Friday, February 11, 2011

Jesus and John

Jesus and John
One of the most enigmatic parts of Jesus' life was his cousin John. John was a true prophet. Totally dedicated to the message God had given him. Not at all concerned about his personal life, or hygene, or even health. Never married. With his appearance and radical lifestyle, probably never even came close.

He had a strong message, and a good group of followers.

His bold statements against a political leader had landed him in jail. With time to think, he was wondering about Jesus...

Matthew 11:1 "After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.[a]

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’[c]

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Hard Message

You couldn't accuse Jesus of softpedaling.
Today He teaches what I would call the Hard Message.
I would entitle it:

What Will Happen to My Followers. Are You Up For It?
Matthew 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[b]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

The hard message. Everything He spoke about has happened to His followers over the years. Only if His kingdom truly was not of this world would it all be worth it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From the masses to the few

From the masses to the few

Jesus' miracles had attracted masses of people following him wherever he went. He now directs his attention to the few:

Matthew 10:1 "Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."

Although Jesus' instructions had application to the immediate time, He was also giving a commentary on what would happen to all disciples down through the ages.

More Christians are beaten, abused and killed today than ever before in history. A pastor in India last month was accosted by three men and beaten. He was told to never come back to that village. A pastor in a closed Muslim country left a pastors reunion two months ago that was held in a safe country. He went back home and was never heard of again. Presumed tortured and killed.

Jesus went from the masses to the few.
And He told them clearly what would happen to them...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This is unique in all of history!

This event was not orchestrated.

Jesus was just going about his business.

This man was brought to Jesus. The man was demon possessed. He was mute. Jesus, can you help him?

32 "While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus."

Jesus drove the demon out. The man who was mute, was able to speak.

33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke."

The people around were amazed. (I would have been as well!)

The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

The religious leaders were at a loss to explain this. A demon cast out, and a mute man speaking. How to comprehend?

34 "But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Ahhhhhh! It is by the devil's power that he casts out devils! (That didn't square even with their own theology)

The crowd was right. This is unique in all of history!

Monday, February 7, 2011

You and your buddy are blind. What to do?

You and your buddy are blind. What to do?

We don't know much about them. These two blind men.
Probably had not been able to get married.
Almost for sure they did not have jobs.
They were a drain on their families.
Relegating to begging for a living.
They had banded together. Maybe for protection. Maybe they took turns begging.

They heard there was a man - Jesus - who could heal people. Maybe?
Jesus came by where they lived. They were not going to let this chance go...

27 "As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

Nothing! Jesus didn't stop. He didn't heal them. He apparently didn't even notice them... They follow him.
28 "When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region."

They believed. They were healed.
Although told to keep quiet, they couldn't help it. They told everyone they met!