“And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”” – Luke 18:38-39 (NASB)
Jesus and his disciples were passing through Jericho. Leaving the Jewish Jericho they approached the Roman Jericho*. As was usual, the people mobbed around Jesus. When Jesus healed the sick and the lame and the demon possessed, He did it totally, completely. He did no partial healings. In this story, when we read the account in the Matthew, there were two blind men. Mark gives us the name of one, Bartimaeus (Son of Thomas). Only Bartimaeus called out to Jesus. He had to ask what the commotion was and he was told it was Jesus. He immediately cries out calling Jesus the Son of David. And he asks for mercy. He knew it was only by mercy that Jesus would stop and heal him. Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The men’s faith was evident and they knew who Jesus was and what He could do. “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” Immediately Jesus healed him with the words, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Matthew records that “Jesus in pity touched their eyes and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him. What a merciful Savior He is.
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God…” – Luke 1:76-79 (NASB)
More on the tender mercies of our Lord. The passage is excerpted from the prophecy Zacharias offered at the birth of his son John the Baptizer. Zachariah is a common name found in the Bible. This one is not the prophet who wrote the Book of Zechariah many years before. As a priest, Zacharias served his turn in the temple. The Bible tells us that he was chosen by lot to enter the temple and burn incense. Because of the large number of priests, most would never be chosen for such a duty, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice. Zacharias regarded this as the supreme moment in a lifetime of priestly service. It was then that the angel appeared to him as he was alone in the Holy Place. He was foretold that a son would be born to him and his name was to be John. When John is born, Zacharias offers a pray with this prophecy. The words, would be familiar to Zacharias because they are part of prophecies by Old Testament prophets*. The Father of the Baptizer confirms what was said by the prophets regarding his son.
*Malachi 3:1, Isaiah 9:2 and Jeremiah 31:34
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” – Luke 6:35 (NASB)
The fuller context of our passage is Luke 6:17-49. Some will say this is the same discourse as the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. Others call it the Sermon on the Plain. It could be the same or it could be at a different time and place. That Jesus taught these important lessons on unconditional love more than once is likely. Jesus repeated his lessons many times to different crowds of people who followed Him around. It would be fair to suggest that the commands given here by Jesus on how to live in difficult circumstances with difficult people are too often overlooked, ignored, or deemed too difficult to do. Yes, if we try to exercise love of this kind in our own strength. But it can be done. Jesus never commanded us to do the truly impossible. He is with us always as he abides with all faith believers. This love is unconditional, the love that God demonstrates to us every day. As God’s children we should bear the indelible stamp of His moral character. Since He is loving, gracious, and generous—even to those who are His enemies—we should be like Him.
“You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” – Luke 21:16–19 (ESV)
Our verse yesterday from the Gospel of Mark recorded the same instruction and prediction we have today from the Gospel of Luke. It has the same ominous message and prophecy of what was going to come to all who proclaimed the name of Jesus. Not just for the Apostles but for all who believe even up to the return of Jesus at the end of the age we live in. Those who will be threatened and receive this kind of treatment are promised that they will endure by God’s grace. Just as Jesus promised that since He was the Resurrection and the Life those all who believe in Him would live past the death of their physical bodies. Spiritually, we will live. Perhaps we think it is up to us to preserve by our own strength in order to live through the attacks on our lives by the haters of Jesus. No, we will be preserved by His Name. We carry the name of Jesus as we abide in Him because He is our salvation in all circumstances. For all who in faith believe Jesus in the Son of God, will endure because of His promise of eternal life.
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Luke 12:8-9 (ESV)
Our verse today is powerful in truth and wisdom. The huge crowds “so many thousands” were clambering around Jesus. To them Jesus was the miracle maker and many were caught up by their curiosity but not truly followers. He begins to use this mass attraction to teach his disciples and warns those who might be unwilling to recognize Him as the promised Messiah. The disciples and all people had to make a choice. To acknowledge denotes the fact that the disciples believed Him as the Messiah and therefore they had access to the way of salvation. Those who did not acknowledge Him were denying themselves the way of salvation. Not every promise that Jesus made is a blessing promise. Some, like these warnings are for us today promise consequences that we need to heed. If, with open hearts, we choose to acknowledge and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, God will acknowledge us before the angels. The meaning of ‘acknowledge’ used here is an act of recognition free from any denial. For those who don’t acknowledge Christ publicly when the opportunity is given, they are considered deniers and the promise is God’s denial of them. Acknowledge, don’t deny our Lord.
“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:20 (NIV)
Our experience reading and contemplating the birth of Jesus the Christ has been rich with meaning and it will continue on. The suggestion we get from today’s verse comes from what we learn the shepherds did. The shepherds had heard the angel’s announcement and the host of angels sing of the Glory of God. They had told Mary and Joseph their story of the angel’s message and the choir of angels. This Mary treasured in her heart. Now after seeing the baby Jesus wrapped and laying in a feeding trough, they returned to their place in the fields with their hearts full of praise to God. They expressed their praise to God. We also have heard the songs and the words from the Bible over these past days. Let’s be sure that now after Christmas, we also have a song of praise and glory to God in our hearts for all He has done for us through His Son Jesus. Let’s be like the shepherds in our verse who were glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It is a good resolution to make for the next years isn’t it?
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 (NIV)
Jesus taught us to store up treasures in heaven. Today we read how Mary, the mother of Jesus, reacted after hearing the words and testimony of the shepherds the night Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph were interrupted by them in the middle of the night, just a short time after Mary gave birth to the Son of God. We have been hearing and talking about the events of the Christmas story and now today is the day we focus on celebrating the birth of Jesus our Savior. The shepherds had some marvelous things to report of what they had seen and what the angel had told them. When Mary heard all this she received and believed it and she made the news her very own. It became part of her life story. It became very precious to her like a rich treasure. We are told that Mary gave much thought to what she had heard for it was very meaningful. How about us? Let’s give much thought to the promise of a savior whose birth we celebrate today and let’s also treasure it in our hearts as we ponder on what it means for us.
“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 (NASB)
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 (ESV)
What does Christmas mean to those of us who belong to the family of God? Today and always it is good to keep in mind that at Christmas we celebrate what God did to make it possible for us to join His family. Two verses, one from the Gospel of Luke and one from the Gospel of John bring to us today’s promises. The promised Messiah’s coming was fulfilled in person the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem. We read what the angel told the Bethlehem shepherds recorded in Luke. In John we read again of the light that Jesus was and brought to earth. Light which evil darkness is unable to snuff out. The world does not comprehend this light and so remains in darkness. It was not only the shepherds who needed a Savior. We needed a Savior too, and He did come to save us. Let’s remember what a great difference it has been in our lives, to have a Savior. Jesus has saved us from sin and from sin’s eternal punishment. And He saves us today from uncertainty, fear, and confusion. Let’s remember this promise today as we hear the words of our verse read.
“To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” Luke 1:74-75 (NASB)
The singing at Christmas time reminds us of the great things God has given us through His Son Jesus. This is in line with the songs recorded in our Bible before Jesus was born as well as when He was born. We look today at a song which Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist sang when his son John was born. A few days ago we looked at a portion of Mary’s song, The Magnificat. Today we select a passage from the prophecy by sung by, Zechariah. This, of course was just six months before Jesus was born. Our verses for today remind us about what God was doing in sending His Son to earth. Jesus came to earth to serve God in holiness and righteousness. He came to help us live pleasing to God through all our days. Jesus came to be our Savior to make our lives different so that we will bring glory and honor to God the Father and Jesus our Savior, God the Son. If He is your Savior, my Friend, He will help you live today in a way that pleases God. That is a promise.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.” Luke 1 49-50 (NASB)
When we sing at Christmas time we usually think of the singing of angels at the time Jesus was born. They were not the only ones who sang. There is a song recorded in the Gospel of Luke from which our verses today are quoted. This is commonly known as The Magnificat. This is a song which Mary, the mother of Jesus sang several months earlier. We’re so glad for the promise of His Mercy upon all generations. They show us that Mary was not thinking only of what God was doing for her in choosing her to be the mother of our Savior. She was praising God for what He was doing for others, even for us. Yes, in Jesus, God was showing His mercy and love for us. She sang of what He was doing for people from generation to generation. Many generations have lived since that time and the promised truth is that God’s mercy has been and is available to us all. Mary knew that God was using her to do this and what she knew became the glorious gift of Christmas.