John T. Willis

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Jesus Initiates the Lord's Supper--Luke 22:1-20

Luke concludes his Gospel with three chapters describing (1) the persecution, suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus on the cross (22-23) and (2) the resurrection and ascent into heaven of Jesus (24). The first major event is Jesus' initiation of the Lord's Suffer. This paragraph consists of Luke 22:1-20 and falls into four parts.

I. Jewish leaders attempt to devise a plan to put Jesus to death. Luke 22:1-2.
   a. Luke focuses on the annual celebration of the Passover and Unleavened Bread. Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:4-8; Numbers 9:1-14; Deuteronomy 16:1-8 contain lengthy descriptions of the combined festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread. This occurs every year in March-April, the first month of the Hebrew calendar and extends from the fourteenth to the twenty-first day of that month. 22:1.
   b. Jealous of and angry with Jesus, the chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem looked for a way to put Jesus to death.  This is clearly a heart issue. 22:2.

II. Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus. Luke 22:3-6.
    a. Luke explains that SATAN entered into [the heart of] Judas Iscariot. This is closely connected with the account of Jesus' conflict with Satan in the desert in Luke 4:1-13, which is parallel to Matthew 4:1-11. Throughout the centuries, many people deny or avoid the reality of the existence and activities of Satan. Even today, some scholars attempt to reject or "reinterpret" Satan so that He is not an evil personality, but a servant of God. Such attempts are not surprising at all. Millions of people still believe and argue that God does not exist. The Bible repeatedly affirms that Satan is very much alive, and that his activities are dangerous and devastating. The present paragraph declares that Satan is responsible for putting Jesus on the cross, and the same is true of Judas Iscariot. 22:3.
    b. Judas Iscariot knew very well the intentions of the Jewish chief priests and officers of the temple temple police, and thus he went to them confer with them how he might betray Jesus and turn him into their authority. 22:4.
    c. These Jewish leaders responded by giving him money. Luke does not give the amount, but Matthew 26:15 says it was thirty pieces of silver. Judas Iscariot struck this agreement and then went away to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus to the Jewish authorities when no crowd was near Jesus. 22:5-6.

III. Jesus makes preparations for the Passover. Luke 22:7-13.
      a. On the day when people slaughtered the Passover lamb, Jesus made preparations so he and his disciples would keep the Passover. Exodus 12:6; Deuteronomy 16:6 describe the slaughter of the Paschal lamb. This must be done before sundown on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, which is Nisan 15. That year, the Passover preparation evening coincided with the Sabbath. Passover then began after sundown on 15 Nisan. 22:7.
      b. Jesus sent Peter and John, son of Zebedee, to enter Jerusalem and find a man carrying a jar of water, follow into the house he enters, and tell the owner of the house that The Teacher [that is, Jesus] will go into a large guest room upstairs already furnished to share in the Passover. Peter and John followed Jesus' instructions and prepared the Passover meal. This preparation involved buying the lamb, slaughtering it, and roasting it; then preparing the other victuals like bitter herbs, etc., and arranging the upper room for the fifteen men present. At this point, Judas Iscariot did not know where this would happen. Again, see Exodus 12 carefully. 22:8-13.

IV. Jesus initiates the Lord's Supper. Luke 22:14-20.
      a. At sundown 14 Nisan, the Passover began on 15 Nisan. Following the common practice of sharing a meal, Jesus and his twelve disciples reclined on couches leaning on their left elbows to prepare to eat the meal. 22:14.
      b. Jesus then does FOUR very important things for his disciples.
          1. Jesus reminds his disciples that he must suffer, but in preparation for this momentous events he wants them to know how intensely he wants to eat this Passover with them. Any time God's people share the Lord's Supper, Jesus is always present, intensely interested in sharing with them in this important event. 22:15.
          2. Jesus then declares that he will not eat this meal again until the kingdom of God comes. Apparently, in this context the coming of the kingdom of God is the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus as described in Acts 2. 22:16.
          3. Jesus then took a cup of wine and divided it among his disciples, and took a loaf of bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples, and told them to eat the bread and drink the wine. The bread is the BODY of Jesus given to his disciples, and the wine is the BLOOD of Jesus poured out for them. They were to do this IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIM. "Remembrance" in this and similar contexts means "reliving" the events under consideration. Drama clearly involves in partaking of the Lord's Supper. 22:17-20.
          4. When doing all this, Jesus "gave thanks." The Greek word is euchariteo. This is why we call the Lord Supper the Eucharist. Jesus gave thanks to his Heavenly Father, always reminding his disciples that above Jesus is his Heavenly Father who is submissive to Jesus and all of Jesus' disciples. 22:17, 19.

The Lord's Supper is pivotal in Christian living. It is inseparably connected with the Passover, which is a remembrance of Yahweh [God our Father] when he delivered his people from Egyptian bondage. Reread Exodus 11-14 to study the entire account.

Share YOUR inclinations and remembrances and experiences and concepts and reversals with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Human Beings Parading as Gods--This is a Heart Issue

Throughout history, human beings enter into life, and when they become adults for some reason at some point in their lives that they look on themselves as gods. This can happen on any level. People can think of themselves as gods because of their power, their intellectual capacity, their demeanor, their persuasion over other people, their reputation, their apparent fearlessness, etc.

I. In the Bible, there are several examples of people who assumed that they are gods.
    a. The King of Babylon. Isaiah 13:1-14:27 contains a long oracle announcing the fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persians (see Isaiah 13:17-19). Isaiah 14:13-14 describes the attitude of the King of Babylon [in this context this may mean Nebuchadrezzar II]:
         "You said in your heart,
              'I will ascend to heaven,
           I will raise my throne
              above the stars of God;
           I will sit on the mount of assembly
              on the heights of Zaphon;
           I will ascend on the tops of the clouds,
              I will make myself like the Most High.'"
This king thought of himself as EQUAL WITH GOD HIMSELF. But God soon overthrew him and cast him into THE PIT, that is, the grave.
    b. The Prince of Tyre. Ezekiel 27-28 contain a lengthy series of oracles about the fall of Tyre under the invasion of Babylon in 573 BCE. Among other things, Ezekiel 28:2, 6-7 contains these words:
         "Thus says the Lord God:
              Because your heart is proud
                 and you have said, 'I AM A GOD;
              I SIT IN THE SEAT OF THE GODS,
                 in the heart of the seas.' . . .
           Therefore thus says the Lord God:
              Because you compare your mind
                  with the mind of A GOD,
               therefore I will bring strangers against you,
                   the most terrible of the nations;
               they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
                   and defile your splendor."
       c. Herod. Acts 12:21-23 narrate this picture of Herod when Peter was in prison in Jerusalem:
            "On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them. The people kept shouting, 'THE VOICE OF A GOD, AND NOT OF A MORTAL!' And immediately because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died."
In more recent times, we can easily think of Octavius, Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, and many others.

II. Why do people think of themselves as GODS? Here are some obvious suggestions.
     a. Some people want to be in control of other people. If a person is not in control, he or she just cannot survive in life. This happens with kings, university presidents, elders, mothers, fathers, preachers, CEOs, and the like.
     b. Some people are very insecure. To compensate for their insecurity, they try to prove themselves in one way or another by pretending to be like a GOD.
     c. Pride motivates all of us to gain notoriety and fame. If one does not turn to God as the only Creator and Sustainer and Leader in the world, he/she will trust in himself/herself socially, religiously, politically, and in every other way.
     d. Failure and Fear are great motivations. When we fail or when we are afraid about important issues in our hearts, we compensate by asserting that we are superior, we think we are GODS. This leads us to think and speak and act in very ungodly ways.

This is a huge issue. This just touches the tip of the iceberg. Think of YOUR OWN feelings and perceptions of this concept.

Share YOUR ideas and feelings and holdbacks and experiences and failures with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jesus Announces the Fall of Jerusalem and His Second Coming--Luke 21:5-38

Luke 20-21 contain a series of messages of Jesus while he was at the Jerusalem temple after he arrived on his long journey from Galilee. The last message appears in Luke 21:5-38, in which Jesus announces two important events for the future in his time: (1) the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; (2) the second coming of Jesus. Naturally, Luke 21;5-38 falls into two parts.
(See further Mark 13:5-37; Matthew 24:1-36).

I. Jesus announces the destruction of Jerusalem. Luke 21:5-24.
   a. On one occasion, some of the worshippers at the Jerusalem temple were admiring the beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God. Josephus explains that the Jerusalem temple was built of hard, white stones, each about five cubits long, eight cubits high, and twelve cubits wide. Jesus' response to these observations is that the Jerusalem temple will fall: "not one stone will be left upon another." 21:5-6.
   b. The hearing worshippers responded by asking Jesus: When will this happen? What will be the sign that this is about to take place? Jesus responds: Do not be led astray; many people will come in Jesus' name and say, "I am he," and "The time is near." Do not be led astray by such people. This calls to mind Acts 5:36-37; 21:38 as examples of Theudas, Judas, and the Egyptian as false prophets which the hearers must shun or avoid. 21:7-8.
   c. Jesus then spends quite a bit of time describing situations which must occur before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. This is in 21:9-19. Here are the highlights.
       1. First wars and insurrections must occur. But do not be terrified by this. 21:9.
       2. Authorities will arrest and persecute the followers of Jesus. They will hand them over to synagogues and prisons (probably Jewish persecution), and be brought before kings and governors (probably Gentile persecution) because of the name of Jesus. One thinks of Paul coming before Felix (Acts 23:24-24:27) and Festus (Acts 24:27-26:32) and Caesar. All these events will give the followers of Jesus to TESTIFY in behalf of Jesus. It is not necessary for God's people to prepare for their defense in advance. Jesus assures them that he will give them the right words and wisdom to deal with all these serious challenges. 21:12-15.
       3. Even close family members (parents and brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins) and friends will betray the followers of Jesus and will kill them. Think of the murders of Stephen in Acts 7:54-60)and James, son of Zebedee, in Acts 12:1-2. They will hate them because of Jesus' name. But not a hair of their head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. 21:16-19.
       4. Then nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Great earthquakes, famines, plagues, dreadful portents, and great signs from heaven will appear. See Isaiah 19:2; Ezekiel 38:19. 21:10-11.
   d. Finally, Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem.
       1. First, Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. Josephus describes the surrounding of Jerusalem by Titus' armies and camps. The "desolation" is a reference to Daniel 9:27; 11:31, which in that context refers to the desecration of the temple caused by the statue of Zeus Olympius erected by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 BCE. Luke is indicating that that event is very similar to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, which Jesus envisions. 21:20.
       2. Then Judeans must flee to the mountains and those inside Jerusalem must leave the city and those out in the country must not enter the city, because these are "the days of vengeance" announced in the Hebrew Bible. The reference is to Hosea 9:7, in which the prophet Hosea announces that since God's people reject Yahweh, Yahweh will punish them. 21:21-22.
       3. Because of this harsh invasion ("distress on the earth and wrath against this people"), WOE will be on pregnant women and women who are nursing infants. These women and the rest of the people of Jerusalem will be killed by the sword, taken captives among all nations, and the Gentiles will trample on the people of Jerusalem. See Zechariah 12:3. Historically, the Romans overthrew Jerusalem in 70 CE. 21:23-24.

II. Jesus announces his Second Coming. Luke 21:25-38.
    a. Here Jesus connects the end of Jerusalem with the end of the world. First, he affirms that signs in the sun, moon, and stars will occur, and mighty seas will roar and distress and confuse the nations. The heavens will be shaken, and people faint from fear and foreboding of what will come on the world. See Isaiah 24:19; 34:4; Psalms 46:4; 89:10. 21:25-26.
    b. After this, "the Son of Man" will coming in a cloud with power and great glory, showing that the redemption of God's faithful people is drawing near. See Daniel 7:13. 21:27-28.
    c. Jesus then gives a parable about a fig tree that sprouts leaves indicating that the summer is already near. See Joel 2:22-23. In the same way, when God's people see the things which Jesus has just described, the kingdom of God is near. This generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." 21:29-33.
    d. Finally, Jesus admonishes his hearers to live godly lives until Jesus return. Specifically, he mentions for particulars: (1) Be one guard; Be alert at all times; (2) Do not be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness; (3) Do not be weighed down with the worries of this life; (4) Pray that you may have the strength to escapes all these mundane problems. 21:34-36.
    e. Luke concludes for his audience by summarizing Jesus' teaching at the Jerusalem temple. Every day Jesus would teach at the temple. Every night he would spend the night on the Mount of Olives. Early every morning, the people would get up to listen to Jesus at the temple. 21:37-38.

Historically, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed as Jesus announced. We are still awaiting his second coming in full faith that God our Father through Jesus Christ will bring this to happen. Until then, we must live faithful lives to help needy people.

Share YOUR insights and shortcomings and fears and successes and anticipations with others. Let me hear from you.

John Willis