PBJ : Pastor Brian Jones

PBJ : Pastor Brian Jones

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a teacher of His Word, Senior Pastor at Calvary Bible Church of Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti, Michigan. I am a husband and father of three.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Bible, as well as Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Doctor of Ministry degrees.

Acts 6

Read Acts 6.

Every growing church experiences growing pains. It is a good problem to have because it means that the Lord is working and blessing his word. Acts 6:1 continues to describe the growth of the first church, the church in Jerusalem. Part of growing as a church, however, is dealing with growing pains. These are the problems that result when a church has more people and, therefore, more needs than the leaders of the church can handle.

The early church in Jerusalem experienced this, too. Verse 1 says that because the church was growing in numbers, some of the Gentile widows were not being cared for by the church like they once had been. This resulted in complaints and the apostles had to address the situation.

What are some ways they could have addressed the discontent?

  1. Denial. They could have just refused to acknowledge the problem.
  2. Excuses. The apostles could have said, “We’re just 12 men and are going the best we can with the time and resources we have!”
  3. Blame-shifting. They could have said, “If you took more responsibility for the widows, the church wouldn’t have to care for them!”
  4. Time management. The apostles could have chosen to spend more time serving the widows and less time in prayer and the Word. Actually, that’s what they knew would happen unless found another way to meet the needs (see verse 2).

Fortunately, the apostles didn’t fall into any of these traps. Instead, they decided to enlist godly men around them. These men were chosen to take responsibility for meeting the needs of these widows (Acts 6:2-3). This gave a place of service to these believers. It also helped the apostles say focused. According to verses 3b-4, “We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” We don’t know for sure, but many scholars think this is the beginning of the office of “deacon” in the church.

The result of the focus and diligent service of these first deacons was that the church grew even more. Verse 7 says, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” When people are focused on one ministry objective and work diligently toward that objective, God entrusts more people to their care. But it was essential for people in the church to be willing to help when they were asked.

Every church needs committed believers who will give what time they have to serving the Lord. Have you found a place of service at our church? Are you willing to serve where needed when you are asked? Are you willing to volunteer when you see a need instead of waiting for someone else to do it or waiting for someone to ask you?

This is one of the best ways you can help our church to grow because it allows the elders of our church to focus on prayer and God’s word (v. 2).

Acts 5

Read Acts 5.

The growing church we’ve been tracking since Acts 1 felt the weight of persecution here in Acts 5, but that was nothing new for them.

What is new as that the church encountered internal problems for the first time. This happened when Ananias and Sapphira wanted both to make money and get credit for generosity (vv. 1-11).

Sometimes people misunderstand the issue in this passage. The problem was not that Ananias and Sapphira wanted to keep some of the money. In verse 4 Peter said, “And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” This question, which assumes a “yes” response, affirmed that this couple had every right to do what they wanted to do with their property and with the money they gained from selling it. The Bible affirms the right of people to own private property which is the foundation of capitalism. The problem was not that they kept some of the money or wanted to keep any of the money.

No, the issue in Acts 5 was that they “lied to the Holy Spirit” in verse 3.

By lying to the Holy Spirit they had “not lied just to human beings but to God” (v. 4d). The lie they told was regarding the price of the land. Verse 2 told us that Ananias “kept back part of the money for himself” but “with his wife’s full knowledge” (v. 2) they told the church it was sold at a lower price (v. 8) and that they were giving all the money to the church, just as Joseph had in 4:36-37. By doing this, they were taking credit for more generosity than they were truly giving. That’s why they were judged for “lying” not for being stingy.

Wealthy people have funded health care institutions, art, schools, libraries, parks, concert halls, and other civic institutions. Usually, though, the giver puts his name on the gift so that everyone will know who funded that project. And by getting credit for it, Jesus would say “they have their reward in full” (Matt 6:2).

But if you give to the Lord’s work AND act like it was more of a sacrifice than it really was in order to get people to think well of you, then you have a sinful attitude compelling your act of goodness.

Whenever we give money or do any kind of ministry to get the praise and admiration of others, we are trading financial income for praise income. Although it is not always possible to do ministry without being noticed for it, the heart of a believer is to give to God so that He is glorified and we are not. May God purify our hearts and motives so that we give to his work and his people for His glory not to enhance our own reputations. But, in God’s amazing grace, he promises to reward us eternally anyway when we give with a servant’s heart.

Acts 4

Read Acts 4.

This chapter continues the story we started yesterday. Remember that Peter and John were going to the temple to pray and, by the power of Christ, Peter healed a man who had been unable to walk for his entire life. Peter then used the attention from the man’s healing to call people to repentance and faith in Jesus. That was Acts 3.

Here in Acts 4, we read about the fallout from that healing. The religious leaders who engineered the Roman execution of Jesus were very unhappy to see his power on display through the disciples and to hear the message about Jesus going out through them (vv. 1-2).

So, those religious leaders jailed Peter and John (v. 3) but the gospel did its work as we read in verse 4, “But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.” Unable to deny the miracle that had happened (vv. 5-16), the religious leaders of Jerusalem commanded them to stop evangelizing (vv. 17-18).

Verses 19-20 describe how Peter and John refused to obey the command to stop teaching about Jesus. Verse 33 says, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” which shows that they did not stop spreading the gospel message.

But what if they had stopped spreading the gospel message?

First, the advance of the gospel would have been much different. Jesus had said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, so he would have chosen others to spread the gospel even if the disciples had been disobedient. We can see that somewhat in his choice of the Apostle Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

Second, and more importantly, I think the unity, selflessness, and joy of the early church as described in verses 31-37 would have dissipated.

When the church focuses on itself, conflicts and strife inevitably come in. Satan wants to disrupt God’s work and get us off mission by stirring up conflict and strife.

When we’re reaching outside of ourselves, however, there is a lot less time and energy available for internal factions, arguments, and strife. Outreach and evangelism aren’t going to ward off problems because problems are inevitable in a fallen world. But spreading the gospel keeps us focused on Jesus–his work and our need for his power–which helps us keep our focus off of ourselves.

So let’s not forget that we are here to introduce Christ to the world. We should remind ourselves regularly that we are here to bring the gospel message to the world.

Acts 3

Read Acts 3

God’s power was at work in the world and in the disciples like never before in the days after Pentecost, which we read about yesterday.

Here in chapter 3, Peter was headed with John to the temple to pray, healed a man who had never walked by the power of Jesus (vv. 1-11), then explained the good news to the audience around him (vv. 12-26).

In the middle of Peter’s gospel message, he said these words, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this” (v. 15). I find the phrase, “you killed the author of life” fascinating. The word “author” describes God as a story-teller. He has a plan and it is unfolding through the lives of everyone in scripture and in your life and mine.

As the author “of life,” God is the creator of all things, including life. The Bible tells us repeatedly that Jesus, the Second Person of God, was the active agent of the Trinity who created. It was his voice that said, “Let there be light” and it was he who formed Adam out of the dust of the ground and and breathed into him the breath of life. It was he who took a rib from Adam’s side to create Eve. There is no life apart from Jesus.

Ironic, then, that men killed Jesus. Apart from the creating power of Jesus, humanity would never have existed. Apart from his sustaining grace, humanity would cease to exist. He is the author of life, not only making us alive but writing for each of us a story–a personality, a background, a cast of other characters, and all the other elements of story. Yet when he entered into the world, he was not honored by the characters in the story he wrote as the author. Instead, he was killed even though all living depends on him.

Fortunately, this was all part of his story and it did not end with his death; instead, “God raised him from the dead” (v. 15b). We celebrated that truth on Sunday. But as important as remembering the event of the resurrection is, it is even more important to understand the point of the resurrection.

And the point of the resurrection is: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus” (vv. 19-20).

I write these devotionals for Christians to strengthen us with God’s word. But it is possible that someone is reading this who is not a Christian–either you found this page on our website or you subscribed to my devotional.

Do you understand that your story, your life, is one thread in a thick fabric of interwoven stories of all people?

Do you see that all of us depend on Jesus for existence, need him to rescue us from the consequences of our rebellion against God, and are designed to bring glory and worship to Jesus when he returns to be our Lord? If so, turn to him! In the words of verse 19: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord….” The author of life invites you to experience eternal life through his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. Ask him to save you and give you eternal life, and he will!

For those of us who are Christians, remember that your life really isn’t about you. You are a character in the life of Jesus–he’s the one on the hero’s journey. As the author of life, he devised the plot and set this story into motion. So let’s focus on him in our lives and point others to him so that he will come and conclude this story well.

Acts 2

Read Acts 2.

What is “fellowship?” It is a term that we Christians use frequently. But do we really understand what it means?

A lot of people think that “fellowship” is a word for “socializing but with my Christian friends.” Socializing is fine; an important part of life, really. But it is not the same as fellowship.

This chapter describes true fellowship. The chapter begins with a massive evangelistic movement in Jerusalem brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 1-41). God kick-started the church through this Day of Pentecost movement.

Verses 42-47 describe how this early church instinctively began to function. Verse 42 says they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.” We certainly need to be devoted to the apostles’ teaching. But we also need fellowship, and need it badly.

So, if these believers were devoted to fellowship, as verse 42 said, what did that look like?

Communion (“the breaking of bread”) and prayer are mentioned in verse 42 and they certainly are aspects of fellowship. When we gather together around the Lord’s Table and when we pray together, we are sharing (that’s what “fellowship” means) in deeply spiritual, Christian practices.

But the rest of the paragraph in verses 44-47 also give more details about the practice of fellowship in the first church in Jerusalem. Think about our church as we look at those details:

  1. “All the believers were together” in verse 44. They just liked to hang out together in their free time. Do we? Or do we come late on Sunday, leave as soon as possible after the service and never come in contact with anyone else from church until next Sunday?
  2. They “had everything in common” even selling “property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (v. 45). They fellowshipped by showing sacrificial generosity to each other. Do we do that? Do we look to share what we have with believers in our church who need stuff.
  3. “Everyday they continued to meet together…” They came together daily to worship and hear God’s word. They couldn’t get enough of it and came everyday to fellowship around God’s word. Is that your feeling or is one message a week on Sunday morning almost too much to take?
  4. “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God” (vv. 46-47a). They went to each others’ homes to share more food and worship together. When was the last time you had someone from church over?

For years I’ve been praying that God would give us a hunger for Him and for true fellowship with each other like we’ve never had before.

Will you join me in praying that God will build some real prayer groups and ministries in the church? Will you look for a way to connect with someone from the church for some personal fellowship–not just socializing but sharing the word and prayer together?

Acts 1

Read Acts 1.

Acts continues the story of Jesus’ ministry after he left this earth as told by Luke, the author of the Gospel we just finished reading. Here in chapter 1, Luke briefly addressed Theophilus in verse 1. This is the same original reader Luke was writing for when he wrote the Gospel According to Luke (see Luke 1:3).

As we saw in Luke 24 on Friday, Luke ended that volume with a brief description of Jesus’ ascension. Here in Acts 1, Luke rewound the tape a bit and described for us some of Jesus’ final words to his apostles in verses 4-8.

Remember way back in Luke 3:16 that John the Baptist said that Jesus would “…baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Here in Acts 1:5 Jesus echoed that saying of John when he said, “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So Christ told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem (v. 4).

Now that Jesus had died and was raised from the dead, the disciples are curious about what would come next. Their question to Christ in verse 6 was, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” That’s what they had expected of Messiah all along. They expected him to become king of Israel, defeat the Romans, and then establish Israel as God’s eternal kingdom.

Jesus ducked their question. In verse 7 he told them that the restoration of the kingdom to Israel was none of their business. But notice that he didn’t refute the idea that the kingdom would be restored to Israel; instead he said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” God’s promise of a kingdom for Israel is still valid; it’s the time period we call “The Millennium” and it still awaits at a future day and time set in God’s will.

Until the Millennium comes, God’s will for us is clear and simple: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (v. 8). The rest of the book of Acts unfolds how the first generation of Christians obeyed this command.

Since Jesus has not returned yet, however, the responsibility for obedience to this passed down from the apostles to the rest of us who make up the church at this time. One of the easiest ways to contribute to this mission Christ gave us is to invite people to church with you.

Maybe this is a good time for you to think about who you should invite to church. Maybe you should reach out to them by text today and let them know you’re praying for them, then invite them to come to our church with you this Sunday.

Luke 24

Read Luke 24.

Good Friday to you!

This chapter prepares us well for Easter Sunday as it describes the resurrection of Christ and his appearances to his disciples.

At the end of the chapter, though, Jesus blessed the disciples (v. 50) and “…he left them and was taken up into heaven.” That was the end of Christ’s ministry on earth.

We call this the ascension and it teaches that Jesus was received bodily into heaven. But why? Why did he leave so publicly? Why did he physically leave this earth as a man, rather than as a spirit? There are two reasons why Jesus ascended into heaven the way that he did:

  1. To remain in a human body. Christ became a man at the incarnation but he remains a man to this day and will for the rest of eternity. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” This verse describes Jesus’s mediatorial work in heaven. That is happening right now. But Paul specified that he is “the man Christ Jesus.” In other words, Jesus continues as both God and man. He is glorified, but still human. The ascension into heaven accomplished that. See also Hebrews 7:24-25.
  2. To return bodily the same way he left. Jesus will not return as a spirit; he will return in his human body. He won’t return in secret; he will return visibly and publicly. Acts 1:10-11 says, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

We spend much more time and effort on the death and resurrection of Jesus–as we should. But Jesus’s ascension is important, too.

Luke 23

Read Luke 23.

Yesterday we read about Jesus’ religious trial in Luke 22:66-71. That trial was for blasphemy (see Matt 26:64-66). Since Jesus claimed to be “the Son of God” (vv. 69-70 here in Luke 23) and that he would “be seated at the right hand of the mighty God” the religious leaders of his era concluded that he was speaking irreverently of God, which is what “blasphemy” means.

That was worthy of death in Jewish law (again, Matt 26:66); the problem was that these religious leaders did not have the legal authority to perform capital punishment. If they killed Jesus themselves, they could have been charged with murder by the Roman government. So, here in Luke 23, Jesus was taken to Pilate, the Roman governor of their area, for trial (v. 1).

Their religious reasons for killing Jesus were insufficient for Roman law, so they charged Jesus with sedition (v. 2) before Pilate.

Pilate found the charge unpersuasive since Jesus answered indirectly and didn’t seem like much of a threat (vv. 3), so Pilate ruled in Jesus’ favor in verse 4.

The “chief priests and the crowd” in verse 5 tried to muster some evidence against Jesus so they talked about how many multitudes had been following him in Galilee. Galilee was under the political government of Herod Antipas who happened to be in town (vv. 6-7). Note that Pilate was governor of Judea, the southern part of Israel while Herod was in charge of Galilee, the northern part of Israel. Jerusalem is in Judea, the South, so they were in Pilate’s territory when Jesus was arrested, but as a Galilean, Herod could be responsible for dealing with Jesus (v. 7). Pilate tried to dodge responsibility by letting Herod deal with Jesus. Herod tried to talk to Jesus, but Jesus refused so, after mocking Jesus, Herod sent him back to Pilate (vv. 8-12).

Once again Pilate tried various ways to release Jesus, knowing that his death would be unjust (vv. 13-22), but he finally buckled to the pressure of the crowd and approved Jesus for the death penalty (vv. 23-26).

Jesus was not alone in his crucifixion. Two other men were crucified with Jesus (vv. 32-43) but they had very different reactions to him. One man joined the mocking of the crowd (v. 39) but the other man spoke up and rebuked the first criminal (v. 40). Notice the words of the criminal who spoke up for Jesus: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

That criminal was someone who understood sin and punishment. In his own case, and apparently based on what he knew of the other man, he knew that he was guilty and deserved the death penalty. But how could he know that Jesus was innocent? Did he overhear the trial of Christ before Pilate? Had he heard Jesus teaching at some point earlier in his life? Maybe one or both of these things is true and maybe that’s what caused him to say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

But whatever he knew of Jesus and however he knew it, he believed that Jesus was the Messiah and that even though Jesus was dying, he would still be king!

What a remarkable thing! Yet it is a testimony not to the man’s keen spiritual insight but to God’s saving grace. In the final hours of his life, this man turned to Jesus in faith and believed that his eternity would be safe in Jesus’ hands. Jesus comforted him with the promise, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Despite all the sinful things he had done, sins so bad they got him executed, he found forgiveness in Christ at the end of his life.

Time seems to harden people to the gospel. It is very rare to see an elderly person–even someone who is dying–accept Christ as savior. Many prisoners who hear the gospel profess faith in Christ but certainly not all of them. Facts like these sometimes cause me to be pessimistic when giving the gospel to adults.

But my pessimism is wrong. God can save anyone he chooses to save. Hardened criminals who have done wicked crimes can be changed by the power of Jesus Christ. The conversion of this criminal should remind us and encourage us not to pre-judge whether someone will be saved or not. We shouldn’t decide in advance whether or not we think someone will turn to Christ in faith; we should understand that God is saving people all over the world at different points in life and, in some cases, with very little knowledge about Jesus. Let’s trust God, then, and be faithful to give the gospel when we can.

Luke 22

Read Luke 22.

This lengthy chapter in Luke’s gospel detailed Jesus’s betrayal, last supper, and his religious trial by “the chief priests and the teachers of the law” (v. 66).

In between his last supper and his arrest, the disciples argued (again) about who was the greatest (vv. 23-30). Jesus assured them that they all would be great in his kingdom when he said, “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (vv. 29-30).

Then he turned and spoke to Simon Peter in verse 31. He told Simon that just as Satan had requested permission to strike Job, he had also “asked to sift all of you as wheat” (v. 31b). This is a visual reference to separating the edible part of wheat from the inedible chaff that covers wheat. Satan was asking to put all the disciples through trials in order to try to separate them from their faith.

This should have been a chilling thing to hear, so Christ quickly added that he had prayed for Simon specifically “that your faith may not fail” (v. 32). But then he said, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” These two phrases suggest that Peter would be the first to face the trial of his faith in God and, having withstood the test with his faith in tact, he should help the other disciples as they faced tests of their faith.

But notice the phrase, “And when you have turned back” In verse 32b. This phrase indicates that Peter would struggle with the test of his faith. The specifics of that struggle were explained by Christ in verse 34 when he told Peter that he would deny Christ three times.

Peter did face the test of his faith in verses 54-62 and, as Jesus predicted, he struggled with the test. In three separate incidents, Peter denied knowing Jesus (v. 57), being a follower of Jesus (v. 58), and even understanding what was going on with Jesus (v. 60).

So here we have one of the most vocal of Jesus’ apostles, a natural leader who was part of Jesus’ inner circle of three people, a man who had proclaimed himself ready to die with Jesus just a few hours before (v. 33) who evaded association with Jesus altogether when the pressure was on.

And yet apparently his faith did “not fail” (v. 32). It sure looks like failure, so how to we reconcile all of this?

First, we need to understand that there is a difference between a failure of faith and a failure to admit to faith in Jesus. Peter’s denial of Christ was a failure to admit to being a disciple, not a complete renunciation of Jesus. The fact that he “wept bitterly” (v. 62) after it happened shows that his faith was genuine. The problem was that his faith was also weak. In that moment, his fear of being punished with Christ outweighed his belief that God would protect him or allow him to endure the trial with Jesus. It did not mean that he no longer believed in Jesus.

Second, we need to understand that “denying Jesus” or renouncing your faith is more about a complete break with the Christian community than it is about a particular incident in someone’s life. Judas rejected Jesus; he conspired with the religious leaders to betray Jesus (vv. 4-5) which meant finding “an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present” (v. 6). That was a complete rejection of Jesus and all that he claimed to be.

Judas’s break with Christ and Christianity was premeditated and based in greed. Peter’s denial of Jesus was not premeditated and it was based in fear, not greed. What Peter did was lie about his faith in Jesus out of fear of persecution; what Judas did was completely reject Christ personally in such a way that Jesus would also be eliminated publicly.

Finally, Peter’s faith was strengthened by this trial, which is why God allows us to go through trials of faith. Later in life, tradition tells us, Peter did pay the ultimate price for following Jesus.

So what about us? There are times, aren’t there, when we are put on the spot and fail to speak up for Christ. Does that mean we are “ashamed of Jesus” and that he’ll be “ashamed of us” when he returns (Luke 9:26)?

No–or at least, not usually. Maybe someone, when put on the spot, might blurt out for the first time that he doesn’t really believe in Jesus after he knew that already in his heart. But Peter shows that genuine Christians sometimes have weak faith and that weak faith may cause them to waver from publicly claiming Christ. It might even, at times, cause them to question God as we see in some of the Psalms. A true believer may have doubts and denials at times caused by weakness in faith but if you are a true believer, God will strengthen your faith over time so that you will stand for Christ later on in your life.

So, be encouraged! If Simon Peter could deny Jesus three times–after all the miracles and teachings he experienced first and–and still become a great apostle for Christ then people like us who are weak a times may fail in our walk with Christ at times. But know that God’s grace is powerful! He will strengthen you when you fail and teach you how to walk with him and stand for him when it is scary and potentially costly to be a Christian.

Luke 21

Read Luke 21.

Materialism is an ever-present temptation for us. We are material beings, after all, because we have these physical bodies. They need to be dressed and enhanced and housed and driven around.

Because God created us with an appreciation for beauty and we need physical goods to live, it is not surprising that beautiful physical possessions interest us. And, honestly, there is nothing sinful about having things; the Bible tells us that God’s creation is good (1 Tim 4:3-5).

The problem is not that we appreciate and enjoy material things; the problem is that we worship material things. We believe that they will make us happy and/or we think that having things will cause people to value us more highly. So we spend money recklessly or hoard money to accumulate wealth and its trappings.

Here in Luke 21, Jesus addressed our thirst for materialism. He began by talking about the poor widow who gave generously to God’s work in the temple (vv. 1-3). Knowing both how easily the rich could afford their gifts and how much this woman needed the money she gave, Jesus praised her for her faith and love for God. To Jesus this woman “has put in more than all the others” (v. 3). That was not true in terms of raw value but, relative to her means, it was very true. Instead of living for material things, she gave to God and trusted him to provide for her.

Although the disciples of Jesus lived by faith for their daily lives, they were still much too impressed with material things. As they praised the beautiful work in Herod’s temple (v. 5), Jesus prophesied about the destruction that would fall on the temple and all of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. in verses 6-33. Then he cautioned the disciples, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” The widow who gave her last bit of money did not need to worry about being “weighed down” by anything because everything in her life had been handed over to the Lord.

This is how we should look at money and material things, too. May God help us not to trust in anything but him, not to worship anything but him, and not to let anything in this life weigh us down from following him with all of our hearts.

Luke 20

Read Luke 20.

As we continue to read Luke’s account of the final week of Christ’s life, we read in today’s chapter how Jesus’ enemies tried various ways to discredit him. First they challenged his authority (vv. 1-8). Later they considered arresting him (v. 19), but instead of arresting him, they spied on him and tried to trap him (vv. 20-26 and 27-40).

Jesus responded effectively to all of their attacks, then he told a damning parable explaining why these religious leaders would suffer God’s wrath for rejecting Jesus (vv. 9-16).

After he responded to their challenge about the resurrection, Jesus turned their minds to the scriptures, specifically Psalm 110:1 which he quoted in verses 42-43 of our passage. Jesus had two questions for them (“the teachers of the law,” v. 39) surrounding Psalm 110. The first question is, “Why do people say that Messiah would be the son of David?” The second question is, “Since David called the Messiah “Lord” in Psalm 110:1, how could the Messiah be his Son?

Until you know the answer, this seems like an unsolvable puzzle. On one hand, the Messiah must be the Son of David according to the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” For that promise to be fulfilled, the Messiah must be a descendant of David. But, on the other hand, why would David call one of his descendants Lord? Usually the chain of respect goes up from the descendants to the patriarch.

So, to state the problem again: how could Messiah be David’s descendant and yet be David’s Lord? How is that possible?

The answer is that Jesus was both human and divine. As a man, Jesus shared a legal tie to David through Joseph, his adoptive father, as we saw in Matthew 1 and a blood connection to David through Mary as we saw in Luke 3.

But because Jesus is God, he is Lord over everything as Creator. This is taught in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Jesus would “come out” to “be ruler over Israel” from “Bethlehem” but his “origins are from of old, from ancient times” — in other words, eternity. So here we have a complete picture of Jesus. He is human and therefore David’s “son” (descendant) but he is also God and, therefore, David’s Lord.

Although the world did not receive Jesus for the Lord that he is in his first coming, he will return again to complete his work and establish his kingdom. This gives us something to be happy about today; whatever difficulties we suffer today are temporary because Jesus will return and be our king.

Luke 19

Read Luke 19.

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Today’s passage described the beginning of the final week of Jesus’ life. Just before Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (vv. 28-44), he told the disciples the parable of the ten minas (vv. 11-27). The purpose of this parable, according to verse 11 was, “because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” In other words, Jesus told this story to prepare his followers for a gap of time between then and when his kingdom would arrive.

The parable accomplished three things. First, it slightly foreshadowed Christ’s rejection and and crucifixion. That is suggested in verse 14 where the subjects of the king sent a delegation to try to prevent him from becoming king. In every age, everyone who rejects the Lordship of Christ is trying to prevent him from being king; that applied especially to those who plotted against Jesus to see him crucified.

The second thing the parable accomplished was to begin preparing his followers for his ascension. Although Jesus would receive a Messianic welcome in verses 28-40, he would not literally become king over Israel during this time. As we saw in verse 12, the parable alluded to Jesus leaving, becoming king, then returning.

The third thing the parable accomplished was the main point of the parable which is to instruct us about what to do while we wait for Jesus’ return.

Waiting for Jesus’ return is not like waiting for a plane to depart. In that situation, people just sit around until the plane is ready to be boarded. Instead, we “wait” for Jesus like a pregnant woman and her husband wait for the baby to be born. They “wait” in the sense that time passes, but they also should be preparing during that time–deciding on a name for the baby, preparing a nursery, buying baby clothes and supplies and so on.

Similarly, we are waiting for the time to arrive when Jesus will return, but this parable commands us to be productive with the time. Before he left this earth, Christ commanded his disciples to make disciples, baptize and teach them. Instead of sitting around waiting as the wicked servant did in verses 20-21, we have the opportunity to invest in Jesus’ kingdom by obeying his great commission.

There are great rewards promised for those who produce for his kingdom (vv. 17-19), so this parable challenges us use the power Christ gave us, obey the commission he left us, and watch as God uses our faithfulness to his word to produce more and more believers who will enter the kingdom.

So, how are you involved productively for the increase of God’s kingdom? Have you figured out your spiritual gift and found a place to use if for God’s glory? Are you making the most of the opportunities you receive to share the gospel? Are you going on faith that God will use you if you invest into his kingdom as he commanded?