Flashback Episode — Remembering His Life and His Death: Luke 22:14-20


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On the night Jesus was betrayed, He shares a supper with the disciples and while this supper was officially the Passover meal for Jesus and His disciples that year, Jesus takes this special, yearly meal, and He gives it new significance. This special meal, called the Last Supper, is one of the most symbolic and significant traditions Christianity has kept while moving forward through history.

Let’s read what Jesus does and how He turns this Passover celebration, and points it to His mission. While we could read this event from several of the gospels, let’s read it from Luke’s gospel. Our passage is found Luke, chapter 22, and we will be reading from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 14, Luke tells us that:

14 When the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table with the apostles. 15 He said to them, “I have wanted so much to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer! 16 For I tell you, I will never eat it until it is given its full meaning in the Kingdom of God.”

17 Then Jesus took a cup, gave thanks to God, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 I tell you that from now on I will not drink this wine until the Kingdom of God comes.”

19 Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” 20 In the same way, he gave them the cup after the supper, saying, “This cup is God’s new covenant sealed with my blood, which is poured out for you.”

What Luke has just described is the foundation of the Last Supper that is celebrated at various times depending on the church. I’ve visited churches that celebrate this as a part of their weekly meeting, and I have visited churches that celebrate the Last Supper only once a year.

There are churches who celebrate this meal with little tiny wafer crackers and half-an-ounce glasses of grape juice, while other churches celebrate this with a larger meal and/or different forms of wine. When the Bible speaks of wine, it simply means that it is juice from grapes, and it makes no distinction here whether this juice was fermented or not. In other places in the Bible, new wine likely refers to fresh grape juice, while old wine likely refers to grape juice that has fermented.

However, what is it about the bread and the wine that makes it special?

Well, first, Jesus tells the disciples that He will not drink this wine again until the Kingdom of God comes. This is an interesting thing to say, because it tells us that Jesus is waiting in Heaven for His return before drinking this drink again. This points us forward to the second coming as being something we should look forward to, and it tells us that Jesus is looking forward to sharing this special drink, and probably this very special meal that will go with it, when He returns the second time.

Between today and when that special meal will happen, we have symbols in both the bread and the wine that we can remember.

The first symbol Luke tells us is the bread, which Jesus gave thanks for, broke it, and gave it to the disciples. Jesus’ body was given as a sacrifice for others; Jesus’ body was given as a sacrifice for you and for me. When we eat the special bread that is prepared for this occasion, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice that took our place. We deserved death while Jesus didn’t. He died our death so that we could live His life.

The second symbol is the symbol of the cup with the wine in it. This wine represents Jesus’ blood, which is poured out for us. On the surface, this second symbol sounds very redundant to the first, because both symbols point to the death of Jesus. However, I believe when we look at what Jesus’ blood represents, we see a greater picture of what He did for us.

In the Old Testament, the blood represented the life of a person or an animal. It was partially for this reason that Jews were instructed to not eat or drink an animal’s blood. When we take this symbolic meaning and see that Jesus poured out His blood for us, we could just as easily say that Jesus poured out His life for us. This is significant because the symbol of the wine draws together both Jesus’ life and His death, and it leads us to the clear conclusion that everything Jesus did, said, or gave was for others. Jesus gave Himself both while He was alive as well as through His death for you and for me!

While the bread symbolized Jesus’ body and Jesus paying the price for our sins, the wine symbolizes the life Jesus lived and the life that He offers to each of us when we accept Him into our lives and our hearts! Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, and He offers to give us His perfect life and His perfect record in exchange for ours. Jesus also offers us a new life with Him in a new heaven and a new earth when sin and death have been destroyed!

This is definitely something I am looking forward to, and I imagine you are looking forward with me to the day Jesus returns and we share the first “Last Supper” together with Him for eternity!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As always, be sure to seek God first and always intentionally place Him first in your life. Be sure to remember what Jesus has done for you, through His sacrifice, through the life that He gave, and through the life that He offers to each of us. Remember that our reward will last longer than any trial or challenge we face today and that is one reason we keep moving forward with God!

Also, as I always challenge you to do, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn first-hand what God wants to teach you. Pastors, authors, speakers, podcasters, or anyone else for that matter can have ideas worth thinking about. However, with all the conflicting ideas present in the world today, test everything with what you read and study in the Bible. The Bible is the safest foundation to have when times, cultures, and traditions seem to change with each generation.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or drift away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of the Cross – Episode 24: With bread and wine, Jesus takes and symbolizes what He has done for us, and what He offers us in replace for our sinful lives. Discover how the Last Supper communion ceremony points us to remember what Jesus has done for us, and what He offers us as a reward for accepting His gift.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

The Ignorant Farmer: Mark 4:26-29

Focus Passage: Mark 4:26-29 (NIrV)

26 Jesus also said, “Here is what God’s kingdom is like. A farmer scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn’t know how it happens. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head. 29 Before long the grain ripens. So the farmer cuts it down, because the harvest is ready.”

Read Mark 4:26-29 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One of the topics Jesus seemed to like using for parables was the topic of farming. In a number of places in the gospels, we can read Jesus using this occupation to help teach the crowds about spiritual truths. In Mark’s gospel, we read a parable about farming that sounds similar to other farming parables, but is also pretty unique.

In this parable, Jesus begins in verse 26 by saying, “Here is what God’s kingdom is like.” This preface tells me that everything that is about to be described will symbolically relate to God’s kingdom. A good percentage of Jesus’ parables begin this way, so we can conclude that this subject is something that Jesus wants us to understand.

Jesus then continues by sharing the illustration. “A farmer scatters seed on the ground. Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn’t know how it happens. All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head. Before long the grain ripens. So the farmer cuts it down, because the harvest is ready.” (v. 26b-29)

What strikes me as odd in this parable is that in almost every other parable were God’s kingdom is represented, God shows up as one of the characters. In this parable, the most likely character to represent God is the farmer, but Jesus describes the farmer has being ignorant about how grain grows – and since God knows everything, this doesn’t seem to fit.

But perhaps there is an element of mystery in a being created with free will. While God can step outside of time and see the future and the past, when He is within time, in the moment we are experiencing right now, I wonder if He experiences surprise or excitement when we do something unexpected.

In this parable, God plants seeds in our hearts, and He tries to give the right set of circumstances to help these seeds grow. At the end of our lives, when we have fully “ripened”, God will harvest us. This is because our current life is simply a preparation stage for the life to come.

I wonder if the farmer’s ignorance is because God has chosen to allow us the freedom of choice regarding salvation. I wonder if God has purposely limited Himself to allow us to choose whether we will grow the seeds He has planted in our hearts. If we grow the grain He planted, and produce “fruits of the spirit”, then when we are ripe, we will be harvested and brought into the future life in heaven to live with Him forever!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Seeking His Kingdom: Matthew 13:44-52


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Jumping ahead in Matthew’s gospel, we come to a series of parables Jesus shares while He was alone with His disciples that together show us a powerful picture of God’s character and love for us. While often we might think of the first two parables in this set as referring to us doing the majority of the work, when we look at this set as a whole, we get a completely different picture.

Let’s read what Jesus shared and what we can learn from this set of parables. Our passage is found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13, and we will read it from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 44, Jesus continued sharing with the disciples, saying:

44 “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.

45 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls, 46 and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.

47 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Some fishermen throw their net out in the lake and catch all kinds of fish. 48 When the net is full, they pull it to shore and sit down to divide the fish: the good ones go into the buckets, the worthless ones are thrown away. 49 It will be like this at the end of the age: the angels will go out and gather up the evil people from among the good 50 and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.

51 “Do you understand these things?” Jesus asked them.

“Yes,” they answered.

52 So he replied, “This means, then, that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who takes new and old things out of his storage room.”

In our passage, we find a set of three parables, with a bonus, one-verse, fourth parable right at the end. In the bonus parable, we find Jesus making room for those who are teachers of the Law to become disciples in the Kingdom of heaven. From this bonus parable, it seems that the teachers of the law who become disciples have an advantage over the teachers who don’t become disciples, and over the disciples who were not teachers, because only the teachers of the law who become disciples can bring out and blend both old and new truths.

However, the real focus of our passage is the first three parables that together make a neat set. What is unfortunate is that too often the parables are split apart and shared separately, or the first two parables are shared without the third.

I can understand why the first two parables get more attention and while the third parable is a little more concerning. The third parable focuses on the judgment and it includes people being thrown away. The third parable calls those who were thrown away as worthless fish.

However, Jesus shares these three parables in a set, and all three of these parables build on each other to give us a picture of what God’s Kingdom of heaven is like. In the first parable, the Kingdom of heaven is described as a treasure hidden in a field. This treasure is so valuable that when a man finds this treasure, He sells everything so that He can buy the field that contains this treasure.

While the first parable is often shared with the focus placed on you and me finding the Kingdom of heaven and valuing it like a treasure, since this is a parable about the Kingdom of heaven, God is present in it. In this parable, God could be the treasure, or He could be the man who sold everything.

The context of this parable allows for either interpretation. God gave up everything to purchase the field called the earth, and this is because this field had treasure in it. Also, we are called to give up everything for God, because God’s treasure is more valuable than anything we currently own or have.

The second parable is similar, however, this time, the Kingdom of heaven is compared with a merchant, who finds a pearl of great value, and he sells everything he owns to buy this pearl. Again, since this is a Kingdom of heaven parable, we should look for God represented in this parable, and again, this parable only gives us two options. God is either the merchant, or the pearl of great value.

Similar to the first parable, both interpretations work. God as the merchant sold everything He had to purchase the pearl of great value, which He did through Jesus. God valued us so much that He gave everything He had to redeem us from sin. God is also a pearl of great value and we are called to give up everything we think is valuable in order to gain God and His unusually fine pearl-treasure.

Before jumping into the third parable, it is interesting that these two parables are similar but also opposites. The first parable of the treasure in the field has the Kingdom of heaven being represented as the treasure while the second parable of the pearl has the Kingdom of heaven being represented as the merchant. I think both the interpretations for both parables work because each parable has a slightly different focus. The first parable is likely focused on us seeking God as our treasure, while the second parable is likely focused on God seeking us as His pearl of great value.

The third parable seems different, but it shares the same theme of looking for things of value. However, Jesus shares the interpretation of the third parable and He attributes this third parable to the end of the age. When Jesus returns at the end of the age, the angels will separate the evil people from the good and they will throw the evil people away – specifically into the fiery furnace.

As a side note: reading this reminds me of Daniel’s three friends facing the fiery furnace because they chose to only bow and worship God, not the king’s statue. In an interesting twist, those who are evil, who have chosen anything and everything but God will ultimately face God’s “fiery furnace”.

However, the big focus of this third parable is God collecting His people at the end of the age and saving them from this sinful world. This third parable leaves no vagueness because Jesus clearly shares what the parable means.

All three of these parables together form a big truth that we are to seek and give up everything for God’s treasure, God gave up everything for us because we are His treasure, and at the end of the age, God is going to return and rescue His treasure from this world of sin.

This is one of the only places in the gospels where the disciples respond saying they understand Jesus, and I really believe they did. After Jesus returned to heaven, every one of the remaining disciples gave up everything, including their lives, for the gospel message. The disciples’ lives are an example for us what it means to see God’s kingdom as our treasure!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and value God like the man valued the treasure in the field. Understand that what God offers us is more valuable than anything we could ever hope to earn or acquire on our own, but we must give up ourselves in order to gain what God has promised us.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn how much God values you and me. God gave up more than we possibly could imagine purchasing us out of sin because He values us like the merchant valued the pearl of great value. Praying and studying the Bible helps us discover just how much God really loves us and how much He gave to redeem us!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or be discouraged away from walking with God to where He wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Matthew – Episode 23: In a set of three short parables, Jesus expands our view of God’s Kingdom of heaven, how valuable God’s kingdom is compared to this world, and how valuable we are in God’s eyes that prompt Him to do something incredible for each of us!

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Letting the Spirit Lead: Luke 2:21-38

Focus Passage: Luke 2:21-38 (GNT)

21 A week later, when the time came for the baby to be circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

22 The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 as it is written in the law of the Lord: “Every first-born male is to be dedicated to the Lord.” 24 They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the law of the Lord.

25 At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him 26 and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah. 27 Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, 28 Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:

29 “Now, Lord, you have kept your promise,
    and you may let your servant go in peace.
30 With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples:
32 A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles
    and bring glory to your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against 35 and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”

36-37 There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now eighty-four years old. She never left the Temple; day and night she worshiped God, fasting and praying. 38 That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.

Read Luke 2:21-38 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In the days that followed Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to have Him dedicated. In their trip to the temple, there are some interesting things that stand out in my mind – especially knowing what Jesus ultimately faces 30+ years later.

Luke tells us that “At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s promised Messiah.” (v. 25-26)

I have always pictured Simeon as being one of the priests on duty at the temple for Jesus’ dedication, but according to what Luke tells us, Simeon was simply a God-fearing man who the Holy Spirit was with. “Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God.” (v. 27-28)

What really stands out in my mind is that too often, we are quick to believe that those in Jerusalem had fallen away from God because of how the priests and leaders treated Jesus. However, in this passage, at the time of Jesus’ birth, we see a glimpse of someone (Luke does not give him a title) who God was with and who God had promised would live to see the Messiah arrive.

In the description of Simeon, we see hope for God’s chosen people, even if many of the leaders were unwilling to accept the Messiah who had recently arrived. In Simeon’s life, we can see a promise from God about seeing the Messiah arrive. In this promise, we can see God’s direction, His leading, and the choice on our part to follow. Simeon was led by the Spirit at exactly the right time to meet Jesus, and He was one of the first to truly grasp that this baby was the Messiah that God had promised to send to His people.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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