Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Holy Week - Day 3

Here we are ... moving through the week. And Jesus has a lot to say to anyone who will listen to Him. He spends quite a bit of time with His disciples. If you knew that you only had 4-5 days left with your students, and you had to teach them enough so that they could continue your work, would you be in a panic? I know I would be. But, Jesus patiently went through the information that He had for them. He answered their questions and prayed that they would understand everything He was telling them.

The information over the next two days blends together, so I'm going to make an arbitrary separation of the events. The last half of this information is Jesus' teaching on the last days so I'll talk about that tomorrow.

Since there is so much information to swallow, I will tell you up front that today I am reading Matthew 21:23-23:39, Mark 11:27-12:44, Luke 10:1-21:4 and John 12:20-50. I may not cite every single verse as we move through this. I'll apologize for that up front.

"John's baptism - was it from heaven or from me? Tell me!" Jesus' authority was being called into question by the chief priests and elders fo the people. "By whose authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?"

Well, Jesus has the wisdom of God and turns it around on them. "If you can answer one question for me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things." They discussed it and realized that they couldn't answer His question and He refused to tell them any more information. All of the synoptic gospels tell the same story ... Jesus stopped them in their tracks. Did He win any points with them? I'm afraid not.

The parable of the two sons is only told in Matthew. This is in direct response to the question posed by the Chief Priests. The father told his son to work in the vineyard ... the son refused, but changed his mind. He went to the second son, who acquiesed, but ended up not going. Jesus made sure that the chief priests recognized themselves in the second son, and compared them to tax collectors and prostitutes who, He said, would enter the Kingdom of God before they did. Hmmm ... more points He is winning.

The parable of the Tenants comes next in all the three synoptic gospels. You know the story. Those wicked tenants. They rented some land, the landowner sent servants to collect his fruit - they killed the servants, then they killed the next round of servants, and they finally killed the son. You know - those chief priests were morons! Jesus asked them, "When the landowner comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They immediately knew the answer. "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent the vineyard to other tenants."

Jesus declared that this was the meaning of the passage from Psalm 118:22-23, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone..." Yup, the chief priests and Pharisees knew that Jesus was talking about them. They wanted blood now ... but the crowd was still surrounding Jesus and the time wasn't right ... not yet.

Matthew alone tells the next story. The Parable of the Wedding banquet. The king prepares a wedding banquet for his son. Those who had been invited refused to come. He sent servants to those people twice! In fact, they killed the servants. So, the king sent his army to destroy the murderers and burned their city. (are you seeing prophecy here?) Since those who were invited didn't come, the king opened up the banquet to everyone ... both good and bad and the wedding hall was filled with guests. Jesus' final comment? "Many are invited, but few are chosen." The Jews were invited. Not once, but more than once. They were too busy to come into the kingdom of God. And you know ... for that I'm thankful. Because then, it was opened to all of us!

Paying taxes to Caesar. We all know the story. The Pharisees continued to try to trap Jesus. "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." You know, it says that they were amazed by His response. So they left him and went away. Luke tells us that they were silent. About time, eh?

The Sadduees Question - Marriage at the Resurrection? The Sadducees and the Pharisees made up the Sanhedrin - the ruling body of the Jews in Jerusalem. Now, the Sadducees believed there was no resurrection. So, it was their turn to try to trap Jesus. The woman marries brother after brother upon their death. Whose wife of the seven brothers will she be in heaven?

I love Jesus response to them. "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." Hmmm ... more points for Him! You can read the rest of this ... But, the crowds are continually amazed by Jesus. Even the teachers of the law responded with "Well said, teacher!" (from Luke)

Matthew and Mark give us the Greatest Commandment next. The Pharisees took it back up with Jesus after He silenced the Sadducees. Now ... an expert in the law asks which is the greatest commandment? I love our Lord. Because only He could do this ... only with the wisdom of His Father.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on those two commandments." If you want to see how Jesus was wrapping up the Ten Commandments, check out Exodus 20 for yourself! And ... Mark tells us that the Pharisee was completely impressed, responded well and Jesus said "You are not far from the kingdom of God" to that man. Wow ...

"Whose Son is the Christ?" Jesus was teaching and asked this question. "The teachers of the law say that the Christ (the Messiah) is the son of David. How is it that David, filled with the Holy Spirit, declared, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.'" Jesus goes on to say, "David himself calls him Lord. How then can he be his son?"

I'll leave that for you to work out. But, Mark tells the crowd listened to Him with delight. Do you listen to Him with delight? After asking this question, Jesus threatened the Pharisees - who were the teachers of the Law. Check that out. It's in Mark and Luke following the question that was just posed by Jesus. In Matthew, however - it is the entire 23rd chapter. There are 7 woes spoken to the Phariseees and teachers of the law. HYPOCRITES! Whitewashed tombstones, snakes, brood of vipers ... that's a chapter to set you back in your chair.

The Widow's Mite. She gave from her heart - not from her excess. This is only found in Mark and Luke.

We finally hear from John today. John 12:20-36 tells the story of the Greeks that came to worship at the Feast. They found Philip, who went to Andrew and then went to Jesus. Jesus response to them is the prediction of His death.

Do you know that it is in this passage that we hear God's voice? Check it out. Jesus reminded them that He would only be with them a little time. And He told them to walk with the light - because the darkness would overtake them.

John 12:37-50 is Jesus' sermon on unbelief. Verse 37: Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still wouldn't believe in him. This was to fulfill Isaiah's prophecies from Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:10.

Now ... I know you have been reading this post for awhile - but, PLEASE see this cool thing: John 12:41 "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." Did you read that? Oh ... Jesus was there, all through the Old Testament.

Jesus desperately wants the people to understand that their belief or unbelief in Him directly relates to their belief or unbelief in God. It's all about God with Jesus. Jesus came into the world as a light ... RUN to the light!

Alright - tomorrow, we will see what Jesus has to say about the end of the world.

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