June 23


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Luke 2:1-3:19

We are celebrating the birth of our Savior in the Christ Stream. Christmas in June! We are reading from The Message this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

The Savior is born today!  Thank you Lord for caring so much to send the best of heaven and the whole universe; for sending yourself, so that we may know You, follow You, and be saved.   Amen.

2 – The time had come for Mary to deliver the Savior and the political circumstances required Joseph/Mary to go to Bethlehem. Notice that they went up to Bethlehem from Nazareth in Galilee.  It was a 90-100 mile walk with a 1300 foot rise. The KJV says that Mary was “great with child”; the Greek actually words it to read “Mary had a ‘mega-tummy’ ” – it’s true folks.
-The first outsiders invited to see the newborn king were shepherds. The significance of this as told by Luke is that Luke is writing this gospel with the intent of evangelizing the Greek speaking world. Greeks LOVE sheep/mutton (mutton gyros)/wool/lamb-skin-leather; this whole culture of shepherding. And God tells shepherds –> first!  And He does so by an astonishing sign in the sky –  God’s angel speaking to them. Light, a message, then a choir that filled the sky, good heavens, It was overwhelming!  Another way this pierces to the heart of a Greek citizen is that they had in their legends that Alexander-the-Great was born and the arrival was announced by the greatest lightning storm that ever struck upon earth in history. So a Greek mind would read this and think, “oh my! this is even greater than when Alexander was born!”  Luke is saying to them [between the lines] that though their heritage takes them back to Alexander and Philip of Macedon, their personal king was a greater one to follow; sent from God and He outdoes Alexander.  So follow this Jesus. By doing this, Luke had the Greeks’ attention from the start.  And notice that the shepherds left their flocks (it was night and this kind of thing is not done – y’don’t leave your sheep at night especially). But the shepherds RAN to find Jesus. [Is this Jesus really worth abandoning everything for? Is He really more important than- everything- that- is- important? –Really?  Listen to Luke and hear the whole story.
-Then Jesus is brought to the Temple for dedication and for his circumcision – only Luke, being a doctor, includes this detail.  The story of Simeon and Anna are legendary parts that further signify that this Jesus is long awaited and that He is well worth waiting for.  This even more deeply asserted into Joseph and Marys’ hearts that they were entrusted with an assignment that carried the weight of the world upon them. It was a holy and wholly magnificent task they had to parent Jesus.  Mary took all this to heart, and it never left her.
The next story has us jumping 12 years ahead to when Jesus was in the Temple as a child and He is astonishing the Teachers and leaders and the doctors of the Law.  Now never forget that Luke is telling this story to Greeks and Greek was the language of the Empire – the way English is the language of the commercial world today. Greeks muse about Socrates born 470 B.C. in Athens /& Plato /& Aristotle and they wistfully discuss their books and ideas as they had for several hundred years. These were fascinating men with brilliant minds meandering about the Acropolis offering wisdom and leadership as to how to manage an Empire along with all the matters and thinking entailed therein. Well, Luke is saying, “you guys admire this?!?! Well here’s a youngster who is more enamoring and He is wowing the greatest minds for thousands of miles … and He does so at 12 years old !!”  Give it 18 years and see if He isn’t the most fascinating speaker/miracle worker / healer / leader EVERRRRRRR.
3 – jumps up 18 years and John the Baptist begins preaching in the Jordan area just north of the Dead Sea and near Jericho.  His preaching is so powerful and so poignant that people were coming from far away to hear him and to be baptized for forgiveness of sins.  The rebuke John launched into wasn’t a wild mood swing where he suddenly went ugly on everyone. He noticed that the duplicitous leaders were starting to show up.  They were there because they were upset that people were not in their normal worship services and they were thinking, “where is everyone? why are offerings down?” And this bothered them. Well rumor had spread and soon the countryside and everyone knew what was going on and where everyone was. The people had come to hear John and get right with God. But, the leaders had come to “straighten things out” and to deal with this loudmouth John/Baptist if they needed to.  That’s where the surprising “brood of snakes” comment factors in.
John/Baptist tells of what God requires: be honest, share, stop manipulating and threatening and stealing, be content, clean up your act, etc. [Luke hits on this theme of financial honesty, fairness, and caring throughout his book.]  John/Bpt is preparing them to meet Jesus so that Jesus would imminently arrive to a mood of “WOW, He’s Here!” v.s. “hey, who are you?” ; an atmosphere of oblivious.  It worked.

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June 9


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Mark 15-16

We are in the Christ Stream reading from the book of the Hebrews.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

“Lord Jesus, This day expressed the depth of your love. All we want to do and be are people who understand your love, then live it and share it.  Amen.”
Mark 15 – Jesus is taken by the leading priests and elders to Pilate since they were not getting anywhere with their illicit trial.  Pilate had no interest in killing Jesus since Jesus had done nothing wrong.  As we all remember, a prisoner Barabbas is released, instead of Jesus, since that is whom the crowd was goaded to cry for the release of.  The part where Pilate stalls for time by sending Jesus to Herod is found in Luke, not Mark – in case anyone was wondering.
When the crowd demands, “crucify him!”, Pilate’s question is so good: “why, what evil has he done?”  And to that, they have no answer.  They only demand, “crucify him!” over and again like a frothing mob of crazed drunks.  Pilate hands Jesus over to be whipped, and then to the Romans who mock and beat him and put a crown of thorns on his head.
When he was led out to Golgotha, Simon from Cyrene was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross for him. Jesus is offered wine and myrrh but he refuses to drink it. The Romans crucified him and divided his garments by lot v.s. cutting it – each getting a piece. It was now 9 a.m.  Mt/Mk/Lk say almost identical reports about the sign above Jesus’ head “The King of the Jews”.  John’s report of the crucifixion tells of the sign being in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The squabble about what it said and the chief priests’ fussing about it , the details about the dividing the garment since it was seamless and they opted not to cut it because it was seamless.
Matthew and Mark have the detail about people chiding and deriding Jesus on the cross, telling him to save himself. Luke has very little of this. John has none of it.  [The confession of one of the thief wanting Jesus to remember him is in Luke; none of the other gospels]
“My God…why have you forsaken me? is in Matthew and Mark only for they were writing to the Jewish world.  The distinction at his point of death is interesting.  Mt/Mk tell of Jesus giving a loud cry, Matthew says Jesus yielded up his spirit, Mark says Jesus breathed his last, Luke has, “father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” John concludes Jesus’ life with “it is finished.”
The centurion is impressed to say, “truly this man was the Son of God!”  All four gospels note the women who were there observing all of this.  The Burial of Jesus is given the fullest description in Mark.
16 – The women came to the tomb on the first day of the week, bringing spices to further anoint Jesus and find the stone rolled away, an angel there beside it who told them Jesus had risen and was not here.  The angel told them to go tell the disciples.  Amazing that the news that is most important in history is trusted to the women who are to pass it to the disciples.  What better and most sure way to spread news but the inform the ladies of this grandest of events. Ladies must talk about what they have experienced and are feeling about it.  A culture that had females to be secondary status was about to be altered some and ladies were to be very involved with the men in sharing the gospel everywhere they go.  That still holds true today.

June 2


Mark 14

We are in the Christ Stream and reading from the Modern English Version this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus, do not let us forget how much we matter to you.  Your willingness to suffer; your “passion” is proof of your determination to redeem us. Increase our faith and love so that you – our Savior are our greatest joy and passion in return.  Amen.
This chapter contains the events leading up to the crucifixion. Jesus is in his final days before he is laid in a tomb and the world, at all levels, is about to change forever.

plot to kill Jesus – The elders, chief priests, scribes were from this point beyond determined to have Jesus killed. [Matt. 26 gives slightly more detail if you are curious to compare] About a month prior they were musing the topic rather seriously.  Killing Jesus had first crossed their minds almost a year before. Now, with a few days before Passover, it was a manic decision. They would lose their pompous positions and their world would crumble permanently (as they saw it) if the didn’t rid Jesus quickly; THIS WEEK.

anointing in Bethany – a sinful woman (Lk. 7:37 makes this most obvious) breaks open a bottle of costly perfume and pours the entire contents over Jesus. It was what we would call a $55,000.- offering in current rates. Would you have done this? Would you have grumbled like the Pharisees? No one knew He was going to rise from the dead – they had heard but did anyone know ?. They didn’t know he was the one who would be eternally referred to as the second person of the Trinity. They didn’t know that this man getting doted on in virtual worship was the Creator at work (Colossians 1:16 – check it!) and right there in the flesh in front of them. How would you react to $55k being poured out.  The Pharisees mocked that it could have been given to the poor v.s. expended on a religious person. Gee, have you ever heard a phoney leader pontificate about caring for the poor when they are loaded personally and, in truth, don’t care about the poor at all?!  It happens all the time!
betrayal by Judas – This happens and it’s painfully comical that Judas thinks he is pulling this stunt off, that he is going to be “set financially”, that Jesus is not going to find out, and Judas is doing the intelligent thing.  The prior story is a woman who loves Jesus with no regard for cost. Here is a poser who has spent three years with Jesus, he thinks very little of it here on the brink, and for Judas, it is all about the cost. What can he get.  btw, Judas is still bitterly regretting his decision today.
preparation for Passover – This prescription by Jesus is rather telling (if Judas thinks he can keep something a secret from Jesus). Here is Jesus sending them ahead for the Passover and Jesus predicts every step of the journey to the upper room. It’s amazing. If any of us want to know how to prepare for the future, why consult anyone else but Jesus?  Just a thought!
a betrayer called out – Jesus calls it spot on that someone at the table was a ‘rat’; pardon the NYCity term.  Crazy to think that Judas doesn’t fess up and beg for mercy.  There’s no smart way to analyze this.  There’s no smart way to turn against Jesus either, people.  Jesus final line here makes the blood run cold: “It would be better for that man if he had not been born.”
The Lord’s Supper – Lk 22:15ff is a bit more descriptive, It has the “do this in remembrance of me” part that we recite each communion…. once a month for most of us – so we remember
what Jesus did for us.  Matt and Mark have a very similar rendition of this part. All that to say, the new covenant was upon them.  Jesus body and blood was the matter of the new covenant. The old covenant was not sufficient. It was sustaining, but no one was saved from it. This was needed to verify that Salvation is bought and brought to us through Jesus. And we are to remember this!
Peter’s denial foretold – This was a tough one that is a key pillar is Peter’s pilgrimage. He personally thought he was the most committed disciple. Jesus wanted him to know that God’s grace is what we hinge out souls and our destiny upon – not personal resolve or grit. Peter might have known better to just hear and listen and take it in v.s. try to rebutt Jesus.  I mean, Jesus knows all.  He knows us far beyond what we do.  He saw through Judas, he called it for the disciples so they could prepare the Passover. Jesus knows. But Peter tries to correct Jesus. (can you hear the “wrong answer” buzzer? I can.  Oh well, this only ground it in deeper that Peter needs to trust Jesus, not himself.  He’ll know by midnight.
Prayer in Gethsemane – In case anyone hasn’t heard, “Gethse – mah-nee” is Hebrew for ‘olive press’.  Jesus went to pray here and this same olive garden can be visited today.  It is among the most prominent and painful prayers we ever read.  Jesus is so sorrowful. And the disciples penchant and sleepiness could probably be attributed to denial that led to depression that couldn’t be acknowledged – thus the oppressive sleepiness.  They feel asleep three times on Jesus!  Then “some guests” arrive . . . !
Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus – Judas arrives leading the soldiers and chief priests and alerted these thugs who Jesus was … his code was to kiss Jesus.  Hmmm. He did. They had found this threat, this “false leader” and they arrested Jesus.
Pause and think: who is committed to you? The one who kisses you? The one who denies and curses and swears he doesn’t know you? It appeared that Peter wasn’t committed and that Judas was… not all who scream are untrue to you.  Not all who kiss you, care about you. Point to ponder here!
The Young Man who Fled – this is an illustration how quickly everyone wanted to get away from Jesus.  Not only were false Messiahs killed – their followers were killed also. This was the typical tactic to crush a rebellion. He is as determined to get out of there as Joseph was to get away from Potiphar’s wife when he jumped out of his own coat in Genesis 39:12.  This man
does the same and more.  Peter takes a swing at the high priest’s slave and cuts his ear off. Again, he is committed to defend Jesus and is willing to prove it and does. Jn. 18:10 tells that it’s Peter who did this.  The others don’t specify.
Jesus before the Sanhedrin – Peter is following but keeping his distance as the phoney and illegal trial progesses.  The proceedings are illicit. The testimonies are rigged.  The story line doesn’t add up or line up.  The testimonies don’t agree.  Come come gentlemen, you are trying to conVICT an innocent man who is not a CONvict.  Good luck jokers.  All the same the false trial begins and they are soon brutally abusing Jesus.
Peter denies knowing Jesus – The High Priest’s maid pegged Peter.  She recognized him, deciphered his accent as a Galilean, she rallied others to call it what it was.  Peter panicked and swore and denied the obvious three times just before the rooster crowed.  This is the reality. But the truth is far more important. Jesus called it exactly as it was going to happen.  The finale~ here is Jesus can be trusted and believed and invested in and poured out upon and followed and adhered to and ingested.  Is He worth it? yes.  Are we? No, but He is.     Haleluia