First, give a read to Luke 1:26-56. You’ll see that the angel Michael comes and announces Mary’s pregnancy. But you’ll also notice something interesting, known as the Magnificat. That’s just a Latin word for magnifies, for Mary’s joyful response to this news begins with “My soul magnifies the Lord!” Mary’s excited about this news, for God’s brought salvation to her people Israel, and to all people on earth. In the Annunciation, God announces salvation.
Jesus’ Birth. Easy. We all know it. Think about how you know it so well. Every Christmas we tell it, we decorate our house with it. We put plastic light up Christmas Story thingies in our yard or maybe our neighbors do.
While most people know the story of Jesus’ birth, we actually know very little about Jesus’ childhood. The Gospels of Mark and John include no stories about Mary and Joseph and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke include only a few bits of information. All four of the Gospels, however, include the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. In the waters of baptism, Jesus’ identity is confirmed by the voice from heaven and the Holy Spirit descends upon him. Jesus’ baptism marks the beginning of his public ministry.
So just who where the original followers of Jesus and how many were there? We are taught there were 12 disciples, yet even the Bible tells us different names in the different gospels.
Miracles are sometimes hard to wrap our head around. After all, they are something that goes against everything we are used to. Food doesn’t multiply before our eyes. Water stays water and does not turn to wine. People who are blind don’t start seeing because you wipe some mud on their eyes.
The first thing to remember is that a parable is NOT a true story… the purpose of telling it is not to give you history or to tell you about someone. Instead, it is a story that is used to teach something…. a way to think of it is the difference between a story being ‘the truth’ and a story teaching us a truth. Sometimes in a sermon, your pastor will tell a story that may or may not be true; the point of the story is not to tell you something that really happened. Instead it is to illustrate and explain a point.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides a foundation for his followers which helps them to get a more complete picture of his mission to love and bless the world. Jesus’ shares his perspective on faith and life. He offers his understanding of Jewish law, endorses love, not hate, as the proper response to conflict and promotes generosity, compassion, humility and selfless behavior. (Mt 5:17-48) Jesus lays out a template for prayer for his disciples (Matt 6:9-15), warns them of the seductive nature of wealth and fame and makes it clear that God’s love endures far beyond the things of this world. (Mt 6:16-24) Jesus tells his followers that God will be present with them and assures them of a future with God (Mt 6:25-34). Jesus warms them of the perils of becoming self-righteous and hypocritical if their words fail to match their actions (Mt 7:1-5) and Jesus instructs them to “do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Mt 7:12)
Jesus shows the disciples and all of us that He has power over all of creation, over demons and everything that exists. He can send the demons where ever He wants to but instead of sending them to the pit, He shows them mercy by sending them into a herd of swine. Jesus has mercy over those the rest of the world pushes away and is trying to show everyone the love of God through word and deed.
The story of the Transfiguration is one of those that appears in three of the Gospels, which tells us that it’s pretty important! That Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36 each report this story gives us the sense not only of the historical likelihood of the event, but that it made a significant impact in the life of the disciples. Give each of these a read and see how the stories are similar, and if there are any differences.
Jesus isn’t supposed to be with Zacchaeus. Jesus isn’t supposed to be with anyone who is unclean or not somehow “proper”. Good people weren’t supposed to associate with folks like Zacchaeus, but Jesus isn’t affected by what “they” think about his actions. Jesus isn’t a politician trying to win votes by watching the polls. Jesus doesn’t care if his dinner with Zacchaeus doesn’t look good for the crowds. Jesus only cares about his mission to love, bless and save the world and he is willing to do whatever it takes “to seek out and save the lost.”
The image Jesus shared was common enough – a man attacked, robbed and left for dead on a dangerous road. From that point, however, things changed. The Priest and the Levite, people filling holy and faithful roles, pass by the man and leave him on the side of the road. The Samaritan, however, stopped to provide assistance. He sees this man who is essentially wearing the jersey of your favorite team’s biggest rival, and stops to help. It must have been an unexpected turn for those who were listening and hopefully helped them to see that being a neighbor is about more than living near someone. You can read the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
There are a lot of really cool videos on this chapter of the Bible. But it seems like most of them are missing the point. This chapter seems to be all about the lost finding their way home, or the lost things repenting. Like the Prodigal son, he comes to his senses and goes home to ask forgiveness of his father.
The Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable that Jesus tells the Pharisees and his disciples in Luke 16:19-31. But, before we dive into that, we need to define what we mean by parable. Parables are fictional stories use to illustrate some kind of moral or spiritual lesson. In other words, the Rich Man and Lazarus weren’t real people that Jesus knew (of course, Jesus knew a different guy named Lazarus), but instead characters in a story he used to teach his listeners.
This one is about The parable of the goats and sheep.
A parable is a story that someone tells to make a point beyond the story itself. The story is most often untrue, and for all we know, all of Jesus’s parables were fictional stories. They didn’t happen in history. But this doesn’t mean they’re untrue. This sounds like an absurd statement, that something didn’t happen but that it is a true story. But we tell these kinds of stories all the time to prove points.
The time came for Jesus to go to Jerusalem and complete his mission to love and save God’s people. Jerusalem was crowded with people who had come for Passover. Word had spread about the raising of Lazarus and the other miracles Jesus had done, so the arrival of Jesus was big news. People probably expected Jesus to make a big show of entering the city, but unlike earthly kings and mighty warriors, Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on humble donkey. The people were looking for a savior, for the Messiah, so when Jesus approached the city, they raced out to greet him like a king as described in Zechariah 9:9.
Maundy Thursday is also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday and Thursday of Mysteries. It is the Christian holy day, falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels.
Let us pray. Almighty God, look with loving mercy on your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, to be given over to the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
The resurrection is not just something we believe as a historical fact. It is, more than anything, the moment we can look to to see that the world is changed. If the story ends with Jesus dying, even if we believe that he died for us, it ends with death. But we don’t believe that.
While Jesus’ physical presence is made known to Cleopas and the other disciple in breaking of the bread, the reality is that Jesus begins the process of making his saving acts know to his fellow travelers long before they sit down for dinner.