Luke 23:1-26

“Are you the King of the Jews?” (v3).  Luke describes how various people reacted to Jesus, as he was led to his death.  The chief priests and others “vehemently accused” him; their opposition was direct and aggressive.  Pilate was passive (v4), and Herod was curious, wanting to see “some sign done by him (v8).  The crowds wanted him to be crucified, and some women mourned the innocent man going to the cross (v21,27).  None saw that Jesus was the true King. 

“…saying he himself is Christ, a King” (v2).  Jesus died for humanity even while we rejected him.  We didn’t recognize him, but he loved us anyway, bearing our shame so that we could be saved.  

Psalm 29

“The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty” (v4).  This song calls for all creation to give the Lord “the glory due His name” (v1-2).  God’s voice, His creative power, “breaks the cedars …flashes forth flames of fire … shakes the wilderness” (v4-9).  God sits “enthroned” over the mightiest forces of our universe, even the floods and storms (v10), and in His temple, all creation cries “Glory!” (v9).

“May the Lord give strength to His people!” (v11).  Because we are covered by Christ’s righteousness, forgiven and made holy, we don’t have to fear God; His awesome power instead is our strength and help. 

Numbers 14-15

“None of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness … shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers” (v22-23).  All the adult Israelites who left Egypt spent their lives wandering in the desert and died there, except Joshua and Caleb, who had “a different spirit” and trusted God.  The other men didn’t trust God, and so they didn’t obey Him; they imagined that their old slavery in Egypt was better than the Promised Land (v4).

When the Israelites refused to trust God, they walked away from “milk and honey” – the abundant life of joy and peace that comes from knowing and obeying Him.

Numbers 13

"We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit” (v27).  The Israelite explorers saw the beauty of the land, but their attention was immediately drawn to the huge inhabitants and fortified cities (v28).  They forgot that their escape from Egypt and travel through the desert was all based on God’s miraculous provision, and they saw only their own inadequacies.  They seemed to themselves like “grasshoppers” (v33).

“Let us go up at once … for we are well able to overcome it” (v30).  Caleb saw the same situation but was eager to move forward; he trusted that God’s power was more than sufficient. 

Numbers 12

“Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (v8).  Moses’ siblings criticized him apparently due to a mixture of jealousy over his leadership (v2) and discomfort with his marriage to a foreign woman (v1).  God Himself “came down in a pillar of cloud” and rebuked Aaron and Miriam, because they had stopped recognizing the unique relationship that Moses had with God as he led the people (v5).  They had lost respect for Moses because they had lost their awe of God. 

We should be amazed that God chooses to dwell among us by His Spirit. Through His Word and through leaders and each other, He continues to guide, correct, comfort, and encourage us.

Luke 22:40-71

“And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him” (v65).  The soldiers who mocked Jesus didn’t believe that they were ridiculing God Himself, because they were not immediately struck down.  Jesus allowed himself to be betrayed, arrested, and put on the cross – humiliated – because he was bearing the shame of our sin.  Yet his death had purpose, leading to victory: “From now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God" (v69).

“What further testimony do we need?” (v71).  Just like the soldiers, the authorities, and the disciples, we all must respond to the testimony of Jesus.  He experienced our death so that we can have life.

Luke 22:21-39

“The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors” (v25).  At the heart of Jesus’ teaching, ministry, and death was his radical re-definition of lordship and power.  Leaders in the ancient world ruled by violence, by controlling resources, and by giving favors in exchange for loyalty, and their status increased with their display of power. But Jesus, King of Kings, said “I am among you as the one who serves” and died on a cross (v27).

“Let the greatest among you become as the youngest …” (v26).  Jesus calls us to reject the world’s methods of winning and forms of control in order to embrace his kingdom of sacrificial love.

Luke 22:1-20

“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (v15-16).   Eating the Passover together was a sign of fellowship and remembering God’s deliverance. This time, it was even more: the “last supper” (before Jesus’ death), the inauguration of a new, cross-centered fellowship meal, and a looking forward to the kingdom of God.  Jesus wanted his disciples to share in everything, even at the cost of his own life.

“This is my body, which is given for you” (v19).  Jesus “earnestly desired” to rescue us from sin so that we can have fellowship with him now, and in God’s kingdom.

Psalm 28

“To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit” (v1).  The psalmist believed that life was fragile and unpredictable; without God’s merciful help, disaster awaited.  The “wicked” who ignore God are deliberately choosing life without His grace and goodness (v3-5).  Yet if we will lean on Him, God’s desire is to be our “strength and shield,” our saving refuge in every situation (v7-8). 

“In him my heart trusts, and I am helped” (v7).  Our hearts are never at rest until we learn to trust God’s love for us and seek His help in every circumstance.

Numbers 11:11-35

“Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people …” (v16).  Moses’ desperation drove him to recognize his own inadequacy as a leader.  He depended on his father-in-law (ch 10), but in a camp of thousands, he needed more.  God directed him to choose experienced elders from among the people.  “And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them” (v17).

“And they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone” (v17).  Bearing our cares alone exhausts us, but God has given us His Spirit and each other to lean on.

Numbers 11:1-10

“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, "Oh that we had meat to eat!” (v4).  The trouble-makers among the Israelites began talking about the “cucumbers and melons” and meat of Egypt, complaining that they were sick of the miraculous “manna” God provided in the desert. They no longer valued the grain that fell from heaven daily.  Their complaints spread, until people were weeping and Moses was furious.  

“And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly” (v10).  The Israelites’ worst trouble wasn’t their enemies or the desert environment, but their own hearts.  God calls us to trust that He is sufficient. 

Numbers 9-10

“And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped” (v17).  The Israelites were a totally new and unique community.  Without a king or a country, they followed God’s Spirit, which appeared as a visible cloud during the day (fire at night), and they camped when the cloud settled over the tabernacle.   Even before the Law was given, they were a community where God’s own Spirit dwelled.

Through Christ, that same Spirit dwells in us (Romans 8:15).  We are called to be a community centered on Christ and obedient to the leading of God’s Spirit.

Numbers 8

“For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of … the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself” (v16).  The consecrated tribe of Levi represented all the families of Israel; instead of each family giving their firstborn son to serve in the Temple, the Levites fulfilled that role.  They also symbolized the redemption of Israel’s firstborns in Egypt, through the blood of the Passover lamb (v17).

“The Levites shall be Mine” (v14).  Rather than one symbolic tribe, people from every tribe on earth can now belong to God, as they are re-born “not of blood …” but by faith in God’s grace (John 1:13). 

Luke 21:29-38

"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” (v34).  Jesus urged his disciples to be ready for “the end” by staying faithful to him.  The enemy of the soul is far more dangerous than one with physical weapons; he tempts and distracts and weighs us down with “care of this life” so that we forget our Lord.  Jesus told us to “stay awake …praying” that we will have strength to remain faithful (v36). 

“The kingdom of God is near” (v31).  Jesus calls us to live with expectation, guarding our hearts and arranging our lives in hope of his return.

Luke 21:1-28

“This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (v13).  Jesus warned his followers that hard days were coming; many would live to see Jerusalem’s Temple destroyed just a few decades later, in 70 AD.  Yet Jesus was also speaking about the chaos and persecution that would precede his own return (v27).  Rather than worry, his command to his disciples was to “bear witness,” to keep sharing the good news about Jesus and living by the Spirit’s power.  “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (v19).

“Your redemption is drawing near” (v28).  Nothing can separate us from the saving love of Jesus, past, present, and future. 

Psalm 27

“Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident” (v3).  The psalmist knew that no army or outward enemy could defeat him, because God was his stronghold (v1).  The real challenge was the waywardness of his own heart; the key to security was “dwelling in the house of the Lord,” staying close to God, and seeking His face (v4,5,8).  He prayed: “Teach me your way Lord … because of my enemies” (v11).

“Wait for the Lord … let your heart take courage” (v14).  We can be completely confident that God desires to strengthen and protect us, from the inside out.

Numbers 7

“And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat …” (v89). The Israelites had the awesome (and fearful) privilege of serving the Creator. When the chiefs of the tribes brought their gifts to dedicate the altar (v2), they were offering sincere thanks to the living God who had rescued them from Egypt.  The beauties of the ancient tabernacle became holy because God’s real presence and His voice were among them. 

“The voice … spoke to him” (v89).  Like Moses, we can experience God’s presence and know Him personally, because we are part of His “treasured possession” in Christ (Ex 19:5).

Numbers 6

“The LORD bless you and keep you …and make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you …” (v25).  God commanded the priests to extend His blessing to the people of Israel (v23).  Just as His original intention for humanity was completely good, His desire for Israel was that they would thrive under His care in the Promised Land.  God’s face “shining” on His people meant that they would enjoy His favor, His loving help, as the whole community obeyed God’s laws and worshipped Him. 

“The Lord … give you peace” (v26).  The more we trust God and turn away from sin, the more we recognize that His plan is to bring us peace and abundant life.

Numbers 5

“If any man's wife goes astray and breaks faith with him …” (v12).  Similar to practices in other ancient cultures, an Israelite man who suspected his wife of unfaithfulness was supposed to bring her to the priest for a ritual that would expose the truth.  The man offered a grain sacrifice and the woman drank dusty water, which would not harm her unless God Himself saw her guilt and pronounced judgment (v19).  Without real evidence of her crime, no one was allowed to punish the woman except God.

Jesus warned against looking good before people but hiding sin, because we all stand exposed “before the Lord” (v30).  He is the Judge who sees the heart.

Numbers 4

“But they shall not go in to look on the holy things even for a moment, lest they die" (v20).  When the time came for the Israelite camp to move on, the priests covered the most holy objects like the ark of the covenant with several layers of cloth, and only then could the Kohathites (Levites) carry them (v15).  Those who served in the sacred places had to take God seriously, at risk of death, recognizing that sinful humans could not casually approach the holy Creator.  

Because Jesus gave himself to cleanse us from all sin, we can now “with confidence” approach the throne of grace, without fear, knowing our Father accepts us (Heb 4:16).