Have you ever heard someone say, “money can’t buy happiness” and then someone responds, “but it can buy me a lot of stuff that makes me happy”? It’s a fair point…kind of. And honestly the story of the rich young ruler in Luke isn’t really about money. It’s about where God ranks in the things we love. As we cling desperately to God, everything else should be held with a loose grip.
- This is somewhat difficult to understand because we’re not familiar with the landscape of ancient Israel. Check out the Joshua 15 map to give you a better idea of where all these landmarks are and what land belonged to what tribe.
- Though this passage may have seemed a little dry, it is a reminder of what excellent records the Israelites kept of their history, inheritance, possessions, and families.
- 18-25 – The deepest issue is not that of wealth, but of how wealth tends to have control over us. The rich young ruler loved God but loved his stuff more and was sad to have to let it go. When we allow our wealth to take hold of us, it is impossible to serve God first.
- 27 – We sometimes interpret this to mean that because of God, we are able to do anything, but we forget that is actually God’s power and strength at work. He can do all things.
- 28-30 – An encouragement to all those who have sacrificed for the gospel.
- 31 – The journey to Jerusalem first mentioned in chapter 9 is still in progress.
- 42-43 – Like the blind man, when we act in faith, God works, and others are drawn to God through his work. Acting in faith brings great results.
- 11-12 – This is a lovely image of God teaching us his ways for our benefit so that we might in return follow those ways. God doesn’t give us unreasonable requests, he gives us what we need to do what he asks us to do.
- 9 – A reminder that evil does not win out. It can be frustrating when evil seems to get the upper hand, but in the end, Jesus wins.
Families are a funny thing. In today’s Luke reading we find a different lineage for Jesus. Don’t worry though! This is Mary’s lineage even though it ends with Joseph. It was common for people to call themselves the “father” of a son-in-law. Now, go on and go take a family picture you’ll regret in 5-10 years.
- Most of us tend to read through the explanations of offerings simply to get through that section. Today, try reading it as if you were an Israelite who actually needed to know the details in order to follow God’s law.
- Burnt offerings are often followed with a description that it has a “pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Since we no longer offer burnt offerings, what do you think we offer that presents God with a pleasing aroma?
- Considering the quantities of the feast that starts in vs. 12, the Israelites must have had massive herds.
- Note that in Matthew we already read a lineage for Joseph and it was different than this list. Most theologians believe that this is actually Mary’s lineage since most of the birth narrative and beginning of the book focus on her.
- Interesting that David, multiple times, says my soul waits for “God alone”. Too often, when under pressure, we’re not willing to wait for God but put our trust in anything and everything else.
- Note that it may not be much comfort to us that good wins out in this verse. Though the wicked’s wages are deceptive, they still earn wages.
Did you know that the same person who wrote Luke also wrote Acts, the first book after the gospels? There are all kinds of fun tidbits to learn about Scripture that are great conversation starters at cocktail parties…well…maybe. Anyway, enjoy the beginning of Luke! It’s a great one!!
- 1-19 – Here we see something sacrificed being used later to cleanse and restore an unclean tent.
- 3 – The Israelites always seem to recall events that they once complained about as better than their current circumstances. It most commonly is tied to lack of provisions or fear of danger.
- 6-13 – The older Israelite generation had already been forbidden from the Promised Land. Now, because he did not obey the Lord completely, Moses and Aaron are also forbidden. Moses was told to strike the rock once but he struck it twice. He also tried to take credit for what the Lord would do by providing water. He said, “Shall we bring water” when it was only the Lord’s work.
- 28-29 – Even though the Israelites complained and rebelled a lot, clearly they loved Aaron.
- 1-4 – The writer of Luke is an intelligent, orderly person intent to write a logical, organized version of the story of Christ’s life. He also addresses his letter to Theophilus.
- 9 – Only one priest entered the holy of holies at a time. An extensive cleansing ritual occurred before the priest entered.
- 17 – John the Baptist was often considered the second coming of Elijah.
We all fall short and choose sin at times. David did too. In today’s psalm, David has been confronted with his sin by Nathan. David is truly and fully repentant and cries out to God for forgiveness. Star this psalm for the times when you need to repent and ask for forgiveness. We’ll all need it at some point.
- 1-3 – You can imagine that God would grow tired and frustrated of hearing complaints from the people he was continually caring for and protecting.
- The Israelites continue to think they have better ideas than the Lord. They continue to doubt his provision for them.
- 3-9 – This story is also found in Matthew. One significant addition to Mark’s version is in Jesus’ response to the naysayers. He says, “whenever you want, you can do good for them.” It seems to suggest that they denounce this woman for not tending to the poor and yet they don’t either.
- Note that this is a Psalm written by David in response to Nathan rebuking him when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then sent her husband to the front lines of battle to cover up his sins.
- This is a Psalm to read and pray when you are ready to fully repent of a sin you’ve committed.
- Note that David recognizes that God is not looking for a sacrifice or offering, but true brokenness and repentance from the sinner.
Numbers 6:24-26 is a beautiful blessing Aaron told the priests to pray over the Israelites. It is a great one for us to pray over those whom we love.
- 1-21 – Nazirites, by taking a vow into the priesthood were set apart with specific regulations. They couldn’t drink alcohol, cut their hair, or be near a dead person. Levites were priests who were born into it. Nazirites were priests who chose to be.
- 24-26 – This is often used as a blessing or benediction at the end of church gatherings. Many youth groups use it.
- 38-40 – Jesus puts the scribes’ desire to be in places of honor and noticed for their holy actions in contrast with what he has instructed his followers to do – humble themselves and let the last be first.
- 41-44 – It’s not the amount but the sacrifice that God values.
- 11 – An example of how God provides exactly what we need.
At the end of today’s Leviticus reading, Moses reprimands Aaron’s remaining sons, the priests, for offering sacrifices incorrectly. Aaron is also concerned because, as a priest, he is to eat the sin offerings. If they were not offered correctly, they would not have been ritually clean, thus, he would not have been either. If he had then entered God’s presence, he would have died. Not because God is mean, but because he is holy. Holiness and uncleanness cannot mix.
- 1-2 – We’ve read in previous readings this year that the Lord does not desire sacrifice but mercy. Clearly God desires for us to follow his instructions exactly.
- 16-20 – Moses does his best to assure that the priests follow God’s instructions perfectly.
- 30-32 – The mustard seed does not form the largest tree, but it does grow extremely quickly and in wild fashion.
- 39-41 – Jesus, through his actions and words is consistently having to remind the disciples of his power and ability.
- 12-13 – Interesting that Jesus allows a demonic spirit to influence his decision.
Sacrifices: why they used to do them, why we don’t do them anymore, why they were such a big deal, what their actual purpose was
The required sacrifices found in the Old Testament cause a lot of questions. This video will answer a ton of questions on what they were and what they were about.
We all know the old song, “I fought the law and the law won.” And it’s true, both in ancient times and today, we fight the law, but we shouldn’t! Of course, it’s the wrong thing to do, but even more than that, the law is for our good, so we should want to follow it!
It’s easy to forget that Jesus was a man with feelings. It’s also easy to forget that the disciples were his friends – those he had spent all his time with teaching and training them. And one of them turns him over to be killed. Can you imagine the hurt you would feel if you were Jesus?
- At this time the priesthood was passed down generation to generation. Priests came from the tribe of Levi.
- We are in the middle of a series of very detailed descriptions. These are actually great blessings because we want to be able to worship God in a way that is honoring and pleasing to him. Detailed instructions make that much more likely.
- 1-10 – God begins to instruct the priests on how they should intercede for the people and lead worship and sacrifices.
- It’s sad that Judas wasn’t coerced or forced into betraying Jesus. He sought the opportunity out himself.
- 20 – People literally reclined for meals. The original Passover was in a rush and people were not to recline or get comfortable as normal.
- 26-28 – Our practice of communion relates back to the last supper, which relates back to Passover.
- 39 – People often wonder how to pray for the things they want. We can ask for anything we want or need, but it is healthiest when we pray for these things while surrendering to God’s will first.
In today’s reading, we see Jesus get angry and act out in anger flipping the tables of those selling birds for sinners to purchase and sacrifice. Sometimes it’s hard to see Jesus as a human because we focus on him as God and Savior. Today, don’t sugarcoat his anger. It was real just like the deep anguish he felt when his friend Lazarus died. If we can’t see Jesus as a human who felt like any other human does, we cannot fully comprehend the sacrifice he made on the cross.
- 14-17 – Passover – feast of unleavened bread – used as a remembrance of the good God had done in saving the Israelites’ first borns and leading them out of Egypt.
- 18-20 – Bread is unleavened because the Israelites had to get out of Egypt quickly and there wasn’t time for bread to rise
- 25 – God tells them about the Promised Land (land of milk and honey) but does not tell them it will take 40 years of wandering in order to get there
- 1-2 – Our offering to God should come off the top – firstborn
- 29 – Jericho – the oldest continually lasting city – over 10,000 years old
- 1 – Many times heading towards Jerusalem has been referenced thus far in Matthew, now they are finally arriving. This is done to show that getting to Jerusalem was a purposeful, planned event. Jesus was not surprised by what was to come.
- 7 – Some ancient Jews believed the Messiah would come as a military hero, yet he arrived on a borrowed donkey
- 9 – Hosanna means “Save us!”
- 12 – is often referenced when confirming that Jesus had human emotions
- 12 – Pigeons were being sold so people could use them to sacrifice. The religious authorities were trying to profit off of the sinfulness of their constituents.
- David not only asks for God’s protection and provision, but he also commits to integrity, uprightness, and waiting on the Lord to hold up his end of the bargain