Luke chapter 9

Not Exactly Good News

“For I, the Son of Man, must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “I will be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. I will be killed, but three days later I will be raised from the dead.– Luke 9:22 NLT

When these words came off the lips of Jesus, His disciples were less-than-ecstatic. In fact, they were surprised and confused. This wasn’t exactly what they had signed up for. After all, they were fully expecting Jesus, as the long-awaited Messiah, to set up His kingdom on earth and destroy the oppressive rule of the Romans. He was going to be the warrior-king who, like His ancestor David, would wage war against the enemies of Israel and set up His kingdom in Jerusalem. It was going to be great, and the disciples thought they would be ruling right alongside Christ in His earthly kingdom. Now here He comes talking about suffering and death at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes of Israel. None of this made sense. Why would the religious leaders of their day want to kill the Messiah? This all had to sound preposterous to the disciples. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Jesus goes on to tell them that they were going to have to deny themselves and take up their own crosses if they were going to continue following Him. Wow! Not exactly good news.

But we know that is exactly what it was – good news. Jesus’ death was the key to His coming. He came to offer Himself as a sacrifice for all. Ephesians 5:2 tells us that Jesus “gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” He died so that we might live. His death resulted in a different kind of victory than the disciples were looking for. He came to set them free from the rule of sin and the penalty of death, not the Romans. He came to give them victory over the grave, not some foreign occupying army. The life Jesus was offering was going to require death. His own. And it would require of the disciples a daily dying of themselves. They were going to have to die to their expectations and dreams. They were going to have to die to their addictive habit of trying to save themselves. They were going to have to lose their lives in order to gain the new life that Jesus offered. But it would prove to be an exchange that was well worth it. Our sin for His righteousness. Our forgiveness for His condemnation. Our new life for His death. His power for our weakness. Our salvation for His sacrifice.

So the bad news would prove to be very good news after all. And it still is.

Father, thank You for the good news regarding Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for coming up with a plan that was far better than anything the disciples could have dreamed up or dreamed of. Your way is the best. And I am grateful that the bad news regarding Your son’s death would prove to be the best news of all time. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Acts chapter 9

Vessels for honor

He is a chosen vessel of Mine… – Vs 15 (NKJV)

At first blush, this looks like the story of Saul’s conversion, and rightfully so. But there seems to be a lot more to this passage than a recap of Saul’s Damascus road experience. In fact, he is just one of a number of actors in this play. There’s Ananias the disciple, there’s Peter the apostle, Aeneas the paralytic, and Dorcas the deceased. And while Saul takes up a large part of the narrative, this story is really not about him. It is about God. It is about how God has chosen to use men and women to accomplish His divine plan through the ages. It is about how God uses fallen creatures to proclaim His glory.

In verse 15, when Ananias shares with God his reluctance to go and minister to Saul because of his reputation as a persecutor of the church, God tells him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine” (NASB). That word translated “instrument” is skeuos in the Greek. It can refer to “a vessel, implement, or household utensil.” It is the same word used by Paul when he later wrote to the Corinthians:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. – 2 Corinthians 4:7

You find Paul using the same word in his letter to Timothy:

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. – 2 Timothy 2:21

This chapter is all about people being used by God as vessels for his honor and glory. Some are active participants like Ananias and Peter. Others are passive, like Dorcas and the paralytic, yet God uses them nonetheless. Just take a look at all that takes place by the hand of God through the lives of His chosen vessels in this one chapter alone:

A disciple obeys – Vs 17

A persecutor is converted – Vs 18

The body of Christ ministers – Vs 25

A brother in Christ supports – Vs 27

The church grows – Vs 31

A paralytic is healed – Vs 34

A woman is raised from the dead – Vs 40

The lost are saved – Vs 42

Every one of these are a picture of the mighty hand of God reaching down and using “earthen vessels” – clay pots – to accomplish His will. Each of them ended up bringing honor and glory to God. God used each of these individuals in such a way “so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 2:7).

God chose Saul, a religious zealot who was out to destroy the church, as a vessel to grow His church

He chose Ananias,an obscure disciple with a fear of persecution, as a vessel to anoint Saul with the Holy Spirit

He chose a group of unknown disciples to spare the life of the very man who had been out to imprison them

He chose Aeneas, a man debilitated by paralysis, as a vessel to witness to the power of Christ

He used Dorcas, a deceased woman, as a vessel to testify to Christ’s power over death and the grave

And the result was that “many believed in the Lord” (Vs 42). When God chooses and uses, results happen. Lives are changed. The lost are found. The lame walk. The dead are restored to life. The enemies of God become lovers of God.

God is still in the choosing business. And He still chooses vessels of clay. People who are spiritually paralyzed, spiritually dead, spiritually His enemies, spiritually reluctant, and spiritual nobodies. He chooses people like us to do His will and to reveal His power. Earthen vessels that He transforms into vessels for honor. Have you been chosen?

Father, thank you for choosing me. Thank you for using me. Even though I am little more than a clay pot with nothing to offer, and no value in and of myself. But You have chosen to use me so that my life can be a witness to Your power and glory. Make me a vessel for honor, sanctified, set apart for You, useful and always prepared for every good work you have for me to do. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men