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Sunday, April 15, 2018

posted Apr 17, 2018, 8:46 PM by Site Administrator

FEED MY LAMBS

 

John 21:1-25

Key Verse 21:15 

 

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

 

Chapter 21 is an epilogue of John’s gospel. The Apostle John could have ended his gospel with Jesus’ death, resurrection and world mission commandment like the other gospel writers, finishing with the words of the Risen Jesus in John 20:21 which says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” But even after making a concluding comment in John 20, still the Apostle John did not feel satisfied that he had revealed the beauty and glory of Jesus enough, and especially, the beautiful love story between Jesus and the Apostle Peter, his old long time competitor who later became his best comrade. So he adds John chapter 21 saying, “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way:” Wow! The author, the Apostle John is going to tell us something secretive. Let’s go to the Sea of Galilee and see what happened between the Risen Jesus and Simon Peter, the top disciple.

 

First, “Come and have breakfast” (1-14). Look at verse 1. Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. Before, while Jesus was alive, he told them that after the resurrection, he would go to Galilee ahead of them and meet them there. Now when the disciples, after having met the Risen Jesus, came back to Galilee, how were they doing? Did they go to the synagogues and preach the good news of resurrection? Did they flip over the whole area with the gospel message? Not really. They were not doing so great. It seemed that they had lost their mission. They were disciples without a clear sense of mission. So, what did they do? Seven of them gathered together, looked at each other, maybe, after chitchatting in shooting the breeze for a while, Simon Peter said, “I’m going out to fish,” and others said, “We’ll go with you.” Simply, it was hard for them to sit and wait without doing anything; they could not bear that sense of uncertainty any longer; they had to do something tangible. So, they did what they were familiar with – fishing. It was the occupation they had left 3 years ago, and now they were checking it out. Jesus never intended for his disciples to be fisherman once again. But when they had no sense of a clear mission, they could not keep their identity as Jesus’ disciples any longer; instead, when they lost God’s mission, they were going back to their old life. They were like a disciple, after losing the sense of God’s mission, checks out the video game, which he left a long time ago, or like a disciple, after losing a sense of mission, contacts his old friends and hangs out with them. But that night, they caught nothing. They were seven, professional fishermen; they thought that they would catch a lot of fish if they worked together; maybe, they threw the net more than 100 times that night, but despite their hard work all night long, they caught nothing. They failed as Jesus’ disciples - three years' wholehearted struggle ended up producing nothing, and now they failed as fishermen also; it seemed that they were born to fail; it seemed that nothing was going well with them; it seemed that now everything was over. But things were not over.

 

Look at verses 4 through 6. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus, maybe, because it was still a little dark, or because it was about a hundred yard distant, or because Jesus, after his resurrection, looked a little different. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. The disciples were excited shouting to each other. Even though his disciples went back to their old way of life, even if they failed to keep their identity as his disciples, Jesus did not leave them in failure; instead, he helped them recover their spirit through this great catch of fish. At this, the apostle John was reminded of how Jesus had entered into their life through a great catch of fish about three years ago; he immediately recognized that it was Jesus; he said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter heard this, he did something very strange. Usually, people take off their jackets and sweaters before jumping into water. But Peter did exactly the opposite. He wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. This happened instinctively, showing Peter’s deep respect for his Master Jesus; he never thought that it was so proper for him to stand before his Master naked. If seven professional fishermen rowed the boat together, they would go much faster than someone swimming in the water. But Simon Peter simply could not sit and wait there until he saw Jesus; his desire to see Jesus was so compelling that he had to do something to come closer to him. This shows Peter passionate love for Jesus very well. While Peter was swimming, the other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.

 

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Usually, fire does not come out of coals quickly; when we cook Korean BBQ on charcoals, it takes a lot of time until fire comes out of them, even with lighter fluid, maybe, about 30 minutes. The fire coming out of coals showed that Jesus had been there earlier, and thinking about how cold they might be, he had prepared this fire, maybe, blowing, and even shedding tears for smoke. Fish and bread there on fire showed that Jesus had been cooking breakfast for them, thinking how hungry they might be. Jesus was a mother-like shepherd. 

 

From the beginning when Simon Peter said, “I am going out to fish,” and other disciples went out together with him, Jesus knew what was going on. While they were out to sea struggling hard to catch fish, he knew what they were doing. But he did not stop them. Rather, feeling their sorrows and sense of failure due to the empty nets, he came to the shore very early, started a fire and tended it until the coals became burning hot. He placed some fish on it, and was warming some bread nearby. Jesus was so concerned about his runaway disciples’ frozen fingers and empty stomach. He was thinking about how happy they would be when they ate that unexpected hot meal on the shore of the beach. When the disciples landed on the shore, the coals were burning with fire, the fish was well cooked permeating such delightful smell, and the bread was hot. The disciples were surprised at this – at the presence of Jesus, and of well cooked delicious fish and hot bread. The fire of burning coals looked so warm and lovely. It was like Jesus’ love for them soothing their cold and empty hearts. When his disciples were going back to their old life, when they really messed up, he was not angry with them; instead, he followed them, and when they failed so miserably, he helped them recover their failure and prepared beautiful breakfast for them on the shore. 

 

When they came to him, he said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” He didn't rebuke them for their wrongdoings; instead, he let them participate in preparing the breakfast. At this, Peter dragged the net ashore, Philip counted them and Andrew inspected the net to see that there were no tears. Then, when the fish were fully cooked, Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Jesus’ voice to His disciples, “Come and have breakfast,” was so heart moving and beautiful. Even though they had done terrible things, the Risen Jesus wanted to have breakfast with them. He not only wanted to recover their immediate failure, but to have delicious breakfast fellowship with them. Through this invitation, Jesus showed them his heart for them. Despite their terrible failures as his disciples, Jesus still desired fellowship with them. Who was wrong and who was right? That’s not important. Despite all ordeals and challenges, Jesus’ desire for them was still the same; he loved them, and he wanted them to be in his love all the time. Despite their failures, nothing had changed. 

 

At this, how did they respond? Did they say, “Thank you,” and attack the fish? No, they could not say anything. Moreover, they could not move, or even lift their heads. They were just standing there dropping their heads down, for they knew what terrible thing they had done - even after meeting the Risen Jesus, they could not remain faithful to him. After betraying Jesus’ trust, they felt too sorry to look him in the face. Even though Jesus was confirming his love for them, they could not accept themselves for what they had done. 

 

They could not move, so Jesus began to serve them one by one. He first came and took the bread and gave it to them one by one – one for Simon, one for John, one for James,… As he passed a piece of bread to each of them, the hot bread warmed their frozen hands, and it was like Jesus’ warm love rubbing their broken hearts. Jesus did the same with the fish – one big fish for Simon, one for John,... Jesus served his disciples just like a loving mother serving her children. Strengthened by Jesus' love, they tasted the bread and fish and chewed them - yummy; then, they slowly lifted up their heads and looked at Jesus, then, they ate some more. Then, soon, the burden was lifted from their hearts, the guilty conscience was gone, and they could enjoy the food and the fellowship freely, eating, talking and laughing. It was such a wonderful feast they enjoyed together with Jesus on the beach, which they would never forget. 

 

In this whole event, Jesus did not use the word, "love." He didn't say, "I love you." But Jesus' love was well revealed to all the disciples through his action - his visit, his help for them to catch fish, his words, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught," and "Come and have breakfast," his action of distributing the fish and the bread among them one by one - all these showed his love for them; even though they had messed up, Jesus still wanted to have fellowship with them; despite their failures, Jesus still desired them to live as his disciples and enjoy life together with him. This love of Jesus strengthened them to come back to him and have fellowship with Him. This love of Jesus melted all the barriers between Jesus and them - their guilty conscience, their sense of shame and fear. This love of Jesus restored their relationship with Jesus. When we saw Jesus' love for us in this way - his burning desire for us despite our sins and wrongdoings, we were very touched; no one had desired us as he did. At that time, we were set free to repent of our sins and turn to God. Love is powerful, more powerful than the power of sin. God's love demolishes the barriers of sin and guilt and brings us to God. Today, Jesus visits us in our lowly place and invites us to the fellowship with him, saying, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "Come and have breakfast."

 

Second “Feed my Sheep” (15-25). After their seaside morning breakfast fellowship with Jesus;Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”Peters love for Jesus was evident. He was the one that said I am willing to die with you Lord, many times Peter expressed his love for Jesus openly and publicly. But Jesus wanted to know if Peter truly loved Him. Now what does more than these mean? Peter was the leader of the group, he loved his fellow disciples, but he also loved human fellowship with them. That is why when Peter went to go fishing he wanted to go with his friends. Did Peter love Jesus more than these disciples? More than these can mean anything really. Jesus is not concerned so much about outward things, such as great acts of faith, but that you love him more than anything.  Jesus asks us, Ty do you love me more than these? What is our answer going to be? 

 

Peter responded by saying yes Lord you know that I love you. Jesus answered by saying feed my lambs. Lambs are so young, but they are also so blind, they cannot take care of themselves, they need a shepherd to feed them

 

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” Sheep need care;there are many dangers that sheep can get into. They can wander from the herd, and get lost deep in the mountains, there are ferocious wolves out there waiting to devour them, they can get caught in thick brushes. Sheep are blind, they cannot see too far away from them. Because of this they need care. Spiritually speaking our sheep cannot see too far away from them. Because of this they can wander away from the faith and get themselves into trouble by being led away by their sinWhat sheep need is the care of a shepherd to keep them on the path and take care of them so that they do not get led astray. 

 

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. This time Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time. Peter felt that maybe Jesus didn't accept his answer, but Jesus wanted Peter to really understand what He was saying. When there is an important point to be made, professors always tell you three times, because they want you to really understand that what they are saying is of the highest importance. Jesus said feed my sheep. Lambs are young sheep, but as they get older they grow into adult sheep. As disciples begin to grow, they grow into mature and fully responsible disciples of Jesus. Still Jesus desire is to feed them continually so that they may grow to be powerful and well trained servants of God. 

 

Loving Jesus is really practical as Jesus indicates in this passage. We all want to love Jesus. But how can we show how much we love Him? He is not here physically, so we cannot give him a bro hug, or a fist bump or even some gifts, but what we can do, is take care of His sheep. People who may not love Jesus so much but honor Him, maybe do some activities in His name, or they are willing to go to church on Sundays, or even hand out gospel tractsbut those who truly love Jesus feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and feed His sheep. It is because Jesus loves His sheep, He wants to take care of them and feed them. And in order to do this He works together through His servants to take care of them. In this way we too learn the love of Jesus for us and for others. If we truly love Jesus more than anything, we will take care of His sheep.

 

Jesus said I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” Jesus was indicating that being a shepherd for His sheep was no easy matter, but he would have to give his life for them. If Peter were to live his own life, then he would go wherever he wanted to go but now that he lived for Jesus sheep, he would have to go where Jesus sheep were. In taking care of Jesus sheep, he would lay down his life for them, giving glory to God. This indicates that we do not live for our lives any longer, but that we live for Jesus sheep. Before we did what we wanted to do, we went where we wanted to go, but now that we love Jesus and take care of His sheep we go where sheep are. Our whole life revolves around taking care of Jesus sheep. When you get a job, it is revolved around sheep, so that in this way you can know to accept the job or decline it. In this way life is very clear and we can make real decisions, giving glory to God

 

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” In Peters eyes, if he had to die for Jesus sheep, then certainly John would have to do that too right? Sometimes we come to this, we take care of Jesus sheep wholeheartedly, we give our life for them, and sometimes we see other Christians just having fun and enjoying life. When we see this we say Lord what about them? What is Jesus answer for us? What is that to you, you follow me. We must love Jesus more than anything and follow Him. This is Jesus personal calling for us. 

 

One Word: Do you love me, yes Lord you know all things you know that I love you, then feed my sheep

 

 

 

 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

posted Apr 10, 2018, 7:53 AM by Sarah Flores

1

 

YET NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS BE DONE

 

Luke 22:24-62

Key Verse 22:42

 

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

 

First, "But you are not to be like that" (24-31). Look at verse 24. It reads: "Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be considered to be greatest." It is really great surprise that, at the Last Supper, when Jesus talked about such a serious topic - his body and his blood, they were disputing with each other about who was greatest among them. At this, Jesus could have been angry in frustration, saying, "How long shall I put up with you?" It was too much. But instead, he showed them what kind of leaders they should become. Jesus understood why they were so concerned about being the greatest among them - they wanted to exercise their authority, telling others to do and that, just like other kings and rulers in the world. But Jesus told them, "But you are not to be like that." It means that Jesus’ disciples should be different in this matter. After Jesus' departure, they would be leaders for God's flock. At that time, they should not be like worldly leaders, sitting back proudly and telling people to do this and that. Then, what kind of leaders should they be? Jesus says, "Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves." In the military, the four star General is the greatest; but instead of just issuing orders all the time, he eats and plays with the soldiers, and struggles with privates to fix the broken trucks, getting his hands dirty; or he plays soccer with other soldiers, running hard and shouting. At work, your boss is the greatest. Yet, he sits right next you, a new employee, and wrestles with you to solve your problem, listening to your suggestions and, coming up with his suggestions, trying this way and that way, as if he is in your level. Such a boss is really great, and everyone respects him. Jesus shows that his apostles should be that kind of leaders - they become great, occupying high positions and titles, yet behaving like the youngest, and identifying themselves with the youngest. Jesus wants us to be this kind of leaders. He wants all church leaders to be this kind of leaders - truly great people.

 

Also, Jesus says, "the one who rules like the one who serves." The leaders are the ones who have authority; they are the ones who rule. But in exercising their authority, they should be like the one who serves. Then, those who are under their leadership will not feel overwhelmed or pressured; instead, they will feel good, because all the leaders take care of them and serve them and work for their well being. As the disciples become top leaders in the church or in the society, they should not behave like the oldest, or they should not think that they deserve special treatment; instead, they must be willing to do lowly stuffs and serve others - Jesus suggests us the servant-leadership. 

 

Jesus showed them his own example, saying, "For 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." He was their Master, and he could have relaxed, sitting at the table, and asking his disciples to serve him. But instead, he stood up while his disciples were reclining at the table comfortably, and served them. Jesus' disciples must follow his example.

 

Look at verses 28 through 30. Let's read these verses together:

 

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

 

Jesus gave them a kingdom. For what? There were two purposes. One was: "So that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom." Jesus valued his relationship with his disciples; he wanted to continue it even when he returned to heaven; so he gave them a kingdom, making them great with power and authority, because a meaningful relationship is possible only among those who are in the same leagueThe other purpose was, "so that you may sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." He made them kings to sit on thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus has made them great by giving them a kingdom. The disciples did not know this, but Jesus showed them that they were already great as rulers and kings, and thereby, they had no reason to compete with each other for a higher position in the world. 

 

Jesus said to them, "I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me." Jesus gave them a kingdom and made them rulers with power and authority. It was great reward for them. Was it because they were spiritually so great? No. They were worldly and power-hungry; they were immature; they had character-flaws, saying, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them?" Then, was it because they had done great work of God? No. Usually, Jesus was the main figure in doing God's work. Then, was it because they were great prayer warriors? No. They didn't pray. Then, why? Jesus said to them, "You are those who have stood by me in my trials." This was the only reason why Jesus gave them a kingdom, and made them so great. They had stood by Jesus all the time - that was really true. How was it to stand by Jesus? Sometimes, it was really fun thanks to great success - delivering powerful messages, driving out demons, healing the sick, and enjoying people's respect and honor. Sometimes, it was difficult because of the persecution - they rejected them and tried to kill them with stones; sometimes it was scary, because the authorities were looking for Jesus and them - they were in the list of Jerusalem's most wanted. Sometimes, great temptation was there - great success, or great marriage. There were many others who wanted to be the disciples. But eventually most of them left when their own benefit was related; many people left when persecution came; many people left when temptation came. But these eleven disciples remained with him to the end going through all challenges and sufferings together with him. That fact showed very clearly that they valued and loved Jesus more than all those things. Jesus fully appreciated it. In his eyes, they were already great, each one of them, even if they had not achieved anything great yet, and even if they were still immature. And because of this, he gave them a kingdom and made them kings - he gave them great authority and power to rule and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. 

 

Jesus says, "You are those who have stood by me in my trials." We have not done so much - we have not achieved great things; we have not served a great spiritual revival in California yet; we have not produced great fruits for Jesus either. Instead, we still suffer from our own weaknesses and sins; we still have character-flaws. Sometimes, instead of picking up such passion and love for God, we crawl on our hands and knees in spirit, barely surviving. Instead of flipping over our campus with the word of God, we barely serve a few studentsSometimes, we feel like failures and losers even in Christ, so insignificant and unworthy. Yet, still, swallowing all sense of loss and even shame, we struggle to serve God's mission. Who can understand our sorrows and pains? Who can understand our struggles? But amazingly, Jesus truly appreciates our struggles, saying, "You are those who have stood by me in my trials." He knows that we have let go of all the chances for success only to serve his calling; he appreciates that despite great temptations, we have remained in him. "You are those who have stood by me in my trials."Those who remain in Jesus to the end are great; they are the ones who love Jesus more than anything in the world. What about their performance? It's secondary! And Jesus makes them kings and queens in his kingdom so that they can eat and drink with him at his table in his kingdom and sit on thrones.  

 

When I think about this, I am very thankful for all the disciples, especially those who have served God's work together with me all this time - Moses, John Boos, Robert, Roberto, Johnny, Kathryn, Mary, Sombo, Jessica, Sarah,... Sometimes, we were really excited because of great victories. Sometimes, we were all depressed together because of great failures. Jesus says, "You are those who have stood by me in my trials." When you go to heaven, don't you want to hear this from Jesus? Then, let's remain in him! Things come and go; everything eventually fades away, but the word of God stands forever, and we remain in Jesus forever.

 

Second, "But now if you have a purse, take it" (32-38). Look at verses 31 and 32. Let’s read these verses together:

 

31Simon, 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."

 

Jesus sensed what's going on - Satan was aiming on Simon Peter. And he knew the outcome: Once Satan set Simon up - Simon would terribly fail - Simon would deny his Master three times that night; then, after this terrible failure, he would suffer from the deep sense of guilt and condemnation. Then, what about coming to the disciples' prayer meeting? It would be so burdensome for him. Could he say, "I love Jesus" confidently? Even he would not be able to say, "Let's pray." In this way, after such a terrible failure, due to the sense of guilt and condemnation, his strength and passion would dwindle away; and when things went this way continually, he would be blown away from God, from all other disciples, losing everything, even his faith. Understanding all these, Jesus prayed for Simon. What was his prayer topic? He says, "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." "Your faith may not fail." He may fail, but his faith may not fail. He may even deny Jesus three times in one night, but even after that, his faith may not fail. That was Jesus' prayer topic. What does it mean that his faith does not fail? It means that, even if he may feel so bad and condemned in his heart, he may still come to the disciples' prayer meeting, even with dark face, dropping his head low, and sitting at the corner. When he did so, eventually the time of refreshment will come when he can really cry out for help and repent with tears. Jesus says, "But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail."

 

But that was not all. Jesus also said to Simon, "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Here, we see Jesus' faith in Simon. Jesus believed that Simon would turn back from his failure; Jesus believed that Simon would not be destroyed despite his miserable failure, but he would really repent and turn back to God as a new man. It is really great to be trusted by others, and how great it is to be trusted by Jesus! Jesus also told Simon what to do when he turned back - strengthen your brothers! Jesus still wanted Simon to be leaders, encouraging and strengthening others brothers. 

 

At this warning, Simon replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." He didn’t know how weak he was; he didn’t know the spiritual reality, but overly confident of his own decision and love for Jesus. He had pride as the top disciple. So Jesus told him plainly, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."

 

Look at verses 35 and 36. Let’s read these verses together:

 

35Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?""Nothing," they answered. 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."

 

In Luke 9, we see Jesus sending out his Twelve apostles on their mission journey two by two. At that time, he told them, "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." (Lk 9:3) But now right before his arrest, Jesus gave them a different direction, saying, "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." Why such different directions? It was because when he sent out the Twelve two by two on their mission journey, its whole purpose was to train them to learn to rely on God’s provision in serving God’s mission. Now, for the disciples, training was over, and they had to take over God’s kingdom work after Jesus’ departure. And now they had to use whatever means available to serve God’s work effectively. 

 

Some people say, "God will do everything and we don’t need to do anything." But Jesus does not say like that. Jesus asks us to take whatever means available for us to serve God’s kingdom work effectively. Money can be very effective; our laptop computer can be an effective tool; music talents can be useful; if you have good communication skills or if you can make friends with others easily, use them. By this instruction, Jesus shows that we must serve God’s kingdom work wholeheartedly by using all possible means. We must not fail in this important mission, but somehow be successful and fruitful. So, check out your mission field, and see what you need. 

 

Jesus also says, "and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." A sword is a decisive weapon, the most necessary weapon in fighting the battle. In serving God’s kingdom work, we must have this sword, otherwise, we are like soldiers at the battle field without any weapon. Even if we want to fight the battle, we cannot be effective without the sword. Jesus tells us that if we don’t have this kind of decisive tool or weapon for God's mission, we must sacrifice other items and purchase it. What can be this sword for us? A laptop computer can be the sword for us to serve God's kingdom work on our campuses. Also, having a car is very essential; so, get a job, make money and buy a car. But fundamentally, in serving God’s kingdom work, the most important offense weapon is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 reads: "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." If you don’t have this sword, sell your time, energy and heart and purchase one. Give your time and hearts to reading, studying and understanding the word of God. 

 

At this, the disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." They totally missed the point. Jesus replied, "That is enough."

 

Third, "Father, if you are willing,…" (39-62). Now the last supper was over. Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place called, "Gethsemane," Jesus said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Because of his humanity Jesus was troubled at the cup set before him - the cup of pains and sorrows. As a human, even if he knew all things (why he had to die, what his death meant, what his death would bring into mankind,…), even if he knew he would live again even victoriously, even if he had been living his life for this moment and he was determined to do so, still he was troubled when he thought about sufferings, sorrows and pains he would face. He was troubled, so he prayed. He hoped, "If there were any other way,…" He prayed that God would take the cup from him, if it would not alter God’s plan too much. The sins of humanity were so grievous that even the Son of God was troubled to bear the punishment for their guilt. But he prayed. Despite such burdens, Jesus did not retreat. Embracing all burdens and agonized heart, he went to God in prayer, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me."

 

But Jesus’ prayer did not end there. He said, "yet not my will, but yours be done." Jesus’ ultimate desire was that God’s will be done even if it meant for him to die on the cross. For God’s will, he was willing to go through any sufferings and pains. In order to obey God’s will, in order to have strength and courage to obey God’s will upon his life, Jesus prayed. "Yet not my will, but yours be done." In this way, he denied himself. Even the Son of God, when he lived as a human, denied himself to obey God’s will upon his life.

 

Look at verse 43. Jesus’ prayer struggle was so intense that God sent his angel to restore his physical strength. Jesus prayed and prayed until he won the victory in his heart. Verse 44 says, "Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Usually, when we are in great anguish despite our prayer, often, we give up. But despite his prayer, when he still had such an anguished heart, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood. It was really a difficult battle; Jesus fought this battle all the way until all anxiety, burdens and sense of difficulties were removed from his heart and he was completely ready to do what he was supposed to do. Jesus fought this battle until he had complete confidence in his heart. Then, finally he rose from his prayer and came to his disciples. He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation." In Mark’s gospel, Jesus said to them, "Enough! The hour has come. …Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" After fighting the fierce battle in his prayer, after winning the victory in his heart first through prayer, his face was shining with victory, and like a powerful general, he proceeded. 

 

Jesus' Gethsemane prayer shows us what prayer struggle is about. When God's direction comes, we say, "Let me pray about it." Some people say so so that they can do what God wants them to do despite some challenges and burdens. But some others say so, as if they have an option -either choose it, or reject it. Then, later they say, "I prayed about it and decided not to do it." We Christians don't have such an option of rejecting God's will upon our life no matter what. Instead, we have only one direction, that is, to say, "Yes, I will do it." The Bible declares, "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." (2Cor 1:19) In any circumstances, at any cost, in Jesus Christ we are to say, "Yes." But the problem is that obeying God's direction is not easy due to our own fleshly desires or worldly desires. Our way is to eat well, drink well, marry well, support our family well, and live well. That's why even our Christian parents say, "Go to church only once a week, and then, pursue your career, and enjoy your life." God's way is different than our ways; His thought is different than ours. So, even if we want to obey God's direction, saying, "Yes," all the time, often these things pull us back. So, what do we do? We pray! Our prayer struggle has a clear purpose, that is, put all our fleshly and worldly desires under our full control so that we can obey God's will upon us completely. That is the Gethsemane prayer. "Yet not my will, but yours be done." We pray for this with all our heart and strength. Then, as we pray continually, all distracting things are removed and God becomes so real and things of this life become so small and insignificant. Then, we can come up with our heart's complete resolution to do what God wants us to do, no matter what, setting free from the desires for success or marriage. There, we rise as conquerors, completely ready to obey God's will. In prayer, we win the victory, and then, we just proceed what has already been completely in our hearts. Let's follow Jesus all the way to the cross. "Yet not my will, but yours be done." 

 

Look at verses 47 and 48. While Jesus was still speaking a crowd came up with swords and clubs, and Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him. Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" When the apostles saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?"And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said to them, "No more of this!" He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

 

Jesus said, "No more of this!" Throughout human history, people tried to solve conflicts and problems with the sword; using the sword seemed direct, fast and permanent. But when people used the sword, there was violence and bloodshed, battles and wars, and revenge followed continually. When people used the sword, conflicts never ceased in human society. But now Jesus said, "No more of this!" indicating that in him, such a way of solving conflicts had ended. In Jesus, no more of this! How? It was because Jesus decided to drink the cup of sorrow and pains by himself. In the conflicting situations, when someone decides to swallow losses, sorrows, pains, and the sense of injustice by himself, all conflicts cease with him, and peace comes. In order to cease all human conflicts, Jesus drank the cup of sorrow by himself and brought peace to mankind. Don't use the sword, but drink the cup and you will bring peace to your family and to the church.

 

Verses 54 through 62 shows how Simon Peter came to disown Jesus three times as Jesus had foretold him. Jesus took the spiritual reality very seriously, so he prepared himself thoroughly through prayer. But Simon Peter did not know how weak he was, and how strong his enemy was. So while Jesus was struggling in prayer, he gave into his physical desires and slept. As a result, when a real thing happened, while Jesus stood firm and bold in following God’s will, Simon Peter was crushed and became the enemy’s toy. Right after he denied Jesus three times, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned around and looked straight at him. Simon Peter realized what he had done. He went outside, and wept bitterly. He broke down. Pray so that you will not fall into temptation.

 

One Word:Yet Not My Will, But Yours Be Done

 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

posted Mar 25, 2018, 9:27 PM by Site Administrator

 BE ALWAYS ON THE WATCH

 

Luke 21:1-38

Key Verse 21:36

 

Be 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.

 

First, “The widow’s two copper coins” (1-4). Look at verses 1 through 4. As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Actually, when Jesus saw these people bringing offering to the temple, he could have kept silent, because no matter what, at least, they tried to show their love and worship to God with offerings. Surely, rich people bring their offerings to God out of their wealth-simply, they have a lot of money. No one is happy to be compared to others. Why should Jesus make an issue of their offering, comparing it to the offering of the widow?

 

This passage is not unrelated to the previous passage where Jesus wept over the Jerusalem temple – outwardly, it seemed that people were worshiping God, but inwardly, they were corrupt only to invite terrible judgment. Also, this passage is not unrelated to chapter 20, where all those religious leaders came up with twisted mind to trap Jesus. The Jews had a form of worship; they had a well established and organized worship system at the gorgeous Jerusalem temple. But their hearts were far from God, inviting God’s wrath on them. Now these rich people seemed doing okay as they brought a lot of offering to God’s temple, but in Jesus’ eyes, it was a heartless action – just a religious practice. Jesus would not tolerate an empty action of worship; he wanted to show them how they must worship and serve God. Then, the poor widow’s offering was a good example for them to learn from.

 

Two copper coins were called, “a farthing,” worth a quarter of penny. They divided a coin into eight for the poor. In modern currency, if we consider the size of modern day economy, it may be compared to $5 or $10 – it was all she had to live on. In those days, the widows had no means to support themselves – no proper job for them to make money. Mostly, they relied on others’ help or begging or if they were lucky, they worked on others’ fields and picked up gleans. Two copper coins were all she had earned so far, and all she had to live on, but as she attended worship service in the temple, she put them all in the temple treasury. Her action proved her hot love for God; she was not a mediocre; to her, believing in God was an all-or-nothing deal, and in loving and serving God, she was wholehearted; to her worshiping God was the most important thing. Jesus was impressed by her act of worship, and he commended her. He wanted all others, rich believers, would do the same thing – they would love and worship God with such hot love and devotion.

 

Second, “Signs of the end of the age” (5-26). Look at verse 5. Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. They were Galilean country boys, and the Jerusalem temple was really gorgeous. When Herod the Great, an Idumean, became king in Israel, in order to earn the Jews’ hearts for him, he built the temple and gave it to the Jews. The building project took about 46 years, but still was not complete. The temple was about 500 yard long and 300 yard wide. The temple was the pride of the Jews. Modern archeology found that the stones that were used for the temple were even 10 meters long weighing about 50 tons. This huge temple was at the center of Jerusalem, elevated high above all other constructions. The historian Josephus describes, “…and the wall itself (surrounding the Temple) was the greatest ever heard of by man.” The disciples, so impressed, shouted, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” (Mk 13:1)

 

But Jesus was not impressed at all. Instead, he said, “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.” Jesus’ response must have been a cold shower to them. According to Jesus’ words, in AD 70, the Roman General Titus captured the city, and destroyed everything in it, including the temple. At that time, there was a rumor that treasures were hidden among the stones of the walls that the Roman soldiers literally pulled down every stone. The disciples saw the outward glory of the temple and were impressed; but Jesus saw the inner corruption of the people there, and prophesied God’s judgment on them. Israel’s failure, despite their desire for God and their daily religious life, makes us think a lot about how we must live before God. What God desires is not a religious people or a religious life, but people who really love God and honor God.

 

America is known as a Christian country. But it is nonsense that in America, liberal Christianity that does not believe in Jesus’ resurrection, or God’s creation in six days or Jesus’ virgin birth, is the main stream. Now churches open their doors to the sin of the world in the name of love and tolerance; as a result, there is no word such as repentance or self-denial or fight against sin in the Christian’s life. What would Jesus do if he were here? Would he be impressed because so many people profess their faith in him, saying, “I believe in Jesus”? Jesus says in Mark’s gospel, “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mk 13:2)

 

This word of Jesus must have been shocking to the disciples. They asked him, “Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” In verses 8 through 36, Jesus gave them his answer about this question. In his answer, Jesus shows us what will happen at the end of the age, the signs of the end of the age, and what we must do during this time. So, as we live in the last days of the age, this passage deserves our full attention and we must hold Jesus’ warnings and instructions into our hearts.

 

Look at verse 8. He 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.” The first sign of the end time is the appearing of many false messiahs. Wikipedia identifies the list of about 40 people who claimed to be the Messiah. One person claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus. Two people said that they were the reincarnation of Jesus and Buddha. Jesus also mentions here about those who say, ‘The time is near.’ They claim that by studying the Bible intensively, or by God’s divine revelation, they have found the time of Jesus’ second coming. 7th Day Adventist church and Jehovah’s witness started with this. When the end time is concerned, the first thing Jesus mentioned is not about when it will come, or about what kind of signs there will be, but his warning for the believers not to be deceived by those people who say, ‘I am he,’ or ‘The time is near.’ To him, this is the most important matter. The believers must watch out that we are not deceived by those people. Yet, strangely, despite Jesus’ warning, so many believers have been deceived by them. Jesus says, “Watch out!” “Do not follow them.”

 

Look at verses 9 and 10. “When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” The second sign of the end of the age is the recurrences of wars and revolutions. Human history is tainted with endless wars. There were World War I and World War II. There have been regional and civil wars. Recently, many Middle East countries experienced revolutions, called Arab Spring – many dictators were deposed, and new governments are established; but instead of having peace, many of those countries are in great turmoil – violence after violence. There are many more wars going on right now around the world in addition to the well-publicized wars in Syria, Turkey, and Afghanistan. International communities are wary of the development of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea. When we hear all these things, we wonder and become worried, saying, “What’s going to happen next?” But Jesus says, “Do not be frightened! These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” 

 

In verse 10, Jesus says, “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” In May 12, 2008 in Sichuan, China, there was 7.9 magnitude earthquake and 87,587 people died. In January 12, 2010 in Haiti, there was 7.0 Magnitude earthquake, and 316,000 people died. In March 11, 2011, near the East Coast of Honshu, Japan, there was 9.0 magnitude earthquake and 20,352 people died. Now people keep talking about the big one in California – they say that it will come, and recently, several small earthquakes occurred in Southern California, and we are alarmed. There are also pestilences. AIDS has been devastating the continents of Africa and South Asia. We have heard many strange diseases – SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Bird Flu, West Nile Virus, Mad Cow disease and Mouth and Hoop disease. Now Super-bacteria that does not show any good response to antibiotics threatens us. When we hear such bad news, we wonder what is going on. But Jesus predicted that all these things would happen as the sign of the end of the age. Don’t be frightened.

 

Look at verse 12. Let’s read this verse together:

 

“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.”

 

Before the end comes, there will be a great persecution against Christians; it will be worldwide. Christians will go through hard times. It is everyone’s deep seated desire to be recognized and welcomed. No one wants to be rejected, isolated and persecuted. But Jesus says, “You will be betrayed even by your parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me.” When this persecution happens to us, we become sorrowful and depressed. It is painful. But at that time, we must remember what Jesus says in today’s passage. Jesus says in verse 19, “By standing firm you will gain life.” In Mark’s gospel, Jesus says, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Jesus does not want us to compromise; instead, he wants us to stand firm in him, no matter what the world may do to us. Jesus also says in verse 13, “This will result in your being witnesses to them,” indicating that persecution happens not by accident, but for a reason that is, believers come to have a chance to preach the gospel to the people of the world. God even wants to use persecution as the means to reach many people with the gospel; for this, He is even willing to send his children to prisons. Indeed, God’s desire to look for the lost sheep is great. God is at his work to this very day looking for his sheep and sending his people to them.

 

Look at verses 20 through 24. In these verses, Jesus told them about the destruction of Jerusalem. According to Jesus’ instruction here, on the day when the Roman soldiers surrounded Jerusalem, all believers left the city and thereby, survived. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army in AD 70. In AD 135, the Jews had a war with the Roman Empire again, and 580,000 Jews were killed. After this, the Roman Emperor (Hadrian) issued a decree that the Jews should not stay in Judea any longer, and in an effort to wipe out all memory of the bond between the Jews and the land, he changed the name of the province from Judea to Syria-Palestina; thus, it came to be known as “Palestine,” and since then, all Jews were scattered throughout the earth for the next 1800 years until they returned to their land and rebuilt their nation, “Israel” in 1948.

 

Here Jesus describes the destruction of Jerusalem as the sign of the end time, indicating that the historic event of the fall of Jerusalem that happened in AD 70, is actually a shadow of the future event. It will happen again in the last days. Revelation talks about this in chapter 16 – the great number of the army from all nations will gather to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon – the plain of Megiddo, about 50 miles north of Jerusalem, about 20 miles of southwest of Galilee. The book of Zechariah also talks about this in chapter 14 – Jerusalem will be under siege, and people will be captured, but the Son of God will come down on the Mount of Olives, and his enemies will be destroyed. Jesus says, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (24) The times of the Gentiles means the period of time between Jesus’ ascension and his second coming when the Gentiles enjoy God’s blessing and serve God’s redemption work as main figures. Before the times of the Gentiles, there were the times of the Jews when God worked together with the Jews and proceeded his redemption work starting from Abraham until the fall of Jerusalem. But the Jewish people, even if they had worship service in the gorgeous temple and had a strong sense of identity as God’s chosen people, they refused to serve God’s will as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; they rejected all God’s servants and even his Son; so finally, God rejected them and, instead, chose the Gentile people as his partners for the world redemption plan. About this, Paul says in Romans 11:25, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” It was a painful moment when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed until only its western wall, known as the Wailing Wall, remains, and in its place the Muslims built their mosque, called the Dome of the Rock. Since then, God’s redemption work shifted from the Jews to the Gentiles. Thus, the times of the Gentiles began. As God had chosen Israel and given her the privilege of being a priestly nation through the Jerusalem Temple, now God chose the Christians and gave us the privilege and responsibility to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation through his Son Jesus, who is the true Living Temple. Now the times of the Gentiles are going on, and it is our privilege and responsibility to bring the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth until the full number of the elect is brought back to God. Then, the end will come.

 

Look at verses 25 and 26. Let’s read these verses together:

 

25There 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.

 

During the end time, the sun, moon and stars will go off their orbits, and asteroids will fall on the earth. As the result of the sun, moon and stars shifting off, due to the change of the gravitation, there will be great tsunamis on the earth; tsunamis so high, higher than 200 feet, and destroying many cities; this will happen in various areas of the earth and many cities will be gone in one day – maybe, Los Angeles, New York,... When these things happen, all nations will be in anguish and great perplexity.

 

Third, “The Son of Man is coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (27-38). Look at verses 27 and 28. Let’s read these verses together:

 

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.

 

As all these signs appear and intensify, Jesus will come in a cloud with power and great glory. The key characteristics of Jesus’ second coming are “They will see,” and “with power and great glory.” When our Lord Jesus came to this world first, he came as a baby in a manger. Only a few people came to worship him: the shepherds and the Magi from the east. But when he comes again, his coming will be noticed globally. He will come in a cloud with power and great glory to rescue us from utter destruction and usher us into his eternal kingdom. His coming will be visible to all people. Revelation 1:7 says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” Jesus’ coming will be a universal event that not only the people in the world, but also those who are dead in their graves will see him coming. The prophet Zechariah also wrote about Jesus’ coming: “On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zech 12:9-10) Under the attack, there will be a great nationwide repentance movement in Israel. On that day, the feet of Jesus will touch the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half of the mountain moving south. (Zech 14:1-4) As Jesus comes again, all his enemies will be destroyed and this present world will be concluded, and the new era will start. Israel will be restored as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, and all nations will stream to Zion, saying, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways.” (Isa 2:3) The prophecies of the Old Testaments in regard to the glory of Israel will be fulfilled.

 

Look at verse 28. Let’s read this verse together:

 

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

 

The end time will be a very difficult time for all peoples on earth. It will be more so for the believers, because, on top of all those challenging things, Christians will be despised, humiliated, and persecuted; all men will hate them. But then, as these end time signs begin to appear, it will be clear to everyone of who was right and who was wrong. As the end time proceeds, as more signs of the end time appear, Christians can be really bold and confident, because they can see that everything is going on according to God’s words in the Bible, and that the time of Jesus’ coming is very near. Then, out of confidence and the sense of victory, they can rise and preach the gospel freely, saying, “This is what I have told you all the time. You must repent and believe in Jesus. Follow me, and I will show you the way of life.” The end time is the time when we Christians really rise as victors. We will pick up such spirit; we will be really bold. In those days, we will reap a great harvest – every day, hundreds of people. The end time will be the time of great harvest for all Christians.

 

Look at verses 29 through 32. “He told them this parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.’ ” How do we know that Jesus is coming again? We know this because, that’s what the Bible says like today’s passage, and the signs Jesus told us about are appearing now. Things are going on according to what he said, and eventually, as he said, he will come again. In verse 33, Jesus reassures us of the absolute certainty of his coming, saying, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Just as the promises concerning his first coming were all fulfilled, the promises about his second coming will be fulfilled.

 

In verses 34 through 36, as a conclusion of his teaching about the end time, Jesus shows us what we must do and how we must live our life as his believers. Look at verses 34 through 36. Let’s read these verses together:

 

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.”

 

Be careful! Christians must be careful of what they do and how they live, because, otherwise, they will find themselves involved in the things of this life so deeply, and thereby, they will not be prepared properly for Jesus’ second coming. Many Christians have a casual attitude about his second coming. They are not careful about how they live, what they do and what they pursue in their life, but just assume that great things will happen to them. They too easily say, “I will be raptured and reign with him forever.” If they have this glorious vision of rapture and reigning together with Jesus forever, they must prepare themselves properly, being very careful of what they do and how they live, striving to do everything Jesus wants them to do.

 

“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.” Dissipation means “unrestrained indulgence in physical pleasures, esp. alcohol” or “excessive expenditure; wastefulness.” Simply, it is about pleasure seeking life. Christians, be careful of what you do and where you go and how you live your life so that that your heart will not be so weighed down with dissipation. Otherwise, your heart will be weighed down with pleasure-seeking desires and luxuries – your hearts will be enticed by such things and you will think about them and even do many crazy things, and thereby, you end up living your life doing such things, then, at Jesus’ second coming, you will be in big trouble.

 

Drunkenness is alcoholism. There is some pleasure in drinking, and for this small pleasure, people pour out their time, energy and money, and soon, their life, mind, body and soul are all polluted by it. With this concept in mind, we can see that there are so many different types of drunkenness – some people are drunk with alcohol; some others are drunk with video games; some people are drunk with gambling; some people are drunk with lazily surfing on the web, spending tons of time for nothing. As a result, their hearts are weighed down with such things – their whole concern or interest or desire is about them that they fail to prepare themselves for Jesus’ second coming. Make sure that this will not happen to you.

 

The anxieties of life are about what to eat, how to pay the bills, how to secure life, how to support the family, or how to raise children, or how to prepare the retirement plan. Life comes with a lot of responsibilities and duties at school, at work, and at home. Unless, we are really careful and watch out, our hearts can be easily weighed down with the anxieties of life – we will only think and concern about how to take care of our life – what to eat, what to wear, how to buy a house, what kind of job, marriage and family, forgetting about Jesus’ coming. Then, that day, the coming of Jesus will close on us unexpectedly like a trap, and we will be ashamed greatly. We need a job; we need to build our career; we need to pay the bills; we need to support our family and take care of our children. But we must be careful that our hearts are not weighed down with these things. We must remember that we are Jesus’ disciples, waiting for his second coming, and we must be able to see the signs of the end of the age going on in the world and prepare ourselves properly so that, at his second coming, we may stand before him. 

 

Jesus says, “Be 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.” Christians must be always on the watch. Many Christians show a care-free attitude about their life, saying, “I believe in God, so everything will go well.” Then, they do whatever they want to do. But Christian life is not a care-free life; we must not live a casual life. Instead, we must be always on the watch of what’s going on in the world, and what we do and how we live our life, carefully choosing to obey God’s will and purpose, denying ourselves and taking up the cross of mission daily. As we live that kind of life today and tomorrow continually and see those signs appear, we will not be panicking or frightened; instead, recognizing that everything is going on according to God’s words, we can dedicate ourselves to God’s work all the more. During the end time, while all other people are in great anguish and perplexity because even the heavenly bodies are shaken, we will remain calm, doing the work of evangelists all the more. In this way, as we are always on the watch and pray, we will be able to escape from all that is about to happen. Then, as we live that kind of life, at Jesus’ second coming, we will be able to stand before him.

 

Jesus says, “that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” This is the goal of our Christian life. This expression also shows that at his second coming, not all people, not even all Christians will be able to stand before him, but only those who have lived their lives in a manner worthy of his coming, just like the first and second servants in the parable of the Mina. Christians, be careful so that your hearts will not be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life. Be always on the watch and pray so that you can stand before Jesus at his second coming.

 

Look at verses 37 and 38. Let’s read these verses together:

 

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.

 

After sharing with the disciples about the signs of the end of the age and his glorious coming again, Jesus was neither anxious nor high in spirit. Instead, he taught the Bible at the temple from early morning, and when evening came, he went out to the Mount of Olives and prayed. Now there were only few days left for him to live on earth, but he used all his time and energy in teaching the word of God. Let’s follow Jesus’ example by giving ourselves fully to teaching the word of God to God’s flock on our campuses.

 

One Word:      That You May Be Able To Stand Before The Son Of Man

 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

posted Mar 18, 2018, 8:18 PM by Site Administrator

THE GOD OF THE LIVING

 

Luke 20:20-47

Key Verse 20:38

 

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.

 

       First, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (20-26). Look at verse 20. “Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest…” According to Mark’s gospel’s record, here, “spies” were “the Pharisees and Herodians.” (Mk 12:13) The Pharisees were hard core-religious people who tried hard to keep the traditional values as God’s chosen people. On the contrary, Herodians were political people who did not consider their religious heritage as God’s chosen people that much, but valued practical benefits of siding with Herod, a Gentile king. So, originally, they were enemies to each other.  But now, threatened by Jesus’ popularity, in order to protect their own interest, they became friends with each other, teamed up together and devised their best plan to trap Jesus. When they came, they, first, flattered Jesus, saying, “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,” meaning, “You do not tell lies or compromise, but speak the truth all the time.” Then, they launched their best shot, saying, “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

 

The Jews were under the Roman rule, but because of their pride as God’s chosen people, many of the Jews refused to pay taxes. They encouraged people to fight against the Romans instead of paying taxes. As a result, there was always conflict between the Roman government and the Jews. In those days, the question, “Should we pay the taxes to Caesar or not?” was a political hot potato. If you said, “Yes,” then you would be considered as a traitor, and many zealous Jews would hate you and even try to kill you. But if you said, “No,” then, Roman soldiers would come and arrest you as an insurgent. Actually, this was the very charge they brought to the Roman governor Pilate against Jesus, saying, “He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar.” (Lk 23:2) It seemed that Jesus would be trapped in either “yes” or “no.” These spies thought that Jesus as a devout man of God, would say, “No,” and thereby, they would report it to the police.

 

What was Jesus’ response? Look at verses 23 through 25. Let’s read these verses together:

 

23He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24“Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” 25“Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

 

       “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” What amazing wisdom Jesus had! What Jesus said sounded really right that the spies could not say anything against him in this matter. By saying, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” Jesus teaches us to fulfill all due obligations and duties in this world. Since we live as the citizens of this world, we have many obligations and duties such as paying taxes to the government; when a war breaks out, our young men are called to fulfill their military obligation; on the streets, you’d better obey the instructions of the police, lest you get a ticket; as students, we need to show proper respect to our teachers; as children, as sons and daughters, we owe respect and honor to our parents. Romans 13:1 reads: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

 

       “Give to God what is God’s.” This expression of Jesus shows that there are certain things that belong to God, and Jesus teaches us that we must give them to God, because he is the rightful Owner. All things belong to God. But in the Bible, God points out a few things as His specifically. Numbers 8:17 says, “Every firstborn male in Israel, whether man or animal, is mine.” God says in Leviticus 27:30, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” During the time of Malachi, people did not bring one tenth offering to God. So God said to them, “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.” Shocked, they asked him, “How do we rob you?” God said, “In tithes and offerings.” (Mal 3:8) The Sabbath day (Sunday for Christians) belongs to God; it the Lord’s day. So, we must keep it holy. Most of all, our wholehearted love belongs to Him. God says in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” When you love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, what else do you have? What else can you desire except God alone in your entire life? Nothing! This is the true meaning of worship – we offer our entire life to Him without any reservation out of compelling and overflowing love and desire for Him.

 

       The Jews refused to pay taxes to the Roman government; they were even willing to fight a bloody battle for it, even willing to die for it. In that way, they thought that they were showing their loyalty to God. Their idea was: “We only kneel down to God, not to men.” But that’s not the way God wanted to be worshiped and honored. In the name of being loyal to God, they were only rebellious and violent, which was totally against God’s characters. While they were fighting about it even in the name of God, God was saying, “No, don’t do that. Just pay it.” Instead, God wanted them to give to Him what was His. Some people say, “I obey God only.” They sound spiritual, but what they really mean is that they do whatever they see fit, rejecting any governing authority – parents, teachers, governments, even God’s servants – upon them. With this, they refuse to obey at home, at school and even at church. Some people think that they are obeying God by refusing to serve in the military. Some people think that they are loyal to God by challenging their professors in the classroom in regard to evolution and creation. Some people think that they are showing their loyalty to God by protesting against abortion or Muslims – but only politicians are pleased with them. Some people think that they have done all their obligations due to God by coming to church once a week. But God does not want to be served and worshiped in these ways. Instead, what he desires from us is just what is His; He claims, expects and demands what is rightfully His – our wholehearted love and devotion – not cold-soup like love, but hot cocoa-like love, Sabbath day (the Lord’s day), one tenth offering and firstfruits. It is all Christians’ duty to give to God what is God’s. When we struggle to do so, our Christian life becomes very real and practical: You love God with all your heart, soul and strength, you really pursue God, and at the same time, you keep the Sunday worship service absolutely, and bring your offerings to God regularly. Your Christian life becomes very solid. That is the way God wants to be honored by us.

 

       Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. When you do this, your life is very sound, and everyone, even unbelievers around you can see that you are reliable, doing what you are supposed to do as students, as employees, as citizens, and at the same time, they see that you are holy, fully dedicated to God without any compromise; they come to honor you as God’s people really, and because of you, they even want to become Christians.  

 

Second, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (27-39). Look at verse 27. As the Pharisees and Herodians were defeated, now the Sadducees challenged Jesus. The Sadducees were a religious party in Israel. All the priests including chief priests and the high priest, were Sadducees and the absolute majority of the Sanhedrin was the Sadducees. They accepted the five books of Moses as the only authentic Bible, and since there is no word such as resurrection in these five books, they didn’t believe the resurrection of the dead, or eternal life. They were like modern day liberal theologians who don’t believe any miracles, God’s power or the eternal kingdom of God. Then, why did they believe in God? What was the purpose of their belief in God? Simply, they wanted to get what they had desired such as wealth, high positions and honor through the religion; simply, they were utilizing God for their own purpose. When we think about their purpose of believing in God in this way, then, we understand that today, still, there are many Sadducees in our generation as well, who try to use God for their own purpose; their purpose of believing in God is not to worship God or dedicate themselves to God for his purpose, but to gain what they desire such as money, fame or titles. Today, still the Sadducees’ idea is very popular among church-going people. According to statistics, 40% of all pastors in America do not believe in the resurrection.

 

The Sadducees, mustering all their subtleties and literary genius, made up a most sorrowful and grotesque story and came to Jesus with a question. They said, “Teacher, 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. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” (29-33).

 

What! Seven brothers married to one woman, and all died without leaving a child! One woman marrying to seven brothers! What a grotesque story it was! What kind of people the Sadducees who had made up this story were! What were they thinking about? They were really a terrible people. When they denied the resurrection of the dead, fundamentally in their life there was no hope, and their inner world was so dark, full of deadness. All they could do was: “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” According to their idea, life in the resurrection would be completely chaotic. “At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” What a difficult and sophisticated question it was! Some may say that the woman should be the eldest brother’s wife because the eldest brother was her first and original husband. The youngest may say, “She should be my wife because she died as my wife.” The third one may say, “She should be my wife because we love each other most.” Since they cannot agree with one another, the seven brothers who married the woman will rise from the dead and engage in boxing tournaments or wrestling matches among themselves in order to claim this woman as their wife. The Sadducees thought that in asking such a question, they had rendered the whole idea of the resurrection completely ridiculous and obsolete.

 

How did Jesus answer their question? Look at verses 34 through 36. Let’s read these verses together:

 

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.

 

Wow! In the resurrection, we will be like angels, shining in glory! There is no such a thing like marriage in the resurrection, because there is no death and thereby, no need for reproduction. In the resurrection, we will be perfect! Many young people hang their necks on their future marriage as if it is the most important matter to them. They dream about it day and night, laugh and weep because of it. But, Jesus says, “Those who are considered worthy of taking part in the resurrection will neither marry nor be given in marriage.” We should not live for marriage but live our lives worthy of taking part in the resurrection, as children of God, holy and righteous.  

 

The Sadducees understood the resurrection as the extension of the present life. The present life is already full of pains, sorrows, miseries, and injustice. People weep and cry; they fight and pour their anger on the streets, honking horns. If the resurrection is the continuation of this present life, it would be real torture – you live forever with all kinds of sorrows and pains and sins. But Jesus showed them that the resurrection is not the continuation of this present world, but a completely new world. Jesus used the expressions, “this age” and “that age.” Jesus says that in that age, we can no longer die. This is the fundamental difference between life in this age and life in that age. You can no longer die. You try to die, but it does not work. Then, you see everything differently. When you can no longer die, you don’t have to live to secure your life – no matter what, even without eating, you can no longer die. You don’t need to be concerned about your future, or your health or retirement plan. Competing with others or bragging about your talents or skills is meaningless. Mozart may say to you, “I am better than you in music.” Then you say, “Oh, yeah. Let’s see,” and then, you invest 1,000 years in music; or if 1,000 years do not work, then, you spend 10,000 years. When you can no longer die, there will be no more fear, worry, or anxiety; no sorrows, no pains. When you can no longer die, you truly enjoy your life; your work is no longer a painful labor, but something you enjoy. When you can no longer die, your whole view of everything changes, and your attitude and words become holy and glorious like angels. You think, act and live in the way children of God would really do. That’s why Jesus says that they are children of God, since they are the children of the resurrection. It is really great privilege and blessing to participate in the resurrection.

 

But not all people will participate in it, but only those who are considered worthy. We believe in Jesus; we believe whatever he says. Thus comes the lifestyle of the believers, struggling to be worthy of taking part in that age. Christians must not live their lives however way they like; instead, we must live our life in a manner worthy of the gospel so that we all may be considered worthy to participate in the resurrection. That’s Christian’s way of life.

 

Look at verses 37 and 38. Let’s read these verses together:

 

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.”

 

Now, Jesus showed the Sadducees the truth of the resurrection based on the Book of Moses. The Sadducees considered the first five books of the Bible, from Genesis to Deuteronomy as the authentic word of God, and since they could not find the word, “resurrection” in these five books, they said that there was no resurrection of the dead. Jesus now proved to them that there was the record of the resurrection in these books. When God appeared to Moses in the book of Exodus, God introduced himself, saying, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Exo 3:6) These patriarchs had died about at least four hundred years before Moses met God there. But God did not say, “I was the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Instead, using the present tense, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” indicating that as of that time, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive; their life did not end in death, but God raised them from the dead and they were, and even now, are alive. 

 

       As a conclusion, Jesus said to them, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for to him all are alive.” The Sadducees thought that God was their God because they had worship service and because they were priests. But that’s not the case. God cannot be the God of the dead people like the Sadducees who entertained all kinds of negative thoughts and pervert ideas only to justify their own sinful life. God is not the God of the dead. People are dead because of their sins – God cannot be their God. People are dead because of their perversion. People are dead when they are only concerned about I, my, me, myself, and here and now. All these people are like dead fish flowing down the stream, following the trend of this world, only concerned about security, small citizen’s life and success – everything is about how to fit in this world. In the hearts and lives of such people, there is no glorious vision, or powerful passion for something truly great – they are dead. They are walking zombies on the streets, at schools and at work. They are like sick chicken. God cannot be the God of these dead people because God has nothing to do with death.

 

Instead, God is the God of the living. Who are the living? In the passage, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the living. What kind of people were they and what kind of life did they live? They were patriarchs of faith; they accepted God’s covenant vision upon their lives and pursued it. Were they perfect? No. Just like us, they too had weaknesses, character-flaws, and sin problems; sometimes, they made big mistakes. Sometimes, they were depressed, sometimes, they laughed, and sometimes, they wept. Yet, despite all challenges, difficulties, and their own mistakes, they still believed God’s great vision upon their lives, and pursued it. In God’s eyes, they were like live fish that was struggling to swim against the flow; they were the living, and God was pleased to be known as their God – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

 

What does it mean that God was their God? It meant that, when they were in trouble, God came to rescue them; when they cried out to God for help out of deep agony, God heard their prayers and answered them; when someone attacked them, God stood on their side and attacked that person; as they pursued God’s will continually, God gave them more amazing revelations in regard to what He was going to do with them and with their descendants; God was their Counselor, their Provider, their Trainer, and their Protector. As the result of God’s intervention in their lives, their life was full of amazing stories; they experienced God so many times and thereby, their understanding of God deepened. Then, as their eyes were opened to God, they saw everything differently – their words changed, their perspectives changed, their life changed; they were no longer the same people, instead, they became holy people in words and actions – totally, different from the people of this world that even unbelieving people around them recognized them as the mighty princes, as servants of God.

 

We all want God to be our God – the God of John Baik, the God of Johnny, the God of Sarah. We all want God to talk to us, answer our prayers, and reveal Himself to us. It is really wonderful that God becomes our God not just theologically, but really. Do you want God to be your God? How can God be your God? You must be the living!!! Accept God’s great vision upon your life and pursue it wholeheartedly – Be God’s covenant people! Don’t slow down only because of some difficulties; don’t be shaken by difficulties! Don’t be blown away by temptations! Keep struggling, because your God is watching you. When you live that way just like live fish struggling to go against the flow, God will be pleased to be known as your God and reveal Himself to you at the right time. When God is your God, many great things will occur in your life due to God’s intervention, and your Christian life will be really dynamic and fulfilling. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Today, are you the living?

 

Third, “Whose son is the Christ?” (41-47). Thus far, we saw how Jesus defeated the challenges that came from all so-called leaders of the time – the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, Herodians and the Sadducees. All these people were sneaky and double-minded, but Jesus was a man of truth; he had nothing to worry about, and he told the truth plainly. The enemies could not stand before him. After defeating all their challenges, now Jesus challenged them with one question. Jesus said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” When they said the Christ was the Son of David, they only understood the Promised Messiah’s humanity – they understood the Messiah as a powerful political leader who would destroy the Roman Empire and establish a kingdom to Israel as king David had done in Israel’s history – to them, the Christ was a mighty warrior, great hero for Israel. But now Jesus wanted to show them that the Promised Messiah was more than the Son of David; Jesus, based on Psalm 110, showed them the Messiah’s deity – even though the Christ would come from the line of David, he was still David’s Lord; he was God. When they understood the Messiah as the Son of God, a great hero for Israel, they were only thinking about what great things he would do for Israel, and then, what great things they would enjoy – ruling all other nations in the world. But when they understood the Messiah as their Lord, as their God, they could not just think about the benefits they would enjoy in and through him; instead, they should think about how they must worship Him and serve Him.

 

Modern-day Christian’s concept of the Messiah is also the Son of David – a great, even super hero who would do great things for them such as helping them get a good career job or helping them have a wonderful family, and especially, giving them a ticket to heaven. Now Christians must learn that the Christ is not only the Son of David who does great things for them, but also the Lord whom they must serve and worship.

 

After this, Jesus warned his disciples about the danger of the influence of the teachers of the law. The teachers of the law had a form of godliness and great religiosity; they occupied important positions in the religious society. But inwardly, they were self-seeking, and had no sincerity or true spirituality toward God. They were empty and hungry for human praise, honor and recognition. They loved money. Jesus says, “Such men will be punished most severely.” We started as Jesus’ disciples, as servants of God, so we must finish as servants of God. Good looking titles or high religious positions do not make us good disciples of Jesus. Many certificates do not make us good believers. Jesus wants us to remain as the living people so that God can be our God and fulfill His plan through us.

 

God is the God of the living. God wants to reveal his glory and do great things. So he is looking for the living whom he can work together with. Today, don’t you want to accept this will of God? Today, are you alive? Is God your God?

 

One Word:      God Is Not The God Of The Dead, But Of The Living


Sunday, March 11, 2018

posted Mar 11, 2018, 9:08 PM by Site Administrator

PERHAPS THEY WILL RESPECT HIM

 

Luke 20:1-19

Key Verse 20:13

 

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

 

First, “John’s baptism—was it from heaven or from men?” (1-8). Look at verse 1. One 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. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” In their eyes, Jesus was not qualified to teach the Bible in the temple, because he neither was a Pharisee nor a teacher of the law; Jesus was not of a priestly family; he never attended JDS – Jerusalem Divinity School. They challenged him about his authority to conduct Bible study in the temple, to choose his disciples and train them. At this, Jesus replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, 4John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men?” John the Baptist served great works of God; his ministry was very successful. By the way, did he have any certificate to give the baptism in the Jordan River? Did he have any degree or license to do so? No. Then, how could he do the work of God? Of course, it was because God called him to do so. His authority to do God’s work came from God, not from men.

 

In his response, Jesus shows us that there are two kinds of authorities – one that comes from God, and the other that comes from men. The religious leaders had authority that came from men. The chief priests’ authority was given by election. The teachers of the law acquired their authority by attending a law school, taking required classes, and passing the license exam. They were certified to teach others the Bible. But they didn’t have authority that came from God. On the other hand, Jesus and John the Baptist did not have authority that came from men. They neither attended JDS, nor had any type of certificate or degree. But they had authority that came from God because God sent them to do his work. Luke 3:1-3 describes how John the Baptist could begin God’s work. It reads: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberias—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea…the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” He was a mere man, but because of God’s word, not because of any other reason, but because of God’s word that came to him, he served God’s work. Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of his ministry, quoting from the book of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18,19) God was the origin and cause of what Jesus was doing. Anyone can have authority that comes from men by their own struggles, by attending seminary school, by studying hard, by paying the tuition and passing the exam. But no one can do the work of God in the true sense without receiving authority that comes from God. We do the work of God because God called us by giving us his words and sent us to do his work – we have this authority that came from God! As we do the work of God, we don’t need to be so concerned about what people say, but we must obey God’s will upon our lives and do what God wants us to do no matter what. When Jesus served God’s work, he was challenged by the religious leaders about his authority, because he did not have any authority from men – no license or degree or certificate. But, he had no problem, because he had authority from God. Instead, Jesus challenged them back to think about the authority that came from God, saying, “John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men?”

 

What was their response? Look at verses 5 through 7. They discussed among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” What a convenient answer it was! They had no concern about the truth or about God, but only about protecting their own interest, and about justifying their rejection of God’s servant. Simply, they did not live by the truth. They were liars.

 

Through this conversation, Jesus showed them that his authority came from God, and it was the time for them to believe him, accepting him as God’s servant, God’s messenger for them. But by saying, “We don’t know where it was from,” they rejected the truth deliberately that Jesus came from God. In this way, they rejected Jesus, pretending that they were rejecting him because they did not know whether he was from God or not. They thought that with this excuse, they would be able to justify their rejection of Jesus. But Jesus showed them that they were doing really a wicked thing by rejecting him through the parable of the tenants.

 

Second, “Perhaps they will respect him” (9-16). Look at verse 9. Jesus told them, “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time.” Here, a man refers to God, and a vineyard the nation Israel. In the Old Testament, God describes the nation Israel as his vineyard. Isaiah 5:1,2 reads: “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.” In these verses, God shows us how much he has done for his vineyard – a vineyard on a fertile hillside, dug it up, cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines; built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. God did everything for the vineyard to produce good grapes, from the scratch to its completion. Then, he rented this vineyard to some farmers. Here, some farmers refer to religious leaders who were entrusted with God’s flock in Israel. They were really privileged to be in charge of all God’s flock in Israel. But the word, “rented” shows that the ownership still belonged to God, and the religious leaders were simply the tenants who should pay the rent.

 

At the harvest time, the owner sent his servant to collect some of the fruits as the rent. But the farmers refused to pay the rent; instead, they beat him and sent him away empty-handed. They were bad tenants. Had this happened in California, the owner would have reported to the police and the court and sent an eviction letter. But instead, the owner of the vineyard sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. They were really, really bad tenants. It seemed that the owner must have filed a law suit against them and kicked them out. But how did he respond? Look at verse 13. Let’s read this verse together:

 

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

 

Since the tenants rejected all his servants, the owner decided to send his son, whom he loved, saying, “Perhaps they will respect him.” In view of how these tenants had treated his servants thus far, there was a great possibility that they would not treat his son in a good way; most likely, his son would be treated badly, or even there was a chance for him to be killed. Yet, he still decided to send his son, because there was a slight chance that they would respect him, because he was his son. He was willing to risk his son. This shows that the owner did not like to give up on the tenants; he was not pleased to cut off his relationship with them, even when they had done wicked things over and over. He wanted to maintain the relationship with them. Out of this desire for them, he tried all possible means, sending all kinds of servants to them, trying from the lowly servants, then, going up to more mature servants, and when all his attempts through his servants did not work, he even was willing to send his son, risking such great danger, all for the sake of keeping the relationship with them. For their sake, he went to the end, doing all he could, even willing to risk his own son. This is God’s love for all sinners. This is how God has expressed his love for us thus far. We have rejected those whom He sent over and over again; yet, God never gave up on us; instead, He sent his servants continually, trying all his best shots, even including his son. Only thanks to God’s unceasing efforts, even terrible sinners like us came to repent and turn to God; only thanks to God’s unfailing love, even very stubborn people like us came to have a chance to open our hearts to him. Today we live, because of God’s love. Love always hopes.

 

Also, the expression, “Perhaps they will respect him,” shows that once they respected him by accepting him and paying the due rent promptly, he would not make an issue of the bad behavior they had shown thus far; he would simply forget about bad things they had done only if they respected his son. The owner of the vineyard is really generous, thoughtful, forgiving and patient. His efforts for the tenants went to the end, to the point of sending his son to them.

 

This is God’s love for all fallen sinners. This parable is applicable also for our own life. Fundamentally, as this parable of the tenants illustrates, we are not the owners of our life, but God is, and we are entrusted with his own property – we are his tenants with this one life which is beautiful and powerful – it comes with great potential to produce great fruit. We have full control over our life – we can decide whatever we want to do. But remember that there is a time when the owner wants to collect the rent from us. When the rent is due, we must be able to pay it. Then, what kind of the fruit should we pay? In Isaiah 5:7, we see the kind of fruit God expected from Israel. It reads: The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” Justice and righteousness – God wanted to see a righteous people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, but they produced only bad fruit. Galatians 5:22 and 23 talks about the kind of fruit God wants us to produce in our life. It reads: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” We have this obligation before God to bear good fruits in our life—the fruits of the Holy Spirit—that we become really wholesome, beautiful, humble, pure and sound children of God, not selfish, not sinful, not greedy, not arrogant, but sacrificial, holy and righteous. When God looks for righteousness from you, but only sees jealousy, rebellion and pride, how does he feel? When God looks for holiness from you, but only sees lust and sexual immorality, how does he feel? Have you paid your rent to God promptly? Or is it severely past due?

 

Also, as the owner entrusted his beautiful vineyard into the hands of the tenants, Jesus entrusted his precious sheep in our hands, telling us, “Feed my sheep.” And he expects to see beautiful children of God growing up under our care – a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. For this, we are called and assigned as shepherds and leaders over God’s flock. Let’s make all possible efforts to take care of God’s flock and establish them as beautiful children of God.

 

How did the tenants respond to the owner’s effort? Look at verses 14 and 15. Let’s read these verses together:

 

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?

 

They knew what they were doing – it was the first degree murder. The motive behind the scene was that they wanted to be the owners of the vineyard. This is the reason why people reject Jesus even today – they want to do whatever they want to do. They refuse to acknowledge God’s ownership upon their lives so as to live for themselves. In his effort to maintain right relationship with the tenants, the owner of the vineyard went to the end, but in wickedness the tenants also went to the end. In love for sinners, God goes to the end doing all he can do, but in wickedness, sinners also go to the end rejecting God’s love to the end. Jesus, the son is the last and greatest sign of God’s love for them, God’s message that He wants to forgive them and restore the relationship with them. But if anyone rejects the Son, even the Son, he really has gone to the end, and there is nothing more left for him, except a dreadful judgment. On those who reject God’s efforts and love for them to the end, God’s wrath will be poured out.

 

Jesus said to them, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” Look at verse 16b. When the people heard this, they said, “May this never be!” They understood how wicked the tenants were, and they never wanted to be wicked like them. Who wants to be as wicked as these tenants? Surely, no one! But amazingly, despite their wish not to be wicked like this, they were doing exactly what the tenants in the parable did – they were even rejecting the Son.

 

Third, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” (17-19). When they screamed, “May this never be!” it seemed that they were good people who would never do anything wicked. But Jesus was not impressed at all. Instead, he looked directly at them and said, “Then what is the meaning that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’?” The religious leaders were builders trying to build the kingdom of God in Israel. In their eyes, Jesus did not look qualified to be a part of kingdom building. They already had the Bible, worship service, and offerings. They thought that they already had enough, and they did not need any support from Jesus. Simply, they didn’t want him to do any work in the name of serving God. Jesus was the rejected stone by the builders. But God rejected their rejection. God took him and installed him as the capstone. The capstone is the uppermost stone in a building project, sometimes used to tie two intersecting walls together. As the top stone of a structure, the capstone was the crowning point. On it, they engrave the builder’s name, and on the day when the capstone is going to be installed, they invite all related people, news reporters, and have a celebration. When the capstone is installed, it is proclaimed that all the building project is completed, and people shout for joy and celebrate. Jesus is the capstone – it means that Jesus is the completion of God’s kingdom building project, and with Jesus, all God’s redemption work is completed. When Jesus died on the cross, his last words were: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30)

 

Today, no one, especially, God-believing people intends to be wicked like these tenants. They all say, “May this never be!” But Christians saying, “May this never be!” cannot impress God at all. Instead, in God’s eyes, this is what people, even these God-believing people do all the time. How do people do such a wicked thing? By rejecting Jesus in their life-building project! They reject Jesus in regard to their career path; they reject Jesus in regard to their marriage matter; they may consider it a small matter, because they still go to church and say, “I love the Lord.” But the problem is that the stone they reject is actually the capstone. Without him, their life building project cannot be completed. That’s why despite all worldly successes and achievements, still so many people live in emptiness and sense of meaninglessness. They become depressed, sorrowful, or fearful, unforgiving, and many of them become drug-addicted. Simply, they are like the building standing undone – as the rain comes, the building gets moldy and rusty – they become ugly. Jesus is the capstone. With him, your life is completed; with him, you know what to do with your life; with him, you have the meaning and purpose in your life. With him, you are happy and fulfilled. Jesus is the capstone in your life. Don’t reject him in your life building project – he is the most essential part in your life. In every step of your life, go with him – don’t you remember what the Bible says of Noah? “Noah walked with God.” Don’t you remember what Jesus said to his apostles during the last supper? He said to them, “Remain in me.” Remain in Jesus in everything you do.

 

Look at verse 18. Let’s read this verse together:

 

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

 

Jesus is the capstone, the most important stone. Encountering him brings fundamental changes in people’s lives. Based on how people respond to him, the end results are different – two different results: Either you fall on that stone, or that stone falls on you; either you will be broken to pieces, or you will be crushed. Before Jesus came, the Jews thought that they were good people, loving God and serving Him. They had zeal for God that they’d rather choose to die than denying Him. They never had any intention to be wicked like the tenants – “May this never be!” But when Jesus came to them, they were found as wicked as the tenants in the parable, rejecting the Son. At this, everything they had built up – their image, fame, honor and respect – crumbled down. At his coming to them, they were found not as a holy people but as a wicked people; they were found not as servants of God but as enemies of God. Their eyes were opened to see who they were, how they had lived and what they had done – nothing good at all. At this, those who open their hearts and accept the truth (those who fall on that stone) come to have true repentance – wailing and wailing; they are broken down – all their self-confidence is gone, all their own false images are gone, all their pride as God-believing people is gone, all their worldly hopes and desires are gone – they are broken to pieces. Then, they have a chance to start all over again in Jesus – this time, as real children of God. They start a new life in Jesus. Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces. Here, “everyone” refers to “everyone.” What about “those God-believing Jews?” Yes, they are included. What about those God-believing “Christians?” Yes, they are included. What about those unbelieving people? Yes, they are included. Once they are broken to pieces, then, God rebuilds them in Jesus Christ as new people.

 

But like the religious leaders in the passage, some people are not willing to accept the truth. As Jesus comes to them and the truth is revealed of who they are, how they have lived, and what they have done, they reject the truth, not willing to admit their wrongdoings, their own wickedness and evil; instead, they want to keep their own image, which is a false image and enjoy people’s honor and respect as God-believing people; they refuse to break down; they refuse to be broken to pieces in Jesus. Then, what will happen to them? The capstone will fall on them either in this life or at his second coming, and they will be crushed – real judgment.

 

According to how they respond to Jesus, the capstone, the end result is totally different. Some people are broken to pieces and become new people, starting a new life in Jesus, because they accept the truth. Being broken to pieces, losing all the things they have valued so far such as their own image and their own righteousness is painful; but they are really blessed, no longer being deceived by their own false images or their own righteousness, but truly knowing God’s grace and loving Him. But others reject the truth, insisting their own false images and their own righteousness; they will be crushed – other Bible versions translate it as “being ground to powder” – they will have no future in God at all. Now today, how do you respond?

 

God does not give up on people; despite their rejection, he keeps sending his servants, and even his Son, saying, “Perhaps they will respect him.” Today, don’t you want to accept his love for you? Today, respect the Son by acknowledging God’s ownership upon your life, by turning to God and living for him. God’s love for you goes to the end.

 

One Word:      Perhaps They Will Respect Him

 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

posted Mar 6, 2018, 6:37 AM by Site Administrator


HE WEPT

 

Luke 19:28-48

Key Verse 19:41

 

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it

 

First, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord" (28-40). Look at verse 28. "After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem." Now finally, Jesus had come to his destination – Jerusalem where he would die on the cross as the ransom sacrifice for many. It was his lonely journey from Galilee to Jerusalem – no one recognized the agony he had carried in his heart, even his own apostles. He kept telling them what's going to happen to him in Jerusalem, but they were only concerned about who would be the prime minister in his kingdom. Bethphage or Bethany was located on the southeastern slopes of the Mount Olives, just about two miles east of Jerusalem. There, Jesus prepared his entry to Jerusalem. He sent two of his disciples, saying, "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. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.'" The direction sounded a little shady – he was telling his disciples to bring him a donkey without asking the owner. But as they obeyed his instruction, they found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"They replied, "The Lord needs it," and the owners let them take their colt. 

 

"The Lord needs it." This expression reminds us of the virgin Mary's submission to God's will. Even though it meant for her to give up her marriage dream, or even sacrifice her entire life, she obeyed God's will saying, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Lk 1:38) "The Lord needs it." This simple statement proclaims that Jesus is the true owner of all things – our life, all our materials, talents, and even that donkey. When he wants to use our life, we must submit it to him. It is our divine duty as his creatures, and at the same time, it is the greatest privilege to be used by God. Jesus' triumphal entry was prepared through his disciples' absolute obedience to his instruction, and the colt owners' absolute submission to Jesus' ownership.

 

When the disciples brought the colt, they threw their cloaks on it, and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. In this way, they made red carpet for their king. When 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: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Their praise contains divine truth.

 

Jesus is the blessed king; Jesus becoming king is great blessing to his subjects - he brings blessings to them; he makes them happy and joyful. Often kings are disasters to their people - under their rule, people suffer terribly, being oppressed, mistreated, and tortured; indeed, many kings are cursed kings. Our king Jesus is the blessed king; we are so happy and thankful that from the depth of our hearts we too shouts, "Blessed is the king Jesus." It is really good to live as his people, following his guidance, and obeying his commands. 

 

Jesus comes in the name of the Lord. This shows why Jesus came - he came to serve the will of the Lord. He was a free man, even the Creator God. He could have lived for himself and done everything according to his will and purpose. But instead, he came to live for the Lord and fulfill his purpose. His first prayer topic was to hallow God's name; his second prayer topic was, "God's kingdom come." And his third prayer topic was, "God's will be done." He did everything the Lord wanted him to do whether he liked it or not, even coming to Jerusalem to die on the cross as a ransom sacrifice for many. As a result, God's will prospered in and through his life, and we are the very ones who enjoy the benefits of his struggle. We are free men and women. We can be our own men, doing whatever we feel like doing. But instead, we choose to come in the name of the Lord, doing whatever God wants us to do. This is how we can follow Jesus Christ our Lord. 

 

Look at verse 38b. They shouted, "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" It is really amazing that they saw the meaning of Jesus' entry to Jerusalem as "peace in heaven and glory in the highest." This kind of doxology or statement is not ordinary, but very divine and comes from God. This is man's doxology to Jesus – peace in heaven. We see similar doxology in Luke 2:14, offered by the angels, at the first Christmas worship service.  The angels praised, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." In angel's eyesJesus' birth meant peace on earth; in men'eyes, however, Jesus' entry to Jerusalem meant peace in heavenJesus entered Jerusalem as a ransom sacrifice to die on the cross for the sin of the world. Thus, Jesus would make reconciliation between God and men, and thereby, he would bring peace between God and men. Before Jesus, God had to punish all people due to their sins; he had to sentence them to death. As a result, there was tension going on in heaven. High ranking angels gathering together to carry out God's anger on people, figuring out their strategy, just like tension between the USA and North Korea. But now God does not need to do so, because someone else, Jesus Christ, paid the price of their sins, and thereby, peace treaty between heaven and earth is established. Because of Jesus, the whole heaven enjoys peace.

 

Jesus' entry to Jerusalem meant "glory in the highest." The word, "glory" means "to be revealed of God." Whatever of God such as God's love, God's power, God's patience, God's wisdom, God's plan is revealed, it is awesome, wonderful and amazing; simply, it is glorious. Now through Jesus' entry to Jerusalem, God's glory was revealed very clearly in the highest. God's love for mankind was revealed. As the Judge, God had to punish all sinners, but instead, He came up with a ransom sacrifice, even his own Son's death on the cross - that much God wanted people to live; that was the expression of God's love for all sinners, and it was indeed, astounding - He sacrificed his own son for sinners. God's justice was well revealed as well. God is the Ultimate Judge. Couldn't he just say, "I will forgive all of you"? Maybe, He could, and no one would make an issue of it. But He did not do that. Instead, He came up with a ransom sacrifice, even his own son's death. He denied his own power and authority to uphold justice. God's justice must be met. This makes us think a lot about how we must live our life - no longer in sin, but strive to live a holy and righteous life.

 

In his entry, Jesus rode on a donkey, the foal of a donkey. How did he look? He looked really funny, like a comedian. No one wants to look funny, especially when they are really great like king. But by riding on a donkey, Jesus instantly removed all the barriers between himself and people that everyone could come to him freely. Jesus, the Creator God, made himself accessible this way. His desire for people to come to him was so great that he, the Creator God, was willing to look like a funny comedian. In his entry, God's burning passion to have fellowship with humans was revealed utmost clear. What are we humans that God should desire to have fellowship with us so much like this? We are really amazed at this. Now we can be assured that today God wants to have fellowship with us; He wants to come to our house and eat with us, enjoying conversation with us. Only if we open our hearts, he will come in and eat with us. This is what God desires. 

 

Also, we see God's gentleness and humility very well - he rode on a donkey. We remember the prophet Zechariah's testimony about Jesus' triumphal entry. He shouted, "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zec 9:9) Zechariah could not believe what he saw – the King of the Jews was coming to his own capital city Jerusalem, riding on a donkey. So, he kept mentioning about it, saying, "on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Through this, he could see what kind of king he would be – righteous, but at the same time, gentle – not a scary king who threatens his people with his power, but a humble and gentle king. So, he shouted in amazement and happiness, "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you,…" What kind of person is our God? He is gentle, coming to us so gently and humbly, willing to ride on a donkey in coming to us so that we may not feel threatened or scared. Jesus wants to come to you, and you have no reason to be afraid - he will lead you to the path of righteousness, and you will find rest for your soul. Jesus revealed God's glory through riding on a donkey in his triumphal entry. We welcome him into our life happily. We also strive to follow his example so that God's glory may be revealed in our life too. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.

 

Second, "He wept" (41-44). Look at verse 41. "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it."There is a great contrast between the people who, with such great emotional high, shouted and praised, and Jesus who wept over Jerusalem. We are shocked. Jesus wept! Throughout his messianic ministry, Jesus was strong; nothing could stop him; no despair at all. Despite all challenges and persecutions, he kept on doing the work of God. Only in few places, we see Jesus weeping. In John 11, we see Jesus weeping when he saw his beloved people perishing under the power of death – he did not make them suffer so terribly like that, but because of their unbelief and sins, they were perishing – it brought Jesus such pain in his heart, so he wept over them. (Jn 11:35) Now here, we see that he wept again, showing tears. The Creator God, as he was living among his own people, saw something very painful that he wept. Why did he weep at this moment? Look at verses 42 through 44. Let's read these verses responsively: 

 

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. 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."

 

Jesus wept because he foresaw the punishment the people in Jerusalem would suffer as the consequences of their sins. According to Jesus' words, in AD 70, the Roman General Titus captured the city, and all those who remained in the city suffered greatly. People were slaughtered, the temple was destroyed, and Jerusalem was laid desolate. Jesus said in Luke 13:34-35, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate." God loved them and kept sending his servants to tell them to repent and turn to God. But they were not willing to turn to God. Instead, they mistreated his servants and killed them. As a result, finally, they would see their own destruction. When Jesus thought about how they would be destroyed and slaughtered, he was painful that he wept over them. In Genesis chapter 6, when the corruption of people's heart reached its limit, and when people became nothing but flesh, and thereby, lost any meaning to exist on the earth, God's heart was filled with pain. Only if they had turned to God in repentance, God would have given them a glorious life, with the hope of eternal life in the kingdom of God, but they did not see it, and lived in sin only to invite such disaster and violence. At this, God's heart was filled with pain. 

 

Jesus says, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace,…" Jesus felt such pain because in his eyes, only if they knew what would bring them peace, they would do it, then, they would have become children of God and enjoyed heavenly peace and happiness. What would bring you peace? In view of these God-believing people's failure, we see that saying, "I believe in Jesus" is not the way to have peace. Doing many religious things as Christians is not the way to have peace. Each person must repent. It is repentance in Jesus Christ that brings you peaceturn to God in repentance by faith in Jesus. 

 

But they could not see it. It was hidden from their eyes. Why was it hidden from their eyes? It was because they were very religious, even zealous in their way of worshiping God, even willing to lay down their life rather than choosing to deny God. Because of such zeal for God, because of such religious and moralistic life (which was far cleaner life than other Gentile peoples' life), they were confident that God was their God. So, even though God sent his servant Jesus to them and even if Jesus proved his true identity as God's messenger through his words and many miracles, they were not willing to accept it. Because of their religious pride, because of their moralistic life, they did not think that they should repent or pay attention to this young Rabbi. Notice here the expression, "If you, even you..." "Even you..." They thought that they were better than the unbelieving Gentiles. But in Jesus' eyes, they were worse than the Gentiles. But "even" they had a chance, only if they knew the way of peace. We must not be deceived by our religious life, or even moralistic life. Instead, each person must turn to God in repentance in Jesus Christ from the self-seeking life to the life of pursuing God's will and purpose. That's the way of peace in Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus says in verse 44, "because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." It means that God came to them to help them and bless them, but they failed to recognize him. Why? It was because in their eyes, the Creator God, the Awesome God in glory, did not come to them, but what they saw was a human being, named Jesus, teaching them the word of God. It was because Jesus did not halo around him; it was because Jesus did not have angel's wings on his back. They didn't accept that God sent Jesus to help them. Deep down in their hearts, they had pride as God's chosen people, thinking that they were already God's children.

 

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace,…" Many people say, "God loves me."And with this, they do whatever they want to do; they reject God's will upon their lives to do what they want to do. They never know that only a dreadful life is waiting for them – sorrowful, lonely, and miserable. When people refuse to turn to God to enjoy their sinful pleasures a little more, Jesus weeps over them, for he knows where they are going, and what is waiting for them. When people reject God's will upon their lives only to pursue worldly life, Jesus weeps over them. Like a father who has tried all possible means to help his sonto be good and sound, weeps over him, as he chooses his own sinful life and goes to Las Vegas, Jesus weeps over us. 

 

So many people, even many church going people, live in great pain and misery – their family is broken, their childrenare scattered, and they are utterly lonely and sorrowful; most of all, their life is sinful; when they go home after work, there is nothing else to do except watching TV until they fall asleep, with no one to welcome them. So, many people weep over someone else's shoulders, saying, "I don't know why my life is so hard." Jesus says, "Only if you, even you, had known what would bring you peace,…" What would bring them peace? It is their true repentance. They must repent and turn to God really, not just some superficial religious life, or seeking some emotional high. We must recognize the time of God's coming to us. God has seen you and heard you, and come to you to help you. Then, how? God sends his servants, Bible teachers and shepherds to you to help you and bless you. When we recognized the time of God's coming to us, we all accepted God's love for us and turned to God in repentance; that was the beginning of our new life in Jesus Christ. Those who recognize the time of God's coming to them are touched by God's love for them and turn to God in repentance. But those who rely on their own righteousness, those who think that they are okay, do not recognize the time of God's coming to them; they do not know what would bring them peace. Jesus weeps over them

 

When people are hesitant to turn to God decisively, when their heart clings to their sin, Jesus weeps over them. When they decide to go for their own worldly and sinful life, even rejecting God's will, Jesus' heart is broken; he weeps over them. He is the Creator God; he can do whatever he wants to do, but he is gentle and humble and honors their own choice, and he weeps for them, because he foresees terrible disasters waiting for themJesus says, "If you, even you, had only known what would bring you peace,…" It is the time that we must stop wandering in the world; it is the time that we must turn to God decisively in repentance, so that we can please Jesus, our King. Now is the time of God's coming to you to help you, strengthen you and bless you. Don't reject God any more. Don't make Jesus weep over you.

 

Third, "My house will be a house of prayer" (45-48).Look at verses 45 and 46. After his triumphal entry, Jesus did not go to the palace, but to the temple, because he was not a political king, but a spiritual king. When Jesus entered the temple, he began driving out those who were selling. "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" The temple is God's dwelling place where people should come to have fellowship with God in prayer and pray for all peoples on earth. But here, the Jews were using the command of God and the temple for their own business purpose

 

When the people praised Jesus in his entry to Jerusalem, it seemed that the people of Jerusalem were right with God. It seemed that they worshiped God because they had the beautiful temple worship service. It seemed that they were children of God because they read the Bible, prayed to God and believed in God. But Jesus wept over Jerusalem, because he saw what great disaster was waiting for them as the result of their corruption. People had religiosity, and even many of them were zealous for God. But Jesus wept over them, because he saw their inner corruption. Outward religiosity does not mean anything when people are corrupt inwardly. The corruption of the temple was but an example of these religious people's inner corruption. Jesus did not let these materialistic people corrupt the temple – he destroyed the market and drove them out. 

 

"My house will be a house of prayer." This short statement of Jesus shows us what Christian church is aboutIt is fundamentally, God's house where God dwells - we must be sincere whenever we come to God for we are coming to God's house. And the reason why we come to church is not for any other reason but to pray - it is a house of prayer, and even for all nations. Church is the place where those who seek God's will gather together in one mind and purpose, and pray for God's will to be done on earth. It is the place where children of God who seek God's will and purpose gather together and pursue God's world mission in one mind and heart. Let's pray that our church may be a house of prayer for all nations. Let's pursue God's will and purpose upon our life as children of God. 

 

Look at verse 47. Every day Jesus was teaching at the temple. His time was running out moment by moment; after his entry to Jerusalem, he had only about seven days to live, and Jerusalem, despite her religiosity, was corrupt to the core, deserving God's punishment. But Jesus did not despair. In hope, he taught people the word of God every day. By teaching the word of God every day, Jesus challenged the corruption of his own people in Jerusalem. 

 

One Word:Recognize The Time Of God's Coming To You And Repent!

Sunday, February 24, 2018

posted Feb 27, 2018, 12:13 AM by Site Administrator

6

 

PUT THIS MONEY TO WORK

 

Luke 19:11-27

Key Verse 19:13

 

So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'

 

First, "Put this money to work" (11-13). Look at verse 11. "While 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." The expression, "because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once" shows us the reason why Jesus issued this parable, the parable of the mina. In this expression, their mentality in believing and following Jesus was revealed very well. In their eyes, it was really clear that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and Jesus' entry to Jerusalem would mark the beginning of the messianic kingdom promised in the Old Testament. They were happy and excited to follow Jesus, because once Jesus established the messianic kingdom in Jerusalem, they who had followed him, would occupy all high ruling positions in his kingdom and rule the whole world together with him. Their idea was really fantastic: they did not do anything, but only because they believed in Jesus, they would enjoy all the benefits of the kingdom of God. This is a modern day trend in Christian community. It sounds really cool, as many people delight in this idea, saying, "will reign together with Jesus." But in order to correct this misconception of the kingdom of God, Jesus gave this parable, the parable of the mina, showing us where the believers are standing.

 

Look at verses 12 and 13. A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. Back in those days, since the fastest modes of transportation were animals, like donkeys or camels, the journey would take a long time. So, before leaving, the man called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas, and he told them, "Put this money to work until I come back." As you see in the footnote, a mina was worth about three months'wages. By today's standards, that's about $20,000. It was a big moment for these servants. They were entrusted with their master's money, and now it was up to how they would use it. The command, "Put this money to work," meant that they should invest their master's money very carefully and make a profit without fail.

 

Here, a man of noble birth refers to Jesus Christ himself; he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the line of king David. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, people thought that, with his mighty power, Jesus would establish the kingdom of God in Jerusalem at once, destroying all their enemies. They expected that since they followed Jesus believing in him as the promised Messiah, they would enjoy good things of the Messianic kingdom freely – no more work or pain or conflict, but enjoying victories and privileges in his kingdom. But that's not going to happen. Instead, in Jerusalem, Jesus would be crucified, and then, after resurrection, he would go back to heaven, only to return later as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Then, during the period of time between his ascension and his return, what should his followers do while staying on earth? His believers are his servants who are entrusted with the mina in this parable. Through this parable, Jesus shows us that while he is in heaven, it is his believers who should invest his asset, his capital, his mina, and make a profit for him. How long? Until he comes back! This is the believers' position in the world. While our master is in heaven preparing to return, we are here to work and make a profit for him.

 

One young man finally accepted Jesus as his Savior; he experienced God's salvation. Then, he said, "So, now what?"This is a big question for all believers. As believers, what should we do during our life time here on earth? Should we pursue security and success competing with the people in the world again? No! Should we pursue sinful pleasures in the world again? No! Jesus says, "Put this money to work until I return." Before, we worked for the worthless things of this world; mostly, it was sinful or selfish. But now Jesus wants us to work for him. In Jesus Christ, we no longer live a lowly sinful life, but a glorious life of serving God's mission. Jesus commands us, "Put this money to work."

 

In the parable, ten servants received ten minas, one mina for each servant equally. This indicates that all believers have the same amount of resources, and the same opportunities. What is this mina, which all believers have in common, and which we can use as the resources to produce a profit for our Master Jesus Christ? The mina may refer to our new life that each of us has received from Jesus Christ, that comes with such value and potential to bear much fruit. Also, the mina can refer to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which every believer received at the time of accepting his grace. The profit Jesus desires is not money or gorgeous buildings, but saved souls. The gospel, the good news we have in Jesus Christ is the real resources with which we can produce many saved souls for Jesus Christ. Now we must put this mina we received from Jesus to work so as to make a profit for him.

 

Second, "Sir, your mina has earned ten more" (14-19). In this parable, we see another group of people, called, "his subjects." They were his subjects, so they should have honored him and obeyed him. But verse 14 says that theyhated him instead, and sent even a delegation after him to say, "We don't want this man to be our king." They were wicked people. They are those who reject Jesus' kingship over their lives; they reject Jesus' kingship so that they can do whatever they want to do, instead of being instructed to do this or that. 

 

Look at verse 15. It reads: "He was made king, however, and returned home." Whether they want or not, it did not matter; whether they acknowledged the truth or not, it did not matter. No matter what, he became king and returned. As the king entered through the city gates riding on a tall, white stallion, dressed in royal robes, and accompanied by a great procession of elite royal guards, everyone who loved him and had longed for his return cheered, "Long live the king! Long live the king!" But, all those who rebelled against him watched nervously from the shadows. Once the king got to his palace, however, his first order of business was to see how his servants had done. He sent for those to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.This showed that how and what his servants did with the mina he had given them was important to him.

 

Look at verse 16. Let's read this verse together:

 

"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'"

 

Wow! Ten more! What a surprise! These days, if an investor doubles his investment, he invites all his friends over for cake and ice cream. But, this servant made a 1,000% gain!Usually, when the boss is gone, all the employees enjoy an easy time; such as taking a three hour lunch break to go play golf, playing games on the company computer, or even taking off the whole day to go to Disney Land. But, this servant was different. He took his master's word absolutely, put his mina to work, and night and day, he worked hard, struggling to make his investment successful. His friends might have said to him, "Hey man, take it easy." But, he only worked harder.Finally, after overcoming all the difficulties, he became so successful. Then, the day of his master's returning was the greatest day in his entire life. At the news of his coming back, great joy filled his heart. He ran ahead of the other servants like a 100-meter sprinter to be the very first in line to greet his master. He went before the king, bowed to the ground, and with great joy said, "Sir, your mina has earned ten more."What a glorious moment it must have been! He was so happy to be able to say, "Sir, your mina has earned ten more." How did his master respond? Look at verse 17. Let's read this verse together.

 

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

 

When the master heard this servant's report, he said, "Well done, my good servant!" The master was so pleased and happy. This servant took his instruction absolutely and worked hard even while he was absent, even while he was not supervising. The master felt so good to see that he had such a trustworthy servant. For the servant, the words, "Well done, my good servant!" fell like music on his ears. Like an Olympic athlete receiving the gold medal, it was the greatest moment of his life. To see his master's smiling face and hear the words, "Well done, my good servant!" was all the reward he could ever want. What is our reward for our lives of faith and hard struggle to bear fruit? It is to hear these words from Jesus, "Well done, my good servant." This is the greatest reward we can aim for. Sometimes, serving God seems too hard, and we face many difficulties. But, when we think about these words, we find new strength and can overcome all difficulties, hardships, and self-denial. This is what we really want to hear: "Well done, my good servant!"Jesus is coming soon. I pray that on the day of his coming, you will be able to say with great joy, "Sir, your mina has earned ten more." I pray that the day of Jesus' second coming may be the greatest day in your life.

 

At that point, the servant was ready to go home, dancing for joy. But, his master added, "Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities." Wow! Ten cities! What a reward! This man was just a lowly servant, but when he proved to his master that he was trustworthy, his master put him in charge of ten cities. Look at verse 18. After this, the second servant came and said, "Sir, your mina has earned five more." The master said to him, "You take charge of five cities." To the servant who earned ten minas, the master gave ten cities; to the servant who earned five, the master gave five cities. He entrusted each of them according to how much they could handle properly.Once, these men were just lowly servants. But, now, because they proved themselves trustworthy, they were promoted to be rulers, reigning together with their master. They became his partners and loyal coworkers.

 

The one who produced ten more mina was really determined to work for the master – his self control and hard-working spirit was proved by his fruit, so he was appointed as the governor of a big state like California. The one who produced five more minas worked hard also, but not as much as the one who produced ten more minas – that much was his quality. So he was appointed as the governor of a medium size state such as Washington. In God's kingdom, there are so many positions to be filled – senators, governors and city mayors who would rule and operate the kingdom of God together with Jesus. As Jesus comes back as the King of kings and Lord of lords, he wants to fill all these ruling positions with his believers. So, he gives all his believers an equal chance to prove themselves. While he is absent, some people work really hard for him, with complete self-control, denying their own desires for sleep and easy-going life; overcoming all difficulties and challenges, they produce great fruit for him – they prove their true quality in this way. They are really faithful and loyal to Jesus, and thereby, trustworthy and reliable. Jesus assigns these people in the ruling positions in his kingdom according to their true quality they proved. Some people will be assigned as the rulers over ten cities, some others over five cities, all according to their own quality they proved. These trustworthy people rule together with Jesus in his kingdom, and the whole kingdom will operate so smoothly with justice and righteousness, from top to bottom. 

 

Most of all, once you are assigned as a governor or city mayor, you don't need to go through re-election campaign any longer; your reward will last forever. Your glory and power and authority will be eternal. Jesus says, "Put this money to work until I come back." Jesus wants us to rule together with him in his kingdom forever. So he gives us the chance to prove our own true quality as trustworthy servants by working for him now, while he is absent. For this, he provides us with the necessary resources, the mina. There is no favoritism. The same chance has been given to all his believers. For the past 2,000 years, all believers have been privileged to work for God – everyone has had his or her own chance, and everyone who has proved himself or herself trustworthy, is blessed to reign together with Jesus. Jesus says, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." (Matt 11:12) Don't you want to occupy an eternal ruling position in the kingdom of God? Don't you want to reign together with Jesus? Then, prove yourself trustworthy by producing good fruit for Jesus Christ.Concentrate all your strength on saving souls. Daniel 12:2,3 reads: "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." He has given you the chance to prove your true quality by calling you to work for his kingdom business. This is the privilege all believers enjoy today – we are given a chance to prove ourselves so that we can be rulers and governors in God's kingdom. I pray that many of us, even all of us, may be assigned as the rulers over ten cities and five cities. "Well done, my good servant. Take charge of ten cities."

 

Third, "You wicked servant" (20-27). Look at verses 20 and 21. Then another servant came and said, "Sir, here is your mina. I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I 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." The master could not believe his ears. Not only did this servant completely ignore his command to put the money to work, but now he was explaining why - it was all the master's fault! He said, "You take out what you did not put in and you reap what you did not sow." This shows this servant's mentality. In this servant's eyes, his master was a hard man who just utilized others to get what he didn't work for. He didn't like the idea that, even if he worked hard and made a lot of profit, all the money would go to the master. So, he refused to work for his master. He didn't act like his master's servant, but as if he was his own master.  

 

At this, the master was angry with him, saying, "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?'" The master pointed out that his excuse was bogus, because, if that was what the servant had truly believed, he would have, out of the fear of his master, at least put the money on deposit in the bank. This servant simply ignored his master's command and despised him. He was a wicked servant.

 

Why do many Christians not work for God? As this servant shows, it is because they do not understand that they are servants who are supposed to live for God and work for Him. Instead of having that sense of servantship, they want to live their life for themselves, pursuing what they want to do, using their time however way they desire. Jesus is our Master, and we are his servants. We are not supposed to live our own life, but the life of his servants, doing what he wants, and living according to his instructions. Let's remember this: We are his servants, even unworthy servants. 

 

Another reason is that they do not understand God's good intention in calling them to his mission. They consider God's mission as a burden and thereby, try to not do it as much as possible, coming up with all kinds of lame excuses. We must remember that God is not like a sneaky and evil businessman who takes advantage of undocumented people; He is not interested in utilizing our free labor for his purpose. Didn't Jesus say, "Because you have been trustworthy with a very small matter,..."? What we do here on earth as his servants is a very small matter to him. God is the richest Person in the whole universe; He is the most powerful Person in the whole universe. How much do you think you can help God? Not much! He does not need our support or help. But out of his great love for us, He has given us a chance to work for Him even with an intention to promote us greatly only if we prove ourselves trustworthy. God's mission is God's favor on us.

 

Look at verses 24 through 26. Let's read these verses together:

 

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.'

The master had given the servant a chance to work for him, but he was not faithful to the task at all. He not only wasted his precious time and opportunity but also ignored his master's command, showing his contemptuous attitude toward him. So, the master would not let him have any part in his government. Simply, this servant was fired, while all his companions who had proved themselves trustworthy were promoted highly. This is how things will go when Jesus comes again. As you prove your own quality either good or bad, some people will be promoted to ruling positions to reign together with Jesus forever in his kingdom, while others who have ignored Jesus' will and lived for themselves, despising their master, will have to see Jesus' angry face; they will be put to shame. The believers in the passage had a fantasy idea about enjoying all the privileges of the kingdom of God because they said, "I believe in Jesus; he is the promised Messiah." But Jesus showed them that they must be realistic about the kingdom of God. No company would promote this kind of wicked employees who, while their boss was absent, took a three hour lunch break to play golf. Simply, they are not trustworthy. 

 

Jesus confirms about how he will deal with everyone including believers in the last chapter of the book of Revelation, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Rev 22:12) Jesus will reward and judge each person according to the fruit we bear in our life – the fruit we bear proves our true quality, either good or bad, and his judgment is just and right.

 

When we think about this, we can see that, as Christians, we are not here for vacation, but we are interns or in probation. Our Lord Jesus has graciously given us a chance to work for him so that, if we do well with the task he hired us for during this probation period, proving ourselves trustworthy, he can put us in charge of many cities. He is looking for trustworthy people so that he may fill all important and great positions in his kingdom with them - those people who will reign his kingdom as governors and city mayors together with him forever. For the past 2,000 years of Christian history, all believers have been given this privilege to work for God equally. Many people such as John Wesley, Dwight L. Moody, Billy Graham proved their quality by dedicating themselves to God's work completely and bearing much fruit; then, they entered glory to reign together with Jesus. If we prove ourselves trustworthy and faithful in this mission while here on earth, Jesus will be happy to have us work with him continually in the eternal kingdom of God. But those who ignore his command will be put to utter shame- in Jesus' eyes, they are wicked servants. They will be fired, and all the privileges given to them will be taken away, and given to those who are trustworthy. Jesus will never let them work in his government - no part in his kingdom. We have about 50 years to work for God as Christians50 years are enough time for anyone to show who he or she is. Jesus has given us this important mission of taking care of his sheep; he wants us to be loyal to him and faithful to this holy mission. Let's give ourselves fully to the work of God, for he is watching, and eternal reward is waiting for us.

 

In this way, the king treated his own servants, commending those who were trustworthy and giving them more, while punishing those who were wicked. How, then, would the king deal with his enemies? Look at verse 27."'But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.'" There are many people who reject Jesus as their king because they want to be their own king and enjoy their sinful lives. In so doing, they stand as his enemies. When Jesus returns, everyone who rejects him will be treated as his enemies and be punished most severely, even suffering eternal death.

 

This parable of the mina illustrates Christian life very well. God has given us a chance to prove our true quality by giving us this privilege to work for him. While your boss is absent, while your boss is in heaven, or returning, how do you carry out your task? I pray that all of us may be found trustworthy when he comes back.

 

One Word:Well Done, My Good Servant! Take Charge Of Ten Cities!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

posted Feb 19, 2018, 5:00 PM by Site Administrator

ZACCHAEUS, COME DOWN IMMEDIATELY

 

Luke 19:1-10

Key Verse 19:5

 

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

 

        First, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately" (1-6). Look at verse 1. Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. Jesus had served God’s kingdom work for the past three years, and all people throughout Israel, came to acknowledge him as a great man of God. He became very popular. Now in his last journey to Jerusalem, as he entered Jericho, so many people welcomed him and cheered on him. The whole city was stirred up. Verse 2 reads: "A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy." The occupation, "tax collector" already shows what kind of person Zacchaeus was - really selfish, betraying his people, giving up his identity as God's chosen people, willing to bear the shame and blame as a national traitor, all for the sake of money. But he was no ordinary tax collector, but a chief tax collector. We can imagine how hard he had squeezed his own people until he was chosen and promoted to be a chief tax collector; he was really a bad person, die-hard, maybe, the worst person in Jericho. Then, he was wealthy. The passage specifically mentions about it, showing that he was really wealthy, not a millionaire, but a billionaire.

 

        This man also wanted to see who Jesus was. Why did he want to see Jesus? It was not because he had a great spiritual desire; it was not because he was seeking the truth wholeheartedly; it was not because he was repentant either. But simply, it was because Jesus, that famous person, was passing through his town. He had never seen him, but heard about him – how he opened the eyes of the blind, how he healed the sick, how he welcomed the unclean lepers and cleansed them; he heard about how Jesus became a friend for the lost and wounded. He also heard that one of his disciples was Levi, a former tax collector – it was unbelievable. No devout person so far had ever done such an act. What Jesus had done was indeed beyond his comprehension. Zacchaeus wondered who this person might be. He would never make his journey to Jesus' place on his own, because he did not have that much desire for him, and he was too busy; simply, he was too mundane. But because Jesus was passing through his town, then, why not? As all people ran to see him, he too came to see who Jesus was.

 

        But, being a short man he could not see him, because of the crowd. So, what did he do? He quickly checked out where Jesus was heading, ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore-fig tree. Probably, he was in his late forties or fifties. At this age, people are not so agile like college students. It was not easy for him to climb up the tree. He fell twice, and finally, came up on the tree, and sat there. How did he look? He looked funny; people might laugh at him. But Zacchaeus did not care; he just wanted to see who Jesus was. Finally, he secured a full view of Jesus – for the first time in his life, he saw Jesus very clearly – his graceful-looking face brought him such peace, and his smile made him happy.

 

        Then, something totally unexpected happened. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Zacchaeus never imagined this! This great man of God, Jesus, knew him and called him by name. Also there were so many influential people in the town who wanted to have Jesus in their houses. But among all of them, Jesus chose to stay at his house. It was such great privilege and honor to have Jesus under his roof. In front of all these people, maybe, several thousand people, Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Jesus' grace was beyond his wildest imagination.

 

        By the way, why did Jesus do so? That's a good question. This man Zacchaeus was not seeking God wholeheartedly; he was not repentant; he did not say, "I will follow Jesus." Instead, this man, only because Jesus was passing through his town, wanted to see him just like all others there, maybe, out of curiosity. But when Jesus saw this man sitting on the tree in his forties or even in fifties, most likely wearing expensive clothes, he understood him. Jesus saw a lot about him. As a good shepherd, he understood his sheep's language very well, even if his sheep did not use a clear language at all, but just "Baaaaaah..." In Jesus' eyes, this man was a lost sheep, looking for a way to come back to the sheep pen, without knowing how and where. So Jesus reached out to him and grabbed him, saying, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Jesus offered him a chance to experience God's grace and thereby, turn to Him.

 

        This passage reminds us of Jesus' grace upon us very well. When we accepted our shepherd's Bible study invitation, we didn't mean that we were repentant; it didn't mean that we were seeking God wholeheartedly. But just maybe, out of curiosity, or maybe, for some other reasons such as hoping to be more intelligent by having some knowledge about the Bible, which is the world best seller all the time. Or, we were just curious, thinking, "How come all these shepherds and shepherdesses are always happy? I want to be happy too." Or, out of desperation, we were just trying one more thing in our numerous attempts for a better life. Our spiritual desire, or our motive seemed so weak and insignificant. But Jesus saw differently; he understood why we were accepting the Bible study invitation; he knew what we really desired. Understanding our language and gestures very well, he stretched out his hand and grabbed us. Jesus offered us a chance to experience God's grace and thereby, turn to Him. He knew us when no one understood us. He is our Good Shepherd who knew us.

 

        "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Until this time, Zacchaeus was just one of onlookers. But now Jesus invited him to a personal fellowship with him. Now Zacchaeus should not remain as an onlooker; instead, he must enter into real personal fellowship with Jesus. For this, the first thing he should do was to come down immediately from the looker's position, and welcome Jesus into his house. Of course, Zacchaeus was so happy and thankful that he did this immediately, gladly welcoming Jesus into his house. When he did this in front of all those people, maybe, thousands of people, he felt like he was 10 feet tall. It was the best moment in his entire life.

 

        This is Jesus' invitation for all of us that we should not remain as onlookers any longer, but we should enter into personal relationship with him; he wants us to have life together with him. Many people come to church and say that they believe in Jesus, but they just watch him from a distance; maybe, they cheer up on him, and even say that Jesus is God. But they hide themselves behind the curtain of the church. Or, they blend themselves among church people, doing church things, never being real to him. But Jesus is not happy with that. Instead, he invites all of us, saying, "John, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." When we accept this invitation and have Jesus under our roof, we come to have real fellowship with him. What kind of relationship do you have with Jesus when he is at your house? Maybe, on the street, Jesus waivers his hand, and together with all people there, you may cheer on him. Or at the church, he delivers a powerful message and you respond happily, saying, "Amen." Yet, in your house, you come to have different relationship with him - very personal and intimate; maybe, you talk to him with mouthful of food, or you ask him very personal questions, or you ask him for some personal guidance, or you play pingpong with him, or you cook dinner for him, and he prepares fruit salad; indeed, in your house, you come to have really personal time with Jesus. This is what Jesus desires. And for this, Jesus says to us, "John, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Zacchaeus came down at once and welcomed Jesus gladly. How do you respond to this invitation?

 

        Jesus says, "Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." They are Christians; they call him "Lord." But how come Jesus is not in them, but outside. Why? It's all because they have closed the doors of their hearts toward him, not allowing him to influence and change them, by insisting their own desires, plans and styles; they just ask him to stay in the church, but not in their life; they ask him to stay in heaven, not in their heart. As a result, even if they are Christians, and even if they go to church, even if they praise him as their Savior, Jesus is still not in them. Jesus tells us, "Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Open the door of your heart and let him come in. He wants to have eating fellowship with you. Let him come in and influence you and change you; have life together with him.

 

        Second, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (7-10). When Jesus came to Zacchaeus’ house, it was great shock to everyone in the town. They said, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" What Jesus did was really sensational – probably, it would cover the front page on the Jericho Times the next day. The holy man of God came to the sinner’s house! But they did not know what amazing things were going on there. Look at verse 8. Let's read this verse together:

 

8  But 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." 

 

        

        Through having personal time with Jesus, something amazing happened in the heart of Zacchaeus. He came up with such a wonderful decision to give half of all his possessions to the poor! That must be a lot! And also that must be a big thing for him - giving up half of all his possessions - because money was what he had pursued really wholeheartedly. Until then, money was everything, the most valuable thing in the whole world. But now, after experiencing Jesus' grace, after having personal fellowship with Jesus, he was going to give half of it to the poor. No one asked him to do so; he came up with this decision all on his own. How could he do that? What happened? Or why did he do that?

 

        Jesus' grace upon Zacchaeus was so great and touching. Zacchaeus was really happy and thankful to him. Then, in appreciation of Jesus' grace for him, he wanted to do something so that he could please him and make him happy also. Then, he knew what he should do - something he knew wrong, something he knew he must repent of - his love of money, his pursuit of money. That's what he was determined to do; that's what he proclaimed happily. What could save this chief tax collector from the grip of money? Nothing!! Without God's divine intervention, he would have lived the same life of collecting money all the days of his life. Then he would die with regret, great sense of emptiness and fear of judgment. But when he experienced Jesus' grace, when he appreciated Jesus' grace upon his life, he was set free from the grip of money that he could repent and turn away from the life of pursuing money freely. Jesus' grace saved him from the love of money. This is the salvation we find in Jesus Christ; this is the freedom we experience in Jesus Christ, freedom to turn to God in repentance, freedom to obey God's command, freedom to love God and pursue Him. When anyone experiences God's grace in Jesus and truly appreciates it, there comes true repentance, turning from the life of pursuing the things of this world to the life of loving God and pursuing God's will. This is what we want to see in the lives of all our sheep all the more. Let them come to Jesus and experience his love. They will find salvation and new life in Jesus Christ.

 

Look at verse 9. Let’s read this verse together:

 

9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

 

        "Today salvation has come to this house." Zacchaeus never said, "I believe in Jesus," or "You are the Christ." But Jesus proclaimed his salvation. Salvation comes not through performing certain rituals or reciting Bible verses, but through sincerely turning toward God in repentance. So, the term, salvation, shouldn’t be considered as a theological matter, but as a personal matter - whether each person turns to God in repentance or not. Zacchaeus too was a son of Abraham – he, too, was God’s child, promised to inherit God’s covenant together with Abraham.

 

        Finally, Jesus says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost." This statement of Jesus shows the purpose of his coming into the world and what he is doing today – it is to seek and save what is lost. His purpose is not to persuade those who are not willing, but to look for the lost and save them. Then, who are the lost? There were so many people in Jericho, but in Jesus’ eyes, Zacchaeus was the lost – Zacchaeus was the one who had been waiting for God’s salvation, who was ready to accept God’s grace. The lost are those who, with deep sense of problem about their life or eternal life, have been looking for and waiting for God’s help. They are the ones who are willing to open their hearts and accept God’s grace. Those who admit their sins and thereby, are in deep agony, crying out, "What a wretched man I am" are the lost. Those who recognize their lost condition and cry out, "What shall I do?" "Show me the way!" are the lost. While other people just simply toss off that kind of questions and pursue the things of this world wholeheartedly, the lost are agonized by unsolvable problems of life. Simply speaking, they are not satisfied with perishable things of this world – they are misfits in this world; they look for something true and something truly valuable, worthy of their life devotion. Maybe, at first, they are snobby just like the Samaritan woman, scratching their shepherds' pride; or they are so argumentative or defensive just like Nicodemus; or they are just curious about Jesus just like Zacchaeus. But eventually they are the ones who respond to God's grace happily. Jesus looks for these people, and whenever he finds anyone like them, he does all possible things to help them open their hearts and accept God’s grace. In order to find one lost sheep, he is willing to send 100 of his servants. In order to find one lost sheep, his servants come and check out each and every one of all the students – 15,000 at CSUDH, 25,000 students at ECC, 38,000 students at CSULB – saying, "Would you be interested in studying the Bible?" Jesus is the good shepherd who searches the entire mountain for one lost sheep until he finds it. And we are his servants, serving his will, looking for the lost.

 

        Jesus says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." We are very thankful that Jesus sought us and saved us. While we were in agony, while we were crying out for help, he did not leave us alone. We were really in bad shape; we had really serious problems; we had no direction, no purpose and we were dying in sin; we were going crazy because of demons. But we never told anyone about such things; instead, we smiled and studied sincerely. As a result, no one knew us. But Jesus knew us; he heard our desperate cry. And out of love, he came to save us, by sending his servants to us. Sometimes, we were cold to him, sometimes, we were stubborn; yet, he did not give up on us; instead, he sought us continually despite all our worldliness, arrogance and sinfulness. Finally, thanks to Jesus seeking us continually, even we, such stubborn people, such worldly people, such sinful people came to recognize our shepherd's voice, and we found salvation and new life in him. What a wonderful statement of Jesus it is: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Praise Jesus! He is our Savior! He is our good Shepherd who knows us and loves us. Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost.

 

        Today, what is Jesus our Lord doing? Yes, he is looking for the lost, and his heart’s desire is to save them. Jesus is seeking them today. What does Jesus want us to do as his followers? He wants us to seek and save the lost. May we find all the lost, wounded and even demon-possessed on our campuses, and bring them back to Jesus.

 

One Word:       For The Son Of Man Came To Seek And To Save What Was Lost

Sunday, February 11, 2018

posted Feb 13, 2018, 2:01 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated Feb 13, 2018, 2:06 PM ]

PREACH THE WORD

 

2 Timothy 4:1-22

Key Verse 4:2

 

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

 

        First, "Preach the Word" (1-2). Look at verses 1 and 2.  Here, Paul gives Timothy a charge to preach the Word. But before issuing this charge, he shows Timothy its basis, saying, "In the presence of God and of Christ, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge." In the presence of God and of Christ, Paul issued this charge, indicating that God the Father and God the Son are in agreement with this charge - it is God's will and God's command, and thereby, Timothy must do it. He shows that preaching the Word is not his personal suggestion or private direction for Timothy, but it is the command Timothy must discharge in the presence of God and Christ Jesus absolutely. We encourage every disciple to teach the Bible to others. It is not our church's unique direction or requirement; it is not my own opinion either; it is what every believer must do in the presence of God and Christ Jesus. Whether we like to do so or not, it is not a matter; whether we are in a good situation or not, it is not a matter either. No matter what, in any situation, at any cost, we must preach the Word, because it is the command that comes from God.

       

        Paul also says, "In view of his appearing and his kingdom," showing that this charge is directly related to Jesus' coming. In the book of Ezekiel, God showed Ezekiel that He had established him as a watchman. When a watchman sees danger coming and warns people of it, but they do not prepare themselves accordingly, and thereby, die, they themselves are responsible for  the calamity they suffered. But if the watchman sees a danger coming, but do not warn them of it, and as a result, they die, then, the watchman is responsible for the blood of the people. In the same way, those who believe in God, those who know God's word are like the watchman - they know Jesus is coming; they know that at his second coming, peoples' eternal destiny will be decided - either eternal life in the kingdom of God or eternal judgment. So, they are obligated to preach the Word; if anyone is judged eternally because no one preached the Word to him and warned him about eternal judgment coming, then, those people who knew the Word but did not preach it are responsible for the blood of the man. In view of his appearing and his kingdom, we are obligated to preach the Word. We must preach the Word of God.

 

Look at verse 2. Let's read this verse together:

 

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction."

 

        Here, 'the Word' refers to all Scriptures, which eventually reveal Jesus Christ. At the end of chapter 2, Paul said that all Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Scriptures have everything for people's salvation and are the best tool for God's people to be established strong and equipped for God's work. So, the best way in serving God's kingdom work is to teach and preach the Word of God; the best way for God's servants to do God's work is to teach and preach the Word.

 

        Preaching is a logical and systematic teaching; there is logic and message. So, preparation is a must. When should we prepare ourselves? Paul says, "be prepared in season and out of season." It means "all the time" both in good situation" and "in bad situation." When we think about this direction, "Be prepared in season and out of season," we can see that we must be always focused on "preaching the Word," and pursue it - when things are favorable, we preach the Word. When things are challenging, we preach the Word. God the Father and God the Son Jesus our Lord pay close attention to what we do as his servants.

 

        Paul also says, "Correct, rebuke and encourage." These words show us what we should do as we teach and preach the Word. People may have some spiritual desire, but it does not mean that they have the right understanding, right direction, purpose and vision according to God's will and purpose; or, even those people who are committed to God may still have their own ideas and desires, which are not necessarily in line with God's will and desire. As we teach and preach the Word, we need to correct their wrong ideas and desires. Even after living as Jesus' disciples for many years, still, consciously and unconsciously, people often, develop some compromising attitude; when people lose spirit, then, their old self, full of ego and stubbornness, come up. Indeed, people, I mean, we all, need to be corrected continually by the word of God. Sometimes, people refuse to be corrected. They know that they are wrong, but do not want to change. Then, we need to rebuke them. And once they accept our challenge and struggle to live in the way God desires, then, we need to encourage them to do so continually. When we think about these three words - correct, rebuke, and encourage - we understand that preaching the Word is not like just sharing knowledge or information with others; it is not like just handing out some tracks or million dollar bills with some Bible verses printed on them; it is not like impersonal lesson that is done in college classrooms either. Rather, preaching the Word is very personal, requiring us to wrestle with people, pointing out their problems and correcting their way of thinking, or desires or plans, and helping them accept God's will and purpose on them, even sometimes, rebuking them. When we think about this, we can see that, actually, preaching the Word is more like shepherding, or being mentors guiding them according to God's will and purpose. 

 

        The words, "with great patience and careful instruction" show us with what kind of attitude we must preach the Word or try to correct, rebuke and encourage. Correcting or rebuking is like performing a spiritual surgery, removing their own way of thinking, desires and plans that have been embedded into them for many years, and implanting new spiritual value system, hope and desires. No one can do this kind of surgery at random or casually. So, we must do it very carefully, making sure that we don't make any mistake. Also, we must not do such important operation in haste or whenever we see problems, or faults. Instead, we wait for the right chance to come patiently. When we think about these expressions - with great patience and careful instruction - we can see how much we must be dedicated to this job. Preaching the Word is not a joke; correcting, rebuking is not something we can do casually. The task requires real concentration and dedication - it carries eternal value, bringing eternal consequences. So, we must do this task with real sincerity, dedication and with a fearful and trembling heart - preach the Word.

 

        Second, "I have kept the faith" (3-8). In verses 3 through 8, Paul gives Timothy two reasons why he should preach the Word in season and out of season. The first reason is because people will not put up with sound doctrine. Look at verses 3 and 4. Let's read these verses together:

 

3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

 

        Timothy had sound doctrine - the true gospel. But later, people would not put up with sound doctrine. They will feel fed up with sound doctrine. We say, "Your sin is the real problem. You must repent." Then, people say, "You always talk about sin and repentance. I am sick and tired of it." They do not want to hear any real gospel message such as repentance, submission, turning to God... Instead, they gather around themselves a lot of teachers who teach them what they want to hear such as blessings, comfort, and great things. In many churches in America, people don't talk about sin or repentance - such words are found only in the Bible, but not in their real life; such words are banned. A Christian magazine called, "Pulpit Helps" had a survey, asking 7,441 Protestant pastors if they believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Of the 7,441 Protestant pastors, 51 percent of the Methodists, 35 percent of the Presbyterians, 30 percent of the Episcopalians, and 33 percent of the American Baptists did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. They were also asked if they believed that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God: 87% of Methodists said NO. 95% of Episcopalians said NO. 82% of Presbyterians said NO. 67% of American Baptists said N0. This is astounding. How can this be, these are pastors of churches? Simplely, they neither believe the Bible nor they allow it to govern their lives. The Bible is then reduced to a book with good advice, a self-improvement book, and to some, a book for success in the world. Are they believers or unbelievers? I don't know. Only God knows. Certainly, we cannot expect anything good from them. This was published in December 1987, about 30 years ago. Then, how is it now? We don't want to talk about it - we don't want to talk about how these strange pastors and theologians come up with strange theories, ideas and interpretation of the word of God only to confuse people and mislead them.

 

        Paul also says, "They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." Why do they turn their ears away from the truth? The truth is absolute; once the truth is acknowledged, you must adjust yourself to abide by it; then, there comes denying your own desires and plans, your own preferences and hobbies and lifestyles; instead, you struggle to live by the truth, doing what the truth shows you to do. That's not what they want to do. So, they turn their ears away from the truth; instead, they turn aside to myths. Myths is like this: Long long time ago when tigers smoked tobacco, angels saw the beauty of the daughters of men and they married anyone they chose and produced children - they became the Nephilim and great warriors like Hercules. Why to myths? Myths is fantasy - not real, but fancy, and thereby, you can just enjoy its story, not having to do anything. Nowadays, people have this stance toward the Bible. They read and know all the stories in the Bible - God's creation, Enoch's story, Noah's story, Abraham's story, Daniel's story, and even the rapture and reigning with Jesus forever,... But to them, these are just stories they like, not life-giving words of God that can transform their life completely. To them, reading the Bible or believing in the Bible is not different than reading the Odyssey of Homer.

 

        Paul told Timothy that such a terrible time would come in the future. But now in our generation, it is the present reality. By God's divine grace and revelation, sound doctrine, the true gospel has been given to us. Now what should we do in this situation? We must preach the Word more diligently, being prepared in season and out of season. As the carriers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have this divine duty to preach the Word to all peoples on earth, both to church-going people and to non-church-going people. This is our holy battle.

 

        Look at verse 5. Paul writes, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." When people do not put up with sound doctrine, but just have many teachers around them who tell them what they want to hear, Timothy might be discouraged; when it becomes the trend in the society, he might be confused. But no matter what, in all circumstances, Paul encouraged him to keep his head. No matter how other believers say or do, even if they do not put up with sound doctrine, but just enjoy what they want to hear and do, still he must keep his head, and do the work of an evangelist, by preaching the Word in all circumstances. The point of our struggle is not whether we say, "I believe in Jesus" or not, but whether we keep sound doctrine continually or not, whether we keep the true gospel or we give into the trend.

 

        In verse 6, Paul shares another reason why Timothy must preach the Word all the time: Soon, Paul would die. Paul had been the carrier of the true gospel, sound doctrine; he really gave himself to this holy mission completely, and now his life had been already poured out for this purpose, and he sensed that the time for his departure had come. Then, Timothy should succeed him as the carrier of the sound doctrine.

 

In verse 7, Paul sums up his life. Let's read this verse together:

 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

        Paul sees his life as the life of fighting the good fight, as the race, and as the life of keeping the faith. Usually, all fights are not good because they destroy life and relationships, so don't fight. When the USA attacked Iraq in 2003, Mother Barry said that we must send missionaries to Iraq, not missiles. But our fight as Christians is the good fight, because it saves ourselves, others, and brings glory to God. It is the fight for God, for others and for ourselves. So, fight the good fight as Christian soldiers. Paul uses here the word, "fight" to describe his life of faith. What does this show us about Christian life? How do you fight? Just sitting back and relaxing? No. You fight with all your heart and strength, pouring out everything you have. That's how we live our Christian life, fighting for God and his kingdom work wholeheartedly.

 

        He also describes his life of faith as "the race." Our life of faith is like the race. The characteristics of this race are both it is a long race, taking a long time - our whole life span - and there is a final goal. And in this race, the most important thing is to finish it. Since it is a long race, there are good times and bad times. Sometimes, in our life of faith, things go very well - many sheep grow under our care and our children grow well and we enjoy wonderful life - we feel like we are running downhill along the beachside drive course. Sometimes, in our life of faith, nothing goes well - sheep do not grow well, we get fired, children suffer from illness - the problem is, usually when it rains, it pours. Usually, bad things happen all together. At that time, we feel like we are running uphill in the desert land. Some people quit the race in the middle only because of some difficulties, some sacrifices or some persecutions. Even though they ran very well at first, everything becomes nothing if they quit the race in the middle for any reason. Great men are not those who do things very excellently for a while, but those who finish the race to the end regardless any difficult condition.

 

        Paul also describes his life as the life of keeping the faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. That complete confidence, complete assurance of God's grace, God's love, God's calling, God's mission,... is described in a word, called, "faith." "God loves me!" "This is what God wants me to do!!!!" With this faith, we know what God wants us to do, what we must do, and how we must serve God, and thereby, we can dedicate ourselves to God's will and purpose completely. With this faith, our life comes to have a clear direction and purpose. This faith is more precious than gold, so, don't lose it no matter what; don't exchange this faith for anything in this world - money or success or dream marriage partner,... And this faith is the gift of God, and it is maybe, the only thing we carry from this life to the next life. If we lose the faith in Jesus, we lose everything in this life. The fact that Paul shouts victoriously that he had kept the faith shows that keeping the faith is more than just saying, "I believe in Jesus," or going to church on Sundays. Sometimes, doubt rises in us when things do not go well, when we are persecuted, when we are in prison, and when all the people desert us. At that time, do you still keep your faith in God that He is in control and that He will help you and bless you greatly? When you are laid off, when you have financial difficulty, and when your children suffer from illness, do you still keep your faith in God's goodness and love for you, God's provision and protection for you? Do you believe that He will bless you with a good job and a beautiful family as you seek his kingdom and his righteousness first? Paul's struggle was to keep the faith in God in all these challenging situations. When people lose their faith in God's provision and blessing, they struggle hard to secure what they want on their own - when a job offer comes, even if they can see that it is in conflict with God's will, they take it, even rejecting God's will upon their life - they do not know that once they lose faith, they lose everything in this life; then, what's the meaning of gaining the whole world, while you lose your soul? It cannot be covered by doing some Christian things, because God knows. Keeping the faith in God is everything, and when you keep it, you rise powerfully even in ruins, doing what God wants you to do despite all challenges. Keep your faith, because it is the gift God gave you personally; it is more precious than gold, more precious than a job or marriage, and it is the only treasure you can carry to the next life.

 

        Paul here uses the present perfect tense for all three verbs, saying, "have fought," "have finished," and "have kept." The present perfect tense shows that from the past until now, he has been doing these - fighting the good fight, running the race, and keeping the faith maybe, for 30 or 40 years. There must have been so many difficulties, challenging moments, and even temptations. But despite all those challenges, he had not been swayed away from this life of faith, but he remained loyal and faithful to God, to the task Jesus called him to do. So, now at the end of his life, when he looked back, he was so thankful and happy - he had no regret, and he was ready to meet his Master any moment. He was a conqueror and victor. So, he confidently shouts, "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

 

        For everyone, the time comes when we have to leave this world. At that time, what kind of testimony are you going to share? Will you be full of regret or will you be so scared like that un faithful servant in the parable of Mina? Or, will you be full of thanks and confidence in God's great reward for you like Paul, saying, "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day"? If that is so, I will tell you what kind of life you must live. Fight the good fight continually; run the race enduring all hardships; and keep the faith to the end! Don't be swayed away from the life of mission by anything in this life, whether good looking or bad looking. When we do so, then, at the end of our life, as we look back, we will be really victorious and thankful. We will see that, sometimes, fire surrounded us, but amazingly, we were not burnt just like Daniel's three friends, because God was accompanying us; we will see that, sometimes, we were in the midst of ferocious beasts, but strangely, they remained obedient to us just like Daniel in the Lion's den; we will see that, sometimes, we were walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and demons were growling at us, but no harm came to us, because God was guiding us through it; we will see that sometimes, we ran out of strength and thereby, we could not go any longer, but amazingly, Jesus himself carried us on his back. As we see all these things, all these amazing grace of God that has been poured out on our life over and over throughout our entire life, we will be really happy and thankful. Then, from the depth of our heart, we will really worship God in our death bed, just in the way Jacob worshiped God while leaning on his staff. Let's fight the good fight bravely, because our God is watching us. Let's run the race continually, because all heavenly angels cheer us on; let's keep the faith to the end, because at the finish line, our Lord Jesus who loves us so much is waiting for us to give us the crown of righteousness. Jesus says, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Rev 22:12)

 

        Third, "Do your best to come to me quickly" (9-22).  Look at verses 9 through 11. Paul asks Timothy to come to him quickly, because many of his coworkers had gone. Paul mentions here many of his coworkers - Demas, Crescens, Titus, and Tychicus. Among them, Demas was the first he mentioned, showing how painful he was when Demas deserted him. Demas was Paul's close coworker, fully established, on the same level with Luke (Col 4:14) and Mark (Phm 1:24). But while Paul was in prison during his second imprisonment, Demas deserted him, went to Thessalonica, pursuing things of the world. Demas might have many reasons, but in Paul's eyes, it was obvious - he loved the world. We must not love the world, or anything in the world, because if we love anything in the world, the love of God is not in us.

 

        Crescens was gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, and Tychicus to Ephesus. They were fully established and committed disciples. So, now they were sent out to take care of churches in other cities - they were reliable, useful and effective, taking care of God's churches. Tychicus was one of the people who accompanied Paul from Ephesus during his third missionary journey, because the Jews there plotted to kill him. (Acts 20:1-5) Since then, he lived as Paul's faithful, loyal coworker, and grow to be a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. (Col 4:7; Eph 6:21) He carried Paul's letters to Ephesus, Collos, and Philemon (three of Paul's four prison letters - Ephesians, Philippians, Collossians, and Philemon).

 

        Titus was Paul's loyal coworker - Paul put him in charge of collecting offerings from the churches and taking them to the Jerusalem church. It could have been burdensome for anyone to be in charge of collecting offerings. But Titus not only welcomed this duty, but he did it with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. Paul must have been greatly encouraged by him! (2Cor 8:6-23) Paul says of him, "I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you." (2Co 8:16) After he was released from his first imprisonment, Paul pioneered Crete, a Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea, and he left Titus there to strengthen and organize the church by appointing the elders. Then, while Titus was serving the church in Crete, Paul wrote a letter to him, called, 'Titus', and said to him, "As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there." (Tit 3:12) It was during his fourth missionary journey right before his second imprisonment. Then, now during his second imprisonment, he sent him to Dalmatia.

 

        In this way, Paul had many well established, faithful, and effective disciples, so while he was doing God's work visiting many places, or while he was even in prison, he sent them to the churches in need in Asia and Europe freely - they served churches, and when a new direction came, they had a baton touch and moved to other places according to Paul's instruction. In this way, together, they were one dream team for God's kingdom work.

 

        Paul says in verse 11, "Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." Mark was the very one who had deserted the mission team during Paul's first missionary journey; at that time, he was too naive, having just a fantastic idea about the mission life, not knowing what it meant to suffer for Jesus. When he faced many sufferings in his mission life such as walking all the time, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and persecution, he was shocked and he left the mission team, and went back to Jerusalem, where his mother's home was. Because of him, eventually, the dream team of Barnabas and Paul was broken. It seemed that Mark was useless at that time. But under the shepherding of the apostle Peter, Mark was established as a useful and effective servant for God's work. Now, Paul says of him, "He is useful to me in my ministry." It seemed that he was very smart and talented like modern day college student shepherds who know how to build websites, how to do power point, how to use computer, or playing musical instruments, etc. Some people may have weaknesses and as a result, ineffective now. But once established, they can become so useful and effective for God's ministry.

 

        Look at verse 13. "When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments." Unlike his first imprisonment when he was allowed to stay in a rented house, during his second imprisonment, he was put in a dungeon. It was cold. So, Paul asked Timothy to bring his cloak, and try to come to him before the winter. His scrolls, especially the parchments refer to the Scriptures. In that difficult situation, what he earnestly wanted was the word of God - the source of encouragement, comfort, vision and hope.

 

        In verses 14 and 15, Paul warned Timothy to be on his guard against Alexander the metal worker, because this man had opposed the gospel message strongly and done a great deal of harm to Paul. In his first trial, no one came to support him; everyone deserted him. But the Lord stood at his side and gave him strength, so Paul proclaimed the gospel message to all the Gentiles there at the court fully. Even though he worked with many others, he did not rely on humans, but on God alone. Paul shouts, 'The Lord will rescue me from every evil and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (18) In verse 19, Paul greets Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Paul concludes his letter, saying, "Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you."

    

        Through the study on the book of 2 Timothy, we learned about the true gospel. Paul calls it, "my gospel," "sound teaching," and "sound doctrine." Christian life is not only about enjoying privileges as children of God in Christ Jesus. Instead, it is also about discharging the duties and responsibilities as children of God. It says, "If we died with him, we will live with him; if we endure with him, we will reign with him also; if we disown him, he will disown us also." Modern day people do not put up with this sound teaching, bu they find teachers who will teach them what their itching ears want to hear, and this is the trend, even in the Christian community. In this situation, Paul gives us this solemn charge in the presence of God and Christ: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction. Let's pray that we may carry out this charge with all our heart and strength. In that way, we fight the good fight, run the race, and keep our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 


One Word: Preach the Word!


Sunday, February 4, 2018

posted Feb 4, 2018, 9:03 PM by Site Administrator

ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD-BREATHED

 

2 Timothy 3:1-17

Key Verses 3:16,17

 

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

First, "Have nothing to do with them" (1-9). In verses 1 through 5, Paul writes to Timothy about the last days, saying, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,..." The expression, "People will be..." indicates that this will be the trend among the people of the last days. We can characterize the trend in the last days into four points. First of all, they will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. These are what they value and thereby, pursue: themselves - their desires and plans, their hopes and dreams, and their own style; money - it is about career, security, convenience, and luxury; and pleasure. In this way, the trend in the last days is self-seeking. The next characteristic is "abusive, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful." Obeying their parents or showing respect and honor to their parents is the most basic duty for humans, and it is the most fundamental ligament that sustains the society. But in the last days, this parent-children relationship suffers, because they are disobedient to their parents. This is just an example. If they do not obey even their parents, whom can they really obey? No one! Basically, in the last days, they have a serious relationship problem; people refuse to show basic respect and honor to those who deserve them such as their parents, seniors, professors, and authorities - simply, they are ungrateful; when they are asked to obey those people, they say, "Why should I?" But strangely, when they come to have any authority, they are abusive. They do not know how to associate themselves with others in a sound and proper way. These relationships are what hold up the society, but in the last days, these relationships crumble down. Then, soon the society crumbles down, and then, its end comes. Indeed, it is the last days. The next characteristic is "unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited." These words suggest how corrupt their personality is. People become like senseless animals. In the last days human personality deteriorates so much that living together with these people itself will be like an endless nightmare. No wonder that modern day, which is the last days, the divorce rate is so high. The next characteristic is "having a form of godliness but denying its power." Having a form of godliness means that outwardly they look godly because they have a certain form of godliness such as going to church on Sundays, or having some Bible knowledge. But despite their form of godliness, they deny the power of godliness, meaning that they do not let their godliness change their life; simply, it means that despite their form of godliness, there is no real change in their life - they remain the same, still worldly, loving themselves, money and pleasure rather than being lovers of God. They look like Christians, and they do not look like Christians. What are they? I don't know, but God's knows. Then, inwardly, all kinds of terrible things grow in them that they become wicked. These people become the majority even in the church during the last days.

 

Until this point, we thought that Paul was talking about the people in the world in the last days. But when we come to this, we are shocked to notice that Paul is actually not only talking about the people outside the church, but also inside the church. And it is also shocking that in the last days, the trend among the church going people is that they just have a form of godliness - going to church, reading the Bible, and praying before the meals, but do not let it change their real life - how they really live and what they really live for. It is also shocking that this is the very trend in modern day Christianity. As a servant of God said, in America everyone looks like a Christian, but no one looks like a Christian. Indeed, we are living in the last days.

 

Conclusively, Paul gives an instruction to Timothy, saying, "Have nothing to do with them." We thought that Paul was talking about how people would be in the last days - they would be really wicked. But even in Timothy's time, in the Ephesian church, there were such people who just had a form of godliness but denied its power. As we see in chapter 2, verses 23 through 25, there were some people who were argumentative and even those who opposed Timothy. Timothy, as a young pastor, must have had hard time. But he must not be discouraged by such people; instead, he must understand that such disobedient and obstinate people were always there both inside and outside the church, and the situation would go worse that in the last days, eventually, these people would be in the main stream in the Christian community. What happens when these people become the majority in the church? Such churches come up with many wicked doctrines and strange theology and lifestyles that confuse people. Now is the last days. Paul gives us a clear direction, "Have nothing to do with them."

 

Look at verses 6 and 7. Let's read these verses together:

 

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

 

Here, Paul further talks about them, describing them as players who "worm" their way in approaching women, never exposing their true intention, but trying to gain their trust little by little in a very subtle way. When we think about the word, "worm," we can see how much Paul disliked these people. They look godly, but in the true sense, their hearts are not turned toward God. As a result, they are loaded down with sins. The burden of sin is there in their hearts all the time, then, whenever a temptation comes in regard to money, in regard to marriage, in regard to success, they are blown away. They are swayed away by all kinds of evil desires. Paul describes them, saying, "always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." The phrase, "always learning," shows that they study the Bible and hear the messages all the time, maybe, for years. How come they "always learn?" It seems that they enjoy it, saying, "Today's message was good. I like it." But strangely, they never acknowledge the truth. How come they "never acknowledge the truth?" Once they acknowledge the truth - who their God is, what God wants them to do, and what they must do and how they must live their life, they have to change; they have to turn away from their own way of life to the life of living for God - this is not what they want to do. So, despite always learning, they do not acknowledge the truth; they never take any word of God personally; instead, they just enjoy knowledge or Christian things. So, there is no real change in their life, despite always learning.

 

What happens to them? Can they live that way forever, ever attending Bible study or ever hearing the messages, but never acknowledging the truth? No. Eventually, there comes the time when they have to choose one - either they would really turn to God and live for God, or they would choose their own things. At that time, those who do not have a real heart's desire for God choose what they truly value; these people oppose the truth, saying, "I don't think that's the only way for us to live." When they are challenged to repent of their secret pursuit of money or their own secret desires, they say, "This church is too exclusive." "It is your own interpretation." Many of these people become enemies of God, attacking God's people and his church. Paul says of them, "men of depraved minds." Outwardly, they ever learn, having a form of godliness, but inwardly, their inner heart is corrupt. The real problem is that they are not lovers of God, but lovers of themselves, money and pleasure. They must acknowledge it, admit their wrongdoing, and repent and turn to God. But they don't want to do so. Instead, they try to defend themselves, justifying their way of life. Instead of acknowledging the truth and repenting, they gather around the teachers who scratch their itching ears. They are men of depraved minds. Paul conclusively says of them, "who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected." As far as doing Christian things is concerned, they are included; as far as having Bible knowledge is concerned, they are included. But as far as the faith is concerned, they are rejected. Simply, they have no real faith, despite their form of godliness, religiosity, despite ever learning, despite their knowledge of the Bible. Eventually, everyone comes to know what kind of people they are, and no one will follow them.

 

When we think about these people, we are really burdened, because there are always this kind of people in the church. But we should not be surprised, because Jesus says that the kingdom of God is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore, collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. He says, "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous, and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mat 13:47-50) Jesus also gave us the parable of the field, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field." But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27  "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 28  "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 29  "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30  Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" (Mat 13:24-30) In view of all these, we must strive hard that we will not be like those who have a form of godliness, but deny its power, those who ever learn, but never acknowledge the truth. Instead, as we come to the church and study the Bible, we must be quick to acknowledge the truth, repent and turn to God.

 

Second, "All Scripture is God-breathed" (10-17). Look at verses 10 and 11. Let's read these verses together:

 

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.

 

Timothy might be confused about true Christian life when those people who had a form of godliness but denied its power increased in number in the church. Especially, when these people become the majority such as in the last days, it is really confusing of how we must live as Christians. So, after warning Timothy about the danger of those strange people in the church, Paul shows him an example of a real Christian life - his own life. Paul says, "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings..." Paul suggests his own life as the standard of a real Christian life. What kind of life did he live? How was his life? It was the life that was fully dedicated to God's mission; he lived for God by serving His mission, pursuing God's purpose upon his life. Then, as he pursued God's mission, there were a lot of challenges and difficulties. Yet, Paul never yielded; he didn't give up. Instead, enduring all hardships and persecutions, he pursued God's kingdom work continually. As a result, his life was full of love for God and for God's people; his life was full of faith in God, full of hope in the kingdom of God, full of persecutions, sufferings, patience, and endurance. In his life, everything was full.

 

Paul says in Romans 5, "Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." This was what he really learned. Through serving God's work enduring all sufferings, godly character was being formed in him and the hope in the kingdom of God became so real to him. That was the real Christian life. Christian life is not about having a form of godliness; it is not about doing some Christian things. It is not about having a lot of Bible knowledge either. Rather, it is about serving God by pursuing God's mission wholeheartedly. As we struggle to do God's work despite sufferings, pains, sorrows, and persecutions, our faith in Jesus, our love for God becomes concrete, and our hope in the kingdom of God becomes real. Such life has a clear direction and it is very dynamic and action-packed. When we live that kind of life, we are satisfied - simply, we like it.

 

Look at verses 12 and 13. Let's read these verses together:

 

12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

 

Paul decisively proclaims, saying, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Do you want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus? Then, one thing is guaranteed: You will be persecuted. That's what Christian life is about. Paul also talks about what will happen to evil men and imposters. They go from bad to worse. Evil men includes all kinds of evil people, even including imposters. So, Paul could have said, "while evil men go from bad to worse." But in case Timothy might not catch his point, he added "imposters." What kind of people are imposters? Imposters are "the ones who deceive or cheat others by pretending to be what he is not." They refer to those who have a form of godliness but denying its power, or those who always learn, but never acknowledge the truth. Here we see great contrast between those who live a godly life in Christ and those who do not. When you live a godly life, you will be persecuted - suffering follows, but as you endure, you will develop a godly character, and you will come to have real hope in the kingdom of God; you will recognize that your life on earth is just a journey, simply, a pilgrimage, and your real home is in the kingdom of God. But those who do not live a godly life will go from bad to worse. Their hearts are full of all kinds of self-seeking desires, and in order to secure what they desire, they deceive others knowingly and unknowingly; but while they do so, others also have the same struggle, so they are being deceived also, and because of this, they come to have a lot of wounds and scars, and bitterness, anger, and hatred grow in them; after getting so many wounds and scars, they cannot afford any more damage, so they do not trust anyone - mistrust. All these people become very strange; indeed, they go from bad to worse.

 

We have learned of everything today - what we must do and how we must live our life as Christians. It is indeed the trend that people just have a form of godliness but deny its power even in the Christian community - they have no burden of self-denial, no burden of taking up the cross of mission, but they just enjoy benefits of being Christians. Eventually, these people, however, oppose the truth, coming up with strange ideas and theories that support their way of life; they become bad weeds, not good wheat, bad fish that are thrown away at the end of the age. We must not be such wicked people. Instead, we must live a godly life, even if it comes with persecutions and sufferings. Be lovers of God and live a godly life.

 

Look at verses 14 and 15. Let's read these verses together:

 

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,  15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Here the expression, "But as for you," means, "No matter what others do," or "No matter how others live." This means living a godly life despite harsh persecutions is a personal matter each of Christians should do before God no matter how others live. Timothy lived a godly life, and Paul encouraged him to do so continually no matter what. In this last days, even if the majority of church-going people just have a form of godliness but deny its power, we still must live a godly life, dedicating ourselves to God completely, pursuing God's mission. Even though people love themselves, money and pleasures, we must live as lovers of God pursuing God alone.

 

Look at verses 16 and 17. Let's read these verses together:

 

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

After talking about all those challenges Timothy might have, Paul changes the subject to the Scripture - the word of God. The expression, "God-breathed" means "inspired by God." All Scripture, each and every book of the Bible, each chapter, every verse, every sentence and every word - all of them are inspired by God, and thereby, there cannot be any mistake or fault. Even though about 40 people wrote the books of the Bible taking about 1,400 years, the Ultimate Author of all these books of the Bible is God Himself, and thereby, the Bible is the word of God, carries the absolute authority and becomes the standard of everything. This is the authenticity and infallibility of the Bible. We hold this truth beyond human logic, or archeological or scientific discovery. How can we say so? It is not because we try to believe this, but when God's grace reached to us, when we were born again, this knowledge, this confidence was given to us that suddenly we could see it. It seems like this knowledge or understanding or confidence was downloaded from heaven to our hearts or brain that we just know it. We don't need to say, "I believe this," but we simply know it just as we know 1+1=2. All Scripture is God-breathed, so we need to study all Scripture, starting from Genesis to Revelation,  not only reading the gospels but also the laws such as Leviticus or Deuteronomy.

 

And the Bible is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Let's say, there is a young man dedicated to God. But even if he is dedicated to God, it does not mean that he is really well prepared for God to use, because that person's value system, understanding, view point and hope may be still mundane, fleshly, humanistic or materialistic as he just came out of the world. Or this person may still have terrible sin problems, or he may insist his own style or idea, thinking that he understands better. So, how can we establish that person as a well trained and prepared servant for God, useful and effective for God's kingdom work? Paul says that the Scripture is the best tool. Through the Bible, as that person comes to the word of God sincerely and struggles to accept and obey its teachings, he is instructed, corrected and trained in righteousness. Even fully committed disciples may have wrong understanding of God's will and purpose, or God's way and direction; even they may insist their own style and understanding. At that time, when the word of God is given them, when they see what God is talking about in the Bible, they can be corrected, renouncing their own styles and accepting God's style. Also, God's word is useful for training God's people in righteousness. For example, despite our hectic schedule, and even if we are tired, we struggle with the word of God in testimony writing, spending many hours, staying late at night, learning how to put our fleshly desires under our full control. As this kind of training continues, we grow up as reliable men and women of God that when a task is given us, we somehow can fulfill our duty in any circumstances. At the same time, we come to understand the word of God really and grow as excellent Bible teachers, knowing how to handle the word of God correctly. Indeed, through the word of God, we are being purified, sanctified and beautified, and grow up as reliable and effective servants for God's kingdom work. We are being trained in righteousness.

 

Paul gave Timothy a lot of instructions of how he should do the work of an evangelist despite challenges and oppositions. But Paul knew that ultimately he should be established as a well prepared and effective servant of God through the Scriptures. With the word of God, Timothy would be equipped for every good work God had in mind. So, Timothy should struggle with the word of God. At the same time, it was Paul's direction for Timothy to rely on the Scriptures in serving his church and dealing with all those challenges he had in the church. With the word of God, all his church members would overcome their problems and eventually be established as reliable and effective children of God, equipped for every good work. So, in all circumstances, Timothy should teach them the word of God diligently.

 

One Word:      So That The Man Of God May Be Thoroughly Equipped

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