Angry #likeJesus

When is anger a good thing?  Can God use anger as a platform for His glory?

After Jesus’ first miracle where he turned the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana in Galilee, Jesus traveled back to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover at the Temple.

It’s here where we find Jesus furious with the money changers, making a whip out of cords, driving out the sheep and cattle, and upending the money changers’ tables.

It’s said of Jesus during this moment, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

What else stirred Jesus up like this?  Off the top of my head, I can think of Jesus getting upset with the Pharisees for leading people astray and also Jesus being upset with his disciples for turning away the little children.  What else?

What stirs a righteous anger within me?  What kind of zeal consumes me?  Is it because of my Father that this anger is stirred, or is it me…  my own offense, my own pride, my own disappointment?

John 2 closes with this.  “Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name.”

Wow, what a week that must have been!  Jesus causes an uproar by driving out the money changers and performs many miraculous signs, likely healing people and casting out demons.

Everyone in Jerusalem, including the religious elite like Nicodemus, had to be thinking, “Who is this man?!”

Anger can be as much a demonstration of God’s power as miracles are, if the anger is a righteous stand against wickedness or oppression of the weak.

Does what I stand for and how I carry myself (both my words and actions) cause “many people to… believe in His name?”

 

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

Great #likeJesus

What does Jesus think of me?  We know what He thought of John.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.  He was the “forerunner.”  What do we know about John that prepared him for this?

John was Jesus’ second cousin, only six months older than Jesus.  John’s birth was considered a miracle since his parents were old and his mother, Elizabeth, was barren.   John’s father, Zechariah, was a priest.  He was highly respected.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were godly parents, upright in the sight of God, obedient, blameless.

John “leaped in the womb” when Elizabeth met Mary, pregnant with the Savior.

John “grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.”  Because of this, there is speculation that John was raised among the Essenes, a Jewish religious group that lived in the desert, following a monk-like lifestyle.  John would have been trained and commissioned to be a Rabbi since he had his own disciples.

God not only prepared John through his upbringing, but also by speaking to him directly.

“The word of God came to John…”

“He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that through him all men might believe.”

John’s character, actions and message caused many to believe he was the Messiah.  People came from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan to see him.

John’s character was blameless, humble (I’m not worthy) and simple (clothes of camels hair, food of locusts and wild honey).

John’s actions were righteous.  He stood up to the hypocritical religious elite.  He stood up to those in political power.  He baptized many who were repentant.

John’s message was powerful, clear and direct.  He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

“Make straight the way for the Lord.”

I’m personally challenged by John’s life.  I want my character, actions and message to bring maximum glory to God and impact for His kingdom.

I’m also challenged as a father by Zechariah and Elizabeth.  The impact of their lives as parents, raising John in such a way that God would use him as He did.  What am I doing to intentionally raise my own “John the Baptists?”

And what did Jesus think of John?  Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist!”

John was a great man.  He was used greatly by God.  He was dedicated to and dependent upon his Great God!  He was called and committed to a Great Mission!  He pursued and proclaimed a Great Message!  He sought after and served humbly his Great Master!

That’s the kind of greatness I aspire to.

 

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

Sent #likeJesus

From the very beginning of His story, we see the “sent-ness” of Jesus.

The angels’ words to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds are packed with meaning in what they reveal about Jesus’ identity.

To Mary:

“You will give birth to a son”

“Give him the name Jesus”

“He will be great”

“He will be called the Son of the Most High”

“He will be given the throne of his father David”

“He will reign over the house of Jacob”

“His reign will never end”

He’s the “holy one”

“He will be called the Son of God”

To Joseph:

“What is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”

“Give him the name Jesus”

“He will save his people from their sins”

To the shepherds:

“Good news of great joy for all the people”

“A Savior has been born”

“He is Christ the Lord”

“Glory to God”

“Peace to men on whom his favor rests”

So what do we learn from the angels?

  • We learn of Jesus’ deity (Son of the Most High, Son of God, Lord, conceived of the Holy Spirit).
  • We learn of Jesus’ character (great, holy).
  • We learn of Jesus’ position and authority (throne of David, reign will never end, Christ the Lord).
  • We learn of Jesus’ mission (save his people from their sins, the Savior, the Christ).
  • We learn of Jesus’ impact (He will reign, bring great joy, bring glory to God, bring peace to men).
  • We learn who Jesus came for (good news for all people).

Also from the angels…  implied, but evident still, we learn of Jesus’ humanity (YOU will be with child, you will give birth to a SON, she will give birth to a son).

It was a mystery to Mary and Joseph, God being born as a man, Mary’s son.  Jesus is fully 100% God, yet also born fully 100% man.  Our puny little minds can’t comprehend that.

But since sin entered the world through Adam- a man, the father of the human race- our sin nature is passed on to us through Adam.  Because Jesus didn’t have an earthly father to inherit a sin nature from, He was born without sin.  This allowed him, through a life of obedience to the Father, to remain without sin until his death on the cross.  This qualified Jesus to pay for our sin…  he didn’t have his own sin to pay for.  He alone was qualified to go to the cross for us…  and we trace that back to His virgin birth.

Jesus was sent for me!  He is all of this, has accomplished all of this, for me!  The Father sent His Son for me!  Jesus was sent to be my Savior, my Lord, my King, and yet my Friend!  Oh, what a Savior!!!

 

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

 

#likeJesus Grandeur

How much do we love Jesus?  Do we express our profound appreciation for and marvel at His majesty, His grace, His grandeur, His beauty?

In Kermit Zarley’s Harmony, The Gospels Interwoven, he begins with John’s Gospel.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Moving beyond John’s introduction to the account of Elizabeth and Mary, cousins who had been chosen by God to bear John the Baptist and Jesus, I am struck by the beauty of Mary’s song recorded in Luke 1:46-56.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the state of His servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is His name.  His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from  their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Mary was amazed by Jesus.  She was amazed by the honor of being chosen.  She was amazed by God’s grand plan.

Today, Father, as I walk with you, I want my soul to glorify you.  I want my spirit to rejoice in you.  I want to recognize how you’ve been mindful of me, how you’ve blessed me.  You are holy.  You are mighty.  You have done great things for me.  Extend your mercy to me.  I want to stay humble and hungry.  You are a God who remembers.  You keep your promises.  I will trust you.  I will obey you.  I will love and honor you.

 

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

Burning Hearts #likeJesus

Can you imagine spending two hours walking and talking with Jesus?  What would you talk about with Him?  Or better yet, what would He talk about with you?

After the Resurrection,  Jesus found two of His disciples (Cleopas and his companion) traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They’d heard reports about the Resurrection but still struggled to believe.

Along the way, Jesus explained the Scriptures regarding the coming Messiah.  Later that day at one of their homes, He broke bread with them.  Their eyes were opened.  They now realized it was Jesus they had been with.

I love their response.  “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked to us!”  Immediately they went to tell the Apostles.

When we spend time with Jesus, do our hearts burn within us?   They should.  And when they do, our response will be unavoidable.   We’ll go and tell!

 

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

Seeing Family #likeJesus

What was Jesus’ impact on his family?

In harmonizing Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41, Luke 23:49 and John 19:25-27, Robert Mounce draws an interesting conclusion I’d never heard before regarding the women at the crucifixion.

Matthew identifies the women as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Mark identifies them as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome.

Luke identifies them merely as “the women.”

John says that near the cross stood Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary’s sister.  Also there were Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary of Magdala.

Harmonizing these accounts, Robert Mounce believes that the mother of Zebedee’s sons (James and John) was the woman named Salome, and that she was the sister of Mary (Jesus’ mother).

This would make James and John, the Sons of Thunder and two of his first followers and closest friends, Jesus’ cousins.

This possibility raises all kinds of questions…

How well did James and John know Jesus before his baptism?

Had they heard “stories” about his birth and wondered who his real father was?

Did they have any idea he could be the Messiah?

Were they more trusted because Jesus knew them already, at least as relatives?

Were they quick to believe and follow because they already knew Jesus and had a sense of family loyalty (this certainly wasn’t the case with his half-brother, James)?

Is this why Jesus’ disciples were invited to the wedding in Cana?  Were they extended family of the bride or groom, just as Jesus likely was?

Is this why Jesus asked John to care for Mary after his death?

When Jesus is told that his mother and brothers are outside  the house and want to see him, and he replies by asking, “Who are my brothers and mother?”  how would James and John have felt when Jesus asked this question about their Aunt Mary and then pointed at them and the other disciples and said they were his family?

Things that make you go “Hmmmmm?”

What is the impact our life has on those closest to us… on our friends, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our cousins, our aunts and uncles, our grandparents?  Does our life inspire those closest to us to passionately pursue Jesus?

 

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

Marked #likeJesus

What mark has the cross made on my life?  Yes, through the power of the cross, I’ve been offered forgiveness and eternal life through Christ.  But what about the weight of the cross?  Do I feel the weight of the cross each day?  How does the weight of the cross change the way I live?

The African, Simon the Cyrene, who was pulled from the crowd to carry Jesus’ cross, was a father of two sons, Alexander and Rufus.  Why is this mentioned?   Why do we know their names?   How would this event impact these three men?

Cyrene was in Libya in North Africa.  It was a Greek colony where 100,000 Jews had been forced to settle.  It would become an early center of Christianity.

Acts 11:20 speaks of “men of Cyrene” who preached the Gospel to the Greeks.  This could have been Simon, maybe even his sons.

In Romans 16:13 Paul mentions Rufus, “chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me too.”

Tradition states that Rufus and Alexander became missionaries.

Simon shared in the sufferings of Christ.  He experienced the cross.  He felt the weight of it.  He witnessed the Savior obediently giving up his life.

Encountering the power of the cross transforms people.  How could it not transform Simon?   How could it not transform his family?

Is it this simple?   The closer we get to the cross, the more we feel its weight, the more it transforms us.

I want my life to be marked by the weight of the cross.  I want it to be felt in the decisions I make, the words I speak and the steps I take.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”   Matthew 16:24

 

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