Changing Our Hearts: Luke 20:27-40

Focus Passage: Luke 20:27-40 (TNIV)

    27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

    34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

    39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Read Luke 20:27-40 in context and/or in other translations on!

We have covered most parts of this passage in previous journal entries, but there is still one piece left: the crowd’s reaction – which has been recorded in both Luke and Matthew.

Matthew tells us broadly that, “When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.(Matthew 22:33)

We see here Jesus taught things from a completely different perspective than the perspective the other religious teachers taught from – and this new perspective, including the truth it contained, was astonishing to those in the crowds.

But that is not the only reaction. Luke’s reaction verse brings a little more information about how those who brought Jesus the question responded to His answer. Luke says, “Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.(Luke 20:39-40)

Luke frames the leaders as caught off guard. About the only response they have is a perplexed compliment, as if to say, “We’d never looked at that passage that way before.” While Jesus taught, He seemed to always be trying to shift people’s perspective from an earthly one to a heavenly one.

  • Instead of looking at a situation from where we are on earth, look at it from heaven’s perspective.

  • Instead of looking at life in the immediate moment, whether that is the current hour, day, week, or year, look instead from the viewpoint of heaven – the viewpoint of eternity.

  • Instead of looking at the scriptures as a collection of verses that we can pick and choose from, look at all verses and passages as pieces of an eternal story of how God is moving and interested in this world.

Luke concludes this passage with the comment that from this point on, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions. It would seem that at this point, after numerous challenges and questions, and Jesus always being a step ahead with a perfect response, that the religious leaders and teachers would have already picked up on the futility of trying to trap Him. But instead, it takes Jesus perspective shifting the entire foundation of the Sadducee school of thought to wake all the religious leaders up to the idea that He saw life, scripture, and truth from a completely different perspective.

At this point, they give up trying to trap Him and begin the early stages of thinking about killing Him. They realized that they would not be able to discredit Him, so the next best solution would be to get rid of Him by taking His life. However, the irony of that move is that Jesus actually came to give up His life.

In our own lives, are we too caught up in thinking at things from our human perspective?

What would happen if we saw life through God’s heavenly, eternity-filtered perspective?

Would that change our hearts to be more like His?

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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Caving In to the Crowd: Luke 23:13-25

Focus Passage: Luke 23:13-25 (NIrV)

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people. 14 He said to them, “You brought me this man. You said he was turning the people against the authorities. I have questioned him in front of you. I have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Herod hasn’t either. So he sent Jesus back to us. As you can see, Jesus has done nothing that is worthy of death. 16-17 So I will just have him whipped and let him go.”

18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Kill this man! But let Barabbas go!” 19 Barabbas had been thrown into prison. He had taken part in a struggle in the city against the authorities. He had also committed murder.

20 Pilate wanted to let Jesus go. So he made an appeal to the crowd again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

22 Pilate spoke to them for the third time. “Why?” he asked. “What wrong has this man done? I have found no reason to have him put to death. So I will just have him whipped and let him go.”

23 But with loud shouts they kept calling for Jesus to be crucified. The people’s shouts won out. 24 So Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. 25 He set free the man they asked for. The man had been thrown in prison for murder and for fighting against the authorities. Pilate handed Jesus over to them so they could carry out their plans.

Read Luke 23:13-25 in context and/or in other translations on!

In Jesus’ trial before Pilate, each of the gospel writers focuses on the event in a slightly different way. In Luke’s gospel, we see Pilate trying to give a judgment that tries to balance his belief in Jesus’ innocence and the crowd’s demands for death.

Luke tells us that Pilate called everyone together and said to them, “You brought me this man. You said he was turning the people against the authorities. I have questioned him in front of you. I have found no basis for your charges against him. Herod hasn’t either. So he sent Jesus back to us. As you can see, Jesus has done nothing that is worthy of death. So I will just have him whipped and let him go.” (v. 14-17)

Luke tells us that Pilate kept trying to convince the crowd, but he was ultimately unsuccessful. “But with loud shouts they kept calling for Jesus to be crucified. The people’s shouts won out. So Pilate decided to give them what they wanted.” (v. 23-24)

Pilate really wanted to release Jesus, but keeping peace in the region, especially with this irrational and angry crowd, was more important than the life of an innocent Man. Pilate bends to the pressure of the people and gives them what they wanted.

I wonder if Pilate ever looked back on this decision with regret. We may never know, but in our own lives, each of us faces the pressure to do what we know isn’t right. Pilate clearly stated that Jesus was innocent of the charges, but even though Pilate tries to distance himself from the crowd’s demands by washing his hands (which Matthew includes in his event), Pilate cannot avoid responsibility for Jesus’ death.

The crowd’s demands won out because Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. In this action, Jesus’ death was not only at the hands of the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people, but also at the hands of the Roman leaders. When Pilate caved in, he symbolically brought Rome (representing all non-Jews) into the group of those responsible for Jesus’ death.

In Pilate’s decision during Jesus’ trial, we can learn a valuable lesson: The only way to truly live a life free from regrets is to always do what we know to be right in the time – regardless of the consequences. Pilate failed to do so in this trial, and this event likely clouded the remainder of his rule in Judea. We don’t have to make the same mistake he did. In our own lives, even when it is difficult, we should choose the option that we know in our hearts is right.

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 — Choosing the Cross: Mark 8:27-38

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As we continue moving through Mark’s gospel, we come to an event where Jesus asks the disciples a question, and then when Jesus hears the right answer, He tells the disciples to keep the real answer a secret. However, this is only the first sliver of this event, and what comes afterwards is both amazing and it clashes with what they believed about the Messiah.

With that said, let’s dive in to our passage for this episode. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 8, and we will read from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 27, Mark tells us:

27 Then Jesus and his disciples went away to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Tell me, who do people say I am?”

28 “Some say that you are John the Baptist,” they answered; “others say that you are Elijah, while others say that you are one of the prophets.”

29 “What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

30 Then Jesus ordered them, “Do not tell anyone about me.”

Pausing briefly, this point in the passage is where most people might stop reading. And I can understand this because what Peter has just declared about Jesus is amazing, and what Jesus responded is also amazing.

Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Messiah that had been predicted throughout the whole Old Testament, and specifically the Messiah God promised to send humanity when Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the garden.

Equally amazing is Jesus’ response. Jesus does not deny being given this title, but He challenges the disciples to stay quiet about it. While some might think the Messiah would want to stand up, shout, and be recognized for being this person, Jesus knows that there is too much baggage with this role at this point in history.

To illustrate this, we need go no further than the next few verses. Continuing reading in verse 31:

31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter. “Get away from me, Satan,” he said. “Your thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature!”

Pausing our reading again, in these verses, we discover Peter, who Jesus praised for his earlier response in at least one of the other gospel records, is now being called out as Satan. Looking back on this event from a world that can see Jesus’ journey to the cross, and His death leading towards His resurrection and return to heaven, it is easy to look down on Peter and judge him like it appears Jesus does here.

However, while Jesus clearly told the disciples that He is the Messiah, and He emphasizes the Messiah’s death at the hands of the religious leaders, I wonder if Peter ignored or simply didn’t hear Jesus predicting His resurrection. Pushing back against Jesus’ declarations and predictions about Himself, we have a whole religious culture built on centuries of seeing the Messiah lead a revolt against Rome, and clear predictions that when the Messiah comes, He will last forever. The Messiah dying is something that simply could not happen to the true Messiah in the minds of those in the first century.

Also included in the mix of beliefs is the belief that the Messiah is God’s Son. While this wasn’t a belief on the forefront of culture, it is one that formed the basis for at least one of Jesus’ debates with the religious leaders. With Jesus being God, and God being immortal, it would also logically be impossible for God to die.

Everything culture told the disciples about the Messiah was focused on overthrowing the Romans and on living forever, while everything Jesus told the disciples about the Messiah was focused on a crucifixion, death, and a resurrection. In the minds of more than just Peter, what Jesus was telling them clashed with culture, with logic, and with everything they had previously believed about the Messiah and His kingdom.

Peter simply has the guts to speak what many of the disciples are likely thinking. Peter tells Jesus to basically stop focusing on His death because God’s Messiah will live forever. This temptation echoes some of Satan’s temptations in the wilderness when Satan challenges Jesus with the promise that God would not harm Him if He jumped from the highest point in the temple, and when Satan offers Jesus a shortcut that avoids the cross.

It does not surprise me that Jesus calls out Peter for representing Satan in his rebuke.

However, it also appears that the disciples were uneasy about how openly Jesus spoke about going to the cross. The cross was both the most humiliating way to die and it was one of the most painful ways to die as well.

Because of this, Jesus finishes off this passage by calling everyone present together to tell them a message. Continuing in verse 34:

34 Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him. “If any of you want to come with me,” he told them, “you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 35 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. 36 Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing you can give to regain your life. 38 If you are ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and wicked day, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

In this concluding challenge, Jesus directly calls attention onto the idea of the cross – the most uncomfortable part of Jesus’ whole message – and He challenges everyone present that to be His follower, they must give up their own lives and carry a cross along with Jesus.

This challenge Jesus gives is powerful: You can try to keep your life in this world and lose out on eternity, or you give your life in this world to Jesus in order to gain eternity.

The big truth in this conclusion aimed at all of Jesus’ followers is that we should never be ashamed of Jesus and what He taught. If you think our world and culture today are godless and wicked, know that Jesus’ calls out the first century culture for being this way as well. If we choose to reject Jesus because culture has a louder megaphone, then we will ultimately forfeit the rewards God has promised His people.

Satan wants the whole world to reject God, to reject Jesus, and to live in rebellion of everything God stands for. Know that choosing Jesus is easy to say, and difficult to do. However, laying self down at the foot of Jesus’ cross, and picking up our own crosses – which means dedicating our lives to spreading the gospel message regardless of what culture thinks of us – is how we lose this life but gain eternity. Jesus didn’t focus on building His kingdom through force, but Satan is more than willing to use any type of force necessary to stop us from choosing Jesus and spreading the great news of salvation!

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, seek God first and choose to give up a focus on self in your life in order to focus on giving Him glory. If the world is hostile towards us for choosing Jesus, know that you have made the right choice. Never be ashamed or shamed out of choosing Jesus, because Jesus is the only way to experience eternity! Everything else is a lie Satan uses to trick or confuse people.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself. Culture speaks its messages loudly and frequently, and the best way to stay grounded in truth is to focus personally on studying God’s message through the Bible. What God has preserved for us in the Bible teaches us how to have hope, and how to live for God in sinful, godless, dark times. Studying the Bible for yourself is the only way to be certain what the Bible teaches because too many people today have twisted the Bible into teaching only half-truths.

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 shamed out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 22: When Jesus asks the disciples a direct question, discover how one disciple is praised for His response, before only a few verses later being called out for being Satan. Discover how Jesus challenged the cultural expectations in the first century and how we are called to live out our faith over 2,000 years later!

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

In the Eye of the Beholder: Mark 15:21-24

Focus Passage: Mark 15:21-24 (NCV)

21 A man named Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was coming from the fields to the city. The soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross for Jesus. 22 They led Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means the Place of the Skull. 23 The soldiers tried to give Jesus wine mixed with myrrh to drink, but he refused. 24 The soldiers crucified Jesus and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing lots to decide what each soldier would get.

Read Mark 15:21-24 in context and/or in other translations on!

During Jesus’ crucifixion, I am fascinated at the detail Mark shares that Jesus’ clothes were divided up among the soldiers and they threw lots to determine who would get what. Mark specifically tells us: “The soldiers crucified Jesus and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing lots to decide what each soldier would get.” (v. 24)

This stands out in my mind because even 1 year later, Jesus’ clothing would have been incredibly valuable for sentimental reasons, and no later than two centuries later, it would have likely been preserved by the early church.

Now about twenty centuries later, Jesus’ clothing might be the most valuable religious object to exchange hands in a transaction. If one could verify that the garment was really Jesus’, then the dusty old robe would be worth millions – maybe even billions.

But the robe was gambled for and won by a soldier who probably sold it off for next to nothing at the market. In the soldier’s eyes, this garment was nothing more than a robe of a convicted felon, even if this felon was rumored to have risen from the dead just a few days after His death.

This illustration goes to show how value is very subjective to those making deals. What for us living today to be virtually priceless, those who had it in the first century didn’t place much value on it.

The same could be said for our relationship with God and our spiritual growth. If we minimize or don’t value it, it will have almost no impact on our lives. But if we value it, focus on it, nurture it, and want it to grow, then our relationship with God will transform our life – and we will truly become the person God created us to be!

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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