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Day 276 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Luke.
Luke 19 – This well-known story provides a beautiful example of the power and effect of the gospel. We know little of Zacchaeus except that he was a “chief tax collector” and that he was “small in stature.” We also know that he became a zealous disciple of the Lord. But we do not know what other conversation took place between Jesus and Zacchaeus when Jesus was a guest in his house. We can assume it contained the same kind of teaching and kingdom discussion that we have seen thus far in Luke’s Gospel account. Regardless, his response to Jesus’ gospel teaching and presence was remarkable. Zacchaeus turned from dependence on his wiles and wealth to dependence on God’s grace. He joyfully and openly repented of his past wrongdoing and adopted the way of God that Jesus taught him (v. 8). He was a “lost” man whom Jesus came to “seek and save” (v. 10).
As seen in 18:18–27, there is no set pattern or requirement regarding what a disciple does with his or her wealth. Some are called to give up all because their love of money is rooted so deeply. Others are led to give a significant portion of what they have, as Zaccheus does. Others give a portion of their wealth in property (see Barnabas’s actions in Acts 4:36–37). The gospel in the new covenant does not specify what we should do with our financial resources, but it does call us to give cheerfully from the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). Zacchaeus’s giving is not an entrance requirement or necessary model for our own application of the gospel. But it is a model of the proper and natural response to God’s saving grace toward us. Grace frees us to give freely and boldly as we trust in God to meet all our needs (Matthew 6:25–34).
Luke’s account of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem just before His crucifixion reveals Jesus as powerful, as God’s King, and as worthy of praise and honor. In the presence of such divine greatness, the natural response is worship (verses 38–39). Yet not all respond to Jesus with such joyful gratitude. As we have seen throughout Luke’s account, there is often another, opposite reaction to Jesus: grumbling and disputing (5:17–26; 6:1–11; 7:39; 19:7, 39). Hardness of heart and sin-blindness cause such darkness that even creation’s spontaneous worship of God can be hindered. This passage contains a challenge for us in how we respond to Jesus. The same spiritual malady that made the Pharisees oppose God’s work in Jesus can ironically be our problem as well, as followers of Jesus. We must constantly pray for God to open our eyes to see Him truly and to work truth in our inner person (Psalm 51:1–19; Ephesians 3:14–21).
What has been your response to the Gospel of God’s grace?
Luke 20 – Despite the crafty intention of the religious leaders, the great wisdom of God incarnate in Jesus is on clear display here. Jesus takes the politically charged question about paying taxes to Caesar and turns it into an opportunity to stump His opponents and to draw more people to marvel at God’s ways.
Jesus’ answer also raises the matter of the Christian’s experience of living as citizens of two very different kingdoms, the earthly and the heavenly (Philippians 3:20). This reality of our dual citizenship is the source of great conflict internally and externally. From within, we struggle to reorient our lives toward God’s radically different present and coming kingdom, even while living in this world. From without, we encounter persecution and discomfort in this sinful and God-opposed world (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus does not eliminate this dilemma of our existence, but He does give us a vision of how to approach these matters. All of the world is God’s, but in this overlapping age we must acknowledge that there is an authority and order to society that must be obeyed (Romans 13:1–7), even while our ultimate allegiance is to God.
Although the death and resurrection of Jesus has not yet occurred in Luke’s account, we are here given a foretaste of what is going to take place. Those who respond to the gospel will someday enjoy an invincible resurrected life, impervious to death and decay (v. 36). Believers who have already died are now alive to God and in His presence, even as are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vv. 27–28; 1 Corinthians 15:20–26). Contrary to the Sadducees, who denied any resurrection from the dead, Jesus teaches here that the blessings of the gospel extend far beyond this short life in our fallen world.
Believers will one day be raised to life—not an ethereal, ghost-like existence but embodied, physical life. It is a restoration of the life given to Adam and Eve in Eden, only this time without any possibility of sin. All this is achieved through the resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:1–12), who is “the firstfruits” (1 Corinthians 15:20–22). That is, Jesus is the first ingathering of the harvest of all those united to Him. Our final destiny is one of a renewed, embodied, immortal life on the new earth (Revelation 21:1–2).
Jesus’ enemies have just tried to entrap Him by asking him two difficult questions (verses 19–26 and 27–40). He now ends their questioning by asking them a question about Himself. By quoting Psalm 110 and applying it to Himself, Jesus emphasizes that His coming is the fulfillment of God’s great promise that an heir of King David would reign over God’s people (2 Samuel 7:13–16; Jeremiah 33:17).
But Jesus is not only the Son of David, thus fulfilling the kingdom promises, He is also something greater. He is not only David’s son but also David’s Lord. The Messiah is not only the human son of David but also the divine Son of God. While the Old Testament often refers to the Davidic king as the “son” of God, throughout the Old Testament a trajectory builds that increasingly indicates that the coming Messiah would be more than a mere human king (Psalm 2; 45; 89:27; 110; Isaiah 9:6–7; Ezekiel 34:10–15, 23–24). Jesus Himself here reinforces that trajectory. The New Testament clarifies what the Old Testament hints at: that indeed the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is Himself divine, the eternally preexistent Son of God (Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 1:1, 14; 5:23; 14:9; 17:1–8; Romans 9:5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15–19; Hebrews 1:2–3; 1 John 5:20).
A recurrent theme of the gospel is that God cares about the inner person and wants our affections to be rightly ordered. That is, to receive Jesus’ message is to gladly reorient our loves and values according to God’s kingdom. Jesus’ brief warning here about the religious scribes of His day reemphasizes this point. Here He addresses a crucial heart condition that will result in condemnation: performance for the sake of the praise of others.
While it is entirely natural to like positive attention, and while we should give honor where honor is due, there is a disastrous problem when love for these things supplants love for God and neighbor. We must “beware” of this heart habit of the scribes (v. 46) and take care that we don’t imitate their ways. When we find ourselves tempted to live for the praise of others we must repent, remembering that this is the opposite of the gospel message of humility.
In the gospel, God has given us full and free approval in Jesus. We are accepted, reconciled, justified (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). We no longer need to seek the approval of people, because we are approved by God—the only approval that matters, and the only approval that satisfies.
When you find yourself overly interested in the praise of people, how do you remember your already fully approved by God–the only One that truly matters?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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