Stirring It Up #likeJesus

Jesus said some things that people weren’t ready to hear.  While many loved and followed Him for what He did, many others despised and rejected Him for what He said.

I like how Robert Mounce harmonizes the Gospel accounts of Jesus as the Bread of Life, the Feeding of the 4000, and Peter’s Confession of Christ.  He connects John 6:67-71 with Matthew 16:13-20.  First, we read of many deserting Jesus, following him no longer.  After Jesus tells them he is the Bread of Life and they must “eat his flesh and drink his blood,” we read that many of his disciples responded, “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?”   Jesus then asks the Twelve, “You are not going to leave me also?”  Peter replies, “Lord, to whom would we go?  You are the one whose words give eternal life. We are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Flowing directly from Peter’s declaration in John 6 into Jesus’ conversation with the disciples in Matthew 16 provides a powerful amplification of Peter’s confession.  

“Who do you say that I am?”  “You are the Christ, the Son of Living God.”

I don’t think these two accounts actually flow directly into each other the way Mounce puts them together.  John 6 happens after the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water, which brings them to Capernaum.  Matthew 16 takes place up in Caesarea Philipi, north of the Sea of Galilee, after the feeding of the 4000, which takes place in the Decapolis.  Jesus travelogue would look like this… he teaches on the Bread of Life in Capernaum (Northeast side of the Sea of Galilee), then travels to the Decapolis (West side of the Sea of Galilee) where he feeds the 4000, and then eventually ends up North of Galilee in Caesarea Philipi, where he tells his disciples, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!”What I do like though about how Mounce connects these accounts is that it allows us to hone in on Peter’s passion for Christ. “We’re with you. Where else would we go?  You’re the only one for us!”  We know Peter fails.  He denies Christ.  But Peter’s passion to pursue Christ comes through again at Pentecost and throughout Acts.  While Peter is far from perfect, he is doggedly devoted.

Father, I want to pursue your Son passionately like Peter. I want my life, my lips and my love to boldly declare the risen Christ, my Savior, my Lord, my friend.

To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:

Unmasked #likeJesus

Who was Jesus?  Who did He claim to be?  Who did others think He was?  What difference does it make?

Jesus ministry in Jerusalem, His interaction with the religious crowd, and the events surrounding the death of John the Baptist give us insight into Jesus’ true nature (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, John 5-6).

Jesus’ words to the Jewish authorities in John 5 are some of the most powerful declarations he makes regarding his identity.

“I can do nothing on my own, but only what I see my Father doing.”
“The Father loves me.”
“I give life to those I choose.”
“The Father has made the Son judge of all, honor me as much as you honor Him.”
“He has given me authority to judge because I am the Son of Man.”
“I can do nothing on my own.”
“The miracles I do were assigned to me by my Father and they prove conclusively that I was sent by the Father.”

Jesus boldly declares his Deity.  He is the Father’s Son… He is the Son of Man…  He is to be honored equally with the Father…  His miracles prove the Father sent Him.

Jesus’ statements also poignantly declare his dependency and humility in being made fully human.  I do nothing on my own… I only do what I see the Father doing. 

Jesus Christ, sent as our Savior; sent as our Lord; sent as our Model.  Oh, to know Him personally and to pursue Him passionately…  to be a disciple of His like Peter, James and John.  To have a relationship with Him that’s as real, as personal, as my relationships with my closest of friends or even  my family.  To have a relationship with Him that inspires reverence, awe and worship that’s more profound than any emotion I’ve ever experienced with another human being.  To be an intimate of the Almighty.  That is my desire!

The Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ!”  Knowing the real Jesus changes everything!  My Past…  changed!  My Present… changed!  My Future… changed!  Knowing Jesus changes EVERYTHING!!!

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 

Playing #likeJesus

It was evident to all who knew Jesus, to all who heard him teach, to all who saw how he treated people, that Jesus was “playing by a different set of rules.”

In  Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8,13 we find Jesus teaching with parables on the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.  The parables of the Sower, the Seed growing in Secret, the Weeds and the Wheat, the Mustard Seed, the Fermented Dough, the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl of great Price, the Net, Gems of Truth…

The overall flavor of these parables seems to be the invitation to passionately pursue the things of God (His Kingdom), discarding distraction, because the reward is great.

What is the reward for those living by the principles that govern the Kingdom of God?  What makes the pursuit of this Kingdom worth it?  The reward in His Kingdom is HIM!!!  The reward IS the King himself!!!  The reward is God…  knowing God, being loved by God, loving Him in return.  In Him and HIM alone we find our Security, our Satisfaction and our Significance!  And He’s not just our King, He’s our Daddy!

Which Kingdom are you pursuing today?  What’s the reward you’re seeking after?  As you think about your priorities, choices, actions and words, is it evident that you’re playing by a different set of rules from this world we live in?

Loved #likeJesus

Do you and I understand the depths of God’s grace and the forgiveness we’ve received through Jesus Christ?  How has that understanding shaped our relationship with God?

In Luke 7, we read the beautiful story of a woman finding Jesus at Simon’s house.   Simon, a Pharisee, has invited Jesus to dinner and is put off by Jesus allowing “this kind of woman” to kiss his feet.  What kind of woman was she?   Could she have been a prostitute?  Could this be the same woman Jesus forgives and rescues from an angry mob ready to stone her for adultery in John 8?   Likely not.  The Feeding of the 5000 comes in Luke 9, after this story.  In John’s Gospel, we read this same story in chapter 6, before the adulterous woman account account in John 8.

How did this woman respond to being in Jesus’ love and acceptance for her?   She wept.  Her tears fell on his feet.  She wiped them up with her hair.  She took her expensive perfume and anointed his feet, and then she kissed his feet repeatedly.  Wow!  Such an overwhelming display of humility.  Such extravagant gratitude.

What is Jesus’ response?  What does He say?   This woman loves much because she has been forgiven much.   Simon is scolded by Jesus for nor demonstrating love and gratitude.   Simon doesn’t see the magnitude of his own sin.  Simon sees himself as righteous, as good enough.

Oh, how often I approach my Savior more like Simon rather than like this woman.  I forget the magnitude of my sin and the extravagance of God’s grace.  How about you?

“He who has been forgiven much loves much.”

Father, help me to see my sin for what it is so I can see your grace for what it is.  I want to love much!

Victorious #likeJesus

As followers of Jesus Christ, we’ve been enlisted.

In Matthew 9-11 and Luke 7 & 12, Jesus continues his ministry throughout Galilee with the Twelve (and possibly others).  He tells them “the harvest is great but the workers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers.”

Jesus’ words here remind me of the famous slogan:  The Few, The Proud, The Marines!  

The power of the Few…  those who are fully committed to the cause…  those who are equipped and deployed to the front lines…  those who charge the gates of hell confident they will prevail.  If just 10% are fully committed to the cause, they can effectively impact the other 90%.  Movements begin with the Few.

Immediately after this, Jesus commissions the Twelve, giving them authority and sending them out on mission to preach and to cast out demons.

Jesus shares the vision… the harvest is great.

Jesus shares the need… the workers are few.

Jesus gives the challenge…  I am sending you.

Jesus gives the caution…  rejection, hatred, betrayal and persecution await.

Jesus asks for commitment…  take up your cross and follow me.

Robert Mounce’s interpretation of Mt 10:23 is interesting. “You will not fulfill your mission throughout the towns of Israel before the Son of Man returns victorious from the grave.”  The NIV and others interpret it “before the Son of Man comes.”  I love the picture Mounce gives. Victorious from the grave!  The challenge is huge.  The cost is great.  But remember this.  Victory has been secured!   We WIN!

Now I’m pumped just thinking about that!!!

How differently would you and I approach the mission Jesus has given us- to proclaim the Gospel to all creation and make disciples of all nations- if we lived confidently believing that victory had been secured?