Rebel Hearts (By Chris Barnes)
Text: Luke Chapters 21-22
OBSERVE: Within these two chapters we read about Jesus foretelling about the destruction of the temple, the coming of wars and persecution and the destruction of Jerusalem. This is followed by the signs of the second coming of Christ and a warning to be alert. We then read again about the plot to kill Jesus and the involvement of Judas. After the institution of the Lord’s Supper; we come across the following statement:
The night that he was arrested, Jesus told his disciples, “The time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: “He was counted among the rebels.” Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true” (Luke 22:37).
INTERPRET: This prophecy about Jesus from Isaiah 53:12 was also foreshadowed in the experience of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Just as Joseph, though completely innocent, was cast into prison, so Jesus was falsely accused, lied about, and unjustly sentenced to death. There on the cross, Jesus was flanked by two notorious rebels. The gospel of Luke records that one of the rebels scoffed at Jesus while the other rebel embraced Jesus.
Just as Joseph would be a means of blessing to one companion but the pronouncement of judgement to the other, so Jesus gave life to the repentant thief while the other thief perished. Joseph asked the cup-bearer to “please remember me” to Pharaoh because he was innocent. The repentant thief asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his Kingdom because he knew he was guilty. Christ, the truly innocent One, had taken on his guilt. Jesus was counted among the rebels, so that even the real rebels can be counted as innocent.
APPLICATION: Luke 23:39 records that one of the rebels hanging beside Jesus scoffed at him saying “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself – and us, too, while you’re at it!” The other rebel protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he turned to Jesus: “remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23: 40-43).
Jesus was fulfilling prophecy and his purpose by dying the death of a rebel in order to make intercession for the real rebels – those with rebel hearts. Jesus has taken on our guilt and was counted as a rebel so that we can truly be innocent and free. But we have to choose to accept this wonderful gift. We can choose to resist this wonderful gift just like the scoffing rebel. Or we can choose to hand over our rebellious hearts and surrender all to our Victorious King.
REFLECTION: Have you handed over your rebel heart and surrendered all?
PRAYER: Victorious King; because of my sin I was counted among the rebels. But Jesus, you have taken my place there. You were counted among the rebels so that one day I will be counted among the vast crowd, too great to count, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. AMEN.
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.