Oct 21, 2014

Glimpses 21

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Jesus' Last Night

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 21 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Last time we looked at Jesus at prayer. Today we look at the events of his last night, before his death.

In Luke 22, we come to Jesus' last night before He goes to death on the cross. It's the time for the Feast of Passover! Jerusalem was filled with people come to celebrate this great event! Passover was a time to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing with families (Exodus 11-12).

1. Plans of His enemies

In Luke 22v1-6, we read that Jesus' enemies plotted to kill him (Luke 22v2) and arranged for Judas to betray him (Luke 22v3). Of course, satan is involved, just as he was at the beginning of time and his purpose was to destroy Jesus (Luke 22v3, Luke 22v31). What about Judas though? Judas was motivated by greed, energized by satan and willing to betray Jesus for money (John 13v2, 27). Judas was never a true believer because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13v10-11), therefore he had never truly believed or received eternal life (John 6v64-71). And while all this is going on, Jesus is still in perfect control. All the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. Remember, Jesus had been talking to God the Father! The death of Jesus was no accident!

2. Jesus Plans

In accordance with the Mosaic covenant, the people of Israel were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Ex.12v15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and had to eat bread without yeast on their travels to the promised land. In Luke 12v1, Jesus had warned his disciples about the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy". In other words, the religious leaders had cleansed their houses but not their hearts. The last thing the religious leaders wanted was a messianic uprising during Passover (Luke 19v11). They would have heard the crowds talking up Jesus Christ as the messiah, particularly after the events of the previous week when Jesus entered Jerusalem!.

3. Jesus Prepares (Luke 22v7-23)

Reading Luke 22v7, 13 - 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."

The disciples went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

Disciples needed a room within Jerusalem itself, and also required food - a lamb, bread, bitter herbs and wine.

4. Jesus initiates the New Covenant

(Luke 22v14-23) - When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, "I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won't eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God."

Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, "Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come."

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me."

After supper he took another cup of wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant between God and his people-an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. We will come to see what those are later on in the series, but suffice to say at this point, it is why this meal is the model for the central act of Christian worship, which is Holy Communion.

  • Opening Prayer
  • First cup of wine and a dish of herbs and sauce.
  • Story of the Passover was recited.
  • Psalm 113 was sung
  • Second cup of wine
  • Prayer of Grace
  • Main course of roast lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs
  • A further prayer
  • Third cup of wine.
  • Psalm 114 to 118 were then sung.
  • Fourth cup of wine.

5. Jesus Serves

Jesus washes the disciples' feet (John 13v1-17)

Reading from John 13v1-5 - Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

As part of the custom of the day, a servant or slave usually undertook foot washing of guests. Since none of the disciples had done this, Jesus Himself undertakes the task (John 13v4-5). Peter, recalcitrant and resistant as always, objects (John 13v6,8 ). Peter learns that only those cleansed by Jesus and trusting in Him fully, can be a part of the kingdom (John 13v7, 9).

Jesus' rising to serve symbolizes His coming to serve - that was his mission we talked about earlier in the series! It was a mission of great love and service! When he took off his cloak, this symbolizes the taking off of His glory when He became human. As he girded Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh at his birth. And, as the water cleansed the feet, so Jesus death and blood cleanses from sin. When he finished cleaning, he returned to where he was sitting and sat down after finishing this act of service.

6. Jesus Speaks (Luke 22v24-38)

Reading Luke 22v 24-27: Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, "In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.' But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

Here Jesus tells his disciples that they are the new leaders and thereforet they will judge the tribes of Israel! That in doing so, they are to serve everyone gladly, love everyone even those that they tested and persecute them! This is a radical new thing Jesus is telling his disciples - their actions are to back up their claims, just as Jesus' actions confirm his own claims!  In so doing, Jesus replaces the old leaders of God with his own people.

Tomorrow we look at that day in history - the day Jesus, the God-man, died. Thank you!

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Oct 20, 2014

Glimpses 20

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Jesus' Final Prayer

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 20 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Last time we met with two people who encountered Jesus! The rich young ruler went away disconsolate and in sadness! The female outcast went away celebrating her new found freedom and told many others of this Jesus! Now today we come to Jesus' final prayer with God the Father.  Jesus has shown throughout his life on earth that God yearns to be in relationship with humanity. That is part of the New Covenant we looked at earlier in this series! So what can we learn from this prayer?

1. Jesus prays for Himself

John 17v1-5 - Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life-to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

Central to this part of his prayer is glorification. That is the glorification of himself in order that God the Father who sent him will be glorified. Glorify means, in a biblical context, to have the person's true nature disclosed. So in effect, Jesus starts the prayer by saying May people see me for who I truly am, your Son. And may they also, through me, see your true nature, Father! Praying as Jesus does, just before he knowingly goes to his death, shows the importance of his death.

Why is Jesus' death important? We will come to that later on in this series, but for now it is through Jesus' death that both God the Father and Jesus will be glorified. Jesus' death will reveal a God of love, faithfulness and forgiveness. Jesus' entire earthly life has been one to show divine love. All Jesus' works and words were completed without even a hint of hypocrisy. His entire life was driven by the desire to see people, born separated from God, to be reunited with God: like the Samaritan woman we talked about last time - the woman who turned to God for reconciliation and forgiveness. It was through Jesus' death alone, that this was accomplished. Jesus confidently prays that having laid aside his glory by taking on human form, he will return to God's right hand, having achieved this work he was given.

2. Jesus prays for His Disciples

John 17v6-8 - I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you. They believed that you sent me.

In this part of the prayer, Jesus prays for his disciples. Note how he describes them: they were chosen by God himself, seen God in Jesus and have received God's words and obeyed them (John 17v6). John 17v6, 9-10 tells us that the disciples were in the safe possession of both the Father and the Son. John 17v7-8 shows what the disciples know.

Despite misunderstanding frequently what Jesus was talking about, the disciples still grasped that Jesus had come from God. He has told them that they will have to endure persecution and suffering because they are His followers, so Jesus prays for their safety. They will be safe, not because of their own cunning, character or conduct. They will be safe because of God's care and protection (John 17v11-12). As they are God's possession, he will ensure that they are watched over and protected. This security is also born from glorifying God and being witnesses for him (John 17v10).

Who are the disciples' enemies and why do they need protecting (John 17v11-12, 15)? The first enemy is the world who does not know God and is therefore in rebellion against God. The disciples were told of this prior to this prayer. Then there is Satan and his demons, who are also enemies of the disciples and will do all he can to stop God being glorified in the life of the disciples. God will keep them safe through His mighty name and nature. By remaining loyal to Jesus, obedient to his teachings and telling others about him, God's name & nature will therefore protect them.

Jesus also prays that they may be filled with joy (John 17v13), be dedicated wholly to him and trusting him alone - unlike the rich young ruler who left Jesus disconsolate. The disciples now have a mission and purpose to fulfil - to tell others of Jesus. This mission, though whilst their responsibility, is not theirs alone but is the continuation of Jesus' mission to bring people to reconciliation with God - extending the New Covenant to others

3. Jesus prays for all future Disciples

John 17v24-26 -  Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendour you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them - Who you are and what you do - And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.

Then finally, Jesus prays for all those who, through the work of the disciples, will become his followers. As such, it brings all Christians into intimacy with God through Jesus and be a part of a dynamic relationship with him - resulting from the New Covenant.

What does Jesus pray for? Jesus prays for unity. That is unity on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17v21-22). The lives of all Christians will be inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christians will be united because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17v22). This unity is also physical, in so much as through a visible unity, people will come to know Jesus personally and take up the offer of reconciliation with God (John 17v21, 23) because Jesus seals and fulfils the New Covenant. This unity is also physically seen, through the telling of the message of reconciliation (John 17v20).

Jesus' prayer, reveals the intimacy to be had between God and humanity. Jesus embodied a God who was living and wanted to reconcile the world back to himself, ever since the days when Adam & Eve sinned against God. We will come to see more of how this is to be through the events of the coming days, of what we call "Easter". Tomorrow we look at the events on Jesus Last Night. Thank you.

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Oct 19, 2014

Glimpses 19

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Encounters with Jesus

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 19 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! We have seen how Jesus is the ‘I AM’, and by doing so, equates himself with God! Today we look at how two particular individuals reacted when they each encountered this great ‘I AM’!

A rich young ruler encounters Jesus!

Our first one is found in 3 of the gospels, Matthew 19:16-26 and Luke 18:18-27, but we will look only at the passage in

Mark 10v17: As Jesus started on his way; a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'"

"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

Matthew describes him as a young man (Matthew 19v16-26). Luke describes him as a wealthy ruler (Luke 18v18-27). In Mark’s account, he is simply a man (Mark 10v17-22). Put altogether that makes him a rich young ruler. He runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before him. He wants eternal life, wants it now and so asks Jesus about it. When he calls Jesus a good teacher, Jesus responds “No one is good—except God alone.”

What do you think you are asking?

Now Jesus could have been correcting the young man, but more likely Jesus was asking: “Do you know what you are saying and how close to the truth about me you are?” This young man had fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus (Mark 10v19). However when Jesus said to the young ruler that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, the man left disconsolate.

That was a step too far for this man. He wanted his riches and also eternal life but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only man to have left Jesus’ presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in his riches and wealth alone. Now riches are not necessarily wrong but they do make trusting fully in God very difficult (Mark 10v23). So what does trusting in Jesus look like?

An Outcast Woman encounters Jesus!

Now we look at somebody who was despised by the world and an outcast in her community! Reading from

John 4v3-10, 23-26

So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Then down to verse 23

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”

Now we come to see somebody who accepted Jesus for who he was. Jesus went via Samaria as it was the shortest route back to Galilee. It was hot. Jesus was thirsty and wanted a drink. His disciples had gone into town to get food. So he asks a Samaritan woman to fetch him some water from the well. That he asked a Samaritan would have been bad enough, but to also talk to a woman!

The woman

We don’t know the name of this woman. But by looking at this conversation between Jesus and her, we discover several things about her! That she was a Samaritan. There was equal animosity between Jews and Samaritans, hence the end of John 4v9: “(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” The Samaritans were a mixed race people of both Jewish and Assyrian descent from the time of the division of Israel into two parts and the annexation of the Northern kingdom by Assyria.

She was an outcast, which is why she was fetching water at the hottest part of the day! This was probably due to her sexual immorality having had 5 husbands and currently in a 6th relationship (John 4v18). We do know for sure that she was waiting for the Messiah (John 4v25) to come!

What does this encounter tell us about Jesus?

We see Jesus' genuine humanity. He was tired, drained, hot, thirsty and hungry – normal human feeling and reactions. We know Jesus contravened tradition in that he spoke to a woman who was a Samaritan and a sinner. Respectable Jewish men never did that sort of thing! Hence the disciples reaction in John 4v27! That in asking for water, he was capable of great humility by asking for a drink of water; for by so doing, he was putting himself in her debt.

Yet, he knew the woman’s life of sinfulness (John 4v17) and it tells us of his divinity, when he offered her the water of eternal life (John 4v14) would spiritually satisfy her (John 4v14)! He Loved the woman, and gave her the most revealing and explicit statement we have in the Gospels as to who he really was (John 4v26) when he said outright “I Am the Messiah!” Remember, he said that to an outcast and non-Jew! Amazing!

When the disciples returned, the woman left her water jar, (quite probably one of her only possessions) and went back to the town to tell other people about this Jesus (John 4v29-30). In the remainder of John 4, we read of the many people coming to faith because of the Samaritan woman’s testimony.

Jesus as the ‘I AM’, was ever-reaching out with an all-encompassing forgiveness and love to the poor or rich, learned or uneducated, male or female, wanted or unwanted, Jew, Gentile or Samaritan. Through his exclusive claims there is a great inclusiveness of all who are willing to submit only to Him, as both the rich young ruler and the Samaritan women found out – both with different outcomes – one left dejected and the other left celebrating! Thank you!

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Oct 18, 2014

Glimpses 18

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I AM 4

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 18 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Jesus' teaching continues to be met with amazement yet also some misunderstanding and bewilderment! Today we complete looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself - and the last two ‘I AM' statements.

I AM the Way Truth and Life

Reading from John 14v1-9

"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going."

"No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!"

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied."

Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?

Question answered with a  WOW!

When Jesus issued this statement, "I AM the way, the truth and the life", the stress of the sentence automatically falls on the words "the way". This is because Jesus is answering a question posed by Thomas (John 14v5). Jesus claims to be the only way to God the Father, because Jesus is one with the Father - He is God!. Not only is he the way, but he is also the truth and the life. All of God's truth is embodied in Jesus Christ who, as both fully God and fully human, was also the ever-living God.

Nobody can claim access to God the Father, except through Jesus himself. Other religions and other so-called paths to God may contain some element of truth about God, but there is no other way to God but through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ embodies ALL truth and as we saw recently, Jesus is also the life as part of his I AM claims. He is the means of access to God for all people of all cultures and all backgrounds. Jesus welcomes all, so that in his singular exclusive claims there is an inclusive embrace of all. As Jesus goes on to say in John 14v7, because we know him we also know God the Father.

Amazing things to say! Jesus is the truth because He is totally trustworthy! Jesus is the life because He is life Himself! Jesus is the way because He is the way we enter heaven and can have eternal life! We will see how that can be very soon in this series and why it can only be that way! Jesus also gives a glimpse or a hint of the future - can you spot them out yet? If you cant, we will have come to them by the end of this series and you will be amazed at the continuity of the Bible!

I AM the True Vine

And the last "I AM" can be found in John 15v1-14

"I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

We are One!

We have already seen that Jesus is the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate and the shepherd - all the things the nation of Israel was to be but failed to do so. Israel was to be God's light, way and shepherd to the nations - but failed to be so. The nation of Israel was also to be a vine or vineyard (Isaiah 5v1-7, Ezekiel 15v1-6). Israel as a vine had produced nothing even though God had taken her, made her a nation and given her the land as a gift and every possible benefit in which to grow and glorify God Himself as a reward. But the vineyard of Israel, had become a corrupt and barren vine and needed to be pruned back. Instead of justice, it had produced oppression and instead of living right before God it has produced sin and distress.

Real Vine vs Symbolic Vine

Juxtaposed against Israel's failure to be a vine, Jesus states that he is the true vine. Jesus was the reality, whereas Israel was merely the symbol. As the purpose of a vine is to produce fruit, the focal point is on what it takes to produce fruit (John 15v2). As part of the ultimate mission of Jesus to glorify God the Father (John 12v28, John 17v4), Jesus is the Vine. How did Jesus seek to glorify God? By loving God and loving others unconditionally and sacrificially! Just as Jesus embodies all truth, Jesus also embodies all love! Perfect love is Jesus! Sure there maybe semblances of God's love in other religions, but it is only in Jesus that the fullness of God's love dwells! Jesus as the true vine indicates that people were to have a relationship with God through him alone! This relationship involves loving as Jesus did - of God and to others - without condition and sacrificially. As Jesus is the vine, people would be sustained spiritually through him and he would be totally reliable! Amazing concepts if you think about it!  Jesus is giving them glimpses of what is to come and as you will see as we progress through this series.

Summarising the Seven "I AM"s

So there are the seven "I AM" statements. As well as equating himself with God as the "I AM", Jesus is also promoting his exclusivity as the only Saviour. He does not say I am a true vine; a way, a truth and a life. Nor does he say I am a resurrection and a life. He does not say I am a door to life, just as he does not say I am a shepherd, a light or a bread of life. No - Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life. Jesus is the one great shepherd and the only door to life. Jesus is the only light of the world and the only true bread of life. Jesus Christ is unique in being the "I AM". Tomorrow we look at how differnt people encountered this "I AM" with some different reactions. Thank you.

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Oct 17, 2014

Glimpses 17

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I AM 3

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 17 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Jesus' teaching continues to be met with amazement yet also fury, hatred and ridicule! Today we continue looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself - and 1 more I AM statement.

We have already seen that Jesus is the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate and the shepherd - all the things the nation of Israel was to be but failed to do so. Our next one can be found in John 11v17-40

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask."

Jesus told her, "Your brother will rise again."

"Yes," Martha said, "he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day."

Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?"

"Yes, Lord," she told him. "I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God." Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, "The Teacher is here and wants to see you." So Mary immediately went to him.

Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus's grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him and he was deeply troubled. "Where have you put him?" he asked them.

They told him, "Lord, come and see." Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, "See how much he loved him!" But some said, "This man healed a blind man. Couldn't he have kept Lazarus from dying?"

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. "Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man's sister, protested, "Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible."

Jesus responded, "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?" So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me." Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!"

Resurrection and the Life

Jesus has claimed to be the Son of God in John 10v22-41 and John 11v4. Strong words indeed, but will Jesus' actions back up those words? His friend Lazarus was sick, so his sisters sent word to Jesus about this, hoping that Jesus could heal him. Jesus replies to this family he loves, that the illness will not result in death! How could he be so sure, particularly from a distance? Though Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead, he still waited a further days before going there. He knew it didn't matter whether Lazarus was dead 2 days or 4 days - dead is dead!

Exclamation Jesus is the Messiah!

Such was the eagerness of Martha to see Jesus when he eventually came, she left the house of mourners and expressed some faith that God would hear Jesus' prayers. She uttered that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the saviour spoken about in the Old Testament. But was that just wishful thinking as later she doubted he could do it?

Exclamation Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!

The exclamation by Jesus in John 11v25 "I am the resurrection and the life" from verse is the highlight of this passage of Scripture. Lazarus has died (John 11v17) and will be raised back to life again (John 11v44). Being raised back to life is not resurrection! It means more than. Why does Jesus say that he is the resurrection and the life? Resurrection, on one level, certainly does mean bring back to life. But it means much more as we shall see later on in this series. As can be seen from this passage, he is the giver of life itself. Not only physically but also in a spiritual sense. He gives eternal life to all who will believe in him.

Jesus' humanity!

Note Jesus' emotions in this passage: love, feelings moved, weeping and sorrow. Showing his true humanity and his heart of compassion for people. Emotions, such as Jesus being deeply angry? But with who or with what? Most people are surprised that Jesus gets angry and some people even deny it! The gospel writers weren't afraid to say Jesus got angry though! I would suggest that as Jesus is the life, Jesus is angry with death, decay as they are the end result of sin. Jesus is angry because death hurts people, even people close to him, as Lazarus and his family were to him. This stirs Jesus deeply. Jesus is full of compassion, pity, sympathy, grief and care for this family. He shares their pain and shows it in his tears. He loves them and is determined to show this love in practise.

Jesus' Divinity!

Then the moment of truth arrives! Will Jesus be true to his word and raise Lazarus back to life again? Some doubted but Jesus knew that God would answer his prayers. First he thanks God that for hearing him and then issues the command for Lazarus to come out! And come out he did! One of the WOW moments of the Gospels! Jesus was true to his word, God heard his prayers and Lazarus was raised from the dead! He was dead but now back to physical life! One day Lazarus would die physically again but for now he had new life! This Jesus even had authority over death and life! Amazing! Yet, just after this event, the Jewish authorities, who were watching carefully, came up with a plot to kill Jesus.

What do you think the covenants we looked at had to say about this, particularly the New Covenant? Life and death physically but also life and death spiritually? Jesus the giver of life! Why can Jesus exclaim with authority "I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live"?  We continue tomorrow! Thank you.

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Oct 16, 2014

Glimpses 16

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I AM 2

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 16 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Jesus'  teaching has been met with amazement yet also fury and ridicule! Today we continue looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself - and 3 more I AM statements.

Light of the World

John 8v12-18

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

The Pharisees replied, "You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid."

Jesus told them, "These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going. But you don't know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other."

Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles! One of the great symbols of that feast was Light! At the end of the feast, when all the lights are extinguished, Jesus said something quite remarkable - that he was the light of the world! Throughout the Old Testament, light is an important symbol. There is the pillar of fire and cloud leading the nation of Israel on their journey (Exodus 13). In Psalm 27v1, the psalmist describes God as "my light". The nation of Israel was to be God's light to all the world (Isaiah 49v6), so that God would be the world's light (Isaiah 60v19-22).

So, by referring to himself as the light of the world, Jesus is saying it is he who shines light into people's spiritual eyes and gives them understanding, which in turn leads to them seeing their need of God and his ability to satisfy their spiritual needs. This was opposite to the burdens the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, put upon people. Hence their vehement opposition to Jesus.

I am the Gate and Good Shepherd

John 10v1-18

"I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice."

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn't understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don't belong to him and he isn't their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he's working only for the money and doesn't really care about the sheep.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

"The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded."

Throughout the Old Testament, God is seen as a shepherd and his people are the sheep of his keeping. The sheep are always God's, even though He temporarily entrusted them to people such as Moses to care and tend them. Therefore Moses and others like him, such as the true prophets, were forerunners to Jesus. David, you may remember, was the Shepherd King! Here Jesus proclaims that he is the door or gate to salvation! It is through Jesus that salvation is found and through him alone as the door or gate that people are led safe and sound into spiritual freedom, spiritual light and spiritual sustenance. Unlike others who come only to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus offers spiritual safety and nourishment. Jesus does not just offer a way out, but also a way in! The security offered by Jesus is because he is always in close proximity to those who follow him. Jesus calls all those who follow him by name (John 10v3) and they know each other.

Jesus is also the great shepherd through the sacrifice he must make for his sheep. It is in this role of shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34v11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice he will make. His love for all of humanity compels him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering, so that all people can be led into the safety of God's kingdom if they choose to avail themselves of that opportunity.

Through his perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice, not only will salvation be available to the Jews (the sheep of Israel) but also to those of other nations, the Gentiles (the other sheep mentioned by Jesus). Remember that often in Israel, certainly under 1st century Gentile Roman rule, Gentiles (non-Jews) were hated and many Jews declared thanks to God that they were neither dogs nor Gentiles! Truly amazing words by Jesus in the light of such sentiments!

Jesus already has the end in view. Can you glimpse at what he means when he speaks about laying down his life and taking it back up again? Can you see where we glimpsed at the Covenants and how they apply to this Jesus - particularly the Davidic Covenant (Father and Son) and the New Covenant? Can you see how this Jesus is divisive and what sets him apart from all other religious teachers of any time? This Jesus, at the moment is only speaking words, but will his words be backed up with action? Tomorrow, more I AM statements as we reflect on Jesus' teaching about himself. Thank you.

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Oct 15, 2014

Glimpses 15

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I AM 1

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 15 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! The long awaited for king is here, his public ministry has begun in earnest. His teaching is met with amazement yet also fury and we looked at last time, how Jesus taught; what he taught; his methods and who he taught? Today we start looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself!

I AM Introduction

It may come as a surprise to you but Jesus talks about himself - a lot! But, not only just talk about himself but always put those words into action. In other words, he backed up his claims with action, which even a cursory look at the Gospels will reflect.

John Stott says this about it: ‘The self-centredness of the teaching of Jesus immediately sets himself apart from the other great religious teachers of the world. They were self-effacing. He was self-advancing. They pointed away from themselves, saying "This is the truth, so far as I perceive it, follow that." Jesus said, "I am the truth, follow me."'

Jesus' teaching about Himself?

In John's Gospel, the writer John records statements where Jesus said "I AM". These are unique to John and are not recorded in the three other Gospels. Here Jesus is reinforcing his claims to be God because, when he says "I AM", he is referring back to the time when God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3v14 and through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 41v4.

That's why crowds often picked up stones in order to kill him for blasphemy. This was in accordance, so they thought, with Deuteronomy 13, which dictates that anyone who tries to turn people away from the living God is to be stoned to death. They knew Jesus was claiming to the very God they thought they worshipped. Little did they know at the time that he was the living God! So lets go look at our first "I AM"

I AM the bread of Life

Reading from John 6v30-51

They answered, "Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, Moses didn't give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

"Sir," they said, "give us that bread every day."

Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven't believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day."

Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Isn't this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven'?"

But Jesus replied, "Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)

"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh."

___________________________________________

Three times in this passage, Jesus refers to himself as the living bread. By this he meant that he was the only one who could gratify the appetite and yearning of every person's spirit and their spiritual needs. For those he was speaking to, bread was a basic staple food for living, just as it is for millions of people today. Jesus indicates when saying he is the bread of life, that he will supply all needs! Just as he said to the woman at the well in John 4v4, and repeats here, that whoever drinks his living water, shall never again go spiritually thirsty.

When Jesus referred to the bread in the desert he talked of it being merely temporary, despite being a gift from God. He however, as the true bread of life, would give permanent satisfaction and life everlasting to all those who believe and follow him! But this bread he offers has to be eaten; it has to be taken up by the person wanting spiritual life! In this passage from John 6 he offers glimpses of what is lying ahead for him. He also gives glimpses of the intimacy he held with God the Father. .Soon after this, some people stopped following him and abandoned him because they found it too difficult to understand. How easily people give up and not persevere.

Jesus is the bread of life! To have true spiritual life is to believe in Him! No works or good deeds can earn this spiritual life from God - just believe by having faith in Jesus alone. All spiritual needs are met through Jesus alone as the bread of life! Jesus will supply needs - spiritual as well as physical. This is only a glimpse at what Jesus taught about himself and we continue on this theme tomorrow! Thank you!

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Oct 14, 2014

Glimpses 14

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Jesus’ Teaching

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 14 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! The long awaited for king is here - the one the covenants from long ago had promised! Jesus' public ministry on earth has begun! Teaching was an integral part of Jesus' ministry. Today we start to look at what he taught about himself. We do that by looking at how he taught, what he taught, his methods and who did he teach?

1. How he taught with authority:

The events in Capernaum we looked at last time happened frequently with Jesus. The gospel accounts often remark how people viewed Jesus' teaching as authoritative, but while being amazed were often angry about it. What was it that made his teaching authoritative? Jesus' manner of teaching shared much in common with other teachers of the 1st century. Jesus frequently used Old Testament texts; exaggerated hyperbole, telling of parables, rhythmic poetry aiding memorisation and the predicting of future events, were common teaching practice at the time in both religious and secular circles. Most of the teaching we have in the Gospels did not arise out of formal settings but rather through personal encounters, engaging with the religious leaders and the inherent need to teach his disciples. However, it is not so much his manner of teaching that created the air of authority about him, but rather what he taught that did (Matthew 7v28-29).  Saying as He often did, "But I say to you...", was in direct opposition to the method the Rabbinical teachers employed.    Additionally, Jesus often sat down to teach, and this was the custom at the time for formal instruction.

2. What did he teach?

Jesus appeals often to the Old Testament, (the Jewish scriptures) in every facet of his teaching. Jesus frequently used Old Testament Scripture (Mark 7v6-13) as the basis for his moral and legal teachings (Matthew 5v148), the historical stories (Matthew 24v27-29) and in his debates with the religious leaders.

Quite possibly, the supreme example of his teaching can be found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5v1-7v29). Whilst mainly speaking to his disciples, he allowed the crowds to listen. In this discourse, all of Jesus' teachings are exhibited. Key themes include the character, influence, righteousness, religion, devotional life, ambition and relationships of anybody wanting to follow Jesus.

The Kingdom of God - Jesus preached that entrance to the kingdom of God was through repentance (Matthew 3v2) and this repentance led to a spiritual rebirth (John 3v1-8). But what is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus, was not a political uprising against the Romans, as thought by James and John (Mark 10v35-45) and nor is it the church. The kingdom of God was and is both a personal inner spiritual relationship with God as ruler over the life of the follower of Jesus Christ. But also the Jesus follower showing openly this relationship with God (Matthew 25v34; Luke 13v29).

Regarding Himself - Whilst Jesus never directly claimed to be God, he did things only God could do. He claimed authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9v1-7). His claim to be the Messiah, or Son of Man, is an appeal to Old Testament texts and their subsequent fulfilment and completion in him (Mark 8v29-33). Primarily His teaching that the Messiah must suffer and be glorified was also an appeal to Old Testament scripture (Luke 9v31; Luke 12v50; John 10v11-15). More about this in the coming studies as we look deeper into what Jesus said about himself.

3. What method did he use?

We see, as we read the gospel accounts of his life that Jesus spoke a lot in parables or picture stories. He did this in order to get his message across completely. The parables as recorded in the Gospels mainly fall into four categories:

  • Society and its God - an example of this would be the parable of the sheep (Luke 15v1-7) whereby God is seen as a God of grace.
  • Society and the individual - an example of this would be the parable involving the rich fool who thought his wealth would make God love him more (Luke 12v13-21).
  • Society and the community - an example here would be the parable of the Good Samaritan whereby everyone is to show love, even for their enemies (Luke 10v25-37).
  • Society and the future - an example here would be the parable of the great feast whereby the future climax of the kingdom is seen (Matthew 25v31-33).

4. Who did He teach?

The Gospel writers attributed Jesus as a teacher (Mark 5v35; John 7v15) despite his lacking the formal requirements usually attained by rabbis. The Gospel writers also refer to him as a prophet (Luke 7v16; John 6v14), and he was recognized as such by people (Mark 6v15; Mark 8v28). There were three main groups of people that Jesus interacted with and taught. There were large crowds, his twelve disciples and the religious leaders.

The Crowds - When Jesus taught large gathering of people, it was always based on evidential facts and it was always as Luke described "good news" (Luke 4v18), because God gave it to Jesus. Crowds recognized that Jesus had a confident manner of speaking (Mark 1v22). It must be noted that in the presence of crowds, Jesus didn't actively reveal who he was (Mark 1v44; Mark 3v11-12; Mark 9v9).

The Disciples - Many of Jesus' recorded teachings were to his disciples, but in the midst of crowds, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5v1; Matthew 7v28). However on more precise requirements of discipleship, or about himself or the future of God's Kingdom, Jesus usually only taught his disciples concerning his true identity, even though they failed to grasp it (Mark 8v27-33).

The religious leaders - Because of Jesus' popularity and the activities He was involved with, the religious leaders soon took notice of him. Jesus respected the Law of Moses and Moses authority (Mark 1v22). He gave his own unique interpretation and as such attracted the opposition of the religious leaders who had taught a different interpretation. An example of this is in Jesus interpretation of the Sabbath (Mark 2v23-38); the healings he performed (John 5v1-18); fasting and ritual cleanliness (Mark 7v1-5) and for consorting with sinners (Luke 7v34). Jesus criticised the religious leaders for amongst other things: their lack of compassion and the weighty burdens they placed upon others (Matthew 23; Mark 12v38-40; Luke 11v37-54).

So, that is how he taught, what he taught, the methods he used and who he taught. Tomorrow we go further into what Jesus taught and revealed about himself. Thank you.

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Oct 13, 2014

Glimpses 13

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Mission Possible!

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 13 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! The long awaited for king is here - the one the covenants from long ago had promised! Jesus' public ministry on earth has begun! From what we have glimpsed so far, what do you think Jesus' mission is? Before we go on to see what it is, pause for a moment to think through what you think that mission may well be.

Lets read together Luke 4v14-20

Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit's power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,

that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,

and that the time of the Lord's favour has come."

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. "The Scripture you've just heard has been fulfilled this very day!"

Do you have a clue now what Jesus' mission is? A reluctant John the Baptist baptized him and the crowds heard God the Father speaking to Him and the Holy Spirit descend upon Him. Now Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, has returned home to Galilee (Luke 4v14).

Jesus at home (Luke 4v14-30)

Jesus is back in home territory and because of the power of his teaching, He is becoming known as a great teacher (Luke 4v15). Jesus spent some time in Galilee, became known and aroused the interest, curiosity and excitement of people.

It was Jesus' habit to attend public worship wherever he was.  Because of his growing renown as a teacher, it is no surprise that he should be asked to read the Scripture and give a short teaching session regarding it. Here in Nazareth, Jesus declared that the day for demonstrating God's salvation had arrived and the day the prophets and Covenants had looked forward to! This was going to be fulfilled in Jesus Himself (Luke 4v20). He was the Servant that Isaiah had talked about long ago (Isaiah 61v1-2). His ministry was divinely directed: a ministry of hope for all people and a ministry to free the spiritually oppressed.

The local reaction was at first one of astonishment (Luke 4v22) and telling each other he was the son of Joseph! But Jesus was more than that as he goes on to explain!

Rejected (Luke 4:20-30)

The people there saw Him only as the son of Joseph. Admiration soon turned to anger though, because Jesus began to remind them of God's goodness to the Gentiles. Israel had a fear and hatred of those who were not Jewish, the Gentiles, and remember that Israel was under Roman control - under the power of the Gentiles!

Whilst those in Nazareth could only see Jesus in the local setting, He told them his mission was for all Israel! And if Israel rejected this message of Jesus, then the Gentiles would be blessed by it (Luke 4v25-27). Upon hearing this, the astonished admiration turned to furious anger! Listen to their reaction from Luke 4v28-30 "when they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious.  Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way." See how divisive Jesus was!

Jesus away from home (Luke 4v31-44)

Now Jesus walked straight through the rioting mob and went to Capernaum and here he engaged in yet more public ministry:

  • Preaching (Luke 4v31-32) - Jesus sets up headquarters in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16) and started teaching in the Synagogue. Again, people were astonished that he taught with such authority.
  • Rebuking (Luke 4v33-37, 41) - Jesus rebuked the demons did  not want the demons to bear witness to Himself and his identity (Luke 4:34,41). Again people were astonished at Jesus power and authority.
  • Healing (Luke 4v:39-40) - People bought their sick and asked Jesus to help and heal them.
  • Praying (Luke 4v42-44) - He was up early the next morning to pray (Mark 1:35). It was in prayer that He found his strength and power for service.

During this period

Jesus has God's authority to do what He is doing - preaching, healing and releasing.  God desires humility and Jesus looked for people to acknowledge their spiritual blindness and poverty, so that he may liberate them from such things. Jesus taught and preached in the synagogues (Luke 4v32, 44); rebuked demons (Luke 4v35, 41), and healed diseases (Luke 4v39): all with the authority of just his word.

Jesus' mission was to be the saviour of the world as God's Son (John 3v16) and the Servant of the Lord, for Jesus came not be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10v45). How he fulfilled this role, we will come to see. Tomorrow we start honing in on what Jesus taught about Himself - things that were divisive in his day and are still divisive today almost 2000 years later! Thank you!

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Oct 12, 2014

Glimpses 12

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Jesus' Identity

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The king is here! But who did people say Jesus is? Let us look at what some eyewitnesses said about this Jesus in his first public event!

Luke 3v15-18

Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. John answered their questions by saying, "I baptize you with[water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am-so much greater that I'm not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire." John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.

Matthew 3v13-16

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?"

But Jesus said, "It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires." So John agreed to baptize him.

After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy."

Witness 1 - John the Baptist

We start with Jesus' baptism, as it is the commencement of Jesus' public ministry. Jesus is now about 30 years old. Our first witness is John the Baptist himself!

When John came (Luke3v1-2) When John the Baptist appeared on the scene, no prophetic voice had been heard within Israel for almost 400 years. His coming was part of God's perfect timing, for everything that relates to God's Son is always on time (Gal.4v4; Jn.2v4, 13v1)

How John came (Luke3v3) Dressed and acting like the Old Testament prophet Elijah, John came to the area near the River Jordan, preaching and baptizing. He announced the arrival of the kingdom of heaven (Mt.3v3) and urged the people to repent from sin and their old lives. John's baptism looked forward to the coming of the Messiah! Little did he know what was soon going to happen!

Why John came - (Luke 3v4-20) - John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness. The nation of Israel was living in a state of unbelief and twisted spiritual reality. For 400 years God had been silent! Where was the voice of God, people would have been asking. The people of Israel desperately needed to hear a voice from God, and John was that faithful voice in God's own timing! It was John's work to prepare the nation for the Messiah and then present the Messiah to them. The messiah, saviour or king, as we glimpsed in the covenants. John was unambiguous in his belief about Jesus. He clearly states that Jesus was "the Lord" (Luke 3v4) and the Son of God (Jn.1v34). Certainly untenable for a Jewish male to equate anybody with the living God of Israel.

Witness 2 & 3 - The Father and the Spirit

Then surprise, surprise! Not least to John the Baptist! Jesus comes to him and presents himself for baptism! John at first refuses to do it (Mt.3v13-15). John knew that Jesus of Nazareth was the perfect Son of God who had no need to repent of sin.

Through his baptism, Jesus identified with all sinners that he came to save even though he was without sin or wrongdoing. This is the start of Jesus' public ministry. But why did Jesus get baptized? In replying to John's initial refusal to baptize him, Jesus said "...it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness" (Mt.3v15). This looks ahead, as we shall see, to his suffering on the cross, because it is only through the baptism of suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, that God is able to fulfil all righteousness. The "us" referred to means Father, Son and Spirit. When Jesus came up from the water, the Father spoke from heaven and identified Him as the beloved Son of God, and the Spirit visibly came upon Jesus in the form of a dove. They testified as to who Jesus was and is!

Witness 4 & 5. The Genealogies!

In the genealogies of Jesus we see another extraordinary thing about this Jesus! You can read them at Matthew 1v1-17 and Luke 3v23-3

Jesus as the Son of Man - The genealogies reminds us that the Son of God was also the Son of Man, born into the world, identifying with the needs and problems of mankind. Through the genealogy, we see down through the generations Jesus' link to Adam and ultimately God. The phrase "the son of" generally means any remotely connected descendant or ancestor. It is a reminder that Jesus, being Joseph's legal son was part of a human family, tribe, race and nation. Jesus' line goes back through the Old Testament from Joseph to King David to Judah, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham, to Methuselah to Noah and Adam. The genealogy, with its link to David, shows Jesus' right to ascend to David's throne (Luke 1v32-33). The genealogy shows Jesus' total human-ness, and because he is linked to Adam, identifies with all humanity and not just Israel. But there is one difference between Jesus and all other humans. In that Luke doesn't stop the genealogy at Adam, as he would have for all other humans, Luke ultimately leads and links Jesus to being God's Son.

Jesus as the Son of God - Adam had come into the world bearing the true image of a son of God, but, when Adam disobeyed God, that image was marred and scarred due to sin entering the world. All that is, except Jesus. The voice from God the Father ratified Jesus as the Son of God. Not a son of God as some may claim, but the one and only Son of God. This genealogy points to the unbroken relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus is as Adam was before Adam's disobedience.

This is Jesus, both fully human and fully God. We will find out why later on in the series! Jesus, the one all of the Old Testament covenants pointed ahead to coming! John the Baptist identified who Jesus was. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit testified about who Jesus was. His genealogies and ancestry testify as to who he was.  Who do you say Jesus was and is? Tomorrow we look at his purpose and mission! Thank you!

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