The One Who Has Not Must Forfeit Even What He Has

Text: Luke 19:11-27 Reflection and Question: Jesus tells a similar story in Matthew. In both cases, He is about to enter Jerusalem, where He anticipates a final confrontation with the authorities. Luke is very careful to emphasize that the king in the parable is rejected by the people, making a clear connection between this king […]

The Closing Reminders In Revelation

Text: Revelation 22:14-21 Reflection and Question: Like a great preacher leaving the pulpit, the writer of Revelation throws out the most important point as he waves goodbye. For him and his listeners there are the blessed who accept Jesus and receive “a share in the tree of life and in the holy city.” And there […]

Too Miserable To Know What To Ask For

Text: Psalm 88 Reflection and Question: This psalmist asks lots of questions, but not one is for anything except to be heard by the Living God. Though he or she cries out to God night and day, the only answer seems to be the infliction of greater misery and terror. Through questions like “Do the […]

Jesus Teaches Us How To Be

Text: Matthew 18:1-19 Reflection and Question: Jesus’ teachings here challenge us at every turn regarding how we are to live together in the church. We are to become like children and receive one another as children. Woe to us if we become a stumbling block to another’s faith. If part of us causes us to […]

The Jewish Men Banish Their Foreign Wives

Text: Ezra 10:1-17 Reflection and Question: In this last chapter of Ezra, a great assembly of all the people gathered in a heavy rain. They confessed their sin of marrying foreign women, promised to separate from their foreign wives, and agreed to a process for review of every family to seal this covenant. The guilty […]

Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Text: Matthew 17:14-21 Reflection and Question: The story picks up here after the disciples have tried to heal an epileptic child but failed in their efforts. When Jesus hears of this, He uncharacteristically throws up His hands and proceeds to heal the child. When the disciples ask why they failed, Jesus answers “Because of your […]

Better Be Written In the Book of Life

Text: Revelation 20:7-15 Reflection and Question: Amidst all the startling imagery here, which was the verbal equivalent of our fireworks or psychedelic light shows, comes the crystal clear conclusion, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” And how does one’s name get into […]

Artaxerxes’ Letter Directing Ezra to Return to Jerusalem

Text: Ezra 7:11-26 Reflection and Question: The Persian king’s letter, which paves the way for Ezra to reestablish Jerusalem as the center of worship of the God of Israel, is quoted here in full. Ezra is to take people as well as silver and gold. And if he finds he needs something else when he […]

Those Who Lose Their Life For My Sake Will Find It

Text: Matthew 16:21-28 Reflection and Question: Jesus has just told Peter that his faith is the rock upon which the church will be built — and Peter immediately gets it totally wrong by chastising Jesus after He shares the violent fate that awaits Him in Jerusalem. Jesus then takes His message of the first being […]

Who Do You Say That the Son of Man Is?

Text: Matthew 16: 13-20 Reflection and Question: “The Son of Man” spoken of by Jesus in His first question to the disciples was a common phrase in that time, as both a fancy way to refer to oneself and a reference to the vision of a heavenly being in Daniel 7:13-14. That Jesus seems to […]