November 29, 2015
November 30, 2015
December 1, 2015
December 2, 2015
December 3, 2015
December 4, 2015
December 5, 2015
The Mountain of the Lord
1 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
2 and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,[a]
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
5 For all the peoples walk
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever.
The Lord Shall Rescue Zion
6 In that day, declares the Lord,
I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away
and those whom I have afflicted;
7 and the lame I will make the remnant,
and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
from this time forth and forevermore.
8 And you, O tower of the flock,
hill of the daughter of Zion,
to you shall it come,
the former dominion shall come,
kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.
9 Now why do you cry aloud?
Is there no king in you?
Has your counselor perished,
that pain seized you like a woman in labor?
10 Writhe and groan,[b] O daughter of Zion,
like a woman in labor,
for now you shall go out from the city
and dwell in the open country;
you shall go to Babylon.
There you shall be rescued;
there the Lord will redeem you
from the hand of your enemies.
11 Now many nations
are assembled against you,
saying, “Let her be defiled,
and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.”
12 But they do not know
the thoughts of the Lord;
they do not understand his plan,
that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.
13 Arise and thresh,
O daughter of Zion,
for I will make your horn iron,
and I will make your hoofs bronze;
you shall beat in pieces many peoples;
and shall devote[c] their gain to the Lord,
their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.
Repent or Perish
1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
A Woman with a Disabling Spirit
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
The Mustard Seed and the Leaven
18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
The Narrow Door
22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Lament over Jerusalem
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
SEVERAL TIMES MICAH MOVES from a long section of denunciation and warning to a relatively short, positive vision of the future. Micah 4 includes one such vision (4:1-5), immediately followed by a description of how the daughter of Zion gets from here to there (4:6-13): she passes through severe testing and chastening, and emerges on the other side into the light of God’s blessing.
The opening verses depict a time when “the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it” (4:1). Many mountains in the ancient Near East were sites for the worship of some god or other. To say that “the mountain of the LORD’s temple”—i.e., Zion—is established as “chief” among them and “raised above the others” is to say that the God of Israel has now eclipsed all other gods. The result is that not only does Israel stream back to the site, but “peoples” do so as well. “Many nations” exhort one another, saying, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths” (4:2).
Then the movement of the oracle swings around from the centripetal to the centrifugal. “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (4:2b). The result is that justice prevails among many peoples, and war sinks away, swamped by peace as people, transformed by the word of God, “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (4:3). The vision concludes with the only thing that can ensure its fulfillment: “the LORD Almighty has spoken” (4:4). So now, in his own day, Micah insists that genuine believers not be seduced by other gods, who could not possibly effect this transformation. This is the time to be faithful to the one, true God of the covenant. “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever” (4:5).
The symbol-laden vision is cast in the categories of Micah’s day: the weapons of war, for example, become plowshares and pruning hooks, not tractors and combines. Though cast in terms of the supremacy of Mount Zion, there is no mention of an Israelite hegemony over the nations, nor of the Messiah or the sacrifice he would offer. Even the geography of the oracle looks a little different from the perspective of John 4:21-24. But in the light of the Gospel, the triumph of the new Jerusalem, which brings to an end death and war and all sin (Rev. 21:1-4), is that for which all Christians pray, the fulfillment of Micah’s vision.
The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem
1 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
2 [c] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace.
When the Assyrian comes into our land
and treads in our palaces,
then we will raise against him seven shepherds
and eight princes of men;
6 they shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword,
and the land of Nimrod at its entrances;
and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian
when he comes into our land
and treads within our border.
A Remnant Shall Be Delivered
7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be
in the midst of many peoples
like dew from the Lord,
like showers on the grass,
which delay not for a man
nor wait for the children of man.
8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations,
in the midst of many peoples,
like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
like a young lion among the flocks of sheep,
which, when it goes through, treads down
and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver.
9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries,
and all your enemies shall be cut off.
10 And in that day, declares the Lord,
I will cut off your horses from among you
and will destroy your chariots;
11 and I will cut off the cities of your land
and throw down all your strongholds;
12 and I will cut off sorceries from your hand,
and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes;
13 and I will cut off your carved images
and your pillars from among you,
and you shall bow down no more
to the work of your hands;
14 and I will root out your Asherah images from among you
and destroy your cities.
15 And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance
on the nations that did not obey.
Healing of a Man on the Sabbath
1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son[a] or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Parable of the Great Banquet
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers[b] or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant[c] to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,[d] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
The Cost of Discipleship
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Salt Without Taste Is Worthless
34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
IF THE FORWARD-LOOKING VISION OF Micah 4 does not include any description of a coming Messiah, the opening verses of Micah 5 redress the balance. The chapter begins with a sad depiction of Jerusalem and her king (5:1). Probably the historical allusion is to the invasion of the Assyrians under Sennacherib in 701 B.C. Although in God’s providence Jerusalem held up, the other walled towns of Judah were breached, and King Hezekiah was humiliated and almost overthrown. Ideally, the king from David’s line was to quell rebellion and disorder “with a rod of iron” (Ps. 2); he was to promote justice by striking with the rod of his mouth (Isa. 11:4). Yet here “Israel’s ruler” is struck “on the cheek with a rod” (5:1).
But the dynasty survives. Without filling in the intermediate steps, Micah the prophet envisages another king from the Davidic line (5:2-4). He springs from Bethlehem Ephrathah, ancestral home of David, the birthplace of his dynasty. From this village, God says, “will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (5:2). This wording is not affirming the eternal preexistence of this messianic figure (though of course it is not denying it). Rather, the glorious prospect is grounded in the past, in the ancient Davidic dynasty. When this king takes up the scepter, he will “shepherd his flock,” not in the uncertain strength of Hezekiah or any other king who precedes him in the line, but “in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God” (5:4). And in due course “his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth,” and the secure peace pictured in the previous chapter will be ushered in (5:4-5).
So in the fullness of time, God arranged international affairs to ensure that Jesus was born not in Nazareth, the residence of Mary and Joseph, but in Bethlehem, their ancestral home (Luke 2). It was almost as if Almighty God was going a second mile: not only would it be said that Jesus “as to his human nature was a descendant of David” (Rom. 1:3) and thus an offshoot from Bethlehem, but that he was actually born there. Indeed, when the Magi arrived in Herod’s court to inquire as to where the promised King had been born, the chief priests and teachers of the Law quoted this passage in Micah 5 to settle the matter: he would be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Matt. 2:5-6). Though the village of Bethlehem was entirely unprepossessing (“small among the clans of Judah,” 5:2), with such a son it could “by no means” be considered “least among the rulers of Judah” (Matt. 2:6).
The Indictment of the Lord
1 Hear what the Lord says:
Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord,
and you enduring foundations of the earth,
for the Lord has an indictment against his people,
and he will contend with Israel.
3 “O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I wearied you? Answer me!
4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised,
and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”
What Does the Lord Require?
6 “With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with[a] thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[b]
and to walk humbly with your God?
Destruction of the Wicked
9 The voice of the Lord cries to the city—
and it is sound wisdom to fear your name:
“Hear of the rod and of him who appointed it![c]
10 Can I forget any longer the treasures[d] of wickedness in the house of the wicked,
and the scant measure that is accursed?
11 Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales
and with a bag of deceitful weights?
12 Your[e] rich men are full of violence;
your inhabitants speak lies,
and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
13 Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow,
making you desolate because of your sins.
14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied,
and there shall be hunger within you;
you shall put away, but not preserve,
and what you preserve I will give to the sword.
15 You shall sow, but not reap;
you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil;
you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.
16 For you have kept the statutes of Omri,[f]
and all the works of the house of Ahab;
and you have walked in their counsels,
that I may make you a desolation, and your[g] inhabitants a hissing;
so you shall bear the scorn of my people.”
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
THERE IS IMPORTANT COMMON GROUND IN Micah 6 and Luke 15. Yet I shall approach it obliquely.
One of the slogans of the Reformation was simul justus et peccator, a Latin phrase meaning something like “simultaneously just[ified] and a sinner.” It was a way of getting at the legal nature of justification as expounded by Paul. On the ground of Christ’s death, God declares guilty sinners just—not because, from the act of justification itself, they are in their actions and thoughts truly just or righteous, but because they have been acquitted before the bar of God’s justice. Because Christ has paid their penalty, they are just in God’s eyes, even though, at the level of their very being, they are sinners still. Nevertheless, the Reformers never argued that justification stands by itself. Justification is part of salvation, but it is not all of it. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and regeneration; the ultimate step is the final transformation of God’s people in body and spirit at the last day. These elements and more belong together, and all who are truly saved ultimately experience all of them. So while justification in and of itself leaves a person a sinner still, justification never operates all by itself. Genuine salvation not only forgives us but transforms us.
Micah understands this. He does not so much deal with the ground of Israel’s acceptance before God (which is finally tied to God’s grace, Deut. 9) as insist that, if the covenantal relationship with God is genuine, it will not be soaked in idolatry, syncretism, and injustice. So how shall I come before the Lord? Shall I sacrifice the prescribed yearling? (6:6). How about thousands of rams? Or how about sacrificing my own son: will that pay “for the sin of my soul” (6:7)? What the Lord requires is this: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).
Micah is not alone on this point, of course. Jesus preached something similar, quoting Hosea (Matt. 9:13). Paul insists that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). He does not mean that only the perennial goody-goody will make it, for he goes on to say that some of his readers once practiced astonishing evil. But if they have been truly saved, transformation must manifest itself. That is equally true in the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11- 27). He is received by the father’s grace. Yet in the complexity of the return, the son abandons his sin even as he casts himself on his father’s mercy. As critically important as simul justus et peccator is, it must never, never be used to justify the practice of sin.
Wait for the God of Salvation
1 Woe is me! For I have become
as when the summer fruit has been gathered,
as when the grapes have been gleaned:
there is no cluster to eat,
no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.
2 The godly has perished from the earth,
and there is no one upright among mankind;
they all lie in wait for blood,
and each hunts the other with a net.
3 Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well;
the prince and the judge ask for a bribe,
and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul;
thus they weave it together.
4 The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright of them a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come;
now their confusion is at hand.
5 Put no trust in a neighbor;
have no confidence in a friend;
guard the doors of your mouth
from her who lies in your arms;[a]
6 for the son treats the father with contempt,
the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
7 But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.
8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall look upon his vindication.
10 Then my enemy will see,
and shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
My eyes will look upon her;
now she will be trampled down
like the mire of the streets.
11 A day for the building of your walls!
In that day the boundary shall be far extended.
12 In that day they[b] will come to you,
from Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
and from Egypt to the River,
from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.
13 But the earth will be desolate
because of its inhabitants,
for the fruit of their deeds.
14 Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
who dwell alone in a forest
in the midst of a garden land;[c]
let them graze in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
15 As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them[d] marvelous things.
16 The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
they shall lay their hands on their mouths;
their ears shall be deaf;
17 they shall lick the dust like a serpent,
like the crawling things of the earth;
they shall come trembling out of their strongholds;
they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God,
and they shall be in fear of you.
God's Steadfast Love and Compassion
18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our[e] sins
into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
The Parable of the Dishonest Manager
1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures[a] of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures[b] of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world[c] are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth,[d] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The Law and the Kingdom of God
14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.[e] 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
Divorce and Remarriage
18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side.[f] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers[g]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
THE ACCOUNT OF THE RICH MAN and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) stirs the imagination by its powerful reversal. The rich and powerful man ends up in hell; the poor man at his gate ends up by the side of Abraham. Some observations:
(1) The narrative does not make explicit the reason why Lazarus the beggar was received up into the presence of Abraham, or why the rich man was excluded from that blessedness and consigned to hell. But there are hints. Although the Bible is far from imagining that every poor person is automatically justified (read Proverbs) and every rich person automatically condemned (consider Solomon, Zacchaeus, and Philemon), nevertheless there is some kind of alignment. Elsewhere Jesus insists it is impossible to serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24). The narrative before us says that Lazarus lay ill and hungry outside the rich man’s gate, and was literally dying to receive scraps of food. The rich man provided nothing. He was therefore without compassion; he was contravening even the most elementary societal expectations of courtesy and hospitality; he would not even give alms. As for Lazarus, he belongs to a long tradition in Israel going back to the Wisdom Literature that often associates the poor and the despised with the contrite and the righteous. That is simply assumed here. The reversal follows. It would be shocking to those of Jesus’ hearers who were pursuing the almighty shekel.
(2) At least part of the description of the state after death must be symbolic (Is there a real chasm between Lazarus and the rich man? Can residents of the two domains converse back and forth at will?). Nevertheless some elements of this description have to be accepted at face value, or the entire account unravels. The rich man is in conscious torment (entirely in line with other passages of Scripture). Lazarus is in (literally) “Abraham’s bosom”—i.e., he is with Abraham, and wherever Abraham is, there must be peace and blessing. The fixed chasm ensures that no one may pass from one abode to the other—which rather discourages the view that some people may be converted after death.
(3) Abraham’s response to the rich man’s concern for his surviving brothers establishes two important points. First, they were without excuse because they had the Scriptures (“Moses and the Prophets,” 16:29). We should not think that those who will not listen to what Scripture says will listen to anything else—so why resort to gimmickry? The assumption is that Scripture is the first recourse. Second, even the spectacularly miraculous is not more convincing than Scripture (16:31). Those who will not be convinced by Scripture “will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (16:31). And someone has.
1 An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh.
God's Wrath Against Nineveh
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry;
he dries up all the rivers;
Bashan and Carmel wither;
the bloom of Lebanon withers.
5 The mountains quake before him;
the hills melt;
the earth heaves before him,
the world and all who dwell in it.
6 Who can stand before his indignation?
Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
7 The Lord is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.
8 But with an overflowing flood
he will make a complete end of the adversaries,[a]
and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
9 What do you plot against the Lord?
He will make a complete end;
trouble will not rise up a second time.
10 For they are like entangled thorns,
like drunkards as they drink;
they are consumed like stubble fully dried.
11 From you came one
who plotted evil against the Lord,
a worthless counselor.
12 Thus says the Lord,
“Though they are at full strength and many,
they will be cut down and pass away.
Though I have afflicted you,
I will afflict you no more.
13 And now I will break his yoke from off you
and will burst your bonds apart.”
14 The Lord has given commandment about you:
“No more shall your name be perpetuated;
from the house of your gods I will cut off
the carved image and the metal image.
I will make your grave, for you are vile.”
15 [b] Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
who brings good news,
who publishes peace!
Keep your feasts, O Judah;
fulfill your vows,
for never again shall the worthless pass through you;
he is utterly cut off.
Temptations to Sin
1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Increase Our Faith
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant[c] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,[d] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;[e] we have only done what was our duty.’”
Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[f] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[g]
The Coming of the Kingdom
20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]
22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot's wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[j] 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[k] is, there the vultures[l] will gather.”
FROM THE TWO DESIGNATED PASSAGES, I shall reflect on two faces of judgment. From Nahum 1, we learn that sometimes God’s promise of judgment on the triumphant perpetrators of evil can be an encouragement. That is a summary of the theme of this book. Nahum is called to pronounce judgment on Assyria and its capital Nineveh, but unlike Jonah he is not called to proclaim this message to the Assyrians, but to the covenant people of God. That is seen, for instance, in the way Nahum initially talks about Nineveh in the third person (1:8). When Nineveh is directly addressed (e.g., 1:11), that is merely part of the rhetoric of the oracle.
At a guess, Nahum delivered these words from the Lord sometime after 722 B.C., when Assyria destroyed Samaria, the capital city of Israel, and transported many of its leading citizens. The ten northern tribes effectively ceased to exist as a nation. But the faithful believers among those left behind and among those carried off into exile, not to mention the watching Israelites in the southern kingdom of Judah, needed to know that God does not stop reigning, or holding people to account, just because he uses them to chasten his people (cf. Isa. 10:5ff.). “The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies” (1:2). “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness” (1:7-8). Many, many times when believers have been crushed under wicked regimes, or when innocent nations have been pulverized by brutal and powerful nations, words like these have sustained the faithful: God is just, and will hold the violent oppressors accountable, regardless of their political stance, religious affiliation, race, economics, or public image.
From Luke 17 comes the memorable line, “Remember Lot’s wife” (17:32; cf. Gen. 19:26). The picture is of “the day the Son of Man is revealed” (17:30). Judgment will be so sudden that the person on the rooftop—where people could catch some fresh, cooling breeze in the evening—should not think of going downstairs to take something with them. They should run from rooftop to rooftop and get out before the judgment falls. The imagery, of course, depends on first-century Jerusalem architecture. But the words “Remember Lot’s wife,” and the verse that follows, combine to show that the real issue is hesitation as to where one’s heart belongs. Those who longingly look back to the City of Destruction and try to cling to its toys are destroyed with them. Press on, then; invest in heaven’s stock (Matt. 6:19-21); set your sights on the New Jerusalem.
The Destruction of Nineveh
1 The scatterer has come up against you.
Man the ramparts;
watch the road;
dress for battle;[a]
collect all your strength.
2 For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob
as the majesty of Israel,
for plunderers have plundered them
and ruined their branches.
3 The shield of his mighty men is red;
his soldiers are clothed in scarlet.
The chariots come with flashing metal
on the day he musters them;
the cypress spears are brandished.
4 The chariots race madly through the streets;
they rush to and fro through the squares;
they gleam like torches;
they dart like lightning.
5 He remembers his officers;
they stumble as they go,
they hasten to the wall;
the siege tower[b] is set up.
6 The river gates are opened;
the palace melts away;
7 its mistress[c] is stripped;[d] she is carried off,
her slave girls lamenting,
moaning like doves
and beating their breasts.
8 Nineveh is like a pool
whose waters run away.[e]
“Halt! Halt!” they cry,
but none turns back.
9 Plunder the silver,
plunder the gold!
There is no end of the treasure
or of the wealth of all precious things.
10 Desolate! Desolation and ruin!
Hearts melt and knees tremble;
anguish is in all loins;
all faces grow pale!
11 Where is the lions' den,
the feeding place of the young lions,
where the lion and lioness went,
where his cubs were, with none to disturb?
12 The lion tore enough for his cubs
and strangled prey for his lionesses;
he filled his caves with prey
and his dens with torn flesh.
13 Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your[f] chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions. I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard.
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Let the Children Come to Me
15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
The Rich Ruler
18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers[b] or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar
35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
TODAY I SHALL REFLECT ON Luke 18:31-43. These verses are divided into two sections.
The first section (18:31-34) constitutes a prediction of Christ’s passion. It reports one of several times when Jesus tried to warn his disciples what would happen when he went up to Jerusalem for the last time. Despite the explicitness of Jesus’ language, the “disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about” (18:34). From our perspective, this side of the cross, we might wonder how they could be so thick. What they suffered from was a narrow focus of vision equivalent to having blinders on. Their conception of Messiah was that he was triumphant. Certainly Jesus had the power. The kind of person who could heal the sick, raise the dead, still storms, and walk on water could certainly take on a few Roman legions; he could certainly turf out corrupt officials and impose justice on the land. Besides, couldn’t all of Jesus’ expressions be understood in some way other than the way Christians take them today? In the Old Testament (the disciples might have recalled) the title “Son of Man” is only rarely messianic: of whom, then, is Jesus speaking? Perhaps the handing over of this “Son of Man” to Gentiles is a temporary thing prior to his dramatic rescue in the final fight—that is, he will “rise again” (18:33).
In broader theological terms, the disciples had not come to terms with the fact that the promised king from the line of David would also be the suffering servant. Their expectations were bent; they could see only what they expected to see. On the broadest horizon, that is one of the effects of the corrosive, blinding power of sin: it so dulls our vision and disorients our perspective that it shuts off crucial parts of evidence so we cannot see the truth and the greatness and the glory of God’s revelation.
The second section deals with the healing of the blind man sitting by the side of the Jericho road (18:35-43). Unlike the disciples in the previous verse, who doubtless thought they understood something of what was said, even though they didn’t, this man knows he is blind. Others try to quiet him; he will not be silent, but calls all the more strenuously: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (18:39). Jesus heals him; the man sees. And that is always what is needed: for men and women to admit their blindness and cry to him who alone can give sight. Otherwise, no matter how many words are spoken, their meaning will be hidden.
Woe to Nineveh
1 Woe to the bloody city,
all full of lies and plunder—
no end to the prey!
2 The crack of the whip, and rumble of the wheel,
galloping horse and bounding chariot!
3 Horsemen charging,
flashing sword and glittering spear,
hosts of slain,
heaps of corpses,
dead bodies without end—
they stumble over the bodies!
4 And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute,
graceful and of deadly charms,
who betrays nations with her whorings,
and peoples with her charms.
5 Behold, I am against you,
declares the Lord of hosts,
and will lift up your skirts over your face;
and I will make nations look at your nakedness
and kingdoms at your shame.
6 I will throw filth at you
and treat you with contempt
and make you a spectacle.
7 And all who look at you will shrink from you and say,
“Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her?”
Where shall I seek comforters for you?
8 Are you better than Thebes[a]
that sat by the Nile,
with water around her,
her rampart a sea,
and water her wall?
9 Cush was her strength;
Egypt too, and that without limit;
Put and the Libyans were her[b] helpers.
10 Yet she became an exile;
she went into captivity;
her infants were dashed in pieces
at the head of every street;
for her honored men lots were cast,
and all her great men were bound in chains.
11 You also will be drunken;
you will go into hiding;
you will seek a refuge from the enemy.
12 All your fortresses are like fig trees
with first-ripe figs—
if shaken they fall
into the mouth of the eater.
13 Behold, your troops
are women in your midst.
The gates of your land
are wide open to your enemies;
fire has devoured your bars.
14 Draw water for the siege;
strengthen your forts;
go into the clay;
tread the mortar;
take hold of the brick mold!
15 There will the fire devour you;
the sword will cut you off.
It will devour you like the locust.
Multiply yourselves like the locust;
multiply like the grasshopper!
16 You increased your merchants
more than the stars of the heavens.
The locust spreads its wings and flies away.
17 Your princes are like grasshoppers,
your scribes[c] like clouds of locusts
settling on the fences
in a day of cold—
when the sun rises, they fly away;
no one knows where they are.
18 Your shepherds are asleep,
O king of Assyria;
your nobles slumber.
Your people are scattered on the mountains
with none to gather them.
19 There is no easing your hurt;
your wound is grievous.
All who hear the news about you
clap their hands over you.
For upon whom has not come
your unceasing evil?
Jesus and Zacchaeus
1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The Parable of the Ten Minas
11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants,[a] he gave them ten minas,[b] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant![c] Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”
The Triumphal Entry
28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
BY ITSELF, THE PARABLE OF THE TEN MINAS (Luke 19:11-27) is easy enough to understand. What makes it more challenging is the way it is bracketed—that is, how it is introduced and how it ends.
(1) The story itself depicts a nobleman who travels to a distant country to be appointed king. The picture would not be foreign: the Herods on occasion traveled to Rome to obtain or to secure their standing with Caesar. Before leaving, the nobleman entrusts ten minas, a considerable sum of money, to his servants, apparently one mina to each. On his return (and now king), he discovers that his servants have handled his money with various degrees of success. The parable does not recount each servant’s rate of return, but reports representative cases. One has earned ten minas, an increase of 1,000 percent; another, five minas, an increase of 500 percent. Each is rewarded extravagantly, but in proportion to the increase. One servant merely returns to his master the mina he has been given. His excuse is that he is afraid of the master, knowing him to be a hard man. The rest of the story plays out. Probably we contemporary readers need to be reminded that the servants were not employees who could quit if they wanted to or withhold their services under union rules. They were slaves who owed their master their best effort. Hence the punishment for the irresponsible slave.
(2) But the story ends with a lengthy saying: “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me” (19:26-27). The last servant has nothing by way of increase; all he “has” is the gift entrusted to him for the benefit of another. The king’s servants are responsible to labor for their master’s profit, and if they do not, they show themselves to be rebellious servants, no true servants at all. They are scarcely better than the enemies who defy the master’s kingship altogether.
(3) All of this must be nestled into the framework of expectation created by the opening verse (19:11). Jesus tells this parable to respond to those who thought “that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” Not so, the parable insists: the master goes away to receive a kingdom; some of the people hate the notion; even his servants vary in their faithfulness and fruitfulness, and some prove to be false servants. Those who are truly devoted slaves of King Jesus will busy themselves trying to improve their Master’s assets, eagerly awaiting his return.
Praise God for His faithfulness to continue to grow our faith and maturity. Ask God to deliver us all from the temptations brought about by wealth and possessions. Pray we will view the Bible as the source of truth regarding how we feel about money. Ask the Spirit to convict us of any greed in our lives and to lead us to repentance. Pray for God to increase both our individual and corporate generosity. Pray we will all readily, willingly, and joyfully store up treasures in heaven.
This week we are praying for The Foundry Ministries, a transitional program seeking to restore hope and rebuild the lives of the addict, the ex-inmate, and the destitute through Christ-centered Recovery, Re-Entry, and Rescue programs. By Christ’s example, The Foundry welcomes men, women, and families battling a complex variety of challenges including substance abuse, legal offenses, poverty, and spiritual brokenness. We are also praying for Greater New Antioch Baptist Church and E.O. Jackson, Jr., Pastor.
Day 1: Pray for men and women to experience permanent life transformation through Jesus Christ while in the programs at The Foundry. Pray for God to restore hope and rebuild the lives of the destitute, addicted, and those coming out of prison.
Day 2: Pray for the residents and their families as they face the emotional challenges that often accompany the holidays. Pray for them to not feel alone or abandoned during this season, but to rest in the unfailing love of their Heavenly Father.
Day 3: Pray for spiritual healing and revival in our city, state, and nation. Ask God to completely eradicate the growing heroin epidemic that has plagued the community in recent years.
Day 4: Pray as The Foundry relies heavily on the Lord for funds, resources, and partnerships. Ask for Him to provide these things in abundance through the local Church and pray for the Foundry to have favor in the community.
Day 5: Pray as the staff and volunteers minister to men, women, and children in the midst of hardship, for the love of Christ to be made evident through their good deeds and for the gospel to be boldly proclaimed.
Day 6: Pray for the staff and leadership at The Foundry to yield to the Holy Spirit as He leads them into the new year and for the will of God to be accomplished through them in 2016.
This week we are praying for the Global Offering that we will begin collecting as a faith family next Sunday, December 6 during our Worship Gatherings. This offering is above and beyond our regular tithes and goes directly towards the sending of Mid & Long-Term missionaries, support of member organizations, and long-term disciple- making projects led by our field partners around the world. It is a wonderful time of year to celebrate how the Lord has chosen to use our faith family to make His name known among all nations and to give in anticipation of next year. Join us this week as we praise God for how He has used the Global Offering this last year for His glory and pray that He shows us how we can sacrificially participate again in 2016.
Day 1: Praise God for the resources He has bestowed upon all of us. Thank Him for His generosity towards our faith family. Praise Him for the wisdom He gives to show us how He desires to use our resources for His glory.
Day 2: Praise God for allowing us to send out Mid & Long- Term Missionaries to all parts of the world. Thank Him for the resources He provided to support each of them last year. Pray for God to call out even more workers from Brook Hills and ask Him to provide the resources to support them.
Day 3: Ask God to reveal the joy in giving generously to His kingdom purposes. Pray for God to give wisdom as you evaluate ways to give to the Global Offering this year.
Day 4: Thank the Lord for the ways we have been able to contribute towards long-term ministry in 2015. Praise God for the open doors to the gospel with the unreached and for souls saved. Thank Him for establishing and strengthening churches.
Day 5: Praise God for His glory as we share the stories of His works each Sunday in December. Pray for us to see Christ in each one. Pray for us to never love the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).
Day 6: Pray for God to move in each of our hearts to contribute together as a faith family towards the Global Offering. Pray for God to use our humble gifts for His glory.
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You're rich in love and You're slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid
Oh that rugged cross my salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee
Silent as He stood accused
Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father's will
He took a crown of thorns
Oh that rugged cross my salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee
Sent of heaven God's own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree
Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
See the stone is rolled away
Behold the empty tomb
Hallelujah God be praised
He's risen from the grave
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
Forbid it Lord that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood
See from His head His hands His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing so divine
Demands my soul my life my all
Christ is my reward and all of my devotion
Now there's nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy
Through every trial my soul will sing
No turning back I've been set free
Christ is enough for me
Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You
Everything I need
Christ my all in all the joy of my salvation
And this hope will never fail
Heaven is our home
Through every storm my soul will sing
Jesus is here to God be the glory
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back no turning back
The cross before me the world behind me
No turning back no turning back