The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 probably is not anyone’s favorite Advent passage. But it was included for at least two important reasons. First of all, it demonstrates that Jesus was a descendant of both Abraham and David, and therefore had a legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. But the long list of names, along with the failures of so many of them recorded in the Old Testament, helps us to better understand how long, and through how many unworthy sons of David, God’s people had been waiting. As the end of the chapter explains, the reason for the wait is that a very particular Son of David was needed. Only the One who was also “Immanuel” (God with us) could truly “save his people from their sins.” As we wait for the second coming of Jesus, we too need to be reminded that only he can deliver us from our own sin and death, and only he brings justice, righteousness and peace to the world.
Even as believers, we sometimes think that God is too busy or disinterested to hear our prayers. We may even think we need to convince him to help us. But as Martin Luther wrote, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. Prayer is laying hold of God’s willingness.” Jesus taught us that the Father is only too willing to care for His beloved children. He invites us to call on Him boldly and continually through the Son whom He loves, given for us.
We saw last time that Paul prayed persistently that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. He then goes on to explain his purpose for praying that: so that we might live a life that is both worthy of and pleasing to the Lord. We’ll look at the template that Paul provides that helps us to clearly see how we can tell if we are living a life that pleases the Lord.
The tension between Martha and Mary is often attributed to personality differences, or even sibling rivalry. But Martha’s struggle in Luke 10 was not the result of her personality as much as her priorities. As one pastor said, she had allowed service for Jesus to distract her from Jesus! Whether we are more like Mary or Martha, we are all at risk of neglecting the essential for the merely important. Thankfully, Jesus calls us back to Himself where we may rest not in our work for Him, but in His gracious work for us on the cross.
God’s Word commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but who is our neighbor? Just the person next door, or maybe someone in our immediate circle of friends? In Luke 10, Jesus answers by reframing the question. Instead of asking who is our neighbor, we ought to ask how we might be a neighbor to whoever God places in our path. We are to demonstrate lavish grace to others through the One who showed us ultimate grace on the cross.
Ambassadors are trusted messengers who represent their county on foreign soil. They are granted authority to speak on behalf of their head of state and to advance the interests of those who commissioned them. In Luke 10, Jesus sent a large group of disciples to serve as His ambassadors. They represented His kingdom, communicated His message, and displayed His authority. Our Lord continues to empower and send ambassadors today: every believer who has known His grace though His atoning work on the cross.
As we resume our look at Colossians, after commending the Colossian believers for their response to the gospel, Paul informs them that he regularly prays for them. We will look at Paul's intercessory prayer and the priority he places on believers knowing and living God's will.
Jacob's 'blessings' on his twelve sons are actually prophecies about the future of their descendants, which raises a number of questions, such as the role our ancestors play in our own lives, the effect that we in our turn have on the lives of our descendants, and the providence of God that brings his plan to fruition.
From gangster movies to slick television commercials, doing things the “easy way” or the “hard way” doesn’t seem like much of a choice. But as Jesus shows us in Luke 9, sometimes the hard way is the right way, the best way, even the only way to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
From the peak of beholding Jesus’ glory on the mountain, the disciples quickly descended into the valley of pride and self-focus. As sadly happens in the Christian life, plateaus of intimacy with God are often followed by plunges into recurring sin. Thankfully, Jesus is the Lord of both the peaks and the valleys. By descending into the grave and rising again, He is able to lift to the Father all who look to Him for grace.