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Archive for the 'Investigating Jesus' Category

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 19
Who did Jesus say that He was?
  "Light of the World"

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’" (John 8:12).


Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles. One of the great symbols of that feast was Light. At the end of the feast, when the lights are extinguished, Jesus said 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 27:1, the psalmist describes God as “my light”. The nation of Israel was to be God’s light to all the world.

This is clearly seen in Isaiah 49:6. Why was this to be? Israel was to be God’s light to the world), so that God would be revealed as the world’s light (Isaiah 60:19-22). 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.

We continue next week looking at who Jesus said that he was.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 18
Who did Jesus say that He was?


We are now in Episode 18. In our last episode, we looked at who Jesus taught, and we have also seen previously what it was that he taught. Today, we start to look in more detail what Jesus taught others about Himself, and who he really was.

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.[d] Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” 1 Exodus 3:13-14 (New Living Translation)

Who has done such mighty deeds,
summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?
It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last.
I alone am he.” Isaiah 41:4 (New Living Translation)

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM![k]” 59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple. john 8:56-59 (New Living Translation)

In John’s Gospel, John records separate statements where Jesus said “I AM”. These written statements are completely unique to the historical account written by John and they are not recorded in the three other Gospels. With these statements, Jesus is reinforcing his claims to be God. How so? Because, when he says “I AM”. Jesus is deliberately referring into Jewish history, to the time when God revealed Himself as the ‘I AM’ to Moses in Exodus 3:14 and through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 41:4. That’s why in John 8:59, they picked up stones 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 was to be stoned to death. They knew Jesus was claiming to be the very God they thought they worshipped.


I AM the Living Bread


"I AM the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; this bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:35, 48, and 51 (New International Version).

Three times here, 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. 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.


When Jesus referred to the manna in the desert (John 6:49) 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 (John 6:51). But this bread he offers, must be eaten and it must be taken up by the person wanting spiritual life. Note the inference to his impending sacrifice on the cross at the end of John 6:51. Jesus was fully focussed on His mission – the purpose of His being here.


We continue next week looking at who Jesus said that he was.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 17
Who did Jesus teach?


The Gospel writers attributed Jesus as a teacher (Mark 5:35; John 7:15) despite his lack of formal requirements usually attained by rabbis. The Gospel writers also refer to Him as a prophet (Luke 7:16; John 6:14), and he was recognized as such by people (Mark 6:15; Mark 8:28). There were three main groups of people that Jesus interacted with and taught.

The Crowds: When Jesus taught large gatherings of people, it was always based on evidential facts and it was always as Luke described “good news” (Luke 4:18), because God gave it to Jesus. Crowds recognized that Jesus had a confident manner of speaking (Mark 1:22). It must be noted that in the presence of crowds, Jesus didn’t actively reveal who he was (Mark 1:44; Mark 3:11-12; Mark 9:9).

The Disciples: Many of Jesus’ recorded teachings were to his disciples, but also amid crowds, such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1; Matthew 7:28). 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 8:27-33).

The Religious Leaders: Because of Jesus’ popularity and the activities he was involved with; the religious leaders soon took notice of Him. In all ways, Jesus respected the Law of Moses and Moses authority (Mark 1:22). However, Jesus also gave his own unique interpretation of the Law and the Teachings. So much o, that this 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 2:23-38); the healings he performed (John 5:1-18); fasting and ritual cleanliness (Mark 7:1-5) and for consorting with sinners (Luke 7:34).
Jesus criticised the religious leaders for amongst other things: their lack of compassion and the weighty burdens they placed upon others (Matthew 23; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 11:37-54) These burdens and weights, which were put upon people by the religious leaders, were used as a measure of control over those people and also for the gain of the religious leaders and authorities. Alas today in the 21st century when we see even within the Church today, signs of such spiritual abuse. I know because I have met and counselled people who have been affected by abusive Church leadership.

Next episode, we will start looking at what Jesus taught about Himself and who he said that he was.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 16
Jesus’ Teaching (Part 1)


What did Jesus teach?


Throughout the Gospels, Jesus appeals to the Old Testament scriptures in every facet of his teaching. We see that Jesus frequently used Old Testament Scripture in his teachings concerning morality and the Laws (Matthew 5:14-8), the historical stories (Matthew 24:27-29) and in his debates with the religious leaders.

Quite possibly, the supreme example of his teaching can be found in what we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29). Whilst mainly speaking to his disciples, he allowed the crowds to listen. In this discourse, all of Jesus’ teachings are exhibited. Key themes from the Sermon on the Mount include: a Christian Disciple’s character, influence, righteousness, religion, devotional life, ambition and relationships. We look now at just 2 topics that Jesus taught.

Firstly Regarding Himself: Whilst Jesus never directly claimed to be God, he did things only God could do. He claimed authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:1-7). He also claimed exclusivity in being alone as the only way that a human could be engaged in an active & dynamic relationship with God. We see that when Jesus said:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Jesus’ claim to be the prophesied and long awaited for Messiah, or Son of Man, is an appeal to Old Testament texts and their subsequent fulfilment and completion in Him (Mark 8:29-33). Primary amongst this, was his teaching that the Messiah must suffer and be glorified, which was also an appeal to Old Testament scripture (Luke 9:31; Luke 12:50; John 10:11-15).

Now secondly, regarding the Kingdom of God: Jesus preached that entrance to the kingdom of God was through repentance (Matthew 3:2) and this repentance led to a spiritual rebirth (John 3:1-8). He calls all Christian Disciples to seek it first (Matthew 6:33) and to pray for it (Matthew 6:10). 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 some people, including his disciples James and John (Mark 10:35-45). The Kingdom of God is a personal inner spiritual relationship with God as the ruler over the life of the Christian Disciple, but it is also the Christian Disciple exhibiting this relationship with God in a visible new society (Matthew 25:34; Luke 13:29). Parables such as the corn and weeds (Matthew 13:24-30) and the mustard seed (Mark 4:3-32) typify Jesus’ teaching on this.

Next episode we will look more specifically at who Jesus taught

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 15
Jesus’ Teaching (Part 1)

 
So he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he began to teach the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. Luke 4:31-32

How did Jesus teach?

This event in Capernaum was not a one-off occurrence. Frequently the writers of the gospels remark how people viewed Jesus’ teaching as authoritative. But what was it that made his teaching authoritative? Jesus’ manner of teaching shared much in common with other teachers of 1st century Palestine. His teachings frequently included Old Testament references; exaggerated hyperbole, the telling of parables, rhythmic poetry which aided memorisation and the predicting of future events. All these were common teaching practice at the time of Jesus in both religious and secular circles.


Most of the teaching we have recorded for us in the Gospel accounts of His life, did not arise out of formal educational or religious settings but rather through personal and informal 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 7:28-29). Saying as he often did, “But I say to you…” was in direct opposition to the method the rabbinical teachers of the day employed. This also caused astonishment and amazing from those who heard Him. Additionally, Jesus often sat down to teach, and this signifies formal instruction, as was the custom at the time.

In what ways did Jesus teach?

Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus spoke a lot in parable form. A parable is an allegory or picture story. Why did he do it this way? He did it this way, in order to get his message across completely. These parables fall into four categories:

  • Society and its God: an example of this would be the parable of the sheep (Luke 15:1-7) whereby God is seen as a God of grace.
  • 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 25:31-33).
  • 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 12:13-21).
  • 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 10:25-37).

Next week we continue looking at Jesus' Teaching...

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 14
Jesus’ Purpose

What was the purpose of Jesus? Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17).

His purpose as the Messiah was neither that he be served nor that he will lead a political overthrow of the Roman government as some had hoped. Rather, as we see here, his purpose as the Messiah was to be God’s servant and give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people. When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8:33). They had not yet understood how suffering and glory were in relationship with each other.


However, by the time Peter had written 1 Peter, he had correlated the two as being in harmony with each other. (1 Peter 1:6-8, 1 Peter 4:13-5:10). Some Jewish leaders taught that there would be two Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1:10-12). Instead of following who we think Jesus is, we need to follow who Jesus actually is. Jesus does make demands of those who would follow Him.


We learn that:
• There is a price to pay for true followers of Jesus:
• We must surrender completely to Him.
• We must identify with Him in his suffering and death.
• We must follow Him obediently, wherever he leads.

What is the reward for following Jesus?

• satan promises glory now, but in the end suffering comes.
• God promises suffering now, but the suffering turns to glory.
• Spiritually, now, the disciples were still blind to who Jesus was, just as the man who was physically blind.

Our confession of who we say that Jesus is, is a matter of life and death (John 8:21; 1 John 4:1-3) and it is necessary to do for salvation to be assured (1 Corinthians 12:1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10:9-10). Christians are called to follow Jesus and take up their own cross. This means being ready to suffer and die for Jesus - just as many people down through history and today are prepared to do. Are you?

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 13
Jesus’ Identity

 
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Mark 8:27-29.


This section of the Bible contains the verse, which divulges Jesus’ identity, when Peter calls Him the Christ or Messiah or Saviour (Mark 8:29). In the preceding few verses Jesus and the disciples were in Bethsaida and there is the incident where Jesus healed the blind man. Why did Jesus touch the blind man twice to heal Him? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that Jesus kept on until the man could see clearly. There are two things to remember.
Firstly, that Jesus was unable to do miracles because of people’s lack of faith.
Secondly, we also need to remember that God does things in his own time and for his own purposes always acting in order to tell and show us of his great love for us – ultimately demonstrated by Jesus, as we will discover in this little book.
Another question now arises. Why does Jesus tell the man not to tell anybody? The most likely answer is that Jesus didn’t want to be seen as merely a healer and miracle worker.

Confession of who Jesus is

Now we reach a climactic part of the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ and we see who people were saying that he was with certainty.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ (Matthew 16:13-19).

The first person that people said Jesus Christ was, is the man John the Baptist. Several notable things should be noted about this theory:

  • Jesus and John had been seen together in public and they were different in personality and ministry. Indeed, as we saw earlier, as Jesus commenced His public ministry, John the Baptist had baptised Jesus.
  • John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17), in a ministry of judgement, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service.
  • John performed no miracles (John 10:41), but Jesus was a miracle worker.
  • John even dressed like the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8; Mark 1:6).

Or perhaps Jesus was one of the great figures of the Old Testament come back to life. Perhaps he was even Jeremiah. Who was this person, Jeremiah?

  • Jeremiah was the ‘weeping prophet’, and Jesus was the ‘man of sorrows’.
  • Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus.
  • Both men condemned the false religious leaders and the hypocritical worship in the temple.


Those in authority persecuted both men

Patently, Jesus was neither John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah nor any other person. Jesus was entirely and uniquely, Himself. In both his works and words, Jesus gave evidence to the people that he was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they still did not get the message. The disciples still had much to learn about Him and what it meant to follow Him.

Why did Jesus tell the disciples to keep quiet about Him?

The Jews were expecting a victorious all conquering Messiah (Isaiah 11:1-5). The idea of this Messiah would kick out the pagan Gentile Romans from the land of Israel. But they had misunderstood the role of this Messiah. Additionally, they had forgotten that the Messiah must also suffer and die (Isaiah 53:1-12; Luke 24:26). The Jewish people thought that the Messiah would set up an earthly political kingdom, but we know now, that Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom that would last forever (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15).

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 12
Disciples Discipleship

 

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22

What were these people chosen for?

As we read these Gospel accounts, we can clearly see and know that the disciples often got things wrong. Jesus often rebuked them, such as when the storm hit when they were in the boat. He rebuked them for panicking (Mark 4:38) and for fearing and lacking faith (Mark 4:40). This, despite having seen Jesus do the things he had done. In Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples mistake Him for a ‘ghost’ as he walked to them on the water (Matthew 14:22-36) and Jesus rebukes Peter for lacking faith, as Peter looked at the storm (Matthew 14:30) rather than to Jesus Himself.

Another instance is when Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross, Jesus’ subsequent rebuke was meant for all the disciples and not just Peter (Mark 8:33). They did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. Later in his life, by the time Peter had written the letter we know in our Bible as 1 Peter, he most assuredly did know (1Peter 1:6-8, 1 Peter 4:13-5:10). In calling them to Himself, Jesus called them into a common discipleship of which they are to “love one another” (John 15:17).

The reason for this is so that people would know that they were his disciples, by and through their love for one another, (John 13:34, John 15:16) and this would then produce the desired fruit for God’s kingdom and an effective prayer life (John 15:16).

Chosen but demands are made

What demands does Jesus make on those who choose to follow Him? Just as he did for his original disciples, the people we know as the apostles, he makes upon all who choose to follow Him. Including those of us in the twenty first century.

  • Called regardless of background: The disciples were from a broad cross-section of society. Some as we have seen were fishermen, another a tax collector (who were thought of as traitors to Israel.), others were zealots or sons of zealots.
  • Called to a life of repentance: Symbolic of this is Peter who, when first encountered by Jesus in Luke 5:1-11, declared of Jesus "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man."
  • Called to a life of service: When they were sent out in Matthew 10, the disciples were to: tell the Good News’; heal the sick; raise the dead; drive out demons and freely give.
  • Called to a life of obedience: Jesus called for obedience of God (Matthew 7:21, Luke 6:46). This obedience means to follow Him in all areas of life.
  • Take up your cross: In Matthew 16:24, Jesus called his disciples to take up their own cross, just as he was going to be taking up his cross at Calvary. By this he meant that his disciples must be prepared to sacrifice, to suffer and die.

If the demands are made like this, how can a Christian Disciple, a follower of this Jesus, actually do them? We will see the answer to that shortly.

Next week: Jesus reveals His true identity to the the Disciples.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 11
Jesus Selects His Disciples

 

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22


There are three main lists of disciples (Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16) who were chosen near the start of Jesus ministry. The Gospel of John offers no comprehensive list but does refer to them as “The Twelve” (John 6:67, John 6:70, and John 6:71). Here are “The Twelve”: the 12 main disciples of Jesus Christ:

  • Andrew: he was a fisherman from Bethsaida (Matthew 4:18). It was he who introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40-42). He was also a disciple of John the Baptist.
  • Bartholomew: he was the son of Talemai and possibly was also called Nathaniel (John 1:45-51).
  • James: he was the son of Alphaeus. He is also known as James the Less (Mark 15:40). He would later play a leading role in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15).
  • James & John: the sons of Zebedee. Both were fisherman (Matthew 4:21; Luke 5:1-11) and Jesus called them the sons of Boanerges or sons of thunder (Mark 3:17). John is known as the “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, John 19:26).
  • Judas Iscariot: (Luke 6:13, 16): he was the son of Simon (John 6:71 & John 13:26). He was the disciple who betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11) and was replaced after the Resurrection by Matthias (Acts 1:26).
  • Matthew: he was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9) and the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14. He also authored the gospel by the same name (Matthew 1:1).
  • Philip: from Bethsaida (John 1:44; John 12:21). Notably, it was he who introduced Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20-22).
  • Simon: known also as Simon the Zealot (Matthew 10:4) and possibly from Jerusalem.
  • Simon: brother of Andrew and an uneducated fisherman from Bethsaida (Matthew 4:18; Acts 4:13). Later, he was renamed Peter by Jesus (John 1:42) and would go on be the leader of these twelve disciples (Acts 1:15-26). We know that Peter also wrote letters to churches and we have two of them in what is our New Testament, the books known as 1 Peter and 2 Peter.
  • Thaddeus: listed as a disciple in Mark 3:18 and known also as Lebbaeus (Matthew 10:3) and Judas brother of James (Luke 6:16).
  • Thomas also known as Thomas Didymus. He is best known however, as doubting Thomas for initially disbelieving the resurrection of Jesus before he saw the Lord and proclaimed Him as such (John 11:16, John 20:24, John 21:2).


How were they chosen?


It was usual practice for a disciple to take the initiative and choose his master and then voluntarily join that school. However, in reverse of this practice, Jesus Himself chose those who were to follow Him by issuing a simple command “Come, follow me.” This can be seen in several places in the Gospels, for example Matthew 4:18-22; Matthew 16:24; Matthew 19:21; Mark 1:17; Mark 8:34; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:23; Luke 18:22.

The reason that God gave them to Him as his disciples was so that they would produce fruit for God’s Kingdom (John 15:16). Jesus also placed some demands on those who wanted to follow Him. For some, these demands proved too much so they went away, like the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22). Others, who were initially attracted to Jesus, stopped following him and left saying: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? (John 6:60)

What was it about these people we know as the Twelve Disciples that made them want to follow Jesus? The answers to that next week.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 10
Jesus' Mission Continues Away from home

(Luke 4:31-44)

 

Now Jesus walked through the rioting mob and went to Capernaum and here he engaged in public ministry. What does this public ministry look like and what was the reaction to Jesus and his ministry?

  • Preaching (Luke 4:31-32) – Here we see Jesus setting up his ministry headquarters in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16) and from there, he started teaching in the Synagogue. People were astonished that he taught with such authority.
  • Rebuking (Luke 4:33-37, 41) – Our Lord 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 4:39-40) – People bought their sick and asked Jesus to help them.
  • Praying (Luke 4:42-44) – 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, and so must we.


All during this period, we can learn several things about Jesus and his ministry towards those he encountered and interacted with.

  • No new teaching – he has God’s authority to do what he is doing – preaching, healing and releasing.
  • God desires humility – Jesus is looking for people to acknowledge their spiritual blindness and poverty, so that he may liberate them.
  • God’s Word is important – In the previous verses, Jesus counters the devil by using God’s Word, and he continues to do this throughout his ministry. He teaches and preaches in the synagogues (Luke 4:32, 44); rebukes demons (Luke 4:35, 41), and heals diseases (Luke 4:39); all with the authority of his word.

Jesus today

As we read the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we see that Jesus reached out to all kinds of people, particularly people who society had rejected or were castaways. These included the sick, women, Gentiles (non-Jews), the religious elite – anybody. There was no barrier Jesus wasn’t prepared to break down so as to show God’s love for them. Jesus’ mission was to be the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3:16) and the Servant of the Lord. Jesus’ mission was to give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people - people not only in his hometown, nor only in Israel, but rather for the whole world. People have two choices when faced with this fact: accept or reject. There is no other option. That is why as Christian Disciples we are to be actively engaged in evangelism, to tell people of this news about Jesus Christ.


Next week, we look at how Jesus selected his disciples...

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 9
Jesus' Mission - at home

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
Luke 4:14-15


Jesus’ public ministry on earth has begun. These verses at the end of Luke 4 tell us that his mission is to preach God’s Kingdom. A reluctant John the Baptist had baptized Him and the crowds who witnessed this event. They had heard God the Father speaking to Jesus. He underwent temptations by the arch-seducer, satan, and emerged victorious from that ordeal. Now Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, has returned home to Galilee (Luke 4:14). What did he do there and how did those who knew Him react as he grew through childhood?


Jesus at home (Luke 4:14-30)

Jesus is back in home territory and because of the power of his teaching, he is becoming known as a great teacher (Luke 4:15). Jesus spent some time in Galilee, became known and aroused the interest, curiosity and excitement of people.

Worshipping (Luke 4:14-18): It was Jesus’ habit to attend public worship wherever he was. But what did a typical synagogue service look like in the time of Jesus? Here is the outline of a typical synagogue service at the time of Jesus in the early first century AD:

  • Opened with a prayer for God’s blessing
  • Traditional Hebrew confession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21)
  • Prayer and readings from the Law and the Prophets
  • Brief sermon given by one of the men or a visiting rabbi (Acts 13:14-16)
  •  Benediction or prayer


Because of Jesus’ 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 looked forward to, was going to be fulfilled in Jesus Himself (Luke 4:20). Jesus was the Servant who Isaiah had talked about long ago (Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus’ ministry was divinely directed. It was a ministry of hope for all people and a ministry to free the spiritually oppressed (Luke 4:18).

Acceptable Year of the Lord (Luke 4:19): When Jesus said in Luke 4:19 “to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour”, Jesus was referring to the “Year of Jubilee” (Leviticus 25). This was when at every fiftieth year, there was the balancing of the economic system. Slaves were released, set free and returned to their families. Property that was sold, now returned to the original owners. All debts were cancelled and the land lay bare to rest and rejoice in the Lord. Upon hearing this announcement, the reaction by the local people was at first one of astonishment (Luke 4:22) and telling each other he was the son of Joseph. But we remember and know, that Jesus was not the son of Joseph. Rather, Jesus was the Son of God, as announced by angels before he was born. Jesus Christ is the new Adam and the founder of a new humanity. All this, Jesus goes on to explain.

Rejected (Luke 4:20-30): The local people of Nazareth, saw Jesus as the son of Joseph. Admiration turned to anger, because Jesus began to remind them of God’s goodness to the Gentiles. He did this by reminding them about some of the Jewish heroes of the past. People such as the great prophet Elijah who bypassed all the Jewish widows to go and help a Gentile widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:8-16). Jesus also reminded them that another Jewish hero, Elisha, had healed a Gentile leper from Syria (2 Kings 5:1-15).


Whilst those people in Nazareth could only see Jesus in their local setting, he told them his mission was for all Israel. And if Israel rejected this message of Good News, then the Gentiles would be blessed by it (Luke 4:25-27). Upon hearing this, the astonished admiration turned to furious anger (Luke 4:28-30). Salvation is no longer restricted to Israel but for every child of Adam – every human. Jesus’ mission was not only to be Israel’s saviour but the world’s saviour. When Jesus quoted the proverb “no prophet is accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:24), he revealed his knowledge of Old Testament history. He knew that God’s messengers often were rejected, and even as God’s Son, he was rejected as well. Next week we look at Jesus away from home.

We investigate that in the next podcast of this series.

 

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