The Ultimate Life-Giver: Luke 7:11-17

Focus Passage: Luke 7:11-17 (NIrV)

11 Some time later, Jesus went to a town called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 He approached the town gate. Just then, a dead person was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother. She was a widow. A large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, he felt sorry for her. So he said, “Don’t cry.”

14 Then he went up and touched the coffin. Those carrying it stood still. Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk. Then Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 The people were all filled with wonder and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread all through Judea and the whole country.

Read Luke 7:11-17 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In a very counter cultural move, Jesus and His crowd of followers interrupt a funeral procession. While it may have been appropriate for Him to wait and let the funeral pass by, we read that Jesus felt sorry for the mother who had just lost her son, and this prompts Him to break from formalities.

What probably made this incredibly uncomfortable was when Jesus walks right up to those carrying the coffin. He even reaches out and touches the coffin, prompting those carrying it to stop. In this moment, it is as though time stops and all eyes are on Jesus.

Then with a loud voice, Jesus talks directly at the coffin saying, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” (v. 14)

The people living at that time knew when people were dead vs. simply being unconscious, and it is incredibly unlikely for them to have given up on the young man before being absolutely certain that he was dead – with no hope of resuscitation.

But before anyone in the crowd could question Jesus or even think He had gone crazy, we read, “The dead man sat up and began to talk. Then Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (v. 15)

In this event, Jesus demonstrates that He has the power to restore life. Another way to say this is that He has power over death.

We have no idea if the young man died because He was sick or if it was because of an animal or snake attack. We have no idea if the young man died because he was doing something wrong, or if it was a fluke accident.

Whatever the reason for his death, this young man’s death helps us discover that Jesus has power over death and life. From that point onward, another title for Jesus could be “Life-Giver”. While Jesus gave life before this point, it is only after this point that He ultimately gives His own life for each of us.

Jesus gives life to those who are dead, and He gave His own life for all who want to leave their life of sin and exchange it for God’s promise of eternal life with Him.

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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Flashback Episode — Healing the Enemy: Luke 22:47-53


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During the night Jesus was arrested, Luke’s gospel records a powerful miracle that shows us just how much love Jesus has for humanity. This miracle is special because it happens simply because a miracle is needed to show God’s love. When we look at the circumstances surrounding this miracle, those who had faith in Jesus likely didn’t want this healing to happen, and those arresting Jesus probably didn’t want to show or demonstrate any faith in the one they were arresting.

However, Jesus uses this opportunity to demonstrate God’s love, and He does this in an amazing way.

Let’s read about what happened. Our passage is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 22, and we will read it from the New Living Translation. Starting in verse 47, Luke tells us what happened:

47 But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. 48 But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” 50 And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear.

51 But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 53 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.”

This passage and miracle is amazing every time I read it. This event was likely what the disciples imagined would be the start of their rise to prominence. Every time before this, Jesus successfully evaded being arrested or trapped, but this time, the religious leaders’ mob had found Jesus with the help of the traitor.

The disciples knew the mob wasn’t interested in discussing or debating, and that the numbers of people present at this point favored the mob that had circled them. This looked like the point in time they had been preparing for in their minds when Jesus would step up into the leadership role they believed was coming.

However, this miracle is amazing, because while the disciples are preparing to fight, at the first hint of blood, Jesus calls for the situation to stop and He heals the member of the mob who was just injured. In essence, Jesus healed someone who was there as His enemy. Jesus healed someone whose goal was helping to bring about Jesus’ death.

This event, probably more than most others, demonstrates Jesus’ love, and God’s love, for humanity. While humanity was caught in a rebellion against God and more interested in sin that salvation, Jesus steps in as God’s representative and as a light in the spiritual darkness. While Jews, gentiles, and even one of Jesus’ own followers orchestrated the arrest that led to Jesus’ death, no one present for this event even suspected that Jesus chose the cross.

At the point Jesus described as the “time when the power of darkness reigns”, Jesus is more interested in healing those who are against Him than on trying to save Himself or escape. This event demonstrates God’s love for us because Jesus walked the path leading to death and all along the way, His focus was not on Himself, but on others. Jesus’ focus on others is clearly seen in His arrest, and when you are looking for it, you can see it in most every stage leading up to His last breath.

John calls Peter out as the disciple who began the defense and as the one who struck the high priest’s slave’s ear. However, while Peter seemed to be the first disciple to speak or act, it’s likely that most, if not all of the others would have done the same if given the chance.

By stepping up to defend Jesus, even while Jesus stopped the specific action, Peter displays an attitude that we all should have. Too often today, when faced with ridicule or hostility from the secular crowd in today’s world, we are too quick to back down, give up, or abandon our faith simply because the situation is challenging. A faith that is abandoned when challenges come is worthless. The only faith worth having is one that pushes back against the challenges and one that is strengthened when challenges come.

Jesus does not challenge Peter on his faith or on his desire to defend Jesus, even if Peter might feel like this is what Jesus did. Instead, Jesus challenged Peter on using a method of defending Jesus that does not demonstrate God’s love. In a fascinating way, through Jesus’ challenge towards Peter over using a sword, Jesus challenges every follower of Jesus throughout history regarding how they will choose to defend their faith.

Christian history has many examples where violence was used to defend the faith, and because of what Jesus challenges Peter about in this passage, I get the idea that Jesus would challenge every one of His followers who would lean towards violence as a way to defend their faith.

The last amazing thing I see in this miracle on the night Jesus was arrested is that Jesus let Judas Iscariot betray Him. It would have been easy for Jesus to have hidden, but that was not Jesus’ goal.

Jesus came to face the cross and death because His focus was on saving people for eternity. Jesus’ fight was not against humans or humanity, it was against the powers of darkness. While death doesn’t appear to be the way to win this fight, Jesus’ sees a bigger picture than we do and death in this case is the only way to justify God’s laws about sin while also opening the way for God’s merciful nature.

Jesus focused on helping and healing those who were intent on bringing Jesus to the cross, and this amazing miracle proves God’s love for all of humanity – including those who reject God and are hostile towards Him.

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

As always, seek God first and choose to place your love, hope, faith, trust, and belief in Him. Choose to show God’s love to the world around you and do so in a way that uplifts humanity like Jesus uplifted humanity. Jesus didn’t put people down. The only people Jesus challenged were those who felt like they were spiritually superior to others. Jesus loved those who were honestly searching and seeking God.

Also, be sure to always pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God. While other people have ideas, always filter what you learn through the truth of God’s Word. If an idea runs counter to the Bible, it is not an idea that will stand the test of eternity.

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 abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 46: When a mob comes to arrest Jesus, a fight almost breaks out. Only one person is injured, and Jesus chooses to heal this man even though he came wishing to do Jesus harm. Discover what we can learn about God from this event and from how Jesus responded when facing arrest.

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

Famous Last Words: Luke 1:5-25

Focus Passage: Luke 1:5-25 (NIV)

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Read Luke 1:5-25 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Probably the one thing Zechariah, the priest and father of John the Baptist, is known for the most is questioning the angel that appears to him in the temple while he was preparing to burn incense.

The gospel of Luke shares what happened. Zechariah was chosen by lot to be the one to go in and burn the incense, and an angel appears to him with the promise of an answer to his prayer. But immediately following the angel’s message, Zechariah taints his reputation by asking, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (v. 18)

Zechariah’s question is self defeating. By asking for more proof, he shows the lack of belief he really has. At this point in his life, he has given up hope for ever having a child, and the angel’s promise seems too unbelievable. Had the angel come ten years earlier, it would have at least been feasible in his mind, but Zechariah has already resigned himself to die childless.

His question of doubt would be the last words he would speak until the birth of his child. In an unexpected turn of events, the angel does give Zechariah a second form of confirmation. He responds by saying, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (v. 19-20)

Zechariah probably thought the entire 10 months or so between when this happened and when his son was born about the foolishness of his questioning God’s promise. If Zechariah were alive to give us a message, it would likely be something along the lines of, “When God gives you a promise, you should simply believe it.

However, in Zechariah’s doubt, we also see an amazing picture of God. God gives Zechariah a very tangible sign that the promise would come true – and it is a sign that would stand out to everyone who knew this elderly couple. Zechariah’s doubt opened the door for God to draw more attention to the birth of the man who would prepare the people of Israel for the Messiah’s arrival.

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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Insulting or Encouraging: Mark 15:27-32


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As we continue looking at the details Mark includes in the crucifixion portion of his gospel, we come to the section of this event that frames who Jesus died with, and the messages Jesus was receiving from those present. While it would be easy to see these verses and the messages Jesus was receiving as simply the mocking of hostile people, what these people were saying has a profound spiritual truth that might have even encouraged Jesus to press forward to His last breath.

Let’s continue reading and discover what the next verses can teach us about Jesus, and about God’s love for us. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 15, and we will read from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 27, Mark tells us that:

27 They crucified two rebels with him [referring to Jesus], one on his right and one on his left. [28] [And the Scripture came true that says, “They put him with criminals.”]  29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Let’s stop reading here. From these verses, it doesn’t seem like anything in the messages Jesus was receiving is positive.

However, let’s look a little closer at what was said. The first “insult” Mark describes coming from people who passed by, and these people said, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” While these people believed or understood Jesus’ statement to refer to the building that was called the temple, John’s gospel tells us Jesus meant His body and He called His body the temple when making that claim.

This means that when these people threw Jesus’ words back at Him, while they intended their reminder to be an insult, they were actually reminding Jesus in the moment of His greatest physical pain, that resurrection was just around the corner!

I doubt anyone present would have realized this subtle encouragement, and I wonder if Jesus had planned early on to make this prediction knowing that at the moment He would need some encouragement from hostile people, He could count on them to remember and repeat this coded message back to Him.

But that isn’t the only insult that has multiple meanings in this passage. The other primary insult Jesus received was from the religious leaders, who Mark describes as saying, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” Again, similar to how the first “insult” could be reinterpreted to be encouraging, this second insult can also be a great reminder that Jesus could grasp and be encouraged by.

In this second insult, Jesus is reminded why He is on the cross. Jesus faced the cross to save others, not to save Himself.

The only reason Jesus faced the cross was to pay for the sins of those who want to escape the disease of sin and the traps of Satan. Jesus came to redeem sinners and to give those who want to return to God a way to return to God while allowing God’s justness and justice to still be clearly seen. God punishes sin and sinners deserved to be punished. However, someone unworthy of punishment is allowed to step in and take the punishment on themselves, which both allows justice to happen, while also showing love and mercy towards the guilty person. This second insult reminded Jesus why He was on the cross – because He was dying to save all of God’s people throughout history, including you and me!

However, the reason these insults were seen as insults was because of an assumption that those present blinded themselves into believing. This assumption was either something these people had convinced themselves was true, or it was a lie Satan had prompted them to believe in order to give Jesus one big last temptation before His death. The assumption I am referring to is that Jesus did not want to die.

The last big temptation Satan planned for Jesus was the temptation to come down from the cross and to save Himself. This temptation was included in both of the insults that were hurled at Jesus, and the implication is that Jesus needed to do this to prove who He was. This could only be a temptation if it were possible for Jesus to do, and I believe that Jesus was fully capable of leaving the cross if He wanted to.

However, Jesus knew that proving Himself to a skeptic would do no good. If Jesus had abandoned the cross when faced with this last temptation, the religious leaders and skeptics might have believed, or they might have simply come up with another reason they should doubt. One possible doubt would be that the soldiers didn’t do a good enough job driving the spikes into the wood, or that Jesus’ bone structure was uniquely different, allowing the spikes to slip off of Him. A skeptic’s mind can come up with countless reasons to not believe.

If Jesus had abandoned the cross when faced with this temptation, any belief in Jesus would be worthless, because Jesus gave up when times were too tough. Satan’s big claim against God was that God’s law was impossible to keep and impractical for life. Jesus came to demonstrate God’s love and to live a life that fulfilled all of God’s laws, showing us how God’s way is the best way!

Jesus’ chose not to save Himself so that He could save every person who wants to have a new life with God. Jesus used these insults that were thrown His way as subtle encouragements to remind Him why He was on the cross, which was to save sinners, and that the cross would end with resurrection on the third day!

Jesus used the biggest insults His enemies had and He had masterfully planned for them to be a source of encouragement in His darkest, most pain-filled hours leading up to His last breath.

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 choose to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf. Choose to let Jesus’ death pay for the price of your sins and accept the new life that Jesus offers to each of us because of what He faced. Jesus faced the cross for you and me, and His sacrifice only benefits us when we accept His death on our behalf by placing our faith, hope, trust, and belief in Him.

Also, continue to pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Choose to pray and study the Bible to discover a God who is passionately in love with you and a God who would stop at nothing to show His love for you because He wants to redeem you from the life of sin you are living in. God loves sinners, and Jesus came to redeem sinners who want to love God in return.

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 give up on where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 45: While Jesus was hanging on the cross, Mark describes two primary insults that He received from people who were present. However, what if those insults weren’t actually insults. What if God had planned for them to be two significant encouraging messages for His Son at the point when Jesus needed encouragement the most!

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.