“[…] There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, who was a good and righteous man. (This man had not voted in support of their scheme and action.) He was from Arimathea, […] and was waiting for the Kingdom of God.”
Joseph had previously put faith in Jesus but had kept it private because he was a member of the Jewish high court. (John 9:22; 12:42)
He did not vote in favor of Jesus’ execution.
Upon witnessing it, he was moved to openly promote his faith by facing the Roman governor and requesting responsibility for Jesus’ body. (Mark 15:43,44)
Many of Jesus’ disciples had expected Jesus to own his kingship and overthrow Roman imperialism. (John 12:13)
This false hope became a stumbling block to some of those who did not understand why he had to die.
But in the above passage, even after Jesus’ death, Joseph “was waiting for the kingdom of God.”
Opposite of stumbling, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice served to solidify Joseph’s faith in God’s son.
Furthermore, by preparing Jesus’ body for burial, he risked becoming ceremonially unclean during the Passover celebrations. (Num. 19:11; John 19:38-40)
By ‘taking courage’ and overcoming his fear of man, Joseph not only provided a burial place for the Christ, but the site of the greatest miracle recorded in the Bible. (Luke 24:1-7)
“From now on the Son of man will be seated at the powerful right hand of God.”
Jesus kept a positive outlook throughout his trials, even knowing he was about to be executed.
He could have focused on the immediate pain and humiliation, the recent betrayal of his friends, or the impending agony he was about to endure on account of the sins of others.
Instead of doubting his father’s will, he proudly announced his solid hope of being reunited with his father before the ungodly violent audience of men who held his immediate fate in their hands.
More evidence of Jesus’ optimism comes from the words he told Peter even while knowing Peter would deny knowing him:
“[…] And you, once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
Jesus never doubted the good in Peter’s heart and openly assured him of it.
This leads me to ask myself if I am as open to seeing the good in others and offering reassurance.
Do I focus on the moment so much that I lose sight of what really matters, like my standing before God?
A hopeful attitude can turn a painful situation into a blessing.
“In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.”
While Jesus was asked about the earthly resurrection, his answer seems to apply to the heavenly resurrection, a new concept to his audience.
The earthly resurrection will be in the flesh, much like that of Lazarus or the little girl he rose from the dead. (Luke 8:53-55; John 12:9-11)
But here Jesus speaks of a spiritual resurrection, likening those resurrected to angels.
This begs the question: can angels not die?
In order to die, Jesus had to leave his angelic body and become a man.
When he was born again as a spirit, death no longer had power over him. (Rom. 6:9)
God’s Word never refers to angels as being immortal, the way faithful anointed servants hope to be. (1 Co. 15:53)
Nor does the Bible ever mention the death of an angel.
As my husband pointed out, it is only fallen angels, or rather, demons, who await God’s judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6)
I personally would like further insight into this topic, but it is clear angels who remain faithful to God cannot die.
“[…] Will not God cause justice to be done for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, while he is patient toward them?”
When we or someone we love is undergoing an unusual amount of suffering due to illness or persecution, we may wonder how God can be so patient. (2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 6:9,10)
He promises to remove all evil, pain and even death, but as we personally face trials, that relief can seem far off in the horizon. (Ps. 37:9; Rev. 21:4)
Jesus said we should pray tirelessly, like the widow who sought justice in his illustration.
But Jehovah is a much more speedy judge than the one who initially ignored the widow.
How can we be sure Jehovah isn’t ignoring us?
Jesus made it clear that we need to pray with an extraordinary amount of faith. (Luke 18:8)
Though we may not physically see the answer to our prayers, we can be sure Jehovah has already taken the necessary steps to ensure lasting justice to us both individually and globally. (2 Pet. 3:13)
The real question is, can we endure the wait?
“[…] For this son of mine was dead but has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves.”
In the illustration of the prodigal son, neither the repentant son nor his compassionate father dwell on the bitter past.
They focus on the present and rejoice in each other’s company.
When someone who wronged us, insulted us or even ruined our name and reputation, comes back humbly ready to make amends, are we able to bury the past?
Or what if we are like the prodigal son who squandered everything valuable and lost all sense of self-worth?
Do we trust in Jehovah’s mercy and let him heal us emotionally and spiritually, letting him use us to do his will again? Or do we resist his holy spirit and stubbornly hold on to negativity, even against ourselves?
Jesus’ illustration shows us the wisdom of focusing on the present and moving past sadness and anger. (Lu. 15:11-32)
“I must go on today, tomorrow, and the following day, because it cannot be that a prophet should be put to death outside of Jerusalem.”
Jesus says this while traveling east from Perea back towards Jerusalem, where he knows he will be killed.
Despite Herod’s threats, he still has work to be done. He knows he has nothing to fear while he carries out his commission to the end.(Luke 13:31,32)
Today, we never know what we will encounter when we go out into the community to fulfill our ministry.
Regardless of what obstacles we face, we know God is on our side and we do not let man intimidate us into inactivity. (Prov. 29:25)
To that effect, it helps to meditate on people such as the prophet Elijah and the apostle Peter, who learned to be brave in their ministry. (1 Ki. 19:2-18; Mark 14:66-71; Gal. 2:11,12; 2 Pet. 3:14,15)
“[…] Give as gifts of mercy the things that are from within, and look! everything about you will be clean.”
What are the things “from within?”
Jesus has been asked to dine with the Pharisees and has reprimanded them for outwardly appearing to be spiritual while hiding greediness and wickedness within. (Luke 11:39)
“The one who made the outside made also the inside, did he not?”
Jesus explains God’s justice and love, which we are capable of imitating, should be our main focus.
Then he further denounces their religious hypocrisy. (Luke 11:40,42,44)
So when Jesus says to give gifts from within, he appears to be alluding to sharing generously from a pure heart, with selfless motives.
The attitude with which we give stems, of course, from the way we choose to think. (Jer. 4:14)
At the end of the day, God is looking at whether or not our love is sincere. (1 Pet. 4:8,9)
“And the Twelve were with him, as were certain women who had been cured of wicked spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out […].”
“As Jesus got out onto land, a demon-possessed man from the city met him. For a considerable time he had not worn clothing, and he was staying, not in a house, but among the tombs.”
How does a person succumb to demon possession and why did it seem to be so commonplace in Jesus’ day?
“Insight On The Scriptures” defines it as “the captive control and influence of a person by an invisible wicked spirit.”
That influence may manifest itself physically, emotionally or mentally through the victim.
Luke’s account demonstrates that it is possible for a person to be possessed by more than one demon, and it is possible for a demon to possess an animal.
When a person opens a portal into the occult, be it by superstitious practices, trying to communicate with the dead, diabolic entertainment, or through witchcraft, he makes himself vulnerable to demon possession.
In the case of King Saul, a demon began to attack him when he became arrogant and defiant in his service to Jehovah and lost God’s holy spirit. (1 Sam. 15:10,11,22,23; 16:14-16,23; 18:10-12)
When Jesus walked the earth, many Jewish leaders in particular had strayed from true worship and their attitude was heavily influenced by demons. (John 8:44)
Modern Christians do not practice exorcism, which tends to combine rites and chants or a combination of words, as if a person could be liberated from demons through magic.
Rather, they put on “the complete suit of armor” of Christian lifestyle and outright reject evil practices. (Eph. 6:11-18; Jas. 4:7)
“After looking around at them all, he said to the man: ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored.”
Did Jesus expect his followers to be charismatic faith healers?
Unlike religious faith healers, Jesus’ healings were not characterized by sensationalist drama and were usually rather casual.(Matt. 8:14, 15; Luke 8:43-48; 17:12-19)
The healings were physically visible. Had they been merely psychosomatic healings, the effects would have worn off sooner or later.
For instance, in the case of the man whose hand was paralyzed, Luke the medic says the hand was literally restored.
That is why not even Jesus’ enemies ever denied that the healings were really taking place.
Instead, they planned to kill Jesus (Luke 6:11; John 11:47,48)
Jesus’ healings served the purpose of signaling him as the messiah and savior of mankind. (Heb. 2:3,4)
But after the Christian congregation were established, some would perform “powerful works” in his name without his approval.(Matt. 7:21-23)
Such miracles would no longer be necessary because love was to be the hallmark trait of true Christians.(1 Cor. 12:27–13:2, 8)
His disciples would display that love by spreading the good news of God’s kingdom to everyone. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19,20)
“No one after drinking old wine wants new, for he says, ‘The old is nice.’”
Jesus used the illustration of the old and new wineskins to explain why his disciples would not fit into the mold of Judaism.
He had come to establish a completely new form of worship. (Luke 5:37,38; John 4:23,24)
Still, he recognized that change is difficult and we are reluctant to let go of old traditions.
How do we react when Jehovah’s people publish a new understanding of a Bible teaching? (Matt. 24:45)
Did Jesus expect his followers to stop learning at any point? (Prov. 4:18; John 14:26, 17:3)