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Perception, Power and Puccini

December 15th, 2012
Old canal in Milan, Italy

Old Canal

In 1 Samuel 9 and 10, we find the narrative about the beginning of the United Kingdom under Saul. One of the signs by which the Lord confirmed his selection of Saul as king involved lost donkeys (9:1-5). But, the donkeys were not the main show; the kingdom was the power to be perceived (10:2, 16). This origin story of the Kingdom of Israel introduces an important point, that the communications in Scripture often involve information which requires a searching and contrite heart to get it.
Recently, my wife and I were walking in our neighborhood of Porta Nuova, Milano. We had just turned the corner, when upon looking up, I noticed a plaque on a building (palazzo). It read that Giuseppe Puccini, the famous Italian composer had once lived there. This information was new and surprising to us! Now, if we had not known of the work of Puccini, the information would have been meaningless or not well appreciation. But, since we knew Puccini, we were able to drink it in and be glad about this serendipity.
The parables of our Lord are also like this. These parables contain coded messages for those who are able to see, able to hear, and able to understand (Matthew 13: 14-16). But, for those who are unable, they become a hindrance and a problem resulting in spiritual resistance.

In front of La Scala Theatre, Milan, Italy

In front of La Scala Theatre

When Jesus described the kingdom he likened it to small things, common things, insignificant things, which in turn become grand, uncommon, and significant. The seeds (such as the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds); the little coins; the one lost sheep (Luke 15), these all serve to show the nature of the mystery of the Kingdom of God. In other words, the kingdom has arrived (Colossians 1:13), but not with irresistible force. God allows for humans to reject it, if they wish; which, of course, is not his wish at all.
In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus explains that the kingdom is not subject to observation in the common sense.  When he says that the kingdom is “within (entos) you,” [rather than among you] there is good reason to prefer this meaning which infers within your hands; that is, in your power of choice, if you choose it (See Zerwick and Grosvenor, 251-252).

So, who was that Puccini fellow?

Jesus and the Isaiah Scroll

April 25th, 2010

(Luke 4:14-44)

Introduction: Kingdom concerns are at every level (1:33; 2:34; 3:5; 4:43). Jesus’ identification with the Isaiah Scroll brought out 4 characteristics: __________________,

_____________________, _______________________, ________________________.

I. Rejection at Nazareth (4:16-30)

A. Ambrose da Milano (Augustine’s question)

B. Charles Kraft’s, “central control box”

C. What is the anatomy of rejection?

1. ___________________________ (v. 20)

2. ___________________________ (v. 21)

3. ___________________________ (v. 22)

4. ___________________________(vv. 23-27)

5. ___________________________ (v. 28)

6. ___________________________ (v. 29)

D. Jesus still brings _____________________ today.

II. Confusion at Capernaum (4:31-37)

A. Confusion – “in their midst” (v. 35)

B. Demonic activity is ___________ stuff. Is there no _____________ today?

C. 4:18!

D. Jesus still brings _____________________ today.

III. Caring at Simon’s House (and vicinity) (4:38-41)

A. “Does Jesus Care?”

B. Caring brings transformational living among people of the ____________.

C. 4:18 again!

D. Jesus still _____________________ today.

Conclusion: (4:42-44; 24:44) The “Kingdom of God” is a word about God’s presence in the here and now (dynamic), as well as the hereafter (heaven). Sometimes, heaven reaches us before we reach heaven.

Classic Temptation and the Kingdom of God

April 18th, 2010

(Luke 4:1-13)

Introduction: The designation “classic” expresses temptation’s commonality to all men. In this presentation, we will explore the implications of temptation.

I. Implication 1: Temptation has continuity with _________________________.

A. Luke 1:48—54 (Note the “he has…” statements/bringing shock to 5 types of people):

1. ____________________________________

2. ____________________________________

3. ____________________________________

4. ____________________________________

5. ____________________________________

B. Luke 3:4-6 [continuity with chapter 4] (4 images of the coming kingdom):

1. ____________________________________

2. ____________________________________

3. ____________________________________

4. ____________________________________

II. Implication 2: Temptation affects the _______________________ of this World.

A. Lk. 4:2-4 – __________________ = an economic structure

B. Lk. 4:5-7 – __________________ = a political/allegience structure

C. Lk. 4:8-11 – __________________ = a religious structure

III. Implication 3: Temptation reveals what is in ___________ _________________.

A. Deuteronomy 8:2 (test to the intensity of our commitment)

B. Defines who we are (positive, negative, non-committal, etc.)

IV. Implication 4: Temptation serves to validate or ______________ whether Jesus is the __________ ____ God (cf. Lk. 3:38).

A. Lk. 4:3 (note the “if” clause)

B. Lk. 4:1 (if compromised, Hebrews 2:14-18 could not have been written)

Conclusion: Luke 4 would not be the last temptation of Christ; but, it did serve to qualify him for the final test (Lk. 9:21-22).

A Stage Set in theWilderness of Judea:

April 11th, 2010

The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness”

(Luke 3)

Introduction: A stage is set in the Judean wilderness. But, what is this?

I. Review –

A. Lk. 1:1-4 The Dedication to Theophilus. The importance of _______________________

B. Lk. 1:5-80 Announcement of Two Births. History in the _______________________v. 66

C. Lk. 2:1-52 Reactions to Salvation-History. Incarnation proves ___________________v. 34

II. Clues of Importance –

A. Lk. 3:2 (v. 4) – ______________________ is motif from the prophet Isaiah (40:3-5)

B. Lk. 3:15 – This is an _____________________ issue. We sometimes we ask people if they want to come to church with us. This not an inherently bad question. But, a better question might be—Do you think that Jesus was who he said he was?

C. Lk. 3:38 (v. 23) – So, you think that you understand ____________________________?

Conclusion: There is a voice now crying in the wilderness of our own 21st century wilderness. But, who can hear it? It’s not that the clues aren’t there! Clues of Wilderness; Identification; and Sonship.

Reactions to Salvation-History

April 4th, 2010

(Luke 2)

Introduction: In Luke 1, we introduced salvation-history (heilsgeschichte). Now, in Luke 2, we will notice some reactions to salvation-history; as pertains to the momentous occasion of the birth and early years of Jesus.

I. Salvation-History –

A. Definition – __________________________________________________

B. Two births –

1. 1:57 (prophet, 1:76)

2. 2:1-7 (Incarnation, 2:11)

C. Designations in Luke 2 –

1. 2:25 – waiting for _____________________________

2. 2:38 – waiting for _____________________________

II. Peoples’ Reactions to Jesus in Luke 2

A. 7 reactions –

1. 2:7 The inn-keeper’s ________________________________

2. 2:15-20 The shepherds’ _________________________________

3. 2:19 [18] Mary’s _______________________________________

4. 2:28 Simeon’s ______________________________________

5. 2:38 Anna’s _______________________________________

6. 2:47 Auditors’ in the temple ___________________________

7. 2:50 Joseph and Mary _______________________________

Conclusion: So, what does a reaction accomplish? And, when it comes to your own reaction to Jesus, who do you identify with from the list above?

Salvation – History

March 28th, 2010

A Presence for This Moment in Time

(Luke 1)


Introduction: The Dedication to Theophilus (1:1-4) opened the book and contextualized it. Now, the remaining portion of chapter 1 will announce and describe the coming lives of “John the Baptist” (the Harbinger) and “Jesus of Nazareth” (the Christ). [Somewhere in Time (Jane Seymour/Chris Reeves); Back to the Future (Michael J. Fox)]

Objectives:
1. We will orient ourselves to the biblical text of Luke 1

2. We will be emphasizing salvation-history (heilsgeschicte) in Luke 1.

3. We will make some applications about the Lord working in history today.

Prayer: Father, make us aware of your presence in history. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I. Textual Observations

    A. vv. 5-25 Gabriel speaks to Zechariah announcing that he will have a son.

    B. vv. 26-38 Gabriel speaks to Joseph and Mary announcing that they will have a son.

    C. vv. 39-45 Mary visits Elizabeth; staying about three months (v. 56).

    D. vv. 46-55 The Magnificat.

    E. vv. 57-66 The birth of John.

    F. vv. 67-79 Zechariah’s prophecy about the Lord’s fulfillment of history.

    G. v. 80 A synopsis of John’s life until his public appearance (cf. 2:52).

II. What is Meant by Salvation-History?

A. v. 16-17 – ______________________________

B. v. 19 – ______________________________

C. v. 30-33 – ______________________________

D. v. 45 – ______________________________

E. vv. 46-47 – ______________________________

F. v. 77 – ______________________________

III. Contemporary Applications

A. History is still happening.

B. Salvation is still being offered (3:6; 19:10; 24:47)

C. We have the benefit of “after-the-fact” perspective about “the hand of the Lord” (v. 66).

D. Kingdom of God (1:33) will go on even in the face of the worst of the worst.

Conclusion: An appreciation of Salvation-History acknowledges the presence of the Lord in history. We honor the Lord’s presence today through our lives: by what we believe and how we live.

The Dedication to Theophilus

March 21st, 2010

“Is nothing absolutely true?/All things equally true?”

(Luke 1:1-4)

Introduction: Luke’s Dedication to Theolphilus comprises a primary framework for interpreting the Gospel According to Luke (compare  Acts 1:1).  The Dedication also  prepares the reader for what is to come.

Prayer:    Our prayer is that we too would become Theophilus; and, thereby assess this gospel.  May this Gospel According to Luke become accessible to us.

Textual Outline:


1:1    Something has transpired Accomplished

1:2    Something worthy of transmission Advocates

1:3    Something for Theophilus Account

1:4    Something true and teachable Accuracy

Conclusion: In a world such as ours’, where relativism means that nothing is absolutely  true (!), and that, pluralistically speaking, all things are equally true (?), this Dedication to Theophilus could not be more timely.  May it serve to open up the rest of the book for you.

At His Feet

March 14th, 2010

Behold this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed”

(Luke 2:34-35)

Introduction: The Gospel of Luke may be dated about 63 A.D. What was it like to be with Jesus? This was the very question people were asking about 35 years after his life. Many have since then raised this same question; but relatively few have actually chosen to sit at his feet. (See Lk. 1:1-4)

Prayer – Father, our prayer today is that we would ask, “What was it like to sit at his feet?”

Outline: Our message will observe 5 instances of people at Jesus’ feet [taken from the Gospel of Luke]. In each instance, we will ask, What does it mean and why does it matter?

Text Meaning
1. Luke 7:36-50_______________________________________

2. Luke 8:34-39 _______________________________________

3. Luke 8:40-42 _______________________________________

4. Luke 10:38-42 ______________________________________

5. Luke 17:11-19 ______________________________________

Conclusion: Perhaps this lesson has brought us a little closer to understanding what it was like to be in the presence of Jesus. If Jesus were to look down, today, would he find you there? At His Feet

The Kingdom of God in Luke’s Gospel

May 29th, 2009

(1:32-33;  2:4; 34-35; 3:31; 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:10; 9:2; 10:23-24; 11:2, 17; 12:31-32; 13:20; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20-21; 18:15-17; 19:12; 36-40; 22:14-16; 23:1-3; 35-43)

“…and of his kingdom there will be no end”

(Luke 1:33)

The word kingdom is meaningless to most people.  It may evoke certain ancient images of swords and jousting, but there will be no ultimate personal relevance.  In the face of this casual approach to kingdom, one is confronted with Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Luke.   What should one make of this startling kingdom which is anything but casual?

1.       The Kingdom of God provides a context whereby one may discuss and perceive God in history [bear in mind, your history!].

2.      The primary meaning of “kingdom” is royal power. It more often carries the force of dominion (see Dan. 4:31, where dominion is departed, but not domain); more reign than realm.  In Luke, the ideas associated with Kingdom are heightened (see the Luke references above).

3.       For God’s people (who seeing-see and hearing-understand, Lk. 8:10), it is not the past which determines the future, but the future which directs the present.  For the Christian, the Lord of history is not prominent, but preeminent (Col. 1:16-18).

-Robert M. Housby

Disillusioned?

February 13th, 2009

“What then did you go out to see?

(see Luke 7:24,25,26)

When John the Baptist came on the scene, he preached a message of repentance to the people of God (Lk. 3).  Then, after he was departed from this world by order of Herod’s execution, Jesus raised the question to the crowds-“What did you go out to see?” [re: John] (Lk. 7:24-26).  The options are provocative:

1.      “A reed shaken by the wind” – a  sensitive tender individual?

2.     “A man dressed in soft clothing” – a wealthy individual?

3.    “A prophet” – a man of God?

There was considerable disillusionment about John.  Expectations often differ from reality.  John had quite a following; but among those who were considered most educated and most religious-John was rejected; they were not about to subscribe to his message of repentance. In fact, the biblical text says that the elite “rejected the purpose of God,” by their rejection of John and his message (Lk. 7:36).

Disillusion comes in many forms, but when it means the rejection of the purposes of God, it is a severe form of disillusionment.  Be careful, then, that your own disillusionment is not a reflection of lack of repentance toward the ways of the Lord.  “Blessed is the one,” Jesus said, “who is not offended by me” (Lk. 7:23).

-Robert M. Housby