practical heresy

Theoretical truth is no protection against practical heresy. Our doctrines and teachings inform our practices. They help us determine what our practices should be. And our practices inform our doctrines and teachings. They tell us what our doctrines actually are.

We read in the Bible about a God who communicates with people and actively moves to transform lives through healing, deliverance, miracles, and prophetic words. Jesus – in all his words and deeds – reveals to us the perfection and fullness of God. That’s our doctrine. If we think that is true, then we should live like that. If Jesus did those things, then Jesus still does those things. Or at least he wants to do them through us. Too often, our practice shows that we believe in a disinterested, un-involved, unloving God.

We should try by all means to live like we really believe what we claim to believe. This mean overcoming the disconnect between what we claim to be true and what our actions show about what we actually hold as true.

Red Letter Year: 9/10

Luke 22.1-13

The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is also called Passover, was approaching. The leading priests and teachers of religious law were plotting how to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people’s reaction.

Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted, and they promised to give him money. So he agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus so they could arrest him when the crowds weren’t around.

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”

“Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him.

10 He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, 11 say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 12 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 13 They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

37 Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening he returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. 38 The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear him.


There are just a few things I want to point out as we begin our journey to the cross again. First, for all the distinctives we have been noting in Luke’s use of Mark and Matthew (and there are more to come), it is worth mentioning that when it comes to the last 24 hours of Jesus’ earthly life, all four Gospels are in remarkable agreement. We can make sense of the Synoptics keeping close together, since they are dependent on each other and this is the most important part of the story. But as we will see before too long, John’s Gospel is almost entirely different. He shares almost nothing with the other three – until he gets to Jesus’ arrest and then his narrative stays very close to the other three. Whatever variations they had up to this point, all four voices are in unison that Jesus was arrested, put through a sham trial, tortured, then executed on a cross – a very shameful way to die for both Jews and Gentiles. The Old Testament goes so far as to call anyone who dies in such a way “cursed in the sight of God.” (Deut. 21.23) How could reconciliation with God come through someone cursed by God? This was (and remains) a major stumbling block for both believers and unbelievers.

Second, you can see here again Luke’s effort to separate the Jewish people from their leaders. He is going to assign the bulk of the blame to the leaders, who are clearly trying to avoid any public detection of their plot against Jesus. They secretly enlist Judas for this very reason. One change Luke makes regards Judas. Luke is the first to explain Judas’ betrayal as primarily an act of Satan. John is going to agree. Luke leaves most of Judas’ final story for Acts 1, it is the first thing the church has to deal with, not something to let interfere with the climax of Jesus’ story.

Which leads to my last point today. For all that – the leaders scheme, Judas betrays, Satan has his moment – this is not their story and they are not driving the action here. Jesus tells his followers how and where to prepare his last meal and they find things just as he described. To the end, Luke presents Jesus as the Prophet fully aware of what he is walking into, the King walking into his coronation, the Lamb willingly walking to the pascal meal. No accidents. No countervailing plots. Only the will of God being worked out as the Prophet-King has been predicting and declaring it over and over again.

And the same is true of you and me. You are not on some random journey. There are no accidents. Even something as random and mundane as a servant carrying a water jug can be a prophetic sign. God has a purpose for your life – not (just) in a far off distant future, but right here, right now in your everyday. Embrace it. Walk into it. Pray into it. And see how your story unfolds.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.