be appointed. But the Sanhedrin in its continuous conflict with the occupying power yielded from time to time to its command dismissing some of the chiefs and appointing others according to its instructions, until both parties found their object in Caiaphas, the cunning fox, who matched by means of his religious opinions between the judgments of the law and the Roman desires which were contrary to the law. The Sanhedrin had the right to ask Jesus officially who he was, and where he came from. By these questions, they drove him to reveal himself openly, inquiring about the power working in him, and the source of this power. They did not ask him about his many works and miracles, nor did they scrutinize the meanings of his powerful words, but they pierced his innermost being, willing to cut him out of his source. If he said he was Christ, they would quickly destroy him, for the multitudes expected a fighting, political, victorious Christ with glory and might. If he denied he was Christ, and said he was just a prophet, a social reformer, or a preacher of repentance, then the people would leave him and not care for him. This is about the first question.

If he answered the second question about the source of his presence, that he is the Son of God, they would immediately stone him, for they believed that God had no son. And if he said that his authority was derived from natural sources, or from his own power, then they would tear him to pieces, considering him to he the devil himself.

Jesus saw their wicked trick, and caught them in the same net, which they prepared for him. He asked them, in his divine authority, a counter question, in return for theirs, about the source of John the Baptist; but they found themselves in the same condition in which they wanted to put him. So they conversed and consulted one another to no avail, and could not answer him. They were not willing, in their hard-heartedness, to repent and submit to Christ confessing that John was a servant of God, for he had asked them to confess their sins and be baptized openly, when they were laughing in their hearts at the poor repentant people, arrogating to themselves righteousness and exaltedness. Yet, the people, particularly after John was beheaded, were agitated and convinced that the Baptist was really God’s messenger and truthful prophet. They were prepared, in their rage, to stone even those religious leaders if they said that John the Baptist was not a saint of God.

While the leaders were at a loss, not agreeing unanimously on any one of the many answers they had in mind, the people waited for them to see what they would reply. None of the rulers was prepared to confess the truth that was hidden in his heart, neither negatively nor positively. In the end they hid themselves in their lies, saying: “We do not know where John the Baptist was from.” This answer was Christ’s greatest victory over them, for Jesus led the Sanhedrists to confess their ignorance before the public. It was a horrible defeat.

The Son of God condemned their lying with his condemning word: “Neither will I tell you who I am, and where I came from. You know the truth, but you neither obey it, nor open your hearts to it. You try to turn truth into lying, and therefore you will be destroyed greatly. Go away and be ashamed of your repulsive craftiness, for the wisdom of the Spirit of God is more prudent than all the nets of your devilish lies. This is why, dear brother, you do not have to care about what you will say and reply when professing unbelievers call you to appear before their courts, for then the Holy Spirit will inspire you with the proper answer, if you submit yourself to his guidance at all times.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of God. We worship to you and believe the all the powers of heaven and all the characters of your Father work in you. You are the Triumphant, Savior, and Redeemer. Accept me. Accept all my friends, and whoever seeks you. Embrace us in your dominion, and preserve us in your truth.

 

 


THE PARABLE OF THE WICKED VINEDRESSERS

(Luke 20:9-19)

 

LUKE 20:9-19

9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ 14 But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be our.’ 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” And when they heard it they said, “Certainly not!” 17 Then He looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’? 18 Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” 19 And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people -- for they knew that He had spoken this parable against them.

In the parable of the vineyard, Jesus answered precisely the question of the Sanhedrists, “Who he was”. He confessed that he was the Son of God who comes in the end of the series of the servants of God who came in the history of the Old Testament from God his Father to gather the fruit of submission, faith, and love from the Jews.

The vine in the Old Testament is a symbol of the nation Israel (Isaiah 5:1; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:2; Hosea 10:1; Psalms 80:8). God surrounded his vineyard with the law, put up the prophets as its guards, and found the altars as a winepress. But the people did not bear the required fruit. The more God sent of his prophets to those hardheartened people, the more they went far in insulting, striking, and hurting those messengers. They were not only pleased with being not bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, but also continued their crime, and exceeded the proper limits in revolting against God. This was realized in the history of priesthood, elders, chiefs, kings, and even Sanhedrists whom God appointed as responsible vinedressers in his vineyard, for they denied the messengers of the Lord, and after all agreed on beheading John the Baptist.

In spite of all these crimes, God, who was determined to give the last exam to his obstinate people, did not lose patience, and sent to them his Son the Heir of God, who has in himself all the characteristics and authority of his Father. That was Jesus’ answer to the Sanhedrin. He had also foretold them what they would do to him. The hatred hidden within their hearts would prompt them to plot against him, how they might kill him, also to rejoice at their victory in destroying the Son of Man, as if in doing that they could dominate the people without God as they wished. In this parable, Jesus described the leaders of the people as thieves, murderers, and rebel against God, with all impudence and lucidity, until they all knew his design, when Jesus asked those around him what they thought the owner of the vineyard would do to the wicked vinedressers. At that time Jesus gave the answer, saying that he would first destroy them and then he would give the vineyard to others. In this manner Jesus testified openly that the kingdom of God would be taken from the people of Israel and given to the Gentiles. Thus Christ condemned the unfaithful leaders of the people. The hearing multitude, on their part, cried out in one voice: “God forbid! Let not this be done!” for they perceived the meaning exactly that Jesus put the line of the final judgment under the history of the people of Israel. They sprang up and expressed utter disapproval of the condemnation of destruction coming on them.

Then Jesus looked at them. He gazed at them, saw the beginning of the horizon of the New Testament, and called himself the Chief Cornerstone in the temple of God, as mentioned in (Psalm 118:22), the same Psalm which also mentions: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (v. 26), and “God is the Lord” (v. 27), the words which the people repeated and rejoiced with when they received Jesus a few days before this conversation.

Jesus called himself the hard stone, on which all his enemies falling on it, who did not build themselves as living stones in the holy temple of God would be broken. Jesus is the foundation, the power, and the crown in the temple of the New Testament, which is not made up of dead material stones, but of holy believers who are themselves the holy temple of God. They approach one another in the body of Jesus Christ who is their head. Today, God himself dwells in those who believe in Christ, and not in a house made with hands. 

At the end of time, when Christ comes again apparent with all the power of heavens, he will be like the great stone mentioned in (Daniel 2:34) which will roll at the end of time from its lofty height in its high mountain, crushing with one stroke the great image which represents the union of the world states and religions, and consuming them completely. Whoever opposes Christ will be consumed and destroyed.

The leaders of the nation also grasped the full import of the parable, and became more angry and foolish. Yet they were coward, for they became afraid of the faithful followers of Jesus. The leaders in their craftiness lurked to seize Jesus unexpectedly and kill him privately without being seen or noticed.

What about you? The Son of God is standing before you, requesting the fruit of your life for God his Father. Will you commit yourself as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise, or will you run away and join his killers? Will you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and commit yourself as a living stone that he may fit you in the temple of the Holy Spirit? Otherwise he will crush you at the end of time. If Jesus asked you today, what world you answer him?

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead, I believe in your divinity, and unity with God the Father, and I commit myself entirely to you, once and forever. Please seal my dedication with your Holy Spirit that I may live with you forever, carry out your thoughts exactly, become comforted with the experience of forgiveness, and serve you with all the saints that we may be filled with the fruits of love, joy, purity, and peace. Amen.

 


 

QUIZ

Christ's Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem

 

Dear reader,

If you studied carefully the chapters 13-20 of Luke’s gospel, you will be able to easily answer 24 out of the following 31 questions. If you mail us correct answers to these questions we will send you the next part of this series on the gospel of Luke:

 

  1.   Why does Christ warn us forcefully about the expected events?

  2.   What do we learn from the intercession of the keeper of the vineyard?

  3.   Why did Jesus call the ruler of the synagogue “hypocrite”?

  4.   What is the difference between the parable of the mustard seed, and that of the leaven?

  5.   What is the meaning of Christ’s command: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate”?

  6.   What are the different meanings of Christ’s lamentation for Jerusalem?

  7.   Why could the Pharisees not answer the incontrovertible evidences of Jesus?

  8.   How do we become humble practically?

  9.   What was the strange thing in the divine banquet?

10.   Why does Christ demand complete separation from the world, and full commitment to him?

11.   What is the mystery of salvation?

12.   In what ways did the love of the father for his lost son appear?

13.   How did the loving patience of the father appear toward his haughty professing son?

14.   Why does the Lord call the steward and mammon unrighteous, and shows us the faithful way in our offerings to the needy?

15.   What kind of people is pressing themselves today into the kingdom of God? Why?

16.   How does Jesus explain to us the life after death and its consequences?

17.   How did Jesus shake his followers that they might confess they were unprofitable servants?

18.   What is the healed man’s thanking compared with his faith?

19.   How does the kingdom of God appear on earth (in past, in present, and in future)?

20.   How did Christ prepare his disciples for his coming?

21.   How must we pray for the second coming of Christ?

22.   How was the sinful tax collector justified, and the professor was not?

23.   Why is money the preventive against entering the kingdom of God?

24.   How did Jesus prepare his disciples for his sufferings, death, and resurrection?

25.   What is the promise given from God to David about his heir? In whom did this promise find its accomplishment? How?

26.   Why and how did salvation come to all Zacchaeus’ house?

27.   What is the mystery of the growth and deficiency of the gifts of grace in the kingdom of God?

28.   How did Jesus reveal that he is the Lord, and the divine King?

29.   Why did Jesus weep while he was on his way down to Jerusalem?

30.   Why did Jesus not answer the questions of the delegation of the leaders of the nation?

31.   What are the principles of the redemptive plan of God revealed by Jesus in the parable of the wicked vinedressers?

 

Send us your name and address clearly written along with your reply and write to the following address:

 

WATERS-OF-LIFE • P.O. BOX 15755

PITTSBURGH, PA 15244

USA


THE DISCUSSION ABOUT PAYING TAXES TO CEASAR

(Luke 20:20-26)

 

LUKE 20:20-26

20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. 21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesars’.” 25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.

The world is full of bondage of money, craftiness, deception, and flaming revolution. A delegation came to Christ, representing two groups: first, the professing Pharisees, enemies of the Roman authority; and second the Herodians, servants of King Herod, agent of the Romans, who supported them to remain in his chair. Yet both different groups united in their common design to destroy Christ, who is born of the Spirit of God, for he had unveiled their sins, ignorance, and lies that they appeared naked, and insolently disrespectful before the people.

Now, they designed to ensnare Christ with their hypocritical words and sly trickery, pretending to be righteous, straight, and truth seekers, but from within they were savage wolves. So they propounded their planned, embarrassing question to entrap him. They said with hypocritical sedateness, and outward godliness: “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” out of their belief that all the people harbored feelings of hatred against the heavy taxes, and consequently anyone who recognized the Roman authority or cooperated with it was entirely against the rights of the kingdom of God. If Christ said, “Yes, it was lawful” the people would take it ill, and he would be regarded as a collaborator with Rome, and would lose favor with the public. If he said, “No!” he could be accused of revolutionary tendencies and would immediately be arrested by the Herodians, who were ready to arrest every rebel against the government, and every person who criticized its commands and behaviors.

Jesus perceived their craftiness. He openly stabbed their hypocrisy, uncovered them, and compelled them to confess his truthfulness, and his telling of the truth at all times, without adulation. He called for a denarius, for he was penniless, poor, not depending on the power of money, and not surrendering to the deception of riches. As the denarius shone in his hand, he turned it upside down, and showed them Caesar’s image with the words inscribed around it: “Titus Caesar, son of the divine Augustus”, and on the other face: “The greatest high priest”

Through that denarius, Jesus proved to them that they were automatically subjected to the economic authority of Caesar, whether they knew it or not, for each coin was tantamount to an authorized Roman draft, or check whose value is subject to rise and fall according to the victory or defeat of that worldly empire. He, who used that money, built himself on the colonial authority, which guaranteed them. Even today, each banknote is entirely conditional upon the economic situation of its country. Its value becomes less if the state collapsed. Money belongs to the state even if individuals possessed it. 

Then Jesus condemned stinginess and greediness in the servants of money, and asked them to take a part of their perishable treasures willingly to pay the taxes without objection, for every denarius issued by the Roman minting die belonged to it.

Furthermore, Jesus commanded us to submit to the government of our state, to accept its rules and orders, to participate in its development with faithfulness, and not to become disobedient at all. The true Christians pray for the leaders of their people. They are in fact the best citizens of their country, knowing that the government which supervises the public situations is appointed by God, and given by the people with regard only to their worth, for protecting them, stabilizing security, developing economy, educating and cultivating the children, and organizing the social life. Every government is maidservant of God in the areas of its people.

This high attribute, “a maidservant of God” is not transient, even if those in charge misused the authority given to them, made allowance for themselves, and treaded on citizens; for the holy God will punish all evildoers, since every employee beginning with the king and the president and ending with the least servant are directly responsible before God. Every true service to a state means a service to God.

With these good meanings, Jesus did not only answer the embarrassing political question positively, but also commanded all those who believed in him to cooperate faithfully with the present government in all its domains and areas.

At the same time, Christ showed them the essential difference between the fearful Caesar and the great God. Caesar was a created mortal, limited in wisdom and knowledge, and sinful as all other humans; but God is perfect, eternal, holy, omniscient, and almighty. Inasmuch as the great difference between him and Caesar, the service of God is more important than that of the state. Inasmuch as heaven surpasses the earth, you must concentrate your thoughts on God and his will more than attaching importance to the present problems. All newspapers and magazines are not compliant with this principle, for their big titles speak about politics, economics, and scandals; without making any mention of the name of God and the salvation of the soul.

Blessed are you if you sought God, and fled from the slavery of the quickly fading mammon; for then you understand that you do not give God, but he freely showers you daily with his grace, and gives you his love, providence, forgiveness, salvation, and redemption. The love of God is beyond our understandings.

If you understand this holy principle nothing will remain in you but gratitude, faith obedience, and commitment of your life thankfully and gratefully to the great Provider. Christ surely testifies to you that the holy God turns you back into his original image that you may be his son and he your Father. Then you become more precious than all shining coins and paper money, which have images of the faces of leaders, and kings, for you will live forever if you truly submit to the love of God. Give your life to God thankfully for his salvation that you may proceed from mortality to immortality, and find a new meaning for your life in the service of the kingdom of God.

You may ask: “What must I do if my government prevented me from believing in Christ?” The Holy Bible answers you clearly: “We have to obey God rather than men.” At the time of persecution in Rome, the faithful disappeared in caves and underground tombs, and preferred to die violent deaths rather than deifying the mortal Caesars.

Today, a dictatorial state requires its people to submit entirely to its principles. It imposes on them to believe in it, commit their lives to its spirit and aims, and deny Christ the only Savior. In those regions and countries, the faithful continue in loving their persecutors. They bless them, and pray everyday for the Lord’s guidance. If they were called for interrogation, they would tell the truth in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and bear witness to their living Lord, preferring death in this world and life in the kingdom of God rather than submitting to the spirits of deceivers.

The kingdom of the antichrist is about to be established, where the faithful will not be able to buy or sell, for they will not surrender to the embodied evil spirit. So prepare yourself for the service of God that you may honor him through your complete faith obedience.

When the cunning spies heard Jesus’ answer, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” they marveled at his wisdom and authority. Today, we also wish all those who watch our behavior to know that Christ calls us faithful servants to the country in which we live, even if it persecuted us because of our worship to our living Lord.

PRAYER: O King of Peace, you are meek. You were not a rebel in this world. Please establish us in humility that we may together serve God and the state too with faithfulness. Deliver us from loving perishable money, lift our minds to you, and fill us with faith obedience, love, wisdom, and hope.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD

(Luke 20:27-40)

 

LUKE 20:27-40

27 Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 28 saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. 32 Last of all the woman died also. 33 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.” 34 And Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.
35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 Now even Moses showed in the burning bush that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.” 40 But after that they dared not question Him anymore.

Every man will certainly die, and every religion, or philosophy, which does not make a frank answer to the existence of man after death, is a self-deceit and stupid superficiality. The Sadducees at Jesus’ time were truth seekers in a philosophical way. They did not believe in anything, which their critical minds could not bear. Therefore they mocked at the hypocritical Pharisees, and ridiculed the professing scribes, for they relied literally on the Torah with respect to the angels, the resurrection, and the life after death. However this mockery was a covering for their doubts and unbelief, since no human mind is able to explore the truth of the other world spontaneously, but on basis of revelation and faith.

Representatives of those logical skeptics came to Jesus, and presented a series of untrue, and fabricated thoughts, to prove easily that Moses knew, in his law, that there is no life after death. They derived this thought from the law of raising up offspring through one of the brothers of a dead man by marrying his widow, and accordingly they deemed it impossible to have marital life after death with polyandry.

In answer to those blind logical people, Jesus gave a full and large description of the life after death, and showed them first that it is not possible to make a comparison between the conditions of this life and those of the future life where there are no shady trees, running rivers, delicious foods, femininity, or masculinity.

Death puts an end to sex, which is the symbol of this age, and is necessary for all creatures to avoid extinction; for after death, the body does not remain any longer, nor is it created again with flesh and blood.

Observe also that Christ did not tell that all men would rise in the first resurrection, but he indicated the mystery that only the elect should go away from the dead to the life, for Christ’s atonement purified them, and the power of God qualified them to bear the divine life in themselves. The New Testament teaches you the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11; Revelation 20:4-6 and 12-15), and speaks about the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14). In contrast with that all the dead will rise at the Last Judgment. This rising does not fully mean resurrection, but coming to the Court of God, and casting into destruction. Then it becomes clear the Christ’s followers working in divine love will enter into eternal life, for they received the Holy Spirit in this world who is the guarantee of the glory of God, whereas the others who are dead in their sins and offences will remain dead forever, and their souls given by God cannot die finally, or live truly. This is the second death, tormenting hell, and endless regret.

Yet all those who came to Christ, the Life giver, will receive from him his life and mighty power. They cannot die after that for death will not find any deservedness in them, since their sins had been forgiven, and the blood of Christ had sanctified them completely. We worship to Christ for he drew us with his love to his level. His death on the cross is the reason for our life, and his resurrection shows us the nature of existence in the other world. We shall be spiritual with a touchable body, as Christ passed through the walls and had a true body at the same time. Then we shall be like the glorious bright angels, sexless, incorruptible, and not liable to death. We shall be called the children of God, for the Eternal One put of his Spirit in us. We are not created as the angels are, but are born again as children of God. Are you aware of your privilege gifted to you by faith in Christ? Do you worship to the unity of the Holy Trinity who opened to you such a glorious hope? Are you living, or dead? Are you born again of the Holy Spirit, or are you lost in sins and faults?

Jesus, in his compassion, proved to the rational mathematicians from the very written law of the first five books of Moses, their evidential document, to which they adhered strictly, that they did not know God, who called himself “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The faith of those fathers made them join themselves to God until he gave them the fullness of his life, and his strength was made perfect in their weakness. Now, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob live in fact with God, and belong to him, as he was engaged to them. Eternal life means love, commitment, and establishment in God who is the fountain of life. His exceeding power is hundred million times stronger than the sun from whose rays all the creatures of our world live. As such all the faithful saints live from the rays of the love of our heavenly Father, and are filled with his characters. They see with their own eyes the expanses of God filled with his endless pleasure.   

PRAYER: O Father and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whose death on the cross you also became our Father, we worship to you, for you are the fountain of life. You gave us birth again of your Holy Spirit, and you fill us with your power, love and pleasure. Please call many of those who are dead in sins and offences to your eternal life that they may become sanctified, and enjoy your fullness with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We worship to you, and thank you for your life given to us to a living hope.

 

 

CHRIST CONFUTES THE JEWS ABOUT
HIS SONSHIP TO DAVID AND TO GOD

(20:41-44)

 

LUKE 20:41-44

41 And He said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? 42 Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to My Lord, “Sit at My right hand,
43 till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ 44 Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”

When Christ had answered with exceeding wisdom and extreme love all the cunning questions of the Sadducees and Pharisees, he overcame them completely, and no one dared to ask him or tempt him anymore. Then he began to ask his hearers his decisive question about his essence and his truth. He did not ask them to worship to him because of his miracles, but asked them to believe in him on the basis of his knowledge of the biblical promises of God to David.

Since the Babylonian captivity the Jews’ doctrine of monotheism developed into a state of motionlessness that they became deaf to God’s promises to the prophets about the divinity of the coming Christ. They expected a political king sent by God, and at the same time, they regarded Christ’s title “the Son of God” as a great blasphemy, for God is one.

Jesus approached his innermost essence, and asked the all people about the meaning of the promise of the Holy Spirit to David in (Psalms 110:1) where the royal prophet listened in the spirit of prophecy to a conversation within the persons of the Holy Trinity, when the Lord spoke to the Lord. With these words Jesus, once again, declared his divinity, and his birth of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, knowing that he would be crucified only because of this divine root.

The hard hearts of the Jews did not open to the drawing of the Holy Spirit, but they became harder and harder. They became enemies of the Son of God. Christ’s mentioning of this verse from the Book of Psalms signifies the severest condemnation on the Jews, and at the same time a prophecy of his death, resurrection, ascension to heaven, and sitting at the right hand of his Father. Jesus used this authoritative word once again before the Sanhedrin as a testimony to himself and condemnation on the Jewish nation: “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power.” The judges considered this declaration as serious blasphemy, for the Prisoner asked them as the Son of God to submit to him immediately, and condemned them. This verse said that after his death the holy God would defeat them, and bind all the enemies of Christ, and make them his footstool.

Christ did not give up any hairbreadth of his complete divinity, for the world’s reconciliation with God, our justification by faith, and the complete salvation to everyone depend on this point. Do you believe that Christ is the Son of the living God, or do you join the enemies of him who was raised from the dead, who sits today at the right hand of God in the throne of his glory, abiding in his Father, and he in him, and reigning with him, one God forever.

If your mind did not recognize these facts, as your Lord for the power of faith, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, for without this anointment no one can call Christ “Lord.”

But whoever denies him who is anointed and born of the Spirit of God, sees God coming on him as a fearful enemy. Why do the people who refuse the Son of God marvel if they were torn by the wrath of the Eternal One who makes all the enemies of Christ his footstool? The characteristic feature of every antichrist spirit is that he denies the divinity of Jesus with rage, and persecutes all those who believe in him who is born of the Spirit of God. Do you worship to your Savior, and thank him for the salvation of your soul, or will you feel shortly his coming and be among his enemies whom he makes his footstool, confessing forcibly, with your teeth gnashing that Jesus is the Lord?

PRAYER: O Lord, You sit at the right hand of God in glory, after you gave yourself for us. We worship to you and thank you because you lift us to you through our faith, fill us with your love, and give us life to a living hope. Help us to obey the faith completely, and save our enemies that they may not feel your rage and punishment by making them your footstool.

 

 

JESUS WARNS AGAINST THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW

(Luke 20:45-47)

 

LUKE 20:45-47

45 Then in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

No one answered Christ’s decisive question, fearing his glory, as coming from God and taking the form of a man. The leaders remained silent, the people also kept silent, and the disciples did not testify.

Then the Son of God spoke to the hearers who were near to him, and condemned the professional scribes, doctors of the law, who ought to know exactly before anyone else the meaning of the verse in (Psalms 110:1), but failed in due time, in spite of their high knowledge.

Jesus warned his followers against the professing hypocrites who loved boasting before the people, as teachers of the way of God. In fact, they had paved the way to hell through their strict, scrupulous interpretations of the law. They did not recognize Christ, the straight way to God.

However, they were self-conceited, broadening their phylacteries, lengthening the tassels of their garments, expecting peoples’ submission to them, and giving them the first place at feasts and meeting rooms, as if they were minor gods, sitting at the right hand of God, and making long prayers full of grandiloquent, resounding words.

Many distressed widows were deluded by these specious pretences. Finding no spiritual advice or illumination, they resorted to the scribes, who condescended to receive considerable amounts of money from those poor widows in exchange for giving advice to them. They agreed to sit at their rich, fatty feasts, pretending reverence, and abstinence from the food of the poor. At the same time, they stuffed their stomachs with delicious food and drink.

Christ said that those hypocrites would receive a more abundant judgment, both for denying his glory, and for becoming more hardened against him. Furthermore for their abuse of religion and particularly their spiritual office which they had made use of to cover their wicked projects.

 

 

THE WIDOW'S TWO COINS

(Luke 21:1-4)

 

LUKE 21:1-4

1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

When he had finished all his instructions and warnings, and summed up his predictions about the judgment and the divine woe, Jesus started his way out of the Temple, which he departed finally, having completed his gospel of salvation for all men. 

At the large door of the Temple, there was a chest where gifts could be deposited. Christ saw the rich casting big amounts of money in that chest. God was not pleased with those large donations of the rich, for they were cast out of their abundance, maybe to reserve for themselves a distinguished place in heaven, or to rest their consciences from their deceptions. Their gifts were like hush money to God. Nobody sacrificed his capital, nor was his gift a token of his complete commitment to God. All our rites, sermons, and contributions will become hypocrisy if they do not lead us to sacrifice our life completely for God.

Jesus also saw a poor, desolate widow, who was probably a maidservant, who cleaned on her knees the palaces of the rich to provide for herself and her children. The Lord had compassion on her, and his heart was filled with joy when he saw that this harmless widow loved God rather than the little money she had. She gave her heart completely as a gift to God through her humble offering, represented by her two mites. Yet those two mites from the hand of the widow were in heaven like two big mountains of gold, for she gave to God all the living that she had, trusting him, loving him, and depending on his providence.

This widow represents the remnant of the faithful in the nation of the Old Testament, who committed herself completely to God after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, laid all her living at the apostles’ feet, and lived together with them in the fellowship of love.

The widow’s two mites are in fact the financial foundation and support of the church and the preaching. It is not large donations that financially support the continuance of the kingdom of God, but the continuous small ones, which God blesses with his authority. So when will you start to sacrifice of your money continuously for the spreading the kingdom of God joyfully, and without hesitation?

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, you have sacrificed your life for us. Forgive us our selfishness, stinginess, and trust in money. Blow up our hard hearts that we may not speak hypocritically as righteous, or rely secretly on money, but commit ourselves and our money into your hands.

 

 

 

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES
ABOUT THE FUTURE DESTRUCTION

(Luke 21:5-38)

 

LUKE 21:5-11

5 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, 6 “These things which you see -- the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” 7 So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” 8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. 9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.”

Jesus left the Temple, which the Jews considered as the center of the world, and the unique dwelling of God. This old, holy house was first founded in 968 BC in seven years of the reign of King Solomon, who chose the threshing floor on the summit of a hill on which Jerusalem was built to establish the Temple, which rose as a crown above Jerusalem.   

In 587 BC the soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar burnt the first Temple. Yet, when the people came back from the Babylonian captivity, they rebuilt it in 520-516 BC in a simple manner by sanction of Zerubbabel and Joshua. In the following times fierce battles broke out around the center of the Jewish culture, and the attacking soldiers looted all the Temple instruments, vessels, and precious treasures, until King Herod doubled the area of the holy place at the last half of the century BC and rebuilt the Temple in a new pompous manner that Augustus Caesar in Rome dedicated sacred vessels to the Temple. 

This third Temple was plainly stretched and seen before Jesus and his disciples, when they sat on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Holy City whose center included the great Temple. Jesus said to his disciples: “Now you see beautiful stones covered and inlaid with gold. You think of the holiness of the place and its power radiating to the world. But I see in this wide courtyard the unclean hearts of men, who are wicked and dead in sins. They are like walking dead bodies. The judgment of God will shortly attack them, and their temple will certainly fall to destruction, for God does not dwell in a house that is made with hands, but centers in the hearts of those who love Christ.

This revelation meant to the disciples the end of the world, taking away of sacrifices, and no reconciliation with God in the Old Testament way. They had great expectation that Jesus would remain with them a divine king forever, and set up the kingdom of God in Jerusalem that all the nations of the world might race to it. But Jesus foretold them about the complete destruction of this shining house, knowing that the old things should be removed in order to pave the way for the new spiritual temple which is composed of all the saints in all times and places, which will not pass away for it is founded on Christ, and made a dwelling for the living God.

When the disciples heard these fearful words, their hearts trembled, and they asked Christ frightfully when and how this end of the world would come. They wanted to secure and provide themselves that they might be saved and not destroyed by the sword coming from God to devour their people. Christ, in fact, was not afraid for them because of death, but because of the possible temptation and falling into deception and sins. He did not answer them first when and how their world would pass away, but inoculated his followers against the temptation of the appearance of professing spirits, and bad examples that they might not become ripe for the just judgment of God. Jesus testified beforehand that he would die, and that after and before his next coming many deceivers would come and give the world bright lies and false hopes about their ability to save and redeem the world. Christ warns you before anything else and with divine severity against commitment to any philosopher, dream, thought, religion, or party. Do not trust their extraordinary powers, even if spirits rose from the dead saying: “I am the crucified Christ” and appeared to worshippers crystallized with shining rays as hung on the cross. Do not believe the false prophet, for the Lord Jesus Christ is not crucified today, but he sits at the left hand of God in glory. This is the certain truth. The true Christ will come with great glory, plainly and obviously to our hearts, and we cannot doubt, or misidentify him.

But before him, the devil will come, and open the well of hell, and then haughty spirits will explode, creating hatred, murder, envy, and revolutions that nation will rise against nation, and every man will accuse the other and attack him to consume him. In this small statement Jesus described the spirit and the history of our world rightfully. Thus the storm of hell will cast men in droves into destruction, and the machines of hell will sweep millions to the dunghill of Satan. Deadly world wars will be inescapable, for the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Earthquakes are a token of the uncertainty and infirmness of our globe in its innermost being about the coming of the Son of God. Today we can see how the devil is casting more and more poverty and epidemics on earth that men may forget God or curse the Creator. The wicked one will consume ungrateful multitudes by undermining them, and wickedness will fall into deep fear and blasphemy against God. Furthermore, the enemy of the Holy One will make wonderful miracles, and marvelous signs as if coming from heaven. He will transform himself into an angel of light before those who are amazed, will inspire those who believe in him with inventions with horrible results, and will prepare the creatures for the appearance of the superman in whom shines the revolution of the mortals against the living God.

All these fears, distresses, and wonders must come before the late, second coming of Christ, for men left God and were not satisfied with the Holy Gospel; so God gave them up to the devils to play with them as footballs. The nations decline because the Lord gave up the superficial to the lusts of their hearts that they might destroy themselves by themselves. The history of unfaithful men is like a motion-picture film about the wrath of God, in which we see Satan sifting the peoples and instigating them to general destruction, while he is standing smiling and mocking at them.

PRAYER: Our Lord Jesus, you are the King. Please keep us from astonishing and wondering at the luxurious buildings, people with exceptional abilities, shining spirits, and misleading wonders. You alone are worthy of our worship and commitment. We wait for you, and love you. You forgave us our sins. You sanctify us for your second coming, and keep us forever from the devouring wrath.

 

LUKE 21:12-19

12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls.”

Jesus knew that the motives of wars, the reasons for riches, and the origin of all distresses are developed from the fierce forces which are determined to stop the coming of the kingdom of God and to destroy the peace of the faithful. All evil in our world is a transgression against the loving, merciful God. The evil one hates the Righteous One and his holy Son as well as all his followers. So do not be surprised if hell attacked you as long as you are a faithful servant of Christ.

Jesus shows you six waves of wicked attacks against you that you may get ready and not be surprised at all if your love was met with hatred and your testimony with a curse:

If your leading to Christ bore the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and you continued in grace in spite of the temptations of Satan, the devil’s supporters will try to imprison you in order that you may no be able to spread the kingdom any further. You may ask: “How could God let his servants fall into prisons? Is their imprisonment not a token that God is against them?” Not at all, for the apostle Paul arrested many in prisons, and wrote in the silence of the prison some of his epistles, which changed the world. Christ himself the Son of the living God was arrested by the Gentiles, and was imprisoned and tormented by them.

If you fled away, hid yourself, and held your peace from your testimony, Christ’s enemies will persecute you. So do not be deceived by the evil spirit, for he will smell you out wherever you go, and you will not be able to rescue him unless the Lord takes you under his wing. He often sends you to them that your life and sufferings may become a testimony of love against his adversaries.

Christ may honor you to bear witness to him before the courts of your country, where laws against the Spirit of Christ are in force. And then they will condemn you in the religious circles first, and deliver you to those in charge of the government, accusing you of weakening the national front. Consequently you will be sent to prison.

Your sufferings will be increased when you find out that the authority did not know you anytime before or mean to harm you except after some unrighteous brothers of your own community pointed out to you out of envy, spite, and retaliation for supposed insults. Even your own family members will not refrain from delivering you to the authority and persecution to wipe off their so-called shame, and to prosper in the society. They will spread false rumors about you that they may be justified by your judgment. So never be surprised, for this was exactly what Jesus and his apostles experienced.

If you died for the sake of Christ’s name, then be aware that he had already died for you, saved you, sanctified you, and recorded your name in the Book of Life. Your suffering martyrdom does not produce to you a higher rank in heaven, but the forgiveness of sins is your righteousness, and the love of God sanctifies and qualifies you to service.

There will come a time when the unchristian will hate and curse all the Christians who bear the name of their Lord. Many genius people will employ their minds to consume the Name of Names, our Lord Jesus. But he, who is secure in Christ, laughs at these useless attempts of the servants of Satan, for Christ is the Victor. He calls us to follow him through the Lamb of God with all lowliness, meekness, and love that we may participate in his triumph and realize it today.

If you stand fast in the Lord in the midst of the six waves of malice mentioned above, you will experience the following seven favors, privileges, and gifts in return:

You will know the true name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who had mercy on you, forgave you all your sins, raised you from the dead, and delivered you from Satan that you might become a child of God forever.

You will bear witness to this name by the power of the Lord, express the unique truth, and save many with your testimonies.

You will be secure in the presence of God, and he will establish your heart in grace.

Do not worry about what you will speak before the court and judges, but pray, believe, and thank God, for the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and leads you to truth in love, and to power in weakness, as the apostles experienced a thousand times. Christ himself will fill your mouth with God’s wisdom, which surpasses all understandings, and wins through against all oppositions. You will not be a prisoner of men, but a servant of the love of God who will speak in you even in chains.

All your enemies will feel God’s power in you, just as the Sanhedrin became marveled at the courage and wisdom in Peter and John though they were simple and uneducated. Yet they did not live for their own name, but glorified Jesus alone.

Not a hair will fall from your head without your heavenly Father’s will. As you stand for him in torment, he will suffer with you, with his eyes toward you, and his thoughts concentrated on you without end.

He will strengthen your heart with his patience, for all longsuffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith that you may guard your soul, which Jesus purified and purchased with his precious blood. Hold fast to the Savior, the source of faith, love, and hope that you may be free in chains, and live in the midst of death.

PRAYER: O Lord, You went in the way of the cross as the meek Lamb of God, and your messengers followed you without swords or human arguments. But their testimony changed the whole world, for they revealed to us your holy name. Fill our mouths with your name and the name of the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit that your name may be hallowed in our surroundings. 

 

LUKE 21:20-24

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

When Jesus had vaccinated his disciples against deception and persecution, by revealing the intents of wicked authorities, and called them to spiritual opposition even to death, he gave them an exact answer to their question mentioned in (21:5) about when and how Jerusalem would be destroyed.

Jesus saw with his prophetic eye how the enemies’ armies grew more and more intensive to take revenge against the people’s revolution. He called the armies’ approach and siege of Jerusalem a clear symbol of the end and a mark of the abomination of desolation, which preceded the spiritual decay of the people because of their hard-heartedness toward the Anointed of God and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus commanded his followers to flee as soon as these events take place that they might not suffer and die in the way of deceitful bravery. He also invited his disciples, in this Last Judgment, to resort to the mountain caves, and hide themselves into valleys and shelters. He who is in the city must depart out immediately and rescue himself for the days of wrath are near. The Christians of Jewish origin understood this command and observed it. Before Jerusalem was encompassed, they had left their homes and fled to “Pella,” a city on the mountain on the east of the Jordan. Thus they were saved from the severe calamities of Jerusalem.

God’s patience attained its highest degree. He had sacrificed his Son, and poured out his Spirit on the believers in Jerusalem; but the multitudes remained deaf, blind, and wicked; except some thousands who had committed their hearts to Christ. God’s just vengeance fell on those who opposed his grace. Every sin will be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. He who refuses the drawing and calls of this Spirit will be destroyed, and counted as a loser in the life to come. This important and significant event did not happen all in a sudden, for Moses and all the prophets had foretold the God’s just judgment. His vengeance day is a fulfillment of his warnings hundreds of years ago.

Do we hear today the warning of the Holy Spirit? We are threatened by God’s wrath. For about two thousand years, the patient Holy One has been offering, as an auctioneer, the grace of his Son’s atonement freely to all the peoples; but the inattentive multitudes did not care for his voice. Such negligence signifies disrespect for God, and brings about severe judgment and great distress to the world.

Jesus foretold two kinds of distresses: First, that death would devour many through deadly weapons. Second, that thereafter the rest would be led away captive. In fact, No less than one million Jewish were killed with the Roman sword in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, while the rest amounting to one hundred thousand Jews were led away captive into all nations. In the last one thousand nine hundred years, the Jews wandered cautiously and secretly from a country to another. The Jews’ flight from captivity to another in the European nations is but an evidence of the presence and wrath of God. It is also a proof to those who hear.

Since that time Jerusalem remained subjected to the Gentiles, and its Temple was as good as finished. However, Christ fixed an end of the divine discontent, and the flood of his wrath on the people. His love is greater than his judgment, and his mercy is endless. The sin of man does not abolish the grace and the covenant; as otherwise we believers shall have no hope. Christ said that if the gospel of salvation reached all the nations and those who are called of the nations were joined together into a holy true church, the multitudes of the world would become ripe for God’s judgment; and them comes the last chance for the Jews to repent. We do not know the time, when and where; but Jesus testified to the limits of this wrath. He who denies this prophecy and keeps silence while he is aware of it makes a big deception.

The history of the Jews will be reiterated in the nations. Because of their disobedience, God will burst with rage, and give them up to the lusts of their hearts that they may destroy one another. The sun, the moon, and the stars will become dark through the dirt, smoke, explosions, and descending dust, which surround the globe with a thick frame. Then men will become lost, drunk, pessimist, and hopeless because of the increasing destruction of the basic elements of life, like water and food through their new idol of modern technology. The fear of atom bombs, and sores will spread everywhere, and men will feel as if thousands of ghosts and ghouls are attacking them. Thus the peoples will become disturbed. They will flare up, cry, regard as great, and feel that something terrible, which they do not know its origin, is coming on them. Then they will be in fact helpless, blind, and afraid. The plants and the stars will also quake and shake, and the unclean spirits will become greatly aroused.

When the earth quakes and the stars fall down, the reason for all these movements will appear: it is the coming of the Son of God with glory, surrounded with a cloud of light, more shining than the sun, and brighter than the rays of electricity. He will uncover our sins with one inescapable stroke. His great power will overcome the devil, and paralyze his hosts. Death will not be able to catch the elect of God, and they will jump out of their tombs and be snatched up to the Prince of Life, praising God and giving thanks to him.   

The believers who will remain alive on earth will be comforted through the guarantee of the Holy Spirit in them, for this Spirit will show them, in the midst of God’s anger and judgment, the form of a divine man. Christ will come not as a strange god, or a consuming ghost, but as a true man. He calls himself the Son of Man, out of his humility, prerogative, and love. He encourages you to lift up your head and come to him, for he had forgiven you your sins. Moreover, he commands you today: “Do not be afraid when the earth is perturbed! Do not shake from the great distress! But get up and follow the example of those who await and trust their Lord. Then you will proceed to him with shrills of joy and reception, for he will come again to redeem his church, and to dress his weak followers with his distinct glory.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, Son of God, be merciful to us. O Son of Man, we worship to you, for you are near to us. O Lamb of God, we wait for you, and expect your coming. Please sprinkle us with your blood, justify us with your Spirit, and sanctify us completely that we may be worthy to receive you.

 

LUKE 21:25-33 (Signs of the End)

25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the wave roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” 29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

The aim of men is the kingdom of God. This is why we pray daily: “Your kingdom come.” By this petition we mean the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believers today, and the increase of those who are devoted to Christ, in preparation of his second coming with glory that God may be present with men.

Christ does not lie. It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one word of Christ’s to change. Moreover, all the stars, planets, and multitudes of suns will melt and pass away when Christ comes with his great glory. He will set up a new heaven and a new earth originated from the love of God and full of his truth, where life will go on according to Christ’s words, for his word is the source of life, and the fountain of eternal love. Fill your heart with the word of Jesus and you will live forever. Carry out your Lord’s commands through his power given to you and you will glorify the Coming One with all your heart.

Once again, Christ answered his disciples’ answer with a parable of the fig tree, which is a symbol of the people of the Old Testament (Hosea 9:10; Micah 7:1; Jeremiah 8:13; Mark 11:12; Luke 13:6-9). In summer, the fig tree bears many green leaves and sweet fruit. In winter it takes off it leaves and looks at night like a fearful dead ghost amidst the light of the full moon. In the spring, when the juice runs into it through the rays of the sun, life newly appears in the tree. Likewise Jesus gave hope to the spiritually fruitless, dead nation. After a long winter a summer will come with many fruits. He said, “If this happens, the kingdom of God must be drawing near. If not, the kingdom will be still far away.” Thank God for the human race and its weak generation will not end through nuclear wars, and chemical poisons unless the expected kingdom comes before. 

 

 

LUKE 21:34-36

34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Christ’s word wakes us out of our sleep after our long waiting for his delayed coming. So let your mind not be involved with worries, drowned in fear, or pessimistic in indifference, as the existentialists say, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die.” Dear brother, do not be superficial like them, taken up with earthborn cares; but turn toward the other world, and believe in the truth of God and the Last Judgment, which hisses like a rope thrown to wrap around the neck of him who flees, and hunt him.

The Day of the Lord is coming. Are you prepared for the judgment? Do not think that the credit side of your worldly life statement of account can cover your failure and deficiency on the debit side. The light of Christ’s glory will show you that you are imperfect in yourself, and that you are nothing but an imperfect human. Then you will cry: “Help!” when the time of salvation has elapsed. Today, Christ shows you his pierced hands, and binds your polluted soul together with him on the cross that you may die for your soul by your faith in his love, and live in newness of his life.

Watch, know yourself in the light of God, pray humbly, believe in Christ’s promises, stand fast in thanking and confessing your sins, make devout supplication for the others, and pray that the Lord may help you at all times, for only those who pray are worthy of entering the kingdom of God. You are unable to stand in the great glory of Christ, but the Holy Spirit will comfort, establish, and support you if you are born again of water and the Spirit, and become a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

As he then commanded his disciples to flee immediately without return as soon as the destroying armies come, Christ also commands us today to take heed to ourselves, to flee away from our lusts of the flesh, to overcome our earthly cares, to get ready for the great day, and to come to him with unspeakable joy and endless gratitude.  

 

LUKE 21:37-38

37 And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. 38 Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.

Jesus saw his death coming to him. He did not flee, but turned aside from those who wanted to arrest him, for his hour had not come yet. All day long, he taught in the temple, and the multitudes raced to him joyfully to be inspirited by his power, and comforted in their consciences. Then at the dark night, Jesus hid himself together with his disciples away from the spies in the Kidron Valley, and at the bottom of the Mount of Olives, for many Jews regarded this region unclean because of the many tombs in it, and the remaining burnt sacrifices they used to throw there. In that place Jesus rested, slept, prayed, and took a new strength for striving for the next day. He got up every morning in those regions, which were considered