perception through a windshield October 27 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 10:32-45; Matthew 20:17-28; Luke 18:31-34; Mark10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43; Luke 19:1-27; Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John12:12-19. Note: Today’s lesson is long because of similar subject matter.

Wrong and Right Perceptions about Jesus

When we look through a windshield we have a limited view of the road. If we are driving in good weather with no obstructions, perhaps we can see a mile ahead. If we are driving in poor weather, our view may only be a few hundred feet. The same is true of our perceptions about life and the future - sometimes we can see ahead and sometimes we cannot see much of anything.

The thee words, “but I thought” usually introduce a misconception. We have all thought things that were not true. We judge things by appearances, but things are not always what they appear to be. In today’s Bible reading, the biggest Jewish misconception of the Scriptures is - when is the Messiah coming to deliver them and bring peace? You may look at our world and wonder the same thing. Misconceptions can be cleared up by studying the Bible to understand prophecy and world affairs.

Most Jewish people and even prophets did not understand how Scripture prophecies would be fulfilled. They only understood prophecies in their immediate context. Many prophecies had a present fulfillment for that day so that a person might judge that the prophet was true in what he said (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Unbeknown, however, was the fact that sometimes prophecies had double fulfillment. A prophecy would be partially fulfilled in an immediate context but would be completely fulfilled in a future time period. The prophecies they read and heard about a coming Messiah brought hope of revenge for war torn Israel and of worldwide peace. Strange words of a suffering Messiah were mingled into these prophecies, but no one understood them (Isaiah 53 is an example of this).

When Jesus came, the people saw miracles that only God could do. They heard Jesus speak God’s Word with authority and truth and thereby confound the hypocritical religious leaders. Jesus was powerful and popular with the common people, having healed their diseases and raised their dead. They wanted to make him king. Believing Jews and even his disciples were convinced Jesus was their Messiah, their deliverer from Roman oppression. This was the greatest misconception of the Scriptures. Jesus did not come for that reason. He came to die for the Jewish nation to restore their relationship with God and offer them (and later all people) inner peace with God (more...). In the future, Jesus will fulfill the prophecies that they expected. He will return to this earth to deliver the Jews, to rule and reign, and to bring peace.

Jesus spoke strange words that he would be mocked, spit upon, beaten, killed, and then three days later rise again. The disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about; they were not listening. In fact, in anticipation for the coming kingdom, James and John, two of the three in Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, even got their mother to ask Jesus to put her two sons in prominent positions within his new kingdom. Learning of this, the other disciples became indignant with them. Jesus called them over to him and said in Matthew 20:25-28;

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (NIV)

Do we have misconceptions about how greatness is achieved? If we want to be promoted by Him and receive positions of prominence, we need to become willing servants of God and people.

In our last Bible study (October 26) we read of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Could not Jesus also raise up their nation? This is likely what the common Jewish people were thinking. The people were in awe of Jesus’ power, and the religious leaders were afraid of him. Then Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem with his disciples, Lazarus, and all those who saw Jesus raise him from the dead. The scene was electric - something great was going to happen! Jesus knew what they were thinking, but they had a wrong perception of his mission. Jesus shared a parable that indicated that he would be presented as a king but would come back at a much later time to claim his throne (Luke 19:11-27). Later, his disciples would remember these words, but not now. Now they only thought of Jesus ushering in his kingdom on earth. We, too, might be blinded by political situations in our world. If we are careful listeners and students of God’s Word, however, we will most likely come to the right perception of truth. The Spirit of God will help us as we study His Word to interpret it correctly.

When they approached Jerusalem, Jesus requested his disciples to go and bring him a colt, the foal of a donkey. Matthew records that they took the mother donkey with them, which would only be kind and perfectly natural. Then Jesus came riding on the young donkey (a symbol of peace), and he was presented as king. This fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. The young Jewish men would have learned this prophecy as they were educated in the synagogues by their Jewish teachers, so wouldn’t Jesus be the king to bring peace as Zechariah 9:10 stated? But strangely, after Jesus was ushered into Jerusalem on the donkey with palm branches and coats laid before his feet and with the sound of praise of the coming king, Jesus did nothing. The prophecy was left unfulfilled. Jesus came into Jerusalem, looked all around in the city, and then left. How disillusioning that must have been. Where was their king? Why didn’t he start an insurrection? When was the kingdom coming? Could they have been wrong about him? How were his actions to be interpreted? If they were listening they would remember what Jesus had told them in the parable: he would be presented as king and then much later take his throne and bring peace. What were his followers to do in the meantime?

Are we looking for a savior from our problems? Jesus can save us from our sins (more...), but what if deliverance from our particular situation comes later? What are we to do in the meantime? Jesus told the Jews what to do from that same parable (Luke 19:11-27). He told them to make good use of the resources he would give them until he comes back. We can also do this. We will be held accountable, as they will be. When Jesus comes back, he will reward us for how we used our resources. We are to use them for his glory and the advancement of his kingdom. Then we will be ready for his return. That is the right perception.

Lessons to live by:

  • Are we looking for a savior from our problems? Jesus can save us from our sins. He can give us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). Our Savior he can help us with life's challenges.
  • Bible prophecies often have a double fulfillment. We must become a student of the Bible and history to understand their interpretations. The Holy Spirit of God will help us as we study. We can be confident of their ultimate fulfillment since they were given by God.
  • Do we have misconceptions about how greatness is achieved? If we want to be promoted by Him and receive positions of prominence, we need to become willing servants of God and people.
  • Until Christ comes back, let’s make good use of the resources he has given us for his glory. Then, when he comes he will reward us accordingly. Let us be ready for his return.

Today’s Bible memory verses:

Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (NIV)

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