Luke Chapters 12-13
OBSERVE: In chapter 13, we come across a story of Jesus healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath. This story is only found in the gospel of Luke:
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath”.
The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her? When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. (Luke 13: 10-17).
INTERPRET: The synagogue leader is not suggesting here that it is a bad idea for Jesus to heal the suffering woman. The issue that the synagogue leader has is the timing – being on the Sabbath day. The synagogue leader contends that healing on this day is violating the Sabbath because the healing requires “work”. Because the healing requires work it is therefore preventing the Sabbath day from being holy in his opinion.
The response of Jesus implies that it is not about what constitutes as work but rather it is about the kinds of activities and aims that truly reflect the purpose of the Sabbath. By pointing out that people rightly care for their livestock on the Sabbath, how much more should they have compassion on people on the Sabbath. Nothing in the law forbids the act of compassion. Rather, compassion upholds the foundational principles of the Sabbath laws which is rooted in God’s commitment to bring people out of bondage (Deuteronomy 5: 12-15).
APPLICATION: Although seen as a rebel by many; this was just another case of Jesus coming to fulfill the Law. Not only was Jesus the fulfillment of the Law, he lived out the Law to perfection. To Jesus, it was a good thing to set free a human being on the Sabbath in order to restore them. Although the Sabbath commandment was rooted in God’s commitment to free people out of bondage, the essence of this law was lost over time. The additional bridge rules and the enforcement of them overshadowed and blurred the real purpose of the Sabbath.
It is easy for us today to let rigid rules prevent us from acting in a compassionate way. We often miss the real purpose behind the rules which then puts up barriers. This story of Jesus on the Sabbath helps us to pause and reflect. Any rule that prevents us from acting with a compassionate heart should be deeply examined. Any rule that inhibits another from being restored needs a complete makeover; just like this example from Jesus.
REFLECTION: Have you embraced others with a compassionate heart the same way that Jesus has embraced you?
PRAYER: Lord of the Sabbath; give me a heart of compassion; give me hope for the lost. I ask for a deep passion for those who are broken. Enable me your beloved servant; to put your Word into action. AMEN.
Do I model my life after Jesus in his practice of prayer and praise to God our Father?
Dear Lord Jesus, we are so thankful you came to our world to show us what God the Father is like. Remind us to always choose the true and right path to follow you. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we might do the good tasks you’ve given us to do.
Lead on Lord – Bruce Moore, Jennifer Manhas
A Heart of Good Soil (By Les Kovacs)
Text: Luke 8-9
Observe: In these chapters we find Jesus doing what He does best, teaching the people about the kingdom of heaven, healing the sick, and performing miracles.
Chapter 8 opens with Jesus traveling with His followers from town to town, and He tells them the parable of the sower. The seeds are the Word of God, and the different types of soil upon which the seeds fell are the people who hear the word and how they respond to it. He warns them to listen carefully and take heed of what He says. The crowds are so thick around Jesus that His mother and brothers are not able to get close to Him, but Jesus tells the disciples that His family is actually those who hear God’s word and obey.
Jesus takes His disciples across the lake, and takes a nap. While He is sleeping, a fierce storm kicks up and boat is in danger of being swamped, so the disciples wake Jesus and alert Him to their fear. At that, Jesus gets up and calms the wind and the waves, and asks them what happened to their faith? Still, the disciples ask themselves how it is that Jesus can accomplish these things.
Having sailed across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes, Jesus encounters a man possessed by many demos. The demons immediately recognize Jesus as the Son of God, and plead with Him not to be tortured, and would rather live in a herd of nearby pigs. Jesus grants their request and drives them into the pigs, who immediately run into the lake and are drowned. Once the people see what has happened, they demand that He leave their area at once, so once again, He crosses the lake to the other side. Upon arriving, Jesus is called to heal a dying young girl, but as He’s on His way, a sick woman touches His robe to be healed of her 12 year-long affliction. When she confesses to being the one who touched Him, He tells her that her faith has made her well. This short delay was enough for the young girl to die, but that’s no obstacle for Jesus and He raises her up again.
In Chapter 9, Jesus sends out the twelve on a mission to preach the good news of the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick and drive out demons. They are to take no provisions whatsoever, and only accept whatever hospitality they are offered on the way. The apostles return and report everything they had done. These miracles make the people, including King Herod, wonder about Jesus teachings.
The crowds follow Jesus wherever He goes. At Bethsaida, Jesus teaching and healing lasts long into the afternoon, and the disciples ask Him to dismiss the people because they were in a remote area and without food and lodging. When Jesus tells them to feed the people, they ask Him with what? They only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and there are more than 5 thousand people in attendance. Jesus takes the food, gives thanks to heaven, breaks it into pieces and miraculously, there is more than enough to feed everyone. Later, in a private moment with His disciples, Jesus asks who the people think He is, to which they tell Him, John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the old prophets come back to life. Then He asks who they think He is, and Peter says “God’s Messiah”. Jesus declares Peter correct in his declaration, and then predicts His own death, and says that if they want to follow Him, they must deny themselves and take up their crosses daily.
Shortly thereafter, Jesus took Peter, John and James and went to the mountains to pray. While there, He was transformed into a bright shining figure and two other men, Moses and Elijah, appeared with Him to discuss His coming departure. As the dazed disciples looked on, a voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” And all at once they were alone with Jesus again.
When they returned to town, Jesus healed yet another demon-possessed boy whom the other disciples were not able to help because of their inadequate faith. While the people were marvelling at this, Jesus predicted His own death to His disciples. Still they didn’t understand, and argued among themselves about who would be the greatest, and Jesus indicated that it was the least of them who would be the greatest. As they were walking through Samaria, they were prevented from staying in one of their towns, so James and John wanted to bring down fire from heaven to destroy them, but Jesus said no, and they continued on their way. As they walked along various people asked to follow Him, but when Jesus said “follow me”, they all had other things to do first before they could do that.
Interpret: Jesus’ opening parable about the sower is brought to vivid life in these ensuing two chapters. Wherever He went, He told the people about the kingdom of heaven and spread the good news of salvation. These were the seeds the sower spread, the word of God, and we can see in this narrative how the various people responded to the word. Those that heard the word of God but didn’t let in take hold I their heart were like the owners of the herd of pigs, who only saw their financial investment drowned in the lake and drove Jesus away. They saw the cost of following Jesus and decided it was too much in earthly terms. The demons were able to recognize Jesus on sight as the Son of God, but most of the people, including the disciples, didn’t fully understand who Jesus really was, even after hearing His teachings and witnessing His miracles. But those who heard the word and believed, they were the ones who were blessed with being released from their demons and physical afflictions.
As Jesus travelled about the countryside, He spoke the words of life and healed the people who believed in Him, yet He never, ever forced anyone to accept Him. He always allowed them to believe or not as they wished, even though as God, He could have made them do so. When He sent the 12 out to spread the word, He told them to stay where they were welcomed, and to leave if they were not. When the Samaritans refused to allow them to stay in their town, rather than destroy them, Jesus simply left them in peace and went on His way. He always let people decide for themselves if they would follow Him or not.
Even His disciples, who were with Him almost constantly, didn’t always get it. They were first-hand witnesses to His healing and miracles, and were given more in-depth teaching than the crowds, yet they often failed to understand what He meant or who He actually was. Yet with infinite patience, Jesus continued to teach His disciples by word and example.
Application: Just like with the people of His day, Jesus allows us to decide for ourselves whether we will follow Him or not. He taught them. He fed them. He healed them. And then He said to them, “Follow me.” Today, the physical Jesus may not be walking and talking among us, but we can still read of His ministry. We can read the scriptures and see the truth of what He said. Today, Jesus continues to sow the seeds of the gospel of salvation, and we must decide for ourselves whether there is good soil in our hearts, or if it is hard-packed, rocky and full of weeds. When we spend time with Him in prayer or in scripture reading, we allow Him to work the soil of our hearts and allow the seeds to take a better hold of our thoughts, our intentions, our being and our doing. Like His disciples, we may not always get it, but Jesus was patient with them and He is patient with us.
Questions: Do you think you would recognize Jesus if He walked through your neighbourhood? Would you follow Him, even if it cost you everything?
Prayer: Father God, we pray that by the indwelling of your Holy Spirit, our hearts may be filled with good soil, so your word can take root in our lives, your good works can be undertaken by our hands, and the story of salvation can be shared by our lips. May everything we think, say and do bring honour and glory to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Song: Here’s my Heart: Casting Crowns
Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
Why do the nations say,
‘Where is their God?’
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
All you Israelites, trust in the Lord –
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the Lord –
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the Lord –
he is their help and shield.
The Lord remembers us and will bless us:
he will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the Lord –
small and great alike.
May the Lord cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The highest heavens belong to the Lord,
but the earth he has given to the human race.
It is not the dead who praise the Lord,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the Lord,
both now and for evermore.
Praise the Lord.
The Gospel of Luke begins with a dedication to a man named Theophilus in which Luke describes himself as an eyewitness to the life of Jesus Christ and the following work as one that will bring clarity and certainty to any who read it. He begins with the foretelling and birth of John the Baptist who was born to a priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, who was barren. An angel appeared to Zechariah, explaining that his wife would conceive and that their child would be full of the Holy Spirit and on a mission to turn the hearts of the people of Israel towards God so that they might be ready to receive their Lord. Zechariah expressed his doubt and was rendered mute until the naming of his son, John.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was visited in much the same way and told of the One she would bear. He was to be named Jesus, the Son of the Most High. After this, she goes to see her relative Elizabeth who was already in her sixth month of pregnancy. The two rejoice together at their marvelous conceptions! After the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah prophesies the fulfilment of the covenant made with Abraham all those generations ago.
John the Baptist is the last of the Old Covenant prophets and comes right on the heels of the New Covenant. Both John and Jesus exist as a comingling of the two epochs, the former ushering in the latter in the waters of baptism. If we look closely at the way in with John the Baptist was introduced not only to his parents but to the rest of the world through prophecy, there are a striking number of allusions to what we read in the Old Testament.
For starters, there was the giving of a child to a barren couple, just like Sarah in Genesis and Hannah in 1 Samuel. I sense a nod to Samson when Zechariah is told that his child must not tough wine or strong drink, and that he would be full of the Holy Spirit as seen in the book of Kings. He would be a prophet, charged with turning the hearts of fathers to their children, the disobedient to wisdom, and to prepare a way for the Lord. John then grew up, strong in the spirit, away in the wilderness until his time had come, and we can recall the many years during which the Lord led Israel through the wilderness too!
Most striking of all, however, is the connection that Zechariah makes in his prophecy between the birth of John and the one whom he would go before (that is, Jesus), and the incredible insight that Jesus would be the salvation, the redeemer, the king from the line of David foretold by the prophets of old who would “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.” In the Gospel of Luke, in this very first chapter, we see an intentional and purposeful weaving of the Old Testament into John the Baptist, the life of John with that of Jesus, and the life of Jesus as the fulfilment of everything that had come before. The stage couldn’t be better set for the most important century in human history!
Application and question:
Jesus is the point of the Bible. He is the perfect revelation of God, the Word made flesh who came to dwell among us and be the wounded saviour of which we read all the way back in Genesis 3. Jesus is the focal point of history, our solid rock in the present, and our homecoming in the future. Reflecting on the sheer magnitude of His birth, life, death, and resurrection, how does that impact you? Do you make him the focal point in your life too? Is there anything else more important or worthy than Him?
Father, we thank you for knowing our needs and desires, and for loving us anyway. We are deeply sorry that we haven’t made you our foundation or the center of our lives. Please tear away anything and everything we are tempted to put in our hearts and lives to replace you, so that we may truly live on this earth as exiles, as sojourners, wanting only to know you and to make you known. Amen!
Song: New Wine - Hillsongs
Such Wondrous Love (By Lynne McCarthy)
John 19-21 (Ps. 111)
Jesus moves, prophecy by prophecy, toward Calvary.
Isaiah 50:6: “I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.” Pilate has Jesus flogged (19:1); an iron-tipped whip lacerates His back. The soldiers spit on Him, slap His face, strike His head (bleeding from the thorn ‘crown’) with a reed, humiliating Him (2).
Psalm 22:16: “My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.” Brutal Roman soldiers nail wrists and feet to rough wood. (23)
Psalm 22:15: “ My strength has dried up like sun-baked clay, My tongue sticks to the roof of My mouth.” Psalm 69:21b: “They offer me sour wine for my thirst.” Despite His thirst, He refuses the offered sour wine. He is very near the end. (28,29)
Psalm 22:18: “They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.” Daniel 9:26: “The Anointed One will be put to death and have nothing.” His seamless garment is the prize for hardened soldiers gambling at the foot of a cross that bears the suffering servant-King, their Saviour. The magnitude of this death is meaningless to such hearts. (23-24)
Psalm 31:5a: “I entrust my Spirit into Your Hand.” A shout of triumph over death and sin, and Jesus’ sacrifice is complete. (30)
Exodus 12:46: “Do not break any of the bones". The Passover Lamb must be whole. Psalm 34:20: “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” Soldiers break crucified criminals’ legs. Unable to push themselves up to breathe, asphyxiation hastens death. The Lamb of God, already dead, is left whole. (31-36)
Isaiah 53: 9c: “He was put in a rich man’s grave.” Pilate permits Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus as it is the eve of Passover Sabbath. He and Nicodemus carry His body to a new tomb and lay Him there. (38-42)
John records the awesome mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection. As at the Transfiguration, He is changed. Mary eventually recognizes His voice (20:16). He is bodily present but until He ascends to His Father, earth cannot contain Him. His Resurrection body is real. He doesn’t walk through locked doors like a phantom; they open for Him to enter a room. He breathes the Holy Spirit into His disciples and commissions them. Thomas, not present, is skeptical until he sees Him for himself.
Chapter 21 reconciles Peter’s three denials by his threefold declaration of love for Jesus; he receives his commission (15-19). The final sentence declares Jesus’ numberless unrecorded acts. God with us -- then, now, forever – awesome beyond words. Redemption is no small feat.
Apply “…the Holy Spirit uses all of God’s reliable and life-applicable words to transform us and affirm that His story will end well for believers in Jesus.” (Our Daily Bread 8/28/21)
The world is in thrall to godless powers and principalities. Let’s not be surprised as fiery darts come at us by forces opposed to Christ. By faith and faithfulness, prayer and worship in Christ-centred community, we stand firm in His powerful name, wearing His armour against increasing hatred for His church; then, having done all, [we] stand.(Eph 6:13). His story ends well, and His story is ours.
Ask Jesus, how do I live out of You? Am I indifferent to the magnitude of Your death and rising? Should I not praise You every minute of my life for Your sacrifice that frees me from sin, Your Resurrection that gives me life? Holy Spirit, would You help me grasp the immensity of Jesus’ sacrifice, then in Your grace, resolutely keep on His Way?
Pray Lord Jesus, may we worship You in a way that is worthy of all You are, knowing You suffered and died for us and on the third day gained the victory of the resurrection…Thank you for Your love for us even when we do not understand completely. Lead us in Your way to be a witness to the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen. (Closing prayer, E Jerusalem International Church service, 8/10/21)
Sing What wondrous love is this -- Fernando Ortega His Cross is Still There -- Ian White
Ps 111: Praise Him -- Scottish Psalmist
“ I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17: 22-23
John 16-18 (Psalm 110)
The context of these passages is important. The last supper has finished and Jesus is teaching and praying before they walk to the Garden of Gethsemane where He is betrayed and arrested. The grace, peace and power of Christ is truly amazing when we consider that He knew what was coming. Instead of fear and timidity we see Him warn His disciples of persecution, teach about the threefold ministry and role of the Holy Spirit and then pray. He teaches that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement, thus confirming humankind’s need of Christ. The Spirit will always guide to Jesus; to truth. He prays for His mission to succeed (God to be glorified through Him), then He prays for His disciples and all believers. This before He immediately experiences the persecution He warned about. He demonstrates power and self-control at His arrest and grace and truth at His interrogations.
Compare His poise with that of the other characters in these chapters. Peter fulfills Christ’s prophesy and denies the Lord three times. God’s people, Annas and Caiaphas (those that should be supporting and championing Him), question and assault Him before handing Him over to Pilate. Pilate asks the all-important question, “What is truth?” yet fails to recognise the truth personified in Jesus. Finally, the crowd demand a notorious prisoner be released instead of the Saviour of the world.
Jesus’ grace, peace and power came from His intimate relationship with His Father and obedience to God’s will. He told His disciples and tells us that our belief in God through Him will give us that same grace, peace and power. The secret is a similar unity with God, and with one another, empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In this relationship we can overcome fear, the persecution of the world and ask God anything (16:23-24, 33; 17: 20-23). The proof of these words can be found in Jesus’ example and in Peter’s. Jesus overcame death and the world, Peter overcame failure and empowered by God became the rock on which the Church was built. Pain leads to plenty, and death to life – it is the law of the Kingdom (from In the Hour of Silence).
The call for us is to focus on our relationship with God, through Jesus, above all else. Seek ye first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to us as well (Matthew 6: 33). Isn’t it amazing that God gives us the ability to participate in His divine nature (2 Peter 1: 4) and tells us how to (2 Peter 1: 3-11)!
The Question of Application
How might you grow in unity with God and with your sisters and brothers in Christ?
Father we ask that we will believe in You through the message of Jesus Christ. May we be one, Father, just as you are in Jesus and He is in You. May we also be in You so that the world may believe that you sent Jesus. May we receive the glory that you gave your Son, that we may be one as You are one, Jesus in us as You are in Him, so that we may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent Jesus and have loved us even as you have loved Him. Amen
Based on Jesus’ prayer - John 17: 20-23
We are the Body of Christ – Brook Hills Music
Serve One Another (By Les Kovacs)
Text: John 13-15
Observe: As the time for Jesus' earthly ministry enters its final hours, Jesus has supper with His disciples in the upper room. At the end of the meal, Jesus laid aside His garments and began to wash the feet of His disciples. At first Peter refuses, telling Jesus that He would never wash his feet. But Jesus insists that it must be done and they would understand why later. So then Peter insists that Jesus wash all of him, but again Jesus insists it is only his feet that need washing because he has already been bathed. When Jesus asked if they understood what He had just done, He explained that they must also wash each other’s feet as an act of service following His example.
Jesus next predicts His betrayal by one those present, and one of the disciples asks who it is. Even though Jesus tells him what to look for, he seems not to understand that Jesus is referring to Judas. Once He gives Judas the piece of bread, He tells him to do what he will do quickly, and he leaves at once to seek out the Jewish leaders.
After supper, Jesus tells them that he is leaving and where He goes they cannot follow. As usual, Peter objects saying that he would lay down his life for Jesus, but Jesus tells him that he will deny even knowing Him three times before the rooster crows in the morning. He reassures the disciples by telling them that He is going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and that He has shown them what His Father is like. He is “the way, the truth and the life.” The Father lives in Jesus just as Jesus lives in the Father. He tells them to keep all His commands and that He will send them the Spirit of Truth. This Spirit will live in each of them, teach them many things, and remind them of what Jesus told them.
Jesus used the imagery of the vine and the braches, where He was the vine and they were the braches. Apart from Him they could do no good and must always remain in Him. And He gave them a new command, to love one another, as He has loved them. The world would hate them because the world hated Him first. Finally, Jesus tells them that when the Spirit of Truth comes to them, they must testify about Him because they had been with Him from the beginning.
Interpret: Jesus life was a living example of the things He taught, so when He washed His disciples’ feet, He assumed the position of the lowest servant, and commanded them to be as servants to one another. It’s another example of His humble service. Too often, we find it easy to criticize those with dirty feet instead of just washing them. The world’s way is to criticize others. That’s how news reports work, “Look at their dirty feet, or hands, or faces, or clothes.” Even if they recognize what a difficult walk a person must have had that day, usually all these reports do is point out the dirt on their feet. That is the way of the world, but Jesus’ way is very different. He says nothing, but takes the basin and begins to wash away the stain. He doesn’t judge and condemn, but seeks to restore and improve the ways of the downtrodden. Therefore, just as Jesus washed us “with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26), we should use the same “water” in ministering to others.
When Judas took the bread from Jesus, in that moment he knew that Jesus knew that he would be the one to betray his Master. In that moment, two things are apparent. First, Judas knew that he was discovered. Second, he knew that despite his treachery, he was still loved, because the offering of the piece of bread in that culture was a token of friendship. Yet, he shut his heart against them both, and as he shut his heart against Jesus, he opened it to evil.
Later on, Jesus said that He was the way the truth and the life. Notice that Jesus didn’t say that He would show them the way. He said that He was the way. He didn’t promise to teach them a truth. He said that He was the truth. Jesus didn’t offer to tell them the secrets to life. He said that He was the life. He left no room for debate. No one comes to the Father except by Him. Period.
Jesus continued to teach His disciples right to the every end, and it was always done as an act of love. Every action in Jesus life was driven by His all-encompassing love. Its the hallmark of His earthly ministry. Jesus’ love infuses everything He does. Its in the patient way He teaches His followers. Its in the compassionate way He heals the sick. Its in the sacrificial way He serves others. And He calls His disciples to do the same. They will be known as His disciples by the way they love each other. In that love they will be connected to Him, and He to them. Without it, they can do no good thing.
Application: In Chapter 14:9, Jesus says, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Philip had been close to Jesus for a long time, and still he did not fully understand Him. The same is possible, and unfortunately, true for many of us today. This gentle rebuke of Philip reminds us of what Jesus often said; that to know Him was to know God the Father. Yet we stubborn humans continue to wonder if God really loves us. We make our own plans without seeking His guidance first. We tell our little white lies, thinking that the “white” makes them somehow acceptable. We criticize others for their dirty feet, without ever giving any thought to how we might help wash them. To see the love of Jesus was to see the love of God. Seeing Jesus in action was to see God the Father in action. And we are called to do the same. Discipleship to Jesus is a call to humble action.
Questions: Have you ever taken the attitude of the humble servant and done something you thought was beneath you, but which Jesus would have done without even blinking an eye?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask your forgiveness when we forget that Jesus came to serve, not to be served. We often stand idly by when we see a need just because it might get our hands dirty. Help us to humble our hearts that we may serve others as He continues to serve us. We bless and praise the holy name of Jesus, our saviour and redeemer. Amen.
Song: The Servant King: Maranatha
Rise Up (By Chris Barnes)
Text: John Chapters 11-12
OBSERVE: Throughout these two chapters we observe the following:
INTERPRET: Prior to the coming of Jesus, the Rabbi’s had divided miracles into two separate categories – those that many could perform if empowered to do so by God, and those reserved only for the Messiah. The four miracles reserved only for the Messiah included: healing a leper, casting out a mute demon, healing a man born blind and raising someone form the dead after four days. This understanding may help explain why each of these miracles was followed by so much excitement and commotion.
The raising of Lazarus was the fourth and final Messianic miracle performed by Jesus. The Rabbi’s taught that resurrection from the dead was only possible within the first three days and only the Messiah could perform a resurrection on or after the fourth day. Perhaps this provides the reason to us readers for why Jesus delayed upon hearing the news of the death of his friend. This also explains why there was so much commotion after this miracle – Jesus had just performed the fourth and final Messianic miracle. The religious authorities now had to either accept Jesus as the Messiah or do away with Him as quickly as possible. History records their poor choice.
APPLICATION: The people were also faced with a choice after witnessing this miracle from Jesus. We read that many people believed in the signs of Jesus and understood what this meant. When Jesus asked them to remove the stone, He was declaring His Messiahship in a clear, loud voice and everyone who was there that day knew it. We see many believing in these clear signs yet many still remaining in unbelief. Jesus knew that by performing this final miracle that he was giving up his life for the life of Lazarus. Jesus was now entering Jerusalem on a donkey after declaring with his words and actions to be the source of resurrection and life.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life for all of us who believe in Him. Jesus gave his life for each and every one of us. When we turn to him in faith and repent of our old ways, we receive new life now and forever. Just as Lazarus stood up and walked out of the tomb, we too need to rise up and walk away from the darkness that we have lived in. Jesus offers us so much and we need to follow him into the light of His Kingdom; desiring all that He has for us.
REFLECTION: Has the voice of Jesus awoken you and risen within you a new resurrected heart? Have you followed his calling to walk out of the darkness of the tomb you were in? Are you leaving the old behind you and focusing on walking towards the light each day?
PRAYER: Jesus; call me out of the darkness. To life and to hope and towards the promised Kingdom meant for us. Call me out from all those places where I hide from you and from others. Call me towards your light and help me to leave my old ways behind me. Call me towards you; THE RESURECTION AND THE LIFE. AMEN.
All or Nothing - by Richard Neufeld
John 5 begins with the healing at the pool called Bethesda, in which Jesus heals a paralyzed man who had been waiting for someone to help him for 38 years. Jesus tells him to get up, take his mat, and go home. The Jewish religious leaders saw this man carrying his mat and told him that it violated Sabbath law to carry his mat (never mind the fact that he could walk in the first place!). At a later point Jesus returns to the temple and found this man and encouraged him, then began to teach to those present about the authority of the Son of Man; “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him,” (21-23).
Chapter 6 tells of Jesus feeding the five thousand during which many people found Him while He was by the sea of Tiberias, and followed Him as He did many miracles. Having only five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus gave thanks and began distributing this food to the five thousand, ending up with twelve baskets of leftover bread! Jesus then crosses over to the other side of the sea by walking on the water until He found the boat the disciples were in. Upon joining them in their boat, they immediately found themselves at their destination.
The crowd followed Jesus around the lake and began asking him questions, though Jesus knew they were mostly after Him because He fed them, not because they believed He was the Son of God. To prove His point, He began teaching them lessons that were difficult to hear, specifically indicating that He is the Bread of Life and better than the manna that came out of heaven when Moses led them. After hearing all He said, most people turned away, save the 12 disciples. Jesus asked if those 12 would walk away too, and peter replied “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Many kinds of personalities are presented in these two chapters. First, we see a group of religious leaders utterly overlooking that a man who had been miraculously healed after 38 years of suffering and focusing instead on the legalistic issue of carrying his mat on the Sabbath. We see more of the same blindness when the Jews were seeking to kill Him for calling Himself equal with God. They so clung to their scriptures and ideas that they failed to see God-made-man right before their eyes!
We see a lack of trust in the disciples when it comes to feeding the five thousand, as if Jesus had not worked countless miracles in their sight. On top of that, we see still more following Jesus merely to have themselves or a friend healed of their diseases, or even just their belly filled, with never a thought as to who Jesus really is. Jesus points out their double-minded ways, for the crowd asks Him what it is do be doing the works of God and He spells it out for them as plainly as a point could be made, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” It couldn’t be any clearer, yet most of them just weren’t interested.
Jesus goes on to tell them exactly who He is in more specific terms, using familiar Jewish imagery and revelation to make His point; “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe … For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me … Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” At this point, it is more work to have rejected Jesus as the Holy One of God than accept Him, a common state of mind that remains prevalent even today. He goes on to show those of the crowd who claimed to follow Him their true motives. By teaching on things especially difficult to understand, the crowd got offended and melted away instead of wanting to figure out what Jesus was saying. At that point, the hard truth that Jesus revealed turned out to be too much against their desire for food or healing.
Jesus constantly points out exactly who He is, why He came, and how we ought to respond. We cannot pretend any longer that we do not know or cannot figure it out. The truth is that the path that leads to eternal life is narrow and difficult, and many prefer their comfort, pride, and autonomy to the truth.
Application and question:
God does not make partners with other means of salvation. There is nothing besides faith in Christ that can save. No works can earn it, no suffering achieve it, no actions merit it. It is totally and utterly Christ, full stop. If you believe in Christ, does your life reflect it? Is it something you put into action as a response to His love and kindness? Have you made Christ the Lord of your life, or do you follow Him for what He might do for you?
So often we see “Christians” who profess belief in Jesus yet refuse to make Him their master. Submission is such a dirty word these days, and the exalting of self is seen as the highest of virtues. This isn’t new, but it definitely isn’t right! Christ constantly reminds us that in order to follow Him we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross. The time has come for us to stop insisting on our own ways and bend our stiff necks. Live the way Christ wants you to live.
Confront and reject pride, lust, drunkenness, envy, slander, pre-marital sex, pornography, foul language, and everything else counted as sins. This won’t happen overnight and that is OK – sanctification takes time, but also constant submission and repentance when we get it wrong as well as a keen, critical eye on our own behaviour. It also yields profound joy when we reject our own sinful nature and find in us the rampant growth of new life! A well of joy and peace begins burbling in our hearts as we make more and more room for God. For a time it may feel like you are ridding yourself of pleasure, and in a way, you are, for it is sinful pleasure. The plan is not only to rip these things out of our lives but to replace them with a far superior pleasure: that of walking each day with Jesus Christ and all the vast benefits and blessings that come with it!
At the end of all things our lives will reveal who we’ve chosen: ourselves, or Jesus. He makes it absolutely clear that to choose one means we must reject the other, for He will not settle for second in our lives. Furthermore, He is faithful to give us what we want. For those who want Christ, He has promised eternity together. For those who reject God, He has promised eternity apart. Let us live each day with an awareness that today we have a chance to choose our forever, and that when it comes to choosing to follow Jesus Christ, it is all or nothing.
Lord, I’m sorry for making other things and people the master of my life. Thank you so much for sending Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and I pray that you would make of me less so that you become more. Please teach me to kill my sin by the power of your Holy Spirit so that I may be truly surrendered to you, not just in word or thought but in heart and deed. Put people in my way that can point out my blind spots and keep me from becoming conceited in my humility. Though parts of me don’t want more of you and want to remain in the shadows, I pray that you make yourself the only desire in my heart, so that love would overflow into the lives of others. Amen!
Song: New Wine - Hillsong Worship
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.