This is sermon #52 in the Hebrews series. In this sermon on Hebrews 13:20-25 I preach on the peace of God, bearing godly fruit, glorifying God and enjoying him and wrap out up the Hebrews series.Read More
This is sermon #51 in the Hebrews series. In this sermon on Hebrews 13:15-19 I preach on the grace of God, living a life pleasing to Him, sanctification, obedience and prayer.Read More
Luke 19:45-20:8 is the opening pericope of the final section of Luke’s Gospel (19:45-24:53), in which Luke presents the “passion” of Jesus.
Upon entering Jerusalem, Jesus swiftly drives out “those who sold” from the temple, for they had turned the temple into a “den of robbers” (vv.45-46).
Jesus’ rebuke (v.46) includes the combination of two Old Testament texts (Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11). With the support of the prophets behind him, Jesus forcefully condemns the idolatry in the temple complex.
In the temple area, items necessary for sacrifices were sold such as animals, wine, oil, salt. In addition, Roman currency was exchanged for Hebrew shekels, which had a built-in surcharge. For Jesus, the temple had become a place of business, rather than a place of worship. Jesus’ action also raises the issue of His authority (Luke 20:1-8), since the temple was the most sacred site in Judaism.
Luke then notes that as Jesus taught in the temple daily, the priests and scribes were searching for ways to destroy him, but Jesus’ popularity with the public would not allow it (vv.47-48). Their idolatry is leading them toward a destructive path.
As Jesus is teaching in the temple on another day, the priests and scribes ask him by what authority he drives out the temple merchants (Luke 20:1-2). The question is, in effect, “What right do you have to tell the priests how to run the temple?” It’s a fair question since Jesus is an outsider and he has no formal training.
Jesus responds by asking the leaders a question of his own: “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” (vv.3-4). The question is brilliant since John also had no formal training and was an outsider, and yet John was accepted by the people as a prophet. The leaders now have a dilemma.
And so they huddled together and debated how to answer (vv.5-6). If they confess John’s ministry as from heaven, they will look foolish for having rejected his ministry (v.5). If they say John’s ministry was from man they invoke the wrath of the people for saying an acknowledged prophet is not one at all (v.6). Their deliberation is focused on their credibility rather than a search for the truth.
In the end, they claim ignorance, saying they do not know where John’s authority came from (v.7). Their evasive answer allows Jesus the opportunity to refrain from revealing his authority (v.8).
The answer should be obvious. Jesus has already provided plenty of evidence as to the source of his authority (Luke 5:24; 11:20). The time for debate is over.
The progression of sin: Bad to Worse
There’s a subtle progression of sin in this text that begins with a corruption of worship, which then leads to plans for murder and a rejection of truth. This text illustrates a fundamental truth about sin—left unchecked, sin will progress from bad to worse.
Sin corrupts our view of worship (vv.45-46)
Jesus makes clear that worship is a sacred act where commerce has no place. There was a time when it was common for influential people in the community to attend church for the sole purpose of making connections for economic reasons. I’m sure this still exists today, but I pray that this practice is in decline.
This text is a helpful reminder of how seriously Jesus takes our worship of Him, and the central purpose of the church—to worship Him. A more common problem today is for churches to celebrate and worship political and social causes, rather than exalt the Lord Jesus Christ through the proper preaching of His Word and gospel-centered worship.
We were created to worship God, but from the time when sin crept into humanity we have been battling the desire to worship idols instead of the God who created us. We all miss the mark from time-to-time, as did the religious leaders. But where they failed we must learn—let us be ever mindful of how sin corrupts our worship and let that remind us to worship God alone.
Sin corrupts our view of ethics (vv.47-48)
Sin begets more sin. And in this case the unchecked sin of religious commercialism is growing into a fervent desire to murder Jesus. There is irony here, too. The priests, whose main concern was the temple, were contemplating destroying the true temple (John 2:19-22).
The priests may have defended their actions on the basis of keeping worship orderly. True, God does desire our worship to be orderly and purposeful. But worship is also a place for self-examination that leads to the purging of sin. The leaders failed on this account, and it led to additional sin—to the point that their morals have been compromised.
It’s not unlike the sin of pornography that many men deal with. In many cases it starts off as a seemingly innocent peek—a sinful act for sure—that if left unchecked will bloom into severe addiction, and possibly extramarital affairs. It often leads a man down a path that will compromise his morals and values.
Sin is powerful and if it is left unattended it will devour us whole. It will leave us helpless and vulnerable, leading to a corruption of our ethics. If you have a sin in your life that is unchecked, get some help. Go see your pastor or a trusted friend for godly counsel. Above all, repent and turn to Christ for healing.
Sin corrupts our view of truth (20:1-8)
The leader’s deliberation over Jesus’ question reveals that they were willing to cover the truth to avoid appearing in the wrong. They were caught in their own trap and yet they continued to suppress the truth of Jesus in their hearts.
Sin is a vicious trap.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry there was ample evidence as to who Jesus was and by whose authority He was acting but the multiplying force of sin prevents them from admitting the truth of the matter.
Sin is so strong and powerful that its effects linger, sometimes for generations, and even for those who have found forgiveness of their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. The fact is, when we get angry as the religious leaders do in this text, we hide the truth of a matter and try to lay blame elsewhere instead of first examining our own hearts and admitting where we are wrong. But as we cover our sin, it only grows worse and begins to spread its tentacles further than we can ever imagine.
The point is this: find a way to nail your sin to the cross of Christ so that future generations may be spared.Read More
Luke 19:28-44 is Luke’s recounting of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, marking the end of Jesus’ fateful journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:44).
As Jesus nears Jerusalem he directs his disciples to enter a nearby village, where they will find a colt which has never been ridden. They are to untie the colt (in the gospel tradition this colt is a donkey) and bring it to Jesus for him to ride into Jerusalem. If anyone asks what they are doing, they are simply to respond “The Lord has need of it” (vv.28-31). Here, Jesus is invoking angaria , where a dignitary could procure use of property for personal reasons. This was the right of soldiers, magistrates, rabbis, and of course people of royal stature.
The disciples do as instructed and everything occurs as Jesus said (vv.32-34). This note reveals Jesus’ knowledge of the future, and emphasizes that the events about to unfold in Jerusalem will not come as a surprise to him. Jesus knows what he is riding into.
As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, the crowd throws their cloaks on the road, much as a red carpet functions today (v.35-37). The ride on the donkey recalls Zechariah 9:9, and the ride of a humble, peace-making Messiah. This is a regal scene, but the ride on a humble animal denotes a king of humility and service, rather than of raw power and brute force.
As Jesus descends the Mount of Olives, a “whole multitude” of his disciples begin to rejoice and praise God for the mighty works they witnessed Jesus perform (vv.37-38). The mention of the Mount of Olives is important, since it is the predicted locale of the Messiah’s appearance (Zechariah 14:4-5).
The praise of God is also praise of Jesus, as the crowd proclaims the hope of Psalm 118:26, where blessing falls on the one who comes in the name of the Lord (v.38). There is no question: The crowd equates Jesus as the Messiah of God. He is the promised king of Israel.
But not all agree. The Pharisees ask Jesus to reject the claim and rebuke his disciples (v.39). The regal and Messianic assertions are offensive to the Pharisees.
Jesus responds to their objection by noting that the praise of the crowd is appropriate: If the disciples do not announce Jesus’ identity, the rocks will (v.40). The remark is important, for creation speaks when an injustice needs to be avenged (Gen. 4:10; Hab. 2:11; James 5:4).
Jesus then weeps over Jerusalem. He understands what many do not. A great opportunity has been missed—the nation has rejected the Messiah (vv.41-42).
Their rejection will lead to complete destruction. Much like an Old Testament prophet, Jesus says “the days will come” when another nation will encircle the walls of Jerusalem, destroy the city and slaughter its inhabitants—because they did not know the day of their [God’s] visitation (vv.43-44).
Jesus’ oracle came true in A.D. 70, when Titus of Rome overran the city some 40 years after Jesus’ words. Jesus knows what he is talking about. The decision to reject Jesus is a serious matter that always ends in destruction.
The Triumphal Entry: King or Imposter?
As in the text, there are two types of people today; those who believe the Messianic claims of Jesus and those who view his claims (or the claims of the gospel writers) as exaggerations. This text demonstrates that those who choose the latter have chosen unwisely, for there is a bevy of evidence that points to Jesus as the Promised One of Israel.
Jesus’ identity is evident in his works
The multitude of disciples declared Jesus as the coming King based on the power of his works (vv.37-38). Many of these people witnessed his miraculous and compassionate ministry and believed that he was the Messiah. Even in this text we see Jesus’ divine power of omniscience (vv.32; 41-44).
Modern skeptics who deny Jesus’ divinity must do so despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. This is tragic according to Luke—for even creation accepts the true identity of Jesus (v.40).
Believers should also take note of how Jesus’ ministry pointed others to his identity. With actions and symbols, Jesus demonstrated not only his power but also God’s love and care for people. In the same way, the church is called to minister to a lost and dying world through a ministry of word and deed that aims for the head and the heart.
There is a tendency in liberal and conservative expressions of Christianity to focus on one or the other. But Jesus’ ministry illustrates the importance of a holistic approach to meeting people’s needs.
Jesus often preached hard truths, but he also consistently demonstrated love and compassion. In the end, people understood that he was sent from God.Likewise, the world should see in our actions the reality of Christ in us—the presence of truth and love—so that they too can see the true Jesus.
Jesus’ identity demands public confession
The Pharisees demanded that Jesus quiet the crowd’s Messianic affirmations, but Jesus would have no part of it. Rather, in his appeal to creation, he indicates that if no one speaks up for him, an injustice before God has been committed (vv.39-40).
This is why the Christian faith is never a private matter. Jesus is the Son of God and all who believe it cannot help but declare it. Yet, many Christians remain silent when in the presence of others who deny Jesus. Don’t be that person. Instead, remember that a failure to speak up for Christ is a grave injustice.
Jesus’ identity requires a choice
When it comes to Jesus, there is no middle ground. You either accept him for who he is or you don’t.
For Christians who have already made a choice, our job is not to beg or cajole people to choose Jesus. Notice that is not the approach Jesus took. Instead, he consistently pointed to his ministry and informed people of their responsibility to choose wisely.
The nation of Israel did not choose wisely. They failed to see Jesus’ identity; thus, they rejected him. The penalty for their rejection was destruction (vv.41-44). This reality was not lost on Jesus. That’s why he wept over the city of Jerusalem. He mourns over those who reject him.
Christian, when was the last time you wept for those who are far from God? When was the last time you mourned for those around you who are headed to eternal destruction?
Let us never forget what is at stake for those who don’t know Christ and let us be moved to action by our tears.
This is sermon #50 in the Hebrews series. In this sermon on Hebrews 13:9-14 I preach on growing in the grace of God, standing firm against false teaching and the suffering and perfection of Christ.Read More
Luke 19:11-27 is a parable that illustrates the importance of faithfully serving King Jesus in this life.
The episode begins with a note regarding why Jesus tells this parable: He tells it to counter the belief that the Kingdom of God would come at once and decisively (v.11). Jesus must inform His disciples that the full expression of the Kingdom will come after His second coming, and He must also explain what He expects of His followers in the interim.
The parable is about a nobleman who travels to a far country to receive a kingdom (v.12). This pictures how Jesus receives the Kingdom during His first advent. Once He receives the Kingdom, He departs for an unspecified amount of time. But before He leaves He hands over the affairs of the Kingdom to ten servants, giving each ten minas and expecting them to conduct business until he returns (v.13). The servants are to see what they can do with their master’s resources in His absence. The servants represent anyone who follows Jesus.
The citizens of the Kingdom hate the king, so they send a delegation to the one who appointed him king to inform them of their complaint (v.14). This pictures the rejection of Jesus by national Israel.
Nevertheless, the nobleman receives the Kingdom and then returns to see if his servants have used their resources to benefit the King (v.15). The first two servants who were called each earned ten and five minas respectively and both are rewarded by being placed in charge of ten and five cities, respectively (vv.16-19).
The third servant comes forward and admits that he earned nothing with his master’s money; instead he kept it hidden under a cloth (v.20). He then explains why: He is afraid of the master, knowing that he is a hard man, who takes what he does not earn (v.21). The servant’s attitude is important. It shows his association to the master, but indicates that he does not trust his master. This servant is a disciple of sorts, but there is no meaningful relationship within that connection.
The master reacts by informing the servant that his remarks will be used to condemn him, for since the servant knew the master to be a hard man and did not want to work for him, he should have at least put the money in a bank where it would have received interest (vv.22-23).
It’s important to note here that the master’s response to the first two servants reveals that he is in fact not a hard taskmaster, since he gave them more responsibilities. In reality, the third servant does not truly know the character of his master. The master’s remarks in verse 22 are not a confession of his hardness, but a condemnation of the third servant’s failure to follow through on how he viewed the master. The servant’s words have indeed condemned him.
The master then orders that the servant’s one mina be taken away and given to the servant who made ten, to which the people object, noting that he already has ten minas (vv.24-25). The note is important for it demonstrates that the servants do not lose the money they earned. They keep it and continue their stewardship.
The application then comes in verse 26: The one who has will be given more but the one who has nothing loses even what he has. The one who has no trust in God’s goodness, even though he has a connection to God, has no relationship to God and ends up with nothing from him in the end. Perhaps someone like Judas is in view here. Regardless, the association with the community is not what counts. What matters is one’s relationship with the master—Jesus.
The parable ends with a note about the citizens who rejected the king from the beginning. These enemies are slain (v.27). This represents those who reject Jesus outright. They are judged and excluded from blessings altogether, no matter how close they were to Jesus previously.
Rewards and Condemnation
This parable is a call to faithfulness. Those who are faithful with the resources God gives them during Jesus’ absence will be rewarded and those who are unfaithful, or reject Jesus outright, will face severe punishment.
Faithfulness will be rewarded
The additional responsibilities given to the first two servants demonstrates that God sees and commends faithfulness. The time of judgment will be a time of blessing for those who are faithful to Christ in this life. Faithful stewards of Christ have nothing to fear.
What does a faithful steward look like? According to this parable it is one who uses the abilities and resources (minas) God has given them to serve the Kingdom. This type of service is most common in the church, where we use are resources to build up the Body of Christ. God has endowed each of us with spiritual gifts to use in the church. Like Timothy, we should seek to “fan into flame” the gifts that God has given us for the building up of his church in order to advance the Kingdom (1 Tim. 1:6).
The exhortation in this parable is to apply ourselves to the task of advancing the Kingdom through service, so that in the Day of Judgment, our stewardship will be a day of rejoicing (1 Cor. 4:5).
Unfaithfulness will be condemned
As King, Jesus has the authority to condemn unfaithful citizens. The enemies and citizens in the parable represent not just national Israel, but all who flatly reject Jesus’ divine authority. For this group, a terrible fate awaits if they do not turn and accept Jesus as their King.
The main thrust of the parable, however, is aimed toward the third servant. Here is a person who appears closely associated with the King, but is not a true servant. A Christian is a person who has a relationship of trust with Jesus. The Christian who truly understands God’s grace, and knows the depths of His love, will turn to serve Him out of love for His righteous character.
The third servant doubted the master’s character in slanderous ways. Thus, He did not know His master. This is a severe warning to those who think they are on the inside track to God’s blessing. Here, Jesus is calling us to examine our relationship with Him to determine if it is real or purely formal.
In modern terms we might put it like this: Church membership is not a union card into heaven, knowing and embracing God’s grace is.Read More