John T. Willis

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jesus addresses his Father and his disciples--Luke 10:21-24

After sending and receiving the Seventy, Jesus immediately turned to his heavenly Father in prayer and then addressed his disciples. This appears in Luke 10:21-24, and falls into two parts. I. Jesus addresses his Heavenly Father. Luke 10:21-22. a. "At that same hour" that the Seventy returned to Jesus to give their report, Jesus "rejoiced in the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is the source and inspiration of Jesus' joy and praise of the Heavenly Father. Precisely HOW the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work is a mystery, which no one has ever solved or ever will solve. ONLY by faith do all of us accept the reality of the interworking relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. After rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, Jesus turned to his Heavenly Father in prayer. First, he THANKS the Father because he had hidden these truths from the wise and the intelligent and revealed them to infants because of his gracious will. The "infants" here are the disciples of Jesus who openly accept Jesus, trust in Jesus, and follow Jesus. Jesus describes the Father as "Lord of heaven and earth." Our Father is not limited to space or time. Often we unfortunately restrict God in our minds and in our actions. Still, he is creator and sustainer of all created. Two important truths deserve careful thought and prayer: (1) Jesus the Son is subservient to the Father. Throughout scripture, God is always above the Son. Jesus frequently reminded his hearers that the Father is the ultimate source and power for all others. (2) Gaining knowledge is important. God has WIRED us to learn great information. But knowledge is not the end all and hear all of life. Our role is to receive God's revelation EVEN WHEN this seems contrary to our own limited understanding. 10:21. b. Jesus openly declares that the Father handed over all things to Jesus, and now Jesus hands all this over to his followers. Our role is to gratefully receive these marvelous gifts. 10:22. II. Jesus addresses his disciples. Luke 10:23-24. a. After praying to his Father, Jesus turns to address his disciples. Jesus spoke to them PRIVATELY: "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!" They will become the WITNESSES to all human beings about what Jesus said and did when he was on earth. It would be very beneficial to go to you concordance and study the word "witness" and "testimony." 10:23. b. Jesus declares that in the past kings and prophets desired to see and hear what his disciples saw and heard but did not experience. This is a reality of life. The role of the disciples of Jesus is unique. Hence, the New Testament blesses us because we receive the testimony or witness of these chosen individuals who actually saw and heard what Jesus said and did. 10:24. Share YOUR thoughts and dreams and insights and concerns with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I know the plans I have for you--8

Within the context of groups of people, God works in relationship with individuals. Genesis 1-11 sets the stage for the entire Bible by emphasizing: "Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:26-27. This same truth is repeated in Genesis 5:1-3; 9:5-6; James 3:9. Through the centuries, religious thinkers and scholars have held numerous ideas about the meaning of human beings being made in the image and likeness of God. Here are some examples. 1. The physical form of a human being is the same as God. Here some appeal to the word "image" in Hebrew concerning man-made idols shaped in the form of human beings. 2. A human being is upright and thus different from all other creatures like monkeys, snakes, etc. 3. Being made in the likeness of God has to do with the spiritual nature of a human being in contrast to the outward body. The views go on and on. In my opinion, the contexts in Genesis 1; 5; 9; James 3 suggest that human beings being made in the likeness and image of God has to do with four important concepts. A. God created human beings in his IMAGE and LIKENESS emphasizes that human beings are not God, but inferior to God. Hence, our function is to be subservient to God, to be humble, to be followers of God. Like Eve, according to Genesis 3:5, 22, all of us WANT to be GOD. We all want to gain notoriety, to be LEADERS, to gain power over other people, to be superior. The fundamental human problem is PRIDE, SELF-CENTEREDNESS, INGRATITUDE. From the very beginning, GOD declares that we human beings are made or created in the LIKENESS and IMAGE of God, but we are NOT GOD. Humility is the first letter in the alphabet of Christianity. B. God created human beings in his IMAGE and LIKENESS stresses that human beings are NOT animals or any other types of creatures. Human beings are UNIQUE. Psalm 8:4-8 clearly portrays the role of human beings: "What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? You have MADE them a little LOWER than God, and CROWNED them with glory and honor. You have GIVEN them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas." Hence, human beings must not behave like animals. Fornication, adultery, all sexual perversities, and the like lower human beings beneath their created function under God. See Romans 1:22-32. C. God designed human beings to be REPRESENTATIVES to the rest of creation on earth. Throughout the ancient Near East, different peoples made images of kings in nations beyond their own nation. God as our only KING expects human beings to represent HIS presence on earth. D. By creating human beings in his own image and likeness, God naturally empowered human beings to enjoy a special intimate, daily, personal relationship with God. No other creation can enjoy this intimate relationship. Hence, we can pray and meditate and ponder and think and relate to God. This VISION of God is closely related to the broader relationship that God has with groups of people. It is a major mistake for the Western World to assume that EACH INDIVIDUAL is related to God IN ISOLATION. This is impossible because of the way God has WIRED all of us. Our PERSONAL relationship to God is strong and important, but NOT SEPARATED FROM all other human beings. No human being can be a genuine human being without being in strong relationship with other human beings. Share YOUR fears and hesitations and reversals and choices with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis

Monday, July 09, 2012

Jesus Commissions the Seventy--Luke 10:1-20

Now that Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem, first he commissions "the seventy" [some ancient versions read "the seventy-two"] to cure the sick and to declare that the kingdom of God has drawn near to the people. This section covers Luke 10:1-20, and falls naturally into three paragraphs. I. Jesus sends the seventy by twos. Luke 10:1-12. a. Luke 9:1-6 reports that Jesus sent the Twelve to preach and heal the people. Now Jesus sends the Seventy. Jesus sends the seventy in twos ahead of Jesus to every town and place where Jesus intended to visit. Jesus probably sends them by twos as tstimony of two witnesses in judicial cases (cf. Num. 35:30; Deut. 19:14), and possibly for mutual support on the journey. Often in the New Testament, Christians go in pairs, not alone, like Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:1, Paul and Silas in Acts 15:40; etc. 10:1. b. Then Jesus gives the seventy SIX instructions. First, pray that the Lord of harvest will send out laborers into the harvest. Only God [not human beings] can reap the harvest. This harvest is both negative to condemn the ungodly and positive to redeem the penitent. c. Second, Jesus sends the seventy as lambs in the midst of wolves, thus defenseless and helpless. All success is the result of God alone, not human beings. 10:3. d. Third, Jesus instructs his followers to trust in him completely: carry no purse, bag, or sandals, nor meet anyone on the road to depend on another human being. 10:4. d. Fourth, Jesus instructs his followers to ask to enter into a house in each town. If that family receives them, give them peace; if not, God will punish them. Be satisfied to eat and drink whatever that family supplies to you. 10:5-8. e. Fifth, Jesus instructs the seventy to cure the sick and tell them that the kingdom of God has come near to you. 10:9. f. Sixth, if a town does not welcome Jesus' followers, they are to wipe off in protest the dust clining on their feet. On that day, it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. The audience knows very well Yahweh's destruction of Sodom related in Genesis 19:24-28. 10:10-12. II. Jesus utters woes against the towns of Galilee. Luke 10:13-16. a. Jesus declares woes against Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum in Galilee because they rejected Jesus' mighty acts. In contrast, Tyre and Sidon (see Jeremiah 25:22; 47:4; Zechariah 9:2) would have repented "sitting in sackcloth and ashes" (cf. Job 2:8; Jonah 3:8; Isaiah 58:5; Esther 4:2-3) if they had experienced Jesus' mighty deeds. 10:13-14. b. Jesus proclaims that Capernaum will be brought down to Hades, because those who reject Jesus also rejects the heavenly Father, and thus, God will punish them. 10:15-16. III. The seventy return to Jesus to give their report. Luke 10:17-20. a. The seventy return to Jesus with joy, saying that even the demons submit to them in Jesus' name, that is, at the invocation of Jesus' name. 10:17. b. Jesus responds, saying: I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. Satan is the personification of evil or sin. God the Father created Satan to serve God, but Satan rebelled against God and now attempts to bring all human beings to destruction. 10:18. c. Jesus assures the seventy that he has given them authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy=Satan, and nothing will hurt his followers. 10:19. d. Finally, Jesus instructs his followers not to rejoice that the evil spirits submit to them, but that their names are written in heaven, an ancient image drawn from the ancient records of cities or kingdom which listed the citizens who belonged to them. See Exodus 32:32-33; Psalms 69:28; 56:9; 87:6; Isaiah 4:3; 34:16; Daniel 12:1; Malachi 3:16-17; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 3:5; 13:8. 10:20. Our God performs unbelievable deeds. No one can resist or overcome our God. Let us rejoice in HIM ALONE. Share YOUR insights and beliefs and failures and concerns with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis