Archive for February, 2013

Render Unto Caesar

And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.

Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?  But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?  Shew me a penny.  Whose image and superscription hath it?  They answered and said, Caesar’s.  And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.

Luke 20:20, 22-25

The scribes and Pharisees spent a great deal of time trying to catch Jesus in His words.  Of course, they were never able to succeed, but they kept trying.  In this passage, they went so far so to send “forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words…”  These spies came up with a question about giving “tribute unto Caesar.”  They assumed that, if Jesus said they should give tribute to Caesar, it meant He supported the policies of Caesar.  If He said they should not pay the tribute, then it meant He was a law breaker.

Jesus answered with the classic “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s…

As much as we might not like paying taxes and as much as we might not agree with what our tax monies are being spent on, the fact remains that we have been given a clear example of what to do.  We are to “render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s.”  We might feel that we pay too much in taxes, but this timeless statement remains.  The government that Jesus “supported” with these taxes was the same government that would soon crucify Him.  That is something for us to remember the next time we complain about taxes and the like.

Weeping Over A City

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it…

Luke 19:41

As Christians, we are supposed to be “Christ-like.”  The very word “Christian” mean “little-Christ.”  Since we are supposed to be like Christ, we need to find out what Christ does and how He lived His life, so that we might do the same.  In this passage, we find Him looking at the city of Jerusalem.  In the following verses, He foretold of the judgments and horrors that would descend on it for its rejection of Him.  The people and the city were going to be destroyed and He knew it.  He could see it.  While the city below Him was seemingly peaceful and prospering, it had rejected Him and He knew it.  But still, far from being happy about the judgment of those who had rejected Him, He had compassion on them.  We can learn from that compassion.  We can emulate that compassion.

How often have we wept over a city or wept over a lost soul?  Have we ever wept over those who have rejected the Lord Jesus?  We can, like Jesus, look out at the mass of humanity in our cities and neighborhoods and see the judgment that is coming.  We can look out and see the people who have turned their backs on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we can see what their future has in store.  Does seeing these things and thinking about them ever make us weep?  Does it even make us sad?  Or do we just try to ignore it?  Do we try to not think about these things?

It is indeed a hard and convicting thing to think about.  But if we are going to be followers of Christ, we are going to need to emulate Him.  And part of that is having a heart full of pity and compassion on those who do not know Him.

Wicked Messenger vs Faithful Ambassador

A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.

Proverbs 13:17

Many of the verses in the book of Proverbs deal with a contrast between two opposite things.  In this verse, we find a contrast between a “wicked messenger” and a “faithful ambassador.”  As we consider these two, we can apply them to our own lives to see which of two we often are.

First, we see the “wicked messenger” and are told that he “falleth into mischief.”  When you think about a messenger, what is he supposed to do?  A messenger has but one job: to deliver a message.  That should be all he does – just deliver the message.  So, if he has only one job to do, how does he become a “wicked messenger?”  He doesn’t deliver his message!  Instead, he might get distracted and start doing other things, hence the “falleth into mischief.”  The wicked messenger is wicked because he does things other than his one job of delivering a message.

On the other hand, we can see the “faithful ambassador” and are told that he “is health.”  How is a faithful ambassador health?  Sometimes an ambassador has to deliver an unpleasant message.  I believe that he is “health” because he delivers the message and does his job.  The recipient of the message now has an opportunity to respond to it.  In some cases, that might mean saving his life.

As Christians, we have a message that we are supposed to be delivering.  The Bible even refers to us as “ambassadors for Christ.”  (II Corinthians 5:20)  If we had to judge our lives today, would we be more likely to fall into the “wicked messenger” category or the “faithful ambassador” category?  Let us all strive to be that faithful ambassador, giving out the message that we have been given!

The Time of Thy Visitation

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!  but now they are hid from thine eyes.  For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Luke 19:41-44

This passage is both powerful and sobering.  When Jesus saw the city of Jerusalem, “he wept over it.”  Jesus is the perfect example for us of everything that we need to be, and here we find the perfect example of a compassionate heart.  He saw the city that He loved and He saw the judgment and destruction that was coming to it.  And He wept for it.

He then talked about the things that would happen to the beautiful city.  Its enemies would surround it, take it and destroy it.  The people would be killed, as would their children.  It would be a horrific time and a horrific scene.  All of these things would come about because they had rejected the Saviour.  “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”  (John 1:11)  He tried to warn them and they would have none of His warning.  They rejected Him.

Verse 44 says “because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”  That is a fearful verse.  Jerusalem had the opportunity to accept the Saviour.  But the opportunity only presented itself for so long.  Think of all of the people in the world who have been offered the free gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ and have rejected Him.  It could be said of them, “…thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

We can see the judgment coming to this world, as it rejects its day of visitation.  Do we have the same compassion that Jesus had or have we hardened our hearts against it?

They Can’t Help It

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;  Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.  And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.  And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:37-40

As Jesus entered into Jerusalem, His disciples began to “rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen…”  And it wasn’t just the twelve.  It was “the whole multitude of the disciples.”  It was all of his disciples.  It was all of those people who had seen him heal their friends and family members.  It was the people who He had healed.  They had seen and been a part of the “mighty works” that He had done.  They were praising Him and glorifying Him.  It must have been a wonderful scene.

But, as usual, we find the Pharisees causing problems.  They told Jesus to rebuke these disciples.  Why they would want to stop people from praising the Lord I don’t know.  But they did.  Jesus told them that if His disciples were quiet, the stones would cry out with praises for Him.

Even nature can not stand silent in the presence of Jesus.  How much more would His disciples have trouble being silent in His presence.  The Pharisees weren’t His disciples.  They didn’t understand.  The disciples of Jesus couldn’t help praising and glorifying Him.  We are among the disciples of Jesus today.  We shouldn’t be able to help praising and glorifying Him.  If we don’t the stones will!

The Lord Hath Need of Him

And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.  And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him?  thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.  And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.  And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?  And they said, The Lord hath need of him.

Luke 20:28-34

In this passage, Jesus and his disciples were getting ready to go to Jerusalem.  Jesus told two of them to go into a village and bring Him a colt that was tied there.  If the owner asked what they were doing, they were to simply respond “the Lord hath need of him.”  They did as they were commanded, finding the colt and untying it.  The owners understandably asked what they were doing and they responded as they were told.

As I read this passage, I thought about something.  What if the owners had insisted that the disciples leave the colt alone.  What if they didn’t care whether the Lord needed it or not.  After all, the colt was theirs.  Clearly Jesus (being God) knew how they would respond even before He sent the disciples.  But imagine the honor that these people had.  Jesus used their colt to ride into Jerusalem.  But that would not have been had they not been willing to accept the fact that “the Lord hath need of him.”

There are things in our lives that the Lord “hath need of.”  It might be a possession or it might be a talent or ability.  Whatever it is, are we immediately submissive when we find out the “Lord hath need of” it?  It’s a thought provoking question.

Come To Seek and To Save

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

To me, no other verse in the Bible gives us such a clear and concise summation of why Jesus came to Earth as this one does.  He is “come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  That was the purpose and goal of His entire ministry, and is still the purpose and goal of His ministry two thousand years later.

While He was here, He healed the sick.  But He did not come simply to do what medical doctors could not do.  While He was here, He raised the dead.  But He did not come to simply grant people an extended earthly life.  While He was here, He helped those who were hurting.  But He did not come just to be a perfect example of a helping friend.  He came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Today, there is much emphasis placed on the “secondary” ministries of Jesus Christ.  Much emphasis is placed on His helping and healing people.  While those are obviously good things and things to be emulated, they are not the main things.  Emphasis is placed on His kindness and compassion.  While we could all use more of the same kindness and compassion that He showed, those are also not the “main” thing.  All of those things were simply perfect parts of the greater whole.  The whole truth is that He came to seek and to save that which was lost.  We should be carrying on and doing the same thing.  We should be seeking those that are lost and bringing them to the One Who can save them.

That is the reason that Jesus Christ came to the Earth.  I am glad He sought me when I was lost.  What a wonderful Saviour!

Jesus Brings Change

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:8-10

Zacchaeus was a publican, a sinner of the highest degree.  But he realized that he needed to see Jesus, which he did by climbing a sycamore tree.  Jesus then saw him and told him that He would coming to his house that day.  We then see the remarkable change that the presence of Jesus brought to the house of Zacchaeus that day.

Here is what Zacchaeus had to say: “… the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”  That is an impressive change of heart.  Publicans were known for two things: their greed and their lying thievery.  Meeting Jesus changed both of those things.  Giving half of your good to the poor would be very generous for any person, but especially for a sinning publican like Zacchaeus.  A fourfold return on any dishonest business transactions showed a desire to stop being a greedy thief.  Both of these things must have been difficult for a man who had likely spent his life stealing and hoarding as much as he possibly could.

But that is the kind of change that Jesus always brings.  Whatever the sin may be, meeting Jesus will bring about a change in heart and mind about it.  Wherever He goes, Jesus brings change and He brings change for the better.  Is His presence changing us day by day?

Coming to Your House

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Luke 19:2, 5-7

In this scene, we have three main players: Jesus, Zacchaeus, and everyone else.  Zacchaeus was the short little man who also happened to be the chief of the publicans and he happened to be rich.  Jesus was Jesus, the Son of God who had come to “seek and to save that which was lost.”  And then there were all of the other people, among them were the Pharisees and scribes and other “good people.”  Zacchaeus, while being a known sinner, was desperate to separate himself from the crowd just to see Jesus.

He wanted to see Jesus, but he likely didn’t anticipate what would come next: Jesus saw him and told him that He was going to Zacchaeus’ house.  Out of the entire crowd, Jesus picked one man and spoke directly to him.  Zacchaeus was confronted with Jesus.  No matter what else he had done in this life, he was confronted with a major, life-changing decision here.  What would he do with Jesus?  He ended up making the right decision: he “made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”  That is the correct decision.  That is what we should all do when confronted with Jesus.  We should receive Him joyfully.

Then there were the others.  They weren’t happy about these developments.  They murmered against it.  Jesus was going to the house of a sinner.  They were too good for that.  They were like the Pharisees in that they missed the whole point of His coming, which was to find sinners and save them.

Would we be more like Zacchaeus, who received Him joyfully, or would we be like those Pharisees in the crowd?

Whatever It Takes

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.  And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.  And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

Luke 19:1-4

Zacchaeus was probably not a “good person.”  In fact, he was likely a bad person.  He is described as being “chief among the publicans” and as being rich.  He was likely despised by the people around him, especially the Jews.  He had been little more than a legally recognized thief.  But he did one thing right.  He knew he had to see Jesus.

Being “little of stature,” or, “short,” he couldn’t see Jesus because of the crowd that was gathered.  But that didn’t stop him.  He ran before everyone else and climbed a sycamore tree to get a chance to see Jesus.  I’ve cut down sycamore trees before and they can get to be very, very tall.  We don’t know how tall the one in this story was, but any sycamore tree is going to be fairly big.  Zacchaeus climbed up in that tall tree just to see Jesus.  We don’t know what was going on in his mind during this time.  We don’t know exactly why he felt that he needed to see Jesus.  But there was something in him that knew he needed to Jesus.  And there was something in him that knew he needed to do whatever it took to see Him.

The question for today is this: how desperate are we to see Jesus?  Are we willing to do whatever it takes to see the Lord?  How far are we willing to go?  Zacchaeus was a rich publican, yet he did what it took to see the Lord.  Would we go to those same lengths?