1:1-38 - God was about to do ‘a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:19). It was centred on Christ, though John also played his part (31-33,16-17). There were obstacles - Zechariah and Elizabeth were ‘old’ (18), and Mary had ‘no man’ (34). What were these obstacles to God? - Nothing: ‘with God nothing will be impossible’ (37). How are we to respond to God’s ‘new thing’? - ‘let it be to me according to Your Word’ (38). How will God’s ‘new thing’ make progress among us? - Through the power of the Holy Spirit: ‘he will be filled with the Holy Spirit’ (15), ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you...’ (34). ‘Holy Spirit, we welcome you... Move among us with holy fire... Let the breeze of your presence flow... Please accomplish in me today, some new work of loving grace, I pray; Unreservedly have Your way...’ (Mission Praise, 241).
1:39-80 - There are two great ‘songs of praise’ here (46-55,67-79). God was doing ‘a new thing’. His people were rejoicing in Him. Great things were happening. Greater things were going to happen. Soon, the Saviour would be born. The birth of John the Baptist (57-66) - This was great. The birth of our Saviour - This would be even greater. Mary and Zechariah felt the touch of God upon their lives, and their hearts were filled with praise to God: ‘When I feel the touch of Your hand upon my life, it causes me to sing a song that I love You, Lord. So from deep within my spirit singeth unto Thee, You are my King, You are my God, and I love You Lord’ (Mission Praise, 753). John was ‘in the wilderness’. He ‘became strong in spirit’ (80). May God help us to grow spiritually, even when life is not very easy!
2:1-20 - God is in control! Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Long before it happened, God had it planned (1-7; Micah 5:2-3). As we approach Christ's Return, God still has His plan. He is still in control. The birth of Christ is not merely an event from the past. It is also a message for the future. We look back so that we can move forward. We are fearful about many things. ‘What's the world coming to?’, we ask. God turns our question on its head: ‘Christ is coming to the world’. From His first coming, we look on to His Second Coming - He ‘will come to all the people’ (10): ‘every eye will see Him’ (Revelation 1:7). His Return invites us to ask another question: ‘when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’ (18:8). For you, is it still ‘before Christ’? Let the ‘new age’ begin: Let Christ be ‘born this day’ (11) - in your heart!
2:21-52 - Jesus ‘fulfilled all righteousness’ (Matthew 3:15). His circumcision and presentation to the Lord was ‘according to the law of Moses’ (21-24; Leviticus 12:1-8). Jesus’ obedience was always more than mere conformity to ‘the written code’. He was walking ‘in the Spirit’. He was filled with ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3,6). His obedience came ‘from the heart’ and His ‘praise’ came ‘not from men but from God’ (Romans 6:17; 2:29). What joy there was for Simeon and Anna! This was ‘salvation’, ‘redemption’ (30,38). As you journey through life, don’t ‘lose Jesus’ (43-45). Keep close to Him! If you do ‘lose Him’, where will you find Him again? - ‘In the temple’ (46). Have you lost your way? Find your way back to ‘the sanctuary of God’ - and things will start to fall into place again (Psalm 73:16-17)!
3:1-38 - John's message came from ‘God’ (2). He did not begin with love. He preached about sin and divine judgment, warning his hearers to ‘flee from the wrath to come’ (7). He called for ‘repentance’ (3,8). This was not what people wanted to hear. Before we can rejoice in the Good News concerning salvation, we must recognize our sin and our need of salvation. John prepared the way for Jesus. ‘All have sinned’, ‘The wages of sin is death’ - This is the ‘bad news; which prepares us to receive, with joyful thanksgiving, ‘the Good News’: ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Like John, we are to point to Jesus, God’s ‘beloved Son’ : Before ‘Adam’ was, He is. Pray that the ‘Holy Spirit’ will bring people to Christ (22,38; 8:58).
4:1-30 - Jesus was ‘tempted by the devil’ (2). He was rejected by His enemies (28-29). When we look around us, we see nothing but temptations and rejection - What a negative way of looking at things! There is something more positive here - the presence of the Holy Spirit (1,14,18). Do not be afraid. There is no need to be discouraged. We need not be defeated. The temptations may be many. The opposition may be fierce. We can ‘pass through the midst of them’ (30): ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control’ (2 Timothy 1:7). Satan is persistent - They did not rest until they had crucified Him. Faced with such opposition, we - like Jesus - must walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:12,17-18).
4:31-5:11 - ‘His Word was with power’ (32). Where there are hindrances, obstructing the flow of God’s Word, we must pray that God’s Word will be heard for ‘what it really is’ - ‘not the word of men but the Word of God’ (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Our hearing of God’s Word is not to be a superficial thing - Here, the people of Capernaum ‘tried to keep Him from leaving them’ (42). Later, Jesus said, ‘You, Capernaum... shall be thrust down to hell’ (10:15). We must hear the Word of God and act on it (1,3). We may feel, ‘it’s a waste of time’. We must be obedient to God: ‘at Your Word I will let down the nets’ (5). We are to be ‘partners’ in the Lord’s work (7): ‘workers together with God’ (2 Corinthians 6:1). All the glory belongs to the Lord: We are ‘sinful’ - Through His grace, we can win others for Him (8,10).
5:12-32 - ‘You can make me clean... I will; be clean’ (12-13). Look at Christ’s death for you - Can you doubt His desire to save you? Look at His resurrection - Can you doubt His power to save you? The Lord ‘desires all people to be saved’ (1 Timothy 2:4). We are saved through ‘the Gospel’ which ‘is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’ (Romans 1:16). Jesus can save. Jesus will save. ‘The power of the Lord’ (17) is available to all: ‘Whoever wishes’ may ‘come’ and receive ‘the free gift’ of salvation (Revelation 22:17). To each one, Jesus says, ‘Follow Me’ (27). We must not think of ourselves as ‘righteous’. Each one must come as a ‘sinner’ to Jesus, the Saviour of sinners (32). Through prayer, the Lord’s saving power can be released among us (16-17; John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15).
5:33-6:16 - There is such a difference between the ‘old’ legalism and the ‘new’ life in the Spirit (36-39; Romans 8:2-4). The question, asked in verse 2, springs from the dead hardness of strict legalistic religion. Christ is Lord (5) - not the ‘Pharisees’. They try to control people's lives. With their kill-joy attitude, they only succeed in making everybody miserable - like themselves! The ‘old’ needs to be ‘crucified’, so that the ‘new’ can be born in us (Romans 6:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Some say, ‘I don't need to be born again’. Jesus disagrees (John 3:3). Disciples, Apostles (13): We learn everything from Jesus - nothing from the ‘Pharisees’! We are sent out by Christ for Christ - not by the Pharisees to spread Pharisaiam! God is interested in names (14-16): ‘rejoice that your names are written in heaven’ (10:21).
6:17-49 - Four thoughts from Jesus’ ‘sermon’: (a) Hunger for God (21; Matthew 5:6): Laziness leads to superficial Christianity. Do not hunger and you will not be ‘filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). Do not seek and you will not find (Matthew 7:7). Seek the Lord with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). God has so much for us (1 Corinthians 2:12). Don't miss out (2 Corinthians 9:6). (b) Love for God: Love is the greatest thing in the world. Our love for God is to be seen in our love for others (27; 1 John 3:16-17). (c) Vision of God: The blind cannot lead the blind (39-42). Make sure you are not ‘blind and short-sighted’ (2 Peter 1:9). Run with the vision - Others will be blessed (Habakkuk 2:2). (d) Foundations in God: Make sure you are ‘rooted’ in Christ, our sure ‘Foundation’ (43-49; Ephesians 3:17; 2:19-22).
7:1-35 - ‘When he heard of Jesus...’ (3): ‘Faith comes from hearing...’. Tell people of Jesus: ‘How can they believe in Him if they have not heard His message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News?’ (Romans 10:17,14). ‘God has visited His people!’ (16): ‘Raised from the dead’ - Pray for a real ‘quickening’ as the ‘God, who is rich in mercy’, pours out ‘His great love’ upon us (Ephesians 2:4-6). John was looking for the One who was ‘to come’ (19). What a great thing it is when Christ comes among us. Do we take His presence for granted? Do not presume on God’s blessing: ‘Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!... many... desired to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it’ (10:23-24). Do we care about God’s blessing? - If we don’t, we may lose it!
7:36-8:21 - Jesus does not come to us because we are good. He comes to us because He forgives sins. The woman came to Jesus and received forgiveness. The Pharisee, though steeped in religion, remained unforgiven (47-50). Don't be like the Pharisee. Don’t look down your nose at the ordinary people who mean so much to the Lord. ‘Some women...’: Much of God’s work is being upheld by faithful women who, by their praying, giving and working, are ‘ministering to Him’ (1-3). We read Jesus’ parables (4-18), and we learn. Let us read ‘the book of everyday life’, and learn what the Lord is saying to us concerning Himself. Let us learn from everyday life, always with this goal: Hearing the Word of God and doing it (21).
8:22-56 - ‘Where is your faith?’ (25). The Lord is not looking for lip-service. He is looking for real faith. Some beg Jesus ‘to depart from them’ (37). They don't want to know! Others long to ‘be with Him’ (38). They don’t want to go! Some have no interest in worship. They don’t really want to get to know Jesus. Others love to ‘worship’, but they are so slow to witness. They need to hear Jesus’ words - ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you’ (39). Real faith worships. Real faith witnesses. We need both - Worship and Witness. Some - ‘the multitudes’ (45) - touch Jesus superficially. They are interested - when everything seems exciting! They touch Jesus religiously. They do not touch Him by faith. Where is the ‘power’, the resurrection power (46,54)? Without faith, there is no power!
9:1-27 - It was a short mission (1-6) - short but important! They were being trained for future work. There and then, people were hearing the Gospel, believing in Christ and being saved. There was opposition (7-9): There’s always plenty of that - ‘We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’ (Romans 8:37). There is physical need. There is also spiritual need - ‘Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life’ (10-17; John 6:27). In verses 18-27, we learn (a) Who Jesus is: ‘the Christ of God’ (20). (b) What Jesus has done for us: His death and resurrection (22). (c) What Jesus calls us to be: His followers (23). May God give us grace to follow ‘the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us’ (Galatians 2:20). We follow Christ, looking for ‘the Kingdom of God’ (27).
9:28-62 - The ‘glory’ of Christ (32) - ‘Before the world was made’, He shared the Father’s glory. Through the Cross - ‘His departure...’(31) - , Christ, ‘the Lamb that was slain’ for sinners, has fulfilled God's eternal purpose of salvation (John 17:4-5; Revelation 13:8). We are to ‘look’ to the Lamb of God. We are to ‘listen’ to God’s beloved Son. If we do not look and listen, we will not learn. To those who refuse to look, listen and learn, God issues His Word of warning: ‘See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking’ (Hebrews 12:25). We must confess our spiritual poverty, our lack of power (37-42), understanding (43-45), humility (46-48), unity (49-50) and love (51-56). Looking to Christ who ‘set His face to go to Jerusalem’ and refusing to ‘look back’, we must choose to be ‘good soldiers of Jesus Christ’ (51,62: 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
10:1-37 - Christ’s message - ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’ (9) - calls for our response - hearing with faith or rejecting in unbelief (16). Where does this response of faith come from? - From God: He reveals Himself to us (21). Questions: Why do we ask them? - ‘to put Jesus to the test’ (25), ‘to justify ourselves’ (29)? You cannot come to Christ until you stop trying to justify yourself - Are you trying to test Him or learning to trust Him? (a) What shall I do to inherit eternal life?' (25): The law cannot save. It can only show us our need of the One who does save - Jesus (Romans 8:3-4). (b) ‘Who is my neighbour?’ (29): ‘Passing by on the other side’ (31-32) - This is not love. It’s nothing like the love of God for ‘sinners’ (Romans 5:8). Jesus loves you. Let Him save you. Let His love change you.
10:38-11:28 - Mary was ‘listening to the Lord’ (39). Martha was ‘distracted’ (40). ‘One thing is needful’ (42): Don’t let anything distract you from this - Getting alone with God. More than anything else, Jesus wants to ‘teach us to pray’ (1). The greatest gift that God gives - in answer to prayer - is the Holy Spirit (13). We are to ‘pray at all times in the Spirit’, relying completely on the Spirit to teach us to pray (Ephesians 6:18). Pray that you will be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 4:31). As you pray, let the Spirit be your Helper (Romans 8:26). ‘Some’ are so critical: Negative thinkers, they ‘point the finger’ at everything (15). ‘Others’ are never satisfied: They’ve made complaining a way of life (16). Let’s rise above all this: ‘Blessed... are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!’ (28).
11:29-54 - Christ is ‘greater than Jonah’ (32). Jonah was preserved alive (Jonah 1:17-2:10). Christ ‘died... was buried’ and ‘was raised’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Through His resurrection, He has been ‘declared with power to be the Son of God’ (Romans 1:4). We are not to be secret disciples (33): ‘Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord’ (Romans 10:9). Guard against ‘the lust of the eyes’ (34; 1 John 2:16; Genesis 3:6; 13:10-11; 19:26; Joshua 7:20-21; 2 Samuel 11:2-5). The Pharisees were ‘fools’ (40). Clean on the outside but not in their hearts, they ‘loved the best seat in the synagogues’ but they were spiritually dead - ‘like graves’ (39,43-44). Their true nature is seen in their reaction to Christ (53-54): Don’t be a ‘fool’! Don’t be a ‘Pharisee’!
12:1-34 - ‘Do not fear...’ (4): ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31). Acknowledge Christ or deny Him (8-9): Let your choice be clear - ‘Christ means everything to me’ (Philippians 1:21). Do you want to confess Christ? - Here’s a great promise for you: ‘the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’ (12). In our generation, there is a ‘gold rush’. Many are preoccupied with ‘having a lot of material possessions’ (15). What does God say about this? - ‘Fool!’ (20). We hear it said, ‘He’s too heavenly-minded to be any earthly good’. You can be ‘too earthly-minded to be any heavenly good’! It is better to be ‘spiritually minded’ than ‘carnally minded’ (Romans 8:6). ‘Seek His Kingdom... it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom’ (31-32).
12:35-59 - ‘Be ready’ for Christ’s Return (40): Wait on the Lord (36; Isaiah 40:31). Stay ‘awake’ (37), ‘your loins girded with truth’ (35; Ephesians 6:14) - be real; be true to the Word of God. Keep ‘your lamps burning’ (35). Our ‘lamp’ is Christ, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Revelation 21:23; John 1:29). Be faithful (41-48): There can be no fruitfulness without faithfulness. God’s blessing is given to those who are faithful (42-43). With the promise of blessing, there is also the warning of judgment. Knowing the will of God and not doing it leads to judgment (47). Going Christ's way will not be easy (49-53): We must avoid the way of the ‘hypocrites’ who have no real knowledge of God (54-56), the legalists who know nothing of the Spirit of grace (57-59). Keep close to Christ: He will keep you - faithful and ready.
13:1-35 - Jesus stresses the need for both repentance (1-5) and the fruits of repentance (6-9). God’s Word, planted in our hearts at conversion, is to bear fruit. This requires continual repentance and faith (Colossians 2:6; Galatians 3:1-5). Don’t put it off till tomorrow! Today is ‘the day of salvation’. Don’t ‘neglect’ God’s ‘great salvation’ (15-16; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 2:3). Let there be spiritual growth, affecting the whole of your life (18-21). Jesus was ‘journeying toward Jerusalem’ - to ‘finish His course’ at the Cross (22, 32-33). He came from the Lord (35). Through Him, we come to the Lord (24; John 10:9). There is no salvation in ourselves (25-27). Apart from Him, there is ‘no peace’ (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). Jesus loves you (34). Make ‘sure’ that your trust is in Him. He will never fail you (2 Peter 1:10-11).
14:1-35 - Let God’s love flow freely in your own heart. Let it flow, from there, into the lives of others. Receive Christ and share Him with others. When the Gospel says, ‘Come; for all is ready’, there must be no excuses (17-20). When you share Christ, let there be no barriers (1-6, 12-14, 21-24). Let God’s love flow freely - Make it your firm resolve to live as Christ’s ‘disciple’ (27,33). Some will be critical of you - preoccupied with finding fault, they will miss the love of God(1-6). This is part of the ‘cost’ of being a disciple - the ‘cross’ (27-28). Others will respond positively: Keep your ‘saltiness’ - Be salty enough to make others thirsty, and be ready to lead them to Christ when they are thirsty ‘for the living God’ (34-35; Psalm 42:2). Remember to give all the glory to God (11).
15:1-32 - People were coming to Christ (1). Still, the critics were murmuring among themselves (2). What did Jesus do ? - He kept on preaching the Gospel (3-32). The lost sheep (3-7) the lost coin (8-10), the lost son (11-32) - These are the parables of the Gospel. They teach us two lessons - By ourselves we are lost; In Christ, there is salvation. Read about the prodigal son, and think of the perfect Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, we see God’s perfect love. Through Him, we receive God’s perfect salvation - (a) ‘the best robe’ - forgiveness (Revelation 7:13-14); (b) the ‘ring’ - membership of God’s family (John 1:12); (c) the ‘shoes’ - empowered to bring ‘the Gospel’ to others (Ephesians 6:15). ‘God... has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing’ (Ephesians 1:3). Don’t be like the ‘elder son’ (28-30)!
16:1-31 - How do we use our money? This is an important question for all who want to live a practical Christian life. The worldly person is quick to see ways of making a profit. For the Christian, there is a higher priority. Beyond personal profit, there is eternal profit. Look for opportunities to support the work of the Gospel. By our giving, we help the Church to be Christ’s prophet in today’s world. ‘Make friends’: Win others for Christ so that, together with them, we may be welcomed to our eternal home (9). Jesus said, ‘You cannot serve God and money’. The ‘lovers of money’ did not like His teaching (13-14)! Don’t let money squeeze Christ out of your life. Life without Christ leads to eternity without Christ (19-31).
17:1-37 - In verses 1-10, Jesus speaks about temptation, forgiveness, faith and service. (a) Temptation - ‘watch yourselves’, always remembering that we can only win victory through the strength of the Lord (3; 1 Corinthians 10:13). (b) Forgiveness - This is practical teaching. We not only receive forgiveness for ourselves. We are to forgive others (3-4; 1 John 1:9; Ephesians 4:32). (c) Faith - There will never come a time when we no longer need to pray, ‘Increase our faith’. What great things can be achieved for God, when our faith in Him is strong (5-6; 1 John 5:4-5, 14-15). (d) Service - We are always ‘unworthy servants’. We never outgrow our need of ‘God’s mercy’ (10; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 4:1). We need ‘the attitude of gratitude’ (17-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Jesus is coming again (24). Be ready for Him!
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)!