Luke 18:9-14 (NIV) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Here Christ is talking to members of a Jewish denomination, probably the Pharisees. In Christ’s time and place the Pharisees were very big and controlled the “religious institutions”. Among other things they replaced the word of God with their own, told people they could be saved by their own works, and generally looked down big time on anyone who was not of their ranks. I think that the term we would use is that they were “full of themselves”. While the Pharisees (mentioned about 87 times in the new testament) thought they were so great before God they actually became an example of what Christ said not to be like, so we need to be careful not to adopt their attitudes and become like them (Matthew 23:1-3 – Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach). When the Pharisee in the parable prayed, he didn’t humble himself like the tax collector did because he thought he was so great (tax collectors were considered very low because when they went door to door collecting taxes they often charged more than the law stated then kept the difference for themselves). Thinking we’re better or less sinful than others puts us in the same boat that the Pharisee was in. God sent his son Jesus (because he was the only one qualified) to be the Savior of everyone including the Pharisee, but the tax collector had the attitude that was more pleasing to him, so let’s try to be more like the tax collector. What About Jesus?
Proverbs 16:16 (NIV) – How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver. - We all know we can’t pay any bills with wisdom or buy anything with it, but the Bible says it is better to have than gold. It’s hard for us to believe this, and that’s why trust in God is so important, he will always take care of us even if we don’t agree with his methods. Being rich is fine but wisdom should come first. God was so pleased that King Solomon asked him for wisdom (after offering him his choice) instead of riches that he gave Solomon both (1 Kings 3:13). To me it seems like wisdom is in short supply these days. It seems like our politicians and world leaders demonstrate a lack of wisdom and then tell us it’s for the best. People on the street seem to think that it’s no big deal to be ignorant. So if it’s so great where can we get wisdom that pleases God? The Bible tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). To me the key word here is ‘beginning’. With “the fear of the Lord” we can build God pleasing wisdom in whatever field we choose. With God pleasing wisdom we can see the need for Jesus Christ and why he came to be our Savior. The Bible tells us in Christ there is wisdom (Colossians 2:3 (NIV) – in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.) What About Jesus?
Mark 10:13-14 (HCSB) - Some people were bringing little children to Him so He might touch them, but His disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I wouldn’t want to enter an airliner or operating room or somewhere mistakes can be dangerous and find a little kid in charge. For our safety and theirs, because of their lack of experience, knowledge and good judgement, children are kept out of areas of high responsibility in all the cultures that I know about. But coming to him by little children is something that Christ encourages, and he tells us not to hinder them. That means they should be trained in God’s word in a manner they can understand. Christ even used little children to illustrate what those in God’s kingdom will be like (Matthew 18:3 – And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven). Is Christ saying he likes children better than anyone else? No, he’s saying that simple child-like faith in him as our Savior is all that is required to enter the kingdom of heaven. Once again we see God doing just the opposite of what most of us would do. Where we might think the scholars and learned is what God would be interested in, he tells us he prefers the attitudes of little children more. Little children tend to accept things easier than adults. God wants us to think of him as our father as we go through life, and believe that his son Jesus is our only Savior from our sins . We can do all the studying about God that we want, and become highly learned, but unless we adopt child-like faith in him it means nothing. What About Jesus?
Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) - We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. - I think that all to often today we hear of the need for Jesus Christ and though it does come up, it seems to me we don’t hear why we need him enough. And I think the why is crucial for churches trying to reach the non-Christian. I think it’s only natural for non-Christians to say “what do I need Christ for?” Without knowing why we need a Savior, the Gospel sounds ridiculous and unnecessary (1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God). Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden and since then all people ever born are sinful and had/have a sinful nature that wants to control us and causes us to want to go our own way instead of God’s way. Easton’s Bible dictionary describes sin as ‘any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God’. God’s first promise of a Savior was made when he was talking to Satan in Genesis 3:15 – (And I will put enmity (a very deep unfriendly feeling) between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel”). Enmity is exactly what’s happening between Christ and Satan. And each of them are calling to us and despite his claims Satan can only offer us death and destruction, while as our Savior Christ can offer us salvation and eternal life. What About Jesus?
Matthew 10:22 (NIV) – You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved – This scripture verse is short, but I think it packs a big message. While the first part of it tells us what we can expect from the world for following Christ, the second part seems to imply that some who follow him will fall away. I wonder if that will be the rebellion told about in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.) The man of lawlessness (a.k.a. the anti-Christ) will convince many that Christ is not who he says he is. He’ll probably say some of the things we’ve already been hearing like “the Bible makes no sense and is outdated”, or “if God was coming he’d have been here by now” or something similar. Recognizing him will be easy by comparing what he says to what is written in the Bible. Christ wants us to resist the man of lawlessness and be ‘die-hards’. I’m not talking about the famous movies or car batteries here, but the people who will not change their beliefs no matter what. The word ‘die-hard’ is defined as someone very determined or loyal; especially : very loyal to a set of beliefs and not willing to change those beliefs.Since Christ is our only Savior who can justify us to God, lets stand strong to the end for him. What About Jesus?
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) - But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.- The stories of Moses leading the Hebrews out of captivity in Egypt (Exodus 13:3), The old testament Joseph (with the coat of many colors) being sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:12), David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:50), the Pharisee and the Publican praying (Luke 18:14), the life of Paul after his conversion (Acts 9:18) and more can all be thought of as God using weakness. But why would God use weakness to do his work? It’s often our strength that denies God and causes us to trust in ourselves, so a good dose of weakness might be just what we need to bring us back to him. King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon learned this in Daniel 4:28. Nebuchadnezzar thought he and his accomplishments were so great and he saw no need for God. But then he became weak and God showed Nebuchadnezzar that without him he would have nothing. On the surface the humble birth, life and death of Christ looks like weakness also. And after his crucifixion many probably thought he was gone for good and would soon be forgotten. But Christ did great things through that apparent weakness. As planned he rose from the dead and became the only Savior of anyone who wants him. All can come to him and dump all their sins at his feet and say “get rid of these for me.” So when we’re feeling weak, and sometimes we all do, we should remember that it isn’t always a bad thing. What About Jesus?
”Luke 7:22 (NIV) – So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. -
John the Baptist heard that Jesus Christ was working nearby where he was working and wanted to know if he was the messiah (from Hebrew mashiah, “anointed”) whose coming was foretold in the scriptures, “the genuine article” if you will. So he simply sent some of his helpers to ask him if he was and Luke 7:22 tells us what Jesus told them. Many might ask “what does all the healing have to do with it?” or say “this is not what John asked”. But I think we should remember that almost everything Jesus did was to provide us with a “teachable moment”. By his power and authority Jesus could heal earthly maladies as he did in Luke 7:22 but the bigger picture and more importantly is he can heal our spiritual “blindness”, “lameness”, “leprosy”, “deafness” etc. if we let him. Jesus often used sick people to describe the condition of the world and calls himself the doctor it needs (Mark 2:17 NIV – On hearing this, Jesus said to them, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.) - It’s natural for us to think (in a spiritual sense) that we don’t need a doctor because we’re not sick. That’s exactly what the Pharisees (a Jewish denomination of Jesus’s day) thought, but Jesus told them they were wrong. He is the only “doctor” that can treat our sins and we need his medicine. What About Jesus?