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Week 9: Matthew 19–20; Mark 10; Luke 12:13–19:27

Sunday (Luke 12:13–13:35)

The Parable of the Rich Landowner

12:13 Then someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 12:14 But Jesus said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?” 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 12:16 He then told them a parable: “The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, 12:17 so he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 12:18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 12:19 And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!”‘ 12:20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 12:21 So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.”

Exhortation Not to Worry

12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 12:23 For there is more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing. 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than the birds! 12:25 And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life? 12:26 So if you cannot do such a very little thing as this, why do you worry about the rest? 12:27 Consider how the flowers grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 12:28 And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, how much more will he clothe you, you people of little faith! 12:29 So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things. 12:30 For all the nations of the world pursue these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 12:31 Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out – a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Call to Faithful Stewardship

12:35 “Get dressed for service and keep your lamps burning; 12:36 be like people waiting for their master to come back from the wedding celebration, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 12:37 Blessed are those slaves whom their master finds alert when he returns! I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, have them take their place at the table, and will come and wait on them! 12:38 Even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night and finds them alert, blessed are those slaves! 12:39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 12:40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

12:41 Then Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” 12:42 The Lord replied, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his household servants, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 12:43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds at work when he returns. 12:44 I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions. 12:45 But if that slave should say to himself, ‘My master is delayed in returning,’ and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk, 12:46 then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 12:47 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or do what his master asked will receive a severe beating. 12:48 But the one who did not know his master’s will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.

Not Peace, but Division

12:49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth – and how I wish it were already kindled! 12:50 I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is finished! 12:51 Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 12:52 For from now on there will be five in one household divided, three against two and two against three. 12:53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Reading the Signs

12:54 Jesus also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A rainstorm is coming,’ and it does. 12:55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and there is. 12:56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how can you not know how to interpret the present time?

Clear the Debts

12:57 “And why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 12:58 As you are going with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, so that he will not drag you before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 12:59 I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the very last cent!”

A Call to Repent

13:1 Now there were some present on that occasion who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 13:2 He answered them, “Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered these things? 13:3 No, I tell you! But unless you repent, you will all perish as well! 13:4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower in Siloam fell on them, do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who live in Jerusalem? 13:5 No, I tell you! But unless you repent you will all perish as well!”

Warning to Israel to Bear Fruit

13:6 Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 13:7 So he said to the worker who tended the vineyard, ‘For three years now, I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and each time I inspect it I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue to deplete the soil?’ 13:8 But the worker answered him, ‘Sir, leave it alone this year too, until I dig around it and put fertilizer on it. 13:9 Then if it bears fruit next year, very well, but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Healing on the Sabbath

13:10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, 13:11 and a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten herself up completely. 13:12 When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13:13 Then he placed his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 13:14 But the president of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the crowd, “There are six days on which work should be done! So come and be healed on those days, and not on the Sabbath day.” 13:15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from its stall, and lead it to water? 13:16 Then shouldn’t this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be released from this imprisonment on the Sabbath day?” 13:17 When he said this all his adversaries were humiliated, but the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things he was doing.

On the Kingdom of God

13:18 Thus Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what should I compare it? 13:19 It is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the wild birds nested in its branches.”

13:20 Again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? 13:21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.”

The Narrow Door

13:22 Then Jesus traveled throughout towns and villages, teaching and making his way toward Jerusalem. 13:23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” So he said to them, 13:24 “Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 13:25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and start to knock on the door and beg him, ‘Lord, let us in!’ But he will answer you, ‘I don’t know where you come from.’ 13:26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 13:27 But he will reply, ‘I don’t know where you come from! Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 13:28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves thrown out. 13:29 Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God. 13:30 But indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Going to Jerusalem

13:31 At that time, some Pharisees came up and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.” 13:32 But he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Look, I am casting out demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work. 13:33 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is impossible that a prophet should be killed outside Jerusalem.’ 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 13:35 Look, your house is forsaken! And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Prayer

Lord, those inclined toward truth will always recognize You, and those stiff-necked will resist truth and deny You. May I be found inclined toward truth, that You may teach and transform me.

Scripture In Respective

A man who is worried that he is not getting as much from the estate of his father as is his brother challenges Jesus to intervene. Rebuking him with a warning to “guard yourself from all types of greed” (Luke 12:15), Jesus uses a parable to illustrate that ones priority must be “rich toward God” (vs. 21), not in storing up possessions for oneself.

Comforting His disciples to not be “overly concerned about what you will eat...and drink” (vs. 29), Jesus reminds them that if they would instead “pursue His Kingdom” (vs. 31), their Father in Heaven will meet all their lesser needs.

Jesus utilizes a combative-natured parable in His teaching on faithful stewardship and challenges that we should always be “dressed for service” (12:35), ready at the Master’s call. When asked by Peter if He is sharing this parable “for us or for everyone?” (vs. 41), Jesus answers, essentially, all Believers and describes severe consequences for a deliberately neglectful and rebellious “servant who knew his masters will but did not get ready” (vs. 47).

From those who have been given much, and who know and do their master’s will, “much will be required” (12:48).

“‘I have come to bring fire on the earth’ looks to the purging and division Jesus causes” (NET sn) and states the mission of His ministry. He longs for that day of refining fire, wishing it were “already kindled” (12:49). Jesus warns that when some but not all accept Him, there will be resultant conflict within households. Jesus does not look forward to the “baptism” (vs. 50) He will willingly suffer — rejection, persecution, and ultimately crucifixion — or to the “division” (vs. 51) it will cause in families — dissention and hostility).

Challenging the crowds following Him that their discernment of physical things, such as “a cloud rising in the west” (12:54), is good, Jesus reprimands that they lack discernment of spiritual things and “how to interpret the present time” (vs. 56).

Jesus cautions a Believer not to drag a fellow Believer before an unsaved official in the government, lest the accuser be accused of something as well. Rather, His counsel is for a Believer to “make an effort to settle” (12:58) with his accuser.

Jesus calls upon all to repent of their rebellion against the Lord God, no matter the circumstances surrounding their rebellion. One must repent of having denied God Lordship in their lives — “unless you repent, you will all perish” (13:3).

Jesus uses the parable of a fig tree to illustrate His expectation that Israel must bear fruit else be abandoned by God. He offers the “fertilizer” (13:8) of His ministry and teaching, but if they refuse to accept their Messiah’s care and pruning, “enough time has been given to expect fruit” (NET sn), and they are fit only to be cut down.

Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath, which creates a teachable moment. The arrogant and legalistic religious leaders condemn Him for violating their no-work-on-the-Sabbath rule. Jesus challenges that they water their donkeys on the Sabbath, yet condemn Him for healing a woman—freeing a person from the bondage of infirmity on the Sabbath is improper “work” (13:14), but watering their animals is not? “You hypocrites!” (13:15), Jesus declares.

Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a “mustard seed” (13:19) from which a tree (the Church) grows and becomes attractive to and a nesting place for many birds (new Believers). He likens the Kingdom of God to a small amount of yeast (faith) mixed with flour (the world) until “all the dough had risen” (13:21) — “the kingdom of God will start small but eventually grow to permeate everything” (NET sn).

Jesus warns the Jews to make a decision for Him before the opportunity, also made to non-Jews, passes them by — “Many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to” (13:24). He closes with a plea to Jerusalem (rhetorically, all Believers): “How often I have longed to gather your children together…but you would have none of it!” (13:34), and thus they condemn themselves. “Jesus, like a lamenting prophet, speaks for God here, who longed to care tenderly for Israel and protect her” (NET sn).

Faith In Action

Consider

Do the things about which we worry sometimes become more important to us than the things of God? How is our day-to-day life attractive to the unsaved, so that the Holy Spirit uses us to draw and disciple many and grow the Kingdom?

Reflect

Why do we Christians sometimes entrust the resolution of matters of conflict between two Believers to an unbeliever? When have you worried about something so much that it interfered with your relationship with others and with the Lord God?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of at least one circumstance, need, relationship, or want about which you worry.

Act

Today I will confess at least one thing about which I worry and surrender that to the Lord. I will ask a fellow Believer to pray in agreement with me for the strength to not revisit that concern, thereby being free to serve and be a good witness in the world.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Monday (Luke 14–15)

Healing Again on the Sabbath

14:1 Now one Sabbath when Jesus went to dine at the house of a leader of the Pharisees, they were watching him closely. 14:2 There right in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 14:3 So Jesus asked the experts in religious law and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 14:4 But they remained silent. So Jesus took hold of the man, healed him, and sent him away. 14:5 Then he said to them, “Which of you, if you have a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 14:6 But they could not reply to this.

On Seeking Seats of Honor

14:7 Then when Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. He said to them, 14:8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, because a person more distinguished than you may have been invited by your host. 14:9 So the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your place.’ Then, ashamed, you will begin to move to the least important place. 14:10 But when you are invited, go and take the least important place, so that when your host approaches he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up here to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who share the meal with you. 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

14:12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you host a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors so you can be invited by them in return and get repaid. 14:13 But when you host an elaborate meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14:14 Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

The Parable of the Great Banquet

14:15 When one of those at the meal with Jesus heard this, he said to him, Blessed is everyone who will feast in the kingdom of God!” 14:16 But Jesus said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many guests. 14:17 At the time for the banquet he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ 14:18 But one after another they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please excuse me.’ 14:19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going out to examine them. Please excuse me.’ 14:20 Another said, ‘I just got married, and I cannot come.’ 14:21 So the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the master of the household was furious and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 14:22 Then the slave said, ‘Sir, what you instructed has been done, and there is still room.’ 14:23 So the master said to his slave, ‘Go out to the highways and country roads and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled. 14:24 For I tell you, not one of those individuals who were invited will taste my banquet!’”

Counting the Cost

14:25 Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said, 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 14:28 For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and compute the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, all who see it will begin to make fun of him. 14:30 They will say, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ 14:31 Or what king, going out to confront another king in battle, will not sit down first and determine whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 14:32 If he cannot succeed, he will send a representative while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. 14:33 In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions.

14:34 “Salt is good, but if salt loses its flavor, how can its flavor be restored? 14:35 It is of no value for the soil or for the manure pile; it is to be thrown out. The one who has ears to hear had better listen!”

The Parable of the Lost Sheep and Coin

15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. 15:2 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

15:3 So Jesus told them this parable: 15:4 “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? 15:5 Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 15:6 Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 15:7 I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.

15:8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it? 15:9 Then when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Compassionate Father

15:11 Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons. 15:12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that will belong to me.’ So he divided his assets between them. 15:13 After a few days, the younger son gathered together all he had and left on a journey to a distant country, and there he squandered his wealth with a wild lifestyle. 15:14 Then after he had spent everything, a severe famine took place in that country, and he began to be in need. 15:15 So he went and worked for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 15:16 He was longing to eat the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 15:17 But when he came to his senses he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food enough to spare, but here I am dying from hunger! 15:18 I will get up and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 15:19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired workers.”‘ 15:20 So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. 15:21 Then his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 15:22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! 15:23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate, 15:24 because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.

15:25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 15:26 So he called one of the slaves and asked what was happening. 15:27 The slave replied, ‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he got his son back safe and sound.’ 15:28 But the older son became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and appealed to him, 15:29 but he answered his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet you never gave me even a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends! 15:30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 15:31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours. 15:32 It was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’”

Prayer

Lord, You have made Yourself known to me and Your priorities clear. May I use the wisdom I receive from the Holy Spirit to recognize You in my world and to make Your priorities my priority.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus heals on the Sabbath and, when challenged by the religious leaders, asks them, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” (14:3); but they remain silent. [Note that the religious experts remaining silent, “along with the presence of power working through Jesus, serves to indicate endorsement of his work and message” (NET sn).]

Jesus challenges the religious leaders to be humble and to illustrate humility by taking seats of lesser importance, inviting the needy to their special events, and being genuine in their caring. He notes that those who are humble and care for the needy will be “repaid [acknowledged by God] at the resurrection of the righteous” (14:14), the corollary being that the arrogant and selfish will not.

In the Parable of the Great Banquet, Jesus makes note that the nation of Israel (those on the initial guest list) refuses to respond to His invitation (for salvation), so He invites anyone and everyone “to come in, so that My house will be filled” (14:23) — those who refuse His invitation suffer the consequences. He warns Believers that when we make excuses for living too much in the world — neglecting our time in His Word, failing to pray, missing fellowship and worship — then we are missing the banquet of blessing He has set before us.

Jesus challenges those who might follow Him to “compute [count] the cost” (14:28) in carrying the cross of discipleship. He reminds that they need to be prepared to lose everything in the world, voluntarily abandon it all, as a condition of true salvation and to allow Him to choose what He restores to them.

Jesus shares the Parable of the Lost Sheep and Coin to make the point that God cares about each unique person first lost, then found and saved from sin — there is “joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents” (15:10).

The Parable of the Compassionate Father, also known as the parable of the prodigal son, focuses on the father (God) and not the son (rebellious man). Despite the horrific selfishness of a son wishing his father an early death so that he could have his inheritance, and the son’s demeaning sinful waste of those resources, the father humbles himself and “ran and hugged his son” (15:20). The father celebrates his son’s return home. The elder son is jealous of the younger son’s joyful acceptance by the father: God does not reward only those who come to Him easily, He celebrates those who come down a more difficult road.

Faith In Action

Consider

The Lord God, Who humbled Himself to come in the form of man so that He could redeem humankind, continues to love and offer redemption, despite thousands of years of man’s disrespect and wasted resources. How may traditional gatherings of Believers (with buildings, staff, budgets, and traditions) unintentionally breed competition for title and position or encourage adulation and opportunistic behavior?

Reflect

Jesus affirms the general nature of God’s invitation to salvation: there are no favorites or undue respect given in regards to a predetermined list of names, family lines, gender, or denomination. All are invited, yet each one must choose to accept the invitation. Does the way that you present the message of salvation to others include the clear understanding that everything, including ones free will, must be surrendered for their salvation to be genuine?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to search you for any place where you are holding back anything from His Lordship.

Act

Today I will pause to celebrate a loving God Who, despite a Creation in rebellion against its Creator, loves us so much that He chooses to forgive and welcome us Home. I will seek to surrender what I am holding back from His Lordship, understanding that everything I have and everything I am belongs to Him.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Tuesday (Luke 16–17:19)

The Parable of the Clever Steward

16:1 Jesus also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who was informed of accusations that his manager was wasting his assets. 16:2 So he called the manager in and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Turn in the account of your administration, because you can no longer be my manager.’ 16:3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What should I do, since my master is taking my position away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m too ashamed to beg. 16:4 I know what to do so that when I am put out of management, people will welcome me into their homes.’ 16:5 So he contacted his master’s debtors one by one. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 16:6 The man replied, ‘A hundred measures of olive oil.’ The manager said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ 16:7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ The second man replied, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ The manager said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 16:8 The master commended the dishonest manager because he acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their contemporaries than the people of light. 16:9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by how you use worldly wealth, so that when it runs out you will be welcomed into the eternal homes.

16:10 “The one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and the one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 16:11 If then you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with the true riches? 16:12 And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? 16:13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

More Warnings about the Pharisees

16:14 The Pharisees (who loved money) heard all this and ridiculed him. 16:15 But Jesus said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in men’s eyes, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly prized among men is utterly detestable in God’s sight.

16:16 “The law and the prophets were in force until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urged to enter it. 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tiny stroke of a letter in the law to become void.

16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

16:19 “There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 16:20 But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, 16:21 who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores.

16:22 “Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 16:23 And in hell, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. 16:24 So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’ 16:25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. 16:26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 16:27 So the rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father – send Lazarus to my father’s house 16:28 (for I have five brothers) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment.’ 16:29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to them.’ 16:30 Then the rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 16:31 He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Sin, Forgiveness, Faith, and Service

17:1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 17:2 It would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 17:3 Watch yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. 17:4 Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 17:6 So the Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this black mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled out by the roots and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

17:7 “Would any one of you say to your slave who comes in from the field after plowing or shepherding sheep, ‘Come at once and sit down for a meal’? 17:8 Won’t the master instead say to him, ‘Get my dinner ready, and make yourself ready to serve me while I eat and drink. Then you may eat and drink’? 17:9 He won’t thank the slave because he did what he was told, will he? 17:10 So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.’”

The Grateful Leper

17:11 Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 17:12 As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, 17:13 raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 17:14 When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. 17:15 Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 17:16 He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) 17:17 Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 17:18 Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 17:19 Then he said to the man, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Prayer

Lord, our healing depends upon Your grace and mercy, calling for our hearts to be right with You in order that we might become vessels prepared for healing. May I come to know You better, that I might draw ever nearer to You.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus tells the Parable of the Clever Steward to illustrate how the world, impressed by a clever person, uses their skills for self-serving and dishonest gain. He instructs Believers to be wise and righteous in the use of their worldly resources, so as to earn treasure in Heaven. Either God or money can be a priority, they cannot both share a man’s heart. The Pharisees, “who loved money” (16:14), are rebuked by Jesus for the “detestable” (vs. 15) priorities of their hearts.

The intent of the Rich Man and Lazarus is not to teach that there is an immediate conscious presence of the dead in Heaven and Hell, or to instruct that people in either domain are aware of or in communication with one another; rather, a symbolic ‘Abraham’ communicates with the rich man in Hell. The purpose of the parable is this: The rich man “in hell...in torment” (16:23), who during his life ignored the suffering of the poor man, is now asking Abraham that the poor man be sent from Heaven to give him water and to warn his brothers on Earth “to act differently...or else meet his current terrible fate” (NET sn). Abraham replies that a “great chasm” (16:26) has been fixed between Heaven and Hell — and there is nothing to be done for him, for the rich man’s earthly power and wealth are now meaningless.

Jesus reminds His listeners that Moses and the prophets told them everything they needed to know to recognize Him, and forebodes that they will fail to be “convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (16:31). In the parable, the poor man Lazarus rises from the dead, illustrating Jesus’ own imminent death and resurrection.

Jesus tells of the obligation to forgive one who repents: No matter how often they offend, “you must forgive him” (17:3). He warns that the obedient should not expect praise for merely doing as they are told.

Jesus heals a group of ten lepers; only the Samaritan healed, none of the Jews, returns to give Him thanks. The nine Jews are healed of their leprosy, yet the Samaritan is healed and gains salvation as well — “Your faith has made you well [Greek, ‘has saved you’]” (17:19).

Faith In Action

Consider

Those who fail to listen to God miss even the most profound of miracles, such as the resurrection of Jesus.

What appears to have the highest priority in the hearts of most people, the things of God or the things of this world?

Reflect

God may heal a person of an illness, but without their faith-driven gratefulness and acknowledgement of Who the Healer is, He can not, by virtue of His righteousness, offer the gift of salvation. A not-yet-saved person who acknowledges that his healer is God is saved. A saved person, who fails to thank and acknowledge God, misses out only on receiving earthly blessings, but their salvation remains intact.

Have you ever offered (or received) “false” forgiveness — false in the sense that forgiveness is predicated upon confession and repentance (a turning away from the sin)? Forgiveness of another absent confession and true repentance is relying on a disingenuous request for forgiveness if neither were offered. However, in the end the choice to forgive is between you and your Lord, and the act of forgiving serves to sever the chain of bitterness that may otherwise bind you. Ideally, it is best for both parties to fully share in the forgiveness, which means that God is the Lord of both, and therefore a blessing comes to both.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in searching your heart, schedule, and checkbook for signs of what your priorities truly are.

Act

Today I will prayerfully make adjustments to assure that my priorities are with God in an unshared first place. I will partner with a fellow Believer, seeking to identify a gift from God for which I have not been truly grateful, and I will pause to give thanks from a faith-driven heart of gratefulness.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Wednesday (Matthew 18:10-35)

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

18:10 “See that you do not disdain one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 18:11 [[EMPTY]] 18:12 What do you think? If someone owns a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for the one that went astray? 18:13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 18:14 In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost.

Restoring Christian Relationships

18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 18:16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.

18:18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 18:19 Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 18:20 For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”

18:21 Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” 18:22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!

The Parable of the Unforgiving Slave

18:23 “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. 18:24 As he began settling his accounts, a man who owed ten thousand talents was brought to him. 18:25 Because he was not able to repay it, the lord ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. 18:26 Then the slave threw himself to the ground before him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.’ 18:27 The lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt. 18:28 After he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred silver coins. So he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ 18:29 Then his fellow slave threw himself down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ 18:30 But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt. 18:31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had taken place. 18:32 Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! 18:33 Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’ 18:34 And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed. 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Prayer

Lord, You instruct us to be intentional in avoiding sin, in assisting fellow Believers who struggle with sin, and in forgiving of others. May I be found faithful in following Your commands.

Scripture In Perspective

The Parable of the Lost Sheep communicates the compassion of God, Who is “not willing that one of these little ones be lost” (Matt. 18:14). The term “little ones” has been interpreted in the following ways:

1. Literally, referring only to a special standing before God for young children — this narrow interpretation is not supported by the context.

2. Specifically, referring only to those given to Him by the Father (see John 10:28-29) — this interpretation is also too narrow for the text.

3. Universally, referring to all mankind lost after the Fall and then pursued by God for salvation — this is the broadest, most acceptable interpretation. It is God’s preferential will (not forced on man, but preferred for man), for all men to freely choose salvation; conversely, men have the freewill to not choose to be saved. The Good Shepherd seeks those who are lost and rejoices over those who are found.

Jesus addresses the restoration of damaged relationships between Christians: When one is seen living a sin, they are to be confronted “when the two of you are alone” (Matt. 18:15). If they remain unrepentant, then they are to be brought before others as “witnesses” (vs. 16); and, if still unrepentant, than brought before “the church” (vs. 17), a gathering of Believers. If he still refuses to listen, then the unrepentant one is to be ostracized.

[Note: Setting the tone, the purpose of the confrontation is to regain a fellow Believer; however, ostracism of the unrepentant one is merciful in that it serves as both pressure on the sinner to repent and also as a boundary to keep their rebellion from spreading to others.]

Jesus reminds Believers that He is “there among them” (vs. 20) when they gather, and that they have spiritual and earthly power when they pray in agreement with one another and in harmony with God’s will.

Peter questions the number of times a Believer must forgive a brother: “As many as seven times?” (vs. 21). Jesus replies “seventy times seven” and uses the Parable of the Unforgiving Slave to remind them that God’s forgiveness is predicated upon genuine repentance and to make the rhetorical point that Believers are to extend maximum grace to fellow Believers. In His parable, the unforgiving slave was selfish in accepting forgiveness of his massive obligations, yet failing to forgive another’s relatively small obligation to him.

Faith In Action

Consider

God, despite being rejected and disrespected for thousands of years, continues to desire a loving relationship with His children. Observe how the Biblical confrontation of a fellow Believer with their sin, toward the goal of redemption, is in actuality a gift of love to them.

Reflect

Consider how the power that Jesus shares with His children, when they pray in agreement with Him and with one another, may bring healing among Believers.

Have you experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit when, after you have been forgiven multiple times for the same offense against a brother or sister in Christ, you are slow to forgive them?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a brother or sister in Christ for whom He wants you to pray for restored fellowship with.

Act

I will pray with another Christian for a fellow Believer, one who has already been confronted personally, to repent of their sin and turn to God. We will commit to following the Biblical process and, if they remain unrepentant, we will take them before church leadership.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Thursday (Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18)

Matthew

Questions About Divorce

19:1 Now when Jesus finished these sayings, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan River. 19:2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

19:3 Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, 19:5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 19:7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 19:8 Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. 19:9 Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.” 19:10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the case of a husband with a wife, it is better not to marry!” 19:11 He said to them, “Not everyone can accept this statement, except those to whom it has been given. 19:12 For there are some eunuchs who were that way from birth, and some who were made eunuchs by others, and some who became eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who is able to accept this should accept it.”

Mark

Divorce

10:1 Then Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan River. Again crowds gathered to him, and again, as was his custom, he taught them. 10:2 Then some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 10:3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 10:4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 10:5 But Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your hard hearts. 10:6 But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female. 10:7 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, 10:8 and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 10:9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10:10 In the house once again, the disciples asked him about this. 10:11 So he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 10:12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Luke

16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

Prayer

Lord, You have experienced separation (spiritual ‘divorce’) from those you love: Satan and the fallen angels, Adam and Eve in the Garden, Israel demanding a human king instead of You, the King of Kings. May I never contemplate breaking fellowship with You.

Scripture In Perspective

Matthew, Mark, and Luke agree that God dislikes divorce and it was not His design at Creation for man. They agree that God tolerates divorce due to the “hard hearts” (Mark 10:5) of fallen men who struggle to forgive real or imagined offenses from their wives. The abuse of divorce was rampant; men were abandoning their wives on very shallow pretext, leaving them destitute and shamed.

Matthew reports that “whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery” (19:9) — except for immorality is evidence of God’s grace. Luke succinctly states the relational condition that the man or woman who marries a divorced man or woman “commits adultery” (16:18): Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, this does not apply to a person who was divorced due to their spouses immorality and then marries again.

[Note: Divergent opinions held among competing subgroups within the religious elite of the day made it easy to run afoul of at least one group, while yet creating a momentary alliance with another. Jesus, in His response to the religious leaders, is concerned only with Truth, not the so-called truth believed by various groups.]

Jesus’ statement, “whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9) troubles some of the disciples, who say to Him “if this is the case...better not to marry!” (vs. 10). Jesus responds by suggesting that a man then live as a eunuch, rather than risk a marriage where he is unhappy yet unable to leave without offending God.

The preference of Jesus is that we not have hard hearts, rather that we walk the God-preferred and Holy Spirit-empowered path of repentance, forgiveness, and restoration rather than run towards divorce. [Note, nothing in Biblical text encourages a newly-saved person to abandon their unsaved spouse or advises a Christian to encourage their unsaved spouse to stay if it is their intent is to leave the marriage — the Holy Spirit may be using the saved spouse to lead the unsaved spouse to salvation or may be driving the unsaved spouse out of the marriage because a sustained marriage would harm the saved spouse. One is to love ones spouse, saved or unsaved, while allowing them the freedom and consequences of their own choices.]

Faith In Action

Consider

Jesus teaches all who would follow Him to count the cost before making a commitment. In the case of marriage, He powerfully illustrates that those unwilling to live within His boundaries should choose the life of a relational (sexual) eunuch. Stated differently, if one is not willing to stay married without the freedom to divorce (in the absence of immorality), then one must not marry. Have you seen what happens to people when careless leaders enforce either too rigid or too permissive a reading of these texts? Pray that Biblical teaching be applied rather than the preferences of man.

Reflect

All divorces impacting Christians are not necessarily chosen: Some involve an unsaved spouse at the time of the divorce. “What is old has passed away” (2 Cor. 5:17) and one is “renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16) means that only the Enemy charges a Christian with a past sin — God separates Himself from forgiven sin “as far as the eastern sunrise is from the west” (Ps. 103:12).

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit of God to deepen your understanding of the Biblical teaching about divorce. Ask Him to help you to ask for the forgiveness of any whom you have offended as a result of holding a non-Biblical (too rigid or too permissive) view of divorce.

Act

If a past divorce or present possibility of divorce is impacting my life, I will prayerfully ask for the comfort, strength, and wisdom to respond wisely. I will ask for the miraculous intervention of the Lord, where matters may be out of my control yet redeemable. I will ask a fellow Believer to pray in agreement with me and to walk with me, for accountability and encouragement, through this process.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Matthew 19:13–20:19; Mark 10:13-34; Luke 18:15-34)

Matthew

Jesus and Little Children

19:13 Then little children were brought to him for him to lay his hands on them and pray. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. 19:14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 19:15 And he placed his hands on them and went on his way.

The Rich Young Man

19:16 Now someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” 19:17 He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 19:18 “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19:19 honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 19:20 The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I still lack?” 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 19:22 But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.

19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! 19:24 Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” 19:25 The disciples were greatly astonished when they heard this and said, “Then who can be saved?” 19:26 Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible.” 19:27 Then Peter said to him, “Look, we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 19:29 And whoever has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 19:30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Workers in the Vineyard

20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 20:2 And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 20:3 When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the marketplace without work. 20:4 He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.’ 20:5 So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. 20:6 And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day without work?’ 20:7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go and work in the vineyard too.’ 20:8 When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.’ 20:9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. 20:10 And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 20:11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 20:12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ 20:13 And the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 20:14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. 20:15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Third Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

20:17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve aside privately and said to them on the way, 20:18 “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the experts in the law. They will condemn him to death, 20:19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged severely and crucified. Yet on the third day, he will be raised.”

Mark

Jesus and Little Children

10:13 Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them. 10:14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 10:15 I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 10:16 After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them.

The Rich Man

10:17 Now as Jesus was starting out on his way, someone ran up to him, fell on his knees, and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 10:18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 10:19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 10:20 The man said to him, “Teacher, I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.” 10:21 As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him and said, “You lack one thing. Go, sell whatever you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 10:22 But at this statement, the man looked sad and went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.

10:23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 10:24 The disciples were astonished at these words. But again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 10:26 They were even more astonished and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 10:27 Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, but not for God; all things are possible for God.”

10:28 Peter began to speak to him, “Look, we have left everything to follow you!” 10:29 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 10:30 who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much – homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fields, all with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life. 10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Third Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

10:32 They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem. Jesus was going ahead of them, and they were amazed, but those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was going to happen to him. 10:33 “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and experts in the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles. 10:34 They will mock him, spit on him, flog him severely, and kill him. Yet after three days, he will rise again.”

Luke

Jesus and Little Children

18:15 Now people were even bringing their babies to him for him to touch. But when the disciples saw it, they began to scold those who brought them. 18:16 But Jesus called for the children, saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 18:17 I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

The Wealthy Ruler

18:18 Now a certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18:19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 18:20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 18:21 The man replied, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.” 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 18:23 But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy. 18:24 When Jesus noticed this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 18:25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 18:26 Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?” 18:27 He replied, “What is impossible for mere humans is possible for God.” 18:28 And Peter said, “Look, we have left everything we own to follow you!” 18:29 Then Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of God’s kingdom 18:30 who will not receive many times more in this age – and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Another Prediction of Jesus’ Passion

18:31 Then Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 18:32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; he will be mocked, mistreated, and spat on. 18:33 They will flog him severely and kill him. Yet on the third day he will rise again.” 18:34 But the twelve understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what Jesus meant.

Prayer

Lord, unless we come to You in humility we should not come at all, because You are a perfect and holy God and we bring nothing of value with which to negotiate. May I commit to memory Your undeserved gift of saving love.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus uses the bringing of little children to Him to be blessed as an opportunity to refine His teaching on saving faith. First, because His disciples think the babies unworthy of His time, Jesus reminds them that He values all human life and that “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Second, He defines the heart condition of one saved by faith as like that of “a child” (Luke 18:17), innocent and trusting. Saying that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child “will never enter it” (Mark 10:15), Jesus returns to His prior requirement that one abandon everything in this world, including free will, and allow God to replace as He deems best.

A rich young man, who claims to have kept all of the key principles of the Law, fails in his quest for eternal life — choosing not to obey Jesus and part with his wealth, the young man “went away sorrowful, for he was very rich” (Matt. 19:22). Jesus remarks on the difficulty of a person rich in the things of this world entering Heaven — acquiring great worldly wealth generally means that money and possessions easily become idols (objects of worship due God only) in ones life.

Because they cling to the notion that wealth represents an advantage in gaining entrance in to Heaven, nearby listeners are shocked to hear Jesus declare that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter Heaven — “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:25) speaks again of the idol worship of “those who trust in riches” (NET sn).

Key is that no one possesses anything of sufficient value to offer as an ‘entrance fee’ in to Heaven – only those who follow Jesus without conditions or exceptions will receive the gift of eternal life.

Jesus reminds some of the Jews, apparently arrogant about being the first ones to follow Jesus, that when one is saved bears no relevance upon how God chooses to reward with salvation. It is the free and beyond-question choice of God to grant salvation to all who genuinely surrender to be saved, be they saved as a child (with generations of saved family members who are Messianic Jews) or be they life-long reprobates (who surrender at the moment prior to death) — “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16).

Jesus tells His disciples that He will be “handed over to the Gentiles...mocked, mistreated, and spat on” (Luke 18:32), another prediction of His suffering, death, and resurrection. Luke notes that the disciples “did not grasp what Jesus meant” (vs. 34), still not fully comprehending the immensity of what Jesus was prophesying.

Faith In Action

Consider

Jesus’ discourse on having ‘faith like little children’ is often depicted as being about children only, but He often refers to all Believers as “His children.” Therefore, contemplate how the message applies and how child-like in innocence and trust in God you are.

Is it not possible that a homeless person may better transition in to unconditional dependence upon God than those among us trusting in our homes and many possessions, albeit unconsciously?

Reflect

Have you experienced a time when God has placed a truth right in front of you, but you have persisted in an inability to receive it?

When have you experienced arrogance due to your moment of salvation, where maybe you improperly imagined some special standing before God for having been saved longer than someone else?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where you are harboring a sense of insistence toward the Lord God that your demands be met, as if He owes you something.

Act

Today I will prayerfully reflect upon the heart condition with which I approach my walk with Jesus. Do I come to Him with hands emptied of ‘demandingness’ or do I cling to worldly things that are not a part of my relationship with Him? I will commit to partner with the Hole Spirit toward the end of valuing only that which God values and seeking only that which is righteous in His eyes.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Saturday (Matthew 20:20-34; Mark 10:35-52; Luke 18:35–19:27)

Matthew

A Request for James and John

20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor. 20:21 He said to her, “What do you want?” She replied, “Permit these two sons of mine to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 20:22 Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 20:23 He told them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right and at my left is not mine to give. Rather, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

20:24 Now when the other ten heard this, they were angry with the two brothers. 20:25 But Jesus called them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 20:26 It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 20:27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave – 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Two Blind Men Healed

20:29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed them. 20:30 Two blind men were sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” 20:31 The crowd scolded them to get them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 20:32 Jesus stopped, called them, and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 20:33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 20:34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Mark

The Request of James and John

10:35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 10:36 He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 10:37 They said to him, “Permit one of us to sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.” 10:38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I experience?” 10:39 They said to him, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism I experience, 10:40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give. It is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

10:41 Now when the other ten heard this, they became angry with James and John. 10:42 Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 10:43 But it is not this way among you. Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 10:44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all. 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Healing Blind Bartimaeus

10:46 They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. 10:47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 10:48 Many scolded him to get him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 10:49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” 10:50 He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 10:51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied, “Rabbi, let me see again.” 10:52 Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the road.

Luke

Healing a Blind Man

18:35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 18:36 When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was going on. 18:37 They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is passing by.” 18:38 So he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 18:39 And those who were in front scolded him to get him to be quiet, but he shouted even more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 18:40 So Jesus stopped and ordered the beggar to be brought to him. When the man came near, Jesus asked him, 18:41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, let me see again.” 18:42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 18:43 And immediately he regained his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they too gave praise to God.

Jesus and Zacchaeus

19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. 19:2 Now a man named Zacchaeus was there; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 19:3 He was trying to get a look at Jesus, but being a short man he could not see over the crowd. 19:4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way. 19:5 And when Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, because I must stay at your house today.” 19:6 So he came down quickly and welcomed Jesus joyfully. 19:7 And when the people saw it, they all complained, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 19:8 But Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I now give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times as much!” 19:9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household, because he too is a son of Abraham! 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The Parable of the Ten Minas

19:11 While the people were listening to these things, Jesus proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. 19:12 Therefore he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 19:13 And he summoned ten of his slaves, gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ 19:14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to be king over us!’ 19:15 When he returned after receiving the kingdom, he summoned these slaves to whom he had given the money. He wanted to know how much they had earned by trading. 19:16 So the first one came before him and said, ‘Sir, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 19:17 And the king said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities.’ 19:18 Then the second one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has made five minas.’ 19:19 So the king said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 19:20 Then another slave came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina that I put away for safekeeping in a piece of cloth. 19:21 For I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You withdraw what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.’ 19:22 The king said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! So you knew, did you, that I was a severe man, withdrawing what I didn’t deposit and reaping what I didn’t sow? 19:23 Why then didn’t you put my money in the bank, so that when I returned I could have collected it with interest?’ 19:24 And he said to his attendants, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has ten.’ 19:25 But they said to him, ‘Sir, he has ten minas already!’ 19:26 ‘I tell you that everyone who has will be given more, but from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 19:27 But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be their king, bring them here and slaughter them in front of me!’”

Prayer

Lord, You honor whom You honor and heal whom You heal. May I trust in Your perfect omniscience, and be content as Your child.

Scripture In Perspective

When James and John bring a request to Jesus for appointment to the highest seats of honor on either side of His throne in Heaven, Jesus questions, “Are you able to drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I experience?” (Mark 10:38). The apostles have yet to comprehend the fullness of Who Jesus is and what He is about to suffer, so they say to Him, “We are able” (vs. 39). Jesus replies that they will indeed drink of the cup He drinks (referring to persecution, suffering, death), but choosing who will sit by His side in Heaven is not His to give. Instead, He reminds them of their need for humility and to focus on service to others, rather than position or title.

The disciples, scolding a blind man “to get him to be quiet” (Luke 18:39) and keep him from disturbing Jesus, discover that Jesus wants to heal him. The man’s healing results in his praising God, and the people who witness his healing and joyful praise also give praise to God.

When the tax collector Zacchaeus hosts Jesus for the night, the people protest His willingness “to be the guest of a man who is a sinner” (Luke 19:7). Zacchaeus responds to their complaints by declaring his willingness to make right what he had wrongfully taken; his desire to do right is from the heart, because he has made a decision to truly follow Jesus in word and deed. That day “salvation has come to this household” (vs. 9) — Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

Jesus shares a parable of the distribution of just rewards to those who accept delegated responsibility: A rhetorical “nobleman” (Luke 19:12) entrusts a portion of his wealth to each of his servants. Those who invest it (give of themselves) and multiply what they are given (resources of money or time or talent) are rewarded with more. The one who merely keeps to himself what is entrusted to him has what he has been given taken away, and he is punished — “To reject the king is to face certain judgment from him” (NET sn). Understood in light of the choice to submit to the Lordship of Christ or to reject it, the parable infers that those who reject Him will be destroyed and speaks to the final judgment of man.

Faith In Action

Consider

Have you observed Christian leaders whose spiritual maturity is evidenced by their humility and their servant hearts? Do we cry out to Jesus in faith, pleading to see that which we have failed to see, when we find we have drifted into a spiritual blindness?

Reflect

Leadership tends to be isolating, which limits spiritual accountability and makes people easier targets for the Enemy to lead toward wrong priorities. Busyness and performance-based religion can lead to the same, as it takes our eyes off of Jesus. Have you observed an obsession with position and title among Christian leaders, leading them to prioritize wrongly and create confusion among those they are suppose to disciple and encourage?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of a fellow Believer whose humility and servant’s heart are exemplary.

Act

Today I will prayerfully and quietly encourage the one whom the Holy Spirit brings to my attention and offer them a word in support.

Be Specific ______________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –“The Chronological Gospels” – “Week 9 of 12” - prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in July of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

 

Related Topics: Devotionals, Curriculum