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Sunday, December 17, 2017

The heart of Bible study


Luke 24:25-27…

We often think the main obstacles to belief are in the head, but they are actually in the heart. These men were like many in that day, their belief was selective. They did not want to believe that the Messiah was supposed to die. Jesus was telling them that while the Messiah would indeed be the Triumphant King, He must first be the Suffering Servant.

The prophets may not have fully understood all this, but they were guided by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). Their message about the coming Messiah was a mixture of suffering and glory (1 Peter 1:10-11).  The Messiah’s suffering was not just compatible with His glory, and it was not just the gateway to His glory. The suffering was itself a vital part of His glory. We see the worship in Heaven of the One who was slain (Revelation 1:17-18, 5:1-14).

The Jews of the day didn’t want to believe that the Messiah had to suffer, and they didn’t want to believe that they would have to suffer, either.  But it was the false prophets who spoke only of peace and prosperity. It was the true prophets who spoke of trials and suffering. Many are the same way today, thinking that when Jesus comes into your life that it will be only triumph and satisfaction, but that is simply not true (Philippians 1:29).

Jesus led them through the Old Testament, showing them that suffering and glory could not be separated in the prophecies pertaining to Messiah. Accordingly, it is the same path we will have to take if we follow Jesus (1 Peter 4:1-2). What a Bible study this must have been! And the lesson is one we must take to heart today as much as ever (1 Peter 4:12-14).

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

The right sort of hope


Mark 16:12 / Luke 24:13-24…

Two of Jesus’ followers were on their way to Emmaus, discussing the things they had been hearing about. But the reports meant little to them, because they didn’t hear about anyone actually seeing Jesus yet. These men obviously didn’t believe Jesus had risen from the dead, because they were not on the way to Galilee to meet Him (Matthew 28:7 / Mark 16:7).

So Jesus came to them instead. He approached them along the way, but they didn’t yet know it was Him. When Jesus asks them about their discussion, they seem amazed that He had not heard about the news yet. Even in the days before electronic and digital media, even many centuries before the printing press, news like a resurrection was sure to spread fast. Of course, how people processed this news made a lot of difference as to how they responded.

As for these men, they were unbelieving, utterly defeated, giving up and going home. They had been disappointed, but it was because their hope was misguided. They expected a temporal triumph (he was the one to redeem Israel), in other words, freedom from Roman bondage. Yet their true hope was fulfilled in a greater way than they could have ever dreamed of, in other words, from the bondage of sin, death, and hell. They had wanted a political and social revolution. He was providing a spiritual revolution.

People often have a sad and hopeless reaction to the good news even today. That’s because they want a Jesus that isn’t really there. Jesus comes to us, but we don’t recognize Him because we are looking for someone else. It isn’t that Jesus lets people down. But our hope must be in who He is, not in our ideas about what we think He is supposed to do. 

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Friday, December 15, 2017

The evidence of the enemies


Matthew 28:11-15…

The Roman soldiers were supposed to guard the body of Jesus (Matthew 27:62-66). But the body was now gone, and they were in trouble. So some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. No doubt the soldiers feared for their lives, and surely they spoke of the earthquake, the angel, and how the stone had been rolled away. However, they did not report that the body had been stolen; only that it was no longer there.

This brought fear to the Sanhedrin, but it did not bring repentance and faith. They weren’t worried about whether this was true. They were only worried about losing their power over the people. So instead of investigating, they bribe the soldiers to say that the body had been stolen while they slept. The soldiers were also given assurances that Pilate would not give them trouble.

Of course this was ridiculous. The whole idea of the guard was to keep watch at all times. The group would work in shifts, with some watching while the others slept. No one could have stolen the body without a struggle. And if all the guards were asleep, how could they have confirmed that it was the disciples who stole Jesus’ body? Anyways, the disciples had disappeared when they came to arrest Jesus. They would be too afraid to take on a Roman guard now.

The story that the Sanhedrin concocted is so full of holes that it actually confirms the truth of the resurrection. The evidence of the enemies is some of the strongest evidence there is. The leaders were willing to lie for the sake of maintaining their power, and the soldiers were willing to lie for the sake of money and protection.

It’s a lot easier for the believer to believe the truth than it is for the unbeliever to deny the truth. But denying the resurrection is still prevalent to this day, because if the resurrection is true, it has unavoidable and eternal implications for people. Therefore people, despite evidence and experience, are willing to do anything to deny and lie about it.

Just as it was back then, their hearts are harder than the stone that had been rolled away.

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