2036.) Luke 18:18-43

February 20, 2017

“Christ and the Rich Young Ruler” by Heinrich Hofmann, 1899 (Riverside Church, New York City)

Luke 18:18-43 (NIV)

The Rich Ruler

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 19:17 (NLT)

If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—
and he will repay you!

23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.

The man all wrapped up in himself is a mighty small package.

–from The Sayings of Chairman Moishe, by Moishe Rosen

24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, 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.”

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

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

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

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



Growing up, I listened to the family radio which was tuned to farm markets, news, religious broadcasting, or classical music. I heard precious little popular secular music as a kid! But for some reason, this song I remember!  HERE  is Johnny Cash and “Give It Away.”


Jesus Again Predicts His Death

“Christ on the Cross” by Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbaran, 1627 (Art Institute, Chicago)

31Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. 33On the third day he will rise again.”

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

A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 42:5-7 (NIV)

This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,

to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

In all the Old Testament there is no account of any blind person receiving his or her sight. No disciples of the Lord were involved in restoring sight to a blind person. Only Ananias’s involvement in Paul’s regaining his temporary  loss of sight is somewhat analogous but still different from what Christ did when He gave sight to people. Only the Lord restored sight to the permanently blind, and there are more recorded miracles of the Lord in this category than any other (see Matt. 9:27-31;  12:22;  15:30;  21:14;  Mark 8:22-26;  10:46-52;  Luke 7:21). The reason is simply that the Old Testament predicted this miraculous healing would be a function of the Messiah; these sight-giving miracles clearly point out Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah.

–from The Miracles of Our Lord, by Charles Caldwell Ryrie

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

Lord, I know thy grace is nigh me,
Though thyself I cannot see;
Jesus, Master, pass not by me;
Son of David!  Pity me.

While I sit in weary blindness,
Longing for the blessed light,
Many taste thy loving kindness,
“Lord, I would receive my sight.”

I would see thee and adore thee,
And thy word the power can give.
Hear the sightless soul implore thee,
Let me see thy face and live.

Ah, what touch is this that thrills me?
What this burst of strange delight?
Lo, the rapturous vision fills me!
This is Jesus!  This is sight!

Room, ye saints, that throng behind Him,
Let me follow in the way;
I will teach the blind to find Him
Who can turn their night to day.

–H. D. Ganse


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Hofmann.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8e/Hoffman-ChristAndTheRichYoungRuler.jpg
small package.    http://www.clipartguide.com/_small/0808-0711-0615-3863.jpg
Zurbaran.   http://www.wga.hu/art/z/zurbaran/1/christ_x.jpg
Jesus heals blind man.    http://teachmedad.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/jesus_healing_blind.gif
Jesus heals blind man, black and white.    http://www.sundayschoollessons.com/sunfolderwu/image4.gif

2035.) Luke 18:1-17

February 17, 2017

Gustave Dore’s “The Pharisee and the Publican”

Luke 18:1-17   (NIV)

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”

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

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Icon from Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, Marietta, Georgia

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

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

“Two Went Up To The Temple To Pray”

Two went up to the Temple to pray.
Two went to pray? O, rather say,
One went to brag, the other to pray;
One stands up close and treads on high,
Where the other dare not level his eye;
One nearer to God’s altar trod,
The other to the altar’s God.

–English poet Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

from Echoings:   Meditations for Today.
by J. Ruth Stenerson

Different as their attitudes were, the Pharisee and the tax collector went to the temple for the same commendable reason. Both felt the desire to pray, and both knew where God had promised to meet those who would seek him. Both had something they wanted to say to God. And there the similarity between the two ends.

The Pharisee, deliberately separating himself from others—even other Pharisees—no doubt raised his eyes and held up his arms in the proper stance for prayer. He had been taught, at least by the example of the psalmists, that prayer should begin with thanksgiving. But it is rather hard to give thanks if all one wants to talk about is oneself, no? Perhaps he is a little abashed to say “I thank you, God, that I am generous, honest, and morally pure–as other people are not.” If he dare not claim those positive qualities, at least he need not plead guilty to the negative ones of greed, dishonesty or adultery. And surely he can safely claim not to be like that despised tax collector off on the fringes of the temple crowd. Why did the temple guard ever let him come inside?

In the days of Jesus, devout Pharisees usually fasted Mondays and Thursdays. The one in our story assures God he does his full duty in fasting, and gives his tithe—evidently on his gross income. His prayer ends very abruptly. There is nothing he wants to ask of God; he is only making a status report. His thanks is not for what God is, but praise for what he himself is. What more does he need from God? Only attention to his self-praise.

Perhaps this self-righteous man was hungry for the praise of others and got little of it. Those who in total self-absorption wait for the praises of others are often abrasive and super-critical of others, unwilling to give those around them the space to live. Because others refuse to feed their need for ego-reinforcement, they must sing their own praises, unable to understand why they are left standing by themselves.

The Pharisee goes home from his errand to the temple unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The  tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. Sadly, the Pharisee probably didn’t even know why.

Lord, there is so much of the Pharisee in me. I would love to tell you, if I dared, all my good qualities which deserve praise. I long for your saving love to help me understand how threadbare my list of virtues is.  Amen.



HERE  is Ken Medema’s take on this story:  “Mr. Simon.”


The Little Children and Jesus


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


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Dore.     http://media.patheos.com/Images/MLPPT/MLPPT_PhariseeTax_1.jpg
the persistent widow.    http://servicioskoinonia.org/cerezo/dibujosC/53ordinarioC29.jpg
Icon of Pharisee and Publican.     http://www.artbible.net/RARE02/images/LUK1808%20P%20PHARISEE%20TAXCOLLECTOR%2021%20ICONES%20THE%20PUBLICAN%20AND%20THE%20PHARISEE.jpg
at heaven’s gate cartoon.   http://weknowmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/you-were-a-believer-yes.gif
Jesus loves the little children.    https://www.clipartsgram.com/image/1369583186-jesus-loves-the-little-children-birthday-harrison-greetings-ljvjwi-clipart.jpg

2034.) Luke 17:20-37

February 16, 2017


Luke 17:20-37   (NIV)

The Coming of the Kingdom of God

20Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”


22Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them.

Deuteronomy 11:16 (NASB)

Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.

24For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

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


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

30“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32Remember Lot’s wife!

33Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

37“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 tells us what the world will be like in the last days: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

Does this sound like our current days?



Speaking of God’s kingdom—

HERE  is Mike R. Schuster singing “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.” This hymn was written by Timothy Dwight (1752-1817).  From Wikipedia:

“Dwight is perhaps best known for his grandfather, Jonathan Edwards, but he had fame in his own right. Graduating from Yale University at seventeen, Dwight became a tutor at his alma mater in 1769. He served as a chaplain under George Washington during the Revolutionary War and wrote songs and sermons for the men in his regiment. When Dwight returned from military service in 1778, he became a successful farmer, a Congregational minister at Greenfield, Connecticut, a state legislator, and a member of the faculty at Yale, where he was named president in 1795. He not only raised academic standards but also began a spiritual revival, which spread to other institutions in New England.”


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Neither shall they say.   https://cdn-webimages.wimages.net/05188194818bbb9189710208ee17e0d9f37cf0-wm.jpg?v=3
The Kingdom of God is within you.   http://www.americanchurch.com/portals/16/SmithCart/Images/9312-L.jpg
Noah’s ark.   https://reflectionsintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/noahark_dreamstime.jpg
Lot’s wife cartoon.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/82/3a/c9/823ac96adcea126ca978a2b78a7edb75.gif

2033.) Luke 17:1-19

February 15, 2017

Luke 17 (NIV)

Sin, Faith, Duty

1Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3So watch yourselves.

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.

forgive word handwritten on chalkboard with heart symbol instead of O

Colossians 3:13   (NLT)

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

6He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

7“Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

“. . . we have only done our duty.”

A Psalm of Single-Mindedness
by Joe Baily

Lord of reality
make me real
not plastic-synthetic-
an actor playing out his part-
I don’t want to keep a prayer list
but to pray,
nor agonize to find Your will
but to obey what I already know,
to argue theories of inspiration
but to submit to your Word.
I don’t want to explain the difference
between eros and philos and agape
but to love.
I don’t want to sing as if I mean it,
I want to mean it.
I don’t want to tell it like it is
but to be it
like You want it.
I don’t want to think another needs me
but that I need him
else I’m not complete.
I don’t want to tell others how to do it
but to do it,
to have to be always right
but to admit when I’m wrong.
I don’t want to be a census taker
but an obstetrician,
not a professional
but a friend.
I don’t want to be insensitive
but to hurt where other people hurt,
nor to say “I know how you feel”
but to say God knows and I’ll try
if you’ll be patient with me
and meanwhile I’ll keep quiet.
I don’t want to scorn the cliches of others
but to mean everything I say
including this.

Ten Healed of Leprosy

“Ten Lepers Healed” by Brian Kershisnik.

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

Psalm 28:1 (NLT)

I pray to you, O Lord, my rock.
Do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you are silent,
I might as well give up and die.

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

15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.

Psalm 30:2 (NLT)

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you restored my health.

16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

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

Psalm 107:1 (NLT)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.



Choices! Songs and so on about the ten lepers. Enjoy — and remember to give thanks today!

A song from the Medical Mission Sisters:  HERE.

Thanksgiving card tricks:  HERE.

A cartoon retelling from Global Gospel:  HERE.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Look back in forgiveness . . . (quote from Zig Ziglar).   https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3897/14709114663_b3cb2eddff_b.jpg
Forgive.   http://www.byronkatie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Dollarphotoclub_67371042_SM.jpg
Kershisnik.    http://www.kershisnikprints.com/image/cache/data/ten%20leapers-1200×1200.jpg
ear.     https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/86/7d/84/867d84fd878423b42c43046d66618cd9.jpg
mouth.    http://clipart-library.com/clipart/c751796.htm
Thank You, Lord.    http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=12290172

2032.) Luke 16

February 14, 2017

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”

Luke 16 (NIV)

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

1Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

3“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

5“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

6” ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.

“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’

7“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
” ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.

“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

8“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit
by Paul Chilcote:

Steward of All Life,

Three rules are essential to the proper use of my resources.

Enable me to gain all I can.
But as you bless my labors, guard me from harming my health, my mind, or my neighbor in the process.
May honest work and common sense be my guide.

Encourage me to save all I can.
Guard me from wasting your precious resources to gratify unhealthy and prideful desires.
May the most important legacy I leave behind be that of justice, integrity, and generosity.

And so empower me to give all I can.
In my efforts to be a good steward of your many blessings,
give me what I need to provide caringly for those I love,
open my heart to the needs of those who are close at hand,
and create a generous spirit within me to do good to all.

You have blessed my life in so many ways.
Teach me, O generous God, what it means to be a steward of your treasures.

10“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

13“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Ezekiel 14:6 (ESV)

Thus says the Lord GOD:  Repent and turn away from your idols.

14The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.



Since this chapter has such a focus on money,  HERE  is a song that does the same.  ABBA sings “Money, Money, Money.”


Additional Teachings

16“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

18“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

“The Rich Man in Hell” by Christian Dare.

19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

The rich man wasn’t lost because he was rich. He was lost because he did not listen to the law and the prophets.

30” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

“They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

. . . an ironic statement, considering who is telling this story . . .

OR — as I heard Dr. R. C. Sproul tell in a recent sermon:

“I have learned how to answer people who try to make fun of me at parties with the old line, ‘Hey, preacher, say something religious.’  I answer, ‘Go to hell.'”


Stories / works of fiction about Hell!

Dante’s  Inferno.


I like the John Ciardi translation of this all-encompassing poem. Dante believes that God’s punishment is just and that the punishment fits the crime. So the nine circles of Hell show that the less loving and more selfish one’s life, the more harsh one’s hereafter.

Quote from the book:

Midway in our life’s journey I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood.  How shall I say

what wood that was!  I never saw so drear,
so rank, so arduous a wilderness!
Its very memory gives a shape to fear.

Death could scarce be more bitter than that place!
But since it came to good, I will recount
all that I found revealed there by God’s grace.

C. S. Lewis’s  The Great Divorce.

Lewis pictures a bus that takes people from Hell to Heaven where they can stay — if they choose. But choosing to stay means giving up one’s carefully tended sin . . .

Quote from the book:

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
stacks of money.    http://www.nsf.gov/news/mmg/media/images/rebate_f.jpg
gallon of olive oil.    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51EzMRn8HoL.jpg
wheat.    https://sc01.alicdn.com/kf/UT8Xs8XXLxaXXagOFbXW/Wheat-Grain.jpg
Dare.   http://tamedcynic.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/rich_man_and_lazarus.jpg
Inferno.   https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51dWSveJT2L._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
The Great Divorce. http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/imgs/CSLewis_TheGreatDivorce.jpg

2031.) Luke 15

February 13, 2017

“The Prodigal Son” by Liz Lemon Swindle

Luke 15 (NIV)

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

1Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

“The Lost Sheep” by Alford Usher Soord.

3Then 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?

Isaiah 53:6 (ESV)

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I 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.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

a stained glass window in St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church, Anna, Ohio

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? 9And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Lost Son

From James Weldon Johnson’s sermon “The Prodigal Son”, which was published in his 1927 book of sermons God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse:

But Jesus spake in a parable, and he said:
A certain man had two sons.
Jesus didn’t give this man a name,
But his name is God Almighty.
And Jesus didn’t call these sons by name,
But ev’ry young man,
Is one of these two sons.

“The Prodigal Son Taking Leave of his Father,” by Mary Ann Willson, 1815 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

11Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“The Prodigal Son” by John Macallen Swan, 1888 (Tate Collection, London)

17“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Malachi 3:17 (Amplified Bible)

And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.


“The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt, 1669 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia)

“Often I have asked friends to give me their first impression of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son. Inevitably, they point to the wise old man who forgives his son: the benevolent patriarch.

“The longer I look at ‘the patriarch’, the clearer it becomes to me that Rembrandt has done something quite different from letting God pose as the wise old head of a family. It all began with the hands. The two are quite different. The father’s left hand touching the son’s shoulder is strong and muscular. The fingers are spread out and cover a large part of the prodigal son’s shoulder and back. I can see a certain pressure, especially in the thumb. That hand seems not only to touch, but, with its strength, also to hold. Even though there is a gentleness in the way the father’s left hand touches his son, it is not without a firm grip.

“How different is the father’s right hand! This hand does not hold or grasp. It is refined, soft, and very tender. The fingers are close to each other and they have an elegant quality. It lies gently upon the son’s shoulder. It wants to caress, to stroke, and to offer consolation and comfort. It is a mother’s hand….

“As soon as I recognized the difference between the two hands of the father, a new world of meaning opened up for me. The Father is not simply a great patriarch. He is mother as well as father. He touches the son with a masculine hand and a feminine hand. He holds, and she caresses. He confirms and she consoles. He is , indeed, God, in whom both manhood and womanhood, fatherhood and motherhood, are fully present. That gentle and caressing right hand echoes for me the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you. Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

–from Henri J. M. Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son:  A Story of Homecoming, based on his contemplation of the painting by Rembrandt, above.

21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Proverbs 28:13    (NRSV)

No one who conceals transgressions will prosper,
but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

“The Prodigal Daughter” by Charlie Mackesy

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

Jesus came into our broken world to provide a way to get the prodigals back home. He wanted to purge the rebellion from our hearts so we would not only come home, but also enjoy being home, so we would rejoice in the privilege of being a part of the family we had abandoned. Jesus paid the price for our return and healing.

As the years have passed, a conviction has deepened in my soul that Jesus wants to do far more for us than most of us imagine. So often we think in quite selfish terms about what Christ came to do. Yet in fact Christ died to do more for human beings than we have ever dreamed. If we do not dream a little bigger, we are never going to experience the deeper reality of his presence.

The reality is that Christ came to do more than just keep us out of hell. He wants to develop a personal relationship with each human being for whom he died. He died to save me not just from my sins, but also from my own self. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Self-interest is the ultimate definition of sin, and the Cross holds the power to set each person free from self-interest. A French Catholic priest in the court of King Louis the XIV one day said, “Oh, God, isn’t there anybody left anywhere who loves you just for who you are? Can’t you find one such person? And if you can’t find one, couldn’t you make one?” That is why Jesus went to the Cross:  to bring me to the place where I love him simply because of who he is and not because of what he can do for me.

The ending of the story of the Prodigal Son would have been terribly disappointing if the son had merely returned for more of his inheritance without an apology to and an interest in his father. Once the father saw his son coming home, the relationship between father and son became the thing of paramount importance, and the reader forgets that the son ever needed anything except his father.

25“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

The opening sentence from the short story “The Capital of the World” by Ernest Hemingway:

Madrid is full of boys named Paco, which is the diminutive of the name Francisco, and there is a Madrid joke about a father who came to Madrid and inserted an advertisement in the personal columns of El Liberal which said: PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY ALL IS FORGIVEN PAPA” and how a squadron of Guardia Civil had to be called out to disperse the eight hundred young men who answered the advertisement.

. . . all seeking reconciliation with their fathers.



HERE  is Chris Rice and his moving “Untitled Hymn.”

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Swindle.    http://lifewords.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/prod.jpg
Soord.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/d2dd5-the2blost2bsheep2ba2bu2bsoord.jpg
woman sweeping for coin.    http://crosstippedchurches.blogspot.com/2009/04/parable-of-lost-coin.html
Willson.    http://media.nga.gov/public/objects/5/0/7/0/6/50706-primary-0-440×400.jpg
Swan.    http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=14076&searchid=7991&tabview=image
Rembrandt.    http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rembrandt/rembrandt139.html
Mackesy.  http://nataliesnapp.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/lithographdaughter-0_w480.jpg
“The Prodigal Son” by Nigel Cox.    http://www.traceymcnee.com/artists/images/cox/web/the_prodigal_son_large.jpg

2030.) Luke 14

February 10, 2017

The Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC. The table can be extended to seat 64 of your closest friends! I also like the three walk-in fireplaces, and the priceless 16th century Flemish tapestries on the walls. Oh, and the photographer is shooting this picture while standing up in the organ loft!

Luke 14 (NIV)

Jesus at a Pharisee’s House

1One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

The legalism of the Pharisees is really an expression of their pride. What can be more proud than setting man’s traditions above the law of God?

5Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6And they had nothing to say.

from The Merchant of Venice,
by William Shakespeare:

The quality of mercy is not strained.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath.  It is twice blest:

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown.

His scepter shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.

But mercy is above this sceptered sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;

It is an attribute of God himself;

And earthly power doth then show like God’s

When mercy seasons justice.

7When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’

“Friend, go up higher!”

Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Proverbs 3:34 (CEV)

The LORD sneers at those

who sneer at him,

but he is kind to everyone

who is humble.

12Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.”

–Samuel Johnson, in Boswell’s Life of Johnson

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“My cup runneth over” by Houston- based artist Diane Nicholls

Psalm 23:5 (KJV)

Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

18“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ”

Jeremiah 31:8 (NLT)

For I will bring them from the north
and from the distant corners of the earth.
I will not forget the blind and lame,
the expectant mothers and women in labor.
A great company will return!

The Cost of Being a Disciple

REQUIRED READING for every believer!

25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.

Think of how audacious Jesus is! He asks for this kind of ultimate commitment, and we give it to Him—why? Because of love. When we know the love of Jesus; when we are in a love-relationship with Him, only then can we be committed to Him with this great devotion.

Napoleon understood this principle when he said, “I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander [the Great], Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and this hour millions of men would die for him.”

–David Guzik

27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

28“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’


from My Utmost for His Highest
by Oswald Chambers

Building for Eternity

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”
–Luke xiv.28

Our Lord refers not to a cost we have to count, but to a cost which He has counted. The cost was those thirty years in Nazareth, those three years of popularity, scandal and hatred, the deep unfathomable agony in Gethsemane, and the onslaught at Calvary—the pivot upon which the whole of Time and Eternity turns. Jesus Christ has counted the cost. Men are not going to laugh at Him at last and say—“This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”

The conditions of discipleship laid down by Our Lord in verses 26, 27, and 33 mean that the men and women He is going to use in His mighty building enterprises are those in whom He has done everything. “If any man come to Me, and hate not . . . , he cannot be My disciple.” Our Lord implies that the only men and women He will use in his building enterprises are those who love Him personally, passionately, and devotedly beyond any of the closest ties on earth. The conditions are stern, but they are glorious.

All that we build is going to be inspected by God. Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own? These are days of tremendous enterprises, days when we are trying to work for God, and therein is the snare. Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God.  Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely, and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put.

31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

34“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”



How to follow Jesus?  HERE  Hillsong sings, “With Everything.”


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Banquet Hall at Biltmore Mansion.    http://z.about.com/d/honeymoons/1/5/v/N/BB2.jpg
dew falling on flower.   http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/images/elmerchanttheme02.gif
“Go up higher.”    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/14-go-up-higher.gif
Nicholls.    http://artdianenicholls.weebly.com/gallery.html
The Cost of Discipleship.  https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51G4bZO8VML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
wooden frame.    http://yourwayhomeaz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/wood-house.jpg