Tag Archives: Kingdom of Heaven

If it is of God… Acts 5:29, John 20:19

[for the audio version click on the above icon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who join Thomas saying to Jesus “My Lord and My God!” said … Amen!

We now have this pretty interesting conflation, two different perspectives have started to see Jesus as something much more than what was imagined. The leaders of Israel seem to be rethinking what they did to Jesus. Thomas straight out asserts Who Jesus is “My Lord and My God!” Gamaliel was a very important man at the time. Luke, the writer of Acts, singles Gamaliel out by calling him “a teacher of the Law held in honor by all the people. The Jewish Encyclopedia says: Gamaliel was the son of Hillel who is still one of the leading authorities on Jewish law and is quoted by many people today. He was the head of the school Hillel in his time succeeding his father. “Gamaliel, as it appears, did most toward establishing the honor in which the house of Hillel was held, and which secured to it a preeminent position within Palestinian Judaism soon after the destruction of the- Temple. The title “Rabban,” which, in the learned hierarchy until post-Hadrianic times, was borne only by presidents of the highest religious council, was first prefixed to the name of Gamaliel.”[1] Much later on in Acts, Paul seems to take special pride in being a student of Gamaliel’s. (Acts 22:3) He gets a lot of notice in Acts, during the early church. If he is proceeding with caution against the embryonic Christian church, then he must have some idea that Jesus is who He says He is.

The amazing things that have happened, certainly culminated in the Resurrection of Jesus, leaves little doubt as to Jesus’ claim to be God. Gamaliel had to have been part of the court that condemned Jesus. I would guess that Gamaliel fell right in line with the majority consensus. Caiaphas proclaims to the leadership that this man, Jesus, must die to save the nation. No thought is given that there might be something a lot more compelling with Jesus, that He might be who He said He was. The concern was with the preservation of the status quo; Israel, it’s leadership and maintaining their way of life. As highly regarded as Gamaliel was, he certainly followed the party line. While we know that there were members of the Sanhedrin who objected to the illegality of the proceedings to try Jesus, Gamaliel wouldn’t have been one of those objectors. If he had objected the Sanhedrin might have at least backed off from condemning Jesus to die and might have even decided to do something else regarding Jesus.

The paradigm has clearly changed for the leadership in Israel. They thought that they were dealing with a nuisance that would burn itself out. They tried, and for the first time in history, killing a man didn’t make Him go away. It seems Gamaliel is hedging his bets a little, but it’s pretty clear that he sees Jesus as a lot more than being an ordinary man. Gamaliel compares Jesus to Theudas and Judas the Galilean. It seems though that Gamaliel is taking Jesus a lot more seriously than Theudas or Judas, neither one of them rose from the dead. It seems that the leadership is trying to prevent a panic. They’re trying not to acknowledge it, but clearly there is a new archetype and they know that they can’t just make the problem, Jesus, go away. They hope that they can, but now they have something much bigger than they expected while trying to avoid setting the rest of Israel off, that Jesus is who He says that He is.

The difference is that while Gamaliel is trying to hedge, not set off a rush to Jesus and still not taking Him seriously. He seems to know the truth, but as so many people do for so many bad reasons, Gamaliel is trying to save his position in Israel. The disciples, as Luke writes, know the truth, they know that there is no other option, they are beaten and we know how brutally Jesus was beaten. Maybe the disciples weren’t beaten as badly, but you know that they suffered more than enough that they shouldn’t be back out on the street rejoicing and teaching and preaching about Jesus. They knew the truth and saw there was no alternative to Jesus, the Sanhedrin was still trying to play its political game with its own people, the Romans and irrational as it sounds God, even though Gamaliel certainly had some perception that Jesus and his disciples were more than the garden variety revolutionaries of previous years.

Clearly John is continuing to emphasize that Jesus is much more than what most people seem to want to believe. Thomas declares it: “My Lord and my God!” Jamieson writes: “He is overpowered, and the glory of Christ now breaks upon him in a flood. His exclamation surpasses all that had been yet uttered, nor can it be surpassed by anything that ever will be uttered in earth or heaven.”[2] This is not some gratuitous acknowledgement, Thomas was completely overwhelmed and was utterly sure who Jesus was. Meyer writes : “ It is a confessionary invocation of Christ in the highest joyful surprise, in which Thomas gives the fullest expression of profound emotion to his faith, which had been mightily elevated by the conviction of the reality of the resurrection, in the divine nature of his Lord. The ὁ κύριός μκὁ θεός μου was the complete and highest confession of Messianic faith,” This is the first time when someone really addresses Jesus as God. For those who like to question who Jesus was and whether He claimed to be God, here is where someone is declaring who Jesus is. It may not be bragging if it’s true, but it’s more credible when someone else is declaring the fact. And again, there are plenty of places where Jesus is readily understood by those He is talking to as to who He is. If it wasn’t true, wouldn’t Jesus lift Thomas off his knees and set him straight? If it wasn’t true Jesus wouldn’t have just let Thomas’ comment ride.

We are His disciples. We see Jesus is making it very clear that Jesus has the authority to and intends for us to take what the disciples then and we who are His disciples now, that we aren’t to just go back home as if it’s all ending. He makes it clear to His disciples then it’s only beginning. He tells them, and us, that the Father sent Him. He has been sent to us to take His word, His life, what He has done for us dying for our sins and then resurrected to give us eternal life, that it isn’t for us to keep to ourselves. Matthew 28:18, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, Matthew, John, Luke and Mark all report that Jesus came to send us to tell the entire world about the salvation that Jesus gives us. In John He reinforces this message by giving them a preview of Pentecost. “He breathed on them.” The Greek word the hagios pneuma, the Holy Spirit, pneuma meaning the movement of air, the breath of His Body. He is giving them the Holy Spirit to strengthen them and for them to understand that they constitute His church. As He does by giving them the keys of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 16:9, He is empowering His church to not just bring the Good News to the world, but that Jesus is empowering His church to save people to the Kingdom, but to also make it clear to those who aren’t saved and that His work is done through His disciples in His church.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6494-gamaliel-i

[2] Jamieson-Fausett-Brown Bible Commentary on website  http://biblehub.com/commentaries/jfb/john/20.htm

Luke 12: 22-34 Exegesis of the Greek


[Dug this out of my school archives, I graduated from seminary in 2010, so a lot is still, well, kinda fresh. Part of what we have to learn is Greek and Hebrew, Greek being the more complicated. We received an extensive amount of teaching in both languages. So I thought I’d publish this, unfortunately the actual “Greek” didn’t come out, if you see an odd word, it’s just a Greek word that didn’t “translate” from my paper into Word Press.]

James Driskell

July 18, 2007

 Luke 12:22 Ei=pen de. pro.j tou.j maqhta.j Îauvtou/Ð\ dia. tou/to le,gw u`mi/n\ mh. merimna/te th/| yuch/| ti, fa,ghte( mhde. tw/| sw,mati ti, evndu,shsqeÅ

He said to the disciples, on account of this I say to you, don’t be anxious, for life what to eat, not for your body or what you will wear.

merimna/te – be anxious, Present imperative active 2nd plural of merimna,w


fa,ghte – to eat, Aor subjunctive act 2nd plural evsqi,w  subjunctive is a negative command

evndu,shsqe –  to put on, clothe  Aorist subjunctive midd 2nd plur  evndu,w subjunctive is a negative command.

yuch/| – dative object of preposition

12:23 h` ga.r yuch. plei/o,n evstin th/j trofh/j kai. to. sw/ma tou/ evndu,matojÅ

For the soul is more than food and the body than clothing.

trofh/j – both are genitives, this is genitive absolute

evndu,matoj – both are genitives, this is genitive absolute

24 katanoh,sate tou.j ko,rakaj o[ti ouv spei,rousin ouvde. qeri,zousin( oi-j ouvk e;stin tamei/on ouvde. avpoqh,kh( kai. o` qeo.j tre,fei auvtou,j\ po,sw| ma/llon u`mei/j diafe,rete tw/n peteinw/nÅ

Observe the crows that do not sow and not reap who and have no storeroom or barn and God feeds them, how more greater are you than are the birds.

katanoh,sate – to observe aorist imperative active 2nd plural  of  katanoe,wspei,rousin – to sow Present indicative active 3rd plural of spei,rw

qeri,zousin – to reap Present indicative active 3rd plural qeri,zw

tre,fei – to feed Present indicative active 3rd plural  tre,fw

peteinw/n – genitive of worth

25 ti,j de. evx u`mw/n merimnw/n du,natai evpi. th.n h`liki,an auvtou/ prosqei/nai ph/cunÈ

Who out of you being anxious are able to add a single cubit to your life.

merimnw/n – to be anxious Present Participle active masc nominative singular  predicate causal

du,natai – to be able  Present Indicative Midd deponent 3rd sing du,namai

prosqei/nai – to add to aorist infinitive active   result  prosti,qhmi

26 eiv ou=n ouvde. evla,ciston du,nasqe( ti, peri. tw/n loipw/n merimna/teÈ

f then you are unable to do this lesser thing why are you concerned about other matters.

du,nasqe – to be able  Present Indicative Middle 2nd plur  du,namai

merimna/te – to be anxious Present Indic Act 2nd plur merimna,w

27 katanoh,sate ta. kri,na pw/j auvxa,nei\ ouv kopia/| ouvde. nh,qei\ le,gw de. u`mi/n( ouvde. Solomw.n evn pa,sh| th/| do,xh| auvtou/ perieba,leto w`j e]n tou,twnÅ

Observe the lilies how they grow they do not toil nor do they spin, I say to you not even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.

Katanoh,sate – observe  aorist imperative active 2nd plur  katanoe,w

auvxa,nei – to grow  Pres Indic Act 3rd sing  auvxa,nw

kopia/| – to toil Pres Indic Act 3rd sing  kopia,w

nh,qei – to spin Pres Indic Act 3rd sing  nh,qw

perieba,leto – to clothe Aor indic midd 3rd sing  periba,llw

do,xh| – dative of respect

28 eiv de. evn avgrw/| to.n co,rton o;nta sh,meron kai. au;rion eivj kli,banon ballo,menon o` qeo.j ou[twj avmfie,zei( po,sw| ma/llon u`ma/j( ovligo,pistoiÅ

And if in a field God clothed the grass which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown in the fire, how much greater are you who are of little faith.

ballo,menon – thrown Pres participle passive masc accus sing  ba,llw  predicate causal

avmfie,zei – clothes Pres indicative act 3rd sing  avmfie,zw

29 kai. u`mei/j mh. zhtei/te ti, fa,ghte kai. ti, pi,hte kai. mh. metewri,zesqe\

And you do not seek what to eat and what to drink and do not be worried

zhtei/te – to seek pres imperative active 2nd plur zhte,w

fa,ghte – to eat Aorist subjunctive act 2nd plur  evsqi,w  purpose

pi,hte – to drink aorist subjunctive act 2nd plur pi,nw  purpose

metewri,zesqe – be worried present imperative passive 2nd plur metewri,zomai

30 tau/ta ga.r pa,nta ta. e;qnh tou/ ko,smou evpizhtou/sin( u`mw/n de. o` path.r oi=den o[ti crh,|zete tou,twnÅ

For all these things the nations of the world seek but your Father knows that you have need of.

evpizhtou/sin – to seek for, Pres Indic Act  3rd plur  evpizhte,w

oi=den – to know, Perf Indic Act 3rd sing  oi=da

crh,|zete – have need of Present Indic Act 2nd plur crh,|zw

ko,smou – genitive relationship

 31 plh.n zhtei/te th.n basilei,an auvtou/( kai. tau/ta prosteqh,setai u`mi/nÅ

But seek seek His Kingdom and these will be added to you.

zhtei/te – to seek Pres Imperative Act  2nd plur  zhte,w

prosteqh,setai – add to Fut Indic pass 3rd sing  prosti,qhmi

32 Mh. fobou/( to. mikro.n poi,mnion( o[ti euvdo,khsen o` path.r u`mw/n dou/nai u`mi/n th.n basilei,anÅ

Do not be afraid little flock because your Father thinks that it’s good to give you the kingdom.

fobou/ – fear Present Imperative Midd 2nd sing fobe,w

euvdo,khsen – to think it good  Aor indic act 3rd sing  euvdoke,w

dou/nai – to give  Aorist Infinit Act. di,dwmi purpose

33 Pwlh,sate ta. u`pa,rconta u`mw/n kai. do,te evlehmosu,nhn\ poih,sate e`autoi/j balla,ntia mh. palaiou,mena( qhsauro.n avne,kleipton evn toi/j ouvranoi/j( o[pou kle,pthj ouvk evggi,zei ouvde. sh.j diafqei,rei\

Sell your possessions (existence, to be) and give them as alms make yourselves purses that don’t wear out, in an unfailing storehouse in heaven where a thief cannot come near and a moth cannot destroy.

Pwlh,sate – to sell  Aor Imperative Act 2nd plur  pwle,w

do,te – to give  Aor Imperative Act 2nd plur  di,dwmi

poih,sate –  to make Aor Imperative Act 2nd plur  poie,w

palaiou,mena – be old, obsolete Pres Participle Act Neu Accus Plur  palaio,w  referent is balla,ntia predicate causal

evggi,zei – come near Pres Indic Act 3rd sing  evggi,zw

diafqei,rei – to destroy utterly, to corrupt, Pres Indic Act 3rd Sing  diafqei,rw

ouvranoi/j – dative direct object

34 o[pou ga,r evstin o` qhsauro.j u`mw/n( evkei/ kai. h` kardi,a u`mw/n e;staiÅ

For where your treasure is there your heart is.

verse 22 maqhta.j @auvtou/# {C}

In accordance with Lukan usage, a majority of the Committee preferred to adopt auvtou/, supported as it is by the overwhelming preponderance of external evidence, but to enclose it within square brackets in view of its absence from several important early witnesses (î45vid, 75 B).

From Textual Commentary on the New Testament Metzger

12:23 h` ga.r yuch. plei/o,n evstin th/j trofh/j kai. to. sw/ma tou/ evndu,matojÅ

On the surface, it may seem to be nothing more than another in a series of Jesus’ teachings about possessions, but Jesus connects the proper attitude toward possessions with the kingdom of God. This casts his teaching in an eschatological context. This passage is easily divided into three groups of imperatives surrounded by an introduction and conclusion.

This passage about possessions and the kingdom is catechesis specifically for the disciples (catechumens) and not for the crowds (12:22). The disciples here include the Twelve and the seventy (-two) as well as the larger group of followers for whom God is ‘Father’ (12:30, 32) and to whom the Father has given his kingdom (12:32)…”

“…Of these ten imperatives, eight have to do with material possessions (the two in 12: 29-30 deal with possessions in relation to the kingdom), and the remaining two are solely about the kingdom (12:31-32)…’Life’, Jesus says, ‘is more than food and body more than clothing” (12:23). Using two imperatives from the language of catechesis (12: 24, 27; katanoh,sate,, ‘consider’), Jesus instructs the disciples to study and ponder how God cares for the ravens and the lilies. He notes, ‘By how much are you more valuable than birds’ (12:24; similarly 12:28)”

“…Anxiety over possessions is a sign that one lacks faith. Jesus is so concerned about keeping faith strong that he reiterates his directive about food and clothing (‘do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink’) and employs a synonym of ‘worry’, which is the ‘catchword’ of this section: ‘Do not be upset’’ (12:29). The disciples are not to waver between hope and fear over ‘all these thing’ (12:30), for they they would be like the Gentiles, anxious about mere survival and indifferent to the kingdom… Did not Jesus teach the disciples in the Lord’s Prayer to petition the Father for the things that are truly necessary (11: 1-4) ? The real question here pertains to the disciples’ attitude: is what they ‘seek’ food and clothing or the kingdom of God? Jesus directs them with a strong command to ‘seek [the Father’s] kingdom, and all these things will be added to you’ (12:31). This may not always be obvious to them, and so in another command, this one intensely pastoral and appearing only in Luke, Jesus speaks as a shepherd to his sheep: ‘Do not fear, little flock, because your Father graciously willed to give to you the kingdom’ (12:32)…”

“…As Jesus’ ‘little flock,’ they need not fear, for they will be celebrants at the Table of the kingdom where God’s greatest gifts will be served through the Servant, who gives his body ‘on behalf of you’ and gives his blood in the cup of the new covenant (22:19-20). “

“Thus Jesus final imperatives to ‘sell [Pwlh,sate] your possessions and give [do,te]  alms’ (12:33) are simply ways in which the disciples/catechumens may show that they are servants of the one whose treasures are in the heavens, yet who also gives his flock the abundant treasures of the kingdom while they are journeying on earth…”

“…The treasure ‘brings for the good’ (6:45) of confessing Christ with the mouth. The next use of ‘treasure’ is in the parable of the rich fool where ‘the one who treasures for himself … is not rich toward God’ (12:21). Now in 12: 33-34, Jesus fills in the picture of that metaphor by describing the opposite of the treasure for oneself: it is heavenly treasure. In light of the parable of the rich fool, this section on possessions (12: 22-34) shows what it means to be ‘rich toward God’ (12:21)…To be rich toward God, then, is to be a recipient of Christ and his gifts, a member of his kingdom through catechesis, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper… The two-fold Gospel message of this pericope (12:22-34) is this: For those seeking the treasure of the kingdom, the Father will provide adequate earthly treasure as well to sustain them in their journey from earth to heaven, and even more precious, along the way while still on earth ‘the little flock’ (12:32) will be graced with eternal heavenly treasures through Christ, the Shepherd who washes his flock in Baptism, feeds his sheep with the new Passover Lamb – his body and blood in the Supper (Lk 22: 14-20; 1 Cor 5:7) – and tends them with the guidance of his Word.”[1]

[1] Just, Arthur Concordia Commentary Luke 9:51 – 24:53 (St Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1997) 509-512

Sheep protected and led by the Great Shepherd First St Johns, York, Pa. Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24 November 23, 2014

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who will be together in the glory and plenty of eternity in Christ shouted out … AMEN

Our readings today are about eschatology, these are eschatological studies, don’t try saying that at home, I’m a trained professional. I’m thinking in terms of the ultimate Thanksgiving. You think you need a big kitchen table at your house for Thanksgiving? Think about how big God’s table is going to be that He will need for His promised time of life in the Resurrection. “And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel.” (Ezekiel 34:13)

If you’ve ever been to Quincy Market in Boston, there is a restaurant named Durgin Park. This restaurant goes back to the turn of the 20th century and if you’re in the right parts, well you can tell how old it is. They have great seafood, they have great prime rib, lots of other dishes, but here’s the deal, it’s served to you family style. You don’t have little tables all around, you have big long tables and you just grab your seat. There’s no maitre di, no pretense, you get a menu on the way, grab your seat, order your food and while you wait get to know the people all around you. It’s one reason you go there. It’s not for the service, the wait staff seems to make it their mission to see how uncomfortable they can get you, the food is great, like I said the atmosphere is early 20th century, but it’s great food, in an “interesting” facility. There are plenty of other people around you and you all know you’re there to meet people and you do, very little in terms of being bashful. Get a great dinner, stay for awhile, you have to because there’s so much to eat, and enjoy the impromptu goings on.

This is what it will be like at the dinner that God is promising Ezekiel. Being invited to the White House for dinner is a series of hoops and rolls, waiting, anticipating. How will the feast that God is talking about happen? “I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out… I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness…” You won’t be expecting anything and then you will be in His presence and He is going to give you the ultimate offer you can’t refuse. Durgin Park’s food is good, but how much better, how much more, how much more fun will the feast, the banquet at the end of time be? The ultimate open menu; You want New England Lobster, here it is. Cheasapeake Bay crab cakes? The best you’ve ever tasted. Chicago prime rib? New York City pizza, … what, huh? Really pizza, at the marriage feast of the Lamb? OK, you got it.

He promises us that we will be with people scattered from all places. Places that for a day were cloudy and dark, that’s where we are right now. Life…, in terms of eternity? It’s a day, it’s over before you know it, life is not reality, the resurrection is reality, this is eternal reality. You may be in those dark, cloudy places where you know you don’t belong. Not because you’re good or too smart or even unworthy, you’re there because He took you up, the Father saw His Son in you. Jesus came to you and said “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt 25: 34). You will be there for one reason and one reason only and it has nothing to do with anything you did, it’s all about how you were saved by Christ. You were saved in baptism, you became that new creation in baptism, you were faithfully led by the Holy Spirit to worship, to take the Body and Blood of Jesus. Those small bits of bread and wine, His Body and Blood, are only a reminder of the immensity of what you will inherit, of what the Father will bring you to “…the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

In our passages today God is showing you the ultimate Thanksgiving Day feast. You didn’t do a thing for it. Moms, you aren’t going to cook, you aren’t going to serve, you aren’t going to clean up, you will be there with Christians from around the world, rejoicing with each other that you are saved, that you are eternally going to enjoy all the great gifts of the resurrection, the new world, the world the way it was intended to be, life and life more abundant. Abundance you can never imagine in the here and now.

A friend of mine had relatives in Lithuania, his parents were from Lithuania. My friend took them to the grocery store and when they got inside and saw all the marvelous food just waiting to be taken off the shelf and put in the shopping cart they were so overwhelmed some of them actually started to cry. That will be us when we’ve been rescued from the clouds and darkness of the world and brought to the marriage-feast.

I know for many people this may not sound initially inviting, you will be sitting with people that you may have never met, Christian brothers and sister, and they will be from all the places that God scattered them in life. Many will probably have gone through difficult, even serious trials, some life or death trials because of their faith. But they won’t talk about the unpleasantness of those trials, they will talk about how thankful they are that even through difficult times God provided, God gave them the hope and promise of being provided for. They will be celebrating their deliverance, we all will be, we all will be celebrating how faithful God was to provide in life, even in those times of pain and loss. The pain and loss of earth will be a dim memory, even if it was only a few hours ago for some.

The idea of sitting with a bunch of what you might think of as strangers might seem a little uncomfortable to some of you, but if you’ve ever had to do a lot of traveling, which often involves being in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, meals are often a chore and often uncomfortable. That’s why Durgin Park is appealing to many who are traveling to Boston, they will be with a bunch of other people who want to be with a friendly group and I can assure you I’ve never had a bad dinner there. But in the resurrection we will be with people who are true brothers and sisters in a world that will dazzle even us who think that we’re hard to impress. We will be like the relatives from Lithuania, overwhelmed in delight at what God has provided for us and for those whose earthly life might have been in material poverty and need.

In his book “Heaven” Randy Alcorn writes: “We know that people in Heaven have lots of feelings – all good ones. We’re told of banquets, feasts and singing. People will laugh there (Luke 6:21) Feasting, singing and rejoicing involve feelings.”1

Alcorn quotes Seneca the Roman philosopher who said, “The day thou fearest as the last is the birthday of eternity.”2

I have no doubt that you will enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends, it will be a time of pleasure and belonging. But it will be a snack compared to what you will be given when you are picked by the Lord and brought to that banquet, eternally in the presence of the crucified and Risen Savior, our Redeemer. It won’t be a feast of just food and companions, it will be a feast of life and life more abundant, a world that will be just waiting for you to enjoy it’s splendour, its activity and its vastness, a world where even in eternity you will not be able to experience everything it has to offer. God is an infinite God, He delights in the pleasure of His children. To be sure, the world is often not very delightful, if not downright troubling. But the world that God brings us to will be a continuous celebration of life, eternal life to His glory, forever and ever …

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

1Randy Alcorn Heaven p 284

2Ibid p xvii