Posts tagged ‘Luke’

November 26, 2014

Overcoming Excuses to Show Love

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Micah 1 (Listen – 2:56)
Luke 10 (Listen – 5:14)

A chronically prone host to robberies and murders, the 17 mile road referred to in the parable of The Good Samaritan descends 3,500 feet from Jerusalem to Jericho. In Jesus’ day it served as a commuter road for Priests and Levites. Original hearers of Jesus’ parable would have known the religious leaders in the story were returning home after their two-week period of serving in the Temple.

If a Priest or a Levite touched a corpse they became ceremonially unclean and needed to return to the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem, purchase a red heifer, and (at the proper time) sacrifice it. In addition to the financial cost, the process required would delay the Priest and Levites’ journey home by about a week. It is clear, however, from the Jesus’ story that cursory evaluation of the wounded man would reveal he was not dead——meaning the Priest and Levite leveraged God’s word to justify their unwillingness to sacrifice time, money, and comfort. Brian Stiller says it more strongly, “In a sense, these two continue what the robbers had begun in destroying the man.” [1] 

There are many excuses for the Samaritan not to show love. To help someone on a trade route was to take your life into your own hands; it’s clear there are wicked people nearby. Additionally, inns were known to be places of ill repute. Innkeepers were notoriously dishonest, and while the Samaritan protects the wounded man from debtor’s prison by offering to pay any cost incurred, he absorbs all the risk if the innkeeper takes advantage of either of them. 

It is a distinctly American way of reading a text to picture ourselves as the hero. Jesus wanted his listeners to find themselves in his parables——but in this story he’s revealing just as much about himself as he is about ourselves. Jesus is the true good Samaritan. We are the ones who are mortally wounded. We’re the ones overwhelmed by evil and incapable of helping ourselves. It’s Jesus who saves. He takes his life into his own hands——withholding nothing to pay the price. Like the Good Samaritan, Christ’s generous love defies logic and is offered freely at our most vulnerable point.

Prayer: God, thank you that you rescued us when we were yet sinners. We see that until we accept Jesus’ love for us, we’ll never be able to sustain in sacrificial love to our neighbors, let-alone our enemies. Remind us of the love you first showed us and allow us to live as extensions of that love to everyone around us.

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Footnotes

[1] Brian Stiller. Preaching Parables to Postmoderns. p.83.

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November 25, 2014

Prosperity’s Calling

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Jonah 4 (Listen – 2:00)
Luke 9 (Listen – 7:43)

Prosperity’s Calling 

Pedaling the promise of earthly riches through spiritual commitment, teachers of the prosperity gospel clamor for the spotlight in American media. Far too often they win it, entwining the American Dream with a verse or two in order to sell their brand of success (favor, blessing, etc). The Bible affirms that, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above,” [1] but it also warns, ardently, that chasing the gifts instead of following the giver is a pathway to destruction.

Jesus’ call to follow him was a call to a difficult path. He gave up every good and perfect gift of heaven to be born in a subsistence-level family. He spent much of his ministry homeless, owning only the clothes on his back at his crucifixion. Of all the emotions associated with Jesus, he is referred to most often as a man of sorrows, weeping for the brokenness he saw all around him. Jesus’ charge to his disciples was the antithesis of a call to seek earthly blessing. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9.23-35)

“Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross,” says Thomas à Kempis. “He finds many companions at His feasting, but few at His fasting. All desire to rejoice in Him; Few are willing to endure anything for Him. Many follow Jesus as far as the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion. Many reverence His miracles, but few will follow the shame of His cross.” [2]

Christianity that results in prosperity is a call to sacrifice. Radical generosity is the only way to keep our hearts from falling in love with the things of this world. John Wesley draws our attention to what happens when Christians gain prosperity through faith and then refuse to deny themselves: “riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is destructive of Christianity.” [3] Jesus’ warning was precisely because the gospel can lead to prosperity, but anyone using Christ to obtain worldly status and prosperity is not truly pursing Christ. That person, Christ says, could gain all the blessings of the whole world and still lose their soul.

Prayer: Father, purify our hearts; bring to light ways we pursue you for your blessings. You are our hope, God, and we long to be with you. Give us this day our daily bread, and lead us not into temptation. We give ourselves to you, for in you we have found everything we need.

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Footnotes

[1] James 1.17 | [2] As quoted in, The Divine Hours, p.95. | [3] John Wesley. Sermons on Several Occasions: Causes of the Inefficacy of Christianity, p.1069.

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November 24, 2014

Evil is Easy; Cultivate Good

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Jonah 3 (Listen – 1:45)
Luke 8 (Listen – 7:26)

And some [seed] fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.” — Luke 8.7

Thorns rob nutrients from the soil before plants can benefit from them——choking them to death. Jesus’ vivid picture draws our attention to the way in which the promise of fruit is robbed from otherwise healthy plants. Jesus explained, “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” 

The longer thorns are left untended the deeper the roots grow, consuming more than ever. Eventually, thorns can overcome a field and block the light, leaving the landscape fruitless and barren. Professor Thomas Constable says choking on thorns is a metaphor for what happens when we’re focused on, “The present life, rather than the life to come, and present treasure, rather than future treasure… [Thorns] are deceitful because they can drain spiritual vitality before the person realizes what is happening.” [1] Loving riches, even if they are blessings, can steal our best time and energy away from loving God.

Evil things are easy things, for they are natural to our fallen nature. Right things are rare flowers that need cultivation,” Charles Spurgeon counseled his London congregation in 1888.  Spurgeon knew our spiritual vitality is always in danger of being choked by the thorns we live among. “The thorns were already established in the soil. They were not only the natural inhabitants of the soil but they were rooted and fixed in it… The roots of sin run through and through our nature, grasp it with wonderful force and keep up their grasp with marvelous tenacity.” [2]

Jesus wasn’t trying to burden those who follow him with fear of thorns, but to warn of the severity of leaving them untended. Conviction over sin is a sign of grace; inaction over conviction is a sign of thorns. Spurgeon finishes his sermon saying Christians should address the pain of spiritual thorns in the same way children respond when inflicted with a garden’s thorns: by running to our parents. It is only in the arms of our Father where we see He will stop at nothing to remove the wretched thorn, all while handling us with the greatest tenderness and precision.

Prayer: Father, we confess that our lives become consumed by the things in them——that the worries of the world come to our mind far more readily than the security of your salvation. We want to thrive in you. Give us courage to confess, surround us with merciful friends, help us to see your grace.

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Footnotes

[1] Dr. Thomas Constable. Matthew, 2014 edition, p.213. | [2] Charles H. Spurgeon. Sown Among Thorns, 1888, Newington, England.

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November 21, 2014

3 Pictures of Christ in Luke 5

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading:
Obadiah 1 (Listen – 3:31 min)
Luke 5 (Listen – 5:15 min)

1. Christ as a Master Worth Following

As Simon Peter responded to Jesus’ command to lower his nets after a night of fruitless fishing, he called Jesus, “master.” It’s likely he was obeying out of respect, and Simon Peter must have been wondering what kind of master Jesus was. The masters of the world lorded their power over people like Simon Peter; he was a mere fisherman, dependent on what he pulled from the water for the well-being of his life. After a miraculous catch, Simon Peter fell in awe at the Master’s feet. The sovereignty and generosity Jesus had shown was something Simon Peter joyfully pursued with all his heart, mind, and strength. (Luke 5.1-11)

2. Christ as the Lord and Healer of Our Greatest Pain

Later, Jesus gave clean skin to a leper and strong legs to a paralytic; but he wasn’t satisfied with just physical healing. Jesus knew there were many then, and now, that he would not stand in front of to touch and heal, so he drew our attention to something greater. “Your sins are forgiven,” he said to the paralytic. Jesus taught it is sin that separates men and women from God. It is only in the healing of our deepest pain, which we cannot heal apart from Christ, that Jesus shows himself as true Lord and Healer. (Luke 5.12-26)

3. Christ as Friends of Sinners 

Tax collectors were notoriously corrupt. Eating at Levi’s table is the equivalent of sipping wine from Bernie Madoff’s cellar——it’s offensive to even think of an upright person partaking in the fruit of corruption. Jesus wasn’t there to enjoy exquisite food and drink, he was there to give himself as a friend. Jesus befriends sinners to his own detriment, giving up his reputation as the elite scorn him and offering his life as sinners reject him. Jesus is the living example that there is no greater love than a man laying down his life, even while we were yet sinners. (Luke 5.27-39)

None were left the same, all had been touched by grace. Instead of unapproachable power, Simon Peter found blessing. Instead of a God removed from the pain of life, the sick found intimacy and healing. Instead of judgment that precludes relationship, Levi found sacrifice that allowed for embrace. Christ shows himself as our greatest provider, the solution to our deepest problem, and loving friend who lays down all to live in relationship with us.

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Weekend Readings

Saturday: Jonah 1 (txt | aud, 2:52 min); Luke 6 (txt | aud, 6:28 min)
Sunday: Jonah 2 (txt | aud, 1:27 min); Luke 7 (txt | aud, 6:39 min)

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November 20, 2014

The Purpose of Temptation

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Amos 9 (Listen – 2:56)
Luke 4 (Listen – 5:51)

The Purpose of Temptation | by John Wesley
Throwback Thursday: Heaviness through Manifold Temptations (1872, London)

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. — Luke 4.1

For what ends, then, does God permit heaviness to befall so many of his children? 

The first and great end of God’s permitting the temptations which bring heaviness on his children, is the trial of their faith, which is tried by these, even as gold by the fire. Now we know, gold tried in the fire is purified thereby; is separated from its dross. And so is faith in the fire of temptation; the more it is tried, the more it is purified; — yea, and not only purified, but also strengthened, confirmed, increased abundantly, by so many more proofs of the wisdom and power, the love and faithfulness, of God.

Yet another is, their advance in holiness: holiness of heart, and holiness of conversation; the latter naturally resulting from the former; for a good tree will bring forth good fruit. And all inward holiness is the immediate fruit of the faith that works by love. By this the blessed Spirit purifies the heart from pride, self-will, passion; from love of the world, from foolish and hurtful desires, from vile and vain affections. Beside that, sanctified afflictions have, through the grace of God, an immediate and direct tendency to holiness. Through the operation of his Spirit, they humble, more and more, and abase the soul before God. They calm and meeken our turbulent spirit, tame the fierceness of our nature, soften our obstinacy and self-will, crucify us to the world, and bring us to expect all our strength from, and to seek all our happiness in, God.

And all these terminate in that great end, that our faith, hope, love, and holiness may be found, if it doth not yet appear, unto praise from God himself, and honor from men and angels, and glory, assigned by the great Judge to all that have endured unto the end. So many ways do these “light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!”

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November 19, 2014

Street Art, Emerson, Pascal, and Love

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Amos 8 (Listen – 2:16)
Luke 3 (Listen – 5:15)

Trash bags laying across the subway grates that line New York City sidewalks are not uncommon, unless they’ve been installed as street art by Joshua Allen Harris. [1] Air rushes through the grates as trains jet underneath, inflating Harris’ trash bags to reveal life-size articulating sculptures of dogs, polar bears, and giraffes. Each animal in the series is a striking image of latency and potential. In similar fashion, the law was dormant for centuries until Christ became its living perfection. Christ came as the complete articulation of the law and revealed its full purpose as love. This, in every way, is good news——but it requires a difficult step in order to embrace.

The offense of the gospel is that as the good news of Christ is found as we realize both the tragedy of our brokenness and the insufficiency of our good works. Admitting guilt is intensely difficult. Ralph Waldo Emerson observes, “We believe in ourselves as we do not believe in others. We permit all things to ourselves, and that which we call sin in others is experiment for us… No man admits at last that he can be lost, or that the crime in him is as black as is in the felon.” [2] Yet when we hold ourselves next to Christ, his perfection reveals our counterfeit. We can no longer go on pretending we have it all together; we are crushed by the magnitude of his infinite glory. But we are not alone. 

In his inaugural address of the gospel, John the Baptist proclaims, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” in Christ (Luke 3.6). Christ is love fully articulated, his sacrifice washing over us like a tidal wave of grace. John announces the absolute relief to our pain; in Christ we have, offered freely, all that we never could earn for ourselves.

It is the height of Christ’s beauty, not the depth of our depravity, that is most shocking about the gospel. There is something in Christ we have never seen; Pascal confronts the reality of our world, “Evil is easy. Its forms are infinite; good is almost unique.” [3] Christ took all we deserved but could not bear. In Christ we see all that we hope, but cannot attain. Christ is love brought to life in surprising and magnificent ways.

Prayer: Father, show us your love as we read the story of Christ in Luke. Heal us of our brokenness through your Son, the suffering servant who left the glory of heaven, filled with love for you, in order to give himself in love for us.

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Footnotes

[1] Installations throughout 2008-2012, joshuaallenharris.com. | [2] Emerson, R.W. Essay 14. | [3] Pascal, B. Pensées 5.408: Justice and the Reason of Effects.

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November 18, 2014

The Cost of Peace on Earth

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading:
Amos 7 (Listen – 2:50)
Luke 2 (Listen – 6:41)

Oppression masquerading as peace. Most modern tellings of the Christmas story begin, as Luke does, with the decree sent out from Caesar Augustus for all to register. Augustus took numerous censuses; his first on record is from 28 B.C.E. when the Empire was barely over 4 million people and his last, taken over 40 years later, when the population was almost 5 million. The Empire’s rate of growth, and overall size, is massive by ancient standards. Augustus pursued what he called “peace” at whatever cost, because he knew it lead to growth, yet Augustus’ “peace” is far from tranquility——more aptly described as stability won by sword. 

N.T. Wright explains, “Here is the old king in Rome, turning sixty in the year Jesus was born: he represents perhaps the best that pagan kingdoms can do. At least he knows that peace and stability are good things; unfortunately he has had to kill a lot of people to bring them about, and to kill a lot more, on a regular basis, to preserve them.” [2] Indeed, to maintain stability in even a small part of Augustus’ empire, Herod barbarously murders every male toddler and infant in Bethlehem at the mere threat of a new king.

Peace in a world at war comes at a cost. Augustus was neither the first or last leader to attempt to bring peace by coercion. The angel’s announcement of Christ, “Peace among those with whom [God] is pleased,” would have been as intimidating as it was promising. [3] What kind of peace would God bring——and what would it cost?

“What Luke is getting at here, what the angels are getting at is the peace we’re talking about is not a peace between us or a peace within us;” says Timothy Keller, “it’s a peace between God and us.” [4] All peace on earth comes from this peace: all struggles are brought to an end, all sins relieved——humankind restored. Augustus brought peace for himself through the destruction of others, Jesus brought peace to others through the destruction of himself. The cost of peace on earth has been paid; the good news of Christ is that we are heirs to the victory of God’s love.

Prayer: God, forgive us for the ways in which we find ourselves at war——for unforgiveness, envy, lust, and other worldly strivings. Our only hope for peace with one another is found in the peace that you gave us through the sacrifice of your Son. Use our words and actions to generously share with others the peace you’ve given us.

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Footnotes

[1] Res Gestae 8.2 and 8.4. | [2] Wright, T. (1996). The Lord and His Prayer (p. 78). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. | [3] Luke 2.14 | [4] Keller, T.J., 2013. The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church. “Christmas Peace,” 1996.

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March 8, 2013

843 Acres Lent: Christ’s Intercession is Hope for Sinners

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: Christ’s Intercession is Hope for Sinners
Readings: Luke 22 (text | audio, 8:35 min)
and Exod 19 (text | audio, 4:15 min)

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial: Luke 22:31-32

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”

John Flavel: The Fountain of Life (an excerpt)

The intercession of Christ gives admirable satisfaction and encouragement to all that come to God, against the fears of deserting him again by apostasy [1]. This, my friends, this is your principal security against these matters of fear. With this he relieved Peter, “Simon, (says Christ) Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.” Satan will fan you, not to get out your chaff, but bolt out your flour: his temptations are leveled against your faith; but fear not, my prayer shall break his designs, and secure your faith against all his attempts upon it. Upon this powerful intercession of Christ, the apostle builds his triumph against all that threatens to bring him, or any of the saints, again into a state of condemnation. And see how he drives on that triumph, from the resurrection, and session of Christ at the Father’s right hand; and especially from the work of intercession, which he lives there to perform. “Who is he that condemns. Is it Christ that died; yes, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” [2]

If Christ undertakes to plead the cause of his people with the Father, and use his oratory with him, there is no doubt of his prevailing. Every word in his prayer is a chosen shaft, drawn to the head by a strong and skillful hand; you need not question but it goes home to the white and hits the mark aimed at. Does he pray, “Father, keep, through your own name, those you have given me?” Sure they shall be kept, if all the power in heaven can keep them. Think on this, when dangers surround your souls or bodies, when fears and doubts are multiplied within: when you art ready to say in your haste, All men are liars, I shall one day perish by the hand of sin or Satan; think on that encouragement Christ gave to Peter, “I have prayed for you.”

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

In Lent, we anticipate the great work of Christ on the cross, when he purchased the right to intercede for us by making atonement on our behalf. Today, he sits at the right hand of the Father, praying for us constantly. As you consider what he prayed for Simon Peter, what do you think he prays about for you? Since Lent is a season of self-examination, how do his prayers give you – a sinner – hope for living? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page (here) or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Texts (our reading plan)

Sat, Mar 9: Luke 23 (text | audio, 6:53 min) & Exod 20 (text | audio, 3:21 min)
Sun, Mar 10: Luke 24 (text | audio, 6:27 min) & Exod 21 (text | audio, 4:59 min)

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Bible Reading (highlighted text in bold)

Exodus 19 ESV

Israel at Mount Sinai. 1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 And the Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Luke 22 ESV

The Plot to Kill Jesus. 1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.

Judas to Betray Jesus. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

The Passover with the Disciples. 7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

Institution of the Lord’s Supper. 14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

Who Is the Greatest? 24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial. 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Scripture Must Be Fulfilled in Jesus. 35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives. 39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus. 47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Peter Denies Jesus. 54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Jesus Is Mocked. 63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64 They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

Jesus Before the Council. 66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

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Footnotes

[1] The online text is in old English (e.g., thy, thine, etc.); I have updated it to modern English.  |  [2] Romans 9:34-35

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March 7, 2013

843 Acres Lent: “He Is Good Enough and I Am in Him!”

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: “He Is Good Enough and I Am in Him!”
Readings: Luke 21 (text | audio, 4:39 min)
and Exod 18 (text | audio, 4:09 min)

The Widow’s Offering: Luke 21:1-4

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones: Spiritual Depression (an excerpt)

I have explained [justification by faith] to them, and then I have said: “Well, now are you quite happy about it, do you believe that?” And they say, “Yes.” Then I say: “Well, then, you are now ready to say that you are a Christian.” And they hesitate. And I know they have not understood. Then I say: “What is the matter, why are you hesitating?” And they say: “I do not feel that I am good enough.” At once I know that … they are still thinking in terms of themselves; their idea still is that they have to make themselves good enough to be a Christian, good enough to be accepted with Christ. They have to do it! “I am not good enough.” It sounds very modest, but it is the lie of the devil, it is a denial of the faith. You think that you are being humble. But you will never be good enough; nobody has ever been good enough. The essence of the Christian salvation is to say that He is good enough and that I am in Him!

As long as you go on thinking about yourself and saying: “Ah, yes, I would like to, but I am not good enough; I am a sinner, a great sinner,” you are denying God and you will never be happy …I say, therefore, that this is the test, that you acknowledge readily and say clearly that you look to Christ and to Christ alone and to nothing and no one else, that you stop looking at particular sins and particular people. Look at nothing and nobody but look entirely to Christ and say:

My hope is built on nothing less
Then Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust my sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand …

Blessed be the Name of God for such a wondrous salvation for desperate sinners.

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

The climax of Lent is Easter, when we see the risen Christ who conquered death. That moment is rooted in history and does not change – whether or not we believe it. That is the objective gospel. Yet what is our response to it? Do we feel that we ought to be “good enough” to earn the great blessings that flow from the gospel? How can we increasingly realize that we are poor sinners in need of his wondrous salvation? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page (here) or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

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Bible Reading (highlighted text in bold)

Exodus 18 ESV

Jethro’s Advice. 1 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, 3 along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), 4 and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). 5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. 6 And when he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” 7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. 8 Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.

10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” 12 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country.

Luke 21 ESV

The Widow’s Offering. 1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple. 5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

Jesus Foretells Wars and Persecution. 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Jesus Foretells Destruction of Jerusalem. 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Coming of the Son of Man. 25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson of the Fig Tree. 29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Watch Yourselves. 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.

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March 6, 2013

843 Acres Lent: The God of the Living, not the Dead

by Bethany

Lenten Morning

843 Acres Lent: The God of the Living, not the Dead
Readings: Luke 20 (text | audio, 5:34 min)
and Exod 17 (text | audio, 2:43 min)

Jesus Talks About the Resurrection: Luke 20:37—38

“That the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

George MacDonaldThe God of the Living (an excerpt)

What Godlike relation can the ever-living, life-giving, changeless God hold to creatures who partake not of his life, who have death at the very core of their being, are not worth their Maker’s keeping alive? To let his creatures die would be to change, to abjure his Godhood, to cease to be that which he had made himself. If they are not worth keeping alive, then his creating is a poor thing, and he is not so great, nor so divine as even the poor thoughts of those his dying creatures have been able to imagine him.

But our Lord says, “All live unto him.” With Him death is not. Thy life sees our life, O Lord. All of whom all can be said, are present to thee. Thou thinkest about us, eternally more than we think about thee. The little life that burns within the body of this death, glows unquenchable in thy true-seeing eyes. If thou didst forget us for a moment then indeed death would be. But unto thee we live. The beloved pass from our sight, but they pass not from thine. This that we call death, is but a form in the eyes of men. It looks something final, an awful cessation, an utter change. It seems not probable that there is anything beyond.

But if God could see us before we were, and make us after his ideal, that we shall have passed from the eyes of our friends can be no argument that he beholds us no longer. “All live unto Him.” … It is not against reason to hope that God could see Abraham, after his Isaac had ceased to see him; saw Isaac after Jacob ceased to see him; saw Jacob after some of the Sadducees had begun to doubt whether there ever had been a Jacob at all. He remembers them; that is, he carries them in his mind: he of whom God thinks, lives.

Lenten Evening

The Daily Examen

1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).

If you would like The Daily Examen emailed to you on weekday evenings at 9pm EST during Lent, sign up: here.

Lenten Community

This Lenten season, as we approach Good Friday with self-examination, how can we come to Easter Sunday with God-exaltation? What do the cross and resurrection tell us about what God has in store in eternity for those who are in Christ? Share your insights with us by commenting on our Facebook page (here) or tagging us on Twitter (@theparkforum or #theparkforumlent) or commenting on our blog.

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FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
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What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

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Bible Reading (highlighted text in bold)

Exodus 17 ESV

Water from the Rock. 1 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Israel Defeats Amalek. 8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Luke 20 ESV

The Authority of Jesus Challenged. 20 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants. 9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Paying Taxes to Caesar. 19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection. 27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Whose Son Is the Christ? 41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
43 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

Beware of the Scribes. 45 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

 

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