2049.) Luke 22:54-71

March 9, 2017

“Peter Denies Jesus” by Linda Roberts, 2007.

Luke 22:54-71 (NIV)

Peter Disowns Jesus

54Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

57But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

The expression “I do not know him” had an idiomatic use in Jewish ban formulas in the synagogue and could mean, “I have nothing to do with him.”


58A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

59About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

60Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62And he went outside and wept bitterly.

“Peter weeping bitterly” by Annie Vallotton for the Good News Bible

The Guards Mock Jesus

63The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him.

The children’s rhyme goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But this is a patently false statement, for words can hurt far past the time a broken bone is healed. Jesus endured the worst of both of these kinds of abuse, being both mocked and beaten.

–David Guzik

64They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?”

Of course, Jesus not only could tell the one who struck Him, but he could also tell everything about the man—the physical description, his life story, the number of hairs on his head, and every sin he had ever committed—but Jesus did not.

–David Guzik

65And they said many other insulting things to him.

Jesus Before the Council

“The Morning Judgment” by James Tissot, 1894 (Brooklyn Museum, New York)

66At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67“If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

Jesus stands His ground. In essence, His reply is “You may sit in judgment of Me today, but I one day will sit in judgment of you, when you will see that the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

–David Guzik

70They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

Exodus 3:14 (NASB)

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

71Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”



HERE  Twila Paris sings one of my favorites:  “We Will Glorify.”

“We will glorify the King of Kings, we will glorify the Lamb, we will glorify the Lord of Lords, who is the great  I AM.”


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

Images courtesy of:
Roberts.    http://www.markdroberts.com/images/Stations-Cross-Large/Stations-4-peter-large.jpg
Vallotton.    http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Mat-26,69_Peter,denies,%20weeps_Pierre,%20renie,%20pleure/20%20VALLOTTON%20PIERRE%20PLEURA%20AMEREMENT.jpg
Tissot.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Morning_Judgment_(Le_jugement_du_matin)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

2048.) Luke 22:39-53

March 8, 2017

“Gethsemane” by contemporary French artist Macha Chmakoff

Luke 22:39-53 (NIV)

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,

“The usual manner of prayer at that time was to pray in a standing position. That Jesus knelt down proves the violence of His struggle in Gethsemane.”

–Norval Geldenhuys (minister in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa)

42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.

In response to Jesus’ prayers, the Father did not take the cup from Jesus, but He strengthened Jesus to be able to “take and drink” the cup.

How often do I miss out on the strengthening because I refuse to accept God’s answer to my prayer? Lord, forgive me.

44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Reflections on prayer:

“Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Prayer doesn’t get man’s will done in heaven; it gets God’s will done on earth.”
–Ronald Dunn

“Don’t pray to escape trouble.  Don’t pray to be comfortable in your emotions.  Pray to do the will of God in every situation.  Nothing else is worth praying for.”
–Samuel M. Shoemaker

“The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him sincerely.”
–Psalm 145:18

Jesus Arrested

“The Taking of Christ” by Caravaggio, 1598 (Museum of Western and Eastern Art, Odessa)

47While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.


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

Malchus, the servant of the high priest Caiaphas, was the Father’s last love note to Caiaphas. Malchus was the servant whose ear Peter sliced off during Jesus’ arrest. In his gracious mercy Jesus restored Malchus’s ear, and Malchus’s witness to Caiaphas of that event was the high priest’s last chance for repentance. It was God’s final witness to him:   he put someone right in Caiaphas’s court who had been touched by the loving hand of Jesus. Oh, the unending mercy of God! If a person is lost, it will be in spite of himself and in spite of the evidence that God stacks up in his life. I am confident that Caiaphas did not employ Malchus for long after this incident of healing. I imagine that the sight of Malchus’s ear made Caiaphas uneasy and nervous.

When we choose not to obey and do not act on the witness God gives to us, sooner or later we will banish that witness from our lives because we cannot tolerate its suggestive presence. The love of God continues to point to him in all areas of life, even in the lives of the most hardened unbelievers, but some of us refuse to see or hear it.

Are you attentive to the witnesses to Christ that he has purposely placed all throughout your life? He witnesses not just to his own reality, but also to his love, his beauty, his truth, his goodness, his justice, and his magnificence. Are you listening and watching for the witness?

52Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”



HERE  is “Gethsemane Hymn,”  by Keith and Kristyn Getty.


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

Images courtesy of:
Chmakoff.     https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/14/33/9c/14339c7e772cc4e4f059122fd9cc7108.jpg
prayer.    https://holeinthegospel.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/prayer.jpg
Caravaggio.    http://www.wga.hu/art/c/caravagg/03/192captu.jpg
Jesus and Malchus.   https://musingthemysteries.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/malchus-2.jpg?w=625

2047.) Luke 22:1-38

March 7, 2017

“Agnus Dei” (“Lamb of God”) by Francisco de Zurbaran, 1640 (Museo Nacional de Prado, Madrid)

Luke 22:1-38 (NIV)

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

1Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

The Last Supper


7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

9“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

10He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.

A man … carrying a pitcher: This was an unusual sight, because carrying a pitcher was typically a woman’s work, and men carried liquids in animal’s skin containers. This would be a distinctive sign to the disciples.

–David Guzik

Follow him to the house that he enters, 11and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

13They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

“Last Supper” by Anastasiya Ponyatovskaya, 2006.

14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

What is the new covenant all about?

It is all about an inner transformation, that cleanses us from all sin. As Jeremiah 31:34 says: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.  

It is about putting God’s Word and will in us, as Jeremiah 31:33 says: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.

It is all about a new, close relationship with God, as Jeremiah 31:33 says: I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

–David Guzik

21But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” 23They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

24Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.

Sadly, this “who is the greatest” seems to be a common topic of conversation among the disciples (Matthew 18:1; Matthew 20:20-26; Mark 9:33-34; Luke 9:46). 

25Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you.  God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving.

–Henry T. Blackaby



HERE  are The Maranatha Singers and “The Servant Song.”

“When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.”


28You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.


from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Luke 22:31-32.   And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.

Our Lord Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith might not fail, and within a few hours his courage did fail.

The more we think of those last hours of our Lord, just before Calvary, the more we see every kind of trial compressed into them. It was not only that His cup was filled to overflowing with suffering, but that every variety of suffering was there. It is easy to escape from the intolerable thought of such suffering by saying He was God, and so where Peter was concerned He looked forward to the victory that would be given. But we know, though we cannot understand it, that He was man too, and Hebrews 2:18 says that He suffered being tempted.

Is there one for whom we are praying, who seems to be unhelped by our prayers? Are we suffering the bitterness of disappointment? Our dear Lord has been this way before us. He who turned and looked upon Peter (Luke 22:61) will give to us, will maintain in us, His own tenderness of spirit, the love that cannot be tired out of loving, the patience that will not let go.

33But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

35Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

Psalm 23:6 (ESV)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

36He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That is enough,” he replied.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Zubaran.    http://www.jesuswalk.com/lamb/images/zurbaran-agnus-dei-lamb-of-god-madrid-1339×800.jpg
bread and wine.    https://robpetkau.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/communion_elements.jpg
Ponyatovskaya.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/22-ponyatovskaya-ls1.jpg
maid and butler.    http://miniaturecottage.com/shop/images/butler-maid.jpg
O Love that will not let me go.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/cf/0d/a2/cf0da272019cc53214791864ee660a37.jpg
Good Shepherd.    http://maxgrace.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/shepherd1.jpg

2046.) Luke 21

March 6, 2017
Jesus says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Luke 21 (NIV)

The Widow’s Offering

The Widow’s Mites
by Richard Crashaw (c. 1613-1649)

Two mites, two drops, yet all her house and land,
Fall from a steady heart, though trembling hand :
The other’s wanton wealth foams high, and brave ;
The other cast away, she only gave.

“The Widow’s Mite” by James. C. Christensen

1As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3“I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

What, in God’s eyes, determines the value of a gift?

  • Remember that God does not need our money–it is our privilege to give to Him; giving is necessary for our sake, not for God’s sake.
  • A gift’s value is determined by the spirit in which it is given. God doesn’t want grudgingly given money, or guilt money-God loves the cheerful giver.
  • The value of a gift is determined by what it cost the giver; this is what made the widow’s gift so valuable. David refused to give God that which cost me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). 

–David Guzik

Signs of the End of the Age

Beautiful stones in the ancient Temple Mount wall.

5Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God.  But Jesus said, 6“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

a model of the Temple at the time Jesus was alive.

When the disciples praised its grandeur to Jesus (v. 5), the temple was in the midst of an eighty-three-year building program. Started about 20 B.C., it continued until A.D. 63-64, just a few years before Jerusalem’s fall in A.D. 70. Assuming an A.D. 33 date for the crucifixion, the program was over fifty years old at the time the disciples marveled at it. The temple clearly made a deep impression on all who visited it. Josephus gives detailed descriptions of its beauty (Jewish Wars 1.21.1 401; 5.5.1-6 184-227; Antiquities 15.11.1-7 380-425). The Roman historian Tacitus also describes the temple as containing great riches (History 5.8.1). Some of its stones were 12 to 60 feet in length, 7.5 feet in height and 9 feet in width (Josephus Jewish Wars 5.5.1-2 189-90 gives these measurements in cubits; a cubit is eighteen inches). The temple loomed over the city like a “snow clad mountain” (Josephus Jewish Wars 5.5.6 223). Not only was the building impressive, but it was decorated with gifts from other countries and had elegantly adorned doors and gates of fine craftsmanship (Josephus Jewish Wars 5.5.3-5 206-18).

No wonder the disciples felt national pride as they surveyed the awesome temple, exclaiming at its beautiful stones and . . . gifts dedicated to God. Surely something so magnificent and God-honoring, something that had taken so long to build, would last a very long time. God’s presence finally had a secure home.

Jesus’ response must have come like a knife in the heart: “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” It is hard for us to appreciate the effect on Jewish ears of what Jesus predicts here. . .  The magnificent temple, the center of the nation’s worship and the sacred locale of God’s presence, will be destroyed and turned into a heap of rubble. Centuries of worship and years of reconstruction will be brought to an end. The only way this can occur is if Jerusalem is overrun.

–from The IVP Commentary on Luke

7“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

8He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

10Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

When you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified: All these things preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. Were there wars? The Romans were frequently at war with the Jews, the Samaritans, the Syrians, and others during this period. Were there earthquakes? Historians tell us of great earthquakes in the Roman Empire before Jerusalem was destroyed. Were there famines? Acts 11:28 tells of one in this period. Were there fearful sights? Pompeii blew its top just seven years before Jerusalem was destroyed. Were there signs in the heavens? Not long before Jerusalem was destroyed, a comet that looked like a sword hung over the city by night for a year.

–David Guzik

12“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

Psalm 7:1 (NASB)

O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me.

16You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17All men will hate you because of me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By standing firm you will gain life.

To see a 19th century painting of the destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts, click  HERE  — the details cannot be seen when I shrink it to fit the blog — and then read the following verses. . .

20“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

When the Romans were done with Jerusalem in 70 A.D., not a single Jew was left alive in the city. The Romans eventually renamed the city Aelia Capitolina, and for many years would not allow a Jew to even enter what was formerly known as Jerusalem, except on one day a year—the anniversary of the fall of the city and the destruction of the temple, when Jews were invited to come and mourn bitterly.

–David Guzik

“Coming Light” by Patrick Myers

25“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.
–William Law

Romans 14:17 (ESV)

For the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.



HERE  is a Taize song — “The Kingdom of God.” Let this be our song every day!

The Kingdom of God is justice and peace
and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us
the gates of your kingdom.


32“I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

34“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

37Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

Deuteronomy 4:10 (ESV)

‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’


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

Images courtesy of:
Earth and moon from outer space.    https://www.scienceabc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Earth-Moon.jpg
Christensen.    http://www.galleryone.com/Merchant5/graphics/00000001/christensen/christensen-chrwi1.jpg
ancient stones.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0c/Jerusalem_Western_Wall_stones.jpg
Herod’s Temple.    http://www.bible-topten.com/4.The_16.jpg
Myers.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/21-myers.jpg?w=450

2045.) Luke 20:20-47

March 3, 2017

Seven husbands for one wife — who gets her?  The religious leaders pester Jesus with peculiar questions and Jesus answers them more and more clearly. It is coming close to the end — Jesus has little to lose by offending them now.

Luke 20:20-47   (NIV)

Paying Taxes to Caesar

Tiberius Caesar was emperor of the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus’ ministry.  This bust of Tiberius  is displayed in the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome.

20Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24“Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”

The denarius, a small silver Roman coin, was the usual wage for one day's work.

The denarius, a small silver Roman coin, was the usual wage for one day’s work.

25“Caesar’s,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Romans 13:7 (ESV)

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

26They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

The Resurrection and Marriage

Traditional Wedding Vows:
I, Sweetie-pie, take you, Snookems,
to be my (wife/husband),
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish;
from this day forward until death do us part.

27Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28“Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30The second 31and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32Finally, the woman died too. 33Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

34Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

39Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40And no one dared to ask him any more questions.



I marvel at the blatant disrespect and deliberate conniving the religious leaders engaged in against Jesus. And then I quickly realize how easy it for me to try to bargain and deal with Jesus in order to get my own way! Let it not be so! Instead, let my mouth sing praise to Jesus!  HERE  is “Majesty, Worship His Majesty” written by Pastor Jack Hayford of The Church on the Way, one of the largest churches in southern California.


Whose Son Is the Christ?

41Then Jesus said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? 42David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:

” ‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
43until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.” ‘

44David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

45While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples,

46“Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Proverbs 28:5 (ESV)

Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.


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

Images courtesy of:
Tiberius Caesar.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/8095_-_Roma_-_Ara_Pacis_-_Tiberio_-_Foto_Giovanni_Dall%27Orto_-_28-Mar-2008.jpg
denarius.   http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/olympians/images/b/b5/Tiberian_denarius.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20121113035554
Jewish bride and groom.    http://www.favorsandflowers.com/images/D/Traditional-Jewish-Bride-and-Groom-Cake-Topper-D.jpg
Pharisees.   http://www.bible-history.com/pharisees/pharisees2.jpg

2044.) Luke 20:1-19

March 2, 2017


Luke 20:1-19   (NIV)

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

1One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2“Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

3He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, 4John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men?”

5They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

7So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

8Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

By replying with this question, Jesus wasn’t evading the question of the religious leaders. Instead, He uses the question to explain who He is and to expose the hypocrisy of the leaders. If John was from God, then he was right in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah-and if this is true, then Jesus had all authority. Their response shows they were not sincere seekers of truth. They cared more about winning points in an argument than in knowing the truth.

“If you do not recognize authority when you see it, He said in effect, no amount of arguing will convince you of it.” (Geldenhuys)

If we want answers from Jesus, we must deal rightly with the truth that has already been revealed. These men knew that John said Jesus was the Messiah, and were not willing to accept it.

–David Guzik

1 Corinthians 15:27-28 (NLT)

For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.)  Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

The Parable of the Tenants

9He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

11He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’


14“But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”


When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!”

17Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

” ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone?

18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

“The Parable of the Tenants is about us.  That’s the key to understanding it.”

–Alistair Begg (Senior Pastor of Cleveland’s Parkside Church)

19The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.



HERE  is a song of praise for the Master of the vineyard.


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

Images courtesy of:
Luke 20:10.    http://www.warrencampdesign.com/heartyBoys-fpcc.com/part4/images/luke.20.13_lg.jpg
parable of the tenants drawings, all.   http://www.sermons4kids.com/parable-tenants-ppt-slides.htm

2043.) Luke 19:28-48

March 1, 2017
Jesus enters Jerusalem and the crowds welcome him, by Pietro Lorenzetti, 1320

Jesus enters Jerusalem and the crowds welcome him, by Pietro Lorenzetti, 1320

Luke 19:28-48 (NIV)

 The Triumphal Entry

“At last Jerusalem, the temple city in which the greatest and holiest drama on earth will be staged the following week, is in immediate vicinity.” 

–Norval Geldenhuys (minister in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa)

28After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30“Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

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

34They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

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

37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!


Psalm 92:4 (Amplified Bible)

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your works; at the deeds of Your hands I joyfully sing.

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

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

41As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.

“If Thou Hadst Known!” (Luke 19:42), Verse Visions by Mark Lawrence, 2009

43The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

The historian Josephus describes in detail the embankment around Jerusalem; how it utterly shut up the city before the Romans totally destroyed them (Wars of the Jews, 5.12.1-3).

From Josephus: “All hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city. Then did the famine widen its progress, and devour the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms of women and infants that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the children also, and the young men wandered about the market places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead wheresoever their misery seized them. For a time the dead were buried; but afterwards, when they could not do that, they had them cast down from the wall into the valleys beneath. When Titus, on going his rounds along these valleys, saw them full of dead bodies, and the thick putrefaction running about them, he gave a groan, and spreading out his hands to heave, called God to witness this was not his doing.” (Cited in Spurgeon. He adds: “There is nothing in history to exceed this horror. But even this is nothing compared with the destruction of a soul.”)

–David Guzik

Jesus at the Temple

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

Haggai 2:9 (NASB)

And in this place I will give peace,” declares the LORD of hosts.

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



HERE  is “Worlds Apart”  by Jars of Clay. This song is a radical (and terrifying) invitation to God to come into your life and do whatever it takes for you to serve God and the world in the most Christlike way possible. We will watch Jesus doing just that in the days to come as we continue in Luke’s Gospel. May God grant us grace to follow.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Lorenzetti.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumphal_entry_into_Jerusalem#/media/File:Assisi-frescoes-entry-into-jerusalem-pietro_lorenzetti.jpg
palm branches.    http://getupwithgod.com/wp-content/uploads/GUWG-Palm1.gif
Lawrence.    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0008/5612/products/MU_4-3_sm_580x@2x.jpeg?v=1385096294

2037.) Luke 19:1-27

February 21, 2017

“Jesus and Zacchaeus” by Soichi Watanabe.  The artist shows the joy of Zacchaeus in the form of a yellow flower.

Luke 19:1-27 (NIV)

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

When the tax collectors came to John the Baptist, asking how they could get right with God, he told them collect no more than what is appointed for you (Luke 3:13). If you were a tax collector and you were rich, you were a rogue.

3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

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

Jesus was willing to reach out His hand in friendship to this man who was universally despised. In the flesh, we can reject outcasts; but Jesus never did.

As one commentator says, “His example is our pattern. A Christian church which does not imitate its Master in its frank and continual willingness to associate itself with the degraded and outcast has lost one of the truest signs of its being vitalized with the life of Christ.”

The early church was despised for its acceptance of outcasts (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), but the early Christians regarded this as something glorious, not shameful.

–David Guzik

6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

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

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

Ezekiel 18:27 (NLT)

And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives.

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

The Parable of the Ten Minas

Yes, God wants a return on His investment in you!

Yes, God wants a return on His investment in you!

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

This parable is different than the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Here, ten servants are each given an equal amount of money, and a fair amount of money; a mina was worth a hundred days of work for a common laborer.

–David Guzik

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

15“He was made king, however, and returned home.

The new king has two issues: What will the servants do with his money? and How to handle his hateful citizens? First he deals with his servants.

Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main point of this parable is clear; the kingdom will be delayed, so we must concentrate on being faithful servants in the meantime. Our Master has gone away to a far country, and will one day return with His kingdom. In the meantime, we are commanded to do business with what He has given us until He returns.

–David Guzik

Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold:
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself, and I will be,
Ever, only, all for Thee.

–Frances R. Havergal, 1874.



HERE  is Don Moen and the hymn “I Surrender All,” written by J. W. Van DeVenter.

The song has in interesting story. From Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist church:

Songs of personal commitment to Christ often stem from a particular experience in the life of the author. This is a good example. Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck cites an account left by Van DeVenter:

The song was written while I was conducting a meeting at East Palestine, Ohio, and in the home of George Sebring (founder of Sebring Campmeeting Bible Conference . . .). For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, he caused me to sing.

This testimony makes more sense when knowing more about the author’s life. Judson Van de Venter (1855-1939) was raised on a farm near Dundee, Michigan. After graduating from Hillsdale College, he taught art in public schools in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Van Deventer was active as a layman in his Methodist Episcopal Church, including participation in revivals held at the church.

Based on his fervent faith and service to the church, friends encouraged him to leave his field of teaching and become an evangelist. It took five years for him to finally “surrender all” and follow the advice of his friends. His ministry took him to various places in the United States, England, and Scotland.

Perhaps the most important influence that Van de Venter had was on the young evangelist Billy Graham. The Rev. Graham cites this hymn as an influence in his early ministry. His account appears in Crusade Hymn Stories, edited by Graham’s chief musician, Cliff Barrows:

One of the evangelists who influenced my early preaching was also a hymnist who wrote “I Surrender All” — the Rev. J. W. Van de Venter. He was a regular visitor at the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity Bible College) in the late 1930’s. We students loved this kind, deeply spiritual gentleman and often gathered in his winter home at Tampa, Florida, for an evening of fellowship and singing.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Watanabe.    http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/Soichi_Watanabe_Jesus_And_Zaccheus_sm.jpg
hand with bills.   https://img.clipartfest.com/a63d4de2e3abbac26922e0d468d591d0_-money-in-people-hand-hand-giving-money-clipart_170-157.jpeg
happy girl.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/2262c-06august20070012_rt161.jpg

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