Saturday, March 13, 2010



As we open up chapter 8 of Luke we come to an interesting inside look at how Jesus traveled and who went with Him. After the notable dinner party at Simon's home the night before, Jesus set out on a field trip. Let's look at it:

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

There are three observations I want to make here: FIRST-Those who went with Jesus on this field trip. They went from one village to another with a fairly large group. First of all, the twelve were with Him. This is certainly what you would expect. The others who went along are interesting.

There was Mary Magdalene. She was from the little village of Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Magdala was known for its dried fish industry and rabbis of that time were quite critical of the immorality of its inhabitants. Mary was a troubled woman, demonized by seven demons that harassed her. Jesus was instrumental in freeing her from these demonic pests.

She was either a widow or a single woman and must have been from a wealthy family. She traveled with His party throughout Galilee, and was with Him in Jerusalem at His crucifixion and resurrection. She was one of those who followed Jesus because her life had been so remarkably changed by His healing power.

Then there were other interesting women, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household, Susanna and many others.

SECOND-The message Jesus and the group were proclaiming. Specifically, Jesus was, as was His custom, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. As we will continue to see, the kingdom is one of Jesus' primary themes He wanted to make clear to those who were interested.

THIRD-NOTE the role of these women. They were the financial underwriters for the trip. What's interesting is that women were key to the financing of the early church of Jesus. Usually they were successful businesswomen who had a heart for investing in Jesus' ministry.

This story speaks to me as to what I continually see Jesus doing. Where we have a tendency to put an emphasis on all of our differences, Jesus unites people from several ends of society-a woman troubled with demons, a woman married to an execute in Herod's court and Susanna and many others, not to mention the twelve who were made up of a political zealot, several fishermen and a tax collector.

Here's the principle you will note everywhere you go: JESUS UNITES AND EVERYONE ELSE DIVIDES. Jesus is so irresistible that He resonates with people from every culture. I've had more fun lately interacting with Catholics, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, non-Christians, agnostics and atheists just in the past few weeks. Our conversation has nothing to do with religion, but has everything to do with a relationship with Jesus. No one is threatened by Jesus. Why? Because Jesus unites and everyone else divides.

Jesus is still leading field trips today. I urge you to join one with Jesus and His friends.



Here in this last story of Luke 7 we come to a scene that simply begs to be read, because it takes little commentary to understand what is happening. Check it out:

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.

"Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

I love this story. Through this openly recognized, sinful woman Jesus illustrates His message most clearly.

There in the home of one of the Pharisees Jesus is being treated to dinner. In the Pharisee's home, you just know that he is looking for the opportunity to impress Jesus with his religious purity and righteousness. Most likely, others knew of this special dinner meeting with Jesus and there was somewhat of an anticipation, if not a tenseness about the evening they were to spend together.

But at this most holy performance, a party crasher has just appeared in the house, definitely not on the official invitation list. But this wasn't a socialite barging into this party, this was a woman-of-the-night kind of woman-a sinner in most every respect.

NOTE the following observations: 1. The pure Pharisee is upstaged by the impure woman. The Pharisee was the host and expected to be seen as the prominent focus of attention. Yet this unrighteous, sinful woman took center stage and became the focus of attention for the evening.

2. Not only her presence at the dinner party was offensive, but her touching and washing the feet of Jesus with such extravagant perfume certainly posed a great offence. It was unlawful to be in the presence of such a woman, let alone have contact with her. Yet, Jesus allowed her to express herself.

3. The performing Pharisee was out performed by this sinful woman. The Pharisee embodied the performance mentality of keeping the Law and the traditions. But the sinful woman's performance was in the spirit of gratefulness and servanthood.

4. Jesus affirmed what was at the core of this woman's masterful performance. It was her faith that set her performance apart. She performed alright-even more than the Pharisee-and her performance was an overflow of her faith and devotion to Jesus.

This scene in the life of Jesus is about people who need forgiveness and know it. It's about people who receive forgiveness and are grateful for it. It's also about people who need forgiveness and don't know it. It's about religious people who absolutely, totally miss the point!

Jesus demonstrates that God wants a personal relationship with people, no matter what they have done or haven't done. Life isn't a checklist for following a religious system of do's and don'ts, even if it is a good religious system. It's all about a relationship of faith (personal trust) and forgiveness (personal acceptance of God's grace).

The woman is totally acceptable to Jesus and completely unacceptable to the Pharisee. Jesus more freely accepts the sinner, the broken one, and stands a distance away from the self-righteous Pharisee. So, which are you? The person who is in need of forgiveness and knows it and is grateful when it is received? Or, the person who needs forgiveness and doesn't know it, therefore missing the point of Jesus' message altogether?



Just after Jesus raises the dead boy to life, John hears about what is happening. It was confusing to John. On the one hand, the people were saying, "He is a prophet." But on the other hand, "Certainly God has come to help us." Typically a prophet had a word from God to challenge the people. He was filled with truth, but little grace. Yet Jesus was referred to as a messenger from God who came with grace. This was a strange twist to John's ears and understanding. Look what happens:

John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' "

John had already baptized Jesus, believing there was something special about Jesus and now from jail is wanting further verification. In a sense, John was becoming more and more discouraged as he sat in jail and was hoping for more clarity and overt action from the Messiah. The way Jesus answers this question is to first demonstrate exactly what the Messiah was to do.

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me."

After performing these Messianic acts, Jesus sends John's disciples back with a quote from the prophet, Isaiah, who is speaking about the Messiah who was to come. In other words, Jesus' answer to John was basically, "I am the One."

After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: " 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

Here's an interesting comparison. Jesus compliments John as being the greatest one born of woman ever. Then immediately Jesus says, "Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." What in the world is Jesus saying? Simply this. John played a major role in preparing the way for the Messiah, yet he was only the preparer. As the kingdom of God is ushered in, those who will enjoy the kingdom are at a whole different level, to the point that the least one in the kingdom of God will be greater than John.

(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) John indeed prepared the way for the Messiah.

Jesus went on to say, "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: " 'We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.'

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is proved right by all her children."

Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees and the experts in the law were acting like children who wouldn't play when invited. They were fickle. When John came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, they accused him of being demonic. Then when Jesus came eating and drinking, they said He was a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. No matter who God sent to them, they weren't buying it due to their powerful positioning and pride.

Then Jesus makes a powerful statement. He says, "But wisdom is proved right by all her children." I think what Jesus is saying here is that God's wisdom and God's truth will be proved out by the followers of Jesus-by the followers of Jesus practicing this lifestyle. This is why practicing the principles and teachings of Jesus is so vital. The only way to prove that Jesus' way is the right way of God is to practice it. And, the only way to practice His teachings and principles is to have an experiential encounter with Jesus personally. God's way for living life most fully is not to know something, but to know someone. It is not a performance, but a person. Again, the kingdom of God doesn't need proof; it only needs practice.



Immediately after the healing of the centurion's servant Jesus has another appointment in the village of Nain: Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out-the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."

This is an interesting scene in the life of Jesus. We see Him moved with compassion for this mother who was a widow. She had obviously experienced lots of grief already, losing her husband and now her only son. This gives more insight into how Jesus cares for those who are in pain, even our pain. It's one thing to say "God cares", but that seems still a bit removed from our reality. But when you say that "Jesus cares", there is something about the God-Man, Jesus, that assures you that He really does. Jesus is easier to relate to. This is why Jesus came to earth-God in the flesh-so that we can more easily relate.

NOTE what Jesus does as He moves into action: Then he went up and touched the wooden frame they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Talk about a gift for this grieving woman. She was given back her dead son-alive and healthy. It's interesting to me that Jesus doesn't touch the boy, but the coffin-like framework they were using to carry him. In the story before Jesus healed the centurion's servant without seeing him or touching him and here He brings a boy back to life using a similar method. The power of Jesus' word is awesome. This is very relevant to us today and this is why Jesus is so concerned that we hear His words and practice them. When I see Jesus work in this way, I am compelled to listen to His word more carefully and follow Him.

Those in the village of Nain are overwhelmed and shocked by what they saw. NOTE the response of the people: They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

There are four basic responses here: FIRST-They were filled with awe. They were shocked. What they saw Jesus do disrupted their spiritual and life paradigms. This is what Jesus always does. When Jesus is introduced, He changes everybody's thinking; He breaks down your boxes and bursts your bubbles. This is what I love about following Jesus. When I used to argue about or defend my "Christian" beliefs, it always led to disagreement and was disturbing to the relationship. But saying that, "I'm doing the most difficult thing I've ever tried to do. I'm trying to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus." This doesn't lead to arguments or debate, but refocuses and transforms the conversation to a whole new level.

SECOND-They praised God. This is a typical response. When something happens that is good and seemingly supernatural, the normal response is to say, "Thank God." Also, the contrary is true, when things go bad, people tend to blame God.

THIRD-They perceive Jesus as a great prophet. This is a very good response. Obviously, they know this Jesus is not just another rabbi, but maybe a prophet or someone with supernatural connections. I mean, He just did something that is impossible to do. He raised a young man from the dead.

FOURTH-They perceive that God has come to help them. So, we have moved from amazement to acknowledgement that what Jesus just did is a work of God-something only God can do. NOTE the progression in their responses. They did not see Jesus as God right from the beginning. Many "Christians" would have difficulty with this progression. It's going in the right direction, but too many believe that a person has to have a climactic experience that settles it once and for all. But that is not reality.

People grow in their responses to Jesus. Check out how it was with Jesus' early disciples. We tend to hold them up as something special and having it all together, but these men were in the process of growing in their trust in Jesus. They were not believers throughout the Gospels. They were not "born-again" Christians. But they were learning, step by step, field trip by field trip, experience by experience. They were being discipled to follow Jesus by Jesus Himself. There was nothing instant or climactic about it. It was a long-term process.

They grew up in the Jewish tradition and religion. But now they are simply following Jesus. Jesus apprehended their lives and once that happened, they were on a spiritual journey that would not only change their lives, but would change the world.

Now, let me ask you something. Has Jesus apprehended your life yet? He is waiting to do so. He will do anything He has to do to in order to get you in alignment with Him. You see, there are 3 vital things Jesus can bring to you.

1. He is the best measure of character you'll ever know and can transform your character in the process. There is no one ever with this sort of character.

2. He is the only one who can bring you the greatest personal fulfillment in your life. If you fashion your life to be like Jesus, you will know genuine fulfillment, inner peace and joy.

3. He is the only one who can bring God to you. If God ever did take on flesh and become man, then Jesus must be the one.

So, have you invited or allowed Jesus to apprehend your life? He apprehended the disciples' lives and they were used to turn the world upside down. He apprehended Paul's life when Paul was a Christian (a fanatic follower of the Christ) who persecuted those who were into Jesus, and transformed him into one who would bear witness to the name of Jesus to the house of Israel, the gentiles and the kings of the gentiles.

When Jesus apprehends your life, He will do great things in and through you, too. So let Him!



In the 7th chapter of Luke we come to the story of the Centurion's encounter with Jesus: When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

NOTE first that the centurion is a Roman soldier who was stationed at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Here in Capernaum he has heard a lot about Jesus and maybe even heard Him speak or seen Him do His miracles in the area.

The second thing I note about him is that the centurion was a good man who had endeared himself to the Jewish community because of his love for the nation of Israel and by building the synagogue in Capernaum. Every time I have been to Capernaum I think of this encounter, because of the foundation of the synagogue he built is still there.

Thirdly, the centurion didn't feel worthy to come to Jesus himself nor did he feel worthy to have Jesus make a house call. As a military man he respected Jesus' power to work through His servants to get things done-even miracles. What's so interesting to me is that he believed that Jesus was the only way his servant had any chance of living and he believed that all Jesus needed to do was to give the order and his servant would be healed.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

The fourth observation regarding this encounter is the man's faith. His faith really stood out to Jesus and He said, "I have not found such great faith, even among the Jewish people." You see, this soldier was an outsider in most every way. He was a gentile and not Jewish. He didn't grow up under the teachings of any rabbi and certainly didn't have a working knowledge with the Scriptures.

Although I will make this point in several upcoming passages, it is so important to realize what's really going on here. The Jews were the chosen people alright, but they weren't chosen to be the exclusive people who would come into a relationship with the God of gods. They were to practice such a dynamic and authentic relationship with God so that they would serve as lights to the world. Jesus didn't come for the Jews, but came for the entire world. He came to reach out and touch every nation and tribe. The Jewish people were to be conduits for such a touch.

However, the Jews then and the Christians today seem to be missing the point. Jesus is all inclusive. He came for everyone. The Jews then and the Christians today believe they "own" the word of God, that they are right and the rest of the world sits in darkness and are wrong. I think this is why Jesus sprinkles these scenes throughout His teaching in order to make the point as clear as He can make it. For today, the principle is CHRISTIANS DON'T OWN JESUS. He is for every cultural and religious background. He is universally the Son of God and is irresistible as He is lifted up within any and all cultures of the world.

NOTE Jesus doesn't make the centurion join Judaism or become a member of the synagogue. He isn't interested in "converting" him out of his Roman culture and religious system, but to commend his faith and trust in Jesus. Jesus is interested in "converting" or transforming his heart through the centurion's encounter with Jesus personally.

It's not about certain propositions or doctrines to believe. It is totally and completely and only about a person. His name is Jesus.



In Luke 6 and verse 43 Jesus continues teaching His disciples. In this section Jesus is referring to good trees and bad trees that bear fruit: "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their heart, and evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

NOTE that Jesus' point is that all fruitfulness-whether good or bad-comes from what's at the core of the heart. Whatever comes out of the mouth is an overflow of your heart. That means that whatever is in your heart will come out and show itself. So, pay attention to your heart.

Next Jesus moves into an interesting new thought for His disciples. Jesus is saying, "Since the heart is most important to the fruitfulness that will flow out of your life, let me point out how to work on your heart."

He starts with this statement: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" That's the key to your heart. It's all about DOING WHAT JESUS SAYS. Apparently, He has certain people in mind who have been talking a good game, but have no follow-through. They want to be known as good trees, but their fruitfulness betrays what's really in their hearts. The bad fruit they are displaying is a neglect or a refusal to do what Jesus says to do.

He continues with: "As for those who come to me and hear my words and put them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But those who hear my words and do not put them into practice are like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

Jesus sets forth two simple options. Either come and hear Jesus' words and put them into practice or choose not to put them into practice. They are simple, yet dramatically different.

Practicing what Jesus says to do is the pivotal point. If you practice what Jesus says, you are like a man who builds a house and digs down deep to so that he has a firm foundation. If you don't practice what Jesus says to do, you are like a man who builds a house on the ground without any foundation at all.

NOTE that both houses face the same storms of rain, flooding and winds. Just because you follow Jesus doesn't mean you will be hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar to keep you from all trouble. No, the trouble will come, but with a foundation, you are unshakable. Without a foundation you are facing sure collapse and complete destruction.

Now, get this point. Practicing what Jesus says to do is simply following Jesus. There are 3 very important observations here: FIRST-Following Jesus is more than calling Him "Lord." Talk is cheap.

SECOND-Following Jesus is more than coming to Jesus. It's more than attending church.

THIRD-Following Jesus is more than just listening to Jesus. It's more than showing up at a Bible study, even if it's every week.

In other words, Jesus is not nearly as interested in you talking a good game or in your church attendance or even in your study of the Bible as much as He is that you are following Him and doing what He says to do. That's the performance He wants!

So, where are you performing? Good, religious talk? A faithful church-goer? A regular at a small group Bible study? Or, are you focused on doing what Jesus says?



In the next two verses Jesus teaches His disciples two negatives and two positives: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

The 2 negative commands are (1) Do not judge and (2) Do not condemn. Jesus isn't throwing out the need for discernment in order to make judgment calls or personal life decisions. He is not speaking of this kind of judgment (discernment). He is referring to judgment that condemns and sentences a person, when that right only belongs to God, Himself.

The 2 positive commands are (1) Forgive and (2) Give. This goes right along with the preceding section where Jesus urges His disciples to love their enemies. Instead of condemning and judging them; forgive and give to them. It's an attitude.

Now NOTE something else here. In each case there is a return on investment. On the negative side, if you judge and condemn another, you will be judged and condemned in the same way. This works in everyday life. If you are critical of a person's parenting style, you will likely be judged on your parenting style. So, watch out how you judge another. First, you don't have the right to condemn and sentence anyone and you will, most likely, stir that person up to come right back at you.

On the positive side, if you give and forgive, there will be certain consequences come right back at you. If you forgive, you will be forgiven. If you give, it will be given to you. This is not the principle of Karma, but it is a reciprocal principle of life. When you forgive someone, you will receive and experience forgiveness in the very act. If you give to someone, you will receive back in the very act of giving. Don't misunderstand. Your enemies you forgive and give to will not forgive you or give something to you. It's the Most High God Who will forgive and give to you, His children. Jesus then turns their attention to a parable: He also told them this parable: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? Students are not above their teacher, but all who are fully trained will be like their teacher.

It's as if he were saying, listen carefully and don't think you know it all. If you want to be able to judge and discern accurately you need to be fully trained by me and undergo a spiritual change of heart. This is why it's so important to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus-to be trained by Him.

As you are being trained, you must learn to see more clearly. Jesus uses a humorous illustration here: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say, 'Friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person's eye.

To sum up this section: 1. Jesus prohibits His disciples to condemn anyone.

2. Jesus promotes doing something positive toward others-to give them some slack-to forgive them and give to them.

3. Jesus wants His disciples to be fully trained by Him.

4. Jesus shows His disciples that the whole issue of discernment and making judgment calls about others requires that they see more clearly.

And, what is needed to see clearly? We as His disciples must always look at ourselves first and deal with the logs hanging out of our eyes. Then, we will be able to see more clearly how to help another remove a speck from his eye. It's not just the ability to see more clearly how to help others with their problems. There is another factor at play here. If you take care to deal with your own problems, you will have a greater compassion to deal with others-even your enemies. You will have what it takes to forgive and give to them, because you have either done the same thing or worse yourself.

You know the drill: IF NOT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, I could be in the same mess with the same eyes full of specks. Personal transformation through Jesus is the only way to change the world around you. But note that it all begins with you!



In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus gives a revolutionary plan for killing off all of your enemies. Let's check it out: "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Now this is kingdom of heaven talk in a revolutionary way! If you only love those who love you, what's so great about that? Absolutely nothing! Or if you do good to those who are good to you? Big deal! Then He speaks of lending money. This moves from preaching to meddling real quick. If you lend someone money, expecting to get it all back? Big deal! There is nothing so hot or different about that.

So Jesus gives three dimensions of kingdom living with respect to your enemies-those who are against you in some way. First-love your enemy. Second-do good to your enemy. Third-lend money to your enemy without expecting to get anything back.

In the prior paragraph He gives what may be used as the practical steps for loving, doing good and lending to your enemy.

Step #1-Do good to those who hate you. You see, Jesus is not talking about having sweet, ooey-gooey feelings for your enemies, but acting out your love-do good to them.

Step #2-Bless those who curse you. Instead of a curse for a curse, give them a blessing. A blessing is speaking well of them, giving them a gift or praising them for something in them.

Step #3-Pray for those who mistreat you. Now, Jesus takes it to the highest level-pray for them. Pray for them? My natural tendency is to pray against them. Jesus says, "Pray for them."

Then Jesus offers one of the most quoted illustrations. He says that when a person slaps you on the cheek, turn your cheek so your enemy may slap the other. Wow! This is not just revolutionary, but sure suicide!

What Jesus is setting forth here is the difference between living in the kingdom of man, which is full of retaliation and getting even, and the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God. Jesus ushered in the kingdom and taught the good news of the kingdom everywhere He went. According to Jesus, living by the kingdom principles is not only revolutionary, but it is the best, most rewarding way to live-both here and now and for all eternity. This is why Jesus says your reward will be great and you will be considered children of the Most High God.

But wait a minute. Turn your cheek to be slapped again? Are you kidding? Think about this. The kingdom of man is all about the physical-the external. The kingdom of heaven is all about the spiritual-the internal. You are to take another external slap in order to heal this person on the inside. You see, this person who slapped you (did something against you) must be hurting very deeply on the inside. So, what's a little bruise on your cheek (or on your self) matter compared to the bruising that is in his heart. And, the Most High God will be on your side working through you.

Don't get hung up on the literal slapping on the cheek, but see it as an affront to you. He is not condoning staying in a physically abusive situation in your family. But the revolutionary principle is found in the last line of this paragraph: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's the golden rule, quoted by nearly all religions and recognized as the most fundamental way of living ever. This is at the foundation of what Jesus is saying when He says to love your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This revolutionary kingdom principle doesn't need further explanation or proof that it works. We can all bring up impossible situations where there is no way this will work. Your mind has probably been flooded with all sorts of "exceptions" to what Jesus is saying. But here's the problem. All of your exceptions are theoretical, not realities until you actually practice the principle. You see, Jesus and His principles need no further defense. Jesus and His principles require action. Don't just tell people about Jesus; be Jesus to those you love and especially to those who don't love you. Love your enemies. Try it out and watch Jesus begin to work in them and, more powerfully, within you.




In the 6th chapter of Luke, beginning with verse 17, we again see Jesus surrounded by people from all around the region:

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

NOTE this mini-seminar of Jesus is not on the mount as in Matthew 5-7, but on the plain. There is wide spectrum of people from all over the coastal region to the west and all the way from Judea and Jerusalem. Jesus continually taught those who would listen about the kingdom. He's at it again here with the teaching and the touching of the kingdom. Jesus didn't just talk a good game; He practiced it.

Also NOTE that Jesus uses four metaphors in this message-poverty, hunger, weeping and personal rejection. Let's look at them.

Looking at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets."

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets."

Jesus is not exalting poverty, but illustrating a person who senses his or her need for something. He uses this with all four illustrations here-poor, hungry, weeping, rejected. In each case Jesus is describing a person who senses his need for God. Those who are poor are those who own and embrace the kingdom of God. Those who are hungry know real satisfaction. Those who weep have a laughter of joy in their hearts that sustains them. Those who are hated and rejected, feeling on the outside, can stop right now and rejoice.

Those who live life in the invisible kingdom of God are vitally aware of their need for God. Those who are rich tend to believe they have no need for God or anyone. Those who are well fed don't sense a need for God's feeding. Those who laugh will be weeping and mourning when they understand that they have missed the real thing-the real life-the kingdom of God.

In addition to sensing your need for God, Jesus is stressing that there are two kingdoms. You are living between two kingdoms now that the kingdom of God is here and accessible to you on earth. This fits with what Jesus told the religious leadership. He said that He came as a physician seeking to help those who are sick, not the healthy.

So, Jesus uses these four metaphors to speak of spiritual poverty, hunger, weeping and rejection. And He carefully points out the blessings for those who sense their need for God:

FIRST-You own the kingdom of heaven. SECOND-You have an indescribable satisfaction. THIRD-You have a laughter in your heart. FOURTH-You can rejoice in the midst of being hated, rejected and excluded from man's kingdoms.

Why? Because you are living life in a different sphere-the sphere that you were created to live in. You see, you were created to live your life according to the kingdom of heaven. It makes sense to live life this way. It's natural or better yet, it's supernaturally natural.

This is why I've said for years that in order to turn the world upside down, you must turn man rightside up. And, Jesus through His kingdom is the only way to that kind of personal transformation. Here we are again, back to the two most important issues in the universe-the person of Jesus and His program, the kingdom of God. A friend of mine appropriately calls it "The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person."



Out of all of the disciples or followers of Jesus at the time, Jesus chooses 12 to fill the role of apostles. Before choosing these men, Jesus thoroughly prepares Himself to make these choices. We get a glimpse of this scene in Luke 6:12-16.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

After praying all night, Jesus chose 12 men out of the group of the many followers. He chose them to fill a certain role-to be apostles. An apostle literally means to be one who is sent. Jesus wanted a few-the 12-to serve as "sent ones" who would go out to spread the Good News of Jesus and the Kingdom. In my opinion, we don't have the "office" of apostle any longer. However, we do have today those who serve as apostles, those who are sent into new areas to introduce Jesus and the Kingdom there.

NOTE what Jesus did before selecting the 12. He prayed all night. Have you ever wondered what praying all night might be like? Do you think Jesus did all of the talking? My first thoughts have always been that I wouldn't be able to last, because my requests would run out. I've done lots of thinking about this and have come to realize through several of my friends that there are two dimensions to prayer. Naturally, there is the asking where you do all of the talking. This is legitimate and encouraged everywhere in the Scripture. This is by far the most common understanding and practice throughout the world.

However, there is a second dimension to praying that is not understood and commonly practiced. This is to listen! That's right, listen. After you have expressed your heart and desires before the Lord, it's important to spend some time quietly before God in order to hear from God. So, God has heard from you and then He wants you to hear Him.

Think of it this way. Suppose you go to your father and ask several questions, then as soon as you have finished expressing your question or questions, you split. "See you later, dad." Now, what's missing here? Well, you are asking questions and not waiting around for the answers. This is precisely what we do with God. We ask and plead and beg and ask some more, but we don't take the time wait for the answers. Then, after praying in this way, we wonder where God is and what He wants from us. You see, He really wants to give you His wisdom and His perspective on the matters you have brought before Him. He would love to give you some answers to your questions.

When I first prepared a message on prayer years ago, I discovered a great saying about prayer that has stuck with me. It is simply, "PRAYER DOESN'T NEED PROOF; IT NEEDS PRACTICE." Now, that says it all. It's so easy to cuss and discuss all we know and all our experiences with prayer. We can do so much that we end up in what is called analysis paralysis. Prayer is the missing link in our lives that without it, we can miss all that God is trying to say to us. If we only ask God for things and don't wait around to hear the answers, it's no wonder we're confused about God. It's no wonder we tend to doubt that He cares. It's no wonder we tend to think that God is too silent in our lives. It's no wonder we wonder if God is really there at all. If all you do is talk, you'll never hear His voice.