Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 8 - Luke 19

Today's reading in our daily plan is Luke 19. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Just yesterday, Jesus shared a parable (story with spiritual meaning) about a tax collector. They were extremely hated because they sided with the Roman oppressors and extorted people. Now Zaccheus, the head tax collector, arrives on the scene. When Jesus sees Zaccheus, he asks to have dinner with him. This was scandalous because the Pharisees believed they were spiritually superior to tax collectors, so for Jesus to associate with someone who was so despised was controversial.
  • The parable of the ten minas has many layers to peel back. First, the political climate in which Jesus lived was one in which the Jews were waiting for a Messiah to come and overthrow the government. They believed a true Messiah would bring immediate power. But Jesus was telling them through this parable that he would be going away for a while (but would return). Second, he wants to make his followers aware that although he may be gone for a time, they are still responsible to advance God's kingdom. They will be required to give an account to God for what they accomplished on earth.
  • The story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem is significant because it is the first time Jesus declared publicly, not just to his disciples, that he was the Messiah and king of Israel. (He was fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.)
  • Commercialism had become rampant in the temple courts. Priests were extorting money from the people in the name of God.  So Jesus, who had just publicly declared his kingship made a bold move to show his leadership. He quotes Jeremiah 7:11 and Isaiah 56:7 while throwing the religious right out of the temple. This angered the priests and teachers.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The story of Zaccheus teaches us that God is for the tax collectors -- the rejects, the corrupt, the cheaters, the scandalous.  God is a God of grace who loves us and pursues us. Just as Jesus approached Zaccheus hiding in that tree, so he looks for us when we are hiding away from him. And just like Zaccheus, we can have the courage to walk away from the sin that's holding us back and start fresh with Jesus. 
  • Although Jesus ascended to heaven 2,000 years ago, he will return once again. And when he does, we will have to give an account for how we spent our life on earth. God gives each us of gifts that he expects us to use responsibly for his glory. Those who use their gifts to the fullest capability will be blessed with even more. Those who squander God's generous gifts will lose it all.
  • Jesus loves us so deeply that he weeps over our lostness. He is heartbroken when we reject him because he knows it will just bring destruction into our lives. 

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • God is pursuing you, walking toward you. Do you see him? He wants you to let go of your past and present sins. Just like Zaccheus turned from his corrupt ways, you can turn away too. Walk away from the sin that is holding you back. Let him change you and what you care about. 
  • We will all come face to face with Jesus someday. What will you tell him about your time on earth? How did you serve him with your time, your money, your talents, your ambition, your relationships?  Commit today to using everything God has given you for him. Find a way to put that commitment into practice this week.
  • Jesus wept for Jerusalem. Have you ever wept over Las Vegas? Do you think Jesus may look over Las Vegas and weep because so many in our city are far from him? Maybe you have never cried, but you can still pray. Pray for the 1.9 million people in our city who never attend church. Most of them have never experienced God's love or grace. Pray for the people you work with, your neighbors, your kid's teachers. You may be the only light of God they ever see. Pray for opportunities to share Christ's love and to see Vegas through the eyes of Christ.