Apr. 3 – (Luke 19:1-10) The story of Zacchaeus is a favorite children’s story complete with song and motions.  Are you singing the song in your head now? That’s great, but let’s go a little deeper.  We know that Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus is an example of the kingdom of God bringing salvation to the outcast.  It also provides a lesson on the proper place of money and possessions in God’s kingdom. As I read some background I saw a “bigger picture” of this favorite children’s story.  Jericho now was quite different from the OT city.  Jericho was a prosperous agricultural and commercial city, a popular oasis resort for royalty and priests.  Herod the Great had built aqueducts, a fortress, a monumental winter palace, and a chariot race course near the more ancient town.  Jericho had a tropical climate and access to water for agriculture.  It was not a “blink and you miss it town”.  Jericho was also a major toll collection point for goods passing east to west.  You can imagine that Zacchaeus as a chief tax collector for this area, was not some insignificant collector going door to door in a 20-house town.  He was a big fish in a big and thriving pond! Zacchaeus was rich!  “Today salvation has come to this house…” (v. 9) indicates that with God all things are possible, and rich man can be saved (see 18:26-27). Selah

Apr. 4 – (Luke 19:11-27) The parable of the ten minas has echoes of the story of Archelaus, the older brother of Herod Antipas, a story Jesus’ hearers would have been familiar with.  After the death of their father, Herod the Great, in 4 B.C., Archelaus went to Rome to be confirmed as king, followed by a delegation of Judeans who didn’t want him. (Ten years later, after much misrule, he went again, only to find another delegation of Jew and Samaritans opposing his appointment – this time successfully.) But Jesus has several new twists and meanings to the story.

                For the most of church history this parable has been taken as a picture of the last judgment.  In this light, who do the king, the servants and the subjects who hated the nobleman in this parable represent? But the parable also has something to say about events much closer to Jesus’ own day.  How is this parable a description of what Jesus himself is doing by coming to Jerusalem?  What does it say to us today as we await the final day of God’s judgment, the final “coming” of Jesus to our world?

                Another interpretation of this parable is: Jesus is talking about Christians who may or may not use the gifts given them.  Who are the citizens (as opposed to the servants who received the minas) who refuse to come under His reign? Why do they get slayed in front of him?  Let me know what you think.

Apr. 5 – (Luke 19:28-40) To get a panoramic view of Jesus’ last week before His crucifixion and resurrection, I would like to make a bit of a timeline.  In each event, jot down what is revealed about Jesus (Jesus’s control of the event and details as He instructs the disciples).

  JESUS’ ACTIVITY                             WHAT IS REVEALED ABOUT JESUS

Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem (vv. 28-36)

Jesus approaches Jerusalem (vv. 37-40)

Jesus reflects on Jerusalem (vv. 41-44)

Jesus enters the Temple area (vv. 45-46)

Jesus teaches at the Temple (vv. 47-48)

                In this panoramic view of Jesus, the Messiah, what do you find hard to understand about Him?  What do you discover here about Jesus that you positively respond to?  Why?  What changes in lifestyle and new disciplines would make you a more accountable servant?  Ask God for deeper conviction about being an accountable servant, especially in view of His second coming (or we go to be with Him, whichever comes first).  Yes, it will be a glorious meeting, but we also need to be reminded that there will be a final judgment for us and the entire world around us.  Bible teachings on judgment are not scare tactics, but realistic warnings about the nature of evil and justice in the universe.  They urge us to be responsible and accountable to God.  For further study read: Ps. 96:13; Acts 17:31; Rom. 14:12; I Cor. 3:10-15; 15:24-28; 2 Cor. 5:9-10; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:10

                DID YOU KNOW?  Olivet (19:29) also known as the Mount of Olives, is a high mountain ridge stretching some 2.5 miles in a north-to-south direction just east of Jerusalem.  Throughout Israel’s history, it was an ideal location from which to see approaching armies.  It is also where Jesus ascended into heaven with the promise to return in the same way (24:51; Acts 1:11-12; see also Zech. 14:4).

Apr. 6 – (Luke 19:41-44) What brings Jesus to tears as he views Jerusalem? How do the tears in verses 41-44 go together with his actions in the temple in verses 45-48?  Is this a model of how to be angry and sin not?

Apr. 7 – (Luke 20:1-18) Overview of chapter 20: Many churches possess a sequence of pictures that, together, tell a complete story.  Sometimes these are in the windows or painted on the walls or the ceiling.  What looks like distinct pictures, when you “read” them one after the other, in fact tell a complete story. The debates in Luke 20 are just like that.  They tell, in a miniature, the whole story of Jesus.  They are a summary of the gospel.  Jesus emerges from John’s prophetic movement; he is anointed as Messiah.  He comes to Israel, to the towns of Galilee, and ultimately to Jerusalem, with a message of warning and pleading.  His is rejected and handed over to Caesar’s men for execution and on the third day he is raised from the dead.  Thus, his followers discover that he is the Messiah.  The sequence of these debates can hardly be accidental.

Apr. 8 – (Luke 20: 19-26) The coins used at that time were made by the Romans. Jews had to use them to pay taxes, but the coins flouted Jewish law by using a picture of a human being (Caesar himself, of course) and by describing him in words that a Jew would regard as blasphemous, describing Caesar as the son of a god. What made the question that was posed to Jesus by the spies in Luke 20:20-26 a trick question?

                The audience now supposes that Jesus is on the spot, about to be found out, when suddenly everything is reversed.  How does Jesus turn the accusers into the accused and challenge the authorities in the temple?  What does it mean today to give back to God what belongs to him?

Apr. 9 – (Luke 20: 27-47) The Sadducees have a question for Jesus. They were the aristocracy of Judaism, including most of the leading priestly families, who relied only on the first five books of the Old Testament.  They therefore denied the resurrection of the dead, presumably because they did not see justification for it in Genesis through Deuteronomy.  The Pharisees, however, believed in the resurrection.

                When Jews thought of “the resurrection,” they considered the future when God would raise all Israel, perhaps even all humans, from the dead, and create a new world for them to live in.  This hope was not about what we think of as “life after death.” It was about a future event that had not yet happened. Thus, the dead would be alive again in a way they weren’t at present, and all the wrongs of the world would be put right. What points does Jesus make in response to the question from the Sadducees?