Luke 24 B

The resurrection! I’m so delighted to write about this on the last day of the year.

I fall into the category of loving New Year’s. It’s a fresh start, it’s a clean slate, it’s a new calendar. This morning, this sentence stuck out to me:

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” 24:1

Imagine these women, up at dawn, packing up their ointments and spices. I imagine they didn’t sleep much the night before. I imagine their hearts feel heavy. You know that feeling after a tragedy, like you’re physically wearing grief? And for a split second when you wake up, you haven’t put it on? And then reality hits you.

I know the story goes on to say that they wondered if Jesus’ body was stolen, and they panic. But I wonder if for just a second, they saw the stone rolled away and their hearts leapt, hopeful that none of it had happened at all.

The gospel resurrects us. It’s a clean slate and a fresh start. Like the new year, it doesn’t mean you have no responsibilities and nothing to answer to. But you get to be made new. You get to wake up and shake off the burden that blankets you.

Do you need a fresh start?

Maybe it’s something big, like a broken marriage, a lost job or a crime you’ve commitment. Maybe it’s something small, like a pivot in your eating habits or a vow to deep clean your house. That small-scale stuff is rooted in bigger problem, as I’m sure you know. We’re all enslaved somewhere.

If you’re not reading along with us, I encourage you to read Luke 24 and reflect on this beautiful story.

Tomorrow we start off 2020 with a bang in the book of Leviticus!

-Carly

Luke 23 B

“Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.” (12)

Today I noticed all the little sub plots going on among Gentiles. While this was an apex moment for the Jews (and little did they know, all mankind), it was just another day for the Roman government.

That Passover, these Jews were riled up, only coming to a higher court because their own law didn’t allow the execution they were looking for. A couple politicians play hot potato with a seemingly innocent guy. “Oh, he’s in your jurisdiction! Can you take this?”

Maybe Pilate and Herod bonded over their confusion as to why the Jews wanted to kill a nice guy. Herod was excited to see Jesus, and rolled in ready for a magic show.

After this back and forth–even invoking a random rule about releasing a prisoner (which backfired)–Pilate washes his hands of it all, but not before making a sign to put above Jesus as he died.

THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

A real slap to the face for all their outlandish claims against the man, Jesus.

“Certainly this man was innocent.” (47) remarks a random centurion as he watches him die.

What a weird day. The Jews decide to crucify their Messiah, while meanwhile, a pair of political enemies become friends.

I wonder if Pilate or Herod heard rumors of the resurrection afterwords. I wonder if it made them chuckle and shake their heads. In any case, this wasn’t the last the Roman government would hear about Jesus.

And it wouldn’t be the last time Jesus turned enemies into friends.

-Bethany

Luke 22 B

“It’s not about being impressive, interesting or smart, it’s about being like Jesus.”

I love this sentence Bethany used to close out her reflection on chapter 22 last time.

I always find it interesting that Jesus snaps at the disciples when they doze off. It’s hard to stay awake when you’re praying at night! I fall asleep anywhere and struggle to stay up past 9pm. I remember one night I was in an intense meeting late at night (intense in a summer-camp-staff sort of way), trying not to doze off. The camp director sternly instructed us to get ourselves into a position that will keep us awake.

I had been sitting on the floor, my back against the wall and my arms piled up on my knees. I opted to stand up, sway back and forth, and pop a piece of gum in my mouth. It was less comfortable, and took more work, but I stayed awake and alert.

It’s a simple analogy, but sometimes we forget to set ourselves up for success and avoid temptation.

What do you struggle with? How are you actively preventing the temptation to fall into it?

Try to set up some action steps to get yourself into a position that will help you succeed against resisting it.

-Carly

Luke 21 B

“Teacher, when therefore will these things happen?” (7)

This discourse started with the admiring of Jerusalem’s beautiful temple. Jesus foretells it’s destruction, which would happen roughly 40 years later. What sort of warning would the people get that the temple was about to be destroyed again?

  1. Other people will claim to be the Messiah (8)
  2. War (9)
  3. Earthquakes (11)
  4. Plagues (11)
  5. Famines (11)
  6. Terrors (11)
  7. Signs from heaven (11)
  8. Persecution of disciples (12)
  9. Betrayal by friends and family (13)
  10. Jerusalem surrounded by armies (20)
  11. Fleeing (21)
  12. Distress upon the land (23)
  13. Wrath upon the people (24)
  14. Death by sword (24)
  15. Captives taken (24)

This all went down in 70 AD. But wait, there’s more. There will be something called, “the times of the Gentiles” that needs to be fulfilled. Then a new set of signs will herald the Second Coming:

  1. Signs in the sun, moon and stars (25)
  2. Dismay among nations (25)
  3. Perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves (25)
  4. Men fainting from fear (26)
  5. The powers of the heavens shaken (26)
  6. The Son of Man coming in a cloud (27)

Some people spend their lives doomsday prepping for this occurrence, while others ignore it completely. Again, we must find a middle, and–whaddya know–Jesus outlined that for us as well. He says to stay alert, to not wander off into drunkenness, but to remain prayerful and watchful.

For the past 1950 years since that temple was destroyed, Christians have been watching the world rage through cycles of war, plague, famine and earthquakes. Jesus gave us some pretty basic human circumstances to watch out for. Why do you think that is? Why give us signs that read as open ended as a horoscope from People magazine?

I think it’s to keep us humble and aware. This world does not belong to us. Our times do not belong to us. We mustn’t get so wrapped up that we forget Him and His intentions for life.

What reminds us of our powerlessness better than an earthquake? What dashes our plans more famine? What reminds us of our mortality like a plague? What keeps us on a toes more than a raging sea? These things remind us of our place in this world. One that desperately needs to keep our eyes on the LORD. Be ready, because things can happen that don’t allow for you to pack your things.

We need Him, we long for Him, we pray for His closeness.

How do you remain aware, or realistic, about your weakness and dependence on Him? How does that balance between fear and hope?

-Bethany

Luke 20 B

There are so many fundamental things about Jesus in the chapter that I love.

Sometimes I think it’s so easy to follow Jesus, and other times it feels unbearably complicated. I’m thankful for the books in the Bible where he makes it simple, and spells out the day to day expectations.

Pay your taxes. (20:25)

Have integrity. (20:47)

Behave in a humble manner. (20:46)

I liked Bethany’s response of Jesus’ interactions with the religious leaders last time.

What part of this chapter was hard for you?

-Carly

Luke 19 B

“As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: ‘BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (37-38‬)

I think I’ve mentioned before how the triumphal entry made via colt through this particular gate was saturated in prophetic imagery. Perhaps most notably, it parallels the route Solomon rode into Jerusalem when he was pronounced king instead of Adonijah (1 Kings 1). It also is the reverse of the glory cloud leaving the temple and the city (Ezekiel 10) via the east gate.

While it was clear to Israel that this moment signified Jesus as their coming Messiah King, his first acts were less expected.

This chapter contains three stories about money, and namely, how it interacts with the Kingdom Jesus represents.

One: Zacchaeus’ experience with Him leads to a generous restoring of money back from anyone and everyone he’s ever cheated, Jesus responds, “today salvation has come to this house!” (9)

Two: Jesus tells a parable about investing, summarizing with, “‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” (26)

Three: Jesus drives out the merchants in the temple, saying “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (46)

The Bible talks about money so much. What has studying it changed in your personal finances? Are you generous? Are you free of exploitation? Do you steward what you have well? Has your faith been commercialized?

As we celebrate a season of thanksgiving, a King that’s come, generosity, love and light in dark places, what principles will you carry with you into the New Year? How will your finances reflect His Kingdom?

-Bethany

Luke 18 B

“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked him. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.‘ ” 15-17

I’m not sure exactly what Jesus means when he commands us to approach him like children. But here’s what I know about infants:

When they need something, they ask for it.

When they’re scared, they seek comfort from the arms that provide safety.

Have you ever seen an infant sprawled on the chest of their mom or dad? They look so peaceful and so safe.

Tomorrow is Christmas and we’ll recognize that Jesus came to us this way too. Vulnerable, small and meek. He modeled for us what it looks like to set aside power, pride and position.

What’s your posture towards God?

-Carly