Category Archives: New Testament

Paid Debt

Luke 7:36  One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40  And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly”…49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

There is a Pharisee whose life is set apart to reveal himself as a good man — he’s the host.  There is a woman apparently known to nearly everyone as a “sinner.” She’s the mystery guest.  There is an itinerant teacher named Jesus.  There are so many unanswered questions about this scene.  Why did Jesus agree to go?  I wonder if He was the “celebrity” guest the “good” man had invited to his dinner to intrigue the other guests. How did this sinful woman get in there?  Why wasn’t she thrown out immediately?  This event was probably planned by Jesus Himself so everyone in attendance, had a chance to evaluate Him firsthand and He could teach them one of His biggest truths about sin and forgiveness.

“Say it Teacher” was the good man’s odd response response when Jesus asks to speak. He’s just seen this exchange between Jesus and the mystery woman and suspects Jesus is unfit to teach anybody.  The sinful woman’s extreme act of love had become the lesson Jesus needed to illustrate His story and prompt them to question. …“Who is this, who even forgives sins?”  This is Jesus, the one who by the power of God has the authority to forgive sin of any size so the heart can learn to love God freely and without the obligation of debt.

Wedding Guest

Luke 5:33 And they [the Pharisees and their scribes] said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.  ESV

It seems quite a few cared about why Jesus’s disciples were not fasting.  Let’s assume a good definition of fasting is a discipline to abstain from an ordinary practice [eating in this case] in order to direct the focus away from that practice to something very different; a connection to God in a private and humble way.  If you’re doing it right who will ever even know or notice?  This group of people has noticed and Jesus cares about that.

I’ve never heard anyone call fasting a celebration or a wedding a discipline but it seems clear what Jesus has in mind in this parable is to teach us to consider both focus and timing.  There is a time to abstain from some ordinary things to focus on His presence in us being about more than adding a new patch to what is wearing out so it will last a little longer.  And there is a time to remember we’re in His presence as honored guests at an extraordinary celebration. “Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it.”a

a Colossians 3:10 MSG

Predestined in Him

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us In Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he PREDESTINED us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been PREDESTINED according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  ESV

“In the fullness of time” God “predestined us for adoption to Himself.”  I’ve struggled with that one word “predestined” and the idea of God picking and choosing who will be blessed.  I don’t presume the outcome of that debate with myself is absolute truth, but according to this Scripture I do absolutely believe this to be true: God made a plan “that we should be holy and blameless before him” to provide us a destiny…which He set forth in Christ…to the praise of His glory.”

I wonder if it’s our tainted humanity that has caused us to attribute to God some competitive nature that must decide who’s in and who’s out?  His plan for that difficult word, “predestined” is so much bigger than God picking and choosing individuals for whom that adoption will occur. “Before the foundation of the world” He predestined a perfect plan and one perfect man, Jesus, “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth…
according to the purpose of his will,
according to the riches of his grace,
according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ,
according to the purpose of him who works all things,
according to the counsel of his will…so that

In Him you also,
when you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him,
were sealed
with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance
until we acquire possession of it,
to the praise of his glory.”

The “More”

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” ESV

Jesus is telling this story about people.  In this case it’s pretty obvious the good choice would be building on the rock but it’s “more” than a story about good/bad options.  It’s a story for everyone whether they’re wise or foolish.  Each hears these words…each built his house and on each the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house.   There’s “more” to consider here if the two builder’s circumstances were not what made the difference in their outcome.

This parable is not a story about the danger of circumstances. The danger Jesus is warning about is our destiny if we trust more in our belief rather than the truth of His Words.  Recently I’ve discovered something new about how the Bible can tell me “more.”  It was a surprise to me to discover if I’d been doing a word or topical search and copying the verses I found I could then read those verses as a story of their own without the references and Voila! I found “more” from His Word.  So here’s “more” for today.

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice.  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.a  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’  They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”b

a Deut 32:4
b 1 Peter 2:7

His Body, Made Visible

1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.  24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…ESV

I understood the “once you were alienated” of verse 21.  I did have a curious little blip when I read “now reconciled in His body of flesh by his death” but I didn’t realize how lightly I’d skimmed over that phrase until I got down to verse 24.  Those Words were the shock factor that turned my blip into a full-on stop light.  The first thing I found was this wise statement from William Barclay. “It is one of the facts of the human mind that a man thinks only as much as he has to.” The Bible is filled with that “has to” factor. STOP! Look more, this is different, don’t just let this casually slip away.

I found myself wondering about the nature of reconciliation that requires a “body of flesh” as well as Christ’s death.  What made those words “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” so shocking is knowing even though we are the the body of Christ, the church cannot save people from their sins, or by baptism or communion make them holy and blameless and above reproach.  Only Christ can do that.  What could possibly be lacking in His afflictions?  What could possibly make someone rejoice in their suffering for the sake of His body, that is the church?  Paul knew the answer.  He wasn’t boasting when he said I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, he was giving his testimony.  It’s a shared testimony for all us who are the part of the physical presence of Christ today, the church. 

What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions is our afflictions.
We are His physical testimony, His body, made visible to the world…
He has now reconciled [us] in his body of flesh by his death.

I Am/You Are

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ESV

This parable from Matthew is from the same Lord who said “I am the light of the world.a” It’s a big deal!  Light and sight were God’s #1 priority at creation and now Jesus says “You are the light of the world.” Light is still His priority and “I Am/You Are” is His #1 way to share it with a world, a city and all in the house that are having trouble seeing…
Direction: Where the light is coming from
Intensity: the impact light has on what is seen
Contrast: what is hidden by darkness

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  You are the light of the world… so that they may see your [light] good works and
give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  

a John 8:12

The Mystery In-Between

1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 

Romans 4 contains a timeless truth about righteousness.  I’ve removed Romans 4-12 from this post on purpose to stir up your interest in the mysterious truth that lies in-between those first three verses and verse 24.  I want you to read and ponder those verses for yourself because they are thought-provoking reminders of the visceral [felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body] reality of God’s intent to interact physically with His people not just instruct them.

Romans 4:4-12 is the reality of a physical interaction between God and Abraham that’s now uniquely part of our heritage as his descendants.  True to His word God has given all Abraham’s descendants a new seal  to verify what He has already done; the precise surgical procedurea  that purposely removed the barrier left in-between the heart and the righteousness He counts as His own.

Romans 4:24…It [Righteousness] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

a Deuteronomy 30:6


Propitiation: appeasement of God’s just wrath
God is love √
Love is from God √
Jesus is from God √
God has created the human heart with a natural
“pacemaker” that sets the rhythm of a person’s heartbeats.
When we begin to recognize it was God’s Love that sent Jesus
as His provision to turn away His just wrath against our sin,
and to make amends for our guilt or wrongdoing, our hearts begin
to experience the rhythm of love from God’s own heart abiding in us.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another
knowing with every beat His love is being perfected in us.


Confession is so much more than saying words. It’s our promise to God that we will not pretend to ourself or to Him that we’ve cleared sin from our life.  Our confession is His evidence of our trust that his faithful desire is to be true to Himself.  He will hear our promises and forgive and cleanse us from the unrighteousness of our human attempts to be committed to Him…if we walk in His Light and continue to confess our desire is to claim our shared life with him.

Compete Glory

Around the Truth of God spoken in the Old Testament
— Exodus 32:9 
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” 11 But Moses implored the Lord his God 

Premise: The weight and heaviness of God’s Sovereignty and Glory were captured within the Words he wrote on those stone tablets of His testimony so they would last.  How would you describe Glory?  I’d go for words like majestic and powerful.  Paul has given us a vivid word picture of God’s complete glory that includes four unusual aspects to think about.  These  10 Words were God’s own Testimony of the purpose of His Glory — to reveal what He required for the people to live in relation to Him and to make sin so obvious, the reality of it could not be denied. That Testimony was to be administered not just through the power of the Words themselves but because they were infused with evidence that the completeness of  God’s Glory was designed to overcome the corruption of sin, death and condemnation with the ministry of the Spirit and righteousness for His people.