Monday, June 28, 2010



Right away after the field trip on prayer, Jesus is encountered in the garden, betrayed by Judas and arrested.

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour-when darkness reigns."

Well, Judas leads the way, signaling the officials of Jesus' identity and sealing it with a kiss. NOTE who didn't make the prayer meeting with Jesus and the other disciples there on the Mount of Olives.

When the disciples saw the impending conflict, they asked Jesus if this was the time to use their swords. And, while they were asking this of Jesus, one of them pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Can you guess who the impetuous disciple was? If you guessed Peter, you are right. John is the only gospel that identifies him. This is characteristic of Peter's personality of shooting first and asking questions later.

NOTE Jesus stops the violence and supernaturally puts the ear back on the victim's head. He healed him right there in front of all to see. I love it that right in the midst of being arrested Jesus pulls off an incredible, almost matter of fact, miracle.

ONE MORE THING: Jesus said to these official leaders, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?" You see, in the same way that the disciples saw Jesus as a political revolutionary these officials viewed Jesus as a powerful, political threat as well.

They were all missing the point. In fact, I believe most miss the point today. Jesus is not a powerful, political revolutionary out to overthrow any community, society or government. He is a revolutionary alright, but that revolution is transformational in nature-turning a person's heart inside out and turning his world upside down. This revolution has nothing to do with conservative versus liberal or democrat versus republican or Christian versus non-Christian. It has everything to do with supernaturally changing the hearts of men and women-anywhere the message of Jesus and the Kingdom are exposed.

This revolution is experiencing incredible growth world-wide. Nothing can stop it. Once that seed of the good news of the Kingdom has been sown, you never know where it will take root and grow into a fully fruitful plant. The revolution doesn't need flashing billboards. It doesn't need a Madison Avenue kind of marketing strategy. In fact, the revolution doesn't need any massive promotional strategy at all. The revolution that Jesus is talking about spreads one by one and two by two. The revolution doesn't require any money or fund-raising programs; it's a free, word of mouth campaign that cannot be stopped. The revolution of Jesus and His Kingdom cannot be easily defined or put into a nice little box for convenience. It's gloriously out of control in every culture on planet earth. The most exciting thing I can share with you today is: THE REVOLUTION IS STILL ON! Just watch what Jesus is doing around you and join the movement. You'll never regret it!



According to my records this is lesson 100 in the gospel of Luke. Luke is a great author and has given us more than anyone else about Jesus. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. I am learning so much as we go through this.

NOW we come to another intentional act of preparation. This time it's not physical and financial preparation, but personal and inner preparation before facing the onslaught of things to come. Jesus leads them on a field trip, maybe the most significant trip ever. Let's see what happened.

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

This field trip is very instructive to us on the practice of prayer. It's not exhaustive, but very insightful. Let's list out step by step what Jesus is teaching about prayer:

FIRST-Pray that you will not fall into temptation. Jesus has warned them over and over that life is going to change and it will not necessarily change for the better, but for the worse. Here He urges them to pray in order that they will not fall into the trap of the evil one in the days ahead. This is true for us today, too.

SECOND-"As usual" indicates that this was a common practice-a habit. Do you have a habit of praying-talking and listening to the Lord? If Jesus felt the need to do so, what does that mean about you?

THIRD-Jesus had a "place" where He did His praying. It was a place where He felt most comfortable. Do you have a special place where you like to pray?

FOURTH-Jesus knelt down. There is no formula per se on how to pray, but it is interesting to note what Jesus did. I think there's something very special and meaningful about kneeling down to pray. Try it some time!

FIFTH-Jesus expressed His deepest desires-His wants. "Father, if you are willing to take this cup from me" indicates that Jesus would rather not go through with this. There is nothing wrong with expressing your deepest desires. Tell God what you really want to happen. Open up your heart to Him fully.

SIXTH-Jesus moves from "wants" to "not my will, but your will be done." Once you have expressed your deepest desires, moving to submit your will to God's will is the only way to go. This is the ultimate act of dependence upon the God of gods-for Him to have His way in your life right now.

SEVENTH-Jesus was strengthened by an angel. You may not see an angel in the process, but you will discover a new strength given to you as you practice praying in this way.

NOTE what happens next. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

Can you see yourself in the disciples? I can see you there-and me. Here they are facing the greatest temptation or trial they will ever face, yet that isn't bothering them nearly as much as their tiredness.

It's the ever-present battle between the temporal and the eternal. The temporal doesn't matter that much. The eternal is the most important of all. That age-old verse comes to mind:




This is a short passage here in Luke 22:35-38, but it is filled with a practical insight for us today. Earlier in the writings of Luke Jesus tells the disciples not to take along a purse, a bag or sandals. In other words, "Don't worry about taking these provisions along with you while on your mission."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard on "Christian" radio a variety of preachers say that you don't need to worry about your wallet or coat or sandals and that is what God requires to be working most effectively for Him. There are even preachers that say to their audiences to not even pay their bills, but to give that money to God and God will pay those bills.

The problem with this approach is the same problem that many have in teaching a balance in the Scriptures. People tend to not read far enough. When you read further in the text, you will always find the balance and the truth of it all. When you stop too soon, you will always have an imbalanced perspective on whatever the subject may be,

This is exactly what we have in this paragraph. We have the rest of the story. Jesus did say earlier to His disciples to not worry about taking along their normal provisions. That was because Jesus was walking along with them-eating with them, sleeping with them and ministering alongside them. NOW in this paragraph Jesus is saying that they are about to embark on a new game-plan. Jesus is going to be leaving them and NOW they will need to make provisions for themselves. Just as it was the right thing to not be concerned with those everyday provisions when Jesus was with them; it is NOW the right thing to make sure you take along your provisions. He even suggests that the disciples protect themselves by carrying a sword. Let's check it out:

So, what's this saying to us today? I think the basic thing that is needed for disciples today is a good dose of common sense. While Jesus was traveling with the disciples there was no need to be concerned about the basic needs of life. But the times were about to change dramatically. For us there may be times when needs are met without much concern at all and there are times that you must work very hard to make things work. In either case, your preparation is necessary. Here's the principle: The Lord gave you five senses plus "horse" and "common", therefore use them all in living your life for Jesus. It's a real partnership. You do the possible by faith that God will do the impossible.



I can't help but wonder who it was who was arguing over who the greatest might be among the disciples. If Peter was involved, then this next scene may be a most appropriate one to get him back on track.

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."

NOTE Jesus uses the plural here at first when describing the sifting process. He is saying, "Simon, Satan has asked to sift y'all like wheat. The sifting is about to happen to all of the disciples. Sifting was a familiar process of separating the wheat kernel from its shell, using a sieve. No doubt Jesus is strongly implying a painful process of being shaken spiritually that these disciples will face.

I think the next statement is so interesting. Jesus says, "But I have prayed for you." You can almost hear Peter's thoughts saying, "Pray for me? Can't you protect me from this sifting?" This, in itself, is an interesting principle. I summarized it for years by saying THE BEST WAY OUT IS THROUGH. The Lord normally doesn't protect us by baling us out of some trouble, but enables us to get through it-and come out the other end of this tunnel of trials better for it.

NOTE what Jesus prayed: That your faith may not fail. This literally means "that your faith may not totally eclipse" as you go through this upcoming sifting-that you will not be destroyed through it all.

When Peter was told that he was going to deny Jesus, he immediately rejected this prediction. He said, "Jesus, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." But Jesus specifies more clearly that Peter would actually deny Jesus three times before the rooster crows today.

Remember, Peter has been at the top and at the bottom so many times. Now, after he and the disciples were blessed by Jesus as He conferred the Kingdom on them, it is time for maybe the toughest of all times. Jesus predicted Peter's denial and it actually happened in the way He said it would. This was unthinkable to Peter!

Even though Jesus predicts Peter's denial of Him, He doesn't leave him at the bottom. He has a confidence that Peter will come back and get his life back together. Jesus says, "When you have turned back, then you will be able to strengthen your brothers." Jesus is not speaking to all of the disciples with a ya'll here, but is now talking to Peter only.

ONE MORE THING: Whatever else is meant and understood by Satan demanding to sift the disciples like wheat, there is a definite warning for us today. The devil's desire is to shake you up and take you through so much pain and trouble that your faith will totally eclipse or fade out. But Jesus' intent is two-fold when this happens: FIRST-That you might turn to God through this difficult time. SECOND-That through this experience you will learn to strengthen your brothers.

"Demon-possession" in the Scriptures is an unfortunate translation. It is better rendered demonized. To demonize a person is when the devil directly affects your life. There seem to be three progressive levels of demonization. FIRST-HARASSMENT. This usually happens through shooting lies or destructive thoughts into your mind. Have you ever had a thought pop into your mind that is so evil, so destructive, so way out that you have never thought before? I think this is a good illustration of harassment from evil.

SECOND-INFLUENCE. When you buy into the negative and destructive thoughts that are fired into you mind, you are then ready to be influenced by this evil. This is what I believe Jesus is describing with "sifting like wheat."

THIRD-CONTROL. If you buy into the harassment, allow yourself to be influenced in your thinking and behavior, then you tend to be controlled by this evil.

The most insidious thing about this process of demonization of believers and non-believers is how the devil attempts to deceive us. He plants these horrible, destructive thoughts in your mind, tries to move you along in their grip, even to the point of control, and then accuses you for having these thoughts and behaviors. So many of these lies and thoughts are set in a counterfeit motif. For instance, the devil rarely appears in a red suit with horns, long tale and a spear. However, the devil shows up as something or someone good.

So, how can you resist the process of demonization in your own life? The only thing I've been able come to is summarized in this statement and is worthy for your consideration: THE BEST DEFENSE AGAINST THE COUNTERFEIT IS TO KNOW THE GENUINE VERY WELL. And, I would say that all that you need to know about the genuine is found in Jesus, personally. Hang on to Jesus and hang out with those who are following Him. There's no better defense, anywhere!