Showing posts from March, 2016

The Biblical Age of Kings #1: Walk Faithfully Before God

This week, our church in Fresno begins a three-month, congregational study on 1 & 2 Kings. The title of the study is "The Peril of Power & the Power of Prophetic Resistance." This material covers 400 years of Israelite history, from the ascension of Solomon in 961 BC to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Most of the prophetic books overlap with this time period. The books of 1 & 2 Chronicles mostly duplicate these stories. In other words, there's no shortage of biblical material spanning these four centuries. Covering all this in 13 weeks will be no easy task.

As we'll see throughout our study, these books aren't purely history. While they certainly deal with the history of Israel and Judah, the books of 1 & 2 Kings provide theological reflection upon history. They give us a divine critique of Israel & Judah's failed experiment with monarchies. These stories show us in living color what happened when the people of God failed to remem…

Knowing Jesus #5: The Rocks Will Cry Out

This week's text (Luke 19:28-40) tells the story of Jesus' "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem. But just what does this mean to us as informed readers of Luke's gospel? While Jesus claims the messianic mantle, he also redefines it. Luke is clearly working an angle here. He’s got a tale to tell, a sermon to preach, a message to get across. Do we have ears to hear it? Can we come to know Jesus through this text?
Throughout Luke's two-volume set (Luke-Acts), we detect some important patterns. Geography is one important thread: toward Jerusalem in Luke and away from Jerusalem in Acts. Luke's writing also appears to address the politics of the day. By politics, I mean Luke takes care to demonstrate that the way of Jesus & his followers is not a direct threat to Roman rule. The Ephesian town clerk's speech in Acts 19 is one strong example of this.
Jesus is certainly a king, Luke asserts, but not in the same way that Caesar is a king. They don't direct…

Knowing Jesus #4: Keep Your Focus

Where is the kingdom of God? How can you spot it? And how can you get ready for it?
As Jesus nears Jerusalem, some Pharisees ask him if the kingdom of God is coming soon. We can only guess their motives. Are they egging him on? Are they genuinely curious? It's common to assume, perhaps rightly, that they think Jesus will try to liberate Jerusalem.
Some Jews no doubt hope for a strong leader who can make them great again. Others are spectators, hoping to see another failed conspirator crash and burn against the might of Rome. Perhaps there are a few genuinely drawn to the kingdom of God as described by Jesus—an upside-down kingdom in which the humble are great and the proud are humbled. But even these suffer from some confusion about Jesus' kingdom.
The Pharisees are not typically among the genuine seekers. Luke makes this plain. "The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, ridiculed him" (Luke 16:14). And elsewhere: "The Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling an…