18:1-43 - Here, we learn some important lessons about faith. (a) Our faith is precious. We must not lose it! The question is asked, ‘When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’ (8). ‘Don’t lose heart’ (1). (b) We are to have a humble faith (14). Pray, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner’ (13). ‘Receive the Kingdom of God like a child’ (17). (c) We are to have a committed faith (22), always remembering that salvation comes from the Lord and not from ourselves (26-27). Our commitment can never be a way of earning God’s salvation. He always gives us so much more than we could ever give to Him (29-30). (d) We are to have a Christ-centred faith, centred on His death and resurrection (31-33). (e) Our faith is to be full of worship. Our eyes opened by Christ and to Him, we are to glorify God and give praise to Him (43).
19:1-48 - Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (9:51; 13:22; 17:11), the place where He would be crucified for the world’s salvation. ‘Passing through’ Jericho, He brought ‘salvation’ to Zacchaeus (1, 9). ‘Near to Jerusalem’, He spoke about service (11-27). Jesus is our Saviour – He came ‘to save us’ (10). He is also our Lord – He wants to ‘reign over’ us (27). ‘Salvation has come to us (9). As ‘good servants’, let us be ‘faithful’ to our Lord (17). Jesus was ‘going up to Jerusalem’ (28). The Cross was the high point, the place of His triumph (Colossians 2:15). Seeing ‘the city’, Jesus ‘wept over it’ (41). He taught the Word of God in the House of God. Some were ‘eager to hear Him’. Others were ‘seeking to destroy Him’ (47-48). What about you ? Does Jesus weep over you? He wants to rejoice over you (15:7,10).
20:1-47 - Think before you speak. Jesus’ critics had plenty to say for themselves. Jesus challenged them. They needed to say less and think more – about Jesus (8,17-18,41-44). Jesus’ words reduced them to silence (26,40). They didn’t know what to say next. Perhaps, some were beginning to ask the right questions and find the right answers (39). There were others who didn’t want to know. They weren’t interested in listening to Jesus. All that mattered to them was themselves: ‘Beware of the scribes…’ (46-47). ‘The scribes’ were so taken up with themselves that they failed to take the slightest notice of what the Lord was saying to them. The way of ‘the scribes’ ended in ‘condemnation’. There is a warning for us here: Make sure you don’t miss the most important thing – ‘Jesus Christ is in you’ (2 Corinthians 13:5).
21:1-38 - The ‘poor widow’ gave her ‘all’ to the Lord (1-4). True giving is a response to ‘the grace of God’. Learning to appreciate ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’, we will learn to give with ‘abundance of joy’ and ‘wealth of liberality’ (2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 9). Let us give ourselves to our Lord. True Christian living will not be easy (12; 2 Timothy 3:12). The Lord will be with us in all our difficulties (15, 18-19). Christ will return ‘with power and great glory’ (27). For some this will be a time of ‘distress… perplexity… fear… foreboding’ (25-26). For others, it will be the Day of ‘redemption’ (28). To all, there is the warning: ‘Take heed to yourselves… watch at all times’ (34-36). Let us restore Him to His rightful place in our lives – ‘…all the people came to Him…’ (38).
22:1-38 - Jesus’ enemies were ‘religious’ men but they were not God’s men (2). Behind the scenes, there was the activity of ‘Satan’ (3). He ‘disguises himself as an angel of light’ – Judas Iscariot was ‘one of the twelve’! (3; 2 Corinthians 11:14). In reality, Satan is ‘a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus was in complete control of the situation. He allowed Satan to carry out the plot which would lead to his own defeat – at the Cross. As the whole situation gets darker, never forget the purpose of Christ’s death (19-20). Jesus was suffering – the pain inflicted by His enemies (2) and the agony brought on by his ‘friends’ (21,31-34). His suffering was for us: ‘Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us’ (7; 1 Corinthians 5:7). In His suffering is our salvation.
22:39-71 - Jesus was ‘greatly distressed… troubled… very sorrowful… ’ (Mark 14:33-34). ‘Nevertheless, in obedience to His Father’s will, He chose the way of the Cross (42; John 10:17-18). Satan – ‘the power of darkness’ – would have his ‘hour’, but Jesus was to be ‘seated at the right hand of the power of God’ (53,69). Jesus suffered much persecution (63-71). He endured it ‘for the joy that was set before Him’, the joy of ‘bringing many son to glory’ (Hebrews 12:2; 2:10). The way of the Cross is never easy. It involves death to self (2 Corinthians 4:10-12). Do not ‘sleep’. Pray (45-46). Don’t ‘follow at a distance’ and deny your Lord (54, 57-58, 60). Keep close to Jesus. Let the ‘rivers of living water flow’ (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:8). When you sin, let His ‘Word’ lead you to repentance (61-62; Psalm 119:11).
23:1-25 - In Jesus’ trial, we see unity in evil (12). Politically, Pilate and Herod were at odds with each other. Spiritually, they were united in their opposition to Christ. Jesus was found guilty by neither Pilate nor Herod (13-16). They were Very Important People. Jesus was a threat to them. They held positions of great power. They could not allow Jesus to ‘upset the apple cart’. Three times, Pilate declared Jesus’ innocence (4,14,22). ‘Public opinion’ said, ‘Crucify Him!’ (21). Pilate had a problem. He would be ‘crucifying’ himself – politically – if he ignored public opinion. Pilate made his choice. Jesus had to go. Jesus went – but He came back again! There is real human drama here, but there is much more than that: There is God! Crucified by men, Raised by God (Acts 2:23-24): This is divine drama, the drama of redemption!
23:26-24:12 - ‘God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1:27). In his weakness, the thief on the cross trusted Christ for salvation (42-43). Pilate, a man of power, rejected Christ, sending Him off to be crucified (23:23-25). Jesus was ‘delivered into the hands of sinful men’. Jesus was ‘crucified’. This was not, for Him, the end. He rose from the dead (7). At the Cross, ‘the centurion’ described Jesus as ‘a righteous man’ (47). In the resurrection, God declared Him to be much more than a righteous man – He is ‘the Son of God’ (Romans 1:4). Don’t be like those who do ‘not believe’, those who consider Christ’s resurrection to be ‘an idle tale’ (11). Something has ‘happened’, something very wonderful – Jesus has risen from the dead:… ‘believe… be saved’ (12; Romans 10:9).
24:13-53 - ‘In all the Scriptures’, Jesus teaches ‘the things concerning Himself’ (27). Do ‘our hearts burn within us… while He opens to us the Scriptures?’ (32). He calls us to be His ‘witnesses’, to preach His message of salvation ‘to all nations’ (47-48). Before we can preach, we must listen to Him. Before we can proclaim His resurrection, we must consider His suffering for us: ‘See my hands and my feet’ (39) – even after His resurrection, they still bear ‘the mark of the nails’ (John 20:25). Listen to Christ. Consider His suffering for you. Be ‘clothed with power from on high. Let the Lord ‘bless’ you, strengthening your worship and filling you ‘with great joy’. With all this going on in your lives, we will consider it not only our responsibility but our joyful privilege to be His ‘witnesses’ (48-53)!