Questions Jesus Asked #99

Luke 14:1-6 – (similar to Questions #15 & #16 – See Matt:12:1-14,  Mark 2:23-3:6)  –  One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?”  4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

 5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?”  6 And they had nothing to say. NIV

It’s interesting that before healing this man that Jesus asked the Pharisees a question about whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. They surely had an opinion, but they had nothing to say to Jesus. Jesus proceeded to heal the man. Then Jesus asked a follow-up question about helping a son that had fallen into a well on the Sabbath…still nothing to say. From Jesus’ questions and insight into their reactions and silence, one might deduce that they disagreed with Jesus’ action of healing on the Sabbath, or perhaps they were just looking for something to hold against Jesus. Why weren’t they willing to discuss this situation with Jesus? Continue reading

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Questions Jesus Asked #98

Luke 13:10-16 – (similar to #16 – Matthew 12:11-12)  On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”  13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” NIV

Once again Jesus is confronted with the opportunity to heal someone on the Sabbath which had been declared as “work” by those whose religion had been primarily defined by rule keeping instead of loving God and loving others as oneself. When Jesus saw her, he acted immediately by calling her forward and freeing her from her infirmity! One would think that the whole synagogue would have broken out in praise; but no!  The synagogue ruler shut things down with a rebuke: “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #97

Luke 13:6-9 –  Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

      8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”  NIV

This parable appears to be Jesus’ follow-up to the idea that just because things are going well in your life doesn’t mean that you are better off spiritually than someone who is experiencing difficulties or suffering in theirs. This parable brings up the idea of fruitfulness in one’s life. Is one’s spiritual life producing spiritual fruit?  It, also, seems to indicate that although the Bible seems to indicate that God has great patience with His creation and His body of believers, that patience is not limitless. The property owner asked the gardener about the fig trees failure to produce fruit after three years. There is a clear expectation for growth and maturity that results in fruit production. After a reasonable time the property owner wanted to replace the fruitless tree with something that would bear fruit. His gardener pleaded for another year of quality care before they replace the tree. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #96

Luke 13:1-5 –  Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jeru­salem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  NIV

Jesus asked these similar questions to confront the misconception that just because something bad happens to someone they must have done something terribly wrong.  The same goes with the converse idea that just because everything is going well for someone they must be in good relations with God. This is a common misconception among a lot of religious people. It was confronted by God in the Book of Job, one of the earliest Bible books written. The prologue to Job’s story begins by the writer making it very clear that Job was righteous before God and dearly loved by Him. Yet God allows Satan to cause suffering in Job’s life to display his faith. Job’s friends suffered with Him for a while, but then basically assumed that Job had sinned somehow and needed to confess and get back on the right path. It was no different in Jesus’ time, and it is largely not different today … unless I am the one who is suffering. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #95

After a break to pursue some other devotional topics last year, I have returned to share my thoughts on Questions Jesus Asked from the Gospels. I will pick up where I left off…

Luke 12:57-59 – “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” NIV

God has guidelines or commands in His Word and given each of us a conscience with the ability to judge between right and wrong or good or bad, but many of us like the limits spelled out specifically. Even then we tend to push and even exceed the limits. When we are caught in violation of these limits, we complain that we didn’t know or that someone else did the same thing without consequences, and life’s just not fair. Continue reading

Questions Jesus Asked #94

Luke 12:54-56 – He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?  NIV

Here Jesus is addressing the crowd about their inability to read the spiritual “signs of the times.”  He makes statements about the weather signs that they readily read to help determine what the next day will bring and how to plan to use it; but they fail to read the spiritual signs that are all around them.

Reading spiritual signs can fall into two extremes: 1.) Some people just don’t believe that such signs exist. By denying the existence of such signs, everything becomes coincidence or just random happenstance. 2.) Some people believe that everything or almost everything is a spiritual sign. For example, the number of bubbles in your Starbuck’s drink of choice might determine how “bubbly” your day will be!

The follower of Jesus has been given some pretty awesome help in determining the “signs of the times.” First, we have been given the Bible, God’s Word, which contains prophecy both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled.  Understanding these passages can help us understand what is happening both in our individual lives and in our world. Secondly, God has given the Holy Spirit to every believer/follower of Jesus.  We are told that He will help us discern or learn what is from God  (John 14:16-18,26; 16:13-15).

A lot is happening in this world and in our individual worlds.  People often say, “What does this  (whatever is happening) mean?”  Some people offer their own interpretation of the signs of the times and offer their solutions. Others offer the politically correct or most popular interpretation of the happenings and their advice for adjusting to those signs.  How many seek the spiritual meaning of the signs of the times and seek to live in light of  what the Bible and the Holy Spirit seem to be saying?  How do many of us as Christ-followers respond to the signs of the times?

Some questions to consider:  What do I consider “signs of the times?”  What are some of the spiritual implications of these signs?  What do I use as my interpretive guide for these signs?  What would the Bible and Holy Spirit say about these signs?  How do I follow Jesus in light of these signs?

Questions Jesus Asked # 93

Luke 12:49-51 – (see also Matthew 10:34-35) –  “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” NIV

Jesus has just completed a discourse to the crowd and then in application to His closest disciples that Warren Wiersbe sums up as “waiting, watching, and working.”  These are attitudes and actions that followers of Jesus need to have and exhibit for the long haul … to fulfill their purposes on this earth just as Jesus in this passage is waiting, watching, and working to accomplish His “baptism” or death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.  To get through that last phase involved opposition or “warring” … spiritual warfare.

Jesus was saying that just as He had opposition, His followers would face opposition.  It would take various forms from downright martyrdom to just ignoring the Gospel message or actively trying to discredit it and make believers into some sort of mentally unbalanced people (sound familiar?)

Just as He was encouraging His followers to be prepared to wait, watch, and work, they need to be prepared to face various types of opposition. Opposition will come in some form, so be prepared to deal with it. So the question is: “How do we prepare to face various types of opposition or spiritual warfare?”  Well, we certainly don’t go to the world for our playbook! A few passages come to mind …

First the example of Jesus: The Gospels indicated that He offered no resistance, and stood silent before His accusers until He was asked directly if He was the Christ or Messiah.  He then responded with the truth which He continued to speak even to Pilate at the appropriate times.  He knew His purpose, and He knew He had to face the cross in order to conquer death.

Then the words of Paul to the Ephesian believers about preparing for spiritual warfare:  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 – NIV)

       Then the words of Peter to followers of Jesus:  “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.   17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:15-17 – NIV)

So as followers of Jesus today who are waiting, watching, and working for the Kingdom until Jesus returns, how do we face opposition or (spiritual warring) in light of Jesus’ example and Paul and Peter’s words to believers?

Some questions to consider:  How do I react when confronted with spiritual opposition?  Is the opposition to me and/or my personality or Jesus?  Have I spiritually prepared myself for opposition by putting on spiritual armor?  Am I prepared to respond with “gentleness and respect” in the face of opposition?  Do I engage followers of the enemy to vanquish them or help convert them?