As a Hen Gathers Her Chicks

If people around the world including Christians knew the real Jesus, how differently would they act?
Do we see Jesus and his message as a threat or do we allow him to embrace us?
We will look at Luke 13:31-35 and Jesus’ description of the threat from Herod and Jesus’ desires for Jerusalem.
Luke 13:31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! 34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Are we Tempted to Cut and Run?
When some Pharisees suggested to Jesus that Herod was out for his blood, what did Jesus do? Many of us would be tempted to disappear, but not Jesus. His answer was to outline his schedule and say that he was sticking to it. This reveals the deep commitment and courage of our Savior. While Herod described himself as a lion, Jesus put it in eternal perspective as a mere cowardly fox chasing baby chickens. Do we have the courage to endure even though we know that impending events will bring certain death? Which popular celebrity, political candidate or billionaire can you name who is willing to go to the cross for you and me? We only have one Savior, Jesus.
Why does the Media Bully Christians?
The powers that be do not like the Gospel of Jesus. Herod Antipas was a political bully who threatened the life of Jesus, like a fox threatens a hen. And like a hen gathers her chicks, Jesus longed to protect his people, but they were not willing. Harassment of Christ and the bullying of those who come in his name are normal. Jesus said that Jerusalem would not see him again until they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Those who come in the name of Jesus Christ should expect a rude welcome from politicians and the media. How do we in the church treat those who come in the name of the Lord?
What did 3 blindfolded men see?
3 men were blindfolded and asked to touch an elephant. One touched its trunk and said it was a snake. One touched a leg and said it was a tree. One touched its tail and said it was a rope. Only when the blindfolds were removed did they see the whole elephant. Some people see Jesus as a threat to their religion. Some seem his message as a threat to political power. Others see him as a meal ticket and treat him and his church as prey. But those who see him as he really is, the healer of all humanity are willingly gathered together by Jesus Christ as a hen gathers her chicks. Do we see all of Jesus?
3 Wishes, a Fox & a Hen
Luke 13 has a tale of three wishes in the original Greek. The first was Herod’s, who wished to kill Jesus. The second was Jesus’, who wished to embrace Jerusalem like a hen gathers her chicks. The third was Jerusalem’s children, who wished not to be embraced by Jesus. Jesus said that Herod was a fox. Predatory leaders of industry and government may threaten us, but cannot do what God will not allow. A fox threatens us even today, but God is in control. A predator only see little ones as a meal. Jerusalem’s chicks did not wish for the hen’s protection. Do we think that a fox has our interests at heart or will we gather under Jesus’ wings?
Jesus does not see the weak and needy as outsiders, but as chicks to be gathered and protected. The predators of our world see Jesus and his methods as a threat, because they only care for themselves.
References: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.; Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.; Nolland, J. Vol. 35B: Word Biblical Commentary : Luke. 2002. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. 497.; R.T. France. NICNT. The Gospel of Matthew; William L. Lane. NICNT. The Gospel of Mark; Green, Joel B. NICNT. The Gospel of Luke; J. Ramsey Michaels. NICNT. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, Mich. W.B. Eerdmans. 2007; 1974; 1997; 2010.; Brian Stoffregen. Exegetical Notes.

Big Pool Discipleship 101 Week 03

Week 3 Genesis 43-50; Exodus 1-12 Questions for Discussion
In Genesis 43 how did the brothers’ continued sin come back to haunt them? Did polygamy make the family weakness of favoritism even worse? In Genesis 44 why did Joseph set his brothers up? How did it play out? In Genesis 45 why was Joseph no longer able to contain himself? Did God have a purpose in all this family drama?
In Genesis 46 why did God encourage Jacob to go to Egypt? How many of the sons of Jacob can you name? How do they foreshadow the apostles? In Genesis 47 how did God take care of Joseph’s family? Was Joseph’s deal with the people righteous or extortion? Why? In Genesis 48 Manasseh and Ephraim are discussed, who later form two separate tribes. Which tribe later left its place to retain the number of 12 tribes of Israel? How does this relate to the apostles?
In Genesis 49 was Joseph blessing his sons mean spirited or right and just? Why? Which tribe did Judah become? In Genesis 50 why was Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers so important? Congratulations! You have finished Genesis.
In Exodus 1 how did the circumstances for the Israelites change after Joseph’s death? What caused the political situation to change? What atrocity did Pharaoh plan? In Exodus 2 how was Moses born? What crime did he commit that caused him to flee the country? How old was Moses when he fled? In Exodus 3 why was the experience with the burning bush so significant? How old was Moses when God appointed him to lead Israel? Is there a significance to his preparation by being a shepherd 40 years?
In Exodus 4 was Moses almost too humble? Why was God angry with him? In Exodus 5 what was the result of Moses and Aaron’s first effort in Egypt? Does this kind of thing happen a lot in doing God’s will? What did God say? In Exodus 6 how was Moses received by the Israelites? Why would God insist upon sending a man with faltering lips?
In Exodus 7 why would God perform a miracle that the magicians also performed? What is the significance of the plague of blood? In Exodus 8 what is the significance of the plagues of frogs, gnats and flies? In Exodus 9 what is the significance of the plagues of cattle sickness, boils and hail?
In Exodus 10 what is the significance of the plagues of locusts and darkness? In Exodus 11 what is the significance of the death of the firstborn? Is God fair? In Exodus 12 what is the name of the first Month? What happened on the 10th day? What happened on the 14th day? What is the significance of bitter herbs? What is the significance of unleavened bread for Christians? What is the significance of the lamb for Christians? What is the significance of being symbolically circumcised through baptism for Christians? How does coming out of Egypt picture coming out of the bondage of sin?

Temptations of Power

Are we tempted to partner with the devil in order to get something good done in the world?
Let’s see how taking short cuts by compromising with the devil is not the way to go.
We will examine Luke 4:1-13 and how Jesus’ dealt with three temptations to partner with the devil.
Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
1. How did the Holy Spirit Help Jesus?
Luke 4:1 says that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and that fullness led him into the wilderness. Luke 4:14 tells us that after his fast, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. Are fullness and power associated? Then in Luke 4:18 Jesus says that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled, that the Spirit of the Lord was on him, because He had anointed him to proclaim good news to the poor. Is there a connection between being Spirit-filled, power and the Holy Spirit’s anointing to preach to the poor? Anointing with oil was a ceremony inducting someone into office, like the priesthood of Aaron. The Holy Spirit’s loving presence was vital to Jesus’ ministry.
2. Why did Jesus Refuse to Make Bread?
The Lord helps those who help themselves is an old half-truth. It is similar to the devil’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Rather than wait on God for his provision, which the angels would bring him, the devil wants Jesus to take matters into his own hands and make bread from stones. We are often tempted to do something now, rather than wait on the Lord. God wants us to work diligently and not be lazy, but waiting on God is always better than following the devil’s advice. Satan wants us to be impatient, take a short cut and listen him rather than wait on God and his angels to provide. Let’s pray for discernment to know the difference.
3. Who Do we Worship?
In Luke 4:5-7, the devil claims that authority over the whole world has been given him. Satan would give it to Jesus, if he worshipped the evil one. Many Christians are tempted by power. Some run for political office with sincere intentions. How much good could Jesus do now if he were in charge? Are good Christians tempted to worship the devil to get political power today? God will grant Jesus power over the nations but in His time not the devil’s (Psalm 2:8; Luke 1:32-33). The word devil means slanderer, a slanderer that would give us power to do good things, but with strings attached? Do we too choose to worship God and serve him only?
4. A Leap of Faith or Foolishness?
Do we tempt God? Do we make bad decisions and claim that God told us to? In Luke 4:9-12, the devil took Jesus to the top of the Temple and told him to jump, claiming God would guard him carefully. Throwing doubt into the equation, he says, “If you are the son of God…” How many times do people doubt faith using similar words? “If you are a Christian, do this or that.” Tempters even quote the Bible against us, and twist it to mean something it does not. In their ignorance, they do not understand how wrong their interpretation is. The Bible reveals a huge difference between tempting God with a foolish jump and a leap of faith.
Being impatient and partnering with the devil to get things done, even good things, is not the way to go. We must learn patience, that God’s timing is always best, and if we endure, he will use his angels to feed us, and share his power over the nations.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.
Nolland, J. Vol. 35B: Word Biblical Commentary : Luke 9:21-18:34. 2002. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. 497.
R.T. France. NICNT. The Gospel of Matthew; William L. Lane. NICNT. The Gospel of Mark; Green, Joel B. NICNT. The Gospel of Luke; J. Ramsey Michaels. NICNT. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, Mich. W.B. Eerdmans. 2007; 1974; 1997; 2010.
Brian Stoffregen. Exegetical Notes.

Big Pool Discipleship 101 Week 02

Week 2 Genesis 25-42 Questions for Discussion
Welcome to Big Pool Discipleship 101 Week 2. Read Genesis 25-42 and discuss the following questions.
Let’s finish our outline of Genesis from last time using the headings from Genesis 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 37:2. What is so important about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel)? What legacy will we leave our children?
In Genesis 25 is there favoritism towards either Jacob or Esau? Should we treat children the same or do circumstances force differences? Is treating a special need the same as showing favoritism? What is a birthright? How did Jacob obtain the family birthright? In Genesis 26, did Isaac lie? Did God bless Isaac? What can we learn from Esau marrying Hittites? In Genesis 27, did Jacob’s conduct deserve his family blessings? Why did God still give Jacob the blessing? What does Jacob mean?
In Genesis 28 how did Bethel get its name? What was Jacob’s dream? What was its purpose? What was the stone? In Genesis 29 what happened with Laban? Why did Jacob agree to it? How was Jacob deceived? What does this teach us about favoritism? What does Jacob marrying Leah and Rachel teach us about polygamy? In Genesis 30 why was childbearing so important? Did Rachel’s solution work? Why did God keep blessing Jacob?
In Genesis 31 how did Jacob’s family troubles continue? In Genesis 32 what does Jacob’s wrestling with God teach us? How important is not quitting with God in our lives? Could that be a reason why an imperfect patriarch is blessed by God? In Genesis 33 what does Jacob’s meeting with his estranged brother Esau teach us?
In Genesis 34 What do Dinah’s rape and Simeon and Levi’s subsequent revenge murders teach us? What examples of revenge can exist today? Why does God say that vengeance is His and not ours? In Genesis 35 why did God keep blessing this troubled family? In Genesis 36 who are Esau’s descendants today? How long can animosity in families last?
In Genesis 37 why was Joseph hated by his brothers? What mistakes do parents make to exacerbate sibling rivalry? In Genesis 38 what did Judah and Tamar’s affair cause? In Genesis 39 what can Joseph’s suffering under false accusation teach us? How was his reaction exemplary for us?
In Genesis 40-41 what does the story of the cupbearer, baker and Pharaoh’s dreams teach us? Who did Joseph rely on as the interpreter of dreams? In Genesis 42 what does the story of Joseph’s brothers in Egypt teach us? How would it have been for Joseph to recognize his brothers after so many years?

Fake vs Pure Religion

Most people agree that religion in the public sphere can be a problem and Jesus agrees, but the problem he sees is different than what we might expect. What is that problem and how can we solve it?
Let’s explore pure religion which involves acts of love to God and neighbor, and let’s examine our motives.
We will look Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 and Jesus’ discussion of religious duties.
Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
1. What’s the Problem with Public Giving?
Jesus said to let our light shine before others so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), but then he said not to practice our righteousness in front of others in order to be seen by them (Matthew 6:1). Is there a contradiction? The key is our motive. Is our purpose to show off or give God the glory? If our desire is to toot our own horns, better to give anonymously. If our motive it to glorify our Father in heaven or that others may believe (John 11:41-42) then that is good. If we are in doubt about our motive, it may be better to give in secret.
What’s the Problem with Public Prayers?
Why did Jesus teach us to pray in private rather than show off? He prayed in public. But, his motive was that they may believe (Matthew 14:19; John 11:41-42). Our public prayers may never be totally devoid of wrong motives. We hear public prayers that sound manipulative, gossipy, long and tedious shows, trite, irrelevant, repetitive and self-righteous. Yet, prayer is very important. Churches are houses of prayer. But, Jesus taught us not to pray like hypocrites whose motives are to be seen by others. Public prayer is a necessary and difficult task for imperfect humans. So, we pray in humility knowing that our thoughts will not be perfect like Jesus’ and we must overlook each other’s faulty prayers.
What’s the Problem with Public Fasting?
Fasting has been used for religious purposes, political manipulation and weight control. Health benefits of fasting are disputed. Some consider fasting to be pathological rather than beneficial. Jesus enters the debate by saying that Christians certainly do fast, but should not do so in a hypocritical, showy fashion. After Jesus fasted we are told that he was hungry, not thirsty. It is apparent that he did take fluids. Those 40 days gave rise to the Christian tradition of Lent, a period of prayer, abstinence and almsgiving before Resurrection Sunday. Most Christians do not fast as Jesus did, but abstain from something that is symbolic of fasting. Throughout the year, Christians take an occasional day to fast and pray in private.
What is Our Best Investment?
Wealth is not an indicator of our spiritual condition. Jesus said not to store up wealth on earth but with God. He reorients us away from a lifestyle of acquisitions. Our society worships those who have stored up wealth on earth. Jesus taught the opposite, to give to the needy, pay generous wages, and make fair business deals. Nobody needs a billion dollars. Where our money is, indicates where our hearts are. We must make a choice. Do we use money as a tool for good, or do we worship it as an idol? How we invest our treasures on earth is directly linked to how great our reward in eternity will be. Are we investing in heaven or earth?
Pure religion involves charitable giving, but it also involves prayer and fasting. Jesus recommends that we take a close look at our hearts and our motives for what we do.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2007. Print.
Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. Print.

Seeing His Glory

What was the transfiguration all about?
Let’s look at some reasons for the glory revealed to three disciples on the mount of transfiguration.
Let’s look at the transfiguration in Luke 9:28-36 and explore reasons for it.
Luke 9:28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
1 What Does the Transfiguration Symbolize? (Luke 9:28-29)
Eight days after Jesus said that some would not die before seeing the kingdom was the transfiguration. Circumcision was performed on eight day old boys. Passover lasted 8 days. Pentecost is on the 8th day, Sunday. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted eight days, and Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated on the so-called 8th day of the week. Transfiguration links Jesus with Moses on Mount Sinai, and Peter, James and John with Moses’ three companions Aaron, Nadab and Abihu. Prayer and the transformation into glory are linked, as is our prayer linked to our future glory. Suffering is the way to glory. Jesus calls on us to give up our lives to gain them and take up our crosses to follow him.
2 Why Did Jesus meet Moses and Elijah? (Luke 9:30-31)
On the mount of transfiguration Jesus’ true glory was revealed. The two men are reminiscent of another two men who appeared after his resurrection (Luke 24:4) and again after his ascension (Acts 1:10). Why did Jesus meet with them? Moses and Elijah are the two great prophets who formed and reformed the people of God, picturing the law and the prophets. They discuss Jesus’ exodus (ἔξοδος) or departure from this life, symbolic of Israel’s exodus under Moses. The Exodus pictures death as an end to life’s bondage, crossing Jordan into the Promised Land of eternal life. Jesus’ journey to glory with God begins with the difficult experience of death. The discussion with Elijah and Moses confirms Jesus’ destiny.
3 What Did the Disciples Experience? (Luke 9:32-36)
Here is a preliminary fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that some would see the kingdom of God before they die. The disciples react in fear mixed with gladness. Peter wants to prolong the experience by building shelters. Moses, Elijah and Jesus represent the history of salvation from the Exodus to the end of all things. Peter wants to build temporary leafy huts, reminiscent of the Feast of Tabernacles, which pictures the celebration in God’s kingdom (Hosea 12:9; Zechariah 14:16–20)? Peter is focused on preserving the experience of glory but must be reminded that for glory to occur Jesus must die. We too can be so focused on heaven that we run away from the suffering that makes it possible.
4 Our Fear or Our Ear? (Luke 9:34-35)
The disciples were afraid during the transfiguration, but God wanted them to hear Jesus. Glory is only fulfilled by traveling the suffering path. Some people experience special manifestations to strengthen their faith before great challenges. Others may not be facing present difficulties or their faith is already strong enough. Any such encouragement is only temporary. Be encouraged by a glimpse of our transfiguration, the glory which awaits us. Jesus Christ is the One sent by God, so we had better listen to Him. Our own transfiguration is beginning right now as the Holy Spirit patiently transforms us from what we were to what we will be. Eventually, the entire creation will be transfigured in the new heavens and new earth.
The Word Biblical Commentary1 says that “The transfiguration narrative confirms the importance of listening to Jesus, as he sets for himself and his followers a suffering fate; but it also confirms his anticipation of the glorious outcome of traveling this difficult road.” As we look at a glimpse of our future selves in Moses and Elijah, let’s be encouraged to remain faithful in listening to Jesus.
1Reference: Nolland, J. Vol. 35B: Word Biblical Commentary : Luke 9:21-18:34. 2002. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. 497.

Big Pool Discipleship 101 Week 01

Welcome to Discipleship 101 Week 1. Read Genesis 1-24 and discuss the following questions.
The Hebrew word for God in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim. The BDB Lexicon calls this a plural intensive. The ending “im” is normally plural. Because this plural word for the one God is only found in Hebrew and not other Semitic languages what could it possibly be hinting at? Could “let us” in Genesis 1:26 be hinting at the same thing?
Early Church Fathers asked: How literal did God intend the creation account to be? Moderns ask: How do we harmonize Genesis and geology? What are some strengths and weaknesses of various creation theories believed by Christians? What about the literal-day theory? What about the day-age theory? What about the gap theory? What about theistic evolution? What about old-earth versus young-earth theories of creation? What is intelligent design? Could Genesis 1 be majestic prose? Is it possibly a polemic (a strong attack) against pagan gods? What could reproducing “after their kind” mean for macroevolution (change to new kinds) and microevolution (change within a kind)? There may be more questions than answers, but Christians agree that God created everything.
What does God resting teach us? How are male and female perfect for each other? How is the blame game that Adam and Eve played unhelpful? Seven times in Genesis 1 creation is called “good.” Was our created human nature also good? Humanity is called “very good.” Is sin more powerful than God, turning “very good” into “total depravity?” Are we blemished because of Adam’s sin or our own? Is God’s “very good” creation still found in every human being, even if it is tarnished by our sin? Write an outline of Genesis 1-24 using the headings from Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27.
After the overture in Genesis 1:1-2:3 we come to the genealogies. What do they teach us? Are they complete? Even after Adam and Eve sinned, did God still show grace to humanity? Is the ability to have children one way that God shows grace? What are some others? If angels cannot marry and have children, who were the giants (Matthew 22:30)? Does the medical condition of giantism still exist today?
What is the most important legacy that we can leave behind? What moral lessons can we learn from their mistakes and devotion to God? Who was Melchizedek? What analogies to our lives are there in these family stories? What should a rainbow remind us of? What about eternity do we learn from creation, a seven day week, the failures and successes of these families? How is Jesus pictured in the stories of Genesis — a son to be sacrificed, a miraculous birth (3:15; 22:1-18)? Was Jesus there (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-3, 10)? How does Rebecca picture the Bride of Christ, the Church?