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Showing posts from June, 2013

Jesus Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The text for today is our Gospel reading, from the ninth chapter of Luke 9, particularly verse 51: “When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” There are good reasons to consider this verse the turning point of Luke’s Gospel.Up to this time, Jesus’ following has been on the rise.People have thronged to hear His authoritative Word, to have Him heal their sick, blind, and lame, and to release those shackled by unclean spirits.Then things begin to change, because Jesus tells the disciples that He will soon be delivered into the hands of men.“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Throughout His three-year ministry, Jesus’ death has steadily become an explicit part of His messianic mission.From this point on, it becomes the focus.Jesus …

Released from the Shackles

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The text for today is our Gospel, Luke 8:26-39, which has already been read. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. For most people today, demon possession brings up memories of The Exorcist or pictures of mental illness or hallucinogenic drug use.But for the people of Jesus’ time—indeed, for Jesus Himself—demon possession was a present reality.A fellow pastor once remarked that in lands where the devil is taken seriously, he shows himself even more seriously.Take Haiti as an example.There are all kinds of weird stories told by our missionaries in this country where voodoo is alive and well.In places where the devil isn’t taken very seriously, he shows himself even less serious.The Halloween kind of devil.Horns, tail, red suit.Funny.Comical.But either way, the devil and his demons are serious business and not to be played with.“On earth is not his equal,” ends the first stanza of A Mighty Fortress, and it’s not referring…

Your Many Sins Are Forgiven

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The text for today is our Gospel lesson, Luke 7:36-50. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. There was a certain creditor who had two debtors.One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more? The answer is obvious, at least to Simon the Pharisee: “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”But though he gives the right answer, Simon completely misses the point.As we often do! For this certain creditor does not keep his books according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).And we are so oblivious to the extent of the great debt that we have piled up over the years that we can take this forgiveness for granted. So maybe we should modify the parable a little bit. There was a certain creditor who had two debtors.One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.Actually, both owed thousan…

In the Midst of Death, God Visits His People

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The text for today is our Gospel lesson, Luke 7:11-17. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. “Lord, you know the secrets of our hearts; shut not your ears to our prayers, but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and merciful Savior, O most worthy judge eternal.Do not let the pains of death turn us away from You at our last hour.” (Liturgical verse) “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free… It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes… I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me… Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done… Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will…