Hope seemed lost after the crucifixion. Even though Jesus had plainly told His disciples He would have to suffer and be crucified, but He would rise again, they did not understand. The women who followed Jesus had went to tomb with spices for Jesus’ body, but instead they found two angels there proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection.
On the First Christmas, Angels proclaimed Jesus’s birth. On Resurrection Sunday, the Angels proclaimed Jesus alive forevermore! He was not there among the dead but He is risen just as He said!
The reign of darkness has been broken The King of Kings came to our world. When life seems to be at it’s darkest hour, remember God’s light has come! May it shine in our world as we celebrate Jesus Birth!
Today’s reading is Luke 23. This is the reason! As we are getting close to Christmas Eve and Christmas may we remember this truth. Jesus came with a purpose. He came to give Himself away on our behalf. The betrayal, the unjust judgement, the accusations, the pain, the crucifixion: all of this was why His arrival lit up the skies with worshipful angels declaring God’s favor to us the night of Jesus’ Birth. Christmas is not really Christmas without Jesus and it means nothing without remembering He had come to die for us. Thank you Jesus!
Today’s reading is Luke 22. As I read today’s chapter, tears came to my eyes. Jesus said in verse 14 “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…”
It was no surprise to Him the events that unfolded throughout the rest of this chapter: the betrayal of Judas, the arrest, the denial of Peter, the accusations of the religious leaders. Jesus knew. In fact when they arrested Him, He said, “…this is your hour— when darkness reigns.” (Verse 53) Jesus knew what was coming. This was all part of His plan. Before the first announcement of His conception 33 years prior; before a single angel began a song of worship in the skies over Bethlehem the night He was born; before His first cry as a baby in a small stable as He was held in Mary’s hands: He knew.
He knew He had come to a world that would reject Him and He knew He would suffer and die for us, but He came to us anyway. He came because He “eagerly desired” to eat with us as well. He wanted to make the way for us to come to Him.
He still eagerly desires our communion with Him today. As we celebrate His coming to us, the First Christmas, in the days ahead, may we not forget how much He eagerly desired to be with us. So He came.
To be honest when I skimmed over the text this morning, I was having a hard time finding Christmas in this chapter. Much of it is a description Jesus gave of future events that included hardships, persecution, and death. He encouraged His disciples to stay faithful, to “stand firm” (Verse 19), to “stand up and lift up your heads…” (Verse 28)
But I looked once more at the first four verses of the chapter. Jesus was at the temple and watched as a poor widow came and “out of her poverty put in all she had to live on,” (Verse 4) into the offering box. She came and worshipped God with all she had.
In the account of the first Christmas there were several ordinary people who willingly laid aside their plans and gave all they had in order to be instruments of worship. Joseph obeyed the angels instruction to take Mary as his wife when he had found out she was pregnant and the baby wasn’t his. Mary was willing to go through the humility of becoming pregnant with God’s Son when those around her would not believe. The shepherds came to worship a King when they were not affluent or royal.
Today I find myself poor in spirit as well. Life’s circumstances and my mother’s sickness weigh heavily on my heart. But if I look at the widow as an example, I find myself wanting to give out of my poverty in my heart. I haven’t got much to give, but I can give my gratitude. I have a hope that no matter what my day, my week, my month may bring my God is bigger. His love sustains me.
Yes the worship of the first Christmas was the same as the poor widow. It was worship given out of lack to the one who supplies all our needs. May that be the worship of my heart as well. If all that I have is a hallelujah may I give it because He is worthy.
“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“I could sing these songs As I often do But every song must end And You never do So I throw up my hands And praise You again and again ‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah Hallelujah And I know it’s not much But I’ve nothing else fit for a King Except for a heart singing hallelujah Hallelujah”
I love taking the month of December and focusing on the most blessed event of human history, Jesus’ Birth and reading Luke. All the warmth and tenderness of the moment in the Bethlehem stable has been remembered over and over as we have focused on all the details surrounding His arrival and shortly after. Then there have been each account of all the miracles Jesus performed while here walking the earth, and the truth He spoke in all the parables, as we have been reading a chapter a day.
With each miracle and each word, we have read how He was being closely watched by a group who wanted for Him to go away- to kill Him. Today’s reading includes a parable Jesus told to expose the hearts of those people. The parable of the evil farmers, tenants who wanted nothing to do with the landowner. The landowner tried desperately to receive some fruit from the vineyard He had planted. His tenants beat the servants the landowner had sent to communicate with them. Finally the landowner appealed to them by sending his son, who he loved. These tenants threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him. Jesus finished this parable with the words,”The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Verse 17)
With all that Jesus did that was good, kind, and miraculous, He was still rejected. But the very person they rejected, Jesus, was the person that God had sent to save.
We also have a choice when faced with the person Jesus. We can accept Him and His lordship over our lives, or we can reject Him. May we examine our hearts this Christmas season. As we celebrate the tenderness of our God who has come to us as a baby to be with us, Jesus- Emmanuel, may we not reject His desire to become God within us. He longs to do good and to fill our lives with Himself. May our hearts be opened to receive Him!
Tax collectors were hated by the Jewish people. They had a reputation for building their own wealth by cheating the people they were to collect taxes from, and the taxes were given to the oppressive Roman government. To be a tax collector was the equivalent of being a terrible sinner in Jesus time.
Zacchaeus was the “chief tax collector” and he was wealthy. He was also short in stature. One day Jesus was passing by his way. Zacchaeus had heard all the buzz of excitement, and he wanted “to see who Jesus was.” The crowds around him were making it impossible for him to fulfill his hearts desire. So he climbed a sycamore fig tree.
Jesus saw him in that tree and told him to come down. He was going to go to Zacchaeus’ house.
Zacchaeus had a repentant heart. He showed the fruit of his repentance by making good to those he had cheated and giving generously to the poor. Salvation had come to him.
In this account Jesus speaks of His visitation with Zacchaeus with these words of truth for that time and all the generations to come. “…For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Verse 10)
Jesus came to find those burdened down by their sins and guilt. He came to find those far from God, lost and unable to see the way. Jesus came to bring salvation from our sins. Jesus is the same today as He was then. He brings salvation to our lives today.
I have been like Zacchaeus curiously observing Jesus from a distance, hungry to know if all I had heard about Him was true. I have had Jesus stop and call out to me that He was coming to my house, my life, today.
From the time Jesus stepped into our world as a little baby on Christmas to Him calling out to us now. Jesus had came and He has come to seek and save the lost. May we hear His call to us and respond with genuine repentance as Zacchaeus did all those years ago.
There are no neutral encounters with Jesus. Everyone who comes in contact with Him will be faced with a decision.
Today’s chapter records the account of a rich ruler who came to Jesus asking the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Verse 18) Jesus’ reply was a mirror reflecting what was really in this man’s heart: “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”” (Verse 22)
This man had done all the rituals required by the law. He had obeyed all the commandments since he was a child. But one thing was more important to him than following God with all he heart, His wealth.
In our hearts there is room for only one King, Jesus. When we come to Him, we are faced with a choice— our way or His. This choice is not so we have more rules and regulations to follow. His way is the only way we can experience His heavenly treasures. (Verse 22) His way is the only way we can experience Him. His way is only and always perfect.
As we have reflected each day this month on the Christmas story we see this truth as well. Each and every detail of Jesus’ birth fulfilled prophecies of times long before and the obedience of each person who God used in the story brought about the most important event of history, Jesus our Heavenly King coming to us.
The obedience displayed in Mary’s words in Luke 1:38 at the announcement that she would be the mother of Jesus reflected a heart obedient to God. “I am the Lord’s servant…may your word to me be fulfilled.” This word the Angel proclaimed had a price. It would cost her her reputation, her plans, her way. Yet she obeyed and she participated in God’s awesome plan!
The rich ruler had an opportunity as well, but he left Jesus’ presence with sadness. Because in His encounter with Jesus, the man chose to not “love the Lord His God (Jesus) with all His heart, with all his soul and all his strength.” The young ruler loved his ways more than Jesus’.
We also face our own personal encounter with Jesus. We have a choice that has no neutrality. Will we follow His way or ours? May our response be as Mary responded to the Angel months before the first Christmas. “I am the Lord’s servant… may your word to me be fulfilled.”
Today’s reading is Luke 17. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when He encountered ten men with leprosy. These men stood at a distance crying out for Jesus to have mercy on them. So Jesus told them to “Go and show” themselves to the priest. This was the law regarding someone who had been cured of the disease. As they went they were cleansed.
One however came back to Jesus praising God, throwing himself at Jesus feet thanking Him. So many people have an encounter with Jesus. They see His life changing miracles in their lives. Yet the neglect to do one thing, turn to Him and thank Him.
I have been there. I have sat in blessings beyond my ability to number, yet I have neglected at times to thank God or worship Him.
Once again I would venture to say this is nothing new. At the time of Jesus birth there were crowds all around. The town where Jesus was born was so full of people. It was impossible for Joseph and Mary to find room at an inn the night Jesus was born. How many people missed the most important event of human history, Jesus birth? How many failed to worship Him along with the Angel choirs that night?
At Christmas, we see decorations all around that point to Jesus once again: nativity scenes, stars, angels, wisemen, and shepherds. Yet how often do we pass by and fail to thank Jesus for coming? How often do we fail to worship Him?
May our hearts be as the one man who had received a life changing healing from Leprosy all those years ago. May we turn to Jesus, falling at His feet in thanksgiving for the salvation Jesus has brought to us, the freedom, the healing! May we never forget to give thanks for all He has done! May we never miss our opportunity to worship our King!
From the moment Jesus stepped onto the scene over 2000 years ago the division between light and darkness was very apparent. Truth became known. Lies were exposed.
In today’s reading Jesus tells two parables. Both magnifying the consequences of our earthly choices.
One tells of the dangers of giving our lives only in pursuit of worldly wealth and power. Our allegiance must be to our Heavenly Father and giving our all to Him as we go through our daily lives, not in pursuit of worldly wealth alone or man’s approval.
The second tells of two men who stepped into eternity, who had died. One was a poor man who was a beggar in this life, but he was rich towards God. He died and was “carried to Abraham’s side.” The second was a rich man who had not been rich towards God. He died and went to hell. Where he begged to have a drop of water to be brought to his tongue to alleviate a tiny portion of his torment. Once again the division of light and darkness was defined.
Years before Jesus spoke the words of these parables, the old prophet Simeon held the baby Jesus at the time of His dedication and spoke these words to Mary: “…This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34-35 NIV In the past few days we have looked for Christmas in each chapter of Luke. This day is no exception. The first Christmas, the arrival of Christ was beautiful. But it also marks a moment of choice for all who encountered it then and who gaze upon it intently now. Jesus came to break the power of darkness in our world and in our lives, but we must chose.
We cannot serve two masters. We cannot appreciate the tenderness of Christmas night over 2000 years ago fully until we have decided we no longer want to follow after other masters- the love of money, the desire for power, our own way, our own sins. The Baby born was born a King. The King who came to deliver us from not only our own personal hell we have created for ourselves through our bad choices and sinful desires here on earth, but from an eternal and literal hell far away from all the goodness and joy of the heavenly home Jesus has went to prepare for us. He came to reveal to us our hearts, so a choice could be made.
May we choose King Jesus, our Salvation, as King/ Lord over our lives!