Read short inspirational articles by Olive Tree staff members.
By Olive Tree Staff: David Mikucki
Jesus’ followers were convinced that He was the coming King—the Messiah of Israel who would rule the nations with a rod of iron. All His disciples were severely disappointed when the unthinkable happened: Jesus was crucified. The coming, conquering King had come and didn’t seem to have conquered. Maybe Jesus wasn’t the Messiah? If He wasn’t, then… now what?
That’s the backdrop for Luke 24. With Jesus dead, His followers were distraught. They were on a seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking about everything that had just happened, trying to sort through it all—still unaware that Jesus had been raised. Jesus met them on this road, but He kept them from recognizing Him (Luke 24:17). To them He was a stranger passing on the road. They told this ‘stranger’ that they thought Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel. They said that some of their friends were telling what they thought were fairytales about Him rising from the dead.
At this point, Jesus says something that shocks everyone. He tells his followers that the prophets said all of this was going to happen: the Messiah would suffer and then enter into His glory. No one expected the Messiah to suffer! Who expects a King to suffer? Jesus says the prophets expected it. Then in Luke 24:27, He explains the things concerning Himself from Moses and all the prophets. Jesus went to each book of the Bible and explained all the things about Himself (see also Luke 24:44).
People these days have a lot of different ideas concerning what the Bible is about. Jesus has His own idea. The Bible isn’t a book of rules we have to follow in order to go to heaven (John 5:39). It’s not just a bunch of do’s and don’t’s. It’s not just a bunch of neat stories. Jesus said the Bible is about Himself. Humanity’s biggest problem is that we sin our whole lives and then we die and enter into judgment. The Bible teaches us all we need to know about our Savior—the King who suffered and died in our place and rose from the dead three days later to make us right before God and give us a new life like His.
One of the last things Jesus did before He ascended into heaven was to tell us that the Bible is about Him! Jesus is our Savior—the only Savior—and He says that all of Scripture points us to Him: the One we really need. When we study the Bible, let’s remember that it’s all about Jesus.
Olive Tree has got some great resources that explain Jesus in parts of the Bible we might not have expected to find Him. Here are some of my favorites…
- Gospel Transformation Bible Notes by Crossway
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Free!)
- Christ in the Old Testament by Charles Spurgeon
- Christ in the Passover by Rose Publishing
- Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament edited by D.A. Carson and G.K. Beale
I’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically this year with one of The Bible Study App’s reading plans. Right now, I’m reading the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper. I’m struck again by Jesus. At the last meal they would have together before the cross, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, takes off his robes, wraps a towel around himself and washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20). I’ve read this account that’s only recorded in John’s Gospel dozens of times. Yet, like the Holy Spirit often does, this passage was made anew as I read it recently.
Here’s what struck me: Judas was heavily influenced by Satan (if not possessed) at this point (Luke 22:36, John 13:2), but Judas was present for Jesus to wash his feet. I find this humbling and encouraging. What?!? Yes, encouraging. Why? Because even though Jesus KNEW Judas was going to betray Him, Jesus served him. Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart. He knew the betrayal was coming. Jesus knew the anguish that was coming. The beatings, the scourging, the agonizing walk to Golgotha, and the ultimate torture, the cross. Yet, even in this moment of humbling Himself, Jesus washed Judas’ feet, this man Judas who was pivotal in fulfilling the Scriptures and prophecies about the Suffering Servant. Jesus humbled Himself and SERVED His greatest enemy.
I don’t know about you, but I have trouble serving my closest loved ones. I find it difficult to humble myself, to serve, and to put others’ needs before my own. I can’t fathom putting a backstabber’s needs in front of my own.
At the same time, that is what I am. I am the backstabber, the betrayer. I am the one who put Jesus on the cross. It is my sin that put Jesus there. How many times have I turned from God’s grace to live, act, be, and do what I want for my own selfishness? But Jesus served me by going to the cross. This is humbling because of my sin, but encouraging because of how much Jesus loves me. Even though Jesus knows me, He served me. Even though Jesus knew that I would betray Him, He went to the cross willingly.
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
Here is my example. I am to serve, love, and do for others like Jesus did for me. I am to put down my own needs, my own pride, and serve others, even those who will betray me. Even those who will turn their backs on me. I am to love and serve as our Lord and Teacher Jesus Christ loved and served me.
Luke 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
It’s easy to read this passage and think “How in the world did they NOT recognize Jesus?!?” But taking into account what they said, I can appreciate what they were going through. They were sad, hurting, afraid, and confused. And Jesus kept them from recognizing Him.
A few days ago I ran into a former co-worker. It had been over a year since we connected, so there was a lot to catch up on. After the initial questions of “how are you doing” and “it’s so good to see you” small talk, the conversation turned to our former workplace. She left about nine months after I did, and gave me some insight on how things went. Hearing some of the stories, change, and “occurrences”, I was again reminded of the goodness of God and how I often have my eyes closed to the reality of Christ and His direction in my life. A renewed sense of the sovereignty and grace of God swept over me during our conversation.
I don’t always recognize Christ in my daily life. From my everyday encounters, to those monumental life events, do I truly open my eyes to see Jesus? In times where my family is sick, finances are tight, or work is stressful, do I remember to look for Christ? Fortunately, Jesus gives us “breaking of bread” reminders to gently lead, guide, and direct us.
Luke 24:30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Like these two disciples, I need the jolts, nudges, and reminders to open my eyes to the risen Christ. Thankfully, Jesus “interprets to us in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” and leads us by The Holy Spirit to open our eyes.
35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
I am thankful that Jesus makes Himself known through everyday events. It’s up to me to proclaim the risen Christ to others and remember that “The Lord has risen indeed!”
By Olive Tree Employee: LaRosa Johnson
Holy Week is a somber time of the year for me. As I look at the gospel accounts that detail the crucifixion of Jesus, I often ask myself, “What’s so good about Good Friday? Jesus died. He was brutally murdered. How can that possibly be good?” From there, I am reminded of the weight of my own sin that forced him to come and die on the cross. Ultimately, I find relief knowing that Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb, but rose again victorious. Yet, why did God do all of that? He did it to pay the penalty of our sins that we might be forgiven.
Yes, when we look at the cross, we are asked to look at the subject of forgiveness and reconciliation. The perfect place for us to turn in the Bible to look at the forgiveness found in the cross isn’t in the gospels, but it is found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, Romans 5:6-11 to be exact. In this short paragraph we see statements like: “Christ died for the ungodly,” “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and “we were reconciled to God.” Jesus Christ didn’t come to bring salvation to those of us who were already on his team; no, he came to give his life on behalf of his enemies so that we could be forgiven and found righteous in the sight of the one perfect and holy God. We were saved to be spared from the wrath of God (v. 9), even though it came at the expense of the shed blood of God’s only begotten son.
Now, just think about the cross for a moment and look at Paul’s illustration in verse 7. As a husband and father, the odds are pretty good that I’d risk my life and die to save my family. I might even be persuaded to do it for a friend. Ask me to do it for my enemy and I’d tell you that you’d lost your mind! But, this is precisely what Christ did for us, with us being God’s enemy because of our sins against him. He took our punishment upon himself. By his blood he justified & saved us, and we are reconciled to God through his resurrection life. How mind blowing is that?!
We can still take this a step further. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 tells us that we, as Christians, have now been given the ministry of reconciliation that was once Christ’s. This means that it is now our job to: 1) forgive others like Christ forgave us, and 2) tell others about the forgiveness that can be found in God. First, we should look at our own lives and how awful our sins are in the sight of God; yet, as vile offenders against his law and holiness, he chose to forgive and bring about our reconciliation. If God was willing to do that for us, how much more should we extend that same compassion toward everyone in our lives (Luke 7:41-43, 47)? Even as we’re forgiving others, it is also our job to tell them that their sins can be forgiven through the blood of Christ. Jesus didn’t die just for me, but his mission was to save so many more.
While Holy Week might indeed be a somber time, I’m glad that it can also brighten my spirit. Jesus didn’t just die; he died to pay the penalty for my sin. He didn’t just rise again, but he rose to bring about my forgiveness and righteous standing before God. As a result, the cross demands forgiveness. The cross was the stipulation of our forgiveness with God, and it is also the vehicle that demands we forgive others in the same manner that we’ve been forgiven. For me, that’s what this week is all about.
Easter is less than a week away. As we prepare our hearts and minds for remembering the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, here are a few resources that might help in your final preparations.
The bestselling Evidence for the Resurrection answers each question and addresses each theory with historical, archaeological, and cultural proofs. It presents evidence and logic that has convinced critics over the years and will equip you to with the right information when you talk to someone who questions the resurrection story.
Christ in the Passover looks at the origins and symbolism of the Passover and how the Old Testament Passover is relevant today through God’s Son, Jesus. Christ in the Passover shows six ways that the Passover in the Old Testament points to Jesus, who was called the “Lamb of God.”
Feasts of the Bible celebrates and explains the meaning behind the different feasts and why they are important to God. It contains an easy-to-read chart that provides the name and an explanation of each holiday, date of observance, and reveals how each holiday points to Jesus as the promised Messiah.
The Names of Jesus is a bestselling tool for learning the names, character and personal attributes of Jesus. The 50 names are featured in an easy-to-use format along with their Scripture references, the meanings of each name, related titles, and more. Interestingly, the names of Jesus come from both the Old and New Testaments.
Produced out of the conviction that the Bible is a unified message of God’s grace culminating in Jesus, it is a significant new tool to help readers see Christ in all the Bible, and grace for all of life. The Gospel Transformation Bible Notes features specially prepared material outlines passage-by-passage God’s redemptive purposes of grace that echo all through Scripture and culminate in Christ. The notes not only explain but also apply the text in a grace-centered way.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon discusses the seven words that Christ uttered from the Cross: Forgiveness, Salvation, Affection, Anguish, Suffering, Victory, and Contentment.
Preaching the Cross is an inspiring book containing the reflections of experienced pastors, and dedicated to “the next generation of preachers of the cross.” Collected and introduced by Mark Dever, each chapter of this book addresses a different issue in the lives and ministries of contemporary pastors.
Combining scripture, quotes, and brief but powerful meditations, readers will discover the greatest gift that Jesus Christ offers to us is found in eternal life, but there are so many more things He has done for us – and does for us – when we enter into relationship with Him.
Max Lucado examines the symbols surrounding Christ’s crucifixion, revealing the claims of the cross and asserting that if they are true, then Christianity itself is true. The supporting evidence either makes the cross the single biggest hoax of all time, or the hope of all humanity.
Death by Love is a unique book on the cross of Jesus Christ. While many books debate the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement, what is often lost are the real-life implications of Jesus’ death on the cross for those who have sinned and have been sinned against. Written in the form of pastoral letters, Death by Love outlines the twelve primary effects of Jesus’ death on the cross and connects each to the life of a different individual.
In Jesus: The Only Way to God–Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved? John Piper offers a timely plea for the evangelical church to consider what is at stake in surrendering the unique, universal place of Jesus in salvation. If you’re concerned about the current state of evangelism–and the church–this book is a must-read.
We hope that you find these titles not only helpful, but also inspiring and encouraging.