The Gutless Governor

Posted: March 18, 2018 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 23:13-25, “The Gutless Governor”

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Although it is probably Edmund Burke’s most famous quote, it is also his most disputed – scholars being unable to find its source. Whoever first said/wrote these words, they are absolutely true. When good people are apathetic people, evil prevails.

Pontius Pilate was certainly not a good person (nor is anyone – but not Pilate, by a long shot). This was a man, who while the prefect (governor) of Judea, often incited his Jewish subjects to near riots & insurrections. He was corrupt to his core, with the Roman historian Philo writing of his “corruption, and his acts of insolence, and his rapine, and his habit of insulting people, and his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and un-condemned, and his never ending, and gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity.” (Philo, “On the Embassy to Gaius,” Book 38) For Pilate to allow an innocent man such as Jesus to be condemned to death was not all-that-unusual – the only thing that would have fit his character better would have been for Pilate to done the act himself.

This is important to keep in mind when reading Luke’s account of Jesus’ final appearance before Pilate, just prior to His crucifixion. It would be easy to read this portrayal, and conclude that Pilate was a victim of his circumstances in front of the Jewish mob. But such a conclusion is wrong. Pilate was no victim; his apathy was just as antagonistic towards Jesus as was the crowd shouting “Crucify Him!”. When it came to Jesus, Pilate did nothing – and terrible actions were the result.

Even so, even these actions were part of the wonderful plan of the ever-wise God. God the Father knew what needed to happen for God the Son to become a substitutionary sacrifice for all mankind. Jesus would serve as a substitute not only for Barabbas, but for all of us – and God used Pilate as His tool to ensure it would be so.

Contextually, this was the most famous day in Jesus’ incarnate history. In the wee hours of the night/morning previous, He had been betrayed by Judas Iscariot & delivered to the various factions of the Jewish leadership, united as the Sanhedrin council. The priests, scribes, and officers presided over His mistreatment & abuse, both physical & mental, as they railroaded Him into a death sentence. Jesus had been found guilty of blasphemy, though He rightly claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah.

The Jews then delivered Jesus to Pilate. Being themselves unable to legally execute Jesus, they sent Him to the Roman governor desiring him to act. Of course, Pilate wouldn’t crucify Jesus on a religious charge, so they invented accusations of Jesus being a traitor – a rival King of Israel over Caesar, who would lead the Jewish people in revolt against Rome. Examining Him, Pilate found no fault in Jesus, but sent Him to Herod Antipas, who happened to be in Jerusalem for the feast. Herod likewise found no fault, though it didn’t stop the Galilean ruler from having Jesus beaten for Herod’s own enjoyment. Pilate had been dismissive & indifferent – Herod had been cruel & mocking – both found common cause in belittling Jesus, even though they knew Him to be innocent.

So what happens from here? Jesus appears once again before Pilate for sentencing, and although Pilate attempts to weasel his way out of it, he caves to the demands of the mob which wanted Jesus dead. Pilate knew what justice should have been; he just didn’t care. When it came to Jesus, Pilate did nothing…and that was his ultimate sin & crime.

Don’t do nothing with Jesus! He is the righteous Son of God…we must respond to Him!

Luke 23:13–25

  • Confronting the Accusers (13-17)

13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him;

  1. Chronology-wise, this was after Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. Jesus had been mocked & clothed in a brightly-colored robe as a king. Soon, Jesus would have a different robe placed upon Him by the Roman soldiers, along with a crown of thorns shoved into His scalp. At this point, Jesus had already been mocked and beaten at least twice, and Pilate showed Him to the Sanhedrin and the crowd with them. This was to be Pilate’s official time of verdict, pronouncing the sentence of Jesus to His accusers.
  2. What Pilate pronounced wouldn’t be appreciated! He believed Jesus to be innocent. Having heard the charges of the priests and scribes that Jesus was a dangerous insurrectionist and traitor to Rome, he “found no fault” in Him. To Pilate, these charges were plainly false. Granted, Jesus had never denied being a King – He received the title of Christ in front of the Jews as well as in front of Pilate. But even in the face of Jesus’ own testimony, Pilate found nothing threatening in Him. There was no indication at all that Jesus was “one who misleads the people,” as Pilate never saw any people following Jesus to be misled. It’s unknown if Pilate was in Jerusalem a few days earlier during Jesus’ triumphal entry on Sunday, although it seems likely Pilate would have been there. Surely this wasn’t the first time Pilate was made aware of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus had been the center of attention in Jerusalem several times – no doubt, word would have gotten back to Pilate. Even with all that in mind, Pilate still saw no threat in Jesus. There was no doubt at all in his mind that Jesus was innocent of the charges against Him, trumped up by the priests and scribes.
  3. And Pilate wasn’t the only one…

15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.

  1. Herod Antipas, though by different means, reached the same conclusion. And surely, Herod was desperately searching for something of which to accuse Him. Herod wanted to see miracles & magic – he demanded a command performance from Jesus, this prophet of whom he had heard so much. If Jesus had demonstrated supernatural ability, then surely Herod would have been happy to agree with the priests about the threat of this King (whose very existence would threaten Herod’s own claims & title). Yet even Herod, who had every reason to object to Jesus, found Jesus innocent. He had done “nothing deserving of death.
  2. Question #1: Should Pilate & Herod have seen Jesus as a threat? Yes – though not in the way that the priests and scribes described. In their own ways, both Pilate and Herod believed Jesus to be harmless…not so! Jesus is the Almighty Son of God. Not only could He have called down 12 legions of angels to help Him, He could have obliterated Pilate & Herod (and all their abusive soldiers) by an act of His sheer will! It was through God the Son that God the Father spoke the world into existence, and every atom in the universe is held together by Him. “In Him, all things consist,” (Col 1:17). Had Jesus decided to act in His power as God, Pilate and Herod would have lost all hope! Was He a threat to their existence? Without doubt! Like the famous line about Aslan in CS Lewis’ tale, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” Jesus isn’t “safe, but He is good.” The only reason Pilate, Herod, and the Jewish Sanhedrin were allowed to treat Jesus the way they did was because Jesus allowed it. There is nothing “safe” or “harmless” about Him!
  3. Question #2: If that’s the case, was Jesus truly innocent? Yes, again! In all of Jesus’ power as God, and the potential He had (and still has) to remake the entire universe, Jesus is innocent of all charges against Him. He has absolute power, and exercises absolute restraint. The Jewish nation owes Jesus their allegiance as the rightful heir of David & their King – yet Jesus at that time did not demand their worship. At any point in time, Jesus could have overthrown the entire Roman empire, but He didn’t. Never at any time had Jesus misled the people, nor had He perverted the truth, nor had He led an insurrection against the government. Every single charge the Sanhedrin invented about Jesus when they presented Him to Pilate was false. Jesus is indeed the Christ, the King of the Jews – but He was still absolutely innocent.
  4. This is true on every level. Jesus is not only innocent of the false charges against Him, but He is innocent of all sin, period! Who among us can say the same? No one. “There is none righteous, no not one,” (Rom 3:10; Ps 14:1). Each of us have sinned in myriads of ways against God. We’ve rebelled against Him, and gone our own way. We have given into temptation, time and time again. Not Jesus! Jesus is the only Man in all history who has looked temptation in the eye, and emerged spotless. Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is totally sinless, not only having been born without a sinful nature (the purpose of the virgin birth), but also having lived His life in total perfection. Jesus is the only truly innocent Man who has ever lived.
    1. This is precisely why He provides the perfect sacrifice for us. We cannot pay the debt we owe our sin – any so-called “good” work we do is already tainted by all the bad works we have already done. Our death sentence has already been long-earned through our vast amounts of sin. It takes a truly innocent sacrifice to take away our guilt…and Jesus provides it! He has done nothing deserving of death, yet He takes our death for us. This is the gospel!
  5. Pilate affirms Jesus’ innocence, which means Pilate ought to simply dismiss the charges, right? That was what he should have done, but that’s not what he did…

16 I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” 17 (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast).

  1. Pilate seems to have been willing to “release” Jesus on the basis of innocence, but he was more than happy to have Jesus beaten on the way out the door. The word used for “chastise” is interesting, in that on the surface it speaks of the disciplining of a child. Like a schoolboy might receive corporal punishment for disobedience (or at least, used to!), this was the sort of discipline to be given to Jesus. At the same time, this same word could be used as a synonym for whipping or scourging (BDAG). Luke never directly mentions the scourging of Jesus (as do Matthew, Mark, and John), but he does imply it here & in vs. 22. The Roman scourging was a horrible punishment in itself, as a multi-thronged whip with straps embedded with stone & glass would be thrashed across a victim’s back. It wasn’t uncommon for people to die from the scourging alone – the later crucifixion no longer necessary.
  2. With that in mind, consider the fact that Pilate was more than willing to scourge (chastise) Jesus. The governor was already convinced Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, but he was willing to inflict a punishment upon Jesus that could easily kill Him. Pilate’s protest of the Jew’s treatment of Jesus rings hollow.
  3. Depending what Bible version you read, vs. 17 might not be included in your Bible. It is included in the KJV & NKJV – the NASB, HCSB, & AMP all have it set apart either in brackets or italics – the NIV & ESV don’t include it at all. The verse is missing from some very important manuscripts, including the one of the oldest papyrus mss that contains this section of Luke. Yet there are many other very ancient manuscripts (codices, etc.) that do include it, all along a wide geographical spread. Arguments can be made either way as to the verse’s inclusion, but there is zero doubt as to its truth. Even if Luke did not originally write of Pilate’s practice of releasing one prisoner during the feast of Passover, Matthew and Mark do, both with ample textual evidence.
    1. The occasional textual issues we see in our Bibles ought not cause us to doubt them, but to have even greater assurance as to their truth. The very reason these debates exist is because so many handwritten copies of the New Testament exist. We have an abundance of evidence testifying to the original writings of Scripture…so much so that scholars can actually debate the rare instances when a verse is in doubt. (And none of those instances effect even one tiny bit of doctrine!)
  4. As for Luke, even if vs. 17 is not original (which it probably is), the issue of having a prisoner released to the Jews at Passover is clearly addressed…
  • Confronting the Crowd (18-22)

18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”—19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder.

  1. Although Pilate stated his verdict for the Jewish leadership (the Sanhedrin), the Jewish priests and scribes got the larger crowd involved. Mark makes it clear that it wasn’t only the Sanhedrin that asked for Barabbas, but that they “stirred up the crowd,” (Mk 15:11). These were savvy politicians. They knew when to restrain themselves due to their lack of public support (which is why they did not dare arrest Jesus openly, but rather had Judas betray Jesus under cover of darkness) – and they also knew when they had the crowd in the palm of their hand. Such was the time. Mobs typically get thirsty for blood, and the Jewish priests and scribes were masterful in getting the attention placed solely on Jesus.
  2. The fact that they asked for Barabbas demonstrates Pilate’s own political failure. No doubt he chose Barabbas as the option other than Jesus in order to make the choice as easy as possible. The Jews could either have this harmless so-called “king,” (in his mind), or they could have this murderous robber. One would think the choice would be clear! Where Pilate failed was his underestimation of the Jewish leadership. The priests and scribes had rejected Jesus as King (as the Messiah, the Son of David), having convicted Him of blasphemy. To the crowds shouting for Jesus’ death, a pretender to the Messianic office was a worse crime than robbery and murder. There would always be other murderers to try; a chance to kill a false-Messiah was far more rare.
    1. Of course, Jesus isn’t a false Messiah…He is the Messiah! This had been proven abundantly throughout His ministry. But the people didn’t care. Once they determined they wanted Jesus’ blood, they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less.
    2. If there was any question about the depravity of man, it ought to be answered at the response of the Jews toward Jesus. Presented with an innocent Godly Man – the perfect Prophet & King, the mob preferred the murderer to the Messiah. They would rather receive someone as sinful as themselves than to acknowledge the innocence of the perfect Son of God. Given the choice, sinful men and women (us, without Jesus) always choose sin…always. That’s just who we are.
      1. Praise God that is not who we are any longer!
    3. Did you notice something about Luke’s description of Barabbas? He’s guilty of the very things of which the Sanhedrin accused Jesus. Of course, Jesus wasn’t accused of murder (yet), but the threat of rebellion was exactly the political charge the Jews leveled against Him. They accused Jesus (23:2) of “perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” If that isn’t a charge of “rebellion,” nothing is! To the Jews, Jesus was the perfect substitute. They’d get back one rebel, and kill another in his place.
      1. Jesus is a perfect substitute – not only for Barabbas, but for all of us.

20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

  1. Pilate was resistant, but the people were insistent. Luke notes that Pilate truly wanted “to release Jesus,” but he risked the mob becoming a riot. At this point, they were whipped into a frenzy, shouting out “crucify, crucify Him!” The NKJV assumes two “Him’s,” when the Greek only has the second. The original wording has the two present-tense imperatives back-to-back, demonstrating a strong ongoing emphasis. Imagine the throng on Pilate’s doorstep chanting “Cru-ci-fy! Cru-ci-fy!” Things are getting louder & louder, about to get more out of hand than what they already were.
  2. Question: What happened to the adoring crowds of Jesus from Sunday? When Jesus entered Jerusalem just five days earlier, there was a multitude of disciples rejoicing over Jesus so loudly that the Pharisees rebuked Jesus for not keeping them quiet (19:37-39). What happened to those crowds? Were the people of Jerusalem so fickle that their loyalties could go from adoration to crucifixion in less than a week? (1) We don’t know that this was necessarily the same crowd, but (2) yes, people are that fickle. That’s not just the Jews of Jerusalem; that’s true of all mankind everywhere. People are easily swayed. It’s not for nothing that we’re often referred to as “sheep.” Sheep aren’t the most intelligent of animals, and they can even be led by a dog. More than ever, it seems that our culture swings from outrage to outrage. There’s always something new to protest – there’s always some new hashtag activism to uphold. Whatever holds the attention of the news headlines holds the attention of the crowds. As a whole, we are not led by principles; we’re led by our emotions.
    1. This is precisely why we need to build our lives according to an unwavering standard. Knowing that our emotions and reactions so often change, we need something that never changes: the word of God. When we build our lives on Christ & His word, then we can know we’re building on the solid rock!
  3. What’s truly shocking about this mob-chant is their insistence on crucifixion. It’s one thing to call for the execution of an innocent Man; it’s another thing to demand He be crucified. Crucifixion was the most torturous form of death in the Roman arsenal – something truly horrific to behold, much less experience. It prolonged the victim’s suffering as long as possible, as they hung upon the cross in utter anguish, barely able to breathe. Yet this was what the mob demanded. This death was viewed as a curse – it was something legally forbidden to administer to Roman citizens. It was something that a Jew should have never have desired for even his worst Jewish enemy, at least valuing his enemy as a fellow countryman. Yet they wanted it for Jesus. They demanded it for Jesus. They could have asked for beheading, or stabbing, or being pushed off a cliff…all terrible, but none so horrendous as crucifixion. Yet Man’s evil was at its peak, and that’s what they asked for.
    1. What was a shocking display of evil from the crowd was actually foretold in Scripture. Numerous prophecies in the Old Testament speak of the death of the Messiah – many are incredibly specific about some of the events leading up to & after Jesus’ death (such as Judas’ betrayal for 30 pieces of silver, which were later thrown into the temple). Among all of it is one very specific prophecy that speaks directly of crucifixion: Psalm 22:14–16, “(14) I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. (15) My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. (16) For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;” The entirety of the psalm reads like a first-hand account of Jesus’ crucifixion, and Jesus even references the 1st verse of it while hanging from the cross. But vss. 14-16 speak very specifically of the method of execution itself. When David originally wrote the psalm, crucifixion did not exist, thus there was no word to identify it – but David visually described it in detail. 14-15 speak of the physical experiences of someone enduring the tortures of crucifixion, whereas vs. 16 specifically describes the spikes through Jesus’ hands and feet. Out of all of the forms of torturous deaths devised by men, the cross is the only one that fits this description. This is what was prophesied by God concerning His Son.
    2. How amazing is the sovereignty of God! Nothing about Jesus’ death was left to chance. Nothing about our salvation was left in the hands of chaos. God decreed that Jesus pay the penalty for our sin, and He decreed how the penalty would be paid. The murderous crowds of Jerusalem may have freely chosen this evil, but it was still part of the sovereign plan of God. God knew what needed to be done, and He ensured it was
      1. What does that mean for us? It means that we can trust His word regarding our salvation! We don’t have to hope that Jesus’ work “might have” been good enough. We don’t have to wonder if it really “took.” Once our faith is in Jesus, then our eternity is secure! Once we have surrendered ourselves to God the Son as our Lord, then we are assured of being included in the sovereign plans of God. His work is sovereignly sufficient for you!
    3. God was in control of the situation, but from Pilate’s perspective, the mob was getting out of hand. That’s when he spoke to them again…

22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”

  1. Once again, Pilate declared Jesus faultless. And once again, Pilate declared his willingness to beat Him to death. Pilate is not a man to be pitied as a victim; he is as culpable as the crowd.
  • Caving to the Mob (23-25)

23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

  1. The shouting never ceased – the mob got rowdier – the priests and scribes kept whipping up the crowd…and eventually they “” Bloodlust prevailed over justice, and the priests got what they had come for: a death sentence of crucifixion.
    1. It’s sadly all too common that the loudest voice wins the argument. Neither logic nor justice matter as much as quieting the one making the most noise. Pilate and the Jews of Jerusalem were not all that different than us today.
  2. Have you noticed what is missing in all of this? Any outcry from the main character. Despite all the people speaking about Him, and the mobs calling for His torture & death, Jesus never utters a word. This is the case in the other gospel accounts as well. Although Jesus does speak a bit in the presence of Pilate (though not much, and never in self-defense), none of the gospels show Jesus saying anything in front of the crowds. He never appeals to their better natures – He never pleads His cause – He never attempts to convince them of His Messianic identity. Jesus remains absolutely silent. Why? (1) If Jesus had spoken up in His defense, He might never have gone to the cross, and He would have sabotaged the plan of God. (2) This is another aspect that was prophesied. Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” There was an aspect of this prophecy that was true at every stage of Jesus’ various trials: in front of the Sanhedrin, in front of Pilate, in front of Herod, and now in front of the Jerusalem crowd. He remained silent as a sacrifice, never speaking up in His own defense. So what? So it shows that Jesus was totally submitted to the plan of God for Him. For Jesus to defend Himself would have been for Him to rebel against His Father – and He wasn’t about to do that. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had prayed that if there was another way that His Father would give it – but in the end, Jesus wanted the will of His Father; not Himself. What Jesus spoke in prayer there, He demonstrated in actions here. Jesus was 100% submitted to the plan of God, no matter the cost to Himself. He wouldn’t even speak in His own defense, knowing that it would endanger the whole thing.
    1. Praise God for Jesus’ willing submission to the cross!
    2. May God help us be equally submitted to His plan for us!

24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. 25 And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

  1. With the will of the priests and the people prevailing, Pilate caved completely. He gave them everything they wanted, releasing Barabbas to them. Pilate may have maintained custody of Jesus, but it was the crowd who had control (with God ultimately having control over them).
  2. Again, be careful not to see Pilate as a victim…he’s not! What he was, was a coward. He knew Jesus was faultless, declaring His innocence a minimum of three times. Yet instead of maintaining justice, per his duty as a Roman governor – instead of holding true to any personal convictions, per his duty as a human being – Pilate rolled over to the will of the mob, doing whatever the crowd wanted. Remember that Pilate had no problem with Jesus’ death; he just didn’t want to be directly responsible. As it turned out, it was something he could not avoid.


What was the problem with Pilate? He was neither willing to condemn Jesus, nor believe Him. Pilate wanted to remain neutral – he wanted to do nothing. And nothing wasn’t an option.

Don’t do nothing with Jesus! He has demonstrated Himself to be the truly innocent Man – the perfect sacrifice – the Son of God. This demands a response. We either believe Him, or we don’t. There is no neutral ground. What will you choose?

The Jews in Jerusalem (both the Sanhedrin and the crowds) chose to reject Jesus. What had been earlier determined by the Jewish leaders as representatives of the people, was ratified by the people themselves when they cried out for the cross. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus, preferring a murderer to their Messiah.

Pilate made a choice of his own as well, though he desperately tried not to do so. When he chose to abstain, he gave Jesus over to the will of the people – thereby being complicit with their rejection. Pilate, just as much as the mob, decided it was better to see Jesus dead than to believe upon Him as the Son of God.

Today, people are faced with the same choice. Many choose to reject Jesus outright. They hate God, being vehement in their opposition against Him. Others choose not to care. Whatever other people do is fine for them, but they don’t want to think about Jesus at all. Here’s the truth: in the end, both groups of people choose the same thing. Both choose to reject Jesus – both choose their own death.

Choose life! Choose to see Jesus as He is: the Son of God crucified for your sin – the One who willingly & lovingly substituted Himself in your place – the One who freely offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe. Do something with Jesus: believe!


Genesis 10-11, “Many People Scattered; One Person Matters”

How much do you know about your family tree? Tracing one’s own ancestry can be rather enlightening! Learning about the past can be helpful. Not only does it help you learn from the mistakes of previous generations, but it emphasizes the fact that we all came from somewhere. If you trace it far enough back, we all have common roots. (It’s not just the 7 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon; it’s the 7 degrees of separation from all of us!)

If there is one thing the Bible is known for in the book of Genesis, it’s the various genealogical listings. For some, they are obstacles to muddle through. After all, the stories of creation, the flood, and the various escapades of the patriarchs can be very interesting – some of them read more like action movies or soap operas than what we might expect from ancient “religious” literature. But the genealogies can be tough. Those are the chapters that bog down many readers, causing many to simply give up on the book altogether. Ironically, the genealogies are what tie the entire book together! The most common section divider within Genesis are the “toledoth” markers, or the sections that say “this is the genealogy of ____.” Those are the things that transition from one section to the next.

So how does one read the genealogies and not get lost? After all, they’re comprised of a bunch of names we don’t know & can barely pronounce. The key is to remember one central point: there is only one genealogy that the Bible traces all the way through…the one to Jesus. All the other genealogies exist to set the stage for the revelation of Messiah, the promised Seed of the Woman (the promise being given back in the Garden of Eden). We have to see the beginnings of other nations if we are to understand how the future Messiah is to bring all nations together in His work of redemption & victory over sin & death. It’s once we remember that, that all of the other lists of names make sense.

Contextually, this particular listing of names comes at just the right time. Because of the sinful corruption into which mankind fell (and plunged in the entire earth, ruining it), God literally poured out His judgment. He sent a global flood, which destroyed every living thing that dwelled upon the ground, both human & animal. Everyone died, with the exception of eight people: the family of Noah. Noah had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in faithful obedience to Him. Noah built the ark according to God’s direction, boarded it at God’s command, sealed within by God’s hand, and remained there until God told him to depart. Noah had been dependent upon God every step of the way, and God declared that His covenant would rest with Noah & all those on board to never again destroy the world by water.

Noah worshipped God, but Noah wasn’t absolutely sinless. He still struggled with his own faults, and Genesis 9 closed with a brief incident in his life in which Noah became drunk, and was humiliated by one of his sons, Ham. When Noah sobered up, he prophetically pronounced a curse upon Ham (and Ham’s son, Canaan), as well as a blessing upon his other two sons who had honored him, Shem & Japheth. It was Noah’s three sons that would go on to repopulate the earth, but one of Noah’s sons would be blessed more than the others. Shem would continue with the covenant of God, the one leading all the way to the Messiah.

Genesis 10-11 show how all of this came to pass. From a decimated planet, the earth is repopulated. Given a second chance, mankind still falls into rebellious sin. Yet from one family will come the one Man who would redeem us all: the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the promised Seed of the Woman. Mankind might be always sinful, but God is always gracious!

Genesis 10 – Table of Nations / Earth’s repopulation

1 Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood.

  1. Genesis 10 is very balanced, from a literary perspective. It begins with a summary introduction, ends with a summary conclusion, and includes 70 nations along the way. Right from the beginning, we’re told its main function: to show how the world was repopulated. Genesis 9:1 made it clear that this was God’s desire for Noah’s family…it was the very reason they had been graciously preserved from judgment. For God’s promise of a future Messiah to be fulfilled, the lineage of Adam & Eve had to endure. Thus, even though all of mankind was destroyed, God allowed a remnant of eight to survive. From that remnant would eventually come the Messiah. Of course, from that remnant would come a lot more! The “more” is what is detailed through the majority of Genesis 10.
  2. One item of note: this genealogy reads differently than others in Genesis (even the one which we’ll later see in Chapter 11). As some scholars note, this is a “horizontal,” rather than a “vertical” list. Instead of listing son after son after son, Genesis 10 takes sequential clans and demonstrates how they spread out across the earth. As it does, general population patterns are shown, primarily in their relation to the future nation of Israel.
  • Sons of Japheth (2-5)

2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.

  1. The “sons of Japheth” are listed first, which is interesting in that the previous mentions of Noah’s sons have Shem first & Japheth last. Genesis 10:21 shows that Japheth is the elder brother of the three. Perhaps Shem has priority in the lists because he inherited the greater blessing.
  2. Although it is difficult to identify some of these nations with absolute certainty, scholars are fairly confident about the majority of them. Some of these names are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, which assists with their classification. Generally speaking, the sons of Japheth went north and west. They migrated into Central Asia & Europe. That’s not to say that the inhabitants of Russia, Turkey, Italy, and Spain, etc., are all ethnic “Japhethites”; Genesis 10 simply states that these were the original inhabitants of these lands. Many cultural migrations took place through the centuries, and the Bible is not concerned with tracking each & every one of them.
  • Sons of Ham (6-20)

6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.

  1. Although we were originally told of only one son of Ham in Genesis 9 (Canaan, included with his father’s curse from Noah), Ham had at least four sons, who in turn begot many nations of their own. Interestingly, three of them are followed in Genesis 10, but one is not: Put. Why? It’s unknown. Perhaps Put’s line didn’t reproduce like the others – perhaps it got mixed in with the others – perhaps the descendants of Put had no interaction with the later Hebrew nation. It’s impossible to say. Again, if nothing else, it demonstrates the fact that the Bible does not give us an unabridged history of all the world; it provides one clear lineage & history leading to Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the promised Seed of the Woman). Everything else is background information.

7 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.

  1. Mainly areas on either side of the Red Sea around the coasts of the Arabian peninsula and northeastern Africa. “Sheba” is most recognizable from the later Queen of Sheba who was so impressed by the rumors she heard of King Solomon, that she travelled all the way to Jerusalem to see him for herself. In ancient times, that was quite a trek!

8 Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).

  1. The genealogy is interrupted to introduce the person of “Nimrod,” a somewhat mysterious figure that plays a prominent role with many of the eventual empires of the world that were future enemies of Israel. He was the founder of the cities of Babylon & Nineveh, though the peoples who eventually rose to power in these areas were of later origin. Yet for the original readers of Genesis (particularly during the days of Moses), knowing the start of these cities was of prime importance.
  2. Not much is said of Nimrod, other than his might & skill in hunting. Although some websites and gospel tract organizations trace Nimrod as a type of antichrist and ultimate founder of pagan holidays mirrored by the Catholic church, actual historical evidence of those claims is lacking. As Bible-believing Evangelical Christians, we have many legitimate differences with the Roman Catholic Church, but we ought to limit our arguments to what the Bible actually teaches us, being careful not to promote extra-biblical rumors and likely false information.
  3. That being said, the fact that Nimrod is associated with Babel & Nineveh (among others), the Bible does not portray Nimrod in a good light. He may have been a “mighty hunter before the LORD,” but that doesn’t mean that he worshipped the Lord. On the contrary – this account provides a strong link between Nimrod & the tower of Babel: a place of rebellion against God. Nimrod is not an example for us to follow; he’s an example of what the world values – which is something for us to beware.

13 Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim).

  1. Mizraim” is actually the Hebrew word used for “Egypt,” so it’s no surprise that most scholars place Mizraim in the area of the ancient Egyptian kingdom. Most of his sons seem to have migrated around northern Africa. The primary exceptions are the descendants of the Casluhim. From northern Africa, they went north via the sea, ending up close to the Aegean region (Greece). From a Hebrew perspective (and thus, Biblical), the main contribution from this is the origin of the Philistines. The ancient Philistines were not native to the Ancient Near East (Canaan/Israel), but they rather emigrated to the area via sea travel from the Aegean. Although “Palestine” is the Roman derivative of “Philistine,” the modern “Palestinians” have zero genetic tie to the ancient Philistines. “Palestine” was simply the name given to the region as a way for the Romans to further oppress/irritate their Jewish subjects. By giving the land the name of their ancient enemy, it was their way of reminding the Jews who was in control (or so they believed).
  2. That has much modern application today regarding foreign policy. Despite their propaganda material, the Palestinians do not have an ancient claim to the land as does Israel. The modern “Palestinians” are ethnically Jordanian & genetically nomads from the Arabian peninsula. It’s no wonder they oppose archaeological digs in & around Jerusalem…any evidence as to whom the land belongs is going to rest solidly in favor of Israel!

15 Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; 16 the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite;

17 the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; 18 the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed. 19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.

  1. Many of these people groups ought to sound familiar – many of them are nations that were expelled from the Promised Land during the Hebrew conquest led by Joshua. These were the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan, but due to their unrepentant sin (even after God gave them centuries in which to turn!), God judged them & destroyed them.

20 These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations.

  1. Summary/concluding statement. If Japheth’s descendants went to the north & west, Ham’s went primarily to the south and west.
  • Sons of Shem (21-31)

21 And children were born also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder. 22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arphaxad begot Salah, and Salah begot Eber. 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.

  1. The sons of Shem have the most ultimate value in the Scripture, although little is said here apart from their names. This is the lineage that leads to the Hebrew nation, and eventually to Christ. The listing will come up again in Chapter 11.
  2. One note that does arise in Shem’s line is that of “Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided.” What is the reference? The Bible does not directly say, although it seems to foreshadow the following chapter, in which the nations and languages of the world are “divided” (separated, confused) at the Tower of Babel. Some have suggested that perhaps the physical earth itself was divided (perhaps through tectonic plate shifting), but that activity is far more plausible as one of the causes of the global flood. Additionally, it would seem that sort of event would have been recorded through all three family trees & not the lineage of Shem only. As to Peleg himself, there is a wordplay with his name. The Hebrew word for “to divide” is palag (פָּלַג). No doubt, his father Eber named him appropriately!

26 Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. 30 And their dwelling place was from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east. 31 These were the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands, according to their nations.

  1. The majority of these lands comprise the Crescent Valley (region surrounding the Tigris & Euphrates rivers), as well as much of the Arabia peninsula.
  • Summary (32)

32 These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.

  1. Chapter 10 is bookended nicely with a summary statement, mirroring the introduction. Following the devastation of the flood, the world was repopulated. All mankind as we know it today descended from the three sons of Noah, and they spread out into all the earth.
    1. Not that these people were always good! Chapter 11 will go on to show otherwise.
  2. Practically speaking, what good is the Table of Nations for people today? Not only does it show the ultimate lineage of the Messiah, but it also shows our common lineage with one another. What place does racism have among humans, when there is ultimately only one race among humans? We have different colors of skin & different cultural backgrounds, but we have the same ultimate ancestry. We are all descended from the sons of Noah, and thus all descended from Adam. We are all made in the image of God, all having the fallen nature of Adam, and all in the same desperate need for the grace of Jesus. Racism is antithetical to the gospel, and ought to be abhorrent to every true Christian.

Genesis 11

  • Tower of Babel / Transnational rebellion (1-9)

1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.

  1. At first glance, verse 1 might seem to pose a problem. After all, Chapter 10 showed how the sons of Noah grew into many nations with their own individual languages (10:5, 10:20, 10: 31). Is this a contradiction? No – it’s a flashback. Chapter 10 was a summary of how the descendants of Noah’s sons spread throughout the world; Chapter 11 flashes back to a time before people went their separate ways. When Noah and his sons departed the ark, each of them spoke the same language – it would have taken time for different dialects to develop. Chapter 11 shows the reader how it took place.
  2. Land of Shinar” = Babylon. Keep in mind, this was before the later city was founded. Rather, it was when people first arrived in the area – most likely, being led by Nimrod. Historically speaking, this makes sense. The earliest archaeological evidence that exists of civilized cultures comes from the Crescent Valley – the general area surrounding Shinar & Babylon. What archaeologists have to dig to discover is told to us in the pages of Scripture!

3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

  1. Question: Is this good or bad? Left by itself without the surrounding context, it might appear to be a simple construction project. People want to come together to build a tower. What’s the big deal? The big deal is their motivation behind the building project: “Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad.” Notice who it’s all about: Man. Again, we need to look at the overall context. At this point in history, the earth is being repopulated after the massive global devastation of the flood. Apparently, despite the sure promise of God never to again do it, mankind doesn’t trust God & wants to fend for himself. More than that, mankind wants to glorify himself – wanting to build a tower that reaches to the highest of the heavens, promoting their own name & their own ego. Barely a few generations have passed since the day of the flood, and already mankind is abandoning God all over again.
    1. By the way, the Bible mentions someone else who wanted to ascend to the heights of heaven in order to glorify himself rather than God: Satan. Isaiah 14:12–15, “(12) How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! (13) For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; (14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ (15) Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.” Contextually for Isaiah, this was a prophecy mirroring the king of Babylon – his pride and fall. What the Babylonian king desired was what Satan (Lucifer) had desired. And apparently, it was also what the original inhabitants of the land that became Babylon desired! They wanted themselves above God & in place of God.
    2. We sometimes think of pride as being a “lesser” sin – something that all of us do & not being too terrible. What we forget is that it is downright Satanic. Pride is the ultimate rebellion against our Creator God because it tells God “I don’t need You; all I need is myself. All I want is myself.” It is the ultimate upheaval against the very reason we were created: to glorify God.
    3. How do we best fight pride? By fighting it to the death. We die to ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus. (Mt 16:24) We reckon ourselves dead to our sin, but alive in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:11). We fight pride by killing it; it is the only way to truly follow Christ.
  2. As for the people in Shinar, what they desired was to build a “tower,” or a ziggurat. This was a tower as we think of a cellular tower or the Washington monument. This was a pyramid-like structure – something commonly found in the areas around ancient Babylon. The people had the technology for the plans, raw material for the building, and all the time they required (so they thought). They could do what they needed to do to elevate themselves up to the place of God, and put themselves out of reach of His judgment.
  3. Their plan looked to be foolproof, except for the fact they forgot one very important thing: God is not dead. 5…

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

  1. It says something about the foolish pride of man for him to think he could build a tower that reaches the heaven, yet the Lord God has to “come down” in order to see it. Obviously, the tower wasn’t all that big! Of course, there is a bit of symbolic language here (anthropomorphism). God the Father is spirit, and at this point within the Trinity prior to the incarnation of the Son, all three members of the Trinity are spirit. God would not have to “go” anywhere to see anything. Being omnipresent, God is all places at all time. Being omniscient, God has all knowledge at all times. It’s not as if God was walking around heaven and was one day surprised to see what was happening in the plain of Shinar. This is literary language meant to paint the picture – to show how the foolish plans of men are reversed & turned upside down by God.
  2. Likewise with God’s response. At first glance, it might seem as if God is somehow threatened by the plans of men – as if He’s scared of the possibility of what might happen. This is obviously not the case. What God proclaims within Himself (within the Trinity) is not fear; it’s a simple statement of fact. Although mankind was united at that moment in history, their unity was leading them directly to sin, and ultimately to death. God knew the hearts of men, and that man’s sinful condition had not improved with time. He also knew what needed to be done in order to slow down the sinful actions of men. 

7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

  1. God had a plan, and God saw it through. If the people could no longer communicate, then they could no longer continue their rebellious construction. Was this a permanent solution? Of course not – various tribes could still communicate, and individual people groups could (and would) still rebel against God. But at least the human race would not be able to do it as one. It was from this point that they were scattered – perhaps divided, as Peleg’s name represented.
  2. Although this event might seem strange to modern ears, this was complete justice! Everything the men of Shinar/Babylon attempted to do was turned around upon them by God. “What the people considered their greatest strength—unity—He swiftly destroyed by confusing their language (v. 7; cf. v. 9). What they considered their greatest fear—scattering (v. 4)—came naturally on them (the LORD scattered them … over all the earth, v. 8; cf. v. 9). What they desired most—to make a name for themselves (v. 4)—ironically came to pass, for they became known as “Babel.” Then they stopped building the city and were scattered abroad.” (Ross, Bible Knowledge Commentary)
  3. In addition to complete justice is abundant mercy! How so? Mankind lived. Think of it: in the face of unified human rejection of God as God, the Lord God did not once more wipe out the human race through worldwide destruction. To Noah, God promised He would not do it, and God was good to His word. Instead, God brought judgment without Mankind was stopped & sin was thwarted, yet mankind was allowed to live. This is mercy!
    1. Again, every single day God gives people to live & breathe is another day in which they experience His mercy! God has the right to judge us with our very first sin, and if He did, none of us would live to adulthood. We are downright sinful people, no matter what our own sins might be – we all deserve death (on a daily basis). But God gives us mercy! Prior to coming to faith in Christ, how many days did God allow us to wake up in the morning as rebellious sinners, knowing we were unrepentant? Each and every one of those mornings was a morning of mercy. It isn’t to be wasted!
  4. Not only was there mercy in that day, there is mercy regarding the Tower of Babel in the present day. The confusion of Babel is undone in the salvation of Christ and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This will be seen in the universal kingdom of Jesus stretching around the world into the Millennium, but what was also previewed in Jerusalem on Pentecost. The tongues heard in Acts 2 were the complete opposite of the unified language spoken in the plain of Shinar. In Shinar, men plotted against God; in Jerusalem on Pentecost, men spoke praises of (Acts 2:11) All of God’s mercies ultimately find their fulfillment in the mercy & grace we receive in Jesus!
  • Lineage to ONE nation (10-32)
  • Lineage of Shem (10-26)

10 This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood. 11 After he begot Arphaxad, Shem lived five hundred years, and begot sons and daughters.

  1. At this point in Genesis, the various nations in the world have been established, so the attention returns again to the one nation that leads to the one Person of promise: the Messiah, the Seed of the Woman. He is the Son promised by the covenant of God, and that covenant has gone from Adam to Seth to Noah to Shem – and it needs to continue from that point. This is what the remainder of Chapter 11 demonstrates as it eventually transitions to the person of Abram.

12 Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Salah. 13 After he begot Salah, Arphaxad lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters. 14 Salah lived thirty years, and begot Eber. 15 After he begot Eber, Salah lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters. 16 Eber lived thirty-four years, and begot Peleg. 17 After he begot Peleg, Eber lived four hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters. 18 Peleg lived thirty years, and begot Reu. 19 After he begot Reu, Peleg lived two hundred and nine years, and begot sons and daughters. 20 Reu lived thirty-two years, and begot Serug. 21 After he begot Serug, Reu lived two hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters. 22 Serug lived thirty years, and begot Nahor. 23 After he begot Nahor, Serug lived two hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. 24 Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and begot Terah. 25 After he begot Terah, Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years, and begot sons and daughters. 26 Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

  1. Although there is much overlap with the listing in Genesis 10, more details & a further lineage is provided here. Of note are the ages of the men – especially when compared to the previous genealogy that included ages: Adam’s in Genesis 5. The length of life has dropped dramatically by this point. With Adam’s initial line, it was not unusual for people to live 800-900 years or more. At this point, post-flood, it ranges from 430 all the way down to 119. That’s quite the drop! It demonstrates a couple of things:
    1. It proves that God’s determination back in Genesis 6 regarding the length of years He gave to men (120 years, Gen 6:3) has nothing to do with individual lifespans. That was a determination for how many years God gave mankind to repent before He brought destruction via the flood. God gave people a window of opportunity in which to turn from sin & turn to God in faith to find His grace. (They just didn’t take it.) God gives that same opportunity to people today, simply in each morning He allows them to breath air & have a beating heart. We need to take advantage of the opportunity we have, because we have no idea how long it will last!
    2. Something on a fundamental basis changed on the earth after the flood. There must be some explanation for why people stopped living 8-9 centuries at a time, and although the Bible doesn’t document the scientific reason for a shorter lifespan, it certainly records the fact of a shorter lifespan. Things today are different than what they once were, even if we don’t know the precise reason why. (What we do know is that one day the earth will be fully restored! Things will again be different in the future – that’s part of the consummation that comes with Jesus’ return & reign.)
  2. Of course the most important point of this lineage is how it leads to Abram (and thus to the nation of Israel & thus to Christ Jesus). That’s where the next genealogy in Genesis picks up.
  • Lineage of Terah (27-32)

27 This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. 28 And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.

  1. Abram & Lot are both introduced. Each man plays a crucial role in the following chapters. Lot is shown to be Abram’s nephew, and the whole family is shown to have originally resided “in Ur of the Chaldeans.” 
  2. FYI: the Chaldeans did not exist at the time of Abram. This would have been later editorial note inserted by Moses. It simply helped identify the land to the original readers of Genesis. The basic idea is that Abram’s roots stretched back to the area beyond Babylon.

29 Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. 30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

  1. The wives of Terah’s children are introduced. Nahor’s line becomes important later when Abraham seeks a bride for his son Isaac, but at this point, the fact that Abram and Sarai cannot have children is what matters. Right from the beginning, the reader is told that Sarai is barren. This sets up their need for the grace of God. Without God’s miraculous intervention, the covenant promise of the Messiah would be lost.

31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32 So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

  1. Sometimes we get the idea that Abram left his family back in Ur to follow the leading of God. Apparently, his father Terah helped get him started. At some point, Terah left Ur to move his family to Haran – something that was extremely uncommon for the time. Yet, it helped establish a pattern for Abram. When God called Abram to move, it would be something he had already done before, to a lesser extent. God was preparing His servant for a great journey – and to bring forward an even Greater Man!


Is there mercy in the genealogies of the Bible? Yes! The fact that there are any genealogies is proof of the fact that God allowed us to live. We, who deserve judgment, are given multiple opportunities to respond to the love of our Creator God for us. God allowed the world to be repopulated, all the while knowing how mankind would once again rebel…but even that was used by God to bring out the Redeemer. All the history of humanity leads to one Person, the Lord Jesus Christ – the Savior of the world, the Son of God. If we miss Him, we miss everything.

Don’t waste the mercies of God! When God gives you a new day in which to repent, take it! When God gives you a renewed opportunity to worship, use it! Use the days you’ve been given not to rebel against God, but to run to Him in Jesus.

Luke 23:1-12, “Messiah Reviled & Rejected, part 2”

It’s like the start of a bad joke, except with ancient characters. Instead of starting out with “a priest, a minister, and a rabbi,” it’s “a Roman, a Idumean, and a bunch of rabbis (priests).” What is it that brings together a whole bunch of people with hardly anything in common, except the time & area in which they live? Each and every one of them rejected Jesus. They didn’t believe His teaching, they didn’t accept His true identity, and they either wanted Him dead or didn’t care whether or not He lived or died. Jew and Gentile alike turned their backs on the Savior of the world. All of representative humanity rejected Jesus and sent Him to the cross.

Of course, this is what humans have always done. From the Garden of Eden onward, mankind has turned its back on God. We’ve wanted Him to bend to our will, rather than submit to His. Whether it was Adam and Eve eating of the one singular tree they were commanded not to eat (despite the multitude of trees they had available to them) – or it was Cain taking out his frustrations of failure on his younger brother Abel – or Pharaoh hardening his heart against the commands of God, refusing to release the Hebrews from slavery – all of it was man putting himself above God, rejecting God’s authority.

And it is not only the Biblical record…personal experience shows that we do the same thing. How many times have we chosen our way instead of God’s way? Sometimes it’s something we consider relatively small, as when we indulge our pride or choose to worship our own entertainment rather than the Lord who gave us life. Other times, it is something “larger,” when we purposefully and distinctly say “no” to God, and we intentionally choose to do things our own way. And that’s just the behavior of Christians! Before we came to faith, many of us chose to either ignore God or to mock Him – that’s just what we did. Whatever our own personal examples, we haven’t strayed too far from the response of the Jewish priests, the Roman governor, or the Idumean pretender-king.

It had been the start of a very long day for Jesus – probably the longest of His entire incarnated life. What had been the celebration of His final Passover supper the night before with His disciples, and an overnight in the Garden of Gethsemane spent in prayer, turned in the wee hours of the morning into betrayal by Judas Iscariot, arrest by the Jewish authorities, and a denial from one of His best friends (Peter) that he had even known the Lord Jesus. The Jewish Sanhedrin (the chief priests & scribes, composed of leadership from both the Sadducees and the Pharisees) wasted no time putting Jesus on trial. In fact, they did it twice (though only once was recorded by Luke). The first trial came at the home of the high priest, illegally performed in front of a small cadre of those conspiring against Christ. The “official” trial took place at daybreak, Jesus having been beaten & mocked by the officers of the Jewish temple guard. It was there that Jesus fully admitted that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and the priests and scribes were able to convict Him of blasphemy.

That was the charge that the Sanhedrin had desired all along, but they had a problem: although blasphemy was a capital offense according to Jewish law, it didn’t mean a hill of beans to the Romans. They needed the Romans to convict & execute Jesus, so that meant they needed to take Him to Pilate, trying to trump up some other criminal charges against Jesus – something that would cause Rome to take notice & kill Him. In the process, Pilate would get the input of another imperial leader who happened to be in town: Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great – the Idumean (Edomite) king who once ruled all of Judea.

Theologically speaking, what took place was more rejection of Jesus. Earlier it was the representatives of the Jewish nation – this time, it was the Gentiles. Be it Rome or elsewhere, all nations rejected Jesus as the King of the Jews, having no fear of Him as the all-powerful Son of God. Just as all peoples everywhere have rebelled against God, so too did all nations reject God’s Messiah. The One sent to save the world was first despised by the world – disdained as being unworthy and unremarkable.

How wrong they (and we) were! Jesus is the King of the Jews, and not of the Jews only – He is the King of the world! Don’t reject Him; recognize Him for who He is & worship Him as Lord!

Luke 23:1–12

  • Pilate’s indifference (1-5)

1 Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

  1. Be careful not to get the wrong idea from verse 1. When the NKJV speaks of “the whole multitude,” it’s simply a reference to the full assembly/congregation of people who were already gathered for the Jewish trial of Jesus. This isn’t a massive mob of people (yet!). There will be larger crowds to come, but for now, this was the assembled group of the Sanhedrin: the priests, scribes, and whatever temple guards they had with them who had put Jesus through a kangaroo court trying to find some legal reason to put Him to death.
  2. Although the Jews rarely hesitated to stone people through mob “justice,” (as seen in the example of the woman caught in adultery – Jn 8), they did not have the authority to engage in legalized execution (capital punishment), which was the Sanhedrin’s desire for Jesus. If they had personally killed Jesus, they ran the risk of the mob turning against them. Yet if they had Jesus convicted and executed by the Roman government, then they would maintain the support of the people. Thus, they “led Him to Pilate.” Normally, the Roman prefect (governor) would not have been in Jerusalem, but in Caesarea – but due to the size of the Passover feast, Pilate was in the city. It made things convenient for the Jewish priests & scribes as they were simply able to take Jesus from one house to another. Keep in mind, it was still the early morning…Jesus had a busy day ahead of him.
  3. The first thing they do upon waking Pilate is “accuse” Jesus, charging Him with all kinds of crimes. Note that the charges against Jesus are somewhat different than what was debated among the Jews. Earlier that morning, the question had still been asked if Jesus was the Christ (22:67), but the main issue was religious; not political. At that point, they wanted to know if Jesus believed Himself to be the Son of God, and if so, they could convict Him of blasphemy (which He did, and they did). Here, the issue is purely political. Here, when the priests accuse Jesus of proclaiming Himself “Christ,” He was really proclaiming Himself to be “a King” – the king of the Jews.
    1. Actually, He’s both. The priests may have split of the charges into what they believed mattered to Pilate & what they knew mattered to them, but both aspects of the Christ are true. “Christ,” is the Greek word meaning “anointed,” which is the translation of the Hebrew word for “Messiah.” The Messiah is the Anointed One of God, who is both the Son of God (endued with all of the power and glory of God, being God of true God Himself), and the King of Israel (being the legitimate heir of David, and the rightful heir to the throne). There are times in the Old Testament that the Messiah is shown to be a human military victor in the role of a king, and there are other times that the Messiah can be none other than God Himself. No doubt the ancient Jews had trouble understanding how this could be reconciled, but in the person of Jesus the question is answered! He is the Christ: fully God, fully Man – Suffering Servant and Victorious King. Jesus is the fulfillment of every Messianic prophecy, from Genesis to Revelation!
  4. As to the charge of Jesus claiming to be Christ, that much is true – but everything else the priests claim of Him is false. They engage in all kinds of lies and false witness of Him, as they attempt to bolster their case that Jesus pretended Himself to be the usurper of Rome. Had Jesus ever said anything about paying taxes to Caesar? Yes – but He said the taxes ought to be paid; not forbidden. It was just a few days earlier that week when the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus with a dilemma over taxes, and Jesus famously (and publicly) told them to “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (20:25) In no way did Jesus forbid tax payment to Caesar! How then could the priests make the charge (apart from outright deception)? It was all insinuation. If Jesus was the true king of Israel, then the taxes to be paid ought to be paid to Him; not Caesar. Again, this was nothing Jesus said – but it was how the priests chose to twist His Messianic claims for their own purposes in front of Pilate.
    1. In no small irony, the priests accused Jesus of “perverting” or “misleading” the nation, but it was they who were guilty of perverting/distorting Jesus’ teaching and reputation. They directly violated the 9th Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” (Exo 20:16). They intentionally testified wrongly of Jesus. And remember that these were the priests & the scribes – they were the experts in Jewish law. Those who had the responsibility to teach God’s truth could not (or would not) speak truth about God’s Son.
    2. Just because someone knows a lot about the Bible doesn’t mean that they know the Author of the Bible. Someone might have a theological degree, but no relationship with Jesus. This is one reason it’s so important for us to know the Bible for ourselves. An “expert” might get on TV, interviewed by the History Channel about Jesus & end up dragging Jesus’ name through the mud. We would never know unless we knew for ourselves what the Bible says about Jesus. We need to be students of the word!
      1. More than that, we need to know our Jesus! As important as it is to know the Bible (and we know Jesus through the Bible), if we study the Bible without coming to the knowledge of Jesus, we’ve missed the point. These priests knew their Scripture & traditions, but they knew nothing of the Savior to whom the Scripture pointed…which they proved through their lies to Pilate. 

3 Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”

  1. Although it may not sound like it, this is pretty much a direct question and direct answer. Jesus did not come out and say “I am,” but He gave a similar answer to Pilate as He gave to the Sanhedrin when they asked Him if He was the Son of God (22:70). This would have been Jesus’ opportunity to refute the charges, and since He chose not to do so, it was as if He received Pilate’s question as a true assumption. “Are you the King of the Jews?” “You said it.” It was about as clear as it got in that culture.
  2. Jesus is the King of the Jews. They may not know it today, but one day they will! The Bible is clear that one day the Jews will have their spiritual blindness to Jesus healed, and all Israel will be saved (Rom 11:26). It says that one day they will look upon the One they had pierced (Zech 12:10), mourning their sin against Him. It says that one day the Messiah (Jesus) will reign over Israel as the Son of David, and His kingdom will never end (Isa 9:7). Jesus is indeed Israel’s legitimate King, and He will reign!
    1. FYI: Jesus isn’t only the King of the Jews; He is the King of the world! Jesus’ rule begins in Jerusalem, but it extends over all the earth. And yes, one day, all the world will see Him & acknowledge Him as such. One day every knee will bow & every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! (Phil 2:10)
  3. No doubt the interview went longer (as indicated in the other gospels), but Luke draws it to a close. 

4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.”

  1. The verdict? Innocent! Even with the direct admission by Jesus about being the King of the Jews, Pilate still found “no fault in this Man.” He found no grounds for legal action by the empire of Rome against the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
  2. As much as we might rejoice in the recognition of Jesus’ innocence from criminal charges, we have to ask the question of “why.” Why did Pilate pronounce Him innocent? Wasn’t Jesus’ admission of being the Christ enough to bring a conviction of insurrection or treason? Luke doesn’t go into Pilate’s motives for additional details, nor do the other gospels. Matthew tells us how Pilate’s wife warned him against having anything to do with Jesus, but that warning didn’t come until later in the day (Mt 27:19). At this point, we don’t know. Perhaps Pilate looked for evidence of Jesus’ kingship that went beyond His claims & the charges against Him. We know Pilate did not understand the nature of Jesus’ kingdom (Jn 18:33-38). Perhaps Pilate was looking for armies or some sign of military might and authority, of which Jesus manifested none. Whatever his logic, Pilate didn’t see Jesus as a threat, and was willing to pronounce Him faultless.
    1. Pilate may not have seen it, but Jesus was more than a threat than he knew! Jesus has more might in His pinky finger than what existed in the entire Roman army all over the civilized world. Pilate didn’t have a clue who it was he so casually dismissed.
    2. Do we? It’s easy to write this off to the skeptics of the world, but there are many cultural casual “Christians” who dismiss Jesus just as easily. They show up at church a couple of times a year, put a few bucks in the offering plate as it goes past, and consider their duty done. Or perhaps we should go a bit deeper. What about those who believe upon Jesus for eternal life & forgiveness of sin, but never give a second thought to Him as their Lord? Is that not just as much dismissal of Jesus as Pilate? Sure, they might not find any wrong in Him, but neither do they find anything right. They know enough of Jesus for Him to suit their purposes, but not enough for them to change their lives.
      1. If that’s how you know Jesus, then you don’t truly know Him at all!
    3. Question: If Pilate found no fault in Jesus, can it be considered Pilate’s fault that Jesus was crucified? Yes! Think about it: Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, yet he did nothing. Pilate could have defied the will of the priests – surely it wouldn’t have been the first time he did something the Sanhedrin didn’t like. Pilate could have released Jesus in order to spite the priests, perhaps even in an attempt to curry favor with a different political faction among the Jews. He didn’t. Pilate did nothing. He chose to let an innocent Man continue to suffer and eventually be tortured to death on the cross – an act of sinfully cruel indifference that becomes even more evident later in Chapter 23.
      1. It isn’t enough to recognize Jesus’ righteousness; we have to respond to it.

5 But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”

  1. The priests were strongly opposed to Pilate’s finding. They claimed that Jesus incited the people, disturbing them & stirring them up with His doctrine. They basically accused Jesus of fomenting Jewish rebellion and revolution against Rome. They pressed the case that Jesus was a traitor & insurrectionist. Again, more lies, but it shows that they pulled out all the stops in their attempt to get Pilate to act.
  2. Question: Had Jesus stirred up the people? Not according to the priests’ insinuations – there was nothing in Jesus’ teaching that directed people to physical & military revolt. But Jesus certainly left an impact everywhere He went! Thousands of people came to see & hear Him at any given point in time. There were times the Jews tried to take Him by force and make Him king (Jn 6:15), and there were times they rejected Jesus & tried to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff (Lk 4:29). Whether their reactions were joyful or terrible, people couldn’t help but have some sort of response to Jesus. And it didn’t stop with Him – the apostles had a similar reputation. They were the ones who turned the world upside-down! (Acts 17:6) They preached the gospel of the resurrected Jesus, the Son of God – and they demonstrated His power & their changed lives to prove it. People couldn’t help but be stirred up, wherever the message of the gospel went.
    1. If that was the reputation of Jesus & of His apostles, then it ought to be the reputation of His church. Is it? When was it that the church became seemingly impotent, unable (or unwilling) to provoke a reaction in others? Perhaps it was when the people of the church became more visible than the reason of the church (Jesus). When Christians live as though they are unchanged by Christ, then the world has no reason to even look to Christ. If we’re going to provoke a response, then we need to show them Jesus

Pilate was just one of the Gentile rulers who would hear Jesus that day. Luke records another, and the scene quickly transitions to the Idumean (Edomite) & part-ethnically Jewish ruler, Herod Antipas.

  • Herod’s insufferableness (6-12)

6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

  1. Pilate found himself in a sticky situation. On one hand, he knew Jesus was blameless of the charges of being an insurrectionist king looking to overthrow Rome. On the other hand, the charges were serious enough that they needed to be fully addressed, lest Pilate find himself in trouble with Rome. He probably wanted to get a little of the pressure off him, and the mention of Galilee by the priests got him thinking. The regions of Galilee & Perea were ruled by Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great. Although Herod normally resided in Galilee, he was “in Jerusalem at that time,” and Pilate saw an opportunity to pass the buck – at least for the moment.
  2. It ought to be noted that the account with Herod is unique to Luke, being unmentioned by the other gospels. Because of this, it has been attacked by liberal scholars as being imagined by Luke. Yet, what would be the purpose? Luke had nothing to gain by including Herod Antipas in his account of Jesus’ trials, and Herod was long gone from Judea by the time Luke wrote – having been exiled from Judea by the emperor Caligula, with his nephew Agrippa receiving his land and title. Bible students might recall that it was Herod Agrippa who heard Paul’s own testimony regarding the Jewish accusations against him. Another Roman leader of Judea (Festus) invited Herod Agrippa to hear Paul’s side of the story, and Agrippa almost himself came to faith in Jesus (Acts 25-26). The point? Although this account might be unique to Luke, it’s not unreasonable. As a historian, Luke has repeatedly shown himself to be truly accurate, and there simply is no reason to doubt him. Considering one of the members of Herod’s household eventually came to faith and was a leader within the church of Antioch, the base of ministry for Paul & Barnabas (Manaen, Acts 13:1), it’s quite possible Luke received the information from him – giving us a fuller picture of the various rejections Jesus endured.

8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.

  1. Herod may have been “exceedingly glad” to see Jesus, but it was for all the wrong reasons. Herod sought a sign; not a Savior. He looked for a miracle & a magic show. Herod Antipas had heard of Jesus for “a long time,” at one point even fearing that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead (9:7-9). He perhaps even remembered his father’s failed attempt to kill Jesus in His youth (Mt 2:16), having pieced together that the claims of the king born in Bethlehem belonged to this prophet claiming to be Christ. Whatever his thoughts of Jesus had been in the past, he now finally had the chance to see Jesus for himself. This was his opportunity to see if Jesus was worth all of the fuss – if He was worthy of all of the rumors.
  2. What is clear is that Herod had no interest in Jesus as the Son of God. If he had, he would have feared at least the possibility of truth. All that intrigued Herod was the possibility of miracles. He didn’t want the Lord; he wanted a light show.
    1. Sadly, this is how many churches treat Jesus today! Forget about the skeptics for a moment, and consider some of those who truly believe that Jesus is God. How many of the people who show up to a healing crusade service are truly seeking the Lord as the Lord? It’s impossible for us to know what is in another person’s heart, but it’s no stretch to say that many who to go to scheduled “signs and wonders” events are going for the miracles; not for the Lord Jesus. When people show up to a church service expecting to see gold dust appear in their Bibles, or to see people supposedly getting “high” on the Holy Spirit, or expecting to receive a miracle by getting kicked in the chest from a self-proclaimed prophet – very little of that has anything at all to do with Jesus being the Lord God of Creation. That stuff is entertainment & personal ecstatic experience; not recognition of the Resurrected Jesus and worship of God in spirit and truth. In the end, it’s barely different than Herod Antipas: a desire to see a magic show; not a desire to see and know the Messiah.
    2. Can Christians ever expect to see miracles from Jesus? Yes – every time a sinner is saved, someone has been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. The miraculous happens every single time someone is made a new creation in Christ. Jesus does miracles every day! And yes, sometimes He does other more visible things – some of us have personally experienced miracles of God. But those signs are not why we seek Jesus. They never are! Even in the apostolic age, the miracles written of in the New Testament were done to point people to Christ; not to call attention to themselves. True miracles of God are a means to an end; not the end themselves. Those who seek a miracle without seeking Jesus waste their opportunity. 

9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.

  1. Herod questioned; Jesus refused to answer. Jesus hadn’t provided much answer to Pilate, but it seems that He remained totally silent with Herod. And why would He? Jesus did not need to dignify Herod’s request for miracles with a response. Herod may have been an appointed leader within the Roman empire, but Jesus did not answer to him. God is God; and Herod wasn’t God.
    1. Neither are we! The only reason we can approach God is because we are invited to do so through Jesus Christ – but we go to Him on His terms; not ours. We don’t go to Jesus demanding things from Him. We don’t go, pounding our fingers into certain Bible verses, supposedly “claiming” those promises for ourselves, insisting in prayer that God had better deliver on them. That’s not faith; that’s rebellion. That’s us putting ourselves above God, pretending that we are the Lord & He is our servant. And it is sinfully backward. Yes, as born-again believers in Jesus, we are invited to freely go to God in prayer, boldly so – and we are invited to pray in faith, believing His promises to be true…but always in reverence and humility. Jesus is the Lord; not us. He is God & we are His humble servants.
  2. That Jesus refused to answer Herod demonstrates a key truth that surely irked Herod to his core: Jesus was in control; Herod wasn’t. No matter his ranting or whining (or whatever it was Herod did at the time), he could not threaten or manipulate Jesus into a response. He could not force his own way. Even as a prisoner in Herod’s house, Jesus was fully in control of the situation, and Herod could do nothing about it.

10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.

  1. Jesus had not gone to Pilate alone. At least a few (if not all) of “the chief priests and scribes” who had gone with Jesus to Pilate followed Jesus to Herod. Just as they did with the Roman, they did with the Idumean. They were always accusing Jesus, always bringing more charges against Him. It was as if they didn’t trust the evidence to speak for itself (which it didn’t!). No doubt, the Jews were trying to force/manipulate the outcome. Too often, it is the loudest voice that wins the argument, and that was the tactic of the priests.
  2. By this point, Herod was all too willing to go along. Like Pilate, Herod Antipas had no real reason to appease the Jewish priests, though there was a faction among the Jewish leadership that supported him (the Herodians). Even so, Jesus’ refusal to answer apparently got under his skin, and he turned Jesus over to his guards for mockery. For Jesus to be “treated with contempt,” was for Him to be treated as worthless – someone who deserved maltreatment. For Him to be “mocked” was for Him to be subject to derision, even supposedly tricked into making a fool of himself (something that wouldn’t happen with Jesus, though attempted by the Herodian guards). Basically, it was similar to the treatment Jesus had earlier received with the Sanhedrin officials. This had become a cruel playtime for Herod & his “men of war.” They wanted to toy with the Man claiming to be King. Hence, the “robe” they draped on Him. It was a “gorgeous,” or “splendid/brilliant” robe – something that might be found on a king. If that was Jesus’ claim, then they would cruelly dress Him for the part.
    1. It’s been 2000 years, but people still mock the Messiah. In our postmodern western culture, it seems that Jesus is mocked more than ever! Atheists routinely ridicule those who believe in “imaginary” tales and “ignorant” myths about God. Some go so far to claim that Jesus was morally evil, in that He healed some blindness, without healing all blindness, picking & choosing the miracles He performed. Whatever the argument, they take the gracious revelation of God in Jesus, and spit in His face.
    2. How ought Christians to respond to such things? How did Christ respond? He died for them. Think of it: when Jesus died upon the cross, He died just as much for Herod & his thugs as Jesus died for everyone else. Jesus died for the sins of the truly despicable – you & me included! When hated, Jesus did not hate – when insulted, Jesus did not insult. Instead, He gave Himself as a sacrifice & serves as our example: 1 Peter 2:21–24, “(21) For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: (22) “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; (23) who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; (24) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” How do we respond when mocked by the world for following Jesus? We keep following Jesus! We walk in His example, forgiving those who sin against us & we commit ourselves to our Heavenly Father, trusting Him to work His ultimate plan. We walk by faith, not by sight – knowing that God will be glorified as we testify of Jesus in our attitudes and our actions.
  3. Why did Herod send Jesus back to Pilate? Jesus was Galilean, but everyone was still in Jerusalem at the time. Herod had a lot of freedom as to how he treated Jesus as a prisoner, but he had not authority within Jerusalem to execute Him. Even if Herod thought Jesus to be innocent, he didn’t care to free Jesus any more than Pilate. Obviously, Herod did not believe Jesus to be a threat (which is why he didn’t fear to mock Him), but Herod also didn’t want to act on Jesus’ behalf. So he sent Jesus back to Pilate to die, leaving the choice in Pilate’s hands as to how to proceed.

12 That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.

  1. It’s been said that “politics makes strange bedfellows,” and it’s proven true here! Pilate and Herod had previously been rivals (Pilate replacing Antipas’ brother Archelaus as the ruler of Judea, the region falling out of the hands of the Herodian dynasty & directly ruled by Rome). However at this point, the two men found at least one thing in common: they each rejected the King of the Jews. They had a common disdain of Jesus.
  2. The same thing happens the world over today. People who are otherwise enemies of each other still hate the people of God. They find common cause in opposition to Christ.


As the terrible day continued for Jesus, so did the world’s rejection of Him. First it had been the Jews, now it was the Gentiles. Jesus was delivered over to two very different Gentile leaders of the day, and came out with the same result.

At first glance, the two men appear very different. Pilate was indifferent, not caring whether or not justice was done or whether Jesus lived or died. Herod was insufferable, wanting Jesus for entertainment value, and extracting it from Him through mockery once he didn’t get his miracles. Both rulers were in sin, asserting themselves over the Son of God & rejecting Him as God. It was bad enough they did not recognize Jesus for who He is – it was far worse for them to turn Him over to death, turning their back on Him altogether.

As Christians, we might ask what it is we learn from these men. After all, they were plainly unbelievers, so what is it that a believer needs to know about them? First of all, we cannot assume everyone who reads Luke 23 is actually a believer! Many people are in the same boat as either Pilate or Herod, having dismissed Jesus as insignificant or irrelevant. How wrong that is! Can you imagine the moment that either Pilate or Herod died on earth, only to immediately look into the eyes of their Judge, finally realizing Who they mocked & dismissed? Sadly, multitudes of skeptics, atheists, and even cultural Christians (in name only) will experience the same thing. Don’t be one of them! See Jesus for who He is, and respond to Him in faith!

Second, as we come to Christ, we need to do so on His terms. Why is it we seek Jesus? Do we really want truth, or are we looking for an excuse not to believe? (Like Pilate.) Or perhaps like Herod, we want miracles & supernatural signs, but have no desire for a Savior & Lord? 

Third, if you have come to Christ in sincere faith, humbly submitted to Him, now we are to walk in His footsteps. We walk as those who have been changed by Him, stirring up the people around us to see Jesus. We walk as those forgiven by Him, freely extending that same forgiveness to others. 

Noah after the Flood

Posted: March 8, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 8-9, “Noah After the Flood”

Fans of radio might remember the familiar stylings of Paul Harvey. A newsman and commentator from 1952-2008, Harvey was probably best known for “The Rest of the Story.” It was always fun to listen to Harvey spin his tale, with the details becoming a bit more interesting, only to find an often humorous twist – which was the rest of the story.

Something similar might be said of Genesis 8-9. There is hardly an American alive that isn’t at least somewhat familiar with the fact that the Bible speaks of a man named Noah who built an ark, surviving a global flood. What many people might not know is: what happened after the rains stopped falling. What, for Noah, was the rest of the story? Genesis 8-9 tell us.

Remember leading up to this point was God’s mercy in the midst of His judgment. Although Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, earning for them (and for us) death, God gave mercy & grace through the promise of a future Savior. Although Cain sinned by murdering his brother Abel, God gave mercy by allowing Cain to live in exile. Although mankind sinned to such an extent that the entire planet of earth was corrupted & all life needed to be destroyed, God gave mercy by saving a remnant. God showed His grace to Noah, gave Noah and his family all they needed to survive, and even shut them into the ark, delivering them from the judgment and death all around them. Although the wrath of God was terrible, the mercy of God was abundant!

Yet God’s mercies didn’t cease the moment the rains stopped. God continued to lead Noah, guiding him & his family, and God gave Noah (and all humanity) the promise of life. God’s mercies would always continue – we just need to avail ourselves of Him.

Genesis 8

  • Noah waits upon God (8:1-19). Noah the sailor.

1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. …

  1. That “God remembered Noah” is not to say that God ever forgot Noah. It’s simply a Hebrew expression meaning that God turned His primary attention to Noah. It means that God knew Noah, the animals, and all of their needs. Now that the major work of judgment had been completed, the next part of His plan could continue.

… And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased.

  1. Although different scholars count the days in different ways, it seems that the rain stopped after 40 days, but the floodwaters as a whole remained at their peak for 150 days. All totaled, this is a little over 6 months, which vs. 4 accounts for…

4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

  1. Midway through the 7th month (i.e. over 6 months / 190 days), the waters decreased enough for the ark to stop floating. The receding of water always takes time – much more so in this case, considering how much water was on the face of the earth.
  2. Where did the ark come to rest? “On the mountains of Ararat.” There is debate as to what this means. There is indeed a singular mountain known today as “Mt Ararat,” but there’s no way to know whether or not this is the same mountain. Considering the Hebrew for “mountains” is plural, it’s possible that the Bible refers to a general mountain range known at the time as “Ararat,” making the specific identification of the mountain all the more difficult today.
    1. Through the years, there have been various expeditions to potential ark-locations, with some explorers sending back various pictures of what appears to be wooden-structures. That said, there’s no way to positively identify any of these things as the ark of Noah, nor are there enough independent researchers who can corroborate the findings. Considering the age of the ark, it is fully possible that the entire structure has rotted and decomposed over time. Ancient archaeological finds are rare in the first place; ancient structures left fully exposed to winds & elements are especially hard to find. (Besides – if men did find the actual ark, there’s little doubt we would find a way to worship it in corrupt idolatry. People did that for centuries in the Middle Ages with other supposed holy artifacts. We would likely do the same with this.)
    2. Question: do we have to find archaeological evidence of the ark in order to know that the ark & flood are historically true? Absolutely not. Absence of evidence is not the same thing as contrary or conflicting evidence. Besides, there is evidence of a flood, as seen in the universality of the flood tales in every ancient culture around the world (among other pieces of evidence). The Bible has proven itself true too many times for us not to give it the benefit of the doubt.
    3. At the end of the day, we need not put our hopes of the truth of the Bible in the sensational claims of men; we can simply look to the resurrection of Jesus and know that it’s true. Our faith is in God; not the news headlines.

6 So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. 7 Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth.

  1. The ark may have been on the ground, but Noah wasn’t in hurry to get off. He remained there forty more days before even checking the outside. Why? In all likelihood, he still saw lots of water everywhere. The boat may have been grounded, but it doesn’t mean that he could navigate his surroundings. Besides, God had shut him inside, no doubt God would be the One to let him know when it was time to leave.
  2. Instead of leaving, Noah simply tries to get some more information. It wasn’t as if he could turn on the news or look at his smartphone. He needed something that was able to scout out the situation and bring him some indication of what was going on. A bird would be perfect for the job; he just needed the right bird. Frustratingly, the raven was not it. The raven was more than happy to fly around, but ultimately it was useless.
    1. Interestingly, ravens were later considered in the law of Moses to be unclean. (Lev 11:15) Perhaps this was one reason why it was useless to Noah. Noah needed information about the work and leading of God; he couldn’t get it from unclean sources.

8 He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself.

  1. Unlike the raven, the dove was useful. Doves would later be appropriate for use in Hebrew sacrifice & worship, so perhaps there is a parallel here as well. Interestingly, when the Holy Spirit appeared at Jesus’ baptism, He took the form of a dove. Doves have been used by God in ways that ravens have not. Whether or not this is because of Noah’s experience, or if Noah’s experience verifies God’s use of doves is unknown – but there is certainly a Biblical pattern.
    1. As with the unclean raven, the success of the clean dove might emphasize the fact that when we want to do God’s work, we need to do it God’s way. We have to have God’s power through the Holy Spirit. Attempts to work for God in our flesh will always be futile; we need God’s power & word!
  2. The raven flew in circles; the dove flew reconnaissance. The 1st flight brought back nothing. There was nowhere to land, so the dove simply came home.

10 And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. 11 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. 12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.

  1. The 2nd flight brought back a leaf and a message. How would the dove know to bring back a leaf? Why wouldn’t it have dropped it along the way? On the face of it, it doesn’t make sense. How many birds have you witnessed flying around with leaves in their mouths? It’s not natural behavior. Thus, there must be a supernatural explanation: it was directed by God to act this way. The olive leaf was a divine message to Noah – it was news from God letting him know that the time was near.
  2. The 3rd flight ended without the dove’s return. Had the dove become as useless as the raven? Not at all. This too, was news – it was evidence that the dove had found a new home. It didn’t have a reason to return to the ark, because it was able to land somewhere else where there was food and provision.
  3. Just as life changed for the dove, life was about to change for Noah! The time of the flood had ended. The original author (as interpreted by Moses) sums it up in vss. 13-14…

13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. 14 And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried.

  1. Roughly 11 months after the deluge began, the event was over. The waters had receded, and the earth was ready for use once again.
  2. Even then, Noah waited. Notice that it was the first day of the first month that “the waters were dried up from the earth.” Finally, this could be verified by Noah via a visual inspection. Yet it wasn’t until almost the very end of the second month (the 27th day) that Noah left. Why hadn’t he? He was waiting upon the direction of the Lord. 15…

15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.

  1. When God said “Go,” Noah went…but not a moment before. This wasn’t Noah being lazy; this was Noah being obedient. Remember that all of this was brand-new – nothing like this had ever happened before (or since). All Noah knew was that God had given him instructions to build, so he built. God gave him instructions to receive the animals, so he received. God was the One to shut him in the ark, so Noah (logically!) thought to stay there until God told him otherwise. But when God said to move, he did. Noah was fully obedient to all of God’s command.
    1. This isn’t an excuse for us to do nothing until we receive a specific “word from heaven.” We’ve already been given commands from the Lord Jesus: to make disciples of the nations, to love one another, to forgive one another, to pray continually, etc. There are days we definitely need wisdom from God as to how to proceed, but we already have His command in many areas. Like Noah, we need to be obedient!
  2. When Noah left the ark, everything left the ark. Nothing was to remain. Nor did the Lord leave the inhabitants of the ark without instruction. They were to “be fruitful and multiply.” This was the same command God had given mankind at the very dawn of creation (Gen 1:28); it is repeated here to Noah and the rest as a grand illustration of how the earth had been given a new start by the Lord.
  • Noah worships God (8:20-22). God appeased & soothed.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

  1. Once Noah left the ark, what was his very first act? Worship! There’s no mention of Noah building himself a house, or starting his new life & career. There is time for that later. For now, the most important thing was to worship God & thank God for His deliverance & provision.
    1. Worship was a priority for Noah; it ought to be a priority for us!
  2. Not just any Noah worshipped God according to God’s desires and word. Notice Noah “took of every clean animal and of every clean bird.” Although the specific instructions regarding burnt offerings are not given to the Hebrews until the days of Moses, at the very least, Noah understood which animals were & were not considered clean. God had instructed him on this when the animals were originally gathered for the ark (Gen 7:2-3). Noah clearly understood that it was from those animals that he needed to draw for sacrifice.
    1. Worship needs to be done according to the word!

21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

  1. God was pleased with the offering, as He “smelled a soothing aroma.” Have you ever noticed that when you smell something really good, it sets you at ease? Like when you walk into a house smelling of freshly baked cookies – it relaxes you & makes you feel comforted. Studies have been done showing how our olfactory senses (smell) are tied with our emotions. Perhaps this is one way in which we’re made in the image of God. Repeatedly the Bible testifies how sincere obedient sacrifices rise to God as a “sweet aroma to the Lord.” There’s something about that smell that pleases God, soothing Him – something that is peaceful and quieting.
  2. Question: was God’s anger soothed with this offering? God’s righteous anger had been satisfied with His judgment in the flood. The whole reason the flood had come was because God’s justice needed to be accomplished, and the vast wages of death needed to be paid. That was done & complete, signified by the fact that floodwaters had receded. Noah’s sacrifice wasn’t done for atonement; it was done for worship. God’s pleasure here was because Noah was worshipping Him, as all mankind ought to have been doing all along.
    1. We don’t worship God to earn our salvation; that’s been accomplished by the sufficient work of Jesus. We worship God to glorify Him & bring Him pleasure.
    2. God is pleased with sincere worship!
  3. In addition to His pleasure, God also makes a promise: He would never again “destroy every living thing,” as He did in the flood. More will be said about that when God formally makes His covenant promise with Noah. At this point in the text, the idea is only introduced. The main point here is the contrast between men & God. Since Genesis 3, there was strife between God & men. Adam sinned, and God cursed the ground. Mankind continued to sin, and God destroyed all life through the flood. This cycle would not continue, as God declared the future. Mankind would always be evil, but God would always choose to be merciful. “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” – mankind is inherently & unwaveringly evil. No one does good, no not one (Rom 3:12). We are born into sin, and apart from the miraculous work of God through Jesus, we repeatedly choose to sin. That is simply who we are, and what we do. If God chose to interact with us today as He interacted with mankind during the days of Adam and Noah, He would have to repeatedly destroy the earth with every generation! Yet He doesn’t. Why? Because God chooses something different: God chooses mercy – God chooses life.
  4. How long will God make this choice? As long as it takes.

22 “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

  1. Although at first glance, this might appear to be an eternal promise, it’s not. Notice the qualification at the beginning: “while the earth remains.” Perhaps a more literal translation of the Hebrew might be, “Yet all the days of the earth,” implying that the number of days the earth has is limited. To adapt the normal translation, the earth will not always remain/endure. At some point, the end will come (although only God knows when that may be).
  2. Until that point, God promises His mercy & life. “While the earth remains,” the seasons will continue changing, the earth will continue turning, and the years will not be ceased. Life will go on. For one reason, and one reason alone: the mercy of God!
  3. FYI, God’s promise in Genesis 8 ought to inform us on our response to the doomsday claims of false prophecy teachers, as well as atheistic environmentalists. Should we be looking for a gigantic asteroid to destroy all life on earth? Should we fear global warming as a world-ending event? No. The earth will keep turning, and life will continue…all up until the point that God determines it will not. Life as we know it on earth will change, but it will change according to God’s timetable; not our own.

Genesis 9

  • God’s promise/covenant (9:1-17). Promise of life.

1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

  1. God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” is repeated, with the additional explanation to “fill the earth.” It will be given one additional time more before this section is finished, which goes underscores its importance. Any command of God is important to be followed, but when God gives it three times, it is crucial! From the perspective of Noah, it makes perfect sense. After all, Noah and his sons were the sole remnant of humanity remaining upon earth. The primary reason they were saved was for the purpose of repopulation. After all, if God had desired, He could have simply reformed a new Adam from the dust of the ground. Noah and his sons were by no means required for humanity to exist. What they were required for, was for God’s promise of a future Messiah (Seed of the woman) to continue. If God had completely started over, His promise to Adam & Eve would have been null & void, and that’s impossible as God’s word is always Thus, Noah and his sons had to multiply; it was essential to the hope of our salvation.
    1. BTW – We have a similar command as that of Noah and his sons: the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19–20, “(19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” What is this, other than the command to be fruitful & multiply? As disciples of Jesus, we are to make other disciples of Jesus. We are to multiply ourselves among every nation, filling the earth. …
  2. As for Noah and the animals, all of them were originally commanded to multiply – but that’s where many of the similarities end. Mankind’s relationship with the animals was to drastically change. 

2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

  1. Animals now had a new fear: humans. Why? Because animals now had a new predator: humans. Recall that prior to Noah, the only food God had given to mankind was plant-life. Actually, at the very beginning, plants were the only food that God gave to all living creatures, human or animal (Gen 1:29-30). Whether or not that continued with the animals past the Fall is unknown, but it was certainly that way for humans. That’s not to say humans were always obedient in this. Of the line of Cain, a descendant by the name of Jabal was the father of nomadic ranchers (Gen 4:20). Presumably, he raised livestock for some form of slaughter, most likely as food. Even so, God’s stated command to humans was for a vegetarian diet…all until this point. Now, things changed & God gave animal meat as food.
  2. What God did not give was animal blood as food. The blood of the animal represented the life of the animal, and the life (and the blood) belongs to God & God alone. 

5 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. 7 And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.”

  1. In the sad event of Cain & Abel, the blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground (Gen 4:10). God knows when blood is shed, and He will not be blind to crimes of violence. He may have promised not to destroy the earth, but He did not promise to forsake His justice. Man was made “in the image of God,” so it’s no wonder that God takes the crime of murder seriously. An attack on man is an attack upon God’s own character & nature. It is the ultimate act of rebellion against one’s Creator.
  2. Interestingly, the prohibition against shedding blood is put side-by-side with the final repetition to be fruitful & multiply. Why? Because it frames the idea perfectly. Don’t take life; give it. We are made in the image of God, so we ought to act according to the character of God. God’s desire is not that life be lost (His will is that none should perish), but that life be received. As His special creation & His people, we are to act in the same way. Instead of stealing life from someone, we are to give it. The closest physical act that mirrors this is childbirth – thus, be fruitful & multiply.
    1. As a general principle, this doesn’t mean that married people are obligated to continually bear children until our bodies give out. It does mean we are to act according to the benefit of others, rather than their detriment. We can either be life-takers, or life-givers. Which more reflects the character of our Lord Jesus? 

8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.

  1. Remember that a covenant is an agreement – like a contract, but stronger. God had promised to make His covenant with Noah, prior to the flood & all the judgment (Gen 6:18). He had guaranteed life to Noah, saying what He would do in the future when He established His covenant. Here, the covenant is actually established. God kept His word, and make His unbreakable commitment to Noah.
  2. Note that it’s more than Noah; God made His covenant with all living things. In one respect, Noah had a specific covenant that belongs to him & his family (that of the Messiah, which was the point of Gen 6:18); here the covenant dictates how God will interact with all the earth, which is why everyone & everything is included.

11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

  1. Never another flood! Although we have had untold number of floods throughout history in almost every continent on the planet (Antarctica excepted?), we’ve never seen a global flood like the one of Noah’s day. What happened then has never happened again. God promised it, and His promise is good.
  2. That said, God never promised no future destruction; just a future flood. Remember, the days of the earth are limited. When the end comes, because of God’s promise, it won’t be a flood; it will be fire. 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” To be sure, there will be much destruction that precedes this event, during the 7 years of the Great Tribulation… Yet at its ultimate conclusion, the heavens and earth will be totally remade into a new creation. It doesn’t happen via a washing of water, but of a purification by fire. Our God is a consuming fire (Hb 12:29); His own personal holiness will remake the universe into what He had intended for it all along.

12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

  1. Covenant sign: the rainbow. This doesn’t expressly say that rainbows never existed prior to the flood; it simply affirms that the rainbow was specifically set apart by God after the flood. (Though it could have been created in this moment. The Bible simply doesn’t specify.)
  2. How long would this sign last? As long as the earth is here, so is the rainbow. As long as there are rainbows, we have continual reminders of God’s continual mercies.
    1. Modern culture desires to repurpose the rainbow. Popularly speaking, it has been adopted as a sign of the homosexual movement (rainbow flags, etc.). Never forget its original purpose! Mankind always twists what God gives for good. One day it’s the rainbow – the next day, it’s the cross as it’s used for nothing more than jewelry or a generic sign of someone’s death. Don’t let pop culture inform you as to what things mean; turn to the word of God. What God has given for good – what God has given to point us back to Himself – let us continually use these things for His given intent!

14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

  1. God sees; God remembers. When He sees the rainbow, He remembers His promise. When living things see the rainbow, we remember His promise. That’s the whole point of having a sign accompany covenants. It was to be a reminder of the promise that was made. Be it the rainbow – circumcision – the Sabbath…all of these are reminders of God’s promises to His people.
    1. There’s one more given in the New Testament: the blood of Jesus via the cup of communion. That is a visible sign of the promises we have in God!
  2. In a similar way, God sees & remembers. He sees the sign of His covenant on us, when He sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He sees us included in the new covenant of forgiveness & grace when we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. He sees those signs, and He remembers.

17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

  1. Again, this is a divine covenant between God and all things, “all flesh.” And it is! Think about it: do only Christians benefit from the mercies of God as demonstrated through the rainbow? Of course not. Believers & non-believers benefit from God choosing never to destroy the earth through a global flood. Every living creature (human or animal) is included in these covenant blessings.
    1. It also means that every single person has the opportunity to know God in His mercy. They don’t have to be removed from Him. They can know Him in His grace through Jesus!

With Noah off the ark, and the whole events of the flood wrapped up, the book of Genesis gives us a bit of a postscript. Noah and his sons were to go repopulate the earth, hopefully setting an example of righteousness for future generations. Were they successful? That’s what the remainder of Chapter 9 describes…

  • Noah’s legacy (9:18-29). Farmer Noah curses his son.

18 Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.

  1. The earth was repopulated (the details of which are described in Chapter 10). At this point, we’re only told of one child of the next generation: Canaan, who bears importance because of the events of the text.
  2. Interestingly, we only read of descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth; not Noah. Technically, we’re all descended from Noah, but it seems that the only sons he personally sired were the three that boarded the ark with him. As to why he did not have more children (especially after the command of God) is unsaid. It’s not likely that Noah was purposefully disobedient, and it’s quite possible that this was God’s desire all along. We simply don’t know the reason why.

20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent.

  1. Noah’s post-flood career choice is unsurprising. Mankind had originally been commissioned as farmers (Gen 2:15), and no doubt this was Noah’s lifestyle prior to being called into shipbuilding service. He probably went back to what he had always known.
  2. What is surprising is what he did as a farmer. Planting a vineyard was normal, as was drinking the wine – but drunkenness would probably have been out of character for Noah. Remember that Noah was considered a “just man, perfect in his generations,” (Gen 6:9). That doesn’t mean he was 100% sinless; only that sin didn’t stick to him. His general lifestyle wasn’t one of sin, but of honoring & walking with God. The event described here fits more of the people who lived around Noah prior to the flood; not Noah himself.
  3. Again, Noah wasn’t absolutely perfect. He was just in much of the grace of God as any of us – and he found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen 6:8). Everyone has their “off” days, and this seemed to have been Noah’s. What he did wasn’t absolutely terrible, but it certainly wasn’t wise. For the most part, he kept to himself in his tent, but he set an awful example for his sons, potentially helping one of them stumble into awful sin.
    1. That’s part of the problem with so-called “victimless sins.” We think the only person we harm is ourselves, but our witness is damaged, and who can know what the ramifications of that will be?

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

  1. Ham was the first son of Noah to discover his father in his uncovered state. That in itself wouldn’t have been a problem. If he had walked in & immediately walked out seeking help for his father, surely nothing more would have been said or written. What’s implied by the text is something far different. In some unknown way, Ham dishonored his father. Speculation abounds as to what he did, but there’s no way to know. At the very least, he tattled on his father to his two brothers. He brought enough shame to his father to spur his brothers into action. Think of it: Ham could have simply warned his brothers not to enter the tent, or even guarded the entrance to guard his father’s dignity. Instead, he spread the news – perhaps even gloating over it all. The bottom line: he dishonored his dad.
  2. The contrast was with Shem and Japheth. They honored their father by covering his “nakedness,” taking pains to do so in a way that they wouldn’t even see Noah’s situation for themselves. What they did was born out of love & respect – they did to their father what they surely would have wanted done for themselves.
    1. Love doesn’t gloat over sin; it covers it.
    2. We see this in the gospel! Jesus doesn’t expose our sin for all the world to see; He covers it with His sacrifice & His blood.

24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.

  1. Apparently although Noah was drunk, he wasn’t completely passed out. Once he sobered up, he was able to remember what had happened. Again, the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what Ham did to humiliate his father, but something Noah “knew what his younger son had done to him.
  2. That’s when Noah takes action, as the priestly head of his household. 

25 Then he said: “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brethren.” 26 And he said: “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem, And may Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, And may he dwell in the tents of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.”

  1. Just as Ham dishonored the generation before him, Noah cursed the generations after him. Ham is punished through the prophetic announcement placed on his son, Canaan. Canaan was to forever be in subjugation to the other two clans of Noah’s sons, being a “servant of servants” to them.
  2. Question: why did Noah punish Canaan, rather than Ham? God’s word later speaks of how God does not punish the son for the sins of the father (Ezek 18:20). God is just, and each person has to account for his/her own sin. Even so, sometimes sons & daughters do follow in the examples set by their fathers & mothers. God’s word is also clear that sins of the fathers often visit the third and fourth generation of their children (Exo 20:5). That would seem to be (at least part of) the case here. Ham had sinned, but the effects of Ham’s sin would endure. Ham’s actions simply revealed Ham’s character, and this was what he was passing on to his children – something that would not be without consequence.
  3. Ultimately, we need to recognize that Noah was not simply speaking as a parent, but as a prophet. What he declared here was actually the decree of God. Canaan was cursed and did serve as conquered servants to the descendants of Shem. After all, among the descendants of Shem were the Israelites (i.e. “Semitic” peoples), and when God brought them into the Promised Land, they conquered the Canaanites. What was prophesied by Noah was later fulfilled in the days of Moses & Joshua. (And it still has ramifications today!)

28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.

  1. With this note, it appears that Noah was the third oldest man recorded in Scripture. Jared had lived to be 962 (Gen 5:20), and Methuselah lived to be 969 (Gen 5:27). Noah had been 500 years old by the time he bore children, and 600 years old at the time of the flood. He had lived long enough to see corruption on the earth, the cleansing brought through God’s judgment, and the continual mercies of God in the days that followed. He may not have been perfect, but he lived life to the full!


The mercies of God are amazing! God took Noah through the flood – God gave him guidance via the dove – God gave him instruction & a commission to fill the earth – God was pleased with his worship – and God promised him life. Did Noah deserve any of it? Of course not – he struggled with sin just like all of us (as seen in his later life). But God still gave it. God promised His covenant of life, and He made it available to all the world.

Luke 22:63-71, “Messiah Reviled and Rejected”

Have you ever had a day when everything seemed turned upside-down? (Perhaps the better question is: When did you last have a day when everything was upside-down?) What’s right is thought to be wrong, and the things you thought should happen are the things that are forbidden. Those are days you can barely believe what is happening, even though you’re watching it with your own eyes. For some people, that might explain your reaction every time you turn on the news – for others, it seems like that on a daily basis at work.

Yet there are times that stand out as being worse than the rest. January 22, 1973 might be one of those days, as it was the day the Supreme Court found a supposed “right to abortion,” when deciding the infamous case of Roe v. Wade. November 22, 1963 may have been another one, when JFK was assassinated in the streets of Dallas. Going back further in history, perhaps December 7, 1941 was another upside-down date, when the Imperial Japanese military sunk the US Navy Fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Yet those dates pale in comparison with the night of Jewish Passover, ~33AD, when Jesus was arrested and put on trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin. The very people that ought to have bowed their knees to Him as their king, and lay prostrate before Him worshipping Him as their God, were the people who reviled and rejected Him. Jewish officers responsible for keeping the peace physically abused the Son of God. Jewish priests and elders responsible for teaching the written word of God blasphemed and rejected the living Word of God. Everything was upside down, and it was awful.

Yet in the midst of the chaos, there wasn’t really any chaos at all. What seemed to have been confusion was actually all under control. Though the Son of God was rejected, this was the very plan of God – necessary in order for Jesus to go to the cross and purchase salvation for all men.

ALL men. Even the ones who at that very moment struck Him & abused Him – even those would have Jesus pay the price for their sin on the cross. They didn’t know it…most of them wouldn’t believe it…but Jesus did it. All of this rejection was once necessary, in order that men and women might be saved. The Jews rejected Him once, with the invitation of God going out to us, that no one need reject Him again.

Technically, Jesus’ rejection had begun earlier that night. Although He was able to celebrate the Passover with His disciples (demonstrating to them how He Himself fulfilled the elements of the Passover meal – He is the bread of God broken for them, and His is the blood of the new covenant shed for them & their forgiveness) – and though He was able to spend time preparing His disciples for the trials they would face that night & in the near future – other things weren’t nearly as pleasant. Judas Iscariot revealed his true colors when he brought the Jewish priests and officers to the Garden of Gethsemane in order to arrest Jesus. Jesus had just ended His own time in prayer, barely having time to rouse the remaining disciples when the traitor arrived (just as Jesus had foretold).

Things weren’t any better among the so-called “faithful” disciples, either. Most had fled the scene entirely, but at least Peter returned to watch what would happen to Jesus. Of course, Peter set himself up for failure. He purposefully distanced himself from Jesus, ignoring Jesus’ earlier warning – and Peter ended up denying that he even knew Jesus. Not just once, nor twice…but three times. Peter was crushed…and no wonder: he had betrayed Jesus almost as much as had Judas.

At this point in his book, Luke picks up his narrative with Jesus once more. It’s of interest that Luke writes his order of events differently than that of Matthew & Mark. This was already seen with Peter (Matthew & Mark only write of Peter’s denial after the Jewish trials), and it’s seen again even in the order of the beating vs. the Sanhedrin rejection. Why Luke wrote it differently, we don’t know. None of the facts are changed; only the order in which it appears in the text. Theologically, we can say that Luke did this at the direction of the Holy Spirit, writing under the influence of divine inspiration – but beyond that, all we can do is speculate. Perhaps Luke wanted to keep all of the trial narratives together, as he flows seamlessly between the Jews, to Pilate, to Herod. But in the end, we cannot say.

All in all, though we may not know the reason for the differences, we can know that none of the differences contradict. Each of the gospel writers (including John) either directly affirm the other gospels, or leave room for them. These are all trustworthy accounts – as Luke himself wrote, they are “orderly accounts…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed,” (Lk 1:3-4)

As to our specific text, we see the Messiah of Israel abused and put on trial by the people of Israel. The nation formally rejects their King. It was upside-down, but it was necessary. Their rejection of Jesus makes it possible for us to receive. What Jesus went through on that night made it possible for us to be saved. Jesus was abused, but He wasn’t out of control. He presented Himself as a Lamb for the slaughter, so that we might now know Him as the King of kings.

Luke 22:63–71

  • Nighttime abuse (63-65)

63 Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. 64 And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?”

  1. Who were the actual “men who held Jesus”? Luke does not say (nor does Matthew), though both Mark and John write of how it was the officers who bore the guilt. It’s possible that other servants of the priests were involved, but at the very least it is clear that this was the work of Jews. The Romans would come later with terrible physical abuse of their own, but for now it was the Jews. Most likely those of the temple guard who had arrested Jesus earlier that night remained with Him throughout His initial ordeal at the house of Annas & Caiaphas (Jn 18:19-24), and they were the ones to “beat Him” while they had Him in custody. (FYI: Luke doesn’t mention this initial trial at all. It is assumed during Peter’s denial of Jesus, as obviously Jesus was enduring something on the inside, while Peter sat on the outside. As to why Luke doesn’t write of it, we don’t know.)
  2. What these men did to Jesus was cruel. They “mocked Him…beat Him…blindfolded Him.” The word Luke used for the “mocking” was one that infers almost a picture of playtime, like an abusive game. One commentary notes that it was “to make fun of someone by imitating him in a distorted manner,” (Rogers). Another notes that it was “to trick someone as to make a fool of the person,” (BDAG). Imagine a king captured by his enemies, forced to wear jesters’ robes & endure shame from his tormentors. Now turn up the volume exponentially…this is what happened with Jesus. He was not yet re-dressed (that would be the cruelty of the Romans), but the Jewish officers mocked Jesus mercilessly. This was not only A king, but THE King. He was their King, the King of all kings, yet the men took turns treating him with utter disgust. They made a game of His humiliation, acting like school-yard bullies.
  3. The blindfolding and beating were just as bad, actually all part of the same thing. They covered His eyes and hit Jesus over & over again (Greek present tense, indicating continual action). Sometimes the word used for “beat” also refers to whipping or flaying – here, most likely the beating took place with their hands. In other usage, the same word refers to the way a slave might be beaten (Rogers). So they hit Jesus time & time again, having His eyes blindfolded, then commanding Him to “” If He was the prophet that His reputation proclaimed Him to be, then surely Jesus could say which of the officers stuck the last blow.
    1. In no small act of irony, Jesus’ ability to prophesy was just proved a couple of verses earlier…Peter understood this first-hand! The rooster crowed, Peter looked into the eyes of Jesus, and his heart crumbled as he realized that every word from Jesus that Peter protested earlier that evening had just come true down to the tiniest of details. Jesus is not only a prophet, but He is the Prophet to be expected by Israel as the prophet-greater-than-Moses (Dt 18:18), the One who speaks all of the words of God.
  4. Little did these officers realize what they asked! Did Jesus know who struck Him? Yes…and He could have done a lot more than prophesy about it! He could have called angels from heaven to destroy them – He could have called fire from heaven to consume them – He could have caused the earth to open and swallow them…all of which have Biblical precedence. Being the incarnate Almighty God, Jesus could have simply willed them dead, or blinked them out of existence, or even transported them to hell in the blink of an eye. There was much Jesus could have done! Yet Jesus did nothing. He sat there & endured, never raising a hand to His tormentors or even uttering a word against them. Amazingly, after enduring far more abuse than even this, Jesus prayed on behalf of those who tormented Him, asking that the Father forgive them as they didn’t know what they were doing (Lk 23:34). This is mercy of the highest order! This is kindness of infinite scale & scope! Jesus allowed the abuse to continue, restraining His power with every spiteful blow. (Spurgeon) “Omnipotence allows itself to be bound and never proves itself more truly omnipotent than when it restrains itself, and permits itself to be held as a prisoner by sinful men!”
  5. There’s an aspect to this endurance we might not consider: Jesus’ willing choice. Jesus chose to endure. Think of it: it’s one thing to tough out a situation; it’s another to tough it out when you’ve got another option. Mothers routinely tough out childbirth (to their credit!), despite the incredible pain they endure. Yet what’s the option? Whether they want it or not, the labor pains will continue. Once it’s time for that baby to come, there’s no stopping it. Yet Jesus had a choice the entire time He sat there. At any moment, He could have done something, but He chose not to. Even as He restrained His hand from destroying His accusers and abusers, Jesus still had other options available to Him. Jesus could have left at any time. He had the option of transfiguring Himself once more in power & glory, and revealing Himself in plain sight as God. Yet He chose otherwise. Why? Because His choice had already been made. He chose to surrender Himself to the will of His Father. Remember His prayer in the garden: Luke 22:42, “(42) Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” The will of the Father was for Jesus to endure this shame and abuse, in order that He might go to the cross. Thus, Jesus’ mind was set, and He wasn’t about to change.
    1. How is it that we beat temptation? How is it we can endure the worst of our spiritual trials? It begins with our initial choice to follow Jesus. One reason we so often get into trouble is because we left the door open for sin. We left a little crack, allowing ourselves the option to go do the stuff we used to do, just in case we felt weak or wanted a break. Don’t leave the option! Make the choice in advance to shut off your other choices – to burn the bridges to past sin. When our only way forward is to follow God, then that’s the best preparation for later battle.
    2. How amazing it is that Jesus was willing to make this choice! He had other options, but He chose to forego them. He could have done something else, but He desired to follow through. He willingly surrendered Himself to the will of His Father, in order that God might be glorified, that the universe be reconciled, and that you & I be saved! Jesus chose to endure this shame, and you were part of the reason why. How incredible is His love for us!
  6. As bad as all of this was, the abuse didn’t stop there. 65…

65 And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.

  1. We are not told all the many ways Jesus suffered at the hands of the Jewish officers, but it was a lot more than what was recorded in the four gospels. “Many other things” were said and done. Humans can be terribly creative when it comes to cruelty, and these men took their time with Jesus. They found all kinds of ways they could “blasphemously [speak] against Him.” BTW – our English word “blasphemy” is taken directly from the Greek (βλασφημέω). We tend to think of it purely in terms of how it might be used against God by men, but the original usage of the word speaks of slander & defamation. The Bible shows this many times against God, but it can also be against people. When God’s people are unjustly accused of evil, that is also blasphemy (1 Pt 4:4). Even so, generally it is slander done against God. To slander God is a terrible thing, whether through teaching false doctrine, or accusing Him of evil. God’s name is holy, because His name represents His character and His person. Thus, when His name is spoken evil of, He Himself is insulted.
    1. How many ways was Jesus, God the Son, insulted that night? Only He knows! And again, He chose to endure it.
  2. It happened that night, but it’s happened many other nights since. How much scorn has the world heaped upon Jesus through the centuries? How much scorn and slander does our own culture spew upon God? His name is dragged through the mud every day. It is cheapened for political purposes on both sides of the aisle – it is treated with disgust by atheistic university professors on a daily basis – Jesus’ name is the excuse used by evil regimes all over the world to persecute and torture the people of God. The world is truly skilled at blaspheming its Creator! It does so in new ways every day.
    1. Before we point too many fingers, let us ensure we look at ourselves. How much scorn did we put upon Jesus prior to coming to faith? What blasphemy did we speak/think towards Him? After all, we weren’t always Christian. And if we’re honest, our blasphemy has not always been in the past. As born-again Christians, we might not openly speak out against God, but we might slander His name through our actions. Whenever we engage in (so-called) secret sins – whenever we treat others with snobbish disdain – whenever we choose our own will over the will of our Lord & Savior – these are all acts in which we treat the name of Jesus with sinful lightness. We take His name in vain, bringing defamation & disrepute upon Him.
  3. With all of this scorn, blasphemy, and abuse in mind, consider one astounding central fact: Jesus died for it. He died for all that abuse. He died for the men who struck Him that night – He died for the Jews who would later cry out for His crucifixion – He died for the men & women today who spew hatred upon His name. He even died for those of us who still act in occasional blasphemous slander against Him. He died for it all. There is not a single sin left outside the purview of the cross! There is no sin that is without atonement & covering. Whatever sin you have committed, Jesus died for that, too!
    1. What does that mean for us? It means that not only is the price paid for that slanderous sin, but that His forgiveness is available as well. ALL of the slander that we have heaped upon the Son of God can be freely forgiven. Every word, deed, and thought…every crime we have committed against God can be wiped away and done. All we need do is ask. 

Again, Luke’s telling of these events is a bit different than that of Matthew & Mark. Much of this physical and emotional abuse of Jesus took place at night, before & after the first Jewish trial in front of Annas & Caiaphas (which was illegal). No doubt the Jewish officers continued to beat and revile Jesus every time they got the chance, as long as He was in their custody. Even so, eventually daylight came (signified by the crowing of Peter’s infamous rooster), and Jesus’ sufferings continued. Vs. 66…

  • Daytime trial (66-71)

66 As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying,

  1. This was the gathering of the Sanhedrin. Technically, the Greek word for “councilis Sanhedrin (συνέδριον), though Luke uses the term a bit more generally at this point. However, he does describe the gathering as including “the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes.” Sadducees and Pharisees were both represented (Sadducees being among the priests, and Pharisees among the scribes), and combined, they represented the Jewish nation as a whole.
  2. As terrible as it was for the Jewish nation to reject Jesus, it was absolutely necessary. The Messiah had to be first rejected by His people if He was to die as a sacrifice for mankind. After all, if Jesus was not first rejected, how else would He be sentenced to die? A Messiah who is gladly received by the nation of Israel would have been valued by the Jews, and they would have worshipped Him; not delivered Him over to the Romans for execution. Granted, that is what they should have done, but it what God always knew that they would not do, and thus it was His plan for them not to do it. Jesus had to die, because a sinless sacrifice was required. Mankind needed sin to be forgiven – God needed a lamb on which to pour out His wrath. Without it, God and Man (and all of Creation!) would remain eternally unreconciled, and no one could be saved. Thus, God planned for the Messiah to be despised and rejected by the nation of Israel…all for the glory of God. Isaiah 53:10–11, “(10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (11) He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.” It was God’s will that Jesus be bruised, and it was God’s will that Jesus’ days be prolonged & His sacrifice victorious. ALL of it is true, due to the perfect planning of the will of God.
    1. Sometimes we might not understand why God allows us to go through certain things. We need to remember that God is in control, and that He knows what He’s doing. Obviously this wasn’t something that Jesus questioned, but it might be something we do. Jesus knew the plans that were meant for Him – He had known them from before the foundation of the world, when they were established. We don’t know God’s plans for us. But we do know God. We can trust Him. We can trust that the things He allows us to endure are things that He has always known – and they are things in which He will ultimately turn towards that which is good for those who love Him (Rom 8:28). If Jesus trusted the plans of God the Father, so should we!

67 “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. 68 And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.

  1. It’s the battle of the “if’s”! 🙂 The Sanhedrin charged Jesus to tell them “if” He is the Christ. Jesus came back to them, knowing what their response would be “if” He told them. The Greek grammar is interesting, although it doesn’t translate well into English. From the perspective of the priests & scribes, they knew Jesus was proclaimed to be the Christ (the Messiah, the expected Son of David, king of Israel, anointed of God), so their “if” is a certain probability. IOW, “If You claim to be the Christ, like all Your followers say You are, then tell us.” Jesus’ “if” is a lot more uncertain. The grammar Luke shows Jesus using is far more in the realm of what is possible, rather than probable. Somewhat: “If I should choose to tell you directly (which I won’t), it wouldn’t matter because you won’t believe what I have to say. And even if by chance I decided to engage in conversation with you about it, then it wouldn’t make a difference in your answer, no matter what I had to say.” 
  2. The whole idea here is that no one is fooling anyone. The Sanhedrin already knows the charge against Jesus; they just want to hear it from His mouth. Likewise, Jesus already knows the response of the priests & scribes, so He doesn’t see a need to play their game. (The Sanhedrin may have believed that they were the ones in charge, but the Son of God proves very differently!)
    1. In a nutshell, this is what we so often see among modern day skeptics & atheists. There might be a pretense at a question, but their minds are already made up. No amount of arguing on the internet is going to make a hill-of-beans worth of difference to them. That’s not to say that we aren’t supposed to share Jesus with those who are hard-hearted; we just need to do so in wisdom. Don’t cast pearls before swine (Mt 7:6) – don’t give them what they don’t (or won’t) appreciate; give them what they most need. They need the law of God in order to prepare their hearts for the gospel. Even in this case, Jesus tells the Sanhedrin of God’s judgment, without speaking a word of God’s forgiveness. Law to the proud; grace to the humble – we need wisdom to know the difference!

69 Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

  1. The Sanhedrin (as representatives of the Jewish nation) may not have been willing to listen to Jesus, but soon they would know the truth! In a matter of hours, Jesus would be lifted high upon the cross (just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness), and within days Jesus would be resurrected from the grave by the power of God. A few short weeks after that, the Risen Jesus would ascend to heaven, and sit down at God’s right hand. Nothing the Sanhedrin could do or say would stop that from happening. Nothing these representatives of Israel could do would change the facts – nor would it change the fact that despite their unwillingness to hear, that all the nation will one day see this same Jesus return in power and glory & they will mourn the One whom they once pierced! (Zech 12:10, Rev 1:7)
  2. Jesus speaks of that day, as He alludes to the most important prophecy in the Old Testament regarding the “Son of Man”: Daniel 7:13–14, “(13) “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. (14) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.” In the midst of Daniel’s visions regarding the future empires of the world, he receives one vision of God as the Ancient of Days, seated on His throne (looking much like the Incarnate God later seen by John in Revelation 1!). This glorious God oversaw the destruction of the evil empires who trampled the earth (particularly one which represented the future Antichrist), and that’s when the Son of Man approached God’s throne. This is the Messiah of Israel as the conquering hero King. But He doesn’t come on chariots or the equipment of men; He comes with the clouds of God’s glory. The same clouds that descended on Mt. Sinai when God gave the 10 Commandments are the clouds upon which the Son of Man comes unto God. The same dominion God has over all the world is the dominion given unto the Son of Man. Is this the Messiah? Is He human? Yes…but He must also be much more. He is also God!
  3. Don’t miss the point! Jesus here tells the Sanhedrin: “You refuse to listen to Me now, but soon you will know Me as the Son of Man.” That is powerful testimony!
    1. This is our Jesus! This is whom we worship! We don’t worship fuzzy ideas or soft feelings – we don’t worship some unknown idea about God; we worship Almighty God, revealed in human flesh! We worship the powerful King of kings, who is coming to rule the world. This same incredible glorious Jesus is the one who willingly died for us. That Jesus is worth our worship!

70 Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.”

  1. Note that the priests and scribes acknowledge the idea of Messianic Divinity. When Jesus said that the “Son of Man” would “sit on the right hand” of God, the Sanhedrin understood that this was saying that the Son of Man was equal to God. Some liberal scholars claim that the Jews thought of the Messiah only as a man, being the descendent of King David. The Sanhedrin’s response to Jesus proves otherwise. Although the Old Testament never comes out and directly teaches that the Messiah was to be both human and God (i.e. the hypostatic union, dual nature of Christ), it definitely (and repeatedly) hints at the idea. At times, the Messiah is prophesied to be a man, as when God told David that the future Messiah would come from David’s body (2 Sam 7:12). At other times, the Messiah is prophesied to be God, as when God went on to tell David that the Messiah’s throne was to be established forever, and that God Himself would be His Father (2 Sam 13-14). The same thing is seen elsewhere: at the same time that Psalm 2 speaks of the Messiah being enthroned on Mount Zion by God (2:6), it also shows God declaring the Messiah to be His own Son, “begotten” by God & given the entire world as an inheritance (2:7-8). The Old Testament does this repeatedly. On one hand, the Messiah was to be a man & on the other hand, He was to be God. The Jews did not always know how to reconcile these concepts (nor do some supposedly “Christian” theologians today!), but it was there, nonetheless. The Sanhedrin itself shows their familiarity with the concept, when they directly question Jesus about it.
  2. Note also that Jesus never denies the charge. “You say that I am,” the word “rightly” being assumed by the translators. Yet the assumption is true. Culturally speaking, when Jesus did not deny the accusation against Him, it was Him receiving it as valid. If it had been false, this was Jesus’ opportunity to speak up and say something, but He didn’t. He allows it to stand, even using the phrase “I AM” (ἐγώ εἰμι) – the same words God the Father used of Himself when naming Himself to Moses (Exo 3:14). Jesus is God, and He never once denies it.

71 And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”

  1. Although the Sanhedrin mentioned “further testimony,” Luke’s readers might have originally asked “what other testimony”? Although Luke didn’t mention it, the Sanhedrin had attempted to stack the deck against Jesus by bringing in all kinds of false witnesses. They were looking for a charge from which they could concoct a reason for a death sentence, such as their attempt to twist Jesus’ words about the destruction of the Temple (Mt 26:61). The problem was that none of the false witnesses could agree with one another, and thus a legal conviction could not be reached. Hebrew law demanded the testimony of 2-3 witnesses in order for a death sentence to be legal (Dt 17:6), but they couldn’t get it.
  2. That’s when Jesus gave them the gift of His own testimony. With Jesus’ own words (“I AM”), no other witnesses were required. This was exactly what was needed to charge Jesus with blasphemy of His own, as He had just equated Himself with God.
  3. What they didn’t realize (or want to acknowledge) was that it was true! If any of them had claimed to be the Son of God, it would be blasphemous & false. If either you or I claimed to be God, it would be blasphemous & false (if not, a sign of outright insanity!). Yet when Jesus claimed it, it was true.
    1. Here’s where the skeptics & atheists get it wrong (among other places). They may not like the claims of Jesus, or of the rest of the Bible, that doesn’t make them false. The Sanhedrin did not like, nor agree with Jesus, but the facts weren’t dependent upon their theological approval. The facts are what they are, and Jesus IS the Messiah, the Son of God. Likewise with skeptics & atheists today. They cannot change the facts, and the facts are that Jesus IS God, that Jesus DID die on the cross for their sins, and that Jesus DID rise from the grave. The facts are that Jesus WILL reign for all eternity, and that all people MUST answer to Him for judgment. Those might not be facts they like, but they are facts, all the same.


So much insult and abuse was piled on Jesus that night! Yet Jesus chose to take it, enduring the shame. Why? So that the plan of God could be fulfilled – so that you & I (and all the world) could be saved.

Think of it: the 2nd Person of the Trinity – the Word of God made flesh – the One through whom the Father created all the universe, and without whom the universe would fall into nothingness…that Jesus chose to endure the scorn of His sinful, rebellious creation. All because it led to the cross. Every soldier that struck Jesus was a soldier for whom He would die. Every Pharisee and priest who looked down their nose at Him was one for whom He would be raised on the tree. Jesus died for all sinful men & women, and road to that destiny travelled through this humiliation.

So He did it. He proved His love for God & His love for us. He endured shame, and now we can be saved.

Have you recognized His sacrifice? Have you thanked Him for bearing the shame of the cross on your behalf, and giving His life for you? Have you received His forgiveness and grace, by repenting of your sin & believing upon Him as Lord? This is the way you respond to Jesus – this is the way you honor His magnificent work!

If you’re already a Christian, have you thanked Him for His sacrifice? Not only for His death on the cross (which itself would be reason enough & more!), but for all His humiliation and suffering leading up to the cross? Long before the spikes were driven through His wrists and feet, Jesus suffered pain. He suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually for hours on end before He ever climbed the hill of the Skull.

How we need to thank Him – to worship & honor Him! How we ought to strive to live our lives in way that brings honor to His name, rather than defamation. And even more, how much we ought to help introduce others to the sacrifice of Jesus that is just as available for them as it is for us.

Noah and the Flood

Posted: March 1, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 6-7, “Noah and the Flood”

When most people think of Noah’s Ark, typically what comes to mind are murals painted in nurseries or pictures in Bible storybooks about floating zoos. There’s a fun little boat, a bunch of happy animals, and (sometimes) Noah as a cheery old man with a beard. As fun as it is for kids to think about a floating petting zoo, the real history of Noah’s ark is far different. The boat itself plays a small (though important!) role – the real story is that of the wrath of God being poured out upon the earth and the destruction of all human life with the exception of one family. A far more accurate depiction of the flood is not one of a floating zoo, but one of floating bodies in the water. Untold numbers of people died in the flood…literally every human on the planet, excepting the eight members of Noah’s family. The flood is not a fun fairy tale; it is an account of the righteous wrath of God due towards sin.

That said, it is also an account of grace. All life was destroyed…all but eight. Eight people were saved, solely by the grace of God. God preserved alive a remnant of humanity in order to honor His own promise of a Savior, and the remnant He preserved was one to which He demonstrated the free gift of grace, personally saving them from the judgment to come. God acted out the very gospel that Noah was destined to preserve, and God’s goodness shone brightly on that dark day of His wrath.

Contextually, we’re still at the very beginning of the Biblical record. God had created all things in the universe, declaring them good – especially mankind, who originally enjoyed unrestrained relationship with God. The original man and woman (Adam and Eve) soon fell into sin, being tempted by Satan (the serpent), and God mercifully ejected them from the Garden of Eden before they had a chance to eat of the tree of life and remain eternally in sin, separated from God.

Things soon got worse, as sin took hold among the sons of Adam and Eve, and the elder son Cain became jealous of his younger brother Abel, murdering him. Cain was without remorse when he was confronted by God, and he received a curse that was multiplied on top of the one received by his father. Cain’s descendants fell further into sin, even as their numbers and technology increased upon the earth. By this point, the state of mankind was dark, and even among the more God-honoring descendants of Adam (through a third son, Seth), their legacy was one of death. Over and over again through Genesis 5, the account is “he died…he died…he died.”

This can only continue for so long, and God eventually did something about it in the days of Noah. He sent the flood as an instrument of His righteous judgment due to the corruption of mankind. God basically wiped the slate clean, starting over with Noah. Why Noah? Genesis 6:8, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” There is grace in the midst of God’s judgment. We see it in the Ark, and we see it in the Cross. God always gives the opportunity for grace.

Genesis 6

  • The Need for Judgment (1-12)

1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

  1. Who are the “sons of God”? Subject of much debate! Some claim that this is the lineage of Seth, being the godly line (as opposed to Cain) – yet that seems to contradict with the idea that these “sons of God” were inherently sinful. In Genesis 5, the sons of Seth are by no means depicted as perfect (after all, they all died except Enoch), but it was the lineage of Cain that was highlighted as sinful; not Seth. Seth’s line was to continue until the Messiah (the Seed of the woman). 
  2. On the other hand, there is another Biblical reference to the “sons of God,” found in a near contemporary time to many of the events of Genesis: the book of Job. Job 1:6, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” Job 2:1, “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.” Here, it’s plain that the “sons of God” refer to angelic beings – including both angels loyal to God as well as the devil and his demons. And it isn’t just the Old Testament that gives this idea. The New Testament tells us that various angels sinned at the time of Noah: 2 Peter 2:4–5, “(4) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; (5) and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;”  Put it together, and the evidence is strong that somehow these angelic beings (demons) somehow interacted with human women, marrying them.
  3. As to the exact details, this is something which is unknown. Jesus was clear that angels do not marry nor are given in marriage (Mt 22:30). Perhaps they possessed certain humans to engage in this – or perhaps some other scenario took place. Either way, the overall idea here is that the very institution of marriage was corrupted. It is one more thing that was originally given by God as good that turned into something totally different.
  4. This is when God declared His action. 3…

3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

  1. The idea of “strive” is one of legal argument. Sometimes the word is translated “judge,” or “quarrel.” The Lord God had pleaded His case with mankind, but had been ignored. Although God is incredibly patient, there comes a time when even His patience runs out. Keep in mind that God has no reason to be patient with anyone at all! After all, He’s God & we’re not. We are but flesh. Who are we to argue & strive with God? That God would give us even the opportunity to say “no” to Him at all is an example of grace. He didn’t have to give us freewill – He didn’t have to give us an opportunity to rebel, but He did. God doesn’t have to give anyone a first breath, much less a second breath after we’ve sinned against Him…but He does. He is a gracious God! Every day He allows us to live is another day of grace & mercy!
  2. Even so, God’s longsuffering is limited. For the people of Genesis 6, it was limited to 120 years. Some people assume that Genesis 6:3 is a reference to God cutting down the lifespan of men from several centuries to only 120 years – but that is clearly not the case. Abraham lived 175 years (Gen 25:7). Jacob lived 147 years (Gen 47:28). Even Moses lived 120 years, several centuries after the flood (Dt 34:7). No doubt the lifespans of people decreased over time, but that seems to have been the result of many things that came with the flood; not a specific decree of God prior to the flood. The idea here seems to be that whenever God made the final decision to destroy the earth, He gave people a time of 120 years to repent. (God always gives opportunities to repent!)

4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

  1. Other Bible translations simply transliterate the Hebrew word used for giants: Nephilim. Just as with the “sons of God,” the identity of the Nephilim is highly debated. The Biblical reason for translating the word as giants comes from the LXX translation choice (γίγαντες), as well as the only other Biblical use of the word in Numbers 13:32-33, when “giants” (Nephilim) were seen in the Promised Land, and this is what caused the 12 spies of Israel to fear and not enter it. Otherwise the word is obscure and unknown, seemingly referring to “fallen ones,” which would lend more support to the idea that they are somehow angelically/demonically related. This would make the most sense of the fact that the Nephilim were the result of the sexual union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men,” though we cannot be certain what these Nephilim actually looked like.
    1. Beyond this, we cannot be certain. Whatever view we take on the Nephilim, we need to limit it to Biblical revelation. Theories regarding aliens & various other unidentified creatures are irrelevant from a Biblical point of view.
  2. The only other description we have of these creatures is that they accomplished many mighty things. These were warriors, “men of renown.” That doesn’t mean that they were good; it just means they were skilled & strong. Evil warriors can still be mighty warriors. Evil warriors can still be famous. Hitler is infamous, renown both during his lifetime and in history classes ever since…it doesn’t make him good. We need to be careful of reading more into the Hebrew text what is there. The Nephilim were mighty men, famous in their time, but the whole context is one of a sinful and corrupted world. These were people lost in their sin, rebellious against the will of the perfect God. 5 makes it clear…

5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

  1. How sad! When the Creator God looked at the pinnacle of His creation, He saw that mankind was wholly wicked. Every intent of the heart, every act, every word – all of it was always evil, all the time. How far things had fallen in such a short amount of time! Remember this is only Chapter Six of Genesis. It didn’t take long for everything to fall to pot. Once sin gets involves, it ruins everything it touches.
  2. It’s not only sad; it’s current! This is the state of mankind today! Although there are brief shining examples of love in the world (and that, by the grace of God!), the vast majority of it is pure wickedness. A quick look at any roundup of news headlines verifies it. Between the murders that take place in our schools to the routine but far more numerous murders that take place in abortion centers, our own nation is filled with violence. If it isn’t acted out in person, then it is voiced through social media – it is portrayed through our entertainment – it is taught in our institutions. Wickedness pervades every aspect of our society, and we are ripe for the judgment of God.
  3. What’s the only thing that stops God from engaging in this judgment again? His promise! (8:21) He’s already flooded the world once, and promised never to do it again. But that’s not to say that God won’t judge the world again. He will; only He will do it in light of Jesus’ return to rule and reign upon the earth.
  4. BTW – before we point our fingers at too many other people, we need to remember that their evil is our evil. All of that is us without Jesus! Apart from His grace & His transforming power, we are all utterly evil. We can never forget who we were before we were saved & forgiven – we can never take Jesus for granted or lose sight of our dependence upon Him.

6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

  1. Those are truly amazing words. YHWH God “was sorry” regarding man. Can God be sorry? Apparently, yes. God is not sorry in the same way that we are, but He can still experience regret and grief in His spirit. When we’re sorry, we’re sorry over our sin – we regret the actions we’ve taken – we repent from evil that we’ve done & for which we’re guilty. Sometimes we’re just sorry over the consequences we’re experiencing, but it still comes down to regret over our own actions. That’s not God. God “was sorry that He had made man on the earth,” but it wasn’t because man existed; it’s that man existed in sin. When God first created humans, He declared them to be good – and looking around at the whole of His creation, He declared it to be “very good,” (Gen 1:31). That was God’s determination, and His word does not change. What did change was the actions of men & women, and now they were no longer acting like God’s original creation. Thus, when the Bible speaks of God’s sorrow here, it’s not sorrow over Himself; it’s sorrow over us. Mankind brought grief to the heart of God, and something needed to be done.
  2. What was the solution? God’s creation had become irretrievably tainted, and it needed to be wiped out. Like a painting that had an unwanted color spilled all across it, there was nothing left to do except start over. It was the only act of justice that could be done. The wages of sin is death, so death needed to come.
  3. This is exactly what all of us deserve. Why don’t we get it? Grace! The same grace received by Noah. vs. 8…

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

  1. Grace! The Hebrew word (חֵן) can also be translated as “favor, charm,” and Genesis 6:8 is the first time it is found in the Bible. When Moses writes that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD,” he isn’t saying that Noah located grace or discovered somehow for himself. Instead, the idea is that God looked upon Noah with favor – that the grace Noah “found” was the gift that God gave.
  2. That’s always the way grace works. (If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be called “grace”!) Grace is always a gift; never earned. Thus, Noah was saved the same way any of us are saved: by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9). Noah looked to the Lord God in light of the revelation he had, Noah trusted in the Lord (unlike the rest of his culture around him), and God sovereignly chose to give favor/kindness/grace to Noah. Noah did nothing to earn salvation – he was still living with the same fallen nature passed down to him from Adam. The only reason Noah was saved was because of the gift of God’s grace.
  3. That’s not to say Noah didn’t live differently…he did! 9…

9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

  1. Noah was indeed different from the rest of the world around him. Like Enoch before him, “Noah walked with God.” Noah lived his life in righteousness, and the Bible declares him to be a “just man, perfect in his generations.” Question: if Noah was saved because God chose to give him grace, then why wasn’t Noah’s salvation earned due to him being perfect? Or (looking at it from another angle), if Noah still had the sinful nature passed to him from Adam, how can the Bible say that Noah was “perfect”? This is an instance in which a better translation choice could have been used by the editors of the KJV & NKJV (and Latin Vulgate). The Hebrew word translated “perfect” (תָּמִים) can also be translated as “whole, complete” – or as the NASB, ESV & others, “blameless.” The usual meaning for the word in the Old Testament is in reference to sacrifices that were “without blemish” – things that were well-pleasing to God. IOW, the Bible never proclaims Noah to be utterly sinless; it simply says that sin didn’t stick to him. He consistently lived his life above reproach.
    1. Such is to be the testimony of all God’s people! It is a specific character trait included in qualifications for pastoral ministry (1 Tim 3:2), but it is ultimately a mark of Christian maturity. All of us are to be “blameless” in this way – to live our lives among the rest of the world so that they do not see the sin of the world in us.
  2. Note the “genealogy of Noah” listed here. This signifies one of the several narrative breaks in the book of Genesis. Ch 5:1 gave us the genealogy of Adam; Ch 6 begins with the genealogy of Noah – the next break will come in Ch 10 with the genealogy of Noah’s sons.
  3. FYI – we tend to forget how close Noah was to Adam. When we consider how it was Noah would have known the promises of God, and learned how to trust in God by faith, it’s possibly because he had the models of his ancestors. According to the Biblical genealogies (provided no generations were skipped), it’s quite possible that Noah had met Seth before Seth died. That put Noah in contact with only one generation removed from the Garden of Eden, even though Adam died a couple of hundred years before Noah’s birth.

11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

  1. The final determination of the state of mankind is declared: God saw it as utterly “” Again, what God once saw as “good” was now ruined & spoilt. The only thing to be done was to start over.
  2. Yet here’s the challenge: How could God start over without violating His promise to Adam & Eve? Remember the first glimpse of the gospel in the Garden of Eden, spoken to the serpent in the presence of the humans: Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” The seed/offspring of Eve was to bruise the head of the serpent (crush him / destroy him). For God’s word to be true, humankind could not be destroyed to the extent of God reforming a new Adam from the dust – after all, Eve’s Seed was promised victory over the serpent. Mankind needed to be both saved and Thus, the ark. The ark allows for a righteous remnant while still providing righteous judgment. The ark allows for God’s grace to be preserved while still judging the corruption of the earth.
    1. Thus, the cross! The cross allows the fullness of God’s wrath to be poured out on sin. The cross allows every sin of every human to be totally judged in light of God’s righteousness. At the same time, it allows for men and women to be saved. The cross allows us to be sheltered from God’s wrath by living in God’s grace. We were the corrupt ones, but because of the cross of Jesus, now we have been made the righteous remnant of God.
  3. All of that is the determination & reason for judgment. How would it come? That’s what Genesis 6 goes on to describe…
  • The Preparation for Judgment (13-22)

13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

  1. Of course God’s plans had not been made in haste. He had known of these things from before the foundation of the world (which speaks of His mercy and grace in creating mankind in the first place!); this was simply the moment He informed Noah of what was going to happen. To say “the end of all flesh has come before Me” is to basically say that mankind had reached its limit. This was the border – the finality – the farthest God would allow things to continue as they were. God is rich in patience and longsuffering, but even He has a limit. Eventually the patience of God runs out, and His judgment swiftly comes. It was now that moment for the earth.
  2. Sadly, notice how the entire earth is caught up in the sin of mankind. The same point was made in vs. 12, and is repeated here in vs. 13. Had the animals (apart from the Satanically-possessed serpent) sinned? Bears and lions and bugs simply acted like bears and lions and bugs. Yet all the earth would pay the price of God’s wrath and judgment. Sin always brings casualties – it always affects others…always.
    1. Some people claim to engage in “victimless” sin. There is no such thing. Someone who sins in the corner of his/her bedroom still has an effect on someone else. There was another person involved in making the tool of sin (be it pornography, booze, drugs, etc.). There are the people with whom we later interact, after our minds and hearts have been affected. Sin always has a ripple effect; there’s no getting around it. (There is only stopping it & cleansing from it in Christ!)

14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.

  1. Though the earth was to be destroyed, the existence of life was to be preserved. God’s method for doing so was to have Noah build an “ark.” What’s an ark? Interestingly, this particular word is used only a handful of times in Scripture, usually in reference to Noah’s ark, or the basket that contained the baby Moses. The word used for the ark of the covenant is a totally different Hebrew word, though perhaps overlapping a bit in meaning. The best scholars can determine for this particular word is that it refers to a box or container of some sort, and considering that every time the word is used in the Old Testament it refers to water transport (the flood or the Nile river), it needs to be considered as a type of boat or water-craft. The ark of the covenant, on the other hand, is a box or money-chest, or the word could even be used to refer to a coffin. This ark was meant to preserve life; not bury it. This was God’s plan to ensure life did not completely vanish from His creation.
  2. First things first: what the heck is “gopherwood”? In all likelihood, it’s a reference to cypress or cedar (which means that the ark would have smelled pretty good for the days they were on it – perhaps even cutting down on the stench of the livestock!). “Gopher” is not a reference to the rodent; it’s a transliteration of the Hebrew: “עֲצֵי־גֹ֔פֶר” = “tree/wood of gofer.” It is possibly a reference to finished timber, rather than a specific type/species of tree. Whatever the wood was, it was covered with “pitch,” to waterproof it both from the rain and floods on the outside, as well as any liquid on the inside. The general idea is that it was safe, and seaworthy.
  3. The physical dimensions commanded by God actually affirm the seaworthiness of the vessel. Depending how one counts the cubit (18 or 20 inches), the ark was 450’x75’x45’ or 500’x83’x50’. Either way, it was huge! Not only was it the first ship in recorded history, but it remains one of the largest (if not the largest) wooden sea-vessel in history. But again, its dimensions demonstrate its seaworthiness. The ark was not unlike modern cargo ships today in appearance, thus able to withstand the waters that surrounded it.
    1. This description alone sets apart the Biblical narrative from other pagan narratives regarding their global floods. For instance, in the Babylonian story of Gilgamesh, “the ark is a perfect cube of about 197 feet; such a vessel would capsize and sink in turbulent water,” (Apologetics Study Bible).

17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

  1. Notice the emphasis in vs. 17: “I Myself am bringing floodwaters…” By no means is the flood to be considered the result of natural disaster or catastrophe; this was a Divine destruction. God got personally involved in His judgment of the world. (Likewise with the cross. God was personally involved not only in the piercing of His Son, but in the person of Jesus as He received the piercing & wrath!)
  2. What would be the result? “Everything that is on the earth shall die.” With the exception of Noah, his sons, their wives, and the animals on the ark, everything would die. Again, this is no children’s story! This is global annihilation. This was a world-ending event – the kind of thing imagined in so many Hollywood movies today. The difference is that it actually happened.
  3. Even with all of the death and destruction, there was one saving grace: God made a “covenant” with Noah. As with the word for “grace,” this is also the first time the Hebrew word for “covenant” (בְּרִית) is used in the Bible. A covenant is an agreement or contract – in some cases, it is the legal basis of a relationship between a king and his people, like a pact. Here, God tells Noah that Noah will have certain legal protections and guarantees going forward. What’s the guarantee? Life – the promise of the eventual Messiah/Seed of the woman. Noah and his sons will live, and they would see that the gospel promise of God remains true.
    1. BTW – we also have a covenant with God, the new covenant of Christ, celebrated every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor 11:25) Likewise, God’s covenant with us also guarantees life!
  4. God goes on to describe the life that will remain…

19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

  1. Generally speaking, there were to be “two of every sort” of animal. Chapter 7 will bring clarification to that regarding clean animals, looking ahead to worship sacrifices yet to come. Otherwise, two are all that were required, as this would be enough to procreate and repopulate the kind of animal upon the earth.
  2. Note that God’s instructions are in general, broad categories, as opposed to the specific individual species of which we would think of in modern terms. Technically, the Hebrew doesn’t even say “two of every sort,” as the English “sort” is assumed by the translators. Literally, the Hebrew says “And from every living, from all flesh, two of all you shall bring into the ark.” Thus you don’t need two of every single breed of domesticated cat, or every variation of sparrow, etc. The various “kinds” of animals would themselves come to Noah, supernaturally brought to him by God in order to be preserved. From those initial kinds, the various individual breeds would come forth.
    1. Although the Bible never at all teaches the concept of macro-evolution (from a single-celled organism all the way to modern humans; from goo-to-you), it does allow for micro-evolution, or better-termed “adaptation” on a small scale. Adaptation can be (and has been) observed by naturalists and other scientists for a very long time. We can see it ourselves simply in the size of human skeletons from centuries ago in comparison with today. But adaptation is not the same thing as Darwinian macro-evolution. Adaptation is observable and fits with Biblical teaching; Darwinian evolution can only be theorized, and is opposed to the Bible.
  3. Interestingly, in the preservation of the animals, there is a parallel with the preservation of Noah. Just as Noah and his family were a remnant of humanity, God also provided a remnant of the animal kingdom.

21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”

  1. Practical! Not everything God declared was regarding judgment. Some of what God instructed Noah was valuable for simple survival. Animals weren’t the only things required on the ark – so was basic supplies like food and other provisions. Noah would have to bring everything he needed for several months. After all, there wasn’t exactly a floating Walmart for him to visit. 😊

22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

  1. Noah was fully obedient – something that will be described in Chapter 7.
  2. Notice how God’s grace and man’s obedience go hand-in-hand. Noah did not work to earn his salvation, but he certainly did good works. He lived his life in righteousness, and obeyed the commands of God. These were things that flowed out from his relationship with God & the grace he had received; they were not the cause of his relationship with God.
    1. Be careful not to get those things reversed! We are saved by grace through faith, for the purpose of good works (Eph 2:8-10). Our works are the result of the grace we have received; grace can never be earned.
    2. If your relationship with God does not start from the basis of His grace, then you have no relationship with God. It starts there, or not at all!

At this point, with the reason for judgment established, and God’s plan of judgment declared, the execution of that judgment goes fairly quick.

Genesis 7 – The Execution of Judgment

  • Final commands (1-5)

1 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.

  1. This is basically a repetition of what God earlier declared – a reiteration that Noah was seen as “righteous” by God. Again, had Noah been absolutely sinless his entire life? Not at all. But God gave him grace, and when God declared Noah to be righteous, so he was.
    1. We experience the same thing in our own relationship with Christ. The righteousness we have is what has been imputed to us (put upon us) by God through His sovereign declaration. What God declares to be, is. God said “Let there be light,” and there was. Likewise, when God declares your sin to be forgiven, it is – when He declares you to have been cleansed & made righteous in His sight, you are – when He determines that you have been adopted into His family & born-again as a child of God, that is exactly what has taken place. God said it, and it is so.
  2. As for Noah, he was the only one declared by God to be righteous, which is why he was the only one (he & his family) to be saved. It would be the remnant of Noah & the remnant of animals which would alone be saved. vs. 2…

2 You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; 3 also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.

  1. Here’s the clarification on the “two animal” rule. Generally speaking, two of every kind of animal would come to Noah, but when it came to the clean animals (animals appropriate for both eating and sacrifice), there would be seven. Obviously seven is one animal more than what is required to have procreating pairs, so there is a use for these animals beyond procreation. The number of these animals were necessary in order for the various kinds to remain alive, but that seems to be (in part) due to the fact that some of these animals would very soon be killed – either for food or for sacrifice. At this point in Genesis, Noah (and all humans) were still vegetarian (if not vegan), and it is not until Chapter 9 that God gives permission for Noah and his sons to eat animals.
  2. As to how Noah would know the difference between the clean & unclean animals, this is left unsaid. As the compiler of Genesis (and thus chief editor & author), Moses would have known, but it is not until the time of Moses that a specific list of clean/unclean animals is provided. It’s possible that Noah would have had a tradition passed from Adam as to which animals were clean & which were unclean, but that knowledge wasn’t absolutely necessary. After all, the animals would be brought to Noah by God Himself. God would bring the right numbers to Noah, and Noah would know which was which simply by doing an inventory count.

4 For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” 5 And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him.

  1. Back in 6:7, God declared that He would “destroy” (wipe out/blot out) man; the same word and idea is used here. Rainwaters would come like they had never come before, and “all living things” not on board the ark would be killed. And once more, the Bible affirms that Noah was obedient.
  2. Can you imagine Noah’s thoughts when he heard all of this? How his mind must have reeled! How his heart must have broken. Surely he had friends who were among those who would be killed. He certainly had other family members – at the very least, it seems that Methuselah & Lamech (Gen 5:25, 28) also perished in the flood. Noah alone would be saved, even though he pled for others to repent, being a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5). Yet still, Noah was obedient. He did what needed to be done, and proclaimed what needed to be proclaimed. Knowing that all men and women were bound to perish, Noah obeyed anyway.
    1. Why is it we preach the gospel, knowing that it will often be rejected? Why is it we tell others of Jesus, knowing that most will not believe? Because God tells us too! And unlike Noah, some will believe and be saved! Noah preached, knowing that all would perish. We preach, with the hope that some will be saved. We have far more reason to be faithful to God’s call & commission…may we be just as obedient as Noah!
  • Boarding the ark (6-16)

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth.

  1. Although the Scripture doesn’t tell us precisely when Noah began building the ark, the previous mention of his age was 5:32, nothing he was 500 years old. Presumably, that’s when he received his instructions from God. Thus the construction took roughly 100 years – not an unreasonable number considering it was Noah and his sons alone that did the work. It is doubtful he had much help from the people around him.

7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, 9 two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.

  1. Notice “they went into the ark to Noah.” Noah didn’t have to go out & round up the livestock; God supernaturally brought them to him. God called Noah to certain work; He didn’t call Noah to do all the work. What God wanted done, God would empower to be done. (Just as He always does! He calls us to be faithful; He’s the one who supplies the power.)

10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

  1. Notice the specific dating. One week after boarding, the waters arrived, and that specific date was written down in history according to the only calendar Noah had. Year 600, on the 2nd month, on the 17th If Noah would have had access to a wristwatch, no doubt he would have noted the hour, as well!
  2. Why does this matter? Why is this included in our Bibles even if we can’t match the specific date to our modern calendars? Because it underscores the fact that this was a historic event. This was not a fairy tale – it’s not a myth designed to scare people into obedience. This is the account of the very real event of the flood. Keep in mind, flood myths do Every ancient culture around the world has its own version of the flood. The fact that they do, indicates that something happened. Atheistic historians and archaeologists might not like that fact, but something had to have happened to embed itself into the conscience of human culture. The question should not be whether or not there was a flood; rather, the question is which account of the flood is correct. The only version attached to a historical document that has been proven true time & time again is that of the Bible. The Biblical version is the version that must be given the benefit of the doubt.
  3. There’s no question that there are aspects of the flood that are supernatural, unable to be explained through any other cause apart from the miraculous. But that’s no reason for disqualification. God works. He routinely intervenes in His creation, and when He does, it is supernatural by definition. What’s so striking about the Biblical account is that beyond the supernatural events are very specific details – details that would make no sense whatsoever unless they were historical records. What the Bible has written, is true.

13 On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark—14 they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. 16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.

  1. Basic reiteration of all that entered the ark. These are what God commanded to be there, and these are what entered. According to the Lord’s word, so it was.
  2. In all of this description, don’t miss the final words of vs. 16: “and the LORD shut him in.” It was not Noah that raised the drawbridge or locked the door; it was YHWH God Himself. God personally sealed Noah & the others inside the ark, guaranteeing their safety and salvation.
    1. When we are saved, we also are personally sealed by God. God the Holy Spirit not only gives us our new birth (Jn 3:6), but He becomes our seal – our guarantee of salvation (Eph 1:13). There’s not an aspect about our eternal salvation that is not dependent on the personal involvement of God!
  • Extent of the flood (17-24)

17 Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered.

  1. Forty days of water upon the earth would have been utterly devastating. 11 spoke of both rain falling from the “windows of heaven,” as well as the “fountains of the great deep” opening up. Waters from both over the earth and under the earth came in torrential deluge, flooding every part of the earth in which there was life.
    1. It was only August 2017 when torrential rains fell in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, and the massive floods that resulted were just from a few days’ worth of rain. Imagine exponentially more rainfall & flooding that lasts for well over a month! This was absolutely devastating.
  2. Question: considering the Bible tells us that the “mountains were covered,” does that mean that waters prevailed over the top of Mount Everest (over 29,000 feet)? Not necessarily. (1) We don’t know everything about the Earth’s geography prior to the flood. Considering the massive tectonic shifts that would have taken place in order for the fountains of the deep to open, it’s possible that some of what we know today on the Earth is there because of the flood. (2) What the Bible records is what the original authors witnessed. Mount Olivet is only 2710 feet, and those are the sorts of mountains in the ancient near east. Technically the word for “mountain” is often translated as “high hill,” depending on the context. The point is that we don’t want to let our modern understanding cloud the original intent of what the author wrote. We don’t hold him accountable to our vocabulary; we need to understand what was in his. He wrote of a global flood, and the mountains which he witnessed were covered, and all life on earth was destroyed. That’s all the Bible says, and that’s what we need to keep in mind.
  3. Theologians might debate the extent of the water on earth, but there is zero doubt as to the extent of its destruction. vs. 21…

21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died.

  1. Everything died. This catastrophe was global, in extent. Just as God said, it was done. God had reached the end of His patience, and He poured out the fullness of His wrath. The scene would have been horrendous and devastating.
  2. Why so much death? Because there was so much sin. The wages of sin is death, and the proof to Noah was all of the corpses floating around him.

23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.

  1. It rained for only 40 days; the floodwaters remained for 150 days. There was zero chance of survival other than being safely on the ark.


So much death – so much destruction – all on account of sin. There comes a point where the righteous God must bring judgment upon sin, and when He does, there is no way of avoiding it. No way, save one: we must be found in His grace…we must be found in the ark of Christ! Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord, and God personally ensured Noah’s salvation. Likewise with us. God freely offers us grace and forgiveness in Christ – and if we would but believe, we would be saved. He forever seals us in His safety, and He promises us life for all eternity.

Have you found refuge in the Ark? Have you found the grace of God to protect you from judgment? Jesus took your judgment, so that you might receive His protection. Be certain you find yourself in Him!

Betrayed Twice

Posted: February 25, 2018 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 22:47-62, “Betrayed Twice”

Failure. It happens to all, but for some, it happens in the eyes of all the world. It’s one thing to have a lapse in judgment in private; it’s another to have it on live TV. Worse yet, to have it recorded through 2000 years of history. Such is the case with Judas and Peter. Judas failed, and remained in his failure – his name being a curse to this very day. Though Peter (thankfully) was restored, he’s often ridiculed. “Brash, overconfident Peter!” – as if he talked himself into failure every single day. No doubt, if any of our individual sins were forever recorded in Scripture, we might have something similar said of us!

For Judas & Peter, the night of their greatest failure came the night before the cross. Earlier that night, Jesus had dined with both of them during the Last Supper – the Passover meal in which Jesus showed Himself as the fulfillment of the Passover elements. His own body was the unleavened (sinless) bread broken for the sin of the world – His own blood was the wine of the covenant relationship between God and His people. Judas left at some point during the meal, while Peter remained with the other disciples, and Jesus spoke of all the things that would happen. There was a traitor among the disciples, and Satan desired to do likewise with all of the disciples – these men would need to pray and be on guard, instead of arguing about petty ideas of their own greatness.

Unfortunately, none truly listened to Jesus, and once they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was the only one who prayed. Each of them would soon face their own temptation, and Jesus faced His own that night. He gave Himself into the will of His Father, and He alone was prepared for the trials that were just starting to begin. Things will progress very quickly from this point as Jesus goes from His arrest to His multiple trials, and soon to His cross & resurrection.

Although the other two Synoptic gospels (Matthew and Mark) separate the accounts of Judas and Peter, Luke puts them side-by-side. Luke gives us a tale of two men – two disciples of Jesus. History shows that these men could not have been more different, but for a single crucial night, they were almost identical. Both men were disciples – both fulfilled prophecies spoken by Jesus – both failed Jesus publicly. What happened? How did the wheels come off the cart (so to speak) so tragically? What caused both men to betray Jesus in the way they did (one by choice, and the other by weakness)?

As for Judas, it’s already been told to the reader that Satan entered him (22:3), though we may not understand how God could allow it. For Peter, it’s a bit more subtle, as he gives into the weakness that afflicts us all. In either case, we have a cautionary tale that ought to drive us to the foot of the cross! Our only hope is found in the grace of Jesus, the Son of the sovereign God.

Luke 22:47–62

  • Judas’ betrayal (47-53)

47 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him.

  1. The picture is rather dramatic. The “multitude” arrived while Jesus was “still speaking.” The English can make this seem more emphatic than what it is – Luke is simply using the present tense. The point is that these things happened in quick succession. Jesus wasn’t waiting around bored when Judas finally arrived; He was in the middle of waking the disciples warning them to pray right as the crowd arrived. The events of the next hours will happen very quickly…much activity is crammed into a short amount of time.
  2. Luke describes Judas as “Judas, one of the twelve.” Never forget this man had the status of being an apostle appointed to his position by Jesus (Lk 6:16). We tend to write him off as “just” being Judas, but he was a trusted member of the band of the apostles. There were other men and women who followed Jesus on a regular basis, but there were only twelve appointed to their position by the Lord. Judas was one of them.
    1. There’s no illustration of a false convert clearer than Judas! On the outside, he appeared to be like everyone else among Jesus’ disciples. He was even trusted to the extent of having a position of responsibility (holding the money bag). Internally, he was corrupt and rebellious. No amount of Christian-culture saves us – no amount of “ministry” saves us. Either our hearts are transformed by true faith in Jesus, or they aren’t. Only you & Jesus know for sure.
  3. Not only was Judas Iscariot a false convert, he was a false friend. He “drew near to Jesus to kiss Him” in greeting – ultimately identifying Jesus to the multitude as the one to be arrested. The “kiss” was a kiss of friendship – a kiss of esteem. The same word is used by Paul to the Romans when he tells the Christians there to greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom 16:16). For Judas, he was pretending a show of affection while engaging in an act of betrayal.
  4. Unlike Peter, Judas openly acknowledged Jesus, to the point of even showing public affection towards Him through a kiss. Peter pretended he never met the Lord. Yet Judas hated Jesus, while Peter loved Him. Each sin was grievous. Judas sinned against Jesus by pretending to love Him, when he didn’t. Peter sinned against Jesus by pretending to hate Him, while loving Him in secret. They may have been opposites, but they were simply different sides of the same coin.

48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

  1. Jesus saw what Judas was doing, and called him on it. This was an act of supreme hypocrisy (two-faced duplicitousness). The kiss was all a show…an unnecessary one at that. Even if we assume that some of the officers coming to arrest Jesus didn’t know Him by face (which seems unlikely, considering the public nature of Jesus’ ministry, and the fact that several members of the Jewish leadership were present), Judas Iscariot still could have arranged any number of signs to point out Jesus as the one to be arrested. At the very least, Judas could have walked up to Jesus & pointed! Yet he chose to give a kiss. Why? It’s impossible to say, because the Bible doesn’t tell us. Whatever the ultimate reason, it was surely one of the more hurtful acts Judas could have ever committed against his former rabbi/master. No doubt at some point in the past, Judas once considered Jesus a friend. All of that was tossed aside like garbage as Judas kissed Jesus with a mouth like that of a viper.
  2. Question: Would Jesus have been grieved? Absolutely – why not? Of course Jesus wasn’t surprised, being that He had prophesied the entire event. Yet knowing of the sin doesn’t make it less sinful or hurtful. God may not be ruled like His emotions (like we are – an attribute theologians call His impassibility), but God still has The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph 4:30) – the Father can be angered (Dt 4:21) – and surely the Son can be offended. No doubt, if any act hurt the heart of Jesus, it was Judas’ kiss.
  3. Note Jesus’ reference to Himself as the “Son of Man.” In the Old Testament, the Son of Man is seen as having all of the power and glory of God. Here, the Son of Man can be betrayed and murdered. …

49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

  1. Luke seemingly makes an intentional effort to help the apostles remain anonymous. Neither the description of “disciple” is used, nor the title “apostle,” and especially not the name of “Peter.” It is the same pattern found in each of the Synoptics. Only the gospel of John names Peter as the one with the sword. Most likely by the time John wrote, Peter had died, and there was no longer any fear of government reprisal. (The apostles faced enough persecution without worrying about old charges of assault, attempted murder, and sedition coming back to haunt them!)
  2. Earlier, a sword had been found among the apostles (two swords, in fact – 22:38). Now they ask if the time had come to use it. Sadly, they didn’t wait for the answer, and Peter struck without warning. It all goes to demonstrate that the disciples hadn’t understood Jesus’ earlier teaching about the need for a sword. The weapon wasn’t there for assault & conquest – it wasn’t even there to protect against religious persecution – it was there for protection along the road against bandits. Interestingly, never again does the Bible record a weapon raised by the apostles. This one act was enough to make an impact upon them for the rest of their lives.
  3. What does it say about Peter that he raised his sword against those coming to arrest Jesus? He panicked. Peter panicked in the worst way, and it can be seen in multiple ways. (1) He swung a sword of men, rather than trusting in the power of God. The incarnate Son of God was standing right next to him, yet Peter thought Jesus required some sort of physical defense. (2) Peter struck the wrong person. Instead of raising his sword against an arresting soldier, he went against one of the slaves of the high priest. (Of course, this might have saved his life, as a trained guard might have easily defended himself.) (3) When Peter struck, he did so incompetently, coming down on the man’s ear rather than some other lethal strike. All of this goes to show that this was a wild swing at the person closest to him; not an act of deliberation. This was simple panic. Faith had fled the scene, and Peter was acting in fearful desperation.

51 But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

  1. Peter’s panic is contrasted with Jesus’ peace. Jesus had no fear of arrest. This was to be allowed – “permit even this.” Bible translations differ, with the NASB, ESV, NIV & others saying “No more of this.” This is a translation choice, as there is no variation in the Greek manuscripts. The word for “permit” (ἐάω) could be translated either way, although by far its most common usage is “allow,” while the usage for “stop/cease” is rare. Either way, the end result is the same. The disciples were to stop their violence and permit the arrest to continue. All they were doing now was causing trouble.
  2. Why? Because Jesus had to fulfill His mission. How else would the price of sin be paid? How else would the innocent blood of Jesus be shed as a sacrifice for all mankind? If Jesus resisted arrest, then the eternal plan of God would be thwarted, and the universe undone. There would never be atonement – there would never be an answer to the Fall, and the creation would remain forever tainted from its Creator. This was the only way. For Jesus (and the disciples) to resist arrest was to resist the will of God. This was God’s plan, and it had to be fulfilled.
  3. Jesus’ peace continued with the massive crowd that had come to arrest Him. Just as He calmed His disciples, He calmed His enemies. vs. 52…

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

  1. Note the Jewish references, with no mention of Roman soldiers. While it’s possible that some Romans were present, Luke specifically names the Jews & the temple guards. It is the Jewish leadership that takes Jesus first, because it is the Jewish nation that must first reject Him as Messiah, before they deliver Him over to the Roman Gentiles for death.
  2. Just as He did with Judas Iscariot, Jesus points out their hypocrisy. At any time that week, Jesus could have been arrested in Jerusalem. The only reason it hadn’t happed was because the priests knew they would face opposition from the crowds (22:2). The priests were too afraid to arrest Jesus by day, so they came to arrest Him illegally by night.
  3. As they did, they treated Jesus like a common criminal – like a thief or a “robber” (bandit or revolutionary). The soldiers of the priests had come fully armed, as if they expected some sort of violent resistance. Not once during Jesus’ ministry had He ever demonstrated these tendencies, as He always preached the love of God and openly showed compassion towards others. Yet everything Jesus taught was ignored, and they came against Him in a show of full force.
    1. It was ironic on two levels: (1) There was some violence, brought on by Peter. Thankfully, it was quickly quieted by Jesus. (2) If Jesus had chosen to resist them, then no amount of weapons and no number of soldiers would have been enough to contain Him. The Son of God would have destroyed them all with a single look! The only reason Jesus could be arrested was because He allowed Himself to be arrested.
  4. The reason Jesus allowed it at all was because this was their “” It was the time appointed by God for them. Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not that God ceded control to them. It’s not that Jesus simply gave up. He surrendered, but He didn’t stop being God. The Father had not stepped off His throne and given up control, allowing Satan to run wild with the universe. At this moment in the eyes of the disciples, things would have appeared to be utter chaos – it would seem as if all holy light was extinguished and the evil of Satan was victorious…it wasn’t. Nothing could be further from the truth. God was just as sovereign in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was on the shore of the Red Sea or when He brought down hailstones upon the enemies of Israel (Josh 10:11). God is always sovereign at all times. This is actually emphasized by the words of Jesus. When He said that this was their “hour and the power of darkness,” He was saying that this was the time appointed/ordained for them by God. If God had not given them that hour, they wouldn’t have any hour. Again, the reason it could happen is because God allowed it to happen.
  5. Take a moment to chew on that. God is sovereign. We can never forget the sovereignty of our God! We may not always be able to explain it, but it is something we never dare forget. Often, it seems that evil is without check in this world and that everything is left to tragic chance. Whether you’re blessed or whether you’re suffering is all randomness, and the events of this life is a giant crap-shoot. Not so! The Bible tells us the opposite. The Bible tells us that God is in control, and that the very real evil that takes place in this world is kept on leash by God. That isn’t to say that evil & sin are God’s perfect will for us (it isn’t!), but He does permit these things to an extent. Think of Job. When Job suffered, it was because God allowed Satan to attack him. Yet even then, Satan’s attacks were limited, being restrained by the merciful protection of God. Did Job understand any of this? No, and he never did. To him, the reason for his suffering remained a mystery. What he learned was Who to trust in the midst of his suffering: the Almighty God who created him and held the universe together by His power.
    1. Likewise here. Here, we know the reason for Jesus’ arrest and subsequent suffering, and in it all, God is in control. Not once does Satan ever gain the upper hand over Jesus. Not through Judas, nor the priests, nor the later Romans. It may seem as if Satan gets in a few punches on God, but he doesn’t. Satan is not able to do a single thing that God does not allow him to do.
  6. This hasn’t changed. Satan is still on his leash. Granted, there is a lot of freedom allowed to him (seen through countless acts of murder, violence, and hatred), but even in this he is still ultimately restrained by God. (Just think for a moment how bad things would be if God the Spirit did not restrain him! 2 Ths 2:6-7) What does that mean for us? How is God’s sovereignty a comfort during times of extreme evil? What kind of comfort did that bring on September 11, 2001 when terrorists flew planes into the twin towers – or more recently, when a gunman murdered 17 teenaged students in their high school? Some acts of evil seem too extreme to have been allowed by God. How can we affirm that God’s sovereignty is valid, and if so, that it is good? (1) It is indeed valid, of that there is no doubt. The sovereign providence of God jumps off every page of the Bible. Even on the worst day of his life, Job affirmed the same truth in a demonstration of incredible faith. Job 2:9–10, “(9) Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (10) But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Though Job had lost his wealth, his servants, and (worse of all) his children in a single day, he still had faith in the providence of God. Whether good or bad, it came from the hand of the Almighty. (2) It is indeed good when we understand that God is good. (God is good, all the time!) The sovereignty of God would be terrible if God were evil. A universe in which a malevolent murderous divine dictator ruled would be utterly awful. But that isn’t God. God is good. God is the very definition of goodness, and we only know what good is by looking to God. The Bible affirms that God is love (1 Jn 2:8) – that He is merciful and faithful (Dt 7:9) – that He is just & righteous in every respect. This is His very name: Exodus 34:6–7, “(6) And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, (7) keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.””This is the God who is sovereign – this is the God who is in providential control. Yes, He allows Satan a limited leash – yes, He allows the terrible consequences of sin to fall upon His beloved creation…but He is a good God with a good answer to sin, and we see the beginnings of it right here in the Garden of Gethsemane: the cross. God has a just answer to the sin of the world in the willing sacrifice of Jesus. The guilt and iniquity of the worst of sinners finds its answer in the cross, when the full weight of God’s wrath comes crashing down upon His Son. And those of us who know Jesus in faith know that God’s wrath towards us is fulfilled – we know the sweet forgiveness of God – we know we are right in the palm of His hand. So yes, in His sovereignty is great comfort! Even on our worst days, the very best place for us to be is in the hands of the sovereign God, and that is exactly where our faith in Jesus places us!

Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus in terrible fashion. He used an act of love to commit an act of hate. Even so, this is Judas…we expect it from him. Surely none of the other disciples would sin against Jesus in like manner, right? Wrong. Just as it happened with the worst of the apostles, it happened with the best of them: Peter. Luke goes on to describe the scene. Vs. 54…

  • Peter’s denial (54-62)

54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.

  1. The note about the house of the high priest highlights the illegal nature of the act. Not only was Jesus arrested at night, but His first trial was about to begin at night. There was no time spent in a cell – no time given for cooler heads to prevail or to assemble the full group of the Sanhedrin (some of whom were secret supporters of Jesus). Jesus went straight to the housing complex of the high priest’s family (Annas & Caiaphas), who had already assembled with their group of cronies to engage in a kangaroo court – an illegal railroading of Jesus.
  2. As for Peter, give him credit for following Jesus this far. Initially, all the disciples fled the scene in the garden (Mt 26:56). At least two returned: Peter, and another unnamed disciple (likely John – Jn 18:15). Because that disciple was known by the high priest, Peter was able to gain entrance into the courtyard (Jn 18:16), and that’s where he stayed while Jesus was on trial.
  3. The problem for Peter began not because he followed Jesus to the house, but how he followed Him there: “at a distance.” Already, Peter was separating himself from his Savior, not wanting to be easily associated with Jesus. Not a word was yet spoken, but the denial had already begun.
    1. Something similar takes place with every major fall into sin. No one commits massive sin out of nowhere. It’s not like a Christian walks in holiness all day & is suddenly surprised to find him/herself in some massive moral failing. (Where did this come from?!) It takes several tiny steps to get there. There are a bunch of “minor” decisions that gradually open the door wider & wider for something bigger yet to come. Maybe it’s allowing your eyes to linger on another person that sets the stage for a greater lust. Maybe it’s a little drink on a nightly basis that turns into 2-3 (4,5,6) more. Maybe it’s a habit of little white lies that expands into a lifestyle of deception. Soon enough, those thing blow up into major sin that leaves you reeling. Small decisions matter.

55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.

  1. The stage for Peter’s failure continues to be set as he “sat among” the gathered crowd. How so? It’s obviously not sinful to sit in public, but it provides Peter with the opportunity to deny Jesus. Remember that Jesus specifically prophesied that Peter would fail Him in this way: Luke 22:31–34, “(31) And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. (32) But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (33) But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” (34) Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”” Jesus knew this was going to happen, and although Peter didn’t like it, he knew what Jesus had told him. Yet Peter sat among the crowd anyway. He put himself in a position where the opportunity to fail was possible. Think about it: if Peter didn’t want to publicly deny Jesus, he shouldn’t have been in public. He could have sat by himself in silence – he could have found some way to muzzle his mouth or do anything else not to have to speak. Instead, Peter put himself right in the middle of a crowd. People are making conversation all around him, all focused on the Man who had been arrested and put on trial in the house just inside…eventually Peter is going to be expected to say something. He set himself up to fail.
    1. The same progression happens with us. Once we start making allowances for “small” sin, we often put ourselves into positions that are dangerous. If someone is prone to drunkenness, where’s the last place they ought to be? The bar. If someone is prone to pornography, and of the last things they need is unaccountable alone time on the internet. Name the sin, and there are always situations that can be avoided, if people want to avoid them. We simply need to understand our own tendencies to fail. Peter thought himself to be invincible, and that was one of the first of his many problems.

56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

  1. The first denial takes place in response to the intense interrogation…of a servant girl. How tragic! How humiliating! For all of Peter’s bravado – for all of his resistance against Jesus’ prophecy – Peter absolutely crumbles at the first opportunity. He honestly believed himself strong enough to hold up under massive attack, being ready to suffer unto death. Yet at the piercing gaze of a young girl, the mighty apostle is crushed.
  2. Be careful not to ridicule! Beware not to think ourselves better. If it could happen to Peter, it could happen to any of us. Remember that Peter had incredible successes: he alone of the apostles had faith to walk on water – he was the first to speak up in confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God – he was one of three apostles included in Jesus’ inner circle of His most-trusted. Peter had massive success as an apostle up until this night. Yet it was on this night of darkness that he experienced failure after failure. First he swung the sword in the garden, and then he failed with the three-fold denial.
    1. How did it all begin? This apostle of faith chose not to exercise faith. Instead of believing Jesus at His word as to what would happen, Peter foolishly thought he knew better. Combined with his series of missteps, it all led to massive failure. Again, this is something that can happen to any of us. Believe Jesus! Take Him at His word, and rely upon His Spirit & power. Reliance upon ourselves will always lead to disappointment…without Jesus, we can do nothing.

58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” …

  1. The denials continue, each one more emphatic than the last. And Peter kept compounding his sin the whole time. Not once during the hour-plus did he leave the campfire. He never got himself out of the situation – he never took time aside to confess and pray – he never even sought out the help of the one other apostle who was there. Peter thought he could handle this on his own, and he ended up digging a bigger hole for himself. Faced with clear evidence and accusations that he was indeed a follower of Jesus, Peter dug in his heels on his deception. He failure was obvious to everyone…everyone, except himself.
  2. Again, we can easily relate. We get ourselves into similar circumstances when despite all evidence & mounting consequences, we keep attaching ourselves to our sin. We go deeper & deeper into it, all the while our consciences screaming against us telling us to stop. What should we do? Stop! It may be embarrassing – it may even be emotionally painful – but it’s the only thing to do. The first rule of holes: stop digging. Just stop the sin. Make the tough decision to surrender yourself to God at that very moment. It may seem impossible, but it is the very best thing you can do. Guaranteed, it is the only thing that will bring healing (1 Jn 1:9). We simply have to be willing to do it.

… Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

  1. For every sequence of sin in the life of a Christian, there comes a moment of sober clarity. For Peter, it came the instant the rooster crowd and he looked into the eyes of Jesus. Can you imagine?
    1. One of the problems we as Christians have when we sin is that we forget that Jesus does We might not be looking into His eyes at that very moment, but one day we will.
  2. How terrible the bitter grief that followed!


There were two betrayals of Jesus that night, both by His apostles, but only one by a friend. God was sovereign over both, but each man was responsible for his own actions. Judas was prophesied to betray Jesus, but he chose to do it in the most hateful way possible. Peter was prophesied to deny his Master & friend, yet chose to ignore the warning and set himself for failure. Eventually, both men suffered immensely. Peter was stricken with grief that very night, whereas Judas Iscariot was later tortured by his inner demons & ended up committing suicide. The consequences for sin are severe, both in the near & far.

For as similar as the actions of these two men might have been that night, the long term results could not have been more different. Why? Their relationships with Jesus. Judas abandoned whatever love for Jesus he had, if he had any at all; Peter’s love for Jesus was rekindled and restored. It’s impossible to read the many accounts of Peter’s denial of Jesus & his weakness the night prior to the cross without remembering the event that took place a mere 50 days later when he boldly witnessed of Jesus on the streets of Jerusalem. Acts 2:36–39, “(36) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (37) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (38) Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.””

Is that the same man who crumbled before a slave girl & a campfire crowd? Yes & no. Physically, he was the same; spiritually he was reborn! After the campfire was the cross – after the cross was the resurrection – after the resurrection was Jesus’ forgiveness, and cleansing, and empowerment by the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter became a new man & was restored, never the same again. Would there be struggles? Yes – but there was the assurance of his relationship with Christ.

So it is with us! We have struggles and sin of our own. We have failed Jesus in our own way. Maybe you (like Peter) have denied Him in your public witness. Maybe you’ve denied Him privately, not understanding He still sees. Whatever your failing, you can look back and see the many small decisions that led to this point, and you’re grieved. You’ve wept your own bitter tears & your heart is crushed.

Christian, there is forgiveness in Jesus! Oh how glorious the cleansing and restoration He offers, and has made freely available to us! Stop your sin, confessing it to the Lord, and drink deeply of His grace! It is humbling, but in it is healing. Take what your Lord has to offer, and remember your utter reliance upon Him.

Maybe you’re not in the position of Peter, but more that of Judas. Your sin against Jesus wasn’t a denial of love, but an expression of hatred. You’ve rebelled against God, no matter what appearances may have seemed on the outside. Know this: you have an opportunity that was lost on Judas…you can still be forgiven! Judas robbed himself of the chance when he took his own life, but without question the cross of Christ would have been sufficient for his sin as well. The cross of Jesus is sufficient for you, too! There is no sin you’ve committed that cannot be forgiven by God. Put your faith in Jesus, and your sins can be remitted…just respond to His call.