Our Efforts, Herod & God’s Efforts

Key Text: Luke 13:22-35.

No matter what the enquirer meant by the word, “Saved”, v23, Jesus replied in terms of entrance into the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us to, “make every effort”, v24, in our search for eternal life. Why? Entrance into His Kingdom is only for those who love Him and can submit to His authority. What stops people from making every effort? Two things:
Firstly, pride in our own life, 1Peter 5:6, instead of God’s life.
Secondly, procrastination towards godliness, 2Cor. 6:2, instead of submitting now, as in today.

Procrastination is dangerous because no one knows when the master of the house will shut the door, v25. This is like the absence of the virgins, when the groom arrives. Mt. 25:10. Our entrance into His Kingdom rests on two principles. Firstly for God to know us and secondly for Him to know where we are from, v27.

Our efforts should prove to God that in the past, we originated from Him and that because of our sin, we are now needing His redemption to become redeemed sinners. If our lifestyle reflects our own pride, and will not recognize our sin, then we will have a lifestyle that works unrighteousness. We cannot do what is right, if we are continually telling our self two lies. Firstly that we think we are independent of God and don’t need Him, and secondly that we do what is right because of our own wit and strength, when in fact, we are entirely dependent on His goodness, His strength and His word wherein lay His wisdom. People have always erred and wasted their lives before God, because of our own ignorance of God’s word and power, Mt. 22:29. Jesus proclaimed to Jews that foreigners, “from the north, south, east and west” v29 will be in the Kingdom, and they would not. Why? Because they thought that their origin and position with God made them better than any one else. This attitude and lifestyle was disgusting to God, and He promised them bitter weeping and tormenting regret, for the day was coming when they would see their Jewish fathers of the faith in His Kingdom and be cut off from them.

The Pharisees wouldn’t stand for these ideas and told Jesus to leave. They would not admit Jesus was correct and used the excuse of Herod’s anger, instead of their own for telling him to leave. Jesus knew Herod was not angry with Him, but that Herod was merely curious and would lie to get an audience with Jesus. Herod Antipas only killed John the Immersionist because he was trapped in a foolish promise, not out of anger towards the truth of who He was or what He preached. Why Jesus called Herod a fox is to show us that Jesus refuses the trickery of Herod to use the Pharisees in his ploy to get him into Jerusalem. Herod’s only interest in Jesus was to make a show of His miracles, Luke 23:8. Jesus wanted him to know that His miracles were for those who needed them, not for the rich and influential. The final destination of Jesus was Jerusalem, but He wouldn’t come at any one’s request or dare. Only on the timescale of Jesus would God want our ultimate sacrifice to be made. Through His death, He would be glorified, not through any so-called King’s show of a miracle.

All of God’s efforts throughout history in using the prophets, seemed to result in Jerusalem’s rejection, 1Kg. 19:10, 2Ch. 24:20. The very thought of Jerusalem, made Jesus sad. Two facts He teaches us about Jerusalem, firstly, the majority in the city were not willing to accept the love of God, and secondly God’s house in Jerusalem (the Temple) was empty of God’s presence, v34-35. Actually the only way for Jerusalem to see Jesus was when he entered with a crowd heralding his authority, Mk. 11:8-11. Only at that time, would God’s efforts rule supreme from Golgotha near Jerusalem, and He’s been saving people ever since!

1st Corinthians 16.

The Collection for the Saints, v1-12

God wants every Christian in every congregation to participate on Sunday. The amount the individual Christian contributes should be based on the amount he/she has prospered. How we understand our prosperity should be one of the factors that determines how much we give. This principle God shows through Paul, actually does demand our honesty before God, because no one wants to be ignorant of their profit or loss. Other factors God mandates in our contribution is firstly our Purpose and secondly our Cheerfulness, 2 Cor. 9:7.  What is our purpose in our heart when we give? Whatever your reason for giving, should be a motivating force behind the amount. Intentional giving is a necessity for us, we should  never give to God in a lackadaisical or apathetic way. Lets do the math and pay attention to our profit or loss in our bank account and purpose in our heart a certain amount! When we do this, it can help us feel good about our giving. We are not addressing tithing a particular percentage, but we are teaching that we should commit to a particular amount. Cheerfulness is a strong word. In the Greek it is Hilaros, the origin of our English, hilarious. Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than receive, Acts 20:35. God wants us to be happy with the amount we give. Do we give to the extent that it makes our hearts feel joyful? If we do, that is called liberal and gracious giving, 1st Cor. 16:3, 2nd Cor. 8:1-5, 9:13.

Devotion means to be in… v13-18

Constant vigilance. For what are we to look for? Each other’s welfare.

Remain firmly planted. In what? The truth, 2Ths. 2:15.

Be brave. Why? For the Devil hunts us as prey. Be a Barnabas, Ac. 11:24.

Be strengthened. By who? The comfort of God, 2Cor. 1:4-7.

Be as addicted as the family of Stephanas. Follow your leaders in service.

Submit to each other in Teamwork. Why? To give God the glory.

Acknowledge your leaders to the extent that you get to know them well.



Love, v19-24

Greetings between Christians in the church should be warm and sincere. Everyone has barriers and reservations in revealing themselves to each other, but those fears should not stop us from genuinely greeting one another, especially as we assemble to worship as a congregation. Why should our greeting be so intense? Because it is “in the Lord”, v19. God has given us a relationship in His Spirit, our tie together is holy and spiritual, therefore when we physically meet each other, we should truly recognize this unity in a sincere way. What is this way? In Corinth during the 1 century, it was actually kissing on the cheek, but not in Corinth today. Modern Greece is different now, and everyone recognizes warm and sincere greetings as hugs. However, in France today, they still do kiss each other’s cheeks. There may be variations in cultures around the world, but whatever our societies acceptance of genuine sincerity is, is exactly what we should be showing in the context of God’s holiness that we share in, Rom. 16:16. When Paul wrote letters to Christians and met with Christians, he always invoked emotions! 1Cor. 16:24, Titus 3:15,  2Pet. 1:7-8, 22, Heb. 13:1, Rom. 12:10. Cold austerity is not Christian. We should have more in our greeting, then just frank friendliness. If a handshake is a genuinely warm and sincere greeting, then make it loving, holy and firm! Maranatha is a word used to show our faith in the fact that all wrongs will be made right when Jesus comes again. Lovers win, the unloving lose!

Humility & Forgiveness

Key Texts: Mt. 18:1-5, Mk. 9:33-37, Lk. 9:46-48

After Jesus had described his ultimate sacrifice and was glorified in the transfiguration, something very childish takes place. The disciples asked him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” In the context of Christ’s absence, they are already planning on leadership! They had a fleshly attitude about the nature of God’s kingdom. Many of our problems stem from this attitude of worldly ambition. Jesus called a little child and sat the child by Himself, between his disciples and then took the child in his arms (Mk. 9:36, 10:16)  and said that if we want to be true Christians, we must turn, repent, change and become like little children in order to even enter the kingdom of heaven, much less be considered great in God’s kingdom. This child’s placement by Jesus may show the progression of each of us in the change that we must undergo. Then the person who humbles himself like a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of God! This is likened to the statement made of John the Immersionist, Mt. 11:11.  Rather than greatness, it is truly equality that Jesus aspires us to. Memory verses like, Luke 9:48, 22:26, Matthew 20:26, 23:11, Mark 10:43 will help the most prideful of people to grow into the “little child” which represents the humble and childlike disciple that will submit and accept God’s love. What is God’s love? Agape, the dedicated decision to show someone else that their needs are more important than our own. Who was it that showed Jesus, that He was loved? Whoever gave Him a hug or a pat on the back? When Jesus took the child in his arms, what would any child do? Hug Him back! Jesus emptied himself of heaven’s glory and humbled himself even to death, Php 2:5-8. Those who would be like Jesus must share that type of humility. It is not the kind of humility that says, I’m not good enough to serve, but rather, it’s the kind of humility that says it’s a privilege to serve under some one else. Why? Because this is truly the only way forgiveness can be felt and experienced between us and God, Eph. 4:32, it’s the Way God accomplished our forgiveness. So if we practice it with each other, why wouldn’t God honor it? He will, because Jesus is the Way, Jn. 14:6.  Even on the most personal of sins against each other which would not affect a third person, God is concerned and provides His presence to help us, Mt. 18:20. The offended is obligated to show humility in initiating forgiveness, Mt 18:15‑17. The offender is obligated to show humility in initiating forgiveness, Mt 5:23‑24.  God expects all of us to do this.

The Transfiguration of Jesus

Key Text: Mt. 16:21-17:9, Mk. 8:34-9:13, Lk. 9:22-36


To strengthen the fleshly person of Jesus with the work of God’s divine person in Jesus, demands a special event to render the entire being of Jesus, able to voluntarily take hold of death and defeat it. That is the purpose of the event we call the transfiguration of Jesus.


After Peter had confessed his faith in Jesus as the Christ and Son of God. Jesus begins to foretell his own death & resurrection, Mt. 16:21, by teaching all his disciples that his death was laying down a principle we all must accept and apply to our daily life.  This principle is essential to experience, if we want to follow Him and see God, Mt. 16:24-28. What else do we need in order to see God? Read Hebrews 12:14.


Matthew, Mark & Luke were not eye-witnesses of the transfiguration but they were near and wrote of it.  John was an eyewitness, but he seems to avoid it, In the gospel of John, there are three occasions of Jesus speaking about his death, 3:14, 8:28 & 12:32.  The eye-witness experience of John in the transfiguration, to him, seems to be of no high priority for possibly three reasons. 1-He knew the earlier gospels already recorded it. 2-His personal credentials are of no real consequence since his gospel seems to be written to a future generation, Jn. 20:29-31, 21:24-25, putting an emphasis on the deity of Jesus, rather than his own additional details. Lastly, his theme of Jesus being the light of the world is unique to his account and His life or light was handled, Jn. 1:1-14, 8:12,  1st Jn. 1:1-7, this is unique to John and may be his way of expounding on his personal experience of His glory in the transfiguration, it’s sort of his way of teaching on what the transfiguration meant, proof that God’s light is indeed shining in a dark world even today.

God is “well pleased” with Jesus, Mt. 17:5. We are godly when we find Jesus pleasing. God does not want us to be “ashamed” of Jesus, Mk. 8:38. The exact opposite is desired of God, and that is to confess Jesus before humanity in our daily lives, Mat. 10:32.  God wants “daily” living sacrifices from us, Lk. 9:23. This is the whole point of why Jesus told them and us of his death and went through it, so that our sacrifices can be acceptable to God in His blood. It is humbling to recognize that God can not accept the sacrifices of charities, soldiers or any individual, unless that sacrifice is holy and perfected by the blood of Jesus.


Moses & Elijah (Law & Prophecy) were both enforcing the fact of his crucifixion as the means by which the demands of God’s law (Moses) would be satisfied and His prophecy (Elijah) would be fulfilled as true. Lk. 9:28-30.If we will listen to Jesus, we will be learning about the law of faith in Christ, Gal. 6:1-2.If we will listen to Jesus, we will be a living fulfilment of prophecy, Jer. 31:31-33, 2Cor. 3:2-3.


“Glory” is sometimes understood in many different ways. We may glory in something, as in rejoicing or being glad about a person’s fame. That is using glory as a verb, in the Greek, that is Kauchema. But here in the transfiguration of Jesus, we see God’s glory as a noun, a different word in the Greek, it is Doxa. The noun is used in two different ways, to speak of His splendorous illumination from Heaven, and also to speak of His divine attributes which influence humanity. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it was spoken of as God’s glory, Jn. 11:4, and also when Paul spoke God’s attributes in the earth as “glory”, Romans 1:19-23.


What do we ‘glory’ in? Do we desire to see His glory, here and in the future?

Jesus & a Blindman near Bethsaida

Key Text: Mark 8:22-26

Philip, Peter, Andrew, James and John were all from the fishing town of Bethsaida, it means “place of fish.”. It was one of the ten cities known as the “Decapolis.” Located on the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum. Bethsaida Galilee, is one that came under Christ’s contempt in Mt. 11:21, “Woe to you, Korazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”  Isaiah had foretold that the Messiah would give sight to the blind, physically and spiritually, Isaiah 29:18, And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. Many times Jesus healed the blind, see a few more examples , Mk 10:46-52, Mt 9:27-31, 15:29-31, Jon 9:1-7.  

Spit was used with a few miracles, Mk. 7:33, John 9:6. We are told that for us, oil is an acceptable way to approach God for healing via the prayers of Elders, James 5:14, Mark 6:13. But more prominent in meaning, may be the apparent difference in scripture between the use of God’s spit, and the way man’s spit is used. Mt. 26:67, 27:30, Mk. 10:34, 14:65, Luke 18:32. For us to spit on someone, is to show disgust and hate, this is true amongst the Jews in the Old Testament, Dt. 25:9. But Jesus emphasizes his compassion towards this man, so perhaps his spit is directed towards God’s disdain for disease. He showed the same compassion towards the deaf & mute man in Mk. 7:33-35. This miracle is full of signs of compassion, but yet hate for the pain & suffering caused by the ailment. Be gentle as doves and wise as serpents, Mt. 10:16.

1, Jesus takes the blind man out of town to lessen the spectacle & enigma.

2, Jesus leads him by the hand to help.

3, Jesus may be using spit to help heighten the mans expectation that he is about to be healed.

4, Jesus tells him to go home, instead of publicizing the event.Our work for the Lord should be sensitive to the concerns of the needy.

The only deductive reasons we can offer for the progressive nature of this miracle, is the fact Mark uniquely records about the blind man being brought by friends. It may be implied that the blind man had no faith in Jesus, or maybe Jesus knew the man would be sent into shock if he received his sight immediately, or maybe his blindness made him feel depressed and discouraged from having any hope? If this is true, perhaps Jesus is trying to be powerfully merciful to someone who is not altogether convinced of His mercy? How hard is it for us to do good and help someone who does not want our help? Practically impossible for us, but Jesus perseveres!