estate October 17 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 8:31:9:37; Matthew 16:21-17:23; Luke 9:22-48

Executors of the Estate

When a person knows he is going to die, often times he takes into counsel one or perhaps even a few trusted individuals with high integrity and the same passions to handle his estate. Sometimes these individuals can be quite surprised at just what investments and property this estate includes. New revelations to his character and connections may also appear. This was true of Jesus when he chose executors of his estate. Since he did not own property, Jesus was talking about executors of a different kind of estate, a spiritual ministry. In a sense, we Christians, too, are executors of that estate.

At this point of Jesus' life and ministry he had a public ministry to large crowds of people. They thronged him everywhere. Now Jesus turns his attention to the private ministry of his twelve apostles. In order to do this, Jesus has to periodically get away from the crowds. He particularly meets with three apostles: Peter, James, and John. Jesus' estate was the mission of reaching people for the kingdom of heaven. He hands this mission over to the apostles. This mission would soon be given to the church, which the apostles would superintend after the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Jesus says many things to his twelve to prepare them for his departure. We will cover them over many lessons.

When big changes are coming to a family, group, or organization, ideas must be introduced, and then repeated, repeated, and repeated for people to begin to recognize the gravity or importance of them. Jesus began to prepare his disciples for his death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus was not just being morose. He was not just being negative because he was having a bad day, speaking from exhaustion, or out of his mind. Jesus was serious. His death for the Jews and all the rest of us was why he came into this world (John 12:27).

Jesus needed a commitment from his disciples. Jesus said, “If they persecuted me they will also persecute you,” (John 15:20b, NIV). He also said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” (Matthew 16:24, NIV).

What did Jesus mean?

In the Roman Empire a convicted criminal, when taken to be crucified, was forced to carry his own cross [two long roughly hewn wooden beams fastened together formed the cross on which a criminal would be impaled with spikes driven through his wrists and ankles]. This showed publicly that he was then under and submissive to the rule he had been opposing. Likewise Jesus’ disciples must demonstrate their submission to the One against whom they had rebelled. The path Jesus and His followers would travel would be a road of sorrow and suffering. But in so losing one’s life, one would truly find a better life, (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p. 59).

Whether the disciples would choose to take up their cross and follow him was an all-important decision for them, because in a short while Jesus would be crucified. Would the disciples continue to follow him or fall away? What about us; will we follow Jesus all the way to our deaths, if necessary, or fall away when times get tough? We know from Biblical history that all the disciples did fall away from Christ, initially (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50-51). They were forgiven, and we can be, too, if we fall away. After Jesus arose from the dead and the Holy Spirit came, however, all the twelve apostles (including Matthias in place of Judas Iscariot, and later, Paul) were willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the gospel. Almost all the apostles later died a martyr's death.

Now that Jesus had introduced the topic of suffering and death, he wanted to encourage them concerning the Kingdom of God. Jesus said in Matthew 16:28 “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom,” (NIV). About a week later three of the disciples saw Jesus transfigured from his earthly form to his glorified body, and Moses and Elijah appeared with him. The three disciples, Peter, James, and John got a peek into the glory of God’s Kingdom.

What was the significance of this event, and why were only these three chosen to see Jesus in his glorified state? In conversations with the disciples shortly before his transfiguration, he asked his disciples whom people were saying that he was. Then, getting more personal, he asked them about their own convictions. In a tangible way, Jesus now showed Peter, James, and John who He was.

Peter was the outspoken one. Matthew records Peter’s answer to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (16:16, NIV). Jesus was pleased that God, his Father, had revealed this to him. The other two disciples were also close to Jesus. The three were leaders in the group of the twelve apostles and they were to become early church leaders. They, in a sense, were to become the executors of Jesus' estate.

What did the transfiguration reveal about Jesus' estate? First of all, the transfiguration showed Jesus in his glorified state as king. Beside him appeared Moses and Elijah. Both bore testimonies of Christ's death. Both were respected as authorities in the Old Testament. Peter was so overwhelmed that he suggested that they make three little shelters to honor them. Matthew 17:5 records that, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” (NIV)

Later, as is sometimes the case in the reading of wills, there were arguments about inheritance. James and John wanted to sit at Jesus right and left side in his future kingdom. They even got their mother to try and convince Jesus. The other disciples were incensed with jealousy. Jesus, however, said that those who wanted to come into his kingdom must have the humbleness and faith of a little child. Furthermore, it was not up to him to give positions in his kingdom but God, his Father. Then Jesus told them they needed to take the attitude of a servant as He himself was doing. What about us? Have we accepted Christ as our Savior in simple faith? (more...) Are we greedy for gain or position, or do we walk our Christian lives in a humble manner, giving preference to others above ourselves?

 Lessons to live by:

  • Jesus' estate was the mission of reaching people for the kingdom of heaven. He handed this mission over to the apostles. This mission would soon be given to the church, which the early apostles would superintend after the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2-8).
  • Realize who Jesus is and live for him who died for you (more...). Serve him in humility, realizing as Christians you, too, are executors of his estate (2Corinthians 5:19)

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

1Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV)

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