Monday, June 21, 2010



We finally come to the Passover meal Jesus is going to eat with His disciples.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." "Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there."

They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

NOTE what Jesus says about the Kingdom. Remember, according to Jesus the Kingdom is already present. However, this presence of the Kingdom now is gradually coming upon the earth. Now, Jesus speaks of the Kingdom fulfillment in the future. Clearly, the Kingdom is gradual and later when Jesus returns, the Kingdom will be in its fullest form.

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!" They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

The Passover dinner that Jesus is eating with His disciples has special significance. Since the miraculous event in Egypt when the death angel "passed over" the Jewish homes that were covered by the blood of a lamb, the Jews faithfully observed this Passover feast.

This is possibly the most prominent of the Jewish feasts that has kept the Jewish people going throughout the centuries. It's a dinner of instruction for the children to be told of the freedom God brought upon the Jewish people and removed them from their oppressive captivity.

This dinner is actually a telling of the story of that freedom with a future look toward ultimate freedom through the Messiah someday. In the 31st chapter of Jeremiah God promised that He would someday make a new covenant with His people with a Law that is written, not on stones, but on their hearts. And God was to do this by providing His special lamb for the world.

The entire dinner speaks of the history of the Jewish people and looks forward to the Messiah's coming, the Holy One. At one point in the dinner the youngest is sent to the door to see if Elijah has come to sit at his place of honor at the table. You see, when Elijah shows, he will be introducing the coming of the Messiah.

The Passover celebration is a picture of the Messiah. Now, Jesus presents Himself as the One they have been celebrating all along through the Passover feast.

What's interesting is that the Christians have taken the Passover celebration and changed its name and purpose. They use terms such as the "last supper" or "communion"-neither designation is Biblical. A better term might be the "covenant" supper or simply call it the Passover. It is filled with great meaning and is indeed a beautiful picture of freedom from all slavery and ultimate freedom through God's Messiah.

Jesus so desired to eat this Passover with His disciples so that He, the Passover Lamb, might make a covenant with them. That covenant was to bind Him to them and they to Him until He was to return. And today, the covenant supper binds us to one another and to Him until He returns. This is why we are told, "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, we are to do it in remembrance of Him, UNTIL HE RETURNS." This is our covenant. This is our hope.

NOTE one more thing here. This covenant was made with the disciples just before the saddest days of their lives. This is precisely why they needed this special covenant with their Lord. And, you know what, this is why we desperately need to be in covenant with Jesus and with one another today. This covenant is the only protection we have and the only protection you'll ever need as you face the difficult days ahead. I like the way Paul expressed this to the Corinthians: "For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." I urge you to take the time to celebrate this feast of freedom. It will mark you. God will mark your hearts with His covenant until He returns.



Judas has to be one of the most enigmatic characters you'll ever observe. He chose to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus chose him to be a follower. He was involved in, at least, two missions of healing and performing miracles. He was on the inside of the inner 12 and had been chosen to be the group's treasurer. Then at the Passover season, when the opportunity presented itself for him to deliver Jesus into the hands of the Jewish leadership, he seized upon the moment with the promise of being handsomely paid for it. Let's look at it:

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

No doubt Judas was following Jesus as were the others with a political motive, but he seems to embrace that image more than the others. He was watching the money bag and he knew all of the inner workings of the group. He probably had many thoughts as to how this movement was going to go and grow. However, when he saw that the movement was not gaining the proper endorsements from the Jewish leadership and the tide of opinion of those who could make the decisions for the nation was all going against Jesus, Judas was wide open to a better deal.

It was a little thing at first. But then when we come to the story of John 12 where Mary was "wasting" the expensive perfume on Jesus, that seems to be the straw that changed everything. Think of it this way:

Sow a thought and reap a deed; Sow a deed and reap a character; Sow a character and reap a destiny.

It was a little seed that was sown in Judas, but it grew. Judas became a traitor the same way any of us may become a traitor to Jesus-by compromising secretly in the mind just that one time too many. It's also difficult to know how his background played into this. Judas was the only one of the Twelve who was not from Galilee. He was from the south near Jerusalem.

NOTE that in John 13 Jesus washed the feet of Judas as He did the others. He didn't discriminate against him. In fact, theoretically, Judas might have changed his mind after this dramatic act of love and servitude Jesus displayed.

NOTE a few observations: FIRST-You can take comfort in the fact that when you choose someone to come alongside, you may lose this person as did Jesus.

SECOND-Theoretically, anyone of the disciples might have played the role of Judas. But for the grace of God, right? I am convinced that any one of us is capable of doing almost anything at any time. No one is exempt.

THIRD-There are always two ways to go-your way and Jesus' way. When Judas no longer trusted in Jesus' way, he was vulnerable to whatever opportunity presented itself.

You see, Jesus was on a mission no matter how impractical that mission seemed to be. Jesus' ways are not our ways. And no matter how much evidence seems to stack up against what Jesus says to be and to do, His way is the best. Or, to put it more succinctly, HE IS THE WAY. It's not what you believe or what you think is best; it's all about the person of Jesus, the great I AM.

Judas ended his life in a pile of depression. He made the fatal mistake of trying to make something of his life without Jesus, therefore he lost his way and his self-esteem was obliterated. When he stopped following Jesus, he lost his way and his identity. This reminds me of a most profound saying, "You cannot know who you are, until you know whose you are."



NOW, Jesus seems to move toward the subject of the end of the world. NOTE the cataclysmic nature of the signs:

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Jesus uses the parable of the fig tree. He is saying that just as leaves on a fig tree signify that summer is near, so, too, when you see these signs happening, you can know that the Kingdom of God in all its fullness is near.

As we have been discussing, most everything Jesus teaches and is concerned about is about the Kingdom. We have come to believe that Jesus introduced the Kingdom when He came saying, "The Kingdom is here, near and among you." He instructed His disciples to pray, "Thy Kingdom come." However, even though the Kingdom is present through Jesus, the King of kings, we are seeing the Kingdom and its effects emerging gradually. And, someday we will experience the Kingdom in its fullness. This is what Jesus is referring to here.

"Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

What does Jesus mean "this generation" will not pass away until all of these signs have happened? Well, "generation" could mean several things. It could mean simply descendants, a group of people born at the same time, or a period of time. So, "this generation" could mean the people living in Jesus' day and they will see the fulfillment of the tragic fall of Jerusalem. Another popular view is that "this generation" means the Jewish people will not be destroyed and will exist right to the end.

The answer to "this generation" is certainly not clear. I tend to think Jesus is saying that the generation that sees these cataclysmic signs will also see the end of the world. And, He goes on to point out that the heavens and the earth will pass away but His word would endure forever.

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

Jesus ends His remarks about the signs of the destruction of the Temple and the signs of the end of the world. He warns BE CAREFUL. It's so easy to slip into the world system and have no thought that this will all come to an end. And, if you do, you will not be ready for the coming of the King and His Kingdom in all of its fullness. All of a sudden these events could come upon us and we get caught by surprise. I'm reminded about 9/11 and how quickly all commerce and virtually all of life in the USA came to a screeching halt.

The application here for us is that no one knows when the end of the world will come. It will come like a thief in the night and many will be shocked and surprised. So, He says, be prayerful that you will be able to escape all of these disasters and you will be able to stand before the Son of Man when He comes.

It seems to me to be watchful and prayerful means to be aware of what God is doing among us in this world. Through this awareness we will be ready for whatever may come at the end of the world. This is why it's so critical for us to continue walking with Jesus and with one another as we learn what it means to love one another and to walk the Kingdom lifestyle. So, how about you? How's it going? Would you say that you are ready-watching and praying?



In chapter 22 of Luke we come to a controversial passage regarding things prophetic:

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."

"Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?"

He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."

The question, "When will these things happen?" and, "What will be the sign that they are about to take place?" both speak of the end of the world. The Temple was magnificent, so anything that would be coming into Jerusalem to destroy it would be massive. And, the destruction of Jerusalem is like the end of the world.

Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me.

First, Jesus makes it clear that the initial concern ought to be how to handle the religious system of the day that will be threatened and will treat you badly. Then, there will be several cataclysmic events that will indicate the end is near and the Temple will be destroyed. There will be a world war where nations will rise up against nations throughout the world. There will be earthquakes, famines and pestilences along with other fearful events.

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.

Jesus wants His followers to know that worrying about the end times will not be helpful. However, He will give the words and wisdom necessary to withstand whatever comes at you. His protection will be extensive, so stand firm and you will win life.

Now, after dealing with the signs of the end of the world, He finally gives an answer to when this will happen and what to look for as a sign of the destruction of the Temple:

"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

This is exactly how the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple occurred. The Roman army, headed up by Titus, set siege to the city and surrounded it. That was the sign. Then Jesus says something curious. He says to get out of the city once you have seen this sign. Well, now how can you get out of the city, if the city is surrounded by the Roman troops? Titus underestimated what it would take to overtake Jerusalem, so the Roman army went into a mini-retreat in order to re-supply. During this break in the action of setting siege to Jerusalem, it is reported that the followers of Jesus did heed Jesus' words and were able to get out of the city safely.

Jesus goes on to say that the city of Jerusalem would be trampled under foot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. There are lots of ways to understand His words here. I think this refers to the city of Jerusalem and even the nation of Israel being under the domination of the Gentiles for some pre-determined time. The Jews and their city of Jerusalem at this time had been run by Gentiles until Israeli independence in May of 1948.

So, what Jesus said would happen did happen, just as He said it would. There is a powerful lesson here. We've talked about this repeatedly. "Whatever Jesus says to do, do it." His accuracy, even in prophetic things is incredible.

I'm slowly getting it! Jesus is looking for someone, anyone, who will stubbornly follow Him and ruthlessly trust Him. I like what He says earlier, "For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict." His strength and power-His words and wisdom are all I need.

We who are following Jesus are in a boat. There are two ways to handle our boat. We can row like crazy to get where we want to go. Or, we can put up our sail and He will send the right wind at the right time to send us in the right direction. I'm tired of rowing. How about you?